The Evolution Of RevOps – Dustin Brown – RevOps Rockstars
Dustin is a RevOps revolutionary. He’s a motivated Ops leader with over 7 years of experience across a wide variety of industries. Welcome to the show, Senior Director of GTM Operations at Flashpoint, Dustin Brown! Dustin joins hosts David Carnes and Jarin Chu for an in depth discussion on how he unifies teams at Flashpoint through RevOps. Let’s hear from Dustin about the importance of communication and how he organizes RevOps through a hub and spoke model.
“I really believe that our role is to support the business holistically.”Dustin Brown, Senior Director of GTM Operations at Flashpoint
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Here are the top takeaways from the discussion:
- You don’t have to know everything: One important lesson in RevOps is that it’s okay not to have all the answers. It’s easy to feel pressured to be an expert and provide immediate solutions, but it’s important to admit when you don’t know something and be willing to learn and figure it out. Humility and a willingness to seek knowledge are valuable qualities in RevOps professionals.
- RevOps go-to-market operations: The role of RevOps extends beyond sales operations, encompassing various go-to-market functions such as marketing, sales, and customer success. Understanding the interconnectedness of these functions and building positive relationships with different teams is a key responsibility of RevOps professionals. They support the entire business holistically, aligning priorities, communicating effectively, and helping departments run their operations more efficiently.
- Centralized vs. decentralized Revenue Operations: There are pros and cons of centralized and decentralized models for RevOps. In the centralized model, all aspects of RevOps, including technology, processes, and enablement, fall under the RevOps team. In the decentralized model, RevOps works as a partner to other departments, and the responsibilities are distributed among various teams. The key to success in the decentralized model is having the right people who are willing to work together and trust each other.
- The importance of trust and communication: RevOps leaders require strong relationships, trust, and effective communication. Regular cross-functional syncs, individual standups, and tools like Slack can facilitate communication and maintain alignment across teams.
- Outsourcing and external support: External resources can provide expertise, fill knowledge gaps, and offer guidance in areas where the internal team may lack experience. The decision to outsource or engage external support depends on the project’s nature and the specific needs of the organization. External partners can work closely with the internal team, providing knowledge transfer and helping with development and deployment.
Hear from Dustin about any of the topics discussed on this week’s podcast
- What’s something Dustin had to learn the hard way?
- What does Dustin’s role as Senior Director of GTM Operations entail?
- What’s the importance of understanding Why a project?
- How does Dustin measure RevOps success?
- What role does RevOps play in the GTM function?
- What is the hub and spoke model for RevOps?
- How does Dustin balance in-house and external resources?
- What type of cross-functional initiatives has Dustin led?
- What tech stack tools empower Flashpoint?
- What direction does Dustin think RevOps is going?
- Learning more about Dustin’s background
- RevOps shout outs
Expanding your professional career
Hearing firsthand how Danny vets and develops his team is truly inspiring. There are a lot of insights other RevOps leaders will certainly want to adopt in their own hiring/training processes!
Connect with Dustin on LinkedIn to hear even more RevOps insights, or look at her company, Flashpoint. Our next episode features special guest Laura Wheeler, VP of Revenue Operations and Enablement at Spekit. Watch all our past recordings on the RevOps Rockstars Youtube channel!
This podcast is part of the #RevOpsRockstars network.
Full Automated Transcript
Dustin Brown: we have people now who can make modifications as admins to our salesforce org who are not on my team, and that’s okay because we have an understanding, we have the trust of, I need you to communicate with me before you do anything because my stuff is, is big and yours is kind of micro.
How do I make sure that I don’t stop you from doing what you need to do to serve, let’s say, marketing ops in, in this instance, but I’m also not jeopardizing the rest of the system’s integrity and the rest of the functionality at the same time. So it’s a, it’s a balancing act, and you really have to trust each other, and you really have to talk a lot in order to pull it all.
Jarin Chu: Today’s guest on the podcast is a RevOps revolutionary motivated ops leader. With over seven years of experience, he’s brought his talents to a whole wide variety of industries and currently finds himself driving revenue and enabling teams As a senior director of Go-to-market operations at Flashpoint, welcome to the podcast Dustin.
Dustin Brown: Hey, thanks for having me. I’m, I’m excited to be,
Jarin Chu: Amazing. Dustin, you know our tradition here on the podcast, which is we love to start off on maybe something a little bit uncomfortable, maybe something a little bit vulnerable, but certainly, something very juicy, and that is to learn from you. What is something in RevOps that you’ve had to learn the hard way.
Dustin Brown: There are two things that I would throw out there that I would say to younger me. The first one is, you don’t have to know everything. You know, it’s really easy to fall into that trap of, well, you’re the expert. How would you do this? And just get hot and you start making stuff up when really what you need to do is like, I need to go Google that and figure that out real quick.
Cause I have no idea. And it’s okay. People don’t expect you to know everything. Even as an expert, it’s still cool to say; I don’t know. And that was a, that was kind of a, a sharp pill to swallow. You know, you really have to humble yourself and say, no, I don’t, I just don’t know. And I, I’m okay with not knowing, and we’ll go figure it out together.
The other ones be nice, just be nice, be empathetic. You know, there’s a lot of people coming to us with a lot of things all the time. And part of this job is sort of swimming across the grain sometimes or across the, the current. And don’t lose that empathy and, and be nice, you know, you’re gonna get crossways people, but there’s always a way to come back.
Jarin Chu: I feel like there might be something, in the Be Nice lesson where perhaps you looked back and said, Hey, I was a little bit more stirred or a little bit more harsh than I needed to be.
Dustin Brown: Yeah, very, Stern’s a good word, or just like almost dictatorial at times. Like, no, this is the way we’re gonna do things because we’ve, I decided that this is how we’re gonna solve this problem. And it doesn’t matter that you’re right. If you’re a jerk and nobody wants to work with a jerk, so be nice.
David Carnes: I think that’s fantastic and making the world a better place. One RevOps team at a time.
Dustin Brown: Yeah. You know, I, I really, really believe that RevOps doesn’t exist without the rest of the business. You know, we are in kind of a back of the house support role, so you’ve gotta have positive relationships with your ops partners in other parts of the business, or with your sellers, or your sales leaders, or your marketing leaders.
You’ve really gotta have their trust and. Part of the way you’re gonna do, that’s by exposing yourself and being vulnerable and, you know, making sure you lead with that and, and that you’re, make sure people know that you’re there to work with them and not just to tell them what to do. Because when you start telling ’em what to do, they hate it and you don’t get very far.
David Carnes: So Dustin, your title is Senior Director of Go-to-Market Operations. What does your day-to-day entail?
Dustin Brown: So I deal with a little bit of everything. I tend to think of RevOps as go-to-market operations because, marketing ops is gonna focus on marketing success ops is gonna focus on success. Sales ops, if we’re still using that, is gonna focus on sales. And RevOps tends to be an evolution of sales ops from what I found.
But I believe that our role is to be all of that. We don’t need to know it necessarily. at depth, I’m not a Pardot expert. I don’t need to be. but I do need to understand what is marketing doing and how does that work? Because all of these go-to-market functions are really so entangled and enmeshed that in an organization that’s really humming, you can’t tease them apart.
You know, marketing is a part of sales. Success is a part of sales. Sales is a part of success, and we have to know that with a certain level of intimacy and trust. And that’s what I spend a lot of time doing every day. I spend a lot of time in meetings, like a lot of people in RevOps do, but it’s not just talking.
It’s understanding. It’s learning. It’s, Ooh, we had an incident, what happened? You know, do I need to internalize that? Or is it just something I can kind of go, oh, that sucks, and move on. You know, I really believe that our role is to support the business holistically and to embed with those teams. So it’s a lot of meeting with, you know, people at, at my level, the director level, the executives and above, and also with the individual teams to understand, you know, my marketing ops person right now is extremely skilled and what, what’s hurting man?
What do you need? What can we do for you? What, how can we help? And then build out that roadmap and communicate that back to everybody. So those meetings are really times to make sure that you’re connected and that you, the information is flowing both ways. And it’s not just, one of the things I hate is people throw orders over the fence and RevOps just does them.
I, I really despise that because it just, it’s not fair to talented RevOps people and it just kind of isn’t a fun way to work, but to say like, yeah, I heard you. Let’s put it in the backlog and now let’s talk about what’s in front of you and why it’s in front of you. That, that really goes a long way.
And kind of the other piece of that that I spend a lot of time doing is making sure the executives are all aligned on that stuff. You know, we should fall in line behind where the business is going because the most important thing for sales may not be the most important thing for marketing at this time.
And we have to balance that. And I can’t make those calls because I’ll make ’em in a vacuum and get ’em wrong. So I push it back and say like, let’s keep con constantly revisit this to make sure we have the right priorities so that my team can really go after and attack those right things.
David Carnes: Yeah, I think that’s great. And I think what you’re saying, instead of just fielding the stuff thrown off the wall, over the wall, your team can engage with the different departments that you serve and actually help them run their business better, by
Dustin Brown: Exactly. Exactly. And it’s not, you know, I, I kind of jokingly say 80% of my job is saying no. And that’s because. I hate, like we need a new field that does this. Why? What are you trying to do? Because that may not be the right way to do it. You know, you may be actually complicating things by doing it that way.
We need to think through the process itself and what’s the end goal. You know, I, I believe in the, the people, processes, tools, data, but you have to start in the right place. And if you start with someone bringing you and saying, I need you to build a process that automates this thing, I’m gonna look at you and go start, go back to the beginning, start over.
You know, there’s a reason that everyone learns how to do math by hand before they hand you a calculator. You have to know how those processes work before you can automate them properly.
David Carnes: I
Jarin Chu: I really resonate with what you said about, providing that context and also the communicating back because, I think the, the start with why, of course, Simon Cenex, you know, said that many times, but in a corporation or in our organization where we’re moving very fast, it’s so easy, for us to tell someone else or for someone to come and come to our function.
Hey, like, just go do this, right? Like you said, go figure out a field or add this field or whatever, but, but really, how is it going to fit into this bigger picture? I want to know the why, and I remember actually recently having a conversation with a colleague where I’m like, this is a great idea, but like, why are we trying to do this?
Give me the context here, because otherwise I can’t think for you. I can’t come up with a more holistic solution that might actually address what you’re looking for better. And as a person who both, uh, asks other people for help and receives a lot of requests from others, I think that content we have to start with why there’s, there’s no other way otherwise, you know, what are the potential implications of what you’re asking us to do?
Dustin Brown: Right. You know, it comes back to what I said earlier about we have to know everything. We have to know, at least on a surface level, everything we’re kinda like fris. Where we’re really wide, but not necessarily all that deep all the time. But we have to know that because we may have something that we’re already working on that we can go, oh, we can just cook that into here and it’ll take care of both of you at the same time.
Or, let’s expand that scope slightly and now we can deliver that other thing two weeks later than we were going to, but now we’ve done a lot more impact. It’s that juggling act to say like, I’m gonna tell you no, but that no usually means not right now or not that way. It’s rarely a hard no of no, we’re just not gonna do that.
That does happen. But most of the time it’s to help you rescope and rethink. And I send a lot of people back to the drawing board to say like, you haven’t thought this through. Let’s try to think this through together. Because you have to explain what thinking it through means. You know, if you just say, you didn’t gimme enough detail, it’s not good enough, but you didn’t tell me what’s the business outcome you’re looking to do?
What’s the pain you’re trying to solve? You know, those sorts of details help me to understand the context of how all this fits in.
David Carnes: So Dustin, how do you measure success in your role?
Dustin Brown: If people aren’t complaining is number one.
David Carnes: Woo-hoo.
Dustin Brown: that’s a big one. And I, I measure it off of, you know, it’s, it’s hard to quantify an operational position because we are a cost center. And especially whenever you carry the budget for something like Salesforce, you’re a very expensive cost center. But if we look at it strictly from a, we did X and sales was able to do Y because of that, that’s great, but it misses some of the other stuff.
You know, I like to look at not only are we enabling sales, but are we making their lives easier? What’s the, the qualitative feedback we’re getting from our user groups? You know, you hear a lot of like, Salesforce is just too complicated. Why is Salesforce so complicated? It’s like, well, it’s not, we made it that way and now we have to fix it.
So how can we alleviate that? You know, a previous role, one of my focuses was page layouts. Let’s get as many fields off the page layout as we possibly
David Carnes: Amen.
Dustin Brown: You know, I, really believe in RTFs read the effing screen. That’s what you should have to do. That’s how, how difficult we should make it.
And, you know, I look at things like error messages and failure rates and just people saying like, oh my God, this is so much better. And you see the number of tickets start to go down. Like I track everything through cases right now because I want to see what are people asking for, and that’ll help me to see like, okay, everybody’s asking questions of, can you fix this quote?
We have a bad quoting process. Obviously we, we need to figure out if it’s enablement that needs to be fixed or if it’s the actual process itself. But are we getting that alleviation of pain, that alleviation of pressure? And some of that’s data. You know, are we presenting the right data to the right people and we getting the right insights so that, you know, We become sort of a shadow influence that you can’t really put an ROI number on us cleanly, but you can get a quality of life kind of, ranking on us.
David Carnes: So I have to ask, okay, this. Ops Rockstar podcast. We have a lot of folks interested in RevOps listening today. How does, so you’ve described your role as go-to-market operations. How do you reconcile the two or how do you position, position the two
Dustin Brown: So I think RevOps go-to-Market Operations, officially that is my title as Senior Director of Revenue Operations for Flashpoint. Yeah. Yes, I’ve kind of marketing myself as go-to-market operations because just like how sales ops kind of merged into RevOps or biz-ops at some places, depending on how you think of it.
I really believe that that is what revenue operations is. It’s not just dedicated to sales, it’s the whole go-to-market motion and the whole function. So I think it’s the natural evolution of where RevOps is going.
Jarin Chu: I’m interested to dig in a little bit more on, now you, given that you’ve, you’ve kind of encompassed both the RevOps and this broader idea in, in, in your world of go-to-market operations, how that actually turns out in your team. Flashpoint, you know, serves the business intelligence and cybersecurity industry.
Almost 400 employees, I think did a series D back in 2019. How many folks,is on your RevOps or go-to-market ops team, officially or, you know in this rebranded version? And I’m curious, how does that headcount kind of separate out in terms of different function?
Dustin Brown: Yeah, so we have kind of a hub and spoke model, where revenue operations is a tight three people. It’s myself, a director of revenue operations, and then a rub ops analyst. So, the two people who are on my team are much more technically skilled than I am. And I, I look to them to know, cause I’ve only been with Flashpoint a few months, really what’s the technical aspects?
How is the system configured? What do I need to know before I start making recommendations on what we need to modify? Are there any third rails? But we also have partners in marketing. We have a marketing ops person. We have somebody in CS, who’s our CS ops person. We have a COO in the company who’s kind of starting to tie everything together.
So we’re, we’re very like fingers that go out throughout the rest of the company, as it is today. And I’ve seen it, I’ve seen everything centralized. I mean, in a previous life I managed SDRs as part of RevOps. That was kind of a, a unique situation, but I’ve seen where everything falls under RevOps.
All your BI, all of your technology, all of your process and enablement falls under RevOps. And I’ve seen it completely dispersed. I think if you’re gonna go with one versus the. If you’re gonna go with the concentrated model where everything is under RevOps, you need to have very strong relationships with those individual stakeholders and embed people in those teams.
They’ll still report through RevOps, but it’s almost a dotted line in those other teams. If you’re gonna go with a dispersed model, you really, really have to have a lot of trust with each other. And, you know, we have people now who can make modifications as admins to our salesforce org who are not on my team, and that’s okay because we have an understanding, we have the trust of, I need you to communicate with me before you do anything because my stuff is, is big and yours is kind of micro.
How do I make sure that I don’t stop you from doing what you need to do to serve, let’s say, marketing ops in, in this instance, but I’m also not jeopardizing the rest of the system’s integrity and the rest of the functionality at the same time. So it’s a, it’s a balancing act and you really have to trust each other and you really have to talk a lot in order to pull it all.
Jarin Chu: I’ve got two follow up questions to that. One is it sounds like you’ve been in an organization or you’ve been in prior organizations where you’ve had both models, the centralized model and. Kind of the alliance of the willing,
Dustin Brown: Yeah.
Jarin Chu: what have you seen work better? I know there’s a lot of prerequisites that you just mentioned, right?
There’s the trust, there’s the communication, there’s all these kind of components. In, in your ideal world, if you could structure the RevOps function of your dreams, what does that look like? Is it more centralized or is it, you know, more rolling up to individual, departments with maybe a common, weekly meeting or something like that to, to co.
Dustin Brown: Yeah. I think the decentralized model works well with two very specific conditions that have to be met. One is you have to have the right people. You have to have people that are willing to work together. And not someone in marketing ops who would just say, well, I got my priorities, sorry, we’re gonna do, I gotta do what I’m gonna do.
And just everybody else be damned. So you can’t have that. The other is, I think you really have to have an understanding of, of kind of the holistic business as a RevOps partner and RevOps at that point becomes the first among equals to say like, CSOPs doesn’t work for me, but I’m one of the projects we have going right now.
They’re taking a lot of cues from me because I’m working on a project that they’re part of that involves everybody else. So you have to have, again, it comes back to that, that trust relationship with the leadership and with the individual contributors to say like, we’re gonna pull you. And we’re gonna let you go whenever we don’t need you to, to be on this project anymore.
But we’re also gonna have a weekly standing meeting of all of us from across the company to come together and share what we’re working on, blockers, pains, all of that stuff. We’re also gonna have individualized standups. So I have standups with the head of our CS ops and our marketing ops team every single week, to make sure that those communication lines stay open because it can’t just be RevOps is sitting on the mountain and tells us when they to come and, and summons us to help.
We have to be partners. And I, I have to communicate back to you so you know why and what’s going on, and you can kind of be my eyes and ears in that department. They, it’s sort of like an ambassador, that relationship.
Jarin Chu: And it almost sounds like, I mean, I think most folks are, kind of meeting do or very, trying to reduce as many meetings as possible because so many of them, you know, end up just taking up space on the calendar. But what you are saying, the, those syncs, those regular cross-functional syncs are, are a prerequisite.
Right. If or if we’re gonna have them separate or if we’re gonna have them, you know, they’ve, you’ve gotta be constantly.
Dustin Brown: absolutely, absolutely. And you shouldn’t wait for one of those syncs if you have something to talk about. That’s what Slack is for. You know, slack is great for on the spot communication in that way. It’s not great for a lot of things, but it does instant messaging really well. And you have to be realistic to say they’re gonna be days or weeks where you’re like, God, I’m burnt out from meetings.
Can we just skip this one and push it to next week? Okay. If there’s nothing really riding on it. Sure. You know, I’d say we end up having these meetings probably 60, 70% of the time. And I don’t feel like we’re losing contact on the things we need to talk about. So it’s okay to let meetings go because especially in a remote environment, cause we’re all remote workers, it can get really zoom heavy and it gets old.
Jarin Chu: Yeah, I agree. The other thing you mentioned, I think might make a lot of our listeners nervous or a lot of, Salesforce admins nervous is what you said about. Distributing the rights, to different departments to be able to make changes in the system. You mentioned trust several times earlier.
I’m interested in whether there are other functions in addition to, or other kind of processes in addition to, the meetings and, and that inherent level of trust governance, perhaps to help ensure that when other functions are making updates to the system, it’s not gonna negatively impact, you know, some other unexpected area of the business.
Dustin Brown: Yeah. So as RevOps, we are the ultimate owner of Salesforce for the organization and. I’ve had it where I keep just an iron grip on it and say, no, we are gonna do everything. And that’s sort of that centralized model. And that’s the problem I think with the centralized model is if I have all of those people reporting to me, my marketing ops person is now not a marketing ops person’s, aRevOps person who happens to deal with marketing whenever we need somebody, deal with marketing, otherwise he’s dealing with everything else.
So you lose that specialization and that depth. But I think what’s really important is to say we are the ultimate owners of this. So before anything deploys to production, we have to review and we have to test it at least with you. You know, show me what you’ve done. We do have, dev is set up for individual partners.
So marketing has their own dev sandbox and CS has their own dev sandbox. And then we deploy into a central, sandbox. We then use to deploy into production. So we’re doing multi-stage deployments and that allows them to. You know, prototype and test things and try things and feel comfortable with it.
It allows us to keep that final level of QA to say like, this is gonna break something, or this isn’t gonna break something. And it, it’s sort of the best of both worlds from what I’ve found.
Jarin Chu: Yeah, great system. I think that gives people both the empowerment to try new things while not stepping on each other’s toes.
Dustin Brown: Yeah. And it doesn’t mean you have to relate. You don’t have to wait for me, you know, to clear Headspace, because we know how priorities go that yeah, we’ll get to that next week. And you’re like, oh look, it’s June now. And we haven’t gotten to that because things kept happening. This allows ’em to keep moving on their own without us, but allows us to, to keep the systems’ integrity and check at at the same time.
Jarin Chu: Makes sense. Have you used outside consultants or developers, and if so, how do you usually distribute or determine what kinds of work you outsource versus keep in-house with your team?
Dustin Brown: Yeah, it depends on the project. I’m a big fan of this organization called Op Focus. I’ve had a great, experience with
Jarin Chu: What.
Dustin Brown: little plug for them. I know you’re the chief evangelist, but I’ll keep being one for op focus. I really believe in what y’all do. You know, and I’m not shy with my opinion that I typically hate consult. Y’all are really valuable and I’ve had such a great experience that I’ll take you with me everywhere I go. but we’ve done, like an SOW project, you know, kind of engagements and we’ve also done managed services and I approached them differently. For managed services, I think it’s very easy for us to, use the managed services partner as overflow.
So like, we need help. We just need hands and we have hours. Let’s go burn some of those hours. I also really like to have that advisor relationship. And that’s one thing I’ve, I found a lot of is like, Help us think this through before we do anything. And that’s super valuable to me. That comes back to like that we don’t have to know everything.
We can ask for help. And I find it to be really valuable in the more targeted engagements. We tend to step back, and say, we brought you in here because we don’t know and because we need help and we need guidance now here, there’s certain things I won’t bend on. And as we’re going through scoping and having all those conversations at a previous organization we worked with up focus to do a, a rather large scoping engagement.
And things would come up where the business would say, we want X, Y, and Z. And then after the call we would go, actually, we don’t want X, Y, and Z because this is what’s actually happening. And they don’t know. You know, but to have that relationship was, was really helpful. And then what I asked for is, as we’re doing the development and the deployment of it, embed my team with the outside resource.
To do knowledge transfer along the way. It’s one thing to do it after everything’s built. It’s another thing to do it while it’s being built is one of the things I’ve had on the team previously, but haven’t in a while as developers. And if you’re doing anything that’s gonna touch Apex, I can read it a little bit, but I can’t write it and I don’t know enough about it to be able to do it effectively.
So that’s where I think those, those outside relationships are super helpful is just filling in some gaps and that stuff that you don’t need all the time, but when you do need it, you need an.
Jarin Chu: Wow. Thank you for the, unsolicited plug. We’ll definitely appreciate that. But also I think what’s so important in. Said is that it’s not only augmenting the team or augmenting specific kinds of projects, you’re also describing a different level of, Hey, let me come in and give advisory help. Let me see if this is the right direction to move in.
There’s different ways and different kinds of, resources or advice that one could engage externally to help bolster the internal expertise that.
Dustin Brown: Yeah. You know, and, and I look at it like my background is, like you said at the beginning, I’ve been all over in different industries. I’ve been in the testing industry. I was in hardware for a little bit. I was in hotels for almost a decade. I’ve been in a little bit of everything. Like right now, flashpoint is a risk intelligence platform.
It’s something I’ve never seen before. Like I think of the cybersecurity. That’s not all it is. It’s so much more than that. But to have a partner. Who has seen even more than I have is so helpful to me because I know what we’ve done. I know what’s worked and what hasn’t. But then to have someone else go, actually, here’s this thing you haven’t even thought of.
Like, a good example is a ticketing system that we were using to communicate with a partner, was developed by the partner and said like, just dump the ticket in here. Now we don’t have to worry about the emails going back and forth. Just dump it here. We’ll see it. And it was all just a custom object really quick to set up, and it was phenomenal.
We wouldn’t have even thought about that, you know, to have that extra set of eyes. It was just so helpful.
David Carnes: That’s so satisfying to be part of those moments where we, we might be able to share either a simpler, much simpler approach or share someone some pain, stop them from going down one path and suggest what might be the natural next step. Well that’s great. That’s really great to hear. It sounds like from what you’ve described about the work you do and the level that you’re engaging with your organization that you own cross-functional corporate level and initiatives, Can you share, some of what that those might be in your organization?
Dustin Brown: Yeah, there’s always an appetite for data everywhere. I. and it’s, it’s rarely that the data is not available. It’s typically that you don’t know how to put your hand on it. Whether your schema is is kind of weird because you set things up, you know, real Frankenstein over the years, or you just don’t have the internal expertise to say, here’s what we pull.
That’s usually the first one that hits me when I come into a new organization is data. We need new dashboards. And you look at it and go, well, you’ve got 400. You don’t need more dashboards. You need focus and think about the ones you’re gonna look at. So I deal with data quite a bit. I’m not a bi analyst, but I do know the measures that most go-to-market teams are looking for and how to present that data in a very digestible form so that it’s scalable and actionable.
The another one you hear all the time is tech debt. And that’s such a loaded term because it could mean, you know, while we have three communication platforms, I’ve been in an organization that had Zoom, it had, teams and it had Google Meet. All signed up and we were paying for all of them. And you deal with stuff like that, you know, tech, that to me is what’s impeding you from doing what you need to do.
You know, do you have a salesforce org that just needs to be re-implemented? Do you have a CPQ instance that just needs to be re-implemented? Do you need CPQ? You know, we get that one a lot. We were told we need CPQ. And we go, you have three products. You don’t need CPQ for three products. You know, they’re, you can’t, you’re not doing that much fancy bundling with it.
So that’s such a thing is, is combating what people think they know or what they, they think they want. Because there’s a lot of really talented SaaS sales reps out there who will sell you a tool that doesn’t nothing to help you, and they will think it’s gonna solve your problems and now you’re stuck with it for at least a year.
David Carnes: And CPQ is such a great example because the reason that they might pitch it to you, Is likely not the real benefit you’d get. And we see, you know, with, with, with our SaaS clients, with C PQ in particular, that it’s the con management of contracts and subscriptions and dealing with midstream ads and drops and renewals.
That CPQ shines so much. It also does the, you know, the pro the product managing products and putting things on quotes. Well, but if you have three products, sure you don’t need it, but you may need it for the other reason, which is, you know, it’s very, just very interesting. And maybe a missed opportunity for the, the sales team.
If they’re not, if they’re not, if they’re misunderstanding what your needs are.
Dustin Brown: right. And you know, I’ve seen it a lot too, where it’s like we use Sales Loft and I’ve been in organizations where they’re like, we hate Sales Loft, but we wanna go to outreach. Like it’s the same thing. They just have different interfaces. Like they do the same thing. Your problem is you don’t know how to use it, so let’s focus there.
Let’s focus on what you’re trying to do and apply the tool to the problem. Not go buy a tool and then figure out what to do with it.
David Carnes: So let’s stay on technology for a few minutes. What tech Stack tool could you not live without?
Dustin Brown: Ooh, I don’t know if I have any that I absolutely could not live without. I prefer a very lean tech stack. I think that there’s a tendency to see the, the term best practices, and that’s one of my least favorite terms in the world. It’s best practices because a best practice for Microsoft is not necessarily a best practice for Flashpoint.
They’re not our size, they’re not in our industry. They don’t do what we do. So I think we have to be really careful about using that term. But I think a lot of people get sold on this is best practice, or this is, you know, best in class and you look up, you’re like, great. But now we have ZoomInfo and LinkedIn sales.
Do I need both to go find prospects? How are we using them differently? I am a fan of certain prospecting tools. I think you absolutely need a marketing automation system and a real one. You know, any of the big three part, HubSpot, Marketo, any of ’em are fine. It’s just a matter of how you’re gonna be leveraging it.
I think having a proper CRM really matters. I tell anybody who’s interested in starting a company, just get Salesforce. Like, you’re gonna end up there anyway and you’re gonna have to move off a HubSpot and HubSpot’s cheap. And I get it, you’re gonna end up in Salesforce. Just get it, get enterprise, get the least you can, you’ll be fine.
You know, I, pet peeve of mine is really a fat tech stack though, so I, I tend to be the guy who comes in and takes a hatchet to the tech stack
David Carnes: Yeah. That’s great. Makes a lot of sense. Where do you go to get an at glance view reporting wise?
Dustin Brown: reporting like our. I start with Salesforce, and I know that’s not the best place because Salesforce reporting is very limited. But I think you really have to dial in on what are the measures you care about. And then does Salesforce give you the data as as a server in a way that you can do it? If not, I prefer a, a data visualization platform like Tableau.
I’m a big fan of Tableau, but it does come with, you know, you have to have somebody who knows how to do it and somebody who knows how to organize data and warehouse data. But I think it’s just so easy for users if you set it up the right way. It’s just like Salesforce, where you can configure it to do whatever you want.
You can manage your security however you want. I really, really like Tableau. And then the web version is also not very expensive for the individual.
David Carnes: Yeah. That’s great to hear. Looking ahead in the realm of RevOps, do you foresee a dis the next, like, can you foresee the next disruptor or disruption to RevOps?
Dustin Brown: I think RevOps at some point just becomes operations, and I think that’s gonna be a real awakening for a lot of people because operations can mean so much in different companies. You know, one company operations may mean logistics. It may mean shipping and receiving another company operations. I’ve seen as more of a finance role where it’s budgets and, and you know, working with financial projections and accruals.
I think RevOps converges with biz ops at some point to say. Everything is RevOps. You know, just like you hear CEOs say all the time, all of us are sales. We all have some responsibility to sales. I really believe, I’m not a salesperson, but I have a responsibility to sales. I think that’s where RevOps is going, is it becomes your operations team and your CRO.
It’s more like your COO because most CROs right now are really chief sales officer.
David Carnes: Yeah. That’s so interesting.
Jarin Chu: Dustin, this has been, really awesome to hear about kind of your perspectives on RevOps, and I loved what you mentioned around, this, this last piece, how. In many ways, both RevOps itself and the c r l position, even if, you know, Forrester comes out and says, Hey, it’s supposed to be this equal balance of these three or four different functions in the business, they, they really have become rebranded sales ops or rebranded chief sales officers.
Right? So, I like the idea and I think what you are doing is trying to expand it to be beyond it, right? Go-to-market operations goes beyond. We’ve also heard other podcast guests say, uh, we want to expand it to, biz ops, right? Like, or RevOps evolving into biz ops, own even further down in the funnel of the data and the systems that are involved.
I wanna shift gears a bit though, and learn about you. You’ve worked with OpFocus in several different roles. But your story begins before that. You’re currently based outta Maryland. You actually got a BA from the University of Maryland, and an MBA from there as well.
Previously, I think the earliest where we crossed paths was when you were a sales ops manager at Prometric. You were then director of Sales and Marketing Ops at Reading Plus, which later got acquired by DreamBox, and then you were director of Core operations there. So you’ve kind of had a whole variety of, titles.
Now you’re RevOps slash GTM ops. To start, help me understand what Flashpoint does, and I wanna understand then how you got into SaaS RevOps
Dustin Brown: So Flash Flashpoint is a risk intelligence company. So we gather intelligence on different vulnerabilities and risks through publicly available sources. So nothing we’re doing is, you know, under the table and we provide that to companies that are looking to protect their assets and their stakeholders.
So it may be that you have a vulnerability in whatever database software you’re using, and we can help you to understand what that is. It may be, you know, we work with law enforcement that there’s a threat that needs to be surfaced. We do a little bit of, of everything. I’m not describing it terribly well, but I’m also trying to not get it wrong.
So that’s, that’s sort of flashpoint in, in a, you know, it’s a collections and intelligence engine. We don’t do things with that intelligence on our own. We provide it to you as our customer so you can protect your assets and protect your stakeholders. I got into SaaS in a really weird way. So before, any of that, I was in HR.
I was a recruiter for a while. Yeah, about 10 years. I was a recruiter, did it agencies around Baltimore, so I’m based in Baltimore. And for anybody who’s listening, who’s local, I’m in the city, not in the county. It’s a big distinction around here. But I was in HR and I never intended to be in hr.
You know, I got my, my bachelor’s in Univers surveillance in Baltimore County and I got a political science degree because I got some terrible advice when I was 19. And that was, study what you love. You’ll figure out how to make money later. Yeah, no you won’t. Not with a political science degree. Not unless you wanna go to law school.
Jarin Chu: I studied anthropology, if that makes you feel any
Dustin Brown: Yeah, it was really fun to study. I had no interest in going to law school or being a senator. I worked on a congressional campaign right after college and got a taste of it and was like, yep, never doing this again. So I just needed a job. And I didn’t wanna work retail anymore.
I didn’t want to, you know, be on my feet all day. I was like 23 years old and I just needed an office job. I figured if I got an office job, I’d figure it out from there. 10 years later, I got out of it. But I did it because I felt like I needed to have that grown up kind of experience, like putting on, putting on hard pants every day and going to work on a collared shirt, you know, that sort of thing.
But as I started to kind of get into my, my thirties, I really knew I didn’t want to be here much longer. I knew I was gonna get si like stuck in something. So I went and got, started my MBA at the University of Maryland. I went part-time and just figured, all right, let’s be three years. I’ll figure it out.
By the end of that, two years into that, the company I was working for, choice Hotels had recently hired a new VP of sales, and a new director of sales operations. I was the lead recruiter at that time, and those recs fell on my desk. And it was really neat because I sat down with the hiring manager and he was like, yeah, we need somebody that’s gonna help us figure out processes and tools and technology.
And, I was like, well, your job description doesn’t really say that. Let me take it home. I’ll work on it tonight. I’ll come back to you tomorrow morning. And when I was going through it, I’m talking to my wife and I was like, I kind of want this job. This is what I think I want to do. Like, I really like the operational classes and the data classes I’m taking at school.
So I go back the next morning and I present the resume to the hiring manager. And I was like, what do you think? He goes, this is perfect. I said, cool. That’s me. And that’s, I think we need to talk. And he’s still a good friend of mine to this day. You know, he, he took a chance on somebody who didn’t have any sales op experience, but I was good with process and I’d sketched out some things for our HR team and it just worked.
And I was like, employee number two in sales ops there, something like that and we stood up the entire sales ops department, like hire. Two Salesforce admins, because one of ’em got something really great. After a few months and left, we built out our sales ops team. We built out the, the, uh, intelligence function for sales.
It was really cool. And then after a couple of years, you know, the ground started feeling a little shaky. And I’d been at choice for seven years at that time, and it was just like, all right, I think I’m, go see something else and do something else. And that’s when I got into Stanley and got into hardware, which I’m not a handy person.
So I knew nothing about that industry. I just knew that Stanley Black and Decker has an office just north of Baltimore, and it was really close, and I was tired of driving to DC every day. So I moved over there and it was just, it was a very mature organization, almost to the point of like calcification where, you know, the, the, there were so many Salesforce orgs and so many, like, we had a almost a thousand people in the two orgs that we were managing.
It was huge. And I just didn’t like being that tiny little fish in that giant pond. You know, I feel like you get swallowed and you have to do it their way, and there’s not a lot of like creativity to it and just didn’t fit me. I still own Stan, like and Decker tools. No hard feelings. It’s just didn’t work out.
And that’s where I started getting involved in more private equity back companies. Prometric is a testing company, so testing certifications. They don’t do the Salesforce certification or didn’t when I was there, but they were trying to. But that was really neat because it gave me a se a a taste of like private equity and what that means.
And the SaaS industry is run by private equity right now. Everybody’s PE back, PE owned. So understanding how that works was really, really helpful to me that like, oh, all that debt they took out is on our books. Okay, I understand what that means. Now we’ve gotta service that. We’ve gotta do, you know, all these things to, to grow and to try to optimize our systems and.
That was a unique Salesforce experience because Salesforce had been there for a few years, but hadn’t been used for sales primarily. It had been used for other things and did very well with that, but we had now needed to expand it into sales. And I had a great Salesforce admin there who was an excellent partner, but he’s actually who referred me to Op Focus.
So he’s how I got to know y’all. I feel like it’s worth saying that I’m not actually paying out focus right now. Flashpoints not engaged without focus. So this is not like a paid kind of engagement. But using that experience, it was, it was a much more friction filled development because the company was just, we weren’t in a position to try to do the radical change that we needed, you know, toward the end.
So new leadership came in and they’ve done a lot since I left. I left because of Covid. The furloughs, you know, everybody was getting furloughed left and right, and I didn’t really wanna be without a paycheck for, for who knows how long. So, Moved on to Reading Plus, which was a much smaller organization.
So Prometric was 400 or so people. Reading Plus was like a hundred. So it was really, really small, really small. You know, up until recently family, owned company that had been acquired by private equity and a not very mature Salesforce org had done some things but hadn’t really gotten it off the ground.
Not really mature sales org. So it was a lot of like, okay, we need to do a lot, a short amount of time. And, you know, had really great partners there in the business with our CFO and our, we hired head of sales not long after I started and people who were just friends of mine today. And like I texted the, the head of sales from that company this afternoon because we still talk and we’re friends.
And it was just great to see like, oh, here’s how a tiny company does it and here’s how we can do it, because I know the giant side. Let me bring that here. And I think that’s really what working for big companies got me is that exposure to like, oh, you wanna have the big folks do it? Yeah, we can apply some of that here.
Then Reading Plus got acquired by DreamBox. I was there for guess about a year, 18 months at DreamBox after the acquisition. Just again, wasn’t a fit for me, just wasn’t where I wanted to be. It didn’t really align well with where the company was going. But a very, very mature salesforce org there to the point of I think they’ve actually, decided to re-implement after I left him, which was de definitely needed.
There was just a ton of that, that tech debt. Just a lot of old processes, a lot of old things, and just stuff, a lot of error messages getting kicked off every day. But it’s, it’s been unique to kind of take this path of saying, I’m agnostic to the industry. I don’t really care. There are certain industries just for, you know, moral reasons or political reasons I’m not interested in working for.
And I know what those are. But I’m not like going, Ooh, I want to get back into education, or I wanna go back to hotels. Or, you know what? I really wanna try finance. I don’t really care because it doesn’t matter. Because at a certain point, RevOps is RevOps and sales is sales. When you know the nuances of how that team is constructed and what they’re looking at, it’s almost always the same measures.
It’s pipeline in it’s pipeline out coverage ratios, it’s assigning quotas. It’s the same problems everywhere. It’s just a matter of what code of paint it has.
Jarin Chu: And I think the big takeaway I’m hearing, both from all your industry experience, but also, I think it informs your comment earlier about best practices, right? You’ve seen what RevOps in the Salesforce instances look like at massive organizations. Like you’ve seen the net tiny ones and they’re very different.
Right. I think the, the, our commonly observed differences is not only the number of users in an org that informs the different kinds of decisions you need to make with your tech. And process, but also what kind of growth trajectory are you on, right? The amount of change you would expect at a smaller but faster growing business versus a much more established, much more mature, larger enterprise is quite different, right?
So those are important pieces of context to take in mind when we go around and ask for advice, from other folks on, Hey, how should I do this? Or what should, what should my team structure be like? It’s all contextual to size and growth Tr.
Dustin Brown: Absolutely. You know, I would get that when I went to Reading Plus like, well, how’d you do this at Stanley? I’m like, that’s 60,000 people in that company. It’s irrelevant for how it was done. We have 120. You know, we were on unlimited edition in multiple orgs. You’re on enterprise, you don’t even have a full sandbox.
It’s totally different how we’re gonna have to do things, but here are the measurements they were looking for. Are these the measurements you’re looking for? Now let’s make the reading plus flavor of that. You know, I come into a lot of sales orgs where they’re kind of redefining sales processes and I was thinking of as what is the company X way of sales?
You know, flashpoint has a way of sales. DreamBox had a way of sales, and it’s the same motions, but there’s different, different tints to it. And I think that’s really important to know. And that’s where being industry agnostic and, and kind of floating around really matters. And I think it’s important. You know, you see a lot of time with job openings and things.
They’re like must have, you know, finance industry experience from going Why though you’re missing out on so many great people. It’s great that they know that industry, but like, Maybe there’s somebody from CPG that could do really well. Just hasn’t. You’re keeping them out and I don’t like that kind of gatekeeping.
David Carnes: Dustin, you lived the dream, not only by having this really cool progression and you know, finding your way into sales ops, but writing the job description for your first role in in sales ops. So you don’t hear that. That’s great. I, I hope for everyone that they have that opportunity to write their own job description at some point in, in their career.
It’s just special. Going back to that point where you were taking that first role in sales ops, RevOps, if you could go back and give yourself a piece of advice, what would that be?
Dustin Brown: Slow down man. Slow down. You know, it was so, I, I’m always, I’ve been really good at knowing when to shoot my shot. And being able to spot opportunity. I think that from a career standpoint is really, really important and something that’s not emphasized enough, to be able to see like, how do you get close to influence and how do you use it?
But once you get in there, you don’t have to prove yourself immediately. There’s a little bit of a honeymoon period no matter where you go and slow down, understand, learn. You know, me, me at middle age is a lot calmer than I was whenever I took that job, and I, I’m a lot more not afraid to be wrong. And that I think goes a long way.
David Carnes: And you’ve shared your origin story. I’m curious, uh, on your career bucket list, where are you?
Dustin Brown: I honestly do not know I am, I always joke that I’m the worst NBA in the world because I have no desire to be a CE and I, everybody gives me that blank stare of like, oh my God, why wouldn’t you want to be? That’s where the money is. I don’t wanna work that much. You know, it really matters to me that I can sign off at four o’clock if I feel like it, or Fridays are slow and I’m, I can just kind of leave it too.
And, you know, slack me if you need anything, guys, I’m outta here. That matters so much to me. So much more than the title. So much more than the money is the work-life balance. I did the 60 hour weeks. I don’t wanna do it again. That’s a young man’s game. I’m not that young anymore, so it matters so much more to me to have, you know, I wanna be paid what I’m worth.
I title does matter to me, but I’m not chasing things like that anymore. You know, I, if I stayed here for the rest of my career, I’d be perfectly happy. Something else may open up tomorrow that I really wanna do, and I’ll shoot for it. But I’m not gonna compromise my quality of life.
Jarin Chu: Gen Z listeners are gonna be clapping in the background as they listen to what you just said.
David Carnes: I
Dustin Brown: I, I am a 100% millennial, a and I’m an elder millennial, but I, I, I really grasped onto that, like, it’s not worth it. You know, I, I watched my dad do it when I was growing up and he worked all the hours and he sacrificed everything and he had a stroke when he was 53. And I don’t wanna do that. It’s not worth it.
I make plenty of money. I’m content. I can walk away at any time, and it’s, it works.
David Carnes: And that’s, such a perfect segue to asking you what do you do to unwind? Is, is anything to do with what’s hanging behind your head or.
Dustin Brown: So these were fun. I’ve, I have, played guitar for. 27 years, I think now. I am a hobbyist, so I just like to, I come from the nineties where it was like, you know, green Day’s Dookie was my first CD, when I was 11 years old. And I’m very much about like, can we just crank it up, make some noise, just have some fun, like, I’m not a, a TikTok or Instagram virtuo, so like you’ll see.
But the pink one that’s behind me is actually handmade. I built that myself, handled the wiring, all the hardware, everything myself. And that was a really fun project to see if I could do it. I’m a quiet person. I’m a fairly private person. And I’m a hundred percent an introvert in like the classic sense where having meetings all day is draining for me.
Like we had our SKO a few weeks ago. I was so drained by the end of it cause I had to be around people again for three days. I like quiet time, you know, sit with my Kindle and read a book. I don’t, I don’t read a lot of business books. I don’t read a lot of workbooks. My time is my time. And part of what helps me unwind is drawing hard lines.
That when I walk away for the day, I’m gone. I’m not working in the evenings. I’m not one of those people that’s like, I’m just watching tv. I’ll pull up my laptop. Nope, that’s upstairs, that door’s closed. I’m not going in that room. I really draw hard lines and say, my home life is important to me. You know, this is what matters.
I’m going to focus my time now here. My wife says, put it on the shelf. And I think that that really helps. It is just, I know I need quiet. I know I need decompression. I’ll, I’ll go watch New Girl on Netflix for the 50th time because it’s comfortable and I like it. It’s like an old pair of shoes. And I’ll read and, and just kind of relax.
Jarin Chu: Love that. That’s really great. As we come to a close here on the podcast, you’ve learned ops along the way. What resources have you do you, did you turn to for RevOps learning? And are there any folks that you would recommend folks following other folks in RevOps that you would suggest actually speaking and being on this podcast?
Dustin Brown: Absolutely. So I, I’m one of the people that will tell you that, networking is a waste of time. I know it’s controversial opinion, but I really believe that your network doesn’t care about you, but your friends do make friends. I’ve made some of the best friends I have through work, because you spend a lot of time around these people.
It helps if you like, who you’re around and you know, we talk about personal stuff, but we can also bounce stuff off each other professionally and say like, Hey, you know, I’m still struggling with this problem. What’s going on? Or, Hey, I just need to gripe, you know, five minutes so we can vent and just, you know, get over this.
That is so, so helpful to me, is to make those friends and those relationships. You know, I still talk to people I worked with 10 years ago and it’s because I like those people and they’re valuable people and I, and that really, really helps me. When I’m researching software, my first move is always go to G2.
If it’s not on G2, I probably don’t care about it. I read Salesforce, Ben here and there, David Giller, follow him on LinkedIn, if nothing else. Some of the stuff’s really entertaining. But just to try to stay up to date as much as possible. I don’t, I’m at a point now where I don’t feel like I need to know every single detail on every single release.
But just kind of directionally, I like to know what’s going on. If I can’t figure something out, get on the Trailblazer community. Somebody has had that same problem you have, and if it hasn’t been solved in the past five years, they’re probably still trying to figure it out. So move on. You know, I’ve worked with some great RevOps people in the past that, that have been super helpful to me and people that would be, that have had great advice from Salesforce admins to RevOps leaders, and it’s been really, really helpful.
David Carnes: I echo all you say and in fact, I was, chatting with, David Gillard this afternoon and, and I’m a fan of his as.
Dustin Brown: Oh, I love his stuff. I, I love, well he used to post more memes than he does now. But I used to send those to my Salesforce admin, who’s a good friend of mine, all the time.
Jarin Chu: So I couldn’t agree more about the distinction between networking and just actually meaningful connections. I think that’s what true networking is, but it’s been diluted to this concept of somehow just meeting people. And I don’t know. The only way of I think meeting folks that I know is to have meaningful discussions, connect vulnerability, and, and, and share, share that experience.
Which brings us to the last thing I wanna ask you. Where can people find you if they wanna connect with you?
Dustin Brown: LinkedIn. It’s basically the only place I’m public. Any other social I have is a hundred percent private. And I keep it that way on purpose. But LinkedIn, I’m, I, I’ll contradict myself now and say I accept basically anybody. And I’ll talk to anybody. I, I have a giant LinkedIn network
from my years in hr. I know, right? But I, I built it up over years in HR and LinkedIn is the easiest place to find me. I, you know, just look, look me up by name. I’m.
Jarin Chu: Perfect, and we’ll include Dustin’s profile in the show notes. The other thing is where can people find out more about flash?
Dustin Brown: https://flashpoint.io/ That is the best place to find out more. If you are interested, I can definitely connect you with some of our sales reps to, to learn more about it. We have a top-notch sales team that is doing just incredible things.
David Carnes: Dust. It’s been such a pleasure to have this conversation with you on the podcast today. You’ve shared so many things and what I love about the notes I’ve been scribbling during the conversation is they’re, you know, while we talked about a lot of RevOps topics, we also talked about being nice, slowing down, understanding, learning.
And making friends. And I mean, that is such a positive, way to, think of your role and engage with people. So anyway, it was really a pleasure to, hear all those things from you today and, to have you on the podcast.
Dustin Brown: Yeah, I appreciate this so much and I hope it’s not too Mr. Rogers for everybody, but I really think just being nice and, and leading with empathy. You know, as a a i, I jokingly say I’m a reformed bully, that goes so far to making people trust you and to making friends and to really building out that network.
Jarin Chu: And certainly we also want to thank, the audience that’s been listening today. I know a lot of you out there are up and comers in RevOps. A lot of you are leading RevOps functions already. If you learned from Dustin’s journey, going from, BA and political Science to RevOps or, or working with just a whole variety of industries, please share and tell someone about the podcast.
We’d love to grow the RevOps community and just ensure that we’re all learning together and kind of defining the industry as we go. So thank you again, Dustin, for sharing your experiences today.
Dustin Brown: Yeah. Thank you Jarin. I think this is a great platform. You know, I, I think this is a RevOps is a discipline that people is kind of shadowy and some people think they know and don’t really what it means. So I think this is a great way to kind of break down the walls and show what RevOps can be in all the different flavors.
Jarin Chu: Love it. And this has been another exciting episode of RevOps Rock Stars. See you next time.
David Carnes: Stay classy. Rock stars.