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Chief revenue officers (CROs) are one of the newest animals in the C-suite jungle, and they’re adapting to a unique set of tasks with a unique set of traits.
Often, CROs have risen up through a classically successful sales career, only to face an entirely new challenge: take over every revenue-generating function in the business to drive predictable growth.
That’s a big challenge, and below we’ll look at the kind of person who can take it on and thrive.
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A chief revenue officer (CRO) is responsible for every process that generates revenue in an organization. CROs work to connect different revenue-related functions, from marketing to sales, customer success, pricing, and revenue operations (RevOps). They focus on improving sales performance, creating great product and pricing strategies, and delivering customer satisfaction (which becomes especially important in recurring revenue models like subscriptions).
Here are the fundamental responsibilities of a CRO.
It’s 9 a.m., you’re a CRO, and the coffee is kicking in. Here’s what’s on the agenda today:
Let’s look at the top five traits that make for a standout CRO.
The chief revenue officer owns a company’s outlook. They need to be confident and aggressive on one hand, steady and predictable on the other. This involves more than just hitting the numbers. It’s storytelling. What is the company’s vision for growth and possibility?
CROs own the go-to-market strategy. They drive pricing and product structure, and they set the buyer journey. The fuel for these decisions is data.
Chief revenue officers need to study customer behavior to answer important questions: How can we make it easier for customers to buy? Should we enter new revenue models, like selling subscriptions? How can we target the right customers at the right time (and on the right channel) for upsells and cross-sells?
To answer these questions, many CROs turn to customer relationship management (CRM) software to bring every team — and every team’s data — together around the same customer view.
Chief revenue officers are seasoned executives. They grow revenue, sure — but they also grow people and culture, believing that a rising tide lifts all boats. They spend a lot of their time mentoring their teams, and they’re motivated by building a workplace that excites people to do their best.
CROs are distinctly “on the hook” compared to their C-level peers, and they hold the most accountability to the board. It’s no wonder that this role has such a short average tenure (2-1/2 years). A successful CRO can take this burden on and thrive. The perks don’t hurt — not-so-shabby compensation in stock and equity, the pride of winning in the market, and the chance to grow a great team and a great company.
For a person so driven by consistency and predictability, the CRO is dealing with some big shifts at the same time.
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There’s a misconception that CROs are just sales leaders with a nice title. In some organizations, that might be true. In other organizations, CROs are replacing heads of sales altogether.
As the chart below shows, a true CRO is a unique beast.
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