Accelerate revenue execution
CPQ (Configure Price Quote)
Automate quotes & subscriptions
CLM (Contract Lifecycle Management)
Streamline contract signings
Manage revenue lifecycle
Collaborate between buyers & sellers
In this podcast, Olga Traskova tells our audience how RevOps is the rhythm of the business, orchestrating the go-to-market motion. Listen as she shares her in-depth knowledge about the importance of building repeatable processes and capturing essential data points in the revenue funnel.
Barry: You mentioned that you did marketing operations, then you went to revenue marketing. Maybe you could tell our listeners more about what revenue marketing is. It’s not such a popular profession, meaning I don’t see so many people on LinkedIn with that in their headline. Tell us a bit more about that and let me know if I’m just looking at the wrong profiles and that’s why I don’t see that.
Olga: Yeah, let’s make it a buzzword. Why not? Let’s start the trend. Remember, many years ago, many, many years ago, when Marketo was fairly new and was just Marketo and Pardot? No one knew what they were doing, everyone just thought it’s about email marketing. We were called different names. Marketing ops actually surfaced maybe in 2013, before that we were Demand Generation, Lead Generation, marketing nurture.
At some point, we were ninjas and growth hackers, whatever you call it. No one knew what the names should be, then we landed on marketing operations. What it means is managing budgets, tools, processes, people, to make sure this entire marketing motion, the go-to market motion, flawlessly works. We are able to generate demand, generate leads, wash them, nurture them, score them, and reach them, and then put them in front of sales, and make it so that sales knows what to do with them.
Then we can also track the journey after a salesperson picks up that lead. Marketing ops evolved from this first part of making sure a salesperson gets the lead, that was part one of marketing operations. There were those famous memes out there when marketing was throwing leads over the fence to sales. I remember those memes. Then we went to part two, where marketing actually wanted to be part of the process.
What happens to a lead after a salesperson picks it up? This is where revenue marketing started to gain momentum. We wanted to understand the channels that produced those leads, the channels that the leads were engaged with. Which are more likely to close? Which are more likely to convert further into the pipeline? What would be the conversion rates from your top of the funnel lead and then into the closed one?
Also, looking not just for the new business, not for the leads that are incoming and are your new prospective customers, but also for customers. All of these questions were raised by CMOs and marketing leaders. That’s how marketing ops started also participating, not just in the lead management, but also in the opportunity management and the sales methodology, in sales enablement.
Hey, we need to be able to train salespeople. We need to make sure they understand how to follow up with the leads, with the context, how they understand the campaigns, and how they understand the marketing motions. Then they say how to disposition those leads and how to send them back. From the top of funnel lead management, going into opportunity management, sales enablement, sales methodology, marketing ops just made its way there, also in parallel answering revenue questions.
Marketing has a lot of data because of the tech stack, super rich tech stack that pretty much every company now has the cookies, the tokens, the tracking code everywhere, budgets. We want to make sure that we invest marketing dollars in the right channels and the right programs. Just working on all of that, holistically means revenue marketing to me. It’s not just implementing tools. It’s not just throwing out processes, but it’s looking at the end game. The end game is always revenue. Looking at what’s working and why we should be doing this and working in alignment with all of the cross-functional departments.
Barry: Then revenue operations, would that just be all of what you said about revenue marketing plus customer success? Or does it mean something else to you?
Olga: Yes. Revenue operation has many definitions. To me, it is the rhythm of the business, basically aligning and centralizing all of the operations and the company to make sure it’s one flawless process from top to bottom and going into the customer journey. Ensuring that everyone knows their part, that there’s data flawlessly flying through the entire process and is reportable. The data is accessible at any point of decision. Marketing, sales, plan success leaders, finance. Super important. Looking at the same set of data.
To make sure we orchestrate the entire buyer’s journey, customer journey, using the tools where we need to use the tools, implementing automations where we need to implement automations, letting salespeople sell, letting buyers buy, which is also important, working on the speed to lead for marketing and sales, working on the right marketing channels and dollars, working with finance and reconciling the actual bookings and the revenue. It’s this orchestration.
Also, owning the enablement function. I like to talk about Switzerland. We are independent and shouldn’t be sitting under marketing or sales. It should actually holistically look into the entire process, identifying the pain points and then working cross functionally with other departments. Now TigerConnect’s sales operations, sales enablement, analytics, are under revenue operations. Marketing ops, client success ops are our dotted line, but we are in a matrix structure and we do report to the CFO. Which I think is super important, because rev ops and finance alignment is just the cornerstone. We can forecast many different numbers, but if those forecasting numbers do not align with what finance is putting to the board, it’s all smoke and mirrors. It’s one single source of truth that we’re working on now.
Barry: Yeah. It’s a win-win. There’s a lot we can unpack. You could talk to us about the journey before being at TigerConnect. What was the hiring team thinking when they were hiring you? Did they recognize the opening? Did they recognize the potential for a specific rev ops function, or did that happen by accident? Then I think we could even go quickly into the actual practicalness, which both you and I love and I think our listeners really like, is how to do rev ops, how to build your rev ops team and how to execute quickly and in a scalable way.
Olga: I like that you said, “What if it happened by accident?” Can you imagine that? Putting a new team, a new structure, a new function of the company, it just happens by accident. Raises questions. Well, our executives really realize the pain and the need to centralize operations, to have the team be responsible for the revenue and go to market technology stack, for the entire lead to opportunity, opportunity management, sales methodology, client success journeys to centralize it.
When you have marketing op, sales op, someone else in finance working on it, it just creates so many discrepancies. Then you have your marketing leader coming to a meeting with one set of data, sales leader will come with another forecast and client success. It has a completely different set of numbers. When it happens, you definitely get that sponsorship from your executives. No one wants to have fights about the data and where the truth is. That was very quickly realized. I’m not sure how quickly, but that was realized before I even joined the company and therefore the position was opened.
We talk about rev ops. There are a lot of podcasts about rev ops. There are a lot of resources, but we do see them because we are in it. Honestly, if you look around, not that many companies do have a revenue operations structure. They might have, or talk about the revenue operations approach, but when you actually look into the org chart, it’s still on the whiteboard. It’s still not implemented. It’s still just in their minds.
Not that many companies actually have a centralized team for the revenue operations. When TigerConnect approached me and they revealed that this is what they would be going with, I was very happy because there are not that many companies there. It’s a great opportunity for me to build the function. It was a great challenge to build the function and really show what I’ve learned at all other companies using my experience, using the support from the executives, the support from the team, and building the scalable function at TigerConnect.
When I joined sales operations and sales analytics, we were moved under revenue operations. The same day that I joined, we also hired sales enablement leaders. Sales enablement also resides under revenue operations. We already had pretty strong leaders for marketing operations that we immediately began working super close with. There was some business debt. Some of the pain points were just sitting there and waiting for us to come in and start attacking them. The first couple of months we had our projects. We were very busy.
There was no time for you to know how they say, “learn, activate, watch, and then put together a plan”? We didn’t have time for any of that. We had to just hit the ground running. There were a number of pretty urgent projects that we had to address and start building for the future. Immediately, we put together this rhythm of the business, cadence of meetings, a bi-weekly meeting with all the revenue leaders, with CMO, CFO, SVP of sales, and some key players cross functionally.
When we look at the one set of data, it’s one dashboard that represents the entire funnel from lead generation to pipeline, to forecasting, to closed-won, to at-risk analysis for the customers, to churn analysis for customers. It’s a bi-weekly call that I run and that allows us to look at the same set of data, have this one single source of truth. Depending on the month, depending on the time of the year, we would have marketing people present there. They would talk about some motions or events that they ran or campaigns that they ran. Or we would have sales leaders talk about the forecasting and the pain points. If we’re seeing the declining number at the top of the funnel, we’ll talk about how to address it.
It is still work in progress. I cannot say that I’m super proud of how it looks now, but it’s definitely has been a lot of progress made on the data points that we’re looking at and the conversations that we’re having, and how we’re able to pull in people from other teams to address the issues that we’re seeing. In ’22, I really am hoping to make it this true rhythm of the business. The entire funnel plus customer journey, talking about the forecasting, talking about churn renewals, looking at marketing programs, marketing channels, getting feedback from BDRs, getting feedback from sales.
Then at the same time, what we will be doing is launching the forecasting cadence reviews. It’s going to be a really prescriptive approach for sales and sales leaders and sales reps. Hey, every Monday sales reps submit their own forecast. Every Tuesday, sales leaders review that forecast. Every Wednesday, sales leaders submit that forecast to the SVP of sales. It’s going to be really prescriptive every day you do this.
Olga: What I learned is that you can run a lot of enablement sessions. Most of the salespeople forget about the training in two weeks. You have to be really on point in putting together a day in the life of a salesperson, a day in the life of a marketing ops person. We start our day with this dashboard, this tool you use to dial. This tool you use to send an email. This is how you forecast in Salesforce. I know it might become boring, but to grow and scale the company, you really have to adhere to all of these practices, the pipeline management, sales, sales methodology, the processes, and the cadences that every BDR has to go through with every lead that they receive or client success, playbooks.
We have to be diligent about keeping those processes going and making sure there is a feedback loop. Just tightening all that, prescribing the days in life for sales and marketing. That’s the goal for ’22. That’s what I’ve been hearing most companies are doing. That’s where they see success.
Barry: Are you leading these playbook initiatives or is that considered the sales enablement? Or is that a VP of Sales and then you’re working with him to make sure that the VP of Sales gets it done and you’re in more of a project management role? Let’s go there first.
Olga: It takes a village, right? It’s not one person. If it’s one person, then it’s a problem. It does take a village. We do have a sales enablement function, which is their core responsibility, but we want to make sure that it’s aligned with the sales methodology and the sales process. We are not sitting next to sales people just because we’re all over remote now every day. Aligning with the sales leaders, sales executives, when it comes to playbooks on the client side, client success, CSMs, interviewing them, figuring out what’s really going to work. There’s a lot of trial and error until we land on the right one, but it’s building frameworks as a cross-functional matrix exercise. Everyone needs to be abreast.
Olga: Talk about client success. There’s marketing also involved. Well, CSMs cannot work in a silo without marketing. Marketing is running customer engagement, customer renewal programs. There’s that communication going on. Say if you were a customer, you’re being bombarded by an outreach cadence from a client success person and marketing. It’s not the best customer experience. That’s where you need to bring several people. When I’m talking about the rhythm of the business and pulling people that need to be pulled, sometimes it’s client success and marketing.
Sometimes it’s the sales team, sales operations, and enablement. Depending on the motion, depending on the playbook, depending on what we’re trying to solve for, rev ops is this orchestrator, because we are Switzerland, sitting and watching what’s happening. We know the company goals, we know what is going on in marketing, what are the major programs, major initiatives, targets, etc. We know sales quotas, where are they at? We know the forecasting, we know the pipeline. We are there to make sure that everyone, everything is flawless and that everyone is aware of the major initiatives.
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Barry: Do you use templates that you find online or from friends for these playbooks? Is there a specific template you use, or it’s all built from scratch?
Olga: Well, I’m a huge believer in not reinventing the wheel. Google it. If you have a problem that cannot be Googled and there is no blog, no graphics, no webinar, no podcast, no video about it. It’s just strange. Ask yourself, “Is it really a problem?” if other companies are not talking about it. I’m also on Slack and multiple revenue operations, sales operations, sales, enablement channels. There are a lot of discussions there.
Just by researching, you can find a lot of, maybe if you don’t get a template, your list will give a lot of direction of where you should be going. There is just so much great content there, by using and juggling different resources, different vendors. Everyone, pretty much every vendor in the rev tech stack has thought leadership resources. Just juggling several of them, you can put together the template that works for you.
It’s not one size fits all. It’s not like you can get something from online and implement it in your company. It will have to be tailored. It will have to be customized, but this is where you do your homework, your research, you can ask on Slack channels, how other companies are approaching and doing it. That’s going to give you a lot of directions, a lot of assumptions immediately. You use it to build your own templates.
Then of course, being in this field for many years, you do have knowledge and understanding what’s worked before or didn’t and why it didn’t. That’s also helpful.
Barry: Experience is definitely impactful. Can you name two or three of your favorite resources, whether there be a Slack group or a blog?
In terms of Slack, it’s Revs Ops Co-op. That’s a pretty big one. There’s always a lot of discussions every day. It’s always pretty active. When it comes to other content, I like Cluster. We do use Cluster here for forecasting, and this is an AI tool that helps with revenue forecasting and pipeline management. They’re very great on their content. They have been conducting a lot of interviews, so you can listen to those. They also have calculators and white papers, infographics. Their competitor, Clari, is also great on leadership and produces great eBooks and great white papers that I love.
Barry: Another interesting thing that we could dive into, that’s pretty practical, are the data points that you are tracking. I understand we mentioned a few of them, but it could either be as detailed as SDR to AE handoff, to what points would you look around that? We could talk about the stages and go deep dive into one of the points like SDR to AE handoff. That’s something that’s on my mind, based on the previous podcast that we recently had. Or we could talk about the high level of the different opportunities and where you are tracking as much data as possible. Does that make sense?
Olga: When I joined TigerConnect, funnel was the most popular word in my vocabulary, it was about building the funnel, tracking the funnel, understanding the funnel. How do we look at the funnel? Everything was about funnel. For me, it all comes to that. Hey, what is your buyer’s process? How can it be systematized? Meaning, put into a tool, in a reportable manner. We track our funnel. We do track our funnel now, from an inquiry, to a lead, to a hot lead. We do have a couple of definitions of hot leads. The ones that are hand raisers and the ones that are organically became hot leads.
Then, following the sales process, we send them to VDRs and then we’ll look at how BDRs are working. Then what’s the BDR process? How do they handle sales? What’s the acceptance rate with the conversion rate? Then eventually closed one.
We’re following the funnel. There are seven stages, I believe from an inquiry, to lead, to MQL, AQL, sales accepted lead, stage zero opportunity, stage one opportunity. Those are just the stages of the funnel. They can be different. Again, at my previous companies, the stages were different. It doesn’t really matter. Once you understand the funnel is a thing that plays in pretty much every company. It answers a lot of questions.
Hey, marketing’s job is to generate demand at the top. Bring traffic to the website, have those webinars register, and attend. Then it’s this handoff from marketing to a BDR or salesperson. You need to track that. Have they accepted it? Do they see it? First of all, can they see it in Salesforce? How do we know that they can see it in Salesforce? How do they send the signal back that they are working the lead, that they’re qualifying this leader? How do then they send it to a sales direction and/or sales rep and the sales rep accepts it?
Then we track the opportunity management. This funnel, it’s not just the stages and the metrics and the KPIs and targets. It’s the process that surrounds it. It’s the tools, the automation, sales enablement. A lot goes into this. Once you start unpacking every stage, you would see that there’s Marketo, LeanData, ZoomInfo, Seamless, Salesforce, Gone, and Outreach.
There are a lot. We do have a flowchart that outlines the funnel and then the processes that are human processes. This is what a person does and marketing or Salesforce or BDR, this is what the tool does. This is the animation. Then when a person at automation meets, and this is when a person and a tool meet and that’s what they do. We track that and we’ll build that. It’s working.
The plan for ’22 would be to add more color to it. To understand what programs are working on every stage of the funnel. Something that is bringing traffic to the website might not be something that helps you to move opportunity from stage three to stage four or be that last leg to close an op. Understanding what works on every stage of the funnel, how to get it into a report and an actionable insight. That’s my plan for ’22.
Barry: Cool, love that. Are there any specific benchmarks, or I don’t know if it’s statistically significant, the benchmark with just your company, but any data that you could share? For example, one of our recent guests, Matt Schatz, shared that from his experience, 24 was the best number of opportunities an account executive should handle a quarter. That was a cool stat that we could share on our podcast. Is there something that, I know this is from left field, but anything like that, that you think our listeners would be interested in hearing that maybe you recently discovered?
Olga: Well, I cannot say anything about TigerConnect, but at my previous company, it was 35. This is maybe 10 too many, and this is actually a good number that you need to watch. This is all these tools and the reports allow you to see that. Is that a headcount problem? If you are seeing that your average sales director and an average quarter manages 35 opportunities at a time, and then 30% of them get stuck in the mid stages, is that a head count problem?
Yeah, it might be a sales methodology, sales process, marketing problem as well, but is it too many for a sales director, sales rep to manage that number of opportunities? But it really depends. It depends on the velocity. It depends on the conversion rate. If you were an SMB and our SMB sales cycle is 28 days. Within a month, we generate a lead and we close it. There’s no long-term forecasting. This is where we use AI for the forecasting in SMB, but for an SMB rep, because it’s just such a quick turnaround and it’s a pretty small average deal size, and very standard contract and a standard product.
But if we’re talking about enterprise and complex deals, even 24 might be too much. Then there, you would want them to focus on your actual well accounts. It really depends on the quota, on the velocity, on the complexity of the deals and the product packaging, etc., but we do have our benchmarks for conversion rates. Using historical data and the win rates and knowing sales, sales performance, knowing their quotas, in that funnel, we plug in the target conversion rates. That’s how we calculate the targets for each stage of the funnel, because funnel is great, but if you don’t have targets that cannot be measured, meaning cannot be improved, cannot be managed, then funnel is useless.
You have to have those targets. You have to have the KPIs for every stage. How do you define them? How do you calculate them? Based on the benchmark, the industry averages and based on historical performance and based on your assumptions growing in ’22. We have for example, a 25% conversion rate from a lead to an opportunity. Then from a BDR generated opportunity to sales accepted opportunity, it’s 68%.
That’s what we’re plugging based on the historical performance and based on our assumptions for ’22. We’re going to be generating more high-quality leads. We’re going to be driving them to submit demo forms. That’s why we want them to be a 25% conversion from a lead to an opportunity. Knowing that, you put together your targets, your KPIs, but I like the 24 number for the opportunities, but I would say the caveat, it really depends on who you are, what you sell.