This catchy new job title originated in Silicon Valley and they are popping up all over the shop now. The news that New York Ad Tech company Undertone were hiring Michael Pallad, formerly Apple Music's director of sales got me pondering the question, what turns a Sales Director into a Chief Revenue Officer beyond the words? And as a marketer, is my relationship with a CRO different to my relationship with traditional sales leadership?
Sales Leaders in the technology industry have typically been focused on sales targets in the here and now. They aren't compensated on sales in the year 2025 so tend not to be as focused on customer satisfaction as others within the organisation. They work with marketers to identify and grow opportunity in the here and now.
However, with more license revenue now coming from the SaaS model, the requirement that customers are happy month on month is a higher priority for the higher authority within any SaaS organisation. So marketers have to be telling that customer story and everyone in the organisation should care about this. Uniting customer satisfaction with heads of services, consultancy and development under one job title means you have the marketers' dream influencer all rolled neatly into one single figurehead. Welcome CRO's!
In Silicon Valley many CEOs have engineering and development backgrounds. For them, the CRO should bring both commercial insight and customer awareness to the board room. In some organisations the CRO also holds responsibility for marketing. In some it does not.
I am wondering what circumstances would lead to a decision where the growth of the business, the happiness of the customers and the communication of the brand story should be siloed? Personally, I feel marketing sits very happily within the union of brand, customer journey, satisfaction and business growth. But then I'm not sure we need a job title to know this. Just the passion to work in partnership with all areas of the business, no matter what it says on a business card. I enjoy how the SaaS model is challenging marketers to look up and think differently about the future. So any organisation thinking intelligently about growth is thinking about everything a CRO is whether they have hired one yet or not.
Last summer, Apple CEO Tim Cook took a potshot at ad-driven companies like Google and Facebook (without naming them,) which he said are "gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that's wrong. And it's not the kind of company that Apple wants to be." His speech suggested iAd was incongruous with the company's core business. Regarding Apple Music, Pallad said: "It's obviously a great product but that product has evolved from that ad-supported model into a subscription-based one. I've also spent a lot of time on that side so it makes complete sense to me and I think that's a terrific product ... On the side of marketing, if it's no longer ad-supported, there's no need for people to sell against that platform."