More companies seek chief revenue officers to drive growth across sectors

A corporate title that is becoming more common in SAAS (software as a service) or cloud companies is that of chief revenue officer, or CRO.

What exactly does a CRO do? How is the position different from a chief marketing officer, or a vice president of sales and marketing?

A CRO is ultimately tasked with achieving integration between the various functions found in sales and marketing. As such, the VP of sales and VP of marketing would report to this officer. The CRO is responsible for overseeing and articulating the company’s revenue strategy, go-to-market strategy (GTM strategy) and execution.

A CRO is responsible for all revenue-generating activities and processes across teams. This can include traditional marketing programs, as well as oversight of sales pipeline and customer success initiatives.

CROs have a broader wingspan across the organization by design. If their primary goal is to drive and manage revenue streams, they need to have information on every corner of the organization that has an impact on closed business and customer retention.

The CRO will typically look at revenue generation with a long-term perspective and is less likely to be side-tracked by going for quick wins. Sales departments, in contrast, are usually focused on the quarter in front of them and making sure there is enough pipeline to keep the sales rolling in.

Secondly, they are responsible for revenue generation across the business, not just an individual department. It would be logical to assume that if each department is doing its best to maximize revenue generation, then it would be maximized across the company. However, with a CRO, there is a Gestalt approach, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

This focus on integration, along with skills at “growth hacking,” is primarily what distinguishes a CRO from a chief marketing officer, VP of sales and/or marketing and other classic roles.

How is growth hacking different from simply growing a company’s revenue? Growth hacking is a concept that originated in Silicon Valley. A growth hacker is someone who uses creative, low-cost strategies to help businesses acquire and retain customers. They hypothesize, prioritize and test innovative growth strategies. They analyze and test to see what’s working.

Growth hacking takes advantage of the possibilities for nonlinear growth in SAAS and cloud business models, led by the CRO.

Isaac Cheifetz is a Twin Cities executive recruiter and strategic résumé consultant. Reach him through his website, catalytic1.com.

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