The Chief Revenue Officer or CRO, is a term that is creeping into SaaS lexicon to the extent that more and more companies are asking themselves the questions of do I need a CRO? And, when is the right time to hire a CRO?
The CROs job role is to take a unified view of all customers interactions, thus being responsible for Marketing, Sales and Customer Success. This overarching view means that they can start to consider systematic approaches to growth and take a long term perspective and not get sidetracked by quick wins. They can leave this to the sales team who traditionally look at the next quarter and whether there is enough pipe to keep the sales coming in (which is what they get paid to do).
I feel there can be two ways in which you as a Founder can determine whether now is the time to begin your search for a CRO. The first is reactive, the second proactive:
You notice there is misalignment between Marketing, Sales and Customer Success. Run an experiment asking members of each department what each other’s department is working on and therefore targeted on? Are there marketing campaigns that sales don’t know about? Are sales creating their own collateral without marketing knowing? Are Customer Success upselling a certain account without Sales having visibility over this? Start to ask yourself questions like this and it could be time to hire your CRO
As a more proactive approach, you may think that you want more focus on revenue performance management and it is not something as a CEO you can do. You therefore need a strategic thinker to spearhead new revenue initiatives and have a greater level of accountability for the goals you are going to set for next year. This is also a good time to proactively hire a CRO.
The CRO is a CxO position and will bring a salary demand that may price out a few startups, but if you find the right one, they are worth their weight in gold. They will have experience stitching together Marketing, Sales and Customer Success and will be able to understand where the blockages are and will help you create a lean and robust sales machine whilst being customer facing as their responsibility touches everything from the Awareness to Retention stage of the customer buying journey.