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SiriusDecisions’ Dana Therrien Discusses New Revenue Operations Charter, Highlights The ‘Sirius Seven’ To Alignment

Dana TherrienMuch like a car, B2B businesses must ensure that their revenue engine is in pristine condition to maximize results and keep the company on course. According to SiriusDecisions, B2B businesses that align their revenue engine grow 12 to 15 times faster than their peers and are 34% more profitable. 

Dana Therrien, Service Director of Sales Operations Strategies at SiriusDecisions, took the stage at LeanData’s OpsStars event in Boston on May 13 to share more details about the firm’s recent reveal of its Revenue Operations Charter. Like other SiriusDecisions frameworks, the charter aims to provide a model for aligning marketing, sales and product teams to streamline revenue.

After his keynote presentation, I had the chance to sit down with Therrien and discuss how he and the SiriusDecisions team formulated the Revenue Operations Charter. We discussed what conversations with clients sounded like when formulating this charter, while also sharing details on the “Sirius Seven” — seven key areas of alignment that have the biggest impact on revops strategies.

Demand Gen Report: Tell me how SiriusDecisions went on to formulate this Revenue Operations Charter.

Dana Therrien: This has been a unique research project for SiriusDecisions, because we were sharing the findings as we were doing research. Now, typically, we do all the research and then we do our big launch at our Summit. But in this case, things were moving so quickly that we took the opportunity to share it with customers and prospects as we were going through it.

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So, we did a couple of roundtables — one of them in Dublin — and we included people from across our own organization, because we're trying to keep it across a set of the people that it’s actually going to affect.

This was a joint effort between the marketing operations and the sales operations groups inside of SiriusDecisions. And then also, based on some of the findings that we had initially, one of the biggest concerns that customers were talking to us about was that they didn't have a real roadmap. So, the charter was actually the brainchild of a guy named Julian Archer from our Marketing Operations team. He just started to put it together and said, “look, we need some sort of an organizing principle and organizing document, and I'm going to start to draft this.”

Suddenly, everybody that was affected by it started to get together to say, “OK, here are the things that we think we need to do in order to make ourselves work more collaboratively together.” So, it was more of us mirroring what's happening in the market, putting our money where our mouth is and collaborating on research between these different services.

DGR: What did your conversations with clients sound like when working on the intricacies of the Revenue Operations Charter?

Therrien: When we started to do the research, the original premise that I personally had was that a revenue operations leader follows the CRO. So, if you have a CRO, you're probably going to see a revenue operations function, and you’ve got a lot of different views and a lot of experience inside of SiriusDecisions and companies, or analysts that work with companies, of all different sizes across many different industries. One thing that is apparent is that one size does not fit all. So, we started to bring these views to the table and said, “look, everyone agrees that alignment is the best thing to do.” There's no disputing that. But there's many different avenues to get there.

When we first started having conversations about it, we talked about the idea that in a revenue operations organization, this would probably be the way to go. Not every company is going to want to make an organizational change. So, we vetted that out for a couple of months and then started to talk to clients and did the survey. And we found that that's absolutely the case and the premise that I had was wrong — that it's going to be an organizational change, that it's more of an organizational mindset. So, it goes from being a strict organizational design to more one of many different ways to do it.

It's a wider umbrella and it also gives people the option to do it. Let's say that your company has no appetite for an organizational change whatsoever. You don't have to change your organization; you can go to the coalition of the willing. But what you must do that's different is agree upon how to align.

I think that's the big takeaway from the research that we did is the “Sirius Seven” for alignment between marketing, sales and success teams. You have to align on vision, you have to align on goals, you have to align on planning, and then processes, infrastructure, data and finally measurement. If you can figure out those seven things, then you’ve got it all solved.

DGR: With the Sirius Seven, “vision” and “goals” seem to be the easiest ones to address from the start, would you agree?

Therrien: They seem to be the easiest, right? Because it's not easy to measure, whether you're aligned on your vision or on your goal, you can see that in your reporting results. But you can tangibly measure whether you're aligned on your process. If you can't get people to agree on the process of measurement and data — I'll throw that as the third one — you can see the lack of alignment and the disruption in the organization.

The process itself is just working out who's going to do what in your model. And then it's so closely linked to infrastructure. You need to ask what type of technology stack you’re going to have. These are hard engineering conversations. And typically, they don't get solved until you put some sort of an operational resource on solving that problem, where they're going to consistently meet and work it out until everyone's satisfied or mostly satisfied.

DGR: How does the Revenue Operations Charter align with SiriusDecisions’ Demand Unit Waterfall?

Therrien: Some of the people who helped us build the Revenue Operations Charter were the architects of the Demand Unit Waterfall, namely SiriusDecisions' analysts Terry Flaherty and Kerry Cunningham. It's the understanding that marketing is interacting with prospects and clients throughout the entire process. And so is sales and any other organization that's involved with it. So, we took that into account and understood that we need to be able to facilitate those interactions, measure those interactions and create a process for those interactions for the demand unit. Salesforce is really objectified — the way that we think about the sales process, where it goes from this object to that object, is linear and forward. And that's it. That's not the way the customers interact with us. They go backwards and forwards and up and down. So, the architects of the Waterfall have been instrumental in helping us build out this this Charter.

DGR: Once these initial talks about RevOps have happened within B2B companies, what do you believe will be the next topic of focus?

Therrien: The primary purpose is to build a seamless customer experience, so the customer doesn't see our internal silos and they're not affected by those handoffs that have traditionally occurred — from marketing to sales and customer success, it's seamless to them.

One question I got one day really stuck out to me: when you sign on a new account, is it truly a new account if the contact was a recent hire from an account you’ve worked with before?

There’s a collection of individuals who bought from you before, they just happen to be at a different account. But the way that companies measure that is they view that as a new account. But if you take it to another level of detail, and you can measure who that individual is at that account, and where they bought from you and what their interactions have been with you in the past, it's a different type of law. You almost have to come up with an account type for that. So, let's say account type, new contact, account type of existing contact.

The selling motion will be a little bit different for those individuals. And it happens to us at SiriusDecisions all the time. If we have somebody that we've interacted with that's left the company and they've gone somewhere else, we call them “seat holders.” That's good for us, because we've got a great relationship with them and they bring us with them. So now we'll have the ability to measure that at a very detailed level. The sophistication of the measures that we’ll be able to employ is going to get much, much deeper than what it has been in the past.

I think it's a lack of investment or when big companies cheap out on analytics. Now, they continue to expect a couple of operations people to stitch together a couple of different solutions, work out some sort of an ATL, maybe have some sort of BI with cool interface on it, but they're not really thinking about the internal customer, which would be the users inside the company.

I'm not aware of a company yet that's made the huge investment in analytics inside of their company to get it right. They'll spend millions on BI tools and things like that, but they don’t hire an engineering firm to come in there and really understand it. So that you're interfacing with a platform that looks like Weather.com. When you want to understand what the weather is in every zip code in the U.S. at any given moment and what it's going to look like two weeks from now and what it looked like 100 years ago. That's amazing. So why are we doing that from consumer products, but we're not doing it for internal companies? There are vendors that are aspiring to do it now in solving all these individual problems as much as they possibly can. We need a solution.

DGR: What is SiriusDecisions placing their bets on in the coming years in the B2B marketplace?

Therrien: As a practice leader at SiriusDecisions, we're making three big bets with my team that we've talked about for the next 12 to 18 months on the resources we’re going to develop. The first one is revenue operations. The second one is around sales planning and just taking that to a different level, and bringing in other sources like intent data and all these other different variable sources that we have.

So, we're developing what we’ll call the SiriusDecisions Sales Planning Method. There's no other company out there that's really advocating the integration of sales and marketing together on the planning table. It's going to build upon that idea that we're working towards that common goal and it will tie back nicely to revenue operations.

The last one, the third big bet that we're making is on what we're calling the “sales digital transformation.” It started off with conversations around inside sales, because we've got so many clients that are coming to us now and saying, “how do we stand up an inside sales group? And then how do we optimize that inside sales group after that?” But it's more than just that, it's about the digitization of the customer experience and all the different ways to digitally enable that and how that's going to change the way we sell. Digital transformation, sales planning and revenue operations, those are three big buckets.