5 Best Practices of A Fractional Chief Revenue Officer
The Chief Revenue Officer — everyone wants one, but no one knows where to find these elusive unicorns and how to keep them once they’re finally discovered. Businesses are searching high and low for a superhuman leader who is perfectly balanced in strategic sales leadership skills and technical marketing prowess.
The CRO title is powerfully enigmatic, yet, the search for one is trending. Companies are hanging wanted posters on every corner because the title promises to finally solve the age-old battle between marketing and sales.
The vision? This Herculean person will come in with the much-needed zest and fervor to sweep the company’s archaic sales processes off its feet while simultaneously unifying the teams and magically flipping on the surging flow of inbound leads. The CRO symbolizes radical synergy and record-breaking revenue numbers, the answer to all a company’s prayers.
Does this person really exist? Yes! But they are not in the center of the spotlight, as you may assume. They vigorously strategize behind the scenes as a humble servant to one world. They are not a glorified VP of Sales or a former CMO who now manages two separate funnels — sales and marketing. They are an unbiased warrior who serves one funnel — the revenue funnel.
The dichotomy sounds complicated, but rest assured, the ideal CRO does exist. Here are the 5 things a CRO is and is not. Use this guide in your quest to find your revenue-driving expert who will elevate your organization to unfathomable new heights.
5 Best Practices of a Fractional Chief Revenue Officer
'CRO' has been treated like a buzzword for the last couple of years, which will interfere with the quality of employees you attract. So push beyond the buzzwords; instead of looking for 'data-driven,' 'experience with omnichannel,' or anything with the word 'optimize,' search for a professional with these five foundational practices.
1. They're a Big Picture Strategist, Not Someone Who Spends All Their Time Putting Out Fires, Not a Firefighter
Someone who gets in the sales trenches and, at the end of the day, goes into the weeds on individual deals and makes the day end on a victory is crucial for your company. But that's not your CRO. They shouldn't single-handedly be doing any of the work on the ground level because that's just not how companies scale the right way.
Instead, the CRO should spend all of their time creating systems that empower others to close other deals and know what to do next. They should push your company into the future by testing new processes and technologies and inserting well-trained people in your teams with the right talent into the right roles to make the whole machine work.
The core functions of your CRO should be:
- Redeveloping the organizational chart so sales and marketing are less stratified
- Creating processes that streamline where customers and tasks go at every step of the process so the deal gets closed, but marketing never stops
- Identifying, removing, and studying roadblocks so similar bottlenecks won't appear in the future
- Creating scalable processes that can quickly expand and won't require them to put out fires and swoop in to save the day
- Building out documentable standard operating procedures
- Clearing out old technologies that no longer do the job anymore
- Building transparent communication where no one can hide or deflect responsibility
- Reorienting your company towards data — legacy processes and cults of personality get in the way of scale, so the right CRO will eradicate them and replace them with dashboards, reports, and data scientists who know the numbers
2. Great CROs Balance Both Sales & Marketing Skills to Drive Focus on Revenue
Don't let marketing and sales processes stay separate. Conventional company organization separates the two into completely distinct departments when they really should intertwine in the direction of revenue. Not only can you not have an inbound sales funnel without marketing, but marketing shouldn't stop the second a visitor converts to a lead.
Your next CRO should equally prioritize both teams and create workflows that involve both sides for long-term customer loyalty and revenue. A pillar page shouldn't just encourage visitors to fill in a contact form and then drop that information into a salesperson's lap without context. Salespeople shouldn't just write off non-responsive leads without drip campaigns and marketing outreach. When CROs don't hold up both teams as equally important, that's bad for morale. And it costs you money on all that lead work your company did and lost.
3. They Drop the Ego to Focus on Getting Work Done
C-level executives have a reputation for inflated egos (no offense, CEO). But you know you've found the right CRO when they know they don't have time for a big ego.
One of the best practice areas a fractional CRO keeps sharp is their soft skills — their ability to empathize with frustrated employees at all levels of the organization and their awareness of departmental or team-based conflicts at a glance.
This feeds into their big-picture focus because they can meaningfully address personnel issues and create workflows that either work around them or eliminate the problem causes. They gauge responses to their initiatives so they're introduced correctly and for the best chance of success — while still ensuring the new processes get started.
If your new potential C-level is too busy playing hero or making themselves loudly indispensable, that's not what you need.
4. CROs Might Not Be the Smartest Person in the Room, But They Know Where to Find Them and How to Use Them
It's not your CRO's job to be the smartest person in the room. Aside from the growing trend of not hiring the smartest person in the room, that's not the skill you're looking for. Instead, you need someone who makes a practice of finding the smartest person for each role and can listen to those employees' input and evaluate it to make good decisions.
Intelligence isn't a requirement. It might not even be preferred — when people think they're the reigning expert, they're not open to recommendations and alternate points of view. Totally top-down decision-making that verges on tyrannical is bad for business, even if the decisions themselves are good ones.
5. They're Not There to Be Liked
All the points we've discussed so far touch on this element, but it deserves its own section. Fractional CROs are in the business of making people uncomfortable by shaking up old processes and getting rid of tired routines that let people do repetitive work without thinking.
These changes mean doing away with someone's pet project and even doing away with certain roles or employees. Instead of worrying about individuals' opinions, they'll introduce changes in the way that's best for the team as a whole. Choose a CRO who sees the value in being respected and getting honest feedback but who won't roll over due to popular opinion or inertia.
Stop Searching & Just Get Started with a Fractional CRO From House of Revenue
Don't settle in your search — look for a CRO who embodies these best practices and is ready to get down to business, prioritizing long-term revenue above any other metric.