Searching for a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) or sales executive in the traditional way – focusing primarily on foundational sales experience – will yield traditional results.
Particularly when hiring in a venture capital or private equity ecosystem, we recommend assessing an additional set of candidate experiences and characteristics in order to land a top tier sales executive that will be able to meet (and surpass) the expectations and goals of your organization.
Finding someone with that traditional experience is easy. It is much more challenging, yet critical for CRO success, to identify an executive who also brings the following core characteristics to the table:
The details in how your company operates matter. From the growth expectations of your board to the sales philosophies that you embrace, all come into play when looking to bring in a CRO or sales leader. This is the second of the three-part JM Search blog series, where we explore what it means for a CRO to have a disciplined approach.
From her/his breadth of experience, the CRO leader should have a solid perspective toward determining the right organizational design that fits with the sponsor’s investment criteria, as well as the company’s business and go-to-market models.
This CRO knows how the sales team should be structured and how to optimize their performance based on the work environment (e.g., remote vs. hybrid vs. on-site).
Additional considerations include: Does the team generate their own leads or rely on marketing to source? Is there a targeted account-based strategy in place, a high-volume lead-generation model, or some combination of the two? What’s the role of the BDR/SDR team and who do they report to? How are accounts divided up between AEs? Does one rep manage the entire sales cycle or should there be a separate team focused on expansion/growth selling? How often, and who on the team, will meet with marketing, customer success, and other parts of the revenue team?
Needless to say, there are many organizational questions to address and solve in a successful venture- or private equity-backed company. Successful sales executives know this. They can prioritize, be proactive, and anticipate what the team and company needs and adjust accordingly.
Tailored Sales Management Philosophy
If sales is part art and science, this is the science part. A sales exec will understand, and advocate for, a wide set of metrics and key performance indicators. Data will be used to measure performance of AEs and SDRs along with pipeline velocity, win rate, customer acquisition cost, lifetime value, and more.
The ability to holistically understand, present, and communicate these essential numbers to the board is paramount.
The sales leader must not only possess a deep focus on KPIs, but also know the technology and processes required to measure effectively, as well as how to interpret those metrics for data-led decisioning in driving the company forward. This ties closely to revenue operations, where having the right person in the role can dramatically impact growth.
Methodical Approach to Selling
Does your company focus on a specific sales methodology? Is the organization able to adjust and adapt to new approaches? Whether you embrace the Challenger Sale, Sandler, MEDDIC, or some other methodology, you need a leader who recognizes and appropriately applies the right approach that fits with your unique business model and go-to-market strategy.
The CRO sets the approach and the pace, ensuring strong alignment across the organization. Accordingly, the right sales leader will empower your team, create accountability across all levels, and advocate to quickly get people onboarded, trained, and contributing.
Moving Beyond Traditional Sales Experience
Hiring a CRO into a VC- or PE-backed environment requires a fundamental shift to a heightened focus on three pillars that extend the search beyond a traditional focus based solely on foundational sales experience.
By incorporating the second of these pillars when searching for a CRO – A Disciplined Approach – you’ll ensure that the right candidate will be able to set the right organizational structure mapped to the most impactful sales methodology delivered in the most efficient and effective manner.
Setting out on your own to find the right person who checks all the boxes can be overwhelming and challenging but the team at JM Search is well-versed in the unique approaches in recruiting and vetting executives for venture- and private equity-backed businesses.
Who can we find for you?
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