What is Revenue Operations?

And how is it different from Sales Operations?

While revenue operations focus on revenue growth and integration of sales, marketing and service departments, sales operations focus on sales department efficiency.

Many companies already have a sales operations team responsible for increasing efficiency within the sales department, but not all companies may be familiar with revenue operations. The main difference is that sales operations primarily focus on sales, while revenue operations focus on multiple functions, such as finance, marketing, sales and customer service. When a company incorporates revenue operations, the sales team can focus on sales, while the revenue operations team can perform the behind-the-scenes work of collecting and handling data.

Let's look deeper at the functions, goals and components of revenue operations vs. sales operations.

Revenue operations
Revenue operations integrate sales, marketing, service, and customer success operations and break down silos between departments. This strategy aims to connect data from sales, marketing and customer service departments, providing the business with a complete view of the customer at all points of the customer journey. Revenue operations aim to meet revenue goals, while providing positive CX.

Revenue operations teams focus on driving revenue growth via operational efficiency, tying in customer-facing departments that directly affect the organization's revenue, such as marketing and service. However, revenue operations do not include internal departments, such as HR or legal.

Depending on the company, the primary focus of the revenue operations team can vary. For example, some companies focus on marketing to drive revenue, while others focus on sales or service. A revenue operations team can be the central point for customer information and focus on customer acquisition, churn, satisfaction and other customer-centric metrics. Revenue operations teams use tools such as analytics and AI to discover trends and opportunities that drive revenue.

Here's a closer look at the typical roles and responsibilities for revenue operations teams:

  • Operations management strives to align functional areas and their roles, such as sales operations, marketing operations and project management, to the organization's needs. Responsibilities of these teams include business process innovation, cross-functional collaboration, project and change management, and sales planning and compensation.
  • Enablement team members are internally facing teams, such as sales enablement, learning management and performance management. The focus of these teams is to enable the organization by improving CX and operational efficiencies through the development of best practices related to onboarding, coaching, professional development and continuous training responsibilities.
  • Insights team members, such as business analysts, data scientists and database developers, use data gathered from a range of customer insights. These insights stem from industry trends, customer and partner feedback, and analytics to inform and guide decision-making. Team responsibilities include data quality and management, data access, operational insights and strategic insights.
  • Tools teams, such as software developers and systems administrators, provide governance and oversight in the software development process, ranging from software selection to implementation, to ensure organizational fit to the needs of sales marketing, and customer success, along with governance and use of CRM and business processes. Their responsibilities include evaluation, procurement, vision of the tech stack, integration and systems administration.

Businesses form revenue operations teams to manage the merging of these various departments. Some RevOps departments report to the CFO, while others add a chief revenue officer (CRO) that reports to the CEO or CFO. Salesforce, for example, has a revenue operations department and an executive that reports directly to the CFO.

The benefit of revenue operations is identifying operational roadblocks in internal processes and tools, prioritizing them based on potential impact to an organization and removing them. Start by designating clear ownership of handoffs, which can go a long way to improving operations and positive improvements to CX.

A successful RevOps strategy unites multiple teams to analyze and act on data to improve efficiency.

Sales operations
Sales operations teams, unlike revenue operations, are primarily responsible for higher-level support of the sales department, such as territory mapping, tech management and reporting. These teams focus on enabling sales later in the cycle. Sales operations should not be confused with sales enablement teams, which are involved earlier in the sales lifecycle and focus on supporting sales reps. The goal of sales operations is to improve sales performance by taking on sales enablement, sales data and strategic planning responsibilities and enabling sales representatives to focus more on selling. Sales operations teams use data analysis and sales forecasting to establish a sales strategy.

Some of the tasks that a sales operations team focus on include recruitment, onboarding and training, contact management, and the maintenance of team communication and collaboration channels.

Here's a closer look at the typical roles and responsibilities for sales operations teams:

  • Define a vision and strategy to ensure the team enables and supports associated goals related to the sales planning and goals, sales forecasting, sales process optimization, sales technology and methodology evaluation, sales coverage model and territory planning.
  • As organizations integrate more applications and sales tools, it is more important than ever to manage the sales tech stack so sales reps can focus on selling. Roles and responsibilities could include adopting and customizing CRM, communications management, data management and reporting, and task automation.
  • Operations can lead training, hiring and knowledge management to ensure their sales reps have the information and skills to succeed. Roles and responsibilities include product training, sales training, talent onboarding, market intelligence support, contracts and service-level agreements, and knowledge base management.
  • Sales operations teams seek to improve their performance and productivity by identifying KPIs, managing leads and evaluating various measures of success, such as sales metrics, compensation and incentive plans. Based on performance tracking, teams seek to eliminate customer pain points and improve processes/experiences for the sales.

Sales operations leaders should be familiar with CRM platforms, data analytics software, email automation, and performance management software. Sales operations and sales leaders should collaborate and work closely to drive sales team efficiency and motivation.
While sales operations teams work primarily with sales departments, they can also work with marketing teams to improve brand messaging and content. Sales operations teams report to a sales operations manager. The sales operations manager reports to the vice president of sales or the CRO, depending on the company's size.

Which is right for your company: Revenue operations vs. sales operations?
The focus of revenue operations is on cross-functional alignment with representation from marketing, sales, customer success and a leader. An organization should consider a revenue operations strategy given the following:

  • It needs to keep ongoing track of progress or decipher which efforts result in the best ROI.
  • Its processes seem outdated and in need of modernization.
  • It has multiple business tools but is not taking full advantage of them. RevOps can make implementing and configuring tools easier and strives to identify how to optimize the organization, save resources on training and increase the value of that training.

Unlike RevOps, the benefit of a sales operations team is to use data to drive strategic direction and reduce friction, use best practices to guide training and technology, and support sales teams to sell more efficiently. An organization should consider a sales operations strategy given the following:

  • Sales teams are spending more time with sales enablement, sales data and strategic planning rather than making sales.
  • The organization wants to optimize the efficiency of cross-department collaboration and avoid operational silos.