Industry veteran Weisen Li shares her insider tips for bringing your revenue team’s talents forward.
Amid your complex deal processes, have you ever felt like enterprise sales resembles an American football game? As a revenue leader, you may feel akin to an offensive coordinator, helping your players get the ball across the finish line – leaning on an endless book of strategies and whispering techniques between plays.
You may be looking for ways to bring your team together, and yet somehow your existing tech stack seems to make deals more – not less – complicated.
We recently sat down with Weisen Li, an advisor at Prelay and 10+ year veteran in the world of revenue operations (RevOps). During her tenures at Box, ActiveCampaign, Narvar, and Trifacta, Weisen navigated the front lines of B2B disruption, aligning teams across marketing, sales, and customer success to modernize the buyer journey. She’s an MVP in the RevOps space, so to speak, and we were thrilled to capture some of her offensive secrets for bringing your team’s talents forward.
Below are 7 key insights from our conversation that look at the past and future of RevOps, and what revenue leaders need to plan for in 2023.
WL: As a function that services the go-to-market teams, RevOps is only as effective as their ability to successfully partner with their stakeholders; that means collaboration is extremely important. Effective collaboration requires constant communication, and documentation is crucial to scale communication. So you need to have those pillars underlying your strategy: collaboration, communication, and documentation.
WL: Increasingly, more stakeholders are getting involved with procurement decisions. For example, sales may need a prospecting tool, but sales operations needs to make sure the software has proper reporting capabilities; marketing wants to know if the tool features overlap with existing solutions, while IT requires it to integrate seamlessly to the tech stack; and compliance needs to ensure it is GDPR and CCPA compliant, just as security wants to make sure the software is free of any vulnerabilities.
This is not just happening in large Fortune 500 companies but also in midsize organizations. Due to the intricacies and nuances of the topics, different subject matter experts (SMEs) are needed at different stages of the deal to address various stakeholder concerns.
This requires a tremendous amount of know-how and coordination to pull in SMEs across different parts of the company at the right time. If an account executive is not deeply familiar with the organization and/or process to take control of the deal cycle, these requests will come at the revenue team in an ad-hoc manner, creating an impression of disorganization or even incompetence.
WL: Historically, it was IT, working with procurement, that almost unilaterally decided which software teams would use. When everything was on-premises, IT was in control; but in the late 2000s, the democratization of software meant that products became more consumer-like and user-friendly. You have tools like Box where the end-users in marketing and sales just go and buy directly through their browsers. IT ends up being viewed as a blocker.
For a while now, these products have lurked in the background as “shadow IT,” but with greater scrutiny in recent years, and rising security and data privacy risks, any number of teams get piled into a procurement decision at enterprises today. There are legal and finance approvals, sales engineers scoping use cases and trials, specialized overlay teams mapping advanced implementations, and product hopping in to discuss roadmap.
WL: If the account executive is the quarterback to a deal, then deal desk in RevOps is the offensive coordinator that guides the deal team on which plays to run and how to maneuver internally through the deal cycle.
In order for deal desk to be effective at their job, they need to have an established method of communication as well as service-level agreements (SLAs) with the various SME functions.
Making it easy for account executives to know when and how to engage SMEs goes a long way in ushering the deal along. Breaking down functional silos requires easy access to full information about deal progress through documentation and communication.
WL: In the past, you might see teams yelling at each other: I really need this, hurry up! People hounded each other over emails until they got what they needed. More recently, teams have set up a ticket system, but rarely do you see a countdown clock for any internal support needs such as legal or finance. You submit the ticket, and there’s an implicit agreement that they’ll get to it, but what ends up happening at the end of the quarter or month? SLAs go out the window and whoever is most important gets priority, while everybody else takes the backseat.
So, you need to establish SLAs that are communicated and tracked in real time. But even then, you want to maintain some nuance as to how you operate around those terms. You may need to break SLA occasionally for smaller deals if there’s a large deal coming through. You don’t want to get three tiny deals done to meet an SLA, and squander a seven-figure opportunity. It’s important to have that visibility and flexibility to readjust based on changing deal priorities, such as size or likelihood of close.
WL: No matter what kind of documentation you put in place, reps will inevitably run into some question where they’ll resort to pinging deal desk, who quickly has to address an onslaught of live tickets. Often, they waste more time and energy on back-and-forth with the rep to get all the necessary intake information and ultimately have to reject many requests.
In addition to defining your process, you want to empower teams with tools and connected workspaces that bring those workflows to life.
For example, Prelay’s Plays and Assists are simple guiding tools that centralize coordination efforts and capture deal information in a consistent manner that allows for more efficient collaboration between SMEs and reduction in functional silos.
At the same time, this method provides better insights into deal cycles and removes a key bottleneck in addressing sales team questions. Deal desk can more effectively scale and manage end of month/quarter volume surges and ensure they are only involved in the most complex deals.
WL: Nearly every part of the sales cycle can benefit from automation, whether that’s prospecting cadences, defining sales stages, or assessing your internal SME capacity. Perhaps most importantly, automation provides consistency and helps scale the organization. It reduces time spent on administrative activities by sales and gives them more time to actually sell. For RevOps, consistency is crucial to drive insights. If two deals run completely different deal cycles and one closes but the other doesn’t, it’s hard for sales leadership to know what differences are attributed to the success of one deal and the failure of the other. That lack of standardization and visibility around deal execution makes it nearly impossible to learn and improve over time.