Revenue operations is a holistic approach to business growth that aligns marketing and sales to find gaps in revenue streams. It breaks down the silos often found in SaaS businesses and faces all teams towards wider business objectives.
Lorena Morales is VP Marketing at Go Nimbly, a Revenue Operations company that works specifically with SaaS businesses to find their revenue downfalls. Lorena is an expert in RevOps, so in this episode of the FINITE Podcast for B2B marketers, she talked us through what is it is, how to implement it and why you should.
This episode covers:
- About Lorena and her background in B2B marketing
- What is RevOps?
- How has RevOps grown in importance?
- Who should RevOps report to?
- Who are chief revenue officers?
- When should a company start implementing RevOps?
- How to start implementing RevOps
- Understanding the buyer journey for RevOps
- Frameworks for RevOps analysis
- What does RevOps look like day to day?
- Getting buy in for RevOps from stakeholders
- How to measure the success of RevOps
Listen to the full episode here:
And check out more of the FINITE B2B marketing podcast here!
Hello everyone, and welcome back to another FINITE Podcast episode. Today we’re talking RevOps or revenue operations with Lorena Morales. Lorena is the VP of Marketing at Go Nimbly, a company that works with SaaS companies to implement RevOps, break down silos and increase revenues. We’ll be talking about how to implement RevOps, some of the challenges, how to get buy in, some of the tactics and frameworks Go Nimbly use and how it can help a business grow, I hope you enjoy.
The FINITE community and podcasts are kindly supported by 93x. The digital marketing agency working exclusively with ambitious fast-growth B2B technology companies. Visit 93x.agency to find out how they partner with marketing teams and B2B technology companies to drive growth.
Hello Lorena, thank you for joining me today.
Hi Alex. It’s such a pleasure to see your face again and having me on your podcast. So thank you for the time as always.
No problem, I’m looking forward to talking. We are doing an episode today focused all on RevOps. I think a word that if you’re in the B2B marketing world, you will know or have heard without any doubt. But I think varying levels of knowledge, it’s relatively new in some forms, but I’m sure we’re going to dive into all of that as we get there.
Before we do, I will let you tell us a bit about your background and experience and current role, and then we’ll dive into the RevOps topics. So yeah, tell us a little bit about yourself first.
About Lorena and her background in B2B marketing
Absolutely. Well, I am Mexican. My accent probably showed something of that. I’ve been in the United States for the past 10 years almost. And I’ve been in marketing for the past 11. It’s been a fantastic journey in several industries, everything from manufacturing to NGOs, to real estate and architecture, and most recently the fabulous and crazy world of SaaS.
So yes, I joined a company called Go Nimbly almost three years ago as their vice president of marketing. And generally what Go Nimbly does is their RevOps company and why I said their revenue ops company because not only were we the first ones in the market back in 2016, when rev ops wasn’t even a terminology that people had faced in their businesses or even heard off. And then also, we were the only one doing the actual work, we are the only executional company. So that makes us very unique in the space.
Another personal thing is that I’ve been running and growing teams in executive positions for the past seven years. So that makes me generalist, very close to the CEO as I have never reported to any other person than that breed of people. So yes, that’s who I am and let’s dig into RevOps because that’s my bread and butter. And that’s a thing that I live and breathe every single day.
Let’s do it. So I guess we’re looking at how RevOps can play its role in marketing, sales with a view of increasing revenue. I think the most important question just to set the scene is for you to explain a little bit to listeners about what RevOps actually is at a top level. Because as I say, I think some of our listeners will be pretty familiar with it. Others will have heard it and read about it, but I’ll let you try and do your best to summarise it into a nice nutshell.
What is RevOps?
Well, I’m going to say the Go Nimbly flavour. As you said, now a lot of companies are branding themselves as revenue operations solutions or platforms, products, et cetera. The way Go Nimbly has understood it from the very beginning was it is a methodology that will effectively align both your GTM and operations teams in order to be focusing on one North star. In this case, of course it’s revenue.
So the days where companies were product focused are gone and they are gone for good and they are gone for a reason. So that’s kind of in very short words, what revenue operations is. It is not a buzzword. It is not a campaign, it is a methodology that starts from the C level. Hopefully, and then cascades into the entire organisation to effectively see or unveil leakage of revenue through your customer journey.
Cool. And why do you think it’s rising in popularity and so important at the moment? And I guess thinking about it operationally with everything that’s been happening in the last year with COVID and remote teams and other things, I think maybe it plays even more of an important role, but yeah. Why is it such an important topic at the moment?
How has RevOps grown in importance?
You just said it, like operations let’s set the ground first. Operations have existed since the world is world and the businesses are businesses. The only thing, as I mentioned to you Alex is product focusing businesses or any other type of obsession are starting to disappear. And the transition now is starting to become to companies that thank God are more customer centric.
Everything should be about your customer and there’s this thing that I always love to talk about in design thinking, which is called minimum viable audience. It’s usually when you start your business or you’re very early stages of the business, when you choose like a small piece of the market that you’re trying to get to. And then you obsess about those people because yes, even though you’re selling to accounts, you’re always selling to a human being.
So I think revenue operations is firing up right now because the beauty about it is it helps you prioritise your customer and put a laser through the entire journey without having to reprioritise your business goals. So it’s this beautiful marriage between, okay I am going to still be very smart on how I invest in operations internally, because again, it’s a business, right?
But at the same time, you’re going to be hyper-vigilant of your customer and your customer is going to inform most of your actions hopefully. We’re going to dive deeper into that, but I think that’s why revenue operations are starting to take more power and validate what we believed in back in 2016.
I’m interested in the team structure, size, and maybe we’ll come on to that. Initially when a RevOps team is operating within a business, what’s the goal, what’s the North star? And we can talk a little bit about how we measure success of RevOs when we get to that. But you’ve touched on unlocking efficiencies and saving revenue and other things, but is that a fair summary of the main goal of RevOps?
The main goal for people to have it always in their brains is one sentence, a gapless, personalised buying experience. That should be your goal. It has different terms, and it has different nuances, but at the end, if I want to leave the audience with one goal of revenue operations, is that. Create a gapless, personalised buying experience.
Cool. I think that’s a pretty good summary. One thing I think this is something that’s been a bit unclear in my own mind and I’m sure you can make it clearer. As I think we’ve seen over the last few years, the rise of the chief revenue officer as a job title. Which obviously the word revenue and RevOps interlink but there’s often a debate around should sales and marketing both be reporting into a chief revenue officer who overarches both of them and in some organisations that is how things work.
Other people I’ve spoken to have said if your CEO is too busy to be able to speak to your CMO and others, then there’s a problem. Why do you need a chief revenue officer in between? How does RevOps sit above or around marketing sales? Is RevOps a team that sits alongside? And who does it report into versus does it sit and overarch marketing and sales in any way?
Who should RevOps report to?
That’s a question that has been jumping around fairly often now, because I think there’s a lot of confusion. First of all, in what you said, because I think you touched two very interesting points. One, who is a CRO? What is this person? What is this title? Why does it exist? And secondly, how do those revenue operations play with your DTM teams and who do they report to? In case you are starting to think about bringing these roles to the table.
And I think let’s lay the foundations again. First of all Alex, when you start to think about these roles, I would say first and foremost, it depends on the life cycle of the company that you’re working at. If you are a decision maker or a head of a department, and you’re starting to see that your teams are focusing in their own KPIs, for example. That’s a red flag that automatically should tell you, maybe you don’t need a CRO right now, but you definitely should be starting to look into revenue operations.
What is it? How do I make my team meetings effective? And the CRO is going to come and bench on me. But the title we’ve seen in the last couple of years, that it’s generally someone with a background in sales, it’s usually a BP of sales that races to the CRO title. My personal opinion is that someone in like a seasoned marketer or a more contemporary marketer where it’s someone more with a generalist background could also feed that position simply because the CRO ideally is going to take care of customer success as well.
When you put someone with a pure background in sales, in a CRO position, they tend to miss the customer success function, which in these days is vital. And they are starting to gain their own seat at the revenue table. And I think that’s the important thing to define also. Like, think about it. You already have a CMO. If that’s a case, that’s a conversation that you need to have with your CEO and your CMO VP, if it already exists.
Because let’s say you want to bring a CRO. What is that going to look like? Do your candidates understand branding? For example, that’s a very common discussion with CMOs because ideally they would be reporting to the CRO indeed. And then the CRO would be reporting to the CEO effectively.
The main idea here is to make sure that the head of the department and I’m going to touch on another thing that Go Nimbly is very good at, is it’s an expert or a master generalist. It only means that these people had been X amount of years specialising in something. For example, it can be marketing operations, sales operations, customer success operations, whatever you want to call it.
But at the end, they are equally dangerous in the sister function. So for example, if you have someone that has been five years in marketing ops, you want the head of marketing ops or a revenue operations manager to be equally dangerous in the sales operation systems.
And that way you are creating new generations of people that understand alignment, because ultimately that’s the purpose. You can have your own cave with your own KPIs or even OKRs for that purpose. I think that’s the main idea on how to start supporting the things that are going to inform your decision of bringing the CRO to the organisation. It absolutely depends on the stage of the company.
Yeah. I’m glad you said it because I think it’s something that I still see so often. And you can imagine that doing this I see the profiles of lots of senior marketers and chief revenue officers. And I think I know one CRO that’s come from a marketing background. Actually a couple of years ago, I was recording a podcast.
I was in New York and recording an episode with a VP of marketing, Nicole at TeamPay. And I had a similar question. She said, most CROs are middle-aged white men who have spent their life in sales. Which I thought was kind of brutally honest maybe, but it was hard to disagree to some extent.
I think that is quite often the profile of a typical CRO. And as you say, having the knowledge of marketing and customer success to do that job effectively, chief revenue officer is not just about sales necessarily.
Who are chief revenue officers?
That is super painful for me to hear Alex, because I mean, I myself, I’m a master generalist today in my organisation. I perform prospecting calls. So if I had to choose like who could be my CRO in the next organisation or in an organisation that I create from scratch, it would be a very young marketer that has worked in other organisations. Because think about it, the amount of instances that our head of marketing, VP Marketing, Senior VP, CMO, whatever it is. These people are accountable for many areas in the business.
And automatically if you are a good marketer it’s because you have understood sales for at least the first six months of when you started the position effectively. Where that’s not necessarily the case of sales, a VP of sales, often is not going to be in touch with marketing. They are going to be very close to finance.
And finance is another department that you need to care about when you talk about revenue operations. But in this case, when we talk about the operations teams and the GTM team working together to find revenue, it is mostly marketing who is involved already with customer success and with sales. So yeah, we can talk about this forever, but I don’t think people want to hear my very opinionated points about this.
Let’s move on then. You’ve touched on, I think quite clearly when it’s apparent, a revenue ops team might be needed in terms of seeing teams working to different KPIs, leaks and gaps. We’ll talk a bit about where those are. I’m interested broadly in what you see at Go Nimbly, is there a certain company kind of size or scale?
I know these questions are hard in broad terms, but is there a certain head count? Is there a certain stage of growth as a business that you think it’s more appropriate for a rev ops team to be implemented? I know that you said that kind of thinking in the RevOps way is healthy from the very early stages, but when does it become its own own team? If at any point.
When should a company start implementing RevOps?
It would be hard for me to pinpoint a specific type of company. What I think I can talk to, for example, where I see we have identified more than a series of funding or amount of funding. We are more vigilant of number of employees. And I’m going to tell you why.
Because the problems that you see in 250 employees to 500 and from 500 to 2,500, it is very different from the problems that you see when you just have your first couple of SDRs, those are early stages. And those are the days where you can totally start to train your team to understand the methodology, but probably you are not ready for a CRO or any instance like that.
When you’re talking about like 500 employees to 2,500, we have identified that that’s exactly when the operations teams start to get a little messy. When you start to find yourself in a jungle a little bit, when your Salesforce or CRM by those means, they’re a beast that works in your favour or it can absolutely become a monster.
So when you start growing, which is a good thing, everyone is like I hate my CRM. Well, it’s a user problem. And it’s a people problem. It’s not the CRM. The CRM can do amazing things for you, and it can absolutely help you to spot these leakages through the funnel.
But the main point is when your sales teams, especially your sales teams have evolved to another level, that’s why I’m talking more than series C. We talk about 500 employees to 2,500 and up. So that’s kind of where we play the best, because that’s when the organisation has grown to a point where we start to work with these teams and to work around the data and the gap identification process.
Cool. And so are companies at a stage where this becomes appropriate? They’re looking to implement RevOps. What’s the starting point? What are the first steps in terms of going about implementing RevOps and the framework, the methodology across the business?
How to start implementing RevOps
I can talk to you about many tactics, but I think what I would prefer to talk about is the biggest thing that we’ve seen. Which is getting into the habit of talking to your customers early, often and as candidly as possible. Because this is what is going to start validating what you’re seeing internally. So I think that’s when you start.
People that think they should focus on a product just at the very beginning, or how do we scale based on sales, or how do we scale based on the processes that we have. They are generally the companies that are struggling later in the life cycle. So I think how do you start?
You start with your customer because it is a customer focused methodology. So that’s where you start, go and interview as many clients as you can. For us, for example, it’s very hard because we are at the core of consultancy. So getting time with our clients, it’s sometimes a little hard because we need to get the best use of their time. But if you are a product company, this is something that the marketing team should be trained and should be comfortable with from day one.
Cool. That’s a good tip. In terms of that understanding, is there an element of just understanding the whole journey itself in terms of buyer journey and mapping that out in order to be able to guide the implementation of these kinds of frameworks?
Understanding the buyer journey for RevOps
Yeah. I think the main idea of customer journey creation and how to effectively do it is you have to put all the decision makers in one room and then do the exercise of putting it with post its, with whatever you want, as dynamic as you want to make the exercise. That way everyone has visibility of what’s going on from end to end.
The main idea is that product finance, sales, marketing, customer success, even customer support. That’s a good one because I mean, one thing is people keep confusing customer support with customer success. Both of them should be in the room, mapping these pains through the customer journey and saying, you know what, this is my opinion. Because probably sales has an impression of the pre opportunity.
And then it’s usually customer success that has information post opportunity, or post-close one. It shouldn’t be like that. All of them should be together saying, this is what happened, these are the feelings, these are the highs of the customer, these are the lows, these are the stages where we can potentially do more work. This is for example, the ramping process with our clients where we can do X or Y.
And then everyone brainstorming and ideating around that process. It’s not only a fun exercise, as I was telling you, it’s also an accountability type of testing because you are saying, this is not only a marketing thing because customer or journey mapping has ideally been, or historically been an activity that falls into marketing, to really understand how to message or how to engage customers in the right stage at the right time.
But I think those days also should be gone where it’s only marketing targeting your customers, that shouldn’t happen anymore. It should be bringing in customer success earlier to the journey. And that’s the way you kind of map both and match them in the same room.
I know you talked a bit about identifying where those gaps or issues can be improved. Can you talk about how those come out through, implementing some of these frameworks? And I guess, is there a difference between them? Cause I think with some issues around operations of any kind you can go and actually look for them and find them, and some become apparent when you analyse data and you kind of look backwards. What’s your experience of that side of things?
Frameworks for RevOps analysis
Two main things that we at Go Nimbly, I mean it’s part of our intellectual property. It’s part of what we do. It’s two of the frameworks that we usually start with when we kick off a new client and yes, you’re right. There’s two different ways of identifying gaps. Again, with the Go Nimbly flavour.
The first one would be a proactive way. And the second one would be a retroactive way. The former, the way you do it is to perform durability testing. What I mean by that is ask as many questions as you can. And again, ask them often and ask them frequently and try to bring a hypothesis to the team. So that’s where it starts.
Then there’s many durability testings, right? But the main one is based on questions, and what it’s going to give you, what it’s a perceived gap. So these would be like, the team thinks that there’s a gap between, let’s say activation and acquisition. What’s informing that? That’s where you ask the question. So that’s a proactive approach.
Then the retroactive gap identification. It’s for me, at least personally, it’s a little more analytical because you go to the data. You go back to the data with a framework that we at Go Nimbly use, called 3BC. And it means identifying your volume value and velocity numbers, along with your conversion rates and then benchmark those against your industry or your competitors. That could be good as well.
For us it’s very lazy because we have performed around 1800 work streams. So we have the biggest database to really compare clients against other SaaS companies. But that’s the way we perform retroactive information. Because that’s going to let us know if, for example, we’re forecasting for how your business is going to be successful. That would be on value.
On volume, it would be like what’s going on with your lead generation program? What’s going on with your demand gen programs? How can we affect the impact? And then on the velocity is okay, how fast we are moving our customers from stage to stage and who is involved in that? So I think that those are kind of the main difference between those. I think I am going fairly tactical in this but yeah, I hope I answered your question with that Alex.
Definitely. Yep, that’s interesting to hear. And I think it gives people a sense of when they’re looking at RevOps generally, they have some tangible things to look at tactically as well as the more top level stuff, so that’s helpful. In terms of once a RevOps team is up and running how do things change?
Day-to-day operationally in terms of how teams work side by side? The format of meetings, planning, prioritising. Is it implementing this big step change and a bit of a shock to the system? Or is it small tweaks and it gradually embeds?
What does RevOps look like day to day?
Oh, you hit the nail on the head with the things, priority, decision and meetings. Two of the things that are most underrated from my own perspective, because prioritisation is one of those things that everyone thinks that they are good at until you are doing them. When you find yourself with like 10 plates in the air, eventually one of them is going to fall.
So the way you prioritise things, my advice on this would be which of those priorities are informed by your customer or by customer facts? If you have, let’s say 10 projects, certain work streams that they’re planning to do. And then only one of them is customer based informed, you have a problem there. So you have to go back and be more intentional about finding work streams or projects that you need to work, that you have real data on.
And that’s the beauty of 3BC. It allows you to quantify things instead of just guessing, or instead of just thinking that that could be a good experiment. So that’s in terms of prioritisation, I prioritise the things that you can measure. I would say in terms of meetings. That’s another interesting one. I think people, and right now after the pandemic, I have this feeling that somehow we ended up with more meetings in our calendars.
And I am talking from the perspective of someone that already had a very busy… I don’t believe in the word busy, you just prioritise things. But I already had a lot of commitments to talk to people on a daily basis, because that’s my job as the head of the department, just to make things happen. And that implies communication. But when the pandemic hit, it was more and more and more.
I think there was this insecurity creeping into everyone to make sure that this person is doing their job. Let’s have a meeting to see if they are actually working on it. Which for me became a little toxic. The only thing that I would say as a recommendation to your audience is if you are finding that you’re doing meetings just to check in on someone or just to have an update on a list of items, you are doing meetings the wrong way. You don’t need a meeting.
If you think that you need a meeting for someone to update you right now, there’s a million avenues to do that. The only reason why you should have meetings is because there’s an action that needs to happen and that you need help from someone in the team or multiple people. So we call those of course action meetings.
The main idea behind that is everyone comes to the table with action-based items. What does that mean? An example is, okay. Lorena is trying to create a podcast here with Alex. I would come to a meeting saying, okay my action item is I need to build a list of guests who are going to help me. Are we gonna swarm our word network? Where are we going to do? That’s an action item based on activity. There should be movement.
I don’t come to the table just saying like, I am doing a podcast because that’s just an update. Nobody needs to have a meeting for that, because most likely you are interrupting people in their day to day. So just be super mindful, like when to have meetings, how to have them and to put the right meetings in the right boxes.
A lot of times we caught ourselves like, just make an hour meeting. And in reality, you never need it to be an hour. Or the other case where you are like, I want to be sensitive of people’s times. And I’m just going to book 30 minutes because I want to be protective of their time. And then you realise that the meeting was a strategic meeting and you needed more than 30 minutes. So now you’ve again disrupted people’s agenda and that’s not your job. That’s very unfair to the organisation and that’s very unfair to you as well. So I would say, just be mindful about those things.
Yeah. There’s nothing worse than meetings about meetings or unnecessary meetings. I’m interested in when you work with the clients that you do. I assume you’re working with different parts of the C-suite CEO, CFO CMO, CRO, or the ones we’ve talked about.
And most of them thinking about rev ops, obviously if there’s a chief revenue officer, then probably at that point yes. But it is something that you have to really explain to the C-suite the benefits of, or are you finding that a lot of companies know what it is and they just actually need help implementing it?
Getting buy in for RevOps from stakeholders
That’s a good one. And I think I’m going to jump to something that we are going to discuss later. But, I think I’ll talk a little bit on how you get the buy-in from the C-suite? Because as I told you, revenue operations start with the C level people and then cascades to the organisation.
It can start with a champion or a rockstar that is in your team. And then they have the idea and try to convince the people above them. Although, we’ve seen those scenarios happening when there’s a little team rallying around 80 and then going to their supervisors and then the supervisor going to… It’s way more painful internally.
And it takes a lot more time than if you already had the CFO, the CEO, the CMO. If they already believe in this, it’s going to be a faster implementation and the way you do that, it’s okay, how do you get buy-in from these people? If you are listening to this podcast, and you need to go and talk to your CEO tomorrow, I know the best way to do that.
It helps to have your hypothesis very well written, very well memorised in your head. So you can talk about them in an organic way. Bring those to the table, along with the gaps that you have identified, or that you believe are happening right now in any team. It can be outside of your comfort zone. Like if you already talked to sales and you’re in marketing, you can absolutely come to the table with the gaps that you think exist on sales or vice versa.
If you are in sales and you are supporting some things in marketing, come to the table with those gaps and just talk to your CEO or the C level to say like, Hey guys, this is a true story of how this gap affected these customers. It can be, for example, they churn when they shouldn’t have churned because the product was effective in the first three months, why did they churn? I have investigated, and I found this. Or for example, the OTB in this client against this other was higher. Why did that happen?
And then with those information pieces like golden nuggets, let’s call them. There’s no way your CEO is going to tell you, get out. There’s no way, unless you’re in a really bad organisation that could happen. But if you have a CEO that really believes in better serving a client or an end user, there is no way they’re going to say no.
That’s good advice. It says a lot about the kind of culture of the organisation. Doesn’t it? In terms of their outlook on these things. I think finally, probably the most important question of all of this is measuring the success and the impact of RevOps. I’m sure this is stuff that you’ve built into the frameworks and how you approach things at Go Nimbly. But yeah, how do you do it? Which numbers matter? What are you measuring when you look at RevOps being successful?
How to measure the success of RevOps
I have thought briefly on this one, but data is going to be your best friend. And what do I mean by data? Benchmark marking. It’s funny Alex, because when you put this to humans, nobody wants to be compared to their siblings. No one, but when you’re an organisation, you need to be compared with your competitors and with your peers in this space, or with companies that are in similar stages than you are.
So at Go Nimbly, we have become very good at making sure to understand the before and after pictures. So when we start to audit all the systems, it’s almost like we take these screenshots of the business and their metrics. As I told you, how are they in, how many leads, how many MQL to SQLs are happening. Those types of data points, we screenshot them.
And then after working with an organisation after X amount of period, it needs to be at least two months or a quarter in order for us to really understand if there was movement. So then after that, the after picture is going to tell us how healthy the pipeline is. If they increased net new creation of pipe, what was the impact revenue from both sales, marketing and customer success?
For example, if there was change on how many accounts were closer to their ICP than before all those things happen intentionally, but you have to have the right people to support those data points. Because otherwise you don’t have a way to identify how revenue operations are acting.
That’s why you need to have the people that believe in aligning everything. And who believe in having clean data. And who believe in going directly to the customer, like all these things that I’ve been talking through the interview mix together and make the revenue operations actions. So that’s what I have to say.
And then lastly I think as time keeps passing by, you’re going to start to spot trends. That’s why it gets even better. You kind of spot 3BC and you can see changes in pipeline creation, for example. But you are going to start to see after a year, after a year and a half, longer periods of time, it’s going to be trends.
How your team is behaving, how you’re doing ramping, how you’re doing sales enablement, development. The things that are truly longer processes, you’re going to start seeing trends on those. And you are going to be able to jump to fix whatever needs to be fixed in those instances.
This has been awesome. I feel like I’ve actually learned a lot on one area of the marketing world that I haven’t spent a lot of time in, with RevOps. And yeah, I’ve had lots of questions, which I think you’ve helped answer. So, I’m sure listeners will be feeling the same way. So thank you for sharing everything. We’ll include some links to where people can find you and other stuff when we publish the episodes. Thanks again for sharing everything with our audience.
Oh, thank you Alex. It’s been nice to talk about.
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