The Revenue Engine

Why You Need a CRO to Drive the Revenue Engine with Warren Zenna, CEO of The CRO Collective

March 31, 2021

The Revenue Engine

Each week, Revenue Operations expert Rosalyn Santa Elena shines the spotlight on founders, CEOs, and Revenue Leaders from hyper-growth companies and dives deep into the strategies they implement to drive growth and share their learnings. Rosalyn brings you inspirational stories from revenue generators, innovators and disruptors, as well as Revenue Leaders in sales, marketing, and operations.

How do you know when to restructure and hire a Chief Revenue Officer? Still a relatively new role, the CRO structure, and responsibilities vary from company to company. Some may own the sales process end to end, whilst others only own net new acquisition.

Join us in the latest Revenue Engine episode, as Rosalyn and Warren Zenna, the Founder of The CRO Collective, discuss when and why it’s time for a CRO in your organization.


00.35 - Rosalyn introduces Warren and the role of the CRO
04.24 - Warren shares his journey into sales
09.09 - The mentors and influences shaping Warren's career
12.12 - The CRO Collective and the motivation behind starting this movement
17.14 - Should the CRO run sales?
22.38 - How customer service can drive insight to help sellers understand more about their buyers
25.33 - CRO readiness and what they need to ask for
30.40 - What is required to become a CRO
35.58 - How CRO Collective helps the industry
40.00 - The requirement for a RevOps expert in the team
43.15 - Rosalyn finds out one thing many don’t know about Warren

Connect with Warren

Connect with Rosalyn

As always, thanks to Sales IQ Global for powering The Revenue Engine Podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe!

Warren Zenna
Co-Host @ CRO Spotlight Podcast + CEO @ CRO Collective

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Welcome to the revenue engine podcast. I'm your host, Rosalyn Santa Elena. And I am thrilled to bring you the most inspirational stories from revenue, generators, innovators, and disruptors revenue leaders in sales, in marketing. And of course, in operations together, we will unpack everything that optimizes and powers the revenue engine. Are you ready? Let's get to it.

The role of the chief revenue officer is still fairly new and the responsibilities of the CRO vary from company to company where some are still only responsible for sales. Some have sales and maybe post-sales and a few actually own the end-to-end revenue process from top of funnel marketing through sales and through renewals, expansion and customer success.

So how do you know when it's the right time to bring in a CRO? And what do you even look for in a leader to ensure that he or she is successful in the role? And for the many sales marketing, customer success, and even operations leaders who are looking to move into that CRO position, what should they be doing to really prepare themselves for this next step?

I had the opportunity to sit down with Warren Zena, a revenue leader with over 20 years of leadership experience who founded his own consulting firm and who also started the CRO collective. Warren. And I discussed the answers to these questions and so much more take a listen and as always be sure to listen until the end to get a few surprises.

So exciting to be here today with Warren Zenna the founder of the CRO collective and founder of his own consulting firm. The CRO collective is an organization that helps ensure CRO success. Not only in preparing the CRO to be successful in the role, but also helping CEO's appoint them in a way that maximizes success for them.

So welcome Warren, and thank you so much for joining.

Warren Zenna: Thank you so much for having me. And that's a great description of my company. You said it better than I do, so I might be having to do this on a regular basis.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's amazing. Thank you. So, as I've shared with you in the past, you know, when I first thought about hosting the revenue engine podcast, I really wanted to share stories of revenue leaders that were really disrupting, you know, innovating and accelerating the revenue.

Right. But also leaders who had compelling and interesting stories right outside of just revenue growth. So when you and I first met last year, you know, we connected immediately, right on the role of the chief revenue officer, but also on how the rev ops, you know, revenue, operations leader. Is really a key strategic business partner and right-hand leader right.

Of the CRO. So I'm, I'm so thrilled, right. To share your story. And of course, talk about my favorite topic, RevOps.,

Warren Zenna: Great. Well, me too. And that's, that's exactly how I view the role. So let's get it.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's perfect. So let's get started. So, I mean, you've been in the revenue world for over 20 years, right?

You've been a seller, you've been a sales leader. You've been an advisor, you know, ultimately you started your own consulting business, you know, where you provide also fractional CRO services. That's right. Um, you've been a part of, you know, high growth startups as well as large holding companies across really the entire marketing services industry.

So maybe before we talk about the CRO collective, you know, can you share a little about, you know, your journey and some of the key milestones that have led you really to where you are today?

Warren Zenna: Absolutely. So actually that's very accurate. So I started out selling without getting into a big backstory. You know, I was grabbed by my lapels by someone when I was in my mid twenties who saw I could probably sell anything and said, come with me.

I want you to work with me. And he happened to be working at a media company, which was really more random and he could have been selling refrigerators. It really didn't matter, but he was selling media and he had. So at the time, this was in the mid nineties, this was selling ironically, it was, it was paper, you know, advertising.

When I was in college, I worked for, um, the Bergen record, which, which was, is still the largest newspaper group in New Jersey. I'm not from New Jersey, but I worked for them and I sold newspaper advertising door to door. Um, so I kind of understood that advertising business pretty well from that. And when he got me doing this, I started selling and I, I took it really well.

I got to learn the media business. And then, uh, to kind of condense things, I became a brilliant, proficient seller. I became one of those sort of like selling nerds, you know, reading all the sales books and getting all obsessed with all the nuances of proper selling processes, took all the Sandler and all the, you know, I mean, I went nuts band and the whole thing.

And then I started running sales teams and, and interesting. This is where the whole thing kind of comes together is I was always selling marketing services. Hmm. So it wasn't selling products. I was selling the services, but I was selling marketing. So I was working for agencies or for two boutique firms that sold some type of innovative and it became all ultimately digital or we'll call it like online based marketing services.

Without realizing it, I didn't plan it. I became really proficient at selling. And then I became really provisioning marketing because if I'm selling marketing in services, you know, salespeople become good at what they're selling and become the product. So I started getting hired as a consultant for marketing services because I started to become involved very much in the actual implementation of the marketing service.

Once I sold it through the client, I was selling this a pretty big customers. And then I got a job in the mid two thousands with publicist. And I oversaw a pretty big team there. I really more became a strategist. I was selling on the front lines and then implementing mobile marketing strategies for all of publicists as clients.

I started my own business for a while. Then her boss hired me to build their revenue team for their mobile advertising organization for north America. And this is where it kind of got interesting. I started to become a buyer. So here I am. Now I'm at an agency and I'm running a marketing organization.

I've old P and L. I'm the one that responsible for purchasing ad tech services from the companies that you used to work for. So now I'm sitting on the other side of the table and I'm looking at this conversation from a much different perspective, everybody else in my company, because not very few of the people in that company were sales.

They were all in the services, business and stuff. So I'm having all these guys come into my office like three, four times a day. I'm a decision maker. I carried the budget. I was fascinated how they were marketing to me and how they were selling to me. And I was looking at it from a different perspective, as you can appreciate.

Cause I was doing this and I learned a lot of things. My eyes became very open to how most of these B to B companies have this sort of pervasive. It's like symptomatic problems. And this is where the idea came about how this misalignment issue that exists between sales and marketing and the customer success organizations.

This has an impact on the way sellers go to market. The way messaging seems to be disjointed. At the mercy of this, because I was witnessing how this was happening. And that was what kind of germinated the idea behind this whole thing. But, so my background kind of to answer your question a little more succinctly was very much like a stacking on top more and more and more different perspectives in the industry, which kind of led me.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Got it. Got it. That's really interesting. Have been kind of on both sides of the coin. Right. I think being on the rev upside, you're sort of that way too, for me, where we're trying to enable our sellers to go out and sell to what resonates to our buyers. But at the same time I'm being sold to and pitched to all the time all the time.

Warren Zenna: Right. So you're like looking at it from a lot of perspectives. And I, you know, I don't think that a lot of the people that sell ad tech think about that then. They don't think about the background of the person they're selling to, from a perspective of maybe this person is like as good, or if not, a better seller than I am.

And I need to think a little bit more about that because it becomes a little bit game of judo sometimes. So anyway, it's interesting. So that's kind of how I ended up here. Uh, we can get a probably, they'll probably ask me a bit more about that later, but that's basically my background and how I I'm speaking to.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's awesome. Thank you for sharing that. Um, you know, I think you touched on it a little bit kind of how your journey, you know, got you here, but was there sort of a, like, uh, you know, sometimes in our careers or sort of that pivotal kind of aha moment, right. That really helps you see things differently.

And you talked about kind of being in your office and being the decision maker and being the buyer, but was there another, was there any other examples of maybe a moment in time, maybe it's an event or maybe even like a person, right. Somebody who really. Um, shape or maybe change your career, you know, something that really has influenced some of the choices you made, and this might lead into what we're, when we talk about the CRO collective as well.

But if there's any, are there any like mentors, people that maybe really said, Hey, you know, really influenced? Sure.

Warren Zenna: There's a couple, uh, one was. This particular person that I mentioned before, who grabbed me by them, violent lapels and, uh, you know, he and I are still very close. This is 30 years ago. We're very close.

Still. He changed my life. You know, he kind of saw potential in me and he gave me an opportunity, entrusted me with a big responsibility at a time that I probably didn't feel like I deserved that he obviously did. And, you know, he turned out to be right. Is interesting for good. And I fulfilled on what he asked for and he gave me more opportunity and it, it set me off in a direction that I would never have.

Done, unless he had grabbed me and done this. So, you know, here's someone who was just an excellent seller. Like he taught me how to sell, but more importantly, I think he was, it's an important skill. And you probably know this as well as anybody is being able to recognize. Yeah. And how to turn that talent and put that talent in the right place to make sure that that talent is directed in a way that gets the best optimal outcomes.

And a lot of times I'm seeing what's happening is people see people that are talented, but they put them in the world job. And you know, this guy just kind of knew exactly where I should go. He put me in that place and I did the job. And, uh, so that was, and then, um, another one was. A gentleman who, uh, was the, uh, CEO of the company at publicist.

I'll say his name. He's amazing person. Uh, Alexander Mars, who I'm sure. Uh, we still talk. He was, uh, he was, he owned the company that publicists bought and I was his first time. When he, when he goes, when the company was purchased by publicist and he's just a really visionary guy and everyone knows Alexander he's really someone who's actually changed the world in a lot of ways, but he, similarly, he just grabbed onto me.

He said, you can, you can change this business. And he let me build a business there. What he let me do was instead of selling products, he let me. He gave me the freedom and he empowered me to be able to turn, turn it into a service business and a consulting business. And we completely transformed the way that entire industry was, was, was, was, uh, supported at that time.

And, um, I guess lastly, where there's a couple of people who I was fortunate enough when I was at her boss that invited me to be on their board. So some of these people were really amazing CEOs of big companies. And, uh, you know, I got to be involved in a lot of the decision-making processes about some of these ad tech companies and MarTech companies make decisions.

And it really, it showed me a lot. And this is a lot of the areas where the CRO collective kind of formulated was because I started to see where these mistakes were being made and all of a sudden I'll just. Into one big story.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Wow. That makes a lot of sense. I love that. I think, I think everyone can kind of point to at least one person that's just really helped them with their career.

Um, and I think this is great because I know, you know, in talking to you and sort of just my perspective is just around now, it's kind of, we're at the point where it's like, now it's all about giving back.

Warren Zenna: That's right. That's what I do every day and trying to help as many people as possible. I'm I'm a huge believer in paying things forward.

So I I'm in agreement. That's that's, that's the, that's the mission, right?

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yes, definitely the most rewarding. Yep. So, so let's talk a little bit about the CRO collective, right. You know, how did the idea for the CRO collective come about, you know, what are some of your key objectives and goals?

Warren Zenna: Sure. So, as I mentioned, right, the earlier story I referenced when I was in that sort of buyer position and I gained this unique perspective on being in a position to make the decision.

About the purchase of a complex, in many cases, technological service or offering that was designed to help me run my business. I was already a seller. You couldn't get anything past me. I mean, I, I done it all. I watched these guys come in. I knew every move they made every body movement, every fee. I mean, it was just, they were, it was horrible for these guys to be in the room.

But it was good too, because I'm always very honest and I'm very helpful. I want to give these, these, these guys a lot of help and coaching. I'm not just like kind of a, you know, like a, like an idiot. I'm, I'm, I'm very like, why did you say that? Why are you don't you don't you mean this? Or they ended up happening was I started to notice, um, consistent symptoms that I mentioned before.

Okay. And I've talked about this a lot, so it'll be somewhat repetitive for people that have heard me talk about this, but I'll say it again. One thing I noticed was. The sales guys and I, I, whatever the sales people, right? They were all, most of them were very competent, but I could tell they weren't well supported to be successful by their companies.

They were deployed with. In many cases, you could feel the pressure that they had of being under the gun of a top-down quota. Because the way that I was being sold to most of the time was I was sort of feeling I was being led like a witness into a funnel. The questions that they were asking me were not really designed to uncover my need.

They were really more designed to get me, to give them an answer that I could tell was designed to have them input my response into a CRM systems. They can go back to their office and say, this was successful meeting. And you could tell it was very, it was very like free designed, right? Manipulated a lot of times at the answering questions that weren't really relevant.

And it was clear that what was going on was these salespeople are in a tough spot because they have a meeting with a decision maker like me at that time. And they want to go back to the office and tell the boss a good story, because they're under pressure to do so. And that was more seniors than them.

Then figuring out whether or not what I needed to be solved was something they could actually deliver for them. And it was just really very pervasive this problem. And I could tell, wow, look at this. These guys are so under pressure that their, their concerns about their objectives at the office are at more senior than the objective they are to serve.

Serve me as all my thoughts. Hmm. That's, that's a big problem. That's, that's, that's a bad management issue because these guys shouldn't be in that situation, they should be trained and given the freedom to be able to really uncover and discover and diagnose problems. Okay. That was one thing. I also noticed that the sales and marketing materials, so the way that they spoke about the.

And the way that they showed me any, you know, decks or presentations was very frequently not consistent. You know, these guys are on the road all the time and like any good salesperson, they start to develop their own acuity around the language and how to talk to the customer about something. But it doesn't reflect the way, the materials that they have talks about the drug.

So there was a lack of consistency with the way that the company is talking about themselves. And this sales person is talking about themselves and I could see, then there's obviously a lack of communication between the insights the sales people get and how that's contributing to the marketing organization and vice versa.

And that's a big thing. Because he just feels disconnected. What happened was, as I said, right. I'm very, I like to help people. So, um, there was a couple of instances where some of these guys that come into my office, they leave and I decided I can't buy it from these guys. They seem, they're all discombobulated, but I realized they have a good product.

It actually would have worked for me. Could actually be something that would benefit me, but I'm not going to buy from them because I see the stuff that concerns me. So I started making some phone calls to the CEO of these companies. I'd say, Hey, I'm your guys just left. I'm not going to buy from you. And here's why.

And I would say, and I would explain what I just shared with you. And of course they call me in like two seconds and say, tell me more about this. Look, I don't know what you're doing over there, but you know, you got good guys. They're out here trying their best, but they're not being supported properly.

And here are the reasons, and I don't know what's going on over there because you've got a good product. And a couple of them said, come over to my office. I want to talk to you more about this. And a couple of them. They were like, look, can you help us with this? Because you know, you obviously know what you're talking about.

You're in a position to buy. If I can make you satisfied, I can make all the other guys like you satisfied. I was like, sure. So I got hired as a consultant then from a lot of these ad tech companies to help solve this problem. And what occurred to me is there isn't anybody that's in charge of alignment.

What does your CRO do? Well, he runs sales. Well, why is that? Your CRO should not be running sales. He's making the problem worse. Your, your CRO should be the person who aligns the elements of your organization that I'm talking about. Somebody needs to be responsible for overseeing your revenue order organization, your revenue ops.

Someone whose job it is to understand how sales, marketing, and customer success work together to build a cohesive revenue operation. That's not happening at any of these companies because they hire chief revenue officers to be the heads of sales. It's the biggest misstep that these companies make. Okay.

And so I had that sort of like a pithany right. And I was like, you know what, I'm going to train chief revenue officers, how to do this. And then I'm also going to help CRS, I'm sorry, CEO, build what I'm calling CRO ready organizations. So the CEO's figure out a way to organize their companies in such a way that when they bring on a chief revenue officer, they know what is, what that person is supposed to do and how to prepare the company to actually work in alignment.

So that that CRO is successful and that's not happening. So that's kind of like where this came from and there's also no place for CRM. It's not, there's no CRO organization. There's a CEO organization. There's a CFO organization. There's a boatload of CMO organizations. They're part of a revenue operation.

There's no place for chief revenue officer. So I'm going to, I'm creating one. I mean, it's time, you know, it's an important role and it's been somewhat, I think in a way, a lot of like, it's, it's been misconstrued. It's a new role. And I don't think a lot of people really fully understand what it means. And unfortunately, everybody that wants to be a CRO is.

Yes. And so what do they want to do? They want to sell, they want to run sales. So you already have a buying market that wants to run the operation in a way that's incorrect. And you have a hiring organization that wants to hire the person correctly. So it's a recipe for disaster. So I'm trying to fix it so that the CRO is properly organized and set up to be successful in the way that it should be to these problems.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's right. That's right. That's amazing. So I was going to actually ask you about sort of the CRO role and sort of how it's evolved and such. And I do see in a lot of organizations, it is still really your head of sales, right? Or it could be the head of sales or maybe even sales and posts. Right support, maybe they're doing the post-sales piece of it and maybe running the services and support organization.

Um, but very few CRO's that I know of are actually running sort of the end to end funnel. Right?

Warren Zenna: They're not, they're not. And the reason why is because when a CEO is thinking about hiring a chief revenue officer, They're thinking about growth and they're thinking about revenue growth. Um, and usually it's because, and I'll share with you when we're done here on the presentation that I did yesterday on this.

And you're, you're as familiar with this problem as anybody. So what's happened over the last five, six years is you've got three things. You've got the VC and, um, investment committee. The way that they fund tech companies. There's a great deal of pressure of the way that these companies are funded. And there's a great demand to build return on that investment.

And it's usually done on a quarterly basis. So if I'm running a company and someone has given us seed money to run the company and I'm forced every quarter, To report back to my board, how we're doing on revenue growth. That's naturally going to be a very important trigger in the way the company is operating.

Number two is, um, programmatic delivery of advertising. Has resulted in a very high level of immediacy insurance and the way customers are, are accumulated and how they're grown. Right? I mean, we do this much differently now. And then the number three is, um, an obsession we have with data and analytics, which has resulted in the software culture.

So we're buying a lot of software and these software platforms become almost, we build our companies around the way the software works. Yeah. We, we, we, we, what we do is we have to been at here to the software. And as opposed to having the software add here to us, matter of fact, without a really clear understanding of process, we actually rely on software to give us one more idea.

It's the biggest mistake, but what happens is you see metrics and KPIs. Create silos because if the marketing department has software, they're using to measure theirs. Well, guess what? That's what the that's, what's going to be running against that. And if the sales team has their own software that runs their KPIs, well, guess what, that's going to run theirs.

And if they're not aligned, you've already created. Factions within the organization based on the way that people are being measured. So these are factors that have resulted in all this. So naturally I'm going to bring in somebody who I think can sell our way out of this problem. Right. And they find people that can, right.

They get some big, heavy hitter who comes in. He's got a great Rolodex. He's really well-dressed and I can close all these deals and sure enough, it makes the problem even worse. But now Sam. Eats it's young. Right? And so all of a sudden everything's imbalanced is even worse. So I'm trying to say, look guys, this, this, this treadmill has got to stop and it, B2B companies want to have a real growth engine.

You need alignment and it needs to be centered around the customer. The customer is the last thing anybody talks about. You know, honestly, I haven't mentioned the word customer in this entire conversation because it's never discussed. What's more important the customer. So the customer service organization should be where the most insightful.

They're the people who onboard the customers and manage the customers and understand the customer's purchasing triggers, no deliver the product. Right. And so the CRO really needs to understand how all those three revenue operation function, which are the three most customer facing parts of the organization.

They need to be working in alignment. So, um, I appreciate you intelligent as long answer, but that's what a chief revenue officer.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's awesome. No, that's super helpful. I think, um, you know, that this role has continued to evolve. And so I think getting to that, you know, it's interesting that you mentioned that we didn't talk about customer throughout this entire thing Right? .

Warren Zenna: We're so self absorbed in our industry is insane and I'm giggled to you this, I mean, I didn't bring it up, but I know that that sits at the center of everything. You know, it's at the center of the entire thing, the people that buy your product. Should be the most important part of your business, but it's not, you know, we get really obsessed with our own, our own stuff.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah, absolutely. The learnings, right from your customer, you mentioned about why did they buy, how are they using the product? What's the value that they're realizing all that? Yeah.

Warren Zenna: What do they wish they had? I mean, like, these are golden questions. If I was a CEO of a company, right. Um, I'm the genius here.

I, I, there's a lot of people that are run companies better than I can, but it just makes sense to me. That's all I'll be doing all day is calling up people that use the product and say, so tell me why don't you buy product? What'd you like about it? What don't you like about it? Go, what can we do better? And I'd be taking notes.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah, do that. I think a lot of the CEOs that I've talked to that are really successful in driving and accelerating revenue, are those ones.

Warren Zenna: Sure. I mean, there's no quiz. You could feel it, right. You could feel products and services that work because you always feel like the product is evolving and getting better and better and better because there must be some feedback loop.

I use a lot of software like you do. And I could, I could tell when my, when my software it gets updated and I see a new feature, I'm like, oh great. These guys are listening because someone. Getting the message to them and the engineers are getting it in their hands and they're making these changes. And something about that company is working because the customer's not last.

And if I'm a good seal, Right. I'm thinking about how sales, marketing, and customer success are actually utilizing those insights and sharing their own insights to make sure that the marketing messages, the sales strategies and the customer service organizations are all centered around that particular aspect of the business, because that's likely the place we're going to be most successful.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: That makes a lot of sense. Um, if we talk a little bit about, more about the CRO, right? When I think about rev ops, I get asked all the time, right? Like when is the right time, time to bring in an ops leader. Right, right. It's a million dollar question, but it also plays to CRO. Right. Cause we talked a lot about CRO readiness, right?

Like when. For that. And part of the program that you have, I saw that you have sort of the three critical questions, right. A CRO has to ask, or I'm sorry, a CEO needs to ask themselves before they actually go and hire a CRO. So can you talk a little bit about that and sort of when is the right time for a CEO to bring in a CRM?

Warren Zenna: Yeah. Yeah. So, so what about the CRO? What's the right time. I'm going to start it right now. What's the right time to hire a chief revenue officer. It's just such a great question. I think this is probably the number one question I get from people. And here's the thing about it is I think they're waiting for me to give them some sort of like, you know, miraculous response right there.

Isn't one. I don't have some magical, very like precise answer. It's very much about a confluence of. And I would say, it's this. I would say that if you look at the chief revenue officer role as less of a position and more of a way of running a business, which I know you understand what I mean, then you can hire a CRO on day one, as long as that person is running the business.

That way from day one. But there are PR there are problems with that. There are the problems. Let's say I'm a CEO. And I understand what a CRO does. I agree with Warren zona he's right. All that stuff. And I have a five person company. If I hire a chief revenue officer on day one, that CFO revenue officer, isn't going to have an organization to align.

So he or she is going to have to. And what happens. This is the danger. This is the kind of addiction is that once that CRO starts selling, which is understandable, it's never going to stop. You're never going to take any person. Who's built a pipeline and a business pipeline and a book of business. You're not just going to take them out of it one day to start doing something else.

It's the addiction of sales is so, um, it's like almost like a, uh, You know, it, it, it's almost like a, like a, like an addiction in a way. And so the problem is that you probably shouldn't hire a CRO in the beginning because until you can deploy one that actually has a complex organization to align. That person will probably put in a position that they won't get themselves out of.

So my suggestion is the way I answer the question. My suggestion is. If your organization is either a, at a point where you have a well-defined, doesn't have to be big, but a well-defined sales operation, marketing operation, and a customer intake or account group, there's probably already elements. Are symptoms of misalignment.

They may be undetectable if your business is small, but you probably don't realize how you're already setting up those three organizations to be operating in their own silos. So if you bring on a sheep revenue officer early enough, and you have that person designed to make sure that that doesn't happen, you'll start your company off on an aligned perspective or context earlier.

But the fact is most times they don't do this. So the next level would be if you're starting to feel the symptoms. That I referenced earlier. Right? So if, you know, if you see that, you know, marketing and sales are fighting with each other, if there's a lot of finger pointing going on, if you lose a lot of customers, if the, if the lifetime value of customers doesn't go up or increase, or do you have a lot of drop-offs, these are symptoms that there's some place where those three organizations are probably not working together.

And if you're at a point where you think that you can sell your way out of it, in other words, like if I'm losing customers, well, I'll just get more. Hmm, as opposed to keeping the ones that we have, I'm just going to sell and get more. A knee jerk reaction to something that it makes, it seems like it makes sense in the short term, but the actual reality is that there's probably something else going on.

So I think that companies that are probably around I'm going to make this number up, but it's probably pretty accurate between like 10 and 25 million in revenues are at a point where they're probably experiencing some of the pain points I'm referencing and they probably developed enough complexity and some, some silos of organizational functions.

That a CRO would probably come in and be a good opportunity to be able to kind of right the ship before it gets too bad. Now, if you're a 50 or a 75 billion a year company, you probably are experiencing this stuff at a much higher level and it's going to be harder to fix, but it can, I work with people like that all the time.

So I'd say. Um, you want to like look out for those symptoms? I hope that that's a helpful answer, but that's the way I usually approach it with my clients.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. That's absolutely great advice. I think that's, that's amazing advice for anybody who's thinking about it and kind of when, because I think otherwise they make a lot of mistakes around just hiring another sales leader Right..

So, you know, when we look at the CRO role, right, there's probably a lot of sales leaders out there. There's marketing leaders, right. There's even ops leaders who are looking at the CRO role as a potential move in their career kind of next steps. Right. So if you think about that, like what do you see as sort of the most important attributes or skills, or maybe experience that a person has to have to really be a successful CEO?

Like, so what should people like that might be aspiring to be in that role? What should they be doing?

Warren Zenna: Yeah, that's great. So, you know, I've said like, here's the weird part of that is that because if I were to poll, let's say our industry, okay. You and I are in the same basic industry. If you, if you and I were to pull a group of people who raised their hands and said, they want to be a chief revenue.

90% of them would be in sales. That's right. You got a problem where the people that want the job have to probably have other skill sets to be good at it. And it's a weird problem, right? That doesn't mean, however, and this is the issue. It doesn't mean however that you shouldn't hire salespeople to be a CEO.

That's not what that means. What it means is that you sort of have to have a very sobering conversation with somebody who wants to be a CRO and ask them what they think the job is. And yeah. If their perception of the job is not in line with what we're discussing, you'll probably have to let them know that they're wrong and that what you really need them to do is what we're discussing.

And then ask, you know, if they're up for that or not first, you have to have the desire. I mean, a lot of the people that we just referred white half of them might say, I don't want that. I thought she was the head of sales and I w I want that job. Okay, fine. Let me go take that job. We've got a head of sales job somewhere.

It's the leftovers. It's the 50% of the people that say, yes, that's an attractive role to me. And I'd like that job. And the reason is because I see a lot of opportunity to have a bigger impact on the organization. If I can oversee these three revenue streams, and I'd like to do that. Okay, great. Good. A step one qualification is that they get it and that they want it.

I can't emphasize this more than anything in this conversation. Roselyn, if you don't have a chief revenue officer that AE doesn't understand what the job is and then wants it, you shouldn't hire him as a CRO. That's it? Okay. B is. Okay, great. So, um, I think a good person would be somebody who's overseeing some marketing or that has good marketing experience because the marketing and sales component of very tied together.

And, um, if you've had somebody who's either a alumni like myself who sold marketing for them. You know, I come to the table with a lot of knowledge about both sides of the table. So I'd be pretty effective at this, but somebody who's really dealt very little with a marketing organization, that'd be a little bit of a red flag.

I'd want to know if the person is saying ample experience and understanding, not just messaging and, you know, message design and, you know, positioning, but also, um, where you, and I understand things like, you know, measurement and growth and metrics and stuff like that. And so the other thing would be. Uh, somebody whom is really run very succinct, a growth or a customer success organization.

And it has sold, right? Because like I said before, someone who comes from a customer centric perspective would probably be someone who really do a good job as a chief revenue officer, because they come in with that thinking to begin with. And it would probably bring a lot of the ways in which they like actually look at the wall.

Um, the guys who I see or best, or some people who are like no there's cup there's people who kind of like the head of sales. That weird kind of double headed DJ that you see out there. Those people tend to be really good candidates for this. And I've had a lot of arguments, some actually pretty heated arguments.

The CMOs or heads of marketing would make better CEOs and heads of sales. And I'd like to almost have like a cage match about that conversation because I don't think there is a right answer, but here's the, what I'd say about it. I'm going to say this is a really important point to make for this, for this particular conversation that is that this isn't.

I'll go to the grave with it, but if I'm a CRO and I'm going to be running sales and marketing and customer success, I think it'd be hard for anybody to argue with me, that of those three organizations, the toughest one to manage. If the sales, Salesforce sales organizations are really difficult to manage.

Sales people are really beautiful. And when you put them in big groups, they're even harder to manage. And also they're also kind of all come from, like, almost like a bit of a, uh, you know, there's a military sort of, uh, adult analogy here, but you know, they've all been out in the field with weapons and they all have stars and stripes on their shoulders.

And if you come in to run the sales organization, you don't have the sufficient amount of stripes on your shoulder. They're not gonna respect you. And. There was a certain degree to which if you can't manage that organization. Well, the whole thing won't work. That's an opinion. I don't think anyone can kind of make me wrong about this one.

I've had some try, but the reality is I'd run sales organizations. Now, if they don't respect. It's not going to work. And so if you come in with some revenue under your belt and you know that you've been there done that, you'll kind of get the sales organization out of the way, cause they'll will respect you.

And then you can focus on the other two organizations, which are more operational and frankly, much easier to deal with, you know? So I think that's why I tend to think this way.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: That makes a lot of sense to me and I wholeheartedly agree that the managing a sales team is a very different beast.

Warren Zenna: Totally. Which is an animal unto itself. Why sales managers are so valuable because they're good at it. It's an incredible skill, but, um, it's a difficult one.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: For sure. I totally agree. And I think, I guess that's why your CRO collective has a CRO training program. Right. Do you want to talk a little bit about the program?

Warren Zenna: Sure. So, uh, for the CRO collective course or curriculum, I focus on two basic. Like I called them, like I, you know, uh, um, ideal customer profiles, right? One is the, uh, CR. And when I say CRO, um, and I've given this a lot of thought, the optimal CRO for my program is a CRO who's has their first CRO role. And they've been in the role for under six months.

And I say that because the following, right, someone who's new to the job and not only new to the job, but also it's the first time they actually had the job. I'd say 90% of them are experiencing a lot of the pains that. Sure they're experiencing, you know, they're wondering what the hell is going on. I didn't know what this job was supposed to be.

I'm not getting along with my boss. I want to try and implement things and no one likes me and I, how, uh, why am I running sales? It wasn't supposed to happen. And you know, I'm scrambling around trying to grow revenue because that's the only way that I'm going to survive and I have to see title and, you know, it's a really difficult job.

So with the, what the program would do for that CRO would be, I have a way. I provide that CRO with a map and a strategy and a methodology to turn the roll around and be successful at it and actually make the roll into what the company really needs, and also provide that person with a roadmap, to be a leader in that role and take it on in a way that's going to actually make a bigger difference for that company.

And then for the chief revenue officer, which is called the aspire. Chief revenue officer, right? These are the people who want to be one and one what's really good about my program for them is, I mean, I can guarantee this one, if you take my course and you're an aspiring CRO and the qualifications are, you've gotta be able to, uh, be in a position where you feel like that could be your next job, right?

You have the level of seniority in the marketplace where. You probably would be like likely to look for a CRO job next, but you just want that extra level of education and that extra level of confidence. And as you mentioned, a certification and also an ability and a methodology, which will really help you get that job and keep the job and win in the job.

Right. So that's what it's supposed to do. And then the other program is the CRO readiness program and that's for CEO's. Are pre, um, CEO's who are pre CRO right there at that 10 or 15 million in revenues are experiencing all the stuff that I described earlier. They're thinking about hiring a chief revenue officer that are about to hire someone to be the head of sales, which you and I know is a mistake.

And my, my job is to sort of interrupted that seat. Right and mitigate the risk that's associated with hiring one, by making sure that that, that CEO first builds what I call a CRO ready organization. That's prepared for somebody to come in and run an aligned organization, but this is a very disruptive role when it's implemented in the way that I'm prescribing.

Right. You're going to not make a lot of friends. If you come into a company and try and align people that don't want to align with each other, you know, so if I'm a CEO and I'm properly organizing my company yeah. That person will be received in a way that will make it easier for that person to be successful.

And the company in itself will change from being kind of a siloed fractional company to one that's really more aligned and has a real true revenue operation. That's the whole idea.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: So maybe pivoting back to sort of revenue, right? Because as I think about the revenue engine, you know, in this podcast, I always hope that others will be able to learn how to accelerate revenue growth, right.

And really power that engine. And I think we've covered a lot of ground in terms of how they can get there. Um, especially leveraging the CRO role in the proper way. Um, you know, from your perspective and some of the companies that you've either worked for, or maybe worked with. Like, what are some of those key, you know, are there some key elements that you've seen companies do really well, right.

That really contribute to, um, driving revenue growth.

Warren Zenna: Sure. I have. And, and, and I, you know, one thing you and I talked about why way back and I'm in such agreement with you on this. Is that a really good chief revenue officer needs to hire a rev ops expert.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Oh, I love that. I didn't pay you to say that. I want to make sure that I

Warren Zenna: emphasize the importance of this because I think one of the problems that we're seeing in organizations is this sort of like do it yourself mentality. And what happens is a CRO coming into this role. Is likely going to be experienced a lot of this sort of, um, imposter syndrome stuff. And in order to make themselves feel worthwhile or worthy of the job, they're going to get their hands in the weeds around a lot of stuff to prove themselves.

And it's the biggest mistake they could possibly do. The CRO role is a leadership role. It's designed to coordinate and orchestrate experts in doing their jobs and understanding how to lead them to do that. And a rev ops person is a key expert on their team. So if I was, if I was hired as a CRO, right, one of the conditions that I would.

Would be, I want to have a head of sales that reports to me, I want to have a head of marketing that reports to me. I want to have a head of customer success that reports to me, and I need a rev ops expert that reports to me. And the reason I do is because rev ops is such a. And ninja like skill that I need.

Somebody who's really good at it that I know will focus on the operational excellence of that revenue team. Cause that's the glue. That's going to hold all those three together from a measurement and our metrics and an analytics proving, you know, a value perspective. So a rev ops person who's really good at their job.

And I know. Um, are some people who might know will be like, I'd say probably my right hand person in that role, right? Whom we would have an extremely close, collaborative relationship around, you know, I'm managing coordination of activities and mission, right. And how to make sure that all these organizations are focused on the right things that the processes are shuts set up properly.

And the organization is designed around certain success metrics. And my rev ops person is the one who actually is the engine in the back. That makes it work. And so the companies I see that are really good at it is there are companies that actually have. A dedicated rev ops person, instead of like a CRO that's running rev ops.

Right? Cause you, you can't focus on those two things. I mean, you know, this better than anybody it's, it's a full-time job. And so, uh, today more than ever it's mission critical that rev ops is a senior. Focus of an organization because, you know, it's a complicated thing to run a business these days when you're running all these different sorts of programs and, you know, go to market strategies and different types of, uh, sales, operations, and marketing operations and metrics and managing churn and measuring customer growth and measure of managing customer retention and lifetime value.

And you need a rev ops person that understands this stuff in a way that's clear. So for me, it would be a must. And if the, if a CEO said to me, something like that, That's what I'm hiring you for. It's like, no, you're not. We need to have another conversation because you know, this is, again, this is a misstep.

This is important to know that I'm having an expert like this. This is the way that, uh, that's probably gonna be the most optimal that's. That's how I.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's great. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. Um, so thank you so much, first of all, for joining me, but as we wrap up and before I let you go, I'd love to know two things.

One like what is the one thing about Warren that others would be surprised about? And what is the one thing that you want everyone to know about you?

Warren Zenna: No, I like those questions. Okay. Um, okay. Couple of things that I think people would be interested to know or didn't know, uh, is that I, uh, I'm actually an artist.

I went to school. Oh, I'm a creative person. You know, I was a painter and I was a cartoonist and, um, I'm also a trained singer and actor. I was an actor actually, when I graduated from college, I, I quit my first job and I went to theater school and I got an agent and it did work. I was actually working out there for a while.

Yeah. So it was fun. It was in New York city and it was a great time of my life. And I worked as a bartender in New York city. Uh, so that's something that's fun. Most people don't think of me as a creative person because I've been in business for so long, but I am really more of a creative person. I'm going to have to see some of this artwork.

Oh. So I'll share some with you. And, uh, then, uh, what do I want people to know? I guess I'd like people to know that. That sounds so cheesy, but it's true. I think the thing that I liked, I liked the best. The thing that I enjoy most is being able to help people. Like if I, if someone calls me up and asks me for advice, It's like, to me, it's a generous act.

You're not wasting my time. You're giving me an opportunity to do something I really like to do. So, um, you know, I can seem very arrogant and kind of standoffish a lot of times cause I can be loud mouth and stuff, but the reality is I really, really, really like, I really like to help people. And um, I'm pretty honest about what I, but I feel it I'll say it so you'll probably get the truth out of me and um, hopefully it'll be helpful.

So that's what I'd like people to.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Oh, I love that. And I already know that about you. So no surprises here for me, but thank you so much for joining me, Warren, you know, as always, it's a pleasure to chat with you. I'm looking forward to many more conversations with you, and I'm just so incredibly grateful for your time.

And for you sharing your story and talking about your journey and just your perspective, I think it's going to be wildly helpful for listeners. So thank you.

Warren Zenna: Thank you. It was so great talking to you as always. And, um, you know, we can kind of chat a little bit. Um, I would actually also like you to consider, um, being a guest.

Cause my course has guests. I invite guests to be in my courses.

Rosalyn Santa Elena: Definitely. I would love that.

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