Hiring a Revenue Operations Professional: CRM Management
Welcome to the second article in a multi-part series that will help you find the perfect fit for your revenue operations team. Because revenue operations often spans technical system administration, data analytics, enablement, process management, and project management, we’ll break down the different functions to cover them in more detail.
While it is possible to find someone who can pull off all of these functions, we feel obligated to point out that placing the burden of managing all of these components on one human will not set them up for success.
When you find a rockstar who enjoys their work, we recommend letting them focus on what they do best to avoid burnout. For an explanation of why we don’t feel it fair to an employee to manage both a MAP and CRM, check out our first article in the series.
When to Hire an Experienced Professional
I’ve advised many early-stage companies, and not one has regretted taking my advice to hire an experienced professional when they are first implementing a CRM or attempting to scale an existing org. I have had plenty of people come back to me after they decided to ignore my advice, agreeing with my estimate that they would spend more money their way than had they implemented it the right way to begin with.
I get it. Talented professionals are expensive. When you have a limited budget (and an executive team that doesn’t value CRM expertise), it’s easier to hire someone who just finished their administrator exam. Plus, humans are pretty terrible at holding out for long-term rewards when a short-term gain is staring them in the face.
There are multiple benefits to hiring a seasoned professional, including:
- The ability to identify potential pitfalls with the requested infrastructure/process
- A wealth of knowledge on best practices
- The ability to automate mundane tasks (or push back on implementing them in the first place)
- Experience with ancillary applications
- A network of experienced professionals to leverage
Data is the heart of any business. A poorly implemented CRM that’s difficult to use can proliferate data issues that happen at a smaller scale in any business. According to a recent article by CaliberMind:
- Employees waste 50% of their time on mundane data tasks
- 20% of potential revenue is lost due to bad data
- Up to 30% of operations costs are due to bad data
You won’t regret hiring someone who can help minimize your data problems before they start.
Hiring an Advanced Administrator/Developer
The Technical Requirements
When looking for a CRM expert, search for several years of experience on any given platform, not just the platform your organization purchased.
All CRMs perform the same functions. They store contact information and help you facilitate every piece of the revenue journey (in theory--your organization may choose to go with different platforms for marketing and customer success for very valid reasons, but that’s a different article). As long as your candidate has a lot of experience and glowing reviews from their references, it really doesn’t matter whether they know Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, or Zoho.
If they’ve only worked with Hubspot, they may have a steeper learning curve unless they also have a lot of experience with automation tools like Zapier or Workato. It just depends on the nature of their experience.
A short list of requirements:
- 3-5 years of experience as an administrator for Microsoft Dynamics or Salesforce
- Has integrated multiple applications with the CRM
- Experience implementing contact/lead statuses, opportunity stages, and cases (if applicable)
- Has automated multiple processes using flows & process builder
- Extensive experience with Lightning (either migrating an org or deep support for an existing instance)
- Experience with managing CPQ and working with finance to determine approval routing for discounts and revenue recognition calculations
- Has supported reports and dashboards
- Bonus: A certification (or two) in any of the major platforms
- Bonus: Experience with a major implementation, system refresh, or overhaul
- Bonus: The ability to map schemas and explain how data flows into external reporting systems.
Why do we recommend some analytics background?
While we’re not recommending you look for someone with query language experience, we recommend that you find a professional who understands the basics of data structure. They should know how different objects relate to one another so they can build you a CRM that will scale to meet future reporting needs. System administration and reporting capabilities are too intertwined not to require some overlap.
Q: How do you stay current on the latest releases from Salesforce?
Why it’s asked: A primary administrator needs a process to stay up to date on the latest releases from Salesforce because they may negatively impact your implementation. Salesforce sometimes rolls out features that can break existing processes or page layouts if it’s enabled in production without testing and modifications. It also provides an opportunity to improve existing workflows.
Example Answer: As a certified administrator, I’m required to keep up to date on my certification with tests on the releases, but I also prefer to read through the notes/go through the trailhead modules/watch supporting documentation/discuss the release with my local admin networking group.
Q: Do you have any certifications?
Why it’s asked: This shouldn’t be your only requirement. I’ve hired people who tested well but struggled to work with end-users to discover the real issue that needed to be solved. Technical know-how doesn’t always translate to practical application. However, it isn’t easy to pass advanced certifications, so they should carry some weight.
Example Answer: Yes, I have my basic Salesforce admin certificate plus a number of super badges on Trailhead focusing on sales processes, security, and workflow automation.
Q: When would you use a validation rule, and when would you use a flow?
Why it’s asked: To make sure they actually passed an administration certification. I had one person get offended when I asked such a simple question, but people aren’t always honest about their credentials.
Example Answer: A validation rule will prevent someone from saving a record if they have missing or incorrect information. A flow is usually used to automate data entry, alert someone that an event has happened, or some other action.
Q: How have you handled territory management in the past?
Why it’s asked: This is a great way to see their problem-solving process because it’s a finicky area of Salesforce. Note that the last thing I want to hear is “the sales ops team uploaded CSV files on a quarterly basis.”
Example Answer: We implemented Salesforce Territory Management but found several issues, particularly with integrations meeting a standard data format. Salesforce has since updated territory management, but I would still closely review requirements before using it again. At my old org, I made my own territory management system using custom objects, process builder, and flows.
Q: How have you handled quotes in the past?
Why it’s asked: This is another great way to see their problem-solving process because there are multiple ways to solve it. You could use the standard Salesforce quotes object, implement Salesforce CPQ, or use a third-party application like Captera.
Example Answer: At my last company, we managed SaaS opportunities and renewals. This meant weighing the requirements from Finance to calculate discounts, ARR, ACV, etc., with ease of use for the sales team. The finance team worked with sales management to agree on an approval process, which required multiple approvers with specific rules on who can approve all layers versus only to a specific percentage--this was to prevent asking one person lower in the chain for approval after the VP of Sales had already approved the discount. Approvals were also needed for extended payment terms, and threshold opportunity amounts for approval discount rates.
Q: Name a time you made a mistake in the system and how you handled it.
Why it’s asked: Humans make mistakes. How we deal with mistakes differentiates a bad admin from an excellent admin.
Example Answer: I got word that an employee was fired and inactivated their Salesforce account. Unfortunately, they hadn’t been informed they were fired yet, and it caused a bit of a situation. I apologized profusely to the manager and talked to HR about how their notification process works. We added a field for Time/Date Effective to avoid similar issues in the future.”
Hiring a Secondary Support/Jr. Admin
The Technical Requirements
This is a great opportunity for someone in the company to switch positions. Let’s say one of your SDR reps isn’t performing well but has a knack for training the rest of the team on Salesforce. It may benefit everyone involved if they’re interested in making the switch.
This position usually encompasses time-consuming but mundane tasks initially to get the person familiar with the system. These duties likely include user administration, report building, dashboard maintenance, data quality review and maintenance, and simple field additions.
A short list of requirements:
- A knack for asking clarifying questions to understand why something is required in the system
- A good eye for numbers and a love for process
- A willingness to jump into Trailhead and start learning the system before an interview
The most critical questions will be around soft skills. We want to know that the candidate is eager to learn and willing to read through Salesforce documentation, watch YouTube how-to videos, or Google for an answer while you’re stuck in a meeting and can’t answer their question.
The most challenging part of any administrator’s job is how to say no tactfully. This means they also have to assess their priorities, get to the root of the problem the person is trying to solve and look at alternatives before giving the hard ‘No.” I look for people who:
- Problem solve creatively
- Bounce back from mistakes and look at them as a learning opportunity
- People-pleasing behavior (with experience tactfully saying no)
- Unquenchable curiosity
- Transparency takes priority over ego
Ultimately, you can train people to ramp up the technical skills. You can’t change someone’s character.
Q: Name a time you made a mistake and explain how you handled it?
Why it’s asked: I want to know that my future employee believes that bad news must travel faster than good news, but it’s the truth.
Answer: I accidentally shuffled the fields on a worksheet. There was a blank column in the middle, which I caught, but not before I had sorted part of the sheet. I let my boss know the minute I realized things didn’t look right, and she pointed out that we still had the original CSV exports. It took a long time to redo the work, so I always check my spreadsheets before sorting them now.
Q: How do you prioritize your work?
Why it’s asked: Younger employees tend to either take on too much or tell people no without explaining. Both are coachable, but I want to know that they’re comfortable asking questions and know to align priorities with company goals.
Answer: I prefer to meet with my manager weekly to review my priorities to make sure we’re on the same page. I don’t always know when a strategy has changed or people have deprioritized a product—getting an opportunity to sync cuts down on those gaps and gives me a way to explain what’s happening to the people who are being impacted.
Q: Tell me about a time you had to tell someone requesting a change, “No.”
Why it’s asked: Emotional intelligence matters. I care more about how they handled the interaction with the person than why they said no.
Answer: A manager wanted to collect eighteen data points in separate fields on the opportunity object. The object already had over 20 validation rules. I’d like to point out this was a system I inherited. Instead of saying yes and further frustrating an already irate sales team, I asked the manager to help me cut down on the rules already in place before we added new rules. They had heard people complaining and ultimately decided not to ask for the 18 data points.
The Profile of a Rockstar
The longer people spend as a developer or primary administrator of Salesforce, the stronger the tendency is to maximize system efficiency and not dig into how changes impact the end-user. Hire someone who understands that end-users are their customers and is obsessed with making their job easier.
If an admin is curious and always learning, that’s a great thing. But ultimately, I want someone who understands the business needs and finds a way to meet them with the smallest impact on the end-user.