Episode Show Notes
Today, Blake joins host Islin Munisteri for a conversation about sales ops across different B2B companies. We also talk about the role of revenue operations is to take a 3rd party stance about revenue at the company. RevOps takes info from marketing, sales, customer success, and even product to figure out risks to revenue generation, and find the processes that scale. The conversation also explores learning to reflect after making mistakes.
Blake Kendrick got his degree in psychology from University of New Hampshire, which underpins his understanding of communications. He started at Comcast, then went to agency land where he progressed from a copywriter to Director of Operations at FullFunnel and then Head of Revenue Operations Consulting at SalesWorks. He's now at Thankful as their Revenue Operations Manager.
Connect with our guest, Blake Kendrick, on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/blkendrick/
[00:00:20] Islin Munisteri: Hi, this is Islin with Theia Marketing and I'm excited to host the Rev Ops Careers podcast.
[00:00:26] I'm excited to have Blake Kendrick with thankful today with me.
[00:00:32] Blake Kendrick: Hi Islin. Happy to be here. Yeah, I'm excited to get into the journey and unpack all the information and tell a little bit about my story and see how it can help some people.
[00:00:40] Islin Munisteri: Awesome. We're happy to have you. So Blake got his degree in psychology from University of New Hampshire, which underpins his understanding of communications.
[00:00:50] He started at Comcast then went to agency land where he progressed from a copywriter to director of operations at Full Funnel, and then head of revenue, operations consulting at Sales Works. He's now at Thankful as the revenue operations manager. Welcome to the show.
[00:01:08] Blake Kendrick: Yeah, really pleased to be here and happy to dive into it.
[00:01:10] That was a good intro, by the way. It really helped condense the history. I think pretty well.
[00:01:17] Islin Munisteri: Yeah. Thanks. It's part of my job. So how did you get started on your career in rev journey?
[00:01:22] Blake Kendrick: Yeah. So a little bit of the three that you described. I think If I were to go way back. It started in, in high school actually, and I promise I'll accelerate this, but I took a programming class in high school and part of doing that exposed me to a little bit of systems based thinking and logical processes that end up going into.
[00:01:42] A lot of the decisions that we end up making in bigger picture operations. Moving from there, as you mentioned, I went to the University of New Hampshire, I studied psychology and got to know the person element a little bit more and how people experience things and how perspectives differ between people.
[00:01:56] And towards the tail end of that career picked up communications and even further delved into that and the elements of rhetoric. I think at the time I was watching. A lot of mad men was motivated by that. But yeah, transitioning out of school. I got exposed to that sales layer.
[00:02:09] As you mentioned, I was at Comcast in the retention department and I had a relatively short stint there. It wasn't a great. Environment for me, I'm better behind the scenes, but it was important though, because I got exposed to Salesforce while I was there. I got exposed to just the normal day to day operations of an end users experience in sales.
[00:02:25] How to deal with contracts, all those pieces. And then yeah, moved from there to marketing email. And helped out a small agency in New Hampshire. Getting my teeth cut on Acton and then moving to Pardot, getting my consultant certification for Pardot at the time. And also getting further exposed to Salesforce.
[00:02:42] And then from there moved to Full Funnel and ramped up my experience on HubSpot. And as you said transitioned to an operations role and while I was internal, there, there were some unique experiences and requirements that we needed to do to best serve the clients there. So Full Funnel does outsourced sales and marketing advisory services and staffing.
[00:03:00] We would have multiple like pod structure groups that were managing portfolios of accounts. And within those groups, they'd have maybe eight companies that they'd be working with. And the requirement for us to understand whether or not we were actually making impact, especially relative to those customers own performance against their internal teams.
[00:03:20] We really had to be tight about how we classified the data and how we wrapped it up. So in working there I helped structure and build an effort so that we had really standardized ways to approach the sales funnel and define the main points that we're looking at production wise in a production program.
[00:03:37] In a demand gen program, that'd be your initial conversions and, having the contact be known the meetings, being booked, the meetings, being qualified, the opportunities being created and then being worked to closure. And that sounds really simple to say, but in between all of those companies, we noticed that there was a lot of different perspective, even though we were dealing with all.
[00:03:57] Like B2B solution based sales people would start their pipeline at different stages. People would consider their qualification criteria to be different from company to company. And, we are sitting in the middle, looking at all of that and saying, Actually it's really pretty standard.
[00:04:10] There's certain things that have to just happen in a systematic order. In order for you to move things forward, like you can't have a meaningful discovery meeting if you haven't first, at least conversed with the point of contact. So we looked at that structure and we looked at that problem that a lot of people were having and that.
[00:04:28] They had to come in and adapt our standardized sales process to work with our pod teams. And it just became clear that, okay, these things aren't actually unanimously defined across all of our B2B clients and the executives are primarily saying, okay, we need to have this operate and look at these primary sets of metrics.
[00:04:48] And sometimes they'd be missing one piece or another, that would really help them make either strategic or tactical decisions. And a lot of times they'd be working with a sales operations person , primarily that would be maintaining the CRM, making sure the data was clean and doing a lot of putting out of fires and acting in a reactive fashion a lot of times.
[00:05:07] So these systematic problems where there was a big data gap where they really needed to have that information know, they would never really attack those problems. Or they would never have them defined well enough so that they recognized that there was an issue there. So that, that was what brought me to sales works then.
[00:05:22] And I was leading the I was head of revenue enablement there. And open a business line there for rev ops consulting more or less. And they still do that today. They do a lot of sales training and rev op consulting and design. And they do a good job of it. But yeah, I got the ball rolling there and had a lot of exposure to a lot of these good opportunities and conversations that have really cemented me in my role as a rev op person. And the reason I lay out that whole history ahead of time is you can see all the angles that I've come from, where I've been an end user. I've been an operations person in a sales setting, in a marketing setting all of those things. And I think that, diverse history is really what has set me you up to, to have a more holistic perspective and a solid approach to being what is effectively like an internal third party consultant for my own team today.
[00:06:09] Islin Munisteri: That's great to hear. And it's really interesting, like talking to different people in rev op like how different their careers are. Like, like someone, someone can start out in finance or something, and then like they move into rev op and they move of rev and marketing and it.
[00:06:24] It's completely different between each person. For sure. And what was your biggest learning experience so far?
[00:06:31] Blake Kendrick: I think it would be that whole process of trying to consolidate and standardize the data while I was at while I was at Full Funnel. So we had a whole process where we built out an ETL and database structure and visualization tool that we were basically building and constructing our own internal dashboards to evaluate the performance of those clients.
[00:06:50] But in doing that, we're working with what are ultimately different businesses. And like I said, they interpret things in different ways. So to try and say, okay, here's the baseline. Common structure that we see across all of them and introduce that that took a lot of time and a lot of trial and error to massage that and really nail down okay, what are the consistent things that always happen in a sales process?
[00:07:12] That really has provided the basis, I think for all decisions I make today there also has been a lot of, as I've grown in my own role, I've started interacting more and more with the highest members of the organizations that I work with, the executives and things like that. And. I only learn about the questions that they would be asking.
[00:07:32] Cause I'm not an entrepreneur myself by having conversations with them. So as we're working through these issues and we're identifying like what do we do about X, Y, Z issue? That uncovers sometimes gaps in how we're actually measuring and capturing data too. But the nice thing is once we identify those, we can usually apply them in multiple circumstances.
[00:07:51] And it's just having that again. I think broader world view of what are all these different team based systems between companies that and what are the differences between them and what are the commonalities.
[00:08:03] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha. And then what do you mean by ETL?
[00:08:06] Oh, yeah. So ETL would be in a process where you're trying to pull data from multiple sources.
[00:08:11] That's your extract transforming load tool. So you're taking your data from your CRM and your marketing automation platform and your enablement tool, or what have you maybe directly from your. Your, app proprietary app. And you're blending all that together and putting them into a database format in something like, like an Azure or AWS database or at Full Funnel, we had used like Big Query, a Google product.
[00:08:32] And then you're using that to store everything. And then you're visualizing afterwards. Again at Full Funnel, we had used Periscope, but Tableau and things like that. This is how we're just taking the data and being able to summarize it in a way that makes sense. The entire, informational reporting structure, I guess would be up what that entails.
[00:08:51] Gotcha. Okay. Make sure everyone. Cause when I hear ETL, I'm like engineering technology leadership in the oil field now. Okay, cool. So what, so I guess what would be a single source of truth for you in your current tech stack?
[00:09:07] Blake Kendrick: If we're talking about the revenue organization and, demand generation, it's definitely this CRM, everything ultimately goes there because that's where your business deals are going to live.
[00:09:16] So if I were going to say where can I access, like my activities data. I don't want to have to rely on an external tool, like a sequencing platform know, a SalesLoft, Outreach or something like that, which are great platforms by the way. But I would, I don't wanna have to rely on them purely to get the answers for that because ultimately I wanna see how is that activity being leveraged and how is it tying to the opportunities that we're producing and closing, and those opportunities exist in my CRM.
[00:09:43] Yeah, for sure. I would say that's the heart of everything. But there are certain questions that you are definitely going to have better suited for certain platforms like your various ads platforms are going to tell you how your ads performance is doing. Your CRM is usually not gonna be a good place to receive and hold that data about campaign performance.
[00:10:01] Anything related to longer like customer life, cycle management and things like that. You can create a structure to, to have that stored in your CRM. And you should but there's some pieces of around contract links and things like that. That might be best. Held in a contracts tool, like an ironclad or something like that to report on that stuff.
[00:10:18] Yeah, I would say the heart of everything again is, you're beating heart and possibly brain is your CRM. So make sure you're in a, an environment that you're comfortable with, but the, yeah, there are definitely certain questions that are best answered by specialized platforms.
[00:10:32] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha. And I guess like when you like, put everything, your CRM as your single source of truth do you do all your reporting and everything out of your CRM too? Or do you add that's where you do the ETL layer? Of like Looker or like Microsoft BI.
[00:10:47] Blake Kendrick: Yeah, I actually, I don't have, I'm not a data engineer, know, in my background myself. I don't have a lot of experience beyond that project that I was engaged with. And even then I was working with a data scientist. I was giving the broad strokes, but I was not doing the tactical report building and things like that.
[00:11:01] I don't have too much experience with pulling that stuff out and and blending together and pulling it away that, makes the most sense for certain contexts. So my default is always to go to what can I do with my CRM? And. Between Salesforce and HubSpot our, the power that we have in the reporting of those tools is it's a lot particularly if you're at, the, what I say is like the appropriate tier For, mid-size businesses and things like that would be HubSpot enterprise sales, hub enterprise and Salesforce enterprise they are really.
[00:11:34] Capable of doing a lot of things and summarizing things in a lot of different ways. So yeah by default most of the core questions that you have about the revenue program, you should be able to build out of your CRM. And that's usually a sign. If you're getting to a maturity point where you can't answer those questions in that platform, it probably means that you're you've outgrown it.
[00:11:53] There are some providers out there that serve smaller companies really well. But once you start to get into the complexity of the questions where you really need to have clear answers in order to guide your team you run into a wall. Yeah.
[00:12:07] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha. And I guess what's your philosophy on rev op and like on especially like how teams should interact?
[00:12:14] Blake Kendrick: Yeah, I love this topic. So I stated it before. Rev ops professionals are the internal consultants for the teams. You are a third party observer, and then, and you should be able to effectively take information from your marketing team, from your success team, from your sales team.
[00:12:32] Certainly. Potentially even diving into products depending on the priorities of the organization. And you're always beholden to that organization. And you're beholden to whatever the top objectives are within your company. By taking all the information you're using the clues and you're interpreting it to say, Hey, here's what's happening.
[00:12:49] And in relative to how we're generating revenue, these are the things that are a risk to that revenue generation, and that are slowing us down. And these are the things that are working well and that we should probably scale up. So you really sit between everybody. I think a lot of times. Rev ups still a growing role, but you're seeing people stored under or reporting into, I should say the VP of sales.
[00:13:10] And that usually makes sense because that's usually where most of the attention needs to be placed in the short term to, to support revenue generation. But as time goes and you start to move away from that, you might be looking at Market diversification. You're trying to go to market in a new area.
[00:13:25] You're probably gonna be working more closely with marketing at that point because they're making the biggest impact on that growth. You might have an established market, but you might have a churn issue, then you're gonna be working with success the most So it's really important for, I think, robots to sit outside of everything and not necessarily be beholden to, to a certain team, but yeah, really be tied to the objectives of the organization and the needs there.
[00:13:50] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha. And I guess what kind of going on a different path, like if you died to my, like what do you hope people would say about you and how you impacted them?
[00:14:00] Blake Kendrick: Oh that I was helpful. Yeah, for sure. I, no, I mean that, I really like what I do. It took me a while to get here and understand okay, here's a need where some people need some clarification and can benefit from some external input.
[00:14:14] My, my input. But now that I've settled there. I love it. I love supporting other rev op professionals that are growing and trying to get their arms around this space. I love working with the higher level executives within those companies. And that's, I have a broader mission, that?
[00:14:29] I believe that every business, if they're operating from an informed position where their rev structure is really solid then it evens the playing field across the board for more competitive situations. Makes room for innovation and it also puts more power back in the hands of the consumers. Yeah, I don't, that's a big, that's a big thing.
[00:14:47] Yeah, I just wanna be able to have made an impact and be able to help I've worked with a couple of people I've just started to engage in some mentoring and things like that. And people coming away from those conversations and saying oh, I didn't think about it like that.
[00:15:00] That was really helpful. This is really, this is the most valuable 15 minutes. , I've spent in the last, six months. I'm like, yeah, I did it. That's good.
[00:15:08] Islin Munisteri: That's awesome. That's good. Have that pat, on your back. And I guess what, it's the best piece of career advice you would tell your younger self?
[00:15:17] Looking back now.
[00:15:19] Blake Kendrick: Oh you're gonna screw up a lot kid. Yeah it probably would just be to, I think if I had a more mature perspective on what it means to make a mistake when I was younger, I would've gotten to where I am even to sooner. And so that's, I think where I would focus is just what does this mistake actually mean?
[00:15:37] And it's just. The important part of whenever something goes wrong, it's okay to absorb that and to feel upset about that or whatever in the moment. But ultimately what it is, it's just more information. So as you mess something up or something goes wrong and the outcome, isn't what you wanted.
[00:15:56] You just have to be able pause and look at that and say, okay, here's the piece that could have gone better. Or here are the three pieces that could have gone better. Next time. I'm gonna try this. I'm gonna tweak that one aspect of it, and then let's see what happens then. So it's a lot of like iterative learning and understanding how to really reflect on your experiences.
[00:16:16] But I definitely missed that. In my early years, I'm not super old or anything. pretty young. We're a pretty young guy, but I think I think that would be a big place where I try to vocalize it in my mentorship today to folks that I work with. And that's a big piece.
[00:16:29] Ultimately our most valuable. Resource is not gonna be money or anything like that. It's time. It's how we spend our time. So if we are working on something and it's not going well in whatever way, you wanna interpret that, just take a look at what it is and the time that you invest in maybe fixing that can ultimately save you time when it starts to work well.
[00:16:52] So yeah, it's, it is all about transacting that. Chronology . Gotcha. Yeah. I
[00:16:58] Islin Munisteri: think, I think being able to reflect back on your mistakes and then not feeling like you're in trouble and not having any of those negative connotations and attacking yourself, but just be able to reflect back and think what's the next thing I can iterate on.
[00:17:13] What's the next thing I can get better at absolutely to help my company go to next level. That's that's where the real growth is. For
[00:17:22] Blake Kendrick: sure.
[00:17:23] Islin Munisteri: Awesome. Is there anything that we haven't covered? Do you wanna talk a little bit about thankful?
[00:17:28] Blake Kendrick: Yeah, sure. I'd love to. So Thankful is a platform that is basically provides an AI powered support experience for primarily e-commerce brands, but we're branching out and always looking at other opportunities as but a lot of our use cases fit into the eCommerce and digital retail environment today.
[00:17:44] And This actually really excited me. And what drew me to Thankful is just like we're talking about with rev ops, there was a lot of focus on demand gen in the earliest stages. So at, know, top of funnel, like marketing generated stuff, there's a lot of attention that's paid to prospecting to pipeline management.
[00:18:01] I don't know that success sees a lot of law of in terms of being a growth engine and really that's particularly for, B2B companies. That's the big place where you're going to build a foundation and just CATA, catapult your growth. I was really excited to, to come and work at thankful because this tool is starting to show some of that loved the success layer.
[00:18:23] We capitalize on a few different things from our AI platform is, will surface the tickets and things like that. That. The success teams find really valuable that are either harder to solve or have more revenue impact on the organization. They'll surface those, bring them to the attention of the human, make sure they get the care and love they deserve to improve customer experience and improve employee satisfaction.
[00:18:48] So like workplace every day, you're not being your against the desk, trying to solve the really easy issues. And that's because the other half of our platform is called AI agent and We leveraged natural language processing NLP to interpret what customers are saying. And they say, Hey, my order got messed up.
[00:19:07] That's not the exact language, but we know that we're talking about. Okay, can we clarify? Was the order damaged or was it late or is it still missing? And we can refine that from there based on just normal conversation with the customer. And in those cases, those are pretty black and white issues to solve.
[00:19:23] If my order is late, I want to know what its status is so we can provide that information for them automatically. And it saves a lot of time from an we're arching workload perspective, but it also saves the customer a lot of time in that they're getting on to text chat. The internet , environment email even and they can speak in the terms that they feel comfortable with and they can very quickly get a response from the support team and from the company to preserve that brand integrity.
[00:19:51] Also to just have that experience be really pleasant and efficient, no more waiting in queues for really simple things that should just take, two minutes. So yeah that's a little bit about our platform. I love it. I see a lot of potential in it and I think it's great in that we're, motivating service oriented people to.
[00:20:08] To do what they do even better. It's really empowering those agents. Yeah. It's great.
[00:20:12] Islin Munisteri: I think that's a wrap for the show today. Sure. Thank thanks so much for being on Blake and it's wonderful learning about your career and advice and what you do at think and what Thankful does.
[00:20:26] Blake Kendrick: So yeah, you bet.
[00:20:27] Thank you very much for having me Islin and I'd love to come back in the future some time.
[00:20:30] Islin Munisteri: Awesome. Thanks Blake.
[00:20:33] Blake Kendrick: All right.
[00:20:33] Islin Munisteri: Take care.