Revenue Operations

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Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op)

Hello RevOps Co-op! We are kicking off an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Toby Carrington, a senior leader in RevOps. A little more background on Toby:


Toby is the SVP of Revenue Operations at Seismic and currently lives in Austin with his family. He is an experienced senior leader and board member across a variety of industries in the commercial and not for profit sector and prior to Seismic led Global Sales Operations & Enablement for Siemens Healthineers. He has lived and worked across multiple international assignments in the USA, Germany, Singapore and Australia in a variety of commercial and operational roles. Toby has undergraduate degrees from Monash University in Australia and an executive MBA (honors) from ESMT Berlin. He is an early stage investor and advisor in many start-ups across a wide variety of industries including SaaS, fintech, food and beverage and medical technology.

Welcome, Toby! Before we get into the serious topic of all things RevOps, what's your favorite food and beverage?

Toby Carrington

Hey Camela!
Favorite food......hmmmm. Steak Frites.
I am Australian so I love all things grilled on a BBQ.



Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op) 

Oooh... good choice. Carbs and protein are always a great combo.


Toby Carrington 

Beverage - currently any sort of refreshing drink.  It's hot in Austin.


Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op) 

I think I remember from the last time we talked, you had quite the career journey in finance before switching up to RevOps. What inspired the change?

Toby Carrington 

I loved numbers and sales and I figured that RevOps was a great combination of both.

I think that in today's sales world, data is becoming more and more important.

Janelle Nash

Toby, What are the most successful use cases for Seismic? Why should I consider sales enablement platforms as a RevOps leader?

Toby Carrington

Hi Janelle - enablement, like RevOps, involves bringing together the go-to-market engine.
Seismic works really well for sellers around onboarding, productivity, effectiveness etc but the beauty is also in the handshake to marketing - to see what content works in the field and driving ROI around marketing content creation and effectiveness.


Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op)

That brings us to a wonderful question. In your opinion, should RevOps encompass enablement and systems management or primarily focus on BI/analytics?


Toby Carrington

For us, RevOps covers all GTM Ops (processes, tools, people, data/BI)+ enablement
I believe this is important for efficiency. There should be consistency across key processes (like lead to cash) - that cover multiple departments.
A silo does not own something like a lead, the company owns it. I believe that's why companies are putting more into RevOps to ensure that the engine makes things move smoothly across the teams.

Shim Singh

Hello, RevOps pros! So our company is undertaking a bit of a paradigm shift from demand gen to ABM.

Is it important to have an industry lense when creating your ICP? Why?

Further context:

  • We are a talent marketplace for tech talent (Devs and the like)
  • We are expanding geographically (EMEA)
  • We are aiming for a one to many type approach
  • Our current ICP is based on tech companies at a growth stage
  • We have a massive dev community and are also aiming for network effects as we scale our "Demand" side ie a business community

Toby Carrington 

Shim, it depends a lot for me if the use case is different or not in different industries.  Do you need to create different marketing messaging?  Is for example your product more helpful in regulated industries.  And so forth.  That might shape your decisions.  If the marketing and sales motion is essentially the same regardless of industry then I don't think you need an industry specific lense.


Shim Singh 

Thanks

Use case = Needs to hire developers. So pretty much most companies.

Great point about marketing messaging.

So from a:

Fit - Defined by use case above

Intent - Defines prioritisation of the acc

Relationship - This is the grey area and aiming to understand if Industry can add value here

Engagement - Interacting with marketing channels and also could be benefitted by an industry lense

I also think knowing the market and determining their cyclical nature supports more accurate revenue forecasting and also more effective targeting

Bit on the fence here as industry may support this but also may be a distraction / noise. 🙅


Toby Carrington 

I think you want to be laser focused, so if the industry makes it more complex then I wouldn't worry about it initially.


Shim Singh

Thank you, Toby 🌻

Janelle Nash

How many platforms and what types are important to successful RevOps in your opinion?


Toby Carrington

I have found at least in SaaS that people talk about a core marketing platform (automation e.g. Marketo), a core CRM platform & a core CS platform (e.g. Gainsight).  I believe RevOps should own those platforms and the key platforms that integrate into those systems as it relates to the GTM audience.  For us that is something like 70 apps, but the core ones are conversational intelligence, intent/enrichment, engagement and, of course, enablement.


Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op) 

I think a lot of people are struggling with how to parse out responsibilities across RevOps and what background an ops person should have. I've seen a few different backgrounds contribute nicely to various roles across the team, but I'd love your perspective of who and how we should be hiring.


Toby Carrington 

You won't find someone who can do everything in ops, so it needs to be stage appropriate.  The first few ops hires should be strong in the systems, etc and understand the sales process. As you scale I would add someone who understands higher level strategy (comp, territories etc) and as quickly as possible a BI/data analytics resource.

Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op) 

Thank you for pointing out that one person can't do everything. Early stage companies look for "unicorns" out of necessity, but how can people ensure their company is thinking about scaling ops with the rest of the company to avoid burnout?

Toby Carrington 

This is something I see a lot of people struggle with.  There are a number of resources available (online) that talk about ratios of ops people to sellers/internal customers (places like the sales ops institute, SBI, some of the other bigger consulting firms etc) that can help.  I do think the best way is to really focus on some high value (visible) activities to demonstrate value.  A lot of ops work, especially early, is under the hood and in the background.  I encourage people to find time for some visible quick wins (dashboards, SLA improvement etc etc) to encourage further investment.

Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op) 

In RevOps, I've noticed we see a number of tasks crop up daily and our to-do list never shrinks. What advice would you give people to help pace themselves and detach at the end of the day?

Toby Carrington 

Red wine 😉


Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op) 

LOL

Toby Carrington

Seriously, I recommend creating a demand management approach, and clear communication back to stakeholders. I see RevOps becoming more like DevOps. Organize the work into sprints, work out what can go into each sprint, make sure everyone understands what will happen and not happen and as part of that carve out a bit of time for the ad hoc stuff but being hyper organized and thinking like a DevOps team helps a lot in my experience.

Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op) 

I think you said something very interesting the last time we talked. RevOps can run the danger of being ticket takers instead of strategic business leaders. While I agree a ticket system is crucial to building a business case for more headcount and negotiating priorities, what can people do to balance tickets with strategy?

Toby Carrington

A big part of this is creating the forums/cadence to be involved.  For example - typically rev ops will own the cadence of things like forecast calls, pipeline calls etc.  Set up must win deal calls, deal strategy calls etc also, and by definition then you have a seat at the table for those things.


Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op)

When coaching your team to take more of a leadership role in the company, what are the consistent pieces of advice you see yourself needing to repeat? (I'm not saying all of RevOps fits into a profile, but we do tend to be introverted over achievers LOL.)

Toby Carrington

"Facts kill opinions"

By having the data, you have the right to present the insights that the data shows.

I am also constantly challenging my team with "so what?".  By moving to recommending action, they are leading.

Don't just present something and ask for opinions.

Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op) 

I’m putting that on a t-shirt.


Toby Carrington

I used to have a t-shirt that said "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space", but "Facts kill opinions" is probably better for my current job.

Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op)

What are the critical activities RevOps should insist they are a part of? For example, territory planning? Commissions development? For those of us with a new department, which key functions do you see as a must-be-involved?

For the sake of the company of course 😁

Toby Carrington 

So in my mind even Sales Ops includes territory planning, sales commission etc.  This is typically where RevOps starts.  I would include forecast/pipeline for sure as well as core GTM systems.  Deal Ops/deal desk for me is critical also to be involved in the daily rhythm of the  business.

I view Rev Ops as the pit crew of a Formula One team.

Think about the key things that are necessary for the GTM engine to run smoothly, and involve yourself in all of those.

Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op) 

So KPI development to ensure alignment would also fall under the purview


Toby Carrington

Yes KPI development.  SLA development (e.g. between demand gen and inbound or whatever).  That's why I think enablement should either be a part of Rev ops or very closely aligned - key KPIs around onboarding, ramp, effectiveness, etc. too.

This is the benefit of RevOps - holding all parties accountable and aligned around agreed KPIs or hand-offs, etc.

Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op) 

Businesses often spin up RevOps to solve a specific problem. Sometimes that's issues in sales, marketing, and/or customer success. How does your team battle the bias against ops with some of those teams? I know at one company, sales ops was known as "sales disablement" because of their enthusiasm for data cleanliness.

Toby Carrington

Yeah, I have seen that too.  For me it's all about balance but I do believe that first and foremost RevOps exists to make the GTM team work more effectively.  So "teaching" people how to cleanly enter data is one thing, but showing them the insights or value add they get back by doing so is the right way to do it.  For example, we recently rolled out detailed account planning.  The process of doing an account plan is a bit painful, but we made it also beneficial by giving them a tool that helped them do customer org charts really easily, automatically update Salesforce while doing it etc.  And the process of account review means they get additional executive support.  So we asked them to do things in a more detailed way than they did before, but we returned value to them.


For sales people in particular it’s always easy to orient your thinking around demonstrating to them how you will help them make money by doing things a certain way.

Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op) 

Give and take. I like it! For proving the money making benefit, does your team watch for successes and communicate them out? How do you spread the word?

Toby Carrington

Yep - in the monthly enablement meetings we share win stories, highlight how people have won (that also highlights that they did things we want, like value selling or using a particular tool or whatever).  We share leaderboards and so forth also but typically the way we share success of people "winning by doing it the right way" we use the enablement meetings.


We also frequently have sellers or marketers present our work. e.g. A seller will share how they used an intent dashboard to win a deal


Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op) 

That leads right into my next question...How often and what kind of things do you think RevOps should be communicating to leadership, front line sellers, or marketing?

Toby Carrington

Or a marketer will show improvements in MQL-Demo and link it to the process we implemented.

Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op) 

I think sometimes we get so focused on finished items on our checklist that we forget to celebrate the wins.

Toby Carrington

So my marketing ops leader is considered part of marketing leadership.  Services ops is the same, sales ops is the same etc.  They join all the respective leadership meetings.


I call it "internal marketing".  if you launch a new dashboard, what is the point if you don't actually "launch" it visibly.


We use our own product of course to provide updates on things from Ops, enablement, etc.


And it's very much worth showing people what is going on. We publish calendars of what is happening.We talk about what will be done in what sprint and we share statistics to support the value of all of these things.


Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op)

I love it! And is it also used as an opportunity to give shoutouts to people on the team? Or do they communicate certain aspects themselves?

Toby Carrington

Both - if we roll out a new tool we get whoever was on point to do all the announcements, etc.


As you pointed out not all ops people like the limelight, but I don't think you can say ‘thank you’ (both publicly and privately) enough.

Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op) 

Naturally, my next question is about career development. How do you encourage people on your team to continue learning and choose where to focus next? Big question, I know… 🙂

Toby Carrington

Well we have a great tool that helps people with learning content 🙂


All of my team have personal development goals also


Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op)

Of course!


Toby Carrington 

And we make sure that we fund that.

If anyone wants to be certified on relevant tools etc that should be a given in my view.

I also encourage my team to spend "a day in the life" of their stakeholders regularly

And also to speak regularly to (real) external customers, attend industry events, etc.

Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op)

OH, I love the day in the life. That helped me so much in my career, but can you expand on the types of insights your team gains from that experience?

Toby Carrington 

It's really about understanding how people do things - e.g. if they want to do a quote, what does the seller actually do and then they can figure out if something is wrong with how we present CPQ, or if we can reduce a few steps, etc.

Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op)

It's just a boost of empathy... to see everything they are balancing in their job and how things have such an impact on how easily or difficult they maneuver through the systems, etc.

Toby Carrington

It also builds rapport with internal stakeholders, too.

Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op)

Okay, I have to ask. If you could go back in time, what would you encourage your past self to do more in RevOps and what would you avoid altogether?


Toby Carrington

I wish I was better at analytics, like actually being able to use SQL.

So I would have pushed myself to be better at data science/analytics.
That is increasing in importance, and especially in smaller teams having that skill is gold.

Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op) 

It's such a big skillset in the market right now. It's SO hard to find people who have the skill and I think it's something that's not going away any time soon even with the point and click tools out there.


Toby, thank you SO much for your time and sharing your wealth of knowledge. Is there any advice you'd like to give to people who haven't made the leap to RevOps yet or are coming from a siloed operations team?


Toby Carrington  

Find the quick wins that demonstrate RevOps as a horizontal across the business rather than individual ops silos.  Take an end to end process (like order to cash) and optimize it.  Take the lead on organizing GTM data and bring insights together that are useful for marketing/sales/CS (e.g. a use case like a customer 360).


Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op)

👏👏👏👏👏


Toby Carrington 

Thanks for having me, Camela, always a pleasure to chat.  I must admit I haven't typed this much in an hour for a little while 🙂

Camela Thompson she/her (RevOps Co-op) 

I bet! You earned your 🍷 today!!

Toby Carrington 

🙂 Thank you.  Have a great day.  If anyone wants to chat separately of course please feel free to hit me up.  I am always happy to lend a confidential ear or help if anyone has some questions on Ops or anything else

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