2018 to 2019 year-on-year growth in VP or director of Revenue Ops roles stands at 102 percent. “That is,” said Steve Silver, “a strong piece of evidence suggesting RevOps is a thing.”
Silver, service director, sales operations at SiriusDecisions was keynoting the first day of OpsStars, along with Kerry Cunningham, senior research director, marketing operations strategies. He was speaking to an audience predisposed to believe in RevOps, of course. The OpsStars conference, launched by LeanData four years ago, was initially a forum for marketing and sales operations staff to get together and share best practices. And the best practice which has emerged, and now dominates discussion, is known as RevOps.
Although there’s a consensus that RevOps is much more than just a new name for the marketing/sales alignment everyone has been searching for forever, it does begin with alignment, Cunningham explained: alignment around three key components:
- Alignment of strategic vision
- Operational alignment
- Organizational alignment
Vision comes first, he said. This may be a relatively easy step for smaller businesses, able to set a two or five year plan in a simple conversation among stakeholders. For large enterprises, it might involve months of planning. But having one plan, one vision, shared by all business functions, is foundational for RevOps.
Although RevOps isn’t just about org charts, some kind of reorganization is going to be necessary within any business which has a traditional sales, marketing, service set-up, with siloed teams, and quite likely siloed data and tech stacks too. People, of course, don’t like change, so this can present challenges. Passing ownership of sales and service to the CMO can create dissent, but someone has to own RevOps. It might be a Chief Revenue Officer — but not necessarily. Silver observed that brands with no RevOps initiatives had CROs, while other brands with established RevOps do have a CMO or CSO in charge.
But it’s easy, Cunningham warned, to think that organizational transformation is the key to success, and the important place to focus. In fact, he said, “when we talk about RevOps, operations is where the money is.” And it’s the toughest part of the RevOps journey. The operational layer needs to comprise “one team, one stack, one truth, integrated planning, one view of the customer, one process…” And so on. “One truth,” of course, means a common data-set, and that alone is something many businesses struggle to create.
The RevOps journey is just that, not a transformation which happens overnight. Nor is it one-size-fits-all, ranging from what Silver called “loose coalitions” between the sales, marketing, and customer success teams, to highly centralized instances where there is just one team, reporting to the RevOps executive owner. (Everyone emphasizes that traditional functions — marketers marketing, sales reps selling — continue to exist in such an environment; but goals are shared and reporting lines are merged.)
SiriusDecisions has been conducting research on the characteristics of high performers among businesses which have adopted RevOps. This begins by scoring them on level of adoption, then looking at outcomes. Highlights include:
- 44 percent of high performers are more likely to use advanced analytics
- High performers typically have double the investment in customer success
- They’re also three times more likely to invest in “customer marketing” (as opposed to demand gen.)
“Customer marketing” is a term we’ll be hearing more about in the future. It means marketing (and selling) to existing customers, not marketing at potential new customers. It has its roots in the recurring revenue model, so common now in the SaaS tech space, but increasingly evident throughout the growing B2B subscription economy. Developing long-term relationships with buyers, and boosting their lifetime value, are among the KPIs coming to supplant (but not erase) customer acquisition. Leads and first-time conversions, from this perspective, are not more important than reducing churn, ensuring renewals, and thoughtful upselling. See here how sales and customer success come together?
Finally, the SiriusDecisions duo had some 2025 predictions:
- B2B will be talking about demand units (think accounts) rather than lead objects (individual prospects)
- Attribution will be about a comprehensive understanding of the impact of touchpoints, not about who gets credit for the revenue
- AI will permeate all aspects of sales, supporting dynamic guided selling
- Sales intelligence will replace sales measurement
- Sales compensation will be more based on metrics like LTV
- More will be spent on the success of existing customers than acquiring new customers
- There will be an emphasis on customer advocacy: the best influencers for businesses are customers who are buying from them.
Although SiriusDecisions research suggests that more than a quarter of B2B businesses are not even looking at RevOps, Cunningham describes it now as “absolutely critical to success.”