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Should Your Startup Hire a Chief Revenue Officer?

By Emily Smith on Thu, Feb 9, 2023

The Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) is an increasingly common job title in the SaaS sector, following trends from Silicon Valley.

Having someone solely prioritising and focusing on revenue is an ideal complement to the skills and experience of the many SaaS CEOs with backgrounds in products and engineering. As the CRO role grows in popularity, many Startups are prioritising this role within their C-suite as they begin to think about scaling.

What is a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO)?

A Chief Revenue Officer is someone in charge of all your company’s revenue streams.

They have ultimate accountability for driving revenue growth, by leveraging and aligning all revenue-generating departments: Marketing, Sales and Customer Experience/Customer Success. They oversee your growth departments, with the VP of Sales, the CMO and the CXO (Chief Experience Officer) all reporting directly to your CRO.

In a Startup’s early days the CEO will be responsible for revenue generation. However, as your Startup grows it becomes difficult for your CEO to manage this as well as other key strategical challenges essential for growth, such as product development, raising funding and recruitment.

Why Do I Need a CRO?

A CRO will align all of your revenue-generating departments.

Alignment across Sales, Marketing and Customer Success is essential for sustained growth. Without it, communication between departments breaks down and messages become mixed: your Sales team say one thing, Marketing another, and Customer Success another still.

This leads to Marketing generating lots of poor quality leads that Sales can’t close, or Sales closing deals that are a poor fit so Customer Success then needs to intervene.

A Chief Revenue Officer aligns revenue generation and messaging so Marketing, Sales and Customer Success are all working together to maximise revenue. This creates joined-up messaging and a consistent experience for prospects and customers through the buyer’s journey, in turn creating an environment conducive to sustained revenue growth.

When Should My Startup Hire a CRO?

As your Startup grows you will reach a point where it will be beneficial to hire a CRO in order to improve growth and alignment. There are two key indicators that suggest you’ve reached the point where your Startup should hire a CRO:

1) You’re Starting to Experience Misalignment

Are your growth departments caught up playing the blame game?

Marketing say Sales aren’t closing enough deals with the leads they’re handing over. Sales say Marketing aren’t generating good enough leads. Customer Success say they can’t retain customers because Sales are closing deals at all costs.

Poor quality leads, not closing deals and not retaining customers all hit your revenue hard, and can be improved by aligning your growth departments and improving communication between them.

2) Growth Decisions are Being Made in Isolation

Are marketing running campaigns that sales don’t know about, or are sales creating their own collateral and not using marketing’s materials?

These scenarios equate to missed sales opportunities and lost customers due to fragmented messaging and poor communication between your growth departments – and all negatively affect your Startup’s revenue.

Hiring a CRO will both facilitate alignment and improve collaborative decision-making between your growth departments, as the heads of each department all report to the same person and share one channel of communication.

Is the lack of a CRO your Real Problem?

In our experience, it's not always the lack of a CRO which is holding a SaaS company's growth back when the problems above appear. A major obstacle many SaaS companies face is that they're using Sales, Marketing & Customer Success software which is poorly integrated.

As a result of that, sales reps can't really see what marketing is doing to generate leads. Customer Success have no idea which sales rep a customer purchased from (or have to pester Sales to find out). There's no unified view of the full Customer Lifecycle anywhere, and each growth department.... sort of does its own thing. 

Sound familiar? You should try HubSpot (it's free to get started).

If software's your real problem, you could be turbocharging your growth within months, and avoiding a very expensive hire.

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