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The Cacheflow Blog

Hiring RevOps: When, Why & What to Expect

November 27, 2023 9:45 AM
John Queally
RevOps Strategist

When you’re building a house, do you just start pouring the foundation and hope for the best? Or do you hire an architect first to understand what you want to build?  You start with an architect.  Why would you treat your revenue teams any differently? 

If you are asking yourself the question, “when is the right time to hire RevOps?” , your subconscious is speaking, and it’s saying, “the time is now.” If your revenue teams are still operating primarily in spreadsheets and disconnected tools, the answer is "yesterday" and warning lights are flashing red. 

Sales leaders are amazing at selling products, marketers are fantastic at crafting a brand, and account managers are great at keeping your customers happy. What all these leaders are not great at doing is building processes which will enable your business to scale, especially when it comes to data.  You need to hire a specialist for that, and those specialists exist in RevOps.

What are the signs it’s time for RevOps? 

The signs will most likely come in the form of questions.  As a leader if you’re asking yourself some of the following… it’s time for RevOps: 

  • Can I trust the pipeline numbers?
  • What does my customer makeup look like? 
  • How do I build out a total addressable market (TAM) and measure our capture of the serviceable obtainable market? 
  • Is everyone aligned on our ICP? 
  • Are marketing campaigns actually influencing bookings? 
  • Which spreadsheet should I be using? 
  • Where and why are we churning clients? 

If you want to understand your operations in more detail and how customers are flowing across the revenue journey, RevOps is key to answering that question. More importantly, they give you answers you can trust.  No matter their intent, leaders will always have a bias to their organization. RevOps bias is to the company, not one particular team.

Once you start moving beyond one leader for Sales, it’s time to start thinking about RevOps.  When you start implementing a tech ecosystem for your revenue teams, you definitely will want guidance.  You will want to set your revenue data and operation foundation. It’s going to be critical to help you scale sustainably. 

What’s the risk of hiring RevOps too late? 

I’ve heard the expression at multiple companies from executives, “we’re building the airplane mid-flight.”  While I agree that this is the reality for most companies, don’t you at least want to have a mechanic onboard to help with that?

If you are expecting your flight attendants to keep your customers happy, while also installing avionics, does that sound reasonable?  If you don’t have RevOps, that’s exactly what you expect of your account management team.

If you hire RevOps too late, the risks will impact your ability to make decisions and your customers will feel the impacts: 

  • Poor and conflicting insights from your revenue leaders forcing your to guess what the best course of action is.
  • Loose processes that are duct-taped together prohibiting your business to scale. These will be far more difficult to unravel as time goes on.
  • Siloed revenue teams which will increase the friction your customers feel.
  • Every business team operating on different definitions of key metrics (e.g., number of customers, what is a customer, ACV).
  • Decisions from revenue leaders which are in the best interest of their teams, not necessarily the business overall.

If your goal is to lead with data driven decisions and processes, RevOps is the key.  It's is your secret weapon for the unambiguous truth for your decisions.  It is also the tool which will make sure scalable processes go in place first, so you are not constantly ripping and replacing short term decisions, which ultimately frustrate your team and customers.

What can I expect from RevOps in the first 60 days? 

RevOps teams are not miracle workers out of the box. Things will not change instantly after making the hire.  What they will be impacting are some of your core processes which are deeply entrenched in your revenue teams.  That takes time, care, change management, and a ton of effort.  It will require you as a leader to continually sponsor changes that your RevOps leader recommends. 

The initial 30 days at least are going to be focused on learning.  You want your RevOps leader well versed in how your teams currently operate and your product. 

These are the initial key focuses for new RevOps hires: 

  • Learning 
  • Building relationships 
  • Data and tech exploration 

Learning as much as possible including your operations, pain points, product, and customers. 

The primary goal in the initial days will be to learn about everything.  How do revenue teams operate, how do your teams interface with each other, what are their pain points, how does your product serve customers, how do revenue teams integrate with FP&A, and what is your total & serviceable addressable market (at a minimum).  Getting a fundamental understanding of the basics will enable them to start developing a roadmap on how to help.

Building relationships with key stakeholders.
These will be across marketing, business development, sales, account management, product, FP&A, customer success, data engineering, and product at a minimum.  The change RevOps will enable in the future will require getting all of these teams working together, and that all starts with a personal relationship. 

Understanding the data and tech stack revenue teams are using.
Any great RevOps leader cannot just be a strategist.  They have to be able to understand the data and associated ecosystem which is providing teams with the data they need to run the business and make informed decisions. In their first days they should ask leaders what data they use. They should then take nothing for granted and track the roots of that data down themselves to understand how data is flowing.  This will power the 'source of truth' architecture that will be in their plan moving forward. 

What do I need to look for in my first RevOps hire? 

I may be biased here, but this is going to be a difficult hire. A lot of RevOps talent (including myself) fell into the space in the past few years as RevOps teams emerged. There is not a traditional RevOps career path as there is with other functions. 

You need to focus on someone who’s able to play at multiple levels across the company: 

  • Business strategy with the executive team 
  • Data strategy and analytics with data engineering, BI, and data scientists
  • Process development with front line managers
  • Tech stack specialist for the revenue tech stack with procurement 
  • Change management with key department leaders 

That is not an easy package to find. But all of those qualities are key to an effective RevOps leader, especially if it is a small team. Granted, any leader will be stronger in some of those areas vs others, but they have to be willing to grow into each of these areas independently. 

The leader’s vision will be critical to the success of the team overall and if it is accepted by the other department leads.  If other department heads feel like this individual cannot stand on their own, it will lead to RevOps not being able to succeed in the long term.  This leader must be a peer, always putting the company’s best interest at heart. They need the gravitas and skillset to back that up. 

Should I hire RevOps consultants or in-house?

This gets tricky and is going to be highly dependent on your financial situation. I think it can be a combination of both in many cases.  

Too many leaders think of RevOps as a glorified reporting engine and I can guarantee you, effective RevOps teams are far from it. You need someone who can make sure that does not become a reality for your org. 

For many startups entering their growth phase, a mix of junior talent and consultants can come into play.  Experienced consultants can help set the strategy and implement scalable RevOps functions, while a junior analyst can handle the day to day operational capability, even after the consultants leave.  I’d estimate this starts with a 4-6 month engagement by the consultant.  They can then triage things over time or help with one off strategic projects as time goes on. 

For more established companies (mid to late series B into series C funding rounds), I would highly recommend hiring a full time RevOps director to build out a team. This can still be in combination with a consulting group to help jumpstart RevOps function and lead the search for a RevOps director.  

The decisions you make as you enter this growth phase are going to be critical to how effectively and expediently you can scale. RevOps will be your critical partner. You will want that voice of truth at the table to help guide those decisions and fuel the expansion of your business. 

If you’re paying your sales and marketing leaders hundreds of thousands of dollars, the counterbalance investment in RevOps is worth every penny. If you’re starting to aim to go public, the data quality RevOps will drive will be critical to helping facilitate the IPO process in conjunction with finance. 

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About the author
John Queally

John is RevOps strategist.  He recognized the power of RevOps when entering the SaaS world after a career in management consulting, data analytics, and the financial services sector.  He aims to help leaders unleash the power of RevOps by making smart, data backed choices early to help their business scale. Connect with John on LinkedIn.