Is 2022 the Year the Chief Growth Officer Role Goes Mainstream?

by Debra Andrews | January 24, 2022

When Coca-Cola replaced its retiring Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) with a Chief Growth Officer (CGO) in 2017, the move shone a spotlight on a role that was already percolating in other large corporations—yet was still relatively unknown across the broader business community.

In 2022, that may change significantly.

This may very well be the year the CGO role goes mainstream—and more middle market companies hire a fractional CGO—for reasons that ought to be compelling for any growth-minded company.

Predictable Growth Needs a Predictable Funnel

For companies with aggressive growth goals—whether they’re publicly-traded or backed by private equity or venture capital—there’s no room to leave the growth strategy to chance. You have targets to hit…and people to answer to if you don’t.

That’s why growth-minded companies need a predictable funnel—one that pulls in leads representing the right buyer personas, at a predictable rate, then nurtures them through the journey and converts them at a high rate, driving significant revenue.

To make your revenue funnel predictable, you need to know how your leads progress through it, what drives them through it, and what will move them through it faster. You also need the ability to forecast the rate at which leads will move to each stage and how many will convert.

Whose job is it to figure that out and ensure your funnel supports your demand generation goals? It will take tight alignment between sales and marketing, which almost always requires a catalyst that sits outside the two functions, so it’s the perfect job for a CGO.

The CGO acts as your company’s growth catalyst—someone who bridges, but doesn’t replace, the marketing, sales, service, and product functions, ensuring they’re aligned and supporting your growth plans. With this hybrid role driving accountability for a predictable pipeline, your business is much more likely to hit your aggressive growth numbers.

The Marketing-Sales Handoff Is Complex

With most of the buying journey taking place online, without direct interaction from sales until much later in the process, the handoff between marketing and sales has never been more important. For growth-minded companies, getting it right is a must.

But when you consider the alphabet soup of lifecycle stages your buyer progresses through—from MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) to SAL (Sales Accepted Lead) to SQL (Sales Qualified Lead) —you can see how the internal handoff process might go awry. To keep leads from going stale (or worse, leaking out of the pipeline), you’ve got to define each stage of the funnel clearly, classify leads accurately, and understand how to best move them from one stage to the next.

Here’s an example: Your marketing campaigns have moved a sizable number of leads to the point that they’re showing intent and ready to attend a group online demo. That’s a nice win for marketing—but it can’t end there. You need someone to take those warm MQLs beyond the demo event and move them to become SALs, ready to engage with your business development teams and eventually becomes SQLs.  

Whose job is it to make sure the sales organization is ready with a comprehensive plan to work those MQLs properly and convert a high percentage to closed deals? And whose role is it to make sure marketing offers the group demo at precisely the right time in the buyer’s journey, when the lead is primed and ready?

In both cases, it’s the perfect job for a cross-functional role like the CGO. A growth catalyst in a senior-level position can be given the mandate and authority to direct sales to develop and implement a plan that works warm leads effectively…and ensures they don’t stagnate there. A CGO also can ensure marketing gets the funnel right, delivering the most effective content at every stage so leads are nurtured until they’re ready to buy.

It’s All About the Data

In today’s growth-minded companies, marketing and sales must be data driven. Data tells company leaders and investors what they need to know: At what rate can we expect the business to grow and what are those projections based on? In an age of Big Data, forecasts derived from vague, back-of-the-napkin math won’t cut it. Middle market companies that expect to grow aggressively need reliable data that demonstrates the milestones they intend to reach and how their pipelines will get them there.    

Whose job is it to make sure the data reported by sales and marketing is predictive and valid—not artificially propped up to make each function look good? And whose role is it to ensure the revenue funnel metrics are accurate and reliable indicators that leaders and investors can bank on?

Since the CGO bridges and aligns sales and marketing, and is entirely devoted to the objective of growth, this C-suite professional is in perfect position to ensure both functions have the processes and technology they need to deliver and act on reliable, predictive data.    

How a Fractional CGO Can Help

A CGO can ensure all the functions that can drive growth are working together seamlessly to facilitate the buyer’s journey and generate significant revenue. And that makes the CGO the very catalyst a middle market company needs to grow aggressively. But most middle market businesses can’t justify the cost of another C-level FTE.

That’s why many are hiring a fractional CGO instead. A fractional CGO gives you a slice of a highly experienced growth catalyst, dedicated to overseeing (but not replacing) the sales, marketing, product, and service functions that are integral to driving measurable growth.

How do you know if your company is ready for a fractional CGO? Consider these questions:

  • Do you have aggressive growth goals?
  • Is predictable revenue a high priority for your company?
  • Do you have solid, mature sales and marketing functions in place?
  • Have you already made serious investments in the people and technology needed to fuel your growth?
  • Have you completed a successful Series A fundraising round (with perhaps a Series B round in your future)?

If you can answer “yes” to most of those questions, then it’s time to consider adding a fractional CGO to your senior leadership in 2022. A fractional CGO can get your sales, marketing, product, and service functions all locking arms and operating as one team, fully aligned around your growth goals and driving the significant revenue growth you’re aiming for.

Marketri offers fractional CGO services that generate aggressive revenue growth by aligning all the functions that need to be operating in sync to drive and close leads at a predictable rate. Contact our CEO Deb Andrews for a free consultation on our fractional CGO services!