Revenue Operations

RevOps is the Shell to your Revenue Taco

Briana Yarborough has had a variety of experiences that led her to RevOps, but it all started with a finance approach; something she’s grateful for. Now, she’s the co-founder and COO of CModel, an integrated RevOps solution for greater organization intelligence. She spoke to us about the connection to finance and other departments, why you need to embrace teamwork and ways to be an outstanding team of one.

Maybe you’re one of several individuals in a RevOps department or you’re the leader of an outstanding team of 1, you need to engage with your colleagues and show them the value they get from the work you’re doing. Briana Yarborough has used her skillset to create supportive teams with others in her organizations who were often in different departments.

This action of bringing people, process, technology, ideas and information together is truly where RevOps excels. It’s like making a great taco. Everyone makes tacos slightly differently but there are essential basics: protein, salsa, cheese and the shell that holds it all together. That’s RevOps – the shell. Marketing, sales, and customer service are all essential ingredients, but what often gets forgotten is the importance of finance.

Before becoming the co-founder of CModel, a brand new RevOps solution designed to enable revenue leaders to use sales data to plan and execute their business strategy, Briana worked in roles that brought information together in ways everyone could appreciate. She credits her early exposure to finance with helping her see the big picture of a taco versus a bunch of random ingredients.

So this is RevOps

“I was starting to step into financial planning and analysis and thinking about business health and how we’re growing,” she explains of her early foray into RevOps. “I started to really understand what it took to run a business and the underlying factors and levers associated with positive results.”

She had an inherent love of clean, actionable data and learned more as she grew. She developed business intelligence frameworks to integrate systems, formulated strategies and found ways to combine the ingredients she had in front of her into the meal everyone was craving but couldn’t quite identify at the time.

“We often had one-person teams and you’ve got maybe a contractor or a peer that is supporting the initiative,” she says. “I’m a huge advocate for work streams and utilizing peers in other areas of other departments. I started to see more and more of this idea of revenue operations and I was thinking to myself, ‘this is what I’m doing’.”

She started looking at the information and asking the questions all RevOps pros ask. Not if it’s Taco Tuesday yet... She was asking how much was being spent on marketing, what marketing activities were happening, where was progress occurring and what the entire buyer journey looked like from the perspective of our internal processes?

“I was reporting to the CFO at the time. That’s not typical, but they are your best friend at the end of the day,” she says. “There is a whole new sort of finance ops that is just as important as [marketing ops, sales ops and CS ops].”

Creating the taco station

Wouldn’t it be brilliant to have a station like at Chipotle where all the ingredients are in front of you, purposely brought together before assembly? When Briana joined a new organization, that’s what she’d create – a place that brought the ingredients together so that executive leadership could analyze and make smart decisions.

She’d ask, “Is there some single source of truth that exists? In most cases… there’s not,” she says. “You have to start to build those things from the ground up.”

When someone felt ready to present a forecast of targets to the board, Briana could take a bite of that taco and identify what was missing.

“Finance says, there’s no way in hell that this is going to happen,” she says of numbers put together with a lot of thought, but not all the right information. “Based on our previous historical data and the way that we’ve performed in the past and all of the other things that you’re not taking into consideration, these are what our true numbers are. You’ve got to work hand-in-hand [with finance] on these things.”

She has seen that digging into the numbers shows her what a company’s success really looks like, and how it can be scaled efficiently. She knows when a taco is just right vs. when it’s just random ingredients tossed together. While sales appreciates that the company needs money to pay bills, invest in growth and ultimately succeed, they don’t always understand how it all comes together.

“I think that financial undertone from my background helps me set up an organization successfully to think about the things that typically will hemorrhage funds and leave your investors and your board members questioning you,” she says. “You truly have to be led by finance. You don’t have to feel like they’re policing you. They are truly a partner.”

And that partnership needs to have the same level of inclusion and support as the other fey functions in Revenue: Marketing, Sales, and CS.

The solitary taco shell

Having been a team of one herself, Briana made sure her taco recipe was open to adding new ingredients from around or even outside of the organization. Either through mentorship, information sharing or skill building, these partnerships make solo teams more successful.

“The size of the organization definitely needs to be around 100 or less,” for a sole individual to be able to own RevOps, she says. “You can’t come in and be a department of one at an organization that has a thousand employees.”

If there is an advocate for RevOps in the organization, they are helping you set up the taco station, if you will. They become a champion and comrade as you report everyone’s wins and create change to benefit the entire company.

A place for prioritization

“All of that stuff being handled by one person, you’ve got to figure out how to prioritize,” she says. “Whatever the requirements are, go out and seek those resources. But, at the same time, I simply used a Google Sheet.”

Simplicity has its place in the processes of start-ups and small, growing organizations.

She would consider her priorities and determine the amount of effort required for each. Maybe 20% of her time on tools and technology, 30% on strategy, 40% on stakeholder engagement, etc. Others were included in these efforts and asked if the work aligned.

“It wasn’t just me doing the work, it was us driving the initiatives because they are larger and bigger than just an individual person going out there and setting up a system, she says. “We have to do it as a team and we have to understand the foundational aspect of what goes into this as a partnership.”

Putting priorities in a time schedule and understanding the most important to least important makes a difference. As does understanding what those priorities require in terms of resources, so Briana recommends talking about and taking notes of all the elements.

Even as the team of one grew, the approach stayed the same. It’s just that individuals now have ownership of various pieces of the taco.

Keeping the taco station clean

Sometimes, a RevOps professional has to pick up the cloth and wipe down the spilled cheese and salsa.

Cleaning up the data and working as an order taker for other departments isn’t always avoidable, especially when there is a sense of urgency necessitating that tactical work. She says bringing in consultants to provide support would allow her to stay focused on strategic and operational elements. Not everyone can access this level of resources, but presenting the case is still valuable.

She notes that having conversations about how much time the tactical work will take and what it will pull you away from goes a long way to getting the help you need. If leadership understands the time trade-offs and knows what won’t be done because of the tactical work, it can open the door to a new team addition..

Integrated systems are important and she has been the one to clean up data that came from two separate systems. Unique identifiers and field mapping are crucial because when systems are integrated, the data must align.

Adding to the team

As the team grows, she recommends one of the first key hires be someone to support the tactical activities, like a Salesforce admin. They should also be able to help create other system integrations and implement new tools – someone embedded in technology. Then, she recommends adding an ops lead for each category (marketing, sales, success).

“They are taking the initiative of one thing,” she explains. “They are in charge of the stakeholder engagement or doing the forecasting. Then marketing, sales, customer experience, ops people that are our go-to, embedded in the function. You’re coming back to the RevOps team and we are in alignment.”

This allows RevOps leaders to then start focusing on the next part of whatever is most important to the organization. The team will evolve with the nature of the business and what it needs to be successful. It may have started with, say, beef tacos, but what if there’s a desire for tofu tacos too?

And remember, finance is your friend

“Use them as a partner as you are navigating the business,” Briana says of finance. “You will get so much further, faster.”


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