The Essential Guide to How Revenue Operations Empowers a B2B Business
ASEEM CHANDRA | SEPTEMBER 16, 2021
- What is Revenue Operations?
- What do Sales Teams need from Revenue Operations?
- 9 Essential Functions of Revenue Operations
- The Untapped Potential of Revenue Operations at B2B SaaS Companies
Immersa’s vision is to democratize the use of data intelligence for all users in the business. To better understand how employees consume data intelligence, we turned to users considered some of the most voracious consumers of data – sales teams at B2B companies.
We started by asking sales executives how they can access the data they need to run their business. While several sales executives explained that they depend on teams across the company – data analysts, data engineers, business intelligence teams – nearly every sales leader called out their Revenue Operations (Revops) team as the most dependable source of data intelligence.
To learn more about the role of the RevOps team we interviewed over 50 sales executives, sales professionals, and revenue operations specialists at companies that are engaged in B2B sales. We started by asking what do sales reps need from their revenue operations team. We then asked the revenue operations teams how they spend their time in various functional areas, supporting their sales team and the company leadership with their data needs. We also identified the frequently desired use cases that Revops must enable for their sales teams.
The difference between expectations of sales leaders from the revenue operations team and where the RevOps team invested their time was illuminating. Here is what we learned.
What is Revenue Operations?
Simply put, revenue operations make the revenue producing teams more efficient and create a system for selling. Revops is a broad and data-heavy role that provides accurate forecasting, accelerates growth, improves cross-departmental alignment, and enables sales teams to scale efficiently.
While most leadership teams expect revenue operations to provide them with sales forecasts, customer data for quarterly business reviews, or data to support quarterly and annual performance and planning cycles. It seldom recognizes that revenue operations teams are on the hook for a lot more.
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Traditionally, this role has been conducted by different teams across sales operations, customer service ops, finance ops or marketing ops. However, as companies move towards providing a more integrated experience across all customer touch points, revenue operations is rapidly evolving to represent operations capabilities across sales, service, marketing and finance as an integrated function.
What do Sales Reps need from Revenue Operations?
Sales reps and revenue operations teams both have the same goal – to increase revenue for the company. However, expectations between sales teams and revops on how they bring in revenue goals differ.
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We found that what sales reps want most from their sales operations team is to provide them with more qualified leads. This, of course, is a no-brainer! However, in a further discussion, we also learned that sales teams also need the following from their revops team:
- Define the Ideal Account Profile: One of the critical reasons sales teams fail to meet their targets is that their sales efforts are targeted at a customer that their product is not designed for. Defining the ideal account profile is no trivial task. It requires gathering information from various internal and external data sources about your accounts, determining which of these data points are relevant to identify target accounts, and experimenting with account segmentation strategies to map the right value proposition, product, and pricing to these accounts segments.
- Map Customers’ Role to Your Target Persona. A B2B selling process usually requires a group of users, budget owners, and decision-makers to align around a standard solution. Understanding the role and objective of each person in the decision process, having ‘access to power,’ and leveraging the right resources and relationships at the right time in the sales process are critical to the success of closing any B2B deal.
- Qualify Customers Based on Their Requirements: Customer needs differ significantly from one to another. Often, customers struggle to articulate their business requirements clearly. The ability to ask meaningful qualifying questions, understand customers’ value points, and design a solution at a price point that meets their needs is as much art as it is science. The process is just as often informed by experience as it is by data. Art and science meet in the revenue operations process by distilling these requirements to create a repeatable sales process where art and science meet the revenue operations process.
- Position and Differentiate Products and Services: At most B2B selling organizations, product marketing or product management teams spend significant time positioning and competitively differentiate their products compared to others in the market. However, this content must be packaged and delivered as enablement programs by operations teams to briefly provide the sales reps the information they need to be successful.
In most cases, the content for supporting sales reps with these issues sits in different teams – product marketing, pricing, competitive intelligence, to name a few. However, revenue operations play a critical role in bringing all of this information together and organizing it in a way that allows sales reps to access and consume this content when they need it.
While it may not be as apparent to a sales team, a well-structured and robust enablement program does improve the sales rep’s productivity. This level of support leads to increased conversion rates and greater upsells.
9 Essential Functions of Revenue Operations
Now that we understand what sales teams need from their operations team, let’s look at how they spend their time and resources.
- Data Management and Analytics: Revenue Operations is a data-driven function at its core. Data is the foundation of many of its functions, whether that be strategic or tactical. The Revops team collaborates with data analysts, BI teams, and IT organizations to integrate and access the correct data. Through analytics, revenue operations can shape successful sales strategies and turn sales and customer data insights into action. These actionable, quantifiable insights drive growth and increase sales rep productivity.
- Develop Sales Strategy: Sales strategy outlines how the business is going to sell the product or service. Sales operations collaborate with leadership, finance, product, and marketing teams to create a sales strategy and set target revenues that are ambitious but still attainable. The sales forecasting, territory structuring, compensation planning, processes optimization, technology implementation, and reporting carried out by RevOps directly shapes and executes the organization’s overall strategy.
- Sales Forecasting: This is both a science and an art. It requires both descriptive and predictive analytics. Descriptive analytics gives insight into historical trends but falls short of providing the bigger picture. It is critical to examine why there was or lack of growth and how those factors may change moving forward. Accurate sales forecasting is essential as it affects the entire business. It impacts the budget, hiring, and production planning. Without it, there is a risk of a supply-demand imbalance which can be incredibly costly to a business.
- Structure Sales Territories: Sales territory planning and management optimize sales resources geographically to improve sales efficiency and sales performance. A substantial territory strategy increased sales, improved customer coverage, and reduced costs. It is critical to get it right early, as frequent changes can hinder productivity and hurt relationships.
Sales territory planning involves:
- Defining the market
- Assessing account quality
- Assessing territory quality
- Assessing sales reps to establish territory alignment
- Define Compensation Plans: Compensation plans are strategically designed to drive the right sales and behavior of sales reps in alignment with sales objectives. Sales compensation plans are one of the most significant financial investments of the organization, so they merit thoughtful construction. It’s critical to strike the right balance of incentives, and plans must be easy to understand. Each compensation plan needs to be tailored to each unique role and set of responsibilities. Revenue operations typically collaborate with finance and business teams to define compensation plans that account for budget constraints, business goals and incent the proper behavior among sales teams.
- Sales Process Optimization: Optimizing the sales process is a continuous effort to identify what is going well and correct what is not. Sales operations identify trends, bottlenecks, and inefficiencies to improve the hit rate and build and maintain a healthy sales pipeline. Sales process optimization involves pinpointing leaks and blockages in the pipeline; automating as much as possible; identifying opportunities to reduce churn rate; aligning sales and marketing goals; looking for ways to shorten the sales cycle; prioritizing the highest-earning sales opportunities; improving communications; upgrading technologies; monitoring essential metrics and KPIs.
- Technology Adoption and Implementation: Since sales teams are primarily responsible for driving revenue, new sales productivity tools pop up frequently to support them. Recent advancements in data warehousing, analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, natural language processing have led to an explosion in the tools available for sales reps to improve productivity and close rates. Revenue operations keep track of new sales technology and vets tools to identify which align with the organization’s needs and increase sales productivity. Once revenue operations have deemed a new technology is worth adopting, they are responsible for training the sales team on how to use it and ensuring the team is using it effectively.
- Reporting: Revenue operations is responsible for reporting on sales metrics across the organization. They create dashboards, metrics, and quarterly business reviews (QBRs) to provide updates and guide decision-making. Reports can be high-level or highly detailed, depending on the need. They are heavily used to form a sales strategy and assess whether the team is hitting established benchmarks and other KPIs.
- Lead Generation and Management: Revenue operations generate and manage sales leads so salespeople can focus on what they do best: sell! They ensure strong alignment between sales and marketing and ensure that the leads generated by the marketing team effectively routes to the correct sales team and rep. This may involve working with product marketing to establish clear value propositions and buyer personas. Leads must not only be routed effectively but also actioned quickly. The longer a lead ages, the less likely it is to close. Focusing on providing sales reps with quality leads versus quantity improves the chances of closing deals. Developing a strong sales strategy and accurate and actionable data results in quality lead generation.
The Untapped Potential of Revenue Operations at B2B SaaS Companies
Revenue operations teams may wear multiple hats to collaborate with several teams to ensure the correct information is available to their sales teams. However, at their heart, revenue operations teams are data gurus focused on driving growth. Data management and analytics are at the core of all functions that they support. We learned from our interviews that they spend a significant portion of their time building dashboards for forecasting meetings, management reviews, and quarterly business reviews (QBRs). These dashboards, metrics, and insights are tailored to the needs of executives and are rarely available to everyone on the sales team.
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There is a significant opportunity for revenue operations teams to provide live insights to sales reps that accelerate deal close and, at the same time, provide better service to customers. How can sales operations use data intelligence to improve the effectiveness of everyone on the sales team and not just the privileged few? There is an effective service to customers. By providing actionable insights to all users, revenue operations can increase rep productivity leading to higher conversion rates and greater upselling.
There is a Better Way
We learned that there is a huge opportunity to change the game and provide operations teams with tools to use data intelligence that drive growth for their business. BI tools go only so far in providing data intelligence for planning purposes. Immersa takes it a step further – providing data intelligence to every user to drive actions.
We’d love to talk to you about how Immersa can help accelerate your SaaS revenue!
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