What is a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO)?
Updated: Nov 18
A Chief Revenue Officer is an executive leader accountable generating net new revenue predictably, and profitably. They build, oversee, and harmonize the sales and marketing departments.
CROs lead the marketing and sales strategy development, manage the implementation of that function, and hold the sales and marketing departments accountable. Ultimately they are accountable to the leadership team and the CEO and COO.
What does a Chief Revenue Officer do?
CROs answer the tough questions about marketing and sales at the leadership team and board of directors level. They build a marketing and sales engine that can drive predictable and profitable revenue growth. Here’s a further breakdown of chief revenue officer responsibilities.
How do Chief Revenue Officers Generate New Revenue?
The top echelon of Chief Revenue Officers have 4 common attributes:
They treat marketing and sales holistically
They have an attribution and data modeling methodology
They have a high EQ and are gifted communicators
They learn and adjust quickly
They set the strategic direction for driving net new revenue profitably and predictably.
Want more specifics about how they impact businesses? Here's a terrific guide specifically for client service and monthly recurring revenue business growth.
Want to Learn more About Chief Revenue Officer Responsibilities?
What's a Fractional Chief Revenue Officer vs. Traditional Chief Revenue Officer?
The traditional Chief Revenue Officer is a full-time executive. Usually being paid in the $300-500k in salary per year + other benefits. They are focused on turning mid size businesses into more complete enterprise oriented businesses. Stratifying the sales team, building out a revenue operations program, and focusing on market share.
A Fractional Chief Revenue Officer designed for small business focuses on helping small businesses that can't afford a traditional Chief Revenue Officer build functional sales and marketing departments. Most small businesses try to fix sales or marketing.
And the problem is that you need both functioning well to truly build predictable and profitable revenue. So a small business Fractional Chief Revenue Officer costs less than a fractional CMO, Fractional CSO, and a full-time in house leader.
When do you need a Chief Revenue Officer?
Most business in the $1m to $10m in revenues range will hit a plateau in their revenue and/or profit. Generally, they've had success because they say yes to a lot of things, and their customers get direct access to the subject matter experts that made the core product so successful. That creates referrals to help you grow.
However, that system breaks down once you add layers of management to support the new growth. That plus an underdeveloped sales and marketing program leads to stagnation. You need executive Marketing and Sales leadership to build predictable new client generation.
You have strong Sales or Marketing leadership, but not both at the same time
Your home-grown Sales and/or Marketing leader doesn't have the experience or expertise to help you get to the Next Level
You have plenty of marketing & sales activity, with no growth or strategy
Your CEO owns the sales seat and can't escape the seat.
You've tried to hire a sales person and it doesn't go well
You have a sales team that you feel like is underperforming
Your new business comes in primarily from referrals
Your revenue grows by 10% or less per year and your profit has stagnated
What are the different kinds of Chief Revenue Officers (CRO)?
There are two different types of Chief Revenues officers. A sales oriented and a marketing oriented.
Sales Oriented: These types of CROs tend to be more internally focused and are closer to the sales and customer service side of business. They naturally lean more heavily into improving sales processes, upsells, and referral generation efforts.
Marketing Oriented: These CROs think outside-in and strategically launch new initiatives to increase visibility and expand market share. They’re drawn towards developing customer centric messaging and then aligning that messaging from Marketing into Sales into Operations. They bring a data-driven marketing methodology.
What is a Chief Revenue Officer's Focused On Improving?
Data: They develop measurement and tracking methods that increase visibility to the marketing funnel and sales pipeline. Restoring (or establishing) the executive leadership’s team trust in the sales and marketing data.
In most cases, the Chief Revenue Officer needs to simplify the marketing message. Addition through subtraction. Instead of being everything to everyone, intentionally curate messaging at each stage of the buyer journey and focus on serving a specific audience from interest to sale.
If you want to win once, set a goal. If you want to win over and over again (and increase your businesses valuation at sale), you need systems. A high powered CRO will build sales and marketing processes, that allow a business to build a scalable (or sellable) business.
Chief Revenue Officers will be the conductor of the marketing and sales orchestra. Launching the right sequence of marketing campaigns, sales programs, referral systems, and other revenue tactics to drive net new revenue growth. No implementation is ever perfect, so the best ones will learn quickly and adjust even faster!
Your Chief Revenue Officer will bring a clear strategy outline to the table. They're job is to get alignment from the Leadership Level on that strategy. Then communicate it clearly to the team, and anchor actions and measurables to turn the strategy into reality.
What’s the Top Line & Bottom Line of What is a Chief Revenue Officer?
Chief Revenue officers have a positive impact on your top line revenue that is also translated into improvements on the bottom line.
They make your profit and revenue more predictable.
They help you scale up your marketing and sales departments.
They turn revenue into a money printing engine money in, more money out.
A true profit oriented CRO revenue officer is a dynamic duo with a CFO. Small businesses trying to get clear next steps in sales and marketing need to talk with a Fractional Chief Revenue Officer.