Revenue Operations vs Sales Operations: Why Getting it Right Matters

Rev Ops vs Sales Ops

If your sales team is killing their numbers without a revenue operations (RevOps) resource, is RevOps necessary?

Is the answer different if sales performance is down?

For some companies, sales operations (Sales Ops) alone may be sufficient. But for many companies, a strong RevOps program can have an enormous positive impact on business outcomes.

It’s vital to understand the difference between RevOps vs. Sales Ops. Getting this part of your business right can increase efficiency, boost revenue, and drive better decision-making. Get it wrong, and it may give rise to a perpetual stream of compounding problems.

Featured in this article: an examination of RevOps vs. Sales Ops.

  1. RevOps vs. Sales Ops—what’s the difference?
  2. Getting your reporting structure right.
  3. Mistakes to avoid when structuring your RevOps Program.
  4. Does your company need a RevOps program?

RevOps vs. Sales Ops—what’s the difference?

RevOps and Sales Ops aren’t mutually exclusive. At a company with a sales team, a RevOps program will nearly always contain a Sales Ops function. But RevOps is more than just Sales Ops. And Sales isn’t the only RevOps stakeholder in town.

What are Revenue Operations?

RevOps encompasses and centralizes the operations of a company’s revenue teams. Sales, marketing, and customer success are typical examples. Sales’ success alone doesn’t provide the complete picture. Marketing and CS are also important contributors to a company’s revenue. A strong RevOps program provides business leaders with reliable data reporting systems for all revenue teams so they can make better decisions.

What are Sales Operations?

Sales Ops focuses specifically on supporting the functionality and effectiveness of a sales team. Sales Ops can exist independently of RevOps. It’s rare to see it the other way around, as Sales is a key component of a company’s revenue program.

Getting your reporting structure right

A freestanding Sales Ops program typically reports to a dedicated sales leader, which makes logical sense. Companies that invest in a RevOps team usually give it a broader mandate than Sales Ops. A RevOps program needs dedicated leadership one level higher on the org chart than sales, marketing, or CS leadership.

Let’s consider your CRM roadmap, for example.

Like many other business functions, CRM is intertwined with sales. It makes sense for sales leadership to have a respected voice in building your CRM roadmap.

But giving a sales executive exclusive control over your CRM setup is like putting an operations leader in charge of overseeing product demos. They’re not the right expert for the job.

  • Would you task your Head of Sales with approving the company-wide budget?
  • Put them in charge of revamping the employee benefits policy?
  • Ask them to oversee the creative for your company’s new website?

Not unless you were forced to because of resource constraints.

Sales has a vested interest in all of these things. But giving a sales leader sole authority over such decisions could lead to negative consequences in other areas of your business.

While a sales leader may have strong expertise in Sales Ops, it’s relatively rare to find one who is also a RevOps expert. Placing a cross-functional program under the leader of a single function is a risky gamble.

Mistakes to avoid when structuring your RevOps Program

Setting up the wrong operations leadership structure can result in a number of negative consequences for your business. Here are a few of the top traps to avoid falling into when structuring your RevOps program.

1. Hyperfocusing on Sales Ops

Companies tend to focus on Sales Ops first, often without considering the needs of partner functions like Marketing and Customer Success. But all of these revenue functions are interconnected. Focusing exclusively on Sales Ops to the detriment of other functions can lead to big problems—ironically, even for Sales Ops.

For example, imagine if your marketing team misconfigured their Hubspot sync with Salesforce. It could quietly overwrite the sales team’s fields without anyone realizing it and destroy valuable data. (This scenario is based on a true story).

2. Misdefining key business terms

It’s common in early-stage companies for the sales team to own the operations function. This means that critical definitions for key terms like pipeline and marketing qualified lead (MQL) are often created by sales.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for the sales team to either intentionally or inadvertently skew these definitions in their own favor. When the marketing team comes along, they inherit an unfairly restrictive or loose definition—and get saddled with an immediate disadvantage.

3. Using biased reporting metrics

If the sales team controls their own reporting, there’s a strong chance they’ll wind up with biased metrics. After all, sales has a strong incentive to only measure and report on metrics that are favorable to sales.

Having partial RevOps metrics and reporting will make it difficult to accurately evaluate performance. And without knowing how well your team is actually performing, you won’t be able to make the right decisions for your business.

Does your company need a RevOps program?

Every situation is unique, but you have a number of clues to point you in the right direction. Here are a few key questions to ask when evaluating whether you should implement a RevOps program.

  • Are your sales, marketing, and customer success operations closely linked?
  • Can you get trustworthy data from your reporting systems?
  • Are non-operations personnel spending too much time on operations?
  • Do you have clear, tangible metrics to measure operational performance?

If you already have solid metrics and trustworthy data, RevOps might not be worth your time. But if the line between your revenue teams has blurred, your data is unreliable, or you’re plagued by operational inefficiencies … a RevOps program may be exactly what you need.

Still wondering if RevOps is right for your business? Iceberg can help. Contact us today to learn more about implementing RevOps vs. Sales Ops. Our expert team can provide guidance on which operations structure will best support your business.