Richard Wasylynchuk discusses the relationship between marketing ops and revenue ops and how to organize people, processes, and technologies to get the most out of a full GTM operations organization. He covers the importance of Ops pros facilitating communication, understanding the Ops charter to enable flexibility to redefine it, and having an open dialogue about the GTM strategy and the expected outcomes of campaigns and programs.
Richard Wasylynchuk is the Senior Director, Marketing Operations at Riskalyze. He’s passionate about process development and improvement, particularly using data and systems to help make operations more effective and efficient in generating results. Richard is a big believer in communication, being flexible while also redefining the charter of the organization, and not getting bogged down in the safe space of routine execution.
What have you learned from your GTM Operations Journey?
My background really is in marketing. I spent a number of years in Demand Gen before Marketing Operations, and ultimately making my way into Revenue Operations. One of the things that I've seen is everybody is really doing it a bit differently.
There are a number of different approaches to Revenue Operations, to Marketing Operations, that depend on the stage of growth, the size of the company, and the complexity of the business. Both Marketing Ops and Revenue Operations share the fundamental fact that they are strategic units inside of a business. They are strategic in that they help define, enable and measure your go-to-market strategy. That is collectively, sales, marketing, and CS. It really spans across the entire organization. When I spent a lot of time in Marketing Operations my drive was how to set up the function to be strategic.
What Marketing Ops is not is just production work or managing your MAP. It comes down to how do you help the business understand that go-to-market? I took the same strategic approach when I moved into Revenue Operations by looking at that full scale whole journey. How do we define, enable and, and measure that go-to-market strategy?
All too often operational units tend to fall back into different silos. I've seen a lot of Rev Ops organizations that are tightly focused on the sales funnel. They only look at whatever's closest to revenue deals, desk commissions, territory planning, and that sort of thing. They are challenged to get out of that box into the full funnel and collaborate further upstream with Marketing Operations. I’ve seen the same kind of problem with Marketing Operations and the challenge to work farther downstream with things like renewals.
How can you have a service-minded approach without becoming passive?
When I've run my teams in the past, I've always tried to instill the attitude that there’s never a hard no. It's always a negotiation. You want to balance being caught as just a service center with that strategic partnership with the business. There are a few things I've set my teams up with in the past that have been super helpful with that balance.
One, I want to make sure and always say to my team, “At the end of the year, you've got a bullet or two to put on your resume.” To build those bullets we need to make sure at least 20% of that time we’re looking at more of those strategic or foundational programs that we're building to help the business grow. Sure, the 80% of stuff that we have to do are things like production and data fixes. They’re operational things that have to get done. You just need to make sure that you carve off that 20% of time to do some of those strategic projects. It kind of comes back again to selling the idea that there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that people just don't understand. Helping to educate people to understand what's involved to keep everything up and running and drive the business helps build a strategic outlook of the team.
Second, in Marketing and Operations, you're serving a lot of different people across the organization. Everybody thinks that their project is the highest priority. In cases where you can give visibility into what that work looks like and the volume of the work helps to show your impact. I've used tools like monday.com, Asana, or whatever project management tool that you're using to give a little bit of a nod into just what the volume is.
Third, having a really strong and solid intake process with SLAs can help get away from that service center mentality. I like to occasionally communicate just exactly what's being done. I think at one point at one of the organizations that I was with, we were deploying well over a million emails, a quarter. Communicating that helps to give everybody an understanding of the sheer volume of work that comes through. Then when there is a little bit of a squeeze on time to get projects done within the organization, you have a partnership versus someone telling you, “I want my stuff done.”
How can you prove true ROI for projects?
Before I get into sort of how we proved ROI with some of the tools in tech, I would say one of the big shifts that we did in marketing operations with my team is that intake process. Originally it was just getting a program that needs to be built out, compiling the assets, and so forth and then flipping it for Program Managers to have to start to indicate what they thought that the impact would be.
In the early days of a project, you can look at what kind of lead gen, MQL, or pipeline gen is coming from the program. Then you can take a look at things and advise on what’s actually going to be a bigger bang for the buck. Maybe it means downgrading some of the other programs, for instance.
A lot of what we did at Visier really was starting to build out some of the attribution modeling, not to get hung up on that ROI, but to give us an understanding of what programs were impacting milestone positions, and what were the sequencing events that we could understand, all with the lens of trying to increase velocity of the pipeline and improve conversion rates. A lot of what we uncovered with our attribution modeling was that we had a particular blind spot in our digital efforts with Firstouch. Attribution opened that up a lot for us to understand what was really going on at the top of the funnel, but then gave us a better understanding where in the customer journey a particular program had the most impact.
There were a lot of debates before attribution that events were pipeline generators. Once we started to look at the touchpoint data we found that they weren't pipeline generators. They were velocity accelerators inside the sales funnel. We could have made some decisions focused on pipeline like downgrading events. Then we would've had downstream negative impact on the sales funnel because you just weren't having that support. It really helped uncover some of the upstream and downstream impact some of the programs had. That helped us take better steps towards a return on marketing investment and how to prioritize some of the things we were doing.
How can you facilitate a cohesive go-to-market operation strategy?
The challenge in teams or organizations that I've been in is to build a team that is truly multi channel integrated campaign motions or orchestrations. You get a lot of organizations early in growth that feel like they just need to get the programs and the channels set up. When they're up and running there's not a lot of thought going through about the sequencing of events. With something visible like attribution, we understood that it’ll be about ten touches from marketing before we yield pipeline.
Everybody needs to start thinking collectively. You have to start thinking through what you are throwing to next. I was reading a book, “The Next Generation CMO,” that Plannuh put out. There was a section in there about how campaign managers have disappeared, but maybe need to come back. If so, what does that look like? It’s somebody who is managing the budgeting, the mix, the resource allocation for a campaign, but maybe not necessarily the tactical elements. That's where a lot of companies might have challenges. They’re thinking that your channel manager is the one that's actually thinking about the mix and the budgeting from a larger campaign standpoint. That's where, where a lot of the misses are happening. That also causes a little bit of friction from an operations standpoint. The teams that I've run in the past are looking at the mix and the sequencing, and trying to push those insights up. It creates a lot of friction if the rest of the marketing organization isn't really thinking that way. It’s really hard to get everybody moving along in the same direction. It's a bit of herding the cats from an ops perspective.