Distributors have a different business model than SaaS providers and most other types of B2B organizations. Their needs are unique. Because of this, there was a gap in the CRM options available to distributors that Proton.ai set out to fill. The company’s approach to spotting a gap and solving a problem is similar to Daniel Cohen’s. It’s a match made in heaven for this RevOps Leader & his team.
Daniel is the Revenue Operations Manager & RevOps Team of 1 with Proton.ai – the AI-based platform that assists with salesmanship and provides a CRM solution specific to distributors. But that wasn’t where his career in RevOps began…
Dan was working as a junior sales person with another organization and just like Proton.ai he saw a gap in that organization’s sales process. He became aware of the scramble he and his colleagues would go through to find similar customers as examples for prospects they were presenting a demo to. So he filled that gap, making it easier for himself and his coworkers to surface relevant reference clients.
“I basically just had all the sheets in Google Drive and I created a couple of dropdowns and made a formula and you had it,” he says. “So, if you’re talking to an HR department in Texas, it’ll give you all the HR departments that use that platform. You could pull it up right in the call.”
He knew he loved that type of work and he recognized that if/when the time came, he’d jump on an opportunity to hold a role more focused on tech and process. He’d met someone in RevOps when he’d taken the sales job and so he already knew what path his career would take. He just needed the opportunity...
“I was like, ‘all right, time to bide your time, put in the work and just hopefully something will work out’ and luckily for me, it all worked out,” he says.
He may not have been the most keen sales person, but the organization he was with saw his ambition and the problem solving he had already done, and let him transition into RevOps.
Not everyone gets the opportunity that Dan did. He recommends getting involved in the Co-op or with the rich communities that have sprung up around Salesforce and Hubspot to build a network in RevOps that can plug you into your next opportunity.
“If you want to transition internally, find a problem and start to work on a solution,” he recommends. “You don’t have to solve the entire thing by yourself. I sure didn’t.”
He says identifying a gap in your own process or that of another department and raising the flag on it allows you to open a conversation.
Then, working with the help of the right people within the organization can lead to bridging the gap and creating a better solution together.
Every organization has different reporting structures, and there is no real consensus on where RevOps should report to. Is it a function of finance? Does it fall under sales? Should an entire Revenue function be spun up with RevOps right underneath that? Dan thinks the type of work expected out of each unique RevOps team will help determine the reporting model for that team’s larger organization.
“I don’t think there’s a wrong answer, but I do think it matters,” he says. “I think you’ll be guided by who you report to. If you report to the CFO, you’ll be very metric driven; CMO, very marketing driven.”
Of course, in an ideal world, RevOps takes all relevant departments’ needs into consideration and serves as an internal 3rd party.
“We’ll be looking for ways to find new avenues to explore, finding issues ahead, new target markets, things like that,” he explains.
But, working with the person in charge of revenue tends to make sense to him since RevOps provides the information needed to help hit revenue targets together with other departments.
RevOps professionals at early-stage companies often start as one person teams and as such, face unique and interesting challenges.. In a role like this, where input comes from all angles, and the line between strategic and tactical can be blurred, it’s important to prioritize.
“Time management is really important,” Dan says. “Also, part of it is not losing focus.”
When there are strategic opportunities that can move the organization ahead proactively, it’s important to not lose sight of them while putting out the day-to-day fires. It can be hard when the work gets overwhelming. He recommends keeping that focus alive, carving out time to work on the small stuff and making sure larger priorities are made clear to those involved.
“And I think the strategic project that you might be thinking about, depending on who you’re reporting to, can vary greatly,” he says. “If you do find yourself reporting to one person, I think it’s really important to get that face time, that exposure and make those connections with other stakeholders.”
Bringing other departments in can also create more efficiencies through an enhanced project scope and potential solutions.
Dan believes knowing personal weaknesses allows those strong teams of one to identify the right time to add someone new to the crew. Obviously, a lack of time to do everything on the to-do list can’t be the determining factor as there is never enough time to do it all. In the meantime, he advises that RevOps pros embrace and enjoy the chaos.
“I think it’s really important to be someone who likes being in that state of perpetual anarchy,” he says. “It’s something that I enjoy. But, being able to say, ‘okay, these are the things that I’m working on,’ helps if you feel like you’re getting overwhelmed by ideas.”
Then, when a project comes up (or multiple projects) that fall outside of your skillset, it’s time to make the pitch for additional help.
“Maybe you can try and do it internally and figure it out yourself, but if it’s going to interfere with everything else you’re doing… that’s a good time to make the argument,” he says.
Being a team of one works for Dan, though. He knows where all the bodies are buried.
Yep, he said that.
“Proverbially, obviously, not literally,” he clarified. “I like being that source of truth.”
RevOps is the central source of truth regardless of an individual department’s views, needs, and biases.. RevOps should be able to strip all that out to present the picture that is accurate to everyone in the organization. They can put their own interpretation on what it means to them when they have the truth on display.
The other benefit of being a team of one is that building things out, knowing the processes and documentation all comes back to you. There’s no interpretation of “what did she mean here?” because it’s all you.
“You don’t have to scavenge for documentation that probably isn’t there,” he explains. “You know what the genesis of things were and you know how things were created.”
Because he has walked the walk, Dan is happy to serve as a source for others in RevOps to find their way or bounce ideas off. Feel free to reach out to him in the community or through LinkedIn.
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