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      Interview: Chief Revenue Officer Questions

      Cowen Partners has assembled a list of the top Chief Revenue Officer interview questions for CEOs and Founders to hire a qualified sales leader. 

      1. Before we start, do you have any questions I can answer?
      2. Tell me about your ability to work under pressure?
      3. What field/ industry experience do you have as a Chief Revenue Officer/ VP Sales
      4. What professional development have you pursued in the last year?
      5. What would you like me to know about you?
      6. Why do you believe we should hire you?
      7. What knowledge do you have about the company/ product/ service?
      8. Why are you leaving your last job?
      9. Tell us about some of your deliverables in your last positions
      10. Are there any key metrics or goals you were held to?
      11. What do you consider to be your best strength?
      12. What do you consider to be your biggest weakness?
      13. How do you manage others?
      14. Tell me about the sales teams you have built and/or managed in the past
      15. What do you see yourself doing in five years?
      16. What are your salary expectations? Salary, not total compensation
      17. What total compensation are you accustomed to?
      18. How have you been bonused/ commissioned in the past?
      19. What metrics were tied to your bonus/ commission?
      20. Did you achieve those goals? Quarterly, annually? Why/ Why Not?

      Chief Revenue Officer Job Description & Requirements

      While CROs may need special credentials or skills in specific industries, here are the general requirements included in chief revenue officer job descriptions.

      • College degree required, MBA (or equivalent advanced degree) preferred.
      • 10+ years of hands-on sales management experience in a high-growth B2B software/SaaS environment.
      • Excellent leadership and mentoring skills.
      • Experience with sales strategy planning and execution, sales operations, customer success, sales marketing, channel and partner management, business planning, and sales support management in a global setting
      • Well-versed in complex direct and channel sales processes.
      • Highly motivated with an ability to create and work collaboratively with multiple skills leveled sales team.
      • Strategically view the marketplace, analyze opportunities &successfully manage the growth of a profitable enterprise software/content business.
      • Demonstrated financial acumen and a history of decision making based upon business metrics.
      • Ability to craft and execute a business strategy that will allow for future channel expansion
      • Track record of managing multiple projects with a demonstrated ability to prioritize efforts based on ROI to the business.
      • Strategic and highly analytical with a leaning towards data-driven decision making and execution.
      • Outstanding customer and partner-facing communication skills.


      Cowen Partners has a strong record of identifying and recruiting Chief Revenue Officers for fast-growing public and private companies. Contact us if you would like to discuss recruiting an exceptional CRO for your organization.

      Do You Need a Chief Sales Officer or a Chief Revenue Officer?

      The chief sales officer and chief revenue officer roles are similar in that they both typically lead sales operations. Both roles can provide a competitive sales strategy and establish a top-level sales team, however, each role brings something different to the business. 

      CSO vs. CRO

      A chief sales officer mainly focuses on hitting sales targets. A CSO knows how to close deals and keep VIP customers coming back to your business again and again. The CSO also closely oversees the sales team by managing the hiring and training of all members. Working closely with this team, the CSO analyzes sales data and improves the sales strategies to further company goals and achieve or surpass sales targets. 

      A chief revenue officer, on the other hand, plays a broader role. A CRO is responsible for an organization’s overall revenue, which ultimately involves much more than just the sales department. The CRO role interacts with sales, marketing, and even operations to ensure departments are working together to achieve company goals. The CRO works in conjunction with the sales and marketing teams to create a strategy that will attract customers and ultimately increase sales, thus boosting revenue. 


      Both a CSO and CRO will benefit your business, but which one to hire ultimately depends on what your company needs to improve. For instance, if you need to close more client deals, then a CSO can fill the role. However, if you need to improve sales and marketing collaboration then a CRO would be a better fit. Once you determine the sales areas that need the most improvement you can find the right person for your company. 

      Check out our other C-Suite resources to see why Cowen Partners is a leading executive search firm in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, Los Angeles, and beyond:


      How to Choose the Right Top Performing Salespeople to Hire


      Hiring salespeople is a serious investment for your business. According to the Harvard Business Review, U.S. businesses spend $15 billion annually on sales training and $800 billion on sales force compensation. Salespeople are the driving force behind customer acquisition and revenue generation so it’s not surprising companies invest so heavily into these employees. If you want to grow your business and increase sales, you should also be investing in your sales team. However, offering more money and perks won’t guarantee you land a top performing salesperson. You have to look for the right characteristics and search in the right places to find the high achieving salespeople perfect for your business.


      Common characteristics of top sellers

      Not every salesperson you interview will be a top seller. You need a way to separate high achievers from the rest of the average candidate pool. One way to do this is by looking for certain character traits that make a top performer stand out. Below is a list of traits you want in a sales hire.


      Clear communication

      Underperforming salespeople usually don’t communicate at the right level to connect with customers. High performing sellers, on the other hand, have the ability to speak with meaning and clarity at the same communication level as potential customers. The ability to clearly communicate the benefits of a product while sounding competent and confident is an essential trait of any top sales performer.



      Research has shown that 84 percent of top performing salespeople have a high achievement-oriented personality score. People who are good at sales love to gauge their progress and set new challenges for themselves. Hitting goals and reaching work milestones is satisfying for top sales performers, so look for candidates with clearly defined goals.


      Dominant personality

      A strong sales candidate will have a dominant personality, but not in an overbearing sense. A dominant personality in a salesperson is exhibited in their ability to effortlessly control the flow of the conversation. They speak with confidence and conviction and are comfortable arguing their case for a product or service. Submissive salespeople, on the other hand, are more reactive during conversations and have a harder time instilling confidence in potential customers.


      Empathetic toward clients

      Relationships sell products. Of course, the product or service has to be good, but a large part of sales is building a solid relationship with your customers. High performing salespeople know how to connect with clients and build rapport. Empathy helps high achievers connect more deeply with their clients and remember the important details that form a lasting relationship.


      Finding high-achiever salespeople

      You have a multitude of outlets to choose from when it comes to hiring salespeople for your team. Not every option is the right fit for your company, though. You need to start looking for the best places to find high achieving salespeople who will make a difference to your company. Below are the three top resources you should be using to find great sales hires.


      1. Get referrals from clients

      Your clients have worked with a lot of different salespeople over the years which makes them the perfect resource for hunting down top performing sales talent. Ask clients about salespeople who have stood out to them in the past then get the contact information for that seller. Reach out to these salespeople to form a connection and determine whether they’re looking for other opportunities. You may even be able to poach sales talent from a competitor this way.


      1. Create a database of salespeople

      Keep a roster of potential salespeople on file for when your company has an opening. You can build up your list of promising sellers in a couple of ways. First, any time you meet a salesperson at a networking event who impresses you get their contact information and stay in touch. Second, if you’re hiring for one sales position and have several top-tier candidates, keep the contact information for all of them in your database. This way when you have more openings, you know who to go to first.


      1. Engage an experienced sales recruiting firm

      Locating high-achieving salespeople is difficult, which is why a lot of companies turn to an experienced sales recruiting firm. A sales recruiting firm has extensive experiencing reviewing sales candidates and sifting through the applications to find the best performers for your company. Recruiters understand it’s not just about finding someone with the characteristics of a top performer, it’s also about identifying the right background and culture fit for your business. Hiring talent is also a time-intensive process, but with a recruiting firm you can spend less time sifting through applications and instead focus on the few top candidates for your company.


      Remember, hiring top performing salespeople is an investment, and you always want to invest wisely. If you need helping acquiring more high achieving salespeople for your team, then contact Cowen Partners, a premier sales leadership recruitment firm.


      Cowen Partners has a strong record of identifying and recruiting sales leadership for fast-growing public and private companiesContact us if you would like to discuss recruiting an exceptional sales team or leader for your organization.



      If you liked our “How to Choose the Right Top Performing Salespeople to Hire”, you might be interested in these other posts about retained executive recruiting:

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