Chief Revenue Officer Role – Unpacked

Growth is at the forefront of every brand and organization as priority number one. With this hyper-focus on growth, we’ve seen the steady emergence of the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), a new C-level appointment with responsibility for all aspects of revenue strategy & performance.

This high-profile role is in charge of revenue creation both short-term and long-term to achieve sustained revenue growth. The role is highly complex and often misunderstood. Many CEOs don’t believe in their current revenue model and don’t have confidence in their organizations’ abilities to achieve above industry-average sustainable growth rates. The reason frequently lies within their sales and marketing operations, which tend to be disconnected and sub-optimized in today’s digital marketplace where the buyer is in control.

Why The Chief Revenue Officer?

The Chief Revenue Officer has entered the C-suite to drive the overall revenue strategy, mapping it across the full revenue cycle including the marketing, sales, and customer success organizations.

Unfortunately, I often see organizations simply elevate their VP of Sales or Marketing into the CRO role. This strategy prolongs the status quo only in favor of whichever specialty is elevated. Putting an additional strain on relationships between teams, causing damage to progress toward achieving sustainable growth and creating rapid talent loss.

The CRO’s role is to look at ways to generate and retain revenue across multiple channels with a long-term perspective. This requires an obsession with customer experience, alignment between marketing, sales, and customer success, and focus on efficient operations. The CRO takes a unified view of customer interactions across teams and puts the right strategies, tools, and metrics in place that will have the greatest positive impact on overall revenue growth.

What Makes a Good Chief Revenue Offer?

Successful CROs are impartial and lean heavily on sales, marketing, and customer success leaders to transform their team dynamics and the work they produce together toward one shared goal, revenue growth.

Experienced CROs accomplish this by implementing a rigorous methodology that involves the entire revenue cycle including:

  • Establishing an infrastructure where sales, marketing, and customer success are fully integrated and equally responsible for revenue generation and retention
  • Measuring and analyzing sales, marketing, and customer success productivity across the entire revenue cycle
  • Identifying and removing roadblocks and remedy deficiencies to increase sales, marketing, and customer success effectiveness and efficiency; and
  • Implementing a systematic process of continuous improvement that is measurable, repeatable, and predictable.

Do You Need a Chief Revenue Officer?

I’ve seen many organizations create CRO roles just to dissolve the role a year later. Unfortunately, organizations don’t realize that not only is experienced talent to fill this role rare and difficult to come by, but the role itself requires a fundamental shift in both operations and organization.

The three major revenue generating organizations within a company are very different functions. Each of them requires different skills, personalities, and experience. The best CROs understand and embrace the differences to get the best of both functions, while at the same time establishing the processes to ensure coordination across the revenue cycle.

Strategic focus on revenue architecture is very different from the traditional way of doing business and the traditional C-suite structure. The CRO is a powerful seat influencing and often leading the strategies of other C-level executives over sales, marketing, customer success, and operations. The right CRO will demolish silos and individual agendas, flush out inefficiencies, and elevate the entire company. But not without a high degree of disruption and complex change.

If properly structured and with the right talent, the new CRO role will bridge key revenue producing functions. Significantly improve the ability to manage revenue in a much more effective and efficient way.

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About the author : Heather Cooan

Heather is an entrepreneur, author, international speaker, & an ex-roller girl. She founded HDC Digital, a Phoenix-based digital & demand marketing agency revolutionizing the way companies think about and approach growth. Over her career, Heather has served in digital marketing roles both in-house and agency-side, spanning the full funnel, across many verticals, both lead generation, and eCommerce. Credits include The Smithsonian, UGG Australia, Teva, Google, PapaJohns, ISOTONER, Totes, ESET, PetSmart, Infusionsoft, and numerous others.

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  1. Eric Storey - October 21, 2019 Reply

    This is great primer on the fundamental purpose of the CRO! Cross functional, encouraging collaboration and alignment and driving all revenue generating silos. Thanks Heather!

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