Board members, venture capitalists, and fellow chief executive officers tell me how predictability across their business and their portfolios has become vital. In my frequent conversations with these leaders, it’s clear revenue operations has become critical to the business community in a way that it wasn’t before, whether in early stage venture capital, private equity, institutional investors, pre-IPO companies, or publicly-traded businesses. Overwhelmingly, driving predictable outcomes is hugely significant to leadership, investors, and shareholders.
Sure, the quest for predictability might not be new, but here’s what has changed.
Revenue leaders and operations professionals are driving the type of rigor across processes and teams that enables predictability at scale by instrumenting their revenue process with new technologies. This rigor produces meaningful growth from the top down, and it’s actually having an impact on culture.
There’s a direct correlation between the companies that quarter after quarter after quarter predictably beat their numbers, and a love of culture. And by culture, I don’t just mean the sprinkling of lunch orders and hoodies. I’m talking about something deeper.
What It Means to Be Generation Revenue
For two days, I had the privilege of meeting next-generation revenue leaders from leading companies at our Generation Revenue 2021 virtual conference. I’ve listened to incredible roundtables that included our own Clari sales leadership powerhouses like Clari’s Vice President of Sales, Holly Procter, Lynn Powers, Clari’s Mid-Market Sales Director, and the revenue operations leaders of the future, like Clari’s Head of Revenue Operations Rosalyn Santa Elena. I’ve connected with many of you. And I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to learn from some incredibly accomplished speakers, including General (Ret.) Stanley McChrystal, and the CEOs of three fast-growing Clari customers.
Over 1,000 members of the Generation Revenue movement tuned in this week, and they all have a few things in common. GenR teams don’t waste each other’s time. They understand the power of automation, insights and artificial intelligence predictions to get their job done. They believe in transparency and accountability as they seek to collaborate with their peers and have productive, data-driven conversations that drive real outcomes for the business. Finger-pointing is replaced by accountability, as every sales rep, front-line manager, growth marketer, customer success manager, revenue operations leader, chief marketing officer, and chief revenue officer has a part to play in this new era of revenue generation.
In 2020, our world shifted. The ways we work have changed, in some ways so radically that they’ll never be the same again. This new world—and this generation revenue—requires new tools that enable teams to thrive in virtual workspaces, bringing data, operations, and connection to the fore: tools from companies like Clari, Zoom, Okta, Sumo Logic, and more. And it requires a new way of thinking.
Today, we stand at a technological and business crossroads, one rife with opportunities for the next generation of revenue leaders who are brave enough to step up. And as technology and especially artificial intelligence and SaaS continues to dominate the market and grow, inspiring continual embracing of all that RevOps rigor and predictability, empathy remains the backbone of our operation.
Empathy drives our connections, with our employers, our prospects, our colleagues, our customers.
If you joined us for our Generation Revenue 2021 conference, you heard me say that empathy is the new leadership requirement.
And it wasn’t just me.
And it’s not just about my employees.
Empathy from the top-down sets a tone for how we at Clari approach our clientele and prospects. We pride ourselves on how we support everyone’s business needs, from the boardroom to front line managers.
But it’s not just about connecting the emotion. It’s about giving business structure and support so teams can build their empathy and grow. At Clari, we talk about how machine-actual processes, coupled with data, give us the support we need as human beings to truly succeed.
Rigor’s Ripple Effect
Rigor drives a truly human ripple effect—because it drives predictability.
Uncertainty leads to anxiety and stifles creative thinking. When your prefrontal lobe is riddled with anxiety, you can’t go into brainstorm mode because there’s a barrier in your way.
But predictability equals confidence—removing that roadblock and allowing for a better human emotional experience at scale.
Rigor is our weapon against uncertainty.
Take revenue operations—the more we connect all of the teams and players in our revenue operations cycles, from marketing to front line managers to chief revenue officers to the board members, the more visibility, data, and operational efficiencies we can build into the sales process.
It’s like Todd McKinnon from Okta says: “You really have a tight feedback loop between people in the field, what they're seeing with customers, what customers need, getting that translated back in a way that's scalable and reusable and broadly applicable to the R&D team, new products, new enhancements come out, and the loop is closed.”
The challenge for Generation Revenue, then, is removing all those traditional boundaries to build new, virtuous revenue cycles.
Metrics That Matter
The next step is metrics.
Understanding the metrics that matter to your revenue can shift, depending on the age and stage of the business, the climate, a freakish Black Swan event, you name it. The key to revenue leadership is knowing what to shift, when, and how to communicate so everyone works together, and supports clients whether selling top down or bottom up.
Ramin Sayer, the CEO of Sumo Logic, shared his thoughts on how he viewed metrics as his firm shifted from startup, to success, to going public.
“The maturation of a company in the small, early to mid stage, it's really about customer count and wins. Then it's about the size of deals at different stages. Then it's about landing and expanding, and how quickly you can grow the cohorts.”
So we’ve got rigor driving confidence, and metrics driving success. And all of those drive toward empathy and supporting the people who make it all happen.
Adding Up to Empathy
You're never going to design the perfect metrics or the perfect instrumentation that can totally replace smart, motivated people, dynamically seeing the world and communicating in a way that can come up with the next insight.
Eric Yuan, the CEO of Zoom, said as much.
“You’ve got to look at everything from others' perspective, from [the] customer perspective, from an employee perspective,” Yuan says. At Zoom, “I always want to make sure every decision you look at, will this decision benefit a customer or not, will this decision benefit our employee or not, will this decision be sustainable or not, [and] always look at it from others perspective, care about others.”
So how do revenue leaders bring it all together?
In the past, I’ve talked about my own personal key performance indicators—I have them for my business, and I have them for my personal life. I write them down. So does Yuan. That makes them real. Tangible. Constant reminders of what we’re striving for.
And yes they touch on business rigor and metrics, but they also include making sure I’ve found a way to support my teams today. That I’ve made someone’s day better. That my machine-actual processes and data support my goal of acting with empathy.
As we close out Generation Revenue 2021, this is my challenge to you: What’s your mission and philosophy this year? Then, how are you going to take the lessons of GenR and apply them to your business, your teams, your life?
Write down that mission. Share it with me: on LinkedIn, or if you’re a customer, in our customer Slack channels. Tag us. This week, we started a Generation Revenue revolution. Let’s support each other as we bring these lessons home.
Read more GenR2021 highlights: