Because ops is a new, fast-changing field, it’s hard to pin down how exactly to build successful teams. After all, we don’t have decades of historical precedent and best practices to rely on, like finance or creative teams.
That’s why we chatted with Benjamin Reynolds, founder of Alternative Partners, to talk about what it takes to build a high-performing ops team.
Get to know Benjamin
Like many ops professionals, Benjamin has a unique background. He started out his career as a classical musician and performance artist, and eventually stumbled into a Salesforce addiction. He made his way into the holistic world of revenue operations after working in a consulting firm, the nonprofit sector, financial services, and a Software as a Service (SaaS) company.
He decided to start Alternative Partners, a Revenue Operations as a Service (ROaaS) consultancy because he’d seen too many startups fail due to poor internal structure and process.
Setting (and sticking to) deployment timelines is key to managing expectations
In ops, our primary customer doesn’t have an empathic understanding of the process. That creates a lot of interpersonal and professional stress because they often don’t understand the technical aspects that go into fulfilling their requests. One thing Benjamin found to be critical when he was working in-house full-time was having a deployment process.
This is typically a software development practice, but it should apply to marketing and sales ops too. It’s about having a predictable cadence for addressing updates. (Note: Applying development practices to ops teams also came up in our last shOPS Talk with Pete Kazanjy of Atrium and Modern Sales.)
By embracing a deployment process, you give yourself the chance to think about all the repercussions and up and downstream impacts of making a change. We don’t question when engineers say no to adding things to the product roadmap outside of their normal release schedule. We should apply that same thinking to ops.
Saying no gracefully
To be able to keep everyone on that schedule, you need to be able to say no gracefully. It’s a concept that WizOps co-founder Brad Smith got from Tim Ferris. For ops pros who have a background in consulting, your natural instinct may be to say yes to everything. You want to solve people’s problems. But to be productive and diligent, you have to be able to challenge why a change needs to be made and make sure it fits across the whole business.
Everyone should be aligned on revenue
When there’s a lot of tension between teams, there are a few fundamental questions that Benjamin says companies need to be asking:
- Do you believe, as an organization, that any of your functional business teams have diametrically opposed KPIs?
- Whether or not it’s true, do you believe that marketing is somehow being incentivized to produce MQLs that are bad for sales?
- Do you believe that SDRs have spiffs that incentivize them to perform activity that makes marketing look bad?
- How can we get rid of the manufactured competition created by setting unnecessary stress points?
Marketing and sales departments are siloed because they simply aren’t all on the same team. The ultimate goal, despite the many metrics we measure along the way, is to drive revenue. And revenue is not marketing or sales. It’s cash in the bank. If your entire stack isn’t serving that goal because you created this artificial pain point, then you need to address it.
We all know about vanity metrics, but you could almost create a new category called “competitive metrics” that create a false sense of success. Ask yourself: Is that MQL really a good MQL? Is it going to create a real opportunity for us? A lot of times, that misalignment on metrics creates tension and competition.
The secret sauce is if your revenue is aligned to your goals across every group. If you’re marching to the same beat and you know your “micro metrics” (or even vanity metrics) still boil down to top-line revenue, you’ll be in good shape.
This conversation was packed with insight, and we encourage you to watch the whole episode. Benjamin and Brad also talk about what’s driving the new trend towards Rev Operations as a Service, dealing with impostor syndrome when you work in such a young industry, and the value of building community.