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How a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) Fits Into Your Org Chart

Charlie Warden April 24, 2022

Companies are continually transforming to meet the needs of modern B2C and B2B clients. These shifts include everything from creating data analysis departments and tech stacks to determining the need for COVID-19 and other real-time initiatives. 

One trend that has been growing throughout the past several years is the inclusion of a CRO, or Chief Revenue Officer, in the C-suite team of SMBs and enterprise organizations. Adding a CRO to the team, whose core focus is creating a strong and scalable revenue pipeline (or engine as we call it at House of Revenue™) based on new and retained business, is clearly a good move for businesses that want to scale. But according to Resultist, four key barriers stand in the way of successfully creating a CRO role and seeing company growth: recognizing the need for a CRO, executive resistance, restructuring, and building a candidate profile that hits the mark.

In this article, we focus on restructuring. How would a new CRO fit into your org chart? Who reports to the CRO, and who does the CRO report? Keep reading for answers to those questions and how to foster the right CRO-CEO and CRO-CFO relationships for long-term success.

Why Hire a CRO?

CROs head several different departments that make up the revenue operations of an organization: marketing, sales, customer success, and select elements of finance. Traditionally, these departments have had a contentious and overly siloed relationship with each other. They have different objectives, report to different people, and compete for resources to achieve aims that sometimes seem diametrically opposed.

A CRO — or, more specifically, the right CRO — has enough experience with all of these departments to understand how they (and the professionals that make them up) work. But they can also configure a path for all of them to work in parallel with aligned goals, closer collaboration, and better results. 

Dedicated CROs focus on creating systems in all of these revenue departments because true revenue generation requires a focus on customer success before, during, and after the point of purchase or the signing of the contract. Client retention, for example, requires having excellent customer support and customer service models where you continually engage with and wow customers. And client retention is the key to profitable revenue growth, with SmallBizGenius summing it up with recent statistics:

82% of companies agree that retention is cheaper than acquisition. 75% of consumers say they favor companies that offer rewards. 56% of customers stay loyal to brands that "get them." 65% of a company's business comes from existing customers.

A Fractional CRO or a dedicated, full-time CRO will increase adoption rates, decrease abandonment rates, and result in smoother revenue forecasting over time for virtually any organization.

What is an Executive Org Chart?

Org charts are diagrams that lay out the internal organization of roles within a company.

Traditionally, it's structured with the C-suite team of executives at the top of the diagram. The CEO is at the very top, with all the other executives reporting to them; this group is made up of the Chief Financial Offer (CFO), Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), and the VP of Sales. Some structures may also have a president adjacent to either the CEO or the other executives. From there, companies have different layouts for structuring their sales department (such as having different high-level regional directors or managers), legal teams, product teams, and more. 

Having a detailed org chart is useful, so every role clearly fits into place. But having an executive org chart that aligns with your company's goals is the most critical step. The lines that connect the different roles and the way the roles are laid out in different rows show who reports to who and what "level" within the organization a specific role really is. 

Most executive org charts look the same, but the introduction of a CRO can shake things up. Do they report to the CEO, or are they equal to the CEO? Do they sit alongside the other executives, or do some executives fall down a step because they report to the CRO? Answering these questions, and presenting that information the right way to executives whose apparent position in the company may change, is essential.

What's Important in the CRO-to-CEO Relationship?

Begin by defining the CRO-to-CEO relationship. The CRO traditionally reports directly to the CEO. Hence, a great deal of trust is necessary before the CEO can let go of revenue operations to focus on the product and the presentation of the company. Shared objectives are:

Identify & Hire the Right Executives

Executives must be experts, must be comfortable with having a CRO in the org chart, and must also be trustworthy.

Delegate Responsibilities to Other Executives

Both the CEO and the CRO need to focus on big-picture elements of the company. More granular operations must fall on the shoulders of the CMO, VP of Sales, CTO, and others. The CEO and CRO need to work together to determine which responsibilities belong to which team members, decide how to check in on progress, and otherwise ensure that delegated responsibilities are suitably controlled.

Figure Out Your Strategic Priorities

The Revenue Strategy — the main focus of the CRO — comes into play here. The whole executive team needs to collaborate on identifying revenue goals and initiatives, determining where resources result in the most significant value, and what challenges to focus on.

Develop a Vision Together

Through this collaboration and clear establishment of responsibilities, the CEO and CRO can work together to create an organization-wide vision for the company. The vision isn't just a goal — it's a holistic roadmap of the future where everyone sees their role in executing it.

Place Your CRO as a Peer to the CFO

Simplify your org chart design by putting the CRO and CFO on equal footing. Both executives have a hand on the wheel of finance, but they have very different objectives. That means one can't report to the other without their responsibilities becoming subordinate to the other.

In a healthy organization, revenue priorities can't outstrip compliance and good practices, but neither can conservative protections and systems be a barrier to revenue growth.

CROs handle revenue generation, and CFOs handle revenue management. Both are vital, and both are equal.

By putting the executives on the same tier, you also remove potential friction and discordance.

Hiring a Fractional CRO is an Important Step Forward for Your Business — Find the Right Place on Your Org Chart

At the House of Revenue™, we help you manage all parts of your house, including revenue generation and revenue management. Contact us today to see how to integrate a CRO into your org chart and overall organization. We can help you take the right strategic approach, test the waters with a Fractional CRO before making a dedicated hire, and so much more.