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Marketing, Sales, and Revenue Operations: What Are They & How Do They Differ?

December 29, 2021

By Patti Myers

The emergence of revenue operations (RevOps) into the field of business may leave you wondering about its relationship to its well-known counterparts, marketing operations and sales operations (SalesOps).

How do we define these three operational methodologies, how do they differentiate and work together to serve a business, and—perhaps most importantly—what does that mean for the future of business?

What Is Revenue Operations?

Although it’s a newer term, RevOps is actually quite simple at its core. RevOps is the exemplification of true inbound marketing: It’s about aligning a business’s system, tools, and processes to revolve around customers and the customer experience.

An organization embracing RevOps is an organization that has operationalized input and integrates the critical business information that too-often lives in people’s brains into systems and processes that benefit the entire organization.

RevOps is also the umbrella that oversees the operational components of an entire business. It ensures the convergence of technology and process across marketing, sales, and customer service teams, keeping them aligned to the customer journey and serving the purpose of driving success for the customer and, in turn, the business.

However, with RevOps housing and overseeing this alignment, that doesn’t mean that the need for marketing and sales operations has evaporated. 

What Is Marketing Operations?

Marketing operations focuses specifically on the processes, technology, and resources to scale marketing efficiently and make day-to-day strategies more efficient. It manages technology infrastructure, data hygiene, reporting, and more to ensure that processes and campaigns are scalable.

In order to handle an increasing volume of marketing contacts as a business grows, a marketing team with an eye on operations creates automations and processes to scale sustainably without sacrificing the experience of employees or customers.

What Is Sales Operations?

SalesOps has similar goals to marketing operations. It optimizes systems, processes, technology, and infrastructure to help sales teams sell more effectively and be more productive.

Sales teams are understandably busy, and sales operations help these fast-moving teams stay organized and, in turn, sell more. Good reporting, reduced friction for salespeople and prospects, and the implementation of new technologies are all ways that SalesOps help prime a sales team for continued growth.

What’s the Difference Between Marketing, Sales, and Revenue Operations?

If marketing operations and SalesOps sound similar, it’s because they are, save for the focus on their respective departments. While this focus is beneficial in that it allows each to focus on the needs to scale their departments, it can lead to these integral departments becoming siloed—and that’s exactly the intersection at which RevOps shines.

RevOps is the shift of thinking from “sales needs this data” or “this technology is helpful for marketing” to “everyone, including the customer service team, can benefit from this.” 

While a SaleOps or marketing operations manager might think about the processes that pertain to their respective team, a RevOps manager takes a step back to understand how the processes, technology, and systems of each department—marketing, sales, and customer service—all relate back to the customer journey.

Marketing and sales teams typically work at breakneck speeds. After all, when considering the importance of demand generation and closing deals, for most companies these are quintessential departments to business success or failure. However, when people move too quickly and cut corners, mistakes happen. A bad customer experience, missing data, a duplicated sales call to a prospect—all of these process gaps ultimately cause friction for your teams and your customers.

This is the true value of RevOps: It puts intention and foresight into the overall operations of the business and breaks down the silos between important teams. In turn, this allows marketing and sales teams to focus on what they do best—market and sell.

The Future of Business with RevOps

Particularly with the challenges businesses have faced in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a strengthened need for RevOps. Many workplaces are no longer solely in the office, and gone are the days when you could just ask a one-off question to a coworker in a cubicle around the corner. As a result, there is an increased need for awareness of key operational components—how long it takes to do things, how systems communicate with each other, and how we automate and share data. 

Hiring a RevOps manager is not a catchall for solving every business problem or a replacement for sales training or good marketing. However, having a team member who is either dedicated to or has an eye on the overall operations of the business’s alignment to the customer journey enables a business to intentionally and predictably scale, regardless of maturity or size.

Having a team member with RevOps responsibilities is also not simply about hiring an admin—it’s about having someone who deeply understands the business as well as the nuts and bolts of how things technically work across your organization. As we move toward more technology-integrated work and a prevalence of remote teams, the need for RevOps will only grow, and marketing operations and SalesOps teams will experience greater ease and alignment as a result.

Interested in learning more about the intersection where RevOps and inbound marketing collide? Download the report from SmartBug® on budget, strategy, collaboration, and integrations, Where RevOps and Inbound Collide in 2021.


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Topics: Sales Strategy, Buyer's Journey, Sales Enablement, Customer Success