Revenue Operations

How to Move From a Supporting to Strategic Role as RevOps?

Adithya Krishnaswamy
min read
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Territory conflicts, data integrity issues, reporting malfunctions and commissions errors: all these are operational issues we are well acquainted with. But, will they even stop coming at us? I highly doubt that. 

“When am I ever going to add actual value to the business instead of putting out fire after fire?” I bet this question has crossed the minds of most RevOps folks at least once in their career.

RevOps are stuck with tactical busy work.

No doubt, RevOps has grown to be one of the most critical functions in a modern SaaS organization. But, not all organizations mature at  the same rate and hence adoption for the RevOps role is different in some organizations compared to others. When we started our RevOps role in my previous company, it was a small 3-people fringe team that was just supposed to take care of Ops and CRM. Today, it is a 50-people organization that runs the show from planning to operations.

But, this transition didn’t happen overnight. It needed its time. People who joined as RevOps weren’t easily entrusted with it. They had to earn it by building trust, adding value and countless efforts to improve, accelerate and grow the business. 

So, if you are in a SaaS firm who has just made their first RevOps hire, don’t be discouraged if you are completely full with operational tasks. You will get out of that rut and eventually start doing more. 

How Do Most Companies Start a RevOps Function in The First Place?

Much before RevOps, GTM teams needed the support of certain functions to meet their goals. Some of the main areas involved were:

  1. BI, Analytics and Reporting
  2. GTM Tech Stack (Prospecting tools, Telephony tools etc.)
  3. Sales Operations (CRM, Billing etc.)
  4. Commissions Processing 
  5. CXO’s Office (Planning and Strategy)

At some point, the company realizes that all these fragmented functions create a lot of complexity and have overlapping projects when managed separately. So, they wanted one common function that can handle all of these areas. So, they hire a leader from one of the five functions and give them the entire set of roles and responsibilities for all functions. And, voila! You have RevOps. 

During the initial stages of a RevOps function, there are a few new responsibilities you will be handling full-time such as: 

  1. Ensuring data sanity for metrics reporting
  2. Solving operational conflicts between teams
  3. Creating and administering commission plans
  4. Managing sales planning and quota deployment

The above mentioned responsibilities don’t exist in your previous fragmented organization with siloed teams. In isolation, your BI team or Sales Ops team don’t have enough context to drive strategic business goals and the teams focusing on pure strategy don’t have enough operational context to implement them. So, the new responsibilities aren’t usually considered to drive business critical initiatives. But, after the merge, RevOps functions now have an end-to-end context from planning to final payouts on performance.  

RevOps gets a seat at the table once the firm feels that they can add value to being a participant in strategic discussions. 

Why do we need to be on that table?

One of the main reasons I advocate for RevOps aiming to get a seat at the table is that there are very few functions that get to see the entire business end-to-end. This view is reserved to the leaders and CXOs of the firm. 

But, being the main intermediary between the leaders and the GTM teams, RevOps gets a bird’s eye view of the entire GTM organization. It puts them in a unique position where they see things that the leaders might miss while also having the advantage of questioning things as operational experts themselves. 

Hence, your context and understanding of business makes you very valuable if you can use it to solve broader inefficiencies in the organization. 

So, how do you cross the chasm and move into the strategic role?

How do you get promoted in your job? By adding value. Like my ex-CEO used to say “ You need to start acting like you are a manager before you actually become one”. And this seems like a well validated thesis.

Listen to what Jeff Ignacio, Director, RevOps from Upkeep has to say about this. Here is a summary of his thoughts on how Revops can move into a strategic role. 

  1. Ask “so what” as opposed to “what is”
  2. Write down takeaways from every meeting
  3. Execute your deliverables with commentary
  4. Anticipate obstacles that your business might come across
  5. Develop recommendations and Volunteer to take ownership and deliver on said recommendations
  6. The most important one - “Deliver Value”

I agree with these recommendations. As RevOps, you need to start adding value to every conversation you are part of. Anticipating future business needs and developing recommendations to solve them will definitely help you in that journey. If I were to add something more, it would be this:

“The true value in Revops lies in the ability of the team to see across the GTM and help both the leaders get in touch with reality and to make the reps understand the company’s goals and vision. Start focusing on how you can unlock this value for the firm and you will get into a more strategic role automatically.”
RevOps for Strategy

Acknowledgements : Thanks to Samra Taban for editing the blog and Aravindh Natesan for the designs.

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