The 5 key steps to a winning revenue operations strategy

Noam Liran, Co-Founder & CEO
Noam Liran
Co-Founder & CEO
March 1, 2023

In a world of constant change and disruption, being strategic about your revenue operations has become essential to business success. No longer can you take periods of growth for granted, and neither can you use them to accurately inform future situations. Instead, revenue teams must focus on efficiently growing and scaling the business by making smarter decisions in less time. That, in a nutshell, is what it takes to be strategic these days.

Most people in the SaaS industry have to come to understand what is revenue operations and appreciate why having a clear revenue operations strategy is important. This guide will help you building that strategy by addressing questions such as:

  • How to structure your revenue operations strategy?
  • How to implement your revenue operations strategy?
  • How to measure the success of your revenue operations strategy?
The 5 key steps to a winning revenue operations strategy

So what is RevOps strategy?

Revenue operations, or RevOps, is an approach that aims to strategically align the sales, marketing and customer success teams in order to provide seamless end-to-end management of revenue-generating activities across the entire customer journey. 

RevOps was born out of the realization that both the company and its customers would benefit if the different departments, which previously operated in silos, could collaborate and share information more effectively. 

In fact, a study by the Revenue Operations Alliance found that companies that align sales and marketing teams achieve 24% faster growth rates and 27% faster profit growth. 

The success of a RevOps team depends on four main pillars — strategy, enablement, insight, and technology — which work together to drive more sustainable revenue models in today’s B2B SaaS companies. 

In this blog post, we’re going to discuss how to structure the revenue operations strategy part of that equation and more specifically, describe the five key steps required to implement a successful strategy that leads to revenue growth.

So what is RevOps strategy?

1. Identify the problems you’re trying to solve

Before developing any kind of strategic initiative, it’s important to gain a clear understanding of the problems you want to solve. When it comes to RevOps, these could be high level issues such as cross-team collaboration, or lower level ones such as operational barriers that cause potential clients to drop out of the funnel.

Let’s consider lead-routing as an example of a potential point of friction. Marketing teams are responsible for collecting and qualifying leads before passing them onto the sales team. However, if sales is having a hard time moving these leads further along the funnel, it may be due to delays in the hand-off process or a lack of relevant leads. In another situation, if they are spending a disproportionate amount of time attempting to follow up with leads that don’t convert, it might be due to a lack of contextual information about those leads. 

Whether you want to identify internal barriers such as those between teams or external ones such as bottlenecks in the customer journey, the first step is to map out the situation as it stands now. This will help home in on the root causes of these issues, such as lack of alignment on goals or the lack of a standardized way to pass leads through the sales funnel. 

Other common problems you may come across when formulating your RevOps strategy include a lack of support from business leaders, limited budgets, or siloed software systems that lack interoperability. Once you’ve established the problems you want to solve, you’ll be ready to start building a RevOps strategy to address them.

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2. Align the teams and map the customer journey

RevOps strategies need to be aligned between sales, marketing, and customer success teams. In addition, they also need to get buy-in from the leadership level so it’s important to unite the three teams under a common leadership. A chief revenue officer typically assumes this role as a dedicated position. Once you’ve established the key stakeholders of your RevOps program, it’s time to build a strategy that aligns with the customer journey. 

Next, you’ll need to map out the ideal customer journey and compare it to the current situation so you can pinpoint exactly which parts are in need of improvement. This will help you set expectations, at which point it’s time to step into customers’ shoes. 

In the B2B SaaS space, the customer journey begins the moment a potential customer first learns about your brand or product – not when they first make a purchase. While subsequent steps might vary depending on your business model, the journey typically involves potential customers signing up for a product demonstration or a trial period. Your internal teams will then be responsible for delivering a compelling customer experience that gets new clients to sign up for a paid subscription followed, ideally, by a monthly or annual renewal. 

Approaching RevOps from the customer-centric angle is especially important, not least because any sustainable revenue stream hinges on customer success. For example, having to enter the same information multiple times to upgrade to a paid subscription or purchase additional services adds unnecessary friction in the process. According to research from PWC, 32% of all customers would stop doing business with a brand they previously loved after just one bad experience.

That’s why there must be a smooth handover of information, such as lists of qualified leads and trial participants, at each stage of the customer journey. In other words, the overall revenue operations strategy should accommodate the entire customer experience.

3. Establish your guiding principles and goals

RevOps is rooted in four major principles, the first of which is the operations strategy which needs to align with the company vision and the experience you want your customers to have. Once that vision has been clearly defined, you can then move on developing the other major principles including process optimization, project management, and revenue analytics. 

To measure the success of the revenue operations process, you need to track several key performance indicators (KPIs). These broadly fall into one of three main categories: customer churn, revenue per customer, and account relationship score. 

These are your guiding principles which, in turn, may be further broken down into distinct KPIs that the individual teams and roles will be responsible for. For example, sales teams will typically be responsible for tracking upsells and cross-sells, while customer success teams will need to track the effectiveness of their ongoing relationships with customers. Other KPIs, such as pipeline velocity and the cost of customer acquisition (CAC), serve as top-level revenue operations metrics for the entire team and will thus have multiple owners.  

At this point, it’s also important to understand the limitations. RevOps isn’t meant to be a silver bullet that can solve all your revenue-related woes in one fell swoop. After all, resources like time, money and expertise are limited, so it’s important to prioritize. For example, you can’t and shouldn’t expect to track every possible KPI, and neither can you expect to iron out every issue in one project. 

 To that end, there must be a clear agreement across all teams on what you want to achieve as a company and how you plan to go about it. This will help foster a business culture of continuous improvement which helps avoid making the wrong assumptions or setting unrealistic expectations. 

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4. Define your action steps and requirements

With your guiding principles and goals as the driving force of your RevOps strategy, it’s now time to determine its structure — the specific actions you need to take to make them happen. To do this, you’ll need to have the right technology. But that doesn’t mean you have to expand your tech stack. In fact, more often than not, it should involve cutting it back in order to ensure you’re using the minimal number of tech solutions required to reach your goal. The last thing any business needs, after all, is more tools. The average number of SaaS applications used by companies increased from 80 in 2020 to 130 in 2022! 

Every action, whether it’s creating an individual project, building a workflow template, or implementing a new tool, should focus on enabling better business outcomes. For example, establishing a clear and standard process for handing leads over to the sales team for follow up. Another step might involve qualifying those leads to determine which ones are most likely to convert. Regardless of which actions you take, it’s vital that they are both effective and efficient. If they are, then you’ve probably made the right decision.

 Many of the steps making up your RevOps strategy will revolve around automation. One idea is to use machine learning to trigger and run automated workflows, but you first need to define the actions that trigger them. For example, if a potential customer fails to renew their subscription by a specific time, it might be a good idea to have a member of the customer success team follow up with them to ask if they’re having any problems.

5. Test, refine and adapt your RevOps strategy

A RevOps strategy isn’t something you can set and forget, even once you reach a high level of maturity. Instead, it’s a process of continuous implementation that needs to adapt to changing business needs and customer habits. After all, what worked perfectly in the past likely doesn’t work as well these days considering the current economic environment. That’s why you need to be able to regularly iterate on your strategy. 

High-performing companies understand the value of real-time data in making informed decisions. They’ve incorporated a future-focused RevOps strategy in which all outcomes are monitored and tracked, and changes can be implemented quickly based on data-driven decisions. They’ve moved away from using historical data alone to predict future outcomes to using real-time insights to take corrective and proactive actions. 

For example, if more prospects based in a specific region or looking at using a specific product are unexpectedly dropping out of the sales funnel compared to previous periods, having a mature strategy will enable RevOps to immediately inform decision makers of this trend and its root causes. Even if there’s no chance of winning back that business, they’ll be able to take almost immediate corrective action to significantly reduce the chances of the issue recurring.

We’ve built our RevOps strategy, what’s next?

Once you have a revenue operations strategy that’s future-proof and adaptable and equipped for maximum long-term revenue growth, there are several ways in which you can start to implement it. You’ll need to look at multiple aspects including building your tech stack, structuring your team, promoting cross-functional collaboration, developing RevOps enablement processes, utilizing data-driven insights and more. 

All these will be covered in future posts but for now, we’ll leave you with one direction that can make implementing all these much simpler — automation. One of the reasons that RevOps didn’t appear as a concept until a few years ago is that the technology to enable it wasn’t available or advanced enough. 

Now that it is, RevOps teams should be all over the idea of automating as many of their processes as it makes sense to do. Lead distribution for sure but data entry only sometimes. Lead attribution for sure but outbound outreach maybe only a little. 

What should definitely be automated as part of the overall revenue operations strategy is revenue analytics. There’s no reason for your team to waste time on calculating metrics, building dashboards and aligning data from across the company, when they could be focused on the revenue-generating strategically important tasks we reviewed in this post. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

How are revenue operations structured?

Revenue Operations is a cross-functional team that focuses on aligning the efforts of the entire GTM organization in order to drive revenue growth and improve operational efficiency. The structure can vary depending on the size of the organization, but typically includes three main GTM functions under one roof - Sales Operations, Marketing Operations, and Customer Success Operations. 

How are revenue operations implemented?

There are several steps to the implementation process - defining the strategy, building a cross-functional team, integrating the technology stack, and defining the processes and workflows. After that, the team needs to measure and analyze performance so it can then iterate and optimize the plans in real-time.

How do you measure the success of revenue operations?

Measuring the success involves tracking KPIs that are aligned with the RevOps strategy and goals in order to identify areas for leverage or improvement. There are many KPIs that can be used to measure the success of RevOps but the typical ones include revenue growth (also by region, product and segment), sales performance (win rate, sales cycle length, ASP), marketing metrics (ROI, conversion rates, cost per leads), and customer success (customer satisfaction, retention rates).

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