Revenue Operations

Marrying your Process to your Tech & Scaling a RevOps Org

We chatted with Nicole Smith, Director of Revenue Operations at Greenlight Guru about building better reporting, creating unique solutions to allow your tech to work based on your process, and growing in your revenue operations career. 

Leading the interview is Robert Gammon, Senior Consultant at Cortado Group

More about Nicole:

"As the Director of the Revenue Operations team at Greenlight Guru, I build alignment across the entire revenue organization, including Marketing, Sales and Customer Success. I have a background in technology and currently hold four Salesforce certifications.

I believe that marrying the technology with the process is key and having the ability to create scalable, repeatable processes is essential for long-term growth.

I love discussing how to build unique solutions to allow your tech to work based on your process and build better reporting, and I enjoy helping others continue to grow in their revenue operations career. If you have any questions, I’m here to help!"


Robert Gammon:

Howdy Nicole, super excited to have you on the AMA hot seat with us today!


Erin O'Neill (RevOps Co-op):

Thanks for Joining us, Nicole!


Nicole Smith

Great to be here!


Robert Gammon:

Let’s get started with a few intro points to get everyone introduced to you. You're the Director of Revenue Operations at Greenlight Guru. How did you get into this role and what has been the most eye opening thing you've experienced so far?

Nicole Smith:

During Covid, I actually decided to start consulting on the side. I was introduced to Greenlight Guru through that and have been working with them since around June of last year. One of the things we found is that they had good bones but a lot of manual processes. I built out a lot of automation last year to make it easier for the reps to do their job and I guess we wanted to keep the trend going so I became full time at the beginning of the year!

Since then we’ve been adding to the team building out sales and marketing ops functions along with enablement and technology.


Katrine Reddin:

Hi, Nicole, thank you for doing this AMA! My question for you is for all the smaller teams and startups present here. What RevOps roles, tools or processes would you suggest investing in first? Are there any classic mistakes you see a lot of new/young RevOps teams making?


Robert Gammon:

GREAT question, Katrine!


Nicole Smith:

What a great question. I think the sooner you can get a Salesforce admin (assuming you’re using Salesforce) in the seat the better. What tends to happen is they throw someone in it with very little experience and it creates a lot of extra work down the line. That would be the first thing.

The other thing I would recommend is getting a solid sales engagement tool in place. That sets the stage for efficiency down the line. You can go with the big players like Outreach or Salesloft but for more bootstrapped companies there are way more affordable options that can get the job done like Groove, MixMax, Outplay, etc.

And the third thing I would recommend is getting someone in there to build documentation. It could be a hybrid role for sure, but without documentation you’re setting the stage for silos.

That inherently builds into enablement.


Katrine Reddin:

Amazing, thank you!


Robert Gammon:

What are some key specialties or skills an admin in this startup or micro-environment needs that are different from an admin who works on a large team?


Nicole Smith:

So, I think they really need to understand what Salesforce can do. That’s a key in aligning the technology to the process. Using Trailhead is a great resource for that. What it also allows them to do is understand what their stakeholders are not only asking for, but what the best approach is. Usually with a big team, there comes a point where once you have a developer, they develop everything. No knock on those folks, because they’re extremely talented, but it’s a really easy way to over complicate things. Stick to the basics.

This also teaches them how to tactfully say no while explaining what a better option might be.


Matt Vom (Funnel IQ):

On that same note, Nicole - outside of Trailhead, any other resources out there for folks when it comes to SFDC?


Nicole Smith:

One of my favorite resources is salesforceben.com. Not only is it a great resource for training, but there are articles regularly released on different sales tools available, new Salesforce features, insights into sales ops/rev ops and how to transition from a more Salesforce admin type of role.


Robert Gammon:

I ❤️ Salesforce Ben!

Nicole Smith:

Also, find a mentor. There are tons of Salesforce admins and aficionados out there that are more than willing to help and share.


Robert Gammon:

Such an incredible resource. Trailhead has a Mentor program as well!


Erin O'Neill (RevOps Co-op):

Hey, we have a program for that too! Peer to peer and mentorship 1:1 meetings curated based on your profile and preferences. We use a platform called Meetsy for this.


Nicole Smith:

Mentorship is so great in this particular practice because you can bounce ideas off each other and Salesforce has been around for so long now that you may come across someone that’s already done what you’re trying to do. No sense in reinventing the wheel but maybe modify it to support your business.


Robert Gammon:

Ok so, Nicole, back to the basics. If I'm a RevOps pro and want to gain ground quickly with my organization, what do you think the FIRST step, document, or process should be?


Nicole Smith:

Meet with EVERYONE. One of the big keys to success is communication and building relationships.


Robert Gammon:

Like ... Everyone? Reps? Managers? Support Agents ?


Nicole Smith:

Learn what’s working and not working, but also help them understand how you can provide value.

Everyone. It’s good to understand from the 30,000 ft view but nobody knows better than those in the trenches. Issues that a support agent deals with are much different than those that a sales leader does because they’re naturally more in the weeds.

Chances are they may be more transparent with you than with their leaders. That’s not a bad thing. Be their confidant and ensure they understand that you’re there to make their lives easier.

You’re also likely get the detail you need to help them be more successful or streamline difficult processes they’re dealing with.


Robert Gammon:

One of my favorite activities as an Admin was sitting side by side in the "trenches" and just watching the team go through a process, LIVE on the phone with a customer. I would leave with 50 ideas and "oh heck, you really have to do all THAT".

How does RevOps get a handle on all the "ideas" and pair them up with goals?


Nicole Smith:

Well and on that note, a lot of times, they think that’s the best it gets. It’s really awesome to watch (and sometimes difficult to watch) what they’re doing because you see certain things where you’re like ‘why don’t you just do it this way?’ and a lot of times they don’t know what they don’t know.

It’s human nature to generally pay attention to the things that are more negative. That’s really more of what I look for. Start to understand where their struggles are and what the downstream effects are to pair them with goals. If they ask you for something, think about based on the ask, what are they going to ask for 6 months down the line once they have that, and build a plan to get that done before they even see it coming. Proactivity is key.


Robert Gammon:

#proactivity!


SK:

Nicole, what sort of advice/learnings would you share with someone who is looking to step into a Rev Ops leadership role for their first time?  Specifically, around getting internal sign off on hiring their first direct report?

Nicole Smith:

Have a clear understanding of what the business needs and how your team is going to support it. A lot of times we hire because we’re already going through the issues so we just up and hire someone without a plan. Be intentional.

And secondly, balance the needs of the business with the order in which you hire.

Some folks in your organization may not agree and you need to tell a compelling story as to your why. Use data.


Krystal Diel:

Nicole, I saw you are a reporting wizard! Does your org have an account based model, if so, what are your most important KPIs you measure at the account level?


Nicole Smith:

We are actually currently moving to an account based model. There are vanity metrics that you can always look at like MQAs (marketing qualified accounts) but at the end of the day, what we really care about is how much revenue did they generate.


Build standard KPIs around account and data cleanliness. This is really important because it feeds into your TAM, SAM and SOM. If you are able to get data completeness, you’re going to better understand who your target really is. In addition, understanding how many contacts at each account it takes to close a deal, what are the key industries you’re selling to or those up and coming (it might open a secret door you didn’t know about).


What value based activities are contributing to your most qualified accounts? Use that to expand your reach.


Robert Gammon:

How do you typically go about moving leadership away from vanity metrics?


Nicole Smith:

Data, data, data. All day long.


Krystal Diel:

RE: Account based Data: That makes a lot of sense. We have been moving to an Account based model for a while now, and still use MQL as a metric but wondering if it is still a valuable metric to monitor and measure.  How do you see using MQLs in your Account based model, or do you see that as a non relevant metric in an Account Based Model?


Nicole Smith:

So, we look at simple things like MQLs or Close Rate, generally at the beginning middle and end of the funnel, right? But what about the things in the middle? One of my favorite hidden metrics is conversion by stage. Here you can understand if there’s a big drop at a particular stage where they go to closed lost, that’s an education opportunity and possible a process improvement opportunity. which will inherently lift those vanity metrics.


We are actually moving away from MQL and here’s why: We can have 10,000 MQLs come in but if only 10 are qualified, then it’s a pretty big waste of resources. My ideal scenario is to measure how many Sales Accepted Opportunities did we generate
It becomes a more quality based play. If our marketers are concerned with quantity, then the quality will go down.


Now, what this also means, is that this may have an effect on your quotas for your SDRs or AEs and that’s okay. But at least we have solid alignment across the GTM engine. If you have marketing measured on MQLs but then SDRs/BDRs are measured on SAOs, then no one will ever hit their numbers and there’s not a lot of excitement around that.


Rhett Hartsfield:

Hi, Nicole! Thanks for sharing your time with us. RevOps seems to be the entire work of the artist, pulling together the colors and strokes of the company. Terms like #alignment #data #ROI are obvious. But to achieve and get source of truth reporting, how do you accomplish this across the tech stack and not live in spreadsheet land?


Nicole Smith:

What a great question. So, the very first thing is building a data dictionary (for lack of a better term) on not only the metrics the company measures, but how to measure them and where to find them. Additionally, having standard reporting and dashboards that are easy to find and accessible to everyone to increase transparency. We are actually in the process of building out an action plan to create weekly councils to track various metrics. These are run, organized and emceed by the RevOps team, presenting the metrics every week and where we’re seeing trends.


At the end of the day, alignment doesn’t exist if we’re all measuring the same thing a different way.


Robert Gammon:

So what I hear from the last few questions and answers is almost an intentional focus on what kinds of metrics to STOP focusing on. Outside of throwing a graph down and proving it with data, what are some ways RevOps can help the shift?

I know plenty of RevOps pros that are almost consumed with this task today.


Nicole Smith:

Everything is a process, right? It’s not as simple as “I show them data and everything changes.” One could only dream. When we show what’s not working, we should be coming with solutions. Explain the why and have an alternative with a plan and set expectations on what we should see based on that plan.


Robert Gammon:

Would you say that bridging that gap between the proverbial slam down of data, and the coaching required to influence change is what separates the good from the great?
#leadingquestion

Nicole Smith:

Without question, and this is part of building solid relationships. You have no influence if there’s no relationship there. And there’s ways that you can shift the conversation where you can make them think it’s their idea. It sounds bad but people love their own advice 🙂.


What you’re also doing, is setting a standard for what the relationship with RevOps is. It’s really easy for it to become reactive. I dealt with that when I first got to GG. If you’re dropping everything for one small problem then you train your stakeholders to think that you will just drop everything and boom: you’re now a reactive force instead of a proactive nature.


It’s better to do things right than do them fast.


Robert Gammon:

That’s fantastic! Ok so ✅ relationship building is critical to growing in your RevOps career.... and nothing builds a relationship better than empathy. What other soft skills do we need in order to level up?


Nicole Smith:

Empathy is definitely #1. Number 2 is the ability to set proper expectations and let people have an opinion. It makes them feel valued (they are) and they’re more likely to come to you to help build out the business for what’s best for the business. 


Robert Gammon:

Holy cannoli, Nicole, that’s a good one!


Griffin Lee:

Interesting point "allowing your tech to work based on process" I often hear and feel firsthand tech doesn’t work itself...You can't just put tech in place and leave it alone (lol). What is one action you take in your role to allow it to impact your process?


Nicole Smith:

Griffin, you’re 100% correct. It’s not like you just plug it in and go. First off, no one should be buying technology for fun or without a plan. You should be trying to solve a specific problem.

Second, your evaluation process should involve 2-3 vendors and they should be explaining how they can help you solve that problem.

Third, and to your point, technology is not one and done. There are constantly new features being released that can improve your process but they don’t just magically happen. You’ve got to dedicate time to not only understand the new features and how it can impact your process, but also understand how your process is changing over time and you can leverage the tech you have (or if you’ve grown out of it).


Robert Gammon:

Well we are getting right up towards the end of our hour. Nicole, can you sum up what you want our audience to take away from today's session?


Nicole Smith:

I think trusting the process is key but understand that you are part of the process.

  • Learn as much as you can about sales technology even though it’s constantly evolving. Your stakeholders will appreciate your ability to make processes easier that are more often than not cumbersome and/or manual.
  • Invest in yourself. You are your biggest commodity and no one is going to look out for you better than you. Find a mentor, enjoy the journey, learn from your mistakes.
  • Relationships, relationships, relationships.


Robert Gammon:

So awesome getting to talk to you, Nicole, and to everyone who joined in! Thank you!


Erin O'Neill (RevOps Co-op):

Thanks so much for joining us today, Nicole, for running point on questions, Robert, and to everyone else that participated! 🙌


Nicole Smith:

Thank you for the opportunity to be part of the conversation! Anyone can always ping me directly for additional questions on RevOps Co-op or on LinkedIn.

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