We sat down last week with Tyler Simons who is a Revenue Operations (RevOps) expert with Fullcast.  We talked about the current challenges and trends related to RevOps. In case you’re not totally familiar with the concept of Revenue Operations, here’s a good working definition from MaRS:

  • RevOps is the alignment of sales, marketing and customer success operations across the full customer life cycle to drive growth through operational efficiency and keep all teams accountable to revenue. This holistic approach is designed to break down silos between departments.

Altus: How is RevOps viewed by most companies these days?

TS:  I think RevOps is too often viewed as being a support function, living in the tactical world. It’s time that RevOps starts thinking on a more strategic level, given the impact that it can have on a company’s ability to accelerate revenue.

Altus:  When are companies getting started with RevOps solutions these days?

TS: Earlier and earlier. I think RevOps is a little bit of a buzzword and companies know they need it, so they jump in. Our experience is that few companies start into RevOps with a lot of already defined processes. Maybe they’ve bought Salesforce or HubSpot or a similar tool. Some are still using Excel and they’re just tracking names and phone numbers. They’re not really thinking through what they’re going to do with the data long term. They have basic firmagraphic data, such as: where’s the account located geographically, number of employees (probably pulled from LinkedIn), and some basic definition of lead qualification and a little bit about the source of the leads.

Altus: Ok, so starting from there, what’s the right next step?

TS: The next step from there is really spending time on policies. When I talk about policies, I mean the rules of the road.  So on the sales side, there would be policies about territories and accounts. You know, staying in your lane, don’t go and try and steal someone else’s accounts. Or, don’t get bothered about whether the employee count is right or wrong, just sell to the account that’s in your name. Once the basic policies are in place, we move to creating data policies, building out the territory definitions and the lead scoring system.

Altus:  What key trends do you see right now?

TS:  We’re seeing RevOps getting a lot more buying power, especially because they’re managing a lot of the tech stack. We’re also seeing a lot of activity capture and sales management tools. CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) tools are becoming a big deal as are BI tools and planning/forecasting tools. We are also seeing adoption of tools that increase deal velocity like the dialers.  Either companies are using the dialer that’s part of Salesforce, or adopting 3rd party dialer solutions. And of course, there is a lot of adoption of sales engagement tools that can create customized email sequences like Outreach.

Altus: Any other trends?

TS: We’re seeing a lot of point solutions out there which is causing what we believe is unnecessary tool proliferation. We try and stay on the side of caution on that front.  We’ll say, “actually, Salesforce can do this.” Or, “you can take these three tools and put it into one tool.” So we’re trying to help our customers consolidate tools. If they’ve made an investment in Salesforce, we like to make as much use of that platform as we can, rather than layer in a bunch of similar 3rd party tools. Our best practice is to stick with 4-5 major tools. I would have Salesforce, Outreach (including the built-in dialer), a 3rd party data source, and a marketing automation tool.

Lastly, RevOps is being impacted by the trends in revolving sales leadership. We see the average duration of a CRO or VP of Sales to be around 18 months. That can cause some angst on the RevOps side because the new person will want to look at the data in a particular and different way.  Or add new tools. That results in some rework, and frankly some wasted effort.

Altus: What are the top challenges?

TS:  Two top challenges: First, this issue of RevOps being viewed as a support function rather than a strategic weapon. While you definitely need the tactical stuff, you need to have that strategic lens on to help guide the organization and deliver the metrics you need for the program, put the right processes in place, focus on the right things. The second is tech stack debt management. Like tool proliferation, it takes a lot of effort to manage the debt. By that I mean the load of all the stuff that is created from all of the tools. We invariably have a big project when we start with a new customer cleaning up their data and making sure all the tools are interoperating optimally. It’s a big, big problem.

Altus: Any final thoughts?

TS:  Just that it’s amazing when you get everything set up correctly, the impact that RevOps can have on sales velocity. It can grease the wheels of the entire sales process.