It’s your first day on the job, and according to our survey, odds are better than 1-in-2 that you’re a team of one. Of course, everyone wants to start their job perceived as THE domain expert, but it can be hard to keep calm when 20 different projects are thrown into your inbox before you even begin.
As someone expected to bring a little order into a chaotic organization, it’s essential to arrive with a plan. If we were to do everything all over again, we’d use this outline to organize and prioritize the chaos starting on day one. This is written for operations professionals that oversee the maintenance of systems and analytics for the go-to-market functions.
My bosses probably knew I was in the process of quitting my job every time because I’d throw on headphones and spend hours typing. I wasn’t writing a manifesto, I promise! I was preparing an explanation of the core systems - what they did, how they interacted, and why we needed them - hoping that the next person didn’t walk in and rip something necessary out.
Sometimes my replacement took the time to read the tech overview I provided, and sometimes they exploded reporting capability for years. The point is, I tried, and hopefully, your predecessor did too. So ask around, check Google Drive, and see if there’s also a license for a project management tool that would explain where all of the project documentation lives.
If you didn’t have a predecessor or they managed requests in Slack and email and “didn’t have time for documentation,” you have your first task - documenting the requests sitting out in the world, determining where you’re going to keep your to-do list, and figuring out a way to get your stakeholders to use the new process.
For more on why and how to use a project management system to build use cases, check out this article.
As long as there is a sales team selling your products, the secrets held by a go-to-market organization can be unlocked with funnels.
When I look at the CRM, I’m trying to figure out the framework (if one exists at all) for the funnel. If some of the stamps for early stages are stamped by an integration with marketing automation system, I ask for access or documentation. Hopefully, your organization has gone through the process of defining its stages and double-checking that the systems are configured to mirror those definitions.
If your organization doesn’t have a funnel in place, you have your first major project.
If your organization does have a funnel, you’re still likely to find complaints about the quality of leads, suspicions that the system is rigged, or open disagreement between teams about what “qualified” means. Chances are high that retooling the funnel will be your first major project even if one exists.
At the very least, you’ll become familiar with your organization’s average sales size and duration, and familiarize yourself with core conversion rates. This information will serve you well when designing QBR reports or discussing system updates.
If you’re an entirely product-let-growth (PLG) organization, you’ll be busy running reports for marketing and trying to figure out how to tie campaign data to product signals. However, research shows that organizations are more successful when they pair PLG and sales, so advocating for a sales department and prepping the systems for their entree into your organization will soon be a top priority. So on day one, I would start thinking about how I can get critical/high intent product signals into my CRM ASAP.
Whether IT, department ops, or some other group owns the software, you’ll need to get familiar with the systems used by each go-to-market group, how they integrate, and what data is readily available for reporting.
If you’re responsible for software acquisition and maintenance, now is a perfect time to develop a list of software, which department relies on it, the cost, and link out to the contract. In smaller organizations that pride themselves on adaptability and speed, you’ll likely find a lot of functionality overlap. We’ve experienced much resistance to reining in software purchases, but it’s a necessary good (we can’t bring ourselves to call it an “evil” because it isn’t with all of the waste we see).
Ideally, this project parallels your funnel investigation and our next major milestone, the tech ecosystem diagram.
The tech ecosystem diagram serves two important functions:
Allowing people to purchase tools can lead to bad behaviors, including not checking whether the tool integrates with your major systems. Even in an early startup, business leaders are expected to justify their spend with results, and you can’t do that if you’re operating in a silo.
Whenever I start at an organization, I ask for the org chart. I want to meet with every leader who will take the time to do so and ask them some open-ended questions:
Other than a fact-finding mission, I use those meetings to share my philosophy about revenue operations, my goals, and how I’d like to become someone they can rely on for early insights.
I also ask them for the name of a superstar on their team, a person who’s diligent but not over-achieving, and someone who just won’t use the systems given to them. Then I ask very similar questions to those stakeholders:
I don’t ask sales if they think opportunities have too many required fields or validation rules, if their approval process takes too long, or if they hate their comp plan. Instead, I start by talking about how my job is to make their lives easier, and I’d like to know what they feel is slowing them down.
If they end up sharing that the CRM is difficult to use, great. More often than not, you’ll start to pick up on cues that departmental friction exists and there’s some frustration with the product, leads, or another part of the selling process. You’ll also probably hear about any dissatisfaction with compensation plans, account distribution, and many other factors you can influence from your seat in revenue operations.
The first one-to-two months should be spent understanding why the systems and processes are the way they are. I’ve learned the hard way that expressing disbelief or irritation with how a system or process is set up only serves to:
It’s not unheard of to inherit a CRM instance from someone doing the best they could with zero experience, but you’ll often inherit something that was cobbled together a certain way for a good reason. Of course, that reason probably doesn’t exist anymore, but there’s always a reason why someone puts in a validation rule, flow, or some other effort to customize things.
Once you’ve had enough time to understand why things were done a certain way and whether or not they conflict with how people want to do things in the future, you can begin a project roadmap.
In revenue operations, our to-do list never shrinks. More and more projects loom on the horizon, and you’ll always have a backlog. Understanding your tech ecosystem and the gaps in your setup compared to like-stage organizations will help you continuously amend and prioritize future issues.
Coming soon: We’re in the process of developing a comprehensive checklist in our knowledge center. Let us know if you’d like more details on evaluating territories, compensation, onboarding processes, and more in future content!
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