Manage Smarter 144 — Jason Reichl: Improving Your Revenue Operations

Jason Reichl on the Manage Smarter podcast from SalesFuel

 

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Jason Reichl co-​founded Go Nimbly, the first revenue operations consultancy with the goal of allowing high-​growth companies to increase the revenue of each of their customers by 26% through eliminating operational silos.

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Improving Your Revenue Operations

00:22:21

This episode is brought to you by Sales Cred, the definitive book on sales credibility by our co-​host, C. Lee Smith. Sales credibility is the quality all sales people must have in abundance before they can ever hope to earn trust and become a trusted advisor, and Sales Cred reveals how sales people build and lose credibility with the things you say and do every day. Pick up a copy October 8, 2020 at amazon​.com or other fine online business book sellers. 

 

Welcome to the Manage Smarter Podcast, with host C. Lee Smith and Audrey Strong. We're glad you're here for discussions on new ways to manage smarter, hire, develop, and retain talent, improve results, and propel team performance to new heights. This is the Manage Smarter Podcast.

 

Audrey Strong: Revenue, operations, everyone. Revenue operations. What is it, and why does our guest today say that people who ignore it are not going to do as well in this pandemic? He said that on his YouTube channel. What do you think, Lee?

  1. Lee Smith: Well, I'm a big fan of it because we did that here at SalesFuel. It's like we brought the sales team. We brought training and onboarding and client retention, and we brought marketing all under one umbrella, and all of you guys report to me. And so we formed our own little rev ops team, if you will. And it's that important because it reports to me, so that's how strongly I believe in it.

Audrey Strong: It's worked really well. Welcome to Manage Smarter, everyone. That's what we're going to talk about today. I'm Audrey Strong, vice president of communications here at SalesFuel.

  1. Lee Smith: And I'm C. Lee Smith, the president and CEO of the aforementioned SalesFuel.

Audrey Strong: Jason Reichl is our guest, he co-​Founded Go Nimbly, the first revenue operations consultancy with a goal of allowing high growth companies to increase the revenue of each of their customers by 26% through eliminating operational silos. It's all about efficiency, folks. Since 2013, Go Nimbly has transformed the most innovative SaaS and passed businesses from the inside exponentially improving the way they are able to deliver the go-​to marketing experience, the customer's demand. So Jason, welcome to the show. How are you, sir?

Jason Reichl: Thank you. Thank you. That little blurb when read out loud is insane. Yeah, no, it's great. Thank you for having me.

Audrey Strong: So, but you did say on your YouTube channel that companies that focus on operations in the pandemic are the ones that will not only survive and thrive. Do you want to start there, about what we're doing with now in real time? Can you expand on that? 

Jason Reichl: Absolutely. So, we invented these levels of operations in a business as a simple way of sort of illustrating this. There are three levels of operations, and when we talk about operations we're talking about just revenue operations, which means sales, marketing, customer success, that side of a business. We call that the revenue team part of your business. And we found that the three levels of operations of maturity on that side of the business goes like this—-t goes intuition-​based, and we work with a lot of technology companies. Intuition-​based operations is a sales rep walks into a room, talks to a sales force admin and says, "Hey, something's wrong on the page layouts. It's hard for me to use the tool." Sales force admin goes, "I can see that," and they fix it. That's intuition-​based operations. It's basically someone walks in, says something, someone agrees. They fix a problem. Very, very common in the way that startups work, series A and B companies work. 

And then you get to a place which we call experiential operations, which is you hire someone from the outside. This person used to work at LinkedIn. They ran the sales operations team for LinkedIn. They know what they're talking about. They come in and say, "We need to restructure the sales team." You listen to them because they have the experience, it's called experiential operations. That's usually, and most of the customers we work with, and I've worked with a wide variety of other industries and businesses, that's usually where operations in this area kind of stops. You're kind of as good as the experience of the people that you hire. 

There's a third level, which revenue operations kind of opens up to you, which is called customer-​based operations, where you're looking at the gaps or customers are experiencing as they're going through a buying experience with you, and you start to fill those in. And what happens when you do that is yes, you do rely on the experience of the team. Yes, sometimes it's even the same intuition-​based work that someone might have found on their own, but you actually improve and increase your revenue because you're closing gaps the customers felt in the buying process that ultimately moved them away from spending more with you. 

And what we found is a 100% of the customers — and this is through our research we're about to release some work with HubSpot and some other organizations from data work — is that a 100% of the customers that buy from you, bought from you, which sounds like an idiotic thing to say but that's a true thing, so the question becomes not why did you buy from us? It becomes why didn't you buy more or expand faster? And the reality of that is that you did things during the buy experience that eroded the trust with your customer. And that's what revenue operations is all about, finding and closing those gaps so customers spend the most amount of money or expand the fastest from the very beginning of the cycle.

  1. Lee Smith: And another big question is like, will you buy from us again?

Jason Reichl: Correct. Well, yeah, will you continue to buy from us an upsell and cross sell and really become part of our product experience that we're trying to give to customers? My background is in product management. I ran product teams for years here in Silicon Valley. And so I really thought, what would happen if we applied a lot of product methodologies to operations, and that was sort of the hypothesis of Go Nimbly. And at the time we didn't use the term revenue operations because we are the emerging kind of people in this, we called it the unified business step. And then over time we've kind of adopted revenue operations.

  1. Lee Smith: Rev ops is way better, way better.

Jason Reichl: Rev ops just rolls right off the tongue. 

  1. Lee Smith: And the other one would be then too is like, did you get what you came for? Did we produce a positive business outcome to the extent where you would recommend us to somebody else?

Jason Reichl: Correct. And then, so the question, why do I believe that this is more important in the pandemic than ever, well, net new sales and technology space mean that the customers brand new to you are down to about 20% of what they were last year, whereas upsells and cross sales are about 140 to 180%. So, companies are only growing right now based on their existing customer relationships and their ability to actually create great buying experience. Because if you're only closing 2 out of 10 deals at 20%, that's what you are used to, then you need to make sure you maximize that revenue off those two deals you do close. And so you can't just kind of hammer them the same way that most technology companies do, which is at SDR, that a marketing person doesn't — intelligence and maybe some intel and tries to get the customer what they think they want as a persona. And then SDR reaches out and hounds them, and then someone does a demo and then they get in. And then by that point, the person's already has so much trust eroded that they're not going to maximize their spend with you. So, that's why in this pandemic, I think it's absolutely critical for revenue operations to take hold. 

  1. Lee Smith: Another reason why, I think, is that during the pandemic, risk reduction becomes huge, the microscope is on everybody, not as much money going around, got to spend what you can the best way you can, you certainly can't make a mistake. And so they have a tendency to want to stick with what they know, which are their existing vendors and buy more from them than it would be to take a risk on going outside of their current vendor pool to take a chance on somebody else. What's your take on that?

Jason Reichl: Well, I think, I mean, that's absolutely true. I think good product and good buying experience will win and people will still buy your product. I have this theory that customers shouldn't have to use political capital to buy your product, right. And you should be providing such an excellent experience that ultimately you're doing the political work for them, because it is a scary thing to buy, and especially in the world I exist in which we work mostly work with B2B enterprise companies like Zendesk and Salesforce and Twilio's of the world, where people are spending a lot of money on these B2B products. That's someone's career, right? And so I don't think that we've done a good job in the technology industry, actually realizing the severity of which people purchase our products and they trust us. I don't think we've treated people to respect they deserve. That's a totally separate idea and concept I have, but I feel like a lot of industries are so focused on the internal workings of their own industry, they forget who they all actually work for. And the revenue team works for the customer, with the clear goal of increasing revenue. There's no such thing as the marketing team doesn't generate leads, the customer success team doesn't close tickets and worry only about customer sat level. They are all part of that experience to increase the revenue by delivering a flawless experience to the customer. And as soon as you unify them all under that North Star, what happens is the silos and those teams immediately start to erode, because the silos are there because those teams feel protective of their own part of the universe. And so if you're talking about managing people and if you're talking about sort of how do I actually — if a customer says, "We have a marketing and sales alignment issue," I go, "No you have a customer issue," because those two teams are not working together, because it's not clear to them on how to service their customer together.

Audrey Strong: Interesting. So, if I haven't changed in anything in this pandemic with my company, what are your recommendations for the silos operationally I should look to eliminate given the current conditions?

Jason Reichl: Sure. So, in the revenue team, there are two sides of it—there is what I call the marketing sales, marketing customers, think of these people as the actors who kiss the babies. I like to mix those two, the politicians and the actors things together so that people get a double metaphor. Think about them as the frontline people who are actually out there with the customer, and have one-​to-​one or one-​to-​many experience with customers. In the case of marketing, they're sending out emails to customers, they are the face of. Then you have the behind the scenes people, who I call the revenue operators. Those are the people who do the same analogy or metaphor. They're the boom mic operators. They're the directors of the movie. Those are the people who are the revenue operators, in my opinion. Those two Yin and Yang parts of a business come together to make your revenue team, again, with the school of increasing revenue. 

So, what are my recommendations for people in the pandemic? Well, one is on the revenue operations side, you need to be hiring and training for generalism, not specialty. Specialty is one of the key reasons that silos get created in organizations. It's typically why most CEOs of startups or of tech companies go, "Man, when we were a startup, we all wore different hats. It was so great. It was chaotic but it was so awesome and everybody did all this great work, and now I'm kind of bored and we have all this money, but everyone has its individual things." They never think about ,well, why is that? Well, it's as they got money and they tried to be a better business, they ended up going the route of specialty after specialty after specialty, after specialty, which kind of locks you into solutioning, especially in the realm of operations and really focusing on your customers. So, on the side of your revenue operations team, make sure that you're hiring people that are not sales ops people, who are market ops, they need to be revenue operators. They need to be able to handle anything that comes across the table as a problem to solve. And they need not to have these preconceived ideas of "Well, I solved that with a Salesforce problem because I'm a Salesforce admin,"  which is a real issue.

  1. Lee Smith: When you're a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Jason Reichl: Correct. And people don't get that, and this is not a new problem. Phil [inaudible 00:05:46] from Goodyear tires is the one that came up with the silo syndrome in the '80s. It was a completely different industry. It was an industry of why do all these different shops around the country, tire shops, why don't they operate the same? Why are they not actually taking the help from corporate to be better organizations? It's because they were incentivized to be their own silos and protect themselves. He went his rest of his career trying to figure out this problem. And it wasn't until in the last couple years, I think technology has really allowed us to move into a new realm of where we're talking about today on this call. 

I do believe that revenue operations is the same thing as when we went from manufacturing to lean manufacturing, or went from waterfall to agile development. It is a transformational business moment in time. I'm talking of companies like Coca Cola is interested, Dell's interested, it's not just in the technology space. The reason we chose to focus on technology was in one company's history of the technology company, there are actually like 15 different companies, because they have such audacious goals. So, you get a lot of experiences by having one customer, like, working with Twilio for six years is very different than working with Coca-​Cola for six years.

Audrey Strong: Oh, yeah. I can only imagine. Well, so what you're saying is, if you are in this pandemic and you have the ability to hire because you're actually expanding, you need to look for people that have expertise in many different disciplines related to the track that you're hiring them for, correct?

Jason Reichl: The easiest thing to do, let's pretend you're not going to be hiring. Let's pretend you have a team right now and you're lucky enough to be able to maintain that same team. What you need to do is you need to stop, the most common way to create generalism is to respect, especially in the way that we typically hire people, which is based on specialty, respect specialty. Respect that these people have skills, but then don't be beholden to them. A good way of doing this, a really tactical way of doing this is if you have a sales Salesforce person or you have a sales ops person, let them be the solution engineer for all sales ops work. Get one of your other operators that you have to do the actual grunt work so that they're learning the tool set and they're expanding their own career. Utilize the expert as sort of the coach, and then have someone who doesn't know the tool do the work. Some people will go, "Well, that will take longer." It might take eight hours to one day longer than the coach doing the work, but what you're gaining is you're becoming a Swiss army of an operations team. And that is a very tactical way over a three-​month period to take your specialized team and turn them more into a generalist team.

  1. Lee Smith: One of the things I really like about this setup and how it's been useful for us is customer insights. When you combine everybody that is facing the customer and gets feedback from the customers and everything like that, and then we all together go into the same channel in Microsoft Teams, you can do it in Slack or anything like that. And we all share those experiences, so every demo that we do, every customer ticket that comes in or anything like that that's unusual, that gets shared. And then all, everybody on that team, sales, marketing client success all have a greater under of what the customer's looking for. We even bring IT into that, so as they're developing new products and anything like that, they're also hearing what the customer has to say. What do you believe is the impact of rev ops on customer insights?

Jason Reichl: Wow. I mean, you nailed it. Here's the number one thing is the team starts to give a shit about the customer. Like, you just illustrated the point of why silos don't benefit the customer. Did that experience for the customer exist before you unified those teams and told them that this is what they should care about, this is where north star is? The answer is no, they didn't actually exist. And I don't think that we have bad operators or bad go-​to market team members, as how you've unified to go to marketing team in the example that you just gave. I don't think that we have bad people. People want to do their job well, but when the job gets hard to do, then we look for justifications. We look for things like the marketing team going, "Well, I handed off this many MQLs this month. So it's not my fault the sales team didn't hit their quota." And we, as leaders of our organizations, have actually reinforced this narrow-​minded thinking. It's not the people. The people want to do a good job. The people who our marketers want to sell to customers and sell product to customers that are meaningful, the sales people want to help customers. 

This adage that sales people don't care about their customers is just complete garbage. Sales people really care about delivering value, because they know that's a relationship that they put their name on. It was hard before. I mean, that's the thing that I keep going to is the world that I exist in, the world which we coach, the companies we work with is an easier, more human world to be part of, which is we care about our customers’ experience. We care about how they buy things and thus, we start to communicate at that same level just like you gave in that example of how you guys are all swarming. And there's something magical about a team of any size swarming around a problem together. Suddenly everyone is using talents you didn't know they had. You have a marketer who is really good at conversational marketing and gets on the chat bot, gets on your drip bot and talks to the customer and meets them where they want to buy, and suddenly you increased your velocity of sale by two days. That's a big deal. Now, if you do that at scale with operations team behind that, that can mean several conversion points over the course of a year that can equate to, in companies we work with, hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars.

  1. Lee Smith: That's certainly a big deal. I mean, those are big numbers and that's not unrealistic. I mean, we've seen the same kind of things here. Other people that we've worked with say the same things there. It really becomes about then the salesperson's credibility as well, because if the salesperson is able then to actually deliver on what they promised, because if they have customer success doing the onboarding, doing the training, the operations side of the company is getting to billing out in an efficient manner. And the product is being delivered exactly as they said that it would, it improves the stature of the sales person, certainly makes the next sales so much easier.

Jason Reichl: Yeah. Well, what is that? There's like a saying that in sales enablement, the number one reason that a sales rep doesn't sell is because they lose faith in their ability to deliver their own product. And so I find that rev ops method as a unifying within our organization strengthens everyone's opinion internally of the product they actually work on, of the product they actually sell. Because they see firsthand the experience they're giving to their customer. It just makes everything personal. 

We believe at Go Nimbly we are moving into — we're not in the age of an informed customer anymore. It looks like we're in the age of a personalized buying experience, meaning that a customer will come to your website and/​or interact with your team. And they know they want to buy your product. It's almost like this game of when you walk into Best Buy and you're circling the TVs and like, it's obvious you're going to buy a TV and someone goes, "How can I help you?" And you're like, "Oh no, no, I don't need any help right now." Like, you are looking for that experience that is totally catered to you. There's this study, where someone comes up at Best Buy and goes, "What TV are you looking for?" It's so much more specific and real for the person that the person will open up and go, "Well, I'm looking for a TV that does this. I'm looking for a TV that does that," because it's more personalized for what they're actually doing. And so that experience is what we're trying to give in a different kind of way through B2B sales for us, B2B buying experience for us, but it's very similar. B2C have cracked a long time ago, if you go to Instagram, every ad is catered to you. But B2B is just catching up on it, which is insane because people, again, put their careers on the line to buy a B2B product.

Audrey Strong: Very true. The website, everybody, gonimbly​.com, Twitter, gonimbly. I like your LinkedIn, BetterJason, everyone. Put that in.

Jason Reichl: Correct. You can always be better. 

Audrey Strong: And gonimbly on Facebook as well. This has been very interesting, great recommendations. We appreciate it. I'm really glad you came on and gave us some of your time, Jason.

Jason Reichl: That's great, Audrey. One thing that I'd like to do a shout out on is I just like to try to be useful. This was not to pitch Go Nimbly. Obviously, if someone needs help, reach out, read our blog, learn how to be a revenue operations team. But if you have questions about how to transform your organization, I like to give my phone number, just text me. I'm happy to have a conversation with you about it. And my phone number is 415–669-0546. So, text me, we can have a conversation. I love helping people. This is something that I actually believe is going to transform businesses. And I'm excited for you if you are interested in putting it to working doors.

Audrey Strong: Sounds great.

  1. Lee Smith: Jason, I'll throw out an endorsement for you as well. You've got an ebook on your website, which I absolutely love. The layout of it as great and it's easy to consume and it's easy to understand, and there's some good stuff in there, The Guide to Rev Ops by Role. I think that if you want to know more about that, getting that ebook is absolutely the first place you should start.

Jason Reichl: Thank you, guys.

Audrey Strong: No problem. Download it and blow up his phone. There you go. 

Jason Reichl: Please blow up my phone.

  1. Lee Smith: No pictures yet, no pictures.

Jason Reichl: Thank you. 

Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed the show, please rate and recommend on iTunes, Overcast or wherever you get your podcast. You can also get more great information at SalesFuel​.com.

This podcast on revenue operations is a part of the C‑Suite Radio Network. For more top business podcasts, visit c‑suiteradio.com.

Audrey Strong

Audrey Strong

Vice President of Communications at SalesFuel
Audrey Strong heads all external and internal communications for SalesFuel, including public relations — which she has directed since 2014. Prior to SalesFuel, she founded her own public relations firm and served years as an award-​winning journalist in television news. Audrey earned her degree in broadcast journalism from Ohio University.
Audrey Strong

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