Today, Mahesh Kumar, Senior Director of Revenue Operations, talks with host Islin Munisteri about orchestrating all the data points in the revenue operations process, through operations and handoff. We talk about what are the decisions you want to make from the CRM, which is the single source of truth. We also talk about building for scale, and there are (unfortunately) no quick fixes. You need to have the right mindset when examining the data, and try to understand what it's telling you.
Mahesh is currently Senior Director for Revenue Operations at AppViewX, a certification lifecycle automation solution. He started in software engineering and later moved to presales and marketing. He graduated from university in India.
Connect with our guest, Mahesh Kumar, on LinkedIn
[00:00:20] Islin Munisteri: Hi,
[00:00:20] this is Islin Munisteri with Theia Strategies and I'm the proud host of rev ops careers podcast today. We have
[00:00:27] Mahesh Kumar on,
[00:00:29] He is currently senior director at revenue or senior director for revenue operations at app view X a certification lifestyle. Life cycle automation solution. He started in software engineering and later moved to presales and marketing.
[00:00:45] He graduated from university
[00:00:47] in India. I'm glad to have you on Mahesh
[00:00:51] Mahesh Kumar: hey, slim. Great chatting with you today.
[00:00:54] Islin Munisteri: It's great. Why don't we get started? So how did you start your career and your rev ops journey?
[00:01:01] Mahesh Kumar: Oh yeah. As you mentioned. I started as a software engineer and did some coding here and there and then move into the presales function.
[00:01:10] And I spent quite a good amount of time interacting with the sales organization when I was working for the presales. And then I shifted gears into marketing, build the entire marketing team from scratch. I had the vantage point of. What do you call sales as sales marketing? And that kind of enabled me to get into sales operations and eventually transformed into a revenue operations.
[00:01:37] Islin Munisteri: That sounds great. And what did what did you not like about, about software engineering or what made you move into pre-sales and marketing?
[00:01:46] Mahesh Kumar: Oh, it was more towards the the customer interactions. When I was a software engineer, got a couple of calls with customers and that kind of intrigued me and okay.
[00:01:57] Rather than just looking into. Computers and doing some coding, it would be good to be on the customer facing side and talk to them and understand their problems. So that was the the real thing that kind of made me more out of the software engineering side.
[00:02:14] Islin Munisteri: great. And I guess what's your biggest challenge now in your current
[00:02:21] Mahesh Kumar: Yeah, I would say the biggest challenge in the current role would be to. Orchestrate, all the data points in the revenues, function. So we have lots of data points in handoffs, in different processes. And you have so many different tools in the tech stack. So orchestrating all those data points and help take business decisions.
[00:02:45] That's the biggest challenge I would say.
[00:02:50] Islin Munisteri: And I guess, how have you been, how have you been able to, I guess come through that challenge, is it like slimming down your tech stack or is it having the right people on the
[00:03:01] Mahesh Kumar: Oh, it's it's definitely a combination of both and would say.
[00:03:08] That's not going to be a, quote single source of truth, but it's more towards each. And every, of course, CRM is going to be a single source of truth in a way, but in terms of the decisions that you want to make or what exactly. We want to solve, you have to look into different tools or different tech stack, but definitely sliming down the tech stack and having the right people.
[00:03:31] Mindset in terms of looking into the data is that's the key actually.
[00:03:37] Islin Munisteri: And what, what is the right mindset when you're looking into the data? Is there like you need to be open? What do you mean by the right
[00:03:46] Mahesh Kumar: Yeah, when I say the right mindset, Yeah, it should be like typically we may have some prejudice in terms of oh, this is happening because of this.
[00:03:54] You have to be absolutely open minded and just look at the data and trying to uncover what data is trying to say. And the other thing is also about as I mentioned, right? It's more about orchestrating the sales marketing and everything. So you have to like open mind about okay, how the leads are flowing or like what is happening on the other side of the equation.
[00:04:13] So it has to be the the complete birdseye view, the entire processes and the different revenue functions, revenue teams, and that mind is important.
[00:04:26] Islin Munisteri: And I guess, what was your biggest learning experience so far?
[00:04:32] Mahesh Kumar: That's a great a great question. Islin my biggest learning experience is to build for scale, right?
[00:04:40] Typically in startup ecosystem, we might not have all the necessary resources and there will be always some sort of resource crunch. Be it like, I mean people or like necessary tools in the tech stack or whatever it is, end of the day, you we forced you to do some real, what do call like quick fix or short term solutions, but that might definitely not, that will not help in the long term.
[00:05:10] And that is my biggest learning, right? So build for. So things might work really well today, but is that going to work when the organization is going to grow? From stage A to stage B, that's definitely critical. And I would say that's my biggest learning rather than kind of rebuilding and re redoing the same thing after a few years, it's always think from the scalability point of view whenever we do
[00:05:34] Islin Munisteri: gotcha. And I guess what do you mean by scalability? Point of view? Is it like, as you add more people in process to the system, you're gonna scale more? What, like how do you get around the
[00:05:43] quick fix aspect?
[00:05:46] Mahesh Kumar: Yeah, it's it's like when the artificial grow from, let's say X million to two X, million, or five X million, right?
[00:05:51] Like you probably there'd be multiple products to sell multiple product line items that can be different way how the solutions are delivered to the customers. For example, SaaS versus solution, giving a solution on premise or virtual solution and making the solution available on some cloud marketplace and things like that.
[00:06:11] You may end up interacting with partners. You may end up Like having a direct sales channel and a channel based sales channel and things like that. So when you, we start probably it's not like everything, right? Like we start at some point some what do you call like a minor scale. And when we grow, we may have all these different aspects, adding more people, more processes like.
[00:06:32] Different routes to market and things like that. So that's where that scalability is key whenever we built something on the website.
[00:06:41] Islin Munisteri: And I know you said your single source of truth in your tech stack is your
[00:06:45] CRM, right?
[00:06:47] Islin Munisteri: But I guess you have like other things piping into it, like snow.
[00:06:52] Snowflake or like an ETL layer or do is like, what's all in in the data
[00:06:58] Mahesh Kumar: stack? Yeah, so we have some visualization tools that kind of help us to visualize the data. And we also have like bunch of different tools in the tech stack that kind of that kind of adds, what do you call a.
[00:07:13] I would, yeah, that kind of adds more facets to the data in terms of what is happening within my opportunities, what is happening within my customer ecosystem, right? What is happening within my demand ecosystem, like demand generation side and all those things.
[00:07:25] And finally, of course, some sort of visualization on top of all those things to consume the data.
[00:07:32] Islin Munisteri: And I guess what's your philosophy on rev ops and how
[00:07:35] teams should interact?
[00:07:37] Mahesh Kumar: I love this question. Excellent. My philosophy of rev ops is it's not about support operations. It's more a strategic function, right? It's about like how rev ops can help businesses to be more nimble, more agile. And it's about. Helping their own new teams to take right business decisions.
[00:07:58] Typically when you see at the first hand, it looks like rev ops is consolidating all the operations. I use the word orchestrating operations rather than consolidating operations. My philosophy is rev ops a strategic role and it's adds strategic value to the organization rather than just keeping the day to day.
[00:08:16] Life of the sales are like revenue, people, revenue, individuals, like up and running. It's more a strategic function.
[00:08:23] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha. And what, and I had a question there. I think I lost it. I would have to
[00:08:28] Islin Munisteri: what, so what do you think of when I say the term like rev ops roadmap,
[00:08:35] Mahesh Kumar: rev ops roadmap. Is more it's not static. It keeps evolving, typically we plan for maybe six months to a year, but it definitely keeps evolving based on the priorities and the business demands. That's where I mentioned, right? Like it's more the ops should, there are rev ops should be like a strategic function and they have to be ready to Change and accommodate necessary initiatives in their roadmap based on the business demands.
[00:09:03] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha. And then continue to change with what the business is demanding
[00:09:08] at. Absolutely. You're right at, at that time.
[00:09:11] Islin Munisteri: And I guess what is the best piece of career advice you would tell your younger self?
[00:09:17] Mahesh Kumar: Oh, that's a, that's an interesting one. Yeah. Think from long term per rather than short term, that's the, again, it trace back to the scalability that's the biggest advice.
[00:09:28] So every, like not to think from a short term point of view and quick fixes, rather think from like long term point of view and then like implications at the impacts. Yeah. Think broader, I would say, right? Have the 15,000 feet level visibility rather than working at a hundred feet.
[00:09:47] Gotcha. And
[00:09:48] Islin Munisteri: How would you apply that to your career?
[00:09:49] I guess like how, how do you take that bigger view when it comes to your career?
[00:09:57] Mahesh Kumar: Yeah it's more when you when you have the bigger view, you. Try to orchestrate the siloed functions, siloed data points, siloed processes, and orchestrate and bring it together and help business maximize results.
[00:10:10] That's the strategic goal, right? How can when you have the bigger view you will be able to orchestrate things and bring things together.
[00:10:18] Islin Munisteri: and I guess you had during the philosophy question, you talked about orchestrating rev ops versus consolidating rev ops.
[00:10:26] So do, you wanna talk more about the orchestration versus consolidation?
[00:10:31] Mahesh Kumar: Absolutely. Uh, Typically when we say rev ops there's the mindset where okay, I'm going to consolidate my sales ops CSOPs or marketing ops and bring them to there. That's a I'm not saying that's right or wrong.
[00:10:44] That's a viewpoint, right? When I say orchestration, there are certain portions of marketing ops that has to be within marketing actually. However, from the revenue ops perspective, it's not about it's not about just bringing them together and have all the ops in to work together.
[00:10:59] It's more towards they can be part of different functions, but it's about the processes, the data handshakes, all those things has to be aligned and orchestrated. So it doesn't matter where they sit in the, chart what matters is like how they work together. And that, that's what I say by orchestration.
[00:11:15] There are certain decisions that probably like the function has to take in terms of. Bring the right tool or or like a specific processes. But of course they had to like with rev ops and the rev op helps with other functions like the customer facing teams or like the selling teams and everyone.
[00:11:35] So that way it's more towards, it's more like orchestrating rather than consolidating. That's the role that RevOps needs to play. In my view,
[00:11:43] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha. That that's, to hear. And I know that you've had a pretty long career at AppViewX and so I guess can you tell us more about AppViewX and like why you've stayed so long?
[00:11:54] It's been amazing. Like you've spent, I think, five to 10 years there. So it, it's I guess it's rare experience to see in a rev ops resume where everyone's changing roles every two years.
[00:12:05] Mahesh Kumar: Yeah. That's right. I still now, yeah I'm like spending 10 years currently around like 10 years with AppViewX now.
[00:12:11] And it's a very nice journey. I really enjoy working here. The benefit I had with the experience I got here is is more like I saw the organization. At a very smaller scale to what it is today, actually. So that's when the learning from why somebody should build things for scale, right?
[00:12:27] Over the course of 10 years the growth of violation. So a lot of changes. So that's when the, okay, it's not like about what we do today. It's about whether this process or whether this particular tech stack will be viable will be what do you call will be adding value after.
[00:12:44] X number of years, or once the reaches that particular stage in revenue and whatnot. The other good thing about my experience with app UX is the, I would say the benefit I got in terms of working for like presales working closely with sales and. Get to build the marketing actually, and sales.
[00:13:03] So have that complete vantage point or viewpoint in terms of okay, what it means to be in sales team or what it means to be in marketing team. And how can we ally those teams better and together and help business maximize the results. So that's the I would say that's the additional leverage I got here by working across different streams.
[00:13:22] Islin Munisteri: great. And I guess can you tell me a little bit more about presales? Cause I feel like presales is like a newer term. That's come out of the rev ops journey and yeah. Can you just
[00:13:32] tell me more about presales?
[00:13:34] Mahesh Kumar: Yeah. So pre-sales it's more like a sales engineering I would say it'll overlap with that particular function typically.
[00:13:40] It's like you work closely with the sales reps a and help them the technical side of it, right? The, helping them with the solutioning, helping with them with some technical proof of concepts and. On those lines. So that way it's more you are not responsible for a direct sale, but you are bucking tight glove with the account, you and help make the sale happen.
[00:14:08] So it's more like a sales solution engineering kind of role.
[00:14:13] Islin Munisteri: that I've learned a bit about presales now. Now I know what presales are. that's great. Yeah. We see a lot of I know there's like solutions engineers that HubSpot and at other, tech organizations and yeah they're really helping build the solution for the clients so that the client can take it.
[00:14:30] Great. Yeah, I think. We've covered quite a bit in the podcast. And it, it was great
[00:14:34] having you on Mahesh.
[00:14:37] Mahesh Kumar: It was great interacting with you Islin always great talking to you and yeah, it's it's you have a fantastic day.
[00:14:44] Islin Munisteri: Thank you. Thanks Mahesh.