19th Jun 2023

RevOps to the rescue: Best practices to implement during a market downturn

Data can be your best friend or your worst enemy. With the economic downturn and increased focus on extending cash runways and being capital efficient, the companies that can best leverage data to their advantage will come out on top.

TLDR – Three actionable takeaways:

  1. Drive alignment between GTM teams by forming a shared understanding of the data, the buyer, and the customer lifecycle

  2. When evaluating RevOps specialists hires, make sure to match skills with organisational priorities

  3. Proactively curate your tech stack, and don’t neglect the adoption process

As market conditions continue to test the resilience of the tech industry, founders look to operational and strategic initiatives to drive efficient growth.

If you’re operating in an industry where your addressable market consists of less than 100 customers – companies supplying the automotive manufacturers, for example - you need a good CRM and a process to understand what people are doing within specific fields.

But if you’re a company supplying many different industries or customer types, RevOps is critical. Essentially, you should think about RevOps when you begin targeting more than one industry or customer type. Your focus should be establishing a repeatable approach to finding and acquiring new customers.

Building a RevOps function between raising your Series A and Series B is advisable as it will help develop an effective go-to-market (GTM) strategy. Revenue operations (RevOps) acts as the glue between the marketing, customer success and sales teams, allowing you to properly understand the data that drives value. If you start building a RevOps function too late, you’ll have a more challenging time unpicking the mess of data, systems and processes. The investor diligence process at Series B is typically more onerous, and access to granular data is incredibly helpful.

Across our portfolio, I see a strong correlation between RevOps working well with a company’s ability to provide simple access to live data. Typically this comes in the form of a dashboard showing precisely what’s happening within their revenue organisation, from the very top of the funnel - e.g. leads - through to what’s closing and committed that quarter. Critically, they can provide contextual, multi-functional data that allows you to understand what’s performing well across marketing, sales, CS, and what’s churning and renewing, all in a single pane of glass. From an investor’s perspective, you can dive into topics like conversion rates and provide insight into where these benchmarks are relative to other companies in similar categories.

The opportunity to leverage RevOps depends on the company’s ability to acquire quality data. This blog post includes a VC investor’s view on RevOps. We also asked three thought leaders for their blueprint for RevOps success – what has worked and what challenges lie ahead.

Tip #1: Drive alignment between GTM teams

If not from your investors, the pressure to bring in better RevOps usually comes from the finance team because, without it, proper forecasting is difficult, if not impossible.

But don’t confuse the revenue function with finance tools. Your finance team may be chasing you to implement RevOps in your business, but RevOps works best under the GTM team - i.e. marketing and sales. RevOps data should feed the finance teams but shouldn’t necessarily be owned by the CFO because the typical CFO will often be very process driven, concerned much more with financials, forecasts and historical data rather than future facing opportunities.

GTM teams, on the other hand, are constantly looking forward, thinking about how to make a conversion from SQL to a potential opportunity much more robust and scoping out other industries that matter the most - so it’s an ideal fit for RevOps. In fact, 21% of companies saw increases in alignment and productivity across GTM teams after hiring a RevOps function (source: Revenue.io)

However, to really capitalise on RevOps, companies need to (re)think their organisational structure to erase silos:

“The difference between businesses who reap the benefits of a Rev Ops function and those who only do it by name or claim is true alignment between the GTM teams. This includes a shared understanding of the data, the buyer, and the customer lifecycle - all critical areas many businesses have blind spots or, at best, siloed understanding of. It's down to RevOps as the conduit between teams to create that alignment through effective presentation of data, internal enablement, and plenty of communication, which should add value all the way up to the CEO and the board", explained industry-veteran and RevOps leader Kirsty Charlton.

Tip #2: Match skills with organisational priorities

The ideal RevOps person enjoys connecting the dots between different types of data points, experiments constantly with various RevOps tools to better understand the data, and then surfaces this data to the C-level team or board, if need be, to inform decisions.

Using tools that sit on top of CRMs and iterating between them is very important, and it is no surprise that many RevOps people have mathematical, economic, or engineering backgrounds.

A good example is Shay Khosrowshahi, Head of RevOps at YuLife, who studied computer science before moving into sales and marketing. Through his diverse background across startups, scale-ups and corporate businesses, Shay has plenty of experience in team building and evaluating RevOps specialist hires.

"It's important to consider not only the candidate's technical skills but also their ability to be commercially minded, comfortable with understanding data, and how to use it to make decisions that impact revenue. Look for candidates who have experience in sales or marketing, as well as a strong understanding of the customer journey”, responded Shay.

“Additionally, for the first hire(s), it's important to avoid the mistake of hiring someone solely focused on CRM or administrative tasks, and instead look for someone who can help drive revenue growth and align various teams around a common goal”.

Tip #3: Proactively curate your tech stack, and don’t neglect the adoption process

The first step is strategically curating your tech stack to ensure that the selected tools accelerate productivity rather than hinder it. Depending on where you are on your start-up journey, you might either be thinking about your first CRM or outgrowing your existing stack. The rule of thumb is that any tool that isn’t being used or has a measurable ROI should go. Lean times offer an excellent opportunity to conduct a tech stack audit to check what the team is actively using and what can be eliminated to save cost.

Check for tools with overlapping capabilities, new functionality released by vendors and automation opportunities such as workflow triggers and lead routing. We also recommend that you review users and permissions and trim excess seats.

When Nadim Lahoud joined Red Sift in 2019, he was tasked with building out the company’s commercial operating system. In his quest to build the ideal tech stack, he sought a balance between achieving the desired GTM outcomes whilst being economical both from an integration and maintenance perspective.

“Unbounce landing pages improve conversion rates and drive performance, but is it worth the extra license fee and, more importantly, the extra complexity of maintaining an additional integration? It depends”, said Nadim.

That said, integration costs are declining thanks to the rise of ‘no code/low code’. “The decision-making process has expanded from “buy vs build” to “bundle vs unbundle”, Nadim continues.

“When done right, RevOps enterprise software is more than just the “sum of the stack” and a real competitive advantage in the GTM motion. Picking the sharpest possible tools is important, but more important still is how they are deployed, integrated and adopted to drive the revenue strategy”, concluded Nadim.

Are you looking for more tips on how to optimise RevOps, or are you wondering how to pick the right GTM motion to grow your ARR?

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