Recently we had the pleasure of sitting down with Mollie Bodensteiner, a RevOps pro with 14 years of experience under her belt. Mollie has successfully faced and tackled just about every RevOps challenge imaginable. Her insight and intelligence are a driving force of achievement for the companies lucky enough to engage with her. We at Syncari are proud to have her backing our product, so much so that we asked her to be a key member of our elite board of advisors.
We got the chance to pick Mollie’s brain to get answers to your burning RevOps questions. You’ll enjoy both her insightful subject matter expertise along with her tactical best practices approach to the ever-growing (and evolving) role of RevOps in business.
What are the biggest challenges for RevOps leaders today?
One of the biggest challenges today is how RevOps functions. It always starts reactively, but that’s beginning to change and now we’re starting to see businesses understand the strategic value of having revenue operations at the leadership table. And for RevOps to have the autonomy to get things done. That’s a huge factor.
If you have a passive revenue operations leader and team in place, you can’t get above the noise to be strategic and forward-thinking. This means you are missing a huge opportunity to have a central point that communicates across the functions. There really is no other role that talks to engineering, product, sales, CS, and marketing daily. RevOps is the single most collaborative team, if they’re doing their job. I often advise CEOs: if you’re not asking or listening to your RevOps person what direction the company should be going, you’re missing a massive opportunity, because they are the ones that see the holistic view of the business on a daily basis.
What would you say are the primary components of running and building a RevOps team?
Whether you’re a team of 1 or 20, you must have a clear, cross-functional, aligned roadmap. The RevOps role gets pulled in many directions, which means if you don’t have a purposeful, clear understanding of what your focuses are, you are not going to get revenue-driving initiatives done. You will continue to be reactive, instead of proactive.
It’s also important to be clear to the rest of the company about the role and responsibilities of RevOps. Not only do I get pulled in a million different directions, but I also get approached with questions that are completely unrelated to my role. That’s often just due to coworkers not fully understanding the RevOps role and how we are supposed to work together. It’s smart to document what types of requests you’re getting as a RevOps leader and then evaluate. It will clarify where you’re spending your time and define where there may be misunderstandings of the roles and responsibilities of RevOps.
Can you elaborate on how you handle misconceptions of RevOps?
I always have my team evaluate the types of requests, especially when they are behind on getting bigger projects done. I have to understand where time is being spent before I can fix it. Once those are identified, I build a solid SLA (Service Level Agreement) to solidify expectations and understanding of what the team does. If the team gets pinged in Slack, there’s a sense of urgency that may not be necessary. To answer that, it’s important to build a process for managing work – like creating an intake form and directing the ad hoc pings and emails to it. And once you build that process, you’ve got to have a solid management system to stay organized like Asana, Jira, or whatever works best for your team – and the key factor is that they are using it.
Who should RevOps report to?
It depends on the business, where the needs are, the organizational structure, and its goals. And there’s a people component, too. Generally speaking, RevOps should report to a larger organization, most likely the COO who is the operational nucleus. A good rule of thumb is to look at where the heads of sales and marketing report. If they report to the CEO or the CRO, then RevOps should follow that org chart and report to the same leadership to foster alignment cross-functionally and be aligned as peers.
How do you organize and align cross-teams GTM?
A weekly or biweekly executive GTM session works well. This is where big pieces of alignment happen across the entire organization and in addition a weekly GTM specific to Sales, Marketing, and CS alignment. And make sure that every department head is accountable for their own part of the plan. Make it clear that RevOps is not the project management team. Unfortunately, RevOps tends to get put in that bucket.
When you create a consistent forum of stakeholder check-ins, it’s easier to assign accountability, rather than siloed meetings with each individual team – this can easily make RevOps the middleman, instead of getting everyone on the same page. For accountability, it’s important to keep running notes that track action items in a shared document that defines who is responsible for each deliverable.
Can you give a brief overview of what the GTM meeting should look like?
You should be meeting weekly with the heads of departments that I mentioned before. RevOps should lead that GTM meeting, but not own the meeting. Each function should be accountable for delivering their updates and contributions. You need to have a clear agenda, define the weekly action items, and then go through those action items as status checks during the next meeting. I like having a deck to capture the next steps, and then you just work from that deck each meeting.
How do you ensure GTM teams agree on core GTM data and metrics?
It starts with getting aligned on the definitions of what data is needed to measure your business and where that data comes from. I strongly recommend building out a data dictionary where all your key GTM data and metrics are defined and cataloged. For example, how do you define a customer? What about customer churn? You’d be surprised how many organizations have different ways of calculating the basics across departments.
Next, it’s important to have excellent data management and governance practices. This means getting aligned on data standards (e.g. industries, job titles), as well as putting in place how you want to use your data. You can always go back and make adjustments. You just need to be clear and purposeful to ensure you understand the downstream impact of how that data’s connected to other sources, et cetera.
How do you find the right talent for RevOps roles? Is there an educational background that seems to be a really good match for RevOps roles?
It can be hard to find talent, but I think you should look at whether they are coachable and eager to learn more than if they have specific skills. You need people who are very data-minded and analytical, but you’re never going to hire somebody who knows your business model and can come in and figure it out on day one. Some of the best hires that I’ve made are those that have a consulting background, because they know how to jump in, figure things out, and ask really good questions. They tend to be strong hires. When you think about the data skill gap, you often have to coach your team and have a culture that’s centered around using data that drives things forward. I’ve hired people who were English majors who successfully ran my data analytics. I’m a marketing major and they don’t teach a lot of this stuff in college. I had a CRM admin who was a chemistry major. It’s more about finding passionate people who have the drive to learn and figure stuff out.
Where do you see Revenue Operations headed? What is it going to mean to companies in the next three to five years?
You are going to see more leadership roles coming out of RevOps and there will be a stronger seat at the table for revenue operations. It’s going to become more of a backbone within companies. And we’re going to start to see RevOps be less reactive, have strong internal positioning, and become a part of the executive team.
If you could offer one piece of advice to people just starting their career in RevOps, what would you say?
Too often we receive requests and jump right in with solutions because we want to be responsive and helpful. It’s important to stop and ask “why” someone thinks they need something before investing too much time into figuring out the “how” to get it to them. When we jump to solutioning before strategizing, we put ourselves into the role of “order taker” instead of being a strategic partner.
Instead, I recommend you work to understand what your customer (e.g. sales director, executive) is trying to accomplish, and partner with them in developing a plan to get there. From my experience, this often results in either reuse of work that’s already been done (that your customer didn’t know about) OR a rescope of the request down to the 80% that’s good enough to make a decision – saving everyone time and allowing for additional scale. These are the behaviors of operations professions who have earned a seat at the table, something we all strive for.