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3 Key Takeaways From Gong CRO Shane Evans’s Ask Me Anything (AMA) On Running Revenue Organizations

Today’s revenue leaders have a unique challenge: Take unprecedented conditions—macroeconomic shifts, market fluctuations, and of course, the unstoppable invasion of AI—and create predictable business.

Understandably, the challenge gives rise to a lot of questions. How do you define and monitor success? How do you maximize rep efficiency? How in-the-weeds should you, the CRO, be? If it’s your first time in the CRO seat, how can you set yourself up for success?

Shane Evans has led revenue teams at a wide range of organizations—from smallish startups to multibillion-dollar companies—and so he’s faced these and other challenges head-on for years. In a recent webinar, Gong’s CRO fielded questions from other revenue leaders about how to get predictable in an unprecedented environment.

Here are some of the most salient takeaways.

3 insights on building, running, and sustaining an effective revenue organization

1. First-time CROs: Lead with questions

A mistake a lot of first-timers make is that they come in thinking they have to have all the answers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Whenever Shane starts a new role, the first thing he does is meet as many people as possible and ask as many questions as he can about every dimension of the business. There’s no question too basic, leave no stone unturned and seek deep organizational knowledge.

Your first 100 days are arguably your most important 100 days. If you’re a first-timer, Shane recommends prioritizing these three things:

  1. Questions. Gather a lot of information, with the ultimate goal of making a plan.
  1. People. People/talent is the single most important area of my work. He still interviews every team member Gong adds to the GTM organization to be sure that we’re hiring the right people and that he’s connected to everyone pushing this business forward. Culture and the people who comprise it make or break businesses.
  1. Process. Ultimately, your goal should be to establish a regular operating rhythm that drives efficiency. This includes the enablement, one-on-ones, business reviews, coaching sessions, and more that you’ll conduct on a regular basis.

2. Define and monitor success metrics

Shane gets asked a lot about what success metrics are best to monitor. The truth is, there’s no silver bullet, one-size-fits-all, magic metric that alone defines success—there are a lot of them, and you have to figure out a balance that makes sense for your business.

Shane sorts success metrics into three categories:

  1. Productivity. This includes metrics like pipeline generation, conversion rate, responsiveness to customers, number of weekly customer interactions, and AE ramping timeline.

    He’s  not a fan of micromanaging call sheets, or prescriptive behaviors. Shane thinks you need to empower your team with the tools to be productive, let them be creative in how they use those tools, and make sure you know how to measure their productivity.
  1. Predictability. Predictability metrics are all about measuring how repeatable your business is. It includes metrics like: win rate, forecasting accuracy, time to value for new customers, and renewal rates.
  2. Growth. Growth metrics to include: overall revenue growth, net revenue retention, upsell/cross-sell revenue, and competitive win rate.

Once you’ve defined your key success metrics, develop a dashboard that lets you easily monitor the metrics over time. Running a revenue org is like flying a plane: Altitude will periodically dip, and other metrics will be affected. Having an easy, real-time way to monitor these metrics empowers you, the pilot, to make necessary adjustments.

3. Know when to get hands-on and when to zoom out

As a revenue leader, your job is neither to only sit above the proceedings nor to only be constantly in the weeds. There are times when you need to get hands-on and times when you need to zoom out. Being able to distinguish between the two and know what situations call for what behaviors is crucial.

Shane’s approach starts high-level: looking at the overall health of the book of business, in view of the outcomes he’s trying to create. Then, each cycle, he identifies five deals in which he wants to participate. A CRO can’t be in every deal, but  find five that you think represent the health of our revenue organization as a whole.

Shane also has a set of nonnegotiables:

  • One-to-ones. They’re religious. They have to occur at least every other week, ideally every week. 
  • Weekly forecasting calls. Leader have to ensure that everyone in the revenue org knows where you’re at, the outcomes you want, and what behaviors make those outcomes most likely.
  • Coaching calls. Shane has a quota for the number of calls he wants to listen to for coaching purposes. This allows a CRO to keep a pulse on the revenue organization as a whole. 
  • Deals. There’s no stage or level you get to where you should be entirely away from deals. Even great CEOs get involved and support their sellers to move opportunities forward. CROs should do the same—making an ongoing effort to make themselves useful to their sales organization and getting directly involved in deals when they have the bandwidth.

The Gong Difference

Shane runs his entire revenue business out of Gong—it’s Gong on Gong. Fundamentally, it’s a single source of truth for operating rhythm and real-time insights. Gong gives him competitive insights, market insights, insights into CFO negotiations, alerts when I should jump into challenging areas for an enterprise or commercial rep—and much more. Leaders can zoom out to see high-level how they’re doing, and zoom into specific areas to make sure they’re progressing in the right direction.

If you’d like to hear the entire AMA session, you can access a recording here. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for more Gong AMA sessions coming soon.

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