Revenue Rehab: It's like therapy, but for marketers
April 19, 2023

The Ever-Evolving Role of RevOps: Challenges and Opportunities

This week our host, Brandi Starr, is joined by Brad Rosen, President at Sales Assembly.   Brad is a proven GTM (Sales, CS, Strategic Partnerships) and Operations leader. He has extensive experience in growing B2B GTM teams - including being...

This week our host, Brandi Starr, is joined by Brad Rosen, President at Sales Assembly.

Brad is a proven GTM (Sales, CS, Strategic Partnerships) and Operations leader. He has extensive experience in growing B2B GTM teams - including being employee #3 at G2 - and a passion for Revenue Operations. He is a firm believer that a well built out RevOps organization can be a true differentiator to driving efficient and effective growth.

In this week’s episode of Revenue Rehab, on the couch Brandi and Brad delve into: The Ever-Evolving Role of RevOps: Challenges and Opportunities.

Bullet Points of Key Topics + Chapter Markers:

  • Topic #1 RevOps: What Exactly is it? [04:21] “Revenue Operations allows you to make your business more effective and efficient” Brad clarifies. When you’re referring to revenue, ideally, he continues, it’s across all of those markets, the sales, the marketing, customer service operations.
  • Topic #2 Skill Sets and Opportunity in RevOps [11:01] “The way the role has evolved, there's a lot of different backgrounds that actually go into this profession”, Brad says. Marketing, Sales, Finance, all of these roles can provide background which can make someone great at a RevOps role.
  • Topic #3 RevOps Challenges: An Ever-Evolving Landscape [22:24] Brad explains that in his experience, most of the challenges with regards to RevOps can be avoided if you understand what you’re looking for and what your company needs right now.  And the second biggest challenge, Brad shares, is understanding that RevOps isn’t going to solve all your problems.

So, What's the One Thing You Can Do Today?

The ‘One Thing’ Brad encourages listeners to do today? “Make a list of all the things that you think are broken within your organization, or you'd like fixed”, he says, “and then start to bucket them into specific objectives that you can achieve”.  Then use that list to determine “would a Revenue Operations professional be able to solve this”?

Buzzword Banishment:

Brad’s Buzzword to Banish is ‘platform’. “When you think of Revenue Operations [and] you think of platforms,” Brad says, “they're gonna have a lot of different connotations.  Stop trying to be everything to everyone”.


Get in touch with Brad Rosen on:

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Intro VO  00:05

Welcome to Revenue Rehab, your one stop destination for collective solutions to the biggest challenges faced by marketing leaders today. Now head on over to the couch, make yourself comfortable and get ready to change the way you approach revenue. Leading your recovery is modern marketer, author, speaker and Chief Operating Officer at Tegrita Brandi Starr

Brandi Starr  00:33

Hello, everyone and welcome to another episode of revenue rehab. I am your host Brandi Starr and we have another amazing episode for you today, I am joined by Brad Rosen. Brad is the President of Sales assembly and is a proven go to market and operations leader. Brad has extensive experience in growing b2b GTM teams, including being employee number three at G two and a passion for revenue operations. He is a firm believer that a well built rev ops organization can be a true differentiator in driving efficient and effective growth. Welcome to revenue rehab. Brad, your session begins now.

Brad Rosen  01:19

All right, glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

Brandi Starr  01:21

Yes, I am excited to have you revenue operations is one of my favorite topics to talk about. But before we jump in there, I like to break the ice with a little woozy moment that I call buzzword. banishment. So tell me what buzzword would you like to get rid of forever?

Brad Rosen  01:43

Well, this might be seen as a little faux pas, but like, I'm gonna say platform, I just think that everybody wants to be a platform these days, I'm not exactly sure why I understand from a valuation standpoint. But when you think of revenue operations, you think of platforms, they're gonna have a lot of different connotations. So as everybody would say exactly what they want to do and who they want to be, and mostly stay in their lane and stop trying to be everything for everyone.

Brandi Starr  02:11

I am definitely with you there. I do think in technology, there was a phase where being a complete platform was a good selling point. But right now, you know, things plug and play together so well, that it's like, just be amazing at your thing. And let other people be amazing at their thing. And then we can put them all together. So yeah, I am good with putting that in the box and not talking about platforms. If we get into women's shoes, that's a whole different thing. Forms. Yeah, it's like, you know, I was born in the 70s. And that always kind of stuck with me, and I love a good platform. But anywho now that we've gotten that off our chest, tell me what brings you to revenue rehab today?

Brad Rosen  03:05

Well, I think revenue operations as has continued to grow has really gotten a bad rap in the sense that people don't really know what it is. And so folks have different expectations for what it's supposed to be at their company or for different places. And so I think we really need to hone in on what revenue operations is and what it can do for your business and what it can do for your business.

Brandi Starr  03:27

Awesome. Yeah, I had the pleasure in Episode 50, of talking to Rosalyn Santa Elena who I know that you know, and she had that very similar perspective as well. So I'm going to dig into some of your thoughts around what it is shortly. But before I do that, I believe in setting intentions, it gives us focus, it gives us purpose, and most important, it gives her audience an idea of what they should expect from our conversation today. So tell me, what are your best hopes for our talk? Or what would you like to be different after this session,

Brad Rosen  04:06

I hope that people can take away where they can lean in what they can do with their current resources, whether that be with revenue operations, or without that model and then being able to make their business more efficient one way or another.

Brandi Starr  04:21

Awesome. So I like to start off he talks about what revenue operations is what it isn't. Give me your definition, what is Reb ops?

Brad Rosen  04:31

I believe that revenue operations allows you to make your business more effective and efficient. And I keep it pretty broad in that sense. Because I do think that when you leave it that broad you leave yourself the available opportunity to make it what it needs to be. When we think about when you're a smaller business that probably means one thing, probably looking at systems and building out different strategies and opportunities that you see are coming your way and then as we grow and we build into maybe a mid sized company, we have more than Things around strategy. And we're thinking about how are we going to market we're being able to adapt to a larger sales team be able to think about how the revenue works, probably longer tail retention, upsell, and larger go to market teams. And then as we get into the enterprise, we're thinking about specialization. And we're really starting to have business partners in the revenue operations side, we're thinking about the specific people that are doing comp plans, quote, and comp design, people that are doing things around data and analytics and being very predictive with the business as opposed to reactive.

Brandi Starr  05:33

Awesome, and I love that you broke it down by different sizes of organization, because I do think that that is one place where I see a lot of the blurriness come in, you know, you'll see small businesses that look at what's being done in rev ups in, you know, a global company, and it's like, oh, this for us, we don't need that, or, you know, global companies feeling like, oh, you know, having someone that's just putting the systems in place, like, you know, we can figure that out, or we can hand that to this other group. So it's like really looking at all of these different sort of flavors of revenue operations. One way that I would like to further define it, because it is a varying opinion across the industry. When you're thinking about revenue operations, are you seeing that operations supporting across all of the revenue function, sales, marketing support success, or primarily leaning into the sales function? As revenue?

Brad Rosen  06:40

Yeah, I think when you say revenue, ideally, it's across all of those markets, the sales, the marketing, CS operations. And I do think that there is an opportunity, though, to be nimble with that definition. If you have a really strong cmo and somebody who's really operationally inclined within the marketing department, I wouldn't say hey, go, you know, just have that person now report up to a rev ops leader, right, there's opportunities to work with your counterparts, depending on the talent that's on your team, especially in growing businesses, you should take advantage of the talent that's on your team. And that doesn't mean there's collaboration, that you have to make sure that you're working together across functionally, and that you're driving towards the same goals. But I do think that ideally, revenue operations roles, and you have opportunities to rolls up to the same place, because then you have opportunities for economies of scale, you have a full view of the revenue award, you have an understanding of when a lead comes in, what does that look like through sale through retention? And then you can go back and close the loop and say, okay, here are some of the customers that are not retaining as well, let's refocus our lead funnels on specific funnels that are driving the customers that are seeing retention. So if you break out those roles, you need to make sure you have a really tight feedback loop, and strong data that is able to move throughout the funnel to be able to tell the story and be able to look back and make strong business decisions.

Brandi Starr  08:05

So there's a couple things that you said there that I want to dig into. So the first is around the resources and org structure because this is another thing that I see debated, and I do agree that there is no right air quotes way. I am a believer as well that in most cases, the ideal situation is having a revenue operations leader and having it as a unified team. But you know, when you look at the reality of where people sit within the organization today, in a lot of cases, each function has their operations or operations like people. So I want to hear some of your thoughts, you know, whether I'm head of marketing, head of sales, head of revenue as a whole, in my organization, if we don't have Reb ops in place, and I'm starting to look at where these roles should exist and how to get to ideal state. What advice or thoughts do you have around where people sit, how to start to build a function, if you don't currently have buying resources for there to be, you know, a full leader and just, you know, go all in?

Brad Rosen  09:21

Yeah, I think you need to look at what you're looking to accomplish with, with whatever you're trying to do. And when you're trying to define a revenue operations role within your organization, you really have to get down to what would you want this person doing? Where do you have gaps in your revenue, you know, go to market. So do you have gaps in the idea that if things we have a leaky bucket, do we have gaps in our lead generation, we have gaps in data reporting. So there's a lot of different things that our revenue operations professional can do. And so I think with a will roll up to whoever it makes the most sense to, or they should at least so if they're rolling up to the CRO, for instance, they're probably going to have a sales folk Is operations team, which means they're going to be driving towards top line revenue. And they can still have counterparts on other parts of the organization. But like that's the charter. And that's what you're telling your Reb ops team to do if they're going to roll up through the sales organization. Now counter to that if you were to roll up to the CFO, for instance, you may be looking at the organization a little broader with some more things around expenses, and how are we spending our time and efficiency? It's not to say that you can't do that rolling up through the, the CRO, but I do think that, like you're inherently telling the team, what you want them to focus on, based on the org structure that you're presenting. And also the incentive structure like how are we incentivizing a revenue operations team? Is it strictly on top line revenue? Is it on, you know, profitability, there's a lot of different ways to do that. But ultimately, the revenue operations team is like any other team, they're going to produce results based on the incentives and the expectations that you set for them.

Brandi Starr  11:01

So true, and I think that is you brought up an interesting point in that people are doing what they're measured on, and the direction that their leader is giving. And I think that is one of the places that I have always seen, we're having revenue operations are really just the different ops functions, almost creates gaps when it isn't its own team. Because, you know, if it's reporting into the CFO, and it's looking at things with mainly that financial lens, then there becomes this other gap in how things are impacting the other functions. Something else that you kind of alluded to, in your last two responses is around the skill sets of what operations people are doing. You talked a lot about being forward thinking, you know, analyzing the data, being able to have some of those strategic insights and be able to analyze and interpret what is happening. And I know that that is a key skill set that doesn't always exist in the other teams, when it's not an operations role. What are some of the other skill sets? Like if we're trying to identify people on our team that may be able to shift into or even take on some of the immediate needs around rev ops? What are those people look like? Because I know they're not your traditional sales or marketing, or CS people. So what are some of those skill sets that you see really lend well to being effective in the role of Reb? Ops?

Brad Rosen  12:42

Yeah, I think it's really interesting, because the way the role has evolved, there's a lot of different backgrounds that actually go into this profession, you could have come from a sales background, that folks that maybe came from a marketing background definitely could have come from a consulting background or an analytical systems background, and then grew within that role. So for myself, for instance, I came from a good market background, I've been part of sales and CS leadership for a long time, and recognize that I can couple that with my analytical background. And that was really where I saw the benefits of revenue operations as you kind of bring all those things together, but you have a certain lens that you're bringing to the role based on your background. So I do think that the number one key is somebody that is able to wear a lot of hats and kind of do a lot of different things. You're consistently taking on new projects, you have to be able to prioritize ruthlessly. Because you have a lot of different stakeholders, you have counterparts who are in marketing and sales and CFOs and finance. So you're working with them, then you obviously have your leader who's also has a directive, and then you have the business as a whole. So even if you're rolling up to the CRO, there's still probably a mandate within the business to do certain things, cut costs, increase revenue, whatever it may be. And those may be countered technically to what your leader is saying, or your counterparts are saying. So you have to really understand how do I prioritize my my time my team's time, and be able to say no, so you have to have conviction on what you're doing, and be able to then, you know, have a strong conversation, whether that's across the organization or up or down and be able to say, this is why I'm doing these certain things. And this is the outcome we're expecting out of those specific projects or initiatives.

Brandi Starr  14:22

Okay, and you hit on your background a little bit, and so I'd like to dig in a bit there because I know that you have seen the evolutions you know, at one point Reb ops was this thing nobody understood or saw the value in and then over the past, how many ever years it has become a more consistent conversation. And we are starting to see roles like chief of revenue operations and other leadership roles. So tell me a bit about your background in the context of revenue operations and how you have seen In this evolve?

Brad Rosen  15:01

Yeah, I mean, I started my career in finance. And so I have this kind of financial modeling background for a long time, which I think comes into use when you're looking at data. And you're trying to make sense of the data you're trying to make then determinations of what to do next and give strategic recommendations for the business, which I think is ultimately where you want to go as a revenue operations professional, you don't want to just create things that people are telling you to create, you don't want to just be able to take that next step and say, Well, you asked me to create this, but I actually made it a little bit better. But you want to do is be able to get to that predictive point where you say, I'm seeing this in the data, this is what I think we can do to make the business better. And so you're being predictive. So that was kind of my analytical piece. And then I did run sales and CS teams for a long time. And so I was able to get the other side of it, which I think is very important. Because I think if you only come from the sales and go to market side of things, you miss kind of some of that analytical piece of it. And if you come from only the analytic side of thing, you really miss the empathy for the salesperson and how hard it is to carry a bag and how tough that role is. And trying to balance the two is really challenging, because you're consistently is a revenue operations professional, you're consistently sitting in between what's good for the business, and what's good for this for the reps for the sales, the CS, the BDR is those teams and folks personally right as well. And so you're constantly having to make decisions. And so that empathy goes a long way to understanding where somebody's coming from, where you can give and where you have to, you know, take a little bit and be able to say yes and no and find where the best opportunities are to do that.

Brandi Starr  16:38

Yeah, and I know, I don't know if you know, Helen Batista. But I talked to her a while back at a time when she was actually running all of the revenue functions. So she had marketing, sales, support and operations. And she said something very similar in that, that was one of the best parts of running all the departments, because she was able to do exactly what you said, which was look at what's best for the business, as well as what's best for the individuals and kind of removing that ego, so to speak of, you know, I'm the head of this, or the head of that. So, you know, the head of marketing, so don't cut my budget, I'm the head of sales. So I need more people, you know, it took all of that out. And I do think that that you're very right in that revenue operations, is that role or that function that does have to look across everything? To make sure that, you know, we're putting efforts behind the right initiatives that there's data behind it, etc. So really interesting how you brought that in? Because I had not really thought about that aspect of it.

Brad Rosen  17:56

Yeah, both Helen, we go way back as well. And we have very much the same thought process there. And I think the key thing to mention there is you mentioned across the business, and at some point, you need leaders who are driving their teams, and they have specific initiatives. We have a sales leader, we have a CS leader, we have marketing leader, we have you know, implementation leader, and they all have their specific initiatives. But then you also need somebody who's looking across the business to understand, yes, I understand that somebody is pushing really hard to purchase this tool or to change this process. Like for the business as a whole, that's not the best decision. And you need to be able to have somebody that kind of removes themselves from any specific team, and looks at it from a holistic view of the business perspective, especially when you look at the last six to 12 months, we obviously have seen different things happening, budgets being cut, and really thinking about what are the prioritizations of the business? How do we get the most efficiency out of our team? And you're going to have obviously differing opinions based on what department you're in. And so ultimately, the business as a whole needs to think about, where are we going to invest and continue to invest across the business? It's a trade off, right? It's not, we're going to invest all here or are all here, we need to figure out the right balance. And so if you as a revenue operations professional, if you have that data, you should have that foundation to help make those decisions.

Brandi Starr  19:19

Yeah, and those trade offs are so important, because I think what happens in a lot of businesses is they don't have someone looking at what are we going to lose? What are we going to miss out on? What are we going to not be able to do if we make these other challenges and, you know, as a consultant, we handle some of the Reb ops for a lot of our clients. And that's usually the perspective that I'm bringing to the conversations like yes, I understand you want to you know, you've got to reduce the marketing budget here. But that also means you know, X, Y and Z line Yeah, or in eight months, you know, Oh, there's gonna be no leads, because you're, you know, closing off the top of the funnel. Like, there's those sorts of things and even retention concerns of employees, like, you know, I've seen people opt to non renew technology because they want to save money. And it's like, people are investing their careers in using this text. So if you're taking away all the good toys, somebody's gonna go, you know, they're gonna go play in a different sandbox. And so those conversations, I think, are the places where people who don't have Reb ops, people in plays, don't actually recognize what's missing from the conversation. Because so often it's, well, we can take from here we can take from there. But nobody is really digging in to say, Well, what does that really mean?

Brad Rosen  20:51

Right? It's, you know, the checks and balances. And what's interesting is you come in as a third party. So you have the autonomy and the authority to be able to make those declarations and be able to point those things out. Ideally, you have somebody internally that will challenge leadership, the same way, right, which is hard to do. But that's why having a leader in that in that role is important. An individual contributor who may not have that conviction, or, you know, the experience to back that up can be troublesome if they if they don't have the ability to express what they're feeling and how they think it may affect things. You mentioned the pulling back. And we see that in revenue operations, we see that in enablement. And you know that a lot of folks are pulling back on those roles, when in reality, those are the roles that really you get one person who affects many, right, and makes the efficiency of the team as a whole significantly better. And so I actually see it as relatively short sighted when you do that. And I'm not saying like, that's a broad, you know, conversation, obviously, you have to go organization by organization. But if you were to just say, hey, we could cut rev ups, and we could cut enablement, and that would save us a lot of money. It's just really Yes, it will for right now. But what are the effects down the road? And what do you, you know, by the period, and despite your face, like, you're just going to, at some point, you're going to feel the effects of that. And most likely, it's going to be, as things hopefully are starting to ramp back up, and you're not able to grow as fast as you want to, because you don't have the infrastructure in place that's necessary to do that.

Brandi Starr  22:24

Yeah, jumping back to the first part of that point, I think that is a good reason to advocate for a leader in revenue operations, because you are right, someone that is an individual contributor may not be comfortable, or, you know, have that personality to step in. But even if they do, a lot of times, they're not going to be at the table when those conversations are happening. So even if they may be ready, willing and able to step up and challenge leadership, if there's conversations happening about where should cuts be made, or you know, how should resources be deployed, and there's no one from revenue operations that is in that conversation or asked about the downstream impact, then I think that that's another place where it's just getting missed. And I hadn't actually thought about that as a point, because you're right, like us coming in as a third party, we have served as that leader, being able to challenge and, you know, wave the Yellow Flag of we need to slow down and think about this for more. So that's a really, really great point. And kind of the last area that I want to shift to is we've talked a lot about the opportunities and how the role has evolved. Let's talk about the challenges. I don't want to just talk about the good stuff, because it doesn't always go well. So let's talk about what challenges do you see in either trying to get a Reb ops team in place, or even just being able to lead and support revenue operations?

Brad Rosen  24:03

I think the the first one is, is that while the role is growing, it's challenging to find somebody that's right for this specific role for your company at that stage. We talked a little bit about this earlier in the conversation. But I do think that's really important to understand what are you looking for? And what is your company need right now? It's the same way when you talk about a scaling startup says, oh, I want to go hire a sales rep from, you know, Salesforce, or LinkedIn or Microsoft. And it's like, well, hold on, do you like Are you ready for that? If you have the infrastructure? Do they have the skill set that is necessary to succeed in your growing startup who maybe doesn't have all the resources that they had at those other companies? Same thing with Reb ops, like if somebody who was Reb ops at a really large company, we can use the same companies and then tries to come in as the first robots hire at a 60 person series, a series B Company, completely different skill set that's necessary. And then we also look at the buckets of skill sets. Are they assistance focus per So are they go to market strategic focus person? Are they more data and analytics? And what are they going to need around them to be successful. So I think some of the challenges are, first of all, aligning that hire to what you need within your organization. And then the second thing is understanding what else rep Ops is not going to solve all of your problems. You don't have. That's where it gets fun. It's like, oh, well, we hire a DevOps person to do this. And this, okay, maybe they can do some of that. But you still need a really strong product, you still need a really great go to market motion, you still need to be able to, you know, service and retain customers. And robots can help with a lot of that. Helping with systems helping with data, helping with strategic vision, and being able to make sure that we're going after the right people and synthesizing the right data. But I think that's also a challenge is that you bring one person in, who maybe has a certain skill set, in reality, you needed two or three, or that you're asking them to do something that is not really a revenue operations role, because it's easy to kind of kitchen sink the rule and say, well, anything that's outside the purview of like street selling, we're just going to give it to them or street marketing or straight CS. And they'll kind of be that that catch all, which typically, that's how DevOps ends up, working. And then you run into the challenge of either we don't have enough time for prioritization of all these projects, or that person skill set doesn't align with what we're looking to accomplish.

Brandi Starr  26:25

Awesome. Well, talking about our challenges is just the first step and nothing changes, nothing changes, if nothing changes. So in traditional therapy, the therapist gives the client some homework, but here at revenue rehab, we like to flip that on its head and ask you to give us some homework. So I always love to have clear takeaways and action items. And so can you give us your one thing that our listeners should do? What is our next step, if we are trying to chap tap into the winds that revenue operations can offer us as a business,

Brad Rosen  27:03

make a list of all the things that you think are broken within your organization, or you'd like fixed, and then start to bucket them into specific objectives that you can achieve? So if you said, Hey, I think our sales process is broken. I think that our data and analytics aren't good. I think our systems aren't talking to each other. And so we're really having trouble surfacing data. And then what you'll be able to do is on the other side, say, what a revenue operations professional be able to solve this? And if so, what background would they need to have. And so then you're going to really be able to understand this is what's broken in the business, this is what I want to fix. And this is the type of person I would have to hire and bring in or people ready could be multiple to be able to achieve the results we're looking for. So it's not rocket science, but it's something that I think a lot of people don't do, they put up a rec for revenue operations role, and they get a ton of, you know, incoming candidates from all different backgrounds. But they haven't really sat down and thought about what is it exactly that would make this role successful, and then in turn, make our business successful because of it.

Brandi Starr  28:04

I love that as a first step, because what I see so often is, you know, people are like, Hey, do you have a good job description for a Reb ops person, so I can copy paste. And you know, that works in a lot of roles, like, you know, the rolls kind of all the same, but you are, you're you're really, you hit the nail on the head, in terms of you do have to look at what is your flavor of a Reb ops person, especially if you're getting started. So for those listening, our action item is clear. We are going to make a list of what is broken in the business and then start to bucket that into objectives and looking at what sort of skills would be able to fill that. And then also to continue the conversations, I encourage you to listen to episode 50 With Rosalyn and episode 23 with Helen, because they both hit on some really, really key points as well. Brad, I have enjoyed our discussion. But that's our time for today. Before we go, how can our audience connect with you?

Brad Rosen  29:13

Feel free to look me up on LinkedIn, Brad Rosen at sales assembly would love to connect with anyone that's out there.

Brandi Starr  29:19

Awesome. And then for those that don't know, tell me a little bit about what does sales assembly do?

Brad Rosen  29:24

Yeah, we help companies accelerate their growth through strategic learning and development. What we found is that folks really don't have the time or the expertise to invest in skill based multi modality training for their team. They typically train on their product and they train on how to go to market with their own sales team. So we help them out to make sure that they also have the foundations necessary to make sure all their go to market team is ready for success.

Brandi Starr  29:49

Awesome. Well, we will make sure to link to both Brad's LinkedIn and sales assembly in the show notes. So wherever you are watching or listening to this episode, you will be able to You connect. Well, thank you, Brad, so much for joining me today.

Brad Rosen  30:04

Thank you. It's great to be here with you. Awesome. And

Brandi Starr  30:07

thanks, everyone for joining us. I hope you have enjoyed my conversation with Brad. I can't believe we're already at the end. We'll see you next time.

Outro VO  30:18

You've been listening to Revenue Rehab with your host Brandi Starr. Your session is now over but the learning has just begun. join our mailing list and catch up on all our shows at revenue rehab dot live. We're also on Twitter and Instagram at revenue we have. This concludes this week's session. We'll see you next week.

Brad RosenProfile Photo

Brad Rosen


Brad is a proven GTM (Sales, CS, Strategic Partnerships) and Operations leader. Brad has extensive experience in growing B2B GTM teams - including being employee #3 at G2 - and a passion for Revenue Operations. He is a firm believer that a well built out Rev Ops organization can be a true differentiator to driving efficient and effective growth.