Revenue Operations

The RevOps Starter Pack: 7 Key Areas of Focus for Long Term Impact

Adithya Krishnaswamy
min read
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I’ve been asked many times about the 30-60-90 day plan for new hires in RevOps. Some are managers who want to set up their new joiners for success and some are senior Ops people joining as the sole RevOps person in a company. 

Unlike other roles, you really can't put a ramp plan for RevOps as the nature of the operations role will involve a lot of reactive work as well. But, just doing supporting work won't propel your role forward. You need to double down on key areas and solve them for long-term impact on the revenue.

The beauty of the RevOps role is a lot of these areas are intertwined in some ways but also separate in other ways. So, you get a breadth of fresh projects to choose from and add your value.

To have a straightforward approach that you can actionize and implement, each area of focus is divided into 3 parts:

  • Why is this a problem?
  • How can I fix this?
  • How does this approach help?

1. The Elephant in The Room: Fixing the CRM

Why is this a problem?

CRM software is a real pain especially if it has been used for years. Every time you want to change something, ten other things break. There are always broken processes in any CRM that the sales and marketing teams can’t align and fix. 

RevOps must take care of this problem by bringing alignment between all teams and fixing these processes. And if you don’t, say goodbye to any new tech stack upgrade or process improvement that you may want to land. This will truly hold you back from a lot of subsequent efforts bearing fruit.

How can I fix this?

  1. Look for easy fixes to get started such as getting more custom fields implemented, removing redundant fields etc.
  2. To ensure the fields are properly filled by the sales teams, put a process change and introduce new mandatory fields or remove current ones that are no longer helpful. Keep a strong control and ensure there is a change management process that is followed before any major changes to the CRM. A lot of times, teams may change something in the CRM without RevOps knowledge and all your reporting might break.
  3. Streamline the data quality. Look for fill rates of the most important metrics and make it mandatory for reps. When you want to use them in another system, they will come in handy. Fields like prospect requirements are important for the CSM team to consume in their success software. 

I will add here what Jeff Ignacio, RevOps and Marketing leader says about this, 

“Good data governance and systems design are like the trees lining the riverbank.
Like trees preventing runoff from silting a free-flowing river, so too does governance and design stem the tide of bad data corroding the business' system fidelity and ability to operate.
Work with your #revenueoperations team to ensure you have gates, normalization procedures, deduplication and merge rules, and enrichment procedures.”

CRM sounds boring as hell. And trust me, it is. But just because it's not sexy doesn't mean it's any less critical to helping scale the business, right?

How does it help?

Fixing the CRM helps RevOps see the reality of all the systems. You work with the CRM for a day and you will know the exact problems marketing and sales go through while trying to consume information and act on insights. Also, this is a very good starting point for you to gain the trust of various stakeholders. 

2. The Customer Journey: Understanding the Buyers 

Why is this a problem?

You will be able to add value to any business only if you understand the customer journey. RevOps executives cannot act as external consultants who make recommendations without understanding this core reality of the business and being able to check the feasibility of what works and what doesn’t. You need to be a true partner to the GTM teams and you get context only when you are able to map the buyer journey and understand how your business works. 

How do I fix this?

As Jonathan Morgan (RevOps and Marketing Head at AchieveIT) says, 

  1. Map out the prospect or customer journey and the current tech stack that supports it to understand connection points and gaps.
  2. Conduct interviews and ride-along with various team members to understand common workflows.

How does it help?

Not only does this process help you better understand the business but also lets you establish key relationships with sales and customer-facing executives. The relationships you build here will be super valuable in the future for you to test any new hypothesis that you may have about introducing a new metric or a process to improve business. 

Book a demo with Everstage

3. The Compensation Complexity: Automating Commissions

Why is this a problem?

Commissions: one of the oldest processes or systems in place that has been automated countless times before. 

Even though RevOps is responsible for managing the information and working with finance to calculate and communicate the payouts, this process is inefficient when done manually. It might be exciting initially to get a sense of the rep attainment but after a couple of quarters, you should document your processes and simply automate this. 

How can I fix this?

There are 3 main parts to commissions processing: 

  1. Data maintenance: Team mapping, quota information, commission plan criteria etc.
  2. Calculation: Integrating CRM data, billing data and manager inputs to calculate commissions accurately for reps
  3. Communication: Sharing the output with managers, reps and HR team at various cycles of a process. 

Get a compensation tool that will let you maintain your data and create compensation plans quickly. Calculating commissions can be fully automated with an inbuilt communication to reps who will get notified when their payouts are ready. 

If you are looking at a tool that can do all this and more, check out Everstage, a tool built by ex-RevOps folks.

How does it help?

A one-time exercise to automate this for a month might save you hours and hours of time every month. Sales reps get clarity on their payouts immediately, finance has a fully auditable system and as Ops, you don’t have to endlessly use excel for commissions. It’s a win-win-win situation.

Live Commissions Tracking

4. The Policy Paradox: Sales Policy Streamlining

Why is this a problem?

RevOps people thoroughly dread a territory conflict where two reps are fighting against each other due to a wrongly-assigned CRM lead. Running Ops without a proper sales policy document is as close to drunk driving. 

You are going to take contentious decisions that sometimes will make you a hypocrite and incur the wrath of all sales teams (certainly not a cushy place to be). You might as well put a policy document in place to protect you from this agony. 

How can I fix this?

  1. Understand the current problems. Talk to reps and get the ground reality. Document all common scenarios.
  2. Start somewhere. Put up a small policy between teams operating in a tight region on what is acceptable and what is not. 
  3. Eventually, work towards putting an elaborate sales policy document that covers all scenarios and removes any ambiguity that sales reps might use to their advantage.
  4. Remember, when it comes to sales policies, consistency beats fairness every time. You want your reps to expect predictable outcomes, not look for fair outcomes and consume your bandwidth every time. 

Here is a detailed guide on making an iron-clad sales policy document if you are looking for a place to start. 

On top of sales policy, RevOps folks, in general, need to document all their processes. Here is a wonderful thread by Jordan Henderson, RevOps at RingDNA where he crowdsourced ideas on process documentation and summarized it. Thanks Jordan for compiling this.

How does it help?

Sales policy documents act as guiding lights to ensure that sales reps don’t duplicate efforts. It prevents chaos and confusion within cross-regional teams. A well-put policy can save hundreds of RevOps hours spent on redundant conflicts. You want your reps to focus on closing a deal rather than whether they are going to be compensated or not.

5. The Metrics Madness: Standardizing the Key Performance Indicators

Why is this a problem?

One of the most shocking things you’ll ever live to see as Ops is people turning up to meetings with their own numbers. Metrics and data are good only when standardized. People cannot report and make exceptions on them, defeating the purpose of metrics.

How can I fix this?

  1. Own and report the key metrics that the CXOs and VPs of businesses look at. If there are any ambiguities, sort them with the finance or data analytics team and establish them. 
  2. Slowly start going down the funnel. Once you have established and agreed upon metrics with leaders, they will expect the same information from Directors and Managers of Sales. And eventually, all reps will also start looking at and using similar metrics.
  3. A bottoms up approach may not be as helpful for Org wide reporting. You can work on that to help individual teams but for org level metrics, start top-down and align with finance, sales and marketing leaders first. Keep it simple and well documented so that there are no 2 ways of interpreting the data.
  4. While the technical part of the reporting can sit with the Finance/IT or data analytics team, the metrics themselves need to be defined and closely monitored for changes only based on RevOps approval. 

How does it help?

You can track the performance of sales and marketing teams by a neutral party and set the foundation for RevOps to act as the strategic leader who will keep the business in check with reality. Streamlining metrics brings alignment naturally and we can move on to acting on insights rather than debating the data.

6. The Prediction Processes: Forecasting Accuracy

Why is this a problem?

Forecasting is one-part art and one-part science. The art part is mainly all thanks to reps who don't input everything into the CRM. And, for the science part, there are many tools that can help. If you reach a point where you know which reps are more likely to sandbag and which reps are more likely to overcommit, then you have mastered both parts. As RevOps, you will be expected to deliver the closest commit possible to finance and the CXOs accurately. 

How can I fix this?

  1. Setup your CRM for ironclad forecasting practices. Don’t allow stale or lost deals to be in the pipeline or system. Setup recurring automation processes or manual reporting of metrics to ensure reps cleanup CRM. 
  2. Organize and be part of all sales forecasting to get a sense of the various teams and how they forecast. Track for a quarter to see how every month’s forecasted numbers and the final numbers look like. Establish the cadence and standardize error rates. 
  3. Work with the sales leaders to refine their commitment and bring it as close to reality as possible. Establish multiple commits like bare minimum and best case scenario to ensure the business has ranges of commits rather than one fixed number.

How does it help?

Getting as close to the ground reality of the business as you can is very important to add true value to the revenue goals of the company. Establishing a forecasting cadence will help you understand how reps operate across regions and how leaders commit so that you can make strategic decisions in the future to identify growth and risks. 

7. The Pre-Closure Problems: Setting Up a Deals Desk

Why is this a problem?

Every big deal might require some contract adjustments and concessions that sales may have to make. If you don’t set up a deals desk, you will end up working on the same kind of contract adjustment or approving discounts, over and over again.

How can I fix this?

  1. Streamline the discounting policy and put a proper guideline on acceptable levels of discount based on sales levels and seniority. 
  2. Initiate a Q2C tool that stores all the information on a deal so that you don’t have to worry about losing a customer contract that was signed in the past. 
  3. A CPQ tool will help you collect every deal contract in a similar format so that only the exceptions come clearly for RevOps approval. 
  4. Build a small team to manage the entire contract changes with the legal team. They will act as the POC between sales and legal. In addition, they will eventually start putting guardrails and default templates at a much granular level.

How does it help?

If you ask the sales rep what they dread the most, the answer will always be a coin toss between cold calling days vs. dealing with the legal team. No one likes dealing with the legal team. 

In fact, even the legal team would love it if reps got the customer to sign the default contract, without any changes. So, streamlining here would save the sales rep from transactional work and help them focus on what they do best: closing deals. 

The RevOps Starter Pack: 7 Key Areas of Focus for Long Term Impact

These areas of focus can give you a sense of how you can prioritize tasks during your initial days in RevOps. Sure, there are other priorities that might fall on your plate but focusing on this starter pack will help you get a hold of the pulse of the business and solve things that can move the needle. 

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