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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistMon, Jan 8, 2018 12 min read

Why And How CEOs Need To Be Involved In Revenue Growth

Revenue Is The Lifeblood Of Every Company And The CEO Has A Defined Role

CEOs Need A Role In Revenue GrowthCEOs don’t need to make sales calls and they don’t need to be involved in proposal development or even participate in the sales process in any way. They dont need to approve email marketing campaigns or write content offers. 

That doesn’t mean CEOs shouldn’t visit with prospects or customers. But in general, most companies have people who are accountable and responsible for identifying opportunities and converting those into paying customers.

However, that doesn’t mean the CEO should be passing all of the responsibility for revenue growth to other people. The CEO has specific roles to play up and down the funnel if revenue generation is a key corporate objective.

Here’s how you should participate in the revenue conversation at your company if you’re the CEO. If you’re not, here’s what you should be asking your CEO to do as you work to create your company’s revenue generation machine.

Participate, Contribute And Approve The Company Strategy

Marketing is a strategic initiative for every company. Any CEO who thinks its not is misinformed or misunderstands the role of marketing. If you want to translate company strategy into a more tactical example, consider your company’s story. What is it? Can everyone tell it? Have you ever been on a sales call with a sales rep and as you listen to them talk about your company, you wonder what company they’re describing? This is because your marketing is not effective at giving everyone in your company the right story.

Good marketing strategy is going to help create these stories, and you have to be involved. Who do you want your marketing to attract? This is also key and a big part of the strategy. Targeting is a conversation CEOs should want to participate in. Identifying the pains and challenges those targeted individuals have should also be a conversation the CEO at least participates in. What you say, to whom you say it and how you say it are all huge contributors to whether your marketing is going to produce leads or not.

Finally, great marketing helps you differentiate and separate your company from all of your competitors. Often, the conversation around how to help your company stand out demands that the CEO participate. Our work with clients in this area often means changes to operations, commitments to customers and upgrades to existing processes. CEO-level leadership is needed to shepherd these changes through the organization.

Without CEO involvement, organizations run a major risk of having a marketing effort that misses the mark.

Participate In The Goal- And Budget-Setting Exercise

Goal Setting for Revenue GenerationCEOs have to participate in the goal-setting process. That process might include internal reports first, like VPs of marketing or VPs of sales. If those team members have input from the CEO on revenue targets, then they’re comfortable that everyone is on the same page when it comes to understanding performance expectations.

Once the goals are set, the budget required to deliver those goals is equally important. CEOs need to be involved in that budgeting process. Again, CFOs can take CEO-level direction to create the budget and then work with the marketing and sales teams to help them understand how much money they can invest in order to deliver on the revenue goals.

Aligning the investment with the desired results is a conversation most CEOs should at least be aware of. In addition, as we talk about goals, are those goals leads? Are they sales opportunities? Are they closed sales? Are they dollars? How are you going to measure the performance of your revenue team? These are certainly CEO-level conversations that everyone on the revenue team should be crystal clear on.

Participate In The Agency Selection Process (If You’re Going In This Direction)

New Call-to-actionIf you’re building your own internal marketing and sales team, then you would select and hire the leaders of both the marketing and sales teams. Ideally, you should be looking for a CRO (chief revenue officer) to lead both marketing and sales, but that’s for the progressive CEOs.

If you’re going with an outside agency, you should plan on being equally involved. When you’re looking for an agency, you want to use a similar selection process as the one you would use for a VP. Does the culture of the agency match yours? Does the agency have the skills and expertise to deliver your goals (see above)? Does the agency have the right team to work with your team? Do personalities appear to match? Has the agency worked in your industry or in industries that closely resemble yours?

I know you might not be working with the agency day in and day out, but you should feel good about the agency that you and your team selects, and being part of the selection process should make that much easier.

Maintain A Relationship With The Agency

If your agency is good, its team is going to want to tell you and your team what marketing and sales improvements should be executed and when. You should be part of that prioritization conversation. If you’re in a situation where you’re telling the agency what to do, that could be problematic. While some agencies are simply vendors, most of the high-quality agencies are strategic partners with their clients, and having a direct relationship with the CEO makes those strategic relationships much more effective.

While you don’t have to be on every call or in every meeting, you should be able to pick up the phone and call an equally strategic contact at the agency to talk about your business, your agency’s performance and the direction of your company. Also, someone in the executive ranks at the agency should be reaching out to you. Your opinion and perspective of your experience with the agency matters, and leaders at the agency should be wanting to get that from you. Again, you might not be able to comment on the day-to-day experience, but you should be able to comment on the results.

Set Clear Short-Term Goals And Hold The Extended Team Accountable

The CEOs Role In Revenue GrowthEveryone should be on the same page when it comes to the expectations. What’s expected in the first month? What’s expected in the second month? Where will you be in the sixth month?

And by the end of the 12-month engagement, what do you (as the CEO) expect to be seeing in the revenue department? I’ve seen many engagements get into trouble when the agency and the VP of marketing present results to the CEO and the CEO was not on the same page.

It’s easy to prevent that by simply getting everyone on the same page from the beginning. If leads are your priority, how many do you expect after each of the first six months? If new customers are your priority, set those as the priority and define what success looks like. If revenue is the key, do the same exercise. Perhaps you only care about execution and so campaign delivery is the expectation. It doesn’t matter, as long as everyone is on the same page and agrees on the timeline.

One of the major reasons to be involved at this level has to do with the team and with the company. Any of the people who work for you (regardless of their role or level of seniority) could leave at any time. CMOs in particular have a short shelf life (about 42 months), while millennials typically only stay with their companies for just over 24 months. If someone leaves the company, it’s important for you to know what’s going on.

The second (and probably more important) reason is that as the CEO you are accountable and responsible for revenue growth. While you might delegate sales and marketing oversight to people who work for you, your involvement in this highly strategic effort should be a requirement. Revenue generation is more complex and requires a higher level of investment than ever before. Sales and marketing alignment usually end up on the CEO’s desk. If you’re looking for results (and you should be), then you should be involved at a high level.

The bottom line is that this effort can go off the rails in many ways. If you’re involved, you can identify challenges, remove obstacles and prevent this highly strategic initiative from going bad before it costs you money, time and maybe even your job. 

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.