If you missed out on the event, read on, as we highlight some of the key takeaways and insights from our panel discussion.
Career Paths in RevOps
At RevOps in Action, the panelists captivated the audience with their fascinating stories about how they got into RevOps. Each of the panelists held roles outside of RevOps and began their careers in various industries, from consulting to chemical engineering. However, their desire to understand the bigger picture and drive revenue growth led them to explore different functions within their companies. It just goes to show that the path to RevOps success isn’t always a straight line.
As Max Suderow, Head of Revenue Operations at ActionIQ, was building out the global sales operations function from scratch at Fortinet, he realized there were a lot of parallels between his previous career in consulting and his work in sales ops. “There’s a lot of planning and reporting involved in the process, and I realized that this is the kind of work I like doing,” Suderow explained.
“Over the years, I started noticing that other areas of the business weren’t running smoothly, and I wanted to get more involved. RevOps, at the time, was becoming more of a category, and I thought if I designed an organization from scratch, I would have an ops team that can cover all of these different functions and domains. So I made the leap back into the startup world into revenue operations, and I’ve been doing that for the past two years. It’s been a ride, but I’ve learned a lot.”
Prior work experience at smaller companies provided Tamila Ginsberg, Head of System Operations at Brightwheel, and Courtney Skay, Senior Director of GTM Enablement and Operations at Material Security, with the invaluable opportunity to wear multiple hats, allowing them to immerse themselves in every function within the business and gain comprehensive knowledge of its intricacies.
“Believe it or not, I started my career as a chemical engineer making deodorant, and I somehow pivoted to Wall Street and then to product marketing,” shared Skay. “I was working at VMWare on a very small team of three people where I suddenly became every single function within that team. That’s how I officially transitioned into RevOps. It’s given me an interesting perspective because I’ve been an operator in multiple different facets of the business.”
“After I graduated with my pre-law degree, I started working at a telecommunications company as a sales ops analyst,” Ginsberg said. "Because it was such a large corporation, you’re very limited as far as the scope of work you can do. At the time, I wasn’t given Salesforce access, so I couldn’t really create processes, flows, or automation. I wanted to go somewhere I could actually work with everyone, like marketing ops or customer success ops, and do the actual technical work that I’m really into. I joined a startup as a dedicated Salesforce admin, and because the team was so small, I got to do marketing ops, project management, and had a bird’s eye view into everything that was going on in the business. That’s when I realized that RevOps was my domain and where I wanted to grow.”
Alignment with senior leadership and insight into how the entire business operated provided Kris Alspach, Senior Director of GTM Strategy and Operations at UiPath, with the necessary intelligence to effectively perform his RevOps role. “I got my first real sales ops job at a small financial services consulting firm running their sales forecasting process for implementing and administering Salesforce,” Alspach explained. “Once I started getting deeper and deeper into pure sales ops roles, it was a little like deal desk because I got a full breadth of knowledge and experience into how the entire business operates. I also love knowing everything that’s going on, so being aligned with senior leadership and having that intel helps you really think through a lot of the details of the business. If you’re not paying attention to the details and controls, it really matters. You also need that high level context in every strategy.”
Top RevOps Tips and Best Practices
The panelists shared a plethora of practical tips and best practices to make RevOps successful in an organization, providing attendees with valuable insights about leadership, prioritization, and alignment, among others. Here are some standout strategies:
“RevOps is a job where you have a million things thrown at you all at once,” Suderow explained. “Some of those things will be new things that you don't know. You can spend a lot of time and energy focusing on the failure or you can learn from the failure. It may be that there’s a project you’re working on that you’re trying to get 100% perfect, but it may be better just to make it 80% perfect and deal with the 20% mistake. People can spend a lot of time on the 20%, but it’s better to just rip off the band-aid and go.”
“I think being honest about your failures is also very important. Something that’s always been a superpower for me and my career is that when I make a mistake, I’m always the first person to raise my hand and say, ‘I made a mistake. Here’s what I learned from it. Next time, we’ll do it differently.’”
Empower salespeople to become advocates
As Ginsberg noted, “A lot of times when we introduce a new process or tech, people are resistant to change. They see us as the Salesforce cops, and people are afraid to come to you. It’s important to position yourself as a true partner, not just someone who is telling them about CRM hygiene or keeping things up to date. In order to do that, it’s important to help them understand what the actual impact is and the value of any new tech or process. Have the business leaders back you up, and give fair warning. You also need to make sure you have your sales pitch down. You’ve got to do a lot of the work ahead of time to pitch projects with your internal champions, research any possible objections, and work closely with the team on implementation and roll out.”
Prioritize objectives from the top-down
“How do you help your team prioritize what they need to get done?” asked Skay. “It’s really important to have alignment from the top at a company level and then have it flow down. That helps avoid miscommunication because everyone’s already aligned on objectives from the get go.”
Build a team with diverse backgrounds
“Hire people that are smarter than you and with different levels of experience,” Alspach shared. “I’ve actually inherited people from other internal teams with insane amounts of sales strategy or management consultant experience. I give them challenging assignments, open the doors to them, and allow them to get involved in any area that they are interested in.”
Break silos through open communication
“It’s important to stay connected as an executive leadership team and keep the lines of communication open on a recurring basis,” added Alspach. “If you’re consistently in contact with your cross-functional counterparts, then it becomes easier to triage and tackle issues when things come up. Open lines of communication can also reduce redundancy and eliminate duplication of effort, where you might have multiple people in different teams working on the same issue but just not know it. That’s why it’s really important to overly communicate and align leadership as much as possible.”
Empathize and appreciate others’ viewpoints
“I think the biggest thing when you go through change management or trying to get stakeholders on board is to understand their point of view,” Skay said. “Listening and having empathy really goes a long way. I think people, ultimately, just need to be heard.”
“Be proactive and take ownership, even if it’s not within your job description,” explained Ginsberg. “When you step out of your comfort zone and provide value, people notice.”
Biggest RevOps Challenges
During the event, the panelists openly discussed intriguing RevOps challenges that remain unsolved or largely unaddressed, shedding light on the complex issues that organizations continue to grapple with in the realm of revenue operations.
Communication and Alignment
“For me, being a few layers below the C-level at a larger company, one challenge I experience is having a full handle on decisions that are getting made at a higher level,” Alspach shared. “I’m often hearing a lot of conversations through second or third parties, and so the communication isn’t as high bandwidth as I would like. Having more information passed down allows me to go back to my teams and start thinking from the ground up about how we can align better with those decisions.”
“Technical debt is definitely a big issue in our roles,” added Suderow. “People just love tools and they keep bringing on more. There’s a tool for everything, and as you add more and more tools, there can be diminishing returns, especially if you have competing tools that overlap in function. If you don’t have someone making sure that all these tools are working for the company, you end up with a big problem of excess overhead and redundancy.”
“Having quality data and keeping it up to date,” Ginsberg said. “If you don’t fix it in time, it can have a big downstream impact on things like reporting and forecasting. There are always issues around establishing entry rules, determining a source of truth, and deciding what key metrics we need to track.”
Our panelists shared so many insightful viewpoints—our discussion could have gone on all night! But the event had to come to an end, and we concluded with a lively happy hour and networking session. We’re excited to host more RevOps in Action events in the future, so keep your eyes peeled for more to come!