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An interesting article by Denitsa Schmidt on LinkedIn described RevOps as “the Chuck Norris of business strategies,” using roundhouse kicks on silos, the Chuck Norris stare on data, and power blows to knock efficiency out of the park. Personally, I love how the analogy makes RevOps sound really cool (because it is), but I couldn’t help but pick up a masculine undertone in this new realm of the business world.

So, I got to tracking down some women who work in Revenue Operations and asking them what it takes to be a highly successful CRO. Because according to a report by Harvard on gender diversity in the C-Suite, there are 69% fewer women executives in leadership teams than there are in the US workforce, and only about 8% of Chief Revenue Officers appointed in 2020 were women. It just goes to show, if anyone knows exactly what it takes to beat the odds and make it, it’s going to be them.

Featuring insights from six women in RevOps—Miranda Furtado, Mary Grothe, Shareen Minor, Alicia Tillman, Maureen Rhodes, and Allison Khurana—read on to reveal the top nine traits it takes to find success in the world of Revenue Operations.

1. A Clear Vision

It comes as no surprise that a strong vision is an integral part of a Chief Revenue Officer’s success. This acts not only as a beacon to guide strategy, but also as a tool to align multifunctional teams under a singular growth directive. Without this unified vision, departments risk operating in silos, leading to disjointed customer experiences and inefficiencies that can erode profitability. Essentially, all the things that a CRO is typically brought in to fix. Thus, a robust, well-thought-out vision acts as a compass, helping businesses navigate challenges, capitalize on opportunities, and achieve sustainable revenue growth.

Miranda furtado, Founder and CEO of Love’s In The Hair Extension Studio Inc.

“An amazing chief revenue officer (CRO) is someone who can anticipate market trends, recognize opportunities, and develop a clear vision for driving revenue growth. As Peter Drucker, the famous management consultant and writer, said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” A great CRO creates the future by identifying new and innovative ways to increase revenue.”

Mary Grothe, Chief Revenue Officer at Payroll Network, Inc.

The CEO and CFO need data, storytelling, vision, and strategy. Be their greatest asset by having an in-depth understanding of the market, the customer, the product/service, and the people. Do your research and present your findings. Create a narrative that is clear, easy to follow, and creates alignment and buy-in. Do not be a victim who doesn’t get budget and resources approved. CEOs and CFOs will find the budget and approve additional resources if they believe in you and your plan.”

2. Leadership Skills

In the intricate web of revenue operations, the CRO stands at the confluence of sales, marketing, and customer success, tasked with ensuring that each of the departments mesh seamlessly to drive profitable business growth. Leadership skills are paramount for a CRO not only to command authority but to inspire collaboration, trust, and synergy among diverse teams. But what does that really look like? It means strategies are communicated clearly, targets are set realistically, and every member feels valued and supported in their pursuit. All in all, it’s not just about steering the ship but ensuring that everyone rows in harmony. Incorporating podcasts is a great way to learn from other women in business and apply these lessons to your own team.

Mary Grothe, Chief Revenue Officer at Payroll Network, Inc.

Set the tone for whole-self well-being. As a CRO, you manage high performers who are competitive and work hard. This can easily lead to burnout. As a leader, your team not only listens to what you say, but watches what you do. If you want healthy, whole, and motivated revenue teams, be healthy, whole, and motivated.“

Miranda Furtado, Founder and CEO of Love’s In The Hair Extension Studio Inc.

“A successful CRO is an exceptional leader, able to effectively manage and motivate their team to achieve revenue targets. As Zig Ziglar, a motivational speaker, said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing–that’s why we recommend it daily.” A CRO needs to create a sense of camaraderie and empower their team members to reach their full potential.”

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3. Knowledge of Data

In the modern business landscape, data stands as the lifeblood of revenue operations. For a CRO, an astute understanding of data provides a transparent, unvarnished snapshot of customer behaviors, market trends, and operational efficiencies so they can make more strategic decisions. By harnessing the insights data offers, a CRO can pinpoint opportunities, identify bottlenecks, forecast trends, and optimize strategies with a level of accuracy that was once unimaginable. And given the power of personalization in recent times, data can also help you to stand out amongst your competitors.

Mary Grothe, Chief Revenue Officer at Payroll Network, Inc.

You must be obsessed with data. Opinions are valuable, but data is priceless. Set up your key metrics for leading and lagging indicators across the entire revenue engine (buyer’s journey and customer’s journey) and monitor them daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. Data will tell you a story you can’t get from your people.”

Miranda Furtado, Founder and CEO of Love’s In The Hair Extension Studio Inc.

A CRO needs to know how to use data and market analysis to inform decisions and optimize revenue performance. As Peter Drucker also said, “What gets measured gets improved.” A CRO needs to possess the analytical skills to understand complex data sets and use them to make well-informed business decisions that drive growth.”

4. Financial Acumen

Here's the thing: at the core of revenue is, well, money. A CRO without a solid financial acumen is like a sports coach that doesn’t know the rules of the game their team is playing. Grasping the financial intricacies allows a CRO to make informed decisions, evaluate the profitability of strategies, and ensure that the revenue-generation machine is not only humming along but doing so efficiently. But make no mistake, it's not just about bringing in the bucks—it's about understanding the cost of those bucks, the return on investments, and where to allocate resources to get the maximum bang for the buck.

Shareen Minor, Chief Revenue Officer at Ontellus

“As a CRO, oftentimes you come up through the ranks through the sales organization. That can be your biggest strength, as you understand the company’s financials, contracts, and partnerships better than anyone else. Use this information to meet with your company’s finance team, take an interest in your peers’ methods, and become a go-to source on effective ways to build the balance sheet. I’ve learned that whether you take a traditional or untraditional path to leadership, people who are curious and willing to learn are likely to find success.”

Alicia Tillman, Chief Revenue Officer at Capitolis

Be diligent with financial forecasting. So often we see wild numbers without any plan for how you will achieve it, and this is so dangerous. Create a bottom-up plan and have clarity on how you will achieve your targets.”

5.  A Customer-Centric Approach

These days, the mantra for success is unmistakably shifting towards putting the customer at the heart of all operations. And for a CRO, this isn't just a trendy catchphrase—it's foundational. A customer-centric approach ensures that strategies and actions are aligned with what the market truly desires, reducing the guesswork in revenue operations. By understanding and anticipating customer needs, pain points, and preferences, a CRO can craft initiatives that resonate, leading to higher conversions, loyalty, and ultimately, sustained revenue streams.

Shareen Minor, Chief Revenue Officer at Ontellus

Listen carefully. Listen to your clients and put yourself in their shoes to understand what they’re looking for. It is crucial to not only think about what they want, but also what your clients don’t want. By taking a 360-degree approach to client needs, you learn to answer the questions they have not yet asked and make yourself a critical part of their success.”

Miranda Furtado, Founder and CEO of Love’s In The Hair Extension Studio Inc.

“A CRO who has a deep understanding of the customer needs, preferences, and buying habits is one who will be successful. As Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.” Use this knowledge to develop products and services that meet customer needs and create long-lasting customer relationships that increase revenue over time.”

6. Synchronicity with the C-Suite

Despite their best efforts, a CRO’s hard work and planning can fail to receive buy-in from key stakeholders if they aren’t in sync with the rest of the C-Suite. This group, composed of the company’s top leadership, orchestrates everything that the broader organization implements, and therefore the CRO needs to be attuned to the collective vision and strategy. Whether it's aligning with the CMO on branding efforts, collaborating with the CFO on budgetary constraints, or strategizing with the CEO on company direction, a CRO in lockstep with fellow executives ensures cohesive, efficient, and effective decisions.

Alicia Tillman, Chief Revenue Officer at Capitolis

Be in sync with your CEO. At the end of the day, the CEO is ultimately accountable for the success and growth of the company. If your beliefs differ—you have opposing views on what the sales target should be, for example—it’s going to create big challenges for you down the road. It’s critical to be relentlessly in sync at all times.”

Mary Grothe, Chief Revenue Officer at Payroll Network, Inc.

“Be holistic. Do not exude bias toward marketing or sales or customer success. A successful CRO understands that the revenue engine is dependent upon all pistons firing, across each team. One change affects another; be diligent and strategic in understanding how to remove walls and silos between departments and teams.”

7. Ownership over Execution

Crafting a strategic plan will give you a solid start, but it remains a theoretical exercise until it’s put into action. Execution translates vision into reality, prospects into customers, and plans into real, tangible profits. Where a lapse in execution can squander resources, dilute brand reputation, and provide openings for competitors to gain an edge, adept execution can ensure that sales, marketing, and customer service synergize seamlessly, driving tangible growth and bolstering the company's market position.

Shareen Minor, Chief Revenue Officer at Ontellus

Lead with effectiveness and execution. To be highly effective as a CRO, execution is at the center of your success. Ideas are great, but action will always be more important. At Ontellus, I follow the same method every time I launch an initiative: Ensure your team is clear about its purpose, communicate a clear plan and strategy, align team members and resources, and define targets and set completion date.”

Alicia Tillman, Chief Revenue Officer at Capitolis

“Execute, execute, execute! If everyone knows what they are responsible for, and everyone has a clear understanding of the plan, then put it to action and empower your team to take ownership.”

8. A Willingness to Pivot and Adjust

Markets evolve, consumer behaviors shift, and technological innovations constantly redefine the playing field—such is the reality of business and revenue operations. A strategy that's golden today might be obsolete tomorrow, and in such a landscape, rigid adherence to a set path can result in stagnation or even decline. A CRO's agility in recognizing when a tactic isn't working, coupled with the decisiveness to make necessary changes, ensures that the company remains ahead of the curve. Pivoting isn't about admitting failure—it's about embracing the dynamism of the business world.

Mary Grothe, Chief Revenue Officer at Payroll Network, Inc.

Growing and scaling revenue is hard. It takes constant attention, detail, recasting of vision, pivots, research, testing, implementing, and leading through change. Be kind to yourself and to your team. Build in margin for errors. Be kind, extend grace and mercy when failure occurs. Trust people and take care of them.”

Maureen Rhodes

“Understand the traditional business processes of your customers while staying keen to the changes in the market that will impact these processes for constant innovation and value creation. This goes hand in hand with a deep understanding of the client journey and addressing their historical business processes to provide improvements and efficiencies that are easily implemented. We sustain close cross-functional partnerships at Center so that we are constantly delivering client feedback to the product team and vice versa.”

9. An Open Mind and Curiosity

On the note of being flexible to change, our final point is to always keep an open mind to different ways that tasks can be done. A CRO with a fixed mindset risks being ensnared in yesterday's best practices, leaving vast opportunities unexplored. An open mind, conversely, fosters innovation, encourages the exploration of uncharted territories, and cultivates a culture of continuous learning. It's about seeing potential where others see problems, embracing unconventional solutions, and challenging the status quo. Prioritizing reading leadership books, listening to RevOps podcasts, or actively participating in discussions on LinkedIn can help you unlock new strategies.

Allison Khurana, Chief Revenue Officer at GoodBuy Gear

Particularly in terms of business models and monetization, there’s always another way to monetize something and it’s not always the obvious way. You can unlock a lot when you look at something with curiosity.”

Enjoyed this article? Check out our other interviews with accomplished execs in the RevOps space, and subscribe to The RevOps Team newsletter to get the best tips and insights straight to your inbox.

By Stephanie Hood

Stephanie Hood is an experienced marketing professional and Editor of The CMO. With nearly a decade spent as Marketing Manager at Discover Holidays and Executive Editor at VIVA Lifestyle & Travel, she built her career leading editorial and marketing teams and strategies that turn six-figure budgets into seven-figure profits. She now enjoys connecting with the world's top executives to learn their secrets to business success, and shares those insights right here with her community of like-minded professionals. Curious what she’s uncovered? Be sure to sign up for The CMO newsletter.