Let’s start with the definition of “Chief Revenue Officer,” and then move on to whether or not your company needs one.
There is a great discussion about this over on Quora, where the community has pitched in to answer the question, “What is a Chief Revenue Officer?” The answers vary widely; while some say it is a silly, inflated title, others say the Chief Revenue Officer is a strategic, revenue-focused member of the executive management team (essentially the “Chief Sales Officer”).
Wikipedia’s entry for Chief Revenue Officer” states:
A chief revenue officer (CRO) is a corporate officer (executive) responsible for all revenue generation processes in an organization. In this role, a CRO is accountable for driving better integration and alignment between all revenue-related functions, including marketing, sales, customer support, pricing, and revenue management.
Sounds like a pretty all-inclusive role with a cross-functional focus on revenue and the activities to get it. The most interesting part of the definition above is the part about “driving better integration and alignment” among functions. This is jumping-off point to figure out if the role is needed in your company.
Ideally, everyone in the company should already be aligned around revenue as a goal and have the proper metrics and channels of communication in place to support that goal. In many cases, the various functions are off doing their own things to prove success and value to the company. Marketing is generating leads, sales is closing deals, and support is handling cases without a rolled-up, unified view of the revenue impact of all of these activities.
Without this unified view of the data that powers these various activities and the ability to associate them all with revenue, a company will not achieve the needed alignment, and the case for a CRO gets stronger.
Using a data-driven approach to understand what campaigns are working, what content is delivering, what sales channels are performing, and which customers deliver the longest term value amplifies the revenue goal of the company and unifies the entire team around this purpose — regardless of title or role.
Even more important is to understand the “closed-loop” process from marketing to sales to customer with an eye on understanding where the high and low performance activities occur. Simply understanding what content works best for which type of customer can create a unified and integrated approach to the collateral that marketing produces and that sales utilizes in the sales cycle.
Determining whether a Chief Revenue Officer is needed at your company is actually a secondary consideration once you understand if you have a data-driven approach to customer acquisition and if there is alignment across functions around the revenue objectives. Start there and improve the flow of communication as well as the metrics and measures used to understand performance.