• In their Summit 2019 keynote presentation, “Revenue Operations: Now Is the Time,” Dana Therrien and Kerry Cunningham share insights into the revenue operations trend to a packed house of attendees
  • For organizations to align the revenue engine, increased collaboration between marketing operations, sales operations and customer success is crucial
  • A revenue operations charter considers the digitization of the customer journey, the increasing complexity of buyer behavior, and pressures on companies to become more customer-centric

“Have you ever looked up at a plane in the sky and wondered where it is going?” Dana Therrien asked Summit 2019 attendees at the start of his keynote session with Kerry Cunningham, “Revenue Operations: Now Is the Time” He shared his fondness for the flight-tracking app, Planes Live, that allows users to watch planes all over the world and also receive up-to-the-minute flight information. Dana Therrien and Kerry Cunningham Summit RevOps presentation

“Can you imagine having that ability in the palm of your hand; to have access to that level of information no matter where you are? Aren’t we all just looking for one single source of the truth in our organizations?” he asked.

To achieve end-to-end alignment of the revenue engine and the single view of the truth it enables, organizations must embrace increased collaboration between marketing operations, sales operations and customer success. “We know that aligned companies grow faster and are more profitable, so why is this so difficult?” Dana asked.

One key reason that Dana and Kerry believe that the revenue operations function has emerged is a shift in the market driven by massive innovations in technologies that are shattering data silos. These technologies are helping organizations work across silos, allowing the marketing operations, sales operations and customer success functions an opportunity to work even closer and better together.

“There is no more exciting time to be in the operations field than right now,” Dana said.

In addition to an influx of technology innovations, outside forces of change are prompting the need for a revenue operations charter that takes into account the digitization of the customer journey, the increasing complexity of buyer behavior, and pressures for companies to become more customer-centric. Dana emphasized that delivering a consistent set of customer interactions is now a mission-critical factor for B2B organizations.

“The customer is at the center of the revenue operations movement,” he said. “This is about identifying the needs of the customer – companies can no longer wait to learn about how the customer feels about them. It’s happening in real time,” he said.

“Another reason why we are examining revenue operations goes back to the question that SiriusDecisions has been obsessed with for two decades,” said Kerry. “Why do companies grow?” He explained that companies grow when their overall market expands and when they are more competitive and efficient – and also when they are better aligned across the revenue engine than their competitors.

The Pursuit of Alignment

Kerry then demonstrated how during their research into revenue operations, he and Dana took a close look at the Demand Unit Waterfall, the SiriusDecisions framework that helps organizations gauge the health of demand and opportunity management processes from top to bottom.

“The Demand Unit Waterfall took the org chart out of the Demand Waterfall,” said Kerry. “We know now that in a healthy functioning revenue engine, all functions should be participating in all stages.”

“A lead is not a sales asset,” Dana added. “These are company assets, and everyone in the company should have visibility. Every single person wants an opportunity to make a difference.”

In the detailed, horizontal view of the Demand Unit Waterfall shown by Dana and Kerry, the Qualified and Pipeline stages each encompasses a set of sub-stages. The Closed stage, in this view, opens into the customer lifecycle – at which point organizations can see all of its potential opportunities for revenue.

“It’s similar to being able to see all of the planes in flight,” said Dana.

Building the Revenue Operations Charter

To align marketing operations, sales operations and customer success as a revenue operations function, organizations must stay in step across three key dimensions: the strategic (vision, goals), the operational (strategy, planning, infrastructure, personnel, data, measurement) and the organizational (functions, people). Dana and Kerry explained how these dimensions can be kept in sync through the adoption of the revenue operations charter. The planning of the charter depends on cross-functional goal setting and resource alignment, campaign and program planning and budget alignment.

“Data is the foundation for high-functioning revenue operations function,” Kerry said. “It must be consistent across the organization.”

Be Courageous

The extensive research conducted by Dana and Kerry into the revenue operations trend included a survey where participants were asked to rate the alignment of their functions within revenue operations, revealing that customer success and marketing rated themselves as less aligned. Participants also were asked to identify their revenue operations functions as virtually aligned ( “a coalition of the willing”), centralized, somewhat centralized or non-existent. The responses showed that 40 percent of participating organizations rated their revenue operations functions as virtually aligned. When Dana posed the same question to Summit attendees, however, a plurality said their company has no revenue operations function currently in place.

Dana also noted that with a 90 percent growth in the number individuals identifying themselves as directors of revenue operations on LinkedIn in the last six months, there is no doubt that the shift toward revenue operations has already begun.

So, what are the next steps? When presenting action items to attendees about how to drive the process of pursuing a revenue operations charter in their organization, Kerry began with some practical advice: “Don’t freak out.”

“Technology is disrupting us,” Dana said. “And therefore, we must have the courage to disrupt ourselves.”