Last week as I was catching up on RevOps news, I came across SmartBug Media’s panel discussion, “Where RevOps and Inbound Collide in 2021,” about survey results from 200-plus RevOps leaders on what they felt they needed for their organizations to be successful within five years. One of the topics mentioned was the need for alignment, not just RevOps growth.
In this March 2021 panel discussion, host SmartBug Media Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) Jen Spencer said that almost all (95.5 percent) sales teams responding said that they were measured on revenue generation in comparison to 65.2 percent of marketing teams and 44.8 percent of customer success teams. This points to some companies being further along in measuring teams’ impact on revenue generation while others need help getting there, according to Mallory Lee, senior director of revenue operations at Terminus Software.
Mallory’s advice is not to “try to just flick the switch over; don't sign up for a number that you've no context for… because you [will] ultimately hurt your team's morale.” Mallory recommended that companies be methodical and put mechanisms in place ahead of time in order to track progress, avoid inappropriate goals, and figure out what to contribute next year.
Dan Wardle, head of sales at Vidyard, agreed and said that companies need to do forecasts based on measurements. He recommended a collaborative “bottoms-up” approach as he put it, rather than a “top-down” approach in which people set an arbitrarily high number that’s not based in reality.
More than half of survey respondents (58 percent) said that they were planning to hire more people to manage revenue operations in the coming year (i.e., 45 percent said one to three people, 9 percent said four to 10, and five percent said 10 or more.). The rest seemed unconvinced (i.e., 22 percent were unsure, and 19 percent said none).
Mallory sympathized with the difficulties faced by teams of one. She recommended “tackling the biggest goal or problem first, setting the charter and expectations” and resisting the urge to take on other challenges at the same time. “Get consensus from your leadership team what the biggest area of opportunity is and prioritize that way,” per Mallory.
Dan said that centralizing information is key. As an example, he stated that at his company, Vidyard, analysts belong to different teams such as product, sales, and executive, but are in “centralized business operations ... so they're reading data the same way.” This helps them avoid bias or coming up with different answers from each other.
Building your team also depends on your growth, according to Dan. If a company is only growing at 10 percent per year, it might not need more RevOps people if they already have the right team in place. “It's not going to be the same ratio for all.”
Less than 25 percent of survey respondents were satisfied with their team's approach to align on and report on revenue performance metrics. Jen confirmed that she, too, hears this from prospective customers: wanting data to be consistent.
Mallory wasn’t surprised by this, admitting that she always wants more. She suggested that some people “may not be ready to step into RevOps space.” In addition, she said that people have “different, older sources of truth that they could rely on so … this comes down to executive support for everyone to be on the same page.”
At Dan’s company, Vidyard, they didn’t initially know what metrics they needed to know. After a while, they realized that they’d been asking for too many little data points and so needed to step back and ask what actually needed to be measured.
Dan recommended that RevOps leaders ask themselves whether it’s the right metric and what’s the business need they're trying to solve. Then, once they do that, they need to set their teams’ expectations.
Part of this is that “customer success” is still new, and there are fewer platforms that support customer success than those that support marketing or sales, according to Jen. “We're still in the early days of what effective customer success even looks like.”
89 percent of RevOps leaders said that adding custom integrations will be critical to their company's success in the next five years. 38 percent said they were very likely to build or buy new integrations to add more connectivity to their CRM or marketing automation platform. 50 percent were somewhat likely, and only 12 percent were unlikely.
Dan remarked that, while it depends on the company’s needs, “your home-baked platform's never going to automatically sync to your CRM.” Mallory stated that for those in the technology industry, it’s important to understand how their own platform is being used by customers. She added that even with great tools, there are “customizations that need to happen.”
60 percent of companies surveyed were somewhat satisfied with their current system's abilities to share data across departments. In addition, 57 percent of survey respondents said that their sales, customer success, and marketing teams used five to 20 internal technology tools. 30 percent said fewer than five internal technology tools, and 20 percent said 11 to 20.
Companies need to have the basics such as a marketing platform, CRM, and sales platform, according to Dan. However, having too many tools is problematic because having a greater number of integrations means constant opportunities for them to break.
Jen recommended that team members audit their technology stacks to potentially discover redundancies or gaps as well as to ensure they don’t forget anything. She generously offered the free use of SmartBug Media’s martech stack audit template for this purpose.
RevOps is still in its infancy, but we can already start defining and implementing best practices that apply to companies of all sizes. We need to follow a customer-first approach that’s supported by data and technology alignment, metrics measurements, custom integrations, and information prioritization and centralization. I’ll keep these insights in mind as I learn more about RevOps.