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Scaling from $10m to $50m ARR with Jeff Ignacio of UpKeep

This week, we are talking to Jeff Ignacio, currently serving as Head of Revenue and Growth Operations at UpKeep.

Working in sales operations and planning with a diverse finance, sales, and marketing operations background, Jeff sheds light upon the significance of technical skills in sales operations:

The edge of financial acumen in sales operations and planning

Jeff has significant finance experience. After completing his MBA from the University of Michigan, Jeff stepped into the world of finance as an analyst and consultant.

Jeff started his career in 2004 with Accenture, where he was a management consultant with a primary focus on problem-solving. Jeff also got the opportunity to work in Accenture’s technology division to help build customer marketing software and platforms. 

Accenture taught Jeff how the customer-centric market operates. As a consultant, he was a knowledge worker that provides intellectual insights and gives enterprises solutions. Jeff also got the hang of documentation at Accenture that involved problem-solving, functional specifications, technical specifications; these experiences helped Jeff a lot in excelling his journey into sales and rev ops.

The passion for sales 

I have been passionate about sales since high school, and have been in sales even before opting for finance in business school. Most of my sales experience belongs to my experience working as a town requisition recruiting partner in commercial real estate sales. 

Working as a financial analyst and having worked on different projects  such as commissions, planning, capacity modelling, I appreciate my sales operations partners. No matter how versatile the scope of the project was our focus has always been on to create value and profitability for our board and investors. 

Sales role offers more customer engagement as compared to the finance role, understanding this adds a versatility to our viewpoint of sales ops. 

At Visier, we increased employee headcount by 3X, annual revenue by 7x, and sales headcount by 2.5x. That not only included employees headcount increase but widened the service spectrum as well as Visier in the same year expanded into different roles from solution consultants, sales reps, count executives, outbound STRs to inbound LDRs, redevelopment reps, channel partners, and customer account management (selling to existing customers).

Why sales ops?

In Sales ops we should evaluate ourselves based on reliability needs – what are we trying to solve and why? In Jeff’s first sales ops job, he brought in analytical, planning, and finance skills along with a sales background, which gave him a different spectrum to start his career.

With his diverse background, Jeff provided Visier with insight into their productivity, ramps, and forecasting. Jeff suggested a sales motion-based analysis to initially understand the ICP (Ideal customer profile) and map what the top funnel should look like. This helped them capacity plan, allocate resources, shorten sales reps’ ramp time, and gave them the confidence to present their recruiting plan, training plan, territories, accounts, and expected productivity level.

This role helpedVisier grow from $10-$50m ARR

Technical skills as a fundamental of sales ops

Jeff has been interested in technology since high school. Then he would create HTML code on blogs. While working for commercial real estate, he needed another income source as it was 100% commission based. To freelance, Jeff installed the Open Source software.

On OpenSource, Jeff learned Magento, WordPress, and SugarCRM and offered his services to local non-profits. Jeff has certification in Tableau, which is an interactive data visualization software.  

At Google, Jeff taught SQL classes to his finance peers. Jeff quotes it as a fun experience as Google hosts a lot of data internally, so they had to mine it using SQL skills.

Jeff learned python later on as he would spend hours completing repetitive tasks. Python helped him automate them and reduce the time from 5 hours to 5 minutes, allowing him to focus on strategic questions and business.

Jeff worked as a director of sales ops initially and worked alongside a Salesforce developer. There he learned data mining through API.

The need for technical skills in sales ops varies with your position. If you are a series A or series B company, you can’t have the luxury to invest in a dedicated sales ops person. So, you have to get the work done yourself and critically test the product before hitting production.

As companies grow, roles become more narrow, and technical skills are not something to hoover your head-on. Although one should understand and use the same language as their critical peers because complex questions will come from your stakeholders, sales leaders, and market leaders but missing out on the technical details, this is where a sales ops person functions as a technical translator.

Master the CRM

Jeff shares tips on how to become more fluent technically. There are two big CRMs out there; HubSpot and Salesforce. If you’re in the HubSpot camp, go to HubSpot Academy, and if you are in the SalesForce camp, go to Salesforce Trailhead and don’t sleep for a couple of weeks.  

Difference between revenue operations and growth operations

After Visier, Jeff joined PatientPop and got his first role dealing with Revenue Operations. There was the head of the channel operations group and sold directly into the reseller program.

UpKeep has a clear goal to be customer-centric. To be successful, they got to have customer experience through marketing, sales, and customer service. 

UpKeep is a young company, on the rise, has some great investors and a great vision. To be successful, they must have a customer experience by marketing, sales, customer, and customers completely driving revenue operations.

Growth operations are primarily about growth hacking, digital growth managers, developing growth strategies, campaigns, and thinking about impacting the funnel.

Revenue operations are value operations because you’re extracting value from the customers and providing them back. In some organizations, rev ops are the head of marketing, sales, and customer success. Whereas, in others, they also partner with the finance team. 

Legacy contribution to Google 

Jeff worked as an intern in Intel Capital, where he worked for investing in companies, finding MNA’s and mergers, and working with management partners.

Jeff’s responsibility at Google was to support its enterprise group. His role was sales-based, but instead of focusing on ads and marketing, Jeff helped Google sell as a horizontal sales channel through vertical product lines. For example, Chromebooks, Google Apps, Google Maps, Google Cloud. Furthermore, at Google, Jeff contributed to territories, set up designs, quotas, forecasting, budgeting, unit economics, which gave him a great start in sales operations.

#1 sales metrics: Redefining ICP (Ideal customers profile) & enhancing the UX

Jeff stresses that defining and redefining your ICP is a collaborative partnership between product marketing and sales, which sales ops in a prime position to bring data into the conversation. Data mining can help refine and find insights to plan strategically.

Jeff says redefining an ICP is one of the most crucial things in a B2B organization, and a single department can never define it. It’s a collaboration of sales ops, marketing, and product.

Jeff shares that anyone can build programs, but it all falls under customer engagement experience, customer service, and product marketing teams at the end of the day. It is beneficial to partner with your customer. Make reviews a part of your customer engagement process. 

Who in the sales ops world would Jeff like to take out for lunch?

Jeffs biggest influence 

Key resources

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