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9 Keys to Success According to Top CROs

Headshot photograph of Holly Procter, SVP - Global Head of Sales at Clari

Holly Procter
SVP, Global Head of Sales at Clari

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Photograph of a CRO writing in a notebook next to a laptop
Photograph of a CRO writing in a notebook next to a laptop

The best chief revenue officers know how to build a strong culture, hire well, and focus on simplicity in a sea of complexity as they lead their revenue operations teams. With over 500 CROs leveraging Clari, there's no shortage of top leaders to learn from. Here’s some of the top tips I’ve learned from CROs. 

Hire strong overseas

"The further away the hire is from you physically, the stronger they need to be."
Relativity Chief Sales Officer Peter Kim

New market expansion is a top priority for revenue leaders, and it starts with hiring. According to a study Clari commissioned with Forrester, 51% of revenue leaders say expanding into new geographies or vertical markets is a top priority. Penetrating new markets can propel a company to new heights, so getting it right is mission critical. It all starts with hiring right.

Knowledge is power — leverage all available resources

“Encourage your reps to follow people’s Twitter feed. It gives you some insights into what they think about.
Bloomreach CRO Rob Rosenthal 

With all the tools and information at our disposal, salespeople are better equipped than ever to build relationships and run strategic deal cycles. One of the best ways to do that is through social selling. According to Forbes, 78% of salespeople engaged in social selling outsell their peers who aren’t. But with so much information available, where do you start? Social. 

Revenue is a process

“Coach your sellers to follow up with a summary of the call with links to helpful things. All of that advances the process.
Astronomer CRO Andrew Ettinger

The secret to driving predictable revenue is to run your sales cycle like any other business process — one that can be fine-tuned, optimized, and repeated for success. Staying on the same page with prospects is a cornerstone for running an effective cycle. 

Tap into the entire power base

“Train your teams to really understand what’s going on one and two layers below, and make sure that they’re bought in.
Bloomreach CRO Rob Rosenthal

We’ve seen a shift in the way people are buying in a B2B setting. According to Clari’s data, deals worth more than $250,000 has 19 stakeholders involved. That makes finding skilled reps who are able to work a room and navigate complex buying groups critical. Although winning over the decision-maker is the dream scenario for sellers, it’s not enough. Surround sound matters. 

Drive predictability from the bottom up

“We’re allowing our sales teams at the first line to prosecute their forecasts. It’s really powerful.
Informatica CRO John Schweitzer

Sales leaders discuss the importance of hitting their forecast, but the implications of missing their forecast, not as much. According to a study from Forrester commissioned by Clari, 89% of respondents reported at least one operational issue, and 62% reported at least one trust issue and broader business issue due to missing their number. 

That’s why I suggest forecasting from the bottom up. Reps are on the frontline everyday and have their fingers on the pulse of the business. This added rigor to the forecasting process gives the CRO increased visibility and confidence when calling their number. 

Collaboration holds the key 

“CROs are going to be the norm in the very best companies, because you have one person singularly responsible to make sure that handoffs are smooth.
Divvy CRO Sterling Snow

Between sales, marketing, customer success, and finance, there are a lot of stakeholders in the revenue process. That’s why tight alignment has to be a top priority. Enter the CRO.

Use data to take smart risks

“Take smart, strategic, and calculated risks. Then evaluate, work towards progress, and operate with eyes wide open and a willingness to fix if something didn’t go as expected.
Talend CRO Ann-Christel Graham

On average, a sales team generates more than 4 million revenue data points a year. All of those data points can be leveraged to evaluate those decisions — and take future risks. Taking advantage of those data points empowers you to make informed decisions and pivot as needed. 

Focus on simplicity

“Battle complexity by focusing on simplicity. We have a high concentration of small volume accounts. We tell our sellers, ‘these are your 15 accounts, go get them.
Relativity CSO Peter Kim

There’s a lot of mayhem in the life of a seller. An enormous tech stack, a crowded competitive landscape, and an endless book of accounts to prospect into—it can be overwhelming. Smart CROs don’t try to do everything. They aim to do the right things, with targeted focus, and simplicity. 

Stop living quarter to quarter

“Get out of living quarter-to-quarter. When you are guiding year-to-year, you are truly a CRO.
Clari CRO Kevin Knieriem

Guiding your team from year-to-year requires full visibility into the business — easier said than done. According to Forrester, 50% of revenue leader decision-makers say getting current quarter visibility into the pipeline is either challenging or very challenging given their current tech stack. Having confidence in the health of your pipeline and knowing how much coverage you have for future quarters allows you to control your revenue processes and stop living quarter-to-quarter. 

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