You may ask yourself, what is a Chief Revenue Officer [CRO] and what exactly do they do? You see the title popping up everywhere, but it can be hard to know where they fit into the company. Are they related to finance or maybe sales? The word revenue is a tricky word to place correctly.
The title definition changes according to the company’s size and the business’s cross-functional activities. For a medium-sized company with sales departments, marketing, and customer service, the role is the drawstring across all those functional departments. They are focused on the revenue-generating functions of the company.
Chief Executive Officers realise that to remain strategic and agile with sustainable revenues, they need a Chief Revenue Officer who can fold marketing, sales, and customer success into one seamless revenue machine.
What does a chief revenue officer do?
Chief revenue officers have an overall view of all the company’s revenue activities. The role is more strategic and positioned to align marketing, sales and customer service, all being direct influencers of revenue. They leverage cross-functional knowledge to create a full view of the customer lifecycle, from lead generation to winning deals, to the renewal of customer contracts.
They take a longer view to the horizon seeking new opportunities for products and markets and preparing the business to be sufficiently agile to move to those opportunities when the market landscape shifts.
The CRO is thinking way ahead. They are thinking about renewals and how to ensure that revenue continues to exist and persist beyond this year. There is a wider lens around bringing the voice of the customer into all parts of the company
Is this the end of the Head of Sales and Head of Marketing Roles?
The functional roles of the head of sales and head of marketing remain like customer service leaders. They retain their functional responsibilities and report to the chief revenue officer. Over the years, in small to medium, we have seen many functional heads who are excellent at delivering results within their department. Still, the overall strategic capability is often not honed sufficiently beyond the delivery of the quarterly results. There can be insufficient guidance provided for them to move beyond functional implementation. There is also the case of functional heads struggling with performance as other departments negatively impact their ability to deliver outcomes. Silos start to appear, and cross-functional disputes rise.
The Chief Executive Officer managed these problems in past years. Still, with more responsibilities falling under their role requirements, the CRO is installed to bring everything together in the go-to-market strategy and implementation requirements.
The alignment of functional departments is the name of the game for CROs. They can gain full visibility into each department and resolve the issues to keep the business moving forward. Furthermore, they can identify new sales channels, uncover untapped markets, and take advantage of revenue opportunities. Their primary KPI is to scale the business and maximise revenue.
The background of a CRO often is in sales and may be the lone ranger sent out to find new opportunities earlier in their career. They have some traits of the rain-maker deal signer, but importantly they have a solid knowledge of marketing, sales and service. What they are not is the best salesperson in the room, which people often default to, as the role is strategic more than a day-to-day deal role.
There is a high level of responsibility and the role has a high transparency of performance across the company. The tasks can vary but an overall summarisation would be:
- Defining a go-to-market strategy aligning marketing, sales and service,
- Defining sales goals and marketing goals,
- Recruiting, retaining, and training the best talent in the head of department roles,
- Analysing data by diving deeply into sales forecasts and pipelines, marketing analytics and service feedback,
- Exploring new markets and investigating the viability of expansion into those markets,
- Managing the product development cycle for new products and sunsetting old products,
- Gather customer feedback and including it into the product development cycle.
Having one person accountable for alignment among all the revenue-related departments pays off. According to Forrester Research, companies that aligned people, processes, and technology across their sales and marketing teams achieved 36% more revenue growth and up to 28% more profitability.
What value does a chief revenue officer bring to the business?
Successful companies have many functions to bring together and synchronise with a growth focus. But unfortunately, the business landscape has become more turbulent, and this certainly was the case through the pandemic.
Companies with agility, resilience and an unshakeable long-term mindset were the survivors and growth achievers. The departmental silos evaporated as marketing, sales, and customer success had to come together as one to make decisions that would ensure survival.
You need somebody at the top looking at the strategy over the whole buyer’s journey and not just focused on sales.
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