Being a fractional CRO combines the two things I love most about work:
Using data, frameworks and experience to develop go-to-market strategies that are simple, logical and repeatable.
Coaching founders and leaders with specific, actionable advice that they can apply immediately and see near term impact.
Fractional exec roles are on the rise right now as founders and CEOs are being tasked with being more efficient with capital yet still need access to experienced operators to guide them and their teams through solving their growth problems. Most board members and traditional startup advisors don’t have the time nor the incentives to provide this, so founders are increasingly turning to fractional executives to fill the gap.
The fractional CRO role is relatively new, so the goal of this post is to outline the types of problems you can solve with a fractional CRO and what you can expect from working with me.
The most common questions are:
What does a fractional CRO do?
Who needs a fractional CRO, and why?
How much does it cost to hire a fractional CRO?
1. What does a fractional CRO do?
A fractional CRO does 3 things:
Architects the go-to-market motion
Coaches founders and the top revenue leader on GTM strategy
Coaches frontline revenue managers on GTM execution
Architecting the go-to-market motion
Your go-to-market motions are the sets of activities that turn your ideal prospects into your ideal customers. These motions generally span four areas: Generating demand, Closing new business, Renewing existing business and Expanding existing business.
Each motion has issues or points of friction that prevent you from converting more ideal prospects into ideal customers. You need a customer journey framework to organize your data for each motion, identify where the issues are, what the root cause is, prioritize what to focus on now vs later and prescribe the specific, actionable solution.
In practice this typically involves me running a retro on your last few months’ results, unpacking your data, reviewing your sales materials, interviewing your team and listening to your sales calls to identify the issues and align your team around fixing them. I then lead the necessary improvements to each motion in partnership with your team and land them with your team through training and goal setting.
Coaching founders and the top revenue leader on GTM strategy
Your go-to-market is in a continuous state of flux because the market itself is in a continuous state of flux. Your lead volume can suddenly decline, win rate drops, order size drops, churn increases, rep performance becomes inconsistent.
It’s hard to find the time to fix these problems as you need to get to the root of them, design a solution and get someone on your team to implement it. You need an experienced operator who has the answers and can guide you to them quickly.
In practice, this typically involves me having weekly working sessions with founders and the top revenue leader to review results, track KPIs, identify issues, prescribe solutions and solve tactical GTM problems around process, messaging, team structure, hiring and troubleshooting deals.
Coaching frontline revenue managers on GTM execution
Many startup managers are new to their role, having been promoted on the back of being a high performing individual contributor or team lead. They need to develop key management skills like planning, prioritization and delegation and need to learn to coach their direct reports instead of jumping in do the work themselves.
As a founder / CEO or even a department VP, it’s hard to find the time to do this and even harder if you don’t have the relevant GTM expertise yourself. You and your managers need an experienced operator who has coached first time managers before, has the answers and can guide your team to them quickly.
In practice this typically involves me having weekly working sessions with your frontline revenue managers to develop skills, implement a coaching framework for their direct reports and providing async feedback on call recordings to surface specific, actionable coaching opportunities.
2. Who needs a fractional CRO, and why?
A fractional CRO is most appealing to a founder or CEO who is running sales and marketing for the first time and doesn’t yet have the relevant expertise to do things like picking the right customer segment, choosing the right go-to-market strategy, designing the relevant processes, determining who to hire in which roles, what goals to give them, how to enable them, how to measure success and so on. Having a coach to guide you and your team through these decisions is essential.
Social media is full of experts slinging piecemeal tips and tricks that they used five years ago when they were having their big career win. It’s hard to figure out which advice is relevant for you and your business and easy to go down the wrong road or to run in multiple directions and creating chaos in your company. Having a revenue architecture that is appropriate for your industry, customer base and stage of business is essential.
Hiring a full time C-level exec is a significant investment. A full time CRO is usually the highest paid position in a startup, with the all-in year one costs running close to $1M on the high end. This puts it beyond the reach of startups that are doing less than $10M in revenue.
3. How much does it cost to hire a fractional CRO?
The key advantage of hiring a fractional CRO is access to an experienced operator a fraction of the cost of hiring a full time CRO. For context, to hire a full time Chief Revenue Officer for a B2B venture-backed startup costs close to $1M in the first year:
$150-200k in upfront recruiting fees to an exec search firm
$500-700k per year in cash compensation (salary + bonus)
$30-50k per year in payroll taxes, benefits, T&E and tech/tools
3-6 months your time interviewing and closing the right candidate
In the current economic climate, this level of investment doesn’t start to make sense until you are doing more than $10M revenue AND have strong product-market fit AND need to build a large sales and customer success organization.
In contrast, a fractional CRO costs in the range of $6-18k per month, depending on level of engagement you need. To put that in context, on the low end its less than the cost of an SDR and on the high end its about what you’d pay for an experienced mid market salesperson.
Here’s a summary of how I structure my fractional CRO services:
If you’d like to discuss working together, please get in touch by replying to this email if you are a subscriber or by messaging me through LinkedIn.
If you found this useful, please forward it to a colleague and if you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to my weekly newsletter for specific, actionable advice on solving the top sales and marketing issues that hold back growth.
So interesting to have your vision! Thanks for sharing!
Do you think this approach of Fractional CRO might be viable outside of the US? As in France the concept is quite new