Blake Kendrick is the RevOps Manager at Thankful.ai, and he’s seen a lot of what works and what doesn’t in his experience working for a range of B2B revenue teams. His background in psychology doesn’t let him read minds, but it has certainly helped with introducing change and creating standardization for RevOps professionals.
Is this why some people resist the efforts to create standardization? They think it’s the work of the Borg and they’ll all become one vanilla, mass collective devoid of original thought or joy?
If that’s the fear, we’ve got to get around it. Because the payoff is worth it. It’s past time to think about fearless ways to introduce standardization into RevOps to create more efficient outcomes. Blake Kendrick, RevOps Manager with Thankful, brings a background in psychology to his role along with a wealth of experience in the B2B space. He’s seen the value to be gained in creating a common approach and it has nothing to do with filling up a massive square space entity.
“You’d be surprised, with all the different [company] offerings, really, the structure is the same,” he says. “The measurements and the main objectives that each department has can sometimes clutter things up.”
For example, marketing might be sucked into the wormhole of generating net new leads, webinar attendees, or other campaign metrics that don’t consider the other functions (sales & client success) enough... We can make things sooooo much simpler when we realize one fact:
“Everybody’s goal is to generate a customer and provide the best customer experience along the way.”
With that as your North Star, as Blake says, it doesn’t matter what a company sells; the structure is the same. The intended outcomes are the same, too.
The loop from the customer and market-facing systems back to the internal organization gives those teams what they need to know. Creating alignment in that loop is where the glitch in the system sometimes crops up. Whether it’s the feedback itself or how internal teams talk to each other about the information, there can be static that turns crystal clean information into something like the telephone game you played at kids’ birthday parties.
‘His left sandwich is down from New York?’
‘No, no no! The original message was, “his best friend is smoking some pork!’ How did you not get that?’
Static. Glitches. Gaps. Call it what you like, but the information gets muddy.
Blake says especially with remote roles, communication is key and RevOps can take a starring role in delivering clarity.
“Alignment and communication feedback between those teams is paramount,” he says. “Everybody’s always looking for the best practices and how to deploy sequences. But really, we want to tie back to a meaningful impact and that’s the customer generation and revenue generation.”
And like an expert technician with a deep understanding of both where this spaceship is headed and how it works, RevOps steps in to help fill those gaps and provide better communication between formerly disparate functions. While RevOps team members may report into sales or marketing, (Blake reports to the CMO), ultimately, the role is responsible to the entire revenue organization. From top to bottom. RevOps professionals are on the bridge helping with navigation and below deck performing routine maintenance on the warp drive.
That role can be hard when there are constant questions about whether engineering is going to deliver what sales expects; if the target market has been properly identified; and if educational content from marketing reflects the true value that the product offers. Everyone has an opinion and a need and they don’t always align.
How very un-Borg-like.
“I think objectivity is very important. It all starts with recognizing ownership and accountability throughout the organization,” he says. “Everyone’s goals should be very revenue-centric.”
While division of responsibility happens early in a company’s growth and information goes into the CRM to inform everyone of what’s happening, are the right people doing the work in the right way? Can the best of systems be replicated & scaled? Are blocks being identified & acted upon quickly?
“I think RevOps has a responsibility to guide that a bit because they are sort of overseeing different elements of the organization,” he says. “Ultimately, there is a structure that everyone needs to follow that looks the same every time.”
When things don’t look the same every time and the resulting data is crap, it’s time to create the changes that will lead to standardization of activity & outcomes.
In a perfect world, Blake has been able to start with executives, outline changes through explanation of the interactions among teams, and see everyone come on board with the reorganization plan.
But come on, the world is definitely not perfect.
“There’s a whole secret sauce to adoption that takes place,” he says. “Everyone’s going to be resistant to things that they don’t know about.”
Making expectations clear at the outset makes change adoption easier on everyone. However, how one salesperson interprets the way they click, and type and report is going to be different from another’s perspective. How does what they input answer management’s questions? There may be changes required to day-to-day fundamentals.
“Ultimately, this is not an art and a lot of training organizations in the sales space will try to position it that way and provide a qualification framework and all that stuff,” he says. “It’s not an art. It’s a science.”
The Barenaked Ladies may have said it’s all about value and they’re right. That’s the only way to achieve true buy-in.
“It’s about selling the value of what you’re changing in a way that makes sense for them,” Blake says. “We want to reduce the level of work that’s necessary for you to make an impact and drive income, so you feel like your efforts actually make sense.”
When change is presented this way and can be demonstrated through the process, it’s a whole lot easier. However, Blake cautions that the value piece changes from person to person.
“You have to find what those value statements are and tie them back to what works in the process, what’s achievable and what’s accessible.”
When KPIs are the same, the standardization can be the same, but the value – or the clincher to get people to embrace change – will be different.
“You’ve got to prep those personas,” he says. “But once you have the ingredients figured out for the recipe, the recipe format looks the same from company to company.”
Like so many, Blake wanted to be a video game designer, but he can’t code to save his life. He did however take away concepts in terms of data structure that fit standardizing systems.
“Even understanding just how you would effectively structure a CSV table to have the highest level of information down to the granular level,” he says. “I’m continually surprising myself in terms of how I can apply that same concept to how we want to approach projects.”
Another one of Blake’s takeaways? He suggests The Fifth Discipline, by Peter Senge, is a little bit of a dense read but gives a great appreciation of systems-based thinking.
To some, RevOps is the glue that holds the entire go-to-market function together. To others, it's like trying to convince your dad that a Tesla Model S is a faster, smoother, and more comfortable ride when all he wants is his tried and true ’65 Lincoln Continental.