August 27, 2018,   8:00 AM

What Is A Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), The Hottest Hire In Silicon Valley?

Daniel Rongo

Chief Revenue Officer, Foodics FULL BIO

The rise of the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) has become one of the hottest trends in Silicon Valley. As SaaS companies look to get a better grip on converting their innovative products and services to scalable growth, many have turned to the CRO to oversee their increasingly complex revenue process.

This latest addition to the C-suite boasts a range of responsibilities that are largely the same across different companies, but the scope of the role is known to differ.

So What Is a Chief Revenue Officer?

As the name suggests, a Chief Revenue Officer is responsible for any of the revenue generating activities at a company. For tech companies, this would mean managing the end-to-end functions that are involved in revenue generation such as sales, business development, marketing, customer service, and much more.

But if this range of responsibilities sounds rather vague, you are not alone. While the number of hired CROs is at an all-time high, there is still a sense of confusion that exists as to what exactly a CRO does, and how it differs from and the activities of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Here, I would like to point out the fundamental differences between the two.

How Is a Chief Revenue Officer Different from a Chief Financial Officer?

To some extent, the Chief Revenue Officer's role is quite a bit similar to the Chief Financial Officer’s job. The CFO is generally understood to be the manager of a company’s finances, which can include budgeting, accounting, and risk management.

However, a key distinction of the CRO is that he or she is responsible for driving the entire revenue goals of the company in tandem with a range of activities that fall outside of the traditional boundaries of finance. This can include driving sales numbers, coordinating marketing campaigns, managing customer support processes, handling Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and much more.

In contrast to the main role of a CFO, which is to oversee the overall finances of a company, the CRO works towards converting the sales and finance functions into predictable and scalable revenue.

This means that the CRO must be able to predict, produce, and execute a number of individual revenue streams. One stream may be to build a robust sales and business development network. Another may be to refine and scale the business for a better customer experience. The CRO undertakes these various streams all with the aim of maximizing growth within the spending potential of the business.

What Makes a Great CRO?

To be successful as a CRO, one must be equipped with a number of essential skills, including:

    1. Tech savvy. An essential element of the CRO is the awareness of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the ability to integrate them into the client’s technology to achieve the best results.


    1. Digital marketing and growth hacking techniques. Since a lot of companies rely on content marketing, organic marketing, and paid marketing to grow in the digital space, an advanced knowledge of these topics are crucial for a CRO as it can strengthen the sales and marketing strategy of the client.


    1. Data efficiency and strong analytics ability. These skills help derive useful insights from the existing customer data and can help build a scalable growth model as per business requirements.

As the hiring explosion of CROs expands from the confines of Silicon Valley, the scope and demand of the role are expected to evolve accordingly. Objectively speaking, I strongly believe that revenue performance management is going to be a key focus area of tech startups and beyond as companies look to achieve their desired business results and grow exponentially.

Parting Thoughts

The right CRO can be crucial in helping your SaaS business seize every growth opportunity by ensuring that all the revenue generating streams are optimally utilized and aligned with the vision of the company.

CROs are uniquely positioned to achieve this across multiple levels, such as building sustainable revenue models, addressing growth objectives, achieving goals in an accelerated timeline, and fostering excellent customer relationships.

Optimizing the overall customer experience is at the forefront of every data-driven company, and CROs are the new breed of executives that can deliver a disciplined approach to multiplying revenue streams. By bringing in new monetization strategies and executing sustainable structures, CROs can act as the relentless driver that links a company’s vision and innovative spirit to a profitable future.

Daniel Rongo is the Chief Revenue Officer at Foodics.

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