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The Future of the Modern Revenue Engine: A Recap of OpsStars 2021

OpsStars is the singular community dedicated to the field of B2B Revenue Operations. It’s a community for Ops, by Ops. 

Throughout the year, OpsStars brings together revenue team operations professionals – across the functions of Marketing, Sales, Revenue, Sales Development and Customer Success – to advance the profession’s collective cause.

In just six years, OpsStars has created a community where Ops professionals share ideas and successes regarding implementing complex go-to-market (GTM) strategies, aligning revenue teams and driving organizational growth and career development. Each year, one of the biggest highlights is the annual OpsStars conference. 

This year’s event, the 6th annual OpsStars conference, Powering the Modern Revenue Engine, kicked off on October 5, and below are a few of the day’s highlights.

Flow & Movement

Vala Afshar, chief digital evangelist at Salesforce, got OpsStars off to a rousing start with his opening keynote address, “Electricity & Flow: The Future of Customer Experience.”

Vala’s presentation centered on flow-based systems, from natural ones like the human body and trees, to constructed systems like organizations. The fuel for those systems to survive and grow flows through the system. In business, that fuel is data.

Some have viewed data as “the new oil” industry in today’s economy. Not Vala. Rather, he suggests we view data as water, something essential for life. The foundation of the biggest, most valuable companies in the world is data. And, the movement of data, the water, is predicated on its plumbing, those systems that facilitate movement.

The biggest challenge to flow and movement within the organization is silos. When you discover them, you have to call it out and take corrective action. And, in all your actions, ask yourself the question, “Will it increase the flow of value?”

Make Way for the RevTech Stack

Forget the Sales stack or the MarTech stack, said Craig Rosenberg, distinguished analyst, VP at Gartner, in his presentation, “Powering the Revenue Engine: The 2022 Revenue Tech Stack.” Rather, it’s time to merge disparate stacks and adopt the RevTech stack.

The digital transformation of Sales is in full effect. If there was ever any doubt before the pandemic, it’s been erased now. Hybrid/virtual selling is an accelerant.

How hybrid? Well, Sales is even investing in MarTech!

In the GTM tech space, this summer has displayed what Rosenberg called “mayhem.” From July through September, he counted 3 unicorn announcements and 10 separate acquisitions. 

Rosenberg is seeing the steady evolution of GTM tech moving from a wide set of categories to a narrow list of vendors with wide portfolios or capabilities developing into “alpha platforms.” When the mayhem settles, RevTech will be much more buyer-friendly.

The RevTech stack will use data to optimize and orchestrate, resulting in new manners for B2B businesses to deliver engagement with customers. Engagement is important – Rosenberg coined the term, “engageability,” to understand what leads and accounts to prioritize. 

The “New Digital Customer”

Joey Penick of Lumen Technologies joined Drew Preston of Accenture to talk about the need to go “all in” with digital approaches to meet changing customer needs in their session, “Marketing to the ‘New Digital Customer.'”

B2B buying experiences are morphing into being synonymous with B2C experiences. Drew spoke as to how a $100,000 B2B investment should be as easy and as simple as a $100 B2C spend on Amazon.

To make that happen, companies need to make it as easy as possible for customers to buy products, services and/or solutions. The GTM processes might be complex, but the buyer journey has to be simple.

Joey and his team at Lumen start with an unflinching focus on the customer, using net promoter score data to fully understand the buying experience. With that experience understood, the team can then go about changing the business processes as necessary.

An interesting concept used at Lumen is that of a “pre-mortem,” where the team, in advance of going to market, brainstorms and problem-solves about what could go wrong.

When responding to the new digital customer, it’s important to measure digital key performance indicators (KPIs) and then optimize. As Joey emphasized, “Revenue follows the relationship.” You won’t always have the answers initially, but you do always have to strive to figure it out.

Engaging Today’s Digital Customer

Accenture’s Drew Preston worked double time on the first day of OpsStars as he also joined his colleague Matt Jones to facilitate, “Going Digital: A Digitization of GTM Models in a New, Virtual Age.”

Here’s the thing: A B2B buyer is also a B2C consumer, and her expectations from her consumer experiences have fully moved into her professional life and shaped her business expectations. Today’s B2B buyer wants to be engaged, and she expects her B2B bing journey to be:

  • Easy,
  • Seamless and contextual,
  • Tailored to the right channels,
  • Personalized, yet unobtrusive,
  • Crowdsourced along the way, pre- and post-purchase,
  • And full of two-way learning and growth

Of course, with a new digital buyer, there now needs to be a new digital seller, and a GTM methodology that is much more experience-driven.

Drew and Matt closed their session by speaking to a format to continuously improve upon GTM motions from the perspective of the customer. Sift through your mountain of data, develop actionable insights, then take action. If you haven’t started yet, just know your competitors likely have, so get started as quickly as you can!

A New Cohort of Revenue Innovators Emerges

Mary Shea, global innovation evangelist at Outreach, took center stage for “The Rise of the Revenue Innovator,” where she introduced what she has discovered as a new cohort of revenue professionals.

The pandemic has pushed us all to the “next normal,” and the climate will continue to be unpredictable, but also transformative and innovative. 

Mary cited Forrester research that showed the number of interactions between buyer and seller in a working deal grew from 17 in 2019 to 21 in 2020, with an average of 11 people involved in a customer’s buying committee, a number that sometimes swells to as many as 20.

The digital-first nature and the sheer complexity has created this new breed of revenue innovator. Like Accenture stated earlier, new buyers require new sellers and new approaches, and Mary outlined the required skills, attributes and abilities that have changed the past few years.

Mary’s presentation closed with two interesting points. First, there is a movement from a collection of technology point solutions to more over-reaching platforms, a further validation of Rosenberg’s previous point. Secondly, there is an increased need for better “data literacy” in organizations, turning data into insights. 

Learning from B2C

Evan Liang, co-founder and CEO of LeanData, closed out the first day of OpsStars 2021 with an exploration of how B2B revenue engines can learn from B2C in his session, “Defining the Modern Revenue Engine: How to Build a Better B2B Buying Experience.” Where there are inefficiencies in the customer journey, how best can people, processes and technology solve for experience?

It’s critical for all B2B organizations to get started somewhere, anywhere, and be agile and responsive with course corrections. It’s also important to differentiate between a technology drought and drowning in technology. It’s not about using more tech. Rather, it is about using tech the best you can.

B2B organizations have complex GTM motions, usually a hybrid approach of inbound, outbound, cross-sell/upsell and account based. Learning from our B2C relatives, it’s important to 1) break down silos, 2) automate processes, and 3) integrate tech across all your GTM processes. 

Summary

Day 2 of the OpsStars annual conference centers exclusively on hands-on workshops with subject matter experts facilitating sessions on the buyer experience, marketing operations, revenue team frameworks, and the modern marketing funnel.

Each session of OpsStars, including the sessions and workshops mentioned above, are available for viewing on demand. Be certain to share with your team members and your professional network.

I hope to see you at OpsStars throughout the year. Not just next year’s OpsStars conference, but also at the monthly events and at the newly introduced OpsStars Podcast!

Tags
  • Marketing Ops
  • opsstars
  • revenue operations
  • revenue team operations
  • RevOps
  • Sales Ops