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Revenue Operations

Best Practices for Scaling RevOps from Startup to IPO

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Do you know how to spot the signs that indicate when it's time for a company to level up its Revenue Operations and scale its team and systems? Every organization's needs are unique but shares common signs that it needs to change, such as sales teams complaining about the system, long quote creation times, and deal closing times. A team of one becomes a detriment to the company at some point, and scaling the team is critical for growth. Moreover, automating scalable processes is vital and helps in reversing complexity built during rapid growth.

Those lucky enough to have lived through successful startups scaling to unicorn status and beyond know the signs that it's time to level up RevOps. But many executives don't pick up on the signals or understand how expensive it is when your maturity has outpaced your processes and systems.

We recently hosted Prakash Raina, Co-founder of SubskribeLeslie Hui, VP of Accounting Operations and Finance Transformation at Okta and Aesha Shah, Sr. Architect of GTM Systems at Lacework, to discuss the growing pains they've experienced first-hand and how to avoid them.

Signs It’s Time to Change

It seems like every RevOps Co-Op event begins with the disclaimer that one size never fits all when it comes to systems setup and processes, but they aren’t wrong! While there are consistent signs across B2B SaaS, things will vary greatly depending on a variety of factors.

"It is also going to be a function of the complexity and volume you're dealing with, right? So we talk about the simple SaaS model versus a hybrid hardware-software model. Or if there are a lot of goods being delivered or a consumption model–your processes and systems will change depending on the nature of your business.” 

However, there are some telltale signs.

For example, every sales organization tends to be vocal when there are sticking points in the contracting process.

"Once you hear your end users - your sales teams - complaining about seeing a lot of errors in the system and long quote creation times or deal closing times, systems come into play. Sales complaints are the major red flag. There is something in your system which is not configured correctly. You need more automation. You need technical debt cleanup to address unnecessary errors. I think deal volume, deal sizes, and deal closing times are a starting place to gauge your system's performance." 

Even product-led growth organizations with small or non-existent sales organizations feel growing pains. Too many RevOps professionals have watched product releases that haven’t been properly tested or communicated turn into fire drills. We’d also like to point out that startups love the ability to make quick decisions, but when it comes to software purchases, those quick decisions can create a lot of technical debt in a short period of time.

Scaling Your Team

Because of limited resources, small organizations often rely on a RevOps team of one. 

“Somewhere between zero to 25 employees, companies start with one ops person. That ops person is doing everything with respect to RevOps or SalesOps. This includes helping the sales team close the deal, generating the contract, running the approval workflow, and probably helping with the price. They’re also the only system administrator for the CRM.” 

Many of us have started as a team of one with promises to scale the team as the company grows, and almost as many of us have been disappointed by a reluctance to add headcount when those growth targets are hit. It's difficult to advocate for more resources in the best of circumstances. But, eventually, a team of one becomes a detriment to the company. There are too many systems to manage and deals to help close – and the business has to decide between adding systems and headcount or losing opportunities to poor (inefficient) execution.

Growth isn't always linear or without rough spots. We recommend using tools like our article on creating a business case and consulting with people in the RevOps Co-Op community to figure out how to scale your team before you burn out the resources you have today. For more on what RevOps organizations should look like at different stages, check out our best practice article and watch the full video of this webinar.

Scaling with Systems

B2B SaaS marketers are convincing. Many business leaders are wooed by the promise of fixing problems with a simple cloud application.

Unfortunately, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

There are some phenomenal products out there, but if the organization doesn’t have a plan to get the most out of the technology (or integrate it with the core systems or manage licenses or train people how to use the features or… you get the picture), it’s doomed to fail.

The same can be said for trying to automate processes exactly as they existed before automation.

"It's critical to understand the importance of automating scalable processes. So much of that is also anchored in the idea of standardization. When you automate something, it's vital to reverse the complexity you built during your rapid growth phase. Earlier on, you were trying to accommodate as many scenarios as possible, whether that's your deal structure, your revenue structure, whatever it is." 

“But as you get to that next phase, sometimes that stuff is just untenable,” Leslie continued. “It may have been a boom on the selling side, but it wreaked total havoc on the back end. It’s normal to discover that we were doing a lot of unnatural things from a process policy and system perspective that can’t be sustained long-term. One of our growing pains was trying to peel back the onion and really go back to basics sometimes with respect to standardizing product packages, for example.”

Other signs that processes need a refresh are confusion over product configuration on quotes, a lack of a standardized quoting system, or relying on Excel spreadsheets for order forms. A small company growing into a larger company will also hit a breaking point when it comes to all exception approvals being routed through a single person. If one person is the only approver, that person will become a bottleneck no matter how dedicated they are to watching their email on the last day of the quarter.

In a conversation about scaling a business, Prakash emphasized that the needs of a company change once it starts growing and selling beyond mid-market to enterprise. Selling to the global one-thousand requires a different sales motion, pricing, and packaging than what worked before. However, manual management of a complex sale can become a major issue, especially when data is transferred manually from one system to another. In such cases, the need for better records becomes critical. For example, approval processes and order change management are crucial factors that can affect an audit.

Prakash also highlighted that automation is crucial for companies to scale. At the end of the month or quarter, there may be a large volume of contracts that cannot be solved by throwing headcount at it. Manual solutions can be time-consuming and error-prone. Therefore, automation becomes essential for a company's growth and success.

For helpful slides and visuals, check out the full video.

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