Organizations that still view revenue operations as a purely tactical function are leaving money on the table.
Today’s new generation of RevOps leaders—aka Generation Revenue—are trusted advisors to senior leadership, shaping the business strategy and identifying new opportunities for long-term growth.
RevOps can “cut through the noise” to support more informed business decisions, says Workday’s Vice President of Sales Operations Ron Johnson.
“A well-run [revenue operations team] is one that’s valued and consulted by the functional leadership,” he says. “It has a voice at the table and really brings insights and clarity to conversations, not just data. It's moving beyond reporting the news, to actively helping leaders make the right decisions.”
Johnson sits on the Revenue Operations Council (ROC), which is a group of world-class thought leaders sharing education, strategy, best practices, and professional development based on what’s worked at their industry-leading organizations.
Best-in-class revenue leaders know their role doesn’t stop at connecting everyday go-to-market activities. Instead, strategic RevOps leaders make it their mission to deliver valuable insights to the C-suite that inform where their business is going today, and growing in the future.
At Clari’s GenR2021 virtual conference, ROC members from McAfee, WalkMe, Clari, and Workday examined what makes the modern revenue operations leader strategic, the scope of RevOps, how they approach alignment, and their vision for the future.
Positioning RevOps as a Strategic Partner
Top Revenue leaders maintain a balance between the tactical and the strategic. They have the ability to zoom into the granular details and also zoom out to see the big picture.
“Being a strategic business partner is really being the eyes and ears of the business,” says Clari’s Head of Revenue Operations Rosalyn Santa Elena. “Our role is to be the right hand, the chief of staff to the CRO and to the executive team, where we really help provide insights.”
For Santa Elena, this strategic partnership is about “seeing around the corners” to stay ahead of risk and drive predictable revenue growth at scale—across people, processes, technology, and data.
Leaders like Debra Estrada, WalkMe’s Global Vice President of Revenue Operations, know that their perspective supports better decisions at both the strategic and tactical levels. Estrada uses Clari to monitor the overall health of the business and also adjust specific initiatives where needed.
“When you're talking tactically about a new product rollout, I manage that within Clari, and I’ve had huge success,” says Estrada. “I’m able to give feedback on the business and say, ‘hey, we need to tweak certain areas up on down,’ or, ‘hey, this is or isn't running successfully,’ or ‘hey, we need more enablement because our sales team doesn't have it right just yet’.”
Determining the Scope of Revenue Operations
Making revenue operations a strategic differentiator for your business starts with defining the scope, according to Pilar Schenk, Vice President of Global Sales Strategy and Operations at McAfee.
“Scope is incredibly important because as we think about the revenue journey, the more we get into the strategic levers that help the company drive growth,” says Schenk. “The more we have a seat at the table, the more we shape that revenue journey, both for our internal sellers and also our customers.”
Defining the scope for a role as cross-functional as revenue operations can be a challenge. Revenue operations frameworks can include a wide range of responsibilities, including enablement, sales forecasting, reporting, content management, compensation, payments, pipeline management, quotas, and more.
With established boundaries, revenue leaders can better connect and support teams, identify and track key data, deliver insight into the long-term trajectory of the business, and find new opportunities for growth.
“If you own go-to-market strategy and planning, when a CRO or CFO has an extra dollar to spend, or they come to you and say, ‘where should I spend that dollar to maximize my growth potential in the next year,’ you can advise them,” says Schenk.
Managing Change to Drive Alignment Across Go-To-Market Teams
Revenue operations leaders also support go-to-market teams working in lockstep—whether that’s driving rigor and predictability, tracking shared KPIs, referencing a single source of truth, or strengthening relationships among internal teams.
“Developing the revenue and sales relationship is really key because, as a RevOps leader, you have to design and enable a team that’s all rowing in the same direction,” says Estrada.
RevOps leaders push against the status quo of misalignment. They smash silos and pave the way for better, stronger connections across the entire revenue operations process.
Implementing revenue operations is change, but when done right, it can make a transformational impact that powers long-term, scalable success—and changes quickly can pay off.
“The faster you start to get there, the better position you’ll be in,” Johnson says. ”We're taking steps that are uncomfortable because we know that this is where we need to be three years from now to support the complexity and the scale that we need to continue driving the growth.”
Schenk at McAfee experienced this type of transformation herself.
“The first thing I tackled was ensuring that we had forecast accuracy and a strong pipeline process, applying AI and our predictor model to our process,” says Shenk. That’s when McAfee bought in Clari. “It was a huge transformational change for us, but it got us to that quick win, so that we gained confidence in what RevOps could be. That gave us credibility, and some rope to go figure out the next step of that journey.”
The Future of Revenue Operations
Revenue operations offers tremendous opportunity, says Schenk, especially with RevOps’ expanding role in overall strategy. But the journey of realizing revenue operations' potential for full-scale alignment may be long.
“It’s about understanding where are you today, and how will we move along that journey,” says Schenk. “Getting there is going to take some time. Smaller SaaS companies might get there faster.”
Each member of the ROC has a different approach to their work, tailored to their organization’s size, structure, industry, and maturity. As Schenk suggests, smaller organizations may have the benefit of fewer people, parts, and pieces to align, compared to their larger counterparts. Still, the core values of collaboration, trust, and transparency remain consistent throughout.
“Regardless of where the industry is, your company size, or what you sell, that product feedback with your go-to-market teams is extremely important,” says Santa Elena. “Thinking about how you do that, it's not a silver bullet or a one-size-fits-all per se, but it's all about communication and transparency.”
Johnson at Workday sees an increasingly interconnected future for the RevOps function and the businesses embracing it. Ultimately, revenue operations should center the customer journey, and all teams—including sales, finance, marketing, and product—are accountable for customer success.
“My job is to help people make the right decisions at the right time,” says Johnson. “When we’re thinking about the long-term end state of RevOps, it’s truly aligning our people throughout the business with the customer journey. That’s a very long-term focus.”
For Johnson, the future of RevOps means synchronized information across the board. No more disparate analytics and KPIs across sales, finance, customer success, and marketing teams. Instead, all teams will track toward shared measurable outcomes.
“In the future, you’re not going to have separate analytics for each team,” he says. “That’s where we need to go—true data alignment.”