One of the most important moments in an early-stage SaaS company's commercial growth path is developing a robust, scalable, high-performing marketing engine that generates substantial revenue. Building a cohesive team from the top down is essential to elevate your brand, significantly increase buyer awareness, attract qualified leads, and indirectly contribute millions to your top-line revenue. However, while it’s vital to do so - designing, finding, and actually hiring for a top-tier marketing program can be one of the biggest barriers in the way of growth. Given the current hiring landscape, taking every possible step to enhance your likelihood of securing top-tier talent is imperative.
Getting the right VP of Marketing from the outset can be the decisive factor in determining your organization's success. Here, we’ll explore some key areas you to address to ensure your VP of Marketing is a successful hire. Skip ahead to:
- When is it the right time to hire this person?
- How do you qualify candidates when you’re ready?
- How do you attract the best VP of Marketing for your business?
- Additional resources for building exceptional go-to-market teams
1. Is now the right time to bring a VP of Marketing on board?
One of the most common pitfalls and causes of frustration in hiring a top marketing professional is bringing them on too early to be highly productive. If your product-market fit isn't quite right, your sales funnel is experiencing significant churn at later stages, or your ICP isn't well defined, attracting top talent and ensuring their success becomes challenging.
Before venturing into the hiring process for a new marketing leader or expanding the team, ensure the following factors are in place:
- The product is well-established, with top-tier core functionality.
- The roadmap aligns with industry trends and customer interests.
- The infrastructure is ready for substantial growth in customers/usage.
- The company is scaling primarily through the sales team, not the product team.
- The ICP is well-defined and narrow, with a targeted list of top 10-100+ companies fitting the customer profile.
- The sales pipeline, even if small, runs smoothly with minimal churn rates.
- The brand and company image are solid, and the mission is attractive, with quantifiable growth goals over the next 5 years.
Ensuring these aspects are aligned is crucial for attracting top talent, as no top marketing leader would want to join without this foundation. If improvements are needed in these areas, but you want to kickstart your marketing efforts, consider making a more junior hire or contracting the work.
2. How do you qualify candidates and ensure they are the best fit for your organization?
Here are some key criteria to consider (similar to hiring a sales leader):
- Have they sold into the same or similar market? Do they understand your buyer persona?
This is about finding someone who can quickly grasp the value of your product and understand your customers. While it's possible to hire someone from a different industry, especially if they excel in marketing with a quantified track record, anticipate a 6-12 month ramp-up period for them to grasp the messaging, verbiage, competitive landscape, and fully align with the role.
Financials (Pipeline Growth):
- What quantifiable success have they achieved in previous leadership roles?
- Can they attribute specific actions to increased revenue?
This is about the facts. Look for someone who can clearly demonstrate the impact they've had on previous businesses with data and analytics. In today's landscape, Marketers, even in the earliest-stage environments, are driven by data and analytics. If they can't clearly and concisely show you their achievements, it might be an indication of limited experience. The specific numbers that matter to your business will vary based on factors like stage, market segmentation, customers, and product. Have a vision for your goal in the next 12-24 months and aim to align as closely as possible with those objectives.
Similar Stage Experience:
- What kind of environments have they been in?
- What stages of organization have they led?
- What are the quantifiable growth metrics associated with the growth they have led?
This is about establishing where this person can align with your current growth benchmarks. Look at the type of business they have led - what did it look like when they started in terms of stage, revenue, market size, funding, etc, and what does it look like now?
Navigating from 0-1M is a significant milestone. Progressing from 1M-10M is no small feat, and reaching 10M-25M is exceptionally challenging. These are all different journeys - and someone may very well be able to complete all of them. But for an early-stage business, determining the right fit depends on aligning with your current growth benchmarks - and this comes from identifying similar experiences. Remember, "Building" is different than "Growing." Which marketer do you need?
3. How do you attract and engage the best VP of Marketing?
- Build as much as you can without them.
Develop as much of the marketing program as possible before they arrive, making it the most well-put-together, resourced, and eager program a VP of Marketing has ever walked into.
- Compete beyond compensation.
Companies need to compete on more than just compensation in today's market. You need to show potential hires that your growth plans are achievable, success is attainable, they will be supported, and you are genuinely investing in a marketing program.
Job descriptions are an excellent place to communicate this. If you're looking for inspiration, check out our GTM Job Descriptions Hub. You'll find customizable templates for all your crucial go-to-market roles, including marketing-specific job descriptions for:
- Chief Marketing Officer
- VP / Director of Demand Generation
- VP / Director of Product Marketing
- Demand Generation Manager
- Product Marketing Manager
- Marketing Manager
- Partner Marketing Manager
More on scaling exceptional go-to-market teams
- Explore The GTM Recruitment Zone for free practical tutorials from seasoned GTM recruiters, covering everything from screening high performers and optimizing your interview process to successfully enticing top talent away from the competition.
- Meet the businesses that have hired world-class sales and marketing talent with the help of Stott and May.
- Want to discuss the specific hiring challenges associated with building effective, successful GTM teams? Book a 20-min call with our team today.