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Monday, September 25, 2023

How to Hire Your Next CRO + CRO Interview & Hiring Guide (for Hiring Leaders)

Businesses seeking to expand their customer base often struggle with managing revenue growth activities. While the CEO can attempt to drive sales through various strategies, sometimes it becomes too much to handle on top of their other responsibilities. In such cases, hiring a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) is ideal.

What Is a Chief Revenue Officer?

The CRO position is relatively new. While everyone is familiar with the ubiquitous CEO and CFO roles, the CRO isn’t as commonplace. Often, organizations spread out the responsibilities of a CRO amongst other executives, like the CMO, CEO, or vice president of sales.

However, a CRO whose sole responsibility is driving new revenue and overseeing the sales functions can be a lifesaver to companies in the midst of a significant scale-up in growth. 

The CRO has specific duties, including:

Developing a Revenue Strategy

While a CEO is responsible for devising the overarching future goals for a company, the CRO implements that vision when it comes to revenue. 

A CRO identifies the actions necessary to attract new customers to the organization. 

For instance, if the CEO wants to achieve double-digit revenue growth over the next five years, the CRO develops a step-by-step plan for achieving the objective. They dive into the details with the marketing and sales teams, defining how they can attract more customers in the coming years.

It isn’t enough to simply develop the strategy; they’ll also want to monitor the results as time goes on. The CRO will consistently meet with sales and marketing managers to determine whether the plan is working or if adjustments are necessary.

Managing Sales and Marketing Teams

Frequently, the CRO oversees the sales and marketing teams. Both teams are responsible for attracting and retaining customers, which are crucial to sustaining revenue growth. The CRO will regularly interact with both teams to ensure they are on track and working efficiently toward the company’s revenue objectives.

The CRO will also oversee the customer service team. Customer service is essential for ensuring clients are happy with the products and services they purchase. The customer service team is often the first to know if problems occur. Customer service managers can notify the CRO of potential issues that may affect the retention of clients.

Collaborating with Other C-Suite Executives

The CRO must work with other executives when fulfilling their goals for growing revenue. Other executives can advise the CRO of potential problems and suggest solutions. This collaboration also ensures that no executive acts on their own accord; instead, all company divisions work to ensure that their actions align.

For instance, the CEO might realize there are problems delivering a specific product. The CEO should apprise the CRO of the issue so they can stop attempts to grow revenue from that product until the complication resolves. 

CROs and CFOs work together to review revenue results and provide accurate forecasts for sales in the coming months and quarters.

Hiring a CRO: What to Look for

When hiring a CRO, you’ll want to choose someone whose experience and personal attributes align with organizational needs. Companies working in highly specialized market sectors should seek individuals with specific knowledge of their industry. 

Cultural fit is also crucial. You’ll want a CRO who can communicate well with other executives and staff members. 

Finally, you’ll want someone who can deliver results. Past achievements are often a good indicator of future success in a CRO. 

A few top qualities to look for when hiring a CRO include:

  • Great analytical skills
  • A vision for the future
  • Ambition and drive to make changes
  • Ability to communicate with others effectively
  • Prior success in increasing sales
  • Knowledge of the company’s product base
  • General finance skills
  • Ability to set objectives and meet them step-by-step
  • Innovation and creativity

Of course, knowing when a CRO is a good fit for your company can be challenging. A single interview often isn’t enough to judge the skills of a CRO. Instead, it’s best to follow a process that allows hiring leaders to evaluate the abilities of a CRO over several meetings.

Establishing the CRO Hiring Process

Once your organization has recognized the need for a CRO, you need to develop a hiring process that allows the hiring team to evaluate an applicant’s skills and capabilities. 

Usually, the best way to do so is through a multiple-step procedure incorporating interviews with various leaders. Every member of the C-suite should play a role in the hiring process. In addition, people who will regularly work with the new CRO should meet top applicants. 

A good hiring process begins with the applicant meeting one or two key stakeholders. Stakeholders should choose a few critical questions to determine whether the applicant should move on to the next hiring stage. Reasonable inquiries include:

  • Tell me what you know about our company and products
  • How have you achieved revenue growth in prior roles?
  • How do you encourage staff members to meet future objectives?
  • If we hire you, what goals will you establish in the first six months?

The hiring team should consider the applicant’s answers in relation to the objectives of the company. Applicants who seem to be a good fit for the role will move on to the next hiring stage, which should involve further discussions with other team members.

The hiring team needs to keep notes of each interview. Interviewers will likely meet with many candidates, and it can be challenging to keep track of responses, especially with large pools of applicants.

Once the interview process ends, stakeholders must decide who to hire for the CRO role. Each stakeholder should provide their observations and make recommendations. Once everyone has their say, the team can decide on the right candidate. 

Driving Growth with the Right Hire

Hiring a new CRO comes with the potential to drive revenue growth. However, the hiring team must ensure that the individual they choose aligns with organizational goals and fits well in the company. Devising an effective hiring strategy can alleviate potential mismatches and provide greater certainty that the applicant will be a good fit.

Contributed by Cowen Partners Executive Search

Cowen Partners is the nation’s executive search firm, enabling companies to harness the power of human capital to fuel their success. Cowen Partners gives our clients access to the top 1% of human capital to create opportunities that accelerate their growth and market share. With Cowen Partners, clients can grow at scale, create value, and drive results with world class talent. Our clients are both small and large, publicly traded, pre-IPO, private, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million to multi-billion dollar revenue Fortune 1000 companies or have assets between $500 million to $15 billion. Successful placements span the entire C-Suite and include VP and director level leadership roles. With our proven processes and guaranteed results, we have successfully placed hundreds of candidates in industries including technology, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, financial services, and private equity.

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