Eric Sager

Why I decided to be a chief revenue officer

The following is a guest post from Eric Sager, chief revenue officer of invoice factoring and business line of credit provider BlueVine.

In early 2016, I met with an entrepreneur named Eyal Lifshiftz, who had led his company BlueVine to become one of the fastest growing fintech startups in the country.

Over dinner in Palo Alto, we talked about his vision for BlueVine and of the need to ensure customers have a consistently amazing experience at every stage of their relationship with the company.

We agreed that such a need can be addressed by creating a new executive position: chief revenue officer. Eventually, Eyal asked if I would consider taking on that role at BlueVine.

Eric Sager

I was then head of sales at Square, the successful merchant and financial services company that was helping tens of thousands of small business owners manage their payment systems. Square was growing fast and had just gone public in November 2015. I was in a great place with lots of amazing people around me and lots left to learn and accomplish. But even though leaving Square was a hard decision, I took the leap to join Eyal’s team.

I took up Eyal’s offer not just because I believe BlueVine is uniquely positioned to solve so many small business-related pain points. The chief revenue officer role, as we defined it, would give me an opportunity to face new challenges and to have a big impact on the lives of many business owners.

The title ‘chief revenue officer’ is fairly new, made popular in Silicon Valley mainly by Internet and software-as-a-service companies. At many corporations, the position is essentially an expanded head of sales role. What Eyal and I had in mind was broader and deeper, and, for me, more exciting.

BlueVine created the chief revenue officer position to take on the challenge faced by many companies, especially startups, where marketing, business development, sales and account management usually operate in silos. This frequently leads to friction and misalignment because teams don’t all report to and work with the same executive leadership. They are accountable to the chief executive officer, of course, but the CEO, in many instances, is simply too busy with other responsibilities to manage all of it.

At BlueVine, my role as chief revenue officer is more strategic. It is to make sure that all the teams that work with customers — from business development and marketing to sales, account management and support — are aligned and moving forward based on a common approach that in turn fits with the priorities of the overall business. It’s an important role given the challenges faced by BlueVine and the fintech sector at large. The industry has faced skepticism about its growth prospects, which is why a role like mine is becoming more popular as a C-suite addition.

My main responsibility now is to make sure that BlueVine offers an amazing end-to-end client experience as a trusted ally of small and medium-sized businesses. Whether it’s trying to reach a potential customer, or onboarding new clients and making sure that their needs are being met on an ongoing basis, the teams I work with must collaborate based on the same vision, mission and strategy.

“Chief revenue officer” may seem like another vague  title to come out of Silicon Valley which is known for coming up with other offbeat titles such as “Chief People Officer” or even “Chief Yahoo.” But it is slowly evolving into an important role for many technology companies, particularly in the fintech arena where creating a cohesive and focused sales strategy and organization is a critical element for success.

Eric Sager is chief revenue officer at BlueVine.

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