It's been another big year for Ops Stars! With multiple keynote presentations, 40+ panel sessions, and practitioner workshops, there were plenty of opportunities to engage and learn from brilliant operations leaders. We rounded up three common themes and six actionable tips to take home.
1. The Growing Prevalence of Rev Ops
The secret's out. Revenue operations is becoming more strategic and getting a seat at the executive table. With ever-increasing pressure to look at your business end-to-end, this should come as no surprise.
"When you're talking about revenue operations, you're talking about repeatedly hitting a growing number with unit economics. How did you acquire customers, how did you sell to them, and how did you keep them? Getting sales ops working with marketing ops and post-sales ops is where you get ROI." -Mike Brown, Vice President of Revenue Operations at Namely
While there may be multiple people with an operations title in your organization, revenue ops is dedicated to the alignment of marketing, sales, and customer success - from the first point of engagement all the way to renewal. The inclusion of post-sales is key to stepping beyond customer acquisition and additionally figuring out how to increase customer retention and how to effectively upsell.
As an impartial leader with a full-cycle purview, revenue ops prioritizes one shared goal: to increase revenue. Such a sweeping goal requires a concerted team effort. Never prioritizing one team over the other, revenue ops looks to understand short versus long term tradeoffs and pinpoint opportunities for streamlined efficiency.
2. Data Readiness
Panelists and keynotes from companies large and small agreed - implementing rules of engagement and centralizing a source of truth for all of your data is crucial to operations. Data readiness is foundational to any productive decision making, and cross-functionally affects every team within your organization.
So, protect your points of entry and begin cleaning your existing account data. Then, structure rules of engagement and focus on data governance. Your CRM is a point of reference for your data - it starts empty - so look into the true sources of data vendors and verify their data integrity.
Data readiness is by no means an easy task, but with every business decision rooted in data analysis, it's a key factor to the success of your team's initiatives.
3. Account Scoring and Prioritization
Another hot topic of conversation revolved around account scoring and prioritization - being able to standardize a score measuring account quality to identify and prioritize target accounts. This process for account selection has gained massive traction not only for automating the rep qualification process, but also for the insights available to help with contextual outreach.
"We've been following the train of scoring and DataFox has been huge for us. When they launched their account scoring, it gave us an understanding of who we have sold into and who we should sell into - it's been a game changer for us." -Hamsini Renugadevan, Senior Director of Sales Strategy, Operations & Enablement at Invoca
From an operations perspective, understanding your ICP and TAM is no longer just looking at firmographics, technographics, and growth signals. Rather, it's being able to identify which of these specific data points influence a higher propensity to buy. Account scoring weights this criteria and produces a score to surface your target accounts. As Pat Oldenburg, Senior Director of Digital Marketing and Operations at GE Digital, puts it, "being able to plug in scoring criteria and pump out a set of accounts better than the set we have - it's the most impactful for our business."
The 6 Best Tips To Take Home
With back-to-back days of content, Ops Stars was buzzing with leaders sharing best practices and learning from one another. We cut through all the noise to bring you six actionable tips you can put to use right away.
1. Invest in Signals
Real-time signals have revolutionized the way any sales team conducts their prospecting initiatives. Not only do signals alert a rep of changing propensity to buy, but they add a flare of personalization to help reps gain traction in their outreach. Listening to the panel sessions at Ops Stars, the outcome is undeniable.
"We did an experiment where we had some BDRs working off lists using signals, and another batch of BDRs working off lists without the use of signals. The group using signals produced 271% more pipeline than the other group." -Jay Tuel, Vice President of Sales Development at DemandBase
Anything that increases pipeline by 271% is worth scoping out. But, while there are some variations in signal types, company growth signals - whether it be funding rounds, key executive hires, or new office expansions - clearly indicate a change in an account's propensity to buy.
"Our #1 type of signal are inbound leads of a certain type. Our #2 type of signal are DataFox Growth Signals, and #3 through all the rest, are far less valuable." -Joe Caprio, Vice President of Sales at Chorus.ai
2. How to Successfully Execute on Sales and Marketing Alignment
It makes sense that marketing and sales organically grew up separately as they are each knowledgeable leaders in their respective fields - it's a tradeoff between specialization and generalization. But, as processes merge and businesses look across the entire customer journey, both teams need to be in sync. The key to cooperation between the two functions are shared metrics and goals that both teams can align on.
"Marketing knows if they're incapable of measuring their impact, they won't get additional investment. So, as a sales ops person, help them prove their impact because you want them to be successful. And as a marketer, understand the sales structure and understand how you can enable new reps with demand." -Dana Therrien, Service Director of Sales Operations Strategies at SiriusDecisions
During both days of Ops Stars, there was plenty of talk about metrics that would appropriately align sales and marketing . We've included some of the most popular ones below to get the momentum going and inspire possible metrics for your organization.
MQLs Among Target Accounts
Campaign-Sourced Outbound Pipeline
Meetings Booked with Contacts at Target Accounts
Close Rates on Influenced Deals From A Specific Channel
3. Consolidate Your Tech Stack
There's nothing streamlined about having too many tools in your tech stack - rather than constantly purchasing new tools, ensure that you're using all your current tools to their fullest extent.
"Vendors like DataFox are like little Ferraris sitting on your desk, and most people never get out of first gear. Once you realize you have a problem, figure out if any of your existing vendors do it. Before buying anything, make sure you're squeezing as much as you can out of your existing vendors." -Mike Brown, Vice President of Revenue Operations at Namely
Paired with an outlined process for evaluating your tech stack, you should begin to develop a strategy for your data tech stack. Externally, make certain vendors can follow through with their promises - be involved during demos and make sure to run a sample analysis comparing your data gaps with vendors' offerings. Internally, define expected ROI in the beginning and get buy-in through the numbers.
4. Inbound vs Outbound
How does your sales organization handle inbound versus outbound leads? Ops Stars opened the door to lots of discussion and recounting of past struggles. Historically, a lot of teams split reps by inbound or outbound. But, when that started to cause friction, sales leaders needed a better solution and a common theme emerged.
"Inbound leads [at Chorus] are now going to AEs. Inbound leads are ready to talk to someone - they shouldn't have to pit stop at an inbound rep - so inbound leads go to AEs. BDRs continue to do outbound prospecting." -Joe Caprio, Vice President of Sales at Chorus
The argument for this trend was that, unlike outbound leads, an inbound lead has already interacted with your offerings and therefore should be more educated and have a better understanding of their needs. Therefore, inbound leads are being routed directly to senior AEs rather than more junior BDRs. It's proven itself to be working and other sales teams have followed suit: Sigstr echoed the same sentiment saying their inbound BDRs are really just their AEs.
5. What to Understand Before Adopting AI
AI is a trend, not a fad. But, many are still finding it difficult to understand and are only cautiously exploring offerings. You don't need to learn how to build your own AI systems, but you need confidence in explainability. And that hinges entirely on your data quality.
"AI is useful where there's tons of data and there's data you can use to train a model. Think hard about the data and the use case, and how much work it takes to get there." -Anjaj Gandhi, Vice President of Sales Strategy & Operations at RingCentral
There's a computer science term that says: garbage in, garbage out. Even the most advanced AI systems won't be able to produce valuable insights if the input is bad data. Furthermore, a lot of AI products are running black box analysis, trying to sell a one-size-fits-all solution. To avoid both, you need confidence in explainability: be able to explain your own data quality and have the visibility needed to explain AI outcomes. If you proceed educated on both, then AI can provide unprecedented value. The accuracy and speed at which AI systems draw conclusions can automate a tremendous amount of manual work and reclaim valuable time for your team. This is especially noticeable when it comes to account scoring and signals.
6. Territory Management
As Ops Stars takes place at the end of Q3, there was plenty of talk about end-of-year priorities, specifically territory management. While not a new initiative, there was plenty of new best practices being adopted. Most prominently, companies are increasingly leaving geo-based territories behind to instead focus on territories designed around balanced opportunity.
"I challenge everyone here to think more about balance. Focus on something that gives you leverage and efficiency. Create an experience with a predictable process." -Kevin Vanes, Vice President of Sales at Sigstr
This new approach sees sales leaders use account scores to segment by the distribution of high-value accounts in order to guarantee every rep an equal shot at hitting quota. Balancing territory strength by available opportunity becomes a predictable process that can plan for increases in your sales headcount and unforeseen changes. This flexibility allows territories to adapt to your business goals and ensures coverage of all your target accounts.
With two full days of nonstop content, there was plenty of discussion on a wide range of interesting topics. Whether you're in sales ops, marketing ops, or revenue ops, we hope you had the opportunity to connect with exceptional leaders in the industry and get actionable tips on how to execute on some of the most common themes in the operations world.
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