Updated: Mar 8
You have seen how many cool, clever and incredible people work in revenue operations and you fancy giving it a go? You know, for the fame and glory.
I would honestly recommend it. It's a role with enormous growth, you get to learn about the overall go-to-market and usually impact the overall performance in one way or another. The exposure to significant projects and strategies of a business can be great and in my experience is unrivalled.
Revenue Operations' importance is growing too. The sheer number of open roles shows this, with more than 1.8M open Sales Operations roles in the US on LinkedIn today.
Credit to RevOps Untapped
Where there are lots of roles there is an opportunity for growth. For the right person, it can be a step onto a career path that will take them onto great things. Don't get me wrong; it's not always easy. It's a demanding role where you feel like you are swimming upstream in jam without a way to move forward, but these situations are usually pretty rare (or just a late Wednesday afternoon for me).
The skills needed are highly transferable from other departments outside the Sales and Marketing teams. I mean, I came from Billing, Finance and Tech teams in the past, so I'm proof that knowing sales from birth isn't always a necessity. I have spoken about a day in the life of a Revenue Operations manager where you can get a flavour of what it is that happens daily.
Overall, the key things I consider when looking to bring new people into the world of Revenue Operations are:
1 - Problem Solving
For me, the biggest thing I look for is that you have an analytical mind that looks to solve problems. I'm confident people can learn hard skills but problem and trend finding and solving is an art form and a skill that's learned. So I look for people that seem to have shown ways to solve problems in whatever they have done.
Things like: Why did this customer have this billing issue? Then turn it around, get to the solution, and resolve it, so it does not appear again, and they pay on time. Why are my prospects not closing as well as the other SDRs, reviewing the customer or contact profile and improving the close and response rate? These are just some things people do daily that are easily translated into Revenue Operations. You do not need to have a data science degree to be here. It certainly wouldn’t hurt, but most of the roles I have hired are not specifically looking for that. I would rather have an analytical and curious mind than hard skills.
2 - Organisation
Things are fast-paced; they change a lot, with many priorities happening simultaneously. New issues arise every day, and it's essential to stay on top of priorities and make sure you are consistently delivering on these on time.
3 - Adaptability
This is my favourite one.
I find that people struggle with adapting to change. I think of myself as good with this overall. I’m comfortable using the experiences I have had in the past and using them in different situations. This is something I look for in others.
How many different industries have they worked in?
What kind of roles have they had?
I like to ask questions about how their roles have linked and what seems to be a common factor in all of them.
4 - Thinks big and small
This is likely the one that takes the longest to master (if you ever do), and I think we all sometimes get into traps only doing one of these and making the mistake of not looking deep enough or not seeing the impact of a decision in the broader business.
It's also the one with which people entering Revenue Operations have the least experience.
It's something though that is so important, to understand the context of why and what we are doing and how that impacts other parts of the organisation. Revenue Operations have a wide range of responsibilities and this means the bigger picture is vital to keep in mind, even when we are off trying to analyse things to a granular level. Small changes can have broad and profound impacts and so keeping that holistic view is vital in ensuring the best possible result. No point in fixing something if its causing more problems elsewhere
5 - Communication
Having verbal communication skills to deliver a message. Any message with passion. That is something that I hold dear. I think that anything beyond that can be improved as you go, but the ability to speak one on one is critical. I am not looking for a salesperson but, instead, someone that's engaging. Someone that can be confident in a subject they know well. Someone that can lead a conversation about something they care about.
I’m not looking for someone that can talk to me about the rights and wrongs of territory planning. It’s almost more fundamental than that. Can they deliver quick reviews of information or details when there are issues? When writing something down, can they distinctly lay it out so the crux of the problem is laid out for all to see?
Ultimately, these skills are unlikely to be different to any operations or analyst role. The difference is the content. I believe that data is data, and so long as you understand some very basics, then the rest is easily taught.
I look to cover my team with complementary personalities and skill sets. That doesn't mean we have to get on like we are best friends, but it does mean we should all be open enough to accept criticism and challenge one another in a safe environment. I look to lead from the front in that sense. I am happy to be wrong, fail and learn. I want my teams to do that and look for them to be open to new opportunities to do these things themselves. I am happy to help with as much detail as needed, but I also love to provide open boundaries for people to progress and explore. Most of my teams have been very open and engaging, with regular meetings to understand progress and problems, knowing that we will work hard together to solve anything.
Once we have people, it means we need to make an effective team is vital to deliver upon the objectives set.
To do that, we will need different people, experienced, novice or somewhere in between. It usually doesn't matter too much to me.
In a small team, it requires pretty specific and usually opposing skill sets. For example, many roles I have done are managing and contributing. This means I need to be self-aware of my skills. I know I'm good at the big picture and problem-solving parts. I excel in reading analytics and providing insight into issues but struggle with the day-to-day grind. So I will find someone that is solely data-oriented so that I can focus on the more operational side. Then someone else can work on the daily updates and the management of the requests that come our way.
This allows us to have specialists to provide the all-important data and update information for the teams we interact with quickly, and I can help do the project evaluations, strategy and management.
In larger teams, it’s a different dynamic, almost the same thing but on a more granular scale. I like to ensure we have a good problem finder and a problem solver in each team.
I often find they are two different people.
I want to find someone who thrives on the customer and their experience so we can ensure to hear their voice in all conversations.
Finally, someone who loves numbers and data modelling. They can provide all the data on our team performance and share it with the broader business. This allows us to hold our whole department to account for the things we are doing.
As a manager, I believe I am there to set clear goals, manage career and learning development and help drive performance by managing fair metrics and indicators of success. I am not there to tell people how and what to do. That’s why we have intelligent people to listen to and learn from.
Revenue Operations often hold the key to substantial global projects that make a genuine difference in business performance. The same thing can’t always be said in other roles.
I also find that because products and selling methodologies change, this role changes faster to adapt and improve on what we have. Standing still often isn't an option, so change is a crucial part of what we do. Ensuring that the projects, numbers and advice are consistent and managed well makes Revenue Operations a key component of a modern business. We aren't here only to be there for sales but for the full go-to-market suite. We are here to make a company run so that customers want to come and buy more. We are essentially here to make the product we sell shine.
If that's an environment you think you could be a part of, then Revenue Operations is for you and you can speak with Jack Hargett at Bison RS to take that next step. If you are interested in knowing more about me, or you would like me to work with you on your next project, please book free some time to discuss what I can help with and make sure to subscribe to my next blog!