One thing you learn from running multiple businesses is the importance of people working from the same playbook.
Too often though, different departments get entrenched in their own goals, methods, and tech. This lack of common direction can negatively impact your business in many ways, and at the very least, it’s probably holding back your revenues.
If you want your business to achieve more consistent growth, you need to align your go-to-market teams — that’s where where Rev Ops comes in.
What Is Rev Ops?
- By focusing on Rev Ops, you can align the work of these individual departments to create greater transparency, accountability, and predictability when it comes to revenue.
- Concise summary of Rev Ops.
Revenue drives businesses. This simple fact might lead us to think that companies have dedicated teams that deal only with maximizing revenues, but it tends not to work out this way.
Instead, most businesses have lots of different departments that all take slightly different approaches to generating revenue. The three main ones are sales, marketing, and customer success. Each aims to increase and ensure revenue, but they each do so in a slightly different way.
Rev Ops is about bringing your revenue-generating teams together in a more efficient way to drive predictable growth. It does this by bridging the gap between these teams and ensuring they’re working in unison to achieve shared goals.
Too often, sales, marketing, and customer success teams become silos, each with its own methods, goals, and technology. By focusing on Rev Ops, you can align the work of these individual departments to create greater transparency, accountability, and predictability when it comes to revenue.
As Chilipiper puts it, “RevOps focuses on determining the most important tools and strategies to grow revenue, eliminating silos between departments while prioritizing efficiency and accountability among teams.”
The Goals of Rev Ops
As the name suggests, the end goal of rev ops is all about revenue. And to achieve consistent, predictable growth in revenue, you need to ensure organizational efficiency on a number of levels.
For example, when businesses achieve proper alignment between marketing and sales, studies show that it can lead to a 208% increase in marketing revenue. To make such a big jump, you’ve got to break things down into smaller chunks, and these goals can help you do that.
Rev Ops aims to inject three key principles into the business structure:
A business needs to work as a unit. Each department has its own skills, but they fit into a bigger picture of business success. If there isn’t clear top to bottom communication and a sense of transparency, it’s easy for these departments to become silos — not harmonious cogs in a machine, but unruly appendages.
As Lighter Capital notes in its series on “Silos and Turf Wars,” “different departments fight for budget dollars, headcount, and control over direction, seemingly intent on winning no matter the effect on the overall company.”
When there isn’t oversight and transparency (clearly defined strategies, shared information, etc.), then it’s natural that revenue opportunities are going to be missed. This is why there has to be a level of accountability.
It’s no use if departments lack accountability to the business as a whole. It’s too easy for sales to blame marketing for not giving them high-quality leads and marketing to say that sales isn’t converting as they should be. Instead, there needs to be a sense that everyone is responsible for all aspects of revenue, and this is where your Rev Ops team can make a big difference.
When you take away these silos, you create predictable revenues through optimized processes and improved collaboration.
You don’t just put a Rev Ops team in place and magically see improved transparency, accountability, and predictability. Instead, you’ve got to enact change on a more micro-level, and this should center around three areas:
You have to convince your people that they’re on the same side. In worst-case scenarios, employees can become very entrenched in their departments, seeing others as competitors rather than collaborators.
If you can align people around shared strategies and goals, then it opens the door to greater collaboration, where data can be efficiently shared and processes unified.
Think about it from the view of the customer:
- You see an ad you like so you call the number.
- You get through to marketing and they take a few details and promise a sales rep will call you back.
- Marketing and sales don’t use the same software, so the information you told the marketing team hasn’t been properly relayed to the sales rep.
- You’ve got to repeat the same information again for the sales rep to give you a bit more information.
- You buy the product, but because the sales rep wasn’t intricately familiar with how the product worked, it’s not quite right and you have to speak to customer support.
- Customer support hasn’t been updated by either marketing or sales, so you’ve got to go through the entire process again.
It sounds familiar, right?
That’s because this is something that’s happening all the time and it’s hurting many businesses’ revenues. As Diane Magers, CEO at CXPA states, “organizations will have to rethink how work gets done. Organizational alignment will be most critical – both internally and to the market and customer expectations.”
Organizational change is possible and there are different ways you can get sales and marketing working together in particular.
Why Is Rev Ops Important?
Businesses have been split into distinct departments for as long as you can remember, so why the change all of a sudden? Since the turn of the century, the world – and consequently business – has changed a huge amount in a short space of time.
The Buyer Journey Has Changed
The way people make purchasing decisions has changed, and the way businesses operate needs to adapt to reflect this.
You don’t walk into a shop, speak to a salesperson, and walk away with your product anymore. Instead, customers do a lot more research and their customer journey can involve a blend of online and offline touchpoints with your business.
Modern customers also put a greater emphasis on experience. It’s not just about what you sell and how much you sell it for – it’s about how you do it, and this asks different questions of businesses.
Likewise, the types of products that are sold have evolved. We see many more subscription-based sales today, and this is evidenced in things like SaaS.
All of this has challenged the traditional divisions between sales, marketing, and customer success, and it’s a big reason why there’s been a huge increase in revenue-based roles within businesses.
The Rise of Software
Software plays a big part in modern life, and businesses can’t function without it. One of the problems is that there’s so much choice out there.
Whether it’s sales, marketing, customer support, or any other area of business, there’s a whole world of different software to choose from. This can be overwhelming for businesses, and can lead to different departments using different (completely disconnected) tech stacks, limiting collaboration.
This is where Rev Ops can play an important role. Taking responsibility for software research and decisions, ensuring each team is working efficiently, but also in unison with one another.
A World of Data
It’s said by some that data is the most valuable commodity in the world. It’s certainly very valuable to businesses, but the problem is, if you don’t know how to use it, then it’s just a burden.
One of the problems when your revenue-generating teams become siloed is that they’re each collecting their own data and taking their own insights, but they don’t ever get passed down the line. Each team is looking at different data, getting different insights, and drawing different conclusions, and this generally isn’t beneficial to your business as a whole.
Your resources might be going into collecting and interpreting the same data three times over, so you need a way of unifying these processes.
What’s Needed to Implement Change?
Before you begin to implement change, you need to get the buy-in of key stakeholders. Teams can become very entrenched in their silos, and you need to be able to change this way of thinking. They might not seem like big changes, but it does require a shift in mindset throughout your organization.
Here are some additional steps to take:
- Get agreement on shared metrics by which you can judge performance.
- Build trust between teams.
- Understand what tech stacks offer the most benefits to the business.
- Create a change management plan.
These changes won’t happen overnight, and people will take time to adjust, but a Rev Ops team will be there to oversee gradual progress.
Rev Ops Areas of Responsibility
To build transparency, accountability, and predictability, Revenue Operations needs to take responsibility in the following areas. While you might have people within these departments who are already responsible for many of these functions, it’s hard for them to take the big picture approach that’s needed in Rev Ops.
This is most closely related to the processes part of Rev Ops goals. It’s about managing resources to ensure that results are closely aligned to targets, and putting the processes in place that will allow your teams to maximize their efficiency while not losing sight of the overall business goals.
This area includes:
- Process Innovation
- Cross-functional collaboration
- Project management
- Sales planning
This is where Rev Ops relates specifically to people. It helps guide the culture of your business (emphasizing the collaboration between departments) and ensures that employees have the skills and resources they need to get the most out of their work.
This area includes:
- Professional development
Insights are all about making sure that data is being maximized to achieve success in all revenue-generating departments. You need to make sure you’re collecting data in the right way, that you’re taking the correct insights from it, and that the information is being shared across the business.
This area includes:
- Data management
- Data access
- Operational and strategic insights
Rev Ops should take responsibility for ensuring that you’re using the right technology throughout your business. Your departments may need specialist tools, but it’s important to have a focus on how each one fits into the business as a whole, which a Rev Ops team can help manage.
This area includes:
- Evaluating tech stacks
- Integrating technology
- Systems administration
Benefits of Rev Ops
Putting a Revenue Operations team in place to oversee these responsibilities benefits the whole business. If different departments are all pulling in separate directions, it’s not just going to damage your revenues, but it’s also going to put a strain on the culture of your business.
As small business expert Keir Thomas-Bryant says, “silos of any kind can destroy businesses from the inside out like a kind of rot.”
Rev Ops can help streamline your company, creating better alignment between departments, allowing you to exceed customer expectations, and facilitating better long-term strategic planning.
When key departments fail to work together, it’s going to lead to inefficiencies at best, and potentially much worse.
Rather than operating as individual silos, Rev Ops allows sales, marketing, and customer success to work more collaboratively to grow revenues. This means there’s an extra layer above these three departments that pulls them all together, taking a wider view to enable them each to function more effectively.
As a result, the goals and strategies of each department will more accurately reflect the aims of the business as a whole, rather than just individual targets.
Meeting Customer Expectations
I mentioned changing customer expectations as one of the key drivers of Rev Ops job growth, and this is a big trend with the modern consumer (80% of customers consider experience to be as important as products and services).
Your customers don’t care that someone works in marketing rather than customer service; they just want a solution to their problem. The line between sales and customer support (particularly with SaaS) is becoming increasingly blurred. In some fast-growing businesses such as Zapier, every staff member does customer support, which shows how interconnected these departments are.
This is a recognition of how important the customer experience is. Every touchpoint needs to be positive, but if your key departments aren’t on the same page or setting the same high standards, this isn’t possible.
Rev Ops doesn’t necessarily call for this level of integration, but it does call for alignment in order to exceed customer expectations.
Better Long-Term Strategic Planning
Long-term strategic planning is essential for any business. Likewise, each department needs a clear idea of how it’s going to achieve its goals and contribute to the overall strategic plan. However, if there’s no coordination, then you end up with four or five plans and everyone working from a slightly different playbook.
Rev Ops enables businesses to factor in the specialist needs and objectives of each department while aligning them with the long-term strategic plan for the entire business. These departments can’t exist in isolation, and your business planning has to reflect this.
With a dedicated Rev Ops team, it’s easier to apply strategies across the three departments so that you maximize their individual strengths, but allow them to build off of each other’s work.
So, Rev Ops sounds like a good idea. Everyone wants predictable revenue growth, and clearly, it’s beneficial for your revenue-growth departments to be working together.
But how can you show that Rev Ops is actually having the desired effect and driving predictable growth? Revenue Operations has responsibilities in large chunks of your business, so there are a lot of different key metrics it can affect:
- Forecast accuracy – Actual sales within a specific time compared to forecasted sales
- Pipeline velocity – The speed at which leads move through the sales pipeline
- Sales cycle time – The average time taken to close a sale
- Win rates – Percentage of leads turned into customers
- Cost of customer acquisition – The average cost of acquiring a customer
- Annual recurring revenue – Total value of subscription revenue
- Renewals and upsells – Percentage of customers who renew subscription or are upsold
- Customer churn – Percentage of customers who stopped using the product within a certain timeframe
- Customer lifetime value – Average value of a customer over the lifetime of the relationship
These are all metrics that should benefit from improved alignment, better customer experience, and long-term strategic planning, so a successful Rev Ops team should be looking at these KPIs at the very least.
When Is It Time for Your Business to Embrace Rev Ops?
Rev Ops is a fairly simple idea. You create a team that’s responsible for uniting sales, marketing, and customer success, and find ways to make each of them more efficient to achieve a unified set of goals.
But what businesses will this benefit, and when do you know it’s time to embrace Rev Ops?
The most obvious sign is unpredictable revenues. This is a huge problem for businesses because it doesn’t allow them to plan. It’s hard to invest money if you can’t guarantee it’s coming in at the other end.
Your revenue-generating teams, sales, marketing, and customer success should be working together to provide you with steady streams of revenue, but instead, they each seem to be pointing the finger at each other.
For example, marketing could be giving sales lots of low-quality leads, and sales is showing some success at converting them, but they’re just not customers who are suited to the product, so they cancel their subscription.
In this case, customer success points at sales, sales points at marketing, and marketing says, well look at all these leads I’m giving you. This is inevitably going to lead to unpredictable revenues.
Targets Aren’t Aligned
Each department’s targets should come together to help you achieve your overall goals. If this isn’t the case, and targets only serve to promote the department itself, then an overhaul might be needed.
Marketing can generate you a million leads, but if none of them convert, then it’s not useful. The number of leads generated may be a target, but it’s not one that forwards the goals of every department and the business.
A Rev Ops team can ensure that every department has focused goals that help the business move forward rather than just plugging numbers.
You’re Using Too Many Tools
This is a common problem in businesses today, with 94% of workplaces reporting that they struggle with their existing software. Every employee seems to be using slightly different tools to get the job done.
While there are many benefits to using the right tech stack, there are also a lot of drawbacks when everyone’s working slightly differently. This is a problem particularly if the software that sales, marketing, and customer success are using don’t synchronize.
You need to be able to share information seamlessly between your teams, and if this isn’t the case because you seem to be using an endless number of tools, then Rev Ops could be the answer.
Your Processes Aren’t Evolving Quickly Enough
Do you keep making the same mistakes over and over again?
This might be because your silos have become so ingrained in what they’re doing that they’re not capable of self-reflecting and making change. Sometimes you need to see the bigger picture, and with one foot in each department and one foot outside of them, Rev Ops is perfectly placed to do this.
Your sales, marketing, and customer success teams should be working on what they’re good at, while specialists help to create the processes that enable them to get the most out of their jobs.
Structuring Your Rev Ops
Different businesses will structure their Rev Ops in different ways. The best structure willl largely be dictated by the size of your business and the resources it has available to it.
A small business might not be able to create a dedicated Rev Ops team, but it can make changes to job specs, and make some new hires to facilitate change. On the other hand, a large-scale business with lots of resources might be able to create a brand new team from scratch.
Rev Ops isn’t something with a hard and fast structure. It’s a principle that facilitates predictable revenue, and different companies will enact this in different ways.
For businesses that choose to create a dedicated Rev Ops team, this is how it might look compared to a traditional structure.
While this option is an efficient way of integrating Rev Ops, it may not be the correct option for all businesses.
Small businesses may just have a handful of people in each department and not have the resources to create a whole new Rev Ops team. The principles of Rev Ops are still applicable to these companies though, and it is possible to create better alignment between the departments.
One of the ways you can do this is by forming a Rev Ops committee that draws in people from each department. This can be set up very quickly and allows you to start implementing positive change.
While this structure doesn’t necessarily allow for someone to take overall responsibility for Rev Ops, it can help coordinate these departments and make sure they’re working towards targeted joint goals.
For mid-sized businesses, there is a little more scope to delve deeper with Rev Ops. They might not have the resources to create a full Rev Ops team, but they can introduce different operations positions into their sales, marketing, and customer success teams to drive change in people, data, and processes.
You may not have the resources to address every position at once, but if you choose the areas where you think you will see the most benefit, then you can start to enact change.
Large businesses are the ones with the resources to make real structural changes to how they operate.
Given the size of these companies, they’re also likely to be the most unwieldy, with silos emerging between departments. This means that they can benefit greatly from a dedicated Rev Ops team, as shown in the image above.
This model offers a high level of oversight and ensures that departments are making the most of their individual skills but remaining part of a coherent unit. To implement these changes, a big emphasis will have to be placed on change management, but the results could be crucial for your business success.
Modern businesses have dedicated sales, marketing, and customer success teams because they each bring something different to the table. What’s important though, is that the skills they bring complement each other and are utilized in a way that maximizes business success as a whole.
A lot of businesses find this isn’t the case, often leading to uncertainty around revenue and different departments doing their own thing.
Technology should be there to ensure that these departments are aligned, making processes more efficient, and using data to inform decisions, but it doesn’t always work out this way. Instead, we have different people using completely different tech stacks and nobody bringing everything together.
This is where Rev Ops comes into its own, making sure that your revenue-generating teams are working in unison. When done right, this should result in transparency, accountability, and predictability that will drive your business forward.
What do you think of Rev Ops? Are you considering implementing it to solve some of the problems discussed here? Let me know in the comments below: