RevOps, Education, Event

41 Min Read

RevOpsAF Conference Part 1

I recently attended RevOps Co-op's RevOpsAF conference here in San Diego, which was the first and only RevOps Conference created by RevOps Professionals for the RevOps Community.

Sessions in this post:

There will be one or two more posts with the other sessions I attended! Stay tuned!

Opening Remarks from Matthew Volm

RevOpsAF_conference_opening_matt_volm-1Matthew Volm, CEO and Co-Founder of RevOps Co-op, opened the conference by speaking about the beginnings of the revenue operations community. It started with just a Slack workspace and a newsletter, and just like the Kelce brothers (cue funny slide 😆), it has come a long way in just a few years since it started in 2020.

RevOps Co-op now offers events, content, classes, local chapters, and more.

He spoke about how the conference came to be, and how AF means "what you think," not the family-friendly "annual festival" explanation. :)  He had the idea for a conference while visiting Nashville and seeing the bachelorette destination party mural that said "single AF" and "engaged AF."

Speaking of the current state of revenue operations, it is one of the fastest-growing jobs, according to LinkedIn, and the community has over 13,000 members. But it's more than a job, it's a movement.

Besides deciding where to hold the conference next year, some upcoming projects from RevOps Co-op include a podcast with feisty takes with Camela Thompson, as well as a certification to help standardize RevOps (CRP -- certified RevOps professional).

Opening Keynote - CEOs decoded: What “strategic” actually means for RevOps and your seat at the table

RevOpsAF-conference-Manny_Medina-1Manny Medina, CEO at Outreach, was chosen as the opening keynote since he's "walked the walk," said Matthew Volm, for investing in RevOps teams and could provide a CEO perspective.

Manny started by speaking of how RevOps is the nexus that links strategy to execution, at the center of marketing, sales, and product.

The job of RevOps is to make sure the company delivers its promise to shareholders and investors.

He joked how every boss gives feedback about "being more strategic," but how to you actually be "strategic?"

Manny gave 3 frameworks to help RevOps be seen as strategic and deal with the new problems that have appeared in the past year or so.

Problem 1: Customer acquisition cost (CAC) is on the rise

The market has started to reward growth again... but who’s going to prospect when we have fired all the SDRs (sales development representatives)? How do we generate growth? 

Though Manny said this secret was supposed to stay in the room -- I'll share it with you here.

The secret to being seen as strategic is to put the answer in a 2x2 matrix. That's it. That's the secret.


The Ansoff matrix shows the four things you can do for growth.

Each quadrant has investment and a timeline involved. That is information RevOps likely already has, so they can put it in this framework to present the information more clearly.

The genius in strategic thinking is not analysis, its synthesizing the info that is already in everyone’s heads.

This will help you not just occupy a seat at the leadership table but help you stand taller in your seat.

Problem 2: An epidemic of “no decision” deals

No one is getting fired right now for not making decisions. But making decisions that burn you can get you fired.

In this current environment, FOMO (fear of missing out) is a lesser motivator than FOFU (fear of f*cking up).



This means that your potential customers are only buying whatever they won’t get fired for, such as a big-name brand that seems low risk... even if it is not solving the customers' actual problem.

Manny's second framework will help address the "no-decision deal" problem: Creating a sales playbook that is a series of micro-commitments to walk the buyer through and agree to, which will reduce “no decision” lost deals at the end of the sales process.


Change is the hardest of the micro-commitments. You need to show COI > ROI, which means that the cost of inaction needs to be larger than the return on investment.

How do you ensure the sales reps don't skip steps?

Talk about how skipping steps increases the risk of no-decision deals (losing the deal).

 AI (unfortunately)

Manny had a short section on AI, where he apologized. "Unfortunately. I have to talk about this."

The problem with AI is the noise and confusion when customers are making decisions. All the AI solutions sound the same.

In the past, AI needed clean CRM data (rare), and it was cheap to include that type of AI in products.

That changed with ChatGPT. Anyone can build copilots, which can be helpful for writing sales emails and similar tasks.

However, it is expensive to build this type of AI into products. And you have to push people to use those features.

"The only people making money on AI is Nvidia," Manny said.

 In the future, the cost is coming down with more users, who give the AI more context to use. These assistants/agents will understand what you are trying to do.

For now, use the Ansoff matrix to figure out if and where AI can be used in your organization.

Problem 3: There is no silver bullet

After 10 years of 'free' money and bad habits, businesses need to evolve. 



RevOps needs to be process-oriented: Create a system in which everyone at the company gets a fair shot at winning and set up for success at scale.

The process is about the workflow, where you break down the motion (such as one of the sales processes) into individual components and outcomes. Ideally, this is done in a visualization such as a process map.


RevOpsAF conference keynote 6 

This allows you to

  • Get people in agreement as to what to do
  • Allows you to troubleshoot


There are the three frameworks or concepts to use to "be more strategic" in RevOps:

  1. Ansoff matrix
  2. Micro commitments
  3. Workflows

 Remember that the problems of the future can’t be solved with bad habits of the past.



RevOps is not Sales Ops 2.0 panel

In this first panel for the conference, Steve Silver, VP Principal Analyst at Forrester, moderated a discussion on RevOps is not SalesOps 2.0, featuring:


For the introductions, the panelists shared their most embarrassing RevOps moments, which was a very grounded beginning. Panelists -- they're just like us! :) 

By 2025, 75% of high-growth companies will use RevOps, according to Gartner research.

A few slides were shared of the research to discuss:



Only 38% of CROs oversee customer success -- that means 62% of CROs do not oversee the complete customer journey! 🤯

Ali talked about how CROs need to oversee the full scope of the customer journey. The company needs to know how to talk to customers the right way at the right times.

Kevin discussed how in venture-backed tech, where RevOps started, growth is harder now, so you REALLY can’t have silos now.



Differences between sales ops and RevOps, and CRO responsibilities

Samarth talked about how RevOps is not just sales, it's also marketing, customer success, and the data behind it all, which was in silos. But now, there needs to be a common denominator (in data) to be able to have customer conversations.

Kevin said the CRO is in charge of the revenue number, but that's not the full picture. They also need top-of-funnel coverage (marketing) to get enough pipeline and then customer success to renew and expand. They can't hit the number if they can't orchestrate all that under common processes with aligned leadership and metrics.

He also mentioned a trend of consolidating operations and enablement.

Ali said the CRO is now owning the churn number, so they are more focused on stopping losing customers.

Finding talent

Steve said that the biggest challenge is finding a CRO who can wear the 3 hats (marketing, sales, customer success) successfully. This is similar to the slide topic of operations teams struggling to find personnel.

Kevin said they need teams with a balance of different people, which is especially hard when companies have an acquisition.

Ali talked about finding the right leader who gets the vision of orchestration, similar to Oprah's giveaway meme, with “You get data, and you get data, and you get data,” so everyone on the revenue teams can take the necessary actions.

Samarth said growth is a function of not just product but also smart investments, such as investments in teams. They need visionary leaders who are holding marketing to pipeline goals and managing expectations and change dialogue.

The #1 hurdle to removing silos and changing is cultural resistance. People are set in their current ways. It requires a strong voice in leadership to cut through it, and it may be a multi-year journey.

Related to breaking down silos, Steve said that buyers don't care which team is giving an answer, they just want an answer.

Rapidly changing environments

Ali discussed the constant change and evolvement, the teams are constantly pivoting and doing a 'bob and weave' dance. The leader needs that ability to do that dance, or else RevOps gets hamstrung.

Speaking of change, Kevin said his customers changed GTM (got-to-market) motions every quarter in 2023, which broke everything for all teams each time.

Ali said this constant change in strategy breaks the momentum of the RevOps team that is building for the future.

If you had to give the audience one piece of advice to RevOps people

Kevin: Be in total lockstep with CRO on what matters. Otherwise, RevOps is the hardest job in the world. Be aligned every day, and things move faster.

Samarth. Be vulnerable. Be willing to be uncomfortable. Don't be comfortable in silos. Listen to voices pushing boundaries. Give people voices.

Ali: Be ready to change. Be humble in how you think. Yesterday is not the same as today. 75% of the job is listening and discerning what is important in that conversation. RevOps people tend to be in the weeds, but you need to be able to come up and see the vision. Don't stay in execution mode.


Steve: It's a rapidly changing role, so you have to keep learning and improving the skills of yourself and your team.


How do you convince a leader not to keep adding more things into the strategy, like PLG, then partnerships, then enterprise clients…?

Kevin said the CRO needs to be aligned with the C-suite and board about where to go, and then make decisions. (Instead of doing everything at once). Use a product roadmap. It takes discipline, maybe an offsite workshop to choose 1-2 things that matter to the company.

Ali said if you can't have those conversations in your role, show the limited capacity in headcount, budget, etc. Have a capacity plan to show what is or is not possible.

Samarth talked about the quote of not worrying about the person kicking 10,000 times, worry about the person making the same kick 10,000 times. RevOps needs to drive prioritization, aligning the roadmap and revisiting it, bringing it back to why.

Steve said the good news is they trust you enough to give the work to you, the bad news is you'll never get capacity if you don't build a RevOps charter (which he has another session about later).

Ali mentioned that her upcoming session about getting out of the ticket-taking cycle session would also help.


What are the benefits of checking with other teams that want enablement besides sales?

Steve said enablement now is helpful to all revenue teams, not just sales.

Kevin said and practices the same thing. Product marketing creates content and some training from all revenue teams, and the former "sales kickoff (SKO)" event is now a Revenue kickoff for all GTM teams, not just sales.

Leave Your Assumptions at the Door: Transitioning to a New Company, from Lorena Morales

I missed the first few minutes from not finding the room in time (documentation problem, lol; the map on the venue wall didn't indicate the need to go outside then inside again 😂 the room was in another dimension 😂), so I'll add some info from the description and slides at the beginning!

Though we know change is constant, it's hard to remember that what worked at a past job or company may not work at a different company. So, what should we say when managers insist on executing a "tried and true" playbook? 
Lorena Morales, Director of Global Digital Marketing & Revenue Operations at JLL, spoke about this issue, including:
  • Why we must adapt to changes in buyer behavior
  • Why making assumptions is the biggest pitfall that comes with experience
  • How to challenge executive leadership looking for a playbook

The experience trap

  • Oversimplifying complex situations and jumping to premature conclusions.
  • They create blind spots that cause us to miss critical information or overlook key details.
  • Assumptions breed overconfidence - we think we know more than we actually do.
  • Resistance to contradictory information and unwilling to change course.
  • Undermine our ability to truly understand problems and find innovative solutions.

How to deal with these assumptions? A.V.O.I.D.

Lorena talked about using the AVOID framework:

A - Actively listen without judgment when others speak.

V - Verify your understanding by paraphrasing what was said.

O - Openly share your interpretations and feelings.

I - Inquire about the other person's perspective without accusation.

D - Discuss until you reach a mutual understanding.


The biggest challenges with leadership 

74% of leaders say they involve everyone when creating a change strategy...But only 42% of employees say they feel included in change strategy. That is a big gap!

71% of employees say they’re overwhelmed by the amount of change at work during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Capterra).

83% of workers suffering from change fatigue say their employer has not provided enough tools or resources to help them adapt. (Capterra). 

How can we better deal with change? 

Lorena combined Lewin's model stages with design thinking, shown in the DT Integration columns below in the three stages of unfreeze, change, and then refreeze the new behavior.  Lewin's model did not take into account the emotions involved in change, so the design thinking integration solves that issue.





One important piece of advice from the Q&A is when you are interviewing for a new job, ask about their system structure so you know if you're walking into a company with multiple CRMs or other types of duplications you'll need to deal with. 

I awkwardly introduced myself after the panel as Lorena was speaking to Darrell Alfonso (!) since we had spoken so long ago when I was interviewing her for my book, which included a dscussion about design thinking. We all had a nice chat about panels, newsletters, and hiring, and she asked for a selfie, which I am not great at taking, below. 😂 Thank you, Lorena and Darrell!


GTM (Go-to-market) metrics for the board


Go-to-market (GTM) organizations continue to focus on efficient growth, making operationalizing a key performance indicator (KPI) strategy more important than ever. However, with hundreds of metrics to focus on, less is certainly more. 


Metric 1: Quota attainment ($)

Bookings Won ($) / Sales Quota ($)

Why it Matters: Necessary for planning & headcount

How to Slice:

  • By rep / team
  • By opportunity type

Additional Considerations and Related Metrics:

  • Quota - did it increase?
  • Average bookings per ramped rep

Points from Hilary:

  • The most important KPI for sales productivity
  • May not be an execution challenge, it may be an iceberg, there may be something going on upstream
  • N-shaped performance curve is better than a U-shaped curve where there is no sweet spot
  • Most important - be your own pattern identification machine. See the problem before it happens.
  • 3Ts and 3Ps. Team, tenure, type of booking. Product, pipeline, and place

Points from Sarabeth:

  • Understand what is feeding this metric. [If it is not on track, ask] Is it a pipeline issue, marketing problem, skillset problem, behavior... So much fuels attainment

Metric 2: Pipeline coverage

Open Pipeline ($) / Remaining Quota ($)

Why it Matters: Leading Indicator for Bookings

How to Slice:

  • By opportunity type
  • By product

Additional Considerations and Related Metrics:

  • Weighted Pipeline
  • Using Live Stage Conversion Rates
  • Sales Cycle Length
  • Deal Size
  • Conversion Rates

Helen uses 1/conversion rate for this.


  • Everyone thinks around 3-5x is the industry standard. But companies are too different. Her company is 1.5x-2.5x, due to a different deal profile and deals that grow in size at the end of the sales cycles. They use 3-4x coverage for farther-out early-stage deals
  • Pattern recognition, understand the deal profiles to understand a company benchmark that is relevant
  • Tricky with highly-transactional businesses


  • It varies. If you're entering a new market, you may need more coverage.
  • A recent call with a sales leader talked about the inverse relationship between win rate and pipeline coverage. But a low win rate may not mean you need more coverage. Find other patterns, maybe it's a certain team, product, or region that is causing the low win rate. 
    • The dreaded "need more pipeline" meeting. You need to know the components that go into coverage so you can have that conversation.

Metric 3: Pipeline generation

Amount of Qualified Opportunities Created ($)

Why it Matters: Feeds Bookings Performance, Leading indicator of bookings

How to Slice:

  • By opportunity source
  • By region
  • By sales team

Additional Considerations and Related Metrics:

  • MQLs
  • Bookings
  • Conversion Rates


  • Someone asked about a pipeline planning process, but even at a $100M company she was working with, each team made goals separately -- not good. Forecasting was not connected to anything.
  • It's hard to do the ‘set goals and track it and align and have data that flows through’ ideal state


  • Create goals by creating a reverse funnel model. Bookings backed into MQLs (marketing-qualified leads)
  • Create a week-over-week tracked pipeline, with pacing to goal, regionally and by source of lead
    • Hilary agreed pacing is best practice, so you can course correct in time to still meet a goal. So you can course-correct
  • To course correct in time, Sarabeth is having a pipeline generation sprint where all the GTM teams (or one region) helped generate leads for 8 weeks

Metric 4: GRR% and NRR%

GRR (Gross revenue retention): ARR (annual recurring revenue) Retained at End Date / ARR on Start Date

NRR (Net revenue retention): (ARR Retained + Expansion ARR) at End Date / ARR on Start Date

Finance likes ARR.


  • Have a weekly forecast for renewals, with the current quarter and one quarter out, and with risk level ratings
  • Use that data to refine your ICP (ideal customer profile)


  • Become BFFs (best friends forever) with the finance team. Keep them in the feedback loop
  • See who is managing renewals AND explain why. Account executive, Customer success manager, etc. Could it all be one person or not? It depends.
  • How are you forecasting renewals? It is tricky and takes rigor and discipline



  • Be wary of data on data on data
    • It used to take 5 days to build 45 slides that were dropped into Slack but spurred no conversation
  • Focus on the main KPIs for the audience instead
    • They may be the same metrics, sliced differently for different teams


There is an ocean of data, but a desert of insights. Without insights, you can't take action.
  • When explaining "AF: to her kids, she said it was visiting her analytics friends. So find an analytics friend... or AF could also be Ask Finance.

The metrics the board cares about, in review:

  • Quota attainment ($)

  • Pipeline coverage

  • Pipeline generation

  • GRR% and NRR%


I also interviewed Hilary for the book several years ago, but I did not do an awkward introduction after this panel 😄. My social battery was already running low but I was very glad to be there, meeting and learning from people!


Read part 2 of 3 here, for more RevOpsAF sessions!

Stay tuned for more blogs about the sessions I attended at RevOpsAF!


Topics:   RevOps, Education, Event