Revenue Operations

Convergence of Revenue Operations, Revenue Intelligence, and Sales Engagement

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Photograph of three revenue leaders meeting at a table

If you're struggling to keep pace with all of the recent developments in sales tech, you're not alone. In fact, Gartner has a term for all of the new entrants, acquisitions, and overall convergence currently happening in the space: Sales Tech Mayhem.

Convergence is happening in nearly every category, but it's particularly strong in three: Revenue Operations, Revenue Intelligence, and Sales Engagement. When these categories first emerged, they remained as fairly distinct entities.

However, these lines have begun to blur as companies in these categories have worked to enhance and expand the capabilities of their offerings. While this commitment to innovation provides more features to their customers, it also creates a lot of confusion in the marketplace.

What exactly is driving this convergence? How are these categories changing? And, more importantly, what does this significant shift mean for revenue teams?

The answers to these questions will enable revenue leaders to effectively leverage these converging technologies to drive more revenue, efficiency, and insights.

The problem of overlap

The most apparent shortcoming of this expansion of capabilities is overlap. As each niche sector of the technology market evolves, technology vendors continuously add new functionalities to their products. Acquisitions and mergers, which are extremely common in the tech space, only add to the confusion.

This trend most often leads to convergence in adjacent categories, which couldn't be more true for providers in the revenue operations, revenue intelligence, and sales engagement space.

As technology providers add new and more dynamic tools to their products, the definitions of these solutions become increasingly muddled. This muddling can make it challenging for organizations to figure out the ideal combination of providers to best empower their sales teams and maximize sales productivity.

The benefits of convergence

It's only natural that technology providers adapt to meeting the growing needs of their clients. While it can be confusing for prospective buyers, there are benefits. For example, now that sales engagement platforms are expanding their capabilities to support essential revenue intelligence and revenue operations tasks, many buyers can gain the capabilities they need by implementing one or two platforms instead of three or more.

By "widening their lane," these vendors connect their clients with a more comprehensive platform that can help them align sales targets with overall revenue goals.

Top tech sectors experiencing convergence

Before we delve into the factors driving the convergence, it's helpful to get a better understanding of three major sales technology categories experiencing the most significant changes: Revenue Operations, Revenue Intelligence, and Sales Engagement.

To make things a little more complicated, Forrester has already merged Revenue Operations and Revenue Intelligence into one category—Revenue Operations and Intelligence (RO&I). We'll first take a quick look at this new combined category and then explore the original three categories to provide some perspective on why there is so much convergence happening in this dynamic sector of sales tech.

Revenue Operations and Intelligence (RO&I)

Forrester took the lead in combining Revenue Operations and Revenue Intelligence into one category, and once you understand the defining characters of the original categories, it's easy to see why. Here's how Forrester describes this new combined category:

"Technologies that leverage buyer signals and interactions to produce insights that allow go-to-market functions to continuously improve execution performance and optimize the revenue engine across multiple areas: engagement and productivity, revenue cadence and forecasting, and the overall optimization of the revenue engine itself."
Source: Forrester, New Tech: Revenue Operations And Intelligence, Q4 2021

Established players in this new combined category include late-stage revenue intelligence providers like Clari, Gong, and ZoomInfo, but Forrester also recognizes growth-stage companies expanding into this space like Aviso, Groove, and ringDNA. The following is how the top players break out in G2's Spring 2022 Revenue Operations and Intelligence Grid.

Screenshot of G2 Grid for Revenue Operations and Intelligence showing Clari and Gong at the top right for having high market presence and customer satisfaction

To better understand why Revenue Operations and Revenue Intelligence have merged, we've kept them separate in the descriptions provided below. Sales engagement remains a distinct category to date, but it's easy to see how the defining lines continue to blur.

Revenue Operations

Revenue Operations stands out as the category generating the most confusion. That's because it's been used to define both an "aligned operating model for managing the revenue engine" as well as a technology category made up of foundational solutions that make this possible. Whether viewed as a business function or a solution category, Revenue Operations is squarely focused on aligning all revenue-generating teams and enabling predictable revenue.

That's why typical revenue operations platforms include CRM providers like Salesforce that provide organizations with a single source of truth for managing relationships with customers and prospects. However, Revenue Operations can also include solutions like Clari that are focused more on analyzing data to uncover buyer insights and power accurate sales forecasts.

In fact, Revenue Operations has also been used to describe many other providers that focus on analyzing revenue data like forecasting and forecast analytics, pipeline management, opportunity management, and territory and quota planning. All of these provide revenue teams with valuable intelligence for running their business, and that's the big driving force behind Revenue Operations merging with the next category: Revenue Intelligence.

Revenue Intelligence

At a high level, revenue intelligence solutions are designed to provide valuable insights into the revenue cycle. By analyzing valuable data across the entire sales process, these solutions help sellers anticipate their buyers' needs. This technology can also guide sales teams in prioritizing activities, help stakeholders make essential business decisions, and provide leadership with more accurate forecasting.

Screenshot of Groove revenue intelligence report

Gartner defines revenue intelligence platforms in this way:

"Revenue intelligence platforms enhance sales force automation by capturing seller activity, measuring pipeline health, and guiding sellers' next steps ... Vendors in this market attempt to differentiate themselves by delivering unique feature combinations—including forecast management, sales collaboration and sales force automation (SFA) enrichment—to B2B sales organizations."
Source: Gartner, Market Guide for Revenue Intelligence Platforms, November 2021

Revenue Intelligence platforms perform an essential function by helping revenue teams leverage all the data coming in from other sales and marketing platforms, such as CRM, sales engagement, sales enablement, and marketing automation. The end result is valuable intelligence for enabling more effective sales coaching and evaluating the health of opportunities, deals, and pipeline.

Conversational Intelligence is one popular subset of Revenue Intelligence that includes high-profile providers like Gong and ZoomInfo recently acquired, which speaks to the active convergence happening in this category.

Conversational intelligence is also a natural expansion area for sales engagement platforms, which are already capturing and analyzing written communications like sales emails, texts, and LinkedIn messages. Sales engagement platforms are also generating a lot of the sales activity data that is being analyzed by the more traditional players built around deal and pipeline review, forecasting, and sales coaching.

Sales Engagement

Sales engagement is one of the fastest growing categories of sales tech. Think of a sales engagement tool as an engagement layer that sits on top of your existing CRM. Once deployed and integrated, a sales engagement platform will allow your team to automate manual tasks, measure the performance of sales reps, enable collaboration across teams, and sync data across multiple applications.

Screenshot of Groove activity reminders around a Salesforce cloud icon

While sales engagement providers have been traditionally focused on sales activity capture, sales productivity, and sales campaign automation, vendors in this category are quickly expanding their capabilities with revenue operations and intelligence functions like collaboration, opportunity management, pipeline review, and conversation intelligence.

Craig Rosenberg, VP and analyst at Gartner, defines sales engagement in this way:

"Sales engagement consists of the various interactions (digital, in-person, phone, and so on) that sellers have with prospects and customers. This technology enables sales departments to efficiently deliver high-quality interactions with prospects and customers at scale."
Source: Gartner, "Sales Engagement: The Definitive Guide for Platform Selection," March 2021

Of the leading sales engagement providers that exist today, most were originally built to enable business development reps in the technology sector to scale their outreach through high-volume sales campaigns. While their platforms have evolved over time to better accommodate more types of sellers, they typically have very complicated UIs that can impede adoption among more traditional sales roles like AEs and full-cycle sellers.

The one exception is Groove, which was built for the relationship-building needs of full-cycle sellers. Groove enables revenue teams to automate manual tasks like activity tracking, scale engagement through multi-step messaging capabilities, and make valuable CRM data easily accessible where reps spend most of their time—the inbox. As a result, Groove's ease-of-use and customizability has led to 90% adoption rates in highly traditional selling environments like financial services.

The most innovative products in this category are no longer solely about engagement. Instead, they incorporate robust activity tracking, data capture, pipeline management tools and other revenue-minded functionalities into their offerings.

What is fueling the convergence of Revenue Operations, Revenue Intelligence, and Sales Engagement?

The convergence happening within Revenue Operations, Revenue Intelligence, and Sales Engagement is being largely driven by two factors: an increasingly crowded marketplace caused by digital transformation as well as advances in data analytics.

Digital transformation creates a crowded marketplace

Digital transformation in the sales industry has been happening for a while, but it accelerated quickly during the pandemic. As revenue leaders looked for ways to make remote teams more productive, connected, and effective, existing sales tech providers began looking for ways to expand their solutions to take advantage of increased interest and demand. Likewise, new companies began to pop up to solve more narrow problems with dedicated point solutions.

As established providers looked for opportunities to differentiate and expand their market share, they quickly saw the opportunity to scoop up point solution providers with complementary technology. This is exactly what Gartner describes in its Sales Tech Mayhem series.

Advanced analytics tools

Businesses across all industries have relied on analytics technologies for decades. However, leading-edge sales analytics tools are more powerful than ever before. These solutions can provide sales teams with detailed insights by analyzing unprecedented quantities of data.

Enterprises are leveraging the power of big data to inform organizational decisionmaking, perform market forecasting, and guide the allocation of resources. Analytics tools have become a necessity in the modern marketplace due in large part to the abrupt shift towards remote sales strategies.

Why invest in sales engagement?

The core purpose of a sales engagement platform is to enable sales teams to accelerate engagement with customers and prospects at scale and to maximize adoption of existing CRM systems for more efficient and relevant communications. These platforms accomplish this by simplifying reps’ workflows with an easy-to-use solution for automating messaging, accessing and updating CRM data, collaborating with other team members, and providing visibility to management.

Screenshot of inbound lead auto-flow from Groove

Sales engagement platforms also play a key role in ensuring that every interaction with customers and prospects are captured and logged to the appropriate record in the company's CRM. By capturing every email, call, meeting, LinkedIn message, and more, sales engagement platforms give reps valuable context for engaging customers and provide management with visibility for optimizing efforts and managing cross-functional teams.

There's never been a better time to invest in sales engagement. Convergence is driving sales engagement platforms to expand beyond engagement to tackle more typical revenue operations and intelligence functions like pipeline management and ROI analysis. The end result is a more comprehensive and powerful platform for boosting seller productivity and revenue.

Capitalize on revenue operations convergence with Groove

Has your organization faced unprecedented challenges since the start of 2020? Are you looking for a way to help your sales reps get their groove back in 2022? Want to empower your team to simultaneously fuel consumer engagement and generate more revenue?

Screenshot of Groove sales engagement tool in Gmail

If so, then Groove's purpose-built sales engagement platform offers the perfect solution. Our platform is designed specifically for use with Salesforce and addresses common pain points experienced by enterprise-level sales teams.

To learn more, request a demo today.