We are delighted to welcome RevOps Co-op Founder, Matt Volm for a discussion on Revenue Operations and how software plays a significant role in this function though is not a silver bullet. RevOps may be a new concept for many of our readers but an increasingly important function for creating a more integrated growth engine and success path for customers.
[Mark] You started the Rev Ops Co-op 1.5yrs ago and you already have 4,200 members in your community. What led you to start RevOps Co-op in the first place and why do you think there is so much interest in this topic?
[Matt] Before I started RevOps Co-op, I was the VP of Business Operations at a very fast growing software and technology company. Part of my job was owning Revenue Operations, a function that was new to me. RevOps is the glue that holds the entire go-to-market function together and provides operational support across the revenue engine, from marketing to sales to customer success. The job is to do what's best for the business and will drive the most revenue growth, which means prioritizing needs and projects across the marketing, sales and success teams. Turns out it was a brand new job function getting created, but one that was growing like crazy.
Personally, I struggled with the RevOps part of my job a lot - I was learning on the job, trying to figure things out as I went, and I stumbled a lot and made plenty of mistakes. I figured there had to be more people out there like me, and we could all benefit from our collective knowledge in the Revenue Operations space, so I decided to get us all together online, and that's ultimately what led to the start of RevOps Co-op.
[Mark] From a software perspective, there has been an explosion of new sales tools and applications which creates opportunities but also challenges. How would you suggest management teams to go about assessing which products will work best for them?
[Matt] Management teams should always start by looking at people and process first, technology last. If you have a painful problem worth solving, figure out how to solve it manually with the right people and processes first, then automate or scale it with technology. Technology or software will never completely solve your problems, so they should never be the first thing you look at.
For example, with my current startup we knew we needed a customer relationship management (CRM) system eventually, but we started off by using a simple Kanban board in a project management tool to track the deals we were working on. This allowed us to figure out what an early sales process could look like and how deals would move through our pipeline, and then we moved over to a more robust system.
Ultimately, when it comes to problems like this where there are technology solutions, I always ask myself this question - "how do I make tangible progress on solving this problem this week?" The answer NEVER involves buying software, but leveraging everything else you currently can get your hands on instead...you need to solve those things first before a tool can help.
[Mark] What mistakes do you most often see when companies try to implement a tech stack into their sales process for the first time? How can this be avoided?
[Matt] Similar to what I mentioned before — they buy tools too soon, try to skip some steps in the early stages and then pay for it later by having to rip everything out or rebuild things from scratch. There's always a fine balancing act here - you never want to buy too early, but you never want to buy too late either, all easier said then done.
Beyond the items I mentioned already, when it comes to process and people, I also leverage my own peer group or community a lot - ask other founders how they are solving certain problems, what tools or systems or people they use to do so, etc. - chances are if you have a problem you need solved, someone else has already been there and either 1/ learned how to do it right or 2/ learned some mistakes along the way you should avoid....both of these perspectives are incredibly valuable.
[Mark] Forecasting is such an important part of the sales process. No company will ever have perfect forecasting accuracy, but what do you think separates the good from the bad in this function?
[Matt] I think forecasting hinges on 2 things - how well your sales team knows each deal they are working on, and how well your sales team manages these deals in your CRM or system of record.
An accurate forecast can be based entirely on data, and doesn't need to have any sort of "manual commits" where managers commit numbers to a forecast each week or month...I actually think this is kind of silly, after all the deals are in the CRM and should be in the right stages with a best estimate on close date right? If that's the case, can't we all just look at the CRM to see what's expected to close this week / month / quarter?
The data piece is the most important piece to me - as long as reps are managing the deals in their CRM appropriately and consistently, then you should be collecting all the data points you need to put together an accurate forecast...for example, you can look at deal age, $ value, and AE as a starting point for all deals that ultimately get marked as closed won....you can then develop an average or median for each of these KPIs and apply basic statistics to determine the probability of current deals in your pipeline closing, based on what you see from deals that have historically closed...the data is all there, it just needs to be leveraged.
[Mark] It's easy to talk about the power of data, but it's a lot harder to harness it and use it. How do you suggest companies start better leveraging data within their sales processes?
[Matt] You'll notice a theme here, but start simple and focus on a few core KPIs (less then 5 metrics in total)...I always like to look at leading indicators along with lagging indicators...for example, win rate % or new bookings is a lagging indicator, but # of cold calls made or $ value of new pipeline created is a leading indicator.
It can be easy to overcomplicate things, so really focus on the simplicity of things - even if you need to manually capture data points at first, that's okay...it's better to capture the stuff manually, make sure it's valuable and useful and actionable, and then figure out how to automate it.
And that's my last piece of feedback, everything you measure and monitor should be actionable...you should never measure things for the sake of measuring them...i always ask myself the following question when i am looking at #s to measure - "what action would I take based on what this KPI tells me?"...if you can't think of anything, then probably not worth measuring.
[Mark] Other than your own company, what's your favorite new RevOps app or what do you think will have the biggest impact?
[Matt] I think there's a new category of software getting created in the RevOps / go-to-market (GTM) space, that ties all of this disparate data together....it's not just marketing, sales or customer success, but all of them rolled into one GTM operating system.
[Mark] Where do you believe the future of Sales is headed?
[Matt] More complicated than ever! There's a lot of different sales methodologies and sales motions out there - product led, sales led, self serve, expansion, etc. etc. Ultimately, I think sales still comes down to 3 simple things though - 1/ building relationships with people, 2/ always listening more than you talk and 3/ a true desire to help people.
[Mark] Thanks Matt for providing us a peak into the world of RevOps!
[Matt] Of course! Always excited to help spread the word.