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Fire up Your Revenue Engine

Play Video about Rosalyn Santa Elena @Neo4j- Fire up Your Revenue Engine Video Transcript: [Music] hi and welcome to founders friday this is a tell all for revenue obsessed folks we invite founders go to market leaders and sales leaders responsible for driving revenue to come and share their experiences with us on this show we try to educate and entertain and there's just a few simple rules share your secret sauce keep your responses punchy and let's have some fun My guest today is rosalind santa elena currently the vice president of global revenue operations at neo4j she's an advisor for several high growth startups on all things go to market and operations she's also an active leader on revenue operations in multiple communities and platform she's the host of our own podcast called the revenue engine roslyn thanks for joining founders Friday webcast today thank you for having me and thank you for being a guest on the revenue engine podcast lots of learnings there as well it's a pleasure um so i you know i was introduced to you by our mutual friend john stern at rank pen and uh i shared with him what he what i was working on and he said you have to go talk to rosalind she is the queen of rev-ops how did you work your way to that title how did you know the guru of rev-ops Share that with their audience oh wow so i'm not sure i'm the queen of rev-ops but i'm definitely a champion of rev-ops you know i've had a long long journey through many companies i've led ops teams you know various capacities i think four public enterprise companies and five high growth staff startups so i've really seen the good the bad and sort of everything in between um i think many folks jump into a part Of rev-ops or maybe more likely they sort of fall into it i'm more of the old-school worked in the trenches kind of breed you know i've been in tech for over 25 years i don't want to date myself but over 25 years and specifically leading ops um for about 20. so that's pretty much most of my background have done everything in go to market operations you know every single Piece of the funnel um if you will so i think that's how i've kind of earned the title but i don't know i think it's a really champion of rev ups more so than queen i think i think you certainly deserve it uh you've done so much uh for this community i would love to hear a little bit more about the revenue engine can you know share with our audience uh how did you get started on that and uh what's the mission that you're pursuing There yeah yeah so i you know having been a guest on a number of podcasts uh was was a little a little uh cautious about being a host of the podcast but it's turned out really great i think you know we the revenue engine is really focused on everything that drives the revenue engine right founder stories lessons learned market you know market and business insights you know how ops plays that role and just really looking for tips and advice um really focused on Helping what i guess what we all want right is to just drive more revenue faster but my mission around the podcast is also to really share um share some inspirational leadership stories right around you know aside from revenue but around things like you know diversity and inclusion juggling work-life balance you know family i don't know that there's a balance but juggling that you know Building um a winning culture motivating and growing teams you know also helping people really grow professionally and personally especially for you know minorities you know learning from others on how to break barriers climb that sort of proverbial corporate ladder and then learning how to um i guess really lean on others to help you get there so it's a good balance of you know revenue discussions and talk About how to drive revenue engine but then also balanced with more of the personal side of you know career development professional development and sort of real-life examples of things that's uh super inspiring and i know you've spent obviously a lot of time in uh in revenue operations not just uh you know obviously working in that function but also expanding the knowledge set around that function um so from where you said you know when You work at a startup in particular and growth startups what do you see as some of the key pillars of sales and revenue operations um you know let's just start there and then work our way through this yeah i think um you know revenue operations is really about you know people process um technology and data right if you think about every piece of the journey that you expect your customer to really embark on you know whether it's from kind of top of funnel Just interest to prospecting to be you know going through sort of a sales cycle becoming a customer and then ultimately retaining that customer i think is super important it's really that infrastructure to support that so if you think about why revops is so broad right when you think about the entire journey and i know that people think about it um historically around sort of marketing sales customer success i like to think about it more of top of funnel you know Middle of the sale cycle and then sort of post sales um success and services so you really think about aligning more to the journey and less about um to the uh to the functions i guess if you will yeah yeah and um um rosin from your perspective like you know you talked about the customer journey and the different parts of that journey what are the key metrics that you use to prioritize uh what that looks like and particularly For startups that are on a growth trajectory what does that look like yeah so i think depending on your business model obviously your metrics might be different um depending on the business model obviously size of your company the stage that you're in but i think there's some core things that any high growth startup is going to measure right and that's of course you know you're looking at your top of funnel how much is coming into the Funnel how much of that is converting you're looking at arr right your run rate as well as growth but i think where folks kind of forget to focus enough time on is the the back end right after after a prospect becomes a customer you really want to look at retention metrics how were you you know cus driving value for your customers um how are you expanding within your customer base i think those are super important so really you know Conversion win rates retention expansion and then of course everyone measures you know revenue right in terms of er if you're in a sas model but i think a lot of companies forget to focus enough on the customer and the things that not just customers that you know are your customers but also the customers that churn right why did they leave you know what did they leave because they weren't a good use case to begin with you know or did we not Provide them with the value that they were expecting did we not nurture them you know all these different reasons so that can actually feed back into your uh top of funnel you know approach and back into your strategy so i think there's some of those key metrics just around all the different parts of the customer um journey i love that i think the the revenue is the is the new growth for our retention is the new growth that's for sure yeah and and also i Would just say one more thing is just if you you know not to just focus i had this conversation with somebody recently about for not forgetting to focus on all the different parts of your funnel so not just the top like what's actually coming in and the bottom of you know what's actually turning into close one but looking at your revenue process and looking at all of those early indicators and leading indicators of outcomes right because there's many Levers within that process that we can tweak to provide really better outcomes that's great one of my uh mentors used to say a scene you can never fill a leaky bucket so i think the retention part is so important that's right so um it's great to hear you uh kind of reinforce that now let me uh shift gears a little bit i think over the years you know we've seen sales operations as a function and marketing operations as a function and so on and as data's become More important in each function then you know there's a new ops function that kind of merges around it how what kind of changes have you seen in the revenue operations function over the years how has it evolved yeah yeah great question um i think you know rev-ops has definitely evolved especially i think with the rise of sas right that recurring revenue model that we were just talking about with the leaky bucket um there was more complex Buying cycles right there's more complex selling motions and i think the drive sort of the focus on that customer value that we were talking about customer life cycle customer retention um you know i think all of those factors have contributed to the need for more revenue operations you know you add to that just the explosion of technology right just think we have a piece of tech or technology for every single piece of our business right and then the Abundance of data right so the tech explosion the the need for and then that need to move fast right everybody wants to move fast and so in order to move fast you need to have the right data you have to have the right insights and all at the right time right then you have to have all the right processes and the infrastructure to support that which is really where rev-ops or like this we used to call it go to market ops but really comes in Right with all of these changes you know more and more organizations are realizing really the value of revenue operations and and what it is and why they need it so if i think about sort of the biggest shift or change i guess i would say that um aside from all of those factors contributing to it but i think the biggest change is probably um the perspective now that rev-ops is i think being viewed as more of a strategic part Of the success of the business and therefore i think one you need rev-ops and two you need to invest earlier right and invest more heavily if you really want to scale your business and your revenue business faster got it got it now um you know you mentioned data as one of the tenants uh in in terms of building a revenue operations function and obviously i i imagine web ops teams end up working Fairly closely with data analysts and bi teams to get access to the data how do you see that relationship evolve and particularly you know with the different startups that you've been at and uh the various startups that you you've advised um how do you see that relationship evolve between the data analysts and bi teams as well as revenue operations yeah i guess um in the earlier startups and some of the Companies that are you know more lean you typically don't have a bi team right or maybe you don't have sort of a data analyst team or a data reporting team right so rev-ops becomes that um that pillar and kind of fills that spot for go-to-market right so we become the folks who not only bring all of the data together in all of your processes systems and your tools but also providing those insights Right and i think that's a big part of revops and sort of how it's evolved is it's not just about the data right obviously the data is the foundational aspect but it's what is the data telling you right it's those insights the story the ability to make decisions and pivot your business tweak things that you know all along the journey um because of the data right and being understanding what that data is telling you i hear your dog in the background I was trying to mute her but yeah she she usually drops in because she's super passionate about data as well i'm not the only one she wants to be on our webinar today um okay great um okay so so i want to continue this conversation around data and uh you know uh from your experience what what are what do you see as companies invest in as they go through various stages of growth as a startup but particularly as A sas startup uh in terms of data infrastructure so what are they investing first what tools what technologies uh what you know uh processes or capabilities to build out that data infrastructure to support devops yeah yep that's a great question i think um a lot of times because there is such great technology out there um companies will quickly go and buy tech sometimes they buy technology just to buy tech right kind of that shiny new Object and so people will go out and buy it but they don't have the sort of the strategy or the processes or you know how they're even going to use the technology sort of mapped out so i think if we all kind of take a step back and think about data right having a data strategy um is so important because we have plenty of data right everybody is so so focused on getting all of the data but then what do you do with the data right I think that's the piece that is the real predicament i guess and why we need rev-ops or a data you know data team now is to really process that data understand the data you know think about what it's actually telling you and how you're going to not just acquire data but make the data meaningful um so i actually like to have you know really a data strategy right you need to understand what are the metrics that matter and Then what are what are those data elements that are going to give you that visibility into those metrics and then think about i mean things as simple as having a data dictionary right because as we talk about even arr ar means different things potentially to different people they may not measure it the same way right pipeline i mean how often you've been in a call where you know marketing comes in sales comes in everybody's looking at a pipeline report But they have different numbers and you wonder why it's because they don't have the same you know that alignment and so i think that's the other thing that rev ups obviously brings to the table too is around driving that alignment and visibility um so again having a date going back to basics data data definitions or a dictionary understanding your data strategy like what are you going to do with the data how is it going to feed into the your Strategy into your metrics that matter what insights it's going to drive and then mapping out how does that data flow right through your different systems because today you know data can flow all through the entire you know with all of the great technology it's all integrated right but you want to make sure that data is talking to each other and talking in the same language across all of the systems so that people can have The right um you know that single view of business that our single view of the business right that we all we all strive for everyone looking at the data the same way at the same you know in the same manner at the same time yeah i think i think uh you know obviously you have a lot of experience with this you're spot on with what do you do with the data and how do you tie that back to your strategy and and your processes Uh i you know that's a big focus of ours is to figure out what do you do with the data and how do you bring all the right data sets together um now i you know i want to maybe uh uh you know but given the amount of experience that you've had in this domain like you know i'm sure you've developed a playbook for how you engage with uh a new role and new opportunity what Are some of the mistakes that you see people make as they set up their revenue operations functions from scratch and a lot of our audiences early stage startups thinking about how to set up their revenue operations function what mistakes should they avoid yeah i think it's it's one is well one we mentioned about the technology right buying tech just to buy tech because people see that shiny object and think oh if i i have a Problem in my go to market i'll just buy this piece of technology and it'll fix it right but kind of as you alluded to process comes first right the process and the policy and then the data and then the system right because you you know sort of in that order you need to understand what your processes are and how the data is going to flow through um you know what are the right processes to get the right data and then configure a system to enable That process and enable the data flow right data integration um so i think a lot of mistakes people make and every time i join a company it comes back to this definitions right people looking at things the same way i was having a conversation about you know something as simple as stages right when you think about sales stages if you go into a new company how many of your sales reps really all understand every single what what each sales stage means right What does each forecast category mean right some of those things that seem very basic but they um if you don't focus on those areas early on and continue to evolve them as your business changes then your data becomes sort of a nightmare right things start to get um you know get mixed up they don't they don't make sense anymore for your business And then you have inconsistencies across all of your processes and the data it becomes that and i also think that the other thing that i think some companies are probably doing wrong is just not investing early enough and it doesn't mean that you need a full-blown rev-ops function it doesn't mean that you need a vp of revops but you do need to have somebody you know looking at your data looking at those insights and starting To build at least a framework for that so as you start to want to scale you have a repeatable process that you can use and then you can tweak right as you move forward um but yeah i think that's that's probably the biggest mistake i've seen very very helpful rosalind so let me uh let me shift gears a bit i think uh you know you're a minority you're a woman you are a rev-ops leader and an Entrepreneur in tech uh it's a rare combination and i think it'd be great if you you know i'm curious like what are some of the toughest challenges that you had to overcome uh in your career yeah yeah so i started on tech super early um you know early mid 90s when we were still using terminals do you remember that terminals desk phones there was no internet um and then when we did have internet it Was dial-up right it was that dial-up tone so it was a long time ago and but when i started leading teams and ops there were very few ops people right ops professionals on the team to begin with and very few women um especially in sales right in marketing um and then very few minority women right women of color and then on top of that women who had children right people who had kids 20 years ago was a was very much different from it is Now so you take that combination of all of those um attributes where you're the minority um or really a lot of times i'm like the only one right so it is a tough place to be um but what's funny about it is that i never looked at it that way like throughout my career i never really looked around the room and felt like oh i'm the only one here um until recently when others started talking about you know maybe the last five years or so when others started talking about being The only woman in the room the only mother or parent the only person of color and especially the only ops executive right think about it we are in the minority ratios of sales and marketing and customer success to ops are huge right in terms of you know one to twenty one to thirty one to fifty even in some smaller companies and so that's when i really realized like wow this is pretty unique and it is different um so with That i really wanted to be um a champion right for others who are coming up through the ranks you know we talked a little bit about the ops piece we didn't talk about ops therapy we should probably touch on that as well but i think it ops you know as women as mothers you know as people of color um you know really want to be that champion and be a spokesperson for them but then also show them that hey you can Have it all right you can get to be an executive be at a vp level or beyond right and you can rise up sort of through the ranks and have it all you know there's going to be balance and there's give and takes um so i guess if i think about the toughest challenge i think for me um maybe it's not the toughest challenge for me personally but what i've seen from others is really kind of being afraid um to Share your opinion or share your perspective right it's supernatural to be when you're the only person in the room that looks like you and you don't see a lot of folks that you know you know if you haven't built up sort of the advocacy or champions um within the team then it's super easy to feel like oh i'm you know i have lots of great thoughts but being afraid to share them so i guess you know for me my advice would be like not to be afraid to Share your opinion and i've said this to other people before whether you have you know two years experience or you have 20 years experience you bring value right there is value add that you can bring to the table and there's going to be a share there's going to be new perspectives that um you can share that no one else can so don't be afraid to you know just find your voice and share you'll be surprised um when you start to really share how many people actually Will listen that's uh that's amazing that's very inspiring thank you for taking us to your journey yeah um and you know just uh so roslyn thank you for joining us today it's been a pleasure to have you on the uh on our on our webinar um and just to kind of recap a little bit of what we heard you talked about people process operations and data and how do you bring all those together to drive A revenue operations function and of course your personal journey your career journey is very inspiring i'm sure a lot of people would want to reach out to you you can find rosalind's revenue engine podcast on apple spotify google amazon and on the sales iq global website uh i think the best way to reach you would be through linkedin yeah that's that's the best place definitely great well again thank you for joining us and If you have any thoughts on how data can drive revenue we'd love to hear from you here at mrsa you can check us out at thank you roslyn [Music] you

“Focus on all the different parts of your funnel, look at your revenue process and all the leading indicators of outcomes.”


Rosalyn Santa Elena

About The Guest

Rosalyn is an advisor for several high-growth startups on all things GTM and Operations, an active revenue operations leader in multiple communities and platforms, and the host of The Revenue Engine Podcast. She is on a mission to elevate the Ops function & Ops professionals.

With over 25 years of broad technology experience, she led GTM Ops teams in H/W, S/W (perpetual, term, and SaaS), and Services industries. Holding various management roles for 20 years in different operational capacities (sales ops, revenue ops, business ops, marketing ops, finance ops, customer success ops, renewal ops, partner ops), Rosalyn has directly supported global sales teams as small as 30 and as large as 1,500+

Rosalyn is the host of the Revenue Engine podcast and the founder of the #OpsTherapy group, where all ops pros can share experience & expertise.

What We Cover

Rosalyn takes us into the path that led to her crowning of being the revops champ. She defines the pillars and mission that drive the famous revenue engine podcast, such as diversity and inclusion, career and professional growth in the tech industry.

We dive into all things revenue with a fresh look at the customer journey; using four infrastructures, Rosalyn breaks down what it means to align to the journey and function of sales and revops. 

This episode breaks down the essentials of revenue in the tech industry, from understanding your revenue process, nurturing retention, and the evolution of revops over the years. The revops champ talks about data, tech explosion, insight, and the impact of revenue operations.

What You Will Learn

The infrastructure of the revenue engine 

The pillars of sales and revenue operations

5 Metrics to prioritize for a startup to drive growth

A solid data infrastructure to influence development for revops

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