The goal of every startup is to get to predictable revenue and then to get to scalable predictable revenue. Most startups never make it to predictable revenue because they never really find Product Market Fit (PMF).
Prior to PMF, the sales teams is chaotic, disorganized, ad-hoc, unreliable and choppy. The sales team is small, founder-driven and no one is wearing any armor during the battle. Both founders and reps return daily from battle with cuts, wounds and contusions that shake their startup faith daily. Occasionally, the thrill of closing one or two big deals after a battle royal gives the false illusion of PMF – only to be shoved deep down into the trough of disillusionment.
But once the company crawls out of the doldrums and discovers Product Market Fit – then the company, specifically the sales organization, need to set their sights on unlocking predictable, scalable revenue to harvest the rewards of PMF.
Many sales organizations and founders are not prepared for this next stage of their company. They’ve been in the trenches for so long that they’ve forgotten to take inventory of what they have – what they didn’t lose in battle along the way. In this same way, their strategies need to take on a longer time horizon – beyond the next sale and onward to the stage of the sales organization.
“RevOps is not a single tool but a strategy and an ongoing process that your sales organization will use to analyze, optimize and unlock every aspect of the selling motion.“
In order to to reap the rewards of PMF and to get to scalable, predictable revenue – your sales organization will need to adopt a core competency around revenue operations and how to make better data driven decisions. Startups at this stage need to graduate from shooting from the hip to make a sale, to looking at the data to inform their decisions. To do this, startups that have achieved PMF begin to develop the roles of sales operations and Revenue Operations, or RevOps. RevOps is not a single tool but a strategy and an ongoing process that your sales organization will use to analyze, optimize and unlock every aspect of the selling motion.
At its core, revenue operations revolves around three key elements – data, activity and execution. They key to predictable, scalable revenue is the harmony and union of these three elements. By themselves, each element is powerful, but when all three keys are brought together they can unlock tremendous scale.
Your sales and marketing teams are likely already awash in data but the data is a mess and incomplete. Getting a firm grip on the quality and completeness of your sales data is the first key to unlocking predictable revenue. What do we mean by “sales data?” Sales data is more than the opportunity and contact data that is in your CRM today. Sales data should include all of the associated sales rep activities with every opportunity. Sales data should include all of the email, meeting, event, call data and engagement between the sales rep and the prospect or customer.
Most companies believe that they already have this data in the CRM – and they do – but they only have what the sales reps have entered into the system. Even if your reps are using some sort of semi-automated plugin or browser extension, it is unlikely that all of the right data is being captured and even less likely that you are able to leverage it in your CRM for revenue operations.
The best way to ensure you have complete, reliable data is to partner with a revenue intelligence platform that automatically captures these sales activities and enters it into the CRM. Of course, I’m biased that SalesDirector.ai should be your revenue intelligence platform of choice but the truth is that depending on the stage of your company and sales organization, there are a variety of cost-effective and easy-to-use tools available to get you started. If you are considering Salesforce’s Einstein Activity Capture to solve this – read this article first and be aware of the shortcomings.
“The right revenue intelligence platform should give you insight and visibility into sales pipelines, forecast accuracy, best sales practices, account health, renewal forecasts and marketing attribution. “
The second key element to a successful revenue operations strategy is to monitor, measure and understand the Activity. Now that you have the first element, Data, established, you can leverage this data to understand the trends, patterns and best practices around rep behavior, closed won opportunities and customer engagement.
Understanding the sales activities means analyzing the CRM data, the emails, the customer communication as well as who the sales reps are communicating with and when. The right revenue intelligence platform should give you insight and visibility into sales pipelines, forecast accuracy, best sales practices, account health, renewal forecasts and marketing attribution.
By analyzing the sales activity, sales leaders and revenue operations leaders will know when to introduce additional process, strategies and tactics that can have an incremental impact across the entire revenue organization. Revenue Operations at this stage is about keeping sales and marketing a well-oiled machine and understanding where the most important impact can be made in the sales organization.
RevOps should be able to understand what is happening inside each deal. Are the reps engaged with the right people at the right stage? Is the customer engaged with the company? Are they responding? Are the right decision makers identified and are they engaged? What is the sentiment of the conversations? How does all of this activity (or lack of activity) impact the likelihood of this deal closing on time?
Analysis of activity can also yield insights into how territories are divided and whether or not reps are working at capacity or not. Additionally, revops will be able to collaborate with the sales leader to identify Accounts and Opportunities that are at risk due to low engagement or neglect. These kind of activity insights can help sales leaders with territory alignment, capacity planning and hiring plans for the rest of the year.
Now that you are armed with good data and an understanding of revenue activity – its time to execute. What is different about execution during the predictable revenue stage of the business is that the execution is actually smaller and less dramatic than prior to PMF, but don’t be deceived. The role of revenue operations at this stage is to guide and direct sales execution. Their job is not to disrupt and change – but to assist, remove obstacles, coach and optimize.
These small, incremental tweaks might appear to be small and insignificant in comparison to the big swings and changes the company endured prior to PMF; but these incremental improvements have a compounding effect on the entire sales organization. When forecast accuracy improves by 5% across the entire team on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis – it compounds into a material impact on the company.
“The role of revenue operations at this stage is to guide and direct sales execution. “
Philosophically, at SalesDirector.ai, we believe that this execution should be done where the sales reps spend most of their time – in the CRM. Introducing another UI for reps to learn introduces a tremendous amount of change management and a steep learning curve that isn’t likely to be adopted. Instead, look for revenue data platforms that work hand-and-glove with your CRM and present solutions inside the CRM where your sales reps currently work.
Revenue intelligence platforms can help revops teams and sales leaders with execution by delivering sales insights, deal coaching, pipeline risk assessment and rep performance insights in real-time. By harmonizing the three key elements of Data, Activity and Execution, your startup can look back fondly at the inefficient days prior to PMF and look forward and ahead to a clear path of scalable, predictable revenue.
To learn more about how SalesDirector.ai’s Revenue Intelligence Data Platform can help your sales organization scale through Product Market Fit – contact us to schedule a demo.