Why Revenue Operations is a Critical Piece to Your Growing Sales Org
Collin Stewart, CEO
4 January 2018
If you’re in the enviable position of scaling your sales team – and, by extension, your company – it’s an understandable urge to just pour gas on your sales org to support that growth.
More sales people means more meetings. More meetings means more opportunities. And, more opportunities means more revenue. Right?
Not so fast.
Yes, scaling your sales team hiring more sales professionals. And, yes, when fully ramped, high-performing salespeople bring in meetings, opportunities and revenue. But, scaling a team brings with it more concerns than just growth – there are operational issues that must be considered during such times as well. You don’t want key company processes to fall through the cracks as you scale.
To prevent such mistakes, you need to put a revenue operations person (and system) in place, says growth strategist and sales advisor Brian Wilson (Wilson is now an advisor at MOBI, where he is working to design and scale a sales team, along with a revenue operations component).
“As your company grows up and you go up market a bit, you start adding the channel, and customer success and sales development. So, when I think of revenue ops, I think of taking all of those pieces and making sure they are aligned,” says Wilson, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.
“It’s not about siloing sales development or marketing operations, for example.”
Defining Revenue Operations… And Finding The Right Person For The Gig
As Wilson illustrated above, revenue operations is somewhat of an umbrella term for the processes needed to support an efficient and effective sales organization.
That said, what those processes are will be determined by the needs and goals of each individual company, adds Wilson. Are you hoping to grow by 4x? Or, are you looking for more modest 5% growth? How ambitious your sales plan is, for example, will determine the influence and the scope of your revenue operations function.
“I would start with asking these questions: what are the goals? What are we trying to achieve? And, then, I would reverse engineer process to that goal,” says Wilson.
“Then, I would do a gap analysis – how do operate? What system are we utilizing? Are there Redundancies? Do we have overlaps? Is there any leakage? What are the results of our processes?”
Once you’ve decided on the scope required for your revenue operations process, it’s likely time to bring on someone to handle those responsibilities. Of course, you may already have someone on the team that will assume this role, but most growing teams likely have to bring on a new person for this role.
For smaller teams, adds Wilson, you may be able to get away with having someone handle revenue operations on a part time basis, but for companies with aggressive growth goals, you’ll need a full time person.
When searching for the right candidate, Wilson says, he looks for people with advanced analytical skills, as well as people with a strong work ethic. A revenue operations position, after all, requires people to quickly diagnose and fix operational issues.
“Right from early on, you will want to test how analytical this person is. I’m looking for proactive people, people who know the goals, see gaps and leakage right away and address it,” says Wilson.
“If you are not seeing those traits early, there could be challenges there.”
Brian’s Work With Mobi
Currently, Brian is working as an advisor to Mobi, an Indianapolis-based mobile device management software company.
In his role there, he’s had to design and implement a revenue operations function, which included instilling a culture of ownership around revenue ops, as well ramping up lead gen. Mobi needed to fill the top of the funnel.
And thus far, the result have been terrific. Their revamped lead gen machine (with the help of Predictable Revenue) has increased results by 10x, and the culture surrounding revenue operations has been strengthened.
But, adds Wilson, as the team began to add more meetings and opportunities, the need to standardize metrics and reporting downstream became more apparent. For example, the team now needs to better understand metrics such as how many phone calls it takes to get a meeting, and how long after a meeting does an opportunity become revenue.
“There was ad hoc activity in the sales pipeline, needed to standardize processes for sure,” says Wilson.
“We needed to track that and understand those inputs fully. It’s about standardizing metrics and holding people accountable for the consistency and clarity that come from those metrics.”
Revenue operations truly is an interconnected system.
Connecting With the Team
So, as you dive into the world of revenue operations (and, subsequently, begin implementing the function at your company) it’s critical that your sales team understand why you’re doing so. There will be process changes as a result, and your sales team will need to buy into those changes.
Wilson says he’s had to build those bridges throughout his career.
“The key is, when I’ve come on board, we immediately discussed that we are going to do ramping up lead gen and putting some new process in place as a result. But, we were also very clear about the fact that everyone is going to have do do extra, during the transition. More was going to be asked of everyone,” says Wilson, adding that
“But, the will come with benefits. And, we delivered on that. When you deliver, it makes it much easier to discuss changes etc.”
For more on Brian Wilson’s thoughts on revenue operations – including some Salesforce best practices – check out his recent interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.