Some things in RevOps will never change:
Being in revenue operations can be frustrating. But you are uniquely positioned to see market trends first and help businesses adapt.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. We’ve been in enough startups to know that what executives “feel” is right usually matters more than what the data says. However, accepting the shifting landscape and sharpening skills you’ll need in the future will help you succeed – even if your company’s leaders refuse to heed the writing on the wall.
Join us as we look at what the data tells us about 2023 to make predictions about how we, in revenue operations, will need to adjust in the coming months and years.
Historically, B2B investors and seasoned leaders have scaled companies by building out sales organizations. Marketing is typically the last department they invest in because they know their network is more likely to take a chance on a product early in its development cycle.
We don’t see sales going away any time soon. Word-of-mouth referrals and selling to people you know will always be necessary, particularly with enterprise sales involving highly complex products. However, it’s foolish to ignore what buyers tell us through surveys and the lack of responsiveness we’ve all seen in the B2B space.
These statistics should serve as a wake-up call for anyone in B2B:
It’s becoming increasingly clear that marketing should no longer be an afterthought. Fractional leaders with proven track records will need to be brought into organizations closer to the company’s inception. Hiring the cheapest talent to spin up content and social media won’t work.
Business leaders and investors who push for large inside sales teams and insist on scaling sales to hit an annual number will be forced to accept a new reality or risk undermining their chances of succeeding. To paraphrase Charles Darwin and quote some business professor at LSU, “Adapt or die.”
What does this mean for RevOps?
What’s vital for RevOps to understand is that for marketing to make a significant impact early on, they’ll need help with product-market fit analysis and constructing an infrastructure capable of tying their digital efforts to revenue. We’ll also need to help them take a scrappier approach to personalization earlier in a company’s growth.
Customer success will also need more resources invested in analytics because they’re under more pressure than ever to prove a return on investment to customers. This will require working closely with customers to understand how the product impacts profitability, efficiency, or other core statistics that your customer’s CFO will find compelling enough to continue paying for your product.
Attainment is more challenging to realize in today’s market. According to research done with Pavillion, only 27% of sales reps hit quota in H1 of 2023. We can’t blame this shocking number on just the recession – as with any business problem, there are multiple contributing factors. Unfortunately, we’re pretty sure things will get worse before business leaders prioritize fixing the problem.
SaaS products continue to become more customizable and complex. I suspect this has a great deal to do with the fact that only 13% of clients feel a salesperson can comprehend their wants. Many companies rely on a sales manager to provide enablement support early on, but this is insanity with a highly technical product.
Anyone in RevOps who has been the primary decision maker for a major software purchase knows that the first demo call is a complete waste of time – the salesperson inevitably will realize they aren’t “technical enough” to answer our questions and schedule a follow-up with their engineer.
Business leaders must invest in enablement professionals who can:
Anyone in sales will tell you that it’s easier to sell a product with a strong reputation in the market. Building that awareness in reputation takes marketers who understand your ideal customer profile and the personas that engage in the buying process – and then build a digital experience to match. It also takes talented customer support professionals who understand how to quickly help customers realize product value and measure return on investment.
What does this mean for RevOps?
Once business leaders realize they can no longer “mail it in” regarding their marketing strategy and can’t wait to invest in enablement, the next step will not be hiring a CMO or expensive enablement experts.
Marketers have outsourced to skilled contractors for ages to supplement their workforce when they need an incremental bump to support a major tradeshow or specialized project work. It’s also a common practice in operations. This isn’t going to change.
Fractional services have been up 57% since 2020 for good reason. With the ability to hire skilled fractional leaders (provided your CEO or CRO knows what to look for), you can bring someone into the organization much earlier without destroying your cash runway. We hope leaders lean into these resources to avoid significant missteps early in a company’s development that can take months or years to undo.
What does this mean for RevOps?
Any time there’s a change in leadership, there is a period of chaos for revenue operations as they scramble to figure out whether key metrics the new lead cares about are being captured, create fields to support new selling methodologies, and review tool requirements. We recommend researching key metrics that are considered best practice across the go-to-market team and putting them in place now to prevent fire drills.
We’ve spent a lot of time shouting about the changes in buyer behavior that should have us all scrambling to adapt. Revenue operations is no exception.
In several surveys (including our own), it’s pretty clear that revenue operations is defined differently across companies.
Some organizations view it as a supplemental team with specialized skills to augment existing functional operations departments. Some organizations still see it as advanced sales operations. Some still don’t have a revenue operations department. Other organizations see it as a centralized group that supports every go-to-market team.
If you’ve made it this far, you can probably guess that we’ll say revenue operations should support every go-to-market team – and you would be right. But if your business leaders don’t see it the same way (yet), we encourage you to do everything possible to create strong alignment with your functional operations coworkers.
Many of the RevOps Co-op webinars and content have been geared toward sales support because that’s where revenue operations departments still lean. This must change – and it’s why we’re making a concerted effort to incorporate plenty of customer success operations and marketing operations sessions into 2024’s RevOpsAF conference in May.
For businesses to succeed, we must move away from intuition-based decision-making in leadership. This means coaching leaders to pay more attention to leading indicators to learn when to stop an underperforming initiative. It means more data reviews for team members so they understand what’s working and what isn’t.
It also means that revenue operations professionals can’t afford to assume that what they’ve seen work in past years will work now.
Businesses need to prioritize marketing analytics to minimize wasteful spending and maximize the understanding of how the department impacts the organization. Customer success must become masters of demonstrating return on investment and quickly proving the product’s value. It should be revenue operations’ job to ensure these things happen.
B2B companies need all go-to-market teams functions operating at peak performance to survive today’s market. We encourage operations professionals to leave their comfort zones and learn the KPIs, systems, and skills needed to support the broader organization.
Marketing is swimming in data, but they don’t always have the right infrastructure or people in place to translate that data into actionable insights.
The utility player in baseball can do it all - play infield, switching between shortstop and bases, cover the outfield, and even maintain respectable hitting stats. Breadth and versatility are key, which, when you think about the role of RevOps, sounds pretty familiar, right?