The Apollo 13 crew wasn’t experiencing a typical Monday on April 13th, 51 years ago. While performing routine housekeeping tasks associated with a spacecraft postlaunch, a loud noise accompanied by the rebooting of the spacecraft’s main computer confirmed the astronauts’ feeling of dread — they were losing oxygen fast. Without oxygen, they were not going to survive.
Spacecrafts are finely tuned symphonies of precision, predictability, and procedure. Every calculation, policy, and act is researched, demoed, tested, and rehearsed. They are an operations-focused executive’s dream. But what happens when you find your company losing oxygen due to a system failure? Without oxygen, you too will not survive.
Both spacecrafts and businesses focus on operating toward a mission. Alignment of every aspect for both requires alignment between all departments toward that mission and accountability to the outcome. For NASA, the measurement of the mission is literally life or death. For businesses, that measurement is revenue.
The crafts have mission control at their fingertips acting as a live, real-time dashboard that allows teams to make immediate mission-critical decisions.
Businesses have RevOps, or Revenue Operations — businesses’ answer to NASA’s mission control.
What is Revenue Operations
Imagine your business as a spacecraft. Both mission control on the ground and the craft in orbit need reliable, real-time data to make key decisions in order to have a successful mission — that is what mission control provides to the spacecraft. Imagine such a dashboard for your business; now envision that dashboard normalized across the teams in your organization, empowering them to make decisions from real-time data across organizational units.
- No more time spent in sales meetings to report on quota because quotas and sales are reported in real time.
- Your team free from routine, repetitive tasks, such as compliance notifications or monthly invoices — these are now automated.
Imagine your customer service team empowered with the same set of customer data the sales team accesses in order to meet and exceed what was actually sold.
Revenue operations is about creating a single source of truth from which the business can operate, free from redundancy, lag, and friction. A business operating system so to speak. The entire goal of RevOps is to reduce friction.
By definition, revenue operations is the strategic execution of all aspects of a business’s revenue-producing activities for operational efficiency that increases velocity and decreases friction where the revenue-based activity impacts the customer experience.
Or more simply, it is the alignment of all departments within an organization around solving for the best customer experience to achieve revenue objectives by reducing redundancy.
Achieving end-to-end data alignment with one source of truth sounds simple enough, but in order to achieve that success, the organization must break down the walls from within. This requires increased data sharing between marketing, operations, sales, and customer service — for a start. This isn’t a new concept or a moonshot; we have been talking about keeping resources from one another since the Greeks during the 8th century B.C.
Single Source vs. Silos
Apollo 13’s mission failure wasn’t just an anomaly. As the crew struggled to overcome mounting obstacles to return safely home from over 200,000 miles away, it became clear that their ship was the result of a series of siloed functions and once one failed, the rest was a domino effect of failures.
After recovering from the explosion, the astronauts soon learned that what little air they had to get home was now not being filtered fast enough to keep up with the three men now in the lunar module, designed only for one astronaut. While being poisoned by their own CO2, they faced a new issue — the filter for the lunar module lifeboat they now occupied didn’t have any backups on board and the ones they had for the main spacecraft did not fit. They were manufactured by two separate companies — for the same spacecraft. A square peg and a round hole.
Everyone has experienced the collateral damage that results from siloed operations. As consumers, we don’t see separated departments when we interact with a company. Employees represent the company as a whole, not just a part. From that single point of view, the customer expects a seamless experience. Nothing is more off-putting than retelling vital information over and over to a carousel of customer service representatives.
Siloed difficult-to-use business systems complicate the experience for the customer and the employee. According to market research firm IDC, companies lose 20 to 30 percent in revenue every year due to inefficiencies.
In Gillian Tent’s book “The Silo Effect,” she tells the story of Sony’s PlayStationⓇ department. Drunk on their success, the PlayStation employees guarded themselves against the rest of Sony, missing out on major advancements in streaming and video due to a lack of shared IP with their own coworkers.
But advances in cloud technology are shattering the once impenetrable walls within. These advancements are allowing companies to leverage digital transformation within their organizations to give transparent and accurate data to their customer success teams in marketing, sales, and service. The transformation doesn’t stop there — their newfound alignment is giving managers and employees a single source of truth to align their operations.
Leveraging RevOps to create mission alignment
Mission alignment around revenue begins with focusing on four areas of the business: operations management, marketing and sales enablement, measurement, and tools.
Operations management focuses on the alignment of resources and outcomes. Team members and functions to be considered as part of operations management include project managers, human resources, sales, and marketing team leads.
Goals for operations management focus on business process innovation, cross-functional collaboration, project and change management, and sales planning and compensation.
Marketing and sales enablement
The goal of marketing and sales enablement is to enable these teams to sell more effectively and efficiently. These best practices, spread across the entire customer experience end to end, return customer-focused efficiencies that quickly have compounding effects for the business. These customer-focused teams prioritize customer enablement, continuous internal improvement, and performance management.
Goals for marketing and sales enablement include internal professional development, training, and customer experience from attraction to retention.
Measurement of data from a single source of truth empowers teams with actionable insights and gives management and employees confidence and clarity on the decisions they are making.
With advances in technology, all businesses can benefit from data-based reporting without the enterprise costs of hiring a data scientist. However, all systems are not yet seamlessly integrated. Building your business dashboard begins with starting with the end in mind and working backward. The OKR model is our recommended methodology for building meaningful datasets aligned with company goals.
Your dashboards and those responsible should ensure data quality and management, access, operational insights, and strategic insights.
Tools for revenue operations refer to the technology that enables the creation of a transparent single source of truth and subsequent dashboards. Decisions around tools require a thorough understanding of how data impacts the entire organization, not just at the department level. At the heart of your tool tech stack is your customer CRM, from which all other software integrates, giving you a customer-centric single source of truth.
Your tools and those responsible should be a part of the evaluation and procurement process. They should have an organic vision of the tech stack as it relates to your organization as a whole including integrations, data security, and administration.
The RevOps Moonshot Fallacy
A single source of truth, transparency in data, a business dashboard empowering teams at their fingertips … all sound too good to be true. Just like a human walking on the moon. The promise of RevOps is and isn’t a moonshot.
What RevOps promises — reducing friction in business operations — isn’t a new concept or model. What is new is the application of technology enabling companies to create insight and action of their own data with increasing reliability. These advances are no longer just available to the top 1% of enterprise companies — they are becoming more accessible to the mid-cap and established firms. The technology, when implemented correctly and coupled with a strategic-minded team, can dramatically impact business efficiency and improve customer experiences.
This same technology is also the dark side of RevOps. What software companies tout as the promise of revolutionizing your business while true, doesn’t work out of the box. Software firms are in the business of selling software — not growing your business. No software on the market can make the strategic decisions that a company relies on from its executive team. Can the software uncover data and insights that help inform decisions? Yes. Does it replace the sales team or the CFO? No.
The Moonshot promise of RevOps is the elevation of your team to perform at higher levels, maximizing their finite time resources to be applied in meaningful ways rather than wasting time on repetitive, tedious tasks. If your team were the astronauts in space, RevOps is sitting there with you back at mission control, informing decisions, reducing redundancy, and providing data towards a shared mission.
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Illustrations by John Gummere