What is revenue operations?
If you’ve ever played a team sport (or enthusiastically supported one from the couch), you know you can’t win a game if the players are all doing their own thing. And yet many go-to-market organizations operate this way.
Setting up a Revenue Operations (RevOps) model removes barriers between your go-to-market and customer retention functions, creating one team with shared goals and strategies. In other words, sales and marketing aren’t hogging the ball, and sales and marketing operations teams aren’t fighting like angry fans and helicopter parents.
In addition to preventing avoidable conflict and misunderstanding, there are significant benefits to adopting a RevOps model. Here are some examples from Boston Consulting Group:
- 10% to 20% increases in sales productivity
- 100% to 200% increases in digital marketing ROI
- 10% increases in lead acceptance
- 15% to 20% increases in internal customer satisfaction
- 30% reductions in GTM expenses
Many executives have heard about these benefits, and they want their revenue leaders to build a RevOps team. But, much to their dismay, it’s harder than anyone expects.
The biggest reason teams don’t adopt RevOps? People.
While there are other factors at play, LeanData and SalesHacker have identified the top barrier for many teams: culture.
The individual contributors on each of your revenue-focused teams have a way of doing things both independently and with their immediate collaborators. Those practices and interactions quickly become a predictable, comfortable micro-culture.
And change, no matter how beneficial it looks on paper, is a threat to that secure bubble because change is always unpredictable.
Psychological research has found that people want to avoid uncertainty so much that they would rather act, knowing something unpleasant is going to happen than deal with not knowing what’s coming.
So by asking marketing to suddenly give up writing sales messages, or sales to put a greater emphasis on working marketing’s leads, you’re asking them to change not only how they do their jobs, but how they feel about their jobs.
Without the right change management strategy in place, these transitions are a good way to keep local therapists in business. But you can avoid that by engaging your employees in the process:
- creating a sense of ownership by co-creating the future state,
- making them feel “heard,”
- and using data to make outcomes as predictable as possible.
This may sound a bit daunting, whether as a project you’re undertaking for the first time or trying again after an unsuccessful (and probably demoralizing) previous attempt.
But if you’ve read this far, don’t give up. The benefits of RevOps far outweigh the costs, especially if you break the transformation down into achievable steps.
And step one in implementing a RevOps strategy is to build a healthy sales execution program, which serves as a foundation for long-term change management.
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A healthy sales execution program facilitates change management by engaging your people
So what is a sales execution program, and what makes it healthy?
A sales execution program involves assigning clear ownership to, and continuously innovating on, the processes, insights, and administration for your sales execution platform (SEP) and the people who use and contribute to it.
We have developed a sales execution maturity model to help you diagnose where your team is today and to understand what you can do to take steps toward a healthier sales execution program.
Once you’ve reached sales execution maturity, your processes are streamlined and messaging is aligned across marketing, sales, product, and customer success. These are often the most challenging aspects of transitioning from silos to RevOps, and sales execution provides a path to get there.
Sales execution programs engage all contributors to find solutions
A sales execution program includes properly emphasizing and resourcing four key aspects: messaging, technology, change management, and training or enablement.
Creating sales messages is a cross-team collaboration
A sales messaging program paints a more complete picture of how content is created for your SEP.
Rather than allowing reps to create whatever they like with little oversight, or giving the pen to marketing with little input from sales, a sales messaging program intelligently involves sales leadership, the marketing team, and sales reps in the way that best utilizes their time and talents.
For instance, many revenue teams create a content committee, which invites participation from many or all customer-facing teams (customer success, marketing, sales) to ensure the message customers are receiving, at all stages of the buying process, are consistent.
Content committees also facilitate a constant feedback loop, taking ideas, suggestions, and edits from end users and building them into the new messages they’re creating. This iterative process keeps messaging fresh and reflective of the conversations your front-line sales people are having every day with prospective customers.
Reps need to be “heard” in the writing process
However, the most important participants in a content committee–or any content supply chain or creation process–are the reps themselves. This can come in many forms, but the most critical is giving reps an avenue for offering feedback, both as requests for sales messages they need and as input on the success of messages they’ve already been given.
They may be interviewed for input, as new sequences or cadences are being written, invited into the editing process, or even asked to draft email templates. No matter the specific ways they’re pulled in, the critical goal is making sure reps feel “heard.”
The language and tone they use with prospects should be reflected in the content that is loaded into an SEP. When they see the end product, they should feel they have had a hand in creating it. If you succeed in creating this culture, then they will adopt the sequences or cadences.
Include marketing in a way that sets both sales and marketing up for success
Similarly, successful sales messaging programs include marketing, often through receiving assets they’ve created and adapting them to the sales context. White papers, one-pagers, and case studies find their way into sequences and cadences which tell the same story but through a sales voice.
Marketing may also be asked to participate in the planning phases of sales sequences or cadences, offering input on the brand story, resources that can be plugged in, and language that has been used to attract leads that sales will be asked to close.
However, this often does not mean that marketing will create the sales messages. Instead, they should have clearly assigned, measurable responsibilities that contribute to the overall success of the full funnel.
Sales execution programs encourage predictability and data-confidence
A sales execution program begins with identifying key metrics, determining the current success rates, defining benchmarks in the market, and building goals to reach or surpass industry averages.
Each strategy you choose within your sales execution program should tie to the goals you’ve created. Sales reps should be trained to follow “approved” sales plays that tie to your key goals so all of your activities contribute to your core objectives.
To track progress, you will integrate your CRM with your SEP, allowing data to flow back and forth between both tools, updating every CRM record with the sales activities happening in your SEP. This creates reliable, actionable data in your chosen “source of truth,” or system of record, in real-time.
Once standards have been set, and the data is flowing, predictability can start. Predictability comes from scalable, repeatable processes which you can rely on every week, month, quarter, or year, depending on your reporting schedule.
It’s important to develop a consistent process both in the analytics you consider and the timing when you pull them.
While data might not be warm and fuzzy, it plays an important role in building trust between your teams and a sales execution platform.
As you’re building your program, these metrics will be very sales-focused. However, as you progress toward RevOps, sales metrics will align with marketing campaign reports to show how RevOps supports goals for both departments.
Lastly, many teams add new reporting dashboards for visibility across teams and functions. These changes remove potential miscommunications and begin to establish new micro-cultures within and between teams.
Sales enablement encourages consistent adoption
Even before data starts rolling in to validate specific sequences or cadences, your sales execution program should have a strong enablement strategy in place that educates sales reps–and their managers–on the benefits of using a sales execution platform.
It’s not enough to have a “launch” and one-time training; adult learners require repetitive, hands-on educational programs that tie what they’re learning to their day-to-day jobs. Additionally, people learn very differently, and it’s important to offer various training methods to support each team member’s learning style. For instance, you might consider both videos and written documentation, both live training and pre-recorded sessions for easy review.
We understand that not every company has the resources to provide this, but it’s often best for subject matter experts (SME) who specialize in working with SEPs to teach your team not only about the tool but also about the strategies it supports. Though it’s an investment to bring on a SME, it often saves long-term time, frustration, and budget to make sure your team is properly trained and supported from day one.
And the more you can build enablement strategies with the sales reps and managers who have contributed to the sequences or cadences you’re rolling out, or to the technical settings which structure your sales plays, the better. Few things are more motivating than a good champion.
Because internal advocacy is so beneficial, some companies choose to “pilot” sales execution (or new sales plays) with specific teams first. Then, as positive results start pouring in, stakeholders can point to that success to motivate other teams. If you can get to the point that salespeople who don’t yet have a seat in your SEP are asking leadership for access, then you’ve prepared a strong runway.
Because uncertainty is the enemy of change, seeing peers succeed makes both reps and managers trust the changes you’re implementing. This comfort with change is essential for future transformation, as your team moves closer to a full RevOps model.
Your next step is to start assigning players to the right positions
If you want your team to move closer to RevOps, then the place to start is by building a sales execution program that assigns the right people to own critical aspects of your sales execution platform and supportive strategies.
You can’t move forward if you don’t have the right players on the court, playing in the right positions. When that ownership is clearly assigned, you can start to invite your team to help design–and take steps toward–the “future state.”
As your culture adapts to empower each contributor on every customer-facing team, and each feels “heard” in creating your future strategies, change will happen as data, experience, and expertise align.
If you need help bringing your team together, and deciding where to go next, our change management experts are here to co-create a strategy with you and your team.