RevOps: Sales vs. Marketing with Jeff Marcoux

Erika Davis is joined by Jeff Marcoux, Founder and CEO of Sphere Strategy, to define RevOps and break down the tension between sales and marketing.

Show notes

The term “RevOps” has been one of those popular buzz words floating around in the past few years. Heck, we even created a podcast about it! It’s one of those things that sounds great, in theory; the problem is that it’s rarely implemented well, frustrating sales and marketing teams. 

If there’s tension between your teams, and your org is in need of some RevOps Therapy, pull up a chair. Erika Davis, VP of Go To Market Strategy at Greaser Consulting, and Jeff Marcoux, Founder and CEO of Sphere Strategy, both of whom have spent time in sales and in marketing, dismantle this complex buzz word.

While alignment between teams sounds simple enough, unfortunately, it can’t be achieved by walking in the office, snapping your fingers, and proclaiming that you’re following a RevOps model. It’s a process that involves building roadmaps and communication. 

For more information on how to get started, check out these resources.

Transcript

Erika: 

Do you ever have one of those days where you’re doing something mindless and you’re spacing out a  little bit, and then all of a sudden you have this epiphany about something that you’ve maybe been  curious about, or you’ve been working out in your mind, but you haven’t quite got it together? Then all  of a sudden it just clicks while you’re doing something mindless like vacuuming, or driving, or washing  dishes. Then a day or two later you hear someone say that exact brilliant conclusion that you had in your  head or you get in a conversation and the conversation just kind of goes there. This happened to me a  couple weeks ago with Jeff, and you’re about to hear a conversation between the two of us. The thing  we got into talking about was about revenue operations and the impact that the revenue operations  model has on sales and marketing. 

Erika: 

Now, Jeff and I both bridge a gap between sales and marketing. He’s coming from the marketing side  and went into sales. I came from it from the sales side and went into marketing. So it was really  interesting to talk to him about revenue operations, we talk about sales engagement, and account  based marketing. Just talking about how these things … how we’re defining them and how they impact  the original organization structure. So I hope that if you’re interested in that kind of thing, you enjoy this  conversation and would love to hear your thoughts as well. 

Speaker 2: 

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

Jeff Marcoux: 

I kind of grew up in the product marketing space, cut my teeth early in the marketing automation days,  and the Microsoft ecosystem there and did a tour duty at Microsoft. Then jumped and worked in a BPO  services contact center space for a bit where I was VP of Marketing at TeleTech or TTec as we  rebranded. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

I’ve done everything from startups to Fortune 100. Right now I’m definitely excited about what the  promise of ABM is really coming to light in the, I guess, modern world here a little bit. But there’s also  still a buzzword and greatly abused, and greatly confused, and all that kind of stuff. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

So definitely kind of excited to chat some on that today, and also some of the hard realities I feel as a  marketer sometimes working with sales teams and sales ops. 

Erika: 

Oh man, yeah. If there’s anything I like talking about it’s dismantling buzzwords and talking about how  sales and marketing work together. So I think we’re going to have a lot of fun. I know my lens is a sales  background now looking at marketing. So another reason that this podcast came about is we were  talking about revenue operations, and I’d been thinking before we talked that, hey, revenue operations  is basically like good cross-departmental alignment with a sales bias, which in my opinion, I said, “Hey,  that’s a great thing.” Or should have a sales bias. And then you told me the same thing, which is RevOps 

is basically really good cross-departmental alignment, but with a sales bias and that’s can be a negative  thing, which I thought was pretty funny and interesting. 

Erika: 

So I would love to hear just you speak to that a little bit about what you see RevOps as, and the sales  bias it might have and how that can hurt marketing and an org in general. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

Yeah, I feel like RevOps is this, it’s a great promise similar to ABM, honestly, in that way. It’s become  more and more popular. You hear the term revenue marketer and revenue operations, right? But if we  step back and we think where did this come from originally? We had sales ops and we had marketing  ops. Sales ops was focused on CRM and implementing sales engagement tools and dealing with the  struggles of sellers hate putting data into CRM systems, which doesn’t go away, even if you got RevOps,  as you’re going through that. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

What was interesting is a lot of the admins that grew up in the sales ops space were also very tactical  and order takers as opposed to really enabled to be strategic. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

Then we flip sides … And I guess the other fun part that I know from my background, they spend about  half their time just building reports for executives who don’t know how to use Salesforce, right? That’s  the bane of your existence. You’re spending hours and hours doing that. But on the flip side you have  marketing ops and their job was to hook up the marketing technology, which is growing crazy all the  time. And making sure marketing had what they need from a technical standpoint. And they also spend  half their time building reports for executives who don’t know how to use Salesforce or CRM. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

As you think about, yes, those two functions should be, and are, so complimentary to each other. But  the great thing about having a marketing ops department at the time was marketing at least had  somebody they could go to that they were always their number one client. I know I faced and dealt with  a lot of that. I needed things done in Salesforce, but we were low on the totem pole unless either we  escalate it, which is never fun to have to do, or you could make a strong argument for why this needed  to be done now. They kind of moved at two different paces, and that was one of the promises of  bringing those two things together. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

What I started to see though, is revenue operations. And you think about the size of those two teams.  Sales ops and market ops. Well, what I started to see is when companies go to RevOps, half of me  wonders, is it just a cost cutting measure because I can have one team instead of two. So lower bodies  as you’re going through that. And at the end of the day, the CRO, the head of sales, is going to win  mostly on the technical reporting side. So now marketing’s struggling to potentially get systems hooked  up, getting data flowing where it needs to go to be effective for their sales counterparts. 

Jeff Marcoux:

I’ve experienced it time and time again, where it’s like, “Hey, we need this. Hey, we need that. Hey, can  you help us out with this?” All that technical element. It’s like, “I got this prioritization. I got to do this  report for the CRO.” And that kind of stuff. So you end up starting to get just this default and skew to  sales that can leave marketing hung out to dry. I feel like that almost hurts that enablement and that  connection more than helps it, which was that promise of what RevOps could and should be. 

Erika: 

Yeah, that makes sense. What would you say would be some consequences of that happening for too  long? 

Jeff Marcoux: 

Well, I think the easiest is you don’t … marketing actually doesn’t want to work with you and then you  end up hiring agencies and stuff like that to help with your technical side. So now you’re going outside  the system, which I think we all want to avoid. You’re also creating gaps in the knowledge, and  reporting, and data flows. The big one from a sales perspective, I think is you very well could just be  hurting the lead quality and stuff that’s coming over. I mean, if marketing isn’t getting what they need  with hooking up new systems, or data, like intent data and all that kind of stuff. If that’s not actually  making it to the sellers in a way that’s usable, because it’s a marketing ask, as opposed to a sales ask, I  think you see just lack of connection. You’re creating friction in that relationship, creating frustration  and your net being far less effective. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

I also think one of the big fallout’s, and I saw this all the time where a marketing team couldn’t even  report on a bunch of their own analytics. They always had to check with RevOps because they were the  keepers of the data truth, that was out there. You can run the risk of becoming a massive bottleneck,  whereas having analytics and that kind of stuff at your fingertips is really critical in marketing and in  sales. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

So I think those are a couple of potential downsides. I think RevOps is great in concept. I have yet to see  it practiced well anywhere. 

Erika: 

Yeah, that makes sense. One thing you said that we hear a lot too, is just issues are on staffing and  people don’t really know how to staff a revenue operations organization yet. I think I really like what you  said about RevOps being a good promise. So I think people are bought into that idea of, “Hey, we do  need to work together. We have shared goals.” And also, “We have two teams right now, if we could  make one team, hey, we could lower our head count and we could save some money and be efficient.” 

Erika: 

Based on what you’ve said, that seems like a mistake to think of it that way. So I wonder, if you were  talking to a CEO and you were advising them on how to staff a revenue operations org, what would be  your top things that you would suggest people consider? 

Jeff Marcoux:

I think probably the first and most important thing that comes to mind is both your sales team and your  marketing team should have a technical roadmap. That can be … Most marketers are terrible. We chase  shiny objects all the time, new tech. All that. We’re probably using less than 50% of the functionality of  the tools that we have. I think that you should have a roadmap that says, “Hey, this is what tools can do,  and this is how we’re going to be implementing, rolling them out, using them.” Marketing needs a  roadmap of connection, data flows, new reports, all kinds of cool stuff going on there just as sales does  at that same time. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

So first and foremost I think it’d be, make sure you have the roadmaps for your sales team and your  marketing team if you’re going to have a RevOps engine. And set timelines and goals, et cetera, to make  sure you’re not missing a strategic objective just because you’re leaning sales in nature. I think that’d be  a big one. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

The other big piece I’d definitely push, and I’ve seen this happen a lot, and I’ve seen sales ops people  leave over it as they feel like they’re simply just number pollers, Excel crunchers, when they actually  have a lot of strategic insight as to what’s going to improve sales and that kind of stuff. They’re kind of  put into a corner being like, “No, no, just do your reporting. I don’t want to hear your opinions. Just give  me the numbers and stuff.” 

Jeff Marcoux: 

So if I was talking to a CEO, I’d say, number one, make sure your departments have roadmaps and that  you’re actually staffed in a way that you can get to that. And second, a lot of these people are really,  really, smart, so listen to their insights, because they’re the ones breathing the data every day and  noticing the nuance change. Don’t just treat them as report people and technical implementers, but  actually let them bring their strategic insights and build action plans on those. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

I had a guy leave, he was phenomenal, leave a startup I was at and he actually went to a big company  just because they kept just not paying attention to his reports week over week. And then the problem  showed up that he said was going to happen months before. And he is just kind of got fed up with it. In  the current world, there is high demand for people who can do that kind of work. 

Erika: 

Yeah, and people want to have impact, especially when they have experience they know they can add.  Well, at every level I think impact is so important. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

Yeah. And you want to feel appreciated. You’re doing all this work, you’re looking at the data, you’re  driving that impact right across the systems that you’re building and bringing insight, and then to have  that insight ignored. Especially then when you see the problem actually show up that you’ve been  cautioning about can be super frustrating. 

Jeff Marcoux:

So I get it as to why that would push people to move beyond. I think there’s just a big opportunity in the  RevOps function, but I think we tend to ignore marketing people then also, which can just lead to a lot of  those issues too. And that was like with this RevOps guy, he had some great insights for marketing also,  but was also told to deprioritize those in favor of sales and adding custom objects, and things like that. 

Erika: 

Yeah. Well, this intersection between sales and marketing, I think, is becoming a little blurrier than it  used to be as well. Like one really good example is another thing you and I had talked about, which was  the difference between account based marketing strategy and what’s being called sales engagement  now. Essentially you told me they’re basically the same thing. This is what marketing has known for a  long time, that sales is just starting to figure out. So I’d love to unpack in the couple minutes that have  left, what you see as the overlap between sales engagement and ABM, and how that fits into an overall  RevOps strategy. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

Yeah, I think it all starts with the metrics and the way the marketing team is metriced. I have always  been a fan of having marketers be on a hook for a hundred percent of the sales number as they go  through this. So my product marketers for each of their go to markets that they were assigned to, they  were assigned to a sales team and they own that sales team’s number. And they own that BDR SDR  meeting number as they went through that, because everything else is a leading indicator to that. So  everyone now as you start to get those metrics aligned through the full funnel is focused on what are  the right accounts to put in, so we can win and hit that objective. A sales is always, “Hey, I’m going to go  after these accounts since they’ve been going through that.” 

Jeff Marcoux: 

Marketing has very often just been that lead base, right? Your leads suck, I need more of them, there’s a  phrase we hear a lot, and they lose credibility. But when marketing can stand and say, “Hey, I’m on the  hook for getting you meetings, SDR, SR team. So I’m going to lean in and help you optimize your  content, make sure you have what you have.” When you stand in front of a room of sellers and you say,  “I need you to hit your number because I don’t get my bonus if you don’t hit your number.” Aggregate in  the room, like I have a number, that’s really powerful. The right way to do that is with just the holistic  account based program. It’s not just account based marketing and sending ads, and direct mail, and gifts  to people. It’s about how do we intentionally align to the strategies and objectives that our sales team is  measured on and build campaigns, build tactics, and strategies that pull that all together. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

It might be a little controversial, but I’d even go as far as marketing automation is one of those things  that I think marketers have abused. A lot of us grew up in the age of the HubSpot, the Marketo’s, and  that kind of stuff. Got that beaten into us yet with the dawn of Outreach and SalesLoft, and these cool  sales engagement tools, what’s really interesting is that’s almost a new marketing automation at the  account level, at the individual, the demand unit, the buying unit level. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

You also look at just people’s behaviors. How many of us actually go to our non-priority inbox? Well,  that’s where those Marketo and HubSpot emails are going to, yet I get Outreach and SalesLoft emails all  the time from people in my personal inbox. So it’s just a fundamental shift of thinking at the account, the persona, the demand level, aligned to sales is really, I think, the new marriage. I think if RevOps can  think that way, there’s a big opportunity for them to step forward, but you, again, have to have both  those roadmaps because they have to work together. 

Erika: 

Yeah. Oh man, I think that’s so valuable. I feel like we could spend a few more hours here just talking  about exactly how to do that. But no, I think this is a really good philosophical conversation to unpack  some of these terms that get thrown around, and poke some holes in some things people have been  talking about for a while. So I appreciate your time. 

Erika: 

Is there anything else you want to add before we wrap up? 

Jeff Marcoux: 

I mean, I think it just comes down to keeping it simple. Make sure you’re aligned across the business. I  know that sounds easy, but how many times have you had a campaign you’ve driven as a marketer, or  been asked to, that sales actually isn’t compensated on. Your setting yourself up for failure. When your  

go to markets aren’t aligned with what sales is compensated on, they’re coin operated, they’re not going  to pick up your leads. It all happens at that account level, that all happens at the data connection level. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

So just keeping it simple, and thinking what’s the smartest most effective way to get here is going to be  targeting accounts, they’re going to be in market for what you have, aligned to the go to markets. It  sounds so easy yet I’m blown away by how many CMO’s, et cetera, just don’t don’t think that way. So I  think there’s this big opportunity for both marketing and sales ops, and their leadership, to start  simplifying that and hopefully making life better for their teams. 

Erika: 

Yeah, absolutely. I love adding in, making life better for their teams. I think that’s the primary thing we  focus on is how do you align the activities that your end users are executing with this high level  leadership proposition? You can have the best leadership position in the world, but if your end users  aren’t given the tools and the strategy to execute at the right time 

Jeff Marcoux: 

And the data that they need to make that happen. If you’re filling them will with reports that take three  days to pull and build a pretty PowerPoint deck, and they’re spending more time on internal BS than  they are on external execution and making the engine more efficient, you’re in the wrong spot. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

I mean, we’ve all sat there and been in those meetings that then you end up don’t even showing half  your slides. But you had to be ready and you’re like, “Great.” The return on effort was not there at all.  There’s only so many hours in the day, and that’s one of the things we as leaders can do for our teams is  making sure that their time is being well spent against the things that are going to help them get their  bonuses, and then also help the business succeed.

Erika: 

Yeah, awesome. Thanks so much, Jeff. It’s been really fun. 

Jeff Marcoux: 

Yeah, thanks for having me on. Happy to come back and talk more on anything here. This was fun. 

Speaker 2: 

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 your 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.