Moving Slow To Move Fast – Laura Wheeler – RevOps Rockstars
Joining us for Episode #23 of the RevOps Rockstars Podcast is Laura Wheeler, VP of Revenue Operations and Enablement at Spekit.
Laura Wheeler is a skilled salesperson and mentor who has seen every aspect of the sales and operations process. Laura joins hosts David Carnes and Jarin Chu for an exploration of how Laura best enables her teams. In this episode, we’ll cover the inherent cross-functionality of RevOps, how outsourcing work can benefit startups, and what Laura’s go-to karaoke songs are.
“I take ownership of how engaged our employees are because those are my stakeholders.”Laura Wheeler, VP of Revenue Operations and Enablement at Spekit
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In this episode, we touch on how RevOps leaders that take the time to build an effective process internally see massive growth as a result — and we discuss the questions and topics listed below:
- What’s something Lauren had to learn the hard way?
- How do you build RevOps with thoughtfulness & efficiency?
- What does the RevOps team at Spekit look like?
- How does Laura balance in-house and external resources?
- What does Laura’s day-to-day look like?
- How does Laura measure success in her role?
- What type of cross-functional initiatives does Laura lead?
- What times does Laura have for becoming a more effective RevOps leader?
- How does Laura suggest interacting with the board?
- What tech stack tools does Spekit leverage?
- What does Laura think the future of RevOps looks like?
- Learning more about Laura’s background
Here are the top takeaways from the discussion:
- Employee engagement and responsibility: Laura emphasizes the importance of monitoring and improving employee engagement within her organization. She believes it’s her responsibility as a leader to ensure that employees are confident in their roles, hitting their targets, and having fun at work.
- Lessons learned in RevOps: The saying, “When you move slow, you actually move fast,” is near and dear to Laura’s heart. She explains how moving too quickly with processes and accumulating technical debt can lead to significant challenges later on and emphasizes the importance of considering the long-term impact of decisions and taking a more thoughtful approach to avoid future issues.
- RevOps team structure and responsibilities: The Spekit RevOps team consists of three people supporting the business’s BDRs, sales team, and customer success function. To find a balance between in-house and outsourced work, Laura considers factors like resource availability, ROI, and sensitivity to cash burn in a startup environment.
- The use of analytics and data in business: Using data analytics tools like Tableau and Salesforce is crucial to gain insights and make informed decisions. Laura mentions that analytics can improve onboarding processes, provide accurate reporting, and enhance sales team performance.
- The integration of AI and predictive analytics: Laura emphasizes the merging of Einstein and Tableau’s functionality and the potential benefits of AI in providing predictive analytics and automation. She touches on the possibilities of AI in areas such as documentation, content creation, and lead generation.
Expanding your professional career
Laura gave us such great times about how to bring humanity to our RevOps functions and get the most out of your team members. There are some great processes RevOps leaders can start implementing with their teams.
Connect with Laura 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
Laura Wheeler: we help monitor employee engagement, ENPS, that’s run really through our people ops, but I think, you know, I take ownership of how engaged our employees are because those are my stakeholders. And if they aren’t confident in their role, if they’re not hitting their targets, if they’re not.
Having fun at work, then, you know, it’s something that we all should take responsibility for.
Jarin Chu: Today’s guest on the podcast is a talented RevOps leader that we are excited to learn from. She entered the tech industry in early 2007 while playing in a cover band and working as an event coordinator. She’s a talented salesperson, manager, mentor, and ops leader, and has held roles from inside to outside sales, leadership, sales ops, enablement.
We’ve got the VP of Revenue, operations and enablement at SPECT here today. Welcome to the call and welcome to the podcast Laura Wheeler.
Laura Wheeler: Awesome. Thank you for having me. Excited.
Jarin Chu: Amazing. Laura, you know that having been a listener of our podcast yourself, that we always love to start with kind of that big juicy question, get some of your stories, maybe some, some scrapes that you’ve experienced before. And the the thing we always wanna learn about is what’s something that you had to learn the hard way in your tenure working on RevOps.
Laura Wheeler: Yeah, there are multiple things, but the one that actually comes to mind the most is, a saying that my husband likes to say, which is, when You move slow, you actually move fast. And, back at a previous startup, we really moved way too quickly with processes that accumulated a lot of tech debt.
So, creating SOPs on top of SOPs, on top of automations, solving things with tools not, I mean, it was, it became so big of a behemoth that, actually when we were acquired about three or four years later, it took us two years to integrate into their c crm. And there was, a ton of headache around our sellers.
They didn’t understand, you know, then how to do the processes or work backwards, but the mantra is always, oh yeah, we’ll just, we’ll just fix it tomorrow. We’ll just get through today, fix it tomorrow. And so I think now what I do is I try to approach a, let’s just take a pause. I know we have to move quickly on this, but let’s think about the long-term impact.
So I know right now in my role, I’m not thinking anything about verticalizing, territories, anything but. I want to make sure that the things that I’m doing will set myself up for success if we need to move quickly in the future for that. So, among a myriad of things, I think that is the, probably the biggest scrape that you can have as a reveles leader. I, never wanna do that again.
David Carnes: I I was at Trailblazer DX last week in San
Laura Wheeler: Oh yes.
David Carnes: I was actually, giving two, leading two presentations. There were super circles of success on decluttering your org. And I, and I should have had that quote handy, for the group because we talked about a lot of different things.
But I think that’s really, really great advice.
Laura Wheeler: yeah, yeah. I feel like you just have to kind of learn it the hard way. And So, then when you come into a leadership position, it’s something that you can actually instill with your team, whether you’re managing people or you yourself, or the sole RevOps person. But really taking that mantra has greatly helped, in my future roles.
Jarin Chu: You mentioned, Laura, that you know, you’re thinking a lot about long-term impact and you don’t have to think so much about things, more tactical pieces like territory planning, which is very important. And I think it goes to show that, you know, the organization you’re in now, obviously has a degree of maturity and size and established processes that, so that affords that space and know, I know we’re gonna talk about that in a little bit.
When you reflect on that, that. Quote, you mentioned your husband mentioning, you know, when you move slow, you actually move fast. And balancing that sort of thoughtfulness with the speed you need to see in a business, how do you find that right balance? Because it does require both.
Laura Wheeler: Yeah. It is a juggle every day, and I think it’s, it’s not really unique to this role, but it is highly, highly, top of mind because RevOps truly is cross-functional. And so if we make a small decision, and I’ll give an example, removing pricing from a website, like you would think, ah, no big deal. There are several different departments or people or individuals or processes and automations that need to be put into place to either accommodate for that.
And so, you know, what I’m, what I try to do is when we get a request like that, you know, one is trying to understand, hey, what are we trying to do and what are we trying to achieve? And then is there a potentially a better way to do it? And who are the people that will be impacted by that, that need to either be a part of this, whether you’re adopting a DCI model or, or you’re actually just trying to move quickly.
But yes, I think the balance between the fast pace that we need to iterate and move, with the intentionality of the impact that the changes will have is something that honestly, I have to remind myself and my team every day. So it’s a struggle.
David Carnes: So, let’s talk about the team since, since you just said the word. And more broadly, SPECT serves a number of industries. You have close to 150 employees. You took a series B round of funding, I think it was 45 million back just over a year ago in January of 2022. Tell us about your RevOps team, what roles do you have in place?
Laura Wheeler: Yeah, So my team currently, as it is today, the makeup is we are three people mighty and strong. We, we actually service the, BDRs, the sales team and the CS organization. And so the way my team is structured is I have one person running go-to-market systems. So anything integrations, anything data integrity, how does it all work together?
He does also play a little bit in the analytics space. Thank goodness that has a piece of his background. I have. Potentially controversial, but I actually hired a CS ops manager over a sales ops manager for the time being. Just understanding the climate that we’re in, the customer experience and the full life cycle is extremely important and hypersensitive, especially when you only have 250 to 300 customers, you know, you’re really trying to understand what that journey looks like for them and protecting that ARR.
So, it’s what I wanted to actually hire first since I’ve been a sales operations individual and I can kind of play that role. I have enablement under my umbrella as well. And then low and behold, I am managing the mighty BDR team, for individuals strong. So my team right now is three of us, and we kind of juggle all of those responsibilities in supporting the business.
David Carnes: So that seems like a really smart move to deploy. You know, it’s a really big step to go from a team of three to a team of four, for example. So it seems like a good move to make that sequence of the, the CS hire, the CS ops hire
Laura Wheeler: Yeah.
David Carnes: to the sales ops hire. Just given, given your background. You know what’s so cool from our perspective and the companies we work with is we see them going from your size team to a team of 25 and 30 and 40 in such a short span of time.
But that sequence of how you grow the team clearly is significant, especially with this, this economy that we have. Well, how exciting, is that, so you have the BDR function as well, and certainly they’re probably working overtime right now. You know, trying to, trying to find, find, you know, good meetings, generate good meetings to, hand, hand off to the, to the field team.
How do you determine the right balance of in-house versus outsourced work?
Laura Wheeler: Hmm. In-house versus out outsourcing is, man, I’ve done it both ways. And I think when I am approached with potentially a deadline, maybe, something that is way outta my scope, like Salesforce development, I mean something that would honestly take me quite a while to do. And then I’m trying to weigh it between like, is that gonna be a long-term resource that we would need internally?
I think right now just with the sensitivity as well, you’re really balancing cash burn, especially at a startup. So it’s what can we do with X amount of money and what is the ROI or output that we’re gonna get? Is that actually something that we’re going to invest in Right now? I think it’s just hypersensitive with, adding additional headcount.
You know, you don’t really want to do that internally. Maybe it’s hard to find and then think about all the hiring and. Resources that, and the energy that it takes to bring that into house if we’re not sure if that’s the long-term solution. So I would say outsourcing more for those, more strategic, really technical, or time-bound sensitive, projects.
And then in-house, if I can justify it, or if it’s a unique potential project that could be more cross-functional in the future. So case in point, maybe a, we’re starting to release a lot of our product or like product launches and product releases in a CICD format. And so partnering with a, product team, you know, we need a release manager, somewhere in the business.
And so my team is kind of helping to suffice for that. So we have actually taken that in-house, and we are testing it out as far as what is the time and energy that it’s taking away from other things. And is this potentially something we should actually invest in as a headcount?
David Carnes: So your team really is cross-functional if you’re helping with, product development and product releases as
Laura Wheeler: Yeah, Yeah,
David Carnes: that’s super. All right, so your title is VP of RevOps and Enablement. What does your day-to-day entail?
Laura Wheeler: Oh boy. My day-to-day, you know, I am just all over the place. I, the unique thing is we do have a standard operating cadence. So any, like, there’s, there’s always a day that I’m building a new process for some, for something, that pops up. Especially in the startup world. There are new things every day, new things every week testing, AB testing.
So, my day-to-day looks like a. Making sure that I’m cross-functionally aligned with really all of the key stakeholders. I think a big piece of it is, data literacy, integrity, and insights. I think we, my team specifically Does not have a data analyst. Ugh. I wish I had one. But we do have a data team internally that we kind of lean on each other.
I’m semi-dangerous from my days at a data analytics company. And so I can only get us so far, but it’s really, looking at the data and serving that up to our team. I would love to have a self-service, you know, analytics culture and that’s what I’m trying to drive towards, because one that just takes the onus off of our team to deliver those insights.
I think. The closer that you are, to the data and getting those, the actually more valuable it is to the end users. I’m call coaching. We are, I know we, I’m, you know, constantly listening to calls, understanding potentially where skill gaps may be in place. I think that’s actually something that I’ve enjoyed about taking the BDRs over it for now, like, this is short term, but I get to listen to their calls.
We, I get to help drive, you know, incentives with the team. What are the actual inputs? I mean, it is truly the way that buyers are buying. They are coming in more educated, and so how can we actually increase velocity into our revenue through that process? And a lot of what they’re doing is personalization at scale.
It’s a numbers game, so we gotta dial and we gotta find those that are interested, that are, that are in our ICP. And so, my day-to-day is different every day. I think that’s actually why I joined a startup, so that I can kind of have my hands in things. Then the last thing I’ll mention is, I am our ICP, which is super, super fun.
So I get pulled into product roadmap, sessions where they’re like, what does this feature, does this resonate with you? You know? Yeah. Does this make you happy? Would you buy it? And I’m, you know, in messaging circles and we’re AB testing, like, does this make sense? Every, well not every, but prospecting emails or voicemails that I get, I actually forward it over to our BDR team.
I say, Hey, this resonates, this actually hits, like, you should try this. Or, don’t ever ask me about the weather. Like, you know, like, don’t, don’t ask me about the weather. No, and so I think it’s actually a really unique role, to have that added to it as I get to then really see our product full like cycle as well.
So it’s, it changes, it’s fun for
David Carnes: Wow. That, that is super cool. So, so, then how do you measure success?
Laura Wheeler: Oh, Revenue. Are we hitting our revenue targets? No. But yes, ultimately we are looking, we have a rhythm of the business, at the executive level. And so we are measuring a myriad of different KPIs that indicate, you know, customer health and the health of the business. So anything. You know, customer acquisition cost.
So what is our CAC, what is our burn? Working with finance a lot as well. And then the inputs to that. Are we retaining our customers? So net retention, gross retention, are we hitting our revenue targets from, and, or it’s really not about a growth game right now, we’re, we’re airing more on the side of net and gross retention.
It’s not really a grow at all costs anymore. And, also the health of our employees too. So, we, we help monitor employee engagement, ENPS, that’s run really through our people ops, but I think, you know, I take ownership of how engaged our employees are because those are my stakeholders. And if they aren’t confident in their role, if they’re not hitting their targets, if they’re not.
Having fun at work, then, you know, it’s something that we all should take responsibility for. But we do have those operating rhythm KPIs that we check either weekly, monthly, or quarterly. However you know that that changes.
Jarin Chu: Laura, there was something that really stuck out to me as you were describing kind of your day-to-day and just the purview of your role. And, I think we hear more frequently now, BDR and SDR teams rolling up to marketing, you know, compared to their traditional sort of sales position. I haven’t yet met another, RevOps leader who owns kind of that VDR function.
And so a couple questions related to that. One is, how did you. Take on kind of that function. How did it land down your plate? And, and related to it is, I think managing a direct team of, sellers requires a very different set of skills and different kind of thinking compared to kind of the strategy and the planning required to be successful and even the analysis, right.
Required to be successful in a typicalRevOps role. So, so walk me through a little bit, like, because you do mention, you know, when measuring success, you’ve mentioned kind of, internal team health. You’ve also obviously mentioned some of these classic SaaS metrics. It really does feel like you’re doing a ton, right?
How do you keep your day organized so that you can exercise both the, you know, frontline manager role and the strategic analysis and planning that’s required?
Laura Wheeler: Yeah. Yeah. The way that I try to balance my day is, well first I have a background in leading sales teams, so kind of is a little natural for me. You know, it’s like dipping my toe back in the pond. And so, you know, as also as a revenue operations leader, the closer that you are to your stakeholders in understanding what they’re actually doing day to day, I mean, I don’t, recommend being a frontline leader to really any RevOps person, but.
It’s really been a gold lining for me to understand where we’re falling short from a revenue operations perspective. So do they need a new tool to go find something? what are they missing or not in their messaging? How can we develop their skills more? What can we automate for them that’s taking them too much time?
And I think, good revenue operations teams do that, but not that I’m for forced to, because it’s a team that I manage. It’s been, it’s been wonderful. I organize my time. I’m, I love organization. I love color coding. My calendar like do not block overs. I also, make sure that I make time for myself, but I am vigilant about my calendar and I am vigilant about if there is something on the calendar, it has an agenda.
It either has a pre-read, so we’re not wasting time. We are an extremely asynchronous company. We hardly do anything in email
Jarin Chu: Wow.
Laura Wheeler: And so, and that’s actually the culture that we’ve set up internally. We have, we have operating calendars that are themed so that you as an internal employee or so can actually just toggle on and see like cross-functional meetings so that you can either join or not based on your availability and, and if you need to stay informed.
And so I would say I’m also kind of running more business, operational, excellence too with my counterparts internally because it just makes us more efficient. So those are just some small examples. Besides, I mean, I do work really hard too, so it’s
Jarin Chu: You mentioned being a very asynchronous company, and you’re also saying there’s a lot of visibility internally for the meetings that, that other departments or roles might take on. Do you have personal guidelines of like, Hey, I need to make sure I have this amount of heads, downtime. I wanna make sure if we can cancel as much meetings as possible.
Like how do you. You keep this many calendars organized.
Laura Wheeler: yeah. There is a driver for every calendar and usually they’re the product or the owner of some sort of the theme. So I have a training and enablement calendar. We have a product release and launches calendar. We have an operating rhythm from the company that’s our all hands, our xyz. And so from there we are an asynchronous company.
The big thing is reply in thread. Please just reply in thread. Can we like get some like swag me? That’s like reply in
Jarin Chu: Reply and thread, Slack, training 101. Come on.
Laura Wheeler: And we actually, I am, well, I didn’t, but our people ops manager embedded that from the day you start, this is how you communicate internally. And I have pushed back and we give ourselves permission. One, we have no meeting Fridays, and two is, if there is not an agenda on the, like in the invite you do, you have permission to not show up because that just means that we’re gonna waste each other’s time.
So, I mean, call it, you know, kind of cutthroat, but it really does work and I think it just makes us more, more efficient at the end of the day. And time is our biggest asset, so,
Jarin Chu: And it sounds incredibly intentional in terms of how you pull other people in as well,
Laura Wheeler: yes. Oh
Jarin Chu: you need others for, communicate clearly, communicate in advance. That’s wonderful.
Laura Wheeler: yeah.
Jarin Chu: You’ve already mentioned a whole bunch of cross-functional initiatives that you’ve worked on, and I know in your prior role you spent a significant stint at Tableau, overseeing.
These very interesting cross-functional initiatives. I think, you’ve mentioned there’s a perpetual to SaaS model transformation. You were, part of, you’ve also mentioned, experience around the IPO itself and you know, that whole acquisition experience. Could you share a little bit with, our audience here, our listeners around what were some of those most notable cross-functional initiatives that you owned kind of outside of your traditional ops role, and what were the kinds of skillsets you felt like you needed or you developed as a result of that experience?
Laura Wheeler: Oh man. Some of the cross-functional projects, there were so many at Tableau. I mean, I was there for eight years pre IPO and the business. Has it changed a myriad of different times. And so a lot of the things I actually was not driving, but such incredible experience. I don’t know who coined this phrase or maybe I heard it, but I’m gonna use it.
I feel like I got my business MBA at Tableau, like I learned so much. We went from, I joined, it was like, Maybe 274 million in ARR. Actually, it wasn’t even ARR because we were a perpetual business. And we had this goal in sight of a billion dollar company. Everybody does, you know, we changed teams internally, so our entire team structures.
That was actually when I was on the sales team. But a part of that decision, we, verticalized, we brought on partners. The, some of the more cross-functional was we, when we planned a pricing change, it was extremely intentional. We wanted to make it very simple for our customers, but as they say, you know, be a duck, very cool and calm, but it’s just fluttering on the, on the bottom.
And there was a lot of research for what should our pricing packaging be, what should the, you know, doing a ton of customer research. And then changing from perpetual licensing as we were seeing sales de decline. Not decline, but just. You know, it’s a one and done business. And so we knew that SaaS was potentially the future for growing ARR.
And I am sure there was, you know, an acquisition play there. But that was a huge cross-functional effort that takes systems, that takes re re-messaging, that takes how do we, what do we do with our perpetual customers? Like, hey, we just can’t, like, knock on the door and one day say, you know, we’re switching our entire licensing, on board or get on board.
And so how are we actually keeping that customer love? How are we preparing our teams to message this, to our new customers? And then enablement and sales team structures, everything changed. So a ton of things there that, and then, you know, a myriad of things after. But that one was actually a really big one where it was truly all hands on deck and I learned a lot just having a seat at the table.
Jarin Chu: And what were some of the, learnings in those processes that you feel like has helped make you a stronger RevOps leader as a result?
Laura Wheeler: Yeah, communication. I mean, there were times when, you know, we would go in kind of circles where I thought we had decided on this, or no. I think clear and concise communication, extreme documentation, like I love documentation, love me a good, you know. Hmm. Just long form. It’s, you know, I’m making sure that everything is down on paper.
And I think there’s an element of that I take with me to the enablement side of always leading with the why. Because if you don’t have your people behind you or the company behind you in understanding why you are making this change, then. Ultimately people won’t understand, they won’t adopt, they will revert, they won’t, you know, do the things.
And so it was really important to see, how they handled. We actually are gonna develop cheerleaders, like we’re got, we gotta get some cheerleaders in this, you know, situation and making sure people were on the same page as the why. And they really, really harped on, making sure that was front and center in everything that we did from a change management perspective.
David Carnes: And to shepherd in that amount of change. I mean, it’s really an incredible amount of change, and you saw it front row having been part of the sales team for a number of years, and then shifting your career direction, which seems incredibly smart. I mean, really just for them and for you to, to step into this, this ops role, just given all you’ve shared in your interests, love for documentation, et cetera, it seems like you’re really in your element, doing, doing what you’re doing.
Laura Wheeler: I hope so.The last thing I would say, just listening to what you were saying is I really do have a deep empathy for our, for my stakeholders because I was one of them. A lot of changes either happened to me or, I was a part of, and I just really liked being a part of it, and that’s what I lead with.
And any time that we do that,
David Carnes: So I’d love to talk about, the board and about investor visibility. So I think it was craft ventures put the series B round in or Led, led that round, year ago. I guess first question would be, are you involved in preparing board materials?
Laura Wheeler: yes, I have yet to sit in on a board meeting, but we have a board deck that we are all responsible for the inputs and mainly mine is in and around all of the KPIs and data. And then as we prepared for, investors, I was a part of the inter investor interview process. But that’s really the, the interaction that we have.
And we solely chose board members that were partners with us, that could help drive, you know, some specific expertise that we, were either in our product or what we were trying to do in the market. So, as far as interaction with the board, it’s those kind of three facets.
David Carnes: And, ask, I’d like to ask you about technology. Is there a tech stack tool that you just couldn’t live without?
Laura Wheeler: I mean, are we talking like necessary? Like there are some absolute necessary things to make a business function, but I do, at my entire time, at my previous company, we did not have a conversation intelligence tool, and I do now, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I just see so much value in listening to calls and not having to physically be bound to the time of day that it, that we are talking to a customer for, help with enablement, skill development, feedback, coaching.
If we’re rolling out new messaging or a deck, it’s like, how does, how is it hitting, understanding, engaging questions. I mean, it’s been honestly a game changer. So any of ’em out there, like, it’s, it’s one of my favorites. I do have a close second, but Yeah. conversation intelligence is, is really, has a soft spot in my heart.
David Carnes: Yeah. That’s so great. And you’re preaching to the choir. Jaren is a huge fan and, and just decided to say, you know, for my role at Op Focus, it’s been really cool to watch how it’s shortened the timelines on onboarding. And just given, given the sales team more confidence and even, you know, Jaren when she’s introducing new messaging to the team, just having, having the awareness of how often are these words and phrases actually being used.
So, so a lot, lot of pluses.I think we can, we can echo there. I’m guessing I know the answer to this already, given your background, but where do you go to get an atta glance view reporting wise within the business?
Laura Wheeler: Yeah, I advocated really hard for my own Tableau license.And the sole reason is that we do, data can exist anywhere, honestly. Like it’s all around us and there are limitations of just using in application analytics. And so, I do have a dashboard that is just weekly rhythm of the business, weekly KPIs that I like to go in and do some like really deep, analytics on.
And actually Tableau allows me to do that because it’s very user friendly and I was, you know, I did work there. But we mainly house a lot of our dashboards within, Salesforce. We use Salesforce as our just kind of,CRM, single source the truth. It’s really just our data repository. And so, and then we have executive dashboards that we look at, for all of the metrics that we’re tracking.
Not to mention what the AEs And, or BDRs need to look at for theirs. So yeah, we are, we are a, like I said, I don’t have a dedicated analyst, but I’m really trying to get our data literacy and our, like, self-serve analytics into the business. Cuz the more, the more we all know, the better we can all be.
David Carnes: I imagine since the acquisition, it must be really interesting for you to watch sort of the changing priorities and changing speed of product enhancements. Now coming out from joint joint Salesforce at Trailblazer DX last week, sales Salesforce made a very big point. In fact, Parker Harris, co-founder and CTO, I was able to spend some time with him at the event and watch him sort of correct other people.
You know, sort of reinforcing this one, Salesforce. So it’s not at Tableau. It’s not at Slack, it’s at Salesforce. We’re doing this and it’s very interesting to to watch that. Are there, are there, any features product-wise that are, blending Salesforce and Tableau functionality that you’re excited about?
Either surfacing visualizations within Salesforce or.
Laura Wheeler: I do think, just the embedded piece of it, you know, when I was there, they, they took the Einstein, it was so much of a, a different, like Einstein was over here and Tableau was over here, and finally I believe they merged the two. A lot of the predictive analytics was actually, a limitation to what we had at Tableau.
And so that was really exciting to not, I’m like, can you just tell me what I’m looking at here? Can you just like, do some predictive? It’s been really cool. Some of the AI and the predictive pieces of it. We are not using it yet, but, I can just see that partnership really growing. And then I do love me some slack, so, any sort of alerting that I can get on those KPIs, that would be amazing.
So just putting that plug in there.
David Carnes: Well, very cool. do you think the next disruption will be or big disruption within RevOps?
Laura Wheeler: Ooh. Big disruption. You know, I was thinking about how RevOps, or RevOps teams are actually structured right now. And I do think that at some point, like revenue operations will become truly a part of the C-suite. And it, you know, yes, COO Gotta love the COO, but I do think that just becoming more of that revenue minded, individual, I think that they may potential revenue reporting system there, will change.
I’m starting to see a change and really the blending between, HR and revenue operations. So like our team calls themselves, people ops, and so much of what they are doing because we’re servicing the same stakeholders. I can see us blending together. You know, I feel like enablement and HR kind of became.
You know, they, they have their idiosyncracies and similarities there. And then I do feel like the rise of RevOps, a lot of tools will start to, come to fruition based on the gaps that we’re seeing. Our product that, we sell right now was a gap that we were seeing in the RevOps space and somebody created it.
And so I think, the more that we can understand automation, the way that businesses work today, the way our buyers are buying, like there’s some really cool technologies that, you know, my team that I’m just like yearning for, but I just need some budget to go get these. But I do think that the tech space and potential reporting structure, I can only see revenue operations going up from here.
David Carnes: Yeah. That’s so interesting. And I think we’re; we’re seeing that with other guests on the podcast and then just seeing the trends on where, where, people are going after a VP of RevOps role, sort of what, what, what else they’re stepping into. I was curious last week. So, again, at Trailblazer DX, it’s, it’s sort of sounding, like I said this one time at band camp.
So last week at Trailblazer DX, they rolled out Einstein GPT and it was sort of interesting. It’s not, it’s not GA yet. We’ve, we’ve got a few more releases before we’ll see that. But the examples that they gave were pretty intriguing as to how this will fit in. You know, it’s sort of like telling the system, go make me a ham sandwich.
People are, are giving examples. Go write this example of code go create, create this flow within the system. It’s gonna be interesting to see where that goes and how that affects the structures of the teams as well.
Laura Wheeler: yeah. I’m actually very curious about, you know, we are in the RevOps world of documentation and standardization. And I’m curious what chat GPT will do for that. You know, the documenting portions of it, that’s just so super boring, but we have to have ’em, and I’m curious if it will come into play there, which I am sure that it will, we’re already seeing it with content creation.
Write me this battle card. How do I do this pitch, You know, make this, we’ve used it in some of our, you know, sales engagement marketing emails. Like, let’s just try it out. Let’s be a little cheeky. It is very interesting. So yes, you bucket that into the technology. I do believe that RevOps can use.
Jarin Chu: That’s brilliant. I’m loving some of these ideas because we’re hearing, I think my, one of my sales team members a couple weeks ago said he received, his first lead that came through like a referral that came through chat, GPT apparently, one of our prospects had typed in, Hey, give me the top, however many, you know, Salesforce consultants out there with some parameters in there.
And we were one of those, you know, names that came up, and so they reached out and, and, and I thought that to be so cool because I knew it was a possibility, but the fact that it’s already starting to do it, you know, and how, like you said, battle cards, email, subject lines, different kinds of copy for sales outreach.
I mean, it’s very real. In our marketing team, we’ve started to experiment with how do we, make some of that, for example, our post podcast blog recaps more easily chat GPT generated or just, machine generated so we can save time with the writing and editing. I think the implications for RevOps are, are still very lightly explored and it is absolutely a huge opportunity, just considering how explosive this technology has been just in the few months we’ve had it.
Laura Wheeler: Yeah. That’s fascinating. By the way, speaking of how buyers buy, man, I didn’t even think of that. I’m writing that down.
Jarin Chu: Yeah. That was surprising. Laura, I want to learn more about you because you’ve shared some incredible experiences thus far in some really fast growing businesses. You’ve done really all sorts of things throughout the go-to-market, organization. So I wanna explore just kind of how you got to where you are.
You are currently based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico and you got your BA in mass com and media studies from Missouri State University. Prior to, this role, you know, we’ve talked about Tableau quite a bit. You were director of sales ops at Tableau and you spent, eight or so years, in different kinds of roles, including sales, like you mentioned there.
So walk me through in terms of how you actually landed at SPECT and why spect.
Laura Wheeler: Oh man. How much time do we have? Just kidding. My revenue ops journey has been, I would say it started, I started in tech actually in 2005, seven, great year to start tech. And slowly made my way into all of those roles and like each role dovetailed within the. Like my next role. So as a stakeholder, as a seller quota, what I was more interested in, well, how is that made?
Who made that decision? How can we do this better? And so I think I discovered I really enjoyed solving the problems of the business more than just, like running, you know, into a quota and, and selling, which is fine. And I feel like in the camp of RevOps, maybe you come up through either one of those channels, whether you’re in more on the analytical finance world or you’re coming up through sales and, you have a lot of that empathy.
I was actually asked to. Build an an America’s enablement team. And that’s actually how I got into enablement. Like literally had some incredible peers within the business that got me up and running very, very quickly. And so with those two combined, like I feel that they were so integrated with within each other, one is understanding what’s happening in the business, how can we be more efficient, X, Y, Z.
And on the other side enablement saying, your team can learn these skills, can do these things, let me help you. And those were so synergetic that it seemed like the natural fit to go look for that. Case in point, how I made it to spec it. We were actually rolling out a new forecasting methodology.
Everybody loves a new forecasting methodology. And we, our plan for enablement, and this is six or 800 sellers, like a bunch of individual contributors, was to train them in a live training outside of Salesforce. And I had a sales leader come up to me, big inter-integrated program and say, why are we training people outside of the tools that we’re working in?
And I was like, you know, Brian, that’s a great, that’s a great question. Let me go see if there’s a better way. Because I had always just thought that there wasn’t a fix for this. And I think maybe that’s another lesson that I have learned over time is there could be a piece of technology out there that, can solve your problem.
But I went and started looking for solutions, like, how can I train teams within the applications that they use? Like maybe I even Googled it. And I started to do my research. DAP came up, knowledge management systems, LMSs, and then spect. And as I was doing, you know, research and I just kind of fell in love.
I loved that it was a startup. I loved the CEO. It was a female, you know, and I immediately, I saw that the role was open. I’m like, maybe. This is a sign, and, here I am almost two years later. It’ll be two years in May. Interestingly enough, it was also a draw to be the I c P to sell to. And so it was really this like unicorn that was sitting in front of me, but I really was trying to solve the, the current problem that I had and just made the leap.
Jarin Chu: Yeah, I love it when, we hear RevOps leaders who were prior customers. I know David and I get really excited about that. I think we’ve probably had a handful of prior guests who are like, oh, you know, I was using this tool and I loved it, and so I wanted to join. I think that’s like such a great testament to the quality of it.
Since we’re talking about spect, could you just really quickly summarize, I know you, you mentioned training and enabling, but can you quickly summarize what does SPECT do so uniquely well that attracted you to them? And, and to folks who probably haven’t heard of, the tool themselves yet.
Laura Wheeler: yeah. Yeah. So, SPECT in general is a software platform, and what we’re doing differently is that we fundamentally believe that learning in the workplace is broken. You know, just as our buyers are buying different, we are learning different, we have different modalities. Our attention span is very short.
We want self, we wanna learn on our own terms and we wanna learn within the workflow, you know, like get stay in that flow state. So what SPECT is gonna do is micro learn, like actually place the learning within your workflow when you need it. The main struggle that I had, when I was onboarding customer, we all have new hires that come on board.
What do they need to know in their first two weeks? And then what do they need to know in their job to do their role effectively? And so if you can surface contextual and simple and powerful, dedicated learning to them when they are actually doing the action, instead of having to leave their workflow to go do that, like that within itself is such an efficiency and time savings to the business.
There’s less frustrated, you know, where can I go for this? There’s less, I’m getting pings on where can I find this resource or who needs to approve this. It, it really helps the process move more quickly and it empowers the learner, within their workflow so they don’t have to leave it. So it was, it was pretty amazing to see it in action.
And, it’s really, we’re trying to change the way that learning cultures are being developed at organizations.
David Carnes: You know, you just brought back a memory for me of 30 years ago being out on a, on a golf day for one of the software companies I was working for, and we had hired a bunch of Nike Pro tour players to. Play with us as we went around. And one of them was with us for a bunch of holes, and he just made two suggestions, two suggestions that had more impact on how I play the game of golf.
And it was incredible. And it’s incredible. So you’re talking about, you know, what SPECT provides? Is that timely in the workflow guidance? Hey, just if you do this, this’ll be easier or the, you know, or we really need you to do this because,
Laura Wheeler: Yeah. Yeah. That’s amazing. That’s a perfect example.
David Carnes: And yeah, it was very, it was very significant and it came back all these years later, here hearing you talk about your product.
That’s great. So you just hit two years. Congratulations.
Laura Wheeler: Thank you.
David Carnes: If you could go back to day one and give yourself a piece of advice,
Laura Wheeler: Hmm.
David Carnes: What would you say?
Laura Wheeler: Well this one’s probably unique to the environment that we’re in, but, I don’t think any of us could predicted that grow at all. Costs would come with a super cost. We really leveraged hiring people, to drive the business forward instead of really taking that moment to slow down. So, maybe I didn’t really learn my lesson the first time, but I did this time, to slow down and think, what can we do differently internally?
I mean, we had, we had just gotten all of this funding and grade and it’s, you know, it seemed like at the time that was the right decision, and it was a cross-functional decision, but when you’re doing headcount planning, you can’t really anticipate, the economy taking a slight bit of a turn.
So I would just say, focus on understanding the current state first. Like I honestly, I started in like May 3rd and that following week she was like, Hey, can you plan our headcount for the next two years? And I’m like, I’m sorry, what? I, I don’t know anything about the business yet. You know? And, and in hindsight, I wish I think I would’ve really started to deeply uncover a lot of what was, in the business and where we could have made more pivots.
Jarin Chu: That’s really great advice and really great reflection. And I remember one of our prior guests mentioning how, you know, even in the uncertain economic headwinds that we’re in, in, let’s not even mention kind of the financial situation that we’ve seen happen in the last week or so with, with, all of. Of bank changes.
I think the, way to frame it really is that this is an opportunity for us to like never before identify efficiency and identify waste, you know, in a, a very lean process sort of way. And instead of, like you said earlier, growing at all costs, you know, growing through just pure headcount addition.
How do we get better at growth so that we don’t need to be to put in the same amount of input to get the output we have. So I, I love that reflection you’ve gotten and it’s, I think, only possible when we’ve got some interesting challenges in the environment.
Laura Wheeler: Yeah. I can say life is a RevOps leader right now is not easy, but it’s not, not fun. So, to any of those RevOps leaders out there, like, hang in there, you got this,
David Carnes: So, Laura, looking back through your LinkedIn profile, you’ve had some pretty amazing roles over the years. You know, starting with Campus Recreation Manager, that’s a pretty cool role, way, way back when. I’m really curious what’s next on your career bucket list?
Laura Wheeler: Ooh, career bucket list? you know. Probably the natural answer would say, I would like to be a COO, but honestly I love, I think it might be time to maybe dive into a passion. So I’m thinking two different ways. One, I have an incredible group of individuals that I met through the enablement, you know, my enablement time.
And I feel it’s very on brand right now to go into consulting. So maybe, what, bringing all of our strengths together and potentially coming together to consult on operations and or enablement, or own a thrift store. Like honestly, I love thrifting and so, or spin instructor, or I could just start my own karaoke business.
So really, the, yeah. Any road that we choose right here, right now, those could be any options.
David Carnes: I’m trying to think of a way to combine all that and I can’t.
Laura Wheeler: I know, I know.
Jarin Chu: I, I must ask you, what’s your go-to karaoke song if you’ve got a karaoke business as a potential option?
Laura Wheeler: Yeah. Cuz the karaoke, You know, vj, dj, whatever, it has to always have a song. My go-to is creep by Radiohead. Fan favorite. And then, you know, mixing a little Whitney Houston, I will always love you. Get people swooning and you always end with journey. Don’t stop believing.
So, myriad of different things in there. But yeah. Do, do you all have a karaoke song?
David Carnes: You know, I, I suffered in my early years, so I, I lived in Japan for a number of years, so when I first move moved to Japan, the karaoke machines seemed to only have Elvis Presley and any group that I was part of needed to have the foreigners sing. An Elvis Presley song, and I
Jarin Chu: gosh.
David Carnes: know any of them.
I was too young for, I mean, I’d heard them I guess, but, but, while I was there, the upgrades to the machines were incredible. And they were still, they were like U2 songs in the machines by the end. And that was, that was pretty current. So that was kind of cool to see that real time, that change.
But I guess it’s been a long time. How about you, Jaren?
Jarin Chu: I think my go-to might be, you know, some fun. Hop options that people can hum along. I’m a big fan of Ariana. Like, I think her voice is amazing. They’re so fun to sing. So I definitely echo with that. I love that you’ve got your bookend songs to get the party started and party ending. And, you know, hearing what you said about thrifting, spinning and karaoke, I could definitely see an experiential business where you combine all three, right?
Like you’ve got, you’ve got different ways to bring in your aerobics. Singing requires a lot of, exercise, right?
Laura Wheeler: It does.
Jarin Chu: you got together, you got a, thrift store in the, in the front for folks to be able to pick out outfits, you know, karaoke
Laura Wheeler: I love this. You’re a genius. Okay. we’re
David Carnes: Okay. I hadn’t thought of a way to tie those together, but that, that’s it, Sharon. That’s awesome.
Laura Wheeler: Oh my gosh.
Jarin Chu: Last but not least, Laura, you’ve, you’ve shared so much great learning on this podcast, and, obviously you’ve, you’ve evolved and moved into different roles. You’ve seen what it looks like to be in a rocket ship, you know, that becomes a unicorn. Where do you typically turn to for your RevOps learning, and are there folks that you’ve kind of encountered along the way where you’re like, Hey, they would actually make for a great guest to be on this podcast?
Laura Wheeler: Ooh. Yeah, the RevOps community in general is just so gracious. You know, I think because it’s, I wouldn’t say it’s in its infancy, but it is, just developing at all different angles. I love actually being a part of different communities, so different RevOps communities. I mean, I think I’m a member of every single one.
I probably have 10 Slack channels that I cannot keep up with, that I go into every day. And if I am encountering a problem, like someone has probably already solved this or has some sort of suggestion, so any sort of Slack community, I do, I would say I am a moderate podcast listener. So there, I mean, there are people that just listen podcast day in and day out.
Hopefully listen to this one. But I love, you know, either going on a walk or a jog and listening to others that are spouting off really great, you know, key nuggets of things that they’ve learned. I listen to this podcast, the leadership podcast is actually really good too. I’m a big fan of developing myself as a leader.
And you know, you always just have a network of people and individuals, especially with the product that we sell and our customers. Like, I actually get to go to these wonderful, forums and communities and it’s been really, really supportive.
Jarin Chu: Do you have any communities or podcasts in particular you wanna throw out for folks to follow?
Laura Wheeler: Oh man. Which ones? I mean, it depends on what, I guess your role and responsibilities are within RevOps, but I love the Wizard of Ops. It’s a very small community, but it is hysterical. I love the Salesforce community as well. I mean, that’s just honestly where we play. If you carry the enablement function within your, you know, within your RevOps umbrella, the enablement squad or, the sales enablement collective or pavilion, or even like, getting really close to, I love Amy Vois and the Thursday night sales crew.
So, I mean, there’s just an endless number of incredible communities, and it doesn’t specifically have to be about RevOps, but just staying in tune with the technology and the space, the stakeholders that we’re supporting. And, being aware of all of the surrounding communities has just been a really, a really great gift.
David Carnes: So Laura, this is awesome. Awesome. I’m really curious, where can people find you are? Are you on social media, LinkedIn.
Laura Wheeler: Yes, I have never set up a Twitter, so fun fact. But I love, yeah, I love to be active on LinkedIn. And obviously Instagram, but that’s just more fun. So yes, LinkedIn, and you can find me kind of spouting off some, some fun stuff there.
David Carnes: And then how can people learn more about spect?
Laura Wheeler: Ooh, reach out directly to me. No, I’m just kidding. Please. No, you can. But obviously visit our website. We were actually at Trailblazer DX. I think we’re behind a tree, which was unfortunate, but we were definitely there. We’re in the communities, so we’re going to a lot of events. We sponsor a lot of, some of the, you know, events that, or the community events that I just spouted off.
We have a hackathon coming up. I got, I even have a webinar tomorrow, so, I know, I know. But you can find SPECT just, on our website. It’s www.spect.com. And start to peruse and browse from there. But you can always reach out to me too.
David Carnes: Laura, it’s really been a pleasure to have you on the podcast. I feel like I’ve learned so much and certainly reflecting on your background, it’s so, it’s so interesting to hear of all these different experiences and how they’ve woven together to, you know, bring you to SPECT as, as a almost perfect customer and, perfect, ops leader, within the organization.
Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today.
Laura Wheeler: Well, it was my pleasure. This was very, very amazing fun. I appreciate you both, so thank you so much for having me.
Jarin Chu: And I’d also like to, of course, thank our audience. If you have a favorite karaoke song you wish to let us know about, or a favorite RevOps community or podcast you’d like to share, please, follow RevOps, rock stars on LinkedIn. Subscribe to us, on any of your usual podcasting channels. We’d love to hear from you.
And of course, Thank you.
again, Laura, for being such a great guest and sharing, amazing stories today on the podcast.
Laura Wheeler: Awesome.
Jarin Chu: this has been another exciting episode of RevOps Rock Stars. See you next week.
David Carnes: Stay classy. Rock stars.