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By: Rhoan Morgan on September 13th, 2018

Revenue Operations: A Growing Approach to Marketing and Sales Alignment

Growth and revenue are common themes for all companies. Getting all teams onboard to support revenue and business growth goals isn’t a small undertaking. Hence, the rise of revenue operations and roles like Chief Revenue Officer, which exist to bring synergy between revenue-generating teams like marketing and sales.

This episode of Revenue Rebels examines the role of revenue operations in advancing marketing and sales alignment and explores the impact of this effort across business teams. Rhoan Morgan, CEO of DemandLab, talks with Tijana Muratovic, Director, Sales Operations & Enablement at Fiix Software to discuss how the rise of revenue operations is guiding marketing and sales towards true alignment.

About Our Guest

A true problem-solver at heart, Tijana has a strong history and passion for building revenue functions and teams from scratch. Dedicated to the world of B2B technology, specifically SaaS, her career started on the marketing side of the revenue generation engine. While she always appreciated the creative side of marketing, as a very results-driven individual, she embraced very early on marketing automation and the measurable aspects of marketing. This led her to her first role in Sales Operations and Enablement, an area that has become her true passion. A lifelong learner and also a dedicated mentor, Tijana is one of the founding members of the Sales Enablement Society’s Toronto chapter and a very active contributor to the Revenue Operations Network.

No time to listen? Read the full transcript below:

Rhoan: Thanks, Paul. We have invited Tijana Muratovic to join. The title for today’s podcast is “Revenue Operations,” and we’re focused on how the role of revenue operations is advancing marketing and sales alignment. We’re going to explore the impact of the efforts across business teams. And Tijana is the director of sales operations and enablement at Fiix Software. And I’m really excited to have her joining.

Rhoan: I can do a little bit of a background quickly by way of an introduction of Tijana. And then, we can just dive into the conversation.

Paul: Okay, well let’s go.

Rhoan: Cool. Tijana and I actually, we first collaborated together in 2014. And I’m really excited to be chatting with her again. She’s just incredibly smart, professional in this field. And we worked together when Marketwired brought us in, brought in DemandLab to work on some of their Marketo programs. And we were able to connect when some of those projects reached in queue, the sales ops and the operations side of the house, right? So, around CRM, lead lifecycle, the handover between marketing to sales.

Her career started in marketing, which I also think is a really unique advantage. Where she started off very early on using marketing automation with a real emphasis around operations and analytics. That is actually what led her into sales operations and enablement. Found that that really was her sort of true calling, if you will.

Tijana is also the founding member of Sales Enablement Society’s Toronto chapter. She’s also a very active contributor to their Revenue Operations Network. So, Tijana, I’m really excited to have you joining us today. You’ve got such a strong history, such a great passion for building revenue functions and teams from scratch. I think this is going to be a really fun topic for us to discuss together.

Tijana: First of all, big hello to you, Rhoan, and to your listeners and to Paul. I’m super excited to be joining today’s podcast. So, thank you very much for having me. You’re right. It’s been quite some time, four years and counting. So, I’m very, very excited that you and I have a chance to collaborate again.

Rhoan: Wonderful. Cool. You know, what I thought we might do, actually, before we dive into the topic is to define two of the areas that you specialize in. I’d love it if you could share a little bit about how you think of sales operations and sales enablement, and how they intersect and sort of build- intersect with marketing and build up into this overarching field of revenue operations.

Tijana: I think it’s a great start and it’s a great first question. So, actually goes right to the heart of the matter. I think to some extent even the industry is somewhat confused about what sales operations is, what is sales enablement, how do they intersect? What are you to do? I think that comes from the fact that, in the last couple of years, we’ve seen a lot of buzz in the industry, in the tech industry around sales enablement.

For those of you who kind of have been following this probably know that neither sales operations nor sales enablement are a new concept. I think they’re just coming back into the focus. And I think that their scope is changing, rapidly changing through the tech startup space, essentially.

I have, personally, a slightly different view from what I would call a majority of professionals out there. I view both of these sales enablement functions. They’re both enablement to me, but they are on a spectrum. I don’t necessarily think that they are one in the same, but I do believe that they are both in the service of what I define as true sales enablement.

And let me give an example then. On kind of one extreme is the operational things such as running the sales report, and people may think of that as, yeah, it’s okay. It’s just a sales report. But it really is a sales enablement when you think about that, because it enables the leaders, and the reps and executives to understand better the business.

On the other side of the spectrum would be things such as creating content for the sales team and running sales training. This is also a form of sales enablement, right? So, again, I viewed them as a spectrum and one side is more the operational enablement of the spectrum. The extreme on the other side would be performance coaching.

And for those of you who are a fan of Billions, which I am, I’m a huge fan of Billions. There’s a character by the name of Wendy Rhodes, and this is what Wendy Rhodes essentially does. She makes sure that sales reps working with hedge funds are always ready and at their best. So, I would call that a spectrum. And I view this as all sales enablement.

Rhoan: That makes a lot of sense. And I think it would be difficult for us to actually silo this work and these functions, at the end of the day. I haven’t actually watched Billions. Now I’m going to have to go and check that out, I think.

How sales enablement and operations is ultimately at the service of the sales team and supporting reaching their goals, certainly rings true for the way that we think about sales enablement.

And it’s interesting because I think oftentimes when we hear that, it certainly goes to as a marketing team, right, to enable sales.

Tijana: Yep.

Rhoan: To provide the tools that they need. But ultimately, also if they don’t have the right insights and the right reporting, they’re not going to get as far as they potentially could.

One of the things that I think is really interesting about your background is that you’ve worked on the marketing side, so you’ve got the experience on both marketing and the sales side, in terms of revenue generation pivotings. Really, before we go too much further if you could share just briefly how your professional journey progressed.

You started in marketing, then there was the tech boom around you, companies bringing in marketing automation, and us getting much stronger around data analytics. Maybe you can share quickly how that flowed for you.

Tijana: Yeah, definitely. And I think you nailed it right on that marketing and sales enablement are very much interconnected, and that was my segue into sales enablement.

But let me kind of go a step back. I did start on the marketing side. Started during the time when marketing wasn’t as operationally focused, right? It was all about creative, and brand impressions, and things that weren’t very concrete. Like no one was really talking- metrics that were discussed were possibly brand impressions, but that was the extent of it, right?

So, I kind of moved through marketing communications, branding, partner channel marketing. I’ve done product marketing. And, towards the end of my tenure in marketing, is where really demand generation and lead generation started kind of taking its shape or conversations have started around that. That was really interesting to me. I was, at the time, in a computer hardware industry, so there was not a lot that you really could do there from the lead gen and demand generation standpoint. But my interest was always allied much more with a B2B software space.

As you mentioned, we’re in Canada and, in Canada, that is one of the growing industries. Tech startups are big kind of employers in Canada. So, it made a lot of sense to shift in that sphere.As I moved into B2B space, I did realize that marketing was very much about sales enablement. It was about creating the programs that were going to generate that demand for sales. It was for providing content to sales, how to speak to the customers, right?

Rhoan: Mm-hmm.

Tijana: It kind of seemed as a very natural progression on my career. And, again, I started dabbling in marketing automation because I always believed very strongly, I had this kind of logical and operational side of me. And, as much as I loved the creative side of marketing, I always wanted to put some numbers to it.

Like I wanted something concrete, right? Like I wanted actual black and white, deliverable from marketing to sales. And so, kind of I started dabbling into marketing automation, and that drove me into marketing operations.

And then, a role and opportunity came up actually with Marketwire that was much more of our revenue operations, sales operations, revenue operations role. The rest is history. I kind of started down that path, have loved it since.

Rhoan: I think that’s a pretty natural progression. Marketing, historically meaning like 20 years ago or 15 years ago where we were more creative, moving then with the technologies coming on board, having more access to information and data. I see people who get really excited about that aspect of what you can get from the technology’s moving towards operations. And it’s interesting to flip to the sales side.

Ultimately, we’re all trying to move in the same direction, right? It’s about generating revenue for an organization that we’re working for.

At this point, actually, we just need to take a quick minute to hear from our sponsor. We’ve been talking with Tijana Muratovic around revenue operations, and we’ll be back in just a minute.

Paul: And that minute is to tell you all about DemandLab, the sponsor of the show today, which helps organizations like yours transform their revenue potential by connecting their greatest assets, people, processes, technology, and data.

They do it through customized revenue ecosystem solutions by leveraging marketing technology, data science, good governance, and great analytics. Along with some good content, DemandLab helps B2B organizations advance business goals and drive revenue. Isn’t that we’re trying to do, move the ball, make some money? If you want to do both, learn more about DemandLab’s solutions at DemandLab, just like it sounds.

Okay. I demand that you to pick it up and continue where you’re going here.

Rhoan: We are talking with Tijana Muratovic, and the subject today is revenue Operations: S Growing Approach to Marketing and Sales Alignment.

Tijana, again, we were just talking about your sort of progression from marketing into sales. And I personally think that it’s fantastic that you have an expertise on both sort of sides of the revenue generation coin. How have you seen the rise of the field of revenue operations impact marketing and sales?

Tijana: Well, it all depends on the execution. But, if it’s executed properly, then it has a huge positive. And, when you think about that, it’s essentially consistency. I would say that’s the key message, right? From building consistent processes and metrics across the entire revenue generation engine, to things such as improve the rapid workflow, and ultimately even improve the customer experience.

So, I’ll give you an example. One of the things that revenue operations the role is to kind of create that continuity. And the rep is now able to use one system and the handoff points, hand off from marketing to sales, is better and more tightly managed. The customer experience is so much better. Right? So, I think it’s had a huge impact on every level, right? The operational savings, kind of within the company, the deficiencies, the rep efforts, but also the customer experience.

Rhoan: Tijana, do you think it’s about a maturity, in terms of organization as they’re growing from startup phase where they might be very product-oriented, sort of developing themselves a bit, into moving to being extraordinarily customer-centric and customer-driven?

Do you think that there’s any relation to the maturity of a company? Or have you seen companies starting out saying customer is number one, and we want to ensure that that experience across their entire sort of the life cycle or their journey, the customer journey, is front and center from the start?

Tijana: It’s a bit of a bell curve. I think the companies do start wanting to that, but to your point, they are very product focused. And then, comes a period when it’s all about the customer. We have to start focusing on the customer more and creating a better customer experience. And then, the company reaches a certain size, and it could be due to the systems, the backend, whatever it is, the experience starts to suffer again. Right?

So, it kind of goes through ebbs and flows a little bit. And then, it becomes, in the right company who wants to continue and who wants to be focused on that customer experience, I think it becomes front and center. But there are companies, obviously, that, for them, it’s always front and center. But I think for most companies it’s a bit of an ebb and flow.

Rhoan: When you pull that back into the role of revenue operations, and revenue generation and growing a company, what we’ve seen is that companies that are much more customer-centric will win at the end of the day.

Tijana: Yeah.

Rhoan: Obviously, you’ve got to have a good product, but how you’re engaging with your customer and your audience is critical. And I like the idea of attaching that back into revenue operations.

When you built this out, and I know you’ve done this with a few different companies, what are some of the challenges that companies have faced in trying to get really to revenue operations?

Tijana: Yeah, I think the biggest challenge is still to date the silos between marketing and sales. A majority of the organizations still have that silo, right, that separation. Which is actually, you and I were talking about this, which is I think why we are seeing the rise of the consolidate revenue function and the CR role. Because I think more and more companies are realizing that this makes sense.

So, the companies that are looking to improve that alignment, my one advice would be to consider a consolidated revenue organization. Right? I think it makes a lot of sense. And certainly, that may or may not be feasible, right, in every organization. But, at a minimum, there should be an alignment on the measurement and the reward model between marketing and sales. Yeah.

Rhoan: And when you’ve been able to get this sort of fully enforced, what are some of the results that you’ve seen come out of that approach?

Tijana: Even the company that I’m with right now, Fiix Software, we’re seeing over 90% of our new business driven by marketing initiatives. The results can be really fantastic. Not many companies can boast their revenue as being almost solely driven by marketing efforts. I certainly haven’t seen that level of revenue.

Rhoan: That’s a pretty fantastic number.

Tijana: It is, right? This makes a lot of sense, obviously, up until a certain point. At that certain point, it becomes a question whether that gets really expensive or it’s just impossible do it for the longer periods of time. But I think it always helps, because marketing being able to contribute to the revenue, the impact is significant, right? The process can help speed up the sales cycle, can allow the companies to scale better, and faster, and more programmatically. Right? To understand what’s the capacity, or understand how much pipeline you can drive, how many people you should be hiring to support that. Right?

So, I think the impacts can be very, very positive, but it does require a strong collaboration and alignment between the team. One of the things I find really refreshing is that at Fiix, both teams are very much aligned on the same measurement numbers, right? So, we typically see marketing having this goal of X number of leads that they have to drive, X number of marketing qualified leads.

We actually consider that to be somewhat vanity metric. Because, at the end of the day, either it’s good as a pipeline and to close business that they generate, right? So, I think taking it a step further and aligning marketing to some more revenue-driven metrics, the more revenue metrics, I think makes a lot of sense. And I think we’ll be looking at metrics such as qualified leads in a few years the same way as we look today at brand impressions and click throughs, right? I mean, they’re there, but they really aren’t telling you a story.

Rhoan: Mm-hmm.

No, I’ve seen companies that have exactly what you’re talking about. They’ve actually created processes within their CRM to track the marketing qualified lead that’s sent over, obviously, the conversion rate and that sort of thing. But, in addition to that, because that’s pretty well known in terms of a process, they’ve actually enabled sales to grade from the BDR into an account executive handover to grade that handover.

So, perhaps one day we’ll be able to also sort of get a little more interaction between the grading of the MQL to the sales qualified or sales accepted.

You nailed it a few minutes ago when you said, you really have to have that collaboration in place. And really the culture of collaboration, which I think actually requires a little bit of sort of leaving the ego at the door and just saying we’re all on the same team. We’re all focused on how are we going to grow the organization.

Tijana: Yeah.

Rhoan: Yeah.

Tijana: When you asked earlier about the revenue operations impact, right? It’s obviously very positive, but at the same time, it has raised the bar on accountability, right, for both teams. On one hand, marketing now has to kind of work on getting those leads, better quality leads that are actually going to generate the pipeline that is actually going to close into the sales’ hands. But, at the same time, sales has a responsibility and they have the responsibility, to your point, to follow up on those leads and to provide that feedback back to marketing, right, on the quality of those leads and what are they seeing.

So, certainly, yes. That’s what the alignment is about. It’s basically two sides of the same equation, right? You get the stuff in, but then you also have to provide the feedback out. Right?

Rhoan: Unfortunately, we’re at the end of our time, which kind of flew by. I could spend another 23 minutes talking with you about this stuff, Tijana. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this, I think, emerging space that is revenue operations.

How could someone reach you if they wanted to?

Tijana: Linkedin.

Rhoan: Linkedin. All right.

Tijana: Thank you.

Rhoan: I’m sure that Paul can put that up on the website at some point.

Paul: We will definitely do that. Spell the name though, let’s spell it so nobody is fumbling around on Linkedin here.

Tijana: Sure.

Rhoan: Exactly. Sure.

Tijana: Yeah, it’s the Serbian name, so it has all these- lots of consonants, and it’s kind of silent letters. It’s T-I-J-A-N-A, and then last name, Muratovic, M-U-R-A-T-O-V-I-C.

Paul: All right. We’ll put that up just so everybody who couldn’t write that fast enough will find it here. And we’ll wrap it up for today. How do they reach you, Rhoan?

Rhoan: They can reach me also at Linkedin. It’s Rhoan Morgan. You can find me really easily there, and I’m checking daily.

Paul: And let’s confirm how you spell Rhoan. It took me a couple practice attempts too.

Rhoan: That’s a good question. Making it hard for everybody.

Paul: I know.

Rhoan: R-H-O-A-N like Nancy. And the last name is Morgan.

Paul: All right. Any final thoughts or takeaways here?

Rhoan: You know what? I think Tijana, I appreciate your time so much today. And seeing the growth of revenue operations that we’ve seen over the last few years, it’s exciting to see where you’re taking it.

Tijana: Thank you very much, and thank you so much for having me in today’s podcast. I really enjoyed it.

Paul: All right, and with that, we’ll wrap it up. You’ve been listening to another episode SLMA Radio. We bring you a rotating series of programs, including this week’s show with Rhoan Morgan and Revenue Rebels. A monthly program on the Funnel channel for at work listeners like you. Revenue Rebels right here on Funnel Radio Network.