Today, Kevin Mulrane, Founder at The Revenue Standard and Sales at SaaStr, joins host Islin Munisteri about the ROI on hiring RevOps and sales at the same time. He is a data geek at heart and loves reporting. User adoption for a tech stack is by far the biggest challenge he's faced. A rule of thumb is to hire your first RevOps person when you have 3-5 sales reps hitting their targets.
Kevin has been in sales for over 15 years with just over a decade of sales leadership experience. Kevin specializes in working with early-stage start ups and helping them build their go-to-market strategy focusing on People, Process, and Pipeline. He has held leadership roles at Madison Logic, GWI, and Onramp Invest. Kevin recently founded The Revenue Standard, a consultancy firm helping early-stage founders accelerate revenue growth, and is working with the sales team at SaaStr.
Connect with our guest, Kevin Mulrane, on LinkedIn:
[00:00:20] Islin Munisteri: Awesome. Hi everyone This is Islam with Theia Strategies and I'm excited to host the rev ops careers podcast. Today. We have Kevin Mulrane. Kevin has been in sales for over 15 years. We've just over a decade of sales, leadership experience.
[00:00:37] Kevin specializes in working with early-stage startups and helping them build their go-to-market strategy. Focusing on people process and pipeline has held leadership roles at Madison logic JWI and OnRamp and Bess. Kevin recently founded the revenue standard a consultancy firm, helping early-stage founders, accelerate revenue growth, and is working with the sales team at SaaStr.
[00:01:02] I'm excited to have you on
[00:01:04] Kevin Mulrane: I'm so excited. Thank you so much for having me here today.
[00:01:08] Islin Munisteri: Great. Let's start out with your career. How did, so how did you start your career and your rev ops journey?
[00:01:14] Kevin Mulrane: Yeah. I'm probably one of those very typical folks that got into sales and didn't really know what I was signing up for like never aspire to get into sales.
[00:01:23] Probably for the first six months question, if sales was really even the right, kind of career for me. But I, as you mentioned, I've worked in a lot of early stage startups where, when it comes to process or operations, forecasting, aligning tech stack, It didn't really exist.
[00:01:39] And being in some high growth scale-up companies, as you go through that maturation process you wear a lot of different hats in these types of companies and, focusing more on, like I said, like kind of the process and the tech stack and forecasting models becomes more and more important.
[00:01:52] And I think when I was at Madison, logic's probably when I really got into the rev ops side of the business for the first time. And I'm a very processed minded individual. I love trying to like, create a problem solve and make things a bit more efficient. Yeah, when we were, growing and scaling that business, there was a huge opportunity for us to drive more revenue through rev ops.
[00:02:12] And I I raised my hand and
[00:02:16] Islin Munisteri: that's great. And I know you're launching your own consultancy and working with SaaStr at the same time. So what is your biggest challenge?
[00:02:24] Kevin Mulrane: Ooh, that's a good question. My biggest challenge I think is just right now, it's time management and, there's a lot of exciting, a lot of exciting things going on.
[00:02:34] There's a lot of opportunity right now. And I've, I'm juggling a lot with different things. So I think right now it's just part of being patient and time management. I think naturally I'm somebody that. Okay. I'm not great at saying no to things, especially if there's a really exciting opportunity.
[00:02:48] And gotta, I got to learn that learn that skillset somehow, but I think time management is probably the big one that I'm focused on.
[00:02:56] Islin Munisteri: That's great. And I guess like with the time management, are you using like Stephen Covey or any like methodologies or anything? Or is it more of a backlog like agile or
[00:03:07] Kevin Mulrane: what
[00:03:08] How are you doing?
[00:03:08] Oh nothing fancy like that. I am an old school write it down ona whiteboard too keep myself organized there. But no, I think it's something though that I've had a couple of books and different, I'll call it specialists in that area that have been recommended over to me.
[00:03:23] That's on my to-do list is to start diving into it and reading and learning and getting better. There's gotta be a better way than just the whiteboard
[00:03:30] Islin Munisteri: I agree. Yeah, I have, but I, my own management system is pretty all over the place. It's like a mixture of HubSpot tasks and then tasks on Microsoft planner for internal projects.
[00:03:43] And then like my phone in the notes
[00:03:45] Kevin Mulrane: app. Yeah. You have a big big Evernote write tons of notes and try and stay organized using Evernote, like having it on my phone is super easy. But yeah, I know there's a better way. So I got to get better at it eventually
[00:03:58] Islin Munisteri: and speaking of learning like what's your biggest learning experience been so far?
[00:04:04] Kevin Mulrane: Oh man, that's a really good question. Biggest learning experience. I think, going all the way back to early in my career, I I think that I'm naturally sales was so wildly uncomfortable. Like I mentioned, question whether or not sales was the right type of career path for me.
[00:04:20] So there was a lot of elements of sales that I thought were really uncomfortable and really daunting and really challenging. And so I think like the first, 12 to 18 months of my sales career was probably like the biggest in terms of like where I grew the most and change and probably learned the most.
[00:04:35] Because again, it was all very It was all very new and not comfortable. It didn't come natural at all. And I'd say that's probably, the, I think about the biggest kind of transformation in my career. I think that probably was it because once I got through that, I had a little bit more, a better direction of where I wanted to go and the types of things I wanted to do.
[00:04:53] But that was a really big growth moment for me.
[00:04:55] Islin Munisteri: What was the biggest growth ? Like? Was was it like trying to become like going from an SDR 10 80 or what was it the prospecting or was it like just saying things said no to all the time? Or what was it in sales that
[00:05:08] Kevin Mulrane: really, I think it was the, yeah.
[00:05:11] It's I think honestly, I think very much, a much more. Than I am an extrovert. When I first started off in sales, the first company I worked for, we didn't have SDRs or AEs. Like we were full cycle. We weren't it was the hundred and 50 cold calls a day. Like it was just a very much like a called a high, intense atmosphere where you couldn't really hide.
[00:05:34] Losing one, it wasn't really much of an option. And so, just gonna have to find a way. And so I think the. The cold calling piece was really uncomfortable and difficult for me. We were calling into high level executives. And so if they gave you a really tough, difficult objection, like you had to find a way to, I don't want to say stand up to it, but address it head on and try and find ways to keep the conversation moving in a positive direction.
[00:05:58] And i, I loved, I love the research side of things. I loved the, identifying the prospecting piece. Like I thought I was, I enjoyed that because it was like a creative problem solving of saying, cool, like I've got a, I've got a product and a solution. Who can I help? And trying to make that like matchmaking came pretty was fun for me actually.
[00:06:15] I think it was just, having to make those cold calls and people. Not being happy to hear from salespeople. Sometimes cold calls was a, a tough task and we weren't allowed to use email, nothing like it was just straight, cold calling all day, every day. Yeah, definitely built up some callous for me.
[00:06:30] Islin Munisteri: Oh, wow. That's that's amazing. Yeah, you can prospect on so many channels, different channels now, it's like phone or email or LinkedIn or slack or there's so many
[00:06:40] Kevin Mulrane: different ways now. Yeah. And formats, right? You can do video or voice notes to, or like you said, the phone or LinkedIn.
[00:06:47] So it's, it's, it's evolved a lot over time for sure.
[00:06:52] Islin Munisteri: Cool. And I had a question. So what, what made you realize you, you want to move more towards like the operations and rev ops side after sales?
[00:07:04] Kevin Mulrane: Yeah. So the kind of speak to that journey a little bit. I think so early on in my sales career, though, I found that.
[00:07:12] I was more passionate and I found it more rewarding to be more on my feet the coaching or mentorship side of things. And so I knew pretty early on in my career, I want to take the path more towards the leadership then individual contributor. And I knew it because when I was, kinda more in that senior AE role and I would help or coach or, just strategize with other folks.
[00:07:31] And I saw other people closing deals. I was getting. know more and more excited to see them succeed. Than I was like even my own book of business. And I think my first path was more into sales management and sales leadership. And I realized that as the, call it the sales playbook and the approach like we said, it was evolving a lot.
[00:07:50] There was a lot more tools, there's a lot more channels. I always love the coaching side of things, but I found that I started to really gravitate towards the ops because I felt like you orchestrate like this really beautiful system. Really, you you can have the best people in the world, but without the right systems, the right process it's gonna be really hard to maximize your efficiency and drive your the best results possible. Data geek. Like I love geeking out over data and reporting and understanding, how things are actually happening and where you can find areas of opportunity to optimize or make things better.
[00:08:21] And I think I gravitated towards that because I felt that's how I could maximize, results for my team, the best it was if I got really into the opposite side of things, whether it was revamping a Salesforce process, but a reporting, or just even simply like making sure we had the best tech stack and it all aligned seamlessly.
[00:08:38] So I think that's how I gravitated more towards that operational side of things.
[00:08:44] Islin Munisteri: That's great. Oh, wow. So it's good to see how you moved more from a closer to more of a coacher to like maximizing efficiency of systems. And I guess as you've ascended in leadership, like what was the single source of truth in your tech stack or I don't know, depending on where you've worked
[00:09:00] Kevin Mulrane: or, yeah.
[00:09:02] It's, I think the core of it has always been the CRM. And making sure that your CRM sort of sits in the middle of it all and then everything either flows into, or out of that seamlessly. But I've worked for, I've worked for companies where there really was no semblance of a CRM.
[00:09:18] And so we had to Institute build something. I've also worked for other companies where they had. Eight to 10 years of really bad habits and bad data integrity going into the CRM. And you had to unwind to that. For me, I've always found that sort of is your single source of truth.
[00:09:33] And if you use that as like your, the core of what you're building things tend to see can flow seamlessly from, from.
[00:09:42] Islin Munisteri: Great. So I guess like flowing from the CRM what has been the hardest thing you've done with your tech stack?
[00:09:50] Kevin Mulrane: Hardest thing? I, there's one hardest thing I'll mention, and I'll also mentioned the most font, cause I think that's the cooler story, but I think the hardest thing sometimes is just getting user adoption.
[00:10:02] I've worked with and consulted for companies that are paying outrageous amounts of money for different tools. And the user adoption is so poor. And I find that for a couple of reasons, one, the company has a problem they want to solve when they think simply by implementing tech, it'll fix the problem.
[00:10:20] But the behaviors like the actual human behaviors aren't behind it or they don't, or it doesn't come from the top down in terms of. How it's going to be helpful to a rep, right? So they're going through the motions feeling like it's not going to be helpful for them, and it's just feeding better data, better reporting or something, or monitoring of performance to the management team.
[00:10:38] I've seen that to be a challenge across a lot of different organizations know, or, not having the expertise to set it up properly where you get high user adoption. I think that's probably the more than one of the bigger challenges that I see companies face. I think the most fun one for me though, was most recently at on-ramp when we we got to build Salesforce completely blank slate, like completely just build it up completely from scratch.
[00:11:02] I loved that because I've done so much of the come in optimize the CRM, and it's this huge web that's tangled, and you got to try and fix it and uncover what's going on and what's broken. And that takes a lot of time and a lot of resource where we kinda have this blank slate and you're like, you can build it exactly how you see fit and build it the right way the first time.
[00:11:22] And that was probably the most fun one for me out of all of them.
[00:11:31] Islin Munisteri: Cool. That's exciting. That's why, yeah. When we're building out our HubSpot instance at Theia, that was, pretty fun. And we like onboarding and implementation. Cause they're at the beginning of a lot of different companies implementing HubSpot or adding HubSpot to Salesforce or something.
[00:11:48] So yeah, it's pretty fun when there's not a ton. Tim Pullman, but then there's also we also implemented a pretty complicated system for an automotive parts company. And there was like big commerce and then we want E-bay to come through. And then we, it was just like, all these different systems wanted to flow through HubSpot.
[00:12:09] And so that was pretty, pretty fun too. Yeah. I guess, what's your philosophy on rev ops and how teams should interact across sales, marketing, customer success?
[00:12:23] Kevin Mulrane: Yeah, this is, this is a really, this is a really big one because I do think that rev ops really is. The glue that can bring, all of these different departments together.
[00:12:33] And so I think part of it is you have to think about first and foremost, like structure and is rev ops going to be a single team that works with, from marketing to sales, to customer success. Where are you going to have individualized specialty of, marketing, marketing ops, a sales ops and a CS.
[00:12:50] But I think Alignment to me is one of the most important things, because, if there isn't alignment between those three different departments, that's when problems happen. That's when, if you have misaligned goals, processes, whatever it may be like, that's where you're going to run into challenges.
[00:13:02] So I think part of it's like the alignment of the structure, making sure like we're reporting lines, I'll go into somebody that's. The entire revenue piece, right? Whether it's the new business, right at the pipeline generation, from marketing and even the retention expansion from customer success. So I think that's a big part of it.
[00:13:17] But I really think that, it's one of the, one of the areas where rev ops or, even if it's to marketing, to sales, to customer success operations, I think that those those roles are. I have the biggest impact and the biggest ability to be super collaborative with the different groups.
[00:13:33] And so I think if they are not, working in unison, things will break down and you won't be able to maximize maximize the performance. I've also seen it where, especially within sales and marketing is a great example where, marketing's got their dashboards and their reporting and sales has the errors and they're just two completely different things that are not aligning.
[00:13:50] And I think, as you're thinking about how to build out your rev ops, kind of functions and specialties, ensuring that collaboration is on the top of that list. And you're hiring folks that are gonna, drive really great collaboration across the departments.
[00:14:06] Islin Munisteri: And I think the collaboration piece is huge. Like I have a lot of folks. Sometimes, ops is part of the team I was reading. I was actually reading an article from Sarah McNamara, I think on like she had posted on LinkedIn that like marketing ops is the killer of dreams for CMO's from like another, like someone had, I forgot who had written.
[00:14:36] But it was like, it was hilarious. Cause it's you need to have your marketing ops team obviously executing the campaigns. You can't just put them in a silo
[00:14:46] Kevin Mulrane: yeah, for, for me and for, into, looking at a lot of other companies, I think those that are putting operations a little bit more at the forefront and they're hiring operations on the earlier side, giving them a seat at the table, making sure they have, they've got, they're heavily involved.
[00:15:03] Those are the companies that are getting really efficient and really fast. And those that are doing it on the earlier side of things, I just see our. Just catching momentum and make, scaling at a much faster and accelerate at a much faster rate. So it's it's it's interesting to see those that do it early and do it right.
[00:15:18] Versus those that kind of hold off on the function.
[00:15:20] Islin Munisteri: Yeah, it's really, it's interesting. One, like at what point you, you adopt a rev ops team, is it like, is that series a or is it a series B or do you need a ton of help? Like at series C? What, like when is the best time to, to implement
[00:15:37] Kevin Mulrane: revops
[00:15:38] yeah. I think it, again, I think it's a tricky question and I think it's tricky because there's a lot of different variables that are going to dictate this. But I think a general rule of thumb is, once you get to a place where I'd say you have anywhere from call it three to five sales reps who pretty much consistently hitting targets is a pretty good time to, to invest in rev ops.
[00:16:00] I look at rev ops as. A function that enables a repeatable processes, repeatable skillsets. And once you start to get, the repeatability proven in your business, it's good to bring somebody in that can then go take that document it and help you scale it. And it's interesting.
[00:16:19] Cause I think the other kind of, one of the other variables to think about if you're a founder or CEO there's a really interesting article written recently. And I think the title of it was what type of VP of sales. And they put a VP of sales into four different buckets and one of them was operations.
[00:16:35] And so I think it's also, there's not, it's not as easy as saying, oh, series day, you do it. Or this revenue point, you could do it. I think it's also really taking a look at, the skill sets that you have on the. And the types of individuals that you have on the team and then where you see your opportunity to kind of counterbalance those skillsets and strengths.
[00:16:52] So I've always been like, for example, when I was building a sales team and we were really early and we had a lot of opportunity on the CRM and our process side of things, I hired my first sales rep and rev ops at the same time and then we scaled and we grew revenue 1500%. You know, it's, it's, it's not as cut and dry as I think, like series day or this much head count and things of that nature.
[00:17:13] But if you're, if you're running and financially, you're in a good place to do it, if you do it on the earlier side, it's going to be, it's going to pay its dividends. In my opinion.
[00:17:24] Islin Munisteri: I agree with that wholeheartedly. I wouldn't mind growing revenue, 1500%.
[00:17:30] Kevin Mulrane: It's but again, I you know, you gotta take a really hard look at a lot of different variables, but yeah, it was a, that was an exciting time for sure.
[00:17:39] Islin Munisteri: Wow. And what's the best piece of career advice you would tell your younger self?
[00:17:46] Kevin Mulrane: Oh man, that's a good one.
[00:17:48] I actually was having a conversation about this not too long ago. But I think the biggest piece of advice, I would tell my younger self. I actually what would I the conversation I was having, and this is, I think can be very, very relevant for a lot of the sales folks is Don't spend so much money when you're younger.
[00:18:05] Really? That was one that I definitely learned the hard way call it, but I think if if I am kinda starting off my career and sales or revenue ops is a an area of interest for me, I would say, go and. If you're evaluating opportunities, find the leader or find the, find your future boss that you want to work for or work with.
[00:18:27] Find the best leader, find the best manager. Put yourself in an environment to learn from the absolute best. I see a lot of sales ops and rev ops folks that come into the business and they don't really have anyone that can mentor a guide them internally. And they may have taken that job because they were just thrown out a much higher or larger base salary, whatever the case is.
[00:18:44] So don't chase the money, find a great leader, find a great mentor. Someone you can learn from, and that will set up your career and will pay much, much bigger dividends later on in your career
[00:18:55] Islin Munisteri: cool. Yeah, that I think we had someone else mentioned mentors, like in our first episode, like mentoring is really important.
[00:19:05] And what do you think of when I say the term rev ops roadmap?
[00:19:12] Kevin Mulrane: Ops roadmap. The first thing that's coming to mind is what are all the projects that revenue ops is going to be working on? That's going to drive back to a positive revenue implication and like timelines of projects, owners of projects.
[00:19:28] I would think of it just similar to a product roadmap that any product team would be working on. Just tailored to revenue officer's sales ops.
[00:19:36] Islin Munisteri: Cool. That sounds great. Cause I, it was interesting. Someone asked me on slack, like what do you think is can you implement a rev ops roadmap for us?
[00:19:45] Whoa. That is a new term. I haven't.
[00:19:49] Kevin Mulrane: Yeah. Yeah, I actually I think that's like that's stuff I actually get super excited about because again I love identifying projects and efficiencies and like that creative problem solving piece where you're like, Hey, if we're able to fix this or do this, here's what it can do for.
[00:20:04] Here's the impact it can have on revenue. Yeah, I, that sounds like a fun project.
[00:20:10] Islin Munisteri: And is there anything we haven't covered? Do you want to talk about your consultancy or SaaStr or?
[00:20:16] Kevin Mulrane: No. You know what I think one of the things that, again, this is dovetailing between the two of them I would stay is rev ops is becoming a huge a huge space.
[00:20:25] And if you look at a lot of different, vendors that are in like a called the revenue intelligence space, They're just building tools to make revenue operations folks like even more powerful, more impactful and make their jobs easier. Yeah I've kinda, organically I fell more into operations type roles or, I think I'm one of those.
[00:20:45] Sales leaders with a very kind of revops minded, if you will. So I kind of see a lot of these tools and companies that we work with at SaaStr or even to, as I'm talking to founders on the consulting side it's really interesting how folks are perceiving rev ops. So it's I think it's a good time to be in rev ops.
[00:21:04] Islin Munisteri: Yeah, I agree. It's an exciting time and there's, I think there's plenty of business for everyone. Across the
[00:21:11] Kevin Mulrane: board. Yeah. Yeah. There, again, I think there's, it's interesting. Cause I, I think there's going to be some companies or founders or CEOs who just still don't truly understand the impact or exactly what the role, does others.
[00:21:25] Totally bought in believe it's T it and are going for it. So I think like you just think of it as a race. Like it's curious to see who's going to come out on top, but I think those that embrace rev ops I think are are well ahead in that race right now. So that's exciting. That's
[00:21:39] Islin Munisteri: awesome.
[00:21:40] Cool. It was great having you on Kevin and I look forward to seeing you soon.
[00:21:45] Kevin Mulrane: Thank you. Appreciate it.