Siloed teams mean siloed data and Richard Makara, Principal Growth Engineer with Paddle, a payments infrastructure provider for SaaS businesses, wants no part of that. While he may look at RevOps a little differently than others might, he’s absolutely right in that silos won’t create integrated information to benefit the whole company.
“Revenue is the key word here,” he says of what RevOps is. “Anything that touches revenue and helps revenue in the process can be thought of as revenue operations.”
This comes down to determining what data or insight is needed to help further the path towards revenue growth – be that information from operations, marketing operations or sales operations. There shouldn’t be a division or hard line keeping the information separated.
It comes as no surprise that siloed teams annoy Richard. It’s like having a sketchy wifi connection during a video call. Something always gets lost somewhere in the process.
“If you have a dedicated operations team, that tends to mean you have your own set of focus goals and they might be completely different, even though the overarching goal of all of these teams is the same: to help the company grow,” he says. “Over the years, I’ve grown into this thought that it should be all under one roof.”
And at Paddle, it is under one roof, though how that looks is definitely different from most RevOps teams.
RevOps existed at Paddle long before it was called RevOps. It was called Commercial Operations and combined operational functions, data and more. Obviously, there was a lot of foresight in the company.
Then, Ben Simon Wilder, Head of RevOps, started building the RevOps team from those origins and didn’t want it to be built by function as is typical.
“He wanted to build it on a skill set or a sort of focus area,” says Richard. “So, at Paddle, at the moment, there’s three core, distinct teams that are Revenue Operations.
1. Data and insights – works with data warehousing, data cleaning, running SQL models, analytics dashboards and all the data work
2. Tools and training – SaaS application/human elements like managing Salesforce or HubSpot and working with stakeholders to determine the necessary human elements so that things work as expected
3. Growth engineering – marketing and organizational foundations, where Richard and his colleague Axel spend their time.
“We are the back-end of the commercial data and tooling stack,” he says of his group. “Our team’s job is to basically integrate every single tool that we need. We need to figure out how that map of tools works together in a sensible and scalable fashion.”
Sometimes this means spending days (weeks) writing code. Other times, it’s drawing a spider web on a white board to follow the chain and make sure a solution isn’t going to cause more problems. Think of it like one of those labyrinth boxes where you try to keep the ball from dropping in a hole.
“I like to describe it as a creative problem-solving role,” he adds.
Situations that require creative problem solving constantly emerge in fast growing software Go To Market teams. Like the time someone asked him about getting contacts into Salesforce from attendance at local conferences and measuring the ROI of those events to determine which ones are most valuable. Solutions needed to be created.
Knowing what’s needed now is important, but planning for the future is also part of the approach of this RevOps team of nine (and growing). Richard says Paddle is in its maturity stage with a lot of tools contributing to the mix. HubSpot, Vista, Metadata, Salesforce, Outreach, Drift…
“There’s a couple other ones, but you can probably tell there’s quite a few,” he says. “The way I like to think about this is when we integrate a new tool… I need to think about it in a way that if I integrate it today, in this manner, can I integrate another similar tool tomorrow, easily? Or does it become a custom job again? I need to think about it in a scalable manner.”
He’s seen entire organizations build around API setups and stresses that there needs to be a balance between building a tech stack that way and the constantly custom approach. Because like a kid’s favorite toy at Christmas, things will break if systems aren’t built for scaling.
“The point is to automate ourselves out of the equation,” he says.
Scaling is important. Everyone hopes, plans and dreams for their businesses to grow, so being prepared is part of the game. But Richard points out it doesn’t mean having all the tools up and running at full speed right away. It means being ready for their introduction when needed.
“I personally don’t believe that you need to have so many tools in order to start thinking about these things,” he says. “It makes total sense that if you’re starting up, you only have minimal amounts of tech integrated. And you definitely want to think about how you want to integrate these things.”
Team members will come and go and as he says, if tools are sitting in the ether somewhere but haven’t been considered for integration, what happens?
You guessed it; things break. Or more custom work has to be done. Or weeks and weeks of coding is required.
Planning for it at the outset may not be the fastest way to get things done now, but it’s the right way for the future.
In essence, it’s the job of RevOps to support others and make their lives easier. Richard gives the example of a contact form being submitted by someone from the website. Is it a random contact? Or one that we’ve already engaged with?
That contact, that is actually on a sales rep’s account list, doesn’t know who to reach out to (or most likely doesn’t really care at that time). With the right setup, having the contact form run through the right process completely changes the scenario for both the potential customer and the sales rep.
Instead of, “Hey let me schedule a demo for you and get to know your organization,” the sales rep is able to say, “Hey, it’s been a while since we connected. How can I help?”
“At the end of the day it has to be useful and it has to be valuable and it has to make somebody’s life easier,” he says.
Making lives easier within Paddle comes from having a dedicated Slack channel for quick, easy contact so the sales team (or someone else) can send up a cry for help and the RevOps team will jump to it.
“We’re still nimble enough that we don’t need to have a rigid ‘submit to’ form and then we’ll get back to you in two days,” he says. “We sort of go with it.”
The team’s diverse set of backgrounds makes it easy for them to decide who takes on what for the most enjoyment and the best outcomes.
Richard knows there will always be fires to put out and there will always be a new need or a request.
BUT, where RevOps can really take a starring role is by using its bird’s eye view of sales, marketing, products and more to lead projects designed for the company’s future.
“For the most part, Revenue Operations actually should be a forward steering function,” he says.
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