CRO’s Role in Revenue Operations: Building Trust
(Another in our series about the emerging function of revenue operations.)
By Adam Ady
Director of Sales Operations, True Influence Early in my career, I wondered why sales and marketing needed to be siloed, since they have interdependent goals. But I quickly came to understand the vast difference of the roles that each group plays.
We all want to generate revenue for the company, but we come at that challenge from very different angles. Or perhaps it’s better to say that one discipline comes before the other – marketing starts the conversation, and sales continues it toward closed business.
It’s the handoff between the two teams that’s been the headache, historically, and most efforts to fix misalignment have focused on metrics and workflows to make sure the baton doesn’t hit the ground.
A Chief Revenue Officer is mandated to do more than just optimize those two processes. CROs must find new avenues to grow revenue. That requires more than just setting shared metrics (although that’s certainly a huge part of it). It means creating and fostering a passion for innovation, and an openness to experimentation.
So whoever you hire as a CRO needs more than a deep knowledge of either marketing or sales. They must be fluent in both and open to learning a lot more about the other side of the fence. As the CRO nameplate becomes fashionable, many companies will be tempted to simply give the title to the new sales VP or CMO. That’s not always going to yield the best results.
Organizations also need to be open to the possibility of a CRO coming from an ops or business development background. The key is to find an innovator who encourages new ideas and open communications. You have trained marketing, sales and data professionals to execute on a daily basis. The CRO’s job is to tie it all together in new, better ways.
I’d say that if your revenue operations haven’t dramatically changed within a year or so of appointing a CRO, you’re not getting the real benefit of a dramatic organizational change. And the first step is changing corporate culture.
In a previous blog, I described the goal of RevOps as calling apples apples and oranges oranges. The problem is, people who grow apples tend to think it’s really easy to grow oranges. When something goes wrong, it’s just too easy to simply ask the person on the other end of the line to try harder. Real solutions are never that easy.
If you are in sales or marketing, you are most likely a specialist and haven’t had the chance to learn all the details about other phases of the pipeline. And that’s fine – again, these jobs require a distinct set of skills, and everyone can’t be worried about the big picture all the time. (I’ll talk about this in more detail in a future post.)
There’s work to be done and let me stress this, everybody’s job is challenging. And that can create stress and a persistent suspicion of the “other guys.”
Building trust is job one for a new CRO. And this can only be done by focusing on structured communications. I’m not talking about giant team lunches here (although those can’t hurt). Sales and marketing need to engage in regular feedback – both qualitative and quantitative – about everything from lead quality to content assets.
Some cross-training will also be helpful, but again, it’s OK if the teams don’t know every detail of what each other does every day. To extend my food analogies, everyone doesn’t need to know exactly how the sausage is made, but it helps if they know what ingredients are used.
This knowledge will build trust, and that trust will be the spearhead for breaking down the silos that are at the heart of sales/marketing misalignment.
In this and other posts, I’ve outlined what I see as a practical definition of revenue operations, what type of skills are needed to lead this reorganization of sales and marketing, and how building a culture of trust and innovation is the first step in implementing RevOps as more than just an org chart re-shuffling.
In upcoming articles, I will look at some of the daily processes and systems that need to change in order to support the transition to truly integrated RevOps.