Lead is a mission-critical revenue term, so you’d expect a shared definition between sales and marketing of what constitutes a lead—two teams directly engaging with leads, aka potential new customers.
Yet a seller’s definition of what makes a prospect a lead may differ from a marketer’s. This is just one example of the alignment gap between sales and marketing, as highlighted by Gartner.
That rift leaves plenty of room for discrepancies, not to mention time squandered on surface-level debates on definitions and data. But there’s a better way.
Imagine this ideal scenario: You’re a revenue operations leader at a high-growth organization. Despite ever-increasing complexity and scale, your teams across sales, marketing, customer success, and finance stay truly aligned. This means everyone on your go-to-market team:
- Knows how and where to access real-time revenue data to inform their decisions
- Measures their success based on commonly understood key performance indicators (KPIs) that support your company’s overall strategic growth initiatives, like market expansion and achieving predictable revenue that powers an initial public offering
- Speaks the same language, meaning they agree on the definition of lead and every other possible metric, calculation, data point, key term—where to find it, and what to do with it.
If that sounds like fiction, it’s not. Revenue operations leaders are building these bridges today—by developing a shared source of truth.
As Clari’s chief revenue officer, I know that RevOps leaders pave the way for increased efficiency and effectiveness across teams—including sales, marketing, and customer success. Revenue operations professionals stand at the forefront of a growing movement to modernize the way businesses approach predictable growth, as companies pursue increasingly complex strategic initiatives.
We’re collaborating with some of the best in the revenue operations business—many of whom have helped to develop and shape their own shared source of truth for their revenue organizations—on the Revenue Operations Council.
According to the ROC, a shared source of truth, or SSOT, is an agreed-upon resource that can bring consistency, transparency, simplicity, and alignment to your revenue process. With an SSOT, revenue teams gain a centralized system that everyone can refer to and rely on. An SSOT allows the entire revenue team to function in lockstep.
Here we’ll examine what a shared source of truth really is, how you can implement it, and the real business impact of having an effective SSOT in place.
What is a shared source of truth?
A shared source of truth, or SSOT, is defined as one system that consolidates all of the revenue data your organization could possibly need.
Ideally, an SSOT is a technology solution, like a revenue operations platform, that delivers real-time revenue data.
This source material helps teams speak the same language, examine the same data, and achieve the same strategic growth goals, on schedule. With a revenue operations platform as an SSOT, teams gain full revenue visibility, automation across workflows, and real-time data to track revenue processes.
Of course, alignment is an ongoing process. Whether your organization is adding new teammates, striving toward aggressive new growth goals, overhauling your processes, or conducting day-to-day business, new factors that pressure-test your shared source of truth will always arise.
That’s why it’s important for RevOps leaders to develop an agile shared source of truth that can be updated as your growth goals evolve.
Implementing your shared source of truth
How do you use a shared source of truth to ensure your company’s goals don’t get lost in translation? It starts with designating the team that’s responsible for managing the SSOT.
By definition, a shared source of truth isn't static—it must be flexible and dynamic, molding to your business objectives. That’s why empowering a team to proactively manage the SSOT is vital.
Leaders from the Revenue Operations Council outline three key steps for establishing an SSOT for your organization:
- Define governance and ownership: Determine and empower the team that will identify and maintain the integrity of your SSOT. This can be a team of cross-functional stakeholders, or a full revenue operations team, depending on the size and maturity of your organization.
- Standardize revenue KPI definitions and sales terminology: Develop the documentation required to align the team and ensure consistency.
Creating an agreed-upon lexicon for your team eliminates headaches and aids in predictable forecasts, especially when key terms could mean different things to different people.
- Identify delivery methods and align to cadences: Outline how you’ll share data pulled from your SSOT and in which meetings you’ll deliver that information. For example, you may decide that RevOps technology is your sanctioned data source, and that data gets shared at forecast meetings and quarterly business reviews (QBRs) via slide deck templates.
ROC member Phillip Jones, vice president of sales operations at Alteryx, has seen the power of an SSOT and its supporting documentation in action.
“Everyone used to have a slightly different view of what something was,” says Jones. “We created a common lexicon that serves as a glossary of terms, so now we’re all on the same page. It’s been a game changer.”
In the ROC’s second research paper, Jones of Alteryx, along with revenue operations leaders from Workday and Procore Technologies, share actionable strategies, best practices, and frameworks that leaders can implement today on their journey to establish a shared source of truth.
Revenue operations with an SSOT: Realizing the tangible results of shared understanding
Initially, the benefits of a shared source of truth might seem intangible. Consistency, transparency, simplicity, and alignment are hard to quantify. While it’s clear that an SSOT can drive overall alignment, how exactly does that translate to more revenue?
The answer comes down to the data—and more importantly, agreeing on the data. That agreement:
- Empowers your team to take informed actions that align with your company’s growth goals.
- Gives revenue teams true confidence in their forecasts, so they can accurately predict their results and reliably grow the business.
Ultimately, that high-quality data is what we as revenue leaders want, and a shared source of truth can deliver that.
According to Forrester research, which surveyed more than 300 B2B revenue executives:
- 59% of respondents stated that accessing real-time data to track revenue processes is also an important capability
- 50% of respondents say that leveraging real-time data for revenue prediction and optimization is a challenge
- 31% of respondents cited out-of-date data or low-quality data as a key reason for sales forecast variability
- 60% of respondents noted the ability to track revenue data changes over time as a critical technology capability to ensure sales forecast accuracy
Based on Forrester’s findings, it’s clear that revenue leaders want access to accurate, real-time data for critical business processes—like forecasting and generating revenue. But they don’t always get it.
Variability in forecasts is a particularly important concern because it affects a company’s long-term performance, growth trajectory, resources, and strategic investments.
With today’s technology and the forward-thinkers of the Generation Revenue movement, predictable revenue can become the norm.
At the end of the day, everyone at your organization wants to win. With the right technology, frameworks, and processes, RevOps leaders can empower their teams to meet their common goals.
An SSOT allows your revenue team to move beyond simply defining leads to focus on transforming leads into long-term, successful customers.