Let’s face it. Ask anyone what RevOps is and what it should encompass, and you’re bound to get a different answer.
Some small companies jumped on a revenue operations title to try to squeeze more out of a single resource (“You have time to be a system administrator for the CRM, marketing automation system, and provide all of our reports, right?” The answer is no. There aren’t enough hours in the day…).
Some companies are trying to unite their go-to-market teams (all of them – not just sales or sales and marketing) through aligned key performance indicators and seamless customer experiences.
And there are a thousand flavors in between.
Is there one way to climb up the corporate ladder in a department with so much variation?
The formula is:
(Strategy + Communication) x Networking = Career Growth
Another way to think about it is: [Experience + Skill] x Emotional Intelligence.
The variables include:
Not everyone wants to manage people. Not everyone wants a seat at the executive table. And that’s more than okay!
A campaign specialist who is terrific at adjusting communication and messaging for peak performance is just as important as someone who drives a broader go-to-market strategy. We need everyone to make a company run smoothly.
If you are of the mindset that you’d like to eventually sit on the executive team, read on for what I’ve found to be true during my own journey to the C-Suite.
Way, wayyyy back in time, Aristotle observed that the keys to negotiation were:
To sway someone else's opinion, you must understand what motivates them (pathos) and how to frame an argument that appeals to their priorities. The idea is more compelling if you give them a logical reason (logos) and a timeline that drives urgency (kairos). But creating a compelling event only works if they trust you (ethos).
When it comes to negotiation, the most critical component is Ethos.
Early in my career, I had to prove that I understood the company's goals and could align with them (this got easier as I developed a reputation and references). As an analyst, I had to be consistently correct, and my observations had to be linked to data. Once I had established myself as a trusted resource, I could drive change by working with an executive who valued being told when something seemed off.
For example, I went into research mode if I spotted an inefficient conversion rate between leads and opportunities. I knew my sales and marketing leaders wanted to generate more pipeline and bookings faster, so increasing conversion rates would help them.
During my research, I tried to understand if the poor conversion rate was a result of misalignment on what each department thought a qualified lead should look like, an integration issue, a systems set-up issue for the sales team (reduction in visibility or friction in the follow-up process), or too many low converting lead sources in the mix. Sometimes it was a combination of all of these things.
By the time I raised the issue to marketing and sales and proposed a project to fix the problem, I knew why it was happening, what the impact of fixing it would be, and I had some suggestions about how to fix it. Because marketing and sales weren't hitting their pipeline generation goals, they were already motivated to fix the problem, and green-lighting the project was a no-brainer.
To suggest big projects that helped the business run more smoothly, I needed to understand what motivated my executives, prove that I knew what I was doing, and then demonstrate how fixing the issue could further everyone’s goals.
When I was on the other side of the relationship, I clearly communicated my goals and how I thought about them. I then coached revenue operations to approach every project by asking whether it would help the overall company objective before agreeing to prioritize it. My reasoning was that if my team knew what we were trying to accomplish, they would have more agency to create things that were more aligned with the goal.
Aren’t sure what your goals are?
Keep asking management until their goals make sense. Your boss will appreciate your interest, and you'll be able to communicate better how your work positively impacted the business – which looks fantastic on a resume.
I used to be painfully introverted. I hated public speaking and networking events. Drinking with a bunch of coworkers sounded like the opposite of how I wanted to spend my free time.
Fortunately, I had a mischievous boss who liked to challenge me without warning me. As painful as these "surprises" were at the time, I know he saved me a lot of anxiety, and because I could still do my job under extreme circumstances, every smaller challenge wasn't as daunting.
Years and years ago, I was told I would be leading a training course for 8-12 people at a company kick-off. I trained people all the time on how to use our CRM. No problem, right?
I started getting suspicious when he handed me a battery pack and a microphone, then shoved me on a stage.
ADP had acquired us, and I found myself standing in front of 140 members of the car dealership services team.
I don’t remember anything else about that presentation, but I’ve since spoken at writing conferences, been on podcasts, and participated in panels at a variety of trade events. Every time I get mic'd up, I think of that boss and thank him.
Just don’t tell him that he was right :)
Building a robust network and staying in touch with key people throughout your career will be instrumental down the road. When I decided to stop running revenue operations departments and try marketing, that network was the only thing that prevented me from starting at the bottom of the marketing department and working my way up.
There are many ways to gain experience and become a sought-after expert, but it's rarely something that can be accomplished at a single company.
There are exceptions. Whether it's at a small company where an intelligent manager sees that you've been able to expand your skills with the company's growth trajectory or a large corporation that has opportunities to try new positions and be promoted across divisions, some people are fortunate enough to climb quickly in a company they enjoy.
Unfortunately, when we're fresh in the workforce and bound to make many mistakes, it's hard for management to see past the person you began as and see the person you've become. Many managers want a team that can prove their efficiency at a small group of tasks and then try to keep them in the same role.
My grandfather always advised me never to become overly competent at something I didn't want to keep doing. It was terrible advice from a generation that commonly stayed at the same company their entire career.
Moving to a new company and saying “yes” to projects that stretch you are a fantastic way to build out your experience and prepare you for a management position.
Prioritize finding a manager who can see your potential and will help you reach the next level (or a few levels) in your career. A good manager knows that their team is a reflection of their abilities. My goal was to nurture my team so they could step into my role and beyond – if they wanted.
Managing can be hard and not always in the way you expect. You'll be pushed by your team in uncomfortable ways and then pressured by your executive team to make changes you disagree with. It can feel like a game of tug of war, and you're the rope.
While some of us love mentoring, I don’t know many people who enjoy managing. If you take a chance on someone who hasn’t done the role before and they decide they don’t like their job description, it may be impossible to get them to focus on what your team needs from them to be successful.
Some of us enjoy being individual contributors because we can focus on systems or data – things we're more comfortable with. Sometimes we get pushed into taking care of systems (or teams) we don't know well and discover that it's harder than expected.
Keep a flexible mindset as you try new roles, and let yourself decide if something isn't a fit.
The best managers I've worked with were also extremely self-aware. They knew what they were good at and what they were terrible at. They hired people to complement their skills. Managers who think they know all the answers and can't be convinced otherwise see a lot of churn on their teams.
When in RevOps, I liked regular check-ins with the executive team. Sometimes we just talked about life for a few minutes; sometimes, I heard rumors from the sales team about something being broken (why they don't just tell us, I will never figure out); and occasionally, a big project came out of it.
Creating a pattern of dropping in on execs was admittedly easier when we were always in the office. I knew when they usually got into the office and could swing by before their meetings. Messaging them on Slack isn't as effective, but it helps. Regular one-on-ones are even better.
This is all easier said than done if you’re working with an executive that doesn’t see the value in operations. Most people can be won over after a couple of projects that positively impact their team. The few that can’t be won over are frustrating people to work with.
In those cases, you'll need to weigh sticking it out or moving on to report to someone more supportive. Another great alternative to working for an unsupportive boss is consulting for an agency and getting exposure to various companies with different needs. Experiencing multiple scenarios is a great way to speed up your career trajectory.
B2B data is only as good as the ability to use it. Refining selection criteria and accessing deeper data creates easier navigation of the sales funnel and e
The best sales leaders are looking into the future. In this article, we will be covering a deep dive into setting sales goals based on revenue growth.
We had a question in the RevOps Co-Op Slack channel that we just couldn’t ignore: “Does anyone have any strong thoughts/feelings about where RevOps should report up to?” It turns out the answer is YES. We all have strong opinions about this topic.