Understanding Revenue Operations (RevOps) vs Sales Operations (SalesOps)

~ 10 min read | August 25

If your business is growing fast, you’ll need to start prioritizing efficiency. But the right way to be efficient can differ from one business to another.

Today, the choice is often between revenue operations vs. sales operations. Which of these is key to company growth?

We’ll break down the differences between RevOps and SalesOps. By the end of this article, you’ll understand how they’re different and which is best for your business.

Let’s get started!

What is SalesOps?

SalesOps is built around the basic idea of specialization and efficiency. The fewer administrative tasks your sales reps handle, the more they can sell.

SalesOps takes on many day-to-day administrative tasks, freeing up your sales force to do what they do best. These tasks can include managing data, technology, applications, processes, and training.

While a part of sales, SalesOps teams work separately and rarely get involved with executing sales tasks or closing deals.

What’s the Responsibility of SalesOps?

The mantra of SalesOps is, in a phrase, “make the sales team more efficient.”

Above all else, SalesOps exists to support your sales team and reduce friction. That could be updating lead data, creating new pipeline processes, or streamlining software.

Sales operations also take on tasks requiring more of a bird’s-eye view than any single member of your sales team might have. For example, no single sales rep might be able to predict future sales growth.

So combining analysis from the team for a forecast might fall to SalesOps.

What is Revenue Ops?

Compared with SalesOps, revenue ops is a newer term in the field. But it’s growing quickly. In the past few years, RevOps adoption has increased by 55%.

But with such a new set of roles, there’s still a lot of confusion about what RevOps does. Let’s set the record straight.

Revenue operations is a holistic approach to increase revenue growth across an entire organization. It helps go-to-market operations in sales, marketing, customer success, and finance focus on driving revenue.

In a sense, revenue operations form a bridge between different departments and break down silos of information. This matters because organizational silos are the biggest internal challenge to meeting revenue targets.

Biggest internal challenges to meeting revenue targets

RevOps is most commonly a strategic role not focused on day-to-day firefighting. A great RevOps team will proactively increase revenue and prevent issues from popping up, instead of fixing crisis after crisis.

But, does RevOps work?

The research shows that it does. According to a study by Boston Consulting Group in 2020, organizations that bring on RevOps see big results. The study found businesses can expect an increase of up to 20% in sales productivity, a 200% increase in digital marketing ROI, and a 30% reduction in go-to-market expenses.

With the average SaaS business losing 30% of recurring revenue due to operational inefficiencies, those numbers add up.

But how exactly does RevOps make this happen?

What is the Responsibility of Revenue Ops?

If you’re used to a typical organizational structure, you might wonder where RevOps fits in. Don’t your finance, sales, marketing, and customer success teams have everything covered?

Well, yes and no. While each department may excel at its area of responsibility, who is accountable for the customer journey as a whole?

Without anyone keeping check, it’s easy for departments to create a disjointed customer flow.

And it’s not just a theoretical problem. Cross-departmental collaboration is the second-biggest challenge for B2B marketers, and sales and marketing alignment comes in at number seven.

Most Critical Challenges in B2B digital Marketing

That’s why the biggest responsibility of revenue operations is to streamline all the different aspects of your customer journey and keep everyone on the same page.

Remember how we said SalesOps reduces friction for your sales team? RevOps reduces friction at a higher level across all customer touchpoints.

Another responsibility of RevOps is handling data, technology, and forecasts for revenue as a whole and being a single source of truth for the company.

It’s easy for each department to have separate goals. Marketing projects more leads, sales estimates more deals, customer success expects higher satisfaction—yet none of them sync up. RevOps makes sure those numbers align so you can accurately track where you stand.

With the explosion of subscription revenue in recent years, RevOps is more important than ever. Keeping customers satisfied throughout the journey is a requirement for today’s businesses.

When to Hire SalesOps

Choosing between SalesOps vs. RevOps is a key decision for a company looking to grow. Here are a few of the signs that you need to bring in a SalesOps team first.

Your team spends too much time on admin tasks. When nobody is in charge of day-to-day operations, workflows, and streamlining, it falls on the work of your sales reps. If sales is inefficient because reps manage data and workflows, it could be time to bring on SalesOps. They implement a time tracking system to understand how the time is spent and can be more efficient. 

Nobody is in charge of processes. You notice that processes aren’t as effective as they could be. Improvements aren’t getting done, but there’s nobody to blame—because there’s nobody in charge. Sales operations can handle process management and let sales teams focus on selling.

Your CRM is unorganized. Every time you organize customer data, it gets messy again, and there just aren’t people with bandwidth to work on cleaning and managing your data. You need a specialized team to do just that—and SalesOps could be the answer. Not only will they organize your sales databases, but organize your project scheduling as well.

You’re just starting and have a low budget. If you’re just starting, SalesOps is often an easier and less costly addition to your team. There’s little need to reorganize your structure when bringing on SalesOps.

When to Hire Revenue Ops

If you’re considering hiring revenue ops, here are some of the signs you can look for.

Silos are sapping your productivity. You realize each department is struggling because of what isn’t getting shared. The problem? A silo. Revenue ops can help each department share information and help your organization become more efficient as a whole.

You have a leaky revenue workflow. You are losing a chunk of your revenue to inefficiencies. You have to work on path fixes every time a workflow breaks, only to discover that the workaround created another leak. Untangling this takes up the majority of your time and mind space.

The number of tools you’re using is overwhelming. There are hundreds of sales, marketing, customer service, and finance tools on the market. When managing tools becomes a job in and of itself, it’s time to bring on revenue ops. One of the most efficient ways RevOps streamlines tools is through software asset management and vendor evaluation.

You’re in the dark about what’s working. The data is murky. Everyone has a different chart. And it’s impossible to tell what’s most effective and what isn’t. It could be time to let revenue ops become your single source of truth.

You have great SalesOps but are still inefficient. If you’ve already made the leap with SalesOps, revenue ops is a logical next step. Most companies get to a point where departmental efficiency isn’t enough. When you’re there, it’s time for a team focused on the entire revenue engine.

Understanding SalesOps vs. RevOps

RevOps and SalesOps share some responsibilities, so it can be easy to confuse the two. Let’s break down the specific differences between these two roles.

Purpose and Goals

Both SalesOps and RevenueOps are focused on improving efficiency, but the purpose and goals for that efficiency are different for each role.

SalesOps focuses on operations management for just one department. However, your revenue operations team needs to work with sales, finance, marketing, and customer success operations.

Revenue ops also have a few other purposes beyond just operations management. For example, RevOps is responsible for aligning work, data, and projections across different teams. Joint meetings and sharing KPIs between sales and marketing are correlated to revenue growth.

Marketing and Sales collaboration in B2B SMBs

Organizational Structure

The organizational structure of a SalesOps team is straightforward—they’re aligned with sales.

But a revenue operations structure can be more challenging. RevOps needs contact with sales teams, customer success teams, marketing teams, and your finance department.

You could consider making RevOps at a higher hierarchy than each of those teams or as a separate department that works alongside each one. How you decide is up to you.

Key Areas of Focus

SalesOps and RevOps also have different focus areas.

SalesOps is focused mostly on internal work like processes, data, and team communications with each other and the customer. The attention is on simplifying the workload of the sales team. While there are plenty of exceptions, this can involve tasks like streamlining your contact center or organizing data within your CRM.

These tasks are critical—data management is the top challenge to meaningful insights—but this work is often repetitive and tedious.

Challenges to gain meaningful insights from data

Generally speaking, few people outside the organization would know that you have a SalesOps team onboard.

On the other hand, RevOps has a more direct impact on the customer experience. A customer would likely see changes in the journey after you bring on a RevOps team.

RevOps focuses on organization and tool management, forecasting and analysis, and sales enablement. Most RevOps professionals work on high-level strategies and organization rather than repetitive tasks.

Metrics

While SalesOps and RevOps are accountable for different metrics, there’s also some overlap. That’s because RevOps will generally watch and track key metrics from SalesOps alongside those for each other related department.

SalesOps will look at time usage metrics, like the percentage of time spent on selling activities or data entry. They’ll also want to know which tools are being used and how often.

For the most part, these efficiency metrics don’t overlap with RevOps, though they may in certain circumstances. Most of the overlap happens with numbers that directly impact revenue, like win rate or average sales price.

In addition to SalesOps data, RevOps will also look at finance, marketing, and customer success metrics.

Finally, RevOps will have other measurements they’re accountable for. These can include churn, customer lifetime value, recurring revenue rates, and more.

How Do you Decide if you Require SalesOps or RevOps?

Now that you have a solid understanding of the differences between SalesOps and RevOps, how can you decide which you want?

Thankfully, the answer is easy. Nearly all businesses of a certain size will eventually need SalesOps for sales efficiency. After that step, larger businesses—especially those with subscription-based models—will grow into needing revenue ops.

The challenge at first is deciding whether you should get a head start or wait until bottlenecks require you to make the change.

A good litmus test is to see where your company’s weakest link is right now and work to fix it. If new customers are your focus, SalesOps is probably your best bet.

If the problem is that your sales, marketing, customer success, and finances teams need alignment, then RevOps might be the solution you need.

Your philosophy can also play into the decision you make. If you want a more holistic solution, RevOps is a good choice. In contrast, SalesOps focuses on strengthening one critical area of your business.

Conclusion

We often forget that decisions like choosing between RevOps vs. SalesOps are a challenge that comes from success. Most businesses never grow fast enough to face the critical efficiency issues these two solutions work to solve.

That said, deciding on which change to make at your business is a big step. In addition to the data we’ve provided here, do your research and ask stakeholders for input.

The best operations decision comes down to what works best for your company and where its biggest growth opportunities lie.

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Meenakshi Nautiyal

Meenakshi Nautiyal aka Meenz is a Growth Marketer for Nextiva. She's passionate about everything SaaS, start-ups and SEO. She has a successful track record of 10+ years scaling organic traffic and inbound leads for various startups. Bibliophile and coffee-lover who dives into art therapy during her free time.