Eric Steeves, Fractional CRO at 21 Knots, is a full-cycle sales veteran in B2B and B2C services. He’s focused on go-to-market strategy, community building, revenue operations, partnerships, customer acquisition, customer experience, execution, and change management. We’re fortunate he took the time to share his journey from sales to revenue operations and beyond!
Eric’s journey started all the way back in college where he used one of the very first automated dialing systems to ask people, “Do you have time to take a quick survey?”
“So I had to learn that clucky green-screen DOS tech stack with dial-up momentums, while also converting like nobody’s business on the phone.”From there, his next step was into a position familiar to many with high-volume outbound experience.
"Companies hired me as a business development person - sitting awkwardly between marketing and sales, not fitting into either place. But luckily, I was good at it."
After helping a couple of companies in the junk removal space grow – and learning a ton of technical skills in sales and marketing along the way – we jump to the late 2010s when Eric launched a Salesforce agency. It didn't take him long to realize that he wasn't in the business of Salesforce administration. Companies needed business analysts, consulting for specific use cases, and optimizing for particular outcomes.
"It wasn't until late 2019 that I had even heard the term RevOps, and I figured out that was what I was doing. And that is when I became laser-focused."
Eric paved his way to becoming a RevOps consultant and expert by first learning skills used by siloed go-to-market teams. He noticed early on the importance of seeing a company's strategic vision and connecting the dots to realize goals tactically. Now, he uses these skills to maximize the output from their systems and processes.
Everyone’s background in RevOps is a little bit different from the next, and that’s okay! However, there are a few skills that the best revenue operations professionals have in common. Throughout our chat with Eric, four skills came up time and time again, and we agree they are core assets to have when setting off on a revenue operations career path.
This will be a no-brainer to some and a nightmare to those with social anxiety (not that we're pulling from our own experience 😬). However, even the most introverted RevOps pro will acknowledge that this skill is essential for anyone looking to climb the corporate ladder.
"It is one thing to be able to say, 'Here's my experience, and here's who I have worked for.' It's an entirely different story to have someone else say, 'Here is someone that you need to know.'"
Eric's number one networking pro tip is to join and actively participate in one or more communities. It's a great way for introverts and extroverts to expand their knowledge and develop meaningful connections.
When we receive positive feedback about the RevOps Co-Op, it typically revolves around how valuable people find getting to know others, seeing their problems, and receiving advice from people who have experienced nearly identical scenarios. Proactively offering advice and thanking those who provide their expertise can open new opportunities you might have never discovered otherwise.
One of the skills Eric credits back to his sales background is understanding how change impacts people within the organization.
"It is important to remember that every piece of tech has a person behind it, and that person has unique thoughts and feelings. That's why a skill like empathy is so important."
Even if you don't come from sales, spending time with people using the systems and asking for a glimpse into their day-to-day will build empathy. It's easy to get lost in what leadership thinks is efficient or necessary – or focus on features rather than the whole picture. Sometimes, we forget about people using the tool and how changes may impact their workflows and processes.
Developing empathy is an excellent skill for building healthy change management steps like communicating often, representing the end-user, and testing things out to see how they'll impact someone's workflow before pushing something live.
One of the resources that Eric finds most valuable (also listed below) is a book called Tech-Powered Sales: Achieve Superhuman Sales Skills, which introduced him to the idea of technical quotient or 'TQ.'
Eric attempted to break down TQ into the simplest of definitions:
"Learning how to judge the complexities of how tech can impact your efforts."
Eric gave an example. He asked us to imagine that our job is to send sales emails to prospects. You might be focused on creating the best copy and subject line, but you should be thinking about whether your messages are going straight into a spam folder or if you are getting false flags that your email has been opened when it might not have been.
The most successful RevOps professionals know to look beyond the obvious, tap into specialized resources, or have experienced similar scenarios and know the potholes to avoid.
We can't possibly know everything. Sometimes success hinges on knowing what you don't know and compensating for a shortcoming by reaching out to people in our network (see skill #1) with expertise in the system or process. Which brings us to…
Eric called out how diverse the definitions of revenue operations are across companies and experts. Because of this, there are many ways to land in the RevOps ecosystem and provide value. Regardless of how people end up in RevOps, self-awareness is crucial to your success.
"You should be able to be specific about how you add value in RevOps and communicate that value effectively."
Knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie and how you think you would best fit into RevOps is the big first step many need to take to make a successful transition. What are you good at? How can you provide value? What are the things you still need to learn?
As you advance in your RevOps career, that same self-awareness will come in handy over and over. For example, if you're building your team, the best leaders hire people with skills to complement their own, not a Mini-Me (that's an Austin Powers reference for those staring at the reference in confusion).
We closed our conversation with Eric asking for some recommendations for resources every person who wants to be a RevOps professional should look into. Here are some of his top picks when it comes to learning centers, communities, and books that he thinks you need to know about.
“The most important thing is to find and follow your ‘North Star.’ Figure out where you want to go and start to find the steps that you can take to get there.”
The word Rōnin literally means "wave man". It is an idiomatic expression for 'vagrant' or 'wandering man' - someone who finds the way without belonging to one place. A samurai who serves the world, not one master.
Eric Steeves is a full cycle sales veteran in B2B and B2C services. Expert in multi stakeholder sales and reducing sales friction. Trained in incident command. Effective in uncertain environments as a leader and a force multiplier. Focusing on go-to-market strategy, community building, revenue operations, partnerships, customer acquisition, customer experience, execution, and change management.
He is platform agnostic, client focused, human centric, and capable of scaling success with a tech stack.
When CAC is high, there’s certain areas you might not think to look within your revenue organization. Here’s some questions to get you started.
If you've been in B2B SaaS for more than a month or two, you've noticed that marketing and sales don’t get along. This is what RevOps can do to fix it.