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Revenue Operations: What It Is, How It Drives Growth

 

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Revenue growth is the goal of every company, but the word “revenue” mostly stayed out of job titles and operational roles. 

That changed with the rise of revenue operations. Today, a quick search on LinkedIn for revenue jobs will provide results like “VP of Revenue Operations” or “Revenue OpsManager”. This is especially true for SaaS and B2B companies. 

One report found that 31% of companies in 2019 had a dedicated RevOps group, a significant increase from the 20% of companies that  had one in 2018. 

So what exactly has changed over the last few years to give rise to all these new job titles? While organizations have always cared about revenue, a new focus has recently come to the forefront: aligning all GTM operations teams under one umbrella called revenue operations.

Most organizations have always used RevOps in some capacity. Only now  it has a name that brings clarity, direction, and specificity to the idea it represents.

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INTRODUCTION

What is Revenue Operations?

Revenue Operations is the strategic alignment of every department that contributes to revenue in an organization. RevOps goes well beyond sales teams and extends into marketing, finance, and customer success to touch every part of the customer lifecycle. 

Revenue operations enables the organization to break down the silos between departments  to create operational efficiency and drive high performance across the entire business to drive growth. But...that’s just the internal benefits. More importantly, it provides a better buying experience for your customers.

We created this guide to help organizations understand everything they need to know about Revenue Operations so they can optimize their practices and reap the benefits of the RevOps methodology.

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CHAPTER ONE

What does Revenue Operations Do?

Revenue operations supports and aligns operations across all revenue functions, including marketing, sales, customer success, and professional services. This provides a comprehensive and unified customer journey.

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The RevOps team oversees five primary areas:

Operational Management: The management team oversees the various revenue-focused departments to ensure complete alignment with the company’s overall needs. This responsibility may also include managing specific operational units like sales operations, marketing operations, and customer success operations to promote cross-functional collaboration and improve business growth. 

Revenue Goal Alignment: Marketing, sales, and customer success often have completely different metrics they’re tracking and different goals they’re trying to achieve. Revenue operations brings each team’s goals together to ensure they’re aligned and not fighting with competing priorities. 

Organization-Wide Enablement: Sales enablement has risen to prominence for its ability to remove friction in the sales process so sales reps can do their jobs at a higher volume with more efficiency. RevOps takes that one step further by enabling not just the sales team but the marketing and customer success teams as well. The unity helps align each team’s responsibility. Onboarding, sales coaching, professional development, and ongoing training are all enablement processes that a RevOps team can use to drive revenue.    

Data and Insight Provision: Data changes everything, from forecasting sales units to improving the customer experience. That’s why one of the most important responsibilities for revenue ops is gathering insight that organizational leaders can use to optimize all operational functions. Think about it: data can improve every function that drives revenue. Metrics on content engagement can improve marketing automation. Customer retention numbers help CS teams see where they can change the customer journey for the better. Having the numbers to show which sales strategies have the highest chance of success will enable salespeople to use the best play every time. Every department experiences a high level of optimization when they have the right insights. 

Tech Stack Management: The digital world has changed the modern sales process. Every successful marketer, customer success agent, or sales rep today has an impressive tech stack behind her. Tools may include CRMs like Salesforce, marketing automation like Hubspot, help desk software like Zendesk, or any other that helps move the customer through their journey. RevOps leaders evaluate, acquire, and administer the best tools for each department to make sure they feel well-equipped to do their jobs well. Not only do they add new tools, they ensure that systems are talking to each other and that data flows seamlessly for a 360 degree view of a customer.

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CHAPTER TWO

How Does Revenue Operations Support Growth and Scale?

The biggest advantage that a revenue operations team can bring to any organization can be summed up in two words: alignment and visibility. 

Research done by Forrester has found that more alignment leads to greater success. Specifically, they found that aligned organizations achieve 19% faster revenue growth and 15% higher profitability than their less aligned counterparts. Revenue operations makes that kind of alignment possible. 

What are the advantages of a revenue operations team that supports all revenue functions?

Complete Alignment: The RevOps team focuses on bringing every revenue-focused department together to ensure each one contributes to the overall growth goals of the business. Every team works together to align their activities, projects, campaigns, or strategies. Marketers don’t do anything the customer success and salespeople don’t know about. Each department works in unison with the others. 

Fewer Silos: Achieving this level of alignment comes from total visibility between departments. This is one of the main ways that RevOps breaks down the silos that normally separate the different teams. With increased visibility, sales teams, for example, can have an inside look into what the marketing team does to attract customers and how the customer success team carries on the relationship after the sale is finished. The team can offer feedback and support to each other, allowing all of them to see a more holistic view of the customer journey. 

Increased Revenue: The alignment and visibility offered by revenue operations makes each department part of the sales process instead of just the sales team. All this connectivity helps the sales funnel work like one large, well-oiled machine as opposed to different pieces doing semi-related activities. Customers move right through the funnel more easily this way. They feel that consistency too, which creates a better experience and leads to a greater degree of trust. Onboarding is smoother because CS has been involved earlier in the process and is able to decrease time to value yielding higher retention and expansion. This entire experience is designed to increase the complete LTV of each customer including from larger initial deals, longer lifecycles, and increased opportunities for cross-selling and upselling. 

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What are some key revenue operations processes and workflows?

Instead of the traditional process of each department doing their own thing before backing away, RevOps utilizes every team to their fullest potential as they all keep the customer engaged through their entire journey. 

The key is to think of workflows more like a series of “if this, then that” processes rather than a singular, straight line. Marketers might draw a customer in with an intriguing piece of content – an infographic or case study, for example. If the prospect downloads the file, then their email gets sent to marketing for a relevant email cadence. If the potential prospect continues to engage with content, their email is then forwarded to sales. That’s a prime opportunity for a handoff, and both departments remain in the loop the whole time. 

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The marketing team knows that their content did its job and they can follow the customer through the rest of the journey, supporting sales with additional material like additional email campaigns or supplemental blogs as necessary. The sales reps benefit from knowing what specific material sparked the prospect's interest because they can use that information to shape the meeting instead of going in blind.

If the prospect isn’t quite ready to convert at the end of the meeting, then the salesperson can pass the ball back to marketing, who can continue to engage with the customer through periodic content delivery and updates. 

If the prospect does decide to purchase, then they get handed off to the customer success team. The overall visibility allows them to see how that person made it through the journey and can use that information as they strategize about the best way to satisfy the customer.

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CHAPTER THREE

How is Revenue Operations Different From Functional Operations?

Fields like sales operations, marketing operations, and customer success operations have a long history in SaaS and B2B companies. So how does revenue operations compare to these?

In one sense, it’s not that different. The goal of, say a Director of Revenue Operations, is similar to a Director of Sales Ops. Both oversee and manage their teams and make sure all the pieces function properly, but RevOps stands out because it has a larger scope and is accountable to the entire customer experience.

A sales operations team focuses only on sales. They create comp plans, develop quotas, assign territories, and define opportunity stages. All this is great, but it doesn’t take into consideration the other parts of the customer life cycle like marketing or customer success. Each of those teams ends up doing their own thing with no alignment to the others. Even if all of them operate really well as separate units, it doesn’t mean they will do so as a whole. That’s where revenue operations come in. 

RevOps brings the teams together so they operate as one unit with one common goal: driving revenue. Each department shares common objectives, KPIs, and data to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization’s go-to-market strategy. The separate teams all still play their unique roles, but they work together to improve the entire organization, not just their departments.

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The Benefits of Sharing

You’ve heard the old cliche “sharing is caring,” but with RevOps, sharing is more than a nicety. It’s an opportunity to generate some serious revenue and bring about other positive returns as well. 

Insight Into the Whole Customer Journey. When siloed, each department functions without much insight into the others. Marketing doesn’t know how their content is truly benefitting sales and sellers don’t know what happens after their customers convert. 

Simpler Forecasting. Sharing data across the whole customer life cycle enables organizational leaders to more easily predict outcomes in each section. Metrics that were once measured separately like customer acquisition, conversion, or churn now come together and allow the organization to predict both short and long term results.  

Growing Revenue. A more unified approach gives each department a purpose to play in the larger effort to drive revenue. Legacy operations functions like sales or marketing ops focus on their small successes, but this limits the organization’s ability to thrive. The real goal of any company is not just departmental success. It’s revenue growth. Revenue growth doesn’t just come from acquiring new customers - it’s also about increasing the LTV of each customer

The marketing team achieving their own, individual goals means very little if sales can’t convert customers. Conversions, likewise, mean less if customers are unsatisfied. RevOps helps ensure that everyone is focused on that same goal so the organization as a whole can grow. 

Cross-functional Collaboration. Have you ever benefited from an outside perspective? Sometimes it’s so easy for departments to get caught in their own routines that they can miss opportunities to improve. The cross-functional collaboration that RevOps offers can help shake things up in a good way. Each team can offer their perspectives on the parts of the customer journey the other teams may be blinded to, creating a better understanding of the whole lifecycle.

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CHAPTER FOUR

What Tools and Applications Do Revenue Operations Teams Need?

A successful revenue operations team is only as good as its tech stack. Having the right tools will make the entire operation function much more efficiently. 

The "right" tools are dependent on the inflection point of your business. Instead of focusing on what tools you want to implement, teams should take a gap-first approach and understand the problem spaces before choosing solutions.

TOOL

DESCRIPTION

INDUSTRY LEADERS

CRM

A customer relationship management tool provides the visibility needed to align all revenue-focused teams. It’s really the foundation of a successful revenue operations strategy.

  • Salesforce CRM
  • Hubspot CRM
  • MS Dynamics
  • Zendesk Sell

MESSAGING

Fluid communication enables every team to stay on the same page and move in the same direction.
  • Slack
  • MS Teams
  • Salesforce Chatter

SALES DATA AND FORECASTING

Strong predictions help the RevOps team set reasonable and measurable goals for each department.
  • Troops
  • Clari
  • Looker

MARKETING AUTOMATION

Strong predictions help the RevOps team set reasonable and measurable goals for each department.
  • HubSpot
  • Pardot
  • Marketo

HELP DESK

An effective customer success strategy requires a support channel with fast turnaround times and easy access for customers.
  • Intercom
  • Zendesk
  • Helpscout

INTEGRATIONS

Chances are your tech stack isn’t going to seamlessly work together without some additional help. These tools are designed to help you get more out of each of your existing tools.
  • Troops
  • Hull
  • Segment
  • Zapier

How CRM + Messaging Ties Into and Supports Revenue Operations 

Each of the tools in a RevOps tech stack plays an important role in the whole system, but like revenue operations itself, the real advantage comes with the alignment and unity of each piece, especially CRM and messaging. 

These two tools provide a strong base for revenue operations to build upon. The CRM gives every team insight into the entire customer journey and the messaging app allows for easy communication between individuals or departments as well as the sharing of information.

Even though these teams are unified operationally, it doesn’t mean that they actually are able to see and understand the data and processes on adjacent teams. In many instances, they don’t even have access to a system, let alone the level of comfort or familiarity to actually find what they need.

Where’s the one place the entire company is? Typically it’s a messaging platform like Slack or MS teams, which is why it’s such a powerful place to disseminate signals and insights into what is happening across the customer lifecycle across systems.

In a study performed by Troops, on the State of CRM + Messaging, the number one use case cited by integrating these two systems was sharing information followed by improving data quality.

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Successful RevOps means seamless collaboration between teams, and aligning your CRM and messaging app makes it much easier to work together. So much can get lost in the information shuffle. Think of all the marketing material that disappears and never gets used by the sales team. What goes wrong in the handoff? Most of the time it comes down to poor communication and lack of information.

The Value of Data Collection and Sharing

Equipping your revenue operations team with tools to collect and share data in realtime helps eliminate mistakes and optimize workflows. Information is the best resource for guiding a customer through their buying journey, and it starts with data collection. 

Our friends at LeanData suggest starting with the lead’s job title and their company’s name and location. Other valuable pieces of information may include the challenges the lead experiences, pieces of content they’ve consumed or pages they’ve visited, and any details on specific products or services that might interest the lead.

Simply collecting the data or only giving access to a certain department isn’t enough. Each team can utilize this information to make more informed decisions that lead the buyer closer to purchase. 

Leveraging Existing Collaboration Tools

All this information about different tools and new tech stack can make revenue operations seem pretty intimidating. But you don’t have to start from scratch. You just need to leverage the tools you already have.

If you’re reading this, we’re pretty certain you have a CRM and some sort of messaging tool. Start there. Create workflows and processes that give each revenue-focused team eyes on the whole customer journey and keep communication alive.

One small step from there that would go a long way involves aligning your various software to create a more seamless, integrated experience. Tools like Troops connect your CRM, messaging, and help desk applications so that your teams don’t have to log in to multiple platforms every day. This maximizes efficiency and helps revenue operations naturally seep into the culture of the company as the right information gets to the right person when and where they need it most.

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CHAPTER FIVE

What Are Some Best Practices for Revenue Operations?

We’ve worked with a ton of companies looking to improve their revenue operations. Over the years, we’ve seen some patterns arise and have pinpointed a few practices that the top companies are using. 

Empower Your People

Revenue operations thrives when each team member does their, and companies can make this easier by empowering their teams to succeed with the right resources and motivations.  

Sierra Parker and her operations team at Cameo keeps their team motivated by ensuring that their tools are user friendly. They’ve implemented a sort of fill-in-the-blanks system of reporting. Instead of having to create new forms all the time, sales reps and account managers just need to type the appropriate information into the right forms. This simplifies the reporting process, which in turn allows the team to focus on more productive work that they actually enjoy. The visibility also allows each person to see their own contribution as well as the contribution of other teams, allowing for a larger view of how the whole team works together.  

Report, Report, Report 

Information is like fuel for revenue operations. The more you report, collect, and utilize the right data, the better your RevOps engine will run -- and providing visibility to this data is crucial for setting goals and tracking success. Roque Versace, Troops CRO, always says “Inspect what you expect” and we agree. If you are not making it easy to stay view information, you will never be able to hold a high degree of accountability to it. 

Providing visibility will look different for each organization, but the key is consistency. Steven Brady, Head of Sales and RevOps at Interseller, has a weekly meeting where they review what went well, what the teams set themselves up for, and what needs to get done immediately. 

Before the meeting, every RevOps team member gets a reminder to “clean their room” and everyone takes a few minutes to make sure they’ve updated their CRM with the most accurate data. 

Similarly, Valerie and her team at Andela sends out official reports regularly so team members do not have to go searching for the information on their own.

Align Goals and Stay Focused

Everyone in the RevOps team shares one common goal: driving revenue. Getting each team aligned to this goal will make it easy for each part of the system to move forward together.

Jen Igartua and the team at RevOps company Go Nimbly do this by creating operational roadmaps--both internally and with their clients. They believe the operations team should function like a product team. They always have a clear understanding of where they’re headed and how the work they do each day will get them there. Jen understands that fires will always need to be put out, but she says that operations are roughly 50% reaction and 50% planned work. The roadmap helps keep every team focused on the common goals. 

Little reminders can help make it easier for your teams to stay focused. The RevOps team at Interseller receives an automated update every morning with a message about the most important tasks via Troops. This keeps everyone focused on work that contributes to the larger goal of the company. 

Think of the Customer First

I know. Every company says that they’re “customer-centric.” Who would say otherwise? But RevOps requires an extra level of customer-first thinking. 

Go Nimbly leaders have created specific ways that they can get in their customers' shoes. 

Sometimes they perform what Jen calls “secret shopping.” She might complete a form on the website or trigger a workflow in some other way just to see how quickly an AE reaches out to her. 




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CHAPTER SIX

Challenges of Shifting to Revenue Operations

Embarking on a big change in an organization will always come with some challenges and shifting to revenue operations is no exception. Here are some of the most common challenges (and solutions) our customers face when making the switch.

Change Management

Any big change in an organization will require support from leadership. RevOps is no different. If a Marketing Exec or the CEO doesn’t like the idea, good luck getting their team on board. 

Revenue operations advocates can fight for change by showing how the company as a whole can benefit. 

Valerie Papa, the RevOps Manager for Andela, likes to remind her teams of a quote from Aristotle: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Once executive leaders start to see that the success of the organization is more valuable than the success of their specific team, RevOps can start to flourish.  

Encouraging Collaboration 

RevOps requires teams to work together towards a common goal, but getting disparate departments to work together can be really difficult. Each team often has their own goals and focuses that can easily become the priority over the company’s mission. 

To remedy this, Jen from Go Nimbly likes to remind her teams and leaders of a simple framework: “Ship, shipmates, self.” At sea, the first priority is the ship as a whole. If that goes down, everyone else goes, too. Next is your shipmates. You can’t do it alone, so you need to make sure they’re taken care of. Finally, you think about yourself because you contribute to the ship’s success as well.

The individual teams that make up the revenue operations can use this idea to think about their efforts. The success of the company (the ship) takes priority over the success of their individual department. Empowering, equipping, and collaborating with their peers (the shipmates) will help the company succeed more than interdepartmental focus. This doesn’t mean the team’s work (self) is unimportant, though! It is still a priority, but it should contribute to the company’s overarching goals. A well-functioning ship is much better than going solo on a lifeboat. That’s what revenue operations is all about. 

Organizational Stress

The last thing to consider with company-wide changes can take a toll on organizations, and it’s important that any company considering making the change to revenue operations really counts the cost before jumping in. Here are a few questions you can ask to help evaluate your company’s readiness and need:

  • Can you handle a major change?
  • Will your executive team get on board?
  • Is misalignment between teams hindering growth?
  • Is there disunity and a competitive spirit between your company’s department? 
  • Do you feel overwhelmed by point solutions and siloed resources?

If you answered yes to all or most of these questions, shifting to revenue operations will be well worth the temporary stress in the long run.

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CHAPTER SEVEN

Resources to Learn More About Revenue Operations

Still have questions about revenue operations? No worries! Our experience with our clients has allowed us to produce and gather all sorts of resources that can help educate you further on RevOps. 

Here are a few additional resources:

Troops has helped both large and small organizations optimize their revenue operations. Our revenue automation platform gives real-time transparency by connecting your CRM to Slack or Microsoft Teams so everyone has more transparency into marketing, sales, and customer success.

Are you ready to see how revenue operations can help your company drive growth? 

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