Ash Wendt, President
Companies are evolving to aim for greater and sustained revenue growth, focusing on revenue creation, and capitalizing on opportunities created by digital services and products, which has made hiring the right Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) one of the most critical hires a company can make.
As the CRO role grows in popularity, it’s important to understand not only the attributes and experience needed, but also how the responsibilities and job description may be nuanced by industry, company size, and other factors.
What Does A CRO Do?
Before we determine who to hire, it’s important we understand what a CRO’s objective is and what they do.
The CRO aligns and optimizes the entire customer experience with the aim of increasing revenue. They have a long-term perspective, understand and embrace the differences between sales and marketing, and streamline how these departments work together.
They remove defects and improve cohesion between departments by placing the right tools, metrics, and strategies in place that will have a significant impact on revenue growth. In short, the Chief Revenue Officer is responsible for all activities that generate revenue by integrating and aligning marketing, sales, customer support, pricing, and revenue management.
Unique Experience Needed
Since a keen understanding of multiple teams and their functions is required to be an effective CRO, assigning this role to the wrong person can have substantial consequences. More than just an expanded role for the VP of Sales, a high-level, disciplined, and strategic vision is favorable over the short-term horizon usually embraced by sales leaders.
Sales leadership is, however, a “must-have” in the toolkit of a CRO. The position was originally popularized by Silicon Valley companies that had CEOs with product and engineering backgrounds, but needed forward-thinking sales leaders to translate initial traction into lasting revenue growth. The CRO has their finger on the pulse of revenue growth across departments, identifies activities that lead to revenue growth — namely, sales and marketing — and brings them together.
Primary objectives and responsibilities can vary depending on the size of company. Large company CROs should have a track-record of successfully scaling revenues, building lasting C-level relationships at Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies, and managing large sales teams. At smaller companies and startups, the CRO should be an expert in leading rapid revenue growth.
Regardless of company size, the Chief Revenue Officer will oversee channel and partner development, adding new and profitable sales channels, partners, and resellers. They will evangelize the company at industry events, skillfully negotiate contracts, and actively participate in strategic business unit planning to develop accurate projections for budgets. They will also establish and refine strategies to analyze sales performance.
The CRO will have extensive marketing experience and a deep understanding of cross-channel marketing, native advertising, and programmatic advertising. They will remain up-to-date on the latest trends in advertising, and how these trends may be leveraged for revenue growth.
Personality Traits Of Effective CROs
Character attributes are subjective, but an effective CRO should have most, if not all, of the following personality traits:
Salary And Total Compensation
Chief Revenue Officer salaries vary greatly by location, years of experience, company size, maturity of company, required skills, and additional compensation (bonuses, profit sharing, etc.).
At the time of this writing, Payscale lists the “Average Chief Revenue Officer Salary” at $191,132, while Glassdoor has the average salary at $240,590. LinkedIn Salaries says the median CRO salary is $200K, with a total compensation of $345K including stock options, commissions, and bonuses.
Cowen Partners has a strong record of identifying and recruiting executive-level talent for our clients. Contact us if you would like to discuss recruiting your next Chief Revenue Officer, VP of Sales, or Individual Contributor.