Qlose is an interview format that meets the best experts in sales reps to find out how they contribute to the sales performance of their company.
For this first episode, Qobra welcomes Maximilien Jooris, Head of Revenue Operations at Agicap, and he will share with you his tips, best practices and methods for launching and deploying a project in Ops teams.
1. The context
Can you introduce yourself?
Maximilien Jooris, I have an engineering background, I graduated from Centrale Paris, and I started out as a strategy consultant before joining Agicap in the Income team.
In the Income team, we do three types of things:
- Launching projects
- Managing the business
- Managing compensation and benefits
What are the types of projects in Ops?
There are three types of projects. There are substantive projects, which will require continuous improvement and adaptation to the evolution of the business. At Agicap, our business changes all the time, so we have to adapt our projects constantly.
The second type of project is the strategic and tactical analysis.
Finally, the third type of project is the project initiation part. This is what takes up most of the time.
What thoughts lead to the launch of a project?
So there are two types of thinking that will drive the projects.
The first is when we identify a problem at a strategic or tactical level. For example, we need to improve the Net Revenue Retention Rate, how do we do that? From there, we identify levers and we will push projects on this lever.
The second thought that will make us push projects is the opportunities identified in the field. There are many teams working on similar topics, and sometimes a team comes up with a good idea. The objective is therefore to go and see this team, to understand why the project works well with them and how we can deploy it in the other teams.
Which teams identify opportunities on the ground?
We see this in the discussions we have with the team leaders all the time, but also in the figures we track. For example, we know how a particular sale was made, or at least the team leader knows and passes the information on to us.
Having identified this opportunity, we will dig until we have something that we can replicate in other countries.
2. Steps before launching a project
What are the steps before launching a project?
We operate in a relatively classical way. We will define an objective, the people who will work on it and define a timetable.
People, it's quite important in an environment where there are a lot of parallel projects, to know who is responsible, who has to give what and when.
How do you ensure the relevance and viability of a project?
Relevance is not really a topic at Agicap because we have so many requests and things to do, we just have to prioritise them, and the ones with the highest priority are always relevant.
Paradoxically, this is one of the strengths of scale-ups, we have a lot of things to do, so we focus on the essentials, so we never run out of projects.
As far as sustainability is concerned, we work in iteration, i.e. we test and as soon as there are blocking points, we show them. It is also important to communicate well to give visibility to everyone.
How do you prioritise the projects to be launched?
There are two criteria. The first is the reasoning in terms of the impact on income and the NRR. Secondly, there are the orientations that come from Top Management who want to explore this or that avenue. In this case, we will prioritise this project.
3. The project launch
What are the stages of a project launch?
There are a number of steps for a project to go well.
First of all, we talked about it, it's the scoping part. Then, once we've done the scoping, what's important in the environments in which we work is to do a test phase, either on our own or with the teams on the ground. The objective of this test phase is to obtain initial successes on the project.
Once we have these initial successes, we will come and equip the team, set up a process. This will make it easier to work and measure the results.
Then we'll go to the other teams based on the results we've already achieved, tell them it works well and we'll come and roll it out to them.
Then we will enter the follow-up and animation phase in the other countries. The follow-up and animation phase is important, there is a big challenge in marketing projects when we are in a scale-up. Indeed, whether it's the sales rep or the customer service team, they are often under water, they have constantly changing challenges. So in order for them to keep the project in mind, this animation and follow-up work is essential.
Once the projects are deployed in all the teams, once they are working, once we have the first results, the objective is to find a local relay point that will take over the project and ensure its sustainability.
When projects are requested by top management, they permeate all layers of Agicap and we end up with teams taking initiatives in all countries. At that point, it's a bit complicated to manage because you have to be able to synchronise everyone, to ensure that we all go in the same direction and that we don't waste too much time redoing what has already been done.
4. Project deployment
Are all the projects launched at Agicap France deployed in the other branches? If not, why not?
We do have a branch in France, but also in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Italy. These are countries that are not all equally mature. Some countries that are less mature than France have other issues to deal with before they can move on to new projects.
In this case, we are not going to put the cart before the horse, we are saving the project for later when they have the maturity to work on it.
Sometimes it is the countries that come directly to us because they know that in France and Germany such and such a project has been very successful, and they have the bandwidth and the maturity to do it.
What are the steps to deploy a project internationally?
Once we have the version that works with one team, we go to the other teams, show them the impact and provide them with the marketing.
What is important when we go to another country is to think that we are going to work with another market, another way of operating. For example, the English do not operate in the same way as the Spanish. It is therefore necessary to be alongside the teams to make the right adjustments according to their market and to have an adapted process.
How do you follow the deployment of a project?
We systematically build a dashboard to monitor a project. Once we start the project, we look at the impact that the project has on the dashboard indicators. As long as we don't see the impact, there is still work to be done, so we keep digging until we see the impact.
For the dashboard part, we work with the Looker tool, it allows us to aggregate all our data sources. Then, in the Sales teams, we will have dashboards on Hubspot, and for the customer service team, we work with Gainsight. Each team can easily access their dashboards.
Overall, what do you think are the success factors of a project?
Firstly, the impact of the project once it is completed. If we want to look at the chances of success of a project before launching it, we will look at the level of impact that the teams can expect.
It is also important to take the time to explain the project to the teams, to show them its value, to understand what they expect from it. It is also essential to have a well-functioning process that is not out of kilter.
Finally, it is important to communicate and be transparent throughout the project.
What are the reasons why you might abandon a project?
There are two reasons why I have already abandoned a project.
The first one is reclassification. There is a new topic coming up and it becomes a priority. So we have to abandon this project and concentrate on the new one.
The second reason is failure. Sometimes topics don't work, maybe because of our maturity level. In this case, we put the project on hold, and we resume it later.
5. Indicators to be monitored
What indicators should be monitored throughout a project?
At Agicap, we have a culture that is driven by results and impact. We will therefore often monitor revenue and NRR indicators.
However, there are also projects where the business impact will be more diffuse. In this case, we will set an objective and monitor the indicators linked to this objective.
6. The method for getting a project adopted
How do you get your teams to adopt a project?
This is a difficult problem when you work in cross-functional teams. In concrete terms, when we talk to people who are not hierarchically below us, we have to ask them to take the time to move in our direction.
So, overall, there is the carrot and the stick.
The carrot is to have a voluntary adoption because we are going to succeed in making the teams want to do this project by showing them its success, by pushing champions internally and by doing a lot of communication. In my opinion, this is the best lever because the teams will want to follow us. If necessary, we can also give in on the commissions part to push the teams to do what we want them to do.
Afterwards, there are certain projects where the impact will be more long-term, where we will ask for greater efforts. Unfortunately, we do not always manage to have this voluntary adoption. In this case, we are going to enter into an adoption that is a little more forced. We are going to monitor the teams closely, involving the hierarchy to call them to order, until the routine and the mechanisms are well established in the teams.
7. The essential tools
Do you use tools to create, launch and deploy your projects? If so, which ones?
For project management and monitoring, we use Asana to see where we stand, what remains to be done, etc.
For the communication, information and celebration part, we will push via Slack and Hubspot.
Finally, to measure, we use Looker.
How do you communicate about the launch and deployment of a project?
We always start with a meeting with the teams concerned, which can be a formal meeting, a discussion over coffee or something else.
Then, each time we bring a team into the project, we hold a new meeting to put things straight and explain things to them.
Then, throughout the project, with each of the teams that will have returned, we will make more or less regular progress reports. The objective is to look at the figures, see the evolution and iterate on the project.
It is also important outside of these meetings to communicate a lot via Slack in order to keep the project in the minds of the teams and to maintain a certain pace. It's a time-consuming task, but it's important to do it. In addition, with tools like Hubspot, we can also automate certain notifications by email and on Slack.
9. Tips to follow and mistakes to avoid
What advice do you have for a company that wants to start an Ops project? And the mistakes to avoid?
Firstly, you really need to take the time to communicate a lot and iterate with the local teams.
Often the final solution for a project is very different from what we originally imagined. So don't be afraid to change the project along the way, be open to discussion and change.
It is also very important to celebrate so that teams see the success of a project and it makes them want to do it again. Celebration can be done through a recurring notification system for each new victory.
On the communication side, we also produce a weekly newsletter that summarises the successes and what has happened during the week. On a global level, every month we highlight the best Sales people, the best customer service staff, the best cases, etc. Overall, all those who have performed particularly well or who have succeeded in difficult cases.
The final word...
Do you have one or more resources that you like to consult to improve your Ops approach?
I don't do much research. On the other hand, I exchange a lot with peers from other companies, those with similar problems, large SaaS companies, scale-ups, etc. We discuss our practices, which often gives us good ideas on how to iterate and improve our processes. We discuss our practices, which often gives us good ideas on how we can iterate and improve our processes.
These exchanges take place during webinars, for example. In fact, there was a Qobra webinar on the variable commissions part from which I got a lot of value.
Then, on key topics, it's the top management who exchange with companies working on the same topic, they give us the information and we see what we can learn from it, what we can improve.