The All Elusive RevOps Definition
A Lack of Consensus
Some tasks are very challenging: splitting an atom and climbing Mount Everest are good examples. A third addition to this list could be describing what Revenue Operations (“RevOps”) is to someone outside of the field. For many RevOps professionals, answering the inevitable “so what do you do for a living?”, can be an exercise in futility akin to describing calculus to a Kindergartner.Why is this? Quite simply, it is because there is not a universally accepted and adopted definition of RevOps. Want proof?
Try this fun exercise: Type “RevOps'' into Google and continue clicking each search hit until you find a repeated definition. Warning: you might want to pop a bag or two of popcorn for this one as it will take literally forever.
You’re going to see lots of “sales, marketing, and customer success”, “silos are bad”, “it will help your teams work together”, “it’s a business function”, “getting marketing ops and sales ops on the same page”, and other jargony statements, just never in the same order and often worded in an increasingly intricate manner.
Although many of these definitions touch on common pain points in the trade, and therefore have a tendency to make a positive connection in one way or another with many RevOps professionals, they are simply not accurate.
A Desired Outcome is Not a Definition
The problem with nearly every one of these “definitions” is that they are describing a desired outcome; they are explaining what revenue operations done well looks like. The actual meaning of the term is never fully fleshed out in these interpretations of the word.
As an example of how these proposed definitions fall short, consider what a good response would be to the question, “what is hockey?” The correct response is not “scoring goals.” Scoring goals is the ultimate objective; scoring goals is what hockey done well looks like.
“Scoring goals” does not explain, in any way, what hockey actually is to someone completely unfamiliar with the sport. In a similar fashion, proclaiming RevOps as “the unifying of your internal operations” (or something similar to that) does not actually convey the meaning of the term, but rather a desired outcome.
Clearly, a good RevOps meaning is hard to come by.
Why is a Common RevOps Definition Important?
Due to the lack of a common definition, the following problems have emerged:
- Widespread definitions of RevOps that are far too theoretical in nature
- There is not a way to connect strategy and models with tactics
- Can’t prioritize what’s important and not important
- Without a common language, it is difficult to communicate value
- It is very hard to upskill as a RevOps pro
It doesn’t have to be this way.
RevOps Ain’t New
RevOps has always been utilized, but just recently the term itself blew up. Before it became a hashtag on LinkedIn, companies were still making billions of dollars by being data driven. The industry created the term, the term didn’t create the industry.
The problem is that many people think revenue operations is a new thing, and, as a result, there has been a rush to define it. As an industry, we’ve done a poor job of it, which has led to confusion. Let’s make an attempt at defining what revenue operations really is.
Sometimes, the best way to define a word is to define what it is not. RevOps is NOT:
- A methodology
- A mindset or “way of thinking”
- Something a person/company can start or stop (you’re doing it…the only question is whether you’re doing it well or poorly)
Ok, What is a Good RevOps Definition Then?
Very simply, RevOps is the science of sustainable revenue growth. It seeks to accomplish the following:
- Replicate and repeat revenue growth
- Uncover the process of how revenue teams can teach, measure, repeat, improve, explain, and apply growth strategies to the full revenue cycle
- Identify tools and behaviors that show how you’re collecting, synthesizing, and disseminating revenue data
The above revenue operations definition works because it:
- Is rooted in science, not jargon
- Treats RevOps as something that can be studied, repeated, and properly leveraged
- Can take RevOps from theory to action
- Does not merely describe an end objective
This is how you define RevOps.
Why is RevOps Important?
The Rise of Revenue Operations
RevOps. Almost no one used this word 5 years ago, but now it has page one status on nearly every company’s manifesto. Why and how has it become so popular? Although organizations have been doing revenue operations for countless numbers of years, the term itself, “revenue operations”, sounds like something your grandfather did while wearing a business suit and shiny shoes.
No one really cared about “revenue operations.” “RevOps”, on the other hand, sounds cool. It sounds fresh. It sounds like something you can do in fashionably ripped skinny jeans and a graphic tee while wearing custom earbuds.
RevOps Brings the Receipts
Beyond that, though, it is the promise of RevOps that explains how it came to prominence. Studies have shown that it produces the following with regards to driving revenue:
- 15% increase in profitability
- 15% increase in sales productivity
- 19% increase in speed of growth
- 71% increase in stock performance
- 100% increase in digital marketing ROI
These types of numbers, and the promise of potentially higher ones, are what have driven the recent growth and popularity of RevOps.
But if you want to hit those numbers, you need to do RevOps well. What does that look like?
Matt Bolian, CRO of RevPartners, explains: “It’s really how quickly can I answer questions about hindsight, about insight, and about foresight…about what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen.”
If you're doing that well, then you're doing RevOps well.