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The Case for RevOps, Breaking Down Silos, and Unifying Your Team

September 23, 202238:56

Who’s responsible for revenue at your organization? If you didn’t say “everyone,” you might be looking at it the wrong way. On this episode, we hear from Brandi Starr, COO at Tegrita, host of the Revenue Rehab podcast, and best selling author of two best sellers: From CMO to CRO and The Marketing Maven. Listen as she shares four common challenges every business faces, the danger of working in silos, and how to align your team toward your revenue goals.

 

FULL TRANSCRIPT

April Williams:
Hi. It’s April Williams. Thank you so much for joining us on the, From Hello, to Yes podcast. If you love a good analogy, you are going to love our next guest and her book, From CMO to CRO: The Revenue Takeover by the Next Generation Executive. Brandi Starr is a rev ops genius, who has the gift of taking what can be complex and making it really simple. Enjoy my conversation with Brandi. Brandi, thank you so much for joining us today on From Hello, to Yes.
Brandi Starr:
Thank you for having me.
April Williams:
So happy to have you here. One of the things we focus on From Hello, to Yes is always celebrating our guests and where they are today. But we also like to take a look back at the beginning of their careers, especially for those who might be joining us in the beginning stages.
So I want to ask you, as you sit in a place of being a leader in the rev ops transformation, think back to when your career started and what would the Brandi of today say to that 20 something year old Brandi? What’s one piece of advice you would give her?
Brandi Starr:
Well, when I started my career, I was designing marketing for fax machines and so not technologically savvy at all then. And if I look at how my career has progressed, the biggest piece of advice that I would give myself is take more risk earlier on.
If I look at the biggest places where my career grew and I learn the most, it really was when I took roles that were a little uncomfortable. I raised my hand to volunteer for projects that I wasn’t necessarily air quotes “Qualified for” or I just got myself really involved in things that were new and different.
And those are the places where I really was able to catapult my career and really be my best me. And I, at 20 something being a woman in business, it wasn’t real comfortable doing that early on. And I think about had I come out the gate the same way I show up today, how much more impactful and how further along I could potentially be.
April Williams:
I love that answer. And so even thinking about for those… That advice is so good. And sometimes you have to surround yourself with people who challenge you to be that version of yourself in your twenties, right? And…
Brandi Starr:
Yeah.
April Williams:
Yes.
Brandi Starr:
Very much so.
April Williams:
So I love that. And the taking risks and raising your hand for things you might be a little uncomfortable, and here you sit. So this brings me to your book, From CMO to CRO: The Revenue Takeover by the Next Generation Executive was so so good. So good.
Brandi Starr:
Good. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
April Williams:
Oh, I like you have been in business for 20 plus years and you painted such a very clear picture of where marketing is headed in our very near future. So can we start with you sharing at what moment did you know that marketing as you knew it was never going to be the same again?
Brandi Starr:
I can remember, if I think back to different times where I was either in the job market or kind of testing the water, seeing what was out there, and I started seeing marketing roles that were technology focused. They weren’t about the creativity and the ideation and the strategy.
They really were about the data, the analytics, the automation. And when I started seeing titles and positions that were purely marketing roles that had nothing to do with what was the traditional sort of marketing scope, I realized it was never going to be the same.
I realized we had fundamentally changed and the data and the technology, they weren’t just a thing that people were trying out that they kind of did, but it really was like this is the direction that we are going. And that was when the titles started showing up and then people were clearly investing human capital in those kind of positions. I knew it was never going to be the same again.
April Williams:
Yeah. And you do such a really great job in your book and you really start to even talk about rev ops. And for those listeners that aren’t fully entrenched in that, can you start with giving us your definition of rev ops?
Brandi Starr:
Yes. So first off the revenue team is every group that touches revenue. And I bold, italic and throw a few exclamations behind every, because I think that’s one of the biggest challenges, but it is all of the departments that touch revenue.
So marketing, sales, success, support, in some cases, product, depending on the company. All of those groups coming together and having a single operations team that handles the ins and outs of all those departments, all of the technology, how the tech creates the customer experience.
And it’s not that each person within the team has to be an expert across all of revenue operations, but that revenue operations is a single entity. And I don’t believe rev ops is synonymous with sales ops, which is the way a lot of people use it today.
April Williams:
Oh, really good footnote. Because I think one of the things I loved reading your book, and then I also just completed HubSpot’s rev op certification. And so a lot of alignment, but it talks about how often we want to end the process at sales, at closing of sales.
Brandi Starr:
Yes.
April Williams:
And you speak a lot about the importance of that revenue all the way through all the client touchpoints. And I think you even make the point that you don’t consider it a full loop closed, so to speak, until the client actually renews their one year contract. And then that kind of aligns that you have gone all the way through that buyer journey to what you deemed as the success check mark.
Brandi Starr:
Yeah. And I mean, you think about it, it’s no B2B company wants to be the McDonald’s drive through. You think about where it’s like they come or you think about on a road trip. You might go through a drive through that you’ve never seen before, and you’re never coming back again.
That’s not who we want to be in business. We want those customers that come to us, that stay with us, that love us, that advocate for us. And so if you only think about the first time that they give you money, you’re missing a huge opportunity in your business and you’re doing your customers a disservice.
April Williams:
Yeah. And your team, which you talk about so eloquently as well. Early on in the book, you begin to share what you see and have seen with your clients over the past, what were the four biggest challenges facing rev ops today.
And so you talked about operating in silos, you talked about the experience economy, you talked about the believing in the technology fix and what you called treading water. Can you take us through those four challenges at a high level?
Brandi Starr:
Yes. So the first thing is the operating in silos. And I don’t know that any marketer who has been in their career for any length of time has ever worked for a company and they were like, “No, totally, no silos,” because it is so much the norm.
And it is different groups with their own charters, their own direction. And they’re marching to the beat of their own drum. And where there’s a little bit of overlap, they might have a conversation here or there. And it creates a lot of friction and it creates a poor customer experience. And that ties into challenge number two, which is the experience economy.
And there’s a lot of value right now that is placed on the experience with the brand. It’s not always the best product or service or the cheapest or the this or the that. It really is, how does this brand make me feel? How do I interact with them? And so where we are operating in silos, we create a poor experience. So you can kind of see how these challenges all tie to one another.
And then my personal soapbox is number three, which is believing that technology fixes everything. And I, as a consultant, I talk to a lot of clients. And so often the solution is buy more tech and they don’t think about the people to run the tech, integrating the tech, whether the tech is even the right tech, it’s just, “We’re going to buy some more.”
And then when things don’t work, it’s like, “It’s the technology’s fault. Let’s rip and replace.” And it becomes this vicious cycle of buy, implement, rip out. And I mean, I love implementations because that’s what I do for a living, but most people don’t actually enjoy tech implementations.
And then the final one I think is probably the worst because you are doing your internal people a disservice in that you hire really smart people with great experience and you don’t give them the space to actually use their brains and do the things that you really hired them to do. They get stuck just doing what’s in front of them, the thing that’s most time sensitive. And those things are generally not the most impactful.
April Williams:
So so insightful. I think probably there is no one listening to this that’s probably not nodding along with you. We hear these over and over. And when we often talk at SalesAmp about aligning marketing and sales, you’ve opened our eyes to even further, as we step into rev ops.
But we talk about aligning marketing in sales, we always have said it is the marketing person who really can step forward and make that alignment start to happen. And similarly, in your book, you mentioned that the marketing leaders are uniquely positioned to make the first move here.
Brandi Starr:
Yes.
April Williams:
Talk to us about that.
Brandi Starr:
Yes. And this is probably the part of the book where I get the most pushback and the most people that are like, “Yeah, sounds good in theory, but that’s not really going to happen.” But I really believe it can. And the reason is, if you think about all the other departments that touch revenue, each of them is able to operate in their silos.
They don’t really have a requirement to do their job to actually align and get involved with everyone else. Customer success can do customer success on their own. They make their makeshift emails and they do their own thing. Sales, of course, sales believes that they can totally do it all.
But if you look at the marketing leader, they have to make the attempt to break down the silos. They have to make the attempt to collaborate. And they see all of the problems. They see when their team passes leads to sales, what happens with them and where the issue is.
They see when they’re doing customer marketing, how many customers, how much attrition there is and where success is not leaning in. They see where customers are not, where the product’s not resonating. The marketing leader is seeing all of the challenges firsthand and having to do their best to overcome a lot of them in order to actually be effective.
And so that’s why I feel like that is the person that can lead the charge. And even though they may not, the argument that I get is, “Well, I’m not a sales leader. I’ve never had that experience or I don’t want to own product.” And leading the teams does not mean you have to be an expert in everything.
I mean, even leading marketing, you think about paid media is not my strength, but I have really smart people on my team who are amazing at that and I trust them to do their job. And the same thing is if the head of marketing becomes the CRO and leads all of revenue, I trust that they would have really smart and capable people that would manage the functions within revenue, rolling up to them.
April Williams:
Yeah. Really insightful. And I’m sure, because we get push back from marketers when we say this as well. But one of the next comments you make that I really loved was not my monkey, not my circus. So one of my very best friends uses this phrase all the time.
I thought it was only her so I was thrilled that we see it in your book. But you’re really reminding us of what gets measured, gets done. And you’re sharing why it’s so critically important that measurements are connected. Talk us through, is that one of the first places you can really start to make some impact?
Brandi Starr:
Yes. And the reason why this is important is because quite often we’ve all got circuses that are competing with each other. And if we’re all working towards the same end goal, then we’re working backwards. And so I can think about a time in my early career where I was a cross sell marketing manager and my role was to cross sell for key products into our largest customers.
And I had an MQL goal. Like most people way back when, I had to deliver some number of MQLS every quarter, every year. I kicked ass. I ran circles around my numbers every single quarter. However, when those leads went over to the inside sales team to be followed up on, they weren’t incented on selling the products that I was marketing.
So the only time they paid attention to my leads was if it helped them open the door to something that they were incented for. So I spent all this money, all this time, all this effort to generate qualified leads for something that sales had zero interest in actually selling. And that is because our KPIs were not aligned.
And so this is where I say, we can’t say not my monkeys, not my circus, because when it comes to revenue, it’s all our monkeys and it’s all of our circus. And we have to have that accountability of being able to say, we are going to focus on the same goals, track the same metrics or metrics that roll up to kind of the bigger KPIs or OKRs, whatever you use so that we are not competing with one another or doing things that are counterproductive.
April Williams:
Yeah. It’s that insight, I love that MQL because I think we’ve all been guilty of that, high fiving ourselves at the beginning of the pipeline, but then not watching what happens down the pipeline. And I think this ties nicely to what you called the domino effect. So…
Brandi Starr:
Yeah.
April Williams:
Talk about the domino effect, because that was also for me, a completely new way of thinking about measurement in between these stages as opposed to just the numbers.
Brandi Starr:
Yes. And if you can’t tell from the book, we love a good analogy.
April Williams:
Yes.
Brandi Starr:
And it really helps to bring a good visual to what we’re talking about. And so when metrics and goals are set up effectively, it is like creating a domino formation. And if you’ve ever seen those huge, gorgeous formations, it’s so satisfying when someone hits that first domino and you watch all of the pieces orchestrate beautifully until they all fall and you look from above and it’s this great picture.
And that is the same feeling of when we’re all aligned to our goals and you look from above, we all, as an organization will nail it when it comes to revenue. And so what that means is if you think about if dominoes are stacked or set too far apart, when they go to fall, one’s just going to fall flat on its face. And that was me and my MQL goal. Technically I hit my number, but because none of that converted into opportunities, I really fell flat on my face in the big picture.
If you put dominoes too close together, they won’t really fall right and it completely messes up the formation. And so what that means is we don’t all have to be all in each other’s business. There is still some functional division of what each function owns. So we don’t need to be too close together. We need to be aligned just right.
And every metric and KPI needs to be directly tied to the metric that comes before it and the one that comes after it. And so the best example is if our social media team is accountable for getting so many followers to follow all of our social media channels and so many interactions, they should be tied to how many of those social followers actually become net new contacts in our marketing system.
Because if they’re, if you’ve got, let’s say a college student as your social manager and they’ve got all their friends following you and their friends are not decision makers, then those numbers are meaningless. So if you look at the percentage of those people that are followers who actually become contacts, we know if that social media manager is effective.
And then let’s say we look at our marketing manager who is responsible for nurturing contacts that come into the database and they do email communications and remarketing and all of the things that they do and they generate marketing qualified leads, or there’s all sorts of acronyms now because people hate the term MQL, but they generate whatever marketing is deeming qualified, well they need to be measured on the percentage that become sales accepted.
And then for that inside sales team that is calling on those qualified leads, they need to be measured on how many become opportunities. Every metric needs to be tied to the next so that ultimately we could predict, we can have our average percentages and say, if we do this on the front end, this is what we’re getting on the back end, this is what renewals are going to look like. And we’ve got a really predictable pipeline start to finish.
April Williams:
And what I love it also done this way, in the way you’re talking about Brandi and owning what’s coming from behind you and what’s going to be coming before you, you automatically start breaking down those silos.
Brandi Starr:
Exactly.
April Williams:
Right? So it’s really a beautiful tie together. I actually love a good analogy. I think it’s one of the things I loved about your book, you used them beautifully. And one of my favorites was what you’re calling the front office today versus the front office of tomorrow.
And I’ve retold this story already probably a hundred times because it was just such an amazing, great visual. So if you take our listeners through that and make sure that you bring in that dinner party concept that you used to kind of describe it.
Brandi Starr:
Yes. And so for anyone listening who hasn’t read the book, get the book and turn to page 47.
April Williams:
Right.
Brandi Starr:
So a total shameless plug. But in that picture, the front office of yesterday or the front office of today is if you think about laying out an actual office building, it is where each department has its own section of the building.
I can remember my last role when I actually went into an office every day, when you went to the fourth floor, if you came right off the elevator, the whole marketing team was there. If you went left off the elevator, that’s where the customer success team was.
And every floor, it was like you go this way, you’re going to find these people. You go the other way, you’re going to find these people. And it is where it is naturally built for the silos. Because if you think about it, when you get up and wander around your route to the elevator, to the bathroom, to the break room, the people you were passing, those are the people you’re going to have your random water cooler conversations with.
Those are the people that are in your same department. And most offices if we think about the physical buildings, are not set up for interactions between departments. That’s how they’re laid out. There’s people whose whole jobs were planning those things and who needed to interact with who.
So we physically created barriers. And being remote has its own alignment to barriers. So if we think about the modern front office, we have everybody at a single table. And this is where we have everyone, and I mean, obviously if it was a big office, you can’t put everybody at one table.
But if we think about those same people who used to be in different parts of the building, if we could build a table large enough that we are all around the table, now just think about your natural conversations, the people to your left, to your right, directly in front of you.
As you walk around the table to get to the bathroom, the other way to get to the break room, you’re naturally going to have those water cooler conversations. You’re going to overhear someone on the phone in sales talking about how customers really love this feature or someone in success talking about how hard it is to get renewals. It’s going to flow naturally.
And it is just, it is a literal way of breaking that down. And so the analogy that we use, which is totally one of my favorite in the book is around the open concept kitchen and the dinner party. So if we think about houses in the eighties and I guess early nineties, the way that they were built, houses were built with walls.
You had a whole lot more walls in houses than you have today. And so if you think about it, I can remember in my first house that I bought having friends over and I was in the kitchen cooking and they were in the living room chatting. I could hear the laughter in the kitchen, but I couldn’t hear the conversation.
And so I’m in there working away, oven mitts and apron and the whole nine and they’re all having a good time and I’m just working. And then dinner happens, take everything out to the table, everybody comes to the dinner table. But as things need to be replenished or whatever, I’m back and forth to the kitchen.
And so I’m in and out of the conversations. And so at the end of that dinner party, my guests have had a great time, they’ve eaten well, they’ve interacted with each other, but I’ve done more overhearing of the conversations as I’m in this closed off kitchen than I did actually enjoying my friends. So that is the front office of today where we have all of the walls.
If we think about that same dinner party in modern houses, because most houses now it’s hard to find one with a lot of walls. If you want walls, you’re going to have to put them up yourself. Now, while I’m in the kitchen, I can verbally talk to everyone in the living room, in the dining room.
I can hear the conversations. I can see them. It’s more likely that someone might come into the kitchen and help because they can see what I’m doing. I am going to be a part of what is actually happening. I’m going to be fully into the conversation. That’s the modern front office. That is what we want is that flow of information, flow of communication, collaboration, et cetera.
April Williams:
Well, one of my favorite things is to be a storyteller. And I just need to tell you, you did that so well that I have repeated that story for you. I also know it’s page 47. So I tell people page 47 is where this story begins. Because you cannot forget that visual.
It’s exactly, for me, that is one of the best visual representations I have ever heard of what we’re trying to accomplish in rev ops transformation is taking down those walls. So my big question to you is many of our listeners will be from small to midsize companies. How do you speak to them about starting a revenue takeover if they’re not in a company with multiple departments and an enterprise level?
Brandi Starr:
So the big win for small and mid-sized companies is this is way easier for you all. So this is one place that not being a big organization actually works in your favor because smaller organizations are naturally more agile and can make shifts.
And it is also far easier to start off the right way as opposed to be 50 years into a company and you have to battle the, this is the way we always did it and people uncomfortable with change. And so the advice that I would give in step one in having the right tech, our approach to the revenue takeover is truly path of least resistance.
Would it be better to get the chief revenue officer in place first and then do the other steps? Totally. Because with the one leader in place, you can make change happen. That concept by itself is hard for people to grasp, it requires major organizational changes. It’s like a whole shake up. And so we don’t start there because otherwise this never happens.
So as consultants, we see the problems, we see the barriers that we run into with multiple clients. And so we built our model around path of least resistance. Let’s start with what we can control, then what we can influence. And as the momentum builds, people buy into the bigger picture.
And so for those smaller organizations, number one, focus on your technology, whether that is one thing that’s a social platform or an email marketing platform, from the greatest to the small, start with what is the right technology. Not what’s hot right now because that’s how a lot of people buy and that’s not always great. And making the technology work together, what can be integrated, how can data flow, what is the purpose of the technology? I believe in the jobs to be done method so what is the job that this tech is supposed to do? And is it amazing at it? That’s your first place.
So even if your marketing person is strategy, technology, all of the things, if you got the one person, start with what technology they are using. Once you do that, this is where you can build revenue operations. And ideally, operations is a team. The person that handles ops is going to be separate than the person that does your strategy.
It really is a different skillset and a different way of thinking. And I know depending on how small you are, that can be tough from budgets, from a budget perspective. But having a revenue operations person is really, really key because revenue operations is thinking about the technology from a bigger, from the highest standpoint. It is around process, documentation.
It looks at the customer experience on how are all these things impacting your customer. And so really actually putting that function in place and having that be a role would be the second step. Those two are actually pretty easy, especially for a small business. If you are a little bit larger, because I know medium can go up to some pretty substantial sizes, it is still the same concept.
Review what tech you have, fill gaps, retire things, and make sure you have an actual operations team, whether that’s one person or multiple, depending on the size of the org. Those two steps are within the head of marketing’s control. Once you get there, this is where you start to work with the other teams. And silos tend to be less in small organizations because you have fewer people.
So this may be one that is pretty cut and dry. But as you start to grow, make sure that you’re building your teams where there aren’t silos. You have to purposefully build in places where information is going to flow, where goals are going to be set collectively. You have to proactively remove those silos. And then the last one is obvious, which is have all of your revenue teams roll up to a single person.
And that change in a smaller organization is super simple because they’re… A lot of times it happens that way just because there’s so few people, they all kind of roll up together. But small and mid-sized companies, you really are better positioned for the revenue takeover because change is so much easier.
So what we say in the book, because a lot of times people are like, “Well, how much time should this take over take?” There is no set time. We purposely did not say do this in X number of months or years because it really is going to vary.
A smaller company may go through the whole transformation in 12 to 18 months, a big 50 year old global bajillion dollar company, it might take them six to eight years to make it happen. And so it really is starting from where you are and taking the purposeful steps to move in that direction.
April Williams:
So encouraging. I think that was one of the big hopes I knew that you would be able to address that is making sure that smaller companies, medium sized companies don’t think you’re speaking to them. Make sure that they understand.
And I love that you said it’s actually easier and I can see why. It’s a lot less probably red tape and politics to go through because you’re a smaller agile team. So super encouraging for all of us because I think now you’re talking about this transformation, you can’t unsee this.
Brandi Starr:
Yes.
April Williams:
You can’t unlearn this. It’s like now that I have seen it and read it with you and I’ve been getting certified myself, you can’t go back and allow the silos to happen. You can’t move backwards, you only can move forward. And this is such a great tool, your book and your steps to help people really embrace that. Our final From Hello, to Yes podcast question that we ask everyone, what has you stumped today, Brandi and who, what and where are you going for the answers?
Brandi Starr:
It’s the economy. In consulting… I’ve been with Tegrita now seven years. And what I have seen is the typical economic changes impact our business so differently than it impacts most companies. In the pandemic where at the beginning, everyone was laying off, people were slowing down, there were all these things happening, we were bursting at the seams.
We couldn’t hire fast enough, business was picking up. And then when most companies started to pick up and get back to normal, we hit a really random slump. It is one of those things that the space that we operate in is unique. And so I see all the conversations around are we heading for a recession? Are we not? Are we manifesting a recession?
How is inflation going to impact things with the employee being in the driver’s seat as opposed to the employer? How is that going to impact businesses and HR budgets and all these sorts of things? And because these things impact us so differently and because post pandemic, if you can say that we’re post, we just, we live in a completely different world than what existed in 2019.
And so really understanding and trying to predict how the direction of the economy is going to impact us so that we can make our own business shifts or accelerations, depending on what’s necessary is a little bit of a challenge for me. In terms of where I’m looking for answers to try and figure this out, number one is internally. Our executive leadership team is amazing.
We all come from very different backgrounds, so we have different perspectives on this and so we have lots of conversations there. I also make sure to stay plugged into communities of people like me. So I am in a number of circles where the head of marketing at different size organizations, heads of marketing from all kinds of organizations where we are all in having day to day conversations.
And so hearing how my peers are looking at things. And especially since a lot of my peers are actually my target audience, it’s like a double win because I’m understanding what they’re thinking. And even being able to understand how, what they’re thinking is going to impact us.
And then of course, I’m always reading, looking at articles and blogs and a lot of the industry publications. And I download tons of industry reports and attend webinars. So for me, it really is, and this is how I approach any place that I’m stumped or even if I’m not stumped that I know is an upcoming hurdle, I really just try to immerse myself in talking to other people, reading what people say and then absorbing that information and distilling it down into, “Okay, what does this actually mean for my business?”
April Williams:
Such good advice. And I’m sure many people are going to resonate when they hear. And I love your tips about even staying connected to those like you, right? And sharing with others. Brandi, thank you so so much for joining us today.
I hope you’ll come and chat with us again soon. I want to be sure that our listeners who want to connect with you or follow you know how to do that. So tell us how can they actually follow you and connect with you.
Brandi Starr:
So I’m super active on LinkedIn. So you can always follow me. When you search for Brandi Starr, you will see my smiling face. I’m usually the first one to come up. I am also the host of Revenue Rehab, which is a weekly podcast. It’s like therapy, but for marketers. So revenuerehab.live is the website there. And it’s available on all the podcast platforms.
And then obviously Tegrita, Tegrita.com is our company website. And you can see what we offer. And if you are embarking on your own revenue takeover, we would love to be a part of that process. One of my favorite projects I’m working on right now is helping a client go through the metrics that matter and getting the domino effects set up, which is really fun to actually put it in progress and start to rip apart all of their data. So that is how you can find me.
April Williams:
Wonderful. So on behalf of From Hello, to Yes Brandi, thank you again for joining us today.
Brandi Starr:
Thank you for having me and I’d love to come back anytime.
April Williams:
Thank you so much.
What I loved hearing Brandi say was that rev ops is not just for enterprises. In fact, she said it might be easier for small to mid-sized businesses to roll this out with less resistance. And I love how she gave us steps on how to implement rev ops across our company.
So if you are the marketing leader, struggling with how to get rev ops kicked off in your company, you’re welcome. So that’s a wrap. Remember in this fast paced world of marketing and sales, we are better together. Thank you so much for joining us today on From Hello, to Yes. I hope you’ll come out and see us again soon. Until then, have a good one.

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