The winds of change have been blowing over the last year, and those changes have hugely impacted RevOps. We had the great opportunity to get a bird’s eye view on the ground from someone who works, day in and day out, with companies focused on their growth.
In our latest installment of the Revenue Leader Interview Series, we had the pleasure of speaking with Megan Heinz, Director of Revenue Operations at the growth equity firm Mainsail Partners.
In our discussion, Megan helped us understand her own journey from accounting to Revenue Operations, as well as the changes happening in the world of RevOps and some of the challenges companies face as a result.
Below are excerpts from that conversation that have been lightly edited for clarity.
Thank you for joining us today, Megan. Let’s start with a bit of background about your experience and how you found yourself in your current role at Mainsail Partners.
Thank you for having me, happy to be here.
I started in public accounting in the “Big Four” world until I realized that I really didn’t like most facets of accounting.
But I really loved the analytical aspect of it.
From there, by happenstance really, I found a company called Zen Planner – a small bootstrapped software startup in the fitness industry. I came in as the first real operations hire. It was funny; it was like, “Hey, we have this ops and analytics need, and we’re not sure how this is going to go, but if you’re interested, come on board.”
So I took a bit of a chance and got to see the full view of the company since we were so small at the time. I had the opportunity to work on the implementation of our CRM with the sales team and design the entire sales process with our sales leader, moving through to onboarding and customer success, developing a proactive outreach health score model for our customer base to enable segmentation. I also got to really dig into the recurring revenue analysis with our customers during my five or so years there.
I like to say I was in RevOps before RevOps was a thing; before realizing that it didn’t necessarily have to be restricted to one department.
I then moved to a RevOps role at Gusto, allowing me to experience different sized companies, work across various teams and dive into more of the data and data-driven analysis aspects that feed into RevOps.
From there, I had the opportunity to join Mainsail, which is a growth equity firm, partnering with bootstrapped, founder-owned businesses in the SaaS space across specific verticals.
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From your experience, what do you think is the greatest challenge for people in Revenue Operations?
Oftentimes, and recently more often, companies are having difficulty understanding what the RevOps role really should be doing.
I’ve seen some companies that have changed a job title to “RevOps” and expected that their foundational basis would follow suit. You have to take a step back and break apart all of your different departments and have a consensus within all of your go-to-market teams about how you want to change operationally in order to do that.
So to answer your question, it’s about the challenges around how to implement RevOps and how to do so in a way that is actually going to have a significant impact.
What do you think the goal or the metric that someone in that kind of role should be judged against?
I would look at it in a few different ways.
Obviously, with revenue in the title, you need to be tied to the growth of revenue. In a RevOps role, you should also be looking at the impact on both the retention and growth models as well. So metrics like NRR and Gross Revenue are really important to understand where your upsells opportunities are, for example.So both.
However, internal feedback from your teams is also crucial. Oftentimes, RevOps can end up being reactive rather than proactive, but open lines of communication with your team can help move away from being only reactive.
How do you think COVID-19 has changed the way we work, how has that changed the way revenue operators function.
That’s a great question.
I think that COVID played a considerable role in expanding the trajectory and growth of RevOps.
In order to maintain consistency with customers as teams are working more remotely, you really need automation, pulling in that automated detail or any automated processes that are needed, as well as centralizing the data that all teams are referencing.
You can’t just walk across to someone’s desk and ask the question anymore. Everybody’s now in the systems pulling the information and dirty data in means bad data out.
We really need to make sure that we are honing in on what we’re putting in those systems, who’s pulling it, who has access to it, and centralizing the data so that everyone’s using one source of truth.
In what ways do you think someone in a RevOps or similar role helps their companies achieve a competitive advantage?
That’s an interesting question.
I would say that being able to tie all segments together is a huge advantage, especially with some of the companies that we see that are earlier in their growth stages.
Not necessarily just tying all of them together, but creating a never ending feedback circle, is how I envision RevOps. It’s being able to take all of that customer feedback, feeding it back into marketing or your top of the funnel, and being able to utilize that in both a “land and expand” motion.
So not only dedicating what they’ve learned to new customers and honing in on the customers or the segmentation that’s spitting best for their product but understanding their needs and being able to go after their existing base to help grow them as well. You need to pull all of the information together and creating a tighter circle of feedback, will allow you to go-to-market faster.
What role does RevOps play in pricing and packaging?
RevOps can help design pricing and packaging for products by doing competitor analysis, as well as pulling data and creating cohorts within your existing base of customers in order to first understand pricing impacts and then help to redesign it.
I would also say that there can often be a big disconnect between what you’re expected pricing is and what customers are actually paying. It’s on RevOps, in my opinion, to maintain that data and be able to run the analysis of what your revenue expectations are based on pricing vs. actual revenue received.
Why has RevOps become such a popular topic lately? Why do you think there’s been such a huge interest in companies shifting to implementing this type of model?
I would go back to your earlier point that COVID plays a large role, because it shifted the focus in a lot of companies from making sure they could capture new bookings to making sure that they’re retaining their customers.
I think a lot of people gained the understanding that revenue is not solely on the shoulders of sales or marketing. We need to look holistically within the company to not only keep the customers happy but help them to grow and then take those learnings to bring on new customers and make sure they’re the right fit. It’s important to not bring in customers and have them churn just as quickly on the other end.
Do you see these trends continuing in the future?
I see these trends continuing. While it started with an “aha” realization, it’s now become a proven concept which is why it continues to grow at the rate that it’s been growing.
Do you see any new trends coming down pike that might change in the future?
While companies might have hurriedly moved away from specific supporting ops roles, like sales or marketing, and tried to go full in on RevOps. I think that we might see, as companies start to develop larger operations segments, companies both centralize operations but also put resources towards those more organization specific supporting operations roles.
So I don’t think we’re going to fully move away from the designated ops roles that you might see today like Sales Ops and Marketing Ops. I think those are still needed within the space, especially as you grow and develop needs. RevOps will become this all-encompassing space for those individual ops roles to come together and ensure the data is consistent and the silos are non-existent.
Do you think that as companies build out a RevOps function but still maintain those designated kinds of segments, do those Sales Ops and Marketing Ops roll up and report to the head of RevOps?
Yes. That’s what I see happening.
I like to think of it in terms of a Venn diagram of overlapping departments and RevOps the central overlap of all segments. You have your ops functions that would report into RevOps and might support particular functional needs, but RevOps is the center that is helping to maintain consistency and accuracy within all of the data within all reporting.
Is there a minimum size of a company for which RevOps as a function would work?
In terms of a RevOps as a concept, no I don’t think there’s any barrier to entry in terms of gaining the complete understanding of your customer journey and outlining where all of that centralized data is going to lie where you might get into some size requirements is headcount.
In my opinion, once you get to something like 10 to 15 people is when you want to think about having a dedicated RevOps role.