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Hot Takes

You’re Approaching RevOps All Wrong with Rosalyn Santa Elena

Revenue

Revenue Operations is one of the hottest things on the market next to AI.

You know you need it, you know you should have it, and you probably actually finally understand what it is! But are you doing it correctly?

Most companies are still doing RevOps all wrong.

So how do you build, grow, and scale your Revenue Operations? Come join Rosalyn Santa Elena, Founder at The RevOps Collective, for this Hot Take for some things you can start doing TODAY to fix your approach!

[Transcript] You’re Approaching RevOps All Wrong with Rosalyn Santa Elena

Although transcriptions are generally very accurate, just a friendly reminder that they could sometimes be incomplete or contain errors due to unclear audio or transcription inaccuracies.

Joe Aicher

We keep rolling on; we have our next presenter, so I’d like to bring on Rosalyn. Hi, welcome; thanks for joining us.

Rosalyn Santa Elena

Hi Joe, thanks for having me; excited to be here.

Joe Aicher

Definitely, so let’s bring up your slides here; I’ll jump off—best of luck. I will talk to you in just a little bit here.

Rosalyn Santa Elena

That sounds great, thank you. Well, welcome, welcome. I’m super excited to be here, actually, for my second Hot Takes, so excited to be here. 

As Joe mentioned, I’m Rosalyn Santa Elena. I’m currently the founder of a small consulting and coaching business called the RevOps Collective. At the RevOps Collective, I really focus on a few primary pillars: go-to-market strategy and RevOps Consulting, one-on-one executive coaching and professional development for RevOps professionals, and then RevOps community building for learning and growth. 

So I’ve been a long-time leader in go-to-market and RevOps before we called it RevOps. Before it was cool, I guess; for the interesting fact we’re supposed to say here, I don’t think it’s really that interesting, but you know, aside from living in Oregon, where I was born in Portland, Oregon, I’ve really never lived anywhere else outside of the Bay Area which is where I am now in California. 

So excited to talk about really what you know with all this buzz about RevOps–why are you approaching your RevOps wrong? So let’s get right into it.

When I think about Revenue operations, I mean it’s really come a very long way right over the last five-ten years and really most recently, I think the last three or four years, for many reasons right, the volatility of the market, the ever-changing landscape of driving and retaining revenue, and then that critical need for those deep insights now into what’s working and what’s not with all of those needs, I think Rev Ops is definitely one of the hottest areas, hottest topics, but I still think that many companies are really approaching Revenue Operations wrong.

Over the past three and a half years, we’ve done a really good job, I think, of giving the term Revenue Operations a definition, at least in B2B Tech and especially in SaaS. Many organizations can probably–people in organizations can probably–recite a definition, but I think there’s still a lack of understanding of really how to build scale and grow a RevOps function. 

You're Approaching Revops All Wrong With Rosalyn Santa Elena

Many companies are simply rebranding Sales Ops or maybe Marketing Ops and calling it RevOps, or they’re taking a leader in one of those roles and simply changing their title to RevOps and saying, you know, ‘Poof! Now we have RevOps’ leaving that individual, unfortunately, to try to figure out how to do this right in a new role, and a lot of times, they’re still trying to even educate others in the company on what this function is.

I also see a lot of companies, you know, approaching RevOps wrong, when they take that siloed approach, they’re simply focused on one piece of the funnel. For example, they’re focused on the middle–maybe from qualified lead to opportunity–close. 

Then they’re ignoring the top of the funnel or maybe post-sales or implementation and customer success and renewals, all of these other parts of the funnel, and from my perspective, really the spirit of Revenue Operations is truly having an end-to-end approach to the entire revenue process, from prospect to customer to repeat customer with growth. 

Along those same lines, I see businesses focus only on data or only on systems when they think of RevOps. They approach RevOps as a fix for a problem that they have. “Oh, we have a data problem; we need RevOps; we have a need for someone to manage our tech stack, so we need RevOps. We need better reporting, so let’s hire for RevOps.” 

Then they hire for that one issue with that one skill set and that one resource, and then they believe, ‘Oh, we have RevOps,’ but then they wonder why they can’t do more. They wonder why they don’t have all of these benefits that everyone seems so excited about when it comes to RevOps. So, what are some of those things companies are doing wrong, and why should they even care? 

You're Approaching Revops All Wrong With Rosalyn Santa Elena

To add to what I’ve already mentioned, I think companies invest too late or to infrequently in RevOps. Aside from potentially building the revenue infrastructure completely wrong or not building it at all, they end up spending time recreating the wheel each and every time, right, you’re doing a very ad hoc way instead of building a repeatable structure that really allows for predictability, better expectations, and a better ability to scale. 

Having that right infrastructure around people, process, and tech but also strategy, insights, and enablement. Having that strong infrastructure allows an organization to be more efficient. They can be more predictable, and they’re just much more equipped to identify what’s working and what’s not and then how to iterate right to ensure those better outcomes. 

I do think many companies still view and treat RevOps as this back-office support or administrative function, that tactical doer and that’s the team that manages help tickets and supports the revenue team.

And yes, we are definitely supporters, we’re definitely enablers, I would say, of the revenue team, and there are plenty of tactical things that need to get done from an operational perspective. 

But the real benefit of RevOps is when they become that valued business partner right, they’re that thought partner, and then you can start to leverage their pulse on the day-to-day operations, the data, the insights that are available, and there’s business acumen as well as their strong understanding of the customer.

You're Approaching Revops All Wrong With Rosalyn Santa Elena

Then that RevOps Team and leader can be strategic and helping to really shine a light on what’s happening in the business and then where to lean in and where to focus, but I think what we’re seeing is to be that strong business leader and thought partner you need to have the right experience. You have to have the right knowledge, and you need to have the right guidance and support, but I think many companies resource improperly for this function, and that’s something definitely doing wrong. 

Either they hire a leader who has, you know, good experience but maybe not the depth right to really be successful at what they’re being asked to do, or they don’t hire enough people to properly resource and support the business. 

These RevOps teams tend to be very lean, and it’s not uncommon when you’re a startup to be a team of one. Still, both are really common scenarios where you know either you’re not hiring a leader with enough experience and being asked to do too much or asking more than they have the knowledge to do, or you don’t hire enough people, and both things are really common. 

I see this a lot, and when this happens, it leads to your RevOps Team being always underwater. They’re always reactive instead of being proactive and then able to actually see what’s ahead and see around corners. We talk about that being one of our superpowers; it is being able to help the business look around corners, identify blind spots and kind of see what’s happening versus just what’s in front of their face, and I really do see this every day. 

I see this with people in my network, and I see this with clients that I work with. I mentioned that I do consecutive coaching of RevOps professionals, and why is this such a need? Because many of these professionals are in these growth roles, which is great for career and learning opportunities, but they’re given insufficient staff. They’re not giving enough time to do the work, and then they don’t have the right guidance to be successful. 

So yes, they can learn sales and or marketing or product from other leaders in the organization, but it’s not from that operations lens or perspective, so what I see is that they end up spending extra cycles just trying to figure things out. There’s more trial and error; there are more mistakes made, which leads to slowing down the business, causing frustration and burnout for them instead of having someone who can kind of coach and guide them and help them be successful.

So how does having a strong Revenue Operations infrastructure really help enable your strategy and optimize your execution in the business? 

When you have a truly holistic approach to RevOps, you can help drive alignment. That’s probably my most overused word, but alignment across each part of that end-to-end revenue process means alignment across people and process and tech, but also data and insights and strategy and, of course, enablement. 

So this Ops function can really be that body that steps back, sees across the funnel and the customer life cycle and then just ensures that the organization is aligned, marching to the same beat. Everyone understands the strategy, the objectives, the metrics, the data, the rules and responsibilities, and the expectations.

I like to use that boat analogy, if you think about all of these different teams in their boats rowing along in the same direction, everybody’s in harmony, and they’re moving forward. You have marketing, sales, and customer success, but you also have your partners’ team or channel team, your services, and support. There are so many teams like customer success. Even the kind of non-revenue teams like finance and product and legal who may not be under the go-to-market umbrella, but also everybody is a revenue player in the company, but you have everybody in their boats.

What if you could get everybody into the same boat? And they’re all rowing together when you think about that, and you’re able to maximize efficiencies and synergies while minimizing redundancies and people doing wasted cycles of things. 

When you have this alignment across all of these different areas, then you have that single view of the business where everyone’s looking at the business the same way. When that happens, you can be much more efficient, much more effective, which I think is top of mind for everyone these days; we all talk about the need to do better with less.

And probably most importantly, a key benefit of having this really seamless revenue process is a much better frictionless customer experience. When your customer is successful in realizing value and seeing ROI quickly, they’re not only more likely to buy from you in the first place but also renew and then grow with you. Which is, I think, what we all want, right?

So just a key takeaway, a quote, and this is actually my own and, again, a very overused quote.  “Revenue Operations is the strategic differentiator really to drive and optimize the Revenue Engine,” which is really what I believe RevOps can bring to an organization when it’s done right.

You're Approaching Revops All Wrong With Rosalyn Santa Elena

This is just a slide on if you’re ready to unleash that power of RevOps, definitely let me know how I can help.

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Hot Takes Live

Replays

Catch the replay of Hot Takes Live, where 30 of the top SaaS leaders across Marketing, Sales, and RevOps revealed some of their most unpopular opinions about their niche.

These leaders shared what lessons they learned and how they disrupted their industry by going against the grain (and achieved better results in the process).

Joe Aicher

Great! Thank you, Rosalyn, that was awesome. I appreciate you sharing that. A lot of that hits home for me, definitely. 

I have a couple of follow-up questions because I don’t see anything from the comments section yet. So please feel free to ask questions if you have them there. 

It’s around hiring. Because you talked about making sure that the RevOps team is really an important part of how your business is operating, where, in your opinion, if you’re starting on that journey, where are you looking to make your first RevOps hire? 

Is there a certain type of background that fits really well? Is there a particular role that you’re looking to promote from, or is it an external? How would you get started in terms of the actual personnel that you’re looking to add to the team?

Rosalyn Santa Elena

Yeah, I think you know, and that’s probably one of the most popular questions, I think, is kind of like, how do you get started, right? I mean, who do I hire for? 

Especially oftentimes, companies have that one single hire, and of course, they want the unicorn, or as I like to say, the purple squirrel, the one that can do everything and just kind of be out-of-the-box and be able to run the show. 

But I think in most organizations you start with, you tend to start with a generalist. Someone who does a little bit of everything and a lot of those core functions but similar to any business challenge, I always ask, if you want a solution, where are your biggest pain points? I think from a company perspective, what are the main objectives that you have for the year, for the next short-term and long-term, and then where are those gaps to get there? 

Maybe it’s a lack of visibility into your data, maybe you need better automation and technology, or maybe you just need better operational rigor to be able to actually build some processes, that you can actually build some of that repeatability. 

So if you look at those areas, you have the biggest gaps in order to achieve your goals, that’s where I would hire for. A lot of people focus on sales first. Kind of that middle-of-the-funnel, but if you think about it, I think that’s why we see a lot of generalists kind of come from this middle-of-the-funnel kind of Sales Ops background first. 

Then they kind of learn more top-of-funnel, they start moving up and then start moving kind of down-funnel and learning some more of that. But there are just so many different areas that a good RevOps person can come from, and I think that’s what the beauty and the excitement of the role is because there are so many entry points. After all, none of us go to school and say, ‘Hey, I want to be a RevOps person.’

Some days I’m sure a lot of us are like, we don’t still don’t want to be a RevOps person, even when we’re in RevOps, but I think that there are so many places to come from, and there are just so many needs. 

So lots of excitement around the role, but from a business perspective, if you’re looking to hire, definitely think about where are your biggest gaps, who do you have on the team already, kind of the strength of your bench that can kind of cover some of the things that would traditionally fall into a RevOps organization and then hire for that skill set. 

Joe Aicher

Definitely, definitely agree; guilty of being the from the middle-of-funnel myself moving into that area, but you know that when you start to learn more about those different areas of the funnel and then start bringing in people that have deeper expertise there and sharing that it just strengthens the team. So definitely, definitely agree there. 

Well, Rosalyn, I think we’re up against time. It’s been great talking to you, and your presentation was awesome. If anybody has any questions, I’m sure they can reach out to you on LinkedIn and connect with you there, but best of luck for the rest of the summer, and I hope to talk to you soon. 

Rosalyn Santa Elena

Great, thank you so much for having me.