Behind the Brilliance: Using Revenue Operations to Achieve Alignment

April 2, 2020 Mara McLean

Operations managers are often the unsung heroes when it comes to sales and marketing alignment. Because the truth of the matter is, if your data’s not aligned, then nothing else is going to be aligned either. It’s time that Revenue Operations gets the recognition it deserves! That’s why our VP of Marketing, Megan Heuer, sat down with Ian Mesey, Head of Revenue Operations at Bloomreach, to chat about the importance of maintaining an unbroken flow of information throughout a company, and making sure that people are enabled to use the information they’re given. Because as we all know, knowledge is power — and not only does Ian have a lot of knowledge, he makes sure that everyone else at Bloomreach does too.

What does Bloomreach do, and what’s your role in the company?

Bloomreach is a digital experience platform, and we sell to enterprise companies — our buyers are a lot of IT, ecommerce, and merchandising teams. Typically we sit on top of a commerce platform and providing that front layer of customer experience, helping customers to find the products they want and providing them with as seamless a buying experience as possible. On the back end, we help businesses to understand what customers are searching for, what they end up clicking on, what they end up buying, etc. We also make it easy to optimize their sites accordingly, so that they can respond dynamically to the insights they’re getting.

I’m Bloomreach’s Head of Revenue Operations, so where I fit into all of that is making sure that marketing ops, sales ops, customer success and support operations all run smoothly across the company, without any information being dropped between the different teams.

Can you define Revenue Operations?

It’s the operations behind the customer experience, from the very first interaction with a potential customer all the way through to billing and support. The mandate is to ensure a seamless customer experience, and enabling the teams that interact with your customers to provide that.

What are your priorities right now?

The way I approach finding priorities goes back to my consulting career, because I focus on the hand-offs in the customer lifecycle. That’s where you’re typically going to see the pain points: anywhere that one team has to hand over information to another. And from a systems perspective, the flow of information really relies on solid integrations. These are the problems that keep me up at night — I’m trying to make sure that all the information flows correctly.

Where does Engagio fit into your tech stack?

Engagio is the tool that keeps information flowing from marketing to sales. Our SDR team are heavy Engagio users, and they use it to understand what potential buyers are interacting with and what they care about, so that they can reach out accordingly. And then from a marketing perspective, it helps us to understand who the buying group might be and engage them better.

How do you make sure that people know what to do with the insights they’re getting?

I mean, that really comes down to enablement. It’s a question that I’ve gotten a lot from smaller companies trying to build out their rev ops teams, and enablement is something that early teams need to focus on so that people know what to do with the information that they’re receiving, particularly in the case of SDRs. I work very closely with Steven, our Head of Enablement at Bloomreach, for that exact reason.

How has sales-marketing alignment benefitted Bloomreach?

Our loss analysis is actually a great example of this. When I first joined the company, we had a lot of late-stage losses that surprised our sales team. We’d get close to the end of our sales cycle, and then it would fall through because of a stakeholder in IT, or security requirements we didn’t know about, etc. This was partially due to the fact that we were maturing as a platform and selling into enterprise accounts, so we were suddenly talking to a lot of stakeholders that we weren’t used to engaging with. So we were really good at talking to the Chief Digital Officer, for example, but not so great at talking to the Chief Information Officer.

So we used the SiriusDecisions Diagnostic Hypothesis Map with our sales team to figure out what was going on, and we realized that there were people sitting in that buying group meeting who’d never heard of us before — our sales people had to start from the beginning and educate them about what our platform even was, before they could start to sell them on the value we’d bring to their company.

What we realized was that this wasn’t actually a sales issue, but a marketing issue. If the CIO didn’t know what a digital experience platform was, then marketing needed to figure out a way to get the CIO’s attention and speak to something they cared about before that buying group meeting happened. It’s this very focused, account-based persona work that was needed from marketing to solve the late-stage losses. And thanks to the revamped marketing efforts, we’ve seen our late-stage losses decreasing, but we wouldn’t have been able to even consider that solution if we were looking at our sales losses as a sales-only problem. If you only have a hammer, then everything is going to look like a nail — but revenue operations puts more tools in your toolkit.

Why is using Revenue Operations important?

I’ll go back to my consulting career for that as well. In every company I saw that didn’t have a central strategy behind operations, all the teams would buy tools separately. When I went into organizations like that, I would invariably see tools that were just sitting on the shelf. Either the tools weren’t implemented to their full potential, or they weren’t implemented at all. And that’s wasted operational expense, you know?

Also, when tools aren’t implemented and integrated well, that also impacts the flow of information. If your information doesn’t flow correctly, then you don’t have a full full line of sight through the customer experience. Then you end up with a disjointed customer experience which impacts revenue, and you end up with teams that aren’t fully aligned.

If a company is adopting a revenue operations model, but the marketing ops team is worried that they’ll just become part of sales operations, what would you say to them?

Interestingly enough, I’d say that I spend more time with our marketing ops team than our sales ops team — marketing is usually the squeaky wheel, so sales ops people have been more likely to spend time on marketing ops projects, rather than the other way around.

But no matter what team you’re on, you’ll actually be gaining more of a voice if you roll up to revenue operations, because your revenue operations leader is working cross-departmentally with the entire company, rather than just one department. You’ll be an important advocate for your team, and you’re going to have more impact on strategy overall for your company in this new model. If you’re rolling something out to the whole company rather than just one team, and you have the support and resources to do it, then you’re going to see better results.

Speaking of results, what are some of the most important things that you’re tracking right now?

From a marketing perspective, right now we’re working on understanding the earliest stages of the customer journey. So actually, I’m working very closely with Lindsey from the Engagio team on using Dash for top-of-funnel attribution.

We’ve started using pre-MQL and pre-MQA stages for this, called M0, M1, and M2, and we’re tracking and attributing their conversion as they start to consider our products.

So for example, someone who’s at stage M0 has just started interacting with our content, whereas someone at stage M1 is starting to visit specific pages on our website and learning about headless commerce and what a digital experience platform is. Then at M2, they could be looking at our information on competitors, or they could sign up for a partner webinar, or do something else that shows they’re maturing and informing themselves about Bloomreach. And eventually, all of those interactions add up to make them MQL or MQA.

We’re trying to figure out where a prospect is in the buying cycle based on the kinds of interactions they’re having with us. So that based on the content they’re consuming, or the fact that they visited our booth at a trade show, or the webinars they’ve signed up for, we’ll be able to tell if they’re trying to educate themselves or if they’re an informed buyer who’s looking to buy a solution soon.

That’s a really smart exercise to do, since it can really help both sales and marketing outreach, and make sure that you’re offering the right thing at the right time. It’s a step that a lot of companies don’t take, but it can really make your teams more efficient and make your customers happier.

Yeah, exactly. It also informs personas, since it helps us to figure out what people care about in different roles. For instance, what does a merchandiser care about, and how is that similar or different from what an IT person cares about? We’re trying to get better at understanding how our different personas move through the sales cycle, and we’re using top-of-funnel attribution and Engagio person journeys to help do that.

How is COVID-19 impacting revenue operations for you?

I know everyone in revenue operations is figuring out how we track this new world where all our events are being cancelled, and the shift to virtual events. To give an example of how our metrics are being impacted, we have a tradeshow called Shoptalk that’s pretty significant for us every year, but it’s been rescheduled. We had a lot of meetings lined up for Shoptalk and now they’re being rescheduled as virtual meetings, so we’re now figuring out how to attribute those meetings to Shoptalk… even though they’re not happening at the trade show. We’ve been updating naming conventions and campaign members to track all of this, and we’ve also been using our attribution data to help reassign resources to other marketing tactics as we all learn to adapt from a business standpoint.

Thank you for taking the time to talk, Ian!

The post Behind the Brilliance: Using Revenue Operations to Achieve Alignment appeared first on Engagio.

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