How Revenue Operations Can Revolutionize Sales Growth
When you're first starting to grow your business, it's understandable that you'll expend a lot of resources into building an effective sales team. Hiring SDRs, training your team and building a pipeline deserve attention — it's all essential to growth.
But what do you do when all your sales efforts start to plateau?
If you don't see the kind of growth you want — despite knowing you have a world-class sales team — it's time to take a broader view and think about revenue operations (RevOps for short).
Revenue operations is a natural extension of sales-focused development. It's an approach that sets aside the traditional funnel mindset and looks at how sales, marketing, and operations come together to maximize growth.
Knowing what revenue operations is, and implementing it in your business, can be the missing piece you need to keep your company's growth from stagnating.
Successful revenue operations require strong internal communications, tools and systems that support cross-functional collaboration — plus a willingness to step away from the status quo.
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Why do Companies Need Revenue Operations?
Without an awareness of what other teams are doing — most notably customer service and marketing — sales can become locked in its own silo.
That leads to stagnant growth, diminished quality of leads, and problems sharing data with other departments. It can even create a feeling of competition against other internal players like marketing, leading to friction that slows down an upward trajectory.
This friction is felt by customers too. If sales, marketing, and customer service aren't communicating about the pipeline process, it creates roadblocks that impact the level of service you can provide. Customers may receive (and ignore) marketing messages that don't speak to them, or feel left behind when they talk to a customer service representative who doesn't have a clear picture of their account history to date.
By shifting focus to a broader revenue operations strategy, companies can ensure their teams remain aligned on goals, have a clear flow of data, and provide the best possible customer experience.
If you’re encountering internal resistance to the idea of revenue operations, quantify pipeline losses to show sales and marketing teams where they're fighting against themselves. Rather than looking at your pipeline velocity alone, drill down and look at conversion rates by stage. The spots where you see the most significant loss of opportunity can indicate:
• Internal friction creating inefficiencies and errors
• Poor value communication to customers due to internal misalignment
• Roadblocks in the customer journey resulting in lost leads
Implementing a RevOps framework can improve the sales pipeline, resulting in up to 19% faster growth and 15% more profit.* Show your sales and marketing teams what this kind of bump would look like — and how it impacts the company's bottom line.
Revenue operations is also an essential element for any company seeking to adopt account-based marketing or selling strategies. Without clear awareness of how marketing, sales, and customer service impact accounts, growth efforts can fall flat.
What Does Revenue Operations Look Like?
When you’re first starting out with RevOps, you’ll need a strong leader, good data analysts, and someone to implement new technologies. As you grow, your revenue operations team will continue to evolve just like the other departments in your company.
Because RevOps encompasses the activity of three different departments, it shouldn't fall under the existing director of sales or marketing. Revenue operations is its own department, led by a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), vice president of revenue operations, and a director-level leader.
These leaders may step into their roles from other positions within sales, marketing, or customer service. Regardless of their background, the revenue operations leadership team acts as a third entity whose primary goal is aligning all three departments.
What Makes a Great Revenue Operations Leader?
Revenue operations is a relatively new development, and there's not one clear educational or professional path that a successful RevOps leader needs to take. Whether promoting from within or looking at hiring external candidates, the person you put in charge of revenue operations should have:
- A “process first” approach to development
- A solid understanding of your industry and audience
- Background experience in sales and marketing
- Experience working in a customer-facing role
- An analytical approach to problem-solving
- Excellent communication skills
- A strong vision for how RevOps will positively impact your business
Data collection is critical for successful revenue operations. A RevOps team may include analysts to gather and evaluate data from across the company. The revenue operations group then uses these points to develop a framework that aligns sales, marketing, and customer service operations to support — not compete against — each other.
RevOps also requires evaluating each department's software tools of choice and developing tech stack recommendations that serve multiple needs. By improving communication between internal technologies, customers flow more smoothly between stages, and their experience improves.
What are the Benefits of Revenue Operations?
Because revenue operations enhances the collection, analysis and utilization of data, you get a streamlined process that aligns the company and boosts growth in several ways.
RevOps reduces internal friction and roadblocks that monopolize available resources. By streamlining processes, the revenue operations team can identify and resolve any instances of duplicate work or other inefficiencies.
By sharing data between departments, associates save time — no longer wasting it on hunting for and analyzing information already obtained by another colleague. Choosing the right tech stack for your revenue operations needs can make this flow of information nearly seamless.
When implementing a RevOps strategy, customers enjoy a smooth journey and feel both seen and heard by the company from which they purchase products or services. In turn, this increases the overall likelihood of customer retention. Happy customers are also more likely to refer your company to colleagues and associates with similar needs.
Higher customer retention rates allow companies to productize around their users more effectively. By developing new offerings for and aligning them with the existing customer base, businesses can continue to retarget their clients and increase sales. Team members are empowered to create new products and campaigns faster thanks to a better understanding of their core audience's needs and wants.
This approach is one reason why RevOps is a particularly valuable strategy for subscription-based service, product, and software companies. When working with a recurring membership model, revenue growth can stagnate among retained customers — they're happy with their service and have no incentive to upgrade. The revenue operations process can identify ways in which to expand upon existing offerings and upsell current customers on new features at a higher price point.
Account-Based Marketing and Selling
As your company implements RevOps strategies, sales and marketing teams may find that adopting an account-based approach is the next logical step.
Account-based marketing (ABM) and account-based sales (ABS) models take enhanced productization one step further and treat your company's highest-value accounts as individual markets. Every aspect of the customer journey and associated communications is tailored not just to a general profile for the industry, but to that specific customer.
This marketing and selling model results in a hyper-relevant experience and further improves retention and referral rates. It requires a high level of alignment and communication between sales and marketing teams, making it an excellent fit for companies with a revenue operations strategy.
Whether your business intentionally engages in ABM and ABS practices or not, a revenue operations framework will naturally begin to reshape the customer journey from a traditional funnel into a flywheel model.
Before implementing revenue operations, customers progress linearly through a funnel. While specific funnel stages may vary between companies, this approach typically begins when a potential customer first gains awareness of a brand and ends when they take action.
After implementing RevOps, customers follow a more circular path. Their journey doesn't end after the first sale is closed. Instead, the customer continues through the flywheel repeatedly thanks to continual nurturing, product development, and retargeting.
How does Sales Ops Differ from RevOps?
Revenue operations is not meant to replace (or be replaced by) sales operations entirely. Sales Ops should still be a vital part of your organizational chart. The key is in understanding how sales operations and RevOps differ — and utilize them both to their best advantages.
While revenue operations is a fourth entity independent of sales, marketing, and customer service, sales ops aligns directly with the sales department.
Sales operations also has the vital role of developing compensation plans for the entire sales team. Because sales is a heavily commission-driven industry, each sales team needs compensation plans that vary from other departments' salary structures.
If you're investing in developing a revenue operations strategy, it's worth taking a second look at your sales enablement processes, too. A robust sales enablement team can be an effective tool in helping your associates get up to speed with changes to sales strategy, customer acquisition, technology, and internal processes.
Do All Businesses Need a Revenue Operations Team?
If you're just starting your business and building a small sales team, you don't need to jump into revenue operations just yet. RevOps is ideal for more established organizations with clearly defined and robust sales, customer service, and marketing teams.
However, it's a great idea to incorporate future revenue operations efforts into your growth plans. By building your sales team with the intent to engage in RevOps efforts down the line, you can begin implementing parts of revenue operations as you go.
Building your way into revenue operations will be a much smoother process than suddenly realizing you're dealing with three separate, siloed departments and need to break down and rework processes completely.
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How to Get Started with RevOps
Whether you've realized you need to implement revenue operations immediately or are starting to plan for the future, the first place to start is your organizational chart. Ask yourself:
• Where will revenue operations sit within your company?
• Will it be led by a C-suite executive alone, or will there be a vice president and director-level role to round out the leadership team?
• Is there anyone currently at your company who could be a good fit for leading a revenue operations group?
• What are the core skill sets you’re looking for in a revenue operations leader who might come from another organization?
• Do you have any existing analysts whom you'd like to promote or transfer onto the revenue team as it begins to form?
Develop a Revenue Operations Strategy
Once your revenue operations organizational structure is in place, you can start to think about overall strategy and approach.
The revenue operations team needs to be very in touch with who your core customers are. Build strong customer profiles that accurately capture your market segments and use this information to align departmental goals. Every department — sales, marketing, customer service, and even finance — should agree on big-picture goals and key performance indicators.
As you develop each point in your strategy, consider the tools you'll need to execute and manage revenue operations effectively.
Build a Revenue Operations Tech Stack
It can be tempting to try to build your new RevOps processes around your company's existing technology and tools. Doing so, however, can hinder the success of a revenue operations framework before it fully gets off the ground.
A well-designed revenue operations tech stack allows for the two-way flow of information between departments. Each team has access to the specific tools and fields they need and can work with their own data. Look for software programs and tools that are either part of a connected suite or allow integrations through APIs and plugins.
How Data Flows Through the RevOps Tech Stack:
1. Marketing launches a campaign that generates leads
2. Leads are picked up by the sales team and nurtured into customer accounts
3. Customer service responds to inquiries from customer accounts and has a complete understanding of the journey to date
4. Customer behaviors are logged for marketing to analyze
5. Sales and marketing use this data to productize and retarget existing customers with new features or services
Every company's needs will vary, but the following program types are a solid starting point when developing a RevOps-friendly tech stack.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
A CRM platform like Salesforce or Hubspot allows your sales team to organize, quantify, track and share customer data with other departments. By serving as a central resource, a CRM can show sales, marketing, and customer service team members where a customer account stands, streamline communications and provide data to influence internal decision-making.
Cloud-based helpdesk platforms like Zendesk can provide customers with self-service resources and offer a uniform way for customer service teams to resolve customer questions and track communication history. Integrating your helpdesk with your CRM can provide a complete picture of each account's history with your company.
Asking a customer to print, sign, and scan or fax a document is cumbersome. Digital contract management and e-signing services like Docusign or Pandadoc support computer and smartphone use alike. This feature makes it easy for your customer to "sign" on the dotted line and close the deal.
Email marketing programs like Klaviyo or Constant Contact can make sending regular updates to customer groups easy. While potential customers still in the pipeline may receive more personalized messages directly from a representative's inbox, you can issue customer updates and general marketing missives with a system that schedules, sends, and tracks engagement.
Manually posting one image to multiple social media accounts is a waste of valuable time. By investing in an automated scheduler like Buffer or Hootsuite, one click pushes content out to every necessary channel.
Digital Asset Management (DAM)
Marketing and sales should use consistent branding in communication with customers. This cohesive image further cements the customer's experience as smooth and pleasant. DAMs like Adobe's Experience Manager Assets are a useful way to organize every piece of collateral produced by the marketing team and disseminate it for use across departments.
Unified project management platforms like ClickUp and Asana allow stakeholders from across the company to quickly see project statuses, identify roadblocks, and plan activities in sequence. By choosing a platform that integrates with your CRM and helpdesk platform of choice, you can further track and productize the customer journey.
If there's one tool your team needs or wants that doesn't offer native integration with your new RevOps tech stack, third-party automation services like Zapier may help. These tools act as a bridge between compatible platforms, carrying data from point A to B when a predefined action occurs.
As with implementing any new software program or tool, it's worth investing in training for the entire team. By giving your associates the information they need to effectively use new tools from day one, you can recoup time that teams would otherwise spend trying to navigate the program's learning curve.
What to Do When RevOps Doesn't Solve the Problem?
If you're focusing on revenue operations and still experiencing diminished or stagnant growth, you may need to re-evaluate the leadership structure, training, and day-to-day workflows in each department. Training gaps and top-down communication breakdowns can impact the effectiveness with which your employees are able to execute RevOps strategies.
Grab our “Is Your Business Ready for RevOps?” checklist below and see where you lie in terms of RevOps readiness. We've included a one-page article summary to help you get your sales and revenue processes in line and have your best year yet.