The hottest new C-suite position, Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) is gaining a lot of attention lately. And with McKinsley suggesting Fortune 100 companies that have a CRO-like role show 1.8x higher revenue growth than their peers, it's no wonder the role is gaining popularity.
But what does this role involve and how does it differ from other roles within the executive team?
In this article, you’ll discover:
- What a CRO is
- What a CRO does
- How a CRO differs from other C-suite roles
- When it's time to add a CRO to your org
- How to become a CRO
What is a CRO?
A CRO is a member of the executive team, responsible for revenue generation processes across the organization.
Often referred to as the CEO’s deputy, the CRO seeks to create alignment between revenue-generating functions so they all pull in the same direction: long-term revenue growth.
These revenue-generating functions include sales, marketing, and customer success (CS). Depending on the organization, CROs can also have finance and revenue operations reporting to them.
A Chief Revenue Officer will have an overview of sales performance, market processes, and demand generation in order to strategize competitive advantage in the market and improve revenue growth.
Who does the CRO report to?
Typically, the CRO reports directly to the CEO of an organization, as this allows the CRO to be unaffected by the pulls of sales and marketing departments' targets and priorities.
Often the VP of Sales and VP of Marketing may report to the CRO to provide even more visibility into the revenue-generating departments.
What does a CRO do?
A CRO has many responsibilities within an organization including long-term strategies for revenue growth, assisting with omnichannel marketing strategies, creating sales strategies, and owning revenue predictions.
And that’s not even scratching the surface - let’s dive in.
As the name may imply, revenue is a huge part of a CRO’s responsibilities. A CRO shouldn’t just enable revenue teams to produce the best results and meet their revenue targets, but they should also seek out new paths to generate revenue and build the path to get there.
To do this a CRO may create a standardized approach to sales outreach, monitor the revenue pipeline, and brainstorm creative new ways to close deals. CROs may also assist the CMO or Head of Marketing in creating multi-channel lead generation campaigns.
Usually, the CRO will also help to set high-level KPIs for each revenue-generating function, alongside the respective leadership teams.
Since CROs are also looking to create new revenue opportunities for the business, they may become involved with the GTM strategy and work with product development and marketing teams to optimize product positioning and refine pricing strategy.
They may also be involved in discussions with key enterprise clients to increase customer satisfaction and retain their business.
TLDR: CROs are involved in all revenue generation and growth aspects, from sales outreach to lead generation campaigns, GTM strategy to pricing strategy.
But how does a CRO work across so many departments seamlessly? Easy, they work towards alignment and visibility across revenue-generating functions like sales, marketing, and customer success. In short: they break down silos.
CROs can’t always take on this mammoth task themselves though, why do you think CROs often start the ball rolling by hiring a RevOps team?
For a CRO to work effectively, sales, marketing, and customer success teams must sing from the same metaphorical hymn sheet. The CRO must have visibility into the workings of each function and pull the strings towards long-term revenue growth. A key mechanism of this is setting shared targets and KPIs between these functions.
Without this visibility, it would be near impossible to ensure alignment across these functions. Luckily, CROs often employ RevOps teams to assist with these alignment goals. This function can align revenue teams through processes and shared databases. Learn more about the benefits of revenue operations here.
TLDR: CROs aim to align sales, marketing, and CS teams so they all pull towards the same revenue goals - sometimes this requires assistance from a RevOps team.
And as if that wasn’t enough, CROs are also responsible for short and long-term revenue strategy.
On the sales side, this means being on top of sales forecasts and making data-driven strategic decisions surrounding selling strategy, pricing, and revenue targets. While, over on marketing a CRO might be involved in defining market segments, driving lead generation strategies, and breaking into new markets.
All while balancing the GTM strategy and aiding customer success teams in retaining customers, reducing churn, and creating a smooth and enjoyable customer experience. We’re exhausted just thinking about it!
A CRO may also oversee any enablement initiatives to ensure sales reps have the resources they need to sell.
TLDR: CROs build strategic, data-driven short and long-term plans for rapid revenue growth.
CRO vs CXO
But what differentiates a CRO from other C-suite executives? Let’s explore the differences between CRO, CFO, CSO, and CMO! 👇
CRO vs CFO
A CFO’s responsibilities include budgeting, accounting, planning, and operations for profitability. Whereas a CRO’s responsibilities are to accelerate revenue growth by identifying, assessing, and converting sales into revenue.
This means that CFOs are typically finance and profit-orientated - often looking to cut down on expenses to improve the organization’s profitability. While CROs focus on revenue growth and ROI, to boost recurring revenue.
CRO vs CSO vs CMO
When comparing the CRO role to Chief Sales Officer or Chief Marketing Officer roles the difference is pretty clear. CSOs and CMOs focus on the sales and marketing team results respectively. This leads to a more siloed approach and can lead to short-term goal-chasing.
Whereas the CRO can align the sales and marketing teams, creating cross-functional visibility and creating a longer-term plan for revenue growth.
When to add a CRO to your organization
According to McKinsley, start-ups are hiring CROs earlier than ever before. This may be due to the huge benefits they can bring to internal alignment and revenue growth.
That being said, if your business isn’t prioritizing selling or lead generation yet, it might be too early to hire a CRO. Companies in early product development are unlikely to see a huge benefit from a CRO hire until it’s time to focus on selling.
Once your product has gone to market, a CRO is a fantastic hire to increase your revenue growth and align your revenue teams from the beginning.
So you want to be a CRO?
Looking to take the next step in your career and become a CRO? Keep reading to find out what skills are needed to fill the shoes of this C-suite position.
Skills for successful Chief Revenue Officers
Here are the top five skills that are a must for CROs:
- Leadership and communication skills: As an executive position, CROs must be able to provide strong leadership for teams and communicate clearly with internal and external stakeholders about revenue predictions and targets.
- Analytical and data-driven: Being a CRO means making data-driven strategic decisions, meaning the role requires strong analytical skills.
- GTM experience: CRO’s have a large role in finding new GTM opportunities for new revenue streams, so any experience in this area is a huge benefit.
- Selling skills: Since CROs work closely with the sales team and their selling strategy, having strong selling skills is a must.
- Cross-channel marketing skills: Similarly, since CROs work closely with marketing teams and strategy, it’s important to have some marketing skills.
The CRO is a C-suite executive that focuses on all aspects of the revenue cycle, so oversees sales, marketing, and customer success teams within the business.
Their main responsibilities include growing revenue, aligning teams, and planning strategy. With the help of the RevOps team, the CRO ensures revenue growth by aligning the revenue-generating functions.
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