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Revenue Operations

A 3,400 word report by Vikrant Duggal


Contents

  1. Thanks
  2. Should you read this?
  3. Background
  4. Problems
  5. Solution
  6. Players
  7. Predictions
  8. Opportunities
  9. Anti-Stance
  10. Links

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

Thanks

Special thanks for help with this report to:

Should you read this?

This report is for investors, founders, CEOs, and Go To Market team leaders asking questions like:

  • Why do the marketing and sales teams not get along?
  • Where do I find the best ROI on my GTM spend?
  • How do I create transparency and accountability across revenue teams?
  • What’s one thing the Chief Revenue Officer can be doing to give me peace of mind?
  • How do I really put the customer at the center of our growth strategy?
  • I have a role on the org chart accountable for all revenue and growth, but it hasn’t been working. What am I missing?
  • Why am I not getting predictable revenue acceleration?
  • Why is our shared vision for the customer at the executive level not translating on the front lines?
  • Why is my customer data in disarray?
  • Why does it seem to take forever to get reports and insights?
  • Why can't I trust my reports and the insights from my teams?
  • Why are we always doing customer, or market analysis in Excel or Google Sheets before we can really understand what’s going on? Am I not using the right tools in the revenue stack?
  • Why does it take so long to get insights from our customer data and even then we aren’t remotely confidence
  • Why are our leaders, prospects, or opportunities falling through the cracks?
  • How do I better set up the company for growth in the coming months?
  • How can I get better clarity into my forecasting/pipeline?

If you, or someone you know is asking these kinds of questions the answer is likely the lack of a solid Revenue Operations strategy. You might have heard about Revenue Operations (aka RevOps). If so, you might ask what it is and how it can drive clarity.

This report is for you.

💌 Are you up to date?

Get updates to this essay, and new writing on growth:

Background

How can we better help investors, entrepreneurs, founders, owners, and business leaders grow their businesses quickly while increasing clarity and confidence?

Why does it take so long to uncover the easy opportunities to grow my business quickly?

I’ve thought a lot about these questions, especially over the last four years. I have built my consulting practice to deliver results quickly and effectively. While there are a number of elements to building an effective revenue engine for any business, there is one common theme that I see as a missing gap from pre-revenue all the way up to $100 million ARR: Revenue Operations.

If you haven’t already, you will be hearing this phrase, Revenue Operations, more and more in this decade. In my research I found the current information online to be confusing and in many cases, wrong. This is a small step to clarify my own thinking and hopefully some of yours.


To see predictable revenue growth you will need your revenue engine to have strong operations, but what are the components of Revenue Operations? The operations that support desired revenue growth include:

  • Strategy
  • Deep Customer Understanding
  • Investment Plan
  • People
  • Technology
  • Data
  • Management

Strategy: Your revenue team (all go to market teams) has to have the right foundation from the start. A close-knit team sharing the same goals and dedicated to achieving those goals makes a difference.

Deep Customer Understanding: Focus on the customer, developing and refining the ideal customer profile, understanding the buyer’s journey with no long term end matter. Keep this discussion active and fluid.

Investment Plan: Early on you’ll want some set up and administration of tooling, but well executed revenue operations will be a heavy investment as the business matures.

People: You have to select the right person to be accountable to all Revenue. They in turn need to select the right people to run Revenue Operations. It’s a combination of art and science. The ideal person running revenue will be a great generalist leader/manager.

Technology + Data: The technology will make it easy to gather (or enter) data and stitch and stitch it together. You will leverage third party data to create a customer database best for your business. The tooling/technology will then allow you to provide the best customer experience by surfacing the best insights for your customer-facing team members. (Note: This will support the product teams to continue to maintain and increase product-market fit.)

Management: Alignment at the top - C-Level/Board level is a must. Transparency and accountability to best manage customer facing people, data scientists, and product people.

Why is Revenue Operations important?

The transformation we are seeing to adopt Revenue Operations is being driven by you, me, the customer, the consumer, the buyer. Let me explain.

The Internet has a problem.

Mary Meeker has told us that the “Internet has >50% global penetration… new growth remains harder to find.”

This is a real problem. Here are some examples:

  • Global internet user growth declining
  • Global smartphone shipments declining
  • E-commerce and Online ads is growing slowly
  • Ad platform revenue declining
  • Internet ad buying is negatively impacting pricing
  • CAC is increasing across the board

To follow the money today for a business means following the consumer, customer, prospect. This means going digital.

We have plenty of proof that our customer is digital. See Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, Snap, Amazon, Spotify, Zoom, podcasts, wearables, Nextdoor, Square, and more. Also, that’s just the USA (China: Pinduoduo, Meituan Dianping, AliPay; Latin America: Rappi; Indonesia: Tokopedia; SouthEast Asia: Shopee; India: Reliance Jio; South Korea: Toss; Europe: Revolut). Do you see what’s happening? I didn’t even get to the innovation in technology. The Internet train left the station long ago.

There is one common theme across the best performing companies (private/public): they are breaking down their silos across the organization and taking advantage of customer data to obtain new customers and create amazing customer experiences.

Your buyer is an Internet user and they are leaving behavior/intent “exhaust” every day. The exhaust in pieces is meaningless, but collectively gives us a sense of the desires (goals, fears, etc.).

Because of this, any effort to grow the business with strong operations is a waste of financial capital and human resources.

The customer no longer cares whether it’s interacting with marketing, sales, or customer success. To them you are a brand and they want an incredible experience from the customer-facing teams, and the core offering (akak product). Do this well and they’ll stay forever.

Problem

I need revenue acceleration and I want it to be predictable. I want it now.

Solution

Revenue Operations helps you make better Go To Market-related decisions based on all the revenue data you own. This is the lubricant for your Go To Market engine.

Investors, CEOs, Go To Market team leaders, and all members of the Go To Market team want and are in need of Revenue Operations.

Revenue Operations helps these business leaders better understand customer intent and see revenue and prospect/buyer/customer data in a way that reduces the burden for their customer facing team members while providing clarity around the appropriate hypotheses to test and strategies to execute that result in transparency and total accountability to revenue.

🏁 Players

Products/Tools

The space is complicated and the players vast. This is by no means an exhaustive list and the categories are by no means perfect, but this will give you a sense of the major players and large bucket categories.

CRM software

Spreadsheets

Project Management software (not critical for revops)

Customer Experience software

Customer Engagement Analytics (or Sales Communication Analytics)

Data Analysis software

Sales Engagement Software

Pipelines Management/Forecasting (critical, very few do it well)

Integration software

Customer Data Platform

Third Party Data Enrichment

Infrastructure

ABM Platforms

Marketing Automation Platforms

Sales Enablement Software

Other

🔮 Predictions

  • Revenue Operations will be the source of truth that drives all Go To Market spend
  • Tech companies in MarTech, SalesTech, CSTech will reposition themselves as RevOps to increase their TAM
  • The Finance team (and investors) will encourage CEOs to have one person accountable to the overall revenue. We will see better alignment between the operating and financial models.
  • Customer-facing team members will be free of the burden of collecting, entering, and analyzing data. You’ll have systems that will collect data and surface insights. Data entry will live inside of RevOps.
  • Getting clean data back faster to run experiments will not be an impediment
  • Defined playbooks for Revenue Operations based on stage of company
  • In the tech/startup world we will see less business failure after Series B rounds (failure = return 0 capital back to their investors).
  • Different businesses will have different make up for tools/products. The ability to use them all together and still have a robust engine (unique to a business) will become more possible
  • In the latter half of this decade we will see a rise in thought leaders in the Revenue Operations space and they will have had real operating experience in various business environments (right now limited to LinkedIn)
  • The definition of what makes a great CRO will change. CEOs will make a few wrong CRO hires before getting it right. Prepare for that. CROs will make a few wrong RevOps hires before getting it right.
  • AI will play a bigger role - imagine a BDR having a daily list of prioritized tasks laid out in front of them in order of most likely to convert prospects. Or a CS rep who has most important tasks triaged in a way that maximizes overall customer happiness.

💡 Opportunities

Because revenue operations are about people, processes, and data many of the strategies, tools, and people will result in overlap and gaps in your business. This provides many opportunities for gaining efficiency and effectiveness.

  • Audit tools: everything from org structure, to data, to operational processes. They’ll give you a Revenue Operations score.
  • Every go to market team leader wants to be held accountable to revenue (as do their teams). It’s possible. Canopy, as an example, is really doing something innovative internally here.
  • RevOps thought leads can get more tactical. Many of Google's top results are too high level. Specific, contextual guidance is in demand. (Yes, I’m aware this report is not super tactical.)
  • Give a clear answer to: When should we start building Revenue Operations? “You can build RevOps however you want” is officially the wrong sanswer.
  • Help leaders pick the best revenue operations software tools. This idea alone could be a large and profitable business.
  • You don’t need to be a premier, expensive product in the market. There are a number of tools that are better than the premier, expensive tools that are more well known. Lots of opportunity for these companies to grow via content/community/data.
  • Revenue Operations operators should write regularly on this topic. Lots of interest.
  • Plenty of gaps in revenue operations with the current available technology. Room for agencies, consultants, and technology products to help.
  • There is a great deal of manual work to reconcile the data from various systems (as a consultant I, myself, spend a lot of time migrating data from tools to Google Sheets to create meaning and find low hanging fruit that the products claim to do).

😠 Anti-Stance

  • “It’s too much work/resources and not enough return.”
  • “I don’t need it”
  • “I’m too early for it.”
  • “I’ll just look after my own area of the business, thanks!”
  • RevOps is a pipe dream. It’s just not possible to build that level of alignment. Too many tools, we’ll probably have to shut some of them down.
  • It’s still emerging
  • There’s no playbook for this yet
  • RevOps is really just Sales Ops

The haters have good points and I’m not going to argue with them. This is a complicated space with a tremendous amount of posturing by growing companies. There's no point in taking these one by one. You are right. Everyone is right. This is a complex, infrastructure-related, unsexy problem. There is a great deal of posturing by rising incumbents. Buyer beware. Some haters will come around, they definitely won’t be leading any teams by the end of the decade.

The Rise of Revenue Operations: A RevOps Infographics (2021)

  • End-to-end biz process of driving predictable revenue across mktg, sales, renewals, expansion through transparency and rigor
  • role: develop visibility across the entire revenue team, improve efficiency, drive revenue predictably, and achieve revenue growth
  • People: shared revenue targets
  • Data: connect data
  • Processes: increase rigor
  • Job titles on LinkedIn increasing increasing 300%+ in last 24 months
  • Biggest growth: Director of Revenue Operations  (outpaces Director of Sales Operations)
  • Need: transparency, accountability, predictability
  • Drivers: buyer’s journey + SaaS model
  • Publicly traded companies with Revenue Operations groups saw 71% higher stock performance than those who don’t.

Revving Up Go-to-Market Operations in B2B

  • RevOps: Centralizing operations teams from marketing, sales, and CS
  • Tighter alignment of these functions
  • Top software/tech companies are reporting substantial benefits
  • Increase in marketing ROI, increase in sales productivity, increase in lead acceptance, increase in internal customer satisfaction, reduction in GTM expenses
  • Struggle: efficient, predictable, sustained growth
  • Customer is smarter and more sophisticated
  • Better tools, but poor adoption and poor integration
  • struggle: data consistency, reliability, tech integration, competing sources of information, duplication of reporting and forecasting, low cross-functional collaboration/trust, broken hand-over processes
  • Effective integration is hard
  • Haters: RevOps is a dream, as a GTM leader I’m better off “looking after my own”. This will act as poison, reducing the positive impact of the transformation, derail it. And they don’t have any ideas to create alignment.
  • The complexity of your GTM operations will increase over the coming decade

Revenue Operations and the CMO: Game Changer or Game Over?

  • Haters: Marketing leaders will be the most resistant
  • Rapid tech innovation, positive culture change, loads of creativity, sustained business growth in many sectors
  • Revenue operations is made up of sales operations, marketing operations and customer success operations teams that work together in accordance with a set of operating principles that align planning, processes, technology, data and measurement that help organizations maximize revenue and performance. In other words, the concept of revenue operations is a natural extension of what SiriusDecisions has supported since its inception: Organizations that align their revenue engine pre- and post-sale grow faster and more profitably than those that aren’t aligned. Revenue operations makes alignment easier by defining a clear set of accountabilities and actions, then formalizing the elements that expand the potential for alignment to succeed.
  • RevOps is a game changes for CMOs
  • It’s an emerging strategy.
  • Organizations have RevOps and can’t tell you what it does
  • Many ways to do it; best to align around your core beliefs to achieve growth (includes teams, not just execs)
  • CMOs are scared that CEOs will bring in a CRO from sales and they’ll not understand marketing and ruin everything marketing has built
  • It’s not worth educating leadership on the ways this can go wrong so let’s wait. Inevitably they’ll put everything under sales operations, remove the CMO, reduce CMO scope, put the CMO under the CRO, focus on pre-sales, leave out CS — too many points of failure
  • CMOs jobs gets better when RevOps is done right
  • CMOs against RevOps are fearful

What is RevOps? The Ultimate Guide to Revenue Operations

  • How companies approach revenue is forever changed
  • Business f(x) that aims to maximize org’s revenue potential
  • Full-funnel accountability through the alignment of marketing, sales, and services across process, platform, and people
  • Revenue is the result of mktg, sales, service active as on powerful growth team
  • RevOps was created so biz leaders could stop “hoping” for revenue
  • Need arose:
  • Martech became important
  • Operations across GTM teams was inefficient and fragmented
  • CS/CX demands increased
  • All GTM teams not equally accountable to revenue as they touched the customer

Why Your B2B Company Should Explore a Revenue Operations Strategy

  • Aligns sales, marketing, CS
  • Key metrics:
  • ARR
  • CLTV
  • Customer Turnover Rate
  • Sales Cycle Time
  • Win Rate
  • important:
  • Ensure accountability and synchronicity among goals and activities
  • Challenge: who does revenue operations? This is a hard question to answer
  • RevOps win: Companies with aligned revenue support grew 19% faster and were 15% more profitable
  • Challenges:
  • Companies with existing revenue engine say having a lack of quality, centralized, accessible data is one of their greatest obstacles preventing them from providing a top-tier customer experience

What is revenue operations?

  • Need for more alignment than ever
  • Skills needed:
  • Strategic thinking
  • A head of figures
  • Problem-solving
  • Communication
  • Technically-minded
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Customer-focused

Revenue Operations: Everything You Need to Know

  • Martech stack is complicating matters
  • Struggle with forecasting - the individual GTM teams have more on their plate than ever before with the increase in tools and the amount of data. -> This limits # of experiments they can run
  • No “right” way to do RevOps - no current playbook
  • Recommends there is freedom to building RevOps - this is a problem. Bad advice.
  • I don’t think this is something to take loosely
  • Need: CRM, tools to collect data from marketing -> CS, lead routing, lead scoring, analysis of pipeline, forecast, alignment with channel/segment, analytics/reporting, behavior/reporting

Revenue Operations vs. Sales Operations

  • Sales Operations Unit first formed at Xerox in 1970s
  • At the time, Sales Ops lead Patrick Kelly described it as, “all the nasty number things that you don’t want to do but need to do to make a great sales force.”
  • Sales ops it still difficult to get right
  • We never figured out Sales Ops, let’s skip it and go straight to revenue operations and get it right!
  • Responsibility:
  • Cross-functional collaboration
  • Technology management
  • Sales team organization
  • Sales data management
  • Sales forecasting
  • Performance management
  • Training (if you don’t have enablement)
  • RevOps:
  • Operations Management
  • Enablement
  • Insights
  • Tools
  • Org design:
  • Small biz vs. Large biz

Revenue Operations Guide: How RevOps Drive Growth

Revenue operations vs. sales operations: What’s the difference?

LeadData State of Revenue Operations

  • 55% increase in RevOps adoption from 2018-19
  • challenge: consistent revenue growth is a challenge for 78% of B2B companies
  • 95% of B2B firms agree the ability to provide a seamless and consistent positive experience through the customer lifecycle is key for increasing revenue
  • 57% of companies that have not yet adopted a Revenue Operations strategy plan to in the future.
  • The biggest challenges companies face in implementing Revenue Operations include company resources, inconsistent data, and disconnected systems.

Sales Operations: A CEO’s Secret Weapon for Doubling Sales Growth

  • Job: a dedicated team to help salespeople sell faster, better and more efficiently. Their job? To take on activities such as forecasting, sales planning and territory design. Or in group leader J. Patrick Kelly’s words, “all the nasty number things that you don’t want to do, but need to do to make a great sales force.”
  • Work:
  • Collaborate with leadership
  • Support the sale team
  • Train and onboard new hires
  • Coaching???

Data Operations: The Fuel for Your Business

What is Revenue Operations

Sales Tech Convergence And Confusion