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About This Episode
On this week’s edition of Women in Revenue Wednesday, we sat down with Heather Combs, chief revenue officer at Three Pillar Global. There, Heather oversees marketing, business development and operations.
Three Pillar Global builds breakthrough software products that power digital businesses. They help companies like PBS and Carfax build digital products that drive revenue and help with customer growth.
We sat down with Heather to talk about the modern role of the CRO and to get her best advice for reaching that coveted C-Suite level.
The Modern Role of the CRO
Heather doesn’t see the CRO title enough in the marketplace. She told us that the CRO position encompasses so much more than direct sales. ”It’s really an opportunity to reinforce brand, the culture of the business, and to help match the product you’re taking to market with the needs the customer has through the use of both sales, marketing and product launch,” she explained.
Three Pillar Global encourages a mentality of one united team when it comes to the sales and marketing department. You’d be surprised to find out that there’s no marketing budget or sales budget. There’s only one revenue-driving, brand-building budget to share. “It allows us to have one shared goal.”
Career Growth for The Modern Woman in Revenue
Heather has a wealth of knowledge to share with us aspiring CROs. I asked her what she did on her career journey to get to where she is today. And she responded with five really solid pieces of career wisdom.
1. Be willing to say yes.
Take opportunities as they arrive, and take those chances that scare you. Embrace that no one is good at any job on day one. And always be on the lookout for ways to expand your role to meet the needs of the business.
If there is work out there that needs to be done, step up, absorb it, and make a positive change in your organization.
2. Improve your business acumen.
There are so many people who get really good at their specific capability in their organization, which is great. But, the problem is, they can’t talk about pricing, revenue generation models, the margin of a product, they don’t know how to run a P&L or even manage a budget.
When your business acumen isn’t up to par, you won’t feel confident to speak up or contribute to the conversation. That’s why Heather encourages people to get comfortable in business vocabulary and hard skills, and that will earn you an opportunity to sit at the table that makes those decisions.
3. Become a student of the organization you want to lead.
If you know you want to lead someday, start preparing by making sure your values align with the organization you want to work for.
Becoming a leader means becoming an example in the space. So, start taking on extra roles and going above and beyond in alignment with the organization’s goals. You’ll be noticed and you’ll be well on your way to the next promotion.
4. Fill the gaps that are holding you back.
Along with improving your business acumen, get help for the areas you’re not as strong in.
Earlier on in Heather’s career, there was a time when she noticed her company was looking into acquisition opportunities. In that moment, she realized she wasn’t comfortable reading a full general ledger, reading balance sheets of other companies, or even understanding what was a good deal.
So, what did she do? She went to the Chicago Booth School of Business and took a 6-day intensive training called Financial Management for Non-Financial Managers. She walked out of that class knowing the vocabulary, what questions to ask, and having a sense of what comparative metrics would look like. She added new tools to her toolkit in a matter of five (long!) days.
When you know what gaps are holding you back, go get the skills that will allow you to join the conversation. They’re out there! No one was born knowing this stuff. You have to be willing to invest in yourself.
By doing this, you give yourself the confidence to walk into a room with your head held high because you’re a well-rounded voice in the room.
Heather left us with this: There are places in your career where you’ll be given opportunities. If you’ll lean into them, say yes, and not be afraid of them, you’ll find really great outcomes on the other side. And on the off chance you don’t, you’ll learn a lot on the way.
And if you’re currently in a position to give back, do it. Mentor people and be intentional when recruiting, hiring, and giving out promotions. As women in revenue, we have an opportunity to pave the very path we’re walking for those who come behind us.
We can contribute to a different future.
So, say yes and then pay it forward.