March 30, 2021
Antoine Cornet is Cognism’s Revenue Operations Manager.
He joined us in November 2020 and since that time, he’s been working to implement an effective revenue operations strategy at Cognism.
But what exactly is RevOps?
It’s a big trend in our industry atm, but we’ve noticed there’s still some confusion out there about it. Is it just another buzzword, or is there a lot more to it than that?
We decided to sit down with Antoine (over Zoom, natch) and ask him for his thoughts.
Scroll 👇 to get some crystal-clear RevOps insights - or use the menu to jump to a section.
Hi Antoine. First of all - what is revenue operations? Can you sum it up in a single sentence?
Revenue operations is the process of streamlining and aligning sales, marketing and post-sales on both the front and back-end.
RevOps is a very hot topic in B2B SaaS right now. Why do you think this is?
RevOps is not a new thing, but it’s a new terminology. Before the rise of revenue operations, you had sales and marketing ops. More established companies would have customer success ops. They’d sit under each department head and look after processes and tech stacks for each division.
The problem with that model is it doesn’t really work or scale. There are huge overlaps between the different functions. For example, if you implement a new piece of marketing tech, it will also impact your sales team. Everything needs to be aligned.
So RevOps is the combination of all the different operations functions. It brings everything together and ensures that ops aren't working in silos, but are aligned with all areas of the business.
What’s the number one thing that RevOps depends on?
Clean, actionable business data - so working at Cognism is a bonus! At other companies, it can be a real challenge to get hold of this.
In RevOps, data is everything - if every department is aligned around the same data, it prevents silos from starting.
Who benefits the most from revenue operations?
Outside of my line manager, I have 3 internal stakeholders: sales, marketing and post-sales (in Cognism, this is our CS team).
What benefits do they typically see from your work?
The central benefit for them is in my ownership over their tools and systems. As a RevOps Manager, you become a single point of truth for your stakeholders. If there are any issues with their tech or processes, it’s your responsibility to provide a solution.
That said, it’s important not to view a RevOps role as purely reactive; you have to be proactive in coming up with ideas and optimisations. Another key responsibility for me is in creating a workable data strategy for our company. I’m always looking for ways to improve how we use our data.
Do you focus your time on one area of the business in particular, or is your work more evenly spread?
When I joined Cognism, most of my time was spent reviewing and managing ops for marketing and sales. As the 2 main revenue-generating functions of the business, you can expect to work most closely with them. Now, I’m more focused on post-sales.
Like I say, if you work in RevOps, you’ll be interacting with all corners of a business. Silos don’t exist for us!
What does the RevOps workflow look like?
You have to start by making sure you’re setup for decent reporting. You’ll need to study the entirety of your sales funnel, from the first interaction a prospect has with your company, all the way to when they sign a contract and what happens after.
Every day, I’m looking for issues that slow down or reverse the funnel. Are there any blockers? Any gaps in your customer journey that prevent prospects from converting?
Then, it’s my job to remove those blockers and fill those gaps.
What metrics do you track?
The number one metric I care about is revenue! In the form of, how much new business we create and how many paying customers we retain.
For B2B marketing, I’m interested in how many MQLs are produced monthly and which channels they came from. You can learn a great deal from monitoring that. Here’s an example: let’s say your marketing leads increased, but actually, your direct demo requests have gone down. That’s a red flag for RevOps to step in and see what can be improved.
Always look for drop-offs in your conversion rates: from MQL to opp, opp to SQO, SQO to closed-won. You have to keep your eyes on the ball at every stage.
For B2B sales, these are the metrics I’m focused on:
There are honestly a hundred different metrics to track; in RevOps, you have to work out which ones are important to your business, then track them relentlessly.
What tools do you use in RevOps?
Salesforce is number one - 90% of my time every day is spent inside that platform, making sure it’s optimised properly. A RevOps Manager has to be a CRM expert. It’s where the majority of your work will be done.
Cognism too - the data we have is very useful from a RevOps perspective.
When should a business start investing in revenue operations?
The sooner the better! If you leave it too long, then RevOps will have to deal with some long-standing historical problems, especially around tech. You’ll be plugging holes that haven’t been looked at in a while. To my mind, there’s no value add in that. RevOps should be helping your business to scale in the future, not fix issues from the past.
I’d say you’d want to hire a RevOps person fairly early in your journey - as soon as you get to $1-2M ARR.
What should that first RevOps hire look like?
My advice would be to hire a RevOps generalist - someone who can do a bit of everything. Once you’ve got the basics right, then you can look at scaling the team.
What are the first steps for implementing a successful RevOps strategy?
Deep dive into your CRM and understand how it’s setup. Make sure your reporting is setup correctly as well - this is how you’ll discover where the issues are.
Speak with your internal stakeholders and learn what their pain points are. Then, create a repeatable process that everyone can understand. Work on communicating that process to your stakeholders. Make sure they understand how it works and how it will help them.
Everything you build needs to be scalable. It doesn’t matter if you have 1 rep or 10 reps or 100 reps - it should all work in the same way.
What would you say are the top skills a RevOps person needs to have?
You have to be good at multi-tasking. Confident working with technology. Analytical - good with numbers/data and discerning insights from them.
Interpersonal skills are also very important. You’ll be under a lot of pressure to deliver from different sides of the business. You have to be good at making decisions, prioritising tasks and managing expectations.
RevOps people are also naturally inquisitive. We’re constantly on the look-out for problems and solutions to them. You need a good problem-solving mentality.
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