What Is the Difference Between Revenue Operations and Sales Operations?
There are many job titles in existence today. From ‘digital overlords’ to ‘number ninjas’, business roles are expanding as demand increases.
In sales, you’ve probably heard of sales operations. A quick search on LinkedIn shows nearly 4.2 million sales operations specialists currently exist in the United States alone.
Another lesser-known but similar job description is revenue operations. LinkedIn indicates there are 222,000 revenue operations specialists in the U.S. While this is less than sales operations, the figure is growing rapidly.
But what’s the difference between them? Are they different or are they the same thing worded differently?
In this article, we’ll explore the nuances between sales operations and revenue operations to work out which one you might need.
Let’s begin with SalesOps.
What Exactly Is Sales Operations?
In a nutshell, SalesOps departments reduce friction in the sales process, making sales teams less stressed and more productive.
SalesOps teams rarely get involved in making sales. Instead, they take on day-to-day admin tasks that might bog your sales reps down. These include managing data, applications, technology, processes, training, and automation.
Effectively, SalesOps gives your sales team breathing room to focus on what they do best…selling!
What Responsibilities Do SalesOps Have?
SalesOps can be responsible for:
- Cross-functional collaboration
- Tech management and your tech stack
- Organizing your salespeople
- Data management
- Sales forecasts
- Performance management
SalesOps look at the sales department as a whole and try to streamline it to increase morale and productivity. SalesOps are experts at using the available tools to do this.
What Exactly Is Revenue Operations?
RevOps has gained in popularity in recent years. In fact, director revenue operations roles increased by 68% over director sales operations in 2018 compared to the previous year.
But what exactly is RevOps? Revenue operations is a holistic approach to increasing revenue and growth potential across an organization. It aids operations for marketing teams, sales teams, and customer success teams along the whole customer journey. It’s objective? To ensure smooth operations and revenue goals across departments.
Whether it’s warehouse management, social media management, or SaaS eCommerce, RevOps can help achieve these goals by optimizing operations across all departments.
In other words, while SalesOps focuses specifically on overseeing the sales team, RevOps acts as a bridge between different departments and breaks down silos of information, which are a productivity and morale killer.
With the explosion of subscription revenue, RevOps is a valuable asset in keeping customers satisfied throughout their journey and the newly extended customer lifecycle.
What Responsibilities Do RevOps have?
RevOps teams are responsible for four main areas:
- Operations management. Working across the business at a micro and macro level to deliver strategic business objectives and tactical program design. Standup meetings are a great way to achieve this. RevOps also manage specific operational units such as customer success operations, sales operations, and more.
- Sales enablement. Remove friction and stress for sales teams, marketing teams, and customer success teams.
- Offer insights. Provide regular updates on insights and other long-term strategic analyses based on data and other key metrics collected across all functions.
- Tools. Responsible for selecting, training, and optimizing all technology used across your marketing teams, customer success teams, and sales teams.
A good revenue operations team will allow your department to perform at its best. It will also help build the customer experience.
In bigger businesses, RevOps might encompass sub-specialist teams such as sales operations, customer success operations, marketing operations, etc. By integrating them all into RevOps, you can make sure departments are building a list of business processes that work in harmony toward a common goal.
Sales Operations vs Revenue Operations: What’s the Difference?
It’s easy to confuse SalesOps and RevOps as many of their responsibilities overlap, but let’s break down some of the differences to help you understand them.
Purposes and Goals
As we’ve discussed, SalesOps focuses on operation management for the sales department only. However, RevOps work across sales, marketing, and customer success operations.
RevOps also have other duties beyond operations management. For example, aligning work, data, and projections across different departments and teams. Effectively, RevOps bring your mission statement to real, workable life.
They may also conduct joint meetings and KPI reviews between sales and marketing to ensure revenue growth.
The organizational structure of SalesOps is straightforward–they’re aligned with sales! But RevOps operate across sales teams, marketing teams, customer success teams, and even your finance department.
You could create a RevOps team higher up the hierarchy to oversee all departments, with a chief revenue officer appointed, or you could have separate RevOps teams for each department. It depends on your needs.
Key Focus Areas
SalesOps and RevOps also differ when it comes to key focus areas. While both seek to increase revenue and facilitate business growth, they go about this in different ways.
SalesOps concentrates on internal work like processes, data, and communication with staff and customers. The aim is to simplify the sales team’s workload. For example, SalesOps may update and organize your CRM so sales reps don’t have to. Tasks like this – tedious as they are–are critical to successful business operations. Generally, very few outside your business will know you have a SalesOps team onboard.
On the other hand, RevOps focuses less on one department and is linked more to the overall customer experience. Most RevOps teams work on higher-level strategies and organization when compared to the mundane tasks associated with SalesOps. RevOps are likely to use video conferencing solutions to unite departments and increase focus.
While SalesOps and RevOps look after different metrics, there are overlaps. That’s because RevOps will watch and track key metrics from SalesOps just as they do with other departments.
SalesOps focus specifically on time usage metrics, such as the amount of time spent selling or inputting data. They also look at what tools are used and how often. Generally, these efficiency metrics don’t overlap with RevOps, but they could, for example, with metrics that involve revenue, such as average sales price or win rates.
In addition to SalesOps data, RevOps will look across departments at marketing, customer success, and finance metrics. RevOps also have other metrics to monitor, such as churn rates, customer lifetime value, recurring revenue rates, and more.
Now you understand the differences, how do you decide which one you need? Thankfully, it’s quite straightforward. Most fair-sized businesses will eventually need SalesOps for efficiency in the sales process. But larger and growing businesses, and especially those with subscription-based models, will grow into requiring RevOps.
The initial challenge is deciding whether to start with SalesOps and see how things go or hit the ground running with RevOps. A good test is to identify weaknesses and areas for improvement. If you need to focus on new customers and sales figures, SalesOps is the way to go. If you’re having alignment issues across your sales, marketing, customer success, and finance teams, RevOps might be the solution.
To break this down, here are some examples of when you might want to implement either SalesOps or RevOps.
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When to Hire Sales Ops
SalesOps oversee processes within your sales team. Here are a few signs you need to bring in a SalesOps team first.
1. Your team spends too much time on admin tasks
Without a SalesOps team to oversee day-to-day tasks, workflows, and streamlining, the work falls to your sales reps, who get bogged down and struggle to perform. SalesOps can implement a time tracking system to highlight what’s taking too long.
2. Nobody is in charge of processes
Maybe processes aren’t working, but with nobody in charge, there’s no one to blame or to rectify the issues. SalesOps can handle process management and let your sales reps do the selling.
3. Your CRM lacks organization
If you have customer data everywhere, it might be time to get SalesOps in to clean it up. Your CRM builds relationships and is your hub–have a dedicated team to manage it!
4. You’re a startup with a low budget
If budget is an issue, SalesOps is usually easier and less costly, meaning you can enhance your team without changing too much structure-wise.
When to Hire Revenue Ops
If you’re thinking about hiring revenue ops, here are some common signs you need them.
1. Silos are lowering productivity
A lack of collaboration between departments can cause big problems with productivity and success rates. RevOps can help each department share information and processes to make your business function as a whole.
2. You have a leaky revenue workflow
You’re losing revenue due to inefficiencies. Each time you execute path fixes to fix workflows, you create another leak. Sound familiar? RevOps can plug that leak and free others up.
3. You’re overwhelmed by too many tools
There are hundreds of tools available online to aid your departments. But when managing tools becomes a task in itself, it’s time to get RevOps in. RevOps can streamline tools via software asset management and vendor evaluation.
4. You’re in the dark about what’s working
Data is giving you brain fog. Everyone has different figures. You’re not sure what’s working and what isn’t. It could be time to let RevOps become your source of accurate insights.
5. You already have SalesOps but things aren’t running well
SalesOps can be useful, but if problems persist across departments, it might be time to expand into RevOps for cross-departmental efficiency.
Hopefully, this post has got you thinking about the differences between sales operations and revenue operations, as well as giving you a better idea of what you need for your business.
To recap, the key differences between the two are:
- SalesOps is about managing processes and systems within sales. Sales teams are freed to focus on selling and building customer relationships. In theory, SalesOps could fit under the wider umbrella of RevOps.
- RevOps works across the entire organization to promote cross-departmental efficiency, break down silos, and establish how you decide to focus on forecasts and tracking.
If you’re fortunate enough to be at the stage where your business requires a SalesOps or RevOps team, choose wisely.