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Hiring the right CRO is one of the hardest yet most important decisions a CEO can make. Experienced candidates usually have a background in marketing or sales, and that weighted experience can lead to a lopsided perspective on their responsibilities as CRO.
If your CRO values the marketing team over the sales team or the sales team over marketing (all while leaving RevOps and customer success by the wayside), it sours company culture. Leads are left on the table, and no one is happy.
If you've hired a CRO and you see that their priorities are misaligned based on their background, step in quickly to fix the problem. Even if you didn't hire the perfect CRO, you can change their course to better waters. After all, CROs are crucial, and there are plenty of ways to make sure they become a better fit to more holistically oversee all four teams.
Today's company structures need to have fewer silos if they want to survive. Instead of separate marketing, sales, customer success, and RevOps departments, these four teams need to work together under the broad umbrella of revenue strategy.
All of these employees are a crucial part of finding customers, keeping them happy, and increasing revenue.
The traditional corporate structure would have a CMO and a VP of Sales in almost combative roles, with siloed strategies and non-collaborative interactions across their departments. This is bad news for business, and you need someone who can act as a bridge between the two.
But promoting one over the other is even worse, as a sales-dominant or marketing-focused CRO will favor their old team more. Ideally, a brand new CRO is a clean slate and can help optimize all four teams.
Unfortunately, it might be harder to find that clean-slate CRO than you might have hoped. After all, most CROs come from a sales background. In fact, in our experience working alongside CROs, we found that nine out of 10 were sales-focused.
When you're managing your search, look for candidates that have extensive experience in both marketing and sales so they understand both fields and don't have too much bias toward one over the other. It's even better if you can find a CRO candidate with experience all over the corporate map — sales, marketing, RevOps, and customer success. Cross-functional CROs create more collaborative, balanced atmospheres and do a better job of eliminating silos.
But that doesn't mean CROs with a clear area of expertise are a bad fit. If your candidate comes in with a clear goal of learning about all four areas through a cross-training plan, it proves they have an honest understanding of their limitations and want to fix them.
That attitude is great for CROs: they're open to learning, they acknowledge potential biases, and they aren't going to wait until there's a problem. In fact, we recommend all CROs start by cross-training in either marketing or sales (wherever they have limited experience) and also cross-train in customer success and RevOps.
CROs are relatively new right now, so they might be hard to find. But based on the trends surrounding company restructuring and the increased focus on revenue through long-term customer acquisition and success, demand will continue to grow.
Now's the time to jump on the trend and find a CRO who can manage all four business areas!
For now, however, you'll probably find a CRO with that sales-centric perspective — and that's okay. Great training and culture can help them find the holistic mindset your company needs so everyone can succeed.
Take these three steps to help your sales-focused CRO become the cross-functional mastermind that will drive company success.
Whether problems have just started to pop up or there are serious signs of misalignment, the first step is to talk to your CRO. Let them know why their departmental bias is a problem now and what problems it can cause in the future.
They might not realize the extent of the problem, and this conversation can help them see it. This also makes it clear if your CRO is really the right person for this difficult position.
CROs don't need to be the most knowledgeable person in the room. But they do need to have a solid understanding of how all four departments work and — just as importantly — what all four departments need in order to work together.
Develop a personalized learning plan that boosts their proficiency wherever their knowledge is weak. They should be cross-trained in all revenue functions before they start managing them.
Once your CRO is fully aware of their responsibilities and has the resources to address their knowledge gaps, it's time to hold them accountable. We recommend these three strategies:
Finding the perfect CRO candidate is hard work — if not entirely impossible. That’s where House of Revenue can help. We equip scaling companies with a complete revenue team that can help your company thrive until the right CRO comes along.