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The state of revenue: 5 changes CROs are making this year

May 15, 2024
Shane Evans

Shane Evans

Chief Revenue Officer

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If I had to sum up the current state of go-to-market in a couple words, I’d choose these: ambiguous and uncertain.

Organizations are still adjusting to the turbulent shift from growth-at-all-costs to efficient growth. The rules of growth have changed—deals are getting more scrutiny, CFOs are getting involved far more often, competition is getting murkier—causing shakeups in how teams are structured and operate. Companies are being pressed to use their resources as efficiently as possible, and they’re still figuring out what “efficiency” looks like in today’s world.

The good news: Many of the world’s best companies are forged in uncertain, ambiguous times. There’s a massive opportunity for those brave souls that “nail it!” 

Gong’s CEO, Amit Bendov, summarized it well when he said, “Regardless of uncertainty, now is a great time to go forge your own destiny.”

When the status quo is upended, that gives you a chance to redefine it. When infrastructure and standards have yet to be established, that gives you a chance to invent them.

Yes, ambiguous and uncertain are scary. But they also present tremendous opportunity.

5 ways revenue leaders can help their teams thrive in an uncertain, ambiguous moment

For efficiency, focus on three areas: customers, people, and execution

This is ripped straight from my daily calendar. These are my three focus areas on a day-to-day basis:

  1. Customers. Spend time getting to know your customers—what they’re seeing, what they’re experiencing, what they’re concerned about, and how you can serve them.
  2. People. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: People are our most valuable resource. Every new hire can add to or take away from our culture—a huge element of my job is sustaining our culture, which means hiring the right people (more on that below) and empowering them to contribute effectively.
  3. Execution. Getting everyone rowing in the same direction depends heavily on a consistent and constructive operating rhythm. How can I pick the right processes, and simplify them as much as possible? How can I make it easy for my teams to do great work for our customers?

Hire builders

Let’s double-click on hiring. When I say “builder,” I’m referring to these three qualities:

  1. Builder mentality. My passion is in category creation companies. Companies that work in a space where standards and infrastructure have yet to be established, so we get to establish them.

    My challenge is: How do you find people who can thrive in evolving environments? People who aren’t just going to rinse and repeat what’s worked before, but lean into the process of developing new standards?

    You need to find builders. Or, put differently, entrepreneurs. People who think creatively about complex problems, who want to create things from scratch, and who want to stand behind their creations with pride.
  2. Curiosity. Do my hires ask questions? Do they constantly come back to why? Do they have a growth mindset?
  3. Competitive motor. I want to hire people who want to win, who want to be at the top of the leaderboard, who want to call themselves champions.

Not every hire has to have all three of these ingredients (though it’s best if they do). You, as a leader, want to be sure you’re building a team that scores high in all three categories.

Establish systems to turn your data into actionable insights

Organizations have more data at their disposal than ever before. But if you can’t ingest it, analyze it, and turn it into actionable insights, you’re going to fall behind.

Here’s what that process looks like in the ideal. I was recently pulled into a renewal conversation and wanted to get to know the state of the contract better. So, I used Gong’s Ask Anything feature and simply wrote the two questions: “What are this customer’s main goals?” And, “Where might we be open to risk in this deal?”

Gong analyzed years’ worth of customer interactions and generated answers that greatly enriched my understanding of the situation. It was all due to our data quality—having the right data in the right place and having the tools to turn it into meaningful insights.

Chances are, you’ve got the same treasure trove of data. How good are you at spinning data into gold?

Establish a unified revenue team

Teams along the revenue cycle tend to wind up in silos. It’s not surprising; marketing, sales, FP&A, and customer success all have different focuses, so it’s not always natural to keep in communication.

But all of their focuses point to the same overarching objective: Drive repeatable, predictable revenue growth for the company. Thus, you need one overarching revenue team that breaks down these silos and operates as a single source of truth for that single overarching goal. Pull from one data set, establish common metrics for success, and hammer them home on a consistent cadence.

Anticipate the AI revolution

My hot take as a revenue leader: In the next 18–24 months, AI is going to completely transform revenue professionals’ lives. I believe it will capture all interactions, take care of all administrative work (deal notes, follow-up activities, record updates, next steps), and give sellers infinitely more time to focus on actual selling.

AI is not here to replace us. It’s here to empower us. I’ve never met a seller who didn’t wish they could spend more time actually selling. That’s the main effect AI will have—for those who proactively incorporate it.

Change is coming—get ready to roll with the punches

As I said up top, this moment is not one to rely on systems and methods that have worked in the past. It’s a moment to establish new ways of working, gauged to the competitive pressures of the present. Forward-thinking, creative, builder-rich companies stand to gain the most. How are you setting your organization up for success?

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