<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >Unification vs. alignment in revenue organizations</span>
08/04/2021

Unification vs. alignment in revenue organizations

Alison Elworthy, EVP of Revenue Operations at HubSpot, recently wrote about why diversity is critical in RevOps leadership. I absolutely love how she describes revenue operations in her post: “unifying your internal operations.”

(Note: if you missed it earlier this year, we had a great conversation with Alison about the link between RevOps and customer experience, and wrote about that conversation's takeaways here). 

I especially love that word unifying. It encompasses so much of the RevOps philosophy, doesn't it? That your company's revenue organization is a unified system, that the parts are all part of larger whole, and when everyone works together, they can accomplish more. That customer experience and employee experience are connected, and everyone in a GTM role plays a part in improving that experience. 

These are concepts we believe in at Gradient Works. In fact, we're building our entire company around them. 

I prefer the word unification over its biz-buzzwordy cousin alignment.

Forgive me a brief digression to freshman year public speaking... As Webster's dictionary states, unification is the act or process of making into a unit or a coherent whole. Alignment means to bring into line or an arrangement of groups in relation to one another. 

When you're aligning something - like sales and marketing, for example - you're bringing them in line with each other. They're walking side-by-side, or maybe one after another. Either way, it's a line of independent entities. It's "smarketing" [shudders]

But when you're unifying something - like a revenue organization - you're taking sales and marketing (and customer success and operations) and building a new, larger whole. Something that's more than the sum of its parts. 

You've probably read an ungodly number of think pieces about the importance of marketing and sales alignment. But to me, that's an old way of thinking. We shouldn't be talking about alignment - we should be talking about unification. 

Because "sales and marketing alignment" really just focuses on where your company draws its particular lines (more like alinement, am I right?). For example, who qualifies inbound leads - does that team report into a sales leader or a marketing leader? Who determines the qualification criteria? How can sales and marketing work together to conceive a better qualification process?

But the questions should be bigger than that. It shouldn't be just about who - it should be about what, why and how. What are our company's lead qualification criteria? Why is one kind of lead better than another? How can we focus on higher-quality leads? 

When you have fewer lines between the who's, you can concentrate on higher-level questions like what, why and how. What does that look like? Unification in your revenue organization probably has many of these elements: 

  • Collaboration from conception
  • Mutual understanding of and respect for process
  • Regular, inclusive communication 
  • Focus on enablement 
  • Unified tech and reporting 
  • Shared objectives 
  • Universally beneficial incentives 

Finally, coming back to the ultimate takeaway in Alison's post, that we need more diversity in RevOps leadership. She encourages diversity in revenue operations teams for a few reasons. Specifically, because "every customer is different; they have unique backgrounds, needs, and challenges" and the "RevOps organization impacts every single GTM employee." 

Together, this is a call for diversity and unification. A diverse team focused on shared goals with shared resources and processes will be more successful than any other group. 

Related Posts

Get more in your inbox

Subscribe to our Up and to the Right newsletter, and we'll email you once a week with new content for revenue leaders and operators.