If you’re looking to land a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) position at some point, the transition from other sales or revenue roles to the C-Suite might feel like a big leap—or at least tricky to navigate.
In a recent episode of The Pavilion Podcast “Lessons from a First-Time CRO,” Tom Alaimo sat down with CRO success story Tyler Barron to talk about how to make that leap and stick the landing. Here are three tips from Tyler to help make your transition to the C-suite smart and seamless.
1. Work with People Who Work for You
One of the most important parts of landing your first CRO job is to make sure that you’re ready for the job—and that they’re ready for you. When Tyler transitioned from VP of Sales to CRO, he took time off to assess what he wanted and take stock of the sales scene in Dallas. Instead of jumping into CRO work blind, he worked as a consultant to get a feel for how companies were operating and what skills he’d need to succeed in his new venture.
“It was a way for me to more or less date people to see if that was kind of the journey I wanted to go down,” Tyler says.
Taking time to transition thoughtfully into CRO work helps you build relationships with key players that can help you land a job later on. It also gives you important insights into how the company works. For Tyler, consulting with different companies built empathy for CEOs and CTOs he’d work with in the future, helping him better understand their jobs and particular struggles. But it also helped him assess which companies met his requirements for what he wanted at a CRO job, avoiding getting stuck in a right-title, wrong-role situation at the wrong company.
2. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
For many startups and firms, the default measurement of success can quickly become how much money you can raise—and how fast you can spend it on growing your business. But the fastest and flashiest isn’t always the best business model for a CRO to follow, nor the most sustainable.
Tyler learned a lot of hard lessons about building a deliberate business model after being hired right as the pandemic hit. This forced Tyler to make “smarter business decisions.” Instead of raising as much money as quickly as possible, the company invested in making sound decisions for long-term health based on the resources they had. And ultimately, that paid off. A lesson CROs today should keep in mind as markets remain uncertain.
“Now I’m glad we raised money more slowly because we’ve got great board dynamics, and we’ve got a really smart, sustainable business,” Tyler says. “We’ve been able to grow throughout this kind of spookiness that’s going on in the market right now. We thought about how to build a smart, sustainable business from day one.”
3. Build Trust
If you’re going the CRO route, you might find yourself at a startup, working from scratch with a team of people who believe in a shared, scrappy vision. Or you might end up coming into a private equity situation with a shift in management or vision. Either way, Tyler stresses, you need to remember what a CRO’s job is all about.
“You’ve got all these execution goals,” says Tyler, “but at the end of the day, it’s all about people.”
If you’re on a startup team, getting people on board with a vision might be easier since everyone is new, there’s no process yet, and people are fired up about a common cause. But you can use that extra time to go long on client relationships, getting to know your niche and the pain points of the people you’re doing business with.
If you’re working in private equity, you’ll likely be walking into a situation where something big has happened—and you’ll need to make tough decisions about keeping or changing existing processes and goals. In this instance, meeting and listening to everyone affected by your position and decisions is especially important to ensure they’re on board and have a shared sense of investment.
There are many routes to the CRO position and ways to reach that goal successfully. Finding the right company fit, building deliberately, and generating trust will help any CRO shine.