Building Successful RevOps Teams – Kaitlin MacKenzie – RevOps Rockstars
Like most functions, to be successful in RevOps, you need an effective team by your side. With RevOps touching on so many functional areas, how do you create a team around you to support your ambitious growth goals?
Our guest on the RevOps Rockstars podcast, Kaitlin MacKenzie, Vice President of Revenue Operations at Onapsis, spoke about her experiences building a successful RevOps team. Jarin Chu, VP of Marketing, and David Carnes, Founder & Chief Evangelist at OpFocus, join Kaitlin to kick off this session of the RevOps Rockstars podcast.
Let’s jump in and hear about what you can do to surround yourself with a RevOps team capable of rapid growth!
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Kaitlin was at Brightcove when started in RevOps, exporting reports from Salesforce for her manager. Kaitlin learned how a slight change in Salesforce leads to downstream implications for users. To ensure her team understood these impacts, Brightcove created a cross-functional group of admins to discuss the changes’ impact before implementation.
What are specific instances of a change you made that had unintended consequences throughout the company?
Compensation planning is an excellent example of a function with downstream implications. There are so many aspects aside from payment and incentives. Successful comp planning requires looking at your overall corporate plan, goals, and direction. Failing to properly plan impacts departments ranging from sales and finance to marketing.
Kaitlin’s responsibilities fall into five main categories; marketing, sales, partner & customer success, and professional services. Within these areas, they handle analysis and reporting, enablement for the GTM team, comp planning, processes, and systems/tools such as Salesforce. These levers empower her team to impact revenue meaningfully.
When measuring success, it’s all about data. She also looks at the quarterly company award ceremonies for corporate-level project involvement. Kaitlin always strives for a member of her team to receive an award. She stresses how important it is to stay visible and how impactful the RevOps team is. She also looks at her team’s shoutouts on Lattice and feedback from other departments.
Although staying on top of the numerous initiatives in RevOps is daunting, a tight plan and frequent communication help keep your team aligned. Quarterly planning with the team is another way to keep everyone focused on initiatives. The day-to-day projects may change as time-sensitive challenges arise, but quarterly goals remain as a north star.
“It’s my favorite and least favorite thing in RevOps: we’re involved in everything, and we’re involved in EVERYTHING.”Kaitlin MacKenzie, Vice President of Revenue Operations at Onapsis
Kaitlin’s answer to this one was interesting; she wishes she had been a sales rep earlier. She realized she was coaching the sales team and offering feedback without stepping into the role herself. Living a day in their shoes earlier in her career would have provided first-hand knowledge of how best to manage the sales function.
An area the Onapsis RevOps team is thinking of expanding is the go-to-market operations (the current function already encompasses operations for marketing, sales, customer success, and partners.) Still, Kait points out other functional areas where they can lend expertise, such as product, systems, and legal.
The key to building an effective RevOps team is finding people with the right mindset. For Kaitlin, this means finding curious people who want to learn and aren’t afraid to experiment. During interviews, she asks questions about their care for their work. She also looks for flexibility, aspirational growth, and a competitive attitude.
Kait’s philosophy is that you never have Salesforce developers in-house. She notes that often the problems you’re solving with a Salesforce developer are not unique, and they’re an expensive resource. Instead, she would enlist with an external partner with depth in the platform for impactful cross-functional projects. Consultants have the expertise for large projects and offer an outside perspective that prevents internal conflict between your teams. For CPQ especially, Kaitlin stresses the value an experienced consultant brings. The platform is niche and requires specialized professionals. Kaitlin has also leveraged partners like Brainbox when defining & rolling out new sales methodologies.
How do you manage large cross-functional initiatives in addition to your day-to-day responsibilities?
Mergers and acquisitions are one of the most significant cross-functional initiatives. These are one of Kaitlin’s favorite types of projects, as she thrives when discussing the nuances and details of the plan with a large group of not only cross-functional, but also cross-company stakeholders.
The challenge comes from the secrecy associated with M&As; you cannot share much of the work that goes into them with the broader team. Creating a team capable of managing the day-to-day while you focus on more significant initiatives is imperative to the success of the integration of multiple companies. Seeing how your team works without you guiding them is also a great way to evaluate members for career advancements.
When it comes to prioritization, large initiatives give the RevOps team cover to turn down additional projects. Kaitlin’s rule of thumb is that projects that drive revenue take precedent. In the third month of each quarter, she turns down projects that don’t directly impact company revenue. The RevOps team adds these projects to a running list, but they won’t take on non-revenue initiatives at that time. The one exception to this rule is competitive analysis or team training, which is always a priority.
Preparing for board presentations is nerve-racking and exciting for RevOps newcomers and veterans alike. In her last board presentation, Kaitlin spoke about account tiers, prospecting motions, and customer segments they’re prioritizing, all of which she knows inside and out.
When preparing board decks, understand who’s in the meeting and what they care about. Also, take time to understand the story your team is trying to tell and create a template to convey this narrative. Be thoughtful about this template because metrics that tell a good story today may tell a different narrative in future meetings. Dry runs with other team members are an excellent way to ensure you’re telling the same story across the company. The presentation also needs to include an ask from the board. The board is there to support you, so leverage them when possible. One example is showing your top deals and asking if board members know any members they can contact to help them close.
As a professional with a hands-on Salesforce background, Kaitlin knows the value of good data. She leans on tools like Validity for data cleaning, deduplication, and validation to keep the database clean.
The Onapsis RevOps team leverages Clari for their at-a-glance company forecast. They’re also building a dashboard with Power BI to provide a better picture of company performance. Global dashboards reduce team confusion on the definitions and metrics you’re using.
As someone constantly looking for the silver lining during challenging situations, Kaitlin is excited to see what comes out of RevOps as the economy enters the unknown. With companies reducing budgets and teams becoming leaner, she looks forward to the scrappiness and creativity of industry leaders, executing on more with less. This creativity may manifest as new tools or strategies that transform the industry for the better.
Kaitlin studied entrepreneurship at Babson College, where she played field hockey and lacrosse. She babysat for the CEO of the Boston Red Sox, who, at the time, was starting a new business. Kaitlin seized the opportunity to write a business plan for this company, FanPhoto, and ended up traveling with the baseball team. She loved the role, but the extended days took a lot out of her. A recruitment firm helped her land a tech role where she began working with reports and Salesforce. It was a wild ride that landed her in the type of role she was born for.
Expanding your professional career
This discussion with Kaitlin was one of our most informative yet, with many great takeaways to apply to your career. You now know what to look for when building or expanding your RevOps team! Connect with Kaitlin on LinkedIn or look at her company, Onapsis.
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