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The Revenue Operations Blog

Bridging the Strategic and Tactical, Eka Kamushadze

November 30, 2021

The Interview

Kluster's Take

Josephine spoke with Eka Kamushadze, Head Of International Business And Sales Operations at Orange Business Services. She explains her unique approach to preparing reps.

Eka believes her role bridges the strategic and tactical divide. Her success measure is high employee and client satisfaction. Eka believes that the plan is only as successful as the employees delivering the plan. The overall objective is to prepare them so there is the groundwork for success.


Monitoring customer satisfaction and customer first that really has been fundamental. Number one, philosophical or proxy code or operational focus for me over the career.

My first question to you is what would you say your business and sales ops philosophy is? And how has your career impacted this? Um, well, over years, um, sales, my ESL source philosophy and my career has evolved. And I have to say that the sales has grown increasingly complex, uh, these days because of the many different routes to market, uh, prolification of, uh, digital tools.

And, uh, and that has, uh, really. Um, impacted and changed my, my philosophy. How, how voice, um, really, I have been assisting sales with, uh, defining sales strategy, turning this sales strategy into, uh, operations, um, and, uh, helping them to develop and use new technology application. Um, that also, uh, requires planning of right resources, uh, to, to deliver the, uh, right sales results.

And so shaping this from, um, Sales performance shaping and assisting self performance to achieve the, uh, results has been really my focus and my philosophy in, in this role. But I would say to summarize all of this, I need for one and one purpose, uh, for, um, uh, customer satisfaction. Because unless you have satisfied customers, you will not generate any results, no matter what technology and what pipeline, whatever you you'll have.

So, uh, monitoring customer satisfaction and customer first. Uh, fundamental, uh, number one, um, philosophical or practical or operational focus for me over the. Ah, that's pretty cool. It's quite interesting because you do like international business and sales ops. So before we started recording, you said you look after like both ends of the process.

So then it makes sense why you have this customer focus to it. Okay. Absolutely. Can you talk to me about metrics? So what metrics do you focus on the core of the revenue? Yes. Um, and again, then again, we start with customer satisfaction. Um, that's number one, measure for B and we measured through, uh, mean NPS net promoter score.

I always focus first and foremost. So invest, uh, we will, um, always review the customer satisfaction survey. And I will read and two on every single flight back of every customer and to make sure that we capture what matters for our customers. And we're really focusing on those aspects. That's number one metrics, because I think it's a critical element of sales success.

Uh, up to that, um, we are growth oriented company as any other company, I would say. So the revenue of evolution over time and compared to budget is, uh, the, the, um, the matrix said I would, uh, um, Also that leads to another one, which is also critical because revenue comes from so-called, uh, new and get orders.

I incremental orders as well as a renewal or keep orders. So we will measure, uh, odor intake in both areas. We need that, um, to, to secure revenue growth, uh, that. To discern, uh, element that is a pipeline adequacy. And. Pipeline. I would measure a couple of, uh, there are a couple of elements, but critically, um, uh, I want to know that whatever pipeline we have is sufficient to generate orders that is sufficient to generate the revenue growth we need.

And the pipeline comes with street attributes. Um, That is the pipeline itself. Uh, and then we look at win rates as well as a sales velocity, because there is a famous, uh, formula that, uh, links the, uh, history, uh, elements to project your order intake. So that takes your pipeline. It takes your sales velocity, and it takes your win rate historical.

I think it could be a, if you are planning to increase your wind rate, because you put some measures, it could be projected win. Right. But ultimately those three elements turn into orders and then , and those are the matrix vocals from revenue growth perspective. So ultimately I measure revenue growth, but for that, I need to know order intake, whether it's.

Uh, new and good whether it's renewable or cheap and that's linked to the pipeline adequacy and there I need to measure, or I measure pipeline in general, as well as, uh, when right evolution as well as sales, velocity, um, evolution. Brilliant. Okay. So as you're explaining all these metrics, it does sound very like tactical.

Could you talk me through how this bridges, the operations so tactical and then strategic divide, because I know that you're quite strategic. You do a lot of planning, but then you also do good tactical execution as well. Right. Um, I wouldn't, I wouldn't call it. Uh, well, it is a divided indeed. There is a tactical versus strategic.

Um, but I think, uh, my function sales operation function has that role that, uh, Bridge over this divide. And, uh, this is a very, uh, interesting and exciting, uh, function to perform, to start with, uh, together. When we put together the five-year strategic plan for my organization, we were critically involved in, um, assessing market.

Gross potentials as well as, um, our go to market strategies for that plan, uh, in various, uh, products or services that we want to be in, uh, in the future. So we were heavily involved in defining, um, international business, strategic plan. Um, once the plan was established, uh, after that we got involved in establishing what does is mean.

From the revenue growth perspective and what resources we need or we have, or we need to achieve those revenue growth. Potential. So linking, uh, the revenue and resources topics, uh, together of two that we have built the plan was in sales operations. What does it mean in terms of revenue evolution over time and resource over illusion over time?

So we extended that growth, um, topic, uh, was in time frame that the plan is built for. Then we. Develop the plan, uh, that, um, uh, gives us a view of what kind of order intake we need over time. Um, what should we, the target, uh, target that we need to distribute, uh, for each of the, the, uh, um, contributing resource.

Um, that then leads to establish what kind of pipeline we need to achieve that, uh, type of, um, um, over time. So creating that operational translation of that. Uh, strategic one in terms of, um, uh, orders, pipeline, resources, uh, Coulters, uh, I, I see that, um, a translation of strategy to operations is exactly what, uh, sales, operations function performance.

And this is what, uh, our role is in my organization. Um, okay. So to you, sales ops is literally about bridging that gap between the practical of, like, could you talk me through about the, um, you talked about revenue. Evolution. So how far in advance do you do this planning? What does that process look like?

Is it like every three months, six months, five minutes. Alright. Uh, so first of all, as I mentioned, our strategic point covers five years and we established five year, um, objectives for ourselves. Then there is matrix, so various dimensions of this five-year plan. Um, That we have, uh, we have annual review or annual cycles that we establish our, uh, revenue and order budgets.

And, um, but it was in that annual cycle. Then we have, um, Uh, every six months review or an update, uh, the reason, uh, or in general, why, uh, and how this is done was in sales, operations cycles. I think it's highly linked, uh, to type of, uh, sales and sales cycle really. Um, So the review cycle for us, um, uh, in my organization, we deal with B2B business to business, uh, sales, uh, of a very complex, uh, type of deals.

Um, and the sales cycle is, uh, nine months to one year on, uh, On average. So doing this weekly and monthly or, uh, uh, on a very frequent basis is not very useful because sales cycle is quite long. So therefore we reviewed this on a six months basis. Having said that I will look at it a monthly of course, but we established targets and we established, um, uh, more formalized, uh, reveals and budgets, uh, annualized.

And then, uh, This if required and spend six months base, as I said, it's largely because of the long sales cycles we have. Well, okay. So now that we've got a picture of how often you do this, how do you actually measure success of these metrics that you. Ultimately we want revenue to grow. So if we'd done our job, uh, right away, um, it would say, uh, you would see in, uh, achieving the revenue targets and growing the revenue as we established in our strategic plan or our annual plans, that would be, uh, the ultimate measure of success of the matrix we're looking at.

And if we do that, uh, operation. Translation, uh, correctly, then we will achieve the results that we're aiming to achieve. That would be ultimate measure. But as I said at the beginning, uh, there are two additional points that I monitor very, very closely. And it's this, uh, ultimately, um, um, equally important for me that is a customer satisfaction.

As well as employee satisfaction measure that we all we have, wasn't the company. So, um, the achieving revenue targets against, uh, our established, uh, plans or, um, uh, evolution in time. Increasing time is, uh, really what, what measure success for me as well as customer satisfaction, um, employees said inspection.

Those are critical success measures. That's really cool. I am, I have had people say you need to speak to the clients and the customers, but I haven't heard recently anyways, someone mentioning how important it is to speak to the employees as well. What do you think the benefits are there from a, like a leadership perspective?

Of, uh, measuring the employee satisfaction. Um, I do believe that, uh, we cannot be successful unless employees are, um, happy with the job they do, unless employees, um, see the purpose of what they do. And, uh, the, the, uh, I feel part of this plan. Uh, the plan can be only as successful as the employees delivering the plan.

Therefore, the ultimate objective of looking yet, uh, employee satisfaction is really, um, preparing grounds for successful deployment that we spoke before. So that's a very critical component of, uh, achieving the plan. Okay. Fantastic. Obviously your tenure is quite long. It's pretty cool. Could you share any mistakes with the community?

Um, it's, it's most difficult question for me usually to answer, but I'll try. To be honest about it. Um, I think over time, what I've learned is, um, trading perfection and, uh, and trying to make those KPIs and reports as perfect as possible, uh, trading that perfection, uh, um, for maybe less perfection. Quicker delivery of the plans, results, dashboards, what, whatever that, uh, I needed to produce that trade off between, um, perfection and time, I think is something that I learned over time that it's worth taking a risk of mistake for faster execution, I think is, uh, what I've learned over time.

And perhaps. Phrase it in more, uh, mistakes. I think this, uh, spending more time for perfection is a mistake in my opinion, because really we make those types of decisions or. Uh, reports or plans that cannot be corrected. Even if you make a mistake, there's always a chance, uh, to correct it, therefore it's worth taking the risk and the dosing's fostered that became even more obvious over time as our life accelerates.

Uh, that, that is, I think is a very important learning for me that I would advise for others as well to consider is rather sooner than later. So that's perhaps the best I can I can share right now. That was a really good one. So, um, I think the first answer that you gave you spoke about how sales ops has evolved over time and the way things works has changed.

Do you think this like philosophy of just going as, and then correcting any mistakes? Is that. You've said that because everything moves so quick and everything has evolved. You kind of just need to go, go, go a little bit. Yes. Um, I seen, uh, is, uh, uh, in the past, I think we could afford more, uh, um, more focused on perfection.

I don't think life right now allows us that, uh, perfectionist and many of the sales operations, because we're so driven by numbers, by operations. We do have that, uh, The tendency to, to drive to perfection. And I think, uh, that, uh, luxury, uh, is a little bit, uh, uh, redo right now with the speed of, uh, business and speed of evolution.

And I think we need to, um, adopt to it and allow the risk of, uh, mistakes again, there. Again, the, the, the, um, experience actually will, uh, tell and show, whereas the, the areas where we can take more risk and for the areas where we cannot take race, but largely we deal with things that, where we can take risks, um, and, uh, do it faster.

Brilliant. Okay. So last question for you, ECAP, if you, as a percent of revenue leaders or sales ops leaders, what's the one burning question that you'd want them to know. Well, one area that is quite difficult for me right now. And my team is the, uh, increased the uncertainty of, uh, business. And let me elaborate this a little bit more.

Uh, we used to have contracts and commercial relationship with our clients that were perhaps more. I defined over time, there was a defined, uh, revenue, commitment, defined William commitment, defined time, commitment term over the contracts and what we see more and more, um, for certain types of, uh, business, uh, with.

The more flexibility, more commercial flexibility was our clients where you have less, um, commitments, contractual, commitments, less commercial, uh, commitments. Um, yet we need to be prepared, um, for, from resource point of view, um, for any eventuality, uh, and any type of, um, commercial related. It was a customer was out, um, uh, uh, matching commitment, contractual commitment.

And what I would like to understand how the community deals with this, uh, increase the flexibility, uh, commercial flexibility, um, that we faced now with. Was that a clients when it comes to revenue, forecasting and resource forecasting, uh, not having those commitments, uh, identified in the contracts, uh, that.

Um, more risk in our planning. I'd be interested to hear how others are dealing with this particular issue of, uh, contractual flexibility, um, and reflection of the contractual flexibility in our revenue, um, or, uh, um, resource focused. That'd be my question. That's a really good question. Why do you think, um, why do you think that it's changed?

Well, uh, because, uh, if I may, uh, give an example in the past, we would have a contract that says, this is for your contracts. Uh, this is the price of the service. This is the, uh, the, the term of the service. So you knew, um, More or less full for that client. What is your revenue expected revenue over three years?

Um, because usually it would be a three-year contract. We still have some of this, uh, type of contracts, uh, especially in my industry, part of, uh, Part of the service requires quite heavy CapEx, uh, and, uh, there's some, uh, some investment required to deliver those services. So we do need, uh, some commitments, but more and more, what we see is evolution to where a customer is asking much more flexibility.

They don't want to commit it to a term. They want to have flexibility on this connection, um, because the business for them is also uncertain. So they are asking also that uncertainty to be. Imagine with service providers, but that creates the whole, um, whole area of, uh, complexity for sales operations to deal with because we don't know any more if the services for three years, or is it service for three months?

We don't know if they will be using, uh, X amount of consuming X amount of resources, um, because their usage is so much more or they will be consuming, uh, Less, uh, resources. So it's not any more, um, clearly defined and it's very flexible for a customer to go up or down. So that that's the nature of how our business Ables.

And, uh, I do see it in many other areas as well, as I said at the beginning, I mean, B2B area. So that creates extra, um, complexity for business planning for us having a plan. And I'm quite keen to understand how others are doing with this. If they feel the same, uh, changes and, uh, what ways they found to deal with increased flexibility that clients are.