Revenue Rehab: It's like therapy, but for marketers
Aug. 10, 2022

CMO Exit Strategies: Fractional CMO

This week we are joined by Alon Waks and Will Scott. Alon Waks is a 4-time CMO/marketing leader and seasoned enterprise software executive, having helped B2B and SaaS companies scale and expand their GTM over 20 years. Alon focuses on inbound,...

This week we are joined by Alon Waks and Will Scott.

Alon Waks is a 4-time CMO/marketing leader and seasoned enterprise software executive, having helped B2B and SaaS companies scale and expand their GTM over 20 years. Alon focuses on inbound, outbound and ABM, with compelling B2B2C content and results-based marketing programs.

Will is a Fractional CMO, with 25 years international experience leading B2B Technology Marketing and Product Management teams. He is also a partner in the B2B Product Marketing agency, Aventi Group, and is also a Program Leader at Kellogg School of Management in their executive Digital Marketing and Product Strategy programs. 

If you are a CMO considering moving into a fractional role, this episode is packed with real-world advice you can put into action.  So, join Brandi, Alon and Will on the couch for 35+ to tackle CMO Exit Strategies. 

Bullet Points of Key Topics + Chapter Markers

  • Topic #1: The Function and Evolution of a Fractional CMO [7:43]: Will discusses how the role of a Fractional CMO has evolved. Instead of simply paying for senior people on an FTE basis, Fractional CMOs can do more than serve as advisories; they can integrate and serve a company to its advantage. Alon also discusses how hiring a Fractional CMO is organizationally advantageous: Companies receive extensive mentorship and guidance without forking out for a full-time CMO.
  • Topic #2: How to Know If You’re The Right Person for the Fractional CMO Job [13:58]: Will discusses the analogy of ‘’the life of the lone wolf’’. He discusses how this analogy serves the life of a Fractional CMO well, because when we leave the pack, it can be very lonely. Will also contrasts the comfort of a stable income and corporate environment to the unknown, and sometimes unstable, yet rewarding life of self-employment. Alon also chimes in to share his two cents: if you really like nurturing and growing a team and managing that, you shouldn’t be an advisor.
  • Topic #3: How To Identify Red Flags Of A Company That You Just Don't Want To Take On [28:21]: Brandi asks Will and Alon about the potential red flags to avoid when it comes to working for companies as a Fractional CMO. For Will, these red flags include (1) founders and senior executives who won't let go, (2) unrealistic expectations, and (3) cheaping out on your services. Alon also emphasizes how scope and expectation are very important, and how to avoid companies who expect instant, magic results.

So, What's the One Thing You Can Do Today?

For those considering going down the fractional CMO path, Will encourages people to really look in the mirror, compile a list of pros and cons, and make a decision based on logic.

Buzzword Banishment:

Will dislikes the buzzword ‘’low hanging fruit’’, stating: ‘’I've heard a lot about the land of low hanging fruit. I've never personally been there. Most things are usually quite difficult to do. And if it's low hanging, it's been plucked a long time ago.’’

Alon’s buzzword banishment is ‘’marketing qualified’’. He believes that it deters marketers from the real north star metric of  revenue  pipeline, and it limits marketing and go-to marketing growth folks from really looking across what really matters to the business.


Get in touch with Alon on LinkedIn and  with Will on LinkedIn

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[0:05] Intro:

Welcome to Revenue Rehab, your one stop destination for collective solutions to the biggest challenges faced by marketing leaders today. Now head on over to the couch, make yourself comfortable and get ready to change the way you approach revenue. Leading your recovery is modern marketer, author, speaker and Chief Operating Officer at Tegrita, Brandi Starr.

[0:34] Brandi Starr:

Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to another episode of Revenue Rehab. I am your host Brandi Starr and we have another amazing episode for you today. I am joined by not one but two guests, Alon Waks and Will Scott. Alon is a fractional CMO and Advisor at growth phase companies in the martec and CX spaces. Alon led marketing prior at Kustomer, Bizzabo, LivePerson and 8x8, managing and scaling teams from zero to more than forty, including BDR and revops functions. Alon is also a podcast host, community leader for executive marketers, and a known speaker on the B2B and B2B2C topics with a focus on sales and marketing alignment, one-on-one and one-to-few marketing efforts, enterprise go to market and he has a passion for all things account based everything. 

Will is also a fractional CMO, a partner in the B2B Product Marketing Agency Aventi group and is also a Program Leader at Kellogg School of Management in their Executive Digital Marketing and Product Strategy Programs. In his career, Will has held senior positions with Cisco, Navisite and Cap Gemini, along with a range of full time and fractional CMO positions. He is a native of the UK and he now lives in one of my favorite cities, Austin, Texas.

Will and Alon welcome to Revenue Rehab, your session begins now. 

[02:13] Alon Waks:


[02:14] Brandi Starr:  

Thank you. And it's so good to have both of you and talking about next steps for CMOs. But before we dive right in, I always like to break the ice with what I call buzzword banishment, and it's a little bit of a woosah moment. So I will start with you Will, tell me what buzzword would you like to banish forever?

[2:40] Will Scott:   

I think it's the phrase low hanging fruit. Can we pick off some low hanging fruit? You know what I'd say Brandy, is I've heard a lot about the land of low hanging fruit. I've never personally been there. Most things are usually quite difficult to do. And if it's low hanging, it's been plucked a long time ago.

[2:57] Brandi Starr:   

Yeah, you know, I have taken my kids several times to go apple picking. And if you think about it, the apples that are low hanging, yeah, Alon, you're giving them thumbs down, they're the ones that you don't want. You always want the ones that are a little bit higher up because they tend to be of better quality. So I'm with you, although I do use that phrase quite often, we will take that and we will put it in the box to not be used here. What about you Alon? What would you like us to get rid of as well?

[3:36] Alon Waks:   

So if I had the power to eradicate from the world one thing, it will be the obsession with marketing qualified. I believe that's something that deters and does not enable marketers to think about the real northstar metric of revenue pipeline and everything around your business. And it limits marketing and go-to marketing growth folks from really looking across what really matters to the business and just saying, oh, we got it. Okay, now it's your sales, we're done. And I think that's unfortunate.

[4:07] Brandi Starr:   

Yeah, I agree completely. I was actually just chatting with someone earlier today about this. Early in my career, as a marketer MQL is what I was measured on. And I used to totally pat myself on the back because I would run circles around my numbers. But then I was incented to generate leads that sales didn't care about. So none of my stuff converted because they weren't incentive to sell what I was incentive to market. And so when you looked at conversion and actual revenue that came from my efforts, it was a big, whopping goose egg. But I was real proud, got all sorts of awards, was recognized. I mean, that was a different time period and it was kind of a we didn't know any better at that point. But I'm definitely with you in that. The MQL does not have the same kind of meaning that it once did. So we will not be talking about MQLs, or any low hanging fruits, or we'll probably just avoid the whole fruit basket altogether, as we jump in and talk about what's next. And so thinking about our audience as heads of marketing at different stages in their career, a lot of times, we are always just talking about how to do the job effectively. But we are still all humans and we have career goals, we have retirement plans, we have aspirations. And a while back in episode nine, I talked to Adam New-Water about moving sideways in order to move up. So if your eye is set on being the CEO, how you may need to move out of marketing in order to catapult yourself there. And so today, we're going to tackle another next step for CMOS. And that's, you know, given the boot to actually just working with one company and taking on a fractional role. So I will start by asking, and I'd like both of you to answer this question, tell me how did you get started being a fractional CMO? What was kind of that catalyst that said, this is the right next step for me? And I'll start with you Alon.

[6:23] Alon Waks:  

Like most of the good things in life, things happen by accident and that's how this happened to me. So first of all, for me fractional was one piece, there's also advisory, which is less than being just a fractional, which means the CMO as a part time function. Advisory is just guidance and strategy and helping the company, but you're not really the most senior marketer that the company goes to, you're just an advisor. I started off as a fractional CMO when I parted ways with a full-time job when I lead marketing. And the -next day, I woke up and already started a two-day gig that somebody introduced me to. And I said, okay, it's a smaller company that cannot afford me as full time, it's also not something that I want to do full time, it's not really what I see as my next step. But hey, let's do this in the meantime, while I search for my next role, and I enjoyed so much. And I see a kind of a path there, I can do the things that I care about and how to scale grow and be strategic, when they cannot afford somebody like me full time usually. And you can still mentor and give coaching and guidance but you don't need to be there every day and all day, you can also do other things, whether it be with your kids or whether it be for different clients. So purely by accident, and I just still like it, I'm still in the virtual world.

[7:41] Brandi Starr:   

Awesome. And what about you Will?

[7:43] Will Scott:   

I think for me, you mentioned retirement goals and career goals and money goals and things like that. I think if you're capable in your career, and you've achieved that level of success, you have to think about what are your intellectual goals? What are your goals of just growing as a person? And what I found is that I had met lots of small companies and helped them in various advisory roles and CMO roles, and I was in the CMO position. And fractional CMOs, were just sort of emerging at the time. This is about six or seven years ago. And I often get asked what is a fractional CMO? And I answer sort of quite trivially like, well, you know what a CMO is, it's just a fractional one of those. And I thought of the question is, why do we think we can only buy senior people in units of 40 hours a week? Why is that? And that is just because that's how we've always bought people in FTE basis, 40 hours a week. We always used to buy software paying a one-time license fee, followed by a maintenance fee as well. And that changed as well. So I think the market became more open to the idea of a fractional CMO, and like Alon as well, I work in advisory positions as well. There's not all fractional stuff. But for me personally, and from a personal growth perspective, I get to meet lots of different great technology company and great technologists, who are struggling with marketing. And my personal passion, is helping them tell their stories. And I get to do that all the time, which is really fascinating for me, and I couldn't be happier in what I do every day,

[9:12] Alon Waks:  

It allows us to have a lot of fun with earlier stage companies that we can help with and we don't have to commit our entire life to those companies. We commit dedicated time, every hour we give is a real hour that we are fully present in a way. And I feel like, well to add that, it is a win-win for them. Because if they want to hire full time CMO, but they don't even have the right team in place and structure and definitely not the right cash ability to give us a comp, then they're getting a win-win. They're getting mentorship and guidance of somebody very seasoned to a small team and a young CEO on [inaudible 09:54] stage company, while we're also able to do it for a few companies. So it's never 40 hours right when you get a full-time... Now, they're getting us as a chunk, but we're really dedicated to them for that amount of time.

[10:10] Brandi Starr:   

Yeah, and you actually hit on the direction that I was heading in. Because the point will that you made in terms of things changing and the market being more open to that, I do think that that is largely driven by the number of early stage tech companies that are out there and exactly what you said Alon, they need that season, you know, leader that can help move them through the different series of funding and help them to hopefully become the unicorn, but they can't afford it, and also afford a team to do the work. And so I think that that is what really opened the door of those small companies are a lot more scrappy, and tend to get a lot more creative and how they solve problems. And it seems like, it's kind of like, oh, like this could actually work. And now I'm starting to see it get a little more traction, even outside of the technology space. Any thoughts there?

[11:10] Will Scott:

Yeah, there's an interesting trend that I see happening is that you oftentimes see when I say small companies, these are not necessarily pre-raised companies, oftentimes see companies that their founders have led marketing, and they've got to a certain thing. Maybe they got to $10 million, $20 million recurring revenue, by doing bootstrap kind of marketing. But they get to the point where they realize they don't have the skills, and they can bring in someone and they maybe have an immediate need. I've got to run a campaign, I'm going to a whole bunch of traders or what have you. And oftentimes, when I go to my clients, and I say, listen, ultimately, at some point, you're going to need full time and my job will be to help you hire that full-time CMO. I'm not here to have this seat for the rest of my life, you know I gave that life up a long time ago. I'm here to help you find my replacement. And that's where I'm at. And once you do that, the level of trust and honesty and candor you can have with your sponsor, now they realize you're not playing the political game, which I'm sure like Alon is one of the reasons I left the corporate, is we don't deal with political nonsense, then you very rapidly become that trusted advisor, which is a fantastic position. And you can just have much, much more frank and honest conversations, which is great.

[12:19] Alon Waks:   

Yeah, I want to add to that. It's exactly right. Our job is not to be the full-time CMO for the rest of the tenure of this company. Hoping literally, our guidance is to help them grow, achieve the next step or leapfrog stages ahead, and especially what not to do to make mistakes. And then hiring their first marketing leader full time, that's a significant thing, especially for young company and first time founder or executive team. You don't want to make a mistake. The cost of hiring the wrong person, and then letting them run marketing for 6-8-9 months, and maybe it's not what you achieved, that's painful. Not just cost, but also morale, bringing the own team, hiring, that's a 2-year setback. If they can hire us, we're not cheap, but to guide them, give them advice, and then ensure that they actually know what success means, what are the criteria for the right things. We might not do the things they like or not like well, but at least we're going to show them hopefully what good looks like, or what good could look like. I think that it's so valuable, that knowledge and institutional understanding that they're going to save years and years and tons of money.

[13:34] Brandi Starr:    

So putting ourselves in the shoes of the listeners who may be evaluating Is this the right next step for them, any thoughts on how you kind of look inward to say, am I the right kind of person to do this? Or any things that you would say, if you like this, like this is totally not the path you want to go down?

[13:58] Will Scott:   

It's a good question. I gave a presentation pre-COVID. It was a live presentation, so it must have been three or four years ago. And it was at a product management conference here in Austin and one of the breakouts I called it, life of a lone wolf. And that's how I put it, it's a lone wolf thing. And you know what the analogy serves well, which is, when we leave the pack and we walk out on the frozen tundra, it can be very, very lonely sometimes. We're not in that safe corporate environment. We're not picking a paycheck every month, we got to hunt what we want to eat. And sometimes when clients are not immediately falling in front of you, you think yourself, boy, all that wolf pack around the campfire looks really comfy now and you're tempted to go back. So it's not by any means for everyone. And I would say that that's probably the first thing that I would say. The second thing I would say is, if you're going to jump and you're going to try it out, have something to jump to. Have a friendly have someone in your network who says yeah, I'll give you 20 hours a week or forty hours a month or whatever it might be. Because there's nothing worse than jumping, and just watching the bank balance go down trying to get that first client. Because you're being hired for your tenure for your experience for your gray hairs around your temple there Brandi, I've got a few. That's what you're being hired for. So if you start coming off as desperate, and I'll do it for 20 bucks an hour sort of thing, all of a sudden, that brand you're trying to represent will evaporate as well. So have something to jump to. And the third thing I'd say is for anyone who might be thinking about it 5 or 10 years from now, and I had someone [inaudible 15:39] ask me the question. It was a 23 or 24 year old who said, Will, I want to do what you do like tomorrow. And I said, you don't. I'm sorry, you've got to have earned your stripes. But my one piece of advice is never ever, ever burn bridges. Because no matter what moment of pyrrhic gratification you get as throwing that grenade over your shoulder as you leave a job, I swear to God it's going to come and bite you 20 years later. Nothing is more important to a fractional CMO than their network. Alon, I don't know about you but for me, that's like.

[16:11] Alon Waks:   

For sure I was in -- excuse my language -- an arrogant prick for many years in my life. And that's not the time to be that when you have a personal brand. You are the CEO of your own company, whether it's 1 or 50, it doesn't matter. And you have a service provider, which is, yeah everybody thinks it's the glory of being like, oh, the board loves you, the CEO listens to you. But you're very accountable. And you need to be able to know that, that you're not only there to give guidance and advice and strategy, everybody wants to be strategic these days, not execute. But you're very accountable for every word and every minute you do. And the second thing is, if you love growing, nurturing, managing team, and that's a big part of you as a leader, then I don't think fractional or advisory is for you. Because in house stuff, you get to do that and you're the one that does it. The lone wolf is actually a very good way to look at this. We come in, and we're part of the pack but we're always an outsider. And it's always like a specific time period. And actually, personally, sometimes when you stay too long, it's unhealthy. Because you're giving the playbook and the roadmap and the methodology and the people are coming in, it's your time to move to the next one. It's good, let's leave. I've given you it's my time to move on, take it all. But if you really like nurturing and growing a team and managing that, you can't be an advisor.

[17:39] Will Scott:   


[17:40] Brandi Starr:

And I was in another conversation talking about, the advisory role and what that looks like, and being an executive, sort of working for a venture capital firm. And that concept of not having teams to manage, and not having that same influence of pouring into people came up in that conversation as well. And that does sound like it is a key thing. Because I think about myself as I am more of a doer. I like to get in there, get my hands dirty and as I've grown in my career, and started managing and leading people, it did take some time for me to actually really enjoy the growth and nurture part of the growing people. And now I love that. But at the same time, if I think about when I get to the point where you know, ready to do something different, I can totally see being able to mentor in a way the people that are coming through you but to have it be that short term. I'm going to get in there, I'm going to accomplish something, and I'm going to get out.

[18:51] Will Scott:   

We touched earlier on, when you enter in any kind of advisory capacity, you do come with a certain stigma, if you're being sponsored by the CMO, because obviously you're not coming in there because everything's fantastic. You're coming in there because stuff not necessarily broken, but stuff needs improving. And also as well, your sponsor, which is typically the CEO or someone senior, is asking for your honest assessment of the people there. And they know that. The people you're working with know that as well. So you kind of have to build that relationship with them while they're all sort of a little bit wary of who's this guy and what's his/her agenda. So that can be quite difficult to navigate. And you've got to have quite a bit of situational and people fluency. It's not always easy, it doesn't always, always go well. But that's what your sponsor is asking you to do. That's your job.

[19:45] Brandi Starr:  

I see that a lot in consulting as well like having to have some of those tough conversations and being diplomatic and still honest at the same time because you don't want to throw anybody under the bus but it is your job to be real clear about what's not working and how to fix it a lot. Alon, it looks like you were getting ready to say something,

[20:07] Alon Waks:   

In a way, you're not part of the internal politics but you are a different kind of like vibe of political caterers because you want to be objective and learn and assess which you always do. And there's always a reason whether the board told the CEO, they should bring somebody like you in, or the CEO is telling the company that this person is coming in to do something. There's a reason, a business reason, very clear that there is need, but they don't always know what the problems are. If the problem means that you have to talk to people and understand, and some of them are accountable and responsible for this problem. It's just a different way to look at political environment. And we have to be very smart about how we navigate it. And be like, it's true, like extreme candor, like I'm, I'm a massive believer in that and being very honest, and very transparent. But there's some things like your recommendations, as significant as they are they could be actually having impact on people, usually they do, have to be also given because that's what you're hired for.

[21:15] Will Scott:  


[21:16] Brandi Starr:

And so, shifting gears a little bit, because you both talked about how you're there to solve a problem. Are you more of a generalist or more of a specialist? And I'll clarify that a little bit. In going into a fractional role, do you say I'm really good at solving this problem and being a specialist and finding people that have that problem, or is it more of the CMO role is what it is, and you know, I can support you wherever you are?

[21:51] Alon Waks:  

I disagree. I think that we can disagree. Personally, this a very personal thing. Probably some people say, I can be a part time CMO of any company, and B2C, or B2B, SMB product lead growth, all the way to full enterprise one-to-one. I don't know if everybody has that amazing specialization. I know about myself, very clear, I have my ICP, just like I do ICP for customers. I know that I'm a mid-market and enterprise, I take companies that market, I'm very much about software first, I'm very [inaudible 22:24] CX and martec. And I talk a lot, I canvas everything and things related to that. That's my world. I'm a messaging guy, target audience guide. If companies come to me, completely out of my ICP, it wouldn't make sense, because that's what I preach all the time. But I would just take them because, hey, let's try it. So I tried to stick [inaudible 22:45] with ICP.

[22:47] Will Scott:

I think the useful analogy or metaphor, I should know, whatever it is. Usual analogy is this is think of a cardiologist. A cardiologist is a specialist in the heart. And I would equate myself with a cardiologist. The cardiologist is also a doctor as well. So he knows something about just general medical stuff. So in my career, I've done just about every job there is to it a marketing department. From organizing tradeshow attendance to cutting website decks, to sales training, to GTM positioning, the lot, right the whole lot. So I know a lot about that. Like Alon, my specializes B2B product launch. And so in that respect, that's my specialization. But I'm also a marketeer, who's been around a bit as well. And so I know some stuff. When it comes to lead, Gen and ABM and those sort of things, I know that, I'm not a specialist, I would refer it to a specialist. But I know enough to see there's something that needs fixing there. Does that make sense?

[23:46] Brandi Starr:   

No, it does. 

[23:48] Alon Waks:   

We will probably take up assuming well, they would agree, most of the roles now that we've built a little bit of our brand, or you brought a lot of a brand, we'll take the ones that are in our fit area and most focus, but we'll bring others in, and we'll recommend or understand where there's gaps. And there's like an SME specialist, or you need to field marketer and others, we're not going to take those on ourselves. That's not the job. But if it's like really outside of our deep specialization area, probably we'll say you meet somebody else or you don't even need that, somebody at our level. You might be just something that like a Field Marketing hire. But I'll take advisory conversations with people that want to have spend minutes with me always, because why not help.

[24:32] Brandi Starr:   

And so if someone is getting started here, I think the question that I come up a lot is very similar to what you said Alon and you have an opportunity that kind of presents itself that you weren't necessarily looking for, and it's okay, what do I do with this? How do I structure this? Are there any key questions, key things to consider? So if someone's like, I've had someone in my ear that spend talking to me about how I can potentially help them. I want to entertain this conversation. What do I need to look for? What do I need to define? What are some of your tips or steps in actually getting started where you got some opportunity?

[25:19] Alon Waks:  

I think it's very personal because I don't think there's a playbook everybody can adopt. I'll start with, it's not that glamorous, this whole world of advisory and consulting, a fractional, as people think like, oh, yeah, I love being a market. I can do three companies now and make extra money. There's less stability and you really need to understand that it's not this cool world of marketing, it's serious work. And every hour is a serious hour. So how do you go about understanding if it's the right fit for you, these companies that have talked to you and wondered. First of all, understand that you built to be a fractional or an advisor. I really, really urge people to think about it twice. And really understand why you're doing this because you're looking for a new job. Okay, so look for new job. Looking for a new job is a full time role. If you want to take something on the side, like one time, it's different than thinking about building a practice. So that's where I would start.

[26:21] Brandi Starr:   

Okay, like that thinking about the mentality of if this is going to be a thing, you're actually building a business and thinking about it that way, as opposed to thinking about when I was a kid, I'm going to get a holiday job during the holidays. It's not that one time thing?

[26:39] Will Scott:

Yeah, I think for me, and I did it quite a bit when I was contemplating this, I just talked to peers. Both who weren't doing fractional work, but regular CMOs, and those who were, and just asked their experience. And I really educated myself, what do you have to decide what your sweet spot is? What is it that you're going to focus on? Is it execution? Is it lead gen? Is it martec? Is it messaging? I mean, there's a lot of areas you can focus on. One of the tools I developed very early on, I rift off the pragmatic marketing matrix was a diagnostic tool. So I could go in to a CEO and I'd say, show me on the map where it hurts you. And always it will be on the right hand side, it'd be something to do with lead gen, we're not going enough leads. But when you really press and did to continue the doctrine allergy, the diagnosis, you'd find the root cause is actually further upstream. The root cause was, you've not got very good messaging, because you didn't spend any time thinking about your ICP, and your value prop and all that sort of stuff. So that was quite a useful tool. And then there will be people out there, it doesn't necessarily have to be fractional CMOs, but just general, people who are independents, you can educate yourself things on fixed price, retainer, hourly, LLC, S corp, so there's a whole bunch of stuff you got to think about there. And the other thing is, brace yourself. You are now a salesperson, you are your own salesperson. So whatever you're doing before, you're now selling as well. So there's contracts and there's things to sign and there's NDAs and there's sales cycles. And boy, you know what you learn a lot about selling when you're selling yourself and waiting for that that favorable answer back from the client. But yes, speak to peers who've done this was my own personal journey.

[28:21] Brandi Starr:

And the last question that I will ask you both is about red flags. So you get introduced, you're having conversations to determine they've got the problem that you can solve, how do you identify red flags of a company that you just don't want to take on? It’s not going to be healthy for you. And I asked that more and I mean, there's obviously certain things that you know, considering any job that we look at. But in a fractional role, are there any sort of this is a clear red flag. This isn't a client that you should take on specific to being a fractional CMO.

[29:05] Will Scott:   

I'd say three things, founders and senior execs, who won't let go, who still want to be involved, but will say that I want to be involved, this is a big red flag and it's very difficult. You got to call that out head on. Unrealistic expectations. I know I need 20 new deals by the end of the month, and you're dealing with a six months B2B sales cycle that that's not going to happen. And that's where your candor comes in and all that sort of stuff. And third they think you're cheap. They're doing you because you're the cheapest option. If you want cheap, off you go to Fiverr find yourself someone there. I guarantee you'll get someone for 20 bucks an hour who calls themself a fractional CMO on Fiverr. Buy cheap buy twice, you're hiring me because I'm good. To continue the doctor analogy one more time, when you have chest pains and got to go and see the cardiologist you don't pick the cheapest cardiologist right and you shouldn't pick the cheapest CMO either. That's my sort of red flags. Alon, you got any similar stories?

[30:05] Alon Waks:

Yeah, I think I agree with all that especially the founder led growth one, which is my term I use for that. The main red flag, I would say, for full time role assessment versus fractional advisory, is expectation setting of the scope and the feeling that you are the magic that's going to really like -- whole summer alone on this and it will like unblock everything. No, that's not the way marketing works ever, or advisory works. You can come in with an expectation of phase one assessment, understanding the condition, implementation plan, and everything could change. You're not there to do like this one month engagement for a good sum of money, and then everything is done, magic happens. Scope and expectation is very important.

[30:51] Brandi Starr:

Awesome! I love it. Well, talking about our challenges is just the first step. And nothing changes if nothing changes. So in traditional therapy, the therapist gives the client some homework. But here at Revenue Rehab, we like to flip that on our heads. And we like to ask you to give us homework. And so Will I'd like to start by getting you to summarize for me the key takeaways, and then Alon, I'll look to you to give us our one thing, our action item coming out of this conversation.

[31:27] Will Scott:

Okay, so let's review our last 30 minutes again. I think the first thing we discussed uncovered was the propensity and the openness of the market to consume CMO services on a fractional or, dare I say it, as a service basis. Sounds a bit silly, service is a service, but on a fractional basis, it's just increased. And frankly, my experience is accelerated because of COVID. But with the evolution of things like Upwork and Fiverr and SAS and Uber, everything that you can buy by the drink is now gone to executive as well. So that's good. That means there's fertile opportunity that there. The second thing we talked about is this life's not for everyone, the grass always looks greener on the other side. It can be very, very lonely howling at the moon on that frozen tundra, when you don't have a paycheck coming in at the month. That is a lonely time. So think carefully and don't tread don't leap into that world lightly. And if you do leap into that world, then do so at least with some warm hands ready to catch you. Whether that's your first client or a buddy of yours, or whatever it might be just something to start paying the bills to see the income come in, to have that confidence and to build that up. And the final thing we talked about is seeking advice from others, determining what is you want to be. And then we had a nice little sort of trip around the red flags, which like most things, I've got two little girls 10 and 12. Some things, unfortunately, you just have to experience for yourself. I can tell you all day long, don't put your hand on the fire, it's going to burn. Sometimes you just have to put the hand on the fire. But for what is worth those red flags, I agree with Alon's as well. Watch out for those red flags, because you don't necessarily run away but just tread lightly. There you go. That's my summary.

[33:07] Brandi Starr:   

It's a perfect summary. So Alon you've got the hard job of giving us our homework. So give us our one thing that our audience can do if they are considering going down the fractional CMO path.

[33:23] Alon Waks:

Really look in the mirror, and on the left side, do your pros and on the right side do your cons. And really answer yourself. Are you doing this only because you think it's really interesting and cool being talking strategy all day long? Or are you really somebody wants to build, mentor a team and be a full owner accountable responsible? If you want the latter, I don't think you should go into this fractional world. Because it is less about control and management? So know who you are. Where are you on the spectrum?

[33:54] Brandi Starr:

That is a perfect action item for us to take a self-assessment to understand is this something that should even be a consideration for our future? I love it Alon, Will. I have enjoyed our discussion but that's our time for today. Thank you so so much for joining us. 

[34:15] Alon Waks:

Thank you. 

[34:16] Brandi Starr:

And thank you, everyone for joining us today. I hope that you have enjoyed my conversation. Will and Alon tell our audience where they can connect with you. If they'd like to continue the conversation.

[34:32] Will Scott:  

You can reach me. I actually am a partner in a b2b marketing agency called Aventi group. It's one of my arrangements I have and it's called Aventi, Or just or connect with me on LinkedIn. And I'm happy to chat to you more, whether it's something you're interested in or maybe interest in the services of my agency.

[34:54] Alon Waks:

And I'm on LinkedIn, Alon Waks, just happy to chat and happy to give minutes of advisory to anybody on any topic I can help.

[35:01] Brandi Starr:

Awesome! I can't believe we're at the end already. Thanks, everyone for joining us this week. We will see you next time.

[35:11] Outro: 

You've been listening to Revenue Rehab with your host Brandi Starr. Your session is now over but the learning has just begun. Join our mailing list and catch up on all our shows at We're also on Twitter and Instagram at Revenue Rehab. This concludes this week's session. We'll see you next week.


Will ScottProfile Photo

Will Scott

B2B Marketer / Storyteller / Father / Husband / Struggling Tennis Player

Will is a seasoned executive with 25 years international experience leading B2B Technology Marketing and Product Management teams across hardware, software, services and SaaS companies.

Today Will is a Fractional CMO, a partner in the B2B Product Marketing agency, Aventi Group, and is also a Program Leader at Kellogg School of Management in their executive Digital Marketing and Product Strategy programs.

In his career Will has held senior positions with Cisco, Navisite, and Cap Gemini along with a range of full-time and fractional CMO positions. A native of the UK, Will now resides in Austin, TX.

alon waksProfile Photo

alon waks


Alon Waks is a 4-time CMO/marketing leader and seasoned enterprise software executive, having helped B2B and SaaS companies scale and expand their GTM over 20 years. Alon focuses on inbound, outbound and ABM, with compelling B2B2C content and results-based marketing programs.
Alon is a fractional CMO / Advisor today at growth phase companies in the martech and CX spaces. Alon led marketing prior at Kustomer, Bizzabo, LivePerson and 8x8, managing and scaling teams from 0 to >40, including BDR and revops functions.
Alon is a podcast host, community leader for executive marketers and a known speaker on B2B and B2B2C topics, with a focus on sales and marketing alignment, 1-1 and 1-few marketing, enterprise GTM, and a passion for Account Based Everything (ABM).