Why You Need a Chief Growth Officer (and How to Add One Affordably) 

by Jen Marino | June 12, 2024

In one of our latest blogs we brought you up to speed on a fast-growing trend in the C-suite: Investing in a Chief Growth Officer (CGO), often in lieu of a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Organizations that are serious about driving aggressive growth recognize it’s unlikely to happen unless they have a single leader accountable for growth—especially given how dramatically their buyer’s journey has changed and all the repercussions that’s created.  

What exactly does a CGO do? How do you know when you need one? And how can a mid-sized business afford to add this senior leader to the team?  

We’ll walk you through it all. 

Drilling Down into the CGO’s Role  

What’s most unique about the CGO position is the wide-ranging reach of this role. While many senior leaders typically head up a particular functional area, the CGO’s accountability spans a much broader spectrum. This individual is responsible for revenue growth, an objective that touches the sales, marketing, customer service, and product functions at a minimum.  

In most organizations, no one has that far-reaching accountability. It’s much more common for each functional leader to have responsibility for their own silo, working toward function-specific goals. The head of sales has new business targets to hit. The head of marketing is focused on increasing leads. The head of customer service is expected to reduce customer churn. Though each objective is important in its own right, they’re rarely aligned. Worse, they often yield competing priorities. That’s when you see various departments fighting each other for a larger share of the company’s finite resources. 

The CGO rises above any single function, developing growth strategies that align with the company’s overall business objectives and ensuring everyone is executing on them. They approach the task of moving the business forward from a different perspective, without the barriers and blinders of any single function.  

Though there is no standard job description for this increasingly important role, the CGO typically takes on responsibilities like these: 

  • Evaluates viable growth opportunities, such as approaching new market segments, leveraging new channels, introducing new products, or enhancing existing solutions 
  • Develops growth strategies at the enterprise level.  
  • Prioritizes the allocation of staffing and other resources to ensure they’re directed toward strategic growth opportunities. 
  • Ensures functional-specific targets ladder-up to the company’s overarching growth objectives and strategies.    
  • Breaks down silos that inevitably get in the way of companies achieving their growth goals. 
  • Brings the discipline of data-driven decision-making to every growth initiative. 

Reading the Signs: When Do You Need a CGO? 

There is no hard-and-fast rule about whether you should add a CGO to the C-suite. But the following are all good indicators that it’s time to explore the possibility: 

  • Your revenue is flat or declining.  
  • You’re experiencing a high rate of customer churn
  • You aren’t innovating to keep up with buyer expectations about your products and services.  
  • You have ambitious growth goals but you haven’t translated them into specific growth strategies.   
  • You’ve started to map out growth strategies, but they don’t span all the departments that need to work together to drive the business forward (including IT and operations). 
  • You find that different departments often have competing or conflicting priorities
  • Your function-specific goals and targets don’t align with the broader company objectives; or worse, they directly conflict with them. (A common example is when a company aspires to attract customers from an entirely new segment, but the sales team’s compensation structure incentivizes selling to existing market segments.) 
  • Your executive team tends to focus on short-term, reactive, tactical decision-making instead of long-term, proactive, strategic planning that contributes to long-term growth.    

The Fractional Model Puts a CGO Within Reach 

Given the complexities of driving predictable, profitable growth within a traditional organizational structure, it’s little wonder LinkedIn rated the CGO the fastest growing role in the US. But it takes a unique skillset to fill these shoes: a mix of strong business acumen, data-driven decision-making, strategic thinking, and an ability to understand how disparate functions like sales, marketing, service, and product interrelate to drive growth.

Most CGOs have MBAs and bring broad experience across multiple functional areas. And as you might expect, they don’t come cheap. While the quoted salary average varies widely depending on the source, most cite a base salary north of $200k, excluding bonuses and other incentive compensation. 

Fortunately, most mid-sized businesses don’t need a full-time CGO. And they don’t have to hire this pivotal role full time, thanks to the rise in the Fractional CGO model

Just like any other fractional executive, a Fractional CGO gives your organization access to just the right slice of a highly experienced strategist’s time and expertise, eliminating the overhead of a full-time C-suite addition. A Fractional CGO leads and executes a coordinated growth strategy that gets every relevant function aligned and working in sync to drive your revenue. They bring the benefit of both experience and objectivity—leveraging best practices honed across many organizations while offering a fresh, third-party perspective.

Best of all, a Fractional CGO has a seat at the executive table, with both the responsibility and the autonomy to align and hold accountable all the functions that contribute to profitable growth. 

Marketri Fractional CGOs serve as the growth catalyst for middle market B2B companies, leading and executing enterprise-wide strategies that help our clients achieve aggressive revenue goals. Our experienced strategists bring a proven track record of breaking down silos, transforming processes, and aligning disparate functions to drive your revenue growth.  

Schedule a call with our President Deb Andrews to learn how our Fractional CGO services can propel your organization to new heights.