The buzz around aligning sales and marketing teams continues to grow in B2B, with 59% of demand gen marketers saying it is their top priority for 2019. To combat this challenge, savvy B2B businesses are turning to revenue operations as a way to align internal organizations and prime their companies for growth.
On April 2, industry experts and practitioners gathered at the New York Hilton Midtown Hotel for OpsStars: Journey To Revenue Operations. The full-day conference, hosted by LeanData, included industry research on the benefits of revenue operations, tips for getting started and more.
“Ops today isn’t just the back-office stuff,” said Karen Steele, CMO of Lean Data, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “It’s evolved from that to where, now, it’s frontline and it’s driving revenue. [OpsStars] is about leveling up the role of operations to be strategic to the business.”
Rev Ops On The Rise
According to research from SiriusDecisions, companies that align their revenue operations grow 12% to 15% faster than their competitors and are 34% more profitable.
“Revenue operations is a call for more collaboration between everyone who touches the revenue engine,” said Dana Therrien, Practice Leader of Sales Operations Strategies at SiriusDecisions, in the opening keynote. “The business value is there. This is not a fad. It’s a trend that is based upon real data.”
“The days of the bucket brigade, where we’re just passing things from one organization to the next, are over,” said Therrien. “We all need to understand that there’s something big happening here. We are all a part of it and we can either be along for the ride or we can drive it.”
To help B2B companies take charge of revenue operations, Therrien outlined the three key levels of alignment: strategic, operational and organizational. He stressed that sales and marketing teams must align on everything from vision and goals to metrics and processes.
While some businesses are opting to create dedicated revenue operations departments and leaders, Therrien noted that dramatic organizational change is not always necessary. In fact, a number of companies are able to build strong revenue operations ecosystems by creating a coalition between departments and outlining a documented strategy for holding one another accountable.
“You can choose to do this any way that you want to. The most important thing is that you choose to do it,” Therrien continued. “It can be a set of organizing principles between sales ops, marketing ops, customer success and sales enablement to ensure the planning, processes, infrastructure and data measurements align across the entire system.”
Building Customer-Centric, Empathetic Teams Critical To Success
While speakers throughout the day pointed to a variety of ways companies can structure their revenue operations systems, the need for a customer-centric mindset within the organization was noted as nonnegotiable.
“We no longer have a shortage of resources… What we have is a shortage of customers,” said Rachael McBrearty, Chief Customer Officer of LeanData. “You need to understand them, think of them as part of your portfolio and know what they’re experiencing.”
Revenue operations must be focused on the customer experience, agreed Donna Peeples, President and Chief Customer Officer of Pypestream, a conversational AI company. In fact, Peeples said Pypestream does not think of itself as a technology company, but as a customer experience company.
“You will only be successful if the customer is satisfied,” said Peeples. “The pendulum of control has swung hard in favor of the customer and away from brands. I don’t think brands will ever have the kind of control that we enjoyed years ago.”
In addition to shifting towards a customer-centric mindset, speakers said B2B companies looking to improve their revenue operations strategies must ensure they are enlisting the right employees when building out their teams. But instead of prioritizing technical marketing and sales skills, many said empathy is the top trait needed for creating a successful, buyer-focused revenue operations system.
“The people that you bring into the organization are going to make or break your ability to do what you want to do,” said McBrearty. “Start first and foremost with empathy. You’ve got to find folks that are good listeners, good at engaging and good at pivoting… That’s more important than the skills. A lot of the skills can be learned, but empathy can’t.”
Finally, for attendees looking to get started with revenue operations, as well as those who have already dipped their toes in it, speakers stressed the importance of commitment and cross-company alignment as revenue operations is a continual process.
“Oftentimes, revenue operations is not a destination; it’s a journey,” said Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing. “It’s a lot like gardening and you’re never done gardening.”