The Transition to Revenue MarketingDrew is the Director of Revenue Operations with Directive Consulting, and he oversees Directive’s Revenue Operations practice that helps clients solve revenue, marketing, sales, and customer operations challenges. Revenue operations gives people a competitive advantage when it comes to career growth. That advantage boils down to data literacy and understanding how marketing impacts revenue. Drew talked about how marketing leaders must be able to understand data. “The marketing leaders who don’t understand data–how to create data, curate data, collect data, and orchestrate it–have less of an advantage than they did previously. “Traditionally, marketing leaders were the brand people. A lot of times they started in copywriting. And that’s great. You still need that creative backbone. But marketing leaders also need to understand the data side of things. And if you’re not, it’s not good for the organization. “The other piece of the puzzle is the fact that a lot of times marketing is viewed as the arts and crafts department of the organization. “Marketing has always wanted a seat at the table (in terms of the C-level and boardroom conversations) and a part of the higher level business strategy conversations. When you’re viewed as the arts and crafts department, you don’t get that seat. “As marketing is moving more towards revenue and marketers are being KPIed on opportunities and deals, marketing is starting to have to answer for those things. You need somebody that understands those operational processes. You need somebody that understands the sales side of the business. You need somebody that understands churn prevention and how to make sure that we keep the clients that we have, and how do we cross-sell and upsell. It’s been true forever. And I think it gets forgotten a lot that it’s so much easier to sell to existing clients than it is to go out and get new clients. “You’re at a competitive disadvantage if marketing is only thinking of new logos. The revenue approach to marketing creates additional opportunities for marketing to raise their game and get the seat at the table that they haven’t always had in the past.” “You still have to have a creative skill set in marketing. When you think of marketing, you don’t think of great marketing processes, you think of great marketing advertisements and great marketing creative. You think of Steve Jobs and the iPod, ‘3 million songs in your pocket.’ That’s brilliant advertising. “But what I think gets lost is that just having that good creative–particularly on the B2B side–is great. But if you can’t deliver leads to sales, that creative just went nowhere. You have to have both disciplines. “I think that there’s this perception that operations doesn’t involve creativity. I spend most of my day in Lucidchart creating massive flow charts, and there’s a certain level of creativity to that. It’s just a very different type of creativity.”
Drilling Down into the DataMarketers are under more pressure now than ever before to deliver results and show that marketing is working. It’s no longer acceptable to not know your numbers, but not everyone is good with them. What has Drew seen people doing to bridge these gaps? “I think having a great analyst on staff, or even just a good analyst on staff is a great way to help demystify or remove the intimidation of working with numbers. I’ve worked with several clients to try to simplify the framework that I use with clients a lot of times is don’t try to do too much with your reports and dashboards. Simplify. Start with a simple, narrow question that you’re trying to ask of the data. Start with a question like, ‘how many leads did we generate last month?’ I don’t care how good or bad you are with numbers. That’s a pretty easy starting point, right? Like everybody in marketing should be able to read a report that tells us how many leads we created last month. That’s your starting point.” And, once you’ve mastered that: “Then you can add a little bit of complexity to it and say something like, okay, great. How many leads did we create last month from our different channels? Now, all you did was add one little variable, which is your channels. Again, this is really simple, people that are bad at numbers should still be able to work with that type of report. So start with simple questions and then add a little bit of complexity to add additional context, but always keep framing it in the form of a question, because if you’re good with words and not numbers, you should still be able to create questions. “And so that to me is the easy way for people that aren’t great with numbers, or might be a little intimidated by numbers, to kind of start dipping their toes in the waters and getting used to it and starting to figure out, ‘Hey, this isn’t as intimidating as I thought it would be.’ “You don’t need to go from zero to regression analytics overnight, like that’s intimidating even for people that are good with numbers. So let’s just stay simple, take baby steps, and get more and more comfortable.” It’s okay if you’re uncomfortable with numbers. The important thing is to speak up when you’re feeling uncomfortable, so you can ask questions and learn to start navigating that world. Asking the right questions—especially of your analysts—is vital to drilling down into what you really want and need numbers wise. “I think that’s part of the problem that a lot of marketers have that aren’t super comfortable with numbers is they tend to ask very broad things like is marketing working? Give me a report, give me one dashboard that tells me everything. Is marketing working and how is marketing performing? “It’s not specific enough for anybody to create a report or dashboard around because what does that mean? Those two terms are very ambiguous. And so the more specific and narrow we can be, the easier it becomes for that analyst to take 10 minutes and spin up a report. So it’s very easy to do that. We have to stop being broad and ambiguous and be very, very narrow and specific in order to get the best value out of our reporting and data. “A lot of times I look at it in terms of a pyramid for reporting. At the very top of the pyramid is executive level reporting, which should really answer questions like what’s happening. What types of opportunities is marketing creating? What types of deals are marketing influencing? What’s the percentage of marketing’s influence on opportunities in bookings? What questions start at the top of the pyramid, and that’s what executives care about. “Then the next level down is the how questions that you’re gonna ask that say, well, how did this happen? That’s the question for the next level in the organization to be able to answer, at the director, VP level, that’s gonna say, ‘Hey, I own my area of responsibility. So I should be able to answer the question, how did this happen?’ “And then the next level down is more of the why questions and the why questions are at that kind of manager, director level, even more granular, into really almost diagnostic level reporting is down at that why level. And so every level of the organization and each department in the organization needs to own their metrics and their reporting. And so I always look at it kinda like a pyramid in that, in that manner.” Revenue Operations can offer a lot to Marketing teams, if they’re properly aligned. After all, your goals are the same: generating more revenue for your organization. “I think one thing is that data analysis layer. From an operations standpoint, we should know the basic concepts of statistical analysis. It doesn’t mean that you need to know data science level things like regression analytics or calculus or anything like that. If you just know the basics of statistical analysis, the difference between mean and median, how to calculate a percentage increase, how to calculate a win percentage. Like those things are pretty basic level statistics. You don’t need a doctorate to understand those. “The number one thing is being able to do some of that statistical analysis. I also think that the creation and curation of data is critical and that’s where operations plays a huge role. I was just at the Drift Flash conference and one of the things that kept coming up in almost every single speaker was talking about data and you’d think in 2022, we wouldn’t still have to keep bringing up the need for good, rich quality data, but we do. “And it’s because so many organizations think you can just back into good data instead of having an intentional data creation and curation process. And so, operations people really should be the folks that are in charge of creating a solid data strategy and making sure that not only are we getting the data that people submit on forms, but we’re also creating data and making sure that when somebody moves through the funnel, we’re able to track data that you create on your own. “That’s not data that anybody’s giving to you. All you have to do is create the process and enable the technology to do it, and you can do it. So the ops folks are the ones that really kind of hold the best practices and the keys to know how to do that. And so they should be empowered to own the data that marketing and sales and customer ops are creating so that they can help make sure that we have that good, rich data and by the time we get to 2023, we still aren’t having to have conversations about the importance of good, rich, actionable data.
Aligning with Marketing OperationsFor managers working with marketing operations teams, what can they do to make navigating these conversations easier? “I think the most challenging thing about operations life, at least from what I hear, is a couple of things. Number one, not having proper resources, not having proper technology, and a lack of good, strong prioritization usually. And I disagree with this wholeheartedly, so I’m not saying this is a good way to approach things, but usually marketing operations or revenue operations is one of the last people to be brought into executing a strategy of some sort. “It’s almost like they get pulled in at the very end when the strategy’s fully baked and then they’re told, ‘Hey, go build this, go do this thing.’ And it’s like, ‘Hey, half the stuff in the strategy can’t even be executed because the technology doesn’t do it.’ And so, RevOps and marketing ops need to be brought in earlier in the process and considered a partner in strategy creation. “And there needs to be a really strong level of prioritization, because how many times does marketing ops or RevOps get asked to do something? And it’s like, well, I needed this yesterday. Well, you should have sent it yesterday. But I mean, ultimately, if everything’s an emergency, then Marketing Ops and RevOps don’t actually get to add value to the process. They don’t get to flex their strategic muscles and make things better. All they’re doing is doing the bare minimum because they have no time to do anything. “So prioritization being brought into the process much earlier so they can enhance the strategy and resources. I read a quote the other day that just sticks in my brain, and it’s so applicable to Marketing Ops and RevOps and the quote is, ‘There’s never enough money to do it right. But there’s always enough money to do it twice.’ “One of the things that I would say is, if for marketers that, particularly in Marketing Ops and RevOps, that want to advance their careers, there’s two things that I would highly recommend doing. Number one, go sit in sales for a little while, be a carrier of a quota, even for just a little while. I started my career in B2B sales for three and a half years. “And I can tell you that it has helped me immensely, particularly in my Marketing Ops and RevOps portion of my career, because being able to empathize and with sales and SDRs, the people that are doing cold calls and being asked to spend 15, 20 minutes for every lead that they process just curating and creating data – the ability to empathize with those folks and being able to help take some of that stuff off their plate through automation, being able to speak their language is incredibly useful in operations. That’s number one. It also helps you. “It also helps cuz one of the biggest challenges that we see when I’m working with an operations professional and I’m trying to get them to help move them up the ladder in my organization, one of the biggest challenges that we have is there’s a lot of people out there that are really good at the tool and getting a lot of value out of the tool, but they aren’t great at connecting what they’re doing in the tool to the larger business objectives and being able to do more in the tool to achieve those business objectives, and sitting in sales for a little while will help you understand that it will period. So I think sitting in sales for a little while is something that every marketer should do, but particularly those in operations, I think it’s a huge benefit and way to accelerate your journey.” And the last recommendation Drew had for listeners? “Take an improv class at a community college. I think like taking an improv class is it’s it so important to being able to speak publicly and confidently. That ability to speak publicly, speak confidently, express your opinions in a meeting without fear of judgment, without fear of ridicule.” Otherwise, there’s a lot of missed opportunities for Marketing Operations and RevOps professionals to insert themselves earlier in the process, because of a tendency to sit back and not want to interject an opinion. So, do yourself a favor and learn some improv – or check out Toastmasters, so you can improve your public speaking.
You can connect with Drew on LinkedIn or Twitter. For more ways to grow your operations career, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.