Growth Operations: Gain unfair advantage when scaling fast

Companies hire growth operations when their usual growth channels are no longer enough and they need to find new ways to grow. Read this to know when to hire a Growth Ops, key focus areas for Growth Ops, and flavors of Growth Ops persona.
Harish S
Nov 3, 2023
4 mins

When does it make sense to create a Growth Ops role?

In today's economic climate, businesses are facing increasing pressures on controlling spend while tackling ambitious growth targets. Companies typically look to hire growth operations when they have set up a well-oiled machinery for the usual GTM investments, and now want to tap into unconventional channels of growth to meet their business needs.

Here’s a table to see whether growth ops makes sense for you or not:

Does not make Sense Makes Sense
Figuring out Product Marketing Fit and Product GTM Fit You have a repeatable playbook that’s working and want to scale/ grow aggressively
You don't have a good data to work upon and/or no functional operations teams You have a lot of data to work with and a baseline of tools/tech in place
You’re hiring people to set up and execute standard playbooks You already have established GTM playbooks (marketing, sales, and CS) set up and a team that is actively executing on these playbooks
Your growth rate is below industry standards and the core machinery needs fixing You are growing at par with industry standards and looking to drive competitive advantage as you scale

What are the key focus areas for growth operations?

When you have marketing/sales/revenue operations, you may definitely be thinking - what should growth operations focus on? Your traditional operations roles are for existing revenue channels. They care about getting existing processes right. Your conventional GTM tech stack is just average because your competitors also have the same tech stack.Growth operations are all about figuring out 2-3 right growth initiatives and executing the heck out of it. 

Growth operations care about making sure you innovate on distribution models and stay above the competition. This means that they have a strong grasp of your business, and your competition, and have a long-term vision of where your market is moving towards.

They should dare to think outside the box. Set clear expectations that you and other functions will support them in all means possible, right from funding, new tools and process, unlearning outdated processes, and adopting new best practices to enable their success.

Nurturing growth talent within your organization

Your best bet when it comes to finding these out-of-the-box thinkers is to look within your existing GTM organization.Your best performers are so because they strongly believe in your company’s mission and vision. They are actively adopting new best practices and cross-pollinating your team with new ideas all the time. They go out of their way to get other teams to see a better way of getting things done and can create a disproportionate impact for your team because they know the ins and outs of your business already.

Learning from the Best

That being said, sometimes it makes more sense to hire from outside your organization. They can bring in best practices from their work experience at other top companies. Leading organizations with established growth ops function still hire from outside, to soak up the best talent and keep in touch with latest tech.

Let’s check out a couple of JDs from leading companies to see what they are thinking about when they hire for growth operations.

This is how Snowflake, describes its ideal Director of Growth Operations:

The Growth Operations team at Snowflake is responsible for accelerating the growth of the business by evaluating, planning and executing strategic growth initiatives across the company. 

The team is building the new capabilities needed to scale Snowflake into new markets and customer segments, introduce new product and service offerings and sell through new channels.

We are looking for a leader with sales, product and operational experience, with a clear track record of driving business growth, who will lead a team of talented builders who lay the foundation for operations at scale.

Let’s take a look at how Toptal describes its ideal Head of Growth Operations:

As the Head of Growth Operations, you will be responsible for scaling Toptal’s Growth Team, setting priorities, and ensuring all growth systems are trending up over time. 

You will be growing the company’s revenue by working at the intersection of business, technology, data, and marketing. 

You will be directing all of the team’s interviewing, training, prioritization, and execution processes as the team grows and specializes, including guiding the development of all dashboards, analytics systems, and automated rules needed to ensure the health and growth of the company’s client funnel over time. 

You will work with Toptal’s Head of Growth to set Toptal’s long-term growth strategies and guide the company’s growth trajectory to new inflection points.

While a sample size of two is not significant, here is what both these companies are looking for.

  • Comfortable working at the intersection of Sales, Marketing, and Product
  • Develop and monitor metrics and take initiatives to develop them over time
  • Bring in best practices and make sure they get implemented across teams

I’ll add more JDs in the footnotes so that you have some templates to use when you are scouting for your growth operators. (You can also check our footnotes for some other interesting perspectives on Growth Ops!)

Flavors of Growth Operators

The flavor of growth operations depends upon your primary way to Go-to-Market. That decides what initiatives your growth team needs to take forward. 

  • PLG companies have innovated first by bringing in product-focused growth operations, and many of the JDs you may see online are heavily influenced from a product standpoint. 
  • B2B businesses generally have marketing growth or sales growth operations - and they launch initiatives focussed on tools & processes to improve their SLG or MLG motion. Most initiatives are about using specific triggers to send personalized outbound. It can be industry-specific, or process improvements. 

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Footnotes:

JDs:

  1. Traba - Growth Operations Associate (lever.co)
  2. Associate - Growth Operations job at WeWork - Instahyre
  3. Head of Growth Operations - Palo Alto | StartUs
  4. Director of Growth Operations at Snowflake (startup.jobs)
  5. Growth Operations Manager | Devex

Other interesting perspectives on Growth Ops:

  1. Why You Should Invest in Growth Ops Right Now, Not Sales Ops or Marketing Ops — Prasid Pathak
  2. Should Marketing Ops Be Growth Ops?‍ (inflection.io)
  3. The Difference Between Marketing, Growth, and RevOps (aptitude8.com)
  4. Every Company Needs a Growth Manager (hbr.org)
  5. Company Growth Strategy: 7 Key Steps for Business Growth & Expansion (hubspot.com)
  6. Welcome to GrowthOps (fullcast.io)
  7. Growth Operations | Solutions That Scale (growth-operations.com)

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