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Revenue Operations
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Why Is RevOps So Hard to Sell To?

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Lately, there have been some vendors out in the world of social media talking about how hard it is to sell to revenue operations professionals. I've been in RevOps for over 15 years in several B2B Tech companies and marketed to operations professionals (successfully) in both consultative and in-house roles.

Let’s start by saying revenue operations is a difficult persona to sell to. RevOps pros are constantly being pitched to by vendors and internal stakeholders eager to look for something that will simplify their lives.

The problem is that magical solutions rarely live up to the hype, and our stakeholder loses interest promptly after the tool is implemented. Naturally, RevOps pros become jaded by the wild claims many vendors make compared to the benefits we realize from their products.

There are valid reasons why RevOps is sometimes borderline hostile towards persistent sales representatives.

But we're still possible to sell to and can become vocal champions. Vendors should take the hint and evolve their approach to one that fits how RevOps wants to buy.

I’ll list the common complaints and offer suggestions on how to flex their mindset in more productive directions.

Revops is only an influencer

In any B2B sales motion, you're rarely, if ever, dealing with a single decision-maker. Those days are long over for large-ticket sales, and your ideal customer profile is narrow if you have a small-ticket item you're trying to slip through the typical buying process, particularly in technology companies.

Once a company is large enough to worry about SOC 2 compliance, they lock down the admin capabilities on every laptop that isn't going to a core IT professional. If the company is an enterprise, it'll also have remote monitoring software enabled. Single license purchases are only feasible if the company is small or lax enough to allow software downloads - or if the software is entirely isolated in your web browser (and even then, you may not be able to integrate it with core systems).

Very few roles in a company can act as decision-makers and buyers. Those two roles are the CEO and CFO. Anyone else will need help forming an argument that will appeal to those two positions and provide the social evidence necessary to ensure those personas are comfortable with the risk.

That said, it has been more challenging to sell in these market conditions in general. People are tired of being cold-pitched. Revenue operations professionals put more faith into community or network feedback than vendor advertising. Most significantly, many business leaders report that most sales - even those at a much lower price point than we traditionally saw - are routed through the CFO. 

Unfortunately, SaaS budgets are cut even more quickly than a B2B marketing budget, and that's saying something. With an estimated 29% of software underutilized or unused, CFOs are making it their business to ensure every software purchase serves a purpose before giving it the green light.

In other words, don't blame one of your personas (trust me, you have multiple you should be selling to). It's essential to enable sales to sell up and across organizations in this economy.

RevOps isn’t good at internal selling or proving value

If revenue operations is struggling to prove your product's value, you must give them the assets and social evidence necessary to bridge that gap. It also might be time to do some closed-opportunity interviews and have an unbiased third party conduct end-user interviews. If they're getting blocked by more senior leaders, some introspection must be done.

You need their boss to be bought into the sale

This is true because buyer committees are the norm and revenue operations is often “borrowing” budget from another department. We sometimes have a tech budget, but it’s typically inherited from the department that initially made the purchase.

That said, ven the CRO and CMO must convince the CFO to sign off on a purchase these days. Depending on how their team is performing and how much the rest of the C-Suite trusts them, that could be an easy sell or a difficult one (since many B2B SaaS companies are struggling to hit their numbers and retain customers, I'm leaning towards it being a hard sell).

Everyone in B2B should see these market conditions as an opportunity to reevaluate their ideal customer profile, go-to-market strategy, customer management, and retention strategy. The earlier we act to reassess what's working and what isn't, the more likely we are to innovate and evolve with the market.

RevOps doesn’t have a budget

If your product's selling points involve saving money, time, or effort - it's not enough. It doesn't work because the unfortunate truth is that the C-Suite doesn't care how much time RevOps spends in spreadsheets or how frustrated they are with inefficiencies. We're seen as cost-centers. Being in spreadsheets or fighting with tech is considered our job (not by us, but by our bosses).

The CEO and CFO (buyers) care the most about revenue and profit margins, and companies that can quote their customers speaking about how they maximized revenue and/or profit margins have a competitive edge. 

It's hard for revenue operations to envision how their time savings can be tied to what the CFO and CEO care about. If you promote time savings, how does that translate into more revenue for the company? It's difficult to jump through the logic hoops necessary to figure out how many processes and systems upgrades RevOps could accomplish with this new time saved and the additional dollars that sales and marketing can realize because of those upgrades (I'm already confused just by typing it out). 

Help RevOps tie your product to what the CEO and CFO care about in a believable way – through customer case studies and other evidence.

RevOps can be a great champion…or your worst nightmare

This is 100% true!

I don’t like to admit it, but when I was selling and I could tell the project tied to the sale wasn’t the operations person’s idea, I got nervous. RevOps pros are busy people, and they can be very clever when they’re determined to shoot down an idea they think is a waste of time.

While you can’t rely on time savings or efficiency gains for RevOps to sell their CFO, you’ll still need these talking points to win over your RevOps stakeholder.

How does RevOps want to buy?

Most buyers want to find the information necessary to decide online before interacting with a salesperson. In fact, 60% of B2B buyers don't want to ever talk to a salesperson (and I would put money on this number being higher for RevOps specifically). Unfortunately, B2B marketers are still making up unnecessary terms and categories to "describe" what their product does. Much of the information on the average B2B website lacks clarity or substance.

Above all else, RevOps (and, honestly, everyone else) is sick of broken promises. We've had to become BS detectors, and it's exhausting. I’m more likely to buy from a salesperson who admits a product doesn’t do something than run the other way.

Here are a few other things RevOps professionals wish vendors knew:

  • Stop overpromising and under delivering. It undermines your credibility.
  • We don't believe what you say your product can do. We want to see it for ourselves.
  • We'll listen to your referral customers, but we'll also find customers you didn't offer up to make sure the opinions are consistent.
  • You'll feel the result of years of frustration with vendors who've broken promises when you deal with us, whether it's fair or not.
  • We rely on word of mouth. We've already talked to several people about which solutions they like or dislike and why. It's why many of us flock to a community like the RevOps Co-Op - we want an unfiltered view of the good and the bad.
  • We don't trust online reviews. Even if you have a ton of them, we'll still talk to our network and your customers.
  • We will hear about your shortcomings. And your price. Don't dance around your weak points or gate your prices behind a demo.
  • Don't publish content (blog posts, reports, etc.) for the sake of SEO. Focus on developing assets people will actually want to use. Too often, poor content undermines a brand's credibility. It shouldn't be an afterthought.

If you want to sell to revenue operations:

  1. Start with figuring out ways to build credibility with their network.
  2. Work with top consultants in the revenue operations space. 
  3. Develop community partnerships
  4. Always think about the value you can offer your target audience that's related tangentially to your product.
  5. Delight your customers. 
  6. Be honest about what your product doesn't do well.

Are you already doing everything above? Great! But if it isn't working, it's time to introspect and uncover what is turning your target audience off.

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