For the Love of SaaS: An Intro to Revenue Operations


If you’re new (or new-ish) to revenue operations, be not afraid. We come in peace. 

Here, we'll shed some light on what is fast becoming the way SaaS companies operate, in a world where Go To Market teams (marketing, sales & customer success) are strategically, operationally supported in working towards a common goal: Revenue. 

In a legacy model, operations teams are governed by the department to which they "belong."  This means that instead of prioritizing initiatives that will increase revenue, they defer to the specific priorities of the heads of marketing, sales, and customer success, respectively. This not only causes unnecessary inter-departmental friction, but also an overall lack of efficiency. 
 
In the simplest of terms, revenue operations is a merger of your marketing, sales, and customer success operations into one strategic department. The function of this new department is to support the GTM teams and be the driving force behind process, technology enablement, and analytics in order to align the goal of increased revenue with day-to-day execution company-wide. 
 
Basically, your RevOps team will be the ones drafting the roadmap that will drive growth based on your company’s big picture KPIs. (We refer to these as 3VC: Volume, Velocity, Value, and Conversion.) In order to accomplish this, they will prioritize and execute initiatives by directing the GTM teams and managing the tech stack. 
 
A solid, well-functioning revenue operations team can be broken down into four pillars: Strategy, Tools, Enablement, and Analytics. It’s possible there will be people who play a role in more than one function within these pillars, but the beating heart of revenue operations is a combination of planning, execution, measurement, and training. While many traditionally siloed ops teams may say they can do (or are doing) this, the reality is that it’s often happening at a departmental level, as opposed to a macro level.  
 
The logic behind revenue operations is actually pretty straightforward: When individual teams within your company are siloed, they’re all working towards their own separate goals, instead of measuring their successes against metrics that impact the growth of the company as a whole. In the case of a SaaS or subscription company, these metrics include Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR)/Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), lifetime customer value and customer acquisition cost. 
 
The value of revenue operations is that it makes everything more impactful. Useful data throughout the customer lifecycle can be easily shared between teams and used to help prioritize sales, as opposed to a legacy model, where the same data wouldn’t be readily accessible to the sales team. For example, revenue operations makes it possible for the ales team to identify prospective customers that bear close resemblance to existing low churn, high value customers and use these metrics to grow faster and establish a higher quality customer base.  
 
In reality, many companies may already be utilizing at least a form of this strategy, albeit unknowingly. This is because it’s very difficult for any high-growth company to succeed without it, and taking a holistic approach to internal problem solving is really the only way forward. The bottom line? Siloing (though common practice in days gone by) inhibits growth, which can be a kiss of death for a SaaS company. 
 
As it has become more widely adopted, revenue operations has often been confused with DevOps, which is a function that focuses on the operational layer of a company’s product and streamlines developers' ability to make fast changes. Revenue operations, on the other hand, is focused on the operational layer of the Go To Market side of a business, and is driven by Revenue Impact. 
 
So, is this truly the new gold standard for doing business, and not just a fleeting trend? That’s always the million dollar question when any Next Big Thing rolls into town which, let's be honest, feels like it happens all the time.
 
For us, the real indication of the staying power of revenue operations is the fact that many SaaS and PaaS companies have already gone all-in with revenue operations and found plenty of reasons to never look back. This is because, when you have a single operational Go To Market team, the need for handoff between departments is eliminated and problems that create a bottleneck are less likely to arise. 
 
Once you've accepted the hard truth, which is that your company's continued growth depends on its willingness to step away from the status quo of legacy operations, you'll start to see why revenue operations is definitely here to stay. 
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