Sam Jacobs: How to Become the Revenue Leader You Want to Be

Posted on Jul 08, 2021


About Sam

Sam Jacobs is the Founder of Pavilion, formerly Revenue Collective. Pavilion is a private membership for high-growth professionals, providing the support you need to get you where you want to go. There are already 5,000 Pavilion members. Listen to learn what the responsibility of the modern-day chief revenue officer is and the human part of being in a workplace.

Originally called the New York Revenue Collective, Pavilion started about eight years ago as a Google group. And then, people started reaching out to Sam from all over the world, asking if they could start chapters. Sam shares that how technology makes us feel or how disconnected we feel from our fellow human beings has accentuated people's sense of seeking and wanting community... but not just community for its own sake. They seek comfort and reassurance that they are not alone, they are with their fellow kindred spirits, and are moving in a purposeful direction. They are seeking purpose, direction, support. and guidance.

The Modern-day Chief Revenue Officer

  • Sam discusses the role of CRO today and the current challenges that they face. The biggest challenge is that there's no concrete, specific definition. Who are they responsible for? If you ask some people they'll say CRO has emerged to become the head of the broadly defined, human-driven sales effort. The CRO runs account management and sales. But there are also questions about whether or not marketing and customer success report to the CRO. 
  • Having been a CRO multiple times, Sam says he would be in meetings with important customers, and it just did not strike the right tone. His title was “I'm the person here to collect the money,” as opposed to “I'm the person here to make you happy.” There's no common definition of even the core responsibilities.
  • Let's assume we all agree that the CRO is responsible for customer success, account management, and new business. However, there is no standard definition around all of the elements that go into making that person effective. What are all the things that they're supposed to know? Are they supposed to know territory design? Are they supposed to be able to design an SDR comp plan? What level of awareness or affinity are they supposed to have for marketing? What's their perspective on demand generation? Where do they think demand comes from? And have they been trained to understand that maybe hiring salespeople isn't the best way to generate demand? 

Getting a Clear Definition of Chief Revenue Officer

  • What are the foundational sets of knowledge that the CRO should have? At Pavilion, Sam teaches a course called CRO School because he’s trying to help people answer that question. It includes the things you need to know in order to be an effective CRO. And the first place they start is, "What's your theory of what makes a company valuable?"
  • Many people become quite senior in their careers without ever having taken the time to think about why does one company work versus another, beyond they happen to raise more money. But what is it that generates enterprise value? What does that phrase mean and how was it generated?
  • That's some of the confusion that arises just from the job itself. So if you can imagine that the sales executive and operations executives don't know what that means, you can also imagine that founders and CEOs don't know what it means either because nobody clearly told them. 
  • Pavilion is trying to help, first, establish a clear definition of what the responsibilities of a chief revenue officer are. Then they make sure people feel empowered and supported that they have the answers so that they're not doing it all on their own for the first time, putting their lives and their career in jeopardy because they’re making common mistakes.

Sharing CRO Best Practices

  • We asked Sam whether or not he finds that CROs are likely to share best practices and experiences with other CROs. Is there less sharing because it’s more competitive at the C level? Sam shares that there's infinite energy and infinite opportunity out there, and that most of the time, we're not competitive. Most of the time, we're not competing with each other. 
  • At Pavilion, they say, "Within our community, we believe that the world is not zero-sum. We believe that you're going to accrue greater advantage to yourself and to your career if you generally look to help people as opposed to looking to preserve or hoard knowledge." The philosophy Sam is trying to build into the company is, “The whole point of this thing is sharing. If you don't want to share, then it's probably not for you."
  • Our host Gideon Thomas shares that through communities he has fast-forwarded in 10 years within two years because there has been such freedom of access to information because people are so secure in their own shoes that they believe we go to market faster when we share and collaborate, as opposed to when we do things in isolation.
  • When you go to market faster, and you're learning faster, you start to flourish. You start to really enjoy what you do because you're actually seeing the quick fruits, the turnaround, the impact you're making. When you're secure in your own shoes, you realize that other people could do the same things, but probably not the same way. You realize that your personality or your decision-making is probably part of the X factor in all of that.

Hiring for Revenue Operations in 2021

  • After the downturn from COVID last year, many companies are hiring, starting from the top down. They're hiring CROs and getting some of the leadership pieces in place in the revenue operations and sales operations ecosystem. Something like 40% of new hires have been CROs. It's not a bottom-up build, it's a top-down leadership build. Demand is on the increase for this role, which means there will be more and more people dealing with uncharted water because there's no way that many are being born overnight. 

Helping Shape the CRO Landscape

  • CRO School is one value-add play that Pavilion is contributing. We asked Sam whey they have on the landscape for 2021 to help shape the CRO space. Sam says, “What I care about is helping people live lives that are fulfilling and meaningful. And so I don't see companies that specifically come at it that personally, with that much soul and spirit. And so that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to inject true caring, true compassion, into the business and help people navigate what is a really difficult world. So what does that mean in practice for our roadmap? It just means that's the guiding light. The guiding light is what do people need in their jobs and in their professional lives to then come home, and sleep well, and be good partners to their spouse, and be happy, or, at least, begin to discover how to be happy?”
  • Pavilion provides access to a community where members have somebody to ask questions to, that they feel cares about them, and will also, willingly, also answer those questions. That creates a culture when you experience all these people helping you. Now, you want to go out and find people to help because you feel a sense of obligation.
  • Then there's the fact that all of these jobs are new. It's not just CROs, it's CMOs, et cetera. All of the skills and education required in those jobs are not immediately clear, whether it's postgraduate education or an MBA. So in addition to the CRO School, Pavilion also has the Pipeline Enterprise, Go-to-Market School, CMO School, Customer Success School, RevOps School. All of these programs are led by practitioners and designed by practitioners.
  • The final piece of it is career services, which is just a way of helping people figure out how to negotiate, giving people access to coaches and mentors, giving people access to resume review services. Pavilion is making sure that people feel like they are in a place where they can take advantage of all their knowledge. They’ll have good visibility on the labor market and opportunities, both for themselves and people they might want to hire.
  • Sam shares a deep-rooted set of values that he holds about human flourishing and many other things that wouldn't normally surface in a conversation about CROs and revenue operations. Pavilion has a Framing Your Career workshop that kicks off all of their learning programs and it’s about how to find happiness. What does happiness mean? How do you discover it? What's inside? He's even writing a book about it. He wants to bring those values to the surface more.

Sam is a musician and has released 2 albums, Everything is Good and The Flying Change. 

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About the podcast

The RevAmp podcast derives from two words: Revenue + Amplification. This series has been produced specifically to give a voice to the sales and revenue operations professionals who have invaluable experiences to share. We have seen the scope for this role, as well as the recognition, expectations, and tools have rapidly changed over the last couple of years. The reality is that there are not enough high-quality resources for fellow professionals to use as a benchmark or learning curve. DealHub knows how important it is to be well resourced so we have put together this RevAmp podcast for your benefit.

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Topics: Technology