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Episode 20: Stop! RevOps Mistakes Ahead! How to Reroute & Avoid Them

by Hannah Rose | Apr 6, 2022 1:00:00 PM

It’s been a hell of a year. At this point time doesn’t exist anymore. Kudos to all of us getting through the first quarter! Getting into the episode, don’t be fooled, we aren’t talking about what RevOps is not today, though be on the lookout for that topic in a future episode. Today Jess and Doug are discussing five mistakes of RevOps. They aren’t the top five, but they are five that can be prevented.




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Show Notes:

1. Losing the plot

Doug is going to refer to the plot as a literary term. It’s a story term where we ask, what is the central theme? What is the story about? It’s like in television, when you lose the plot, they call it jumping the shark. Doug is seeing a lot of jumping the shark with revenue operations, though today he’s talking about one aspect. He saw the problem early before RevOps was being called RevOps. The keyword in revenue operations is revenue, not operations. The reason for the RevOps plot is to enable greater revenue acquisition. Losing the plot is less juice. 

A lot of ways this shows itself is over-focus on process, over-focus on doing it right, and over-focus on eliminating the friction.

Is this a problem because RevOps falls under the wrong people/wrong departments? 

No. Operations tend to be called “product” because the operational side of some companies, especially SaaS, build the software/tech. It’s called product, it’s called finance, it’s called human resources, that’s the operation side. In manufacturing there are some places where this has emerged, but it’s very rare. 

If you’re in RevOps you don’t control the last mile. We have a tendency to focus on what we can control because we want to create certainty. A lot of people live in a world of wrong or right. Just like in the last episode, Doug has 4 degrees of this – wrong, not wrong, not right, right. One of the toughest lessons for anyone to learn in any business, from a strategic standpoint, is the goal is not to be right in the majority of things you are doing.

The want to be right in a lot of places comes from an over-focus on process without really understanding the underlying dynamics of process. It’s process without system design.

2. Champagne vision – beer tolerance

It’s a play off of champagne taste, beer budget which means your eyes are bigger than your stomach. The only thing worse than not doing something is putting forth that you’re going to do something you’re not ready, willing or able to do. It’s what motivated us to create the five levels of revenue operations. It’s what motivated us to really draw out the distinction between tactical revenue, operations and strategic revenue operations.

An example of this is when you change the name of your sales, operations department, or your marketing operations team and you call them revenue operations, but nothing else changes. You put forth the idea that they’re going to increase velocity when in reality they’re keeping the database clean. There are a lot of ways you can’t get to the strategic elements of RevOps if you’re not taking care of the tactical elements first.

To truly be what Doug would consider revenue operations, it’s not a decision to be made by the sales organization nor the marketing organization.

What is the job of revenue operations? Is there a clear picture for what the job is, what the role is, what the purpose is? Your definition of revenue operations might be very different from ours, but you need to have an organizational definition of what is revenue operations. So if what you’re doing is called revenue operations, but nothing has changed, you aren’t really doing revenue operations.

3. The failure to use friction

Jess thought the whole point of RevOps was to eliminate friction, so what does Doug mean by use friction?

Friction is a tool. If we didn’t have friction, we wouldn’t be able to drive on the street. If you eliminate all friction in the buying process, you commoditize yourself. We’re still battling for differentiation. Differentiation is friction; there’s nothing that happens in life that matters that does not have friction. There are times where someone needs to slow down, stop and think. 

There’s this idea that we need to eliminate friction and be frictionless. In reality, getting people to do what you want them to do means that you have to make it easier for them to do what you want and harder for them to do what you don’t want. Getting to this place requires adding friction. Friction = Traction.

4. Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Job number one of tactical RevOps is to get the stuff that’s broken to not be broken; to get the stuff that’s bad to not be bad. (BTW, not bad doesn’t equal good. It just means not bad.) What tends to happen is that we hyper focus and try to go from bad to good. Here’s an example:

There’s a typo in your email. You shouldn’t have typos in your email. If there’s a typo in an email by Doug and that causes someone to go, “I can’t work with these people,” then it’s pretty clear that you should not work together. We should strive to get better with those things like typos, but we have to ask ourselves, what difference does a typo make? We spend too much time on things that don’t make a difference. 

Just as under-solving can be an issue, over-solving can do just as much damage. If you’re trying to fix everything, you’re not fixing anything because there is no focus.

5. Becoming the department of sales prevention

Doug has seen many sales operations become the sales prevention department. Your job in revenue operations is to make it easier for salespeople to win business. Your job is to make it easier for the marketing team to drive their outcomes. Your job is to increase lifetime. 

When you’re focused on the details, that’s when you become the department of sales prevention. When you start saying “no that’s not the right way,” those are the most dangerous words of a RevOps person. 

To understand what is going on, you have to get the visceral negative responses. Far too many people are coming in with far too many theories about how things should be done. What you should be focused on is figuring out how to create and find the shortcut for revenue. In revenue operations your job isn’t to make the sales team, the marketing team, or the success team happy. You better delight them, but you don’t have to make them happy.

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