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The Benefits of Hiring a Fractional Sales Executive

Until relatively recently, the terms ‘part-time,’ ‘outsourcing,’ and ‘fractional’ were almost unheard of when applied to VP Sales and other Sales Executive roles.

However, an impressive cross-section of companies — from bootstrapped startups to Fortune 500 businesses — are pivoting to part-time VP Sales/CRO’s. The arrangement is often optimal for both parties.

Startups that don’t have the resources can work with an experienced professional without hiring them at a full-time salary with benefits, let alone equity.

Fractional CRO’s divide their workweek among multiple employers, such as two days at one company and four days at another.

Given the breadth of experience, they can also fill all kinds of roles such as CEO, CMO, and COO. More importantly, they promise faster results, a fresh perspective, and real, tangible return on investment.

What are the Benefits of Hiring Fractional Executives?

Executives have a rare combination of skills and experience, and the results they achieve speak for themselves. If you’re considering hiring an interim manager, you’ll be interested in learning what they bring to the table. We’ve listed four key benefits of hiring fractional sales executives.

i) Executive Experience

Fractional Sales Executives have prior experience as full-time executives and have faced situations that many founders may not have had practical exposure to. Most fractional sales leaders have anywhere from 20 to 30 years of experience. Many have held more than one role as a C-level executive and often across multiple industries. Several others have run their own businesses that were built from the ground up. This gives them both in-depth vertical knowledge as well as a wider understanding of cross-functional complexities. Such knowledge, or lack thereof, can make or break the growth of a company. Most fractional sales leaders have a knack for juggling multiple businesses and problem-solving across competing issues.

ii) Cross-Industry Experience

Since they’re always on the go, interim executives are on the cutting edge of things. These professionals have a natural knack for always learning and engaging in continuous professional development. They have access to the latest technology, perspectives, skills, and relevant cross-industry expertise. This allows them to apply what they’ve learned from one business to another.

iii) Focus on Results

Fractional executives understand that they must deliver tangible results faster than many of their permanent colleagues. Often hired for a short time period in which several specific issues have to be resolved, these executives have become highly skilled at impact mapping and radical focus. Their primary objective is to focus on the company’s immediate priorities and implementing practical steps that lead to success. To this end, fractional executives will talk to everyone in the company, across all hierarchal levels, to understand the pulse of what works and what doesn’t. True teamwork in play as egos are left at the front door.

At the same time, they’re able to impart the organization with harsh truths that a conventional executive may have a hard time admitting. Because of their no-nonsense approach to goals, fractional managers are candid, to the point, and not as sensitive to office politics.

iv) Perfect for Startups that are Scaling

Startups on the cusp of growth face impossibly tough odds because their existing roster of talent — as skilled as they are — frequently have no idea what they’re dealing with. The future is uncertain, the risks are enormous, and frankly, you can’t afford to take a scattershot approach to growth.

This is why many startups are pivoting to fractional executives. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. The fractional executive gets to enjoy the flexibility and independence that comes with the gig economy. In return, the startup can leverage seasoned executives’ vast experience without parting with too much of their bottom line and equity. Besides, many startups do not need all roles on a full-time equivalent and permanent basis, but rather require support during defined time intervals during a growth phase or a restructuring phase. Eventually, most startups will end up hiring their own executive leadership teams, as they should. However, in our opinion, fractional sales staffing can be the perfect way to bridge the gap between the startup’s acute need for support and their resource readiness.

Thanks to the concept of fractional executives, startups and small businesses can now afford great leadership.

Addressing Common Concerns

Like any solution, hiring fractional sales managers is not faultless or without drawbacks. Often investors will urge startups to recruit large teams and keep the knowledge inhouse. They often state a fear that interim or fractional consultants will lack the loyalty of an employee. While this can be justified in some circumstances, there are ways to work around that. Like in any recruiting process, you will want to strictly vet the individual, speak with past clients and ensure that the candidate kept integrity, drive, and delivered full commitment at all times during past engagements.

Furthermore, let’s face it, in today’s changing economy, employees tend to have an average tenure of three to four years, depending on which study you happen to be reading. At startups, this is even less. And, not to forget, there is the key issue of affordability. In our opinion, it is better to have the right person in a role for 12–24 months than to hire someone with less experience for five years simply because it is thought to be cheaper or to keep the knowledge in-house. That cheap, in-house knowledge can quickly become exceptionally expensive, or you may even see that loyal employee migrate to the competition.

Typically, we would recommend incentivizing the fractional sales leaders with a profit-sharing incentive plan building in a risk sharing partnership as well.. Also, ensure that you have comprehensive contracts covering the full transfer of intellectual property rights and non-compete clauses – for all employees and contractors in equal measure.

Wrapping Up

The labor market for talented executives is fiercely competitive. Many companies don’t have the budget to hire full-time executives. Fresh out of college hires or young professionals can work for less but lack the foresight that comes with years of experience. For the most part, hiring a fractional executive is the most effective way to inject genuine talent into your business without breaking the bank.

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