Today, Vincent Cresce, Director of Revenue Operations at Laminar joins host Islin Munisteri to talk about the joys of board-level reporting, grabbing insights from data, and navigating the political component of the truth behind the data. We also talk about being relatable to sales and marketing teams and being the person people want to work with.
Vincent Cresce graduated from the Catholic University of America. Over his 22-year career, he has worked in sales operations across various software companies, including Microstrategy. Vincent is currently Director of Revenue Operations at Laminar, a security firm that does data discovery in the cloud.
Connect with our guest, Vincent Cresce, on LinkedIn.
[00:00:20] Islin Munisteri: Hi. This is Islin with Theia Marketing and I'm host of the Rev Ops Careers podcast. Today. I'm excited to have Vincent Cresce on
[00:00:30] Vincent Cresce graduated from the Catholic University of America over his 22 year career. He has worked in sales operations across various software companies, including micro strategy. Vincent is currently director of revenue operations at Laminar, a security firm that does data discovery in the cloud.
[00:00:50] I'm excited to have you on the.
[00:00:53] Vincent Cresce: Thank you for having me. And I will say until you mentioned it I didn't realize I'd been working for 22 years, so
[00:01:04] that's fantastic, but I feel like I'm aging myself a little bit. There that's the boy.
[00:01:10] Islin Munisteri: No, you just have a lot of experience. That's what they call it.
[00:01:13] Vincent Cresce: There we go. Experienced I'll take that. The experience.
[00:01:18] Islin Munisteri: Oh, how did you start your career in RevOps journey?
[00:01:21] Vincent Cresce: So I think as most operators begin their journey quite unexpectedly they're coming out of college.
[00:01:27] I did not know exactly what I wanted to do. And I had this idea that I would become a CPA. I figured the, those three letters after my name would be great. It's a good career path, et cetera. And I worked very hard. I passed the exam and I was starting to get into the career sudden look around and I quickly realized that.
[00:01:47] The life of that account of the accountant is not really the life for me. I talk way too much, I think no offense to any accountants out there, but I feel like I've way to put a personality for an accountant. And so randomly I ended up being offered a position as a sales operations guy analyst at a company named micro strategy, which started my first, my foray into software and Career in ops, which I would never leave from there.
[00:02:13] And this is something that I really love. I just found that working in operations is great. You're the grease. You keep the skids greased. Now you keep everything moving. And I like that behind the scenes coordination organization and everything that comes along with it.
[00:02:25] So I started in sales And, in this modern day era, modern era of bringing things together, right? The division that exists between sales and marketing, it was something that interested me and I didn't really know how to transition to it. Then a lemonade security a spot opened up Atlanta security.
[00:02:40] They're doing it the smart way. I think. Do rev ops from the beginning as I scale up. And yeah I fell into rev ops and it's great lot learning, but I really love being here and it comes with a lot of really fun and interesting challenges.
[00:02:53] Islin Munisteri: I love it. What was your biggest learning experience?
[00:02:56] Vincent Cresce: I've had a couple over the years. I'd say, I think probably the biggest for me is the. Experience I'm in moving into robot. It's the broad of rev ops in a startup. I think for me, I always understood the sales kind of side of the house, everything, the technology that goes with it, but moving into the marketing side of the house as well, taking that under my wing and also being in a startup.
[00:03:21] Build it from the ground up means that I had to go from learning, knowing essentially nothing about Marquetto except how it integrates the basics of what it does, how it works and how it looks to being able to build and create campaigns, standardizing campaigns, bringing all the folks involved with that, finding, figuring out what the heck UTM means.
[00:03:40] All these kind of various things, which on the sales side, you don't really care about. Oh that much. And you have to do it in very fast, at a very expedient way because we need to get all this stuff implemented so we can do it, do our demand gen and all that stuff. But to me, that's the hardest part, learning something on the fly.
[00:03:57] A series of platforms on the fly is it's really challenging. There've been challenges such as What does it mean to report to board level, give board level type report, and that, that took a while? Or what is it to understand intuitively what sales leadership, or what marketing leadership actually needs?
[00:04:13] There's kind of series of hurdles as you go through, but this last one is definitely
[00:04:19] Islin Munisteri: that's great. And what do you mean by board level? Wait, what is it like key KPIs they're looking for? Or like what does the board look for?
[00:04:27] Vincent Cresce: Yeah. I think there's a couple of things, you're getting board-level reporting. You're obviously have a standard set of KPIs that you're providing definitions around what those KPIs are. I think boardrooms also, in addition to those kinds of standard metrics, that quantitative component, they really want to see some insights, see your what's, your, how you what's your takeaways are, to understand what is working, what isn't valuable insights that help inform them about the data.
[00:04:54] It can really. Empower the board to make more intelligent decisions if they know how things are going. Additionally, there's always that political component of. What do we want to show them versus what the truth is? And that's a very tedious kind of a tight rope to walk there, but, I think it's important to understand what the politics are.
[00:05:13] If you're presenting data that you know is it's stretching the truth a bit, in terms of your performance is better than it actually is. I think it's truth in numbers, truth in that will eventually catch up to so navigating those. To me is as you, if you want to level up in the world of operations to be that kind of trusted advisor, being able to do that as I have learned is a very important one.
[00:05:35] Islin Munisteri: Wow. Did not know that the political component is so important, but the staff, particularly in organizations, everyone wants to feel and look good, but is that what the data is actually.
[00:05:50] Vincent Cresce: Yeah. And, honestly, I think it's the real limitation for any operators that we're only as effective as our true leaders are like.
[00:05:57] So our CRO is our CMOs, my, my job, I guess maybe the COO is the only one who could counter those depending on how your organization is set up. But generally speaking, we're, we are community, we are preparing communication. These CXOs are communicating upwards. And so again it's how they want to communicate that information.
[00:06:19] Perhaps they want to still start things or they want to show a metrics that help their cause rather than metrics. I heard it, and some, someone to go the realistic route, just show them everything. Let's put a story behind it, blah, blah, blah. But again it's all political. So I think you need to, understanding that and being able to navigate that is as vital as an offer.
[00:06:39] Islin Munisteri: I agree. Yes. And what's the hardest thing you've done with your texts. Current role?
[00:06:45] Vincent Cresce: Actually I would say two roles ago when I worked for a a conglomerate, we had about 70, 70 plus different companies in my vertical. There were easily 20, excuse me. There is a 20 different companies and the challenge was that this was a company that grew by acquisition and, know, I'm sure from a due diligence standpoint, in terms of.
[00:07:05] The what the. The, from a sales component, the solution component, but they thought that out very well, but wasn't thought out very well, was the tech stack, the infrastructure and how that actually integrates or not with the current infrastructure of the company. And so we had, at one point we had probably seven different instances of Salesforce.
[00:07:26] Every map that we have, Marquetto part OD you know, HubSpot. We had it. They have multiple ERP. And within each instance of Salesforce, obviously they had different fields. Some use a amount field, some used an ARR field, or all sorts of different kind of standards for bookings processes.
[00:07:46] And. Our challenge was to bring that together very quickly and, find solutions even if the things don't, even if things don't work well together, still be able to report. We still need to report up what the performance of these groups are. And that was just a constant challenge because there was only so much technically we could do, we definitely had some serious limitations, so it was a battle every day to.
[00:08:06] Yeah, just do a simple forecast. Like I couldn't necessarily turn a simple report around, like we didn't have a BI tool that brought everything in together. So it was an absolute nightmare, I would say. And definitely one of the greatest challenges I have had this one currently Atlanta, it's a great challenge, but it's one of those fun, exciting challenges that we get to build something from the ground up that can scale.
[00:08:29] So the challenge is learning everything and learning how it can integrate properly, but because we're doing it so early, it saves a lot of headaches because I can set things up correctly the first time, hopefully that I don't have to make a lot of changes downstream. So
[00:08:46] Islin Munisteri: that's exciting. And what series is laminar at?
[00:08:49] Vincent Cresce: Like Thursday? There's a hot out of the gate with series a awesome.
[00:08:56] Islin Munisteri: Wow. So Sarah, even at series a. Companies you start seeing need for revenue operations.
[00:09:04] Vincent Cresce: Yeah. And there's, the going on, I think that I think startups are really started thinking this way is started in manner that you're expecting to scale.
[00:09:14] I think there's a better framework for success than, Hey, let's take it slow and figure things out. And I don't mean that you have to buy the entire tech stack to start out with, I think of just thinking everything as a, again, one revenue operations kind of function, everything is in house under one group.
[00:09:34] And that helps everybody to work together from the beginning. And it's just it's a, to me, it says. Much better way to think about things.
[00:09:42] Islin Munisteri: Great. Wow. That's good. I've learned quite a bit just talking with you and what, I guess what's your single source of truth in your tech stack?
[00:09:51] Is it the CRM? Is it the BI layer? What,
[00:09:55] Vincent Cresce: so for now it's we have the idea that at some point we're going to build out a data lake to aggregate all the data. But regardless of that, I think for just basic protocols, the CPA and me kicking in, and I think your Salesforce slash your ERP or your in tune systems of record, regardless of what your data lake says, that's where the data originates I think is to me, your source of.
[00:10:18] And it'll all in a sense that I'll always be Salesforce. I it'll always be NetSuite. Those are two, Salesforce or bookings and all that related information that's way for revenue and all that related information. I don't think that should change at all.
[00:10:34] Islin Munisteri: And what's your philosophy on how rev ops teams should interact?
[00:10:38] Vincent Cresce: That's a good question. So I think the number of things I think actually even stepping back from rev operations, I think from an operation standpoint, they being an operator, I think takes a special set of.
[00:10:49] I think if I had to think of a few, qualities you want folks that are intelligent, adaptive, creative, analytical, and what I don't think most people think of commonly, but I think personal is probably one of the most important components. In any operations group, The folks behind the scenes, orchestrating whatever strategy, implementing whatever strategy that particular group has.
[00:11:13] And so your challenge is how to make that work, right? If you're a sales operator, you're working with your CRO or similar, and you're trying to Take their strategy and implement that. That means you're working with sales reps, all sorts of people. You're doing a lot of different things and you need to be able to adapt quickly as things change because sales things change, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
[00:11:32] So that's, I think that same philosophy goes for revenue operations to the extreme, because in this case, you don't have, 100. To feed. You got two miles to feed, right? Two people, you have two heads, sorry, two heads that are giving orders, right? The marketing people have their idea of what they want to do.
[00:11:48] And we have a strategy that we're going to implement the sales guys. Let's you have a let's have a CRO that covers a boat, but you have those two heads are giving you their instructions, their feedback. And again, you need to be, you need to be able to understand what they're saying, have the vision to, to see how that fits into what we're doing now into our tech stack.
[00:12:07] You need to be able to be personable, to coordinate back and forth with these folks. You'll have multiple parties that you're doing with, and you have to adapt to change because as these models are implemented and you see the performance of it, you're going to have to change them. And so again, there's an applies here because you're gonna have to be able to see that future of what that change actually means.
[00:12:27] And so I got an F I guess to summarize, I think if you're thinking about it a little bit further, as I went through this explanation, I think. That's the personality that your personal ability to relate to people. That's probably one of the most important underrated things of an operator. Combine that with intelligence and adaptability.
[00:12:50] I think that's are you are someone who can be successful at whatever you're doing operations.
[00:12:57] Islin Munisteri: Yeah everyone I've talked to so far is you need to look at like personal skills. You need to look at project management skills. Like it's not like there's, it's not just the technical skills that are important.
[00:13:09] You need to have those personal skills
[00:13:11] Vincent Cresce: as well. Yeah. That's, I think the ability to relate, common time, again, this is me speaking more from the sales ops side of the house for a moment. No sales reps. In my mind the analogy I've always thought is like sales reps. It's every time the rules and parameters that an operator sets with sales leadership into being like a box that you put sales reps into.
[00:13:32] And they're always going to find, trying to find ways to get out of that box. And so it becomes this constant battle of sales reps to think you're there to. Make them put information into Salesforce or make them do things for yourself. And if you're not personal, if you're just building systems that work, but you're not really driving the value, the reason why we're making it work this way, it's not going to, it's not going to be effective.
[00:13:58] And so you really have to be able to relate to those sales reps, to sales leadership, and get their buy-in to, Hey, this is why we want you to. Put this information into Salesforce. This is why it's important to update your notes. This is why, et cetera, et cetera, this helps you out, not just us. And if you're not, if you don't have that personal equality, that the ability to relate, it's going to make life a lot more difficult.
[00:14:21] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha. That, yeah. Personal is super important. And on that note if you died tomorrow, what do you hope people would say about you and how you impacted them?
[00:14:31] Vincent Cresce: So I have to say if nothing else I always had this philosophy I call it a breaking bread and it was my first role as an operator, I had to work a lot with the.
[00:14:41] Director of compensation. And it wasn't a fun job because, generally I was going over there to talk to her, to request, increased comp for something like a commission, this, or they didn't get enough, a whatever it was. And so it was generally a battle. And so I realized early on, I had to, I told the philosophy of breaking.
[00:14:59] My inner Italian coming out, which is, Hey, I I don't actually want to talk about business first. I want to connect personally, crack a few jokes, have some fun, and that I've just carried that with that philosophy with me throughout my career, as an operator is to. Try to make things fun and enjoyable.
[00:15:17] And I think most people would probably remark that about me. And the fact that I generally am very fast at producing things. I try to I try to administer whatever solution I have to very quick. And so good solutions and probably a corny joke.
[00:15:32] What I think was people remember it'd be, but, it's work a spot where it should be more than just getting a job done. It should be, enjoy each other's company and kind of, your colleagues or friends, and so that's, to me, I've always made that a focal point with whom I work.
[00:15:46] Islin Munisteri: That's awesome. Yeah. I think having a company culture that embraces fun and you're a real human really helps a lot when you're scaling and working those nights and weekends.
[00:15:59] Vincent Cresce: So I would say I would say my philosophy was I'm going to bring that fun, whether the cooperation is whether they're about it or not, I'm going to, I'm just going to be myself.
[00:16:09] And that means there are definitely some. Yeah, terrible jokes. I come out of it. So good dad joke. It always works. I agree.
[00:16:19] Islin Munisteri: Yes. My husband has some pretty, pretty bad dad jokes and then my daughter comes back at him with her own version of dad jokes.
[00:16:27] Vincent Cresce: Very good. See that's, that's fun.
[00:16:29] I think if I actually had the Salesforce rep for our current Salesforce rep she she came in, she replaced the previous guy about a month ago, and I'd only worked with the previous guy for about a month before I came to laminar. And so we only met about two or three times and he's all the way in Israel.
[00:16:48] He's not even in the U S right now. And. The new rep will tell me how many times this guy asks about me, just because him and I had a personal conversation, like a connection, right? And I think that's, you build that kind of connection. You build that, those bridges where people actually want to work with you and, as an operator, you just, you need that.
[00:17:08] You need people to want to work with out to force them. There are always lots of uncomfortable conversations within the world of operations, but if you don't have that bridge, Different difficult and generally more confrontational.
[00:17:23] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha. Yeah. If I find that having that bridge built is really helpful when you need to have those difficult conversations.
[00:17:32] Vincent Cresce: Yes. Which in operations it's inevitable. You're never going to avoid it.
[00:17:37] Islin Munisteri: Yeah. Yeah. Building those interpersonal skills. One, one conversation.
[00:17:44] Vincent Cresce: That's exactly right.
[00:17:46] Islin Munisteri: And what's your. Best piece of career advice, you would tell your younger self.
[00:17:51] Vincent Cresce: I think number one, Consume, whatever content that's out there, you can I never really made great use of LinkedIn.
[00:17:57] Initially. It was like the selfish type usage, right? It's see what jobs were out there or trying to connect with people, but consuming content operations is an interesting world where it's not like a. I guess there are more set courses now, but it wasn't like a set discipline.
[00:18:10] It's not something that there are generally, it's generally accepted accounting principles, gap principles. They're like generally accepted operating principles, but there's not really a rule book that, that rules them all. And. No consuming information to understand what best practices work, where and where they don't and getting people's experience of feedback.
[00:18:33] I wish I had done that earlier. I think it would've helped me a lot early in my career. So I think that's probably the best advice I can give is to do that. Get out there and learn a lot.
[00:18:44] Islin Munisteri: Just
[00:18:45] Vincent Cresce: keep learning. Yeah. But learn off others. I should. I want to emphasize that. I think it's, the operations is very unique that too, I think the best thing you can do is learn a bit, learn from other operators.
[00:18:55] I think that's really, I guess it's, I suppose it's not too difficult from different from other fields. I just think that true operators, we really only have, we really have to rely on. For best practices, because again there's, it's really hard to say, Hey, this process works.
[00:19:14] This is best practice. Cause you may go to, a $2 million a year startup in their series B kind of mode and that doesn't work at all, and so which I've learned quite well in the series, a, a lot of quote, unquote, best practices. They don't work here
[00:19:32] Islin Munisteri: at series B doesn't work out series day,
[00:19:35] Vincent Cresce: right?
[00:19:35] It's almost like a series of best practices depending on what series you're actually in. I guess maybe that's how it should be class.
[00:19:43] Islin Munisteri: Oh, that would be hilarious. Series of best practices depending on what series
[00:19:48] Vincent Cresce: hearing. Yeah. Th that should be a good book. Maybe we should get together. Write one. That's.
[00:19:52] What series should you be in?
[00:19:56] Islin Munisteri: That's awesome. And is there anything we haven't covered?
[00:19:59] Vincent Cresce: Boy one of the things I was thinking of was, again, how interesting the world of operations is and again, how sometimes obscure. Good operations and information is again, I wa I definitely wanna emphasize like, podcasts like this good social connections where you can really come and listen to people, talk about their experiences is so important because what they may do in certain scenarios really influences you a factor.
[00:20:28] An example I could give of this is. In my previous role they had a, an interesting orientation for opportunities where they divided them into two phases. You hadn't SDO a sales development opportunity and an SQL and as a sales qualified opportunity. And basically it was to know when it actually entered the pipeline, for forecast measurement, et cetera, et cetera.
[00:20:49] To me, this seemed like such a obscure idea. I didn't see that utility that into it. Cause I, I guess maybe I'm more of a Salesforce classic kind of guy, but I think I like each object being separate and you get into each object as you push into it. And they were very much no we're going to do it this way.
[00:21:05] And I was adamant that this wasn't. I didn't say that long enough to change it, which is probably a good thing because when I came to the seminar, we had built out our whole structure for selling and I'm the new VP of sales comes in and says, Hey, I think that opportunities for us as a series a, when it's in that discovery demonstration type stage or phase the opportunity, I don't consider that pipeline.
[00:21:30] I don't consider. Part of the sales cycle, which am I then wisdom. I realized that's why these SQO, SDO, SQO divisions existed so that you could actually maintain your sales structure, stage wise and an opportunity, but be able to split it in a way such that you could accomplish. Sales leadership wants to do without wrecking your entire sales process to do and so again, something you may not read commonly, I don't think it's generally a best practice, especially for more mature organizations, but it's an example of a learning I got from experience working with somebody that I was able to employ in my in subsequent job experiences that allowed us to be very effective.
[00:22:12] And I think, the hunger to learn this kind of stuff or take this kind of put in is is critical if you want to really improve yourself as an operator.
[00:22:22] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha. I think that's excellent advice for all of our listeners and I think that's a wrap for podcast. Thanks for being on Vince.
[00:22:30] Vincent Cresce: I can do. Awesome.