Today’s trend of hiring fractional executives is gaining momentum among growth-oriented businesses aiming to enhance their management expertise and bandwidth cost-effectively. In this article, I will delve into the dynamic world of fractional sales leaders, exploring their pivotal role in driving revenue growth, providing specialized expertise, and offering flexibility to scale sales leadership based on organizational needs. I will reveal how these leaders contribute to strategic focus, mitigate hiring risks, and deliver quick results, drawing insights from real-world scenarios.
A fractional sales leader, such as a Chief Sales Officer/VP of Sales, is an outsourced executive experienced at driving rapid growth by developing the sales strategy and structure and then driving execution by managing the sales process, developing talent, and optimizing lead generation. They also provide sales training and coaching to the sales team and can help companies develop and implement their bespoke sales plans. A fractional sales leader is committed to ensuring that the sales team is ready to support business growth and help businesses reach new levels of success.
What Does a Fractional Sales Leader Bring to the Table?✔️ Specialized Expertise
Fractional sales leaders bring deep sales management experience from working at big companies – expertise lower mid-market companies often lack. These leaders have extensive experience driving revenue growth for both B2B and B2C companies.
✔️ Quick Onboarding
Here at Chief Outsiders, we see companies in the lower end of the middle to emerging markets – generally between $20 and $200 million in revenue, are the best fit for fractional sales leadership. Many of these companies have achieved a high level of operational excellence, but are lacking in sales culture due to acquisition, expansion, or other reasons.
In addition to privately owned businesses where a CEO or founder is present, we help private equity-owned businesses that need rapid, but managed growth to meet their revenue targets. These CEOs or private equity operating partners work closely with Chief Outsiders to craft a fractional leadership position to help achieve the growth they need to reach their next stage of success. A fractional sales leader can implement the sales strategy and culture needed to bridge the gap between target revenue and sales throughput/results.
One of our clients is an early-stage company with a minimum viable product, which struggled to generate revenue and had a limited/inexperienced sales team with no sales process. After new investors were brought in, the fractional Chief Sales Officer assessed the company’s sales processes conducting a robust examination of the people, process, performance, platforms, data, and approach to the market. Upon completion of the assessment to examine people process, performance, platforms, the fractional Chief Sales Officer developed a go-to-market strategy, implemented a sales playbook, installed a pipeline management process, implemented compensation programs, and performed sales coaching that yielded a 63% increase in sales.
The key to successful fractional sales leadership is to establish a culture where sales is valued, strategic, and supported. Strategy leads to well-planned execution, which leads to enablement that “trickles down” throughout the sales structure.
Among the questions leaders should ask themselves:
Whether a business has a lack of systems, ineffective processes, the absence of a CRM, or some combination of these challenges, a factional sales leader can provide vision, stability, and accountability at a sensitive time in a business’ trajectory, particularly when time is a factor.
Consider real estate as a framing device for understanding fractional leadership. A private equity deal partner purchases a house to renovate and re-sell in a specific time frame. The partner buys the property and turns it over to a general contractor (an operating partner) to make the necessary improvements required for the partner to turn a profit. Seems simple enough. But what happens when the partner buys half a dozen other properties and turns to the contractor to manage THOSE improvements? Where is the strategy, structure, and scalability necessary to make ALL these properties profitable.
The contractor – or operating partner – in both situations is the one responsible for value creation. Their expertise goes beyond simply crunching numbers; these leaders are adept at making smart investments in growth. In the real estate example, they may choose certain finishes over others, or employ more contractors (such as a fractional Chief Sales Officer) to get the job done faster. The common thread is orchestrating the over-arching strategy that supports growth or, in this case, profitability.
First, a fractional sales leader must be trustworthy and experienced. They are charged with stabilizing and/or growing sales operations, and generally an equity partner in a business will not have operational expertise. It’s essential to hire a leader who is not only competent, but also excels at sales strategy and execution in a growth-oriented business setting.
Curiosity and flexibility are two key criteria for hiring a fractional sales leader. Onboarding times are often very rapid, so a leader must be able to jump in and contribute immediately. This means self-starting and relying on experience to take the reins of the sales organization without much background knowledge.
Identifying and hiring a fractional sales leader with a support structure behind them is also a critical measure for success. Since this leader needs to be able to make an immediate impact with very little guidance, having a firm like Chief Outsiders behind the fractional hire will go a long way toward adding even more value to a business.
We placed a fractional Chief Sales Officer last year who was charged with overhauling a struggling sales organization. Despite having a talented sales team, the business was missing the senior sales leadership needed to drive growth. Since onboarding this fractional Chief Sales Officer, the business has seen a 56% increase in sales pipeline, a 12% lift in average deal size, and an 8% reduction in churn. This came from restructuring the sales team, optimizing quotas, and revamping the sales process. Additionally, the Chief Sales Officer also developed a sales enablement function that brought marketing together with sales to drive execution.
Bringing on a fractional sales leader can be a game-changer for your sales organization. As one CEO stated: “The growth we’ve seen in pipeline, deal sizes, and customer retention has significantly accelerated our business expansion. I advise any CEO struggling with sales execution to consider the fractional model to fill gaps and ignite growth. The difference a fractional sales leader makes is substantial.”
The expertise and outside perspective fractional sales leaders provide is extremely valuable for early stage to lower mid-market companies lacking sales leadership. This flexible and affordable model allows businesses to scale executive sales leadership on-demand. For sales specifically, fractional executives make quick, high-impact changes through sales transformation and execution.
If you are looking to accelerate growth, overcome revenue stagflation and increase your company’s valuation, contact Dave for a complimentary consultation.