People think the pandemic changed how we work, but it didn’t. It just accelerated how work was already changing.
Digital technology is the force that has fundamentally transformed how and where people work. Remote workers who do their work at their homes and coworking spaces have been replacing permanent offices for some time. Wireless internet, mobile phones and portable computing have been supplanting office cubicles, desktop computers and wired infrastructure for years, decades even.
But digital technology is not only transforming how and where people work, it’s changing the work itself. The talent and skills market is becoming more global while more jobs are morphing into projects and gigs.
Fractional executives have emerged as professionals who offer their services and skills to organizations on a for-hire basis. These executives typically have years of experience in a business environment in roles such as finance, marketing and, increasingly, sales.
Fractional sales leadership brings many advantages over traditional approaches, especially for rapidly scaling start-ups and technology innovation companies.
Gig Work for Experienced Salespeople
Wim Van Lerberghe and Paul Renken met while working as sales executives for the same company. They bonded over their shared belief that there must be a better way to leverage the trust, relationships and experience they’d gained through their sales careers in financial services. In 2019, they launched Advintro which specializes in providing fractional sales services to the fintech industry.
Using their connections with senior decision-makers in the wealth and financial industry, they helped their initial Advintro clients to secure meetings with these decision-makers much more quickly than they would have been able to on their own.
When the pandemic hit in 2020 and conferences and in-person meetings were cancelled, it was harder to meet new people so they started interacting with other independent sales people and compensating them for successful introductions to senior decision-makers. Thus, the Advintro business morphed into a platform that matched promising fintech companies with fractional sales executives (and their Rolodexes).
“Fintech startups used to want to disrupt the established players in their space (i.e., banks, broker dealers, credit unions, RIAs, etc.), but now they largely want to partner with them. Problem is, they don’t have the connections to the decision-makers, nor do they have experience in navigating the complex sale, so we are able to help on a part-time, fractional basis,” according to Van Lerberghe.
As incumbent businesses on Wall Street continue to consolidate, there are a lot of very talented, experienced, and extremely well-connected salespeople looking for new opportunities and more flexibility.
“While some of them want a full time job, others want to be active but don’t want to work in a structured corporate environment where some recent MBA grad is throwing KPIs at them,” Renken adds. “They like the freedom to be able to choose the projects they want to work on and the flexibility of working 60 hours per month (rather than per week) with the potential of earning commission on deals.”
Fractional sales gives these people the opportunity to monetize their network.
“It is more interesting for independent sales people to work with us because we’re extremely generous in our commission sharing and we provide all the necessary tools and support that an independent salesperson needs, yet would not necessarily want to spend money on,” says Renken.
Sales Are the Lifeblood
Sales are the lifeblood of any business, but finding and hiring senior sales talent is time-consuming and can be expensive – especially for a startup or a smaller company.
Hiring an in-house sales team, or even a single salesperson requires placing ads, doing phone screens, conducting one-on-one interviews, negotiating the hire and only then beginning the onboarding and product training. It can take 3 months for a new sales rep to ramp up and 9 months to be fully competent. Depending on the length of your sales cycle, it could be over a year before a new sales rep brings in revenue!
With fractional sales executives, companies can sidestep the traditional recruiting process and get senior sellers working on their behalf virtually immediately. Advintro charges a small monthly retainer and ties the lion’s share of its compensation to commission from actual sales performance. Contracts are short term and can be terminated after three months if there’s not a good fit or there are product/market issues. This avoids a lot of the overhead associated with hiring salespeople, such as HR costs, social security and payroll taxes.
“Most younger companies need to validate their solutions in the marketplace so hiring a fractional sales professional is the most economic and efficient way to scale. We are very outcome-based and our clients respond well to our results-driven model.”
Use Cases for Fractional Sales
Fractional sales has many advantages, but it’s not for every company.
Advintro identifies several use cases in which fractional sales will have the best results. For example, a company that has a very strong product or solution, but lacks senior contacts in an industry would be a good fit. Or perhaps a company wants to expand to a new geographic region and needs local expertise and connections. Another scenario might be a company that wants to accelerate and shorten the sales cycle and get honest answers from the market faster.
Effective marketing and public relations efforts can complement sales outreach and plays an important role in converting sales meetings into business deals. So Advintro partners with Jay Palter Social Advisory to provide a variety of support to its fractional sales clients, such as thought leadership and increasing visibility through “social selling” on LinkedIn.
“LinkedIn is one of the most powerful sales tools a business has at its disposal,” says Jay Palter. “Relationship-based selling coupled with a targeted, strategic approach to social networking is one of the best ways to accelerate the B2B sales cycle.”
Advintro is growing its roster of clients as well as recruiting more fractional sales leaders with extensive experience and connections in the financial services sector.