Three Signs It’s Time To Hire An Interim CRO

As the CEO or CFO, are you worried about the impact of the current economy on your ability to achieve monthly growth targets? Is your compound annual growth rate (CAGR) hovering at or below the target benchmark? Are you missing data required to accurately forecast and budget for the months and years ahead? 

If so, maybe it’s time for an interim Chief Revenue Officer (CRO). You may also want to check out the free benchmarking tools offered at the end of this article. 

An interim CRO is someone who is qualified to take responsibility for the leaders, people and systems charged with generating revenue and top-line growth for your organization. 

And, because revenue growth drives value, a CRO is also responsible for generating wealth for business owners, investors and other stakeholders.

So, what are three signs that signal its time to hire an interim CRO?

1 – When Goals and Actions Are Misaligned

Everyone has worked at a company or experienced a situation where the sales and marketing organizations weren’t on the same page.

Sales complains that it needs more leads, without defining how those leads will be qualified (often because salespeople themselves are not aligned on this critical topic). So, marketing focuses on quantity over quality and overruns sales with low performing leads that restrict the pipeline’s volume and velocity.

Salespeople quickly learn to undervalue the marketing team’s work and ignore or underinvest in regular follow-up. Marketing and sales each have reasons to complain about the other, while both are contributing to the problem. How do you make this right?

A qualified interim CRO will bring the experience and commitment needed to help both organizations succeed. They will have the skills and experience to understand what’s happening and to earn the respect and trust of both sides.

They will be able to diagnose unique challenges from both perspectives, make the necessary adjustments, and create a permanent alliance that forms a single, unified organization. They will be able to lead a team of one.

2 – When Leaders Aren’t Focused On A Shared Revenue Goal

The ultimate measure of success for your sales and customer-facing teams is the volume and velocity of the revenue they generate. Not as a separate or siloed team, but as a unified system.

A qualified interim CRO will not allow sales, marketing, customer success, product, services and solution design teams, for example, to limit their focus only to outcomes related to their specialization. 

Instead, the CRO will align their focus to a small number of shared goals and leading indicators of success. This begins the process of knocking down entrenched and siloed behaviors to activate a leveraged alliance. 

For example, each of these teams in their own way has the ability to impact lead generation, i.e., the company’s ability to fill the sales pipeline. Of course marketing has its role, but salespeople also have the ability to digitally and physically network and prospect for new business. 

In addition to focusing on customer loyalty and retention, the customer success team can fill the sales pipeline by increasing upsell and cross-sell opportunities, identifying new partners, gathering referrals, and discovering conference and speaking opportunities.

Of course, product, services and solution design teams can help accelerate customer success and loyalty by producing solutions customers love to use and tell their friends about, not just tools that get things done. 

Imagine if all the great minds from each of these teams came together to improve the volume and velocity of revenue the company generated. And imagine if at the same time the bickering and petty competitions that created friction between these teams was eliminated. 

Shared Goals + Shared Path = Accelerate Revenue + Multiply Value

3 – When You Are Tempted To Settle For The Status Quo

Whether you are an experienced or first time CEO, it’s natural to trust the leaders you have chosen to guide the strategy and execution of your sales and customer-facing teams. Even when they are underperforming.

When your organization misses a quarterly revenue target, or your CAGR flattens out, how do you know whether it is a short term occurrence or the beginning of a trend? 

How do you know whether one or more of your leaders has reached the limit of their abilities, if they can recover in time, whether they have the ability to self-correct, or if they need outside help? 

Misplaced trust can make it easy to set aside observations of inconsistent performances in the hope that things improve. Frustrations with excuse making, lack of action-taking, missed deadlines and inefficient operations are often tolerated when movement can be seen in other areas.

Maybe you recognize a need for deeper and more accurate data that your leaders either can’t or won’t provide. Is the decline in revenue volume and velocity related to issues you can control, or is it the economy, a lack of funding, poor brand recognition, unscrupulous competitors, changing buyer attitudes, etc.?

Are you confident in whether you are hearing excuses or legitimate reasons? 

A qualified interim CRO has the ability to remain decisive in these moments. They will be able to determine which leaders, people and systems can be more effective, what needs to be done, and how to align your organization to make it happen without putting key growth metrics and KPIs at risk.

Sometimes all a leadership team needs is the mentoring and coaching of someone who has been there before. Someone who can get the best out of each leader, even when they may be frustrated or confused by the challenges in front of them. 

Few CEOs have ever directly led sales and customer-facing teams during a crisis, while many interim CROs are likely to have expertise and accountability frameworks formed through multiple recessions and economic downturns.  

Are you ready to experience better alignment, focus your leaders on shared revenue goals, and avoid settling for the status quo? 

Continue the conversation with me on LinkedIn or grab time on my calendar for access to tools that can help you benchmark the productivity of your sales and customer-facing teams.

We are here to help!

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