Why Every Company Needs A Chief Revenue Officer

Nick Milani

The chief revenue officer, a role first popularized by high-growth Silicon Valley startups amidst a whirlwind of innovative new business models, products, services, is quickly crossing the chasm into the mainstream.

Now, companies of all sizes and across many industries are reinventing their products, sales- and revenue-generation processes to scale repeatable and predictable revenue and to monetize disruption in their field. This is driving the need for a new breed of sales leader – someone who is responsible for optimizing all revenue-generation processes within the company.

Who is the chief revenue officer?

A sales leader: Ultimately, they are responsible for generating scalable, repeatable, and predictable revenue within the company.

Strategic, with one foot in the field: They set the vision and constantly tweak all the company’s levers to generate revenue based on fresh data. This includes functions such as sales, marketing, and customer success.

Collaborative: They work with departmental heads of the organization and understand the role of revenue generation within all of them.

Customer-focused: They understand the difference between hunting versus farming sales cycles –where hunting is focused on customer acquisition and farming looks at nurturing the customer relationship and growing revenue from within.

Data-driven: Identifying trends in customer behavior is critical to success. Accordingly, CROs closely follow sales, product usage, churn, renewals, and competitors – leveraging this data to fine-tune their revenue-generation engine.

Long-term and short-term focused: They focus on meeting today’s targets while building for tomorrow’s success in a predictable and scalable way.

Why now?

The competitive landscape for many companies has been disrupted over the last several years as a handful of key trends drives the need for scaling repeatable and predictable revenue.

Digital products and services now give companies unprecedented insight into consumer behavior to quickly identify new revenue opportunities, but these require sophisticated, agile technologies and a commitment to delivering highly personalized experiences to be successful.

For companies that have moved from selling software licenses to subscriptions, new sales processes and KPIs are needed with responsibilities that transcend traditional sales roles.

Omnichannel sales and the ever-increasing role of mobile and self-service in both B2C and B2B business environments are driving the need to centralize the way all products and services are offered, sold, and managed.

Companies are increasingly focused on selling solutions and “outcomes,” which are often comprised of complex bundles of products and services via multiple sales models and channels. All of these need to be managed holistically.

Offering products and services via subscription is becoming a common expectation. With this model, maximum revenue is achieved only through a commitment to deeply engage customers and deliver a multi-touchpoint experience that is both highly personalized and value-focused – driving high levels of satisfaction renewal rates.

Tools of the trade: What a chief revenue officer needs to succeed

A customer engagement and commerce platform: More than just salesforce automation (SFA) – which focuses primarily on pipeline management and opportunities – a chief revenue officer needs to understand the full scope of customer engagement, including sales trends, marketing data, customer usage behavior, issues and support, propensity to churn, and ultimately, which levers to pull to scale company revenue as fast as possible.

Streamlined sales processes: From configure-price-quote (CPQ) to deal approval, collaboration, discounting, self-service, renewals, and profitability analysis available from any sales channel or device.

An agile monetization platform: A flexible and scalable platform can quickly create and automate new pricing and billing structures, including one-time fees, recurring fees, usage fees, royalties, and revenue recognition for highly configurable and personalized products and services.

Flexible contract management: New tools that manage orders and contracts based on a recurring revenue business model and flexible time periods and conditions, including a focus on customer-specific pricing, incentives, management of entitlements, and a complete view of what the customer owns.

Proactivity and smarts: Less cumbersome data entry! Guided sales processes based on insights gained from sales data and customer behavior across all channels to help drive cross-sell, up-sell, and profitability.

Predictive insights: Tools to help predict the outcome of a deal cycle or customer engagement before it happens while accurately forecasting revenue growth and customer loyalty by analyzing a myriad of data points and sources.

Customer success and renewal management: Customer success is a key growth engine. Tools are needed to closely manage the customer onboarding, use, support, and feedback pertaining to products and services that help identify where to focus attention and increase customer lifetime value.

Smaller, agile, digital native companies have set the pace for understanding how to scale repeatable and predictable revenue for new business models in the digital economy. As companies of all sizes across all industries enter today’s businessworld, the chief revenue officer is without a doubt emerging as key growth driver.

For more insight on effective leadership during a time of digital transformation, see Putting Your CFO Skill Set On Steroids.