April 15, 2020

Why “Revenue” Roles Are More Important Than Ever

Denis Murphy

Denis Murphy

Denis Murphy
Denis Murphy

Chief Revenue Officer, Couchbase

Couchbase

Have you noticed a bunch of new job titles popping up that contain the word “revenue”? VP of Revenue Operations. Director of Revenue. Senior Revenue Ambassador. Revenue Wrangler, even!

Nope. You’re not going crazy. It’s becoming a “thing.”

Company leaders have really zeroed in on the customer experience over the last few years, because it has become exceedingly clear that doing so leads to faster growth. Now, more than ever, that customer experience — whether it’s in person or online — is critical to success. That’s why customer-facing roles are now being renamed with “revenue,” because driving revenue is exactly what they do.

Since I’ve traditionally been a diehard VP of Sales, I rolled my eyes a bit when I started to see “Chief Revenue Officer” jobs pouring into my LinkedIn feed. To be honest, I thought it was just an inflated, Silicon Valley title for a sales leader...that is, until I started taking interviews.

Through the process of finding my next chapter, I spoke with numerous CEOs and board members who explained why companies now need a Chief Revenue Officer, in addition to a VP of Sales. See, it’s not just fancy wordsmithing to describe the same job: a CRO and VP of Sales have distinctly different focuses within the customer journey.

Now that teams are remote and are struggling to find new ways to connect with customers in a human way, revenue roles have become more important than ever. Let’s take a look at how they differ from traditional sales and how they connect the dots in the customer experience.

What’s the Difference Between a CRO and a VP of Sales?

A VP of Sales naturally leads the sales organization and helps reps move prospects through the funnel in service of making the forecast number. This job will always be crucial on its own, but now with the rise of Revenue Operations, the VP of Sales plays a critical role in a much more holistic strategy.

Which brings us to the role of Chief Revenue Officer.

A CRO’s obsession is the entire Revenue Operations organization, which certainly includes Sales, but also Marketing and Customer Success. As many CEOs have described it to me, the CRO has to wake up every day thinking about how to connect and maximize the customer journey across all departments — even if those that don’t all directly report to him or her. This broader jurisdiction focuses on net new sales, yes, but also on generating pipeline, reducing churn, and growing customer advocacy, which is more important than ever before.

Whether you have a fancy new revenue title or not, you should try adopting this CRO mentality of connecting the customer journey.

Here are a few things that are working for us:

Taking a Holistic Approach

The customer should never be in the hands of one or two people at your organization.

Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, Sales Engineering, and Customer Support must all continuously work together to help the customer realize the value of the investment they’ve made with your business. In this day and age of uncertainty, ensuring your customers see value in your product or service is critical.

That’s why you need to focus on delivering a world-class, end-to-end customer experience. Start by paying close attention to how your customers are onboarded, especially in these three categories:

Speed. Everyone loves instant gratification — especially your customers. That’s why you need to deliver value as quickly as possible by getting them up and running FAST. Even if you have a quick ramp period, think like an Olympic runner and continuously try to beat your last time.

Enjoyment. Your customers should be excited to use your product and your job is to keep them as energized and inspired as possible throughout their journey. The way your team understands the customer’s business, how they ideate and collaborate, and collectively solve challenges builds fulfilling relationships. This, of course, makes stickier partnerships, with a higher probability of future business.

Fit. Your product should fit your customer’s business like an expensive Gucci business suit, making them feel confident and empowered. Beyond tailoring your product to their needs, you must commit to constantly educating your customers about how to use it better. Which brings us to the next point:

Making Your Customers Excel

The job of the CRO is to inspire a customer-first mentality throughout the revenue organization, so that your team can anticipate the needs of your partners and develop new ideas for growth. To do this right, a huge emphasis needs to be placed on constant learning.

Sales should always have their fingers on the pulse of current industry trends, which means they should listen carefully during prospecting, research the emerging trends born out of these conversations, and share their findings with the rest of the team. From there, Marketing and Customer Success must do their own research, as well, and work together to create original, educational assets for every stage of the customer journey.

Constantly sharing this kind of “insider” information will help your entire organization stay at the forefront of your industry by being proactive about innovation and education, and not reactive.

Investing in Customer Experiences, Not Just Customer Service

Think of the customer as the star of the show and your Revenue Operations team as the supporting players. The better your customers can use the product and the way in which your team supports them as they evolve, the more likely they are to be advocates for your services.

And customer advocates will sell your product better than you ever can.

At Couchbase, we’re lucky to have some incredible customers, including UPS, Amadeus, PayPal, and eBay. These companies are truly stars on their own! But one of the events we focus on is our annual user conference called Couchbase Connect, where we gather our customers together to share how they started with us, their growth statistics, and best practices for how they’re using our products today.

Given the state of the world right now, we are moving that investment to virtual events, so that we can continue to educate and empower our customers to maximize their use of our product even while social distancing.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the learnings that have resonated with me so far. All of this to say, I learned very quickly that “Chief Revenue Officer” isn’t just a fancy title created to erase VP of Sales. It is a role that has been created to accommodate the growing complexity of today’s customer journey and need for a holistic view of the revenue process.

No matter which role you are in (CRO, VP of Sales, or other), it’s important to keep your eyes and ears open and always be learning from your customers. When they are optimally successful, they will grow your business faster than you ever thought possible.

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