In a fast-paced and ever-changing business landscape, revenue operations (RevOps) has emerged as a critical function that bridges the gaps between sales, marketing, and customer success.

The principles from David Epstein’s book, “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World,” shed light on why embracing generalists in RevOps can be a game-changer for businesses seeking to thrive in the modern era. While some experts argue that anyone who wants to lead in their field should start early, focus intensely, and devote 10,000 hours to a singular area, Epstein found that in most fields—especially those that are complex and unpredictable—generalists, not specialists, are set up to excel.

When I entered the go-to-market (GTM) space after years working in foreign affairs, I was nervous that I would be “behind” my colleagues that had developed expertise in GTM. But I find myself continuing to leverage my experiences in relationship building, relating to people from diverse backgrounds, research and writing, and finding solutions to complex problems within my current role.

The multifaceted discipline of RevOps demands adaptability, problem-solving, and effective collaboration to drive business growth.

1. Adaptability:

In RevOps, change is the only constant. From shifting customer demands to disruptive market forces, the landscape is continuously evolving. Generalists possess a unique advantage in such an environment, as their diverse skill sets and experiences enable them to adapt seamlessly. Unlike specialists confined within narrow domains, generalists can shift between tasks and roles as needed, ensuring that the overall revenue strategy remains flexible and effective. They act as the glue that holds different teams together, promoting agility across the entire organization.

2. Problem-solving:

Revenue operations often live in ambiguity, without enough data and are required to come up with creative solutions. Generalists thrive in this aspect by drawing insights from various domains and applying them to RevOps scenarios. Their ability to see the big picture allows them to tackle intricate problems from multiple angles. While specialists may excel in their specific areas, generalists can bring fresh perspectives and ideas that may not be apparent to those with a limited focus. Embracing a range of experiences allows RevOps professionals to innovate and devise strategies that set their business apart from their competitors.

3. Collaboration:

Effective communication and collaboration are the lifeblood of successful revenue operations. Generalists are uniquely equipped to facilitate these interactions due to their ability to comprehend and speak the language of specialists from different fields. They serve as the intermediary between sales, marketing, and customer success teams, ensuring seamless cooperation and a unified revenue approach. In a world where siloed departments can hinder growth, generalists play a pivotal role in building bridges and fostering collaboration among diverse teams.

David Epstein’s principles from "Range" promote embracing generalism in revenue operations. Generalists' adaptability, problem-solving and collaboration skills make them valuable assets in driving revenue growth.

So if you are considering making a change and breaking into the RevOps space, know that any past exposure to sales, marketing, data analysis, or other fields, gives you a competitive edge. And after you enter the field of RevOps, don’t stop to embrace your generalist background and don’t stay in the ivory tower of RevOps. Continue to explore and learn about the different functions and be in the field with your partners as much as possible. This will allow you to better understand the needs of your partners, and identify potential synergies between different teams and processes. For example, you might notice that certain marketing campaigns lead to increased sales, and by leveraging this insight you can optimize future marketing strategies.

However, it is important to strike a balance by complementing generalist approaches with specialized expertise where needed. You should identify one or two areas where you can deepen your knowledge and expertise, for example, if you have experience in data analysis, focus on refining your data analytics and reporting skills to become a valuable asset in revenue reporting and analysis.

As Epstein writes, “The challenge we all face is how to maintain the benefits of breadth, diverse experience, interdisciplinary thinking, and delayed concentration in a world that increasingly incentivizes, even demands, hyperspecialization.” Embrace generalists in RevOps, as they are the ones who will thrive in this specialized world.

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