Maybe you’ve heard the adage, “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”
Nothing could be more true for Revenue Operations!
Why? Because we tend to move too fast, and we get addicted to fixing symptoms, not root problems.
In this article, I’m going to explain how these tendencies are breaking your sales stack and a smart 4-step process for fixing any sales stack — no matter how broken you think it is.
Why Fast Fixes to Your Sales Stack Never Work
Most companies spend years wondering why their sales and marketing systems are a jumbled mess, requiring tons of manual effort to keep them working.
More clients than I can count have described their sales stack as a “dumpster fire.”
I get it. The only thing worse than having messy systems is watching it spin out of control with no idea how to fix it!
In just a minute, I’m going to tell you how to fix your broken sales stack, but before I do, I want to diagnose the problem. Believe it or not, the problem isn’t just the tools you’re using, or who bought them, or who put them together.
In order to understand why your sales stack is in trouble, we need to talk about incentives.
People respond to incentives. For salespeople, those incentives are generally financial. For sales operations teams, however, your annual team performance bonus is unlikely to factor into the day-to-day decision-making.
So what does motivate operations teams? For most ops professionals, it is feeling important — getting constant positive feedback from their colleagues in sales and marketing.
How does that positive feedback generally happen?
- After ops completes a request quickly
- When ops fixes a problem, especially at a critical time
That being the case, ops teams feel like heroes when they work fast and put out fires.
Of course, they like being heroes. So they aren’t motivated to slow down, zoom out, and carefully scope out every project. A quick-fix or band-aide is often the solution. Meanwhile, the real problem continues to fester.
This quickly becomes a vicious cycle:
- Sales requests a project (for example: add a new field or piece of automation in Salesforce)
- Ops quickly completes the task — they feel like heroes
- The new automation unexpectedly breaks another process
- Ops fixes the task — they feel like heroes
- Rinse and repeat
See why your sales stack is broken?
When stuck in this cycle, it doesn’t take long for a sales and marketing stack to become a Frankenstein’s Monster.
CRMs become overloaded with unnecessary fields and automation. Tasks that should be simple (like building a dashboard) become time-consuming projects. Because nobody understands why everything keeps breaking, sales and marketing leaders exert tighter control over operations, speeding up the cycle.
And that only makes it worse.
If this sounds familiar, don’t freak out. Fixing your broken sales stack is easier than you might think.
4 Steps to Fix a Broken Sales Stack
Step 1: Bring in a Professional
Being a great carpenter doesn’t make you an architect. To build a quality house, you need both. Likewise, knowing a lot about Salesforce is not the same as understanding Revenue Operations.
For large sales teams with big budgets (think 25+ salespeople), it may make sense to hire someone full time.
Doing it right will require someone at the director or VP-level. In San Francisco, expect to pay $300k for a senior leader, $180k for an experienced manager, and $100k for a junior ops analyst (fully-loaded).
If $300k+ isn’t in your budget, consider bringing in a company that specializes in Revenue Operations.
Be careful when choosing a company! There are many carpenters posing as architects. You need a skilled team that can help you build and maintain a quality operational infrastructure for growing teams — preferably one that will work with you until you’re ready to hire a senior leader.
Step 2: Audit and Clean Your Sales Stack
Once you’ve found someone qualified to fix a broken sales stack, it’s time to take stock of the problem(s) and start cleaning.
Done right, this is a 2-step process.
First, you must slowly and carefully audit your CRM and connected tools. Then, you must launch a cleanup effort.
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Your audit should dig deep into your existing system to answer these important questions:
- How many fields are in our CRM? Are they being used?
- What purpose does each field serve?
- What automations are changing our data? Why?
- Are any other apps changing our data? Why?
- Are our CRM and Marketing Automation platforms set up in a way that aligns with our GTM strategy?
- Do we have all the dashboards and reports we need? Do we have ones we don’t need?
- Are our systems secure?
- And more!
Once you know how your system works and how it supports your existing sales process, you can execute a cleanup effort.
Be aware, this can take weeks or months to do correctly. You cannot expect to solve in a few days a problem that you spent years creating.
So don’t rush. Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.
Step 3: Build a Process to Keep Your Sales Stack Clean
Why do extreme diets so often fail? Because, once the diet is over, people go right back to their old ways.
This can happen after a systems cleanup, too.
If you fail to invest time and energy into designing and documenting a formal sales operations process, your sales stack will gain all its weight back — and begin breaking down again.
To avoid repeating history, you must create a new process that governs how you handle operations requests. This process should:
- Adhere to a set of fundamental team principles (You should document and share these.)
- Create a mechanism for requesting systems or process changes
- Add a step for scoping all projects, even the smallest of tasks, wherein you confirm that everyone involved understands the problem and that the “solution” actually solves that problem
This process doesn’t have to be complex. For many teams, it can be a short document that explains the RevOps team’s goals, outlines a scoping process, and teaches other teams how to submit requests.
This document will help set reasonable expectations with other teams because it defines how RevOps serves them.
Step 4: Sales Stack Maintenance (Start With What Hurts)
This step is crucial. Without it, you will end up right back where you started.
The operations function got into this mess by doing what other teams told them. Instead of seeking to understand the problem, they focused solely on the requested task.
Doing more of the same will not work.
Imagine walking into a doctor’s office and immediately asking for 500mg of Cipro. How do you think the doctor would react?
My doctor would probably say something like, “Why don’t you begin by telling me what hurts?” He’d ask me a ton of questions, and then come up with a diagnosis.
This is how a good RevOps team should operate.
By slowing down and seeking to understand what hurts, instead of just completing whatever tasks are given to them, operations teams can break the cycle of broken sales stacks.
This slow, smooth process allows teams to focus on accretive tasks and building a sales stack that helps the sales and marketing teams do their job more effectively.