Skip to content

    What Is A Chief Revenue Officer?

    Learn what tasks a CRO takes on, how they fit on your organization chart, and the difference between a CRO and a Head of Sales.

    More and more organizations are considering adding a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) to their executive teams. According to Salesforce, "Chief Revenue Officers (CROs) are one of the newest animals in the C-suite jungle, and they're adapting to a unique set of tasks with a unique set of traits." Broadly speaking, a CRO can align your revenue-focused teams (sales, customer service, marketing, and RevOps) to ensure better collaboration, fewer obstacles, and more opportunities for sustainable growth. This role is even more important as companies continue to respond and adapt to changing markets. While you, your executive team, and even your revenue team may have a general understanding of what a CRO does — ultimately, increase revenue — it's worth getting a closer look at the details.

    CROs are focused on the whole client or customer experience, from when they first encounter marketing initiatives to long after they've purchased a product or service, to maximize revenue streams and make sure the whole experience is as beneficial as possible for everyone involved. Many ask why the CEO doesn’t own this responsibility, but while they do align different departments, CEOs most often come from the product and operations side of the equation and don’t have the necessary marketing and sales background to create a holistic strategy. 

    In this brief overview, we'll examine what tasks a CRO takes on, how they fit on your org chart, and the difference between a CRO and a Head of Sales. Then you can determine for yourself how a future CRO can fit into your own organization's future plans.

    What Does a CRO Do?

    Much like other executives, it can be hard to pin down what specific to-dos a CRO needs to handle. However, the vast majority of their responsibilities are summed up in these four goals.

    1. Establish Infrastructure & Alignment Across Revenue-Relevant Teams

    The main revenue teams are sales, customer support, marketing, and (to some degree) finance. A CRO's first hurdle is to break down silos and communication barriers between these teams. Rather than letting all these teams operate independently (and sometimes at cross purposes), a CRO needs to align them all to the same core goals of supporting and improving customer experiences. This includes providing clear communication channels, increasing contact and good relationships, providing interdepartmental resources, and allowing for healthy accountability.

    2. Measure & Analyze Data

    In today's organizations, everything needs to be supported by data. Rather than simply “better aligning” preexisting data and reporting systems, CROs often completely eliminate old reporting systems and replace them with modern, dynamic ones. Today's revenue teams need real-time dashboards, reports, and clear-cut data science tools that employees can access instantly and use without any confusion. In short, CROs are tasked with dragging old data dumps into the future.

    3. Use Data to Create Strategies & Goals

    Once the data can be effectively gathered and interpreted, then the CRO can use it to create strong strategies for the organization as a whole. CROs are often responsible for creating these plans:

    • Revenue strategies
    • Go-to-Market (GTM) strategies
    • Execution plans for each strategy or process

    4. Create Organizational Systems to Empower Individual Employee Success

    CROs also  look within the organization itself so members of the revenue teams can succeed in their careers while optimizing client experiences. This includes these areas of focus:

    • Optimizing business retention strategies
    • Establishing processes for prospecting to, nurturing, and selling to leads
    • Solidifying employee roles and responsibilities so individuals have a clear path to success
    • Managing technology and subscription costs as part of a larger effort to balance acquisition costs

    CROs handle the entire revenue stack within the business, giving them insight into lead generation, field contact, customer support and retention efforts, and more.

    Beyond all of these responsibilities, CROs also have to communicate where they're failing and succeeding in these roles. They have to report to the executives and other key stakeholders (especially in public companies) what revenue results they've seen and what revenue stream performance they expect to see in the future.

    Where Does a CRO Fall in the Org Chart?

    A Chief Revenue Officer needs to be fully part of the C-suite level of executives to fully do their job and make sure the revenue teams are aligned around the best possible client experience. Their position should sit directly below the CEO, and other department heads will be reporting to them. Ideally, the VP of Sales, the Head of Customer Services or Customer Support, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) will all report to the CRO.

    Here's a quick breakdown of how the CRO will interact with other C-suite executives to drive organizational success:

    1. The CMO

    The CMO and CRO will collaborate to create strategies that align with sales and customer service processes.

    2. The CFO

    They'll work together to gather, interpret, and use data regarding internal budgets and product pricing (especially in regards to reaching a good competitive position).

    3. The CEO

    They'll work together to create a data-backed vision of what the revenue teams should be focusing on.

    4. The RevOps Team as a Whole

    The CRO will collaborate with the whole revenue team to ensure the CRM and other interdepartmental tools or processes are both being used correctly and provide enough value.

    Key Makeup of a CRO

    The CRO role addresses the traditionally adversarial relationship between the CMO and the VP of Sales, which, more often than not, are lacking in collaboration and transparency. In fact, with many more CROs having a VP of Sales background than a CMO background, it's important to remember that  this role should be a fusion and elevation of those traditional responsibilities. The CRO role is built to provide a long-term perspective on cross-departmental goals that can best increase revenue through consistent, measurable processes.

    The Difference Between a CRO & a VP or Head of Sales

    Knowing that many CROs come from a predominantly sales background, however, it's important to thoroughly understand the difference between a CRO and a VP of Sales. The VP focuses on their sales teams' commissions, quotas, and success; their focus is on tactics and getting the job done in the short term (across a month, quarter, or year). All other pursuits — such as marketing campaigns, demand generation, and improved customer experience — are secondary or not even listed among their responsibilities.

    For a CRO, however, the entire customer journey is within their purview, and that encompasses the marketing experience, the sales experience, and post-purchase success.  Their job is to use data to make improvements at every stage of the buyer’s journey and give teams the tools they need to succeed.

    Define & Build the CRO Role in Your Organization

    A CRO is better positioned than any other role to focus on client experience as a whole and position your organization to do better than your competitors. With the right balance of responsibilities and reach, CROs can align all of your revenue teams and start building cross-departmental processes for long-term success. Contact House of Revenue today to see how you can start creating a CRO role in your organization. 

    By: Paralee Walls
    I've worn multiple hats during my career—from marketing strategist to customer evangelist and educator to sales process builder—which has given me the unique ability to apply my cross-disciplinary experience to innovate and address complex challenges at every stage of the funnel. From start-ups to established Silicon Valley enterprise orgs, I’ve built and grown revenue teams to deliver strategies that drive ROI.

    Related Articles

    Avoid GTM Failure: 6 Key Areas Companies Struggle
    Sabrina Ott Feb 29, 2024
    Unlocking the Power of a Fractional CMO: Benefits Revealed
    Tymothe Meskel Feb 29, 2024
    Fractional Content Marketing: Essential Guide for 2024
    Tymothe Meskel Feb 29, 2024