Jeff Wadholm: Aligning Your RevOps Mission to Enterprise Value Creation

Posted on Jul 09, 2020

About Jeff

Jeff is the VP of Revenue Operations at Mindbody.

Jeff shares with us how he made the move from a career in Finance into the emerging role of Sales Operations 12+ years ago. This journey led him to first-hand experiences of M&A processes and readiness and ultimately the need for RevOps to lead in value creation. He shares with us the stigma of using buzz words like automation and productivity when aligning with the c-suite agenda. Jeff’s commitment to a continuous improvement flywheel makes for compelling listening and a source of inspiration in how to lead a dedicated RevOps team.

The Evolution of Sales Operations

  • Jeff shares that a polarizing moment in his career in revenue operations was when a CRO told him he had too much personality to be working in finance and that he needed to be working on the other side of the company in Sales Operations.
  • The Sales Operations role has evolved over the last 13 years he's been involved and he appreciates having been involved in the wider adoption of the role across corporations.
  • The technology is really where sales operations has accelerated, and not just with AI or ML. The access to data and our ability to manipulate, move, change, and find information has accelerated significantly, especially in the last three to four years.

Aligning Revenue Operations to Enterprise Value Creation

  • Using terms like productivity and efficiency, although really sexy for other sales ops and revenue ops professionals, doesn't resonate with the C-suite.
  • A foundational approach to the revenue operations role is about creating more value in our business. It's less around efficiency and effectiveness and more about how to create a more valuable company that we can show to the world.
  • Rev ops continues to perpetuate the efficiency, effectiveness, and analytics mantra. But at the end of the day, the core mission is to grow the company at scale effectively and create enterprise value.
  • Coming from the perspective of being involved in M&A and having a financial planning and analysis (FP&A) background, Jeff learned the language of business, which is finance and it gave him a unique perspective into the business that is different than if he'd come from sales or enablement. With roots heavy in FP&A, EBITDA, and sustainable growth model, he's had a lot of experience being acquired and implementing new playbooks, and has been able to tie his career to value creation.
  • M&A is an area where rev ops can really make an impact on accelerating value creation. The sooner you're getting customers into your customer journey, aligning tech stacks, and personnel is a value add.
  • If you marginalize yourself into focusing only on productivity and efficiency you miss an opportunity to tie yourself to the goals of the business and, ultimately, to your CEO.

The Go-to-Market Motion

  • Bringing the M&A mindset into the GTM motion and revenue operations involves looking at the whole customer journey, which is where revenue operations departs from sales operations. Thinking about the customer journey, customer retention, and customer satisfaction and having an enterprise view, especially if your whole team is aligned towards enterprise value and fueling sustainable revenue growth, is a different way to talk about revenue operations.
  • Most of those in the rev ops profession get tasked with large enterprise projects, which is the integration of acquisitions, helping with diligence on acquiring companies, or packaging your company to be sold. This trickles into your global expansion and how you support globalizing your product and your sales organization and sales-readiness. Then, the product side of things like, how do we, how do we operationalize and bring to market new product offerings, and new pricing models. Revenue operations is a key contributor to that process.
  • If you just stick to an efficiency agenda, many CEOs just hear, "Oh, you have fewer button clicks." The CEO isn't going to make it easier for sales teams to get their job done. But as you really think deeper, it is around optimization. How does your tech stack contribute to accelerating revenue growth? And how do you think about that continuous improvement process?
  • Those are those next layers of dialogue and discussion that world-class rev ops teams do naturally. That's the next evolution of revenue operations. If we're talking about sales, enablement, sales methodology, and we're going to go sell our services internally to our C-suite, make sure we're using the right language. How do we quantify those impacts?

Earning Trust

  • Whether it be a divestiture or an acquisition, knowing how to navigate changing course starts with trust with your C-suite, with your CRO, with your CCO, with your CSO, knowing that you're the trusted advisor and you have a seat at that table. Then you've got to have your own trusted advisors that can help you navigate through some of those tricky things.
  • If you tie in the two discussions around setting your sights on value creation, if you're speaking the language of the CEO, the CFO, the CTO, that should give you a better relationship, a better trust than if you talked about optimizing the CRM workflows or the CPQ workflows or the back office work.
  • If you've done your job right, the C-suite couldn't imagine doing any of these things without you, whether it's acquiring a company, divesting a company, preparing for an IPO. Then you've got to have a trusted advisor, a great relationship with your team.
  • The balance is how do you not signal out to the business, "Hey, there's activity happening" and also deliver that value back to the business that they need around insights or the diligence piece.

Optimizing Your Revenue Tech Stack

  • For someone in the process of building a revenue tech stack or go to market tech stack, it may be a combination of traditional sales, operations, and marketing operations. For Jeff, with experience in customer success, his team has pre-sales and solutions engineers reporting into rev ops which centralizes the support functions.
  • His tech stack focuses on providing the right amount of data and information that's consumable and actionable for the business. Those are the key components. If it makes his life simpler, his global sales organization simpler, and his customer operations teams' lives simpler, those are the right things.
  • Audience and altitudes are really important. Hearing your audience and finding the right altitude of where they like to operate is a key success driver. If you're looking to accelerate your career, move into that next step, think about those two things. How do I find what my audience cares about, and then how do I put that data in the right altitude?
  • Over the last five years, senior leaders have really accelerated their ability to digest and have an appetite for detail and data in a way that wasn't there in the past. The executive dashboard has gone by the wayside as CEOs, Presidents, and COOs live in the information almost at the same level as some of us.
  • It's been an interesting evolution to see just how roll up your sleeves and in the weeds most senior leaders have become.

Revenue Operations' Role in Global Expansion

  • One of the core functions of revenue operations is to support global expansion. If you think of traditional functions around our systems, things like CPQ, which would be about product offerings and sales-readiness, how do we be the liaison between end users, customers, and consumers, maybe back to product? How do we become that voice of sales? How do we translate technical product stuff into customer language? As you look to globalize, that becomes increasingly important, because one country or region of the world isn't like the next.
  • It's not just about the ability to make that first sale, but to follow it from lead to cash and to make sure that we're thinking about the customer journey. As you look at global expansion revenue, rev ops has the ability to impact positively.
  • Regarding climatizing to the cultural norms and practices of new regions, sales enablement is really the hub to many spokes, including the product marketing team, the competitive Intel team, the sales organization, and with marketing. There's a nuance that can make or break whether you can succeed in new markets.

The Handshake Between Revenue Ops Team and the Product Team

  • It starts with having a relationship and knowing that one another exists in the organization. Depending on how big your company is, your average product development folks may not know the rev ops exist and vice versa. Starting there is key to building a bridge.
  • Then think about things like voice of customer and competitive data, reason codes for wins and losses, average deal size, and being a conduit back from sales via post-mortem deal analysis where revenue operations can be the voice of field.
  • As product looks to bring new products to market, there's an opportunity not just to provide information, but to be the conduit out to the business around pricing, discounting and market awareness. How do we drive the right sales incentives and commission plans to incent that? How do you think about arming the sales team with the right readiness and the right talk track?
  • As you look around globalization or different markets verticals, your sales motions and talk track changes as you think about what is the time to value and speed to value for customers?
  • Partnering with product marketing and partnering with product development is an opportunity for every revenue operations team to step way back to the beginning and look at enterprise value creation internally.

The Holistic Customer Lifecycle

How do we think about segmenting and targeting our customers and targeting the right customers? Look at customer lifetime value CLTV on your segmentation and likelihood to churn and retention, likelihood to expand and buy more.

Really look at the holistic lifecycle of the customer with the business as part of your segmentation. There's a value add there that is more about how to understand the DNA of what happens after they become a customer.

  • When you can add more value to the discussion is when you have that level of insight that says, "Hey, I'm not just looking at the data on the spreadsheet. I've been talking to the sales organization, I've actually ridden along with some of the SDRs on their calls."
  • Having a connection with product, enables deeper insights into what's going on in the market and staying on top of what our competitors are doing with acquisitions or adjacent spaces.
  • Jeff quotes his friend Hillary who said, "Sales ops and rev ops is sometimes like the plumbing. In a home or business, when you walk in, you're never looking for whether the plumbing works or not, but as soon as it doesn't work, you have a problem, and then everyone knows you have a problem." A great opportunity is shifting to becoming the foundation and the walls and the roof, the structure of what the business does around the entire customer journey, especially around go-to-market.

The Rev Ops Flywheel

  • Jeff believes so deeply in continuous improvement and optimization that he's created a small subset of a dedicated organization within his revenue operations team focused solely on continuous improvement. He believes deeply that what got us here, won't get us there. And even what happened 90 days ago, especially in today's crazy environment, what worked, in February of 2020, probably isn't working, on July 1st of 2020.

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About the podcast

The RevAmp podcast derives from two words: Revenue + Amplification. This series has been produced specifically to give a voice to the sales and revenue operations professionals who have invaluable experiences to share. We have seen the scope for this role, as well as the recognition, expectations, and tools have rapidly changed over the last couple of years. The reality is that there are not enough high-quality resources for fellow professionals to use as a benchmark or learning curve. DealHub knows how important it is to be well resourced so we have put together this RevAmp podcast for your benefit.

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Topics: Featured, Process Building, Executive Alignment