The Chief Commercial Officer as a Growth Differentiator Part 2

In our previous blog in this series, we introduced the notion that the Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) role is a growth differentiator to enable businesses to harness the entire commercial power of the organization. Given this premise, the roles and responsibilities of a CCO differ between a Chief Revenue Officer (i.e., Sales Leader) and the Chief Marketing Officer. Please note that this comparison does not mean that one role is more important than others; rather it is intended to highlight the key differences between them.

The Expectations of the CCO

To get us started on the differences between the 3 roles, let’s focus on what is expected of the CCO. Organizations expect their CCOs to be transformational and drive value in at least three main ways:

  • Synthesize and act on information across internal and external functions/stakeholders, while addressing the complaints/issues that affect the ability to get meaningful revenue.
  • Fill a gap in the CEOs’ own commercial experience, particularly when a CEO did not come from a go-to-market role and therefore wants a stronger voice in charge.
  • Address a rapidly shifting world and market. Buyers do their own due-diligence and competitors rapidly replicate new product improvements, fueling the commoditization cycle to a pace never seen before.

Hence, successful CCOs hold all the pieces to leverage a consolidated commercial strategy. They direct how to interface with the market, what portfolio to pursue, the go-to-market model, and the organizational structure that creates revenue. In other words, the holder of this position is involved with the entire product/service cycle and the development of the associated strategies beginning with R&D and product development, transitions to marketing and sales, and finishes with customer experience and customer service.

Aren’t the Responsibilities the Same as a Chief Revenue Officer (i.e., Sales Leader)?

In short, the answer is “no”. Traditionally, the Chief Revenue Officer is tasked with deploying a team to best meet the revenue objectives of the business. This includes the overall organization of the sales team, usually encompassing the:

  • Design of the sales team mix of direct sales, inside sales, channel/partner, etc.
  • Alignment of the sales team to geographies, products, services, or segments
  • Enablement of the sales organization (training, tools such as CRM, focus, goals)
  • Compensation plans and bonuses
  • Sales leadership development and structure to support the sales people and deals
  • Management of the pipeline and deal flow
  • Communication of forecast to corporate leadership and broader organization

In general, the Chief Revenue Officer is focused later in the product/service cycle than the CCO, where sales are actively being made or solicited. They are tasked with growing revenue through developing short-term actionable strategies that pertain to selling established products and/or services to new customers or upselling to current customers. In summary, this role is directly associated with one important strategy of the company – the sales strategy.

Aren’t the Responsibilities the Same as a Chief Marketing Officer?

In short, again the answer is “no”. Traditionally, the Chief Marketing Officer is tasked with deploying a team to best meet the marketing objectives of the business – grow the business through marketing and outreach. This includes the overall organization of the marketing team, usually encompassing the:

  • Design of the marketing team structure
  • Company’s advertising and branding strategy and plan to support and enable the selling strategy
  • Approval of marketing campaign ideas and coordinating marketing efforts with the company’s financial and branding goals
  • Market research studies and analysis of the results to better understand the market and customer tastes
  • Pricing strategies
  • Selection of the most lucrative marketing channels and curate company content to tell a compelling brand story
  • Analysis of revenue sources and predict how advertising could help them generate the highest possible return on their investment

In general, the Chief Marketing Officer is focused on designing and implementing strategies that 1) support the selling cycle for current products and services and 2) inform the portfolio strategy for future products and services. In summary, this role is directly associated with one important strategy of the company – the marketing strategy.

Some readers may take offense and/or disagree with these role generalities. Again, the point we are trying to make is that although these are included in the broader Chief Commercial Officer role, the CCO through his or her cross-functional and departmental influence, has additional responsibilities and associated metrics. The CCO owns the vision of how to create and focus revenue over a longer period. CCOs’ typical responsibilities span across commercial functions: From research and development to product management and strategy, to strategic and tactical marketing, and sales. To execute on this expanded charter, the CCO requires additional tools and capabilities as well. This integration removes barriers and gives the CEO one point of contact to drive commercial success.

In our next blog on the CCO role, we will share some of the more explicit strategic questions and aspects that a CCO is tasked with addressing to drive growth for their organization.

Written by: Mark Slotnik

About the Author:

Mark Slotnik has spent nearly 20+ years advising clients in the areas of designing and taking to market high-value business solutions, solution portfolio management, talent development, resource management, business process re-engineering and commercial software.  

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