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How Okta Nails 40% Growth, Year Over Year (Over Year): CEO Todd McKinnon

Headshot photograph of Andy Byrne, CEO of Clari

Andy Byrne
CEO, Clari



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Banner image with Okta logo and headshot photograph of Todd McKinnon, CEO of Clari
Banner image with Okta logo and headshot photograph of Todd McKinnon, CEO of Clari

Okta, one of the world’s leading cybersecurity firms, exemplifies a word that you hear a lot in the world of revenue operations, which is also one of my favorites: rigor. 

Rigor creates consistency and efficiency. When you have rigor in your revenue operations—when you have process and tracking that supports your revops end to end—you have the insight to understand whether you’re going to hit or miss this quarter, next quarter, and the quarter after that. In other words, rigor drives predictability.

Okta has built a world-class revenue engine that maintains powerful predictability, even with massive shifts in the market after the pandemic hit.

Rigor, and the predictability it enables, are among the reasons Okta has maintained over 40% year-over-year growth and successfully navigated a recent $6.5 billion acquisition of the authentication platform Auth0.

Okta’s co-founder and CEO Todd McKinnon discussed how he runs a tight RevOps ship during a chat at Clari’s Generation Revenue 2021 virtual conference for the next generation of revenue leaders. 

For McKinnon, growth ties closely to feedback—maintaining well-informed teams by creating a feedback loop that cycles insights through the entire go-to-market process. 

Many companies strive for a closed loop, but few successfully maintain one. 

“If you can get that closed loop, that’s the strategic holy grail and the revenue will follow,” he says.

Here are McKinnon’s tips on creating and maintaining a closed loop.

1. Don’t Treat Your Revenue Team as a Separate Entity

McKinnon views the revenue team as one node in the loop. RevOps shouldn’t be considered a distinct entity. Instead, it needs to be well-integrated into the product and sales teams in order to create a culture of predictability. 

“It's one thing to have the product roadmap or the research and development teams doing their thing, and then the revenue team is trying to keep up and stay in sync,” he says. “It's a whole other thing if you have a tight feedback loop between the people in the field and what they're seeing with customers that gets translated back to the R&D team in a way that's scalable and broadly applicable.” 

With this kind of feedback, revenue teams have more insights to improve the entire customer lifecycle from prospecting to customer success. Your revenue teams can help facilitate this closed loop by setting protocols and installing technology to automate data-driven feedback.

2. Prioritize Data-Driven Feedback

“A lot of companies think they're doing this well,” he points out. “They get feedback from the field, and the product team knows about it. So they build what the field told them to build. 

“But they don't know if it ever gets adopted, because they don't have the instrumentation in their product to see what's getting adopted and what customers are using. So, it's like they got halfway through that loop, but they didn't close it.”

Automating feedback ensures that the loop stays closed and running properly.

“Doing this in a data-based way is very important,” according to McKinnon. 

3. Analyze Feedback For New Opportunities

When you have data-driven feedback, you’re not just able to measure the success of an existing product or services or customer satisfaction. You can use that feedback to find new sales opportunities. Per McKinnon, this is where having a good data analytics strategy, which relies on quality RevOps strategists, comes into play.

“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,” McKinnon explains.

A well-designed process also requires fewer people, because the loop is so streamlined and optimized. When teams are connected to the right data analytics, with smart leaders analyzing the feedback, they can maintain the advantages of a small company while continuing to grow, he says. 

We see this at Clari, where our dashboards pull in key metrics, analyze past data trends and performances, and then provide executives like McKinnon with easy to read dashboards. They can roll up their forecasts, and assess any holes in the pipeline. They have the same view as their revenue leadership down to their front line managers, so everyone in the loop has access to a single source of truth with the most of-the-minute data possible. 

At Generation Revenue, we brought together RevOps leaders like McKinnon who are changing the future of business. 

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