RevOps: Navigating Common Challenges for Consolidated Operation
Revenue Operations (RevOps) has been a trending topic in business recently, especially within rapidly growing SaaS companies.
While go-to-market operations functions began to take root sometime in the late ’90s, it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that the buzz truly began about the promise of RevOps and the value of streamlining B2B operations across go-to-customer functions (marketing, sales, customer success) and providing an end-to-end customer experience.
In my research as a Sales Practice Leader at Forrester, I found less than 300 Revenue Operations Leaders on LinkedIn in 2016 — but those numbers were doubling every month, leading me to predict a strong RevOps movement building in the future. That future is here today, and earlier this year, LinkedIn named the Head of Revenue Operations the fastest-growing profession on its platform. However, achieving a true consolidated operation model requires a total organizational transformation beyond the duties of a CRO. This may present a few challenges that, when conquered, can yield long-term payoffs.
Moving from a sales-centric approach to a consolidated RevOps framework is no easy feat, especially as the role of revenue operations leadership has yet to evolve fully. At its core, RevOps demands the breaking down of silos and the cultivation of cross-functional collaboration. While agile organizations are leading this trend, large legacy companies with well-established go-to-market functions may face more challenges in retrofitting a RevOps framework than others.
Here are three areas where obstacles are likely to occur and how to overcome them:
- Within Each Organization: RevOps requires not just cooperation from sales, marketing, and customer success teams — but a shared focus. Often, leaders in these groups can hesitate to give up control of their operations and resources. But when these teams work in a vacuum, each function remains focused on its own initiative, making a successful RevOps strategy nearly impossible to execute. To help unify these teams, it’s essential to start with the planning process. Coordinating a collaborative plan will remind each function of its important role in reaching a holistic outcome.
- Technology Accumulation and Integration: Without the proper set of tools and disciplines, conducting bottom-up planning to meet top-down targets can be difficult. The problem is that when a history of siloed operations is entrenched, it likely means that marketing, sales, and customer success teams have all purchased their own technologies with overlapping capabilities. This creates a debt of technology solutions that are not only expensive to run but are also not integrated and often require extensive time and resources to maintain and manage. A single solution that serves as an insights-focused center of truth for all go-to-customer functions will provide a unified view of success, aligned KPIs, goals, and shared expectations.
- The Role of the RevOps Leader: Growth in the number of RevOps professionals continues to increase by 1,000+% per year. However, these roles are still relatively new, and most RevOps leaders are new entrants who tend to come from a sales operations background. They may lack the skills necessary to understand and lead the marketing and customer success functions. There’s undoubtedly unprecedented demand for positions in RevOps. Still, it’s difficult to know which professionals are reclassifying themselves into the role and which have an apt understanding of the role’s requirements. When searching for a senior revenue operations leader, I recommend focusing on their experience in leadership and diplomacy as well as their proven ability to build bridges between marketing and sales. Lastly, probe into areas where they’ve successfully eliminated friction between customer success and other services. The second generation of RevOps leaders will be the ones whose early careers were spent moving seamlessly between those newly aligned functions.
Today, the RevOps movement has surpassed the definition of a fad and reached a mass adoption phase — it’s a juggernaut, which truly amazes me. With the rapid digitization of the customer journey, the fruition of my earlier prediction shouldn’t come as a surprise — although, I do have to admit that I’m a little surprised that RevOps has become this prominent in such a short period of time!
As companies transition to RevOps, we will see more internal alignment, efficiencies, and abilities to respond to changing customer needs. Looking ahead to the future, the RevOps movement will accelerate its growth trajectory and likely with a focus on specialized functions within the framework. New demands for roles will emerge, such as Head of Strategy, Planning, and Rewards.
For organizations ready to transform to a RevOps model, it’s important to understand the common challenges that can negate this operational shift altogether. The role of a RevOps leader requires the skills and knowledge to effectively get all departments on board for collaboration. This means aligning marketing, sales, and customer success on one goal and getting them together in the planning process early.
Moving functions off siloed technology and onto one unified platform will allow better access to cross-functional resources and data. As more organizations continue to make this valuable transformation, the next phase of RevOps will focus on defining specialties within the function to further streamline operations.