Running today’s growth engine is harder than ever because the customer journey has changed in fundamental ways. Roles are changing. Rules of engagement are changing. And the speed with which companies must adapt is accelerating.


Recently, 120+ senior practitioners from varied industries gathered at Alexander Group’s 2019 Operations Forum to explore the path to success in this complex, unpredictable and risky customer environment. Together we explored Four Growth Multipliers—Culture, Coverage, Talent and Tools—that are critical to pivoting an organization toward next-level revenue growth.

Highlights and Takeaways

Keynote: A Big Transformation: From Sales Ops to Revenue Ops
Travis Howe, SVP/Head of Global Operations–Disney Advertising Sales at The Walt Disney Company

Travis Howe set the stage for the event outlining the massive transformation companies like Disney face moving from sales to revenue operations—What is a revenue leader? What role will they play? How has the customer journey necessitated the need for this role? And who should fill this role—just who is in charge of revenue? According to Howe, the ops function sits at the intersection of tech, sales and data. It’s a partner role literally at the intersection of everything a company does or wants to do.

Howe outlined five takeaways for transformational ops leaders:

  1. Set a “north star”
    As the ops leader, you have an obligation to translate the strategic direction of the company and make it tactically tangible across functions.
  2. Be cross-functional
    Ops is both vertical and horizontal.
  3. Control your journey
    Ops should own every touchpoint in the voice of the consumer. Sales can own the client, but ops owns the journey, the tech, and the functions that support it.
  4. Use less tech
    Bring more assets together to be more nimble and powerful. Find a balance with tech and human interaction.
  5. Define and build the culture
    Ops will need to lead by example. As a significant department in the enterprise, ops is in a unique position to influence company culture. Culture is a movement not a mandate.

From left: Travis Howe-Dan Carpenter-Marvin Spears-Marcos Bordin © 2019 Alexander Group, Inc.®

Keynote Panel: From Sales to Revenue Operations
Marcos Bordin, VP, Sales Ops & Strategy
Zebra Technologies
Dan Carpenter, Global Revenue Operations Leader
Carbon Black
Travis Howe, SVP/Head of Global Operations
Disney Advertising Sales – The Walt Disney Company
Marvin Spears, SVP & Global Head, Commercial Excellence
Wells Fargo

Sales operations is morphing into revenue operations…because sales leaders are morphing into revenue leaders.

In describing the difference between sales ops and revenue ops, Marcos Bordin observed that everything is linked to revenue.

Dan Carpenter noted that in a fast moving, super competitive environment it’s hard to point the finger at other parts of the organization when something goes wrong, which drives greater teamwork across all functions. As marketing, sales and product work even more closely together, the concept of go-to-market changes. Someone has to be looking across the ILAER (Identify, Land, Adopt, Expand, Renew) model.

Marvin Spears described the difference this way: Marketing is strategic, while sales is functional. Neither fully owns the revenue function; rather, true revenue leadership is driven through the alignment and collaboration of these functions.

Panel Session: New Partners, Buyers, Jobs & Motions=A New Role for Sales Operations
Ganesh Aiyer, VP, N.A. Sales Strategy & Ops – Schneider Electric
Jason Kofman, Managing Director-Sales & Customer Service – Moody’s Analytics
Brian Maser, VP, Hospital Care Sales – B. Braun Medical

As panelists discussed the new role of sales operations, data and its use or misuse was top of mind. Myriad types of data are available at every turn in a variety of formats. Everyone asks for more data. The problem is getting the right data in the right format to the right people to drive desired adoption or behavior. All agreed that too much data can cloud the goal and that education on how to use provided data is key to adoption. Keep it simple, be sure there is value in the data, train on how to use the data and pinpoint what is important for sellers to put in front of the client.

Keynote: Moving From Big Data to Big Insights
Parthiv Amin, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer – Sloan Valve

Parthiv Amin © 2019 Alexander Group, Inc.®

In discussing the move from big data to big insights, Sloan Valve’s Parthiv Amin outlined Sloan’s rethinking of the sales organization the last two years. With a longer-than-average sales cycle (3-4 years), the organization required different metrics. Among the changes were a new process for lead generation and new models for demand forecasting.

One initiative focused on how to get more leverage out of sales data. Another involved “de-siloing,” where Sloan took all their systems and tied them together. Sloan hired data scientists, increased competitiveness through use of an interactive dashboard for price realization, and is reducing costs through better insight into their sales and market data.

Amin was not alone in his concern about how to best use all the data available. Sloan is using analytics and data to prioritize leads and reduce churn but recognizes that data governance is critically important.

Sal Patalano © 2019 Alexander Group, Inc.®

Keynote: Blurring the Lines – How Revenue Leaders and Sales Ops Are Coming Together
Sal Patalano, Recent Chief Revenue Officer – Lenovo Software

When asked how sales and revenue ops are coming together, Sal Patalano (recent CRO at Lenovo) believes that the entire customer-facing infrastructure is moving to a single sales entity. The question is what that single entity will look like. Companies must consider the tools and processes (Are they outdated?), the org structure and incentives (Make sure they aligned with business and tech needs; recognize sales may be unhappy after realignment), and customer autonomy (Like it or not, you must meet the customer where they’re at). Patalano summed it up this way: Until someone sells something, nothing happens—but sellers can’t fulfill, onboard or service. By enabling all this, the Ops team is the key to sales success.

Keynote Panel: Making Digital Work
Parthiv Amin, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer – Sloan Valve
Sal Patalano, Recent Chief Revenue Officer – Lenovo Software

During the panel discussion, two hot topics arose: Which comes first, Culture or Tech? And who is actively using predictive analytics and AI?

How do tech and culture enable the success of the revenue organization? By a show of hands, most Forum participants felt that today culture drives tech. But Sal suggested that paradigm is shifting. In 15 years, when today’s millennials are tomorrow’s CROs, the reverse may happen.

As for the use of AI, most attendees believe it will have a big role in a few years and are using it to some degree now. All aspire to get ahead of this important trend, but most are unclear how to best leverage AI, how much investment to make in it, and how much value it will provide.

Four Interactive Roundtables offered discussions from new approaches to unifying marketing and sales, how to build a revenue ops capability, aligning sales comp in a digital world and the impact of digital on culture and talent.

Focusing on the four growth multipliers, the cross-industry speakers and attendees at this year’s sold-out Operations Forum offered many insightful observations and strategies. The takeaways from these sessions provided some win-right-now ideas as well as thoughts on how to transform sales operations organizations of today into revenue growth engines of tomorrow.

The story doesn’t end with the Operations Forum…join the conversation at the Executive Forum this November. This 3-day powerhouse event brings together 300+ cross-industry leaders to help you build and execute your annual growth vision.

It’s time to make the growth multipliers work for your organization.

Contact Forum lead, Betty Corrado for individual/team attendance and as well as dedicated industry track agendas.

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