Revenue operations or RevOps is a key growth engine that a startup needs to put into place to become a scale up. The RevOps engine helps companies streamline their sales processes and their commission and incentives payouts.
In this episode, we talk to Siva Rajamani the Founder and CEO of Everstage. Siva talks to us about when startups should look to build a RevOps function, the skillsets that founders should look for when they hire for their RevOps teams, the key goals and metrics RevOps teams should track, and how RevOps teams are evolving.
Q. Tell us about Everstage and your journey to founding it.
Siva: Everstage is a no-code sales commission automation platform. We have several customers from startups to large unicorns using Everstage primarily to drive sales performance visibility to their sales reps, as well as to motivate them through gamification of the entire commission’s process.
Before Everstage, I used to run Revenue Operations globally for Freshworks. At Freshworks, I kick-started the team, when it used to be called Sales Ops, and grew the team to about 25 folks.
Q. What is the problem that Everstage is looking to solve?
Siva: Every company has employees who are on commissions or variable pay, which is dependent on their performance. Typically, these are employees who are on the customer-facing teams such as sales, customer success, pre-sales, and so on.
When a company is small, commissions are set up and managed over spreadsheets. But as a company grows, it becomes tedious to do all of this on a spreadsheet. There are errors that creep in, and a whole lot of time is taken for consolidating all the information which delays the payouts of commissions and frustrates the sales reps. By doing all of this on spreadsheets, companies lose the ability to use commissions as a way to motivate and drive the performance of sales reps.
When you move to a product like Everstage, you can give real-time visibility to the reps and the broader team on their commission payouts. They can use gamification modules within Everstage to see how they can make more money by pushing certain deals or doing certain actions like moving a monthly deal to an annual contract for example, and visualize all of it.
That’s how companies use Everstage to move from spreadsheets to a product to automate the entire process, reduce the recurring manual work and use incentives the right way to motivate and drive the behavior of the reps.
Q. When should startups look at setting up a Revenue Operations (RevOps) team?
Siva: Every company today is looking to optimize its GTM process across marketing, sales, and customer success. These silos of marketing, sales, and customer success are breaking down. It’s becoming difficult to differentiate where marketing ends and sales starts. Or where sales ends and customer success starts, because it’s a constant loop of ensuring that you get the right prospects, sell to them and then ensure that you continuously provide value to them.
It’s one continuous set of processes that needs to work in sync to be able to hit the revenue goals of the company. That’s where a function like RevOps comes in. RevOps connects all the different functions of sales, marketing, and customer success and becomes the custodian of all of the revenue and customer-facing data. RevOps also drives the strategic goals of the company through process changes, recommendations on analytics, and optimizing areas based on analytics.
The best time to hire the first person in RevOps would be just before the time that you’re looking to hire a VP of Sales. That’s probably when you have a few sales reps, there’s some revenue already coming in, there is a small marketing team as well, and probably one or two people in customer success. It could be a junior RevOps person as well but that’s the first point at which you should certainly hire a RevOps person because it becomes a big handicap if you hire a VP of Sales before you have a RevOps person in place in the organization.
Q. What skills should founders look for when it comes to RevOps hires?
Siva: There are some basic characteristics that founders should evaluate when they are hiring a RevOps person. I would categorize this into two levels. One is for a relatively junior hire, and the second would be for a mid-level hire.
For the junior hire, the most important thing is complete comfort with analytics. The person needs to be extremely comfortable with spreadsheets, tying up data, running basic SQL queries, in order to tie up all of the data points together to start to generate insights. And typically, they’re not just data analysts but analysts who also have some business context. People who have the urge or aspiration to eventually move into a more business role. So, someone who is analytical and at the same time has aspirations for a more business role would be the hire that I’d suggest for the junior role.
For the mid-level role, apart from the previous two skills, the other important aspect that is needed is the ability to deal with and be comfortable with ambiguity. The problem with data is that sometimes you could torture the data to tell you the results that you want, and unless you have a good context of what’s happening on the ground, you will not be able to get the right insights or inferences. For that, you need to have the mid-level program manager working closely with each of the different teams, understanding on the ground what’s happening, and getting you the numbers that you actually have.
Apart from the ability to deal with ambiguity they also need to know how to manage stakeholders and influence the direction that the company’s strategic goals are in.
Q. What are the goals that a RevOps team needs to own?
Siva: RevOps should be the function that is, first of all, planning for the company, from a revenue standpoint. Essentially the revenue goals for the annual operating plan needs to be built out by the revenue operations team, so that’s where it all starts. RevOps needs to define what is the revenue goal that you could get to and how are you going to get to that goal. What’s marketing going to contribute? What’s sales going to do? Where is the revenue going to come from? Which channel, which geography, which product, etc? Putting all of this together in an annual operating plan is the first step that is owned by revenue operations as a function.
The second step then is, about making the plan a reality. The RevOps team needs to work with each of the different functional leaders to orchestrate the plan and makes sure the numbers are being achieved.
The third function is related to making sure that the teams have the right tools in place for them to take care of their recurring tasks and set them up for success.
So the main functions that RevOps needs to own are revenue planning, performance monitoring, and ensuring that the right tools and policies are in place so that the teams are set up for success.
Q. If our listeners want to reach out to you, how can they do that?
Siva: They can connect with me on LinkedIn