Organizational alignment means more than hosting recurring meetings between different operations teams. A company’s technology and business processes need to be fully integrated. A clear path forward to driving technology and business process integration is through RevOps—specifically, a centralized RevOps function.
However, for many organizations jumping right into a centralized revenue operations function isn’t feasible. For example, most companies over $50m will have operations teams in place, all with their own norms, procedures, and processes. These organizations should focus on driving operational alignment first. In essence, don’t boil the ocean. Start with a pot of water.
Operational alignment comes down to two things: your organization and your technology. With that in mind, here are six actionable steps to help drive operational alignment between sales, marketing, and customer success.
Marketing and sales and customer success operations need to be integrated if they ever hope to be aligned. If there’s no relationship between these teams, then there’s no natural collaboration, which is vital to supporting a centralized RevOps function.
1. INTEGRATE YOUR TEAMS.
If you want your teams integrated, then you need to create a physical environment that allows it to happen. To do this, force it AND let it grow organically. Sounds contradictory, right? Not necessarily. Force it to happen by sitting the operations teams next to each other, but then allow everything else, mainly the relationships, to happen organically. To stage the ideal environment for your integrated team their desks need to be next to each other, and if not, use desk swaps. In this case, once a week, a member of the marketing ops team sits with the sales ops team, a sales ops member with customer success, and vice versa. If your team is remote, you can schedule a weekly sync call. You can also simply include each other on your weekly status updates via email and the like. Once this integrated environment is established, the operations teams will organically find common ground, mingle, and eventually collaborate.
2. CREATE AN OPERATIONS REVIEW BOARD.
Before technology is purchased or process changes are made, big decisions need to go through an operations review board. The operations review board needs to ponder questions such as why it’s needed, what it impacts, and what it requires. Having an operations review board is crucial to keeping everyone on the same page and making informed operational decisions that look at the company as a whole, rather than optimizing for an individual function. It’s also critical to have the finance team require the review board’s approval on all tech spends over X amount of dollars—to avoid any surprise purchases that might reinforce the siloed practices you’re trying to move away from.
3. ENFORCE JOINT PLANNING.
It’s not uncommon that operations teams only casually or opportunistically meet. For true alignment, marketing, sales, and customer success operations know what each other is working on now and what they plan to work on next week/month/quarter. Force this to happen with a mandatory monthly meeting. In these meetings, it’s important to have a shared roadmap across these functions to allow for transparency between the different groups and promote open communication.
Technology is the backbone of every department—it’s what enables and reinforces processes and procedures and what makes reporting possible. Technology also helps unify (or disrupt) departmental alignment. Here are three technical steps to take to promote alignment among your ops teams.
4. ESTABLISH SHARED REPORTING.
It’s vital that every stakeholder understands which metrics and performance indicators are most important and how you’re going to measure them. While shared reporting is a main benefit of RevOps, you don’t need to have a centralized RevOps function to agree on key metrics, reports, and KPIs that should be tracked regardless of the function or department. In doing so, don’t try to overhaul everything at once. Start by having the departments focus on the 10 most important reports that all of the functions use. From there, create a standardized report that all functions can go to when they need to know, for example, last quarter how many MQLs were created or pipeline opportunities. Finally, purge ALL other similar reports, so only the standard ones are used.
5. SET DATA STANDARDS.
Of course, to have reporting that stitches together, you need to ensure your data across departments is standardized—this includes things such as ensuring naming conventions and field values are consistent across applications. Review the fields that are in all your systems and see if they add up. Likely, you’ll find differences in field names, picklist values, and validation that need to be addressed. As with shared reporting, focus on the core fields first, and then work your way back through the rest.
6. BUILD DATA FLOWS.
Lastly, you need to have a strong understanding of how that data flows to and from other applications. Out of all your different investments in sales, marketing, and customer success, which update other applications and systems? Remember, the source of the truth does not come from a single system—the source of the truth varies based on the item in question. For example, marketing tactic performance is likely best measured from one’s marketing automation platform, a list of active customers from one’s finance system, and details on sales pricing strategy from a Sales Configure, Price Quote (CPQ) application.