Revenue operations best practices

Revenue operations keeps teams aligned and thriving. From creating a RevOps team and framework to sales planning and forecasting processes, following the best practices can help drive positive revenue outcomes.

Learn more below.

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Revenue operations best practices

When business units aren’t properly aligned or communicating well, an organization shouldn’t expect to see them all work successfully toward vital, shared goals, such as driving increased revenue performance. Teams just can’t work at an optimal level of efficiency and effectiveness if they’re siloed. To reduce the impact of misalignment within a company, organizations rely on their revenue operations (or RevOps) team to connect teams and evaluate and improve existing processes.

To understand the unique benefits RevOps brings to the table, it’s important to first define RevOps. This is best accomplished by pointing out how RevOps differs from sales operations and business operations. Furthermore, there are several best practices within RevOps that make the team operate optimally. Companies should ensure that RevOps has the technology and support needed to carry out those best practices.

Read on for some revenue operations best practices for effective sales planning and forecasting — and how intelligent RevOps platforms enabled by artificial intelligence (AI) can streamline and elevate operations.

Revenue operations vs business operations

Business operations focuses on aligning and improving business processes and outcomes related to the entire business lifecycle — which includes human resources, marketing, legal, finance, and so on.

By contrast, revenue operations applies its focus and expertise to revenue-generating business units, with duties ranging from sales forecasting to improving the sales process itself.

Revenue operations vs sales operations

While they have overlapping interests, revenue operations and sales operations are not synonymous. Sales operations works to increase the productivity of the sales team as it navigates the sales process with potential customers. Revenue operations looks to optimize the larger revenue-generation strategy, working to understand how marketing and sales may work together to move new leads down the sales pipeline faster, for example, or where prospects are being lost in the pipeline, or why existing customers left for a competitor.

The success of a RevOps team lies in its ability to evaluate current processes and make sound, data-backed recommendations when appropriate. A few best practices for RevOps, in terms of how it works with sales, include:

  • Ensuring team efficiency and empowerment through an assessment not only of the processes and procedures in place but also of the technology that teams rely on to do their work.
  • Including other business units — such as legal and product — in conversations when appropriate, to ensure shared understanding and success.
  • Reducing the number of technology platforms sellers use to do their basic job functions, ideally implementing a “single source of truth” for the data and insights that’s accessible to various teams throughout the organization.

RevOps best practices for forecasting and sales planning

Sales planning and sales forecasting represent two of the biggest revenue operations responsibilities and two of the areas where RevOps can make the most significant revenue gains.

Best practices for better sales forecasting

Generally speaking (and regardless of industry), it’s a best practice to make sure that the data used for sales forecasting is not only accurate and updated but also includes historical and real-time data. The data should also come from a mix of internal and external sources so RevOps can get a holistic view of the business and its market. Using AI-enabled tools to analyze that data, RevOps can measure and compare outcomes and help all teams understand the company’s objectives and how their work contributes to them.

When it comes to sales forecasting and revenue operations metrics, organizations typically consider both leading and lagging indicators, whether they know them by name or not. Lagging indicators represent past performance, with common key performance indicators (KPIs) such as the number and percentage of deals closed.

Lagging indicators are valuable and help RevOps gauge how effective current processes have been for sellers. Leading indicators, though, make for better sales forecasting.

Here’s why. Leading indicators, such as the number of meetings or product demos scheduled or prospective deals in the pipeline and their value, give a picture of what’s to come. Simply put, without effectively examining leading indicators, a sales forecast is just a best guess.

How the right technology improves sales forecasting

Having access to the right data and technology are key to successful forecasting, and the best RevOps technology platforms serve up the most updated data so that teams can drive accurate, prescriptive insights that are easy to act on.

Collective[i] is the only product on the market that uses leading indicators to predict sales. Driven by artificial intelligence, C[i] captures internal company data and external market data to provide a precise, continuously updating sales forecast for teams. The leading indicators used by our network offer a glimpse into how daily changes — in the market, buyer behavior, or other factors — impact monthly, quarterly, and annual revenue outcomes. Features include Intelligent ForecastTM, which leverages AI to remove human error and bias from forecasting models and delivers an automated, adaptive daily forecast to sellers.

Best practices for creating an effective sales plan

Assess the current state of sales

Consider a mix of both leading and lagging indicators as well as feedback from members of the sales team and sales leadership. A more complete picture of the state of sales is created when hard data is contextualized with anecdotal evidence from the front lines of sales. When assessing sales, try to find a balance between being a realist and a motivator. There’s little to gain by creating a sales plan that doesn’t align with the “real world” sellers operate in. If sellers are struggling, the underlying issues need to be uncovered and addressed.

Set clear objectives

When creating sales objectives, use concrete language and set measurable targets. Sellers must have a clear objective to work toward if they are to know at the end of the day, week, or quarter whether they achieved the target outcomes. RevOps leaders can use AI-enabled tools to set trusted objectives grounded in data that guide sellers and keep them on track. Collective[i]’s Intelligent InsightsTM, for example, can create automated, optimized to-do lists that help sales reps keep prospects moving through the pipeline.

Determine the obstacles to success — and how to overcome them

This will often involve assessing where in the sales process sellers are struggling to find success in advancing deals. Solicit unfiltered feedback from salespeople to gather information that gets to the heart of the problem. To do this, a company must establish trust with its sellers, otherwise honest, usable feedback will likely be minimal, providing little on which to take action. For every obstacle, dig until the root cause is exposed — and then address the cause.

Assess current strengths

Discussing what’s working in a sales process is just as important as identifying problems. When RevOps can discover the reasons behind success, it can devise repeatable processes to leverage those strengths and build around them.

Optimize the sales process

Optimize the sales process to build off of current strengths and address the most pressing obstacles so that salespeople can meet their objectives and bring more revenue into the company. Incorporating tools such as C[i] RecommendsTM into the sales process adds a layer of AI-enabled insight to help sellers more efficiently move deals through any stage of the pipeline. C[i] Recommends studies the top sales performers across the IntelligenceTM network to surface which activities are most likely to have an outsized impact on outcomes.

Remove friction from the selling process

Go step by step through the outlined sales process, focusing on the details of how the sales team goes about its daily work and where it runs into inefficient processes or other obstacles to success. Think big, especially when discussing crucial capabilities such as better data management. New tools are constantly hitting the market, so it’s well worth a sales leader’s time to investigate various solutions — C[i]’s Intelligent WriteBackTM, for example, automates data capture to save time and eliminate human error from the equation.

Implement, monitor, and adjust

Once you’ve created your sales plan, pay close attention so the plan can be amended as needed. Collective[i]’s Predictive PipelinesTM provides sales leaders with insight into where their team is focused, with on-demand pipeline inspection capabilities and health assessments — even recommending coaching opportunities when appropriate.

The revenue operations framework and team structure

Putting in a revenue operations framework helps ensure that the RevOps team is able to do its job properly, without overlapping efforts, misunderstanding, or conflict. This includes not only defining how the RevOps team will work with other parts of the business but also making sure that the right people are in the right roles within revenue operations org chart, which outlines the hierarchy of the RevOps team and how it fits into the company structure.

Best practices for implementing a revenue operations framework

Develop a repeatable strategy for discovering, aligning, and unifying revenue objectives

The more RevOps can learn about how other parts of the business function, the better-positioned the team is to make meaningful changes to drive more revenue. Soft skills play a crucial role here — being approachable, communicative, and empathetic will help RevOps employees to gather the necessary feedback from others who have their own work to perform and may not be enthusiastic about devoting time to other things.

Make recommendations with one eye on the past and one eye on the future

The last thing RevOps should do is create extra work for the organization’s sales team — whether from inefficient technology, misaligned objectives, or poor communication. Any recommendations for process changes should include clear value propositions for anyone whose work may be impacted.

Remain curious

Revenue operations is organizational problem-solving at its core. Putting a framework in place is an accomplishment — but business keeps moving, and RevOps should continue to explore ways to drive additional revenue-generation through process improvement.

Don’t let technology be an afterthought

The truth is, advanced technologies streamline RevOps processes by automating routine tasks, applying artificial intelligence to better gauge pipeline health and prioritize seller activities, and more. Building a RevOps framework around a sophisticated platform, such as Collective[i]’s, supports the revenue operations team to drive better outcomes.

Best practices for building a revenue operations team

Think through how to make the right hires to execute the most important functions of revenue operations. Best practices for creating a revenue operations team structure include:

Get the numbers right

As is true with virtually any team, having too few people — or too many — can create a variety of problems, including a feeling among team members of either being underused or overburdened, which are both disempowering.

Create specific job descriptions

When writing up a revenue operations job description, be as explicit as possible about what the potential hire needs to be able to do. Summarize how the person hired can expect to spend their workday. It helps to review some revenue operations job titles and their descriptions online, but be sure to tailor any job posting to the specific industry and position advertised.

Don’t work in a vacuum

Revenue operations only works if the team is in regular communication with sales operations, business operations, and other departments. Because the RevOps team is an overseer and coordinator, collaboration is key. Without buy-in from other teams, the transformational potential of RevOps may be put at risk or limited through misunderstanding, resistance, or other factors.

When it comes to the transformative potential of revenue operations, we’ve only scratched the surface. Learn more about how Collective[i]’s suite of proprietary AI products can take your team to the next level today.

Work together, win together

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