RevOps is all fun and games until … with Jen Igartua

Erika Davis and Jen Igartua, CEO of Go Nimbly, share their ideas and experiences as revenue operations consultants and how to set teams up to win in any organization.

Show notes

… until it’s time to get serious, bring go-to-market and sales together, stop pointing the finger, find the gaps, and start focusing on giving customers a better experience. 

This is easier said than done, but Jen Igartua, CEO of Go Nimbly and Game Maker with Pillbox Games, first leans on her expertise in game creation and rule development, relating those to setting teams up for success with revenue operations: “people want to know what lane they’re in. And they want to know what winning and success is.”

RevOps Therapist, Erika Davis, and Igartua share their ideas and experiences as revenue operations consultants and how to set teams up to win in any organization.

Transcript

00:00

Say you want some clarity in sales and marketing and SEP? Well, we have just the remedy: our podcast, RevOps Therapy. Yeah.

Erika 00:17

Thanks for coming on the podcast. Jen, do you want to start with a brief introduction?

Jen 00:21

Totally. My name is Jen Igartua. Day job: I’m the CEO of Go Nimbly; we’re a RevOps consultancy. I also like to think that I’m fun outside of work. I make card games have a little side hustle: Pillbox Games. I love doing improv. I’m very crafty. And I have a belief that, you know, your work and your personal life, they don’t have to be a kind of a huge dichotomy and a huge difference. You can be yourself at work, and your work can seep into your life as long as you find that balance. And so I like to talk a little bit about my things outside of work sometimes.

Erika 00:58

I love that. And I’m, I’m the newest fan of your card game. It’s coming in the mail in about a week. So I’m really excited about that. Maybe we can start there. I asked you before we hit record, you know that as a maker of games and RevOps consultant: Curious how you how you think about and how you’ve talked with teams in the past about gamifying the sales process? 

Jen 01:23

Yeah, there’s a lot you can learn from games. And we’re engaged in games from childhood all the way to adulthood, right? It’s not something that we lose. And I think there’s a couple of things that I’ve learned one, I’ve learned a ton on like B2C versus B2B; it’s like, two very different worlds. But it’s very fun to make a physical product, and then also help these like gigantic B2B SaaS companies sell software. But one of the things that I think is very human nature is this idea of what the rules to a game are. And it’s very important for us to know like, what is winning? And what are the lanes in which we play in? And where can I get creative? And I think that’s really taught me on, you know, even as simple as what are the rules of engagement within a team? What are the rules with the way that we interact with our customers? How do we win and setting that up? I think that that’s something that I’ve learned through designing and, and playing games, is people want to know what lane they’re in. And they want to know what winning and success is.

Erika 02:25

Yeah, I think that reminds me so much of teaching, and how, you know, as a teacher, I was always thinking about how much structure to give my students to maximize their creativity, because if I just gave them a blank sheet of paper, and I was like, write whatever you want, they would do nothing. But if I gave them too specific of a prompt, it’d be really hard for them to relate to it. So I think, you know, creativity comes from construction and from parameters. And so you have to have those rules set in order to have creativity. And I think that that can be, I mean, that’s a skill in and of itself to get that right.

Jen 03:00

Erika, have you ever done improv? Or do you know about improv? 

Erika

Yeah.

Jen

Yeah, it’s very similar, right? Once you’ve taken a few improv classes, there’s actually so many rules. And you think that it’s just get on stage and yes, stand and create something, but there’s, like, you know, there’s “try not to be negative at the top,” you know, “support your scene partner.” There’s about grounding the scene there. Like there’s all these things that allow you to be really funny and create something that no one’s ever created. But without them, like when you play with people, it’s called playing an improv, when you play with people and improv that don’t know those things, the scene crashes and burns as like, we need these parameters. And then I don’t know, take all those learns that you have and place it into business, or into defining and creating any sort of process. And there, you need, like the architecture, and you need the foundation and the framework. And then you can figure out, like, how deep to go there. How much process to really input because the place where the magic happens is if you think in Systems Thinking is applied design, like what are you letting somebody that’s playing in this framework, or in this architecture in this system? What are you letting them do? And in sales, that’s, you know, the examples are pretty obvious, right? Like, they can decide the tone of the of the conversation and how they pitch something and and the emphasis that they have in a demo, and like, but they still are playing within a really big framework. And so I think that balance in anything you do of, where are you letting your users play is really where if it’s too rigid, people are gonna bypass your process, you’re gonna get pissed, and if it’s too broad, you’re gonna have no consistency or know where you actually win.

Erika 04:39

Yeah, so when you’re working with teams, what are some things that you listen for in order to figure out if someone’s maybe got too much process or not enough or how, how structured that that is?

Jen 04:51

A good way to test it for your own team or yourself is to do ride-alongs or rep rides and I don’t mean like go do an entire sales cycle with someone, which is great and awesome, but if you have a working theory or hypothesis that alright, my lead capture to lead handoff process, yeah, I don’t even know what that is, or I don’t know what’s working, what’s not. Go find five people that are doing that process and sit with them five times. And the interesting thing is not just what each of them is doing, but like, what are they all doing that’s the same? That might tell you, like, what’s actually working? What are they, you know, what are some people doing? And that’s like, vastly different. Is that because it’s fine, it’s just like a different flavor? Or is it because one person has figured it out, and they’re doing great? And we actually need to take that and spread it across everybody else. So a big part of design thinking is immersion. So just like sit with it, stay curious and understand it. And then you can kind of go back and say, “Great, I understand how my user’s interacting with my processes,” and you might pull back in some places that aren’t working. And then you might say, “Great, I know where the best sellers are doing XYZ, I’m gonna bring that in and train everybody on that.” 

Erika 06:04

Yeah, I love that. Because I think it applies to companies at all stages, like I’m thinking of some startups that we’ve worked with where, you know, we’re sitting with individual reps on a team to figure out what they’re doing on calls or emails, but then also, we’ve worked with, you know, global enterprise organizations, and then you’re sitting with a team or with a manager and saying, Is there something that your team has figured out that other teams, maybe in a different region, or maybe in the same region, but just a different manager, they have no idea what this other team has figured out? And so being able to have that internal communication, regardless of your team size feels like such an important thing to be able to capture that data you’re talking about?

Jen 06:41

Yeah, a lot of times when we talk about, you know, Silo Syndrome, you know, showing up and yes, as your company gets bigger, there’s more people, you see it happen more often. But one of the big signs is something we call “information hoarding.” And I know that feels like really intense, and it feels like a person is doing that. But actually, like, rarely do we see the signs of Silo Syndrome come from malice, like, it’s not like people are doing it because they don’t like the other team. It’s typically that we don’t have the space to share information. So your example about even within a region, person A is doing something really fabulous, that’s working, but it’s not getting to anybody else, or one region is not sharing with another is that is not typically because they don’t want to; they don’t know how; there’s not a place to do it. There’s not a forum, there’s not the culture of sharing. And the examples we’re giving is on on a process that isn’t isn’t working. But you can feel that on a team, even at a metric level, or like, there are teams that find like, “oh, wow, we really win in this industry. We convert 20% higher in, you know, technology industry.” But nobody tells marketing. So now you’ve got a sales motion changing, but like we’re still marketing to tech, like to education. And I think that that’s, we’re moving quickly. And there’s lots of players, it’s hard to communicate horizontally, but we’re leaving so much money on the table, because we just don’t know how to spread that information.

Erika 08:07

Yeah, and especially like, my background is in sales. And I think of as a salesperson, like what’s my incentive to take time out of my day to go tell another team that I’m not getting paid for, to share my process? And so something you said reminded me of another thing that I wanted to ask you about, which is, you know, a lot of times we think about revenue operations as the goal being alignment. Like, for example, if the sales team is realizing, “hey, we’re not actually targeting this buyer persona, according to this pitch deck, but this is the persona that I’m, you know, making the best connections with on the phone. So I’ve just, those are all my target people now.” And no one’s telling marketing that. And so in my mind, I’m like, okay, so alignment. That’s one of the things that’s one of the products of a good rep, revenue operations org. But I’ve heard you say that alignment is not the goal. So can you expand on that a little bit? 

Jen 08:56

Yeah, it’s sometimes I’m like kind of playing up to something to make a point. I say like, “alignment is not the goal.” I also say, “your go-to-market team is not your customer.” And I think that’s to make the point that I am not here to align teams; my job is not to make the marketing and sales team work really well together. I might need to do that, in order to create a great customer experience, just the same way that I need buy-in from my sales team. And I need buy-in from the my go-to-market leaders so that I can prioritize the right work so that I can create a great experience, essentially maximizing LTV of my customer, like that should be the thing that drives me. Alignment is just what helps me get there. Because if my team is super well-aligned, like what’s the next thing that I have to tackle? Like, that doesn’t mean my job is done. So I think just like keeping in mind that there are means and then there are goals, just like RevOps is not the goal either, right? Like when we talk about implementing revenue operations, like RevOps, gosh, sometimes I’m so cliche with this but like RevOps is the way, not the goal, or I like it’s a framework; it’s a way of working. But ultimately the work is about creating a great customer experience.

Erika 10:08

Yeah, that totally makes sense. I would imagine to that if having an excellent customer experience is the goal, it makes it a lot easier to maybe have internal stakeholders get a little more detached from sort of their, you know, I find working with department leaders a lot, that people are very set in their ways, but this is the way it has to be. And then there’s competing priorities. And if you have something like you know, the leader of the AE org, versus the leader of the SDR org, that have priorities that have lots of conflicts and create a lot of friction, you know, it makes a lot of sense to have everyone aligned to the same end goals. And that way, you can have a little bit more flexibility in the middle there.

Jen 10:52

It’s not a, it’s definitely not simple. But we do, when we kick off a customer, we tend to do a workshop that we call Silo No More. And we ask people from the go-to-market teams to join, and then we ask operators to join. And the whole concept is that we’re going to map your customer journey in four hours from lead capture to renewal and upsell. And the goal when we’re doing that is like we have like a pact at the beginning. And one of the things we say is that I don’t even need people to take accountability during this meeting, like I don’t need to know why something’s broken; I don’t care; I don’t care how that decision got made. All we need to do is remember that we’re on one team. And we’re going to map what’s going on today. And it’s going to let us come back to everyone with like, these are the 17 gaps that we think are most impactful to prioritize, and we’re going to prioritize those, I don’t really care if all 17 are in SDR and AE handoff, like, stage. If they are and that’s what’s best for the company, awesome. And so it does help, like we have those meetings and people sort of let their guard down. And it’s you know, kind of time to focus on the customer. And that is a really big kind of aligning moment. I wish I could say that “do that workshop and change the culture to it’s all about the customer and you’ll no longer have XYZ problems.” Like, almost every every revenue operator I talked to has problems with, “I have so much reactive work; it’s nonstop. I have all my go-to-market leaders with their agenda; I have a lot of my go-to-market partners coming to me with ‘I need XYZ done,’ or ‘this is the most important thing.’” And that takes a really big cultural shift from the team. And it takes a pretty senior people, person, leading that revenue operations front to be able to say, “these are our priorities and why” and be able to constantly retrain the team on that. Because we are still going to have the go-to-market leaders pretty focused on their work. And it makes sense that those leaders are going to come to you with the thing that’s most important for them. It’s our job to take everything and say, “All right, well, this is what’s important for the business.”

Erika 13:03

Yeah, and I know from our work, too, that sometimes having a third party consultant come in and be sort of a neutral voice that has obviously the best interests of the business in mind, it can be really helpful to have that third party opinion. One of the things that I run into a lot on projects is that the consultant also comes out of someone’s budget, which sometimes makes it makes it not always neutral. But I’m curious, like when, when you would suggest a team call in a consultant. And when you would suggest a team maybe start internally with like a key hire or something like that?

Jen 13:39

Yeah. Just to kind of like plus one what you were talking about, it’s, it’s not something that I feel proud of the thing that I, I aim to when I’m building a consulting company. And it’s such a human, it’s an interesting human tendency that we have, which is it sucks sometimes to talk to a customer. And I actually have a couple customers that we’ve been really frank about, which is we were talking about our problems. We all know what they are. But we need Go Nimbly to go and do some work and come back and give those findings back to the company so that everybody can nod their heads and say yes, and we, I don’t want your job; I have no political, you know, risk to saying hard things. I’m not worried about my next promotion or about that. And that is a big power of having somebody come through. I don’t find that we’re very skewed by kind of who pays the bill. We have a pretty big, I think kind of fiduciary responsibility to the company and revenue and the customer experience. So anyway, I do think that if you are in a place where you’re saying we’re so misaligned, we just need somebody and you’re willing to be wrong, right? Like don’t hire someone to make your point. Then, you know, that can be a good time to bring in a consultant.

Erika 14:57

Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. I agree with you 100% that whoever’s paying the bill that shouldn’t skew, you know, the consultant’s perspective of what’s best for the business? Have you ever found that it kind of skews the perspective internally of just politically, right? Like, for example, half the time maybe marketing brings us in, and then the other half the time sales brings us in. And it’s usually we have to do a fair amount of educating on one side or another about our purpose. Yeah, well, do you ever run into anything like that?

Jen 15:33

Totally. I think there’s, there’s definitely a reality, especially if you’re a long term partner, and you’ve always been the partner of the marketing ops team, then you feel like an extension of them. And yeah, that can that can come into play. But I think if you don’t do your second part of your question, which is like, when do you build it yourself? When do you hire in? And right now it is such a difficult hiring market? That you know, more and more people are looking at, you know, do I need to outsource? Like, how do I still run my company when I have these like spikes of work. And at a minimum, it’s taken me 45 to 60 days to hire for these roles, and then they have to onboard and it’s expensive. So now I’m spending $50,000, just on hiring and onboarding; plus, I need two months before they even get started. So I think there’s definitely like a speed to onboarding and a speed to getting, you know, bodies into play that more than ever before, that’s been a reason why people want at least a long term consulting partner to be able to call on. So it’s just like, I want to form this relationship; I want to tell you about our business so that when we need you, we can spike much quicker than having to hire. And I think that’s a reality that’s going to happen with the hiring market for a while. On the other side, if we take that out, because that’s like, you know, I don’t want you to hire because you can’t… hire me because you can’t hire yourself. Even though I know it’s a reality and a real pain. If you are at a point where you are growing a RevOps team, and you’re thinking, do I outsource this? Or do I keep it? I, it’d be interesting, a lot of people are shocked when I say no, you should hire. And I really, I just believe this is such a strategic function. And you should hire a leader for that function. And you can’t outsource it completely out. Because we are not going to have like, seems silly, but I’m not on your all-hands call. I’m not there; I don’t know what the CEO said, I don’t get the emails that tell me what the top priorities for the company are. I need someone to be my partner in that; what I can do is give that person strength, I can give them faster time to solution, I can give them best practices, I can give them hands on keyboard, and I can make them very effective. So I would hire that person first, who’s going to have more of a kind of strategy and process arm and strength. And then as you grow your team, you can make the choice of “Alright, do I have enough work to warrant a full-time Salesforce admin? Or do I have? Do I want enough to do XYZ?” And you could start making those choices to grow. But I would, I would hire that head of wrap up sooner rather than later. 

Erika 18:15

Yeah, I’ve heard “RevOps is an executive function” a lot as a talking point lately in just the communities that I’m a part of. And I think that that’s really true. And then there’s different specialties, maybe within revenue operations that makes sense to bring in a consultant, but having the executive function be an internal hire makes a ton of sense to me.

Jen 18:34

And they can be enabled, right? You can do workshops, or you can have specific initiatives be run; it’s just that you have this individual with context and with authority to make some decisions for the company.

Erika 18:48

Yeah, that makes sense. Well, one last question. I know you’ve talked about kind of not, not being shy to say the hard things in meetings. And another thing that you’ve said that I, I would love to hear more about is how maybe teaching people to receive feedback rather than give it would be helpful with an org. And so I am curious, what like, if you were training someone on your team to receive feedback, what would you tell them?

Jen 19:14

Totally, I can’t even take credit for this. There’s a book I read called Thanks for the Feedback. So this is not something that I’m the expert. I’m just a, I’m a good parrot of this book. And it it just, it took me by surprise when I read it, which is that companies have a huge emphasis on training on like, here’s the framework on how to give feedback. And we all have one, you know, aid framework: What’s the action? What’s the impact? Then what should you do? Like we have these, but then in the experience, if you talk to someone who has recently given or received feedback, both people typically are going to tell you how hard it was. It was really hard to give feedback. They didn’t take it well; I didn’t know how to articulate, etc. And the person receiving it, and it’s going to be like “it was unfair.” They didn’t want it right. I didn’t like that interaction. And it kind of comes from both sides. So I’m not claiming that you shouldn’t know how to give feedback well, but I am finding that we are not doing as much emphasis on how somebody receives it. And it’s, you know, this idea of like, how do you stay curious? How do you stay, like really, no ego and just ask, “Oh, wow, okay. That’s not how I thought it was going. What happened? What made you have that experience? Can you tell me a little bit more?” And stay in a space of saying, “okay, cool. Feedbacks a gift. I have a growth mindset, what’s going on? What can I learn?” And then after that, it is up to you what you do with that, right? Like, somebody giving you feedback does not mean you have to take it, and it does not mean you have to change. I think the title of the book, I’ve got it, it’s like, How to Accept Feedback, Even When It’s Off-Base. And even when it’s like, frankly, you’re just not in the mood. And like that all can be true. And somebody can give you feedback that’s unfair. And it’s fine. You can just release it. But how do you in the moment, just stay super curious. Maybe you’ll learn something? Self awareness is hard.

Erika 21:09

Yeah, for sure. And just kind of reminds me of how helpful therapy is. Because to be aware of our defenses and all that stuff, which is, which is important.

Jen 21:20

Yeah, yeah, I read a book called Ego-Free Leadership, and one of the things that it talks about there is, whenever you’re especially at work, and like, somebody makes a comment, or somebody sends you a ping, or you received some email, and you are just like, heart racing, like it’s hot; you’re angry. If you take a second to reflect, 90% of the time, it’s going to be about you. It’s like, somebody just sent a ping; they weren’t thinking anything of it. And it’s just that the way that you grew up, you have a definition of what respect means to you. And they triggered that. And so it’s just like taking a moment and realizing that like, half the time, it’s your bullshit. And, you know, how do you release that because life is a lot better if we can just be angry less often. And half of that is just awareness of like, alright, this is about me.

Erika 22:15

Yeah. Oh, man, I could talk about that all day. But I think yeah, that’s, that’s really insightful. Something I think about a lot is just how emotions are data; like whether you want to respond positively or negatively to it, it’s, it’s data. You wouldn’t only, you would look at this full set of data, and then only want the good parts. Like you’d also want the bad parts, because that’s information that can, that means you should change your strategy. And thinking about emotions like that and your reactions, like that is super helpful to me. And anyway…

Jen 22:46

Yeah, I agree. That’s very helpful. I think sometimes I’m very much someone who doesn’t lean into emotions, like I do, sort of. I don’t know if you’ve ever done Enneagram tests, but I’m an Enneagram 8. So that’s kind of like a big driver. Difficult with vulnerability. I’m going to just push through, and it is helpful when I sort of look at and go, “Okay, what, what am I feeling and why and what’s going on” and kind of be able to look at those data will be really helpful.

Erika 23:16

Yeah, right on. Well, thank you, Jen. Is there anything else that you want to add before we end?

Jen 23:23

Um, no, I think we talked about a lot. Just have fun, be cool. Be nice to people. And that’s it.

Erika 23:31

Yeah. Thank you so much. 

Jen

Totally. Thank you. 

Hot dog. That was a great episode. Thanks for listening. If you want to learn more about Greaser Consulting or any information you heard on today’s episode, visit us online at www.greaserconsulting.com. Be sure to click the Follow button and the bell icon to be notified on the latest here at RevOps Therapy. Thanks and see you real soon.

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The Greaser team is made up of sales engagement natives; many of our consultants, including our founder, were early employees at the companies who created sales engagement. We are passionate about supporting revenue generators, empowering them to grow their companies and serve more customers.