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Should You Even Hire a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) ?

Chief Revenue Officers

Is the Role of Chief Revenue Officer Just a Hyped Title?

Think the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) is just a glorified sales lead, decked out with a fancier title?

Think again.

With businesses increasingly spotlighting sustainable growth, the role of the CRO has sparked heated debates.

The chief revenue officer job involves strategic planning, product development, marketing, branding, partnerships, expansion of customer segments, business partnerships, and boosting revenue streams. Far from just spearheading direct sales, a strategic CRO crafts the company’s revenue blueprint for long-lasting revenue generation.

But is every CRO up to this monumental task, or are some merely masquerading under a prestigious title without the chops to back it up?

In a business landscape where titles are as ubiquitous as business cards, discerning the true impact of a CRO on marketing teams can be as challenging as navigating a maze without a map.

Here’s a startling number to consider: only about 20% of newly minted CROs meet or exceed their growth targets within the first year. This statistic not only raises eyebrows but crucial questions about what really makes a CRO effective.

The answer doesn’t hinge solely on the person in the role but rather on the strategic approach they embody.

Chief revenue officer responsibilities include accountability for all revenue-generating elements within the organization, aligning and building strategic partnerships, executing corporate strategic plans, and ensuring communication and information sharing between departments.

Let’s peel back the layers of this C-suite enigma to reveal what separates a top executive team or mere title holder from a true revenue architect.

The Flawed CRO Model:

Many organizations fall short with their CRO implementation. Here’s what a subpar CRO looks like:

  • Sales-Centric Myopia: Hailing exclusively from a sales background, they lack understanding of marketing and customer success (CS) functions. This creates silos and hinders a holistic view of the customer journey. A subpar CRO fails to meet the chief revenue officer’s responsibilities, such as aligning and building strategic partnerships, executing corporate strategic plans, and ensuring smooth communication and information sharing between departments.
  • Compensation Disconnect: Paid like a high-performing salesperson, their focus becomes short-term deals, neglecting the long-term value of customer retention.
  • Alignment Void: There’s no emphasis on aligning the entire Go-To-Market (GTM) motion. Sales, marketing, and CS operate in their own bubbles, hindering a cohesive customer experience.
  • Data Blindness: They lack P&L fluency and struggle to interpret financial statements. This makes it difficult to measure the impact of revenue generation strategies.
  • New Business Fixation: Obsessed with acquiring new customers, they neglect the recurring revenue stream generated by existing ones.
  • Customer Value Disconnect: They have no understanding of the “bowtie” model, which emphasizes aligning sales, marketing, and CS to deliver ongoing value to customers.
  • Short-Term Tunnel Vision: Their focus is solely on quarterly results, sacrificing long-term enterprise value for immediate gains.

The Ideal CRO: Revenue Architect

When effectively implemented, the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) role becomes a cornerstone of any business strategy for sustainable revenue growth.

Here’s the essence of a high-performing CRO:

  • Beyond Sales: Originating from diverse fields like marketing, CS, or RevOps, they bring a wide-ranging view essential for comprehensive revenue strategies.
  • Cross-Functional Respect: With a deep understanding of various revenue-centric functions, they foster essential collaboration and alignment.
  • Executive Compensation: Their compensation aligns with other C-suite members, focusing them on long-term strategic goals rather than short-term wins.
  • Alignment Maestro: They ensure seamless cooperation across the Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy, integrating sales, marketing, and CS to create a unified customer experience. They are also responsible for managing sales channels and identifying market opportunities.
  • Data-Driven Collaboration: Leveraging data from RevOps, they enhance the synergy between Sales, Marketing, and CS, maximizing overall effectiveness.
  • Customer Journey Champion: Their strategies cover the entire customer lifecycle, ensuring long-term customer engagement and value creation. They optimize pricing, product development, and customer satisfaction.
  • Bowtie Model Expert: Proficient in the “bowtie” model, they align teams to consistently deliver customer value across all stages.
  • Revenue Architects: Skilled in designing sustainable revenue models, they prioritize long-term value over immediate results.
  • Long-Term Visionary: Balancing immediate needs with future goals, they ensure the organization’s growth is sustainable and robust.

Checklist for a Successful Chief Revenue Officer

  1. Visionary Leadership
  • Define clear, ambitious visions for growth and guide the company towards these goals.
  • Balance confidence with predictability to ensure steady progress alongside ambitious initiatives​ (Salesforce)​​ (UpLead)​.
  • Incorporate strategic planning to develop corporate strategic plans, expand customer segments, and create a strategic plan for boosting revenue streams.
  1. Data Proficiency
  • Develop a deep understanding of data analytics to drive decisions and shape the company’s strategies.
  • Regularly engage with metrics and KPIs to track and propel revenue growth​ (Salesforce)​​ (The Future of Commerce)​.
  1. Team Development
  • Focus on nurturing talent, fostering a collaborative culture, and building high-performance teams.
  • Spend significant time mentoring teams and cultivating a workplace that drives employees to excel​ (Salesforce)​.
  1. Strategic Communication
  • Master the art of clear, persuasive communication to align and motivate teams across the company.
  • Ensure that all departments understand and work towards common revenue goals​ (UpLead)​.
  1. Operational Agility
  • Adapt swiftly to market changes and internal challenges, maintaining flexibility in strategies and tactics.
  • Embrace and lead change, using innovative approaches to enhance business processes and customer engagement​ (UpLead)​​ (Salesforce Insider)​.
  1. Customer-Centric Approach
  • Deeply understand the customer journey to optimize sales and marketing strategies.
  • Implement customer feedback into business strategies to continuously improve service and product offerings​ (Salesforce)​.
  1. Technological Savviness
  • Stay abreast of the latest technologies that impact sales and customer relations.
  • Leverage technology to streamline operations and enhance customer interactions​ (salescoach)​.
  1. Resilience Under Pressure
  • Manage the high-stakes responsibilities of the role with composure and strategic foresight.
  • Handle the pressures of the role, including the accountability to stakeholders and the board, effectively​ (Salesforce)​.

Revenue Generation: More Than Just a One-Person Show

Think of the revenue management and generation as a team sport.

It’s not about one star player; rather, it involves the whole squad playing in harmony. The Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) is like the coach who designs the plays that ensure everyone is aligned, from the kickoff to the final whistle, across every touchpoint of the customer journey.

Recurring Impact: The Winning Strategy

Long-term success doesn’t come from one-off wins. It’s about consistently delivering value that keeps customers coming back.

CROs who master this art of creating recurring impact position their sales and marketing teams well to not just compete but dominate, driving sustainable growth that lasts.

The Way Forward: Crafting a Legacy of Growth

The potential of the CRO to steer a company towards a thriving future is vast. Success, however, is not guaranteed. It hinges on a deep understanding of the entire customer journey, a commitment to teamwork across departments, and decisions driven by solid data.

Embracing these elements transforms CROs from high-level sales leaders into architects of revenue, charting a course for their companies that leads to business growth and enduring prosperity.

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Picture of Manoranjan Ingudam

Manoranjan Ingudam

Co-Founder, ; 2X Founder, Passionate about Customer Led Growth | Technology Enthusiast | Customer Success Leader

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