“It’s the economy, stupid” as James Carville famously focused on for Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1992.
It’s the last few months of 2023, and it’s still the economy.
With layoffs prominent in the news, companies are looking more closely at what they can and can’t live without. That means that departments such as SalesOps, MarketingOps, RevOps, and Business IT are focused on squeezing everything they can out of the investments and team that they have.
Budgets for technology, staffing, and programs are being trimmed. The result is that teams are having to do more with less, whether that’s being told to cut their tech spend by 20% or finding out that their team is now a fraction of the size it was last week. At the same time, those teams are supposed to be able to execute just as effectively.
How do you keep producing and showing impact on revenue when you’ve lost people and technologies and every eye is on revenue?
Step 1: Determine what you have
You’d be surprised how many companies have technologies they no longer use. One MarketingOps lead made a list of all the MarTech/RevTech his company was using, found out who was using what, outlined the overlaps, and quickly took a hedge trimmer to the ones that were barely used or redundant. He did the same with the processes in different systems that were overwriting each other. That enabled him to streamline processes, streamline his tech stack, eliminate tech debt, and focus on where he could make improvements to existing processes. He then reallocated the time saved from maintaining multiple systems and fixing issues to programs and processes that would make a substantive difference to their business.
What processes can be replaced by automation that will enable you to achieve the same results faster? Can you reallocate time currently spent in manual processes to more strategic work that automation can’t accomplish? This will not only allow you to provide the same level of service with a smaller team, but also focus the team you have in engaging work instead of repetitive data cleaning or manual report building.
What reporting do you have and what reporting do you need? Any reports that are hard to get or require manual work are going to be a problem, because no one can wait a day or a week to get the report they need to make a business decision today. Determine what you need to know and how to find it out.
Step 2: Find the leaks
If the data is incorrect, stale, redundant, or error-prone, then your downstream processes and reporting will fail. Data needs to be updated regularly and accessible on-demand. Other teams can’t wait for ops to pull reports or lists. Apps that enable non-operations personnel to self-serve data will go a long way to alleviating frustrations with delays and removing burdens from the operations teams.
Any data that is updated manually will be error-prone. Automate as many repetitive tasks as you can. This will both ease the workload of your team and increase accuracy and efficiency in data management.
Increase visibility across systems. I once worked with a company that had promised for years to connect the data in their product to the CRM, so information about who was activating their trial and who was stalled was visible to marketing. It never happened, because it was never engineering’s priority to create that ETL connection. Without that shared data, marketing couldn’t follow up on different segments of their audience in different ways and the results were as lackluster as you’d expect.
By enabling more access with a communal data layer and presenting the data in a way that is useful to each audience, teams can be more independent while still having consistent data across the company. I’ve been in way too many meetings where, instead of making decisions, the time was spent arguing about whose data was right. When data is consistent across platforms and unified so that everyone can focus on the critical points for themselves, you can stop wasting time arguing about accuracy and start making business decisions based on clarity and vision. With self-serve apps that enable different views, each team can get the information they need, when they need it.
Step 3: Decide what you need next
Doing the above will still remove tedious, manual work from your team and enable them to do more strategic work, increasing their value to the company. Since you’ve already assessed what you have (step 1) and any leaks or problems (step 2), now you’re in a position to determine what of their work can be automated and use people’s skills to the company’s best advantage.
You also determined where the technology and process overlaps are. Consider consolidating your tech stack from multiple small tools to a platform that can do all those processes and enable you to accelerate when the economy starts to grow again. Historically, companies that make the best efficiency gains over downturns also ramp up fastest and grow the most when the economy revives. Numerous companies that grew into giants (Disney, Netflix, Revlon, Salesforce, Google, IBM) started in recessions, and many more gained their market advantage by building right during downturns.
Focus on alignment between teams so you can leverage the processes you have refined. Improving cross-team processes and communications will show the most in a downturn, where transitions from marketing to sales to success are critical to ensuring long-term customer happiness. It’s not just about new sales, it’s retention and expansion of existing customers, too. Collaboration is key across teams in a challenging economy.
While this is quite a list, it lays the groundwork for a real roadmap of what you should do next. While SalesOps, RevOps, MarketingOps, and Business IT may start in different places, ultimately the data and processes they use will impact each other. You’re in this together, so get the teams collaborating and let’s use the remainder of this year to ensure we grow better and stronger despite the headwinds.