Building the Revenue Operations Function at HubSpot with Alison Elworthy, EVP of Revenue Operations at Hubspot

10/10 GTM Episode 4
Transparent sales process - working together
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Welcome to Season 1 of 10/10 GTM: The Podcast for Revenue Leaders!

Our guest this week is Alison Elworthy, EVP of RevOps at HubSpot. Alison’s career at HubSpot spans 12 years, during which she has successfully held positions in marketing ops, global customer success, sales ops, and rev ops. 

In this episode, Ross talks to Alison about why experience creates stronger frontline leaders, strategies for optimizing processes with a customer-centric focus, and tips for creating a strong partnership between rev ops and sales. 

Listen to the episode here, and get the key takeaways from our conversation below. 

Can you be a strong frontline leader without prior experience?

Anything is possible, but ultimately, owning a quota and having experience at the frontline puts you at an advantage. 

“I was the VP of ops before moving into the customer success role. Our COO at the time said, ‘if you want to continue to grow your career in operations, you need to own a number.’ At first, I dug my heels in a bit before accepting the role, and it was one of the best decisions of my career,” says Alison. “I learned so much being on the other side of the lines, and I feel like a better ops leader having had that experience.” 

When you feel pressure firsthand to hit your numbers, you understand the shoes the people you are leading are in. This builds empathy and creates a human connection between you and your team that would otherwise probably not exist. 

Optimizing processes for customer-centricity 

“Our phrase at HubSpot is ‘customer in, HubSpot out.’ As you continue to grow and scale and build momentum, you get laser focused on driving outcomes, and oftentimes your customers take a back seat,” says Alison. “When I was leading customer success, I realized our priorities were off. We course corrected by putting strategic processes in place to evolve how we think and operate to prioritize our customer experience.” 

Alison’s team created a Customer Centric Operating Model, also known as a C Com. It’s a customer journey map that outlines strategic initiatives, KPIs, and keeps the team accountable. 

Unlike other customer journey maps that are intricate and may become outdated by the time they’re complete, Alison’s team takes a straightforward approach. They focus on three guiding principles:

  1. Attract - How are you driving awareness for future customers and prospects?
  2. Engage - What KPIs are you engaging in the sales process and are your customers engaging with you? 
  3. Delight - Are your customers getting activated on your product? How are they using it? 

Each stage of the customer journey has additional substages mapped out below it, alongside outcomes the team aims to drive. This framework is what HubSpot’s Rev Ops team uses to track metrics and analyze progress. 

Building a partnership between rev ops and sales 

The rev ops team is responsible for turning data into actionable insights that sales can leverage, but this is easier said than done. For GTM teams, driving frontline adoption and accountability is a major hurdle. Changing behavior is tough, but rev ops can assist sales leadership in instilling accountability and adoption from the top down. This involves providing reporting, insights, and demonstrating the impact of change management across the field.

Ultimately, success boils down to having a solid partnership with the sales leadership team (or whatever team you’re trying to drive change within). When this is well-established, sales and rev ops can work together to ensure milestones are being met, and the insights are actioned. 

Tips for driving the partnership between ops and sales

The three key elements to driving a solid partnership between these teams include: the data, customer sentiment, and securing buy-in from key stakeholders. 

1 - The data: When revs ops and sales are working from updated, accurate data and analytics, they can align their insights and actions more effectively. Plus, shared data ensures consistency in tracking and reporting, which is vital for measuring progress. 

2 - Customer sentiment:  What are the customers saying? By collectively analyzing this feedback, rev ops and sales can identify common pain points and areas of improvement.This enables them to tailor their strategies accordingly. Understanding the customer sentiment also improves customer retention. Using these insights, rev ops and sales can identify issues early on and work to resolve them. 

3 - Stakeholder buy-in: You need an aligned set of priorities. This ensures both teams are moving in the same direction and working toward common goals, reducing conflicts and streamlining efforts. 

In addition to the tips above, it’s also important to establish a high degree of empathy and understanding for both customers and sales reps. This happens by spending time on the frontlines and participating in the sales process. 

Rapid fire: Alison’s fast sales insights

In a rapid-fire Q&A session with Alison, we discussed the key aspects of rev ops. Here are her thoughts: 

What's the main reason most teams miss their ARR goals? They’re not focused on their customers. 

Favorite resource related to revenue leadership? Rev ops is a relatively new function for a lot of companies, so I listen to a lot of different podcasts and read various books to understand how other companies are learning. 

What's the number one challenge for revenue leaders in 2023? How to navigate the macro conditions from performance to planning and actioning. 

SMB, Mid-Market, or Enterprise?  SMB and mid-market because companies are still trying to figure it out and drive sustainable growth in these segments. 

Most important organization on the revenue side: new business sales, customer success, or marketing? Customer success. 

Best way to unplug from the demands of revenue leadership? Spending time with family. 

The road to successful revenue leadership is paved with? Creativity. 

About Alison 

Alison Elworthy is the Executive VP of Revenue Operations at HubSpot, where she leads a unified team of operations professionals, dedicated to designing strategies, systems, and processes that power HubSpot as it scales. She believes that operations teams hold the key to breaking linear growth and achieving sustainable scale — and she's passionate about helping companies realize that vision.