We’ve all heard the stat that less than 1% of leads turn into revenue generating customers; in fact, it was the marketing stat heard around the world when Forrester Research released it. But since gaining that industry insight, what has anyone done about it? In response, I’ve seen businesses continue adding operational layers to their organizations, investing in more technology and more tactics with even less emphasis on performance output. That is the wrong direction and detrimental to business growth. And now, we’re starting to see this creep into marketing orchestration. My take? This reliance on RevOps doesn’t bode well for any of us, and won’t be here to stay. Here’s why.
Where RevOps Misses: Should vs. How
As RevOps became its own piece of the organizational pie, we saw folks who are skilled in one specific area of operations start answering all our “how” questions. For example, “How do we launch this specific type of campaign with this particular piece of software?” But in this shift, we suddenly had no one answering our “should” question – e.g. “Should we launch this campaign through this software?” And that is the most important question of all.
Before considering the “how” of any marketing tactic, there needs to be an exploration of whether it’s even the right move to make. RevOps gets in the way of this, because it’s a department full of nothing but “how” people, who should not be making these decisions on their own.
Buyer Need Must Trump Tactics
Another part of the problem with technology (and therefore RevOps) is that good ideas like marketing automation catch on and become overly saturated. Marketers chase the tactic, rather than pausing to consider if it’s right for their buyer. So when you think through the “should” behind every possible tactic, your entire focus should be on the mind of your buyer.
What do they care about? Is that changing? What is their pain point at this moment? This is how you avoid falling prey to jumping on tactical bandwagons that end up being overused and abused, and quickly lose their efficacy. It’s also just good marketing, because it’s buyer-centric.
We Really Need More Efficiency & Ideas
So, how do you combat all this? The only way is by making sure you have someone internally who can create efficiency by providing both marketing insight and operational insight. Someone must understand both parts of the equation, or you won’t have long-term sustainability.
It’s also key to recognize that employees are continuing to ask for more (perks, social cause participation, etc.) just as many organizations are struggling to keep their bottom line in a good spot. So the pendulum is swinging, and businesses are having to look for ways to create efficiencies. If the jobs that the RevOps team are doing can be replaced by a machine, perhaps they should be (and likely will be). The technology isn’t going away, nor is the need to communicate with customers and prospects through numerous channels. So while a machine can’t program itself, it almost certainly can execute operational tasks as well as, if not better than, a human.
So where does that leave marketing? Where it should have been all along: in the ideas business. Machines can’t create innovation, but marketers can. Marketers are supposed to be artisans who excel at stimulating interest and have exceptional ideas. If you can couple that type of marketer with either a machine or a human who has an operational skill set, that’s the future.
The Path Forward
I believe RevOps will be replaced at some point because it’s exactly the sort of isolated silo that we’ve been trying to get rid of for years. You don’t need RevOps; you need the right talent who question every tactic and piece of technology, bring big ideas to the table and, most importantly, understand how to drive revenue.
Your team must also know how to measure success. Gone are the days of superficial metrics; no one cares if RevOps launched 11 projects and integrates three systems. Marketing should know what outcomes matter most to your business, and measure their efforts based on performance that drives toward those outcomes.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a nod to technology’s part in all of this. RevOps has grown in prevalence because every CMO is a tech stack bragger these days. I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve participated in, in which we ask a CMO about their marketing operations and they spend the next hour telling us about all their tech tools. This tells us nothing about their operations, and even less about their efficacy (although I could assume it’s low if their quantity of systems is a point of pride).
The marketers who drive revenue understand the promise of technology in powering the right actions, but don’t make it their focal point. And while COVID-19 has presented many challenges, it has brought about one silver lining: businesses are starting to care less about shiny objects and more about what will drive results in the near-term. This is a step in the right direction, away from tech stack flexing. It’s also a step toward smart decisions. If your marketing efforts aren’t driving revenue, cut them. If your marketers aren’t, cut them too.
The most successful organizations are those who are connected to their customers. They know what’s going on in their buyers’ minds, and use that as their North Star for all activities they conduct. They start with “should we?” instead of “how will we?” And you don’t need RevOps to do that; you just need really smart marketers who know how to make an impact.
Meet Justin Gray
Justin is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of LeadMD, the world’s largest revenue operations agency having implemented over half of the Marketo user base. Justin has made a career of launching successful companies and scaling them, with successful exits of over 200MM+ in the last decade. Justin’s latest endeavor launched in 2016 when he co-founded Six Bricks an online learning startup designed to combat employee and customer churn through experience-based education. Over the past 10 years, Justin has emerged as a strong voice for entrepreneurship, marketing and culture. As a recognized speaker, Justin has been published over 350 times in industry publications and holds his own column, Tribal Knowledge in Inc., while writing for Entrepreneur, Tech Crunch and others. Justin and his wife Jennifer met over marketing and three years later welcomed their son, Grayson, into the world in April of 2017.