What is a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) in Business? Exploring the Crucial Role of CROs in Maximizing Revenue and Driving Growth
As the “Revenue” function (and corresponding “RevOps” capability) starts to permeate across industries, many are asking what the appropriate C-suite re-configuration might be to effectively lead and ensure accountability for this function.
What does a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) do and does your company need one? While there’s no universal answer to this question, but by dissecting certain elements of the role (and more importantly, the impact that the “revenue” function can have), we can shine a light on this new (or not so new) C-suite scope.
Key Responsibilities of a CRO
CROs are a relatively new addition to the C-suite whose scope and impact varies as widely as many of its C-suite peers: think Chief Operating Officers, Chief Marketing Officers, and Chief Information Officers. One thing that’s true across all is that there is no one standard definition.
Driving Revenue GrowthDriving revenue growth is an important function of the CRO’s remit, and is often part of the rationale to combine marketing, sales, and customer success into a broader "revenue" scope. With coordination across these 3 functions allowing for a more holistic, end-to-end view of the customer journey and revenue opportunities, revenue growth becomes de-risked.
Evaluating and Ensuring Customer ValueThe revenue function plays a critical role in assessing and ensuring customer value. By triangulating various insights like product adoption rates, support tickets, customer feedback, and research into needs states, the “revenue” function can ensure that the value customers are receiving and perceiving (which, themselves, may not be equivalent or identical) is in line with expectations and in line with revenue.
Creating a Customer-Centric CultureChief Revenue Officers are often responsible for creating customer-centricity since they own the functions that are closest to the customer (sales, who speak to customers daily; marketing who own capabilities like market research; and customer success, who see customers suffer the outcomes of a non-customer-centric culture).
Managing Teams (including RevOps)A large part of the CRO role is people leadership, as CROs oversee three functions that have historically not been integrated and are now starting to surface synergies from increased data visibility, collaboration, co-ownership, and influencing over other parts of the business.
5 Essential Skills a CRO Should Have to Succeed
Successful CROs need to have a combination of senior leadership skills common to the entire C-suite and domain expertise to be able to guide the organization on commercial topics.
Leadership and Decision-MakingThe cornerstone of any senior executive’s remit is decision making, meaning that it’s the starting point for any and all impact leaders have in the organization. The progress the sales, marketing, and customer success functions experience is the direct result of decisions made to track a given set of metrics, deploy sales compensation schemes in a given manner, or deploy marketing budget against a given set of objectives.
Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success ExpertiseThe cornerstone of any senior executive’s remit is decision making, meaning that it’s the starting point for any and all impact leaders have in the organization. The progress the sales, marketing, and customer success functions experience is the direct result of decisions made to track a given set of metrics, deploy sales compensation schemes in a given manner, or deploy marketing budget against a given set of objectives.
Analytical Thinking and Data-Driven StrategiesRevOps is poised to make sense of a wealth of data that exists about customers from before, during, and after their purchase/usage of a given offering. If a CRO can achieve data governance and empower the business to make decisions using the newly-surfaced data that results from various commercial functions working together, then they will increase their likelihood of success significantly.
Adaptability and AgilityNot only do CROs need to be responsive to real-time performance data (i.e. if sales are significantly down, diagnostics and interventions need to be stood up and decisions need to be made quickly), but they also need to be adaptable in terms of how much time they spend in any one discipline (marketing, sales, customer success) vs. another. Very often CROs will gravitate toward spending more time in their comfort zone (e.g., the function in which they grew up), but that is not a recipe for success.
Chief Revenue Officer vs. VP of Sales
- What’s the difference?
Typically, CROs will differ from VP roles overseeing Sales (or Marketing or Customer Success) in the following ways:
- More senior (e.g., reports to the CEO, owns the relationship with the board)
- Accountable for the entire customer lifecycle (not just acquisition)
- Breadth becomes more important than depth, being able to connect dots across workstreams, sub-functions, and initiatives
- Leader of the company vs. leader of a team
The Path to Becoming a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO)
Becoming a CRO is not easy nor is there a standard path, but a few things will help:
Decision-making ExperienceHaving made significant business decisions in two of the three revenue functions (sales, marketing, customer success) is rare. Most executives only reach that level of seniority in one “silo”, so having seen and been accountable for decisions across two or more is a stand-out differentiating quality.
Depending on the organization, certain sub-functions may have more influence than others (for example, customer success and marketing are still carving out their “seat at the table” in many cases). That may also affect how a company evaluates the functional experience necessary in their next (or first) CRO.
Networking and Professional DevelopmentAs with all roles, establishing a robust professional network of individuals who have the right experience to be able to guide and provide advice is paramount. There are very few “former CROs” but many, many executives who have experience with the relevant capabilities.
How Kingsley Gate Can Help You Hire a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO)
As organizations venture into relatively new territory, the role of Chief Revenue Officers (CROs) emerges as a powerful catalyst for growth and success. CROs are a relatively recent addition to the corporate landscape, but their impact is undeniable.
If your organization is contemplating the addition of a CRO, Kingsley Gate understands the immense value they bring. Our expertise lies in identifying top-tier CRO talent that can revolutionize your revenue streams and drive change.
By centering decision-making as the primary lens for identifying, evaluating, and selecting outstanding executive leaders, we ensure that your organization’s success remains our key focus. With a track record of successfully assisting over 1700 client organizations in hiring and onboarding decision-making executives across diverse industries, functions, and markets, Kingsley Gate has consistently demonstrated the ability to identify exceptional leaders who drive performance. Headquartered in New York and operating globally since 2015, our consultants bring a wealth of experience and insights to the table, ensuring that organizations can attract and retain the best talent for their leadership positions.
Learn more about our solutions. Talk to one of our experts today!