How Clari Runs Effective QBRs With Rosalyn Santa Elena

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This is a podcast episode titled, How Clari Runs Effective QBRs With Rosalyn Santa Elena. The summary for this episode is: A pretty common exercise within Sales organizations is the Quarterly Business Review. This is a time to both look back at the previous quarter’s performance as well as look ahead to the quarter ahead. It’s usually a mix of both qualitative and quantitative, of learnings and reflection, and of course, forecasting. But what makes a Quarterly Business Review, or QBR, a good one? What makes it worth the time and effort invested to run one of these for every single rep on your team? And how do you make sure you are spending time on the stuff that matters. We’re going to answer all of those questions with our guest, Rosalyn Santa Elena, the Head of Revenue Operations at Clari. In our conversation, we outline how to run QBRs at your organization, the role of Operations in those QBRs, and we’ll get some insight into how Clari forecasts their own business. Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with Sean on Twitter @Seany_Biz @HYPERGROWTH_pod

Sean Lane: Hey everyone, welcome to Operations, the show where we look under the hood of companies in hypergrowth. My name is Sean Lane. Whether you operate on a normal calendar year or a fiscal calendar year inside of your business, chances are that you have the concept of quarters. And within sales organizations, a common exercise that we do each quarter is the concept of a quarterly business review. This is a time that you look back at the previous quarter's performance, as well as look ahead to the quarter that's upcoming. It's usually a mix of both qualitative and quantitative of learnings and reflection and a little bit of forecasting, but what makes a quarterly business review, or QBR, a good one? What makes it worth the time and effort invested to run one of these for every single rep on your team? And how do you make sure that you're spending time on the stuff that is actually going to help the reps and help the organization and not just put this formal readout of numbers that everyone already knows onto the calendar? Today, we're going to answer all of those questions with our guest Rosalyn Santa Elena, who is the head of revenue operations at Clari. If you're not familiar, Clari is a revenue operations platform that provides visibility and insights into your pipeline and your forecasting. They've raised$ 121 million. They've been recognized as a sales analytics market leader by G2 and for bonus points, they run all of their QBRs out of their own product. So who better to talk to about QBRs than Rosalyn herself? In our conversation, we're going to outline how you can run QBRs at your organization, the role of operations in those QBRs, and we're going to get some insight into how Clari forecast their business. But first, at a company that is itself a revenue operations platform, I wanted to know where Rosalyn's revenue operations team sits within Clari.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: So I am actually the head of revenue operations at Clari, so what that means is, I guess in a nutshell, is I'm responsible for really the operating cadence across our revenue process. So if you think about from top of funnel through renewals, through upsells, expansions and renewals, that's the area of responsibility that I have. In terms of Clari as a revenue operations platform, we think of revenue operations. We talk a lot about revenue operations not being so much of an organizational structure or even an outcome, because people talk about revenue being an outcome, but I think more and more companies are realizing that revenue is really a process. It's really an end to end across all of your revenue teams. Everybody who's customer facing is really involved, and that's your marketing, your sales, your account management, your renewals teams, your customer success teams, your SEs, really everybody in the company has a role in driving revenue. So if you think about where Clari sits in that, and where my role sits in that, is really running the operating cadence and the processes of the structure and the rhythm, if you will, of that process.

Sean Lane: One of the operating cadences that I wanted to talk to you about, because Clari leads the way here, I feel like, is around QBRs, or quarterly business reviews. And so I'm curious as someone who has come into Clari relatively recently, what was that like coming in for you? Was the QBR already a routine or operating cadence that existed? Was that something that you brought in? Can you tell me a little bit about how those worked at Clari historically?

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. Absolutely. So, as you said, I'm relatively new to Clari. I've been on board a little over three months, but I'm not new to the product. Coming in to Clara as a two- time customer myself, I understood the value of the product and how the product fits into our ops world. However, having said that, coming in at the quarter end of our Q1 and then joining our first QBRs, I was super impressed. I think I shared this with you before. I was super impressed. I was blown away just by the fact that my prior experience in Clari, I always tell people," This is my Clari, never look like Clari's Clari." It's just amazing, the number of things that you can actually do in the tool that I never even thought of. So one of those things is the QBR. So when I came on board, we were getting our QBRs prepped, getting ready for QBR. And typically, in my past life, that was a lot of creation of reports, a lot of cutting and pasting into slide decks and doing a lot of manual work on the ops team, as well as on the sales teams part. So when we ran our QBR at Clari, it was very, very different. We ran everything, literally, out of the tool and out of the platform. It was quite different. I think I shared with you that we looked... there was very little looking back. A lot of times in your QBR, you spend a significant portion of the time looking at results. How did you do in the quarter? Where are we against a quota? But instead we spent some time, obviously, looking back at where we're at, but a lot of the time spent on really looking forward.

Sean Lane: So I guess for people who either run these every quarter or maybe are new to the concept of trying to introduce QBRs, I think that that split that you're talking about is really interesting. So I guess before we get too much deeper into that, whether you have Clari or not, what, for you, are the main components of the QBR and what should people be looking to make sure that they get?

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yep, absolutely. That's a great question. So I do think it's important for you to look at how well you performed in the quarter, but I also think that you need to look at, more importantly than looking at the numbers for the quarter, is looking at what did you learn? What went really well and what didn't go so well, and what are you going to do with those learnings and apply them to the future quarter, and what are you going to do differently in the next quarter? So I do think it's important that you always look at where you're at, how did you perform? Where are you year to date? And then you start looking forward. As I mentioned, what are the things that you're going to do differently in the new quarter? And then start looking forward in terms of what you have in your pipeline. What do you have open? What do the next rolling couple of quarters look like, as well as where do you need help? I like to structure QBRs around a lot of the strategy on how you're going to close what you have open in pipeline and where you need help and how you're going to tackle that open pipeline versus doing too much of the look back.

Sean Lane: Whether you've been doing QBRs every quarter or you're about to roll them out for the first time, there are some important takeaways in Rosalyn's structure here. For her and the team at Clari, QBRs should focus on what you learned, where you need help and the strategy to close some of the deals you have upcoming. And she emphasized multiple times, her belief that you really shouldn't spend all that much time looking back at the numbers from the previous quarter, which if you think about it, makes sense, especially if you have a sales organization that is tuned into these numbers all the time. By the time a QBR rolls around, if the numbers you're looking at as a rep or as a manager, if those numbers are surprising to you, chances are you didn't do a good job of tracking them throughout the entire quarter itself. Okay, so that's the structure and some of the content of these QBRs, I also wanted to ask Rosalyn's advice on how long these QBRs should be and who should attend them. We've tried a few different iterations of this at Drift. Sometimes we got a group of reps together to facilitate group learning. Other times we just had an individual rep presenting to a handful of leaders. So I was curious if Rosalyn had found a model that had worked best for her at Clari or any of her previous companies.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: I think coming from working in big companies, large public companies, as well as small companies, I think the answer is probably different, and also depending on the type of business and your sales motion and who you sell to. I think when you tend to be in some of the larger companies, they tend to be smaller, more individualized sales reps presenting to a larger executive team and a lot more of the cross- functional leaders versus in a small company when you have, obviously, the quantity is smaller, the number of people is smaller, the number of deals that you're probably looking to close in the quarter is probably a smaller number as well. So I think the format is going to be a little bit unique in terms of your business. At a smaller company, like the last few startups that I've been at, we tend to have more people in the room, so have the entire team, but broken out by team, not where you have your entire sales organization in the QBR. But perhaps, if you have enterprise and commercial team, or maybe you have geographical teams in different territories, then it would be, you would have an individualized QBR for, say, your enterprise west team, for example, or your commercial east team. And maybe if you have multiple teams, depending on how many participants are in that team, I would say a good amount, at least from what I've seen, is about 5 to 10, I think sales reps in a QBR, because I think if you have any more than that, then it probably makes sense to separate them into multiple sessions. The other thing I would say is I do agree that the learnings for your peers is huge, because nobody has the answers to everything. As the team talks through what they've done in deals to close and how they're going to tackle open deals, it's a great learning experience for everyone, for other reps to share ideas, as well as for managers and some of the cross- functional teams to share ideas as well.

Sean Lane: I've found, too, that it's also a really nice way to distinguish between noise and signal, what you hear from multiple reps inside of those QBRs. So we have a section of our QBRs at Drift where we say, okay, what are your asks of the organization? What are the things in the upcoming quarter that would make you more successful? And what's helpful for me, whether it's one person in the room or 10 is taking notes and understanding, okay, this is now the fourth person today who's asked for a better ROI calculator deck, or as an example. And so you can start to see those patterns from across the team that aren't necessarily deal specific, but they're clearly things that would level up the entire organization. And so that for me is one of the thing I look to take away from those conversations.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Absolutely. And as part of my role kind of as rev ops, that is actually, that's a great reminder that that is one of the things that I must be responsible for, is take away the actions and go work with the various teams, because it could be product enhancements that we need. It could be more enablement for our team to, they need more training in A, B and cannabis, or maybe we need more customer references, or there's a number of different things that, to your point, would be required from some of the other teams in the company and being able to really help accelerate some of the deals, and where are they getting stuck and where do they need help?

Sean Lane: This is critical to remember when you, the operator, are thinking about both the process and the outcomes of your QBRs. At face value, QBRs are about the reps, but in reality, they are an opportunity for the entire organization to improve. And our job as operations folks is to seek out those specific opportunities. When I talked about signal versus noise in my conversation with Rosalyn, noise is anything that might come in the form of a rep's personal feelings or their personal preferences about a tool or a view or whatever. But signal, signal is when multiple reps tell you that that tool simply doesn't meet the functional needs of the group for these specific reasons, or when you identify a pattern in why a large number of our deals got stuck in the last quarter. And then the hard part comes. You have to do something about all those inefficiencies that you found. Rosalyn told me that she's literally sitting there taking notes and building project plans on the fly, all while sitting inside these QBRs. And specifically when she came into Clari, she sat in on every single QBR and used it as an opportunity to get to know her business very, very quickly.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: As you know, small company, when you are lean and you are limited on resources, we we wear many hats and we do many things that people wouldn't imagine that we do. But I actually do consolidate all of the actions, at least I did in my first quarter here and did sit through every QBR, which was great for me also as a relatively new employee, new to the team. Because it's a great way for me, from an operational perspective, to hear and learn as well, because a lot of the actions are also for ops. A lot of follow up actions in terms of, we need better process for this, or we need our systems to be able to do that. And then even the asks for other teams, a lot of times operations, you're going to be the one to help drive that project, or put together the framework for something new. An example is, we talked a lot about needing to have great customer references and we have a great customer base, but being able to access which is the right customer for that particular industry and that size of company, or to resolve a specific use case that a prospect may be facing, making that process easier for a sales rep to identify the right customer and find the champion who's willing to do a customer reference. Those types of things would be something that I would be, from an operational perspective, responsible for going and working with our customer marketing team and building out that framework and then implementing it and implementing a process, whether that's a Salesforce or in some other tool, to be able to automate and make that process more efficient.

Sean Lane: And I also think that you and I, or folks like us or folks in roles like ours, we're more likely to catch different things. I think that this is a great argument for having different types of roles, sitting in on these QBRs and not necessarily just that person's direct manager or their manager's manager. The things that they're going to take away as lessons probably have a lot more to do with sales strategy and deal coaching and deal reviews. Whereas when I walk away, I'm thinking about, okay, we clearly don't have a clear definition here on when this opportunity needs to get created, or we clearly are missing a resource here in Salesforce or whatever it may be. And so I think that there's a value there and having a bunch of different roles in the room to be able to capture and look at the performance of the team through different lenses.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yep. That's absolutely correct. And I think sometimes it's difficult for some of the cross- functional teams to sit in on the QBRs, because as you know, they're often all day and all week, so that's a lot of time spent. But definitely having some of those cross- functional teams sit in on specific sales teams, if they support them, I think some of the larger teams, like there's obviously asks for finance, there's always going to be asks for product, and those type of things, I think, from an operational lens, you're right. We sit through and we look at it, and we start to think about what would that look like and we can start to build that versus maybe from a sales reps perspective, it's something as simple as," I need system integration for X system," and then we go and figure how that would work.

Sean Lane: If you and your operations team are not actively sitting in on your sales team's QBRs, I can't recommend strongly enough that you change that. Listening to recordings of them is a decent first step, but even that isn't going to be as valuable to you because you aren't going to be able to be there to ask up questions, or clarify what people are saying, or what they're asking for. I promise it's worth the time investment, and don't take my word for it, take Rosalyn's. Okay, so let's move on to what is usually a pretty key component of any QBR, forecasting the upcoming quarter's performance. Forecasting is about as standard as a sales activity can get, but when you look at the market, forecasting has morphed into this mythological creature that everyone thinks about differently, they've got different definitions for, and like a lot of things, I feel like we've made it more complicated than it needs to be. So of course, in my conversation with Rosalyn, I wanted to know how she and her team handled this. Luckily, Clari is the best at exactly this, at forecasting, and since Roslyn is the one behind the curtain forecasting revenue at a company that specializes in forecasting, I wanted to get her take.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah, so when we're looking at future quarter and next quarter, we're really looking at, what do you have opening your pipe? We're looking at qualified pipe, we're looking at, not just current quarter, but we do look at out- quarters as well, which I think is something that a lot of sales teams that I've worked with have a more difficult time looking at. We look a lot at current quarter and what's happening, and obviously it requires laser focus, but we need to, especially in this industry and in the environment that we're in, really look at out- quarter as well, because out- quarter obviously gives you some opportunity in terms of accelerating deals or pulling things forward. So for next quarter, we like to look, obviously, at the net new ARR, so we're looking at qualified pipeline, we're looking at upside and then we're really drilling down into deal prioritization, what we call deal prioritization, which is really digging into the deals and understanding the engagement to be able to do a very comprehensive deal inspection during our QBRs. Some of the other things that we're looking at, obviously, are renewals, but we also look at, we look at different attributes of an account in the QBRs and ask the team to look at the accounts that are having, there's an industry impact to them based on the existing economic environment. We look a lot at slip deals as well and deals that have moved out of quarter. So the ask from the rep's perspective is for them to come to the session with a good handle on their next quarter pipe, a good handle on what is happening within each of those deals, what's happening next quarter, as well as the asks for the other teams, as we talked and alluded to.

Sean Lane: How long does each rep have for their QBR?

Rosalyn Santa Elena: It depends on... In the commercial segment, it tends to be, I guess I shouldn't say that, I think in both segments, we're broken up by commercial and enterprise today. Each rep usually has about 30 to 45 minutes.

Sean Lane: Got it. When you talk about deal prioritization, I guess, how do you find the right balance of this being a value add exercise for them when they're talking about these deals, as opposed to" Oh, no, we just spent 25 out of the 30 minutes on this one deal and now we're out of time." I feel like there's a balance there and I'm curious how you go about striking that with your team.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah, so the way that we look at the deals is, obviously, looking in terms of prioritization is, obviously, looking at size. We look at ACV or ARR size, as well as where they are at in the cycle and how long the deal's been open and what we need to close, and what we need to do in terms of trying to close the deal. So we prioritize. We ask the reps to come to the table, obviously with our asks, but also with a story, a story around what is happening with the deal, what do they need to push it across the finish line? And so the conversations are a lot, at least from what I've seen and in my past life, more around what are the steps that need to be taken to close the deal this quarter? And so coming from that lens is really looking at actionable steps to help and get things unstuck, if they are stuck, and then understand what we call sequence of events, what are the steps that are going to happen on these dates to be able to close on the date that you've committed?

Sean Lane: When it comes to forecasting, there are two truths in my mind. One, everybody has to do it and two, everybody does it differently. People come in with these different assumptions about what it means to provide that forecast, and so if I'm a new rep at Clari and I'm about to go into my first QBR, how do I take all those building blocks that you just talked about in terms of deal prioritization, your slip deals, pipeline you're walking in with, where I'm at, my sequence of events, how do I take all of that and then emerge with a number that I'm going to tell my bosses and put my performance on the line against that number?

Rosalyn Santa Elena: So fortunately for our reps, all of those data points that you and I just chatted about are all in Clari. And so at any point in time, QBR or not, that information is available in dashboard. And so as a rep, I can easily go to that deal and have all of the data in front of me and be able to talk to it. In my past life, that's been a summary of a lot of cutting and pasting and pulling from different reports, and then oftentimes you spend time in your QBR looking for data to drill down into the details, but it is still the same set of data points that a rep needs to be prepared to talk to at the QBR. The difference is just the amount of prep time and then the efficiency of the QBR, how effective it is, because when you do have 30 minutes, or even if you have an hour for each rep, if you have that amount of time, it goes by very quickly if you're spending 20 minutes looking for a piece of data.

Sean Lane: Yeah. I mean, certainly having that data readily available to you, having it at your fingertips and having some of the magic that Clari is able to do in terms of spitting out a forecast number, I think makes this so much simpler from a rep's perspective. From an input perspective for that rep though, I feel like the building blocks, regardless of whether you have Clari or not, are still pretty important. So whether it's the stages that you use, the forecast categories that you use, I feel like even if you have software to help you, as a rep, you still need to have a certain level of handle on your deals to produce a number. Is that fair?

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yep. That's absolutely true, and I think every company I've joined, it's funny because I think people say," Oh, we have sales stages and we have forecast categories," but like you said, every company does it a little bit differently. And I've seen within a company, reps doing it a little bit differently and managers doing it a little bit differently. So that's one of the things I think is really critical and an ops and sales leadership responsibility is to make sure we have really clear definition around when a deal is in a certain stage, well, even before that, when do you open opportunity? When is the right time to say this is qualified? When do we prove and create an opportunity? And then how does it progress through the deal cycle? Just having very clear sales stages, where everybody is on board, everybody knows that if it's in the second stage, it means that A, B and C have been done, XYZ need to get done. And I think just making those very, very simple and very well- defined and making sure that everybody sticks to them, then you drive adoption. That obviously helps a lot in the forecast and same thing around forecast categories. We talk a lot about, oh, what's in commit or upside or best case? Everybody has their different terminology. I'm sure you have your own at Drift as well, but whatever that terminology is, everybody needs to be aligned to the definition, that something cannot be moved into commit unless it meets this criteria. And the criteria for folks to follow it, it can't be a dozen things. It's got to be really straightforward. Yes- no questions, and that's what we've built is, that I like to build, is just a yes- no. Do you have this? Do you have that? Do you have your budget defined? Is your economic buyer on board? Just very straightforward yes, no. And then it helps you determine whether or not it really belongs in a certain stage or a certain forecast category.

Sean Lane: I feel like this is such a common problem and discussion within all the sales teams that I talk to. It sounds so simple, but having clear, consistent and understood definitions for your stages and your forecast categories is clearly something that plagues a lot of organizations. It's usually among the first things that a new sales leader will come in and assess and change when they get to an organization. So why are we so bad at this? Rosalyn points out that keeping your approach as simple as possible is one thing that we can all take away. She explains that having a series of clear, yes- no questions is not only enough to get you by, but it's preferable. It's one of those things that it's easy to just define, but it's another to get alignment and adoption around those definitions. You can't just write a Wiki post, ship it and expect things to change. Believe me, I've tried this way and failed miserably. So how does Rosalyn get alignment around a common language at Clari?

Rosalyn Santa Elena: So definitely defining, communicating, having the definitions and the questions for that exit criteria in Salesforce, or whatever CRM you're using. Or whatever tool you're using, but also during your forecast calls, during your deal reviews, during those one- on- one coaching sessions between a manager and a represent. Those questions should constantly be being asked. If you're in the stage, oh, so you've got your ROI done. Oh, you've got paper in hand or whatever the stage is, and start really talking that language in your regular operating cadence. So when you're looking at deals and you're saying, oh, this is in a stage two. Okay, that means you've done A, B and cannabis. Do you really have those done? Making sure those check boxes are checked and then it just gets ingrained, and as you said, making it really simple too so anybody off the top of their head can say," Oh yeah, this is stage two because, I'm ready to move it to stage three, because I finished this," versus having to go search in your Google drive or in your laptop to look for a 10- page document around stages.

Sean Lane: Right. Right. Yeah. I think if you're making it a normal part of every single day.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yep. And make it really simple. I mean, at the very highest level, you're trying to qualify, you're trying to understand the business reasoning. You're just trying to understand, hey, does the prospect have a reason to buy? Basically, why buy Clari, or whatever the tool is, and really, why buy now? if you think about it, it's really pretty straightforward. If you build your stages around that is why buy anything, why buy from us and why buy now?

Sean Lane: What's interesting about bringing that into the normal day to day is what you were saying about one- on- ones and weekly forecasts and whatever routines you're talking about, this idea of calling your shot and actually having a forecast does not begin and end with a QBR. This thing is happening all the time. And so I'm curious, what do those, you said right off the top of our conversation, this idea of operating cadences, what is the operating cadence of forecasting look like at Clari? Because I mean, if there's anybody to look to beg, borrow and steal an operating cadence from on something it's Clari on forecasting.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah, absolutely. So I think around, we do a pretty standard operating cadence is probably very similar to what I've done in the past and probably what you're used to as well. And you have your weekly one- on- ones between your rep and the manager, and these, if you do this right, these are coaching sessions, strategy discussions, reviewing the account engagement versus looking at data and looking at numbers per se. And then we have weekly meetings around with the managers and the VPs. And then we have a roll up where our VPs, each of our VP sits with our CRO. And then we also do a separate forecasting around renewals and upsells. Our forecast process includes a gamut right around net new business, as well as upsells and expansions and then renewals. And we also look at churn. It's a part of the conversation around renewals, but we do spend a lot of time looking at potential churn risk as well.

Sean Lane: And do you have the same type of... Is there a renewal forecast meeting just like there's a bookings forecast meeting and a churn... how do those actually translate within the business?

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yep. So, same thing. We have a renewals weekly, well, it's usually twice a week. We have a sort of a sequence of, a cadence as we move through the quarter where the frequency of the meetings and reviews increases as we get into month three, and then increases as we move through the month as well. And we start with regular forecasting calls, like I think most companies do the weekly forecast where you're just doing the roll up from rep to manager, manager to VP, and the VP to CRO. But then we also have a forecast call around renewals with our account management team and our CS team is involved in deal reviews as well, because they obviously bring a perspective around adoption and account health and how well the customers are doing. And then we, as we move through the quarter, as we get into month three, we start to shift less to just talking about forecast and really talking about the steps that are required to close a deal.

Sean Lane: Got it. And the thing I think is interesting about the fact that your cadence changes throughout the quarter is what you said earlier about, look, we're not just focused on this quarter, we're also focused on out- quarters. And so I would imagine at Clari, I think Drift has gone through a similar thing where we moved further up market, sales cycles lengthened, deal sizes go up. But it also becomes a new muscle for people to have to forecast further and further out, so I'm curious how you and the team have helped bring that muscle to bear when it comes to forecasting further out, because it's not something that everyone has had to do before.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. Definitely. And I think a lot of the ability to forecast out- quarters relies on, like everything else, good data, having good data. And if there's no focus in terms of accurately reflecting deals that are outside of the quarter, then you're not obviously not going to have a good forecast or visibility into what's happening out- quarter. So that goes back to your rigor and your operating cadence or your operational structure and processes around making sure that we are focused on out- quarters and we are looking at those. And it's almost a, it's kind of a self fulfilling prophecy, because if you look at the out- quarters and people know that you're looking at it, the reps will pay more attention to entering the data. And then it's, and it builds off of that. But I think especially with the way this year has been going with the pandemic and just everything happening in the economy, the more and more we're focused on out- quarter business, because not only are deals slipping more often and getting pushed out- quarter, but also you're looking for opportunities to bring things in. Are there renewals that we should be able to close early so we can get those off the table? Or are there things that we should be accelerating that deals, maybe there's a chance to pull in to this quarter to offset potential slip deals or any other risks?

Sean Lane: Yeah. I mean, it's the exact same lesson from what you were saying about stages and forecast categories. If it's what you're paying attention to, if it's what you're having conversations about on a daily basis, then the behavior changes and that's when the needle's going to move. Our CRO says all the time," Inspect what you expect." It's just so true in every single component of whether it's a QBR forecast or whatever.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: It's muscle memory also. You talked about when you move up market and you start selling into larger accounts and larger deals, the deal cycle often gets longer and it's more complex, there's more players that need to be involved, more approvals that you need to go through, more stakeholders that you need to get buy- in from. It's all about exercising that muscle and coming from an ops perspective, it's making sure that the team has, that we have processes and systems to support what they're doing and the data and the analysis, but also driving the adoption and the rigor, making sure that people are following the process and then continuing to enhance the process because oftentimes business changes, your processes need to iterate as well.

Sean Lane: Before we go, at the end of each show, we're going to ask each guest the same lightning round of questions. Ready? Here we go. Best book you've read in the last six months?

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Radical Candor, and it was actually recommended by my-

Sean Lane: Oh. Right on the tip of your tongue.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah, it was actually recommended by my manager and, actually, a lot of our leadership team recommended it. We're actually going to be doing, I think, a leadership session on it. But up to this point, I've managed teams for so long, but I have never read that book and I've been hearing more and more about it and somebody recommended it, here at Clari, to me. And so yeah, top of mind for me.

Sean Lane: I love it. Favorite part about working in ops?

Rosalyn Santa Elena: I love the fact that you are involved in both strategic and tactical. I love being part of go- to- market, the strategy pieces and coming up with interesting ways to do things. But then I also love being able to break those things into small pieces and go do it. I love the feeling. Just get stuff done.

Sean Lane: Yeah. Absolutely. Bias for action. Least favorite part about working in ops?

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Maybe the same, maybe the same answer. Some days it's like, we just want to bump-

Sean Lane: Too much.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: ...where you get so stuck in the tactical, especially in a small company when there's not that many resources, you're doing things that you've never done, you haven't done for many years because you had a team if you worked in a bigger company. I don't know if I have a least favorite, but I do think that we, all kidding aside, I do think that we need to ensure that as ops folks that we continue to be more strategic. Don't forget to pop your head up and look around. Don't always be just reactive. We do need to be proactive and help guide the business and help really lead the team.

Sean Lane: Someone who impacted you getting the job you have today?

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. So because I was a two time customer, my sales rep and my SE were actually the ones who talked to me about this opportunity. That's how great our customer relationships are. They actually talked to me and said," Hey, we're looking for some ops help." And I said, oh my gosh, this is a fantastic company. I know the product. And I already understood the culture just having worked with the team from a customer perspective.

Sean Lane: That's amazing. They're going to have to have come up with some sort of new attribution model internally. You're going to have to come up with it. Now, incorporate that into the sales process. All right. Last one for you. One piece of advice for people who want to have your job someday?

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah, I definitely think educating yourself, well, I guess I should say network and learn from others. The things that you're doing here, Sean, with the podcast, it's amazing because I think there's just not a lot of good resources for operational people, for people who want to start in operations or want to elevate their career, there's not a ton of books to read or a ton of blogs to follow. There's great resources, like what you're doing here, and there's some other ones. But I think making sure that you learn from others, like any other role, I guess, it's not, this doesn't just apply to operations, but learn from others who have done it, because people are more willing than you think to share their experiences and their learnings. And don't try to recreate the wheel every time, because we've all, everybody has done it some way in some shape form or another at some point. So learn from others, lean on your peers, and definitely share best practices with others as well.

Sean Lane: Well one, thank you. I appreciate that. And two, I couldn't agree more. I think the posts that you have put out there on LinkedIn, in particular, about the 10 pillars of sales ops, just that alone for someone who's trying to figure out what this job means and ways to contribute to it, or pick a lane and try to specialize in one, two, three, four, five, however many pillars you want to focus on. It just lays the foundation for you of what is possible and what is out there in terms of work you can do.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yep. Absolutely. And I think there's just a lot of education also that happens around... there's a lot of questions around, what does operations really do? What is sales ops? What is rev ops? I've been trying, similar to you, is just trying to share some of my experiences in the hope that it will help others.

Sean Lane: Thanks so much to Rosalyn for being our guest on this week's episode of Operations. If you enjoyed the show, please make sure you are subscribed so you can get the new episode into your feed every other Friday. Also, if you are really enjoying the show and feeling generous today, leave us six- star review on apple podcasts, six- star reviews only. They really help other people to find the show. All right, that's going to do it for me for this week. Thanks so much for listening. See you next time.


A pretty common exercise within Sales organizations is the Quarterly Business Review. This is a time to both look back at the previous quarter’s performance as well as look ahead to the quarter ahead. It’s usually a mix of both qualitative and quantitative, of learnings and reflection, and of course, forecasting. But what makes a Quarterly Business Review, or QBR, a good one? What makes it worth the time and effort invested to run one of these for every single rep on your team? And how do you make sure you are spending time on the stuff that matters. We’re going to answer all of those questions with our guest, Rosalyn Santa Elena, the Head of Revenue Operations at Clari. In our conversation, we outline how to run QBRs at your organization, the role of Operations in those QBRs, and we’ll get some insight into how Clari forecasts their own business. Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with Sean on Twitter @Seany_Biz @HYPERGROWTH_pod