#RevOps: How a Fractional CRO Drives Growth

Has your tech company grown beyond founder-led sales? Does your next funding round hinge on proving you can be reliably profitable? After those first few sales are you struggling to increase momentum?

Outsourcing the role of chief revenue officer (CRO), chief operating officer (COO), or chief sales officer (CSO) could be the answer — most often called an interim or fractional CRO, though sometimes called a turnaround because they help turn your organization around. They are called fractional because they aren’t a permanent team member, but rather dedicate a couple days a week or a month — or whatever is needed — to help get your team focused.

Usually a non-voting c-level member who temporarily joins your team to help align people, processes and tooling around short-term and long-term growth goals. They help set up and take your marketing, sales, sales engineers, and customer success systems — as well as sometimes operation — to the next level. And they bring a lot of experience — often 20 or more years — scaling startups and scale-ups in your target vertical.

Everything they work on is about your optimizing conversation rate.

A fractional CRO is often brought in around Series A funding. That’s part of why the role of interim CRO is gaining momentum as it’s taking longer than usual for startups to raise a Series B. In this more competitive, longer cycle funding market, you have to stand out, and a fractional CRO may be just the way to do it.

Been there, done that.

A fractional CRO is a more senior member of your sales or marketing team often having decades of experience. They can accomplish more on a lesser time commitment and have the experience and existing network — both of local prospects and for hiring sales reps and SDRs — so they take less time to get your whole revenue growth operation up and running, like when you’re setting up a whole European expansion.

They ought to have a background in marketing and business development, but they should especially exhibit experience building strong sales teams.

Go for someone who has deep domain level expertise in expanding technology to new markets and, when needed, in your particular vertical, especially in areas like infrastructure, fintech, telecommunications or automotive tech. They should have deep industry knowledge, and know your audience and what you need to reach them.

But we wouldn’t recommend going for folks who’ve just worked with the Big Four or at the Fortune 1000. You want a fractional CRO with heavy experience in sales development in international markets of startups and scale-ups — how to open up Europe to a previously unknown brand. They need to have experienced the hunger of working at a startup or scale-up with harder goals.

For key customers, a fractional CRO can help nurture relationships with key prospects, customers and partners via account-based sales.

These CROs help sales reps and marketeers spot areas of improvement and either provide the training or provide pathways to get it. And they can help you recruit, hire and train, especially in opening up a new market, vertical or niche.

Their experience often times has them working with VCs and are even brought in at the request of potential or actual investors. A fractional CRO should feel confident in talking to investors because they will often have the most insight into your growth potential and will be on the interview list.

They are data-centric — we like data here! — and that comes out in everything they do. They’ll help make sure every part of your go-to-market strategy is data-centric too.

Finally, this seasoned executive should be a great communicator with a coaching mindset, with exhibited experience in building teams and strategies for reaching new markets. This focus on communication helps align internal and external stakeholders to move forward together. And it nurtures customer-centric culture, motivating your whole team — whole business even — through customer feedback and stories.

What is a fractional CRO?

The rise of the fractional CRO in tighter times

Partnering with a fractional CRO or part of or a whole fractional revenue team is a proven way to increase revenue on a tighter budget. And that’s what the second half of 2023 is going to be all about. Which is good for you — because technology is how to do that and you are trying to scale your tech business!

They also come at a lower risk because, not only are they established players, but they don’t come with the risk of a long-term, permanent contract — a risk emphasized in Europe which boasts the strongest labor laws. If for any reason something doesn’t work out — with the CRO or with a new target geographic of vertical market — you have the flexibility to move things around quickly.

In tighter economic times with often hiring freezes, your fractional teammates — and they should still be treated and trusted like teammates — aren’t typically considered a headcount. Instead they are an operations expense.

Finally, you lower your risk of wasting time to market and being beaten out by the competition. A fractional CRO — even if it’s just for a few months to get your whole growth team up and running in a new market or vertical — can work as a quick start to your growth.

A fractional CRO or any interim sales leader, really, brings their experience to your team, training them up and coaching them to reach their own potential with better strategies, processes and tactics. They foster a holistic approach to sales, marketing and lead generation.

What another fractional CRO slash blogger Rocky Paap called a shortcut: “Hiring an experienced full time VP Sales, VP Success or CRO can take months. When you add new hire ramp time, it could be 12 full months before you see value from that investment,” he said in a post asked “What’s a Fractional CRO?

He continued that “SaaS is about speed, windows of opportunity close quickly so founders can actually now be scaling and building a foundation instead vs waiting for the FTE to arrive. You can actually get going faster!”

The many hats of a fractional CRO

A fractional CRO is responsible for all stages of revenue generation and can wear many hats, varying my company objectives, including overseeing:

  • Identifying ideal customer profile (ICP)
  • Defining unique value proposition (UVP) or redefining it in response to different target audiences or markets
  • Website optimization
  • Customer acquisition journey
  • A/B testing and user research
  • Digital marketing campaigns
  • Adoption and integration of more sophisticated technical stack with more granular CRMs and sale pipelines
  • Goal setting
  • Higher level product roadmap
  • Metrics
  • Account-based sales
  • Account-based marketing
  • Recruitment of sales reps and BDRs, even an in-house or permanent CRO or CMO
  • Compensation strategy
  • Vertical expansion
  • Global market expansion
  • Go-to-market strategy
  • Sales process implementation and optimization
  • Price optimization
  • Brand advocacy, leveraging existing customer stories
  • Budgeting
  • Set revenue targets

Really, an interim CRO facilitates and leads around anything that can contribute to a startup or scale-up’s revenue growth strategy, so which of these things they do will vary by your organization’s needs.

Besides revenue — though that’s still important — an interim CRO brings other value-added like a more objective, outsider’s perspective not just of your product but of your strategies to scale revenue, processes, and reach at home and abroad.

What are you waiting for?

Perhaps the most well-known fractional CRO is The Revenue Architect aka Arnie Gullov-Singh, who, following over a decade in sales and product leadership, transitioned about four years ago. Reflecting on his experience, he highlighted how this particular role combines two passions:

  • 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.

As Arnie said, “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.”

Fractional CROs can deliver faster time-to-value than full-time executives and should not be missed. Provide these services whether your team is fully in-house — a whole fractional revenue team fully outsourced — one part-time CRO or something in between. We’ve been offering this service to support the rest of your European business development since 2003.

Are you looking for an interim CRO in Europe? Click contact us to set up a conversation with Rick our CEO to talk about your needs!

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