Revenue Operations is still a relatively new concept.
In fact, if you work within that department, you will soon learn you have to be both a seasoned professional and an eager student on any given day.
Yes, it’s certainly exciting to be among the first to shape this movement. However, it’s a constant exercise in real-time thinking and creativity, making it imperative to share our knowledge.
My revenue operations job happens to be 100% focused on interviewing pioneers in the industry and relaying their ideas. Through my travels, I tend to notice some common themes.
This past quarter, discussions have centered around growing in spite of the pandemic, and it has been so invigorating and inspiring to listen to.
In the spirit of building together, here are the most energizing strategies from leaders this month.
Leadership Development That Drives Revenue
Sales leadership development is all too often an afterthought by management teams. Companies don’t recognize the tangible success metrics associated with it. The truth is, these programs are absolutely critical—especially for sales.
According to Deloitte, American companies lose productivity worth $300 billion a year due to disengaged employees. Opportunities for growth—such as leadership development—is one of the major drivers of employee engagement.
On top of that, Gallup reports that engaged business units achieve a 10% increase in customer ratings, a 20% increase in sales and a 21% increase in profitability.
LinkedIn’s VP of Sales Solutions, Alyssa Merwin, is a strong advocate for leadership development. Last year, she and her team rolled out a leadership series to 300 sales team members, providing them with a safe place to share, discuss their personal roadblocks and support other teammates.
“We saw 100% increase in the levels of trust from where we started, prior to this session, to after the teams had gone through these sessions,” she says. “We saw a 500% increase in the reps' appreciation of their strengths and their development opportunities, a 300% increase in their ability to get feedback from their team members, and a 121% increase in their comfort and ability to feel safe within their teams and to voice their opinions.”
Merwin suggests that tangible success metrics are tied to the leader’s ability to tailor programs to the activities that are most important to customers. “Active listening was No. 1 on the customers, and it was No. 7 on the list of things that managers are focusing on,” Merwin says. “And so, I think that we need to make sure that our managers are putting themselves in the shoes of the buyer and really understanding what are the skills that are required in order to be showing up to understand the problem, first of all, and then solve the problem, second of all.”
Scaling a Completely Remote Salesforce
When the world went remote, many leaders worried about their teams’ ability to get work done from home. Surprisingly though, a recent study by MarketWatch found that 47% of U.S. workers were more productive in March and April of this year than last year.
For this reason and others, many tech companies are making the move to be entirely remote.
Shopify, for example, announced its commitment to become “digital by design,” a decision that required strong leadership to pull off. The company’s Head of Sales, North America, Daniella Bellaire, considered four critical elements when scaling her fully remote sales team.
“Four things for me were: Put the team first. The people are our foundation,” she explains. “So, thinking about mental health, ongoing career development, helping them up-skill, making sure that they feel connected.
“The latter three things are: big emphasis on coaching and mentorship, a re-jig of our tooling because, obviously, moving fully remote you're no longer getting to hear people in the pod. And, what they're saying on calls, so we needed to be able to adapt with tooling for that.”
Bellaire went on to say that rituals and communication had to change with the newly remote sales structure. Therefore, due to the distance, leaders need to be less passive and more intentional with their communication.
Successfully Evolving Up Market
As companies perfect their offering and look towards expansion, one tactic could be evolving up market. In fact, some of the most successful B2B SaaS companies, such as Zoom, Slack, and Dropbox started with smaller customers, eventually expanding to accommodate enterprise deals.
Those looking to make the move up market might take a page out of Bain Capital’s Ajay Agarwal’s book. He stresses the importance of creating a repeatable sales motion before moving into new areas. As such, has a very pointed view about forecasting the large deals.
“We advise our companies to make sure you've got your run rate business working—your bread and butter. $100,000 deals, $250,000 deals, $75,000 deals, whatever that core sales motion is, get that working and have that be the predictable part of the business,” he says. “Then, think about the big deals as almost a separate line item. Maybe you have quarterly goals, but you really think about those big deals more on an annual cycle, have dedicated, strategic account executives focused on the big deals.”
Intently Expanding into New Global Markets
The world’s biggest multinational companies, such as Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft, were able to achieve global success through a combination of strategy, leadership and deep knowledge of new territories.
For those looking to expand into new geographies, Madrona Venture Group’s Managing Director Steve Singh advises leaders to be intentional. He says that global expansion must be an intenful, purpose-driven decision.
“Too many companies are reactive and take a broad-based approach to geographic expansion,” he says. “Set it another way, Asia is not a market. Japan is a market.
“So,” Singh continues, “be very purposeful about where you're investing, why you're investing there, and all the support resources that go into making sure you're going to be incredibly successful in that market.”
Singh’s No. 1 ingredient for success in a new geography is a cross-functional leader who knows how to navigate the organization, all within its value set.
Sharing Your Knowledge
As you and your team continue to build the future of Revenue Operations, consider sharing your aha moments with others in the industry. Doing so certainly helps everyone, which alone is a good reason to do it.
But, you also might find that the act of teaching others will help strengthen your own understanding—and lead to even more revelations.