Channel technologies, Channel partners, Security Staff Acquisition & Development

Chief Revenue Officers Emerge Within IT Channel

Adam Slutskin

The Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) title continues to gain popularity across the IT channel. Companies like ConnectWise, Datto and Infrascale are making hires or promoting key executives into the CRO slot. But what exactly makes a CRO different from an executive VP of sales?

Some clear answers have emerged at ConnectWise, where Chief Revenue Officer Adam Slutskin doesn't just drive "sales." His role involves equal attention across Sales, Marketing, Customer Care and Community -- with each group reporting to Slutskin. To balance the groups, "You have to start with a core focus on your business objectives," says Slutskin. "Once you understand your business objectives you can align each of the groups to best meet those objectives."

Each of the group leaders, by the way, has a seat at the table to discuss opportunities and challenges that the objectives will trigger. The approach also ensures clear communications across teams -- rather than sending separate messages up the food chain to reporting lines that eventually reach the CEO, CMO, COO or another key CXO leader.

Data Access, Meansurement and Alignment

Behind the scenes, ConnectWise's Sales, Marketing, Customer Care and Community teams can plug into analytics -- to see how their piece of the puzzle is performing as part of the overall business objectives. Members across the four groups each have incentives to meet the objectives. "It's not always about winning a specific sale," says Slutskin. "It can be about having the right message that educates and improves partner satisfaction."

ConnectWise has been growing internationally. And while "distance between groups" can be challenging, Slutskin says the CRO reporting structure is scalable. "We're proving it. International isn't up a lot -- it's up dramatically."

Still, I'm not sure if ConnectWise's CRO approach is repeatable in all channel-focused companies. Among the realities that some technology companies may never match: ConnectWise has a strong stomach for making partner-centric investments -- through conferences, user groups and more. Today, those investments seem wise -- given the growth of ConnectWise's IT Nation conference and user groups. But a decade ago, pouring big money into a partner ecosystem appeared risky.

"I think our model can work at other companies," Slutskin insists. "With the right approach and the right people at the table, I would highly recommend businesses invest in our type of alignment across sales, marketing, community and customer care."

That alignment, he says, became even stronger and clearer once ConnectWise reorganized into a single company -- creating GM-led product groups for its various products (ConnectWise Business Suite, ConnectWise, LabTech, ScreenConnect and Quosal). CEO Arnie Bellini has been leading the GM's as a chief product officer (CPO) of sorts.

Even so, there's more work to be done. Slutskin says ConnectWise must continually improve how it communicates the value of its core business suite. He wants partners to understand that it truly is an end-to-end solution for running a technology business. Plus, the company wants partners to see ongoing value enhancements, including the recent CloudConsole launch to transform MSPs into Cloud Solutions Providers.

But has ConnectWise truly delivered an end-to-end, integrated suite? "Straight up, I'm feeling better than ever before thanks to the business units and the GMs," says Slutskin. "Are we at nirvana yet? No." But he foresees the day when the business suite shares data and a user interface much in the way that Microsoft Office shares data and a user interface across each of the component products.

Additional Chief Revenue Officer Conversations

LiveAction CEO Brooks Borcherding

No doubt, ConnectWise is on a growth journey -- leaning heavily on Slutskin's role as CRO. Still, he isn't the only CRO navigating the IT channel.

Earlier today, we had a separate conversation with Datto Chief Revenue Officer Brooks Borcherding. And we've also been trading email with new Infrascale Chief Revenue Officer Bill Falk.

Stay tuned for those CRO conversations -- and more -- in the days ahead.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.