Most people know what the C-suite is. Even if they’ve never been involved in a business that has one, the average person knows that people with titles like CEO, CMO, COO, or any of the other C-something-somethings are probably pretty important. They are the chiefs, after all.
One of the most misunderstood roles in the C-suite is that of the Chief Revenue Officer, or CRO. Most people can infer from the C that it’s important, but they don’t know why. They might have an idea of what CROs do, but even then, they’re probably wrong.
So, what is a CRO and do you need one? Glad you asked...
You’re (probably) wrong about CROs
If you listened to the corresponding episode of the Corporate Data Show, you got a glimpse at just how widespread misconceptions surrounding the role of Chief Revenue Officers are as our very own CEO, Rick Holmes, suggested that the position was essentially the head of sales. To anyone unfamiliar with the topic, this makes quite a bit of sense. Revenue comes from sales, right? So, if you’re in charge of revenue, you would think that means being in charge of sales.
In a roundabout way, Rick was right, because most people in the B2B space do regard the CRO as a head of sales. However, as Warren explained, most people regard the position incorrectly, meaning Rick was incorrect as well. The ideal CRO oversees much more than just the sales department, and while the role may sound complicated at first, we’re going to break it down for you and explain why it’s so crucial to get it right.
Why a well-crafted CRO role is essential for B2B businesses
The belief that CROs should be in charge of the sales team is technically correct, but not anywhere near complete. This is because they should actually be in charge synchronizing three teams: sales, marketing, and accounts/customer success. All of these teams are crucial to bringing revenue into a B2B company (particularly B2B data companies!), serving unique roles that all contribute to one goal.
The correlation between sales and revenue is, of course, pretty obvious. You make a sale, you get revenue; it’s simple. It’s important to have one person overseeing this to ensure consistency amongst salespeople and strategies.
Marketing’s correlation with sales isn’t too hard to recognize either. If you’re going to make sales, which will bring in revenue, you need to practice good marketing. This might be inbound marketing, in which your team attempts to put the right messages in front of the right people, who will then navigate to your site or call your team and complete a sale. Or, it could be our personal favorite, outbound marketing, in which your team collects and keeps track of the best leads that could end in a sale if used properly.
Finally, your accounts or customer success team plays a crucial role in revenue streams, as they work to track and maintain relationships with existing customers. Making sales to new folks is awesome, but it’s just as important, if not more important, to ensure that repeat customers are being taken care of as well. This ensures a steady source of revenue.
It’s all about synergy, baby
So, it’s obvious that all three of the above departments or teams are important in bringing in revenue by themselves, but the real magic happens when they work together. If the synergy isn’t there, neither is the revenue. Consider the following scenarios:
- Your marketing team fails to effectively communicate the proper leads to your sales team, or perhaps the sales team mixes up the info sent over from marketing. Regardless of who is at fault, there’s a miscommunication. Now, your salespeople are wasting valuable time tracking down the leads that the marketing team should have had ready for them, or even worse, following up with leads that are a poor fit.
- Your accounts team doesn’t communicate client needs or important changes with the sales team. As a result, the sales team doesn’t follow up at the right time — if at all — with that client, and they miss out on valuable recurring business.
- The accounts team doesn’t actively seek feedback from clients that could be valuable in marketing efforts. Because of this, the marketing team isn’t making the most informed decisions possible regarding leads or inbound marketing messages, and therefore not communicating effectively with their target market.
There can be countless other situations when your marketing, sales, and accounts teams aren’t synchronized effectively, I’m sure you know a few. But we know that tyu get the point. Cars don’t run because each cylinder is spinning quickly all by itself. They run because the cylinders are all firing together, pushing the vehicle towards a shared goal. Your company should be no different. As with anything in life, you’re stronger when your teams are coordinating and working together.
What does this look like for your company?
There’s no one-size-fits all solution for any role or company. So, while we can give you some good things to consider, it’s extremely important for you to take a good look at your company structure and coordinate any decisions with your team.
Do you need a CRO?
In most cases, we pretty firmly believe the answer is yes. However, there are always exceptions. For example, if you’re a startup with very small sales, marketing, and accounts departments, you may be able to ensure cohesiveness between these three groups without hiring a new person. This is especially true when you consider that CROs are becoming more and more desirable by the minute, meaning they can be expensive to hire.
Or perhaps all of the departments listed above already do a stellar job of coordinating their efforts within your company. We won’t sit here and tell you that hiring a CRO is the only way to ensure synergy; we just believe it’s one of the best. So, if you’re confident that this coordination is already taking place between the heads of these departments, you might not need to hire another expensive C-level employee to unify them.
However, if you’re like most big B2B companies, your sales, marketing, and accounts teams are probably currently operating in their own little worlds. That’s not an insult; it’s just a reality that we’ve all seen firsthand. These departments tend to do their own thing, only coordinating when they need to. Heck, in some cases, they might not even particularly like each other. (In that case, you might want to give our blog or podcast about company culture a read or listen. *Wink wink.*)
Maybe that last suggestion is a bit extreme, but the point stands: most large B2B companies could use some help ensuring synergy between departments contributing to revenue performance.
Is your CRO doing what you need?
Maybe you’ve already got a CRO? This is either a good or bad thing, depending on what they’re doing. If they’re already operating as an organizer across all revenue functions within your company, then good on you. (We’re not sure why you bothered to read this far in that case, but we appreciate the dedication and website traffic nonetheless.) However, if they’re filling the wrong role, such as being a head-of-sales equivalent, then you have your work cut out for you in breaking bad habits and editing their role to be the best fit for your company.
If you need to edit or even flat-out create your company’s CRO position, here are some final things to keep in mind:
Ensure it’s a team-oriented role.
Make it very clear in the job description that this position is intended to unify these three departments and ensure cohesiveness between all revenue functions. This will involve strong leadership skills, so keep this in mind during your hiring process.
It starts with data.
No, we’re not just saying this because we sleep, eat, and breathe data. We’re saying it because a good CRO needs to be able to interpret and analyze data to identify pain points for customers or target audiences in order to develop solutions. Make this a key point in your hiring process.
It’s all about growth.
At the end of the day, the reason you’re putting so much energy into bringing in revenue is to ensure significant, sustainable growth. A good CRO will not think just in the short-term, as many sales or marketing team members are often prone to do, but rather in the long term. Make it clear that this new hire should be thinking many steps ahead when developing plans and overseeing revenue performance.
Now swim in some sweet, sweet revenue
The Chief Revenue Officer is taking the B2B world by storm, so you’d better be ready to dance in the rain. Develop your CRO role using the guidelines above, hire a candidate who has the right experience and mindset, and watch your revenue rise.
If you’ve got any questions about CROs, outbound marketing, or Rick’s favorite coffee, we’d be happy to chat. Just go on over to our contact page and shoot us an email. In the meantime, be sure to check out our other blogs, the Corporate Data Show, and our LinkedIn for more hard-hitting tips on how to improve your workflow and bring in more business!