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Building Operational Rigor

With Rosalyn Santa Elena, Vice President, Global Revenue Operations at Neo4j

Rosalyn Santa Elena, guest speaker "Building Operational Rigor" episode


Rosalyn Santa Elena from Neo4j defines operational rigor, how to approach structure in a new role or organization, what tech stack is considered basic infrastructure, and what being a strategic partner means for Marketing Ops.

Meet Rosalyn

Rosalyn Santa Elena is the Vice President, Global Revenue Operations at Neo4j. Rosalyn is an advisor for several high-growth start-ups on all things GTM and Operations, an active leader of Revenue Operations in multiple communities and platforms, and the host of The Revenue Engine Podcast.

She is the founder of the #OpsTherapy group where all ops pros can share experience and expertise.

Rosalyn has held various mgmt roles for 20 years in different operational capacities (sales ops, revenue ops, business ops, marketing ops, finance ops, customer success ops, renewal ops, partner ops). She has directly supported global sales teams as small as 30 and as large as 1,500+.

Top Takeaways

How to Structure Coming Into a New Role or Organization

How do you structure coming into a new role or new organization?

The main focus is to have a lot of conversations with people in sales and marketing and obviously in customer success and support, but also in finance, product, legal, and HR.

You need to have those conversations to try to understand what's really happening in the business. That way you can uncover the current state and start to identify some of the gaps. You can start to build that plan of what you want to accomplish short term and the longer term to start to close some of those gaps.

When I meet with folks, I like to say, “Tell me what's on fire. Tell me the good, the bad and the ugly.” It seems to have caught on because I've heard people saying the same phrase in meetings. It’s a handy way to find the current state, and it all started with me wanting to understand the current state when I step into a new role or organization.

You’ll have a lot of conversations, take a lot of notes, and do a lot of documentation. Then you can start really building out the plan for prioritizing and next steps.

What Being a Strategic Partner Means

How do you build the relationship of becoming a strategic partner to the revenue leader?

You're the eyes and ears of the organization because you run the day-to-day operations. Because you're so close to the people, the data, and the processes, you understand the pulse of what's happening. You're in the best position to see around the corners and identify the blind spots.

Building the strategic relationship with leadership means bubbling up those insights to your leader to really help them make decisions about what and where they need to pivot.

Operational Rigor

How can you build operational rigor through stakeholder alignment, buy-in, and building relationships?

Operational rigor is the rhythm of your revenue process. It's the mechanism by which you take your operating strategy and your operating plan and execute it. It's all about the who, what, where, why, when and how you run your go-to market.It breaks down into what meetings you have, what reporting you have, and what that cadence looks like.

Rigor needs to happen to start to exercise that muscle and really build that repeatability. Because once you have infrastructure in place, now you need the rigor that says, “Okay, now I'm going to go practice what I preach.” You're going to go get the team to follow in line.

Basic Infrastructure Tech Stack

What basic infrastructure tech stack do you need to do your job effectively in Marketing Ops?

There’s never one size fits all. It depends on your size and stage of your company. Even the same company can need different technology depending on where you're at in your stage of growth. Your tech stack should reflect what your process is and where your biggest gaps are.

Think about where technology can enable your process to be more effective. A lot of people make the mistake of just buying technology to buy technology. If they have a lead routing problem they get a lead routing tool. Then they end up not using it or not optimizing it because they don't have a process around it. The process comes first.

Think about your use cases and challenges of what you're trying to solve, and then look at the technology on how that can help enable better efficiencies, better adoption, and better rigor by having a system.

The challenge with the systems is that everything's integrated. On the one hand, it’s great. We don't have these handoffs in silos between the systems. The bad news is that you have to make sure everything's talking to each other and everything is connected.