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Two colleagues discussing sales and revenue operations

3 Key Differences Between Sales Operations and Revenue Operations

April 22, 2021

By Lisa Chappell

Technology has transformed people's buying behaviors, and in turn, it’s shifted how businesses think about revenue: It’s not just an outcome, it’s a process across the entire Buyer’s Journey that goes well beyond the first sale. 

More and more organizations are adopting this mindset, increasing the need for more “revenue” type roles, such as sales operations (SalesOps) and revenue operations (RevOps). While they’re both meant to save time, break down departmental silos, and increase revenue, here are three ways they differ from each other. 

1. SalesOps vs. RevOps: Purpose and Goals 

SalesOps: Tactical Sales Strategies

SalesOps is a subset of RevOps, and it concentrates primarily on the tactical work that the sales team needs to improve sales processes and systems, and convert new customers more effectively. Depending on your organization, SalesOps may oversee sales enablement, strategic planning, and team communication, allowing sales reps to spend more time doing what they do best—sell. 

Sales frequently works with marketing, too. However, they differ in the fact that SalesOps hones in on driving revenue through sales activities, while MarketingOps drives revenue through marketing initiatives. 

Image Source: LeanData

RevOps: Big-Picture Revenue Acceleration

RevOps’ ultimate goal is to accelerate predictable revenue with automated processes and tools, and to see operations as a holistic company strategy, not just a role. RevOps works with marketing, sales, finance, and customer service departments to analyze the entire Buyer’s Journey and break down internal silos, such as a lack of pipeline transparency or a lack of communication between departments. 

Establishing a RevOps team frees up your sales team's time, so they can focus more on generating sales. Meanwhile, RevOps works behind the scenes, streamlining processes, cleansing data, and fine-tuning the entire go-to-market strategy. 

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2. SalesOps vs. RevOps: Organizational Structure

The structure of your SalesOps and RevOps teams and roles can vary, depending on your organization’s type, size, goals, and budget. For instance, some larger companies may be ready to build out a RevOps team, whereas smaller companies, or those that are newer to automated software, may only need one or two operational-focused employees to start. 

Furthermore, some RevOps teams report to the CFO or CEO, whereas others have a dedicated Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) position they roll up to. In addition, SalesOps can be a subset of the RevOps department, or they can be considered a part of the sales team and report to the head of sales. 

RevOps helps with agility when it’s properly accounted for. As you begin to think about your team’s future, be sure it's scalable and that its ratio aligns to your company’s growth rate and size, so you can continually adapt to market changes and maintain predictable revenue forecasts.

3. SalesOps vs. RevOps: Key Areas of Focus

To forecast revenue on a predictable basis, sales operations and revenue operations should leverage the power of a tech stack that integrates together and works in a unified way, all the way across departmental processes.  

SalesOps Strategy Focus

For SalesOps to increase their team’s productivity and performance, they typically focus on these sales-related areas: 

  • Improving processes related to sales, such as sales pipeline, lifecycle stages, sales recruitment, and team communication
  • Automating reports and dashboards
  • Integrating sales tools and software
  • Implementing sales enablement assets
  • Managing customer relationship management (CRM) data hygiene
  • Organizing sales collateral, contracts, and market intelligence 
  • Onboarding and training sales reps 

RevOps Strategy Focus

RevOps works across micro and macro levels of an organization, engaging with sales, marketing, and customer service departments. To improve the company’s go-to-market performance effectively, they need to use technology without leaning on IT for heavy lifting. 

Common RevOps areas of focus include:

  • Auditing your existing technology stack to find gaps and redundancies
  • Using automation to improve a range of processes, like qualifying an opportunity faster or finishing mundane tasks with the click of a button
  • Working with respective departments to drive new and existing sales
  • Identifying new upsell/cross-sell opportunities for existing customers 
  • Streamlining data to one single transparent source of truth
  • Identifying ways to maximize technology utilization across all teams
  • Taking responsibility for the tech stack used across customer-facing departments

SalesOps and RevOps: Tips for Success

To see success with SalesOps and RevOps, buy-in across the entire company is crucial, especially from the leadership team. Keep in mind, it takes time for everyone to get on the same page and adjust to reporting on key performance indicators (KPIs), learning different internal processes, and adopting new technology. 

If SalesOps and RevOps are already established at your organization, it’s vital that they work in tandem, as well, and are aligned on the same KPIs, goals, processes, and so forth. No matter what, to preserve team morale, it’s important that as you develop and grow these roles and responsibilities, that the top-down and bottom-up meet on middle common ground, and that realistic expectations are agreed upon.


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Topics: Marketing Strategy, Sales Strategy, Sales Enablement, Conversion Rate Optimization, Customer Success, SaaS, Marketing Attribution, Revenue Operations, Sales Operations