What your business needs most to grow…
This article was co-written by Kristen McGarr of Adroit Insights and Susan Fennema of Beyond the Chaos.
There are two key components to any business… sales and execution. Sure, there are lots of other things like financials, employees and contractors, technology, etc. But without sales and execution, the need for all those other support elements becomes non-existent because you won’t have a business to support.
Putting measures in place to ensure that the two key components of your business have a solid foundation and plans for scaling is a vital step. Depending on the size and direct needs of your company, how you go about this may vary. Generally, a CRO (Chief Revenue Officer) and a COO (Chief Operations Officer) are important players to have on your team.
Making it Rain
The simplest explanation of the role of CRO is that they are responsible for ensuring that sales are being made so that money continues to flow into the business. Depending on the size of your organization, other functions performed by your CRO may vary. In smaller organizations, the CRO may directly oversee the sales team, especially if this function was previously done by the business owner, or by the top salesperson who spends more time managing than actually selling now. Whereas in larger organizations, the CRO oversees the head of sales (sometimes after having recruited for and hiring them).
Depending on the structure of your organization, you may use scorecards or weekly measures for each member of your sales team, or you might simply have quarterly quotas. Your CRO will help you define the best approach for measuring your team’s progress and will be responsible for monitoring and analyzing those metrics to make decisions for the organization.
Regardless of organization size, your CRO should be mapping out your overall strategy. This goes beyond goal setting and looks at pricing adjustments, new products or services to offer (or discontinue), hiring new management and team members, individual and team performance, operational needs, and marketing strategy.
The CRO rarely is involved with the actual marketing implementation, but overseeing the vendors and marketing team leads to greater continuity in your overall growth strategy.
Ever have a well-crafted, carefully planned marketing campaign kickoff, only to have the phones start ringing and the salespeople being completely unaware of what the prospect on the other line is referring to? In growing organizations, this is a very common occurrence, but one that can easily be mitigated.
Your CRO often oversees both the sales and marketing side of the business. Most commonly, when revenue targets aren’t hit, sales is blaming marketing and marketing is blaming sales. So having a CRO that oversees both departments forces accountability and looks at the challenges as a whole, making strategic decisions that align both the sales and marketing departments.
While CROs have a big role to play, they cannot operate in a silo and succeed. The number one person a CRO needs to communicate with is the COO. If an organization is not prepared to handle the growth strategy that the CRO has set forth, the success will be fleeting as execution will be rocky at best. A strong COO overseeing the execution side of the business will make sure the foundational elements are in place and be flexible to pivot as needed based on the changes in the marketplace. The CRO will communicate feedback to the COO about trends that are occurring, and potential spikes or droughts (especially crucial if you are offering more than one product/service or to more than one industry), and the COO will likely communicate back to the CRO their utilization gaps and surplus so the CRO can adjust the team accordingly.
The CRO and COO work together like the two sides of the brain. The two department heads work independently to solve the same problem in their own different ways, however collaborating and alternating seamlessly who leads the direction and who follows to create an overall healthy and dynamic organization capable of withstanding setbacks in the economy, market, climate, etc.
Making it Happen
Once the CRO has brought in the business, the work has to be delivered.
Additional sales do not benefit an organization with a “broken” fulfillment area. They will just add more chaos and result in upset clients (and potentially bad reviews) that won’t promote your business.
So, making sure that you can deliver what you say you will is a huge focus to ensure success.
Every great visionary needs an implementor, and COOs are, essentially, implementors.
In larger organizations (50 people and more), the company likely needs a fractional or full-time COO, who has direct reports. The COO would help by advising and creating reporting in many areas, would help in developing the culture, identifying risks and opportunities, project management of high-level projects, and strategic planning.
Slightly smaller businesses (think 10-49 employees) need more help with clarifying what those great employees are doing, correcting communication to prevent silos in departments (likely created by those great employees unintentionally), and making sure owners know what those amazing leaders are doing so their gap can be filled should they leave. At this stage, culture and leadership issues might be becoming challenges as well.
But, in small businesses (10 people or fewer), owners likely need help getting out of the day-to-day. They can hire by the hour or at low retainer rates, usually, for these COO services. Before the owners can get to those bigger picture areas noted above, they need someone to advise on and implement things like:
- the best project management software tool
- how to implement it
- how to work between departments or functions (e.g., how to transition from a sale to a fulfillment; how to transition from fulfillment back to sales and/or marketing)
- gaps in the processes (and getting them written down in the first place!)
- how to hold your team accountable to company processes
- and, how to make the business run without the owner in every detail
Owners might also need to create job descriptions and find part-time help to execute the work. (Bookkeepers, virtual assistants, and more fall into this category.) Essentially, owners of these small businesses need a COO to learn to scale and simplify, and to extricate themselves from the details.
Filling out your bench
Now here’s where all the other support players come in.
Growth is all about money, right? You need to have a strong grasp on your financials, so a CFO (Chief Financial Officer) that understands how a healthy business should operate can help you make strategic decisions on when to hire or to review pricing and compensation structures is important.
Growing your company to over 50 employees? A CHRO (Chief Human Resource Officer) is going to not only help you maintain compliance and create a positive culture but also set you up with competitive benefits packages that will make the best employees want to join your team.
Most likely to this point you purchased technology when you needed it, grabbed the latest shiny widgets that came across your desk, or took advice from your peers on what worked best for them. As you look at your tech stack, it likely has a Frankenstein-esque appearance, that is if you are fortunate enough to have it integrated at all. A CTO (Chief Technology Officer) can help position your company for the next phase of growth, taking a holistic, organization-wide approach to your supportive technology. CTOs can find places to reduce redundancies and bring in comprehensive tools, or integrate software to fill any gaps. They will also be responsible for the security of your organization which is crucial in these uncertain times when cybersecurity attacks and phishing schemes are so common.
If your organization is data intensive, you may want to consider also bringing on a CIO (Chief Information Officer) who will oversee your BI (Business Intelligence).
Whichever roles you are most in need of, small businesses are blessed today with many options. Many C-level executives are taking their skills fractional. Their wealth of experience is not only invaluable – but also affordable – to small businesses struggling in these main functional areas. Take your business to the next level and tap into these amazing resources.
Looking for help with sales or execution in your small business? Kristen can help you with sales, and Susan can help with execution. Contact them today!