Pipeline visibility has become even more important in a digital-first, post-pandemic world. According to Salesforce’s March 2021 sales survey, 44% of salespeople say they feel increased pressure to deliver. This new era of remote working has forced everyone from digital natives to more traditional sales managers to embrace technology as a way to more effectively manage their teams.
To complicate matters further, digital buyers are becoming ever more sophisticated, with most making 80% of their buying decisions before ever speaking with a salesperson. According to Gartner, customer experience is becoming a critical revenue driver and “In order to achieve this organizational objective, a revenue operations-led horizontal platform is required in order to deliver against the customer lifecycle.”
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of revenue operations and intelligence, as well as ways you can get started successfully.
How Revenue Operations and Intelligence Create Value
Revenue operations have become an essential function that revenue leaders rely on to properly align their organization’s go-to-market infrastructure, processes, and strategies against established cross-departmental goals for maximizing revenue and the customer experience.
While the benefits for revenue leaders are clear, you may be wondering if revenue operations and intelligence actually create value for the typical seller. According to a Forrester report commissioned by sales technology company Gong, the answer is an overwhelming yes.
Within the report, a survey of 213 executives and decision-makers found that “revenue intelligent organizations were more likely to overperform on revenue, and far more likely to significantly overperform, compared to other organizations.” Simply put, firms with revenue intelligence tools were 110% more likely to overperform on goals than firms without.
Further, according to the Forrester report, decision-makers at firms that used revenue intelligence had much higher confidence in their CRM data than those that didn’t.
Respondents at revenue-intelligent companies were:
- 33% more confident that the data and insights supplied by CRM are accurate
- 32% more likely than those at non revenue-intelligent firms to say their CRM systems supply the very latest customer information
- 37% more confident that their CRM systems let them identify customer problem areas and issues
- 26% more confident that their CRM systems provide predictive recommendations for addressing customer problems
The Revenue Operations and Intelligence Category is Rapidly Expanding
According to Forrester, executives and decision-makers who have adopted revenue intelligence in the past year, have been extremely well-served by this technology.
This is one of the reasons that ‘Revenue Operations and Intelligence’ as a category has exploded in the last few years. Clari, Gong, Groove, Outreach, People.ai, and Salesforce have all created offerings, acquired companies, raised capital, or repositioned themselves to move further into this space – and it’s likely that the next year will see even more overlap between the various subcategories of sales technology.
According to Forrester, revenue operations, revenue intelligence, and sales engagement are the three main categories of sales tech that are going under massive convergence. In this blog post “Sales Tech Convergence and Confusion,” Forrester analyst Anthony McPartlin reports that the most dramatic convergence is happening “around the capture and analysis of buyer engagement data.” Anthony goes on to describe sales engagement as a “cockpit for sellers” that will be driving integrations between other sales technologies.
For the buyer, convergence has both upsides and downsides. While more offerings often equate to more competition and better products, the flipside is that the complex and overlapping subcategories of conversational intelligence, revenue intelligence, and sales engagement can make the space challenging to understand. However, the industry trend is that many players are moving towards revenue intelligence, or repositioning their offerings as more intelligence-focused.
Chorus, a conversation intelligence platform, released their Momentum product on May 25th of 2021. Momentum is essentially a revenue intelligence tool – it uses AI to identify deal risks and enable accurate pipeline forecasting. On July 13, ZoomInfo announced their intent to acquire Chorus to broaden their capability set to include conversation intelligence.
Gong, a conversation intelligence platform that is evolving into a revenue intelligence platform, announced that they raised $200 million from their series E funding round in June 2021, taking their total funding to over $750 million. Clearly, VC backers see the revenue intelligence category as one worth buying into.
Sales engagement platforms Groove and Outreach also expanded their Revenue Intelligence capabilities during 2021. Groove launched Auto-Contact Capture so customers could get a better picture of the buying committee and Real-Time Opportunity and Pipeline Management to its revenue intelligence offerings. Outreach added Outreach Insights, a reporting and analytics solution that uses AI to detect buyer sentiment, on May 11.
Finally, Salesforce announced new revenue optimization tools on June 3, 2021 – Pipeline Inspection and flexible forecasting.
Pipeline inspection analyzes deal health and provides deal insights to revenue leaders, while flexible forecasting allows for custom forecasting fields so unique business models can make accurate predictions.
What Does This Mean For Salesforce Customers?
For Salesforce customers undergoing digital transformation, it’s time to start exploring revenue intelligence. With so many offerings available, and such overlap within the subcategories of sales technology, it will require a clear organizational structure and owner of the revenue operations function.
Gartner distinguished analyst Craig Rosenberg provides some guidance for building out a revenue operations organization in the brief “Use Revenue Operations to Drive Efficient, Predictable Revenue.” Craig outlines six core functions of a revenue operation organization: strategy and planning; process and workflow: enablement; analytics/measurement; data management; and technology platform.
According to Craig, there are four different models for getting started with revenue operations that span from a full-down revenue operations organization all the way to a more lightweight, “walk before you run” approach that centres around establishing functional group alignment. Each requires taking a holistic look at the infrastructure, processes, and strategies that make up your go-to-market function.
From unifying data to achieve a 360-degree view of the customer to creating seamless workflows across the customer lifecycle, investing in building out your revenue operations organization has become an essential part of any growth strategy.
Whether you decide to take an aggressive approach or wade in more slowly, the imperative is to get started so your company can start reaping the rewards of organizational alignment across the go-to-market function.
Regardless of your stage in the digital transformation journey, it’s clear that revenue operations and intelligence are critical to driving predictable revenue in a digital-first world. There’s never been a more important time to align marketing with pre-and post-sales, delivering a unified customer experience and accelerated growth.