A chief growth officer is a title and a position that is becoming more and more popular among organizations around the country and the world. Particularly, this is becoming more known and highly seen with startup companies, or companies very focused on growth and acquisition. A chief growth officer is typically someone who sits over a marketing function. Some might even say it is synonymous with the chief marketing officer, although the differentiation in title is important and intentional. A chief growth officer is very involved with marketing, sales, as well as product and product development. So a chief growth officer is sort of a hybrid leader over marketing, sales, and product. They are ensuring that a value proposition is being directed through all of these departments in a unified fashion.
DEFINING GROWTH WITHIN YOUR COMPANY
Growth is very specific in terms of its outcome. Of course, all companies want to grow, but there is a particular way to position your company to be a high-growth company. This takes a very specific skillset and a very specific type of background. Hiring a chief growth officer can be a little tricky, as it’s a newer title, and someone can come from many different types of backgrounds to fulfill on this title.
THE ROLE OF YOUR CHIEF GROWTH OFFICER
The first thing you’re going to want to do before hiring a chief growth officer is to get clear about what functions this role will oversee. Since this person deals with marketing, sales, product, and even to some degree finance, you’ve got to be clear about how this person is going to be situated within your organization. If you already have this fleshed out, you’re one step ahead of the game. But if not, it’s important to create an organizational chart for your company. Here you can define how this person is going to interact with other departments and teams.
WRITING A JOB DESCRIPTION
One mistake is having the job of your chief growth officer spread too thin across different departments and functions. Any time anybody is spread too thin, they’re not going to be able to get their job done. It becomes a capacity issue. Once you have an organizational chart figured out, you can write your job description. You need to define who they’re going to report to, and what functions they’re going to oversee. A powerful job description will outline this role across the different functions of marketing, sales, product, and maybe even finance. Marketing and sales are definitely the larger pieces of this puzzle. Depending on what you sell, product may or may not be a bigger piece of this. If you have a software product, then this may be a bigger function, but if your company is more service-driven, product might not be as important. So you’ll need to determine how important it is for this person to be involved with product.
Once you have a solid job description, it will be nearly impossible to find the right person by simply posting the job and seeing who comes to you. These types of people are some of the most highly sought after folks in the market. They are typically not out on the market looking for a job. Again, I can’t stress enough that it’s going to be nearly impossible that this person is just going to find you. You’ll want to start by doing some networking and asking around who people might know and who might be available. It’s unlikely you’ll find someone through these channels as well, but you want to make sure to exhaust all avenues. This includes employee referrals as well as networking with other executives, CEOs, and business owners that you may know.
WHAT IS THEIR TRACK RECORD?
At the end of the day, you’re likely going to need some type of outbound recruiting effort to go out and headhunt these people. Likely, you’re going to specifically want to hire somebody from a company that is similar to yours. You want someone who has marketed, sold, and grown a similar product to the product that you’re selling. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, but it should be similar. Someone with a similar background, who’s selling to a similar customer, is what’s most important. What’s even more important is going to be the customer base that they’re selling into. It’s critical that you find someone with a proven track record of growth and acquisition with the customer base that you’re targeting. This is going to be one of the most critical things to focus in on.
HONING IN ON THE RIGHT TITLES AND PEOPLE
You’ll want to go after people with growth titles, because that is what you’re doing here. This is not a common title as of yet, although they are out there. Acquisition is another type of title that you’re going to want to go after, as well as chief marketing officers and business development. Somebody with a sales title is likely not going to be the right candidate for this job. And somebody who is only product is likely not going to be a candidate for this job. You’re looking for chief marketing officers, chief growth officers, heads of acquisition, heads of customer acquisition, heads of business development, heads of new business, etc. These types of titles are going to get you in the right direction of the right people. You want to hone in on titles and people at companies selling into a similar customer that you are. This is going to get you in the right direction of hiring a chief growth officer.
ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
Once you start getting some candidates and resumes in the door, you’ll want to find out and learn what their strategies are. You also want to know what sort of structures and systems they’ve used to achieve high growth and customer acquisition. Your interview process here is going to be very critical. You need to ask questions that don’t lead the witness. Your questions should be open-ended, and have these people really spell out their strategy and philosophy when it comes to growth. You’re going to want to get a very good picture about what they would do to grow your product.
Remember that these people are highly sought after, so you need to make sure that your employer brand is very strong. Your brand should clearly communicate the opportunity for this person to join your company. A high-level executive role like this requires some level of shmoozing. It’s important that you do what you need to do to impress upon this person the opportunity of your company.
These are some high-level points for you to consider when hiring a chief growth officer. If you’re interested in high growth and high customer acquisition, you may want to highly consider hiring someone in this sort of function for your company. Growth and acquisition is really the next evolution of marketing, and it takes marketing to the next level in order to have companies grow and acquire customers in ways that have not been seen before.
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