Crissy Saunders (CEO & Co-Founder, CS2 Marketing), Nick Bonfiglio (CEO, Syncari), and Rosalyn Santa Elena (Vice President, Global Revenue Operations, Neo4j) held this panel discussion at the Revenue Acceleration Festival in 2021, brought to you by our sister community, Sales Enablement Collective.

In the second part of this talk from the Revenue Acceleration Festival - Crissy, Nick and Rosalyn discuss:

Let's jump straight in 👇

Crissy ⚙️

Hi, everyone. I'm Crissy Saunders, and I'm the CEO of CS2. We’re a marketing ops agency located in the US on the West Coast.

I have two amazing speakers with me on this panel today. I have Rosalyn Santa Elena, the VP of Global Revenue Operations at Neo4J. She has a tonne of experience in business and revenue operations, and she's also the host of the Revenue Engine podcast.

I also have Nick Bonfiglio, the CEO of Syncari and the former EVP of Marketo. He's joining us with a tonne of experience on the operation side internally, but is also now answering some of the biggest problems that marketing and revenue ops leaders have when it comes to data.

We're talking about something near and dear to my heart, which is the idea of RevOps as a strategy and the importance of education when bringing RevOps into an organization.

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Implementing a RevOps strategy

Crissy ⚙️

When it comes to strategy, Rosalyn, how did you get started on creating and executing that vision and strategy at Neo4j?

Rosalyn 📈

So I've been on board at Neo4j for about four months now. And I think as anyone who starts a new role, especially in operations knows, you start with assessing the current state. What do you actually have? Then you have to think about where you want to go.

Then you start to identify all these gaps and you build a plan to get to where you need to go over time.

When you walk into an organization that maybe hasn't fully embraced RevOps yet, you have to do a lot of educating and selling.

So from there, I basically shared a framework of how I think about RevOps. It's not the traditional functions of marketing ops, sales ops, and post-sales CS and services ops. I think about things in terms of the overall revenue process and that end-to-end customer journey.

So my framework really follows that journey:

From top-of-funnel interest, to prospect, to customer, to repeat customers and growth.

But there are those things that I think run horizontally across the customer journey that RevOps supports. So that’s being that business partner and that day-to-day operational support, but also being responsible for the entire strategy and objectives across the funnel.

7 steps for crafting a winning RevOps strategy | ROA
We break down the steps for creating a successful RevOps strategy. Including aligning sales, marketing, and customer success, understanding resources, and more.

We also talked about data.

So data insights and reporting, again, that holistic view of seeing all of the business, the technology and systems, processes, policies, enablement, and optimization. All those things in my framework I think of as running horizontally across the entire customer journey.

Then there are those things that are more traditional and more vertical. And a lot of that is because of the knowledge and the more specialized expertise that's required on the team. And those follow the top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and then repeat customers.

And then in addition to all the things that RevOps is responsible for, you also have to bring in all of those cross-functional teams that you partner with.

Like I always say, nobody in the company is safe from ops, we will touch your business.

But if you think about it, we work with IT, HR, finance, legal, and product, so bringing all these different teams into your framework is really important.

Crissy ⚙️

Yeah, I like tying it to the customer journey or the buyer journey because so many of those cross-functional teams are invested in that. Part of their objectives or goals is usually tied to that journey, as far as getting them to the next stage or making sure they're a happy customer.

Thinking on that, those teams do also have their own objectives and goals.

So how do you balance that with a RevOps team? How do you balance the needs of all those cross-functional departments, especially when some can be louder or pushier than others? How do you judge that, especially when you're first coming in? How do you even set those expectations for the teams?

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Rosalyn 📈

For organizations that aren't already in that RevOps model, it takes a lot of selling. There's some internal selling, and more importantly, education on what RevOps is and why it matters.

It really is a selling cycle on why it matters, why you need it, and why now. But you also have to be really clear on roles and responsibilities because again, our role touches a lot of the other areas.

So for me, I spent a lot of time meeting with every sales, marketing, success, and services leader, as well as with all the various ops teams, because when I joined, all the ops teams were separate as well and rolling up into their own functions. So really bringing all of those together as one team.

I had to talk to every person about what's working, what's not, and really understanding what they value, what their key goals are, what their pain points are, and then sharing in those discussions how RevOps can really help and why it's important that we have that alignment.

It's not easy. Change isn’t easy, as we know. So the perspective of giving up control or ownership isn’t easy. What helps with that conversation is just making sure that you’re truly hearing and understanding the different perspectives, and that you're including that feedback and what you heard in your go-forward plan.

It's really important for us to bring everybody along for the journey because you're building advocacy and you're building champions, and you want to drive that buy-in into what you're doing.

How revenue operations can help businesses navigate change
Paolo Negrini discusses how revenue operations can navigate your business through change.

RevOps is still maturing as a strategic function

Crissy ⚙️

So Nick, as far as what Rosalyn’s doing at her organization in getting that alignment, what do you see across some of your clients? What do you think some RevOps pros are also doing wrong in terms of supporting cross-functional teams and getting the alignment? What do you think is getting in their way to do that effectively?

Nick 📊

First of all, I think Rosalyn is spot on with everything she said. And I think part of what's happening with RevOps is that it's continuing to emerge. It's still a maturing and emerging practice, so people are struggling with things like, where does it go? What is it? Who should be running it?

I was just talking to a CFO of a pretty sizable company the other day, and he was talking about how, in his mind, he was describing RevOps. He was calling it BizOps and putting it in the finance organization. And that's an interesting thing that's happening.

The point is that RevOps is maturing and it’s becoming more strategic.

And kudos to Neo4j; they've experienced a lot of growth for recognizing that they need RevOps, but also putting it at the highest level possible. I think Rosalyn reports to the president of the company, which gives credibility and also allows her to become peer-level with a lot of the folks that she's working with.

So it’s that whole notion of it's emerging, people are understanding it’s strategic, and that they need to have alignment between marketing, sales, success, and finance, and that they’re all operating under a common theme.

And that’s really the whole point.

How many board meetings or staff meetings have we all been to where we don't see alignment across those organizations?

Quite frankly, our belief at Syncari is that a lot of that happens because your data is messed up across all these different organizations.

So what marketing presents can't tie back to sales or finance.

That whole problem is incredibly important to be able to go to more of a strategic understanding of the key signals in your business.

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So having that seat at the table is going to be important to this RevOps organization. More and more executives are starting to understand that that's key to not just efficiency, because a lot of people started thinking RevOps was about efficiency, but understanding the signals that move your revenue needle is a strategic part of the business.

So if you have people working separately and you're operationalizing what’s potentially a bad strategy in each of these organizations, as opposed to operationalizing the strategy of your organization across all the different teams, that's really how I think of this.

So what Rosalyn was saying really speaks to me about how this is going to evolve over time.

Crissy ⚙️

Yeah, I agree. And I think both of you are touching on education and why that's key. And I think we're still in the early days where sometimes if you're rolling out a RevOps team, you need to do that education and selling.

But I think one thing that helps is when you sell your organization, selling them on the idea of how you’ll operate gives that confidence in the team that whatever your team is working on is going to be aligned with the business objectives, and is going to make a difference.

Want to hear more of what Crissy, Rosalyn, and Nick had to say?

Check out the rest of their talk:

Part 1: Why is revenue operations important?

Part 3: Exploring the RevOps roadmap