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A GTM Framework for Running RevOps at Startups

September 7, 2023

“When RevOps is done well, it allows you to see around corners.” —Rhys Williams, Founder & Managing Partner at Domestique

As RevOps experts who help startups streamline—and uplevel—their go-to-market operations, Alex Biale and Rhys Williams have pretty much seen it all over their combined 25-plus years of experience.

Based on fielding the same questions related to scaling revenue, the duo founded Domestique to help B2B SaaS companies build, grow, and scale.

In a conversation for founders and leaders at GGV’s portfolio companies, Alex and Rhys walked us through a GTM operational framework that can help guide companies through creating, accelerating, and optimizing their revenue.

Read on for how Alex and Rhys answer these 10 frequently asked questions about revenue operations: 

1. How should RevOps show up across the customer journey?

“When done well, RevOps is the connective tissue across the entire customer journey—not just marketing and sales,” Rhys says.

According to Rhys, these five RevOps workstreams matter across the customer journey—“and the order is important”:

  1. Planning: “This is your entire go-to-market strategy … If it's not documented, it doesn't exist … This is everything from who is your ICP? What's the messaging you have? How do you engage your customer base based on segmentation engagement?”
  2. Process: “How does a BDR have a first phone call? How is that standardized from BDR #1 to BDR #22?”
  3. Tooling: “This is the entire tech stack that touches the customer journey [and] should be set up based upon strategy and process—it should not dictate strategy and process. One of the common mistakes we see across a lot of companies is: ‘Well, we do it this way because this is how Salesforce is set up.’”
  4. Data: “First, only measure where you can make a decision around … Second, fly at the right altitude. So if you're having a conversation with executives—you’re probably at 60,000 feet. If Alex and I are nerding out about something in ops, it’s probably more at 6,000 feet … Third, data needs to be presented in such a way where the end user can understand what it means (without RevOps having to explain it to them) and then make a decision around it.”
  5. Enablement: “So data highlights the hotspots across the customer journey and you point enablement at it. We think of it in three buckets: 
  • Skills: How do you have an executive conversation? 
  • Tooling: How do you leverage the tech stack to be efficient?
  • Marketing: What is the industry? How do you position the product?” 

2. What are some processes that typically break down?

The team at Domestique says one of the processes that companies get wrong most frequently is the concept of stage advancement criteria, or “how you define and codify the difference between an opportunity stage one and opportunity stage two.” In addition to opportunity stage advancement criteria, Alex says: “Companies should also define each of the lifecycle stages based on the customer jounrney.You really shouldn't have more than six to 10 max lifecycle stages.”

3. What are common mistakes around capacity planning?

For Rhys, capacity planning affects the entire all go-to-market team—not just sales. 

  • Who do you need to hire?
  • When does marketing need to make their investments for pipeline to show up in order for the BDR team to soak up the demand and subsequently enough pipeline for quota coverage across the entire sales team?
  • What is the downstream impact on CS?

“Capacity is not just a one-time-a-year type of thing,” Rhys adds. “Take those assumptions and plug them into a recurring process … If you track the inputs well, you then are not surprised two or three quarters later when you either have enough pipeline or you don't have enough pipeline to ultimately hit your quarter.” 

4. Why am I struggling with my startup’s tech stack?

Before adding a tool to your existing tech stack, Alex suggests asking questions like: 

  • Does this new tool align to your process, which aligns to your strategy? 
  • Do you have a plan to integrate it with the rest of your ecosystem in a way that's not going to break everything? 
  • Do you have a plan to align the data output with the rest of your data ecosystem? 
  • Do you have a plan to enable the new functionality?

“Because if you don't enable it, nobody's going to use it,” Alex says. 

5. Which team should own the data stack anyway?

Rhys recommends having a core owner—such as a business systems council that’s willing to “push back and essentially say, ‘We're not going to do this because that doesn't line up the strategy or process. We will do this, but we're going to treat it as such because this is our process, and we will do this.’”

If the responsibilities fall to a CRM admin, consider expanding that person’s purview to include things like: “How do they address ad hoc requests? The whole goal is to have a structured process to evaluate all the incoming requests and make sure you're setting up the tech stack as a best-in-class process.”

6. What do startups often get wrong about enablement?

Startups often struggle with reliable forecasting but according to Rhys, “the vast majority of the time, it has nothing to do with having a forecasting tool or not.” 

Instead, consider focusing on: “Is there a clearly defined and documented stage advancement criteria, and do all the reps understand it? … The reason why we're big advocates of a value-based messaging framework (i.e. BANT or MEDDPICC) is it's essentially a language. It's how you talk to the customer, making sure Rep #1 versus Rep #20 versus # 50 are all asking the same types of questions.” 

Similar to a business systems council, Rhys recommends having a recurring enablement planning process: “We typically recommend a quarter where you sit down and say, ‘Hey, what are the biggest issues addressing the [entire] go-to-market team? And how do we address them?’”

7. Which team should RevOps report into?

“In a perfect world, RevOps would have a seat at the executive table so they can be Switzerland and neutral,” Rhys says. 

If that's not doable, consider having the RevOps team sit with a cross-functional department like the COO. “If you do report into a CFO, you need to be thoughtful that they just don't turn into finance ops,” Rhys adds. “If a CRO, RevOps needs to be able to do the other things outside of whatever departments roll up to. So if the CRO is just sales and marketing, RevOps still needs to help out and address the customer and/or product.”

8. How can I effectively measure the RevOps function?

Think of the revenue operations team like the operating system of your business. For Alex, there's a big opportunity to treat the revenue operations team like a product team with different deliverables they have to deliver. 

For example, think of an attribution model or a capacity plan as a product—“there's delivering it and delivering it on time, and whether or not that function enables the team or the company or the stakeholder to achieve whatever the goal is,” Alex says.

9. How should RevOps interact with the product team?

If your product team doesn’t have a dedicated ops team, Rhys believes “it's on RevOps to engage with product so that it’s engaged with the GTM team.”

Product feature requests can be tied to ARR and “weighted based upon whether it's a customer or new business. And then when product goes into their planning cycle, they then have a weighted-ARR-by-feature request of what are the most impactful features and be building.” 

10. What skills matter most in a RevOps leader?

Alex and Rhys recommend screening for someone with the ability to lead through influence—and someone with enough gravitas to communicate with the C-suite matter more than technical skills. You’re looking for someone who can respectfully say: “‘That hypothesis is incorrect or this approach is not going to work—here’s why,’” Alex says.

By the way, “Rev Ops has been around for like five years and if somebody says they have 10 years of experience, you know they're making it up,” Rhys says. “So don't put on your JD description: ‘We're looking for 10 years of experience’ because it hasn't existed for that long.” 

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Takeaways & next steps

For early-stage startups looking to uplevel their RevOps, consider starting by assessing where you are with these five workstreams across the customer journey: 

  • Planning 
  • Process
  • Tooling
  • Data
  • Enablement

Remember: “We’re a big fan of crawl, walk, run,” Alex says. “If your revenue operations team or your revenue operations individual is in a constant state of being reactive, you're not going to get as much value out of them.”