Revenue Operations

How to Make the Transition to Revenue Operations

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Michael Lowe
Director, Content Marketing, Clari



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Photograph of crumpled balls of paper with one yellow crumpled ball of paper outlined with a drawing of a light bulb

Revenue operations, or rev ops, is quickly gaining traction as the most efficient, effective, and valuable way to accelerate growth and revenue. By connecting sales, marketing, and customer success teams under one umbrella, rev ops drives full-funnel accountability across an organization's revenue engine. SiriusDecisions found that aligned teams saw 19% faster growth and 15% higher profits.

It's therefore no surprise that the appearance of job titles related to revenue operations is skyrocketing on LinkedIn. In fact, the title "Director of Revenue Operations" titles saw a 73% increase between October 2018 and December 2018, according to SiriusDecisions data. During that same period, "Director of Sales Operations" only rose by 5%. Clearly, revenue operations is on the rise.

And yet, while organizations are beginning to recognize the opportunities that a connected revenue operations model offer, many struggle with how to make the transition successfully. While the benefits are clear and make perfect sense for anyone on the revenue team, change is tough, and there can be a lot of uncertainty and skepticism, especially when it comes to getting sales and marketing teams to work in closer alignment.

Leaders in each department who, until now, have been accustomed to working in silos aren't necessarily used to working in a fully visible and transparent manner. Or, reporting to a new boss, they might be concerned with their future. For example, consider that Chief Revenue Officers typically come from sales backgrounds; if these executives take on marketing teams as part of the revenue operations structure, marketing leaders might worry about their career prospects. But here's the thing: There's no one way to do revenue operations. Some may opt for a complete organizational shift, others may focus on aligning processes and data. The choice is yours and dependent on your company's situation and goals.

Ultimately, revenue operations will benefit the entire organization, no matter which team, but not everyone gets that—right away, at least.

So how do you get your teams on board with the rev ops model and manage the transition successfully? Here are a few tips for thriving through the change.

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Common rev ops structures

The first step to ensuring that your teams are fully committed to rev ops is to help them understand what the model you choose entails. There are a few different ways to build a revenue operations framework and, ultimately, the right way to take charge of your revenue operations efforts will depend on your company's needs, goals, and structure. Whichever way you decide to do it, the important thing is just to do it, because the outcomes are transformative.

1. Processes are aligned

In this least committal version of rev ops, teams remain separate but agreements such as service level agreements (SLAs) are in place to help them work better together. This is mostly where organizations are now, and while it's a good start, it might not be enough. At the end of the day, data and people are still disconnected. At this point, there might be a dotted line between the marketing department and the Chief Revenue Officer, but marketing still reports directly to the CEO. Hammering out common goals, workflows, and KPIs is critical, and that may mean having a standing weekly meeting between teams or agreeing on common communication channels and etiquette.

2. Data is aligned

One step further into a full rev ops model, this structure means that the data used, produced, and tracked by the marketing, sales, and customer success teams is visible and shared in one single source of truth that each department can rally around. When every signal—from CRM to email to meetings to marketing automation and more—are all tracked in one place, the entire revenue operations team can work in sync. That level of accuracy and visibility reduces the finger-pointing and fallout that comes with siloed and opaque information.

3. People are aligned.

All processes, data, and people are aligned under one organization led by the Chief Revenue Officer. That means that marketing, sales, and customer success all report to the same person to ensure shared goals, vision, and purpose. While this is the most evolved form of rev ops, it is not necessary nor the right fit for every organization. A lot can be achieved by aligning data and processes properly.

For a step-by-step guide to creating an efficient and effective revenue operations framework, read The Revenue Operations Framework for Predictable Revenue.

Once your organization's commitment to rev ops is clear and your teams understand what the big picture looks like, the next step to getting everyone on board is to demonstrate its benefits—and, specifically, how those benefits outweigh the challenge that comes with change.

The unique benefits of rev ops

When people, processes, and data are completely siloed, organizations suffer from wasted time, duplicated efforts, miscommunication, finger-pointing, inconsistent reporting, inaccurate forecasts, and "lone wolf" mentality among team members. Not exactly a winning scenario. Here's what teams can expect from revenue operations:

Better culture

When you bring teams together to work collaboratively and share information under a rev ops structure, you're shifting the paradigm to transparency and data-driven teamwork. There is a shared "truth" and story of the business that everyone can see and work toward, preventing the destructive "blame game" and allowing everyone to share in and take credit for results.

Greater efficiency

A revenue operations model simplifies collaboration with a single source of truth and total visibility for the entire revenue team. This allows the right conversations to happen between the right people with the right data to support them, empowering team members to make better decisions, take better actions, and achieve better outcomes.

More accuracy

Forecasting also becomes more accurate and predictable, as all data are visible across the opportunity lifecycle. Further, having a unified rev ops team makes it easier to liaise and collaborate with other internal stakeholders, including the finance, product, and executive teams. This builds a stronger strategic mission not just for each project, but also for the organization as a whole.

Ultimately, all of these enhancements result in higher win rates and faster sales cycles, which in turn translate to more revenue and growth. And that is a winning scenario.

Identifying and remembering the value of a rev ops structure will not only help you explain the benefits to others but also remind you of why you're doing this in the first place.

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Getting buy-in is an ongoing effort

It's critical to communicate the benefits of rev ops to your teams upfront before any changes take place and then again regularly and consistently as new processes, technology, or organizational structures are implemented.

Make it personal and fun

Help each group get on board by identifying common pain points and illustrating how rev ops will alleviate them. By personalizing the transition in this way, you are more likely not only to get them on board, but also to get them excited and optimistic about the change. Gamification is another way to make the transition more personal and fun—not to mention rewarding the transition with tangible prizes.

Identify evangelists

Another proven method to ensure continued buy-in across team members and leaders is to enlist internal ambassadors: influential team members who understand the benefits and can get others on board. That might mean finding one from each of the converging teams—sales, marketing, and customer success—and encouraging them to help lead the change among their peers.

Emphasize the positive.

For those team members resistant to documentation or technology, emphasize how the rev ops model and associated tools reduces paperwork and streamlines the process, allowing them to focus more on finding, closing, managing deals, and providing more transparency so their work can be appropriately recognized.

Ultimately, if you educate your teams on the rev ops model—what it is, how it works, and who is involved—and effectively communicate its numerous benefits, you'll navigate your team through the transition successfully and your organization will be off and running with greater growth and revenue in no time.