RevOps: When, How and Why w/ Natalie Furness

#88: Listen as Natalie Furness, ​​CEO of RevOps Automated, discusses revops and aligning marketing and sales. She covers why alignment matters, how to better balance systems, and the key goals for sales teams.

Listen to the episode by clicking play below OR search “the sales lift” wherever you get podcasts.

Check out the full transcript of this episode below:

The Sales Lift Podcast
Episode #88
RevOps: When, How and Why w/ Natalie Furness
Hosted by: Tyler Lindley

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[00:00:00] Tyler Lindley: Hey Sales Lift Nation, it's your host, Tyler Lindley. Today I have Natalie Furness on the podcast. Hey Natalie, how you doing today?

[00:00:10] Natalie Furness: Hi, I'm great. Thanks for having me.

[00:00:13] Tyler Lindley: Yeah, thanks for coming on. Natalie is the CEO of RevOps Automated. We're going to have a rev ops flare to today's episode. Now we've heard a lot about Redbox and it's about aligning marketing sales.

Yes. And all that's very important. Make sure all your data is aligned and all those teams are speaking to each other, but why should we really care? Why should we care about robots? Why is that important?

[00:00:34] Natalie Furness: Great question. And you guys, I'm really glad you didn't start with that because that's the question that I get asked all the time, which we all know is the alignment of people, processes, and data to improve the whole customer experience from marketing to sales to success.

Why should it care? It's really about the customer. Ultimately, why should we care? Because the people that we serve our customers the best way for our customers to have the best experience, it's the them to have a beautifully crafted onboarding experience. From the first moment they look at your brand from awareness to.

When they're first contacted by your sales team to the moment they onboard onto your product and speak to your sales team so much so that we can convert every prospect into an evangelists as quickly as possible. And we know that word of mouth is the best way to scale revenue. And if you can prove.

Better customer experience because you'll processes people and data aligned, then more people are going to love your product. More people are gonna rave about your product, and then you're just going to generate more business. And this is really that only way to create that flywheel effect that we all talk so

[00:01:39] Tyler Lindley: much about.

Yeah, exactly. I like that you bring up evangelist and the flywheel. What is a flywheel? I've heard about that. So the alternative to the funnel, but for those that don't know as much about a flywheel, what does that mean in terms of rev, ops and marketing and. Sure. It's

[00:01:53] Natalie Furness: the best way to think about Flywell is we've all thought about the funnel funnel.

The idea is you put prospects in the top, in the marketing funnel, and then they drop into the sales funnel and they drop into the revenue and then they drop into success. And it's like a one-way system. Whereas if you think about a flywheel, this is like a cycle. Client or a prospect can join that flywheel at any point.

Now, I think it's a poor assumption to say, everybody's going to start a marketing. We have SDRs and BDRs that go out and find leads. So they might actually start sales. Like the first impression a customer might have a feel, whole system might be sales. But potentially when they're in sales, they're going to get some marketing material after they've spoken to sales.

So we think about this more as demand, the demand generation starts everything off, and then that's going to get fed until you're in the sales and they're going to have that sort of experience. But then they go round into the customer success. They might even speak to customer success or a solutions engineer earlier, which is all about that sales revenue ops in April.

And then they're going to stay in customer success and then maybe even pull back to sales, to up, sell, cross, sell some sort of solution all this while they're having input from marketing sales and success, which is making them love your brand more, feel more attached to it, feel more attached to the product.

So what starts happening in this flywheel starts spinning and as the. You get more brand ambassadors, more evangelists, and that's when you get more growth, the idea is to take someone from stranger to lead, to MQL, to SQL, to customer, to evangelist as they go around that cycle, they're just pulling more and more customers into your flow.

[00:03:29] Tyler Lindley: That makes a lot of sense, like the way that you laid that out, it's a lot different than that funnel way of thinking, because it's never ending. The customer experience is never ending. Even when they leave and maybe go to a competitor it's still happening in terms of, did they have a good experience or a bad experience?

And what are their long-term thoughts they ever going to refer anybody your way? Or do they really not like you and they have a sour taste in your mouth when your name or your company comes. I

[00:03:51] Natalie Furness: think it's interesting that you say the word leave. Cause I think if you think about a funnel, things drop out of a funnel, things don't drop out of a flywheel.

They stay in a flywheel, really this flywheel effect, this growth flywheel is all about retention, referral and increasing the lifetime value of every customer. That's why I think it's much healthier for us to think about our customer journeys as flywheels, rather than funnels because it's an ongoing cyclical products.

[00:04:16] Tyler Lindley: That makes sense. What about when there's not retention though? What about when the customer leaves. They do drop out of that flywheel, even though we want them to stay in and we want them to up-sale and renew and refer. But what about when it goes wrong? What do you recommend companies do or think of whenever the flywheel breaks down or when people leave entirely?

That's

[00:04:35] Natalie Furness: such an interesting question. We all are going to get churn. Churn happens at the end of the day. We want to reduce churn as much as we possibly can, and we want to make sure we've got enough leads in the funnel or flywheel that we're managing so that we can still make enough. Each month to deal with the churn.

But the biggest thing with churning customers is understanding the why actually capturing that. And I think a lot of people struggle with that, but this whole idea of when a customer leaves, how do you know why they left? How are we capturing? Now, it's not always easy to understand why a customer left you most of the time, once they've left you, they're not going to be picking up the phone to tell you why.

[00:05:15] Tyler Lindley: Hey Natalie, this is why I left you. It's like calling the boyfriend or girlfriend just broke up with to tell them all the reasons why it's like, who cares. We broke up.

[00:05:24] Natalie Furness: Exactly. And people find it difficult to give each other bad news. It's just one of those human nature, things that you can start analyzing the data you have, but only.

You have the data throughout the customer experience. Only if you're tracking every single touch point in your customer digital journey in one place. Can you start running reports to understand what are the behaviors of the people who churned at what point in the customer journey do they churn? Is there one part of this flywheel that is ineffective?

Is there one stage or are there a couple of stages that we need to look at? How do we improve the conversion optimization at each place? A lot of the times. To be honest, the experience I've had, the largest point of churn tends to be activation it's when potentially people have either depends on what you have.

If you have a free trial of a product, or if it's the first month of a discounted author or something like that, and you get a new client onto a product I'm seeing the companies are really struggling at that. It's that onboarding process that activation the being looked after, because I think a lot of companies after they've made that first sale, sometimes the customer success doesn't always follow on as much as we'd like it to because we've generated revenue.

And I think we need to stop taking our attention away from the point in which we generate the first point of revenue and switch our thinking. Lifetime value because at the end of the day, revenue operations is all about this ratio of cost per customer acquisition to lifetime value of customer. And so really we shouldn't even be thinking about the first contact point of you.

We should be thinking about how do we get the most out of each customer for the whole lifetime they are with us. And that really changes things.

[00:07:04] Tyler Lindley: Yeah, I totally agree. It seems like some companies fall into that trap. Oh, we've made the sale. We did our job now it's the process breaks down, whatever, we'll figure that out.

But that almost becomes the most important part of the process. He said that handoff from I've made a sale because immediately a lot of customers have buyer's remorse, no matter what they've bought, it's like, oh man, why did I buy that? I want to buy that. If you can get them to that value fast, get them some quick wins and get that smooth handoff, whoever they get handed off to account management solutions, engine.

Like you said, CS team, it's gotta be smooth and it's gotta be quick. And I think time is of the essence. How can companies shrink that time? What have you seen working to make that a smooth and efficient handoff process right after the sale is made

[00:07:47] Natalie Furness: systems of care at this point, the handoff between any department of systems, the key.

So first of all, you've got the organizational structure, how you've structured your people. So that's the people part of rebels. We're seeing a shift in the way people are structuring that. And rather than segmenting in to marketing sales and success, we're seeing the shift towards demand where you have both your STRs and your marketing, like working together.

Then we have the actual revenue processes, which are the sales points where their AEs get involved. And then we have customer success. Jumping back to the middle revenue enablement will be the sales team, but there might also be some field marketers that are working with the sales team. So marketing will actually stretch.

Multiple areas of your revenue, operations funnel. And then you have this handoff between sales and customer success. And a lot of the time I highly recommend people look at the way the CRM infrastructure is built. For example, I'm a big advocate for HubSpot and the reason why I'm a big advocate is because they have a way of cleanly automating the handoff process between.

Sales and success. So you can take all the information from the deal. You can automate tasks and messages successfully hand off to your customer success, and they can keep managing things. But it's also important that you're not only just looping these people into your customer success, but you're getting product in bulk part of customer success.

Isn't. Your customer success manager. It's the product. If you will have a product or the service implementators, if you're running a service and also then you have your retention style focused marketing, which is very much focused on referrals. Retention. Actually, you have marketing running across the whole customer life cycle.

Technically sales running across the whole customer life cycle, because you're doing outreach at the beginning, maybe doing a in the middle, and then you've got your customer success reps. Most of which will be focused on upselling cross-selling, which is still sales. And then you've got your product running across it, rather than thinking about siloing people thinking about bringing all these departments.

And that can be done by making sure you're capturing enough data in your CRM. So you can do successful handoff because that's data alignment and the processes, making sure that the processes between each part of the flywheel are succinct and well aligned, and then making sure that people are working

[00:09:54] Tyler Lindley: together.

That makes a lot of sense. I want to drill in a little bit deeper, but one thing you said there about demand, you said demand sometimes now is marketing and sales development combined rest yards and marketers are falling under that one umbrella. The sales, the rest of the sales cycle after the opportunity is created, is handled by the sales team.

Why do you think companies are combining demand now and having sales development live under demand versus under sales?

[00:10:19] Natalie Furness: I wouldn't say all companies are doing this. It's a new way of thinking. We have been doing field sales and marketing combined for quite a long time. I think there's been a shift in the wording.

So if you think about field marketing and sales being demand, and I think we're moving away from this idea of field now, because we're all becoming more international as much as COVID happened and lockdown happened. Yeah. We're forced to work from home from our computers. We are all doing work across borders.

Now we don't see regions and fields and maybe the same way we used to also what this means is these SDRs are working across multiple regions and potentially needing lots of different assets, depending on where they're working, having your outbound sales team and your outbound marketing team working very closely together also allows them to feed into each other.

You know, that that creates a much more congruent communication as. Into different areas. You want your sales team and your marketing team to be saying the same thing. Otherwise your customer experience is going to be negatively

[00:11:14] Tyler Lindley: affected. Totally agree. It's almost like the word field is becoming obsolete at some level.

I think people are still going to be going out into the field. But I think not only that, but everybody is a mix of, it seems like inside. Right now there's just not as many outside sales reps. I think just when the default used to be travel and in-person the default now is probably hybrid or remote. And I think just more and more sales teams are being run in that remote hybrid work styles, such that the field is occasionally when it makes sense, but it's not the default.

And one thing I want to drill into deeper. I work with a lot of sales development teams. You talked a little bit about work. You've done with sales pipelines, setting up pipelines for SDR teams or for AEG teams. How does rev ops work to enable sales teams specifically? It sounds like you do a lot of work with the pipelines.

What does that.

[00:12:03] Natalie Furness: We've been talking a lot of strategy and now we're moving more into implementation. What does that actually look like? How can a rebel consultancy help a sales team? What we do is we understand festival the processes that sales team have, the people that they have. So depending on how large they have, do they have separate SDRs?

Do they have separate AEs? What's their handoff look like how to SQLs MPOs come into that pipeline. We sit down with them. All of that out. And we build it into a system like HubSpot, what will happen is rather than the STR coming in and have a ton of different platforms look into different things. They will come into one place.

Recently. We built an integration between the zoom info and. In which it automatically pulls the leads and then qualifies them using an automated ICP generation system. So we can actually qualify leads using markers based on company profiles in HubSpot itself. Then the STRs can just see the leads that are prioritizing that pipeline and start working through them.

Start automating the calls like we've done integration with RingCentral, so they can just start dialing straight out from HubSpot and then record those and they can be transcribed and all that information. Pulled into the meeting notes on HubSpot itself. So that's just hanging out all of the work that the STR is having to do in terms of documentation.

Then we building systems, so that STL simply just have to drag and drop people's connections into the next part of the pipeline. And because we built automations behind that, it will then start updating properties in the CRM. So rather than a sales rep, having to go through finding all the dropdown properties and updating them individually.

The system will do that automatically, but traditional managers, if there is a point in the pipeline that CRM fields have to be filled. But the STL wants to try and skip those because we know those sneaky STLs. Do you like to occasionally skip the stages, then we've put fail-safes into them to make sure that there are blockers, which means if an STL was to pull a lead into a new stage of the pipeline, perhaps it would automatically pop up saying, oh, sorry, you can't move this into deal one and collect your commission until you fill it out.

Just a few of these boxes, right? Another thing we've done a lot of work on actually is creating properties to make sure that the sales teams actually receive compensation for the leads that they're generating. That's been a big one from a lot of our clients is how do we make sure our STLs are compensated for all the leads that they work on?

And how do we track that in a way that's not like laborious and manual. So we build out specific properties into HubSpot for that sort of tracking, which makes it really easier for. To say, which SDRs have been in contact with this client in the last 12 months, who was the original source from, and therefore they can work out the compensation.

[00:14:41] Tyler Lindley: So that attribution back to the actual rep, you brought up a lot of different things there, you brought up integrations, you brought up automation building in those fails, saves those properties. So it sounds like there's a variety of ways in which you can work on that system or those processes. All of it is just in the name of efficiency, making your sales teams.

Easier and making, pulling information from one place to another, making that simple and efficient. Is that the key goal for sales teams there? Natalie?

[00:15:06] Natalie Furness: Yeah. Happy salespeople Selmo and also salespeople that aren't spending all their time in front of a CRM have more time to spend facing customers. And that's how I.

Yeah, I

[00:15:16] Tyler Lindley: love that. And it's interesting. You brought up some specific integrations. It seems like tools like HubSpot or Salesforce are, they're not off the shelf integrations that would just work for those tools. That STRs are using a lot like a Dyler ZoomInfo seamless, those kinds of information research-based tools are, they're not just off the shelf integrations.

Are you finding yourself having to build custom integrations more often than. There's

[00:15:37] Natalie Furness: two ways here, HubSpot itself. And I'm sure Salesforce, although I'm not a specialist in Salesforce, myself, HubSpot has a whole ecosystem of apps. You can look at the marketplace. So it's as simple as going onto the HubSpot marketplace, searching sales tools, and then looking through the list of all the native integrations that are available.

And there's tons in that. The tricky thing is knowing which one's the best and that's why people have to work with consultancies like us, because we'll be able to let them know which tools are the best ones to integrate. They're not all always listed on the marketplace. They're all ways in which we can integrate using no code.

So if people are familiar with no-code tools, such as Integra mat or Zapier, these tools can integrate no-code or low-code, then there's bespoke integrations. So if people are using a very bespoke tools, I'm trying to think of some examples. Microsoft dynamics has now integrated Salesforce and HV integrated to HubSpot even.

So has natively integrated. ERP is if people are working with very specific software solutions in which they want to pull over specific data, is it that point that we would bring on dev team and to build the bespoke integrations? There's three ways, either off the shelf low-code no-code or bespoke.

[00:16:43] Tyler Lindley: It sounds like you've done some work with some SDR teams like sales development teams.

If you were going to build an SDR team around HubSpot, having HubSpot be the CRM, the source of truth, where a lot of that STR team was living and working out of what other tools do you think they'd need? What else would you suggest that they layer on top of HubSpot to make a sales development team?

Everybody

[00:17:05] Natalie Furness: is loving LinkedIn campaign managers. If you have the business champ, I think it's the one above the professional. So there's a business here in LinkedIn, which you can actually integrate into HubSpot and manage conversations from LinkedIn within your HubSpot as well. So actually starting to get really advanced with the way in which you can manage the LinkedIn sales navigator in HubSpot, we're working on a few projects related to.

ZoomInfo is obviously not the only thing that you can add to increase data in the platform to learn more about it. There's a few out there dialer system. I think a lot of people are looking at integrations of like video emails and things like that that are around. I'm just trying to think what else we have for our SDR.

I tend to try and focus on the fewer tools, the better where possible, because the more tools you have, the more things that can go wrong. Basically data still has to move from one tool to another. Start, small, be lean with your choices with technology, focus on the processes, working first before automating them.

Once you've got a couple of SDRs in the door and they've figured out a way to actually make sales happen, start writing down what those are. Stock program automating. Don't need the people then start building in tooling. One thing I would say about tooling is try and make sure you have a technical person who is evaluating whether that solution is best sales teams will look at new shiny things that make it look like it's going to make their job easier.

But a lot of the time, once it's implemented, it's a slightly different story. So when evaluating new technology, I would highly recommend that you have frontline users. You have a manager. You have someone who understands data architecture, which might be a consultancy, and then you decide together what's going to be best

[00:18:42] Tyler Lindley: in for them.

I totally agree with the shiny toy syndrome that were either managers or even frontline reps can get enamored with a tool, but then if it doesn't work well with the rest of the stack and play nicely, then it could end up probably causing more harm than good. Potentially. The last thing I want to touch on Natalie is if you're looking to get started with rev ops, how do you know when the right time is.

Size of your team or growth, or is it a certain level of complexity when things start to break down? When do you know, oh man, we really need to figure out this rev ops piece or just making sure this data is working a little bit more seamlessly together.

[00:19:17] Natalie Furness: I think the answer to that is you can never stop thinking about rebels early enough.

You can never stop. Early enough with thinking doesn't mean you teach outsource to bring people in right from the beginning. What I would say to all founders and anybody running an organization is the moment you start building processes that seem to either work or fail, start writing them down, start documenting.

Cause you can only reflect back on what works and what doesn't work once you have it documented, start thinking about. Profiles of the people and the properties you need to capture just the size of the business. Matter if it does, what are the ranges from what to, what does the industry matter? And these are what are going to make up your properties or fields in your databases, which will allow you to automate.

So start thinking about those right from the beginning. So ideal customer profiling in that. I have a point in which you've got a couple of sales team people, and you've got a system that you're like, okay, we think we've figured out something that is scalable, but we now want to hire 10 SDRs before you hire those 10 SDRs, get someone in rev ops and to make sure you have your operation systems in place and automated, that is, there is nothing worse than.

Scale a two man operation until eight, 10 post operation. And then it fails. Not because those salespeople aren't good at their job, but because there wasn't the processes in place to empower them to succeed.

[00:20:36] Tyler Lindley: That makes a lot of sense. So Natalie, great conversation today. If my listeners want to find out more about you online.

How can they do so where should they go? If you

[00:20:43] Natalie Furness: want to talk to me directly best places to catch me as either on LinkedIn naturally finance, or I'm pretty active on Twitter, but, well, there's Twitter people out there. It's Natalie underscore Fern, F U R N. If you wanna talk to me about business stuff and you can visit the website, www dot rev ops, automated.com.

You can book an appointment with myself or my team to have an exploratory call about anything that you want help with. Colombia on social media. I tend to give away a lot of information for free. I look forward to engaging with you there.

[00:21:14] Tyler Lindley: Perfect. Awesome. We'll link all those links in the show notes. So definitely connect with Natalie.

If you want to explore any rev ups related things further, Natalie really appreciate you coming on and had a blast.

[00:21:23] Natalie Furness: Thanks, Tyler.

[00:21:28] Tyler Lindley: Thank you so much for listening to today's show, you can find all the links discussed and the show notes@thesaleslift.com. That's the T H E sales S a L E S. Lift L I F t.com have questions for me. Email me@tyleratthesaleslift.com. We look forward to seeing you back here next week, and we hope today's show brings you the sales lift.

Your business needs. Remember ideas. Plus action equals. You've got new ideas. Now it's time to take action and the results will fall. See you

[00:22:06] Natalie Furness: next time. .

Don’t feel like listening? Read the Episode Cliff Notes instead below:

Importance of Alignment (1:00)

Alignment promotes a better customer experience. You’ll process people and data more efficiently, more people will love your product, and you’re just going to generate more business. 

Put prospects at the top of the marketing funnel, and they drop into the sales funnel, then revenue, and then success like a one-way system. 

Whereas if you think about a flywheel, this is like a cycle. The client or a prospect can join that flywheel at any point.

The customer experience is never-ending because they stay in a flywheel. The growth flywheel is all about retention, referral, and increasing every customer’s lifetime value. 

Make sure you have enough leads in the funnel or flywheel to manage losing customers to the churn.

It’s hard to know why a customer leaves. The largest point of churn tends to be activation and the onboarding process.

We need to stop taking our attention away from the point in which we generate the first point of revenue and switch our thinking to lifetime value. At the end of the day, revenue operations are all about this ratio of cost per customer acquisition to the lifetime value. 

Balancing Systems (7:33)

The handoff between any department of systems is the key. This includes multiple areas of your revenue and operations funnel and between sales and customer success. 

It’s also important that you’re not only just looping these people into your customer success, but you’re getting a product in bulk part of customer success.

Demand vs. under sales aren’t something all companies are doing. It’s a new way of thinking.

Start automating the calls, so reps can start dialing straight out from HubSpot and then record or transcribe that information. 

Make sure the sales teams actually receive compensation for their generated leads.

Key Goal for Sales Teams (15:04)

Custom integrations are as simple as going onto the HubSpot marketplace, searching sales tools, and then looking through the list of all the native integrations that are available.

If people are familiar with no-code tools, such as Integra mat or Zapier, these tools can integrate no-code or low-code, then there are bespoke integrations. 

There are three ways either off-the-shelf low-code, no-code, or bespoke. 

The fewer tools, the better where possible because, the more tools you have, the more things that can go wrong.

Natalie’s Bio:

Natalie is an award-winning entrepreneur and CEO of RevOps Automated the HubSpot partner consultancy providing Revenue Operations as a Service. This self-confessed data geek helps B2B SaaS businesses get every ounce of value from HubSpot. It’s her mission to help businesses bring all of their data into one place, and unlock insights to help marketing, sales and success make better business decisions.

In her spare time, you can find her surfing on the UK south coast or fighting in the boxing ring.

Important Links:

RevOps Automated Website

Natalie’s LinkedIn Profile