Is Revenue Operations Just Another Word for Sales Operations?

During a recent analysis of the available “operations” jobs on LinkedIn, we discovered a significant number of “revenue operations” jobs — 59,110 to be exact. It sparked the question, “Is revenue operations just another word for sales operations, or are the roles fundamentally different?”

We spoke to several operations professionals to help us better define revenue ops, and understand how the role fits into an organization relative to sales ops.

We asked Dheer Gupta, director of revenue operations and strategy at HappyCo, if he considered sales operations and revenue operations to be synonymous. He said, “Revenue operations can be seen as the merging of sales, marketing and customer success operations; however, I view rev ops more as a natural evolution where organizations are seeing value in merging the strategic aspects of various operation teams while leaving the day-to-day administrative structures of marketing, sales and customer success teams somewhat intact.”

So, if revenue operations isn’t just another buzzy title for sales operations, what is it exactly?

Ross Nibur, director of revenue operations and strategy at Toast noted, “Revenue operations is about taking a more holistic, end-to-end approach to managing operations across your organization. What I’ve seen happen is a siloing in data structure and processes for marketing, customer, services, and sales teams. The problem is that you need data that will tell you the entire story in order to optimize your business. You can’t think of your operations teams as individual systems that work together — they need to work as one machine.”

We asked Eileen Chow, director of demand generation and marketing operations at Evergage, about her definition of the revenue operations role and she proposed: “It’s a hybrid role that merges operations knowledge, business intelligence, and strategy to fill in gaps at organizations that lack an owner in one of these areas, or is at a size where it’s hard to get a bird’s eye view.

In 2017, we talked a lot about the goal and strategic value sales operations offers an organization — what’s the objective of the revenue operations department?

Joe Gelata, vice president of business operations at Axonify, noted, “The main goal of revenue operations is to break down the operations silos. The rev ops team is the central hub of information for the entire organization.”

“I believe if an organization commits to revenue operations, they are making it the team’s objective to be collectively more strategic about their decisions and go-to-marketing activities,” added Chow.

The revenue operations department should focus on measuring revenue-based metrics, particularly longer-term goals for an organization. Gupta noted, “A revenue operations team helps SaaS organizations achieve their KPIs by optimizing and solidifying cross-department processes throughout the customer lifecycle.”

When we asked about the key metrics a rev ops team might measure, our experts said it depends on the organization size, goals and structure, but here are a few they all agreed on: customer acquisition, bookings, annual recurring revenue, cash collections, customer churn and satisfaction, net new revenue and gross profit.  

Chow added, “As talent is a key driver of growth and is expensive to invest in, revenue operations should also take note of employee retention and satisfaction to make sure that growth is sustainable from an organizational perspective.”

Each practitioner had a different experience with the reporting and communication structure of the revenue operations team. However, most agreed that revenue operations should report directly into a member of the executive team whether that’s the CFO, CRO or CEO. Gelata advised, “You need to understand insights and be able to question the assumptions at a strategic level.”

Additionally, all agreed that for revenue ops to focus on identifying and scaling activities that will drive bottom-line growth, they must collaborate with their colleagues in marketing, customer and sales operations. One solution: put a structured reporting process in place across the various ops teams, set individual goals, as well as collective team goals so the measurement strategy remains clear at all times.

“Because revenue operations has stakeholders in marketing, sales, and customer success there needs to be some level of cross reporting in place with the heads of these departments,” said Gupta, who later added, “By taking on some of the strategic and technical overhead from existing operational teams we’re able to have better line of sight throughout the customer lifecycle and better align the contributions of revenue adjacent teams to achieve KPIs and metrics that matter the most.”

Revenue operations isn’t another word for sales, or any other operations title for that matter — it’s primary goal is to collaborate with revenue adjacent teams to hit KPIs that enable the company to scale, and achieve long-term growth.

Do you have experience starting a revenue operations team at your company? We’d love to hear your story. Contact us here.