Cracking the CRO Code: How Chief Revenue Officers Redefine Business Success with Warren Zenna

GUEST: Warren Zenna, Founder of The CRO Collective

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Pursuing greater revenue is a universal goal, correct?

Absolutely. In the competitive arena of today’s business world, one crucial element contributing to corporate success, driving revenue, and ensuring sustained customer satisfaction is the seamless integration of sales, marketing, and customer success teams.

When unified, these three perform miracles.

And who is responsible for ensuring this alignment? Yes, the CRO. However, as we move closer to 2024, the meaning behind this vital acronym remains a mystery to many.

So, what does it signify?


What are some common misconceptions about the CRO role, and what might be some best practices, especially in today’s economic times, as everyone tries to generate more revenue?

To shed light on this important topic, we are joined by Warren Zenna, Founder of The CRO Collective. With over two decades of extensive experience in the B2B sales and marketing sector, Warren stands out as an accomplished top B2B seller, sales leader, and Executive PL buyer of B2B services. Beyond his significant roles, Warren is the esteemed Host of the CRO Spotlight Podcast and Founder of Zenna Consulting Group, a firm committed to driving excellence and innovation in the B2B arena.

From College Salesperson to Chief Revenue Officer Advisor

In college, Warren discovered a talent for sales, initially fundraising for his college’s alumni association and later selling taxi tickets at LaGuardia Airport and advertising for a New Jersey newspaper. After taking on a sales consulting role and shifting to a buyer role at a major holding company, Warren observed a disconnection between sales and marketing within companies, encouraging him to consult with these businesses to bridge this gap.

Realizing the crucial need for clarity and alignment in revenue operations for business scalability, Warren embarked on extensive research, leading to the launch of The CRO Collective. Now, he provides support and insights to CROs, ensuring streamlined sales and marketing operations and contributing to sustainable business growth and expansion.

“The misalignment between the revenue operational functions creates most problems related to scale growth and expansion. And without a leader running those groups in a proper way, it’s going to be difficult to scale a business. And a Chief Revenue Officer needs to do that”.

Warren Zenna, Founder of The CRO Collective

Navigating the Technological Shift

Today’s discussion revolves around the critical alignment of sales and marketing with other services, especially customer success. Observing the past two decades, a significant transformation is clear, primarily driven by technological advancements. This evolution from the straightforward sales tactics of the 1990s to today’s technology-driven strategies has some downsides.

Despite the emergence of new roles like Sales Development Representatives, the overemphasis on technology often results in neglecting genuine customer interactions and relationships. This modern, transactional sales approach has produced substantial dissatisfaction among customers with the lack of personalized communication creating a significant disconnect.

Similarly, the realm of marketing has transitioned from being a creative endeavor to a predominantly data-driven discipline, adding complexity and sidelining creativity and customer focus. While the advantages of technology are undeniable, the shift towards impersonal strategies requires a crucial reassessment. A balanced approach, integrating technological efficiency with a focus on genuine customer satisfaction and relationships, is key to ensuring enduring business success.

“I think that it’s interesting because businesses have changed so much now that they’ve completely created a new category, this layer. And it’s all technologically driven”.

Warren Zenna, Founder of The CRO Collective

Customer-Centric Unity Equals Sustainable Business Success

Promoting empathy and superior service in business may come at a high cost, but it is a crucial investment in fostering customer growth and loyalty. Overlooking this area leads to missed opportunities. Warren proposes a shift to a customer-centric model that seeks to dissolve the division between marketing and sales departments. Currently, these entities operate based on their own metrics, focusing solely on their individual survival and success, often to the disadvantage of the other. This separation creates internal conflicts and a lack of unified goals.

Imagine a united business where departments share common goals centered around customer satisfaction. This unity would encourage employees across sectors to make decisions based on customer benefit, which could significantly enhance organizational alignment and cohesion. In this context, the role of a CRO would evolve to underline customer outcomes over pure revenue growth, ensuring all organizational activities align with customer satisfaction and long-term success.

Looking for Sustainable Growth? CRO Is the Answer

The essential role of a CRO is to synchronize all revenue-related functions. However, many organizations wrestle with understanding and defining this role. The confusion often lies in titles, with debate on naming it Chief Sales Officer, Senior VP of Sales, or even Chief Customer Officer. Beyond the title, the real misunderstanding is about the role’s range and impact.

When discussing with CEOs actively seeking a CRO, it’s clear there’s a gap in their understanding of the role’s distinct function. They acknowledge the need for organizational growth and the evolution of their sales strategy, but the clarity ends there. For Warren, a CRO is not just a head of sales. It oversees all revenue functions – commercial business, sales, marketing, and customer growth – ensuring these departments work cohesively.

The CRO’s role transcends sales, focusing on holistic revenue growth. It’s about aligning all supporting functions towards this goal: marketing raises awareness, sales close deals, and customer success teams ensure sustained growth.

“A Chief Revenue Officer oversees all revenue functions. That means they oversee your commercial business. They see overseas sales. They oversee marketing, they oversee customer growth, and their job is to build a cohesive and aligned revenue operation so that all those functions are working together”.

Warren Zenna, Founder of The CRO Collective

Now that you know the crucial role of a CRO, you can leverage its power to generate more revenue and drive business growth. Check out the full list of episodes here: The B2B Revenue Executive Experience and instructions on how to rate and review the show are here.