Sales Productivity

What is Revenue Operations? The Complete Guide

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Customers nowadays are better educated than ever. They expect fast, cross-channel, and personalized experiences from brands.

Add in the boom of remote work and the emergence of new technology to facilitate that boom, and it’s clear that many old ways of generating revenue are now less impactful.

Marketing, sales, finance, customer support, and other teams can no longer keep their work confined to their own silos. In order to meet—and exceed—customer expectations and keep up with the competition, they need a more integrated approach to revenue growth.

The solution? A solid revenue operations strategy.

But what is revenue operations exactly?

What is RevOps?

Revenue operations, or RevOps, refers to the alignment of marketing, sales, and customer success operations throughout the customer lifecycle. The end goal is to drive revenue growth in a way that’s operationally efficient and predictable, as well as beneficial to the customer experience.

This discipline does so by focusing on four primary goals:

  • Increasing conversions
  • Getting better margins or annual recurring revenue (depending on the product/service sold)
  • Reducing revenue leakage
  • Identifying new revenue opportunities

Revenue operations also offer a solution to problems that arise when marketing, sales, and customer success teams (including customer support and finance) work independently from one another. Examples of such problems include:

  • Inefficient data management 
  • Fragmented views of the customer journey
  • Miscommunication
  • Lack of data transparency.
  • Loss of time.
  • Duplicated work or tasks

In essence, RevOps stimulates a holistic approach to revenue growth by encouraging different departments to work together and share accountability for the complete customer journey, from the moment a prospect considers your offer, to when they buy, renew, again, upgrade, and buy again.

Revenue operations vs. sales operations

The revenue operations umbrella encompasses sales operations. While sales operations only focuses on improving the performance of sales teams, revenue operations aligns sales operations with marketing and customer success operations around a shared goal (increasing revenue) through common practices and strategies.

For example, to run an effective upselling campaign, the marketing, sales, and customer success teams all need to be on board.

Stakeholders from each team should know they have a role to play. Sales operations is a part of revenue operations, but not the other way around.

The benefits of revenue operations

This unified approach to revenue growth comes with some considerable benefits.

One point of truth for stakeholders

When everyone has the same end goal in mind and one cohesive strategy to get there, the risk of confusion decreases significantly—immediately positioning revenue-related projects for success. 

On top of that, there is one clear point of contact (the RevOps team or Chief Revenue Officer) for anyone who needs to be kept in the loop about revenue-related projects and results. Generally speaking, the buck stops with them.

Improved measurement, tracking, and forecasting

If different teams work with data in different systems without any synchronization, it’s bound to result in poor data quality.

For example, sales or marketing reps might add a new contact record instead of updating an existing one as the contact’s journey with your brand continues.

These errors will pile up and require some solid data deduplication effort. But once you’ve moved to a unified RevOps system where a single entity is responsible for revenue-related data and tools, data maintenance becomes a lot easier. 

You’ll also get a better view of what is working, what’s not, and where your bottlenecks are. Plus, you’ll be able to make revenue predictions and improve your long-term strategic planning when armed with the right information.

Lastly, with all data in one place, it becomes possible to more easily build strategies and playbooks models that help you decide:

  • Whom to offer an upsell, and when
  • Which products to recommend in your promotional emails
  • What time of day to send your quotes

Easier automation and shorter sales cycles

Since everyone is following the same processes and working together with the same data instead of working in silos, it becomes much easier to automate what previously may have been manual work.

For example, where finance teams may have once had to copy over data from Excel sheets into the CRM before being able to invoice, RevOps establishes processes so that all data is captured once from the get-go and made accessible to everyone on the RevOps team.

This type of unification and automation also allows you to shorten sales cycles and turn a prospect into a customer more quickly.

Say your marketing team promotes a webinar. Next, a prospect signs up for that webinar.

They become a lead and attend the webinar, after which they fill in a form that indicates their interest in your offer.

Your system automatically generates a quote and a contract with an electronic signature field and emails both to the lead.
The lead signs the documents and sends them back to you, upon which your automated onboarding process kicks in and the sale is considered closed.

Reduction in cost and errors

The cleaner your data and the shorter your sales cycles, the lower your costs for them will be. Having one, unified tech stack means fewer errors will occur due to teams working with unsynced or out-of-date data, as everyone has access to the same (accurate!) information.

Increased conversions, customer engagement, and retention rates

When you have better insight into what works for your target audience and your operations run more smoothly, you’re able to deliver a better customer experience and engage with your leads and customers in a more personalized way. 

You can follow up when you know they’ll be most likely to reply, make them offers based on their particular needs, create content that answers their questions, and provide them with support that allows them to use your product or service effortlessly.

All of this leads to higher conversions, increased customer engagement, and better retention rates.

Increased adaptability

With a unified approach to revenue growth, people become used to working together and communicating across teams. So, it becomes a lot easier to adapt to changing market conditions or to jump on opportunities when they present themselves.

Since everyone is centered around this unified approach, change enablement can happen across departments in one go, and training programs can be set up in a holistic way as well.

What is needed to make RevOps a success?

To reap the above benefits of revenue operations, a few core elements need to be in place.

Goal alignment

An aligned approach to revenue growth requires teams to not just work toward the same goal, but also to agree on how to get there. They need to have their noses in the same direction and follow them, too.

When establishing a revenue operations team or strategy (or refining an existing one) emphasize that internal fighting or quarreling over which department’s goals are more important is detrimental to effective revenue operations. Collaboration is key.

Trust and communication between departments and teams

Without trust and continuous, transparent communication between revenue-related teams, revenue operations cannot be a success. This discipline relies on the ability to streamline the processes and workflows of different departments so that they can more smoothly work together.

When there is distrust in the capabilities of data coming from other teams, that is a problem that needs to be solved before you can have successful RevOps.

Unified processes and tech stacks

When RevOps is being implemented, teams need to work together to turn prospects into loyal customers. And for that to go well, their tools must also work together.

The technology you use must tell a clear story of how your revenue pipeline is performing. Instead of having data scattered across different platforms that aren’t all used by every department, you’ll want to have a text stack that supports the unified processes your marketing, sales, and customer success teams will be implementing.

Ideally, that means bringing all of your revenue-related processes together into a comprehensive platform. When that’s not possible, you can also build connections between your existing systems. But when you do this, there is a real risk of data not being synched across all platforms.

In any case, revenue operations is responsible for the acquisition, implementation and management of the tools you’ll be using to generate, track, and process revenue.

Aligned KPIs across departments

To know whether your RevOps is effective, you’ll need to track KPIs that reflect the cross-team revenue work you’ve been doing. Some of the most important ones are: 

  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC): how much it costs to acquire a single new customer
  • Annual recurring revenue (ARR): the revenue you’re generating over the course of a year
  • Customer lifetime value (LTV): the total revenue you can expect to get from a single customer as long as they’re a customer
  • Forecast accuracy: a calculation of the degree to which you correctly predicted revenue
  • Upsell and renewal rate: the rate at which you’re able to sell new or upgraded products to existing customers, or the rate at which existing customers renew their contract or subscription
  • Churn rate: how many customers you’ve lost within a given time period
  • Win rate: how many sales opportunities turn into sales
  • Pipeline velocity: how fast a lead moves through your revenue pipeline

Who needs RevOps?

While revenue operations may seem like something reserved for big companies with dedicated marketing, sales, and customer success teams, it doesn’t need to be. If you find yourself in any of these situations, RevOps may be the solution to your company’s problem:

  • Your sales depend on the (technical) knowledge and input of the founder. You don’t have a scalable, repeatable process.
  • Your marketing efforts are not turning into sales.
  • Your customers are constantly disgruntled because of the inconsistent or unsatisfactory experience you’re giving them.
  • Your sales and marketing teams have different ideas on how to grow revenue and act accordingly.

Who runs revenue operations?

Depending on the size of your company, you can create a dedicated revenue operations team or distribute RevOps responsibilities among existing members of your marketing, sales, and customer success teams.

A common structure for dedicated RevOps teams is one in which there’s a Director of Revenue Operations or Chief Revenue Officer who reports to the CEO. Below them are managers who are responsible for each of the departments that fall under revenue operations:

  • A Sales Operations Manager who oversees the operations of the sales team
  • A Marketing Operations manager who oversees the ops of the marketing team
  • A Customer Success Operations manager who oversees the ops for the customer success team

Regardless of the option you choose, your RevOps leaders and implementers should always have the necessary elements outlined above in place:

  • A shared goal
  • Trust and excellent communication
  • Unified processes
  • Aligned KPIs
  • An optimized tech stack

RevOps toolkit

As mentioned, you need a streamlined tech stack to successfully run revenue operations. While some tools will depend on the type of business you’re running, you’ll always need a solid CRM that allows you to:

  • Collect prospect and customer data, keep track of interactions, and know where someone is in their customer journey
  • Predict future revenue based on historical data
  • Analyze revenue and workflow progress to get insight on what’s working and what’s not.
  • Integrate and synchronize with the other tools in your tech stack so your team members have access to all necessary information at all times.

Validity offers a range of tools that ensure the data you’re working with is always accurate and secure.

  • BriteVerify effectively verifies your contacts.
  • DemandTools helps you clean and maintain your CRM data in no time.
  • GridBuddy Connect combines all of your data into an editable, spreadsheet-style view so your team can easily get the insights they need to improve their performance.

Sound like a lot? Start by downloading our Supreme Sales Productivity Toolkit for top tips on how to improve your sales efficiency, technologies to use, and how to avoid some dangerous data mistakes when maintaining your CRM.