It’s a big day for us at Growblocks after securing over €6M in seed funding from Project A Ventures and launching our beta out into the world.

By helping revenue operators manage their revenue engine, our revenue planning and execution platform (RP&E) is designed to help companies grow efficiently and predictably, even in our current economic climate.

While all of us are really happy reaching this new milestone. Hardly anyone on the team has not been part of a similar journey. And we all know that getting back to work asap is what is needed now.

But in light of this news, we wanted to explain why we created Growblocks, the belief system behind everything we do, and how we imagine modern companies will operate their revenue engine going forward.

Our beliefs

We believe that growing revenue is a science, not an art.

In other words, we believe that every revenue engine has a robust logic to it that is rooted in data. Everything can be explained. Which means everything can be improved by way of structured thinking and diligent execution.

We do not believe in the super-star AE. Or the magical marketing campaign. Sure, those things exist – and we won’t always know why these outliers are successful.

But the point is that we see them as outliers: hard or impossible to repeat at scale. And more than foolish to bank on for next year’s performance.

And we don’t mean “science” in comparison to definite sciences like math or physics. We see it much more similar to fields like economics and sociology. None of them can determine the behavior of one person exactly. But within reasonable parameters, they can explain the behavior of many people and then apply those to give predilection for events to come.

We think that revenue growth as a science achieves exactly that.

We know that using data and logic, we can explain why a revenue engine is behaving like it does. And we can use the same explanations to predict how the behavior of the engine will unfold in the future.

We think that companies that use this approach will have better visibility into not only this quarter, but several quarters to come. This enables them to make significantly better decisions now. This, in turn, results in building a revenue engine that is much less wasteful with its resources than otherwise.

We even believe that if more companies were to adopt this approach, we as a whole would live in a society that can achieve much more with the limited resources we have.

Instrumenting the science

While many of us at Growblocks are sporting fancy university degrees, no one feels fulfilled just having stumbled upon a new theory.

We were senior operators in scale-ups, and we applied this approach to running those revenue engines. While it clearly was not only up to us and the approach, the three companies we worked for reached two exits in the early nine digits, and the one that is pre-exit is currently valued at roughly half a billion.

The issue we came across, though, is that it is very difficult to apply this approach in the operational reality of companies.

This approach is data-intensive, computationally heavy, and needs to be simplified enough to be practical for revenue operators.

In other words, you need a tool. You need to instrument the science.

But … there is none.

People sometimes reflexively shout “BI” when you start a sentence with “data-driven.” But BI struggles to create logic between data points and has an even harder time projecting data into the future.

The other reflex hearing “future” or “planning” usually prompts financial planning tools. The problem with those is that they are focused on cost and use only very simple methods to project revenue.

In essence, neither of these solutions are built for purpose for modern revenue operators.

The Specter of Excel

This brings us to the only solution left for many operators out there that have come to share the same belief as we do: Excel.

In RevOps-circles, Excel is seen as the anti-tool. Or the wild-wild-west. No rules, no structure, and everything is possible. For RevOps, Excel is only a marginal step up from a pen & paper.

But without any other options available, what can you do?

While everyone but finance hates Excel for many different reasons, there are a few that stand out when trying to apply revenue growth as a science:

  1. Lots of admin, lots of breaking. Lots of issues, sure. But survivable.
  2. Data depth and flexibility is never enough. And let’s be honest, Excel was never built for this in the first place.

But what really stands out as the main issue is:

  1. Accessibility.

Accessibility is not about access control or governance. It is about the “Excel-literacy” needed to actually go into a spreadsheet and extract meaningful value.

I sometimes compare it to real accessibility issues like: is your office accessible to disabled people? Or is your software accessible to visually impaired people? Or do you speak the language of the country you are living in?

Because of that giant Excel-hurdle, even if you have the perfect revenue engine built, you will fail to deploy it as a tool for 95% of revenue experts in your commercial engine. And if that is the case, this wonderful “breakthrough” idea is useless. It will not create any value beyond the theoretical.

Why we created Growblocks

Our core belief of understanding revenue growth as a science drives two main missions:

  1. More people need to learn about this approach.
  2. People need to be able to actually apply this approach in the operational reality.

While €6M is a lot of money. We can’t do it all.

So for the first mission, we are organizing in a Cohort of senior RevOps folks, CROs and COOs to help each of us to get better but also to educate more and more others on our belief. If you feel you fit in and want to contribute, feel free to join the waitlist.

For the second mission, this is where we will put the money we raised to work. In fact, we already now have made significant leaps forward by working with two handfuls of customers for the last year, leading to our beta release today. Go and watch the demo video if you want to see it in depth.

But, a product like this is never done. And given the complexity of the field but also the breadth of the use case, we have lots of areas to build more and better product.

If you share our belief and want to join as a customer, I’d be thrilled to give you a deeper dive.

I recently shared that Head of Revenue Operations is the top growing job on LinkedIn.

And yes, there’s a bit of criticism about how it was calculated and all that.

But there’s no denying that the role is on the rise due to its focus on profitability, which will be especially important in an expected economic downturn like 2023.

The big problem as I see it:

For the last number of years, RevOps could talk about efficiencies, alignment, and process optimization. But it didn’t matter if they delivered or not.

Companies tended to just plug holes with cash to solve their problems.

But that’s not the situation anymore. CEOs believing and hiring RevOps now expect clear and tangible efficiency gains.

I worry that a lot of new RevOps folks will struggle to find and, much more importantly, deliver on that efficiency promise.

Fluff thought-leadership section done. Now the hands-on how-to section starts:

The problem with finding efficiencies is 2-fold:

  1. Ideation. You need to come up with things to do. And,
  2. Execution. You need to implement them.

With more RevOps hands per company, the second point should be easier. But let’s start talking Efficiency Ideation. In this case, with Benchmarking – internally & externally.

External Benchmarking

This means gathering data on key metrics across your Revenue Engine and comparing them to industry averages.

The pros? The data is great, in specific cases it can really work, and it has authority.

The cons? Operating benchmarks can be hard to compare to your engine because goalposts are different. And even if you know that you’re in the red somewhere compared to the industry average, the benchmark won’t actually tell you how you can improve.

I attached some good sources for operational benchmarking. Also, let me know if this is sufficient for you. Otherwise, we as Growblocks, might take on that task next.

Internal Benchmarking

Internal benchmarking means comparing between regions, teams, quarters or years, and against your bottom-up plan.

This can give you insights and where you’re doing well and where you aren’t. But more valuably, by comparing one region to another, you can now get improvement ideas by seeing what’s working for one and not the other.

And by comparing actuals vs bottom-up plan you can have very clear discussions with your teams why you aren’t performing as planned.

Internal benchmarks are usually hyper-actionable.

CAC Benchmarking

And I am not talking about your CAC/New ARR and compare it to outside benchmarks. I am talking about overlaying your CAC on top of your revenue engine, see where you’re red or green (RevOps sometimes isn’t interested in CAC, I think that’s a big mistake).

Then you can have a conversation about moving your spend to regions and channels that are performing better.

Ok, folks. Time to deliver.

Want more?

This post was originally written as part of Toni’s regular Revenue Letter. If you want to be one of the first to receive content like this straight in your inbox, sign up here.

Let’s say you want to go from Copenhagen to Paris.

Option 1: You just start walking. You roughly know the direction. You can kind of read the signs.

Option 2: You use a paper map. Maybe it’s a bit old.

Option 3: You use Google Maps. It knows where you are. It knows all the streets, all the construction sites, the traffic… hell, even which route is most eco-friendly.

Now, which of those options will get you to Paris with the least second-guessing, the fewest doubts, and only some headaches.

The most up-to-date, granular, and data-driven option – of course.

The same applies to your revenue engine.

You can probably run a “simple” revenue engine in your head. At some point, you will need a spreadsheet. But eventually, you’ll need a tool (I guess we are the Google Maps here?).

In order to find the most efficient route, you need to increase the granularity of your model to catch up with the ever-increasing complexity of your revenue engine.

I think of it like this:

White Box (left): You know what is wrong, and you “only” need to execute. Executing is comfy RevOps territory. And more resources will help you to execute on this faster.

Black Box (right): The black box is everything you can’t see or can’t explain in your revenue engine. This is where a ton of efficiency gains can be found – once it’s uncovered.

Moving from your paper map to Google Maps helps you to shrink the revenue black box.

As you keep building out your model, you will find more and more ways to improve the engine.

I strongly believe that not doing this will over time diminish the value of RevOps.

Want more? This post was originally written as part of Toni’s regular Revenue Letter. If you want to be one of the first to receive content like this straight in your inbox, sign up here.

There is a lot of chatter about community-led growth. I am not the expert on this, but I wanted to share how I think about it.

First, what is community-led growth? It’s using a community of users and non-users to achieve business outcomes. This might be customer service (for low ACV or free products specifically), or it might be for content creation or customer acquisition.

Great examples are Inbound by Hubspot or Culture First by Culture Amp.

The way I look at it, a community can create an opportunity for every member to create word of mouth by inviting new members.

In this regard, it is very similar to PLG. Keep in mind, the purpose of PLG is not “low-cost onboarding.” It’s the “user-invites-user” fly-wheel.

So, if you have a product that is complex, needs a sales process, and costs 20k or more, it will be extremely hard to create that user-invites-user fly-wheel seen with PLG.

A community can be a way to create that for you.

You should look at the community as a smaller product with lower entry barriers, where you have people join, interact with the content, and ideally give a reason for others to join as well.

In turn, these community members get to know you as an organization.

In essence, they begin to know, like, and trust you. And chances are, if it’s your ICP, they might end up buying from you.

Great! Let’s start that Slack channel today? Well…

As I mentioned, you need to think about this community as a product, not as a marketing tactic. Would you launch a new product just like that? Without much thought?

A community can be seen as a funnel. (isn’t everything a funnel?) So you need to think about each funnel step.

Why should people join your community? How are you getting people in? How are you going to activate and onboard them? And how are you going to make them successful and feel like they get value from what you’re delivering?

Only by getting them to the end of the funnel will your members become advocates, and a portion of those will end up being customers.

It’s easily a small team on your side, it needs to have a clear purpose, it needs to have values around it, and it needs a unique content stream at the very least.

So, if you had PLG-envy the last year, consider CLG as the cure.

I would love some people here to challenge me, and call me out as the wanna-be expert on this I am. So reply back. I would love to hear from you.

Btw, if you want to follow a real CLG pro, find Leslie Greenwood on Linkedin.

Want more? This post was originally written as part of Toni’s regular Revenue Letter. If you want to be one of the first to receive content like this straight in your inbox, sign up here.

It’s sometimes really hard to realize that something is missing until you experience the lack of it vividly for the first time.

For example, before I had kids, I didn’t think that “sleep” was an important concept. You got some when you were tired—end of story.

Now, having kids, you start planning your sleep.

“Do we dare watch one more episode, or do we rather take the safe route and go to sleep?”

Cool, Toni. But I thought this is a “revenue” letter…


Well, when I was responsible for the full revenue number the first time, I slowly freaked out.

The CFO very calmly explained to me that it was all figured out already. There was a line item in the budget showing the revenue targets. Nicely progressing month by month. And I had a comfortable CAC budget of $10-15M.

What took me a while to wake up to was the fact that there was a very, very large gap between my CAC budget and my target number.

There were also a ton of people with different roles, projects, campaigns, hires, fires and all happening everywhere around me at the same time.

How was I supposed to make sure that all of this added up to that big revenue number we planned?

That was my “wow, I need to plan for sleep” moment.

I realized I needed to build a pretty comprehensive plan across Marketing, Sales, and CS, orchestrating hundreds of people and dozens of projects, initiatives, and campaigns that together get us to our revenue number.

That’s when I realized that what we had wasn’t enough. You really need a “revenue plan” connecting your CAC budget with the revenue target you want to achieve.

Everything else in the budget – the nicely progressing monthly revenue numbers – was REALLY just a progress bar.

It’s not a plan, despite what you might tell yourself to calm you down at night. Just because it can tell you exactly when you missed your numbers, it does not help you one bit.

So, how do you build a “revenue plan”?

Well, you need an operating model. Basically a digital twin of your revenue engine. It needs (in principle) to behave like your actual revenue engine. But just in a model.

I covered how to do this in another letter, and Mikkel and I went over it in detail in this week’s Revenue Formula podcast.

And then with that model. We could plug in hires, expect leavers, and see and roughly estimate the impact of projects and campaigns.

Now we would understand how important timing is and how to shave off CAC-dollars without hurting revenue.

We basically ended up having a very, very long to-do list.

That was the plan.

Now we “only” needed to check each item off one by one.

While the execution was 80% of the work. It got a ton easier having a solid plan to base it on.

The Ops-persona in me could now breathe without choking again.

And maybe, more importantly, sleep.

Want more?This post was originally written as part of Toni’s regular Revenue Letter. If you want to be one of the first to receive content like this straight in your inbox, sign up here.

I got challenged on one of my ‘hot takes’ the other day.

I often bring up how AEs are “only” processing Opps and, therefore, shouldn’t be put on a pedestal as they are in many case.

“Toni, would you rather have 2 SDRs resign or 1 AE?”

Without hesitation, I answered.

“I’d rather see the AE move on.”

Why is that?

To explain this, let me backtrack a bit – I promise I’ll come back to it.

What I see a lot is that people have some AEs hitting 30% and others 300%.

Or, you have a strong home market that is working great, but your new market for some reason isn’t.

Or, you have 0utbound working great in one region, but it’s simply not happening in another.

Sounds familiar?

So why is that?

A lot of times that people are blaming this on “this is a good rep, this one is not” or “outbound doesn’t work in this market, it’s a culture thing” or even “our home market is ‘mature’ this new market isn’t”

Those are all great wanna-be explanations. Especially because they sound so simple and “feel” like they should make sense.

But in 99% of the cases, they are just wrong.

Trust me. I wish it were that simple.

To get to the real answer is to really dig deep into your funnel. While everyone has a “capacity” overview (usually called “Quota on the Street”) almost everyone is forgetting the other side of that equation: Opportunity supply.

To make this easier to understand: here is a crude drawing (Yes that is my handwriting, and no, I am not a doctor).

Essentially, you need to hit the sweet spot of supply and demand.

Supply means, how many Opps your funnel produces to “feed” those AEs.

If you have too few Opps but too much Quota, then AEs will be grumpy. That’s bad. But it’s also inefficient.

You theoretically do not need as many AEs. You could be saving CAC here.

If you have the opposite problem of too many Opps vs. too little Quota, you basically produce lazy AEs. They start being picky about which Opps to work on. Or the more empathetic view is they are overworked needing to make prioritization decisions that aren’t best for the business.

Again, you could be using this CAC better.

The team and I did this analysis every quarter to make sure we are correctly balanced. Sometimes – because of AEs leaving or surprisingly many staying – we had to use the buffer to fine-tune the balance. We always kept the buffer between 0-20%

So, the real reason why some reps hit and some don’t, why some markets are great, and some aren’t, and why some channels work somewhere but not somewhere else might actually be that your balance is off.

Too many vs. too few Opps for a Rep – instead of a good vs. bad rep

Too many vs. too few Opps for a market – instead of a mature vs. developing market

Too many Opps leading to de-prioritizing the “harder” Opps (usually outbound) – instead of Outbound not working in one market’s culture.

We eventually made this “capacity model” part of our operating model. Just to keep it all nicely balanced all the time. And to allow us to play “what if this rep leaves” scenarios.

So back to the original question. Why would I rather have 1 AE leave instead of 2 SDRs?

It is always a much easier time to manage “Lazy” but target-hitting AEs than to manage a full team not hitting.

So you instead want to keep the supply up vs. demand.

Want more?This post was originally written as part of Toni’s regular Revenue Letter. If you want to be one of the first to receive content like this straight in your inbox, sign up here.

I just got out of recording an episode on The Revenue Formula podcast about how we first built an operating model, and I wanted to share it with you. We’re not releasing the episode for a couple of weeks, but you can check it out early here.

For those who want more tactical advice on how to start the operating model yourself, I wanted to go into more detail and fill you in on how it came about.

The original model came out of a crisis. We weren’t hitting plan, and AEs were underperforming.

What did we think was the solution? Focus on AEs because that’s what most other people are doing as well.

Guess what happened? It didn’t work.

Despite all our work, the AEs couldn’t hit quota. What took us a little bit too long to realize was that they simply didn’t have enough opportunities. If we can’t feed them, they can’t be successful.

The question became, ok so how many opportunities do we have, and how many do we need?

Next, how did they convert? For how much money? And how long did it take?

We ended up with a way of modeling revenue with this formula:

Number of Opps x CVR x ACV x Time (Sales cycle) = Revenue

This was kind of easy.

As a next step, we needed to cut down a ton of costs. But how to do that without also cutting your revenue?

The rationale went: well, if it’s all about opportunities, then shouldn’t we pay roughly the same per opportunity? Regardless of whether it came from outbound, marketing or self-prospecting?

What we found was the SDR opps were much cheaper, and the channel was super scalable (we later also realized they performed a bit poorer compared to inbounds, but it worked regardless … hehe).

So then we started to take money from marketing and put it into SDRs. That gave us X-many more opps.

Next, we looked at the AEs. How many Opps could one AE realistically work on?

We quickly realized that we had too many AEs. And we took those costs and again put them into SDRs.

At this point it became very confusing. Playing around with inputs and outputs, having the time delay (sales cycles) etc. You just couldn’t solve this on a whiteboard anymore.

So we built a model.

This next part is different for every business; we learned this as we built Growblocks and serving our customers. But the model of this story was split according to inbound & outbound and the regions.

So we looked at monthly historic numbers on how many opps in Nordics for inbound and how many in that region for outbound. Same for the other regions.

We then used the conversion rates, sales cycles, and ACVs for each of those pairs and calculated when how many of those opps would become how much revenue.

And then we added more opps in the future based on how many SDRs we could hire.

We also had similar assumptions for marketing (We now know that those were really flawed).

We could now say how much money we would be able to close in the coming months, and we confidently could re-configure the revenue engine (yes this is a euphemism for letting go a bunch of people) to go down in costs (CAC) drastically but increase in revenue production.

Discussing those sweeping changes made up by a SalesOps Manager (me) and his side-kick (Olafur) with the CFO & CEO was surprisingly easy. Sure, we had a full-on crisis on our hands, but the rationale of the model was sound, and we had the numbers (historical data) to back it up.

We ended up growing A TON faster and much more predictable, and we were able to cut down CAC Payback from the high 20ies (that was a really big number back then) to the low teens.

In other words, we absolutely nailed it.

If you have any questions or just want to follow up, email me, and I’ll be happy to chat.

Want more?This post was originally written as part of Toni’s regular Revenue Letter. If you want to be one of the first to receive content like this straight in your inbox, sign up here.

Last week, I talked to a RevOps expert who wanted to become VP.

As someone who has hired RevOps people to VP roles, I started to think about how it happens.

It’s easy to say that to get promoted you need a seat at the table.

But in my experience, to get a seat at the table, you need to deliver one of three things:

  1. How to save the company money
  2. How to make the company money
  3. How to do both (ideally)

Unless you’re managing a lot of people, you won’t be invited to the high-level discussions by default. You need to prove that you need to be there.

Think about it like this. The CEO sits in the room with the executive team and is now pitching to the rest of the executives why you should be there. What are they going to say?

Oh, we really need that Salesforce insight. Oh, they know Marketo inside and out. Oh, they can pull up ad-hoc reports while we talk.

You need to give that person a reason that it would be stupid not to have you. And I’m sorry, but being a tooling expert is not gonna cut it.

Even if the CEO is enlightened and likes you and promises to give you a seat at the table, it will be tough for them not to look stupid.

So what should you do instead?

My solution has been to be the one in the room that actually understands the revenue engine end to end. One that understands what happens if we change something over here and how it’s going to impact the rest of the engine.

Sales leaders will talk about pipeline forecasting (and probably complain about leads).

Marketing will talk about campaign planning and lead generation.

The CFO will talk about revenue and CAC payback.

But the RevOps person is the one that can basically say, wait a minute, that’s how all these things hang together.

But if you’re only associated with tooling and naked data instead of the bigger story and how it connects, it’ll be harder to prove to people why you need to be there.

At the end of the day, It’s not that you get the promotion and therefore you get into the room. It’s that people say you should be in the room, therefore you get the promotion.

Want more?This post was originally written as part of Toni’s regular Revenue Letter. If you want to be one of the first to receive content like this straight in your inbox, sign up here.

Can you really call yourself RevOps if you’re only fixing and managing CRMs all day?

I see a lot of folks fall into this trap.

And struggling to get out while yearning to be more strategic.

Don’t get me wrong, processes and tools are important in an organization (and the first step in the evolution of the RevOps role).

But If that’s most of what you do, you’re more of a systems admin. RevOps is 10x more than that.

If you feel like you’re stuck in operations land, keep this in mind.

If you own the entirety of things like Salesforce, Marketo or Hubspot, do you understand how much power and leverage you actually have?

You have a birds-eye view of the entire funnel and understand the customer journey.

That’s the true superpower of RevOps.

But I see a lot of people not realizing they have that superpower, nor how they can leverage it to deliver true strategic value to the organization.

I was in this position myself, and this is how I got to C-Level:

Start organizing QBRs & MBRs with revenue leaders.

Now you can open up conversations about how many opportunities the organization created. How did they convert and why? Are we on track? And if not, where are we falling behind?

By bringing leaders to the table on a regular basis, you can understand what’s going on now and flip the conversation and start asking: what can we do to make sure we don’t miss the next target?

Once you go down that road, people in the organization will begin to ask, what about 6-months away? Or 12-months?

Once you’re part of those conversations, you’re basically being included in the budgeting for next year and working with the CRO towards predictable revenue.

It can mean the difference between being stuck where you are and getting promoted.

If that doesn’t work, you may have to look for greener pastures.

After all, if your company just wants to have someone to roll out a CRM, they should hire a system admin instead.

And if you are reading this from a Revenue Leader perspective, think about whether you are enabling your RevOps team to play that strategic role.

The reason more RevOps pros are not doing the above is that they lack the imagination to pull it off. Help them by pointing them in the right direction. It will transform their careers – yes. But also your business.

Want more?This post was originally written as part of Toni’s regular Revenue Letter. If you want to be one of the first to receive content like this straight in your inbox, sign up here.

Last week I published a video with 4 things I see companies doing, and today I’m bringing you 3 more.

If you want to see and share them all, the entire segment is available as an exclusive YouTube video now.

Keep in mind that you are not alone if you are doing any of these things. Plenty of folks (including me) have fallen for these in the past, and hopefully, this email will help you avoid them in the future.

Hiring AEs ≄ revenue growth

This can be a tough one to get over because it was probably true fairly early in your company.

You had plenty of leads and opportunities coming your way, and you basically needed salespeople to take care of them.

But as you grow, the real limitation to you getting more customers is not having more people helping you with the conversions or processing them from one step to another.

The real problem is getting more leads and opportunities.

And usually, AEs are pretty bad at that. Asking them to self-prospect is probably not going to work out in many cases. Therefore just adding more of them doesn’t give you more revenue.

Instead, make sure that you have enough AEs to really work through the opportunities that you’re creating and channel your energy early in the funnel (e.g. SDRs, marketing, partnerships, PLG) to drive more leads and opportunities their way.

Constantly debating and changing metric definitions

This pops up in a number of ways, but I often see it when it comes to MQL definitions.

This is something that Marketing Ops or VP of marketing often engage in.

The reason that folks do is that you have a new tactic and you want to figure out a way to figure out how you can define that tactic into your MQL target.

That ends up not being really helpful because pushing that stuff through doesn’t usually end up in more revenue. It’s more busy work.

You’ll hear stuff like, hey let’s add webinars to this. Let’s add white paper downloads. They opened my email five times.

The problem is this is not stuff that shows true intent and will probably cause problems with your sales team.

Instead, lock in on one definition that has staying power.

I would usually go for true hand raisers versus non-hand raisers. Hand raisers are MQLs, and everything else is just a marketing lead.

Sticking to the plan you gave the VC even if it’s not working

It’s a fallacy that you believe that the plan that you presented to that VC firm when you raised money is the plan you have to execute 1 to 1.

You might have doubts about it now. You may feel like you’ve oversold it a bit. It happens to us all.

You also probably have learned something new in the process that gives you a level of pause about the plan now.

If you’re still using that old plan, you risk shoving it down the throats of your organization, burning through a bunch of money and you’ll be in a much worse position 4 quarters from now.

Instead, have that conversation with the VC in the quarter, revise the plan, create something that you and the leadership team believe in and go execute that instead.

Now, this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s one that we’ve had fun collecting after talking to hundreds of companies at Growblocks.

If you’re experiencing any of these or have anything to add, email me! I would love to hear about them.

Want more?This post was originally written as part of Toni’s regular Revenue Letter. If you want to be one of the first to receive content like this straight in your inbox, sign up here.