What is revenue operations?

By Martin Ray

What is revenue operations?

Customer buyer behaviour in B2B businesses continues to change due to the increasingly digital nature of today's business environment. By 2025, technology research company Gartner predicts that 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels. As a result, traditional B2B operating models are becoming ineffective, and there is a looming need for a new way to organise and run companies. This article will explain the basics of one of the emerging B2B operating models - revenue operations (or RevOps).

Because of online, B2B customers are increasingly experiencing the entirety of a company simultaneously - from the polished veneer of marketing to interacting with individual sales reps to a (hopefully) highly personalised customer service. As a result, the siloed structure of traditional management models is starting to break down. A need for a cross-functional business process to create a unified customer experience across all interactions with the company has emerged.

Meanwhile, software and management tools have appeared that span across functions and make it possible for separate departments to collaborate around customer's buyer journeys by creating a complete picture of the whole customer journey for the first time.

The consequence is that the traditional operating model of highly confined responsibility between sales, marketing, and customer service has become ineffective in today's B2B market.

What is revenue operations?

A more modern operating model - revenue operations (or RevOps) - has gained momentum in the last few years. At its core, revenue operations is an end-to-end management process for aligning marketing, sales, and customer service to realise more revenue by providing higher customer value.

Why is revenue operations becoming essential?

In today's highly digitalised and onlinified marketplace, B2B customers are outfitted with more and better information than ever before. Finding an alternative supplier or vendor is just a few clicks away. As we've written about before, this has resulted in customer satisfaction (and overall customer experience) emerging as the main competitive battleground for B2B companies. With better information and access, digitally-enabled customers are putting a premium on speed, agility, personalised content, and multi-touchpoint experience.

This development has pressured companies to establish a single cross-functional process to ensure a coherent customer experience across the entire organisation. Moreover, online business models have increased the importance of growing customer lifetime value (CLV) and is forcing sales, marketing and customer service teams to explore ways to work together as a consolidated revenue unit.

Meanwhile, customer data and insights, tech stack, original content, and digital touchpoints - have grown to become the central part of companies growth investments. However, since most B2B companies are still organised according to legacy structures, many of these vital parts underperform, aren't measured correctly, and may not be funded adequately. As a result, the investments fail to support the entire revenue team and facilitate a unified customer experience.

Visualising the whole customer journey and the interconnected business process has become a critical success factor in today's business environment. The speed at which the correct information, at the right place, at the right time - reaches the right person (both customers and employees) is increasingly determining business effectiveness. Data needs to be easily accessible and shared across the organisation in real-time. Working in a siloed structure - either from an organisational or system perspective - becomes an impossible task for most B2B companies.

How to implement revenue operations?

Implementing revenue operations aims to create end-to-end revenue management to better serve both the organisation and the customers. For many B2B companies, this means that you have to construct a new role - revenue operations leader or Chief Revenue Officer (CRO). 

"A chief revenue officer is a corporate officer responsible for all revenue generation processes in an organisation. In this role, a CRO is accountable for driving better integration and alignment between all revenue-related functions, including marketing, sales, customer support, pricing, and revenue management."

- Wikipedia

While the CRO will oversee and support sales, marketing and customer Service, the person in this role needs to function independently and not be biased toward a specific department. Instead, they should focus on the overall effectiveness of the business model.

There are many ways to create a revenue operations team and process depending on your organisational structure, digital maturity, and industry specifics. In general, however, it's good to follow some framework to make sure you cover all the vital steps.

TOPO (now part of Gartner) has an excellent revenue operations Framework that could be a good starting point when you start thinking about what revenue operations should look like in your organisation.

If you want to keep learning more about the ongoing effects of digital on the way your business works, make sure to take a look at our detailed digitalisation guide, and subscribe to The Onlinification Hub for more content like this delivered to your inbox.

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Martin Ray
Chief Analyst & Digital Strategist since 2011. Advise businesses on how online and digital impact their business and plan a strategy to achieve maximum results. Inofficially top lumberjack at Zooma, officially top trendspotter.
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