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Getting Control of Your Revenue in 2023
Getting Control of Your Revenue in 2023
March 20, 2023
14 min read
Topics covered in this article
Between November and January, I interviewed 15 RevOps leaders and learned that what they’re ultimately trying to do is help the business proactively run better.
Each shared a common set obstacles that get in the way that job:
“We can’t call out anyone’s BS” (accountability)
“Our teams aren’t on the same page” (alignment)
“I don’t know what’s real in our pipeline” (visibility)
“I can’t see what’s changed in our forecasts” (visibility)
“There’s a ton of finger-pointing” (alignment, accountability)
“It’s hard to build and maintain good reports” (visibility)
“Predictability in outcomes is nothing without a root cause” (visibility)
Problems like these create questions about revenue that most teams can’t answer. And the frothy space between 1) unanswered revenue questions and 2) what RevOps is trying to do, is a lack of control over revenue.
The unavoidable need for a new kind of operations in revenue
We’re all shooting for something like this:
- Get a reliable point of view from trusted data about the business
- Answer questions previously unanswered and align the business with clear accountability
- See better results from all resources
- Run the business more effectively
There’s just too much complexity, which creates waste, and that’s when things break.
- Complexity - 77% of B2B buyers said their last purchase was very complex or difficult; 75% of orgs say buying cycle times and buying groups sizes have increased in the last 24 months; >92% of RevOps leaders say pipeline management and forecasting complexity is at an all time high (source: Forrester, June 2022)
- Waste - 77% of rep time is spent on non-core selling activities
- Breaks - Less than 5% of reps actually use their CRM sales stages; less than 25% of orgs have forecast accuracy above 75%.
So even if you accept that the ideal is to strategically and proactively run the business better, most revenue teams still operate by “feels” and spend the bulk of their time on reactionary tasks, like: fixing systems issues; monitoring stage progression; reporting; running forecasts in spreadsheets; etc.
There’s an unavoidable and urgent need for a new kind of operations over revenue – one that offers an irrefutable north star around which to align teams and hold people accountable. RevOps is the best function to reasonably deliver on that promise.
First, let’s name the enemy: running on “feels”
The ideal is control and the enemy is running your business on “feels”.
Doesn’t that feel like the game most people are playing? They make decisions about deals, forecasts, processes, metrics, and everything in between, *largely* on intuition and opinion. There’s data, but it’s not irrefutable; instead it’s untrusted and unreliable.
That’s why there are so many revenue questions you can not answer, like:
- Primary question: What are the root causes of our problems?
- Secondary questions:
- Where should we focus?
- What do our reps suck at?
- Where’s the friction in our processes and workflows?
- Why is there finger-pointing?
- How can I build and manage reports better?
- Where’s everyone’s BS?
- Primary question: What’s going on in individual deals?
- Secondary questions:
- Which deals matter?
- Which deals should we scrap?
- What are the right signals for good deals?
- What should be happening on deals going forward?
- What can reps do to improve outcomes on individual deals?
- What activity has there been?
- Primary question: What’s going on in our forecasts?
- Secondary questions:
- What’s progressing, regressing?
- How are things trending?
- What can we do to improve predictability and accuracy?
- Why aren’t we accurately forecasting today?
- How do we account for variability in each person’s and team’s process?
- How do we make it less manual?
Walk through these for a second. Which ones do you feel good about? Which ones are you still trying to figure out?
I’ve learned that the degree to which you can’t answer them is the degree to which you lack control over revenue. Control, in that sense, means getting answers everyone can trust AND having mechanisms to do something about it.
Recalibrating towards the promise land of control
RevOps is the fastest growing function in tech because they’re in the best position to establish revenue control: they own some combination of systems, processes, people, performance, which are all tools you need to exert control in the first place.
And they can apply those tools to 3 levers of control:
- Visibility from data into root causes of problems and where to focus the business.
- Accountability, not just knowing who to hold accountable, but what to hold them accountable to, and how.
- Aligning teams to each other (horizontal), and aligning the front line to leadership (vertical), under a set of unified processes and goals.
With these, you can scale – or get better results from your existing resources. But just about every team is dealing with breaks in these levers, which is why there’s so much finger-pointing.
The Old Game: Spreadsheets, finger-pointing, and tons of BS
- A RevOps leader has strategic ownership over systems, workflows and reporting
- BUT they spend most of their day reactively fixing things that break
- They want to proactively manage and run the business more effectively
- But to do that, they need control to get better results from teams and individuals, which they can’t get because:
- revenue teams aren’t aligned, from handoffs and process to core objectives,
- so they can’t hold anyone accountable
- because they don’t have enough visibility into how the business is operating to know where to focus
- and nobody trusts the data they have to make decisions together
- which makes building and maintaining reports harder
- and is why they do everything in spreadsheets.
A. The Pain in Visibility is really about untrusted and un-leverageable data
Data sits in multiple systems but is disconnected and siloed. Just knowing how to find actionable signals within that ocean of noise is hard enough, but merging two of the biggest buckets of data – activity and CRM – is a bottleneck most teams haven’t figured out (* BoostUp alert *: We have!). It’s what keeps you from being able to answer Primary question number one: “What’s the root cause of our problems and where should we focus?”
A senior RevOps leader at a Fortune 500 customer told me just last week, “We want to know WHY something is happening so we can adjust our plans. What things will make a difference…People need outcomes, but predictability in outcomes is nothing if you don’t have a root cause.”
Ideal visibility, then, means you can quickly understand key points of friction in the business and fix them – or innovate your way through them. “One of the challenges is there’s a lot of data and charts and graphs, but someone still needs to look at it AND find relevant signals off of which to take action.”
B. The Pain in Accountability is not being able to call out anyone’s BS.
“Productivity goes down when you don’t hold people accountable.” But accountable to what? “We don’t have a scientific approach to allow managers to call out reps on their BS.”
Without that scientific approach, you’re running deals on “feels” baby! Tell me you don’t see that every day in the way your managers run pipeline calls.
What should happen is that “Sales leaders must confidently explain where they’re at and why,” but they can’t, and neither can their reps. RevOps see this:
“The big thing for me is pipeline movement. What we’re trying to get managers to do is, on every 1:1, have a convo about what has happened in the last week – what pushed, what pulled, what changed, what’s new, etc – AND what reps are going to do in the next week. Then hold them accountable to it.”
Low business resolution (visibility), and consequently loose accountability standards, mean people waste time on the wrong things. It used to be that over 50% of the deals reps chased didn’t close, and actually never had a high probability of closing in the first place. With the old game, you’re going to have toxic levels of waste.
C. The Pain in Alignment is about horizontal and vertical clashes inside the business.
“There’s all sorts of internal friction”. I sampled a handful of RevOps leaders to understand the state of alignment. How much of this do you see?
“There’s just a laundry list of things to do and alignment becomes one of the biggest barriers.”
“Right now, there are a number of projects on my team…and whittling it down to something manageable is hard.”
“Rev Ops is a focal point for lots of other parts of the org: finance, product, sales, engineering, etc. So, often it’s coordinating with everyone and managing those relationships.”
“Most of my day is just trying to simplify our processes.”
“The hardest part of my job is just knowing what’s most important from one day to the next.”
Internal friction. Project creep. Process. Competing priorities. Establishing priorities in the first place. When visibility and accountability fail, it’s impossible to get aligned, and your control over revenue becomes inconsequential.
The New Game: Scale RevOps to control revenue
Bust the bottlenecks in revenue operations to get better results across your revenue teams. What are the bottlenecks?
- Low business resolution and visibility because of untrusted and incomplete data
- Poor guardrails around forecasts and pipeline without accountability
- Managing complex workflows manually in spreadsheets with too much BS
- Running teams in disconnected silos without clear alignment
The anecdote is to start with a better vision of what’s happening, why, and where you want to go, which inevitably requires elevating your data game – access to, and adoption of, trusted data from which you can confidently make the right revenue decisions. That’s how you kill finger-pointing, align teams, and hold everyone accountable.
How BoostUp can help
Control is a function of Visibility + Alignment + Accountability. We deliver Control to teams through Revenue Operations in the first-ever Revenue BI Platform.
The Revenue BI Platform helps teams better manage deals and pipeline (Deal Intelligence), and run custom, and often complex, forecasting workflows (Forecasting Intelligence) with powerful Revenue Analytics. What makes the Revenue Analytics so powerful is that the entire platform sits on top of a Connected Data Engine.
Remember, the key to busting RevOps bottlenecks, scaling revenue and getting control is Visibility through trusted data.
What’s Trusted Data?
Start by answering whether or not you fully trust your CRM data. Usually not. However, if you adequately added sales activity data as context to CRM data, and any other relevant revenue data stream, you’d have the signals to answer any revenue question.
- What’s actually happening with my deals (last touch, last email, response from specific contacts, etc)?
- What’s planned for deals and how do those plans affect confidence in outcomes?
- What’s progressed in your pipeline? What’s regressed? Why?
- Which reps are performing well and how do you know?
- Where should you focus to improve results?
- What are the root causes of problems?
Activity is one of the most important variables affecting pipeline outcomes, forecast accuracy, and revenue attainment, but most teams have no idea how to capture it, or how to use it when they’re running pipeline calls or submitting foreasts.
The Connected Data Engine from BoostUp does that automatically and publishes critical insights inside your most important workflows.
Where to Start
If you accept the premise and promise of getting Control over revenue, start by auditing your business based on the 3 primary levers of control: Visibility, Alignment and Accountability.
Of course BoostUp can help you do that as well! Find out how much of an impact connected data can have on your business resolution, and see if Revenue BI can scale your RevOps team for success in 2023.
Watch a demo of The Revenue BI Platform now!