The Cacheflow Blog

Where does RevOps fit within a company?

January 9, 2024 9:30 AM
John Queally
RevOps Strategist

“Data-based decision making.” It’s the phrase that makes this topic so pertinent as RevOps continues to become a growing function at companies. 

RevOps is still a relatively new function. There is no widely accepted framework that’s implemented across the board that gives you the roadmap on where to start and how to evolve your RevOps function. Many times it’s born from leaders wanting an analyst to help them understand what’s going on or manage portions of their tech ecosystem (think a Salesforce CRM working with a VP of Sales). It always starts with the best of intentions. 

Keep this question in the back of your mind as you read this; “if the person writing your paycheck tells you to ignore certain things because it’s a message they don’t like, what do you do?” 

What’s the goal of RevOps?

We have to agree on the goals of the RevOps team overall to figure out where it belongs. RevOps primary goal is to be the unambiguous source of truth for anything related to revenue data, analysis, and operations. It’s a mirror to the front-line teams on how they operate and the results of those operations. 

RevOps is not just in the corner of any single team it supports, but it’s in the corner of the company overall. That is the linchpin in figuring out where RevOps fits. 

Where RevOps has sat historically

There’s a solid chance you’ve seen marketing ops, sales ops, and CS ops all as separate teams underneath each of their respective leaders. Often, for example, a VP of Sales recognizes a need for an analyst team, individuals to help manage sales processes (e.g., territory planning, quota management), and someone to manage their CRM system. 

These revenue leaders create ops teams under them to handle their team’s specific needs. These ops teams' goals are set by their leaders with a focus on that orgs particular goals. Hopefully, there’s some cross-collaboration between the ops teams themselves...the key word, hope. 

That approach is nothing new. It meets the needs of the moment, and organizations have seen plenty of success using it. Especially when companies existed in a growth-at-all-costs mentality, hiring additional headcount was the default way to grow (or at least appear like it).

A new approach is required

The SaaS ecosystem has shifted over the last year. Growth-at-all-costs is no longer an option. Responsible growth is the new game, and RevOps is the critical piece to enable this new paradigm. 

RevOps is the mirror to each of the revenue teams. It’s the source to understand what is working, what isn’t working, and which investments are returning value. 

But to do that effectively, it needs the buy-in from senior executives to be that unambiguous, trusted voice. 

If your CMO doesn’t like the results of a marketing campaign and tells the marketing ops team to put it in the drawer, what happens? More often than not, it gets put in the drawer, and whatever narrative the CMO wants to tell wins. Can you agree that isn’t in the best interest of the company?

Whoever writes the paycheck for the RevOps leader will ultimately control the success or failure of RevOps. They have the power to bend priorities, analysis, and recommendations if they choose to.

Leaders will bend things to the narrative that they want to convey on the success or future investment for their teams. RevOps must be the trusted source of truth, and if other leaders suspect their analysis or actions may be tilted to one leader's particular goals, that trust will erode quickly. 

So where should RevOps fit? 

Sooner rather than later, RevOps will be a top corporate function. Will we see some form of a Chief Revenue Operations Officer? I hope so, but that isn’t the case today. 

The relationship between RevOps and the functional leads has to be a partnership. If one holds dominion over the other, that is not a functioning partnership. A VP of Sales will move mountains, but they are laser-focused on one thing… new revenue (rightfully so). RevOps obviously must support that goal, but must also focus on its responsibility to scale the company over the long term. 

Depending on the structure, leadership capacity, and skillsets of your team this could be in a few different places. 

Option 1: A full-funnel Chief Revenue Officer 

If your CRO is a VP of Sales with a CRO title, that is not what I mean. A CRO who has responsibility for marketing, sales, and customer success is. The colleague to add onto that leadership chain is a VP/Director of RevOps which supports the entire revenue spectrum. That RevOps leader acts as a peer to the teams they support and can be the mirror of their peers to the CRO, who has a vested interest in making the entire revenue department successful. 

Option 2: A cross org executive officer

If there is not a cross revenue CRO, you should turn to another executive leader. This could be the CFO, COO, Chief of Staff to the CEO, or Chief Strategy Officer. Each of these teams has a vested interest in understanding what is happening across the company overall, not just one particular team. That makes them an excellent advocate for RevOps at the executive ranks. 

If you choose this path, it will be imperative to have a RevOps leader who is able to stand on their own. These leaders will not have the RevOps background to stand up and build out a team to support the revenue spectrum. They will have the political capital to advocate for them though. 

A strong RevOps leader who can build out the RevOps function will be imperative to

  • Serve as a peer to the VPs of Marketing, Sales, and CS
  • Hire, mentor, grow, and retain strong RevOps talent 
  • Be the trusted source of truth on what’s happening across the revenue spectrum
  • Help bridge the gaps from a process, data, analysis, and enablement perspective across marketing, sales, and CS. 

Why one of these leaders?

  • CFO: the financial decisions are the lifeblood of a company. Under a CFO, RevOps can help inform the most important financial decisions leveraging the best data across the revenue spectrum. There is no more important advocate to have the ear of when it comes time to scale revenue functions.
  • COO: they hold the keys to the operations of the company. Operations is literally in the name of RevOps. The COO cares about making the entire company operate in the most efficient and effective way possible. RevOps is just a subsection of that vision.
  • Chief of Staff to the CEO / Chief Strategy Officer: Depending on your company size, I’m going to loop these into the same analysis. Great strategy is informed by accurate data which addresses the business objectives at hand. RevOps is the primary place where these strategists go to get the best available data on what’s happening across the revenue spectrum. These strategists are also looking at the operating model of the company, strategic priorities, and future large investments. Who better to have as a partner than the team that can help evaluate current operations? 

All of these leaders have the goals of the company overall in mind, not one particular team. 

That corporate focus is the key to building out a RevOps team that can be trusted and respected across the entire organization. 

Wrap Up

RevOps’ ability to be a mirror to the revenue teams is paramount to its success. RevOps has to be the trusted source for leaders across the business to get the insights they need to power the business. 

Having your RevOps team report to a cross-functional leader will help ensure that their activities and analysis favor the company’s overall objectives, not the viewpoints of a single leader. 

RevOps can be a game-changing function at a company if you give it the space to grow and serve the company overall.

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.