Throughout baseball’s history, the fans have gone crazy over sluggers and the occasional phenom pitcher. The coaches, scouts, and upper management, on the other hand, drool over the utility player.
The true utility player can do it all. They can play infield, switching between shortstop and bases. They can cover the outfield. They even maintain respectable hitting stats. The utility player's versatility makes it possible to have a warm backup ready to go, no matter which primary player is injured.
Talented revenue operations professionals are the corporate equivalents to the utility player. They need to understand the corporate strategy and how objectives support that strategy.
Revenue operations spans analytics, technology stack management, enablement, and process management functions.
Particularly at early-stage companies, the first revenue operations hire is expected to manage major marketing, sales, and customer success systems; execute the rhythm of the business reporting and elevate business-critical insights; and support onboarding and training functions. Usually, this also means fixing a great deal of technical debt created by an evolving go-to-market strategy or hiring an underqualified system administrator to implement a major supporting system.
It’s hard to find process management personnel who are creative problem-solvers who think outside of the box and understand the importance of creating corporate policies to avoid potential legal trouble.
It’s challenging to find analysts who understand data relationships, advanced reporting logic, and are well versed in query languages and visualization tools--who can also uncover what people really need to see in their reports (as opposed to what they ask for) and understand which events resulted in an odd-looking stat.
It’s dang near impossible to find developers who prioritize end-user experience and can anticipate future changes rather than focusing solely on what’s easiest and least taxing on the system.
This matchup of creative vision and tactical know-how makes excellent revenue operations professionals difficult to find. They’re often referred to as a “purple squirrel” or “unicorn” in the recruiting community.
There are two kinds of companies. Organizations that understand why they need an operations department and organizations that don't realize their buying process is a hot mess.
Revenue operations oversees procedural details and provides technical support for market-facing departments (sales, marketing, and customer success). Revenue operations:
Some examples I’ve seen play out in organizations I’ve worked with include:
An expert shaved hours off of a customer success department’s day. They identified a pattern in customer support cases then coordinated with product management to fix the issue. While the engineers were at work, the revenue operations expert documented the fix and socialized it with the broader team. This saved each technical support representative 3-6 hours per month replicating errors and digging through documentation.
A revenue operations expert overheard a sales development representative (SDR) complaining about how long it took them to find high-quality leads. This RevOps pro did side-by-side time trials with the SDR team and discovered that the number of lead object validation rules added ten minutes to every stage update. They also couldn't sort leads in a meaningful way. To solve the problem, RevOps streamlined the lead process and prioritized high-converting leads sources like form fills. These improvements led to $1 million in additional pipeline compared to prior quarters.
A revenue operations expert followed a cross-department workflow through each department with side-by-side recorded meetings and found that the list of twenty fields required to close an opportunity were populated again on a different object by an operations professional. Why? Some salespeople didn’t see the value in providing the information, so operations didn’t trust the data and required customers to answer the questions a second time. This improved their onboarding survey ratings by two stars (on a scale of ten).
While you could show your appreciation through gifts (which we are very supportive of--you can find a list here) or awards, the most important way you can show support is by being mindful of the workload your revenue operations team tackles.
Many organizations view operations as a cost center or financial drain instead of seeing the revenue gained by more efficient go-to-market execution and money saved with increased productivity. Because of this short-sighted view, many revenue operations professionals don’t have the teams necessary to proactively identify issues. A lack of agency and feeling as though you’re never accomplishing something meaningful for the company leads to burn out.
If your revenue operations team is voicing frustration because they’re buried in technical debt and spend all of their time reacting, do yourself a favor and listen. Get them additional headcount. Your customers will thank you!
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