Accelerate revenue execution
CPQ (Configure Price Quote)
Automate quotes & subscriptions
CLM (Contract Lifecycle Management)
Streamline contract signings
Manage revenue lifecycle
Collaborate between buyers & sellers
Alright, welcome everybody. To RevAmp, I’m your host, Mark Lerner, Director of Growth Marketing here at DealHub, and I’m joined today by Natalie Furness of RevOps Automated. I’m super excited to hear all about what Natalie has to say, but to get started, Natalie, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thanks, Mark. First of all, thanks for having me here today. Hi everybody. I’m Natalie Furness, founder and CEO of RevOps Automated. We provide fractional revenue operation services for businesses who are looking to increase their rev ops resource. So we are all about how do we make that impact with revenue operations.
Amazing. And obviously that’s I think important more so today than possibly any other time in the future, or excuse me, any other time in the past or the future, maybe because we are in this time where we’ve, I think shifted a lot from growth at all costs and kind of like just let’s get the next customer. Doesn’t matter how much the cost of acquisition is, doesn’t matter what we invest in in terms of tools, as long as we close and we show growth, I think we’ve shifted pretty strongly to do more with less, be optimize, reduce friction, reduce complexity. And so I think there’s a lot of internal auditing that companies are doing about their systems and processes and where’s bloat and where there’s unneeded complexity. And one of the things I’ve been hearing a lot from the people I’ve been talking to about this is how it’s given an opportunity to have a second look at some of the systems and processes and tools that are in place and the kind of unneeded complexity and difficulty and the lack of focusing on the end user being kind of the individual contributor in the company who has to either use the tool or the process.
And in fact, when those things were implemented, it was meant to kind of make things better and faster and more optimal, but it actually created a layer of complexity and oftentimes people try to bypass it. I think there’s a renewed focus on that and maybe appreciating the beauty and the simplicity. But yeah, I think on the topic of ease of use and the importance of that, the kind of thing I just laid out, I wonder is that something that you’re seeing as well or is it something you’ve been seeing for a while?
Well, Mark, I am so relieved that the rest of the world is finally joining us and looking at effective efficiency. I think as an operations person and as an operator who was of course obsessed with revenue, we have been waiting for the world to see this sort of dilemma of growth at all costs. It was one of those things that we’ve been predicting for a few years now, that the growth that we were seeing over in Silicon Valley, even across the world, it wasn’t sustainable. There was a lot of VC money pumped into a lot of businesses, a lot of inflated valuations, growth without profit. As a friend of mine, I remember told me when I was much younger, he said, Natalie, a business without profit margins is just an expensive hobby. So I mean, really up until now there’s been a ton of businesses that my friend back in the day would’ve said, it’s just an expensive hobby.
And I’m glad that we’re kind of out of that bubble now. And people are actually starting to realize we need growth with profit margins. It’s not good enough to just be growing at all costs. We need to understand how do we become efficient and effective and provide this amazing customer experience and provide this amazing internal operations experience so that we can provide scalable, predictable, repeatable revenue, which is where we are all going. And to answer your question about that usability and that internal operations experience, it’s my belief that there are two core things that create revenue growth that is pairing the customer experience with the employee experience. If you think about the customer experience and the employee experience with operations sitting in between, it’s that creates the triangle for revenue growth and revenue growth sits at the top of that. So it’s this alignment between the customer experience and the employee experience through revenue operations, which is going to enable the growth.
So you see Revenue Operations as being kind of in charge of the internal customer experience. So it’s not only about building the functionality to accomplish the goal, but actually making it usable for the end user, being the person on the inside.
For sure. I think as in revenue operations, it is our goal to improve the metrics across the bow tie. We are here to increase the volume, conversion rates and velocity of the buyer from awareness to consideration, to evaluation to customer, to impact of onboarding, to retained to evangelist. That is our role. But when we look deeper into what enables the volume, the conversion rates, the acceleration, it is the marrying of the operations delivered internally to also deliver a premium customer experience. If you optimize for internal efficiency without considering the impact on the customer experience is going to be efficient but not effective. If you optimize only for the customer experience and leave inefficiencies massive within your business, you’ll be effective, but at a massive cost. So the true art and science is becoming effective and efficient by aligning those two things. That’s my thoughts on the matter.
So who do or what do you think is the worst or the biggest kind of, I don’t want to say villain, but the one either tool or process or team or organization that has struggled with this the most, that ends up introducing things that are inefficient or unusable or not really considering the end user Who gets dinging the most here?
Oh gosh, I don’t want to point fingers at any particular person.
Well, one thing I will put out there is it’s easy to spend money on tooling without considering the process when you have a ton of money. So businesses that maybe raised a ton of money and looked at and then all of a sudden all these SaaS companies coming and solving the problem without businesses thinking about the processes to start with, ended up with a ton of tools, very few processes, ton of inefficiencies. And I don’t think any one person or department is to blame for that. I think marketing had their own budget, sales had their own budget, CS had their own budget. They all went and bought tools separately with their budgets, thinking about their very small part of the journey, not really thinking about each other in the business holistically. And they would’ve been under pressure from c-suites to build fast scale fast, grow fast, and everybody is doing their best to achieve their own KPIs. And my question would be, well, maybe we should think about the c-suite, thinking about those OKRs that are more holistic, that are more focused on aligning those teams and aligning the buyer experience with the internal experience.
Yeah, I kind of like to think of let’s say the core tools that a go-to-market team is focused on. So CRM tends to get that single source of truth badge realistically or not. We talk about obviously CPQ from a deal hub perspective, billing, those kinds of tools, things like that. When companies are building this revenue engine, the tools that are needed to go to market and ensure quote to cash, quote to revenue, how should they think about balancing the simplicity with ensuring that there’s effective but not overly making things complex? I mean, an example of this is in the CRM, I think we’ve all had the experience where we step into a role, we look at the CRM and we see a million fields. Half of them are kind of exactly the same, and no one really knows why it was there, but no one wanted to delete someone else’s field and so they just did another one. And it just kind of builds this mountain that gets harder and harder to get yourself out of. I think that’s just one example. But yeah, I mean, how can companies think about building simplicity into this whole thing?
The way I like to think about it is mapping those steps as we mentioned, that bow high funnel, the awareness, consideration, evaluation, opportunity, buying, map, all of those stages out and think about what does the customer need to be able to do and what does your team need to be able to do? So if you think about awareness, they need to find you, okay, so they need to find you and they need to be able to learn about you. So what does that mean? You might need, you’re going to need a CMS, you’re going to need somewhere to host some content. So there’s plenty of free platforms out there that people can start with or small subscription things. And then as you get more sophisticated, you’re going to want to invest in more, then you’re going to need to capture that demand in a way.
And that’s when you start to see the CRM coming in because your team’s going to need to see the capture. They’re going to need to be able to qualify those people. And that’s when you start, as you mentioned, mark those properties. You don’t need all the properties. You need the properties that are going to enable your team to qualify them. Okay? So once you’ve got that and you’ve qualified, you’re going to need something for the team to be able to know if they’ve reached out. So you then tick that off the box, what is the tool that’s going to enable you to do that? Managing opportunities through pipeline, what’s going to allow you to send contextually relevant information to these people? And then there’s going to be a point where people are considering and they’re wanting to configure the products that they’re wanting to buy.
Now, traditionally it would’ve been a back and forth of email, email, email, email, all of those kinds of things. Well, if you’ve kind of outgrown that and you’ve realize that’s a friction, that’s when you’re going to be needing to think, well, we need something to configure the products and deliver quotes in a more automated way so the customer has a better experience and we have a better experience. And maybe you get to that point where you’re like, well, actually, we have to sell to lots of people. It’s not in a B2C company. We’re a B2B. There’s many stakeholders, and when there’s many stakeholders, they all need to see the same information at the same time. So does that mean we need something like a deal route where people can log and look at that information and do more collaborative buying? And then after that, okay, well then they’re onboarding.
What does the customer want? And the customer wants to see the value quickly, what’s going to help us deliver that? Do we need an automated system to help them go through their onboarding? So it can be simple, but it is taking the time to just map that whole journey out. You can use Fig Jam, you can use miro, you can use any of those tools to sort of draw that. What does the customer expect to experience? What does that mean? We need to internally and which tools can deliver that? I know I make that sound simpler than it is. It’s not that simple. It takes a lot of time and consideration and collaboration, but I find it remarkable the number of teams that are yet to just spend two hours, just two hours in a call to gather all teams, just mapping out at least a journey.
Yeah, I think that’s true. And I think, like you said, it sounds simple, right? But it’s actually very difficult to do things like that. I think there’s a famous quote by Mark Twain, something like that. He’s writing a letter to someone and he said, I apologize, had I had more time, I would’ve made this shorter. You know what I mean? Editing yourself, auditing, removing redundancies. These are actually make it harder, especially today with all the automation and tools we have. You can throw the kitchen sink at anything, but it’s really ensuring that what really needs to be there is there. That’s the hard part.
So I’m going to ask you a difficult question and somewhat of a loaded question. So we talk about user friendliness in terms of the internal user, can something like a CPQ actually be user-friendly?
Can any technology be user-friendly? It depends on the user. I think for those of you that don’t know my background, I actually come from a healthcare informatics space in which we were using electronic health records. And I’ll tell you what, if you want to find a piece of historic software that’s not easy to use, guarantee your doctors, your nurses, your physicians, your surgeons, they’re using it. These softwares are really hard to use. So please to bear with your health professional if they can’t find all of your records, their systems are not great. They don’t enable great healthcare. So if you find that frustrating, think about the frustration that your buyers must be experiencing if they too are frustrated with your systems. And I think to select a user-friendly system, you need to think of your internal team, like your customers when you are selecting a solution.
If you are a C-suite or if you’re a leader, get someone who’s a front end user in that evaluation process. Get them looking at the tools, get them, get them to become part of the process. I think that’s the best way to find the best tool for the users. There are going to be people, you might have a team that are used to using a particular software, and that might mean that they can get that initial value faster, but you then also need to be evaluating the software of if that’s what they’re just used to using, is it just we need to help them change their behavior so they can actually use something that’s going to enable our business better. And that’s where the difficulty comes. If we only ever bought the things that people were used to using all their lives, we would still be driving horse and carriages.
That’s true. Yeah. I mean there’s a certain level of inertia that needs to happen in order for a big change like that to happen. So taking a step back a little bit and in terms of the work that you do at Ops automated, how much of what you do is kind of coming in and starting fresh and kind of laying it out and how much of it it is like, okay, we have to audit a lot of this stuff and we actually have to start removing some pieces of the puzzle here and which one is harder?
Natalie Furness (16:24):
Gosh, we meet people in such different stages of their business because we deal with businesses from usually around $5 million to over the hundreds of millions a year. So every business is at a different stage. I would say right now the biggest opportunity that most businesses we see have is actually optimizing that cash to quote process. If anything, and that’s not me just saying that we are happening to be on the call, but a lot of businesses have CRMs, they have some underlying something, and what I’m seeing a lot of is reps offering ridiculous discounts for things or people ending up at that point in which the cost of servicing the business is actually more costly than the actual business itself, and they haven’t really understood this configuring the product and quoting so the business can be profitable. I think changing the prices of your product is the quickest way to get some quick wins for revenue growth.
You might lose some of the customers that don’t want to spend that much money, but they’re probably the most needy customers too. So I think there’s a massive opportunity and we’ve helped businesses kind of identify this opportunity. In the CPQ space, a lot of people don’t think about that friction between choosing a product and billing. That’s kind of a point because we all think about CRMs a lot, but we do a lot of CRM refreshers people come in. Usually it’s when we’ve got new professionals that come into the role and they’ve inherited a HubSpot or a Salesforce instance that’s maybe been used for the last year or three or five and they just can’t see for the woods from the trees anymore. Everybody’s been building on it. So we do cleanup stuff, but then of course we do help identify areas for innovation quick wins, and sometimes focusing on something that isn’t yet a mess or hasn’t yet even been started can give a bigger impact than unpicking a ton of historical technical debt, which is why I think there is so much technical debt.
It’s like I want to do the thing that the path of least resistance and tackling that is going to, who knows when I pull on that string what’s going to fall out? It feels like the guy trying to cut the wires for a bomb, and it’s like, do I cut the yellow wire or the red wire? And at some point you just take a deep breath and have to guess who knows if you delete a field, how many connected automations are involved in that?
I will jump in and say there is ways of knowing how many, well, it depends which platform you’re on. Luckily, if you’re on HubSpot there, if there’s a field, you can actually look at the dependencies of everything. There is some stuff that you can do on Salesforce as well on that. Some of the other CRM systems don’t give you as much visibility. But yes, I think there’s almost like a two-pronged approach. We’re working with a particular client at the minute who we are doing innovation work at the same time as cleanup work. So we’re actually kind of pushing them forward and we’ve got this long-term kind of drip project, which is all about cleansing at the same time, and that’s kind of having a double benefit for the organization because they can illustrate the steps they’re making forwards and the progress to their stakeholders. So implementing a new C-R-M-C-P-Q, like deal rooms, all those kind of things. At the same time, they’ve got a bank of hours focused on cleansing hygiene data. So that’s happening in the background. You do like cleaning your house every year. It’s not particularly fun, but you do need to give it a spring clean and keep on top of it else. The dust will collect and data is much the same.
And luckily, I have a partner who very much likes cleaning, or at least is more, doesn’t hate it as much as I do because I have a tough time with being organized in that way.
Natalie Furness :
I despise cleaning Mark. That’s why I outsource it. I have paid a cleaner because when I look at the return on investment for my time spent on cleaning, it’s much more cost effective to hire a cleaner whose expert in cleaning who will get a really good job done. And that’s why businesses like ours exist as well.
I agree. I’m of the same mind.
That argument has not worked internally in this home, but I digress.
It’s interesting that having a project in which it’s dual pronged, one is kind of moving forward on innovation and one is also looking back and auditing and cleansing. How do you approach that so that there isn’t any issues between the two that you’re innovating on something and then you end up removing it because the right hand might not know what the left hand is doing? It’s got to be a challenge.
Well, yeah. We manage our projects with work streams and making sure everybody is aligned on projects. So we’re thinking more about change management here, project management, change management. You’ve got different work streams. So we’ll often put a project board together, have different leaders of each work stream. Some will be internally with the clients, some will be with us, but there’s weekly whips, there’s monthly change management meetings, and all the time we are keeping that flow of communication to make sure that the innovation and the cleanse aren’t negatively impacting each other. And if we see, we’ll highlight risks early. If we see risks of those two things running in together, it will be a risk mitigation meeting where we’ll be talking about how do we manage this risk? How do we progress? How do we go over this blocker? If you were developing any form of SAS product, there’s going to be old features that you’re going to be doing things with and changing, and then there’s going to be a new set of features that you’re going to be building and innovating, and you have to have a roadmap that can be flexible, that can be agile.
And so yeah, two streams at work at one time. Makes sense.
Yeah. Yeah, I mean that’s like a really optimal way to run things. And I think having that organization of projects is something that could and should be projected across from all different types of organizations. Not only working with a partner like you, but internally when running projects, because I think we kind of touched on it, but people are going to act based on what they’re incentivized to do. And if marketing is incentivized for X and sales is incentivized for Y, oftentimes there’s going to be friction or something in the middle because they’re not incentivized on the same thing that the clearest example of that is the MQL as a key metric because if a marketing team is incentivized to generate an MQL; MQLs could be defined as anything, and then the leadership will go to sales, be like, well, marketing’s passing all these MQL to you.
How come you’re not closing anything? And they’re like, well, they’re not really good. And then he said, said kind of thing. So I would say from the usability context and taking a step back, how do you situations like that where the one node, one silo in an organization is kind of working towards one thing, one is working towards another and it’s creating all sorts of complications, what are some ways that companies can step back and simplify things so that everyone’s kind of going towards the same goal that they understand and that they’re working together and not against each other?
It’s interesting you asked this Mark, because someone literally asked me this last week on a one-to-one, I often meet with just rev ops and revenue leaders just on one-to-one from LinkedIn and just we have chitchats and someone asks the same question, what are the realistic steps to un-siloing teams and getting people to row in the same direction towards the same goal? I think a big thing is the objectives and key results that you’re setting from top down, like actually looking at the roll down from maybe three or four key metrics, we as a business have five or six. I think you’ve got to think about your values as a business, your mission, what you’re trying to achieve based your OKRs on that, and then roll down the metrics independent of department language. I think the challenge is if you call anything a marketing qualified lead for example, we could do a whole chat on that, but the fact that there is the word marketing in that alienates that straightaway to say that it’s only marketing’s responsibility to do that and a sales qualified lead.
What if we just called them qualified leads in terms of qualified pipeline? What if we just got rid of this siloing language because language and semantics matter. I know it’s important that people have their tribes and want to work in this way, but what if we made the language simpler and said, we need to bring in this leads that hit these qualification metrics. Don’t use the word sales or marketing, and then we need to create this many opportunities and a definition of an opportunity as X, Y, Z. We need to send this many quote proposals out and we want maybe that to be attributed to these sorts of channels.
I’m still of a mindset the more and more I work and own my own business, the more I realize that if you divide themselves and marketing team into two separate motions, you’re going to alienate them more and more, particularly if you’re using LinkedIn marketing and sales need to really work together and it should be focused around account-based if you’ll B2B. So actually the pipeline will probably be generated by a number of touch points. They might have seen something delivered by marketing. They then might have been reached out to somebody in sales. They then might have converted on reading a particular article on your website. So should we be changing this to demand generation? But going back to the actual usability of a platform, your users will be aligned more if they work from the same platform. First of all, we have to bear in mind that if you have tools that don’t fully integrate into the system that your team all wants to live on, then they’re going to, it’s like if you had two offices, one in London and one in Australia, those teams aren’t going to speak to each other if you stick half your team on Salesforce and half your team on HubSpot, yes, I get that can be a powerful mix, but at the same time, you’re naturally going to be making it harder for people to work together.
I mean, they are working on the integration so you can get more information leveled up in Salesforce from HubSpot. There are some changes in that that are coming, but it’s just like, for example, deal Hub has an amazing integration with HubSpot and Salesforce, just like there are other products on the market like trumpet’s. Also working on some of their integrations, and this is something that I would say people should think about when they’re evaluating is look at how native that integration is. Because if you’ve got people that are living on a specific CRM, if you are purchasing another tool, how integrated can that be? Is it a case that you’re going to have to look at a custom integration, API that’s going to need managed and maintenance and held on a separate server or has the solution you’re opting for designed what we call a native integration. So it’s designed to operate on the tools you’ve already got. I think that is important for usability and I’m not a hundred percent sure how many people are considering that. I think that is
A great place to put a pin in it. We’ve actually time flies, but we’ve actually kind come to the end here. So in the last minute or two, as we say, goodbye for now, why don’t you tell the audience at home where they can find you, read some more of your content, engage with you, maybe connect with you.
Amazing. Well, thanks everybody for listening. As I say, I’m Natalie fan, I’m Chen to be most active on LinkedIn, always sharing as much as I can. We’ve also got a ton of free resources on our website, which is www.revopsautomated.com. You can find things like attribution models, integration guides, all those sorts of things there. And feel free to dmm me, I’m always up for a chat, especially if you’re interested in revenue generation, revenue growth or revenue operations.
All right, Natalie, thank you so much and we’ll see you again soon.