Has this ever happened to you?
You’re on the phone to a business. The customer service agent apologizes and hands you off to the tech department. After a few minutes, they hand you off to sales, and then they give you right back again to customer service.
Then you hang up, making a holy vow to never give that business your time or money again.
That disconnected approach to handling customers is outdated and counterproductive. It’s a hold-over from pre-tech days, when it was normal for the different parts of your business to live in their own little boxes.
Those days are over. Now, we live in the brave new world of revenue operations.
What is revenue operations?
Revenue operations is a new way for businesses to create winning customer journeys.
Rather than having separate departments for marketing, sales and customer success, RevOps is a centralized department meant to create a single, continuous experience.
Siloed-off departments tend to take on a lone-wolf mindset where nobody talks with or helps each other. RevOps, as it’s also called, turns that on its head—everyone’s in it together.
It’s particularly big in SaaS (Software as a Service) circles, but it applies to almost any B2B or B2C business. If you care about your customers, you should care about RevOps.
Sounds great. But what does it mean in practice?
Let’s put RevOps into concrete terms by talking about its three core pillars.
The three pillars of RevOps
Revenue operations has three basic goals. You can remember them easily with just three Ps: process, platform and people.
RevOps means centralizing the customer-facing parts of your business.
Practically, this means putting in place uniform processes that apply to everybody, no matter their department. You’ll foster consistency, stability and trust, for both your customers and your staff.
Committing to these processes helps teams cooperate and communicate, leading to improved efficiency and consistency in getting deals closed.
Consolidating your departments means consolidating your tools, your records and your data.
You would work to unify your company’s ways of getting information into one single stream that’s easy to understand. It’ll make it easier to know how to present a clear story to your customers and let your staff know what everyone else is doing.
This is what’s called a ‘single source of truth’.
Departments working from their own data can end up going their own (sometimes wrong!) directions. But if everyone’s on the same page, there is far less chance of wrong turns.
A successful RevOps function doesn’t happen by itself.
The companies you’ll work for need the right people to put it in place. Revenue operations specialists play a big part in that—more on those later.
But how do they decide who oversees it all?
It’s common to share those responsibilities out among existing teams. However, you can also create a new special department for overseeing RevOps. It depends on how big the company is: the larger you are, the more sense an independent team makes.
Process, platform, people. It’s a simple mixture—but so is gunpowder and a lit match.
Building the right kind of team and unifying your platforms matters most. With those, it becomes easier and easier for you to bring a RevOps approach to a business. In other words, these pillars are the key to success.
Finally, make sure you don’t confuse these Ps with the 4 Ps of Marketing!
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The RevOps Framework
You now know the main goals of revenue operations. That’s great, but what you should be asking is, “How would I actually put any of this into practice as a RevOps manager?”
You’re in luck. When it comes to the RevOps framework, there are four kinds of team that bring everything together: operations, enablement, insights and tools.
An Operations team works with both the little details and a company’s big-picture vision.
Their job is to manage resources for the teams you manage, help them collaborate and plan cross-department projects. They’re the architects of the overall customer journey.
In other words, no more sales people working on plans that work against what marketing is doing. By bringing a business’ logistics under one roof, you’ll be able to cut the fat and provide a singular vision for how they should move forward.
Sales Enablement is a field based around giving a team the information and tools they need to make close more sales. That’s a great idea, but it doesn’t go far enough.
RevOps takes things to the next level. It applies the ideas of Sales Enablement to marketing and customer success as well.
Supporting sales is no longer the only goal. Instead, you can use an Enablement team’s data and tech to build long-term customer stories that keep clients coming back for more.
This is where project management and analytics fit into the RevOps framework.
Insights teams use data science and business analysis to create strategies backed by reliable information. They produce the best possible plans for how to move forward.
Different teams working with their own limited datasets is a recipe for half-baked plans that miss the bigger picture. With a central insights team, you could give companies a full-stack view of how they’re doing across all their operations—not just a select few.
Having each of your departments use their own stack of software just doesn’t make sense. It’s like putting people who don’t speak the same language at the same desk.
A Tools team, in contrast, drives a single tech vision to power your entire customer story.
Say goodbye to separate groups for CRM, for SQL, for social media analytics. With a Tools team, you can think up, develop, maintain and improve the software and tools for an entire business to rely on.
The benefits of revenue operations
Phew. After all that, you’d better be getting something pretty good in return, right?
How does this sound? A 2019 study by Sirius Decisions showed that public companies with revenue operations departments saw 71% higher stock performance than those who didn’t, plus nearly three times the growth.
And while a boost to profits is always nice, it’s not all just about the numbers.
RevOps also has in-house benefits. By bringing together sales, marketing and customer success, you can make it easier for employees to understand their place in the system and provide consistently great work.
This, in turn, increases stability and cuts out delays. No more time wasted checking and validating data sent from one cubicle to the next—once something’s done, it’s done.
That’s the key to predictable growth. Predicting what your company’s finances will be a year from now is far more valuable to them than short-term profit. Why? It lets them invest in new strategies and markets without fear, all thanks to you.
This increased cohesion also makes a company more adaptable to market changes.
If outside circumstances mean you have to shift in a new direction, there is only one central hub to update—not three separate departments that might lag behind each other.
More and more, flexible businesses are the ones able to deliver authentic and personalized customer journeys to clients. It’s special touches like that which make for lasting success.
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Revenue Operations vs Sales Operations
Whenever a Big New Idea enters the business world, it’s easy to question how original it really is. You’re still selling products to customers. What’s changed?
That’s why a lot of people consider revenue operations just a rebranding of Sales Operations, a sales-oriented business strategy that’s been around since the ‘70s.
But that laser-focus on sales is exactly why RevOps was created.
Sales Operations doesn’t try to break out of the world of siloed-off departments. If anything, it reinforces it. By bringing technology and performance management under the banner of ‘sales’, you end up giving way too much responsibility to just one department.
In contrast, RevOps isn’t about sales: it’s about the customer journey. Businesses don’t survive on individual, disconnected sales any more.
RevOps thinks about the customer from the point of contact—that first Google search, that first Twitter hashtag—all the way through to repeat purchases and long-term support.
Careers in revenue operations
Up, up and away: revenue operations is taking off, with no signs of slowing down.
A quick search on LinkedIn shows over three million people with some variant on ‘revenue operations manager’, ‘chief revenue officer’ or ‘revenue analyst’ as their title.
Want something more concrete? According to a 2019 study by LeanData, 35% of businesses in SaaS and elsewhere had a RevOps team or were building one.
OK, so people are working as RevOps managers. But what do they actually do?
For typical revenue operations roles, you’ll need the following skills:
- Deep knowledge of company goals, processes and operations
- Cross-disciplinary communication
- Full-stack technology skills
- Data-driven decision-making
- Quick and adaptable project management – the Agile project management framework is a natural fit
Despite the mounting popularity, RevOps is still fairly niche. The talent pool is growing, but supply is nowhere near demand. That’s why experienced RevOps managers get paid so well – easily over $80k a year at many major companies.
It’s impossible to know what the world of business will look like in fifty years. But one thing that’s certain is that it won’t be the siloed-off departments that we have today.
The way forward is to put the work in to create a clear, unified story for your customers and yourself.
That’s why anyone looking to get in on the ground floor of something big would do well to check out ways to train their skills as a RevOps manager today.
Taking a revenue operations course, covering areas like customer success management, pricing strategies and process frameworks is an excellent way to start.