10 signs you need an interim or fractional revenue leader


From hiring issues to cash flow, new product launches to parental leave, here’s 10 signs that you need an interim or fractional revenue leader.

From quicker returns to more cost-effective talent, tech companies are increasingly aware of the benefits of the interim and fractional model for revenue leadership (i.e. Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, RevOps & Partnerships), but how do you know if it’s suited to your company? Here’s 10 signs that you need an interim or fractional revenue leader.

1. Struggling to hire a full-time revenue leader

According to Scalewise’s May 2022 survey, 83% of senior b2b tech leaders think hiring a senior commercial leader, such as a CRO, is hard or really hard. This could be cost-related (i.e. CRO salaries often exceed £200,000) or supply-related (tech companies are all fishing in the same small talent pool). This could be expertise-related (not knowing what to look for in a VP of Sales) or business-related (your needs keep changing). The hiring process might simply be taking too long.

Most of those reasons are out of your control, but interim and fractional puts you back in the driving seat. Within 3-4 weeks, you can have an interim or fractional leader in place with the right skills, making an impact as you continue your full-time search.

2. CEO or CFO having to oversee revenue function

Covering gaps as someone leaves and temporarily running other departments as you hire are a by-product of scaling quickly, but it increases the pressure on the top team and hinders the strategic plan. Even if the CEO or CFO has a revenue background, there’s a reason that their current title isn’t CRO or VP of Sales; their skills are needed elsewhere to help drive the company forward. 

Instead of juggling multiple roles, an interim and fractional revenue leader can plug those gaps, overseeing the revenue function until a more permanent solution is found.

3. Current revenue leader not having the required impact

An underfiring revenue leader is not necessarily a mishire. More often than not, it’s a sign that you’ve simply outgrown someone’s skill set by scaling quicker than their development curve. For example, your best-performing sales rep might know how to establish a sales pipeline and build sales methodologies, but not know how to ramp up a team of sales reps.

With interim and fractional leadership, you can access an experienced revenue leader with the exact skills that you need at the time. Whether it’s redefining your ICP, restructuring the sales process, onboarding sales reps or training up the sales leader, an interim or fractional leader can have an outsized impact in a short space of time.

4. Revenue leader going on maternity or paternity leave

Talent turnover is especially high for revenue leaders, with the average VP of Sales lasting around 18 months. Sometimes the departure is unplanned, such as a resignation or headhunted talent, but often the departures are expected like maternity or paternity leave. Instead of leaving a leadership gap across the revenue function over that period, companies can hire an interim or fractional revenue leader to take charge.

Interim and fractional leaders are especially suited to temporary cover as, by their nature, they have no designs on the job full-time. They also don’t disrupt the company culture or leadership dynamic and are used to making an impact in a fraction of the time.

5. Sales team needs uplevelling

Sales team performance fluctuates. Sometimes a missed quarterly target will lead to a bounce back in the following three months, but if a downward trajectory continues too long, it can be terminal.

Often the issue is one of experience, with the sales team lacking the know-how to achieve the desired results. An interim or fractional revenue leader can level up the sales team and get results back on track. Whether it’s simply a case of restoring sales reps confidence or more wholesale issues like implementing a new sales strategy, a seasoned CRO or VP of Sales can be parachuted in to mentor the team and stop the slide.

6. Launching a new product or in a new territory

Launching a new product or expanding into a new territory is filled with complications. It’s one of the most exciting parts of scaling a company, but also one of the most scary. Wouldn’t it be reassuring to have an experienced leader on board for guidance?

Whether it’s going to market in the EU or selling into enterprise for the first time, an experienced interim or fractional revenue leader can make the voyage less daunting. They can not only lead the new venture, freeing up other department heads’ time, but also train up the sales team and set up the company for success.

7. Need to reduce your burn rate or cash flow

Cash is always king, but given the current market uncertainty, extending your cash runway can be the difference between growth and a downround. A full-time CRO or VP of Sales salary can set you back £200,000+ and force you to make drawbacks elsewhere. Whereas, you could set aside £10,000-£20,000 on an interim CRO and achieve the same results as the full-time equivalent.

With the interim and fractional model, you can access experienced revenue leaders that you might not be able to afford otherwise, who will have a quicker and greater impact than a junior full-time hire. It’s cost-effective leadership that gives you the most bang for your buck.

8. Feeling extra pressure (i.e. during a fundraising round)

Given only 7% of start-ups make it from Series A to Series C, scaling a company is never an easy ride, but even so, there are times when the pressure can overboil. Be it the weight of a drawn-out financing round, the strain of internal tensions among the team or external demands from investors or the market, it can lead to poor decisions and stall momentum.

A temporary external specialist can remove the stress. By taking on responsibility for a particular function, task or team, an interim or fractional revenue leader can offload pressure and act as a external sounding board for ideas.

9. First time hiring a revenue leader

Hiring a revenue leader is not easy even when you know what to look for, but it’s especially difficult when you don’t. Getting it wrong is a common mistake to make and hard to rectify, often taking 12-24 months to get back to the drawing board and costing up to 27 times the person’s salary in additional costs.

Given the risks, why not try before you buy? With interim and fractional leadership, you can take on a revenue leader with no drawn-out search process or long-term contract. Equipped with the skills you need, they can even help with your full-time CRO or Customer Success Lead search and manage the transition.

10. Putting out a fire

If you have a fire, you call the fire brigade. If you have a burning revenue problem, you call a revenue leader. Scaling companies often look to hire a revenue leader when there’s a pressing problem they don’t know how to fix, but the fire could be out of control if you wait months to make a hire.

An interim or fractional leader can parachute in, diagnose the problem and put the fire out in weeks. What’s more, they can then build a growth plan to get you back on track. For example, if sales figures have dropped and your team is lacking morale, you can hire a fractional revenue leader to come in, hit new targets, train up the sales team and build a new pipeline. 

Quicker results, greater impact

The interim and fractional model is versatile and can bend to your unique requirements, business model and company set-up. It’s risk-free, cost-effective and impactful revenue leadership on demand.

“We just assumed a fractional leader couldn’t create change in three months, but we’ve been proven wrong. We asked for three things to solve and he went and solved them: doing what a great full-time VP would do, but even quicker. For an immediate impact like that, I would pay for an interim leader time and time again.” Sam Caulton, CFO, Re-Leased.

At Scalewise, we match you with an experienced revenue leader that’s suited to your changing needs. To find out more about interim and fractional revenue leadership, check out our recent case studies for Re-Leased, Arctic Shores and Mosaic.

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