Transforming The Revenue Engine At Carbon Black

Carbon Black, a cybersecurity company, began its RevOps journey two years ago to accelerate growth during a transition from an on-premise to a cloud business. Led by Daniel Carpenter, SVP of Revenue Excellence & Operations, the team transformed its revenue engine by realigning into a RevOps structure on a strategic, organizational and operational level.

Later this month, Carpenter will present Carbon Black’s RevOps journey at the LeanData OpsStars event in San Francisco. Before the event, he sat down with Demand Gen Report to discuss the challenges the team faced, how it’s recent acquisition by VMware affected the RevOps team and more.

Demand Gen Report: Many different definitions seem to exist as this category emerges – how do you define Revenue Operations?

Daniel Carpenter: I think it’s very much an evolving structure in the marketplace, which is why there are so many definitions, and maybe different types of businesses influence it slightly differently. But for me, it’s really about cohesively managing the revenue funnel. That’s how I visualize it: looking right at the very beginning from inquiries moving through the demand-management cycle, through to the sales-execution cycle, to the renewal cycle and then customer success – this is how revenue is generated.

Revenue Operations establishes and manages an efficient set of processes, systems and data across the revenue funnel. This group ensures there are aligned strategies, plans and goals, supported by insightful reporting and effective operating practices. Our functions include operations, sales enablement, process and systems improvement, planning and analytics, and strategic programs. One key benefit of Revenue Operations is that we can achieve balance in our goals and resources, removing silos and barriers to growth, and thus help optimize revenue growth across the revenue funnel.

At Carbon Black, we’ve also leveraged data science in our Revenue Operations team – it’s our secret sauce. It’s really helped us drive significant productivity improvements for lead and account prioritization to enable prospecting and predictive churn to support Customer Success and renewals.

DGR: Why is revenue growth such a challenge for many B2B orgs? What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

Carpenter: I think one of the biggest challenges was establishing our revenue funnel infrastructure – i.e., processes, systems, reporting, resources and operating practices. Once this was in place, it allowed us to drive optimization, like tuning an engine for peak performances, including the alignment on goals, balancing of resources and driving productivity improvements. For example, if sales were to focus on the SMB segment, then we’d need an effective SMB demand generation, channel execution and customer success model.

Another significant challenge, which goes to the heart of a Revenue Operations structure, is centralizing all go-to-market operations functions under one leader. Moving marketing operations under Revenue Operations required a lot of trust from the marketing team, but it allowed marketing to focus on what marketing does best and likewise for operations to focus on operations. Specifically, this structure allows us to focus on optimizing our demand-generation processes, systems and reporting, ensuring demand-generation goals are aligned to sales goals, as well as ensuring we had an efficient handshake between marketing and sales teams.

There has also been a significant transformation for our sellers as we moved from primarily an on-prem sales motion to SaaS sales motions: land, expand, migrate and renew. Our enablement team has been critical to driving a transformation to the cloud-selling motions for our sellers, sales engineers and our partners. And thus, we have delivered a strong quarterly enablement program, including face-to-face training, weekly field communication, programmatic training and certification, micro learnings and effective sales assets.

Overall, our greatest business challenge was continuing to hit our revenue-growth goals while transitioning from majority on-prem private company to a public company and majority cloud business, and most recently validated by our acquisition by VMware. We were successful, however, even in the midst of such change. And I fundamentally believe our Revenue Operations team was mission critical in both meeting our growth objectives and our speed of transformation.

DGR: Carbon Black was recently acquired by VMware. Does that company share a similar RevOps mindset?

Carpenter: Yes, exactly. It’s fascinating. I was talking to a number of the Revenue Operations leaders within VMware and we share a very similar philosophy on the revenue funnel and how best to optimize it, which was really exciting to see. For a smaller company like Carbon Black, we’ve managed to establish some best-in-class processes and systems. I’m pleased to see that our VMware team is really curious about the journey we’ve undertaken and the operations we’ve established. I believe when a company like VMware evaluates an acquisition, such as Carbon Black, it’s not only for great products, but also great people and operational capabilities that it can leverage across the wider company.

DGR: What is one key takeaway you hope the audience will walk away with from your presentation at OpsStars?

Carpenter: How we’ve established and leveraged the Revenue Operations model, because you can implement it in various ways. And because a Revenue Operations structure is still a very new idea for most companies, I want to share with other B2B colleagues that it really can accelerate revenue and growth. But there are definitely some key learnings that we’ve experienced during our transition that we can also share with OpsStars attendees. Revenue Ops can seem a little daunting to some teams that are in a different place, but there are definitely some simple steps that will make a big difference.

DGR: What are you looking forward to most about the OpsStars event?

Carpenter: I’m really looking forward to connecting with other Revenue Ops, marketing and sales leaders at the event and learning from their experiences and best practices. I think we’re all on a journey as to how to most efficiently drive revenue growth cost-effectively, and I’m looking forward to learning from others what’s worked for them and how I can embrace that, too.

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