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Head of Growth, is it the new Head of Sales?

Recently we have noticed a trend offshore that Chief Sales Officer/Head of Sales is being replaced by “Growth Officer” or “Head of Growth.” We have ourselves recommended a number of our companies implement this role in their company. But why? Is this just a case of choosing a nicer title when really this role is still the senior sales role?

Firstly some context. In New Zealand there are approximately 80 people that have the title “Chief Growth Officer or Head of Growth”. It shows that this is still an emerging title here. In the States this number is just under 6000, in Australia it is 700 odd. In terms of advertised roles, when we were writing this article there were no roles listed on Seek in NZ and only three in Australia. All of this means that if this role is right for your business you have an opportunity to stand out and find the person that will help you get to the next level.

So what is the head of growth?

a strategic thinker focused solely on spearheading growth initiatives and driving improvements within an organisation.

Growth Mentor, 2023

What makes it different from a head of sales?

The role is broader, which is exactly why we think it is a good option for high growth businesses. It crosses marketing, revenue and sales boundaries. You have to be able to combine the strategic approach, strong cross-functional collaboration skills with a ‘get it done’ mentality.

What does Sprout think? We got the thoughts of Fleur Clough, our Head of Recruitment and Employer Brand.

"We like this title, it feels more aligned to the way the most senior sales and marketing people should be thinking. It's about taking sales out of isolation and integrating it with partnerships, business strategy, and marketing. It is more strategic, thinking beyond sales to consider the overall growth of a business."

Sales titles make it feel like there is only one way of succeeding and that is taking prospective clients through the funnel and improving on conversion ratios. It feels linear, but growth is more dynamic.

Take us for an example, we aim to look at each individual in Sprout and how they grow their business and portfolio of clients, as an individual. We have some of our team that are great at networking, others that are all over various social media communities, those that prefer phone calls etc. We could just create one approach for all, but this way we look wider and attract clients who use different mediums.

One basic example would be that one of our team recently won business through a Facebook group. Most of our team do not know this exists and if they did a number of them just don’t feel comfortable connecting in this way. What’s key is an open approach that plays to each individual's strengths. You need someone who will manage and maximise this potential, and that's your Head of Growth. 

What are great elements of a Head of Growth?

Angela Waddell leads our People and Advisory team and is working on organisational design daily for our clients, here's her advice for defining this role:

  • Strategic sales thinker. Thinking beyond 1:1 sales and able build 1 to many relationships

  • Understands what growth means to your business (revenue, people, market share, profit etc.), and how to drive the right levers in the right order

  • Understands what your business needs to be world class in to grow, and builds a growth strategy on this, not just sales

  • Achievement orientated. They need to love growth!

  • Master collaborators. Whether this is internally, or with external groups and partnerships - they will always nail the “what’s in it for others” question

Is it right for us?

To answer this question you need to look at this role in the context of your wider organisational design. If what we've seen in the States is anything to go by, this role will become more prevalent in growth companies across Australia and New Zealand, so if your business is growing it's well worth exploring. 

Keen to learn more? Drop Angela a note to look at your overall organisational design. Ready to hire? Get in touch with Fleur for how we approach attracting talent for this role.

Written by Brien Keegan
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