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Why COOs Should Come From RevOps

Why COOs Should Come From RevOps
Max Maeder
Why COOs Should Come From RevOps

A strategic shift is taking place in leadership roles. Companies like Workato, LeanData, and UserTesting are at the forefront of an innovative approach: appointing Chief Operating Officers (COOs) from Revenue Operations. This unconventional move addresses three fundamental problems within the SaaS ecosystem, providing a fresh perspective on operational excellence.

The Cost Structure Conundrum

The most significant expenditures typically revolve around Product and Engineering teams, along with Sales and Marketing teams. While Chief Product Officers spearhead external product vision, the COO is envisioned as the torchbearer of operational excellence. Given that a substantial portion of total revenue is dedicated to Sales and Marketing – particularly in the Go-to-Market (GTM) strategy – it makes sense to entrust someone from Revenue Operations with the responsibility of overseeing all operations.

Solving Three Fundamental Problems in Revenue Operations

  1. Combining Biz Ops and Rev Ops:Establishing a unified Center of Operational Excellence is crucial. Revenue Operations, Data Analytics, Data Warehousing, Help Desk/Provisioning/Procurement, and Internal Tools find a natural home within the COO's mandate, streamlining functions for increased efficiency.
  2. Elevating Rev Ops Visibility:While Chief Revenue Officers excel at Go-to-Market execution, the lack of representation for GTM strategy in the C Suite is a noticeable gap. By having the COO emerge from Revenue Operations, this void is effectively filled, bringing strategy and analytics to the forefront of organizational decision-making.
  3. Centralizing Internal Tools:As organizations grow, the need to centralize Internal Tools becomes apparent. While the logical placement may be under the Chief Information Officer (CIO), hiring for this role often comes later. In the interim, Internal Tools may end up under Engineering or the CFO, each with its set of challenges. Placing them under the unified COO's purview offers an ideal solution.

Companies Leading the Way

Several trailblazing companies have recognized the value of appointing COOs with roots in Revenue Operations. Six notable examples include:

  1. Workato - COO, former Head of GTM Strategy at Qualtrics
  2. LeanData - COO, former VP, Revenue Operations at Malwarebytes
  3. UserTesting - COO, promoted from VP, Revenue Operations
  4. Jitterbit - COO, former VP, Sales Operations at Perforce
  5. Degreed - COO, promoted from SVP, Revenue Operations
  6. LeadIQ - COO, former SVP, Sales Operations at Sumo Logic & Zuora

As the trend gains momentum, the question arises: is there any reason why this won't become the norm for every company in the next five years? Elevating Revenue Operations leaders to the role of COO is proving to be a strategic move, amplifying their impact and solidifying their position as invaluable contributors to organizational success.

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