Finding The Right Solutions For Your Stakeholders – Michael Boardman – RevOps Rockstars

Joining us for Episode #24 of the RevOps Rockstars Podcast is Michael Boardman, Director of Revenue Operations at Riskonnect.

Today’s RevOps Rockstar is a sales ops maven. Michael is an expert in all things GTM, sales metrics, and forecasting. Leading the discussion is David Carnes, and Jarin Chu, to uncover how Michael finds solutions that meet the expectations for each stakeholder.

“When I join an organization, I spend a ridiculous amount of time talking to people.”

Michael Boardman, Director of Revenue Operations at Riskonnect

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In this episode, we uncover how RevOps leaders can ensure they find solutions that meet the expectations of every stakeholder simultaneously — and we discuss the questions and topics listed below:

  1. What’s something Michael had to learn the hard way?
  2. How does Riskonnect structure its RevOps function?
  3. How does Michael align teams from multiple departments?
  4. How does Michael balance in-house and external resources?
  5. What does Michael’s day-to-day look like?
  6. What type of cross-functional initiatives does Michael lead?
  7. What are Michael’s suggestions for interacting with the board?
  8. What tech stack tools are key to Riskonnect’s success? 
  9. What are Michael’s thoughts on the future of RevOps?
  10. Learning more about Michael’s background

Here are the top takeaways from the discussion:

  1. Importance of aligning technology with business needs: Michael shares his experience of picking the wrong technology in the past because he thought it was cool, but it wasn’t actually a need for the business. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the needs of the field and ensuring there is buy-in from stakeholders before implementing new technologies. This highlights the significance of aligning technology choices with the actual requirements of the business.
  2. Slowing down and gathering feedback: When joining a new organization, Michael stresses the importance of taking the time to talk to people and gather feedback. He emphasizes the need to ask questions, understand what’s working and not working, and identify the one thing that could have the most significant impact. Slowing down and conducting due diligence before making decisions allows for a better understanding of the organization’s needs and prevents costly mistakes.
  3. Building a RevOps alliance: The Riskonnect RevOps team is a coalition of different functions working together. Rather than having a centralized structure, the team members align their efforts and collaborate on initiatives. This approach allows for leveraging different areas of expertise within the team while working towards common goals. Regular communication, weekly meetings, and ensuring everyone has the same vision helps maintain alignment and coordination.
  4. Importance of Forecasting: Forecasting and analyzing the health and performance of a company is crucial to success. Start by reviewing the forecast and evaluating the indicators of underperformance or overperformance. By examining the pipeline, inbound and outbound flow, sales to customer success handoff, and retention, he can better understand the overall performance of the company.
  5. Unstructured Data as the Next Disruption: Michael identifies unstructured data as the next major disruption in RevOps. While RevOps has primarily focused on structured data, such as processed and organized information, the future lies in effectively utilizing unstructured data. He discusses the challenge of incorporating tools like Gong and Chat GPT to convert unstructured data into structured data for actionable insights and decision-making.

Expanding your professional career

Michael provided some amazing information about how RevOps leaders can adjust how they communicate and organize their teams to see amazing growth strides. We can’t wait to try out some of his insights into our own processes!

Connect with Michael on LinkedIn to hear even more RevOps insights, or look at his company, Spekit. Our next episode features special guest Michael Boardman, Director of Revenue Operations at Riskonnect. Watch all our past recordings on the RevOps Rockstars Youtube channel!

This podcast is part of the #RevOpsRockstars network.

Full Automated Transcript

Michael Boardman: we cannot replace a Jarin or a David or a Michael. You can’t replace them all, right? And that’s where, when, when people leave companies, that’s where the strife is. But I could probably replace half of you. Right. And that’s not to say that you’re actually replaceable.

It’s, there are functions to your job that can be outsourced. And what are those, what are the things that we can make easier and maybe think some of our coordination of our meetings and stuff like that, like, can that be outsourced 

Jarin Chu: Today’s guest on the podcast is someone we are thrilled to be discussing RevOps with. He specializes in sales operations through process improvement reporting analytics. His areas of expertise include go-to-market initiatives, sales metrics, forecasting.

He’s also someone who knows Salesforce like the back of his hand. We’ve got the Director of Revenue operations at Risk Connect. Michael Boardman. Welcome to the show, Michael.

Michael Boardman: Thank you so much. Happy to be here.

David Carnes: So Michael, we’re thrilled to have you on this show and we really enjoy starting by asking the question, what’s something in RevOps that you had to learn the hard way?

Michael Boardman: feel like you opened it up with the hardest question of the, of the entire show. It’s probably gonna break the ice, but, the one thing that we learned the hard way, or I learned the hard way rather, is picking the wrong technology because I wanted it not what the field was asking for. And I go back a couple years of it was I was coming out of LogMeIn and I thought there was this one cool tool that would save the planet when it came to helping our sales team and it wasn’t actually a need.

So it was, it was just one of those really humbling experiences of acknowledging many years later of, I made a mistake and I’m pretty sure that was ripped out about two or three months after I was there. But it ended up being one of those things I fought for, I thought was important. It really wasn’t asked for from the business, which is a huge learning ethic.

Think in all of sales and or revenue operations.

David Carnes: So that makes you, you know, think is there a way to bring in others? In whether they’re stakeholders, get their feedback and you know, to what degree can you trust all that feedback. If somebody just ha had a terrible experience before, but that may not be related to this situation. H how have you dealt with that in the year since?

Michael Boardman: Yeah. When I join an organization, I spend a ridiculous amount of time talking to people. I know in past lives I, survey the field. I truly do a one-off survey of what’s working, what’s not working, and what do you Like, if we were to save the world by doing one thing, what would it be?

So it’s, going through that exercise of truly asking the questions and slowing down a little bit. I know when everyone gets to their new job, they wanna make their impact as quick as possible. if there’s one thing you usually have is a little bit of runway. So make sure you don’t make that first mistake.

And if you are going to recommend a technology, make sure there’s a partner on the other side or the field facing side that’s also driving it with you. Because if you start pushing technology, it’s, almost never gonna get adopted unless it’s very specific. And I think of some of those backend off office processes like lead routing for example, of like, this is really gonna save time.

Whereas, hey, this is something that’s gonna truly impact, impact the field day in and day out. If they’re not bought in, it’s, it’s not just not gonna work.

Jarin Chu: That is a powerful question. What is one thing we could do to save the world? And I think your advice about slowing down is so meaningful too, because sometimes when we’re jumping into a new environment, it’s hard to kind of discern what are the, urgent asks from the most strategic, most impactful asks, are the asks actually aligned?

Do people agree that it’s a problem? Those are all things we’ve gotta do, essentially, our due diligence when we are joining a new company.

Michael Boardman: Yeah, and I think it’s, consulting was one of the best things that I did was go out to the field and you start playing with a couple different types of personas. One, you’re usually brought in by an executive, right? This executive has a vision or identified a problem or whatever it may be. And then you’re also probably there cuz something is not working the way it should.

So why are you there? And it starts with what is the biggest revenue impact that you can start with? And I know that can still from my sta scale up days, it’s true, right? You, you’re trying to make an impact on the biggest thing possible. And that’s driving pipeline, how can close deals, conversion rates, retention, whatever it may be.

At the same time, you gotta get a couple of those wins. And so you’re kind of playing two personas right now. You’re playing persona number one of the person paying for the check, if you will, from consulting At the same time trying to get some buy-in from some of your peers that you’re going to have to work with and understanding what are the true needs of the business because that’s the stuff they’re gonna help driving and make it a little bit easier down the road.

So it’s, it’s kind of playing that consulting balance card between highest revenue impact, but also the highest business impact on the backend might be a huge change that you just, you gotta get moving. Or the data you’re trying to collect early.

Jarin Chu: I love that you’re taking account to two sets of stakeholders. One is of course your peers in the actual business execution role needs to experience a positive impact.

And of course, what you said about making sure there’s maximum revenue impact, any CFO hearing that will be so, moved to know that, hey, within the first 30, 60, 90 days, you have that on your radar as well. And that is what garners a lot of goodwill to actually move forward with larger strategic initiatives.

Michael Boardman: Absolutely.

Jarin Chu: Let’s bring the conversation specifically to the company you’re at right now. Risk Connect. My understanding is that it serves a whole variety of industries, healthcare, retail, manufacturing, finserve, transportation, aerospace, energy, et cetera, et cetera. You’re at about, about 800 employees and you’ve raised two rounds of private equity funding thus far. Start off by helping under understand what does reconnect do.

Michael Boardman: So Risk Connect is a platform that does integrated risk management. So think of anything associated with risk and how your consumer and or partner and or customer, whatever it may be, assumes that risk. Right? And how do you then optimize the, the backend flows to say, hey, We have a complaint or insurance claim or whatever else it may be.

At the same time, and this is where I came from, that was through an acquisition, it’s, it’s the what if scenario. Like what if there’s a hurricane in Florida? What do you do that’s all associated in your risk and what are the business flows that fall out of it? So it’s, it’s one of those big things of risk connects putting together and hence why the couple of the private equity rounds were put in place to, to do organic and inorganic growth over the next x number of years to focus in on how can we create the best integrated risk platform, across, across the business or across the world.

Jarin Chu: How big is your sales team with your company being around 800 folks right now? And, and comparatively speaking, what’s the size of your RevOps team to support sales and marketing and all the other functions?

Michael Boardman: Sure. It’s about, I’m trying to think how many comp plans I just did. So it’s depending on how you count it between BDR, CSM salespeople, it’s about 125 to 150. Cause it’s about a hundred twenty-five, a hundred fifty compounds. As for RevOps, it’s, it’s pretty, it’s a pretty eclectic group of, of, of characters.

So we have a, a really good, strong, sales ops group. There’s about 10 people between deal desks, functions, traditional CPQ management.We then have, let’s say a, a team of operators that there’s about five or six of us. And then there’s also a technical operations team. There’s about two or three, and then some contractors as well.

So I, I would say the extended community is somewhere probably about 15 people, give or take, depending on the function that you’re focused on. But it’s definitely a diverse team of, a bunch of groups that are essentially matrix together one way or another. No one reporting to one central role, but nonetheless all kind of working together.

Jarin Chu: So you’re saying that your teams are more of an alliance, a coalition of the willing, where you’re working together on similar initiatives, but they do still roll up to specific functional areas within the business.

Michael Boardman: It’s probably the best way I’ve heard it described it was the coalition. I like to take it of the Jedi Council sometimes. But yeah, I think that’s how RevOps is, is now becoming, it’s, it’s, whether it is consolidated great, but more than, more than not, it’s actually the other way around that you’re, you’re really creating that alliance, if you will.

Jar, I think you said it properly, of how do we all work together? Because I do like the functions rolling up more and more into the actual business functions. It, I think it allows for that extra area of expertise, whether it be cous operations with gain sites of the world or the paros. Marketos like, and then we all do a pretty good job of realizing what are you working on, because that impacts what I’m working on as well.

Jarin Chu: Tell me a little bit more about how you stay aligned, especially because there isn’t a central person or a central point where everyone is rolling up into. How do you ensure that if. Several teams are impacted by a CM tool. Let’s say you mentioned Gainsight, you know, CS might be heavily on it, there might be other, teams using it.

You know, CRMs always across multiple functions. How do you ensure you’re in lockstep with each other? And what types of initiatives have you seen that work well, recently?

Michael Boardman: So the biggest one recently was definitely our integration. So we were, we cast along, we’re about a hundred and 125 people. I’m getting integrated into about a, at that point, a six 50 or 700 person company. So total of 800 people when we kind of flush it out. So one is weekly, you gotta start talking weekly of what are you working on and no detail is too small.

So we’ve continued that through our integration and now into our day-to-day practice. I know that the group at Caston was a, a pretty close-knit group. So we, we would speak weekly. And then there’s always, I always picture as a, just a mini triangle, if you will, of let’s say, me being a RevOps like I don’t need to know every single detail.

If, let’s say CS and marketing need to have something, but as long as they’re aligned, we’re kind of in aligned, right? And so we all have that same vision of we’re truly trying to work in how do we overly simplify our marketing, our BDR sales or CS or retention practices, if you will, with the same mindset of we all know what we’re trying to do, but me moving forward in someone in different direction.

That’s okay. How do we actually combine into one solution? Hence the meeting each week to say, Hey, I’m actually working on that. Can we just tie off? And it’s not even augmented, but it’s more of a tie-off. How do we work together to say, Hey, that’s close enough to what I’m working on. And then also know where to break from what we’re trying to do.

Like, yeah, it’s close enough, but I really need this one specific thing over here.

Jarin Chu: Yeah, and I think the interesting thing about the coalition, approach is that, each team needs to have, of course, good faith in the others to, to play nice and work together. But also when it comes to prioritization, there still needs to be some kind of coordination at the start of a quarter, at the start of a year to ensure that, you’re approaching it in the same direction so that you’re not at least rowing in opposite directions.

Michael Boardman: Yeah. And whether small or big. I know when I was at a smaller company, I was basically that person. It’s actually nice being part of an acquisition every once in a while, is that you don’t have to be that person anymore. And it just, the bigger the organization, the bigger the role that that takes. So sometimes it is your COO, CFO leader, technical leader, whomever it may be.

It just, it’s where it bubbles up and where’s that crossover actually exist.

Jarin Chu: How do you determine what types of initiatives you handle in-house? You’ve, you’ve mentioned earlier in your kind of team structure, you’ve got some external folks that are also helping out or, or contractors. What are the types of things that you try to outsource and how do you make that determination?

Michael Boardman: I’ll probably have to go back to my, my Caston days to answer that question and it ends up being a little bit of bandwidth and skillset. I know when I was at Caston, we had two contractors, even previously, oh, there’s always some sort of contractor seems to be hanging around RevOps these days.

That is, you’re Salesforce expert. So I try to do the bigger projects that someone in-house couldn’t handle, right? Or it’s, I don’t have time for it, or whatever else it may be. If it’s something simple and let’s assume it’s a simple workflow for a second, is this going to take like an hour? And if it’s an hour and I just need a distraction from my day or whatever, like I’ve, I’ve been working on something else for way too long and I just need a distraction.

Like sometimes I’ll just do it cuz like, oh, I kind of want to figure out what to do. And it might be a little pet project, but usually if it’s any more technical than a field creation and I know it’s not gonna impact anything, I want to outsource it as fast as possible because that’s then preventing me from doing something else. And usually that’s something else. Just because we’re usually in-house resources, in revenue operations, it’s usually some call from a very senior person said, why aren’t you doing it? And if your answer is responding of I need to go create this backend workflow, and they’re like, what does that do? And you can’t explain it.

It’s, it’s not gonna help you become more strategic. And so what ends up happening is you get caught in the weeds a little bit and you kind of move to the back office. So I try to, I also don’t like maintenance personally, so whenever I hear someone that loves Salesforce, like my eyes open up, it’s like, oh my God, this is great.

This is gonna be a great partnership because I don’t love that stuff. I like designing it. But when it comes to the execution, I really love working with people that love working in the back office, and therefore, I try to outsource that because it’s, it’s not my sweet spot. I know how it works, but it’s not what I enjoy doing every day.

Jarin Chu: I think that self-awareness as a RevOps leader and a, you know, up and coming, leader within the business is so important. Important because I think outsourcing what we are not good at doing or what we prefer not to do is easier. And like you said, doing it as quickly as possible, is important cuz there’s an opportunity cost.

But as we continue in kind of the breadth of the types of initiatives we take on, what becomes even harder is outsourcing what we’re good at, right? When we do need to spend time on some of those more higher level thinking strategic initiatives that you simply can’t ask someone else to do. I think that handoff, that that transition is a must that we have to learn how to do.

And it’s essential in order to be able to make it to that next level.

Michael Boardman: And that’s, I mean, I think that’s everything, right? It’s, we cannot replace a Jarin or a David or a Michael. You can’t replace them all, right? And that’s where, when, when people leave companies, that’s where the strife is. But I could probably replace half of you. Right. And that’s not to say that you’re actually replaceable.

It’s, there are functions to your job that can be outsourced. And what are those, what are the things that we can make easier and maybe think some of our coordination of our meetings and stuff like that, like, can that be outsourced and no different than we do in our houses sometimes, right? We have someone clean our car, like I could do it.

But this little things, like one of the little things you can outsource,

David Carnes: yeah, ab absolutely. And you know, we’ve seen it really firsthand over the years working with some of the same very talented RevOps leaders as they’ve taken steps through, you know, each phase of their career moving up and up and up. And every now and then, we actually have to pull someone aside and say, it’s time to stop doing that.

You know, whether it’s troubleshooting formulas or trying to figure out some sort of automation or dealing with something very much on the back end. But then, you know, as Jarin has said, you know, actually letting go of the things that you like is another one of those phases. So yeah. Very interesting.

I’m, I’m glad, I’m glad to hear how much you’ve thought about that and you’ve incorporated that into, you know, how you run your team.

Michael Boardman: Yeah.

Jarin Chu: Let’s talk specifically about your role a bit, Michael. Your title is Director of Revenue Operations, and you mentioned again, that you know, each of the functional areas might still have their own task force, their operating team, their execution team. So what does your day-to-day entail?

Michael Boardman: So right now it’s, it’s kicking off the new year. So I’m, I’m a little more project based right now. So as we went into the end of the year, focused around planning and it’s, I usually, I usually focus on bookings planning because as soon as we get to revenue and a r I’d like to pass that as someone off, because I’m not that particular, I’m a 95% accuracy person and that’s good in the bookings world.

Not so good on the financial accounting world. So, so that’s usually where I start towards the end of the year. I then sort of flip into just the nature of it. Planning moves into compensation, so therefore a lot of my day has been, Focused on comp plans, what do we need to do to set targets for the year?

And then that usually trickles into some sort of go-to-market shift. So right now, and part of that is the nature of getting acquired of my day-to-day has gone away, right? I used to be responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of Salesforce, some of those other initiatives that happens just in a small company.

When you get to a bigger company, the benefit is there’s someone else to do that job, right? And that’s their sweet spot, that’s their go-to. I don’t need to focus on that. That enables me to focus on some other things that are usually cross-functional or, just bandwidth, right? I got freed up essentially to do these types of things.

So therefore, right now it’s a little bit, a little of a hodgepodge just as we kind of kick off the new year and, and get into some of the projects that were put on the back burner towards the end of the last year through the integration.

Jarin Chu: So let me ask you this. What keeps you up at night? Be that now in the middle of an integration or when you are running the maintenance of and the day-to-day regular operations in the RevOps function.

Michael Boardman: There’s a couple things. I think we’d all be blind to say, Hey, with all the macroeconomic conditions that keeps me up at night, so how do we prevent those? Is one of those things that I think we can impact revenue operations of. How can we better forecast to know if there is a downturn, even with our own market, we can recognize it.

I think it’s, it’s a twitch, right? And I, I’m literally holding a pen and it’s nothing more than, it’s a fidget more than anything. That how can we make it better? When you start seeing things like a chat GPT start flying, like, how do we get over our initial hurdles? Of operationalizing the business or going through change or whatever it is, knowing there are companies already adapting these new AI initiatives, these new AI features, better analytics or whatever it may be, of how can we get over these operational challenges to get to that new world to try to get an edge?

So those are the things that keep me up at night.

David Carnes: It is so interesting. I saw a really interesting piece, where somebody had asked a question of one of the tools, let’s say it was, Chat GPT and that might have been a few months back, and then asked the same, very, very specific set of things that it wanted. And, the, the response the second time around was order of magnitudes better and more sophisticated.

And I, I actually know what it was, it was a logic puzzle and it, and the AI got the logic answer incorrect the first time, but solved it the second time. And it makes me think of like deep blue and some of these, you know, chess games and other things, way back in the eighties and nineties, improving and improving and then finally eclipsing the Grand Masters.

But I wonder if we’re seeing that progression and, so I’m excited that that keeps you up at night too because we’re, we’ve really got some amazing opportunities coming.

Michael Boardman: and I, I think that’s why we need to simplify, right? Like how do we simplify, how do we get revenue operations in place? And it’s about how do we operationalize that structured information to then go analyze the unstructured stuff that we don’t know how to analyze yet, right? Like, I know one of the things I got excited about was the, the Salesforce, Tableau and Slack integration.

Like, how’s that gonna work? Right? You think they’re kind of crazy and off the beaten path a little bit, but that’s a very different customer experience. So how’s that gonna integrate through the next Wave Plus whatever else we don’t know yet. And at that point, that was before chat GPT hit the news and all the other things.

So intriguing.

David Carnes: So I’d love to shift gears and talk about cross-functional corporate level initiatives. Which of these are you owning? You mentioned comp plans earlier, certainly those touch number of groups. Tell us about that in your, in your current work environment.

Michael Boardman: So because it was, let’s say three companies coming together, the acquire, the big company, risk Connect, acquiring two smaller companies, Caston and active Risks. Last year everyone had their own way of doing comp. There was Excel spreadsheets. There was things like, exactly, we had a thing called Captivate.

So we had all these different tools out there. So one of the benefits of getting acquired is that, right, we need to consolidate into one platform, one method of thinking and then also bringing additional teams on. So we’re bringing the BDRs onto exactly this year and bringing our CS teams on as well.

So it’s now expanded, I think from about 40 or 50 people, I think was the count before. And then also now bringing it to about 125 folks, 150 folks that will ultimately be on comp plans and then upgrading. Exactly. So what was installed a couple years ago is just it’s time to, to adapt and, and grow it into how do we make it more operational.

So that’s been the biggest one right now, that we’re focused on.

David Carnes: Yeah. We really love asking about interaction with, the board and investors. It sounds like you’ve had some interesting experiences. You’ve gone through the acquisition process and responded to due due diligence. Can you tell us about that?

Michael Boardman: Yeah, so my board experience was mostly through the caston to reconnect, acquisition. So I was brought into Caston many years ago by the CEO at the time, John Ezrin. And one of the things that he pushed for years was analytics, analytics, analytics, analytics. So, we, we spend a lot of time getting our data right.

There’s a lot of people just beyond me, our marketing ops people, our CS ops people, like our finance people. There’s a, a really good team that we had that was really focused on this, including one fp a person that we had as well. So getting that data right was about a two year journey, knowing that some of these questions that people are gonna ask through due diligence, Was, what’s the value pipeline?

What things do we need to know? Like, where’s the drop off? How did it trend? Is this good? Is this bad? Is there anything predictable that you can add in? So, one of the coolest projects was the first half of last of 2022 was being almost, I’ll call it the lead analyst of aggregating all that information, working with our, working with the PE group, working with the, investment bankers as well, of getting all that information into a reasonable size data set and being part of that, part of that sell, which was, it was a busy, busy first half of the year for sure, but it was definitely eye-opening to what sorts of questions are being asked through due diligence and what do you need to have, which only helps later on is, Hey, we need this data if we’re gonna sell again or, exit again.

David Carnes: I think it seems like an incredible experience. I’m glad you you had that. How about, your involvement with preparation of board materials?

Michael Boardman: Sure. So right now my focus is mostly to sales. So as much as I am revenue operations, I still focus sales predominantly. So, we just made a switch about a, about a month or so ago, that I’m responsible for putting the board slides together for our, our sales leader.I still do some backend support.

I know because we were require, there’s always those residual questions of how’s like Q4 doing? How’s Q1 doing? So providing some of that context just because I was responsible for forecasting at Caston. So, usually a little bit more man behind the curtain. Sometimes it feels like where, say, hey, Q4, how did that compare year over year?

So always being able to provide some additional context or putting together the actual slides or here’s, here’s some example commentary that we could put into the talk track. I’ll type it up for our sales leader, finance leader, whomever it may be, and then they can augment as they see fit or which message they want to share.

David Carnes: So as a tech consulting firm, we, we pretty much guaranteed have to ask about is there a tech stack tool that you just couldn’t live without.

Michael Boardman: There’s probably like two or three depending on the use case. I’m a sucker for gong. I still think there is a world that we still don’t fully understand and that’s processing the, and I go back to processing unstructured data of I feel like I can get more about competitive intelligence by looking at Gong than my own crm.

So there’s something there that like, I still think is undertapped. That we can continue to drive further. And then the other one, it, it depends on the use case, but it does exactly what you need it to. I like distribution engine. There’s a couple guys that based outta the UK that put together, I think I found them in like 2015 or 2016.

It was a bunch of years ago. And they just solves the one problem you needed. It’s to route leads and that’s it. And you can ask it to do a couple other crazy things. I know they’ve developed the product quite a bit, but they’re just the nicest group over there. I think I bought them three or four times between consulting or different companies and they sent me biscuits one time.

And I don’t know if it’s the biscuits talking, but they’re just the nicest group that truly just solves the need. I need a faster way to route leads from marketing all the way over to the BDRs. So those are probably the

two for very different reasons.

David Carnes: yeah, that’s quite an endorsement. That’s great. How about, I think you’ve, you know, you’ve shared with us before a real affinity for reporting. Where do you go for an attic glance view?

Michael Boardman: I usually get involved with the forecast fairly early on. It’s always where I start when I think of a consulting engagement or going in because truly tells you the health and it, it’s a couple indicators. If you’re underperforming against forecast, it’s usually a lack of pipeline or a lack of inbound flow and inbound, let’s just say from inbound outbound marketing in general.

If you’re overperforming, you’re probably not setting expectations the other way into your sales to CS handoff or, and then ultimately it kind of trickles over to retention. So if we do sales bookings forecast into retention, you’ll start to get a quick view. So where do I go as I start? I start listening to those forecast calls.

Usually my job is to help enable or make it better or whatever. So at that point I’m like, okay, here’s current process. How do we improve? Where do you improve? And that’s where I start pulling back the onion ever so slowly of, Hey, did you hit your forecast year day? How, what’s the size of pipeline in terms of like, relationship to the balance?

Like is your pipeline all in early stages or late stages? Right. I then start looking at pushes, like, how much do you push? Because one of the analysis I start looking into is, Hey, how much comes into month one, month two, month three? And that’s, let’s just presume it’s a quarterly based company. So, where do I go for the high-level view?

I usually start with the forecast. And depending on how that is working, it will then start trickling me over towards perhaps inbound or towards retention, depending on, on, on how the forecast is performing.

David Carnes: It makes a lot of sense. So, Michael, I have to ask you, what do you think will be the next big disruption in RevOps?

Michael Boardman: It’s the, it’s the unstructured data. And I know this isn’t necessarily new. But so much of RevOps is focused on, hey, how do we get processed? How do we get better data? That’s all in a structured environment right now. It’s how do we get better contact information? How do we get better forecast? Like how do we get our sales teams to put in the right stage?

Everything that’s in the future is, is unstructured. And so how do we get this information from, again, the gongs of the world or whatever else is out there, chat GBTs of how do we actually enable the team either to confirm this unstructured data as structured data, or how do we kind of forget about and use the serum as a data warehouse, if you will, and just start pushing people towards these, they’re almost free tools at this point.

Right? And then how do we actually measure, manage, and all these other things. I know question I get from marketing all the time is how do we measure communities? so like I know most of the times I evaluate a tool, it’s through a community and it’s never even before I even get to the vendor, I’ve already pretty much made a decision.

So like, how can we start attacking and reviewing and analyzing whatever it may be, this unstructured data and bring that into and consume that into our very structured worlds? And I know people are doing that today. I just think it’s how do we do that in mass? And, and so therefore, David kind of answered your earlier question, how do we get to automation of this structured data and, and as out of the box as possible, right?

We need to get over that as fast as possible to start thinking of how we can impact these teams. How do, and this is where I might counter my very top of the hour statement of pushing technology, but pushing technology that can truly help, right? To make it easier or whatever else it may be. That’s the new world.

Jarin Chu: I think what’s fascinating about your observation of this trend, right, how do we make sense of the world, which is inherently in unstructured, in this business context, that is actionable, immediately applicable for sales teams, marketing teams to be able to use that is such a huge. Problem. Right?

And we’re seeing these revolutionary tools come out where they are making sense of, to us, unstructured data and, and presenting it in a structured way. But I think the other thing you’re calling out here is when there are disruptive technologies out there, how do we really quickly make that accessible, so that our teams are not falling behind when our competitors perhaps are adopting and experimenting with, you know, these new high, high velocity, platforms out there.

I think that’s a huge question.

Michael Boardman: Just buzz. Right? It’s, it’s, I mean, I think of Instagram or TikTok or any of these things that they’re just trends and even if it’s just a trend, people like it, right? That’s how you get your name out. That’s how you get your brand out. Like, does it work? Sometimes we don’t know. We don’t know. TikTok was gonna be great until all of a sudden a TikTok was the biggest thing on the internet, so it, it just moves so fast.

And what, in the last couple days, Google and Microsoft or Microsoft in general have announced these, these AI features. Like, that’s, that’s quick and it’s, it is just trying to ride, ride, wave.

Jarin Chu: yeah, I had a conversation, maybe a month or two ago with a CMO group that I’m a part of, and folks in that group were recommending like, Hey, you’ve got, you know, in a typical marketing world, you’ve got maybe 60 to 70% of your effort and investment in resources on what is kind of like proven initiatives, right?

The things that not only keep the lights on, but the bread and butter of what you need to do, and then. You know, some of the folks recommended, Hey, you’ve got something between 10 to 30% where you would want to allocate to experiments. Things that are coming up, throughout the year, things that you may not have planned for, but that allows for the allocation of availability in an ideal world to be able to experiment with things like chat GPT, which people probably would not have expected, you know, when they were planning for fiscal 2022, at the start of the year, right?

Like it came out and it kind of transformed everything. And now we just, you know, we wanna try to incorporate it as much as possible into, our operations. So I think there’s probably a way to accommodate with that allocation of investment and time in order to enable fast response time and providing the teams with the latest and greatest as an experiment.

Michael Boardman: And, and I think that’s where you, you have to stay. And this is where I think RevOps is, is that crossover world of like, you have to stabilize, right? As much as we wanna say chat GPT is the wave of the future. We’ve seen all these fads all of a sudden go away in three, four weeks, right? And so it’s, let’s not lose sight of here’s what got us there, let’s continue to experiment further and or farther and farther rather.

But nonetheless focus, how do we like leave this 10% or automate what David, I think it goes back to what you’re saying, like how do we automate or offload, we need to offload the stuff that can be done or outsource whatever can be done. So we can kind of say, here’s how this can be incorporated or an idea that we can continue to just evolve with so bunch of different ways we can tackle this.

That still we’re definitely trying to figure that out.

Jarin Chu: Yeah, that’s, it’s a really exciting time to be in tech and to be at the cutting edge of tech right now. Michael, let’s talk about you. We’ve been talking about your, your work. We’ve been talking about your team, but like, let’s actually dig into your background. First of all, please tell our listeners where you’re dialing in from today, and how long have you been there

Michael Boardman: So I live in Italy. Been here for about a year and a half, just under six months to go. My wife’s in the service, so we got stationed here a year and a half ago. So I’ve been eating pasta, drinking wine, and traveling through Europe for the last year and a half. So it’s been a, been a good run,

Jarin Chu: living everyone’s dream life, loving it. But prior to this, you were, you, you’ve only been Italy for, the last couple. You got your undergrad, I think at, UC Boulder with a BA in Economics and History. You’ve also gotten a degree from mcquarie, which, I’ve also, been at and studied at, which is really exciting.

You’ve gone kind of gone through a ton of ops roles. I  in the last, number of years. More recently, you were an ops advisor. You’ve been a manager of RevOps previously scale upon demand, sales ops manager at Crimson Hexagon, lots of spots. A great well-known brands in kind of the Boston area. Tell me a little bit about how you actually got into SaaS, RevOps.

Michael Boardman: So I remember being in orientation for college and there was a stat that said one in three people that start engineering end up being in engineers. So I am one of those people that is an engineering dropout because I couldn’t pass physics. But the things that I was good at, I have three a’s in college.

One is coding, two is photography, and three was architecture. And so there was clearly something missed as I was either going through high school or going through college of like, I would’ve been a perfect candidate for computer science. Cause I didn’t understand how the human body worked or how physics works.

But I can, I could read coding and read logic and creative enough to start thinking of how this can, how things can work, and what the world around us kind of looks at. So, I had an internship in college that got me over to EMC and into the RSA world. Just kind of fell into it from that perspective.

But my focus was always, I got really sick of fixing data at the report level and I really wanted to get into fixing the problem. So I went from being an a trained analyst at EMC and RSA. Through LogMeIn who had a really good, sales ops or revenue operations team, whoever you wanna call it at the time.

And then I wanted to go fix some of these challenges. So I started making my way to smaller and smaller companies of actually getting into Salesforce, understanding why things worked that way. Why is it hard for a BDR to pass off to an AE over to a CS person and start unwinding. Like, where can we either cut process that’s just old because through that growth period, it made sense, but no longer makes sense anymore and then start building back up and then trickled over to consulting.

And then, one of, where I got into cast line was the former client was the CEO brought us in and, and kind of rebuilt up. So it’s been this kind of journey of going from analytics, which is a passion to go fix the problem and now building back up the right processes systems to get analytics back out the other way at scale.

So that’s, that was kind of my journey of definitely bouncing around the Boston texting for a while and. Starting to fix the problems and then building back up, getting back to analytics, which is really what I like to focus on.

Jarin Chu: You are not joking when you said you’re passionate about analytics. I mean, in order to solve the problem, I love it. You’re like, I’m sick of fixing data at the report level. How do I fix it at the, at the start, when the data is inputted, when the data is captured, and, and that suckered you in.

Michael Boardman: Yeah, right in.

Jarin Chu: If you could give advice to yourself.

On day one of your current role, what might you say to yourself?

Michael Boardman: been a little bit more patient. I think there was a lot of energy, that was, we were coming out of a, a really, really hardworking period in the first half of the year as it related to the acquisition. I think we were all excited to help. There’s a lot of us that came over that helped build cast along.

We had a lot of good processes and we really wanted to focus on how can we bring that to scale. And I think we did the first mistake is we didn’t ask is, is this feel to be a problem? Right? And so I think we got caught up a little bit in the, in the hype of we were acquired, we’re the best, and at the same time we could have waited a little bit longer, been a little bit more patient, understood other processes, right?

Like why are things still set up this way at a bigger company? And I think that’s one of those pieces of advice I would give myself is be a little bit more patient. Understand again, you are acquired for a reason and some of that reason it’s not necessarily your internal process. It’s usually your client base and the a r and all these other things.

So, get it, spend a little bit more extra time, spend a little bit of extra time understanding current process in the, in the bigger world before you started impacting change, which I think we all fail at every single time cuz we think we have an idea and, and some of it works, right? But always you can always be a little bit more patient off the, off the front cause you’re working with new people and new processes that you, you still don’t know why they are that way.

David Carnes: So Michael, reflecting on this amazing run you’ve had in RevOps, I think we’re lucky that engineering wasn’t your path. So we’ve, we’ve got you down the, the RevOps path. You know, taking a big step back, looking into the big, bright future, what’s out there on your career bucket list. I’m really curious what you’re thinking about and where you’re headed.

Michael Boardman: I’ve been fortunate. Right now I have probably about two and a half years to really just settle in for a little bit. My wife gets outta the military in two and a half years, and we wanna take a break. I’d be right around year 15. And so right now I’m kind of pushing towards that of, I really have about two, two and a half years to try you lock in, and then we get to take a break.

But as it relates to like the bigger picture, there’s a lot of things I wanna start exploring. I wanna start designing little applications for people, whether it be people in RevOps or people around RevOps. It’s how do we make those things easier? Can, is there automations? David, I keep coming back to this, like, I don’t know yet, but there’s definitely things that can help.

So I definitely wanna get a little bit more in the product side of things and starting, moving to something probably a little bit more tangible as it relates to how do we take revenue operations into, whether an e-commerce s space or something perhaps that goes a little bit more to the consumer than a B2B situation.

So short term it’s a little more focused in on how do we get to my wife getting outta the military. So a little more personal at the same time, how do we relate what we learned in the revenue ops tech B2B space, either at B2C and at scale? Therefore, cuz there’s more information, more data, or flip it into how do we create little tools and gadgets and widgets.

To really help it. And that’s where I think of a distribution engine as a perfect example of that, where it was just a little started as a little widget and grew into what it is today. So things like that.

David Carnes: Yeah. That’s awesome. So leading RevOps is pretty intense. What do you do to unwind from the insanity of your role?

Michael Boardman: I travel, I go on vacations that my phone doesn’t work.  I just got a drone, so that’s been really fun. So photography’s always been a pet project of mine. So, I got a little tiny, little tiny backpack that I throw a camera on, a tiny drone that I kind of just go off wandering, whether that be in a new city or, out in the woods somewhere, going hiking or skiing and just, it’s kind of play outside.

It’s, it is really my thing.

David Carnes: That sounds great. And where do you turn for resources for RevOps learning?

Michael Boardman: I think that’s, there’s, there’s two sides to that coin right now. I think one, there’s not a lot of learning, right? I think, what’s that book? There’s that one book that I think was written in the eighties about the introduction of sales ops. Was it Adobe or adp or one of those groups? I can’t even remember what it was.

I read it probably five or five or 10 years ago at this point. So from that perspective, there isn’t a lot. But now I think there’s a lot of people that are getting blogs out there. There’s a lot of communities out there, that are trying to get this, this word out, right? There’s a lot of podcasts out there as well.

So there’s, I think it’s one of those things. There is no book on RevOps, hence why we’re all kind of trying to figure out via podcast communities and, blogs or LinkedIn blogs more specifically.

David Carnes: And is there anyone else that you think would be a fantastic guest on the RevOps Rock Stars podcast?

Michael Boardman: There’s a couple out there. I think you can kind of go a couple different ways. I know one of my mentors was Drew Mullen. Drew Mullen, used to be a mentor of mine when I was at RSA. There’s also some awesome people that are, that are coming up. There’s Taylor Young that used to work a Terminus.

I know she just moved over to Bazaar Voice. And the cool thing about Taylor, she’s coming from customer success. I think we focus so much around revenue operations as we focus on marketing sales at all in maybe even finance or, but we rarely really talk about this from a CS perspective. So, Taylor’s been really good.

And then I know y’all know Phoebe up in Boston. Phoebe’s just an absolute rockstar that I cannot speak more highly of someone of just someone that loves to get in the weeds of. And so I’m really curious to see how Phoebe’s doing all over the last couple years of moving out of that individual contributor back office and really promoting ourself into a very strategic thinker.

So those are usually

David Carnes: You know, I saw her. Last week for the first time in a very long time, and she’s doing great.

Michael Boardman: that’s awesome.

Jarin Chu: Michael, you’ve mentioned a good number of folks, just now in terms of folks who’ve inspired you, folks who might be good for the podcast, maybe for others to be able to follow. If others, found this conversation enlightening and inspiring, where can they find you on the interwebs?

Michael Boardman: On the interwebs, my phone’s a little wonky knowing that I live in Italy, so we’ll, we’ll stick to LinkedIn right now. So that’s probably the first one. I am on the two communities right now, the RevOps co-op in Wiz Ops. I’m guilty that I don’t follow it that closely, but I am there as well. So, every so often I’ll check in and see how everyone’s doing.

But, LinkedIn’s probably the go-to right now.

Jarin Chu: That’s great. And where can folks learn more about risk Connect?

Michael Boardman: You can definitely go to risk That’s one. Follow us on LinkedIn, or it’s probably the other one, but there’s a lot of events out there, that, that are coming up. So keep an eye out on those event lists and, focus on risk They’re, they’re all listed there as well.

David Carnes: Michael, it’s been such a pleasure having you on the RevOps Rock Stars podcast with Jarin and I this week. You shared so many things during this session. You talked about the lesson learned of picking a technology because you wanted it, but maybe the field didn’t want it and regretting that later, you shared the idea of the weekly Jedi Council.

I’m gonna borrow that. I think that’s a fantastic 

Michael Boardman: There you go. 

David Carnes: for, you know, just elevating this thing that, actually probably is a good thing to get stakeholders talking to each each other to make sure that these, you know, different cross-functional teams are operating smoothly. Also, I think you’ve inspired me.

It’s been forever since I was last in Italy, so I wanna make it back over. Yeah. Yeah. So really it’s, been a really special episode. We thank you so much for sharing your experiences, with our listeners.

Michael Boardman: Thank you.

Jarin Chu: And I wanna, of course, thank all of our listeners, our subscribers. We’re loving the interaction and comments you’re dropping on social media for us. Again, the podcast is available on all primary streaming platforms, including Spotify, YouTube, babble podcast, Google Podcast, et Sarah. So if you haven’t already, recommend the podcast to someone and subscribe to.

The podcast. Michael, I had so much fun chatting with you today. I love the conversation about chat GPTI love the first question you came out, knocking it outta the park  which is around, what is something, you know, if there was only one thing you could do to save the world in RevOps, like what would it be?

I’m going to definitely keep that in my back pocket.Very much looking forward to hearing more about your travels, and hopefully we’ll see you back stateside soon. Thank you again for being on a podcast, Michael,

Michael Boardman: Thanks Sharon.

Jarin Chu: and this has been another exciting episode of RevOps Rock Stars. See everyone next time.

David Carnes: Stay classy. Rock stars.

Brian Waterson

about the author

Brian Waterson

As Senior Director of Operations, Brian’s job is to ensure that his colleagues in Marketing, Sales, Delivery, and Finance have the systems, tools, and processes they need to excel in their daily work. For him, the role is most rewarding when he is enabling the rest of the company to do their job even better. 

His Salesforce career spans about a decade, split almost equally between client-facing consulting work and internal system administration and product ownership. Like many people, Brian fell into Salesforce work accidentally and was quickly hooked. Some of you may remember him from his previous days at OpFocus in 2013-2017 where he worked with many fantastic clients.

Brian holds a BA in International Relations from Boston University and a MA in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London.

For Brain, one of his favorite Salesforce features is Analytics CRM (formerly TableauCRM / Einstein Analytics / Wave.) Compared to standard Salesforce dashboards, he feels it provides much more flexibility when visualizing and joining data. It has been great to introduce it into the OpFocus product mix!

We often forget that it is now Salesforce, but he is also a huge fan of Slack. Brian is excited to see how Salesforce better integrates the two platforms in future releases.