Revenue Operations vs Sales Operations: Key Differences

Published on Tuesday, March 22, 2022

From the rise of cable infomercials to the boom of the world wide web, the continuous evolution of technology over recent decades has permanently altered consumer buying behaviors. Geared with multiple channels to compare and purchase, the way consumers approach goods and services has forced companies to reimagine the typical customer lifecycle.

With a revamp of the customer lifecycle comes an inherent rework of the revenue cycle, or more specifically, how organizations assess and predict revenue. Thus, an entire host of new revenue-related roles have grown popular in recent years — and now, dozens of companies are struggling to understand the difference between revenue operations vs sales operations. 

Revenue operations (RevOps) and sales operations (SalesOps) are two of the fastest-growing revenue-related positions of the recent decade. While both of these positions work to eliminate departmental silos and increase company revenue, on the surface, the only thing separating these roles appears to be semantics. However, that could not be further from the truth. 

To better understand the key differences between revenue operations vs sales operations, and the role they play in your business, let’s take a look at each position’s key functionalities and how they compare to one another. 

What is Revenue Operations (RevOps)?

Revenue operations (RevOps) is a company-wide strategy that aligns multiple business departments to support strategic decision-making, which enhances the company overall and drives future revenue potential. Such company departments included in RevOps can include marketing, customer success, customer support, finance, and of course, sales. 

RevOps harnesses the power of enhanced cross-department visibility to address three shared goals: to leverage customer data to locate new revenue opportunities, eliminate revenue leakage, and boost overall conversion rates. When combined, the functions of RevOps facilitate the use of modern customer lifecycle data from lead to close. 

With recent shifts in purchasing behavior came a strong need for enhanced company-wide transparency, as departments including sales operations were commonly overlooked during revenue planning and forecasting processes. A solid RevOps team works hard to remove these departmental disconnects that commonly cause revenue data inaccuracies and inefficiencies.

What Does RevOps Do?

From lead to close, RevOps streamlines all data aspects of the customer journey, including initial touchpoints via marketing and weekly touch bases via customer support. A RevOps team commonly leads the company in optimizing its technology tool stack to gain company-wide transparency and enhance cross-departmental communication. 

Acting as a systems administrator, RevOps will be responsible for managing various solutions, such as Salesforce, to ensure complete insight into all data points regarding the customer lifecycle. But it’s not just closed sales that are counted towards monthly revenue — a RevOps team will work together to identify customers in the sales pipeline (and keep the pipeline full) to enhance revenue.

To further support revenue growth, RevOps teams also work to bring enablement practices to various departments, including sales, marketing, and customer success. From employee onboarding to ongoing training programs, a RevOps team will implement various processes across multiple departments to increase productivity, boost communication, and drive revenue. 

What is Sales Operations (SalesOps)?

As a crucial subset of RevOps, sales operations focus is two-fold: To ensure an organization’s sales department possesses all necessary resources to maintain top-tier productivity and to streamline data collection for high-accuracy revenue forecasts. SalesOps team leaders continuously work to enhance sales rep selling practices, as well as provide cross-department visibility for sales data.

Before recent shifts in purchasing behaviors, sales operations were commonly overlooked or siloed from surrounding departments. As company operations began to evolve with the changes in buying behavior, more companies recognized that sales operations possessed high-value data for business growth, especially in terms of revenue management. 

Now, SalesOps leverage software tools, engagement techniques, and strategic planning to drive business growth. From revenue forecasting to pipeline forecasting, the data produced by SalesOps can help revenue operations conduct more accurate forecasting and financial planning, overall encouraging strong growth. Likewise, SalesOps data can be further reincorporated back into their department to help drive better sales strategies to meet company objectives. 

What Does SalesOps Do?

A SalesOps team must conduct numerous functions to support sustainable, company-wide growth. The structure and daily functions of a SalesOps team can vary based on the size of the company, but generally include functions such as territory planning and sales forecasting. Territory planning can help to identify and target a specific type or area of customers that best support company growth. 

On the other hand, sales forecasting allows SaleOps teams to identify their current and estimated future rates of sales success. This process helps establish attainable monthly sales goals and enables a sales team to make strategic adjustments to current sales approaches. Likewise, SalesOps is responsible for conducting various operational tasks as well. 

For example, companies that use Salesforce software will rely on SalesOps to manage sales data as well as guide user onboarding and trading. A SalesOps team is also commonly expected to manage sales commission data and implement incentive compensation programs for sales representatives. These individuals will likely monitor the current sales pipeline as well. 

As mentioned, the functions of a company’s SalesOps will vary from organization to organization. The key to identifying which SalesOps functions your company requires boils down to the specific needs and goals of your company. While they operate as separate entities, SalesOps and RevOps go hand in hand and work to benefit one another with these various functions.

Revenue Operations vs Sales Operations

The notable difference between revenue operations vs sales operations is that while RevOps focuses on the functions of multiple company departments to encourage business growth, SalesOps solely focuses on the sales functions of a company. In other words, SalesOps can be viewed as a subset of RevOps.

RevOps will implement various functions that support cross-department visibility of not only sales operations, but company departments including marketing and customer success as well. When a company implements a RevOps team, SalesOps can better target its sales efforts while RevOps collects and analyzes data that can be used for forecasting and planning purposes.

When to Hire Sales Operations Instead of Revenue Operations

As with deciding how to structure your SalesOps and RevOps teams, determining when to hire a SalesOps team boils down to the specific needs of your company. One of the main factors that will contribute to this decision is the size of your company. Companies that are still in the startup phase with no marketing or customer success teams should first start with hiring a SalesOps team. 

A solid SalesOps team will allow the business time to grow and implement better-targeted sales tactics to help drive revenue. With this increased revenue comes the chance to further expand your team and add marketing and customer success functions. However, another sign it may be time to implement a SalesOps team is when your current sales team spends more time organizing and planning sales data than they do creating the actual sales themselves. 

When your sales team becomes bogged down by manual tasks or interdepartmental duties, it’s time to expand. Constructing a SalesOps team helps separate these two functions to further enhance data recording and planning efforts, and provide sales reps with more time to increase conversions. Not to mention, if there’s no one in charge of coordinating sales processes, a SalesOps team helps designate a sole leader responsible for coordinating such functions. 

When to Hire Revenue Operations Rather Than Sales Operations

While ongoing company growth and expansion is a wonderful thing, a current lack of company structure and functions will ultimately be harmful in the long run. If your company has expanded enough to possess various operational teams, including sales, marketing, and customer success, but is still encountering hurdles with increasing revenue, it may be time to bring on a RevOps team. 

A lack of cross-department visibility will be one of the largest negative impacts on your company’s growth. If your company departments are not effectively communicating or sharing crucial data, these inefficiencies could cause you to lose revenue. Plus, data that significantly varies across different departments can induce costly inaccuracies in revenue forecasting and planning processes.

This is where a RevOps team comes in. By implementing revenue operations, you can eliminate a lack of cross-department communication by creating one team that’s connected to each department. RevOps can integrate company software solutions to better regulate and improve company-wide data reporting accuracy. Altogether, revenue forecasting and planning efforts become better targeted and more accurate to encourage continuous company growth. 

Closing Thoughts

When discussing revenue operations vs sales operations, it’s important to remember that both processes go hand in hand with one another. As a subset of RevOps, SalesOps centers the focus solely on a company’s sales functions, whereas RevOps works to align sales operations with other departments such as marketing and customer success.If you’re looking to expand your sales operations — and your general operations — take a look at How to Structure Your Revenue Operations Team for Success. Or if you already have a RevOps team, educate your team leaders on How to Calculate and Improve Revenue Growth, these Eight Tactics to Implement a Growth Strategy, and additional revVana resources.

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