Hiring for executive roles isn’t easy, especially when a whole new sales leader is required to run parts of the organization. Since revenue is often the definer of how quickly a company can scale its growth, many businesses look for someone to lead the sales and revenue efforts.
In the past, the CEO often oversaw the revenue strategy with assistance from the CFO. However, companies exiting the start-up zone and beginning to see the fruits of their labors often benefit from a dedicated executive devoted to sales and revenue growth.
If your organization seeks to unlock its potential and scale revenue, you’ll want to hire the right person for the role. Before you can do that, senior leadership must understand the particular needs of the business.
Once those needs are understood, management can decide which role — a CSO, a CRO, or a VP of Sales — can fill in the gaps and best meet the organization’s requirements.
However, before looking at business needs, it’s essential to understand the differences between each role and their typical responsibilities.
The Chief Sales Officer, or CSO, is used to oversee all of the functions of the sales team from end to end. A CSO’s responsibilities include overseeing all of the sales team’s vice presidents and ensuring that their team members are influential in the revenue growth process.
Typically, a CSO will have a strong background in sales, gaining that by either:
A CSO ensures that the sales teams meet their revenue objectives and targets. Companies with varying products and divisions within the sales team often benefit from bringing on a CSO.
A Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) oversees all customer-facing departments in an organization.
For example, the CRO often looks after the marketing, sales, product, and customer service departments.
Their overarching objective is to achieve more significant revenue for the organization, but they seek to do so through developing teams that align their strategies together.
Oftentimes, startups and mid-size businesses grow exponentially. In doing so, they don’t have the opportunity to align the revenue goals between departments. Instead, each department operates separately, with little regard for what the others are doing.
CROs step in to align the departments and develop an objective for all of the teams to work on together.
Sometimes an organization isn’t ready for either a CSO or a CRO. They’re still in the early stages of growth and seeking to expand the company’s revenue. The business needs someone who can lead the sales team and develop the appropriate methodologies, whether that’s a consultative sales approach or some other method, to allow the department to follow better.
A VP of Sales is usually someone promoted from within the organization. They should have a history of meeting sales targets, the skills to lead a team, and the ability to work with customers effectively.
The VP of Sales can examine the sales team’s current strategies and develop the processes needed to take the company to the next revenue growth stage. They’ll unlock the potential of their team and encourage them to reach out to new markets.
Depending on business needs, the VP of Sales may increase the sales team headcount or develop different sales methodologies for innovative products.
Once the organization clearly understands what a CRO, CSO, and VP of Sales can bring to the table, it’s time to determine what the business requires.
Companies in the early stages of growth can often get by with a VP of Sales. If the sales team handles additional responsibilities on top of sales, such as customer service and marketing, there is usually no need for a CRO or CSO.
Newer organizations often have a smaller headcount, and fewer employees are required to handle customer needs and growth.
Once a company has multiple products that service different types of customers, it’s time for a CSO. The CSO assigns separate VPs of Sales to each product line, ensuring that each division has different sales strategies that reflect the needs of its customers.
For example, a SaaS company offering a subscription product to businesses and individual consumers would likely have two sales strategies. The SaaS company would need two VPs of Sales leading a business and a consumer division.
Finally, large companies that have multiplied their revenue quickly benefit from the high-level observations a CRO can offer. The CRO can pull together all revenue-generating departments and align their goals efficiently.
An aligned revenue growth strategy helps businesses ensure their departments are operating efficiently and no team is pursuing a goal that opposes another department’s process.
When a company is ready to scale revenue, management must understand the immediate needs of the business.
The CRO can provide an overarching revenue strategy that touches all departments within the organization.
A CSO ensures that the sales team develops differentiated strategies across product lines. A VP of Sales establishes sales processes that all team members can follow.
Each role provides a different perspective for revenue growth. The new leader should align with the company’s goals for the immediate and long-term future.
Our hands-on sales executive recruiters have experience working with private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million in revenue to Fortune 1000’s or have assets between $500 million to $15 billion. Successful placements span the entire C-Suite – CEO, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and include vice president, general counsel, and other director-level leadership roles.
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