In this guest post, my friend Alun Swift notes revenue operations is in a unique position to break down the silos between sales, marketing, customer success and finance
Revenue operations (RevOps) is one of the hottest new career fields in B2B technology. The reason is simple: Businesses have access to data and tech but struggle to make sense of it.
Whether you’re starting out on a new RevOps career, changing companies, or moving up the corporate ladder, it can be useful to take stock and identify the strengths and weaknesses that can help or hinder us in our roles.
Here’s my take on six skills that I’ve found super-useful when working in Revenue Operations.
1. Be inquisitive
Ask questions. Get involved. Build reports. Learn how stuff works. And what doesn’t work.
Being inquisitive is the number one trait of a successful RevOps professional. It’s what allows you to deeply understand the inner workings of the revenue engine.
Whether it’s a specific process, a new piece of tech, or a simple spreadsheet – ask questions and learn them inside-out. If the RevOps function is also new, chances are few people have scratched the surface of these things. And far fewer people understand how they’re meant to fit together.
Ask yourself, how can we possibly improve things if we can’t easily explain them in the first place?
If someone gifts you their time to explain things, then take this for all it’s worth.
And above all else: don’t be afraid to ask. It shows off this skill perfectly!
2. Learn the sales funnel (and associated metric definitions)
Get down and dirty with the details. Find out what’s important to the business, and how the revenue function contributes towards this. Look for ambiguities and gaps that may be conveniently unexplained or glossed over. And don’t apologize for being pedantic!
I’ve experienced situations such as the CMO being unable to explain what a ‘lead’ was, despite having a target to hit a certain number of them each quarter.
- Is it a hand-raise?
- Or a unique person?
- A unique company?
- In what ways were they qualified?
- Are they just from inbound or does outbound also count?
Don’t be that person.
Better yet, help that person to see the gaps. Ideally, document your findings and explain each step of the funnel clearly and concisely. This should be in a way that the business understands, ideally using the same terminology as the tech tools currently in place.
It’s amazing how, upon documenting this process, the answers to some of the trickier questions can be right in front of you.Think of RevOps as the custodians of good data, and it’s your job to protect the integrity of this valuable resource.Click To Tweet
3. Get comfortable with the systems, data structures and object relationships in your company
This is a tricky one because it often changes based on the mix of tools, reporting structures and working practices of each company.
What’s important here is that you understand how the systems in your company interact with the data itself. Think of RevOps as the custodians of good data, and it’s your job to protect the integrity of this valuable resource.
At a basic level, how does data come into your organisation, what route does it take to get into the CRM, and how is it then used by downstream reports and other systems?
I find it helpful to map out the systems on a visual diagram, with a simple set of arrows showing how data moves through the ecosystem in each direction.
This is a useful start to uncover blind spots and rogue practices that can really mess with your data. Often the CRM is at the heart of this diagram, but don’t assume this will be the single source of truth for everything!
4. Learn how to make the most of existing tech *before* adding more
Controversial as this may be, I truly believe that tech alone doesn’t offer a magic bullet to solve all RevOps challenges.
Tech can be a great enabler, but it’s easy to be sucked into a dream world sold by slick sales presentations, promises of efficiency gains and improved reporting capabilities.
For many organizations, the priority should be on building out a simple CRM setup that is actually used and understood by all the team, along with a clear sales process and consistent reporting. These basics will go much further in helping to optimize the revenue funnel than many add-ons ever will.
Of course, if you already have these basics in place, then by all means look at other tech solutions – there are some amazing ones out there! But in doing so, just be clear about what exact problem you’re trying to solve, before jumping into yet another new system integration.RevOps teams are in a unique position to break down silos between teams. Sales and marketing teams in particular are set to benefit from increased alignment and an improved understanding of how they can work together, instead of against each other.Click To Tweet
5. Build relationships with sales, marketing, customer success and finance teams
RevOps teams are in a unique position to break down silos between teams. Sales and marketing teams in particular are set to benefit from increased alignment and an improved understanding of how they can work together, instead of against each other.
On a practical level this means constant communication with such teams to build trust and become an ally. Starting with regular 1-to-1s, and extending this out to shared team huddles and detailed show-and-tell sessions.
RevOps can be the ones to facilitate such conversations as a neutral party, using data as the basis for shared learning and iterative improvements.
6. Bring me insights, not (just) data
Communication and presentation skills are paramount for almost every professional role imaginable.
Yet, in RevOps, do we take this to the next level?
We drive clarity by defining the metrics for a successful revenue funnel. We build slick systems and define efficient processes for our teams to work through. We create great-looking reports and dashboards to show how things are performing.
What next? Slap a few screenshots on a slide and send it to the senior leadership team (SLT)? Send a dashboard link to sales and hope for the best?
We need to remember that not everyone will be as familiar with our processes, definitions and circumstances as we are. Chances are they’re not familiar with this data and may jump to conclusions about what this represents.
Any time I present data, no matter the audience, I try to use the AIDA model. Here’s a fictional example with a sales director:
- Attention. Know your audience and grab their attention. Set expectations of what they’re about to witness, and why it’s important:“We’ve seen a 20% drop in leads this month.”
- Interest. Keep them interested with relevant data. Explain what we’re looking at – whether it’s a chart, a table or an observation – and why it matters to them:“Based on our existing modeling of the sales funnel, $500K of new revenue is at risk for your team over the next quarter.”
- Desire. Help the audience see what potential solutions exist, and what’s in it for them to help improve the situation:“We believe this drop may be a result of recent changes to impose stricter criteria on our inbound forms. In this case, we might expect an improved conversion rate and a more efficient sales process. But further investigation is needed to be sure of this.”
- Action. Make it clear what the next steps are and what is required from them to move forwards:“We need a member of your team to work with us to offer detailed feedback and analysis of the quality of leads received. Who would be best-placed to provide this insight?”In this way, the person receiving the data is clear on what they’re looking at, and is informed of the context against which to make further decisions and provide support.
What traits would you add?
I hope this is interesting to anyone considering a job move in RevOps. Since this isn’t an exhaustive list, I’d be interested to know what traits you believe are essential for RevOps professionals.
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Alun Swift is the Head of Revenue Operations at Ably. He has 18 years of experience in marketing and revenue operations. Connect with him on LinkedIn.
Image via DALLE “corporations aligned in the style of van Ghoh”