Using Leverage to Activate Revenue Function Alignment, w/ Kevin “KD” Dorsey

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Warren Zenna: The CRO Spotlight
Podcast, growth Forum production.

Hi, I'm Warren Zena, Founder and
CEO of the CRO Collective, and

welcome to the CRO Spotlight Podcast.

This podcast is for Chief Revenue
Officers, aspiring CROs and

CEOs who are looking to hire
or support a CRO to succeed.

To join me and my expert guests as we
debate, discuss, and tackle today's

complex revenue growth challenges,
and provide practical insights

to help CROs succeed in the role.

We're really excited to have you
with us now, let's get to it.

All right, and welcome to the episode
of uh, Sierra Spotlight Podcast.

I'm Warren Zena.

CEO and founder of the CRO Collective,
and I'm real excited today.

I've got a great guest on one that,
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Lot of you know 'em.

Kevin, Katie Dorsey, thank
you so much for being here.

So, you know, uh, Katie is,
um, I listen to his podcast.

I watch his YouTube stuff.

I certainly follow him a lot on LinkedIn
and he's a huge voice in the sales

training, development, uh, community.

Probably one of the tops, uh, the
Live Better, sell Better podcast.

I listen to, uh, you know, he's also got
some really interesting things going on

that I wanted to have him talk about, but
I really would love Kevin for us to talk a

bit about the Chief Revenue Officer role.

And the way it's evolved and how
Chief revenue officers, when they're

trying to grab the entire revenue
operation and they have to oversee

sales, what your perspective is on
how your training philosophies and

your approaches would ladder up to
somebody who oversees the bigger

picture and has to integrate marketing
and integrate customer success into a

larger sales effort or growth effort.

And that's sort of like the
kickoff point, but I'd love just.

Thanks for being here.

Kevin Dorsey: No, I'm pump.

I'm pumped for this.

Cause I love, I love what you're
doing with it as well, right?

With a CRO collective.

Cause like the higher up you
go, the, the lonelier it is, the

fewer people you can talk to.

That's about what it is that
goes on in the day-to-day life.

So I, I love what's,
what's happening here?

I'm pump to dive in, man,
so let's supposed to do it.

Warren Zenna: Great.

Well, you're right.

Uh, it's funny when I do, I do a lot
of events and talking and what happens

whenever I'm finished, CROs come up to
me and they say, Do you have a c o event?

Uh, membership community,
because this job's lonely man.

Kevin Dorsey: Mm-hmm.

Warren Zenna: I've got nobody to talk to.

You know, when I talk to my c e o,
they're just barking orders at me.

You know, they're looking at me
like I'm, I got a number on my back.

And when I talk down to my head of
marketing and my head of sales, head

of customer success, they're figuring
out what does he want from me.

You know, I just, there's
no one for me to turn to.

And the other thing too is, as you know,
CROs are typically, they come from sales.

They're competitive.

It's hard to get another CRO to
tell you what's going on cuz they

sort of like wanna keep their mask
on, like things are going great

and things are rocking it right.

When it's not.

It's really tough.

So you're right, it is lonely.

And so I would say when you think
about the work that you've been doing,

especially as things have evolved
over the last, let's say five years,

I think it's been a huge evolution
of things in the last five years.

Covid being part of it, but I
also think also I think there's

some maturity going on in the
marketplace around this hyper-growth

and how it hasn't been working.

When you think about a Chief revenue
officer whose job is to manage and

wrangle together everybody, and also
create outcomes for both the CEO

and the board, what are some initial
things you think about that a Chief

Revenue Officer needs to be conscious
of and from a standpoint of developing

training all, all their organizations?

Kevin Dorsey: Well, so first,
it's remembering what the R in

C R O stands for, it's revenue.

Whereas a lot of CROs that I know and
speak to still think it's a, you know,

a CSO role where it's Chief Sales
Officer, like they came from sales, so

they think about sales and they don't do
a great job of thinking about revenue,

where there are different ways to get
to the number that they're supposed to.

It's almost always being looked at as
like new bookings or new customers.

Whereas a two point reduction in churn and
an expansion edition of 5%, you don't even

have to grow your sales team this year.

You could actually expand there.

So it's one just remembering its
revenue and how each one of the, um,

orgs connects to that as a company.

But the, the big one man that I'm
working on a lot with people and

you know, I just stepped back into a
senior revenue role and, you know, I

have, I have all the orgs except for
marketing, but I feel like I'll probably

have that one by the end of the year.

Cause I brought my VP of
marketing over with me.

Warren Zenna: Mm-hmm.

Kevin Dorsey: So that one's,
you know, gonna play out there

is really operationalizing
what you're looking to do.

So like I have a leadership methodology
that I roll out across all my orgs.

Because it applies to all of
the orgs in terms of what we

look at and how we function.

And so I think that's really the key also,
is that chief is, you have to kind of roll

out that methodology of how does your team
communicate, how do they look at metrics,

how do they understand the data, what is
expected from them on a regular basis?

And setting that vision.

That's where I see more CROs
kind of miss, is they get so

obsessed just on the dollar.

And they don't think about
what they need to do to connect

all the orgs together, right?

Warren Zenna: I you're
a hundred percent right.

That is, that is the problem.

I say it's coming from two places.

One, and this is cuz I speak to
probably like eight CROs a week, is

most CROs come from sales, right?

So they're, they're leaders already.

They know how to do that.

That's how they've proven themselves
and that's how they got the job.

So when they step into this new
thing, they're always gonna lead

with their strengths, which is
growing sales organizations.

Kevin Dorsey: Right.

Warren Zenna: And they kind of forget
that they have to switch their paradigm.

Kevin Dorsey: Mm-hmm.

Warren Zenna: And kind of like, not
bias the sales organization, but it's

hard to do when the pressure's on.

It's easier to just run over to your
sales organization and just make that work

because you're not gonna get, you know,
it's not like you're gonna get yelled at

for that, but it's, it's not on point.

And then the second part
of that is that is enabled.

By the organization who also is feeling
the pinch and wants the sales to grow.

Kevin Dorsey: Mm-hmm.

Warren Zenna: And so when you drift
over into the sales channel to kind

of keep yourself secure in your job,
it's almost like everyone's saying,

well, that's actually not a bad idea.

And then what, what ends up happening
with my clients is they get stuck there.

They can't get back to the strategic
role because they sort of drifted

to sales to kind of save themselves
and they lost the bigger picture.

So what we're trying to do, and I
think it'll be interesting to get

your perspective on this, is how
does an organization then ensure

that sales doesn't get biased with
a CRO role and keep the strategic.

Uh, function going without giving into
the pressure of trying to use that

person to grow the pipeline all the time.

Kevin Dorsey: So the, the
first answer will be a cop out.

We won't spend a lot of time on it,
but like it starts with the CEO and

what directions they are giving and
allowing, like how they built the comp

plan, how the goals are being set, all
of that cuz CEOs, investors, and boards

are just as bad as everybody else.

Is when things get tight, they do.

It sounds like, hey, we
just need to grow more.

So they Yep, push that.


So that's the cop out answer.

There's not too much we can do about that
other than communicating up properly.

If I think about it, like
the way I approach it is I

wish more CROs understood.

I made up a word two years ago.

No God, it was three
years ago at a conference.

You know, the topic was alignment, right?

Warren Zenna: Yep.

Kevin Dorsey: Similar topic, like
how do you align all of your orgs?

And I said, actually,
I don't like that word.

Because you can be aligned,
but be in different lanes.

The word I changed it to was leverage.


Leverage was the word that I came up with.

Warren Zenna: Hmm.

Kevin Dorsey: And so if a CRO
sat down and said, how can I

leverage CS to improve my sales?

How can I leverage sales
to improve my marketing?

How could I leverage marketing
to improve CS and sales?

It changes what you look for.

Right, so I'm looking for leverage.

So classic example, okay.

Who tends to know the voice of the
prospect better sales, marketing, or CS.

Warren Zenna: CS, I think,
in my opinion, the, the,

Kevin Dorsey: So no, you, you not
quite the prospect, not the customer.

I'm gonna get to that.

Warren Zenna: Oh, I'll follow you.


I gotcha.


So it's gonna be the sales
people who know the prospect,

Kevin Dorsey: best sales team knows.

Warren Zenna: Sure.

Kevin Dorsey: The language
of the prospect more.

Are they sharing that with marketing?

To make the ads better, to get
the objection sheets handled,

to get the testimonials needed
to handle the objections.

Who knows more about what customers
do and prospects do without us, right?

What their behavior is?

Well, that's with marketing.

What are they searching for?

What are they downloading?

What are those keywords?

What are the long tails?

Well, that makes my sales org
better in terms of my prospecting

messaging, my cadence is everything
there, and then you nailed it.

Who knows?

The voice of the customer the best.

Warren Zenna: Customer success, obviously.


Customer success.

Kevin Dorsey: How can
marketing leverage that?


Because oftentimes marketing
like rarely talks to CS.

They'll talk to sales
sometimes, but they rarely talk.

To see us, and so what I try to encourage
people to do is stop asking and looking

for alignment, but look for leverage.

What does each org have access
to that the other orgs don't?

That would make the other orgs better
because we also know there's things sales

could do that would make CSS job easier.

We know that for sure.


Think about it that way.


So I'll pause there, but it's looking for
leverage, not alignment across the orgs.

Warren Zenna: That's great.

I really like that.

I would say the thing that's the
challenge because you, you are correct.

I mean, alignment is, I, I think
leverage is more of a, it, it it's more

of an actionable, or it's more of an
intentional way of looking at it, right?


Looking at a way to improve something
or do something or utilize something,

um, is that, With the, with the,
with the Chief Revenue Officer.

This is what's important about the role.

To kind of follow on that same theme,
is that you need, in my view, and I

think this is what's missing in my,
when you have silos or misalignment, If

you don't have somebody that's looking
at that leverage or responsible for

that leverage, you don't get it, right.

You don't.

It's not like marketing gets
up independently, walks over

to the sales department.

Asking questions mean maybe you do
sometimes, and most of the time you don't.

They're, they have
independent mo, um, KPIs.

They're fighting against each other.

Sometimes they argue with each other.

You know, the stuff that marketing
gives, sales doesn't work for them.

So instead of them saying something,
they just don't use it, you know?

Kevin Dorsey: Mm-hmm.

Warren Zenna: But if you have this,
uh, leader, which we call the Chief

Revenue officer, who is looking to
leverage them, that CRO is going to

encourage discussion and create it.

So it's not even as much just a matter
of saying, Hey guys, talk to each other.

Kevin Dorsey: Mm-hmm.

Warren Zenna: It also, you have to bake
it into the process where the KPIs and

the global revenue, um, goals force.


Kevin Dorsey: Mm-hmm.

Warren Zenna: So that in order
for me to hit my goals, I need to

talk to sales in order for, cuz
it's all about motivation, right?

How people are incentivized.

And I think this is where a lot of it
comes into play, is building a system

that's designed to have people collaborate
with each other because the outcomes.

Require it, and that's where I think
a CRO is gonna be most effective.

I'd love to hear what
you think about that.

Kevin Dorsey: Yeah, I think it gets a
little tricky towards the end of like

tying different orgs to different results
that they may not be fully attached to.

But I do like, like the concept,
whether there's a of company bonus

or team bonus of like, Hey, if
we get to this, we go through it.

I'd like it truthfully about
setting the expectation and

then inspecting what you expect.

Warren Zenna: Yep.

Kevin Dorsey: Like it's not even like,
Hey, y'all should, it's like say you

were my VP of sales, like Warren, I
need you to meet with marketing and

share with them the top five objections
you are losing deals for right now, so

they can go create content around it.


Can you do that?


Then I meet with Jared, my
VP of market on Thursday.

Did you get.

The five top closed, lost reasons
right now from Warren on how

we are losing deals right now.

What is your marketing plan
and videos to address that?

Hey, VP of sales, did you talk
like, so it's, it's coordinating,

like I really view my role in a
C R O role as It's almost like an

offensive or defensive coordinator.

Warren Zenna: Exactly.

Kevin Dorsey: We're we're
not the ones doing it.

But dammit, we have to be the
ones aligning and leveraging

where we ensure it happens.

Because the flip side's also true.

You're my VP of sales and
I ask you to bring that to

marketing, and then you don't.

Well then I know where I have
a weak link in the chain.

I go to marketing to say, Hey,
Warren brought this to you.

What have you done with it?


I know where I have a weak link.

So it's like that.

Like you, you nailed it.

Like that's what the CRO
is supposed to be doing.


Is ensuring that all of these pieces
are working together, not just looking

at the sales org and saying that.

Cause also, by the way, the tips I'm
giving will improve your sales org.

If they, if they understood the
voice of the customer better, your

sales team's gonna get better.

If marketing was making collateral that
actually used, they would get better.

If they knew the top closed lost
reasons and how they could get

ahead of that, they'd be better.

And by the way, this also feeds
the product because I do not

ask my product team to build
things I'm not losing deals over.

Warren Zenna: Yep.

Kevin Dorsey: That
happens all the time, too.

CROs listening, you know, you do
that, you go to product and you're

like, Hey, like we need this feature.

And it's for like one customer.

Warren Zenna: Yeah.

Kevin Dorsey: And you can't actually
justify it, but you go ask for it.

If I'm not losing deals over that
feature, I'm not asking for it.

Warren Zenna: Yep.

That's a good point.

So you just made an important
distinction, and that is the leaders of

those functions and their competence.


So when you're evalu, when I, I
look at it this way, I, I'd like

to hear you the points in this.

So when you're evaluating your, um, head
of marketing, your head of sales, and

your head of customer success within
the organizational framework that you

and I are kind of thinking at right now.

The way I look at it is, The best VP
of sales, the best head of marketing,

the best customer success leader maybe
doesn't certainly have expertise in

selling or running a sales team, but
they certainly understand the importance

of how that data affects their job,
and they're looking for it, right?

They're actively saying, all right,
I'm not just a silo, and I know that.

If I don't go over and talk to my head
of sales about the way customers are

responding to things and it's prospecting
conversations, then I'm just not doing

my job, cuz that's part of the job.

So if I'm evaluating a head
of sales or head of marketing

customer, I'm gonna ask them.

What do you think, uh, marketing's
contribution is to how sales works, right?

And the answer that they're gonna
gimme me is, gimme a lot of insights

into the way that they think about
that organization and it's gonna

gimme insights in the way that they're
gonna interact with that organization.

And I think what happens too often is
there's, cause I, I work with clients

on hiring and so the questions I usually
get looked at around, well check this

guy out, find out how well he's run
sales organizations, what his success

track record's been on growing XY.

But what I rarely hear is, Find out
what their thoughts are on how they

work with a marketing organization.

They never asked me to ask
'em that question, like, why

wouldn't you wanna know that?

Answer that question.

And I think it's because there's, in
leadership, there still exists as silo.


I, I think that organization CEOs need
to have a greater, broader understanding

of the way a revenue operation works.

It's the three most important.

Customer facing parts of your business
and they all are related to each other.

And I do think that the rev ops,
this, I wanna talk to you about this.

The rise in the Rev ops model, which
you're obviously speak to a lot, is

creating more awareness of how data is
used to connect a lot of different pieces

and disparate pieces of the process and
how you see that being working right

now in your conversations with clients.

I do think that that the rev ops and tech
stack optimization model, Is driving a

lot more conversation around awareness
of groups and how they work together.

Kevin Dorsey: Ah, you used the
word I was hoping you, you would.

So might be a hot take.

I don't love what revenue operations has
become because I believe it's lost sight

of what it was actually supposed to be.

Which was the other O word
you used, which is optimize.

Warren Zenna: Mm-hmm.

Kevin Dorsey: Oh my goodness.

Have we gone deep in revenue operations?

Warren Zenna: Mm-hmm.

Kevin Dorsey: Tooling the data,
the connections, the dashboards.

Like all like we have
operations for everything.

Very few rev ops orgs and leaders, to
me, I feel, are focused on optimization.

Warren Zenna: Yep.

Kevin Dorsey: Meaning
making things better.

That I feel has been
lost in, in all of this.

And so one of the questions I asked,
like when I'm interviewing Rev ops

people, is like, look, cuz they
will, they'll talk about the data.

I can't remember who said it.

Y'all can go Google it.

It's one of my favorite quotes
is, you know, we are drowning in

data, but starving for insights.

Warren Zenna: Yep.

Kevin Dorsey: Can't remember who
said it, but if you can't find

it, then it's me, quote me for it.

Warren Zenna: Got it.

Kevin Dorsey: And it's so true.

It's like rev ops will be bubbling
up all of this data, all these

numbers, but there's no insight.

Aka, what am I supposed to do with it?

Where are my levers?

And so when I'm interviewing Rev ops
leaders, what I'm asking them is, can

you gimme an example of when you found
the diamond in the data and we're able to

craft a strategy on how to leverage it.

So Rev ops to me, I think initially
was, was created because, Also funny

to me is a lot of, you know, VPs
and CROs aren't great with data.


Which is surprising to me.

Like I, like, I feel like it's
just table stakes at this point.

And so, but you had to
create an org apparently to.

Do this now, but now what you have
is you have a data focused org

with a C R O that still doesn't
understand how to interpret the data.

Warren Zenna: Mm-hmm.

Kevin Dorsey: Which then, then allows rev
op sometimes to carry too much weight.

And I've experienced this where they go
to finance and go, Hey, these industries

over here close twice as high, so
we should be going after them more.

And then finance puts that into
a plan and says, well these close

at a higher two x higher clip, so
your conversion rate should go up.

Therefore the assumption
this plan should rise.

Warren Zenna: Mm-hmm.

Kevin Dorsey: And you go, if I could just
go get them, don't you think I would like,

do you think I'm intentionally not going
after the higher converting channels?

Warren Zenna: Right.

Kevin Dorsey: So like sometimes
rev ops, again, cause they

don't understand the sales side,

Warren Zenna: right.

Kevin Dorsey: They, they make
assumptions that they shouldn't.

So that's my hot take on rev ops.

We're like conceptually, I
agree with it in execution.

It's far from optimized.


Look at where we are
right now in the industry.

Like we have gotten so far away from
optimizing cuz we've been so focused on

operations that things aren't getting
better, we're just doing more of stuff.

Warren Zenna: Yep, yep.

And I, I do think that the, um, busy work
is a very good, it hides people behind.

Well, I'm busy and I'm working
on stuff and look at me, go and

look at my hand on the keyboard.

Boy am I busy mo about.

Kevin Dorsey: Mm-hmm.

Warren Zenna: And I, I do think that
it, we've created a software nightmare.

And I look at Tech Stacks now and I can't
believe all the stuff that people have

piled upon themselves and how you could
possibly extract any value out of them.

And a lot of these things are bought
because, you know, one person in one

department sold upstream to the head
of sales and said, we really need gong.

And nothing against Gong, but you know,
it's just another one of the things that,

you know, another tool that people use
that only a quarter of the organization

actually uses properly and only a.

But if small, minuscule that
actually gets anything out of it.

That makes any sense.

And I spoke to the folks over there
and they told me people really aren't

using it as well as they should be.

So I think you're right.

I think a lot of this has to do with,
um, losing focus on what matters.


And so to that end, right, i, I, me
and I are completely aligned on this.

The idea behind rev ops is
it's an optimization system.

It's supposed to be
designed to take the data.

Find the data that matters, remove
the data that doesn't matter, which

is Des, in my opinion, distractions.

That's all that is.

Because look, let's face it, if
I have a mountain of data and I

don't know what data's good, I'm
not gonna get rid of anything.

Cause I'm afraid I'm gonna
throw out the good stuff.

So instead, I'm not gonna do anything.

I'm just gonna sit, look at a pile, right?

Kevin Dorsey: Mm-hmm.

Warren Zenna: And so I'm
looking at a pile all day long.

So a really good rev op function will
make sense of that and say, no, no, no.

This is the only stuff
that really matters.

And usually, and you and I
both know, usually a very small

amount of things really matter.

It's like these things are key.


And if you focus on these things,
uh, it's, it's much like the,

the money ball model, right?

I mean, that was a great scene,
which everyone knows when he's

explaining to him, you gotta get
on base, this guy gets on base.

Cuz when people get on base, that
means they can be set up to score.

I don't care about home runs or mm-hmm.

Steal stolen bases.

Those things are all great for
vanity and the crowd goes nuts.

We need people to get on base.

So how do we find people that get on base
that, that's such a great analogy for the

way I think Rev op should be working is
identify your company's key optimized.

Um, events and then build an
organization that forces those things

to happen until they don't work anymore
and then make them better, right?

Kevin Dorsey: Mm-hmm.

Warren Zenna: So I think that, again,
this is kinda leads to a second

question, which you just hinted at.

What makes a better c r o?

Is it a sales leader?

Is it a rev ops person?

Like, what's the profile?

If you were to take, uh, if you're
recruiting like a quarterback at

the CRO , what are the sort of
competencies that you're looking

for that make the CRO one that you
think would probably best succeed?

Kevin Dorsey: So for sure, the
first thing I'm looking at is, call

it cross-functional leadership.

Are they able to connect the dots?


So I'm looking for examples
of how have you leveraged

your CS org to increase sales?

How have you leveraged your sales org
to increase lead flow from marketing?

So I'm looking for examples of how have
they connected the dots between their

org, what is their operating cadence?

That's a one big chunk.

Warren Zenna: Mm-hmm.

Kevin Dorsey: The second is data.

But not just data, it's the
interpretation, but then the optimization.

So one of my favorite questions to
ask as senior sales leaders, tell me

about a time you identified something
in the data that was holding back

your team, or was a potential lever,
how you found it, what you did about

it, and what the end result was.

Warren Zenna: Hmm.

Kevin Dorsey: Okay, because this is
gonna give me the full scope of one.

Do they understand at it?

And this is where I'm really
listening to how they answer.

Well, my rev ops team brought Nope.

Already off.

Someone else found it for you.

Warren Zenna: Got it.


Kevin Dorsey: I want to know
how you have discovered this,

but then what you did about it.


That's like the, the missing sauce
for a lot is, it sounds a lot like

this and it starts to get into
my methodology a little bit more.

Warren Zenna: Mm-hmm.

Kevin Dorsey: It's like, First, a lot
of leaders used results-based language.

Hey, we need more pipeline.

Hey, we gotta bring up our sales.

We need churn to come down.

Okay, that's great.


So what I teach people is you can't
change a result without changing a metric.

Warren Zenna: Mm-hmm.

Kevin Dorsey: So each one of my orgs
has their number one metric with them.

Number one metric they are focused on.

But then in order to change that
metric, you have to change a behavior,

individual process skill, or you.

So the leadership methodology I roll out
to my orgs, it's called BCI Behavior,

individual Process Skill, or you.

That's how we have to solve those
problems for that number one metric.

Warren Zenna: Mm-hmm.

Kevin Dorsey: Because otherwise
I can't say bring down churn.

I have to identify, well, what
metric is impacting churn?

Is it utilization?

Is it speed to onboard?

Is it speed to impact?

Is it MPS score?

Is it seats utilized?

Like there's gonna be a number one
metric associated to that end result.

That's what I'm rallying that team around.

And then we have to identify the
behaviors, the individuals to process

the skills or you as the leader doing
the wrong things to impact it, right?

So like that's what I'm looking for is
what is that leadership system now, right?

So I'm looking for cross-functional,
can they rally people around a

vision and get them to work together?

I'm looking at their interpretation
of data, but more importantly,

can they change the data?

It's one thing to know your
close rates are too low.

It's another thing to roll out
a plan on how to address it.

And then similarly, I'm listening for
do they talk about other orgs or do they

only talk about the sales org, right?

Warren Zenna: Mm-hmm.

Kevin Dorsey: And then the last
one, truthfully, whether this

is a hard skill or soft skill is
like the, the storytelling aspect.

Can they craft a story?

Can they, they, can they communicate
in a way that pulls people?

In this is where sometimes when you
see, you know, CROs that maybe come

from too much of the data background
is they can spit out the data, but

they can't rally a team around it.

And so then nothing changes.

And so I am looking for that.

I does not mean they have to be an
extrovert, that's not what I'm saying.

They do need to be able to craft
a good story to create that

vision and rally people around it.

So those are the big ones that I look for.

Warren Zenna: Yeah, it's great.

Love it.

It's great.

I think it, I love the idea of being
that sort of, uh, Forensic scientists

of asking, okay, what did you discover?

What did you do about it?

How did you discover it?

Those insights are really important,
and I think what happens is all too

often I'm seeing with my clients is
they're hiring heads of sales that do a

great job running sales organizations.

I think this guy's a killer,
or this person's a killer.

Really grow a pipeline,
you know, close more deals.

We need someone like that in here.

They get in there and because they
don't have the skills that you just

mentioned and they're not being.

Managed against those skills,
they end up just running sales.

Kevin Dorsey: Yeah.

Warren Zenna: And they have this
CRO title and, uh, it sort of,

the organization doesn't benefit.

From what the CRO could actually
do for the organization.

And they can't figure out why.

They still can't make sense of things.

So this kinda leads to another
question, which you said something

at the beginning of this.

When you mentioned this, you said
you don't have marketing yet.

This is an interesting thing.

When I'm speaking to most CROs, I talk to
the last, let's call it Mile, that most

CROs is they, they don't get marketing.

It's like they, it's like the
last thing they get is marketing.

I have two questions for you.

Why do you think that is?

Why is it that CROs
aren't given marketing?

Just as like right out of the box, right?

When you, you and I both understand
that's like the whole thing.

And the second thing is
what do they do about it?

What does a founder do when they
create what I call the C-suite traffic

jam and they've got the c o and the
C M O and the same box, it's like,

okay, I've just created a pretty
bad, let's call it leverage problem.

Keep your language.


So what are you, what are
your thoughts on this one?

Cause this is a really big problem
that CROs are having right now.

Kevin Dorsey: So to the first part of
the question of why I think it happens,

I think it's a lack of understanding
from the c e o role first on how

they are supposed to work together.

Warren Zenna: Yeah.

Kevin Dorsey: In terms of like
just their, what they are and

how aligned they should be.

It's like one of those things where,
you know, it happens in SAS more

than people realize of how, like
the old way has still permeated.

Like you have a sales leader,
you have a marketing leader.

That's just what we do.


Warren Zenna: That's just what you do.


Kevin Dorsey: You know, and oh,
well, I see CMOs out there, so I

better go get a CMO and mm-hmm.

Well now I got A C R O,
so We'll, I guess go get.

That too.

And now what?

The traffic jam, is
that what you called it?


Warren Zenna: Yep, yep.

The C-suite traffic jam.

That's what happens.


Kevin Dorsey: But now it's like, well,
how do you go take that CMO and say

you'll report to, you know, the CRO

Warren Zenna: major
problem, major problem.

Kevin Dorsey: But also a big part
of it is how few, I'll say sales

and then, you know, revenue leaders
actually understand marketing.

Warren Zenna: True.

Kevin Dorsey: So if you don't
understand it, You can't lead it.

Warren Zenna: Right.

Kevin Dorsey: Doesn't mean you
have to be good at it, but you

at least have to understand it.

And I was very, very
blessed in my early career.

My first like called big sales
leadership job where I built my

first almost a hundred person org.

Um, the co-founder of the company
was also the CMO, Andy Kinson.


And he and I worked in lockstep,
like, cause I loved marketing.

Like we, we went to the
marketing conferences together.

Like if I wasn't in sales,
I'd be in marketing.

And so I learned so much about
marketing, branding, funnels, lead

conversion, channel optimization, like
I learned a lot there, a lot of sales.

They just never get that because
there's already that device.

They don't understand it enough.

Where I know I can go to my VP of
marketing right now and I can drill

down into a specific lead channel.

And say, you know, Facebook
leads are converting one

third as our earned channel.

I need us to over-optimize here.

We have to stop.

Like I can speak marketing doesn't
mean I could go do his job, but I sure

as hell can ask the right questions
to ensure the job's getting done.

And I don't think a lot of sales
leaders ever get those conversations.

And so to, you know, you talk about
the different groups listening,

if you're an aspiring CRO.

Warren Zenna: Yep.

Kevin Dorsey: Start sitting
in on marketing meetings.

Just invite yourself, Hey, could
I join some of your meetings?

Could I join in?

And just listen to what they
talk about, what they're doing,

what their struggles are.

You start to be able to speak it.

So that's what I see.

Like CEOs, just that they build their
org, they create the traffic jam.

But truthfully, I don't think a lot of
CS or VPs understand marketing enough

other than where are my leads, Warren?

Warren Zenna: Yep.

Kevin Dorsey: Where
are, where are my leads?

They're, they're, oh,
they don't have budget.


These leads don't have budget.

Oh yeah.

Cuz marketing can just go
get people with budget.


Let's make that the ad.

You have budget for our tool opt in today?

Warren Zenna: Yep.

Look, you're a hundred percent right.

And this is, we're, we're seeing is the
reason why we created what we call the

CRO Readiness Program is the CRO Readiness
is the, The readiness that a company

is for a c o are you ready for one?

And there's a lot of
factors that go into it.

One, the first one if I were to codify
the steps is, do you know what one is?

So, you know, we speak to a head
of, head of, I mean the founder

or c e o, and you know, I have a
very quick little questionnaire and

it, it, it, it reveals to me very
quickly what they think the role is.

Kevin Dorsey: Mm-hmm.

Warren Zenna: Which would then
lead me to understand left

alone, how they would manage one.

So if they think that it's their
head of sales, then that's,

that's what they're gonna do.

That's just how they're gonna manage it.


So the first part is to kind of course
correct that and provide a little more

guidance as to what a CRO does and why
this is beneficial to your company.

Why should you look at it that way?


What's the benefit?

And the second part is okay.

Now you know what one does.

Is your company ready for one yet?

And what that mean is, is that what
happens usually is you bring on a chief

revenue officer or even with the knowledge
of what they're supposed to do, but

to you and I earlier conversation, if
I don't have the proper data analysis

of what's working or not, And I have
the c r o like off running off on

a task to try and figure that out.

They're probably not going to,
cuz they're not gonna have enough

like runway to get that finished.

That's a pretty big job.

They're probably gonna be tasked
with trying to get some other r

o ROI on that hire pretty soon.


So we do that, but the point of
making is the key part of it.

The first part.

Is making sure the CEO O knows exactly
what the utilization of this role is and

the benefit of the company and why they
need to position this person properly.

Now, most of the time when we hire, we
get someone to hire a c o, and and you

probably know this too, for some reason,
they seem to always promote their heads

of marketing to CMOs really early.

So they've already got a CMO in place and
now they gotta deal with that traffic jam.

And that's not an easy one because now
you're sort of usurping someone who's.

Achieved a C-Suite title, and
now they have to deal with

this weird sort of other thing.

And that's what makes the
CRO role so challenging.

So in your case, right, so you said
you just brought on your own head of

marketing, so this is someone that you
know and you've got a relationship with.

What, what would you suggest?

If I'm a C R O and I'm in a situation
where I've been put into the job.

I've been told that the company is aware
of the fact that the c o is a revenue

leader, but there's a C M O what might be
sort of a way to navigate that so that it

can result in what you and I are talking
about without being too disruptive.

Kevin Dorsey: Mm-hmm.

Warren Zenna: You know,
because this is a common thing.

This happens a lot with, like my clients.

Kevin Dorsey: Well, it depends on
what the, the end goal is, right?

If the end goal is just to have a
great relationship with marketing

that leads to higher sales.

The CMO doesn't have to report to you

Warren Zenna: Sure.

Kevin Dorsey: To do that, right?

So like, I would still encourage
like to like build that relationship,

learn what they're focused on,
but share and share insights.

None of this bs.

Hey, marketing, the leads aren't good.

That doesn't help anybody.


You have to understand
why are they not good?

Like, why are they not good?

What's wrong with them, right?

Like, where are they coming from?

Like, so share insights with
them of like what you can do,

but also not just on the leads.

Leverage marketing in your
mid-funnel, the bottom of the

funnel, the kickoff calls, right?

Like there's all sorts of
places to leverage marketing.

So like that's just build
a stronger relationship.

If it is trying to understand the
dynamic of like, basically how do I

get the CMO to either report to me
or understand the, the hierarchy?

Warren Zenna: Mm-hmm.

Kevin Dorsey: So to speak, one
that actually starts, just like any

sales process, you have to start
with the decision maker in this.

You need to actually be
working on the CEO first.

That they see your point
of view in this as well.

That until marketing is rolling
to this revenue org, there will

always be a budding of heads, right?

Or that the comp plans need to change.

The bonus plans need to change.

One of the reasons why I love working with
Jar, he's one of the few marketing leaders

I've worked with where he's like, Almost
over optimizes to revenue, funny enough.

Warren Zenna: Mm-hmm.

Kevin Dorsey: Where like, he'd
be like, Hey, like, yeah, we're,

we're behind on our lead count,
but we're pacing the revenue.

I'm like, yeah.


I love that, but I still need those leads.


I still need tho those leads.

That means we're
overperforming in conversion.


In different places.

I still need that, but he
thinks revenue first and works.


Got it.




That it's having those conversations.

But again, to the earlier point we're
making, you have to be able to communicate

it to marketing, in marketing speak.


What is that conversion rate by channel?

What is the conversion rate on blog
versus earned versus direct versus paid

versus social versus influenced, right.

Like speak to them in that matter
and say, Hey, we closed these ones

great, but we're struggling here.


They're probably earlier
on that Buyer'ss journey.

So you need a different type
of sales process for those.


My pitch for the Facebook ads are very
different than my pitch for someone

who Googled my company or Googled.


Like the problem that we have.

So that, I don't know if that
answered the question or not, but

it's like still build the relationship
where they wouldn't feel like.

Slighted by this.

Like, I, I truly believe if, if Jared
got the call tomorrow and said, Hey,

you're not rolling to the c e O anymore.

You're rolling to kd.

Be like, yeah, like.

We talk about this stuff all the
time, doesn't, doesn't even matter.


We already have that relationship.


Warren Zenna: got the right culture and
the right relationship already for that.


Kevin Dorsey: If not, you have
to build the relationship.

You have to build the culture, but you
actually, you have to get the decision

maker on your side, which would be
exactly the CEO and why it will help

the overall revenue of the company.


Warren Zenna: Th that's exactly right.

And I agree with you, and that's
why we do the C readiness program.

It's really, frankly,
it's targeting the c e O.


Because the CEO ultimately is
gonna make the decisions around how

these things are gonna get managed.


They're like, let's call it,
For all I intents and purposes,

they're the adult in the room.

They're gonna manage the way the kids
are arguing with each other and they're

gonna make the big decisions about things.

Then they have to set the
vision for why we're doing this.

Like why are we laddering
up to this right now?

Why is this disruption happening?

Why is this better for the business?


And I think those are
the important things.

And I think we're seeing a lot of
younger founders, or maybe even

like product led founders don't
have the commercial capabilities

to talk about things that way.

And so they're kind of undermined
by their own focus on maybe product

development or renovations or engineering.

And that's a big problem when you're
getting with product led organizations

who are sort of like struggling
with figuring out how to make a

successful commercial op operation.

Whereas if you have someone in there
who's more of a salesperson who

built a company, they more likely
inherently understand these sort of

Kevin Dorsey: things.

Yeah, and I wanna touch on that real
quick and again, back to the earlier

points you made y'all, that is also the
Cro O's job is to properly manage up.

You need to help teach your c e O
what this actually means and how this

actually works because especially
depending on the stage, They may

have never had a cro r o before.


In fact, at the end of the day,
the c r o role, you, you'll

know this better than me.


Warren Zenna: new is this?

10, 15 years?

Maybe the most, I think the
first one was in 2000 and,

uh, 14 or something like that.



Was like the mention of it.

It was in Silicon Valley and they
were heads of sales and they came in

and they mostly had big Rolodexes.


And they closed big deals, you know,
so it's sort of, Did save the day.

It brought commercial expertise to
technical founders who didn't understand

how to run businesses in Silicon Valley,
and they were brought in to kind of

actually commercialize a business and
make it, make it a big thing, you know?

That's basically how it started.

So now we're talking about a

Kevin Dorsey: role.

There's only a decade old anyway.


That has changed significantly
hu huge over the last five years.


And so most CEOs haven't even, even had
one, let alone had one in like the new,

call it selling and revenue environment.

Managing up is so important and
just as important in a C R O role as

like getting all your orgs together.

Is, are you, are you helping your c e o
understand how a revenue org should look?

That's why they hired you.

And also part of your vetting
process if you're being interviewed

for the c r o, best Believe.

Those are the questions I was
asking coming in around what, what,

luckily for me, I knew the, the
c E O at my new company as well.

So it was kind of like he, he
knows, he knows, I know he gets it.

He is like, Katie, go, go do what you do.


Like, Go do what you do.

I'm like, thanks jp.

That's what I'm gonna

Warren Zenna: go do.

Good, good.

You got that sort of relationship.

I mean, the, I, I do.

In fact, I have a, I'm building right now
a second course on interviewing for the

c o role because it's a critical thing.

What ends up happening is I
look at it like a bad marriage.

You know, if you take the job.

That's not the right job.

You just can end up in the
wrong job and it's hard to fix

the job when you're in the job.

You have to actually get
the right job to start.

It's, it's really hard to do.

It doesn't usually work.


Kevin Dorsey: that again.

It is hard to fix the job
when you're in the job, y'all.

That is the absolute

Warren Zenna: truth.


So the idea behind this is to
make the job the right job or.

Don't take the job if it's the wrong job.


And that's not hard.

That's hard to do.

I mean, if I'm getting vetted for a
Chief Revenue officer role, and I could

be making at least a half a million
bucks outta the gate, you know, it's

very tempting to just say yes to it.

And I'm trying to tell my clients
that that temptation is the danger,

because you just say yes to something
with the idea to I'll work it out.

No, you won't work it out.

This is not the kind of job that
you can just sort of fix, you know?


And so you have to know what
you're getting yourself into.

And to your point, you have to first
have the right questions and the

right way to get the right agreements.

And the four things I, I.

Tell my clients they need is they
need authority, autonomy, runway,

and resources to do the job.


And so that means that you need to,
you have to interview your C E O.

You have to interview the ceo.

They're not interviewing you,
you're actually interviewing them.

And so, mm-hmm.

You know, this is sort of a different
paradigm for this particular job.

And you're right, you do
need to understand marketing.

You have to come in with a love for
marketing and a respect for marketing.


And what it does.

And you have to be a
customer-centric person really.

Talk to customers.

What are they like?

Why did they buy, why did they not renew?

All the stuff that's critical for
a chief revenue officer to know.

And if you're not in those things,
if you're biasing yourself in

the sales organization, you're
not gonna get the whole picture.

You're not, you're gonna be sort of
relegated to becoming a sales leader.

So anyway, I, I wanna make sure we kind
of touch on some things that are going

on with you before we, we close out.

Cause this has been an
amazing conversation.

So you mentioned the beginning of our
conversation, some things you're up to.

I'd love to have the opportunity
to tell listeners what's going on.

Yeah, no, I mean,

Kevin Dorsey: aligned with, it
sounds like some of the stuff that

you're, you're working on as well.

So like what's, like I get asked
some of these questions like, you

know, like why is it the way that
it is with a lot of CROs and Yeah.

Bottom of it to me is
we're never taught how.

It's actually comical
if you think about it.


Most sales reps are never taught.

That's right.

Who become managers who are never taught.


Who become directors who
were never taught you.

Warren, did you sit through, you know,
you know, l t V to C 3 47 in college?

Of course not.

What about like working
with marketing two 12,

Warren Zenna: like, Nope.

All on the job training.

Like all on the job training.

It's, and

Kevin Dorsey: training is also a strong

Warren Zenna: word.

It is true.

Whether it's training,
it was all on the job.

I guess it's not trading, it was more
like, you know, on the job experience.

I was say like punching bags, right?

Like you just, you just, and
hand combat, hand hand combat.

I learned how to fight by
getting punched, basically.


Like think, think

Kevin Dorsey: about like at a high
level, how ridiculous that is.

I agree.

You have individuals who are
responsible for generating

hundreds of millions of dollars.

And their only training is basically
either getting things wrong long enough

and surviving to figure out what's right.


Or even worse, they've been doing it
wrong and they don't even know because

they were blessed with a timing or
opportunity of a certain company

that they think their way works.


So like, I'm trying to change that from
like the, the bottom of like, can we

help educate, can we help teach them?

So like I'm launching something called
the Sales Leadership Accelerator, which

is more so designed for like that manager
to director level of like truthfully.

Cause that's also where
a lot of it goes to die.

Have the best ideas in the world
as a C but if your managers aren't

strong, it doesn't matter, right?

Like that's how I view my role as
like my role is to develop my leaders.

Their role is to develop their leaders.

Their role is to develop the,
the individuals on their team.

So I'm building a program called
the Sales Leadership Accelerator.

It's like 20 some hours
of of content training.

All of my templates, all of my blueprints.

You know, cuz something that I am proud
of in my career is I've built three.

I mean, now I'm on my fourth
highly successful like revenue

orgs in different industries.

There's been no overlap in the
industry, so I know these processes

work when building an org and developing
managers and developing directors.

So sales leadership accelerator
is something that I'm working on.

And then obviously taking bench
to, to new heights, you know?


Like I've got, I've got the,
the five orgs under me now.

I've got, you know, one to two to
go and I, I got the whole squad

and you know, we can get out.

That's awesome.

Warren Zenna: That's great.

Yeah, we are very similar missions.

Uh, I agree with you.

The reason I started the CIO collective
is cuz no one's training CROs,

which is preposterous and so mm-hmm.

You know, we're doing that.

We have a really great program for it.

And then also to your point,
training CEOs what a commercial

organization should be run like.

Under the guise have achieved revenue
officers to help them close those gaps.


And you know, I was talking about this
before with a, a person on the phone

before we were talking today, and
that is companies that are between,

let's say, 10 and 50 million in
revenues are a lot like teenagers.

You know, they're not at
fault for what they're doing.

That's just what teenagers do.

That's the, that's the stage they're at.

And so you, you have to understand
that it's not like they're flawed.


That's what young
organizations, how they operate.


And so if I, if I, I have teenager,
I one teenager one has already grown.

But at that stage, what you do is
you hope that the mistakes that

the teenager makes aren't ones that
they're gonna have to pay consequences

for, for the rest of their lives.

They're gonna make ones that they can fix.

So similarly, I go to an or a
younger organizations, I understand

that this is why you do things
when you're at this stage.

I get it.

But if we can provide you some
education that may accelerate.

Your growth, you won't be 30 and
regret the 10 years you wasted.

You'll be at 22 and be ahead of the game.

And that's what we wanna do.


Is understand where you're at, not judge
where you're at, but give you tools

to accelerate where you want to go.

And we do it through building
smart revenue operations focused

on the Chief Revenue Officer.

So you and I are really kind of
solving very similar problems.

Um, but, uh, is there anything else
you'd like to share before we sign off?

Um, no, I

Kevin Dorsey: think, I
think we, we nailed it.

I, I really do.

I just think sales leaders, you actually,
this one you need development too.

You need it?

Like, invest in something, invest in a
program, get mentorship, drop the, the

ego nonsense, like you need it as well.

Learn from people.

Here's what I end with.

I had a mentor tell me this early on.

Um, he said, experience is actually
the slowest way to learn a skill.


Why take 10 years to
get good at something?

If you can learn from someone
who's been good at it for 10 years.

You can learn a lesson through experience.

I touch a hot pan.

I know not to touch that.

Again, you can learn a lesson, but skill
experience is the slowest way to learn.


Surround yourself with people that
have the skills that you want.

It, it's the greatest hack
possible to your Yeah.

Warren Zenna: It's a, it's a, i I refer
to this as, um, modern day time travel.


I like that.

And the reason it's time travel is.

I'm 58.


Which means that if I talk to someone
who's 25, I'm a time traveler.

I'm going back in time and
I'm saying, I saw your future.

I've already been there.

I'm coming back to tell
you what you to expect.

So here's five things not to do.

Or else you could get to 58 and
make the same mistakes I made.


So why wouldn't you want to take
the advice of a time traveler?

I can save so much time.


So this is, we do actually have
the ability to have time travel.

You just gotta meet people who
have been there already and learn

from 'em and you can save time.


So I agree, man.

This is, this is, this is the way
we can manage time, uh, and kind of

break the bind the binds of what you
say is the slowness of experience.

It's great.

Great analogy.

I love that.

Katie, thank you man.

This is so great.

I know that the audience is
gonna get so much out of this.

Uh, really appreciate your time and,
uh, excited to see more what you're

up to and let's just keep talking.

I really appreciate it.

Sounds good, my friend.

Kevin Dorsey: Appreciate you having me.

Using Leverage to Activate Revenue Function Alignment, w/ Kevin “KD” Dorsey
Broadcast by