What is a Chief Revenue Officer – and Do I Need One?


Chief Revenue Officers (CROs) are the newest breed of C-suite executive. A step above Chief Sales Officers, this role is becoming increasingly common. But CROs are still evolving in responsibilities and importance.


So where did the role of CRO come from? How do you know if you need one? And what would he be responsible for?


The answers all start with your business model.


The Chief Revenue Officer role is critical for harnessing the power of subscription-based business models.


Born Out of the Business Model Shift:

The role of CRO came about when subscription business models began to take off. The shift from transaction to subscription models caused a shift in business focus overall.


In the traditional business model, the focus is on the transaction. The entire customer experience is delivered by 3 departments:


  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customer Service


In the new subscription business model, the customer experience gets more complex. It’s critical that customers have an outstanding experience so they continue renewing their subscriptions. As a result, there are more touch points and more robust internal capabilities are required:


  • Initial messaging
  • Trial signup
  • Signup
  • Customer service
  • Ongoing retention communications


A CRO is one level above the CSO. He synchronizes these many touchpoints by overseeing sales, marketing, and customer service.


Do You Need a CRO?

Deciding if you need a CRO is actually a simple thing. If your business model is transactional, you’re probably fine with the CSO/CMO standard.


In the transactional model, there are big gaps between customer touchpoints. Centralizing these few touchpoints under a CRO is not beneficial.


That changes in the subscription model. This business model depends on increasing renewal rates and reducing churn. It makes sense to centralize the multiple, contiguous touchpoints under a CRO.


What Does a CRO Do?


A CRO aligns the entire customer experience toward the goal of increasing revenue. He spends much of his time on:


  • Sales strategy and operations
  • Marketing strategy and demand funnel
  • Customer service and retention
  • Coordinating with product and business development teams


Like a CSO, a CRO has sales targets to meet. But a CRO is also responsible for pre- and post-sales customer experiences. So strong data analytics skills are also critical.


A CRO must understand data such as:


  • Forecasting algorithms
  • Sales rep productivity targets by customer segment
  • Compensation benchmarking
  • Customer acquisition cost by lead source, and its relation to gross margin
  • Average selling price fluctuations
  • Churn rate and reasons
  • Conversion rates for websites and forms



Most importantly, a successful CRO will find more ways to deliver value to customers. He’ll take customer feedback and turn it into long-term strategy.


A great CRO will create a scalable sales revenue strategy that is also executable. As the role of CRO becomes more popular, you might consider it for your company. Just remember that it works best with a subscription business model.


Greg Alexander

Leads the firm's focus on the CEO’s role in accelerating revenue growth by getting the product team, the marketing department, and the sales organization into strategic alignment.

Greg is the host of The SBI Podcast, the most listened to sales and marketing podcast on the internet.


He is the host of SBI TV, a monthly television program broadcast on the internet featuring top B2B sales and marketing leader sharing their strategies to grow revenues.


Greg is the Editor-in-Chief of The SBI Magazine, the leading B2B publication focused on sales and marketing effectiveness.


He is the author of two critically acclaimed books Topgrading for Sales and Making the Number.


Greg has authored over 100 articles on SBI’s award winning blog, The SBI Blog.


He graduated from The University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BA in English and received his MBA from Georgia Tech.




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