Why Most Fractional CROs Fail Without a High-Performing Team

Mary Grothe Apr 21, 2021 11:20:43 AM
House of Revenue Fractional CRO

The title Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) has become more than a ‘buzz-role’ in recent years with many organizations realizing the power of the role. However, it’s still a relatively new role that CEOs are still wrapping their minds around, especially relating to fractional CROs who are contracted to work with multiple clients. While you may recognize the importance of hiring a CRO, there are fundamental questions to answer before putting pen to paper.

What should my CRO’s professional background be? How do I know if they will fit culturally? And most importantly, how can I set my CRO — and thus my company — up for success? It’s that last question I want to focus on today because it’s a massively overlooked consideration by many CEOs ready to scale.

What Is a CRO?

A CRO is responsible for all revenue functions and works to align revenue teams within an organization, typically including marketing, sales, customer success, and RevOps. This person works with clients throughout their entire lifecycle — from the first touchpoint through offboarding or renewal — and is responsible for strategizing revenue streams throughout the engagement.

The value of a great CRO is immense. They are able to:

 

  • Enhance client experience
  • Reduce churn
  • Attract qualified prospects
  • Improve conversion rates
  • Streamline business-wide efficiency
  • Maximize user adoption of your product
  • Increase product suite penetration
  • Create brand ambassadors, and thus, easy-win referrals
  • And so much more

 

You should be noticing a trend here — a phenomenal CRO understands how different aspects of marketing, sales, customer success, and RevOps function together to create holistic revenue-scaling strategies. They have to be experienced in all aspects of revenue in order to be successful.

Clearly, though, this cannot be accomplished by a single person. More on this later, but it’s crucial to understand that CROs need the backing of a high-performing team to be successful. They are the strategists behind the revenue growth, not the actual sales, marketing, and RevOps specialists who execute on the strategy.

Fractional CROs vs. Full-Time CROs

You may have heard the term “fractional” used in other job titles — think fractional CFOs or fractional VPs of Sales. But the model is becoming increasingly popular for chief revenue officers, as well. 

A Fractional CRO is just what it sounds like: a person who fractions their work across multiple clients. Fractional CROs are hired to work with multiple clients, usually capping the workload at four or five clients. So, is a fractional CRO the right decision for your company?

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Fractional CRO

  • Pros
      • Less expensive than a full-time hire
      • More flexibility for internal hires and growth
      • Often well-rounded in marketing, sales, customer success, and RevOps
      • Able to speak multiple business languages and relate to clients
  • Cons
    • Split an already arduous job between multiple clients
    • Not officially part of your organization
    • Could drive new business that your organization is not ready to handle

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Full-Time CRO

  • Pros
      • Long-term solution
      • Committed to your company alone
  • Cons
    • An expensive solution that remains expensive
    • Needs full-time internal support from specialists
    • Often biased towards marketing or sales
    • Sometimes inexperienced with customer success and RevOps
    • Could end up as the wrong hire 

 

When deciding between fractional and full-time hires, you must understand what is right for your current situation. This is one of the most important hires for scaling companies, and it’s so vital to spend the necessary time making the right decision.

The Team Behind the Fractional CRO

The team behind your fractional CRO is just as important as the CRO themself. If you have a bad experience hiring fractionally in the past, ask yourself this question — did they have the backing of a high-performing team to execute their strategy?

As I said earlier, CROs are strategists, not necessarily execution specialists. While they are likely involved in some pieces of execution, that’s not the reason you hire them. No, you hire a CRO — full-time or fractional — because they are incredible strategists and can see the bigger picture coming together.

They need a sales, marketing, customer success, and RevOps team to handle the implementation of a strategy they manage. If you make the mistake of hiring a fractional CRO with the hopes they can handle strategy, implementation, and execution in multiple departments — a la the mythical sales unicorn — you’re making a massive mistake.

 

Think about all the roles you are asking them to fill in:

 

  • Sales — VP of Sales, BDR, SDR, Account Manager, Account Executive, etc.
  • Marketing — VP of Marketing, Social Media Manager, Paid Media Specialist, SEO Specialist, Graphic Designer, etc.
  • Customer Success — VP of Customer Success, Customer Service Director, Key Account Manager, etc.
  • RevOps — VP of RevOps, RevOps Analyst, Product Engineer, etc.

 

Do you get the point? Expecting one person to handle all of these responsibilities — especially in a fractional sense — is foolish. A full-time CRO already has to split up their workload between these four different departments, and when you hire fractionally, that split workload only multiplies.

The best CROs don’t do execution. They build infrastructure and playbooks, recruit elite talent and build brilliant teams, and oversee the strategy behind the revenue growth. Because of this, it’s crucial to equip fractional CROs with the resources — people, technology, systems, etc. — they need to be successful.

A New Fractional CRO

Clearly, putting all the resources in place to make this happen is expensive. Even if you save money by hiring a fractional CRO, you still need to make sure they have all of the above-mentioned resources to succeed. 

Scaling CEOs often miss this truth and underestimate the costs needed to truly scale, resulting in sour relationships and untapped productivity. So what’s the solution?

 

A modern fractional CRO.

 

Throughout our personal scaling efforts, we’ve reimagined what a fractional CRO looks like. You can’t solve this problem from a single person’s perspective — it takes an entire team of brilliant people to scale revenue.

The modern fractional CRO that we created is a three-headed monster composed of one VP of Revenue who oversees sales and customer success, one RevOps analyst who handles tech stack and implementation, and one VP of Marketing who is backed by an entire marketing team of specialists. 

The result? A 5- to 7-person team of revenue-generating specialists who join your team fractionally, all for less than the base annual salary of a full-time CRO. Everything from executive-level strategy through granular-level execution comes in one complete package.

This is the House of Revenue difference, and we can’t wait to help you experience it. Learn more about fractional CROs on the full radio show here, or schedule a consultation with us now to get started.

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