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It’s Time for Some Tough Love: RevOps Needs to Prove Itself

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Last week, while attending an engaging RevOps Co-Op webinar on treating RevOps as a product, I heard a phrase that struck me as wrong on several levels. I agreed with almost everything else the person said throughout the webinar. Still, this phrase clarified what needs to change for revenue operations to be seen as an essential, legitimate member of the go-to-market team.

I may be paraphrasing because my recall isn’t exact, but the essence of the statement was,

“RevOps is the only function that still has to prove it has a right to exist.”

That statement is flat-out wrong. 

It’s time for some tough love, my fellow revenue operations professionals. 

Every single person at any company is replaceable. Every department other than revenue operations has specific key performance indicators by which they are judged. 

People are too self-involved and concerned with their teams’ performance to pay attention to what you’re doing daily, and if you want to be seen, it’s up to you to figure out how.

It’s time to accept that proving your worth is expected in corporate and develop the skill sets necessary to do so.

Do Other Departments Really Need to Prove They Belong?

It’s tempting to believe that other departments get preferential treatment because they are accepted as necessary. For example, in the early days, engineering, product management, finance, and sales all seem like no-brainers. Right?


In a company’s infancy, the future success of that company is largely dependent on who and how the founders or CEO decide to build out departments. Finance and engineering are often outsourced to a large degree, if not wholly, and business leaders go through the process of determining what kind of go-to-market strategy they’ll lean into.

Contrary to the earlier days of B2B, in a day and age when product-led growth is possible, even sales is optional. Many business leaders are stubbornly trying to scale by hiring the sales headcount they think they need to hit a goal, but that scaling method is showing signs of failure. How people prefer to buy is evolving, and business leaders have yet to catch up.

Still not convinced that other departments face the same level of scrutiny that revenue operations does?

Let’s look at marketing, which is still jokingly called “the arts and crafts department” by some business leaders.

If you look at most B2B startups, the founder understands they need a website to appear legitimate. Still, they don’t understand the risks of setting up their own website without someone who can think through target personas and the language that resonates with them. Early on, they hire a green content marketer because they believe their product is so fabulous and marketable that simply appearing regularly on social media will help them build awareness.

Marketing is the last go-to-market team to be fully staffed and the first to face budget cuts in times of crisis.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad marketing in B2B, but I would argue this is mainly because B2B business leaders under-invest in the function. The most talented marketers migrate to B2C and are seen as so fundamental that they own the P&L. 

B2B investors are largely responsible for this lack of investment because they see marketing as optional. (Don’t believe me? Hear it straight from the mouths of these investors in a recent interview.) They coach their CEOs to hire as few marketers as possible.

If you’re still clinging to the thought that RevOps is unfairly targeted by leadership, consider the following:

  • Each quarter, a salesperson risks their job if they don’t hit their quota
  • Sales VPs must prove their ability to forecast their teams’ numbers accurately
  • Sales VPs rarely survive multiple quarters of falling short of the goal
  • CMOs are usually under fire before a Sales VP is let go
  • 80% of CEOs say they don’t trust or are unimpressed with their CMO
  • The VP of CS is responsible for churn, whether the product is largely at fault or not

Every go-to-market team is under pressure to prove their value. Why should revenue operations expect to be treated differently?

How Do Employees Prove Value?

As a revenue operations professional, you know better than anyone else that departments are held to key performance indicators. Within each team, each frontline representative has specific goals they are held to. These goals align teams with the overall company objectives.

People prove their value to the company by:

  • Contributing revenue
  • Reducing expenses
  • Increasing efficiency
  • Delighting customers

It is simply a fact that people will not go out of their way to observe and admire what another person is doing for the company. It needs to be obvious. There must be an opportunity to observe and acknowledge the impact. This can happen organically for revenue operations professionals who go out of their way to support sales (they are vocal when appreciative) by making their jobs easier by streamlining systems and removing friction from the order process.

Most of us, though, need to think of ways to prove that what we’re doing goes beyond a well-configured CRM or timely reports. We must take the initiative to uncover projects that will improve go-to-market efficiency. Then, we must go beyond executing these projects and think through goals and metrics. We must establish benchmarks and check in three, six, and twelve months after the project to see if we’ve positively impacted key metrics.

We can also calculate opportunity costs by timing how long it takes people to perform a task and then calculating the time and money saved if the time to perform the task is cut in half.

When revenue operations professionals take the time to measure their impact – on revenue, efficiency, expenses, or delighting customers – they can then communicate their impact to business leaders in terms that they understand and will remember. 

How Can RevOps, as a Function, Prove Its Worth?

Go-to-market teams are responsible for developing a yearly plan that includes pipeline and bookings goals, and they are responsible for a budget.

Revenue operations should be held to the same standards.

Metrics that revenue operations professionals should track on a regular basis include:

  • Software expenses
  • Consulting expenses
  • Order volume processed (if a deal desk function falls under your purview)
  • Compensation plan delivery
  • Campaign volume supported

Beyond these core metrics, revenue operations teams should measure benchmarks regularly so they understand the impact changes to systems and processes have on these benchmarks. Let’s outline a few metrics and which projects may positively impact them.

Time from contract received to processed 

Handoffs between teams are vulnerable to inefficiencies. One of the more noticeable friction points is the transition from contracted customers to onboarding or implementation. 

In sales-led companies, one of the most significant sources of frustration for salespeople is a bumpy contract process. A lack of standardization or processes can slow things down and put customers at risk before they sign. Revenue operations can significantly impact efficiency by standardizing processes and consistently communicating with the sales team to ensure they understand how to get their contracts accepted quickly.

Whether you’re in a product-led company or supporting a large sales team, the sequence of events after the contract is signed is ripe for optimization. Automated communication sequences, pointing people to helpful resources, and thinking through automated processes after initial log-in can all make a massive impact on the customer experience.

Time from lead received to qualified

Again, handoffs are ripe for inefficiency. Some sales managers don’t see value in marketing leads, and revenue operations can help understand why. Are the leads not of consistent quality? Do the teams not agree on the definition of the lead? Are all systems firing as they should be? 

All of these questions can uncover opportunities for greater efficiency. Greater efficiency means your sales team can uncover more pipeline from fewer leads. This means you should see pipeline per salesperson increase, lead conversion rates increase, and time to lead qualified decrease.

For more on optimizing the marketing-to-sales handoff, check out this article.

Opportunity Win Rate

Salespeople call data entry an “NSA” or “non-selling activity.” They don’t see the value in updating a system when they have all the in-flight information in their heads.

Communicating how win rates and forecasts are used to staff customer success can go a long way in convincing sales to care about forecasting accurately. If sales understands how marketing uses conversion data to determine which events to do (or discontinue), you’ll also see better hygiene on the front end of the deal cycle. Win rates and predictability help the business plan appropriately.

Other projects that can positively impact the close rate include opportunity interviews and product feedback from customers, enablement initiatives, call analytics, and reports that help managers more quickly identify coaching opportunities. 

If you want to be seen as more than someone who takes and executes requests from management, look for ways to align your team with company objectives by seeking out projects that will make a positive impact. Measure your impact. Communicate your impact. I guarantee you will see your perceived value in the company go through the roof.

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