Revenue Operations is at the forefront of a paradigm shift — to view the buyer’s journey as a seamless thread across multiple people, systems, and value propositions. This involves driving more new logo and renewal revenue, lowering customer acquisition cost, and increasing forecasting predictability. All while delighting customers along the way.
Newly minted Chief Revenue Officers are what I like to call revenue architects. Their goal is to build a cohesive revenue engine with ever-growing disjointed parts.
It’s a monumental task, and it’s not something you can achieve without a plan. That’s why I’ve built out the Revenue Engine Framework to help drive you to success. And it’s not just for CROs; if you’re a marketer, SDR, sales rep, manager, VP, or CRO, this one’s for you.
Revenue Engine Optimizers Focus on the Entire Customer Lifecycle
The customer journey can be thought of as a conversation-to-continuity lifecycle. In that journey, there are three well-known components: engagement, execution, and continuity.
Engagement: The process (or rather processes) that result in a qualified sales pipeline.
Execution: The process of turning prospects into customers.
Continuity: The process of delighting customers over and over again. Adoption and usage expand over time.
Related: Land and Expand Using Account Hierarchies 📚
The normal approach is to separate these components out. Marketing and Sales Development groups tackle engagement, Sales covers execution, and Customer Success and Account Management handle continuity.
Here’s the rub: with this approach, each department requires its own optimization. Marketing Operations (MOPs) rose up in the wake of rising automation and omnichannel demand generation. Sales Operations (SOPs) entered the fray as technologies allowed sales leaders to bring technologies closer into their orbit and away from centralized IT. Customer Success Operations (CSOPs) have the unenvious position of managing record systems for both support and customer interaction.
What each department gained in efficiency from these separate operations departments they also lost in coordination. That’s where RevOps comes in.
When done right, RevOps act as the framework that keeps the entire engine running smoothly by unifying operations and strategy for each of the different teams.
Strategy and Execution Should be PEAS in a Pod
There are four key components to bringing strategy and execution closer together, like peas in a pod. Those key areas are Process, Enablement, Advisory, and Systems. I like to call this (surprise) PEAS.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements.
Process: This is the capability to build a repeatable, enforceable, and measurable set of playbooks to drive results.
Enablement: This is the systematic approach to delivering relevant content, information, and systems to increase successful customer interactions.
Advisory: This is the ability to complement and transform decision making with your revenue leaders, including a powerful cocktail of heuristics, empirical data, and business cases.
Systems: This is the stewardship of all technologies supporting all activities across all stakeholders.
PEAS explains the what of the Revenue Engine. But RevOps practitioners also need to focus on how to get the engine up and running.
After all, many Revenue Operations practitioners today built a depth of expertise in MOPs or SOPs, and now they’re in positions where they have to learn new, critical skills in different parts of the pipeline.
Due to the nature of the role, RevOps has to work with multiple stakeholders. It’s easy to become lost in the complexity of the overall funnel.
For this, you need to remember FAST. This is the how of the revenue engine.
Focus: Remain focused on the critical path to a successful outcome.
Alignment: You need to be able to gain buy-in from multiple stakeholders who may not agree with each other.
Simplicity: Choose the option that will incur the least amount of strategic, process, and technical debt.
Teamwork: Teamwork is essential in order to work fast and handle the complex nature of RevOps.
Now that we’ve aligned the responsibilities of RevOps using PEAS with a FAST operating mindset, we’re ready to double click into each of the key practice areas: Process, Enablement, Advisory, and Systems.
Define Your Processes
Prospects don’t appreciate moving through your system like they’re on a manufacturing line — being moved from a Marketing Qualified Lead to a Sales Accepted Lead. They just want their concerns addressed so they can confidently make the right decision.
Revenue Operations is in a position to carefully design the handoff from one department to the other. The goal is to smooth information transfer all across your processes, particularly when the prospect is interacting with someone new.
Processes and Systems are usually built up and heavily invested in before Revenue Operations is ever brought in. Because of this, mapping out the organization’s processes from top to bottom is one of the first things Operations will do.
These will be processes like:
- Lead form fill capture
- Lead enrichment and distribution
- Cold outreach vs. inbound qualification
- Discovery process
- Building mutual close plans
- Deal desk and discount approvals
- Order management and product fulfillment
- Renewal forecasting
Map out these processes visually from a broad view. Think of it as your 30,000-foot flyover. Then, go back and map out the same processes, but this time at a more detailed Standard Operational Procedure level
Now, it’s time to start improving.
Volunteer a few marketers or sales reps to move through each step and test your processes rigorously. Document the edge cases and develop a change management plan to fully prepare all involved in the changes to come.
Lastly, prepare the team to have resources helping the field reinforce concepts.
Invest in Growth via Enablement
How often have we heard that employees learn their jobs while on the job? Or how many times have you heard of sales reps promoted to sales managers without ever receiving training on how to be a manager?
To invest in Enablement is to invest in growth. Salaries and bonuses are almost always a company’s largest expense. People matter. So why not invest in their personal development?
Enablement should be considered as a critical function in charge of four key areas:
- Program design and administration
- Coaching and mentoring
- Assets and content
- Measuring impact and driving improvement
To improve, start by examining the processes above and detailing areas of inconsistency and weakness. Have the team rate themselves, and, in turn, have the managers rate the team.
Any rating differences are clear areas for coaching opportunities.
Organizationally, Enablement may sit outside of operations. If so, that’s all right! Just make sure these two groups work closely together.
Develop a Good Decision Making Process
That’s advisory, for those keeping track.
Flawed decision making can have disastrous results for businesses. One could be fooled into thinking data is the new oil, but have you ever seen a vehicle pull up to an oil rig to refuel?
Data is not the same as insight. It’s simply a raw ingredient.
Far too often, we overemphasize perfect data. Instead, focus on progress over perfection, and you’ll get you to where you’re going much faster.
Develop a good decision making process, and you’ll stand head and shoulders over everyone else. Identify the problem, collect information and data, identify any alternatives, and then analyze your options. Only then should you make a recommendation.
Once you’ve decided on a course of action, it’s time to execute, and then you review how it worked and repeat the process again.
Come to the decision-making table with a perspective. And back up your recommendations with a critical thought process that is well documented.
Put the Right Systems in Place
The landscape of revenue technology has exploded. Leaders can quickly become overwhelmed with the number of options at their disposal.
Oftentimes success in this area isn’t about making the right choice but about not making mistakes. So, rather than focusing on specific software, it’s important to break down how to think about systems instead.
The first step is to gather stakeholder requirements. Once you have this, you need to go out and do some good, old-fashioned vendor research. Get demos, trials, and ensure you’re doing your due diligence here.
After that, it’s time for your build-or-buy analysis. This will include price, value, and total cost of ownership. It’s important to note that these are three separate topics. You will also need to identify switching costs — the cost of new training, set-up time, etc.
Put together an implementation and integration timeline. This is where change management becomes extremely important.
Lastly, but arguably most importantly, you need to do the hiring, development, and training required for your new tool to be a success.
So, don’t get caught up in “what is the right technology stack.” Instead, build discipline around supporting your business processes with the appropriate underlying systems.
Build a RevOps Framework That Will Last
Building or tweaking your revenue engine can be overwhelming. So, don’t go in blind, flying by the seat of your pants.
Whether you adopt PEAS and FAST is not important. What is important is that you have a framework in place.
Become the architect of your org’s revenue system. Build a RevOps framework, and work with your team to figure out hat you place inside the frame is up to you and your team.
Special thank you to Gerry Hill of Connect and Sell, Justin Michael (TQ Sales), Stephen Chase of Operatix for a peer review.