Why Your Business Needs a Chief Revenue Officer
When I sit down with companies, growth is often at the top of their wishlist.
And I say wishlist because they aren’t really sure how to achieve that growth or increase in revenue.
You definitely need an increase in sales – but how are you going to achieve that? Do you need more salespeople? Or a new marketing campaign that will generate the leads you need?
If you’re generating new sales, then your team needs to be able to deliver what is being sold and deliver it profitably (otherwise, the revenue increase is pretty pointless!).
Who in your organisation makes these decisions?
You’ve probably got someone in charge of sales, a head of marketing and a person responsible for your operations – but who sits across all of these functions?
In smaller companies, this job falls to the CEO. A key responsibility that goes with all their other duties in leading the company.
In larger companies, a role has emerged called the Chief Revenue Officer or CRO.
Looking after everything to do with revenue in a business – from sales to marketing to operations – their number one priority is to maintain and grow your company’s revenue.
This month, we’re starting a new series on the critical role a Chief Revenue Officer plays in growing your organisation.
Signs You Need a Chief Revenue Officer
I’ve worked with hundreds of businesses across a wide range of industries and it’s the same throughout – with growth, unfortunately, comes growing pains.
Almost ten years ago, in his Forbes article, The CEO’s New Secret Weapon: The Chief Revenue Officer, Paul Albright, the former CRO of Marketo said:
“Today’s business of any size implores a singular goal: grow efficient, predictable, revenue faster. And while it might come as a shock, little about the average business’s structure is actually aligned around doing this.”
This hasn’t changed.
And it really starts to get noticeable once your business gets to the size where the functions of your business – sales, marketing, operations and others – separate out.
To achieve revenue growth (and maintain what you’ve already got!), these different departments need to be able to function and work together.
Left to their own devices, all to often I see the following scenario play out when the company establishes a revenue target.
Your marketing team sets out, focused on delivering a certain number of leads for the sales team to close. The sales team knows it needs to close X number of sales to hit its monthly sales targets and achieve the overall company objective, while the operations team has to deliver a great customer experience.
However, your departments start protecting their patch and blaming each other. Sales isn’t closing enough of the leads that marketing is handing over. In their defense, sales complains that the leads they are getting aren’t good enough. While operations is unhappy because sales is closing everything they can, even if the customer is of low quality or the wrong fit.
While this doesn’t necessarily stop growth, it does make it difficult, frustrating and extremely inefficient to grow.
So, what if you put someone across these revenue influencing departments to coordinate their efforts, streamline their processes, look after their culture, and lead from the front?
I can tell you from experience, with the right person in this Chief Revenue Officer role, growth becomes so much easier and more achievable.
What Does a Chief Revenue Officer Look Like?
When you start looking at what the skills and experience a CRO needs, they can sound a little like a unicorn.
Sales experience is a must – after all it is one of your biggest areas of revenue growth.
Then the CRO has to manage the rest of the revenue areas of your business – from marketing to operations – facilitating communication and collaboration across these different departments to achieve that single focus of revenue growth.
It takes an enormous range of skills and experiences, from high-level strategy to using data and analytics to discover opportunities for increased efficiency.
To use a building analogy, a CRO is like the architect who project manages. They have the vision of what the house will look like and then are responsible for the delivery of that house.
For a CRO, their vision is the middle word of their title.
What is important, though, is that the CRO is not a CEO by a different name. They perform a distinct, specialised and critical role in an organisation. Functioning as the CEO’s right hand man, they take care of the organisation’s growth, while the CEO takes care of the whole organisation.
If you’re a CEO, who’s also sitting in the CRO seat, then getting the right CRO will take a massive measurable responsibility off your plate.
And, as it’s their sole focus, they’ll probably do a better job and make you look good!
How a Chief Revenue Officer Will Impact Your Business
This broad skillset is critical for leading a number of key revenue areas of your business.
Overall Revenue Strategy
Very few companies ever put one of these together. There is one objective – grow and maintain revenue – and your CRO is responsible for developing the strategy to achieve this and then carrying it out.
Sales & Marketing
Normally separate in an organisation, your CRO is the link between these two revenue drivers –making sure your marketing strategies, campaigns, and activity aligns with your sales team.
You’re targeting the right markets, to generate high quality leads for sales to close.
There are lots of companies out there that are brilliant at sales and marketing. For them, acquiring a customer is easy. Keeping them, however, is a different story.
If you give a poor customer experience in the delivery of your services, instead of revenue growth, your sales and marketing teams will, instead, be furiously trying to keep up to maintain your current revenue.
With a CRO looking after your customer experience and nurturing your existing customers (which you worked so hard to get), you’ll not only keep your customers (and have them buy more), they’ll also be fantastic referrers.
Like customer experience, this role can fall into different areas of your business and not be properly exploited.
A CRO makes sure your pricing strategy is done – and there’s a strategy behind it to increase revenue.
People and Culture
There’s an argument this could go first, in order of priority of a CRO’s role. At Attain we certainly believe so – which is why our ethos is – Great People. Remarkable Business.
With the right people in the right roles, revenue growth is so much easier. Your CRO will help identify and support your business’s talent to create an incredible culture.
Often lumped in with marketing, I believe your brand is so important that it is worth treating it separately.
Is your brand relevant? Can people recall it? What is your messaging? What resonates when people view your brand?
A powerful brand generates revenue and is another area that your CRO sits above.
The traditional business structure isn’t designed particularly well for revenue growth – separating the different areas that influence it across your organisation.
A Chief Revenue officer, responsible solely for maintaining and growing revenue, is one of the most effective ways to increase the growth potential and efficiency of your company.
Sitting above all these different areas – from sales and marketing to customer experience, people and culture – a CRO sets the strategy, aligns your departments and gets stuck in.
Over the next few months, I’ll be looking at these different revenue areas of your business and what you can do to drive growth.
Sharn Piper – CEO
M: +64 27 733 4333
Having successfully led numerous sales teams, built multiple successful businesses I know what it takes to create a sales process that is robust, repeatable and produces consistent results when applied in a consistent way.