May 22, 2024

Emergence of Fractional Roles in Revenue Leadership with Tom Glason

In this Sales Therapy episode, Tom Glason and Alper Yurder discuss the importance of hard work, the impact of leadership on individuals, and common mistakes made by B2B tech companies in their go-to-market strategies.

Meet our guest

Tom Glason, CEO & Co-Founder of Scalewise, Founder of Pavilion (UK)

Tom Glason has spent over 20 years in B2B tech, a decade of which has been in senior revenue leadership roles within VC-backed SaaS scale-ups. His passion for developing himself and other revenue leaders led to him founding the London chapter of Pavilion in 2018, which became the second chapter after New York. In 2020 he co-founded Scalewise, which exists to give B2B tech scale-ups unique and flexible access to world-class revenue leaders to help accelerate growth. 

Key takeaways

  • Childhood experiences shape professional identities, with traits like hard work often rooted in a quest for self-worth and acceptance.
  • Effective leadership entails unlocking individual potential and supporting personal growth trajectories rather than simply focusing on tasks.
  • Mistakes, such as hiring the wrong revenue leader or premature market expansion, can hinder growth and success.
  • Achieving sales success requires a combination of capital efficiency, product-market fit, and internal and external alignment.
  • Hiring fractional sales leaders can facilitate the transition from founder-led selling to an entire sales team, provided they possess fractional experience and stage fit for the business.

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Journey of self-discovery and leadership

The podcast episode features Tom Glason, co-head of Pavilion's London chapter and CEO of Scalewise. Together with the host, Alper Yurder, they delve into Glason's life journey, starting from his childhood in Asia to his passion for sales, highlighted by his early success in trading football cards and his entry into the sales world at 16. 

“I think selling has probably been in my blood from quite a young age. And maybe the trading was actually a way of me building relationships with people and connecting with them.”

Glason's perseverance and hard work, driven by a desire for self-worth, led him through various sales roles, eventually landing him in the B2B tech sector. Glason reflects on his leadership journey, learning from experiences with both positive and negative leaders, ultimately shaping him into a coach-like leader focused on unlocking his team's potential rather than imposing his high standards. 

“I wanted to be a leader who has real positive impact on lives. Someone who could create a positive ripple effect that transcended work and gave people confidence in their personal lives too. I kind of decided that I wanted to be the sales leader that was the complete opposite to the awful one that I've had.”

Glason's evolution into a leadership enthusiast is further fueled by his wife's expertise in leadership development. Throughout, the conversation emphasizes the importance of self-awareness, learning from experiences, and fostering positive leadership impact.

Scaling sales teams and fractional roles

In this section, Tom Glason discusses his transition from large enterprise environments to smaller, nimble startups, driven by a desire for quicker wins, more impact, and less bureaucracy. He highlights the challenges of internal sales processes in large companies and the appeal of faster sales cycles in startups like Brightpearl. 

“I think the final thing for me was just feeling like I could actually have an impact and I could feel like I was not just a small cog in a really massive wheel and actually I could affect change and I could make decisions."

Glason emphasizes the importance of hiring the right revenue leader based on the stage of the business, citing common mistakes like over-hiring or promoting leaders prematurely. He also touches on the rise of fractional roles in the current economic environment, offering advice for both aspiring fractional leaders and employers looking to onboard them.

"Part of the reason why we have such a high failure rate of revenue leaders is that that brief, that job description, that candidate pack, whatever you want to call it, is not grounded in the reality of what that business needs because whoever has done that diagnosis of what that business needs doesn't really understand the requirements of the role."

Contrasting UK and US business landscapes

In this final section, Alper and Tom discuss the differences between the UK and US tech scenes, highlighting the vast market size and higher growth rate expectations in the US. Tom emphasizes the potential rewards and risks associated with joining a US-based startup. 

“The one notable difference obviously is the size of the market. In the US, it's 10 times bigger than the UK. You know, the access to capital, but not just capital, but venture capital that is thinking way bigger than the UK or European. And so often what that means is, you know, you have got much higher expectations around growth rates.”

They also touch upon the evolving trends in B2B tech, particularly the importance of buyer enablement platforms like Flowla in enhancing sales effectiveness. Tom shares his journey of founding the London Revenue Collective, now Pavilion, as a response to the lack of a community for revenue leaders, and reflects on its growth and impact in facilitating knowledge sharing and support among go-to-market professionals.

“It's incredible to think that really it started because I was just trying to scratch my own itch as a revenue leader, and now we have this amazing community.”

Resources

Full episode transcript

Alper Yurder: So today's episode I'm gonna start a little different because you might realize from my voice that I'm not the best of my health but because we've been rescheduling this episode for many times I wanted to make sure that I'm present so I'll do my best. I do apologize in advance for my horrible voice but today in the therapy chair we have Tom Glason who is the co-head of Pavilion's London chapter and the co-founder and CEO of Scalewise dedicated to helping B2B tech companies scale wisely. We'll talk about his success, the joy, the pain and the journey.

Welcome to sales therapy. Tom, how are you feeling today? Hopefully better than I am.

Tom Glason: Yeah, a bit better than you, I think, Alfa. I do feel for you. And thank you, by the way, for hosting me when you're not feeling well. I know it's taken us a while to get this in the calendar, but yeah, really excited to chat with you today.

Alper Yurder: That sounds great. Actually, I love to challenge myself on different occasions. So let this be a little challenge I give to myself. And I think it will be good because I'll be keeping the questions short and concise, hopefully. Already I'm over talking, see? So Tom, obviously I've come to know you for about two years as a member of the Pavilion community, but I've never probably asked you these questions that I'm going to ask you today.

Any good therapy starts with childhood and growing up because it shapes the person we are today and as a person at work as well. Can you tell us a little bit about the growing up experience for you? Where did you grow up? How was that like?

Tom Glason: Gosh, good question. I never know quite how much detail to go into with questions like this. But yeah, I didn't grow up in...

Alper Yurder: We go deep, we go deeper.

Tom Glason: I didn't grow up in the UK, I grew up in Asia, in Malaysia and Singapore. I moved over to the UK when I was eight. And I think it's fair to say that that transition from Southeast Asia to the UK was a tough one. Definitely shaped me in a few different ways. I think one of the things that I quickly realized is that I needed to try and build relationships and make friends and...

and try and assimilate into this weird environment that I'd found myself in. And I suppose I also, at the time, realised that I had a bit of a passion for trading, as it were. So I think selling has probably been in my blood from quite a young age. And maybe the trading was actually a way of me building relationships with people and connecting with them. I think my earliest memory of doing deals was when I was about eight in the playground, my first year in the UK. And I used to collect these football cards these panini cards and I had a pretty good time.

Alper Yurder: I love them.

Tom Glason: Yeah, I had a pretty good knack of trading my unwanted cards for sweets. And I think I was pretty successful at that, judging by the photos of me at the time. I was a pretty chubby kid. Might be hard to imagine now, but I grew up being quite chubby. I think I did well on the sweet and card trading front. But then, yeah, you know, I suppose I was like any typical kid that really liked playing. I wasn't really too much into sport at the time, but found myself kind of stumbling into proper sales when I got to 16 and I was approached by a guy giving out leaflets saying, hey, do you want to come and work at this window, double glazing window retailer? I just finished school and it was a kind of summer holiday job and it was commission only and I kind of knew that it was going to be tough but I was like, I'm up for the challenge, I'll give it a go and amazingly, most people lasted about two weeks in this job. I did it for the whole weeks of my summer and I don't quite know how I managed to kind of hit all the targets and exceed quite a few of them as well and I kind of just found this passion for making money. I was quite used to at that point taking rejection on the phone and weirdly quite liked rejection, still do today and then I think my sales career kind of kicked on from there.

I took a year out between college and uni. I actually worked for a company called British Gas, selling kind of service contracts, did a really good job there. It was kind of in the top like 1 % in the country, which was amazing, won all these trips. And so I think, but I think looking back now, there was probably the thing that set me aside from most people. I don't think I was particularly talented at selling. I think I was just a really hard worker.

Alper Yurder: Thank you.

Tom Glason: I think I had just something in me, like a drive in me to be successful. Probably from my time.

Alper Yurder: Where is that hard worker coming from?

Tom Glason: Yeah, I think from my childhood, I think that, you know, this is called sales therapy. So we should probably reflect on, on that. You know, I think I grew up, grew up as a little chubby kid that, you know, didn't feel like I really fitted in. And, and, you know, certainly when I moved to the UK, I found that hard. And I think I was always working really hard for people to either like me or to feel like a sense of self -worth. And, and, you know, I think I kind of played that out in my, in the early phases of my sales career, maybe even still now actually thinking about it. 

And I just worked really hard. I'd get in early, I'd stay late, I'd make more calls than everyone else. And ultimately, I think that led to me doing well in those first couple of sales roles. And then as I left uni, I got a decent degree in sports psychology. Again, I worked hard for that. And then realized that rather than pursuing a career in sports psychology, I would take some of those learnings from the world of sports psychology and apply them into sales again and manage to...

Yeah, I managed to actually meet my wife in my first sales job, my now wife in my first sales job after uni. And then, yeah, from there, I managed to stumble into tech. And I've absolutely had an amazing 20 years now in B2B tech. And we can talk about the various learnings and journeys and some of the challenges we face.

Alper Yurder: Okay, we'll get to the tech. We'll get to the tech. But before we get to the tech, I want to ask you a few things. 

Tom Glason: Cool.

Alper Yurder: One thing that is really interesting for me, and I want to ask you, you come across as a very calm and collected person in the time that I've known you. Maybe that's not the reality, I don't know. But, so you also mentioned that you're a hard worker, you know, there's always, there's some connection to the self -worth or value. Have there been times where you felt like that hard work, that putting all the effort, that energy sometimes upsets you?

Maybe you expected something from your team, it didn't happen, from yourself it didn't happen. And how do you react to those situations? Because as a hard worker, I guess you would like to get the rewards, but life doesn't always work in that way.

Tom Glason: Yeah, well, I consider myself to be a bit of a perfectionist and I definitely have a high bar on what I expect from myself and from other people. And I think sometimes I definitely beat myself up if I don't feel like I'm meeting that bar. I think what I've learned to do though with team members specifically, and we can talk about my leadership journey because I've got a bunch of stories I can tell you about what shaped me as a leader. But I think what I've come to realize actually quite

Alper Yurder: Yes, absolutely.

Tom Glason: quite early on in my leadership career is the importance of not applying the same pressure that I do on myself or on other people necessarily because that's not what's going to drive performance. And so I think I, through the years, have developed very much a coaching leadership style, very much about unlocking people's potential and kind of what they believe they want to achieve on a day -to -day and month -to -month and yearly basis rather than applying what might be my high standards or principles of expectations on them. So yeah, I think I'm much harder on myself. The short answer is that I'm much harder on myself than I am on other people.

Alper Yurder: That is so wonderful to hear because I feel like I've been on that journey for the longest time as well and sometimes I might not come as the calm and collected type as you do. I always have the good intentions but when I'm so hard on myself I might end up being hard on others too and that's something I'm aware about myself so I try to course correct and stuff. So can you tell me a little bit about that leadership journey that you mentioned, that 20 years, what did you learn about that, how did you make sure to put yourself on the right path that you're giving people what they deserve, they want. How to be a good leader is something that's always interesting for me.

Tom Glason: Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, maybe if I just start with my kind of first foray into tech and B2B tech was back in 2004. And, you know, I think it's fair to say it didn't, it did not go well at all. I joined a super early stage company founded by this guy whose dad had made millions in property. You know, he'd managed to raise a million himself, this founder. And I joined really as the first sales hire. We were, we were kind of selling a mobile ticketing solution. You know, kind of barcodes to mobile phones that could be used by transportation companies. So like kind of way ahead of our time, there was no scanning infrastructure at Turnstiles or anywhere. But we were battling really hard to get product market fit and managed to secure a few paying clients. But what became evident to me in those early stages is just the importance of capital efficiency and not kind of trying to grow at any cost. And we were doing some crazy stuff and we had this client in Las Vegas, it was the Las Vegas Monorail, and my CEO was convinced that we needed to fly out to Las Vegas every quarter on first class, staying in the Bellagio. And so in my early 20s, I got this very, very harsh and real lesson about kind of just making sure that you really conserve cash, that you make sure you've not got a high burn rate, that you make sure you find product market fit as capital efficiently as possible. So, that was a kind of massive learning for me. And I kind of came out the back of that experience thinking, wow, I feel like I probably need more B2B sales experience than I got under this guy. So I decided to get into enterprise sales, proper big ticket enterprise sales and joined a blue chip systems integrator called Atos Origin. I was selling large seven figure deals into kind of big retailers Sainsbury's, Tesco's and I think this is when I had an experience that completely changed my career and also my perspective of leadership. So I ended up working for like the worst boss that you could ever imagine. Completely...

Alper Yurder: Well, I don't know. Everybody has their stories of the worst boss. Let's hear.

Tom Glason: Yeah, I mean...

She completely ruined my mental health. That stereotypical micromanagement, very untrusting, quite frankly, a kind of brutal bully who absolutely crushed my confidence. It impacted a lot. It impacted my relationships outside of work, my sleep, my self -worth. It was, quite frankly, pretty awful. I ended up leaving the company after a really tough three years. I mean, I managed to do some decent deals and actually earned really well, but I came out of that experience quite a broken sales rep.

And I think that was the catalyst really for a period of reflection and change for me. You know, firstly, I kind of realized that I never wanted to work in a large corporate again. I just hated all the bullshit and the politics. And secondly, I kind of reflected on the impact that leaders can have on people's lives, both in the positive, but also obviously the negative as I had been affected. And it kind of suddenly hit me, I think. I wanted to be, I suppose a leader who, has real positive impact on lives. Someone who could create a positive ripple effect that transcended work and kind of gave people confidence in their personal lives too. I kind of basically decided that I wanted to be the sales leader that was the complete opposite to the awful one that I've had. And I was, I suppose I was really lucky actually to get my break into the world of SaaS when I joined a company called Brightpearl in 2010, just after they'd raised their Series A by a notion, this is kind of 14 years ago now. And I spent an amazing five years at Brightpearl, there's VP sales, then SVP global sales and marketing, through three rounds of funding. Brightpearl was subsequently acquired by Sage, but I think that was, I think, the period that I really became a leadership geek. It was what shaped me as a leader and I think my geekiness was also fueled by then my wife who had also pursued a career in leadership development at the time as well.

Alper Yurder: And wow, okay. That's really cool that you had somebody like that in your life who could put it maybe label or name on things that you were experiencing. Because I think what I mean by that is we all go through things, we all learn, but we don't always take note of what we're learning in the moment. So when you have, you know, somebody who is highly aware like that, like a coach alongside, well, Tom, maybe this is what you're going through. I think that's really valuable.

Tom Glason: Thank you.

Alper Yurder: Something that is really interesting for me. You figured that that large enterprise, big, etc. environment wasn't for you, maybe like startups or smaller nimble teams where you would thrive. Is that what kind of, I mean, other than the horrible boss, what made you feel like you need to make the shift from large enterprise, blue chip, traditional to more SaaS tech smaller startup that world.

Tom Glason: Mmm. Yeah, I think a couple of things. Firstly, you know, I think I associated with large enterprises with bullies like my boss that played very political games. It was all about her taking credit for things, really not backing you in the areas that you'd want to be backed. So that was the first thing I kind of associated with large with political. The second thing is I realized that when you're doing these very large enterprise deals, seven figure deals, actually some of the hardest part of the sales process is the internal sales.

Alper Yurder: Yeah. I'm gonna take it.

Tom Glason: selling and I very clearly remember you know the thing that we had to do when we had a deal that we wanted to get support from the company on our own company on and we used to have to go up to room 401 on a Tuesday afternoon you get a slot you get a 20 -minute slot we'd go in there and you it was this big boardroom and you'd have the CEO you know the global CEO you'd have a bunch of his exec team in there and you would have to basically pitch and make a case for why you should be allowed to continue to work this deal. And it was, you know, it was intense. Like, the deal got scrutinised. If you didn't know that deal inside out, you didn't have your RAD report done, your med pic fully completed, like, then you just wouldn't get the resources because ultimately the company is investing.

And often a big team that's going to support you. You're going to have a solutions engineer, you're going to have a finance person, you're going to have a legal person. So it was a big effort to win these deals and I just felt it just slowed me down and I wanted quicker wins, I wanted quicker gratification and actually Brightpole, the first club I went into, the average sales cycle was 30 days. So I'd gone from doing 12 month sales cycle deals to 30 days and I was just like, wow, you get the dopamine here every, every month, multiple times a month. And that for me was a big win. And then I think the final thing for me was just feeling like I could actually have an impact and I could feel like I was not just a small cog in a really massive wheel and actually I could affect change and I could make decisions. And I kind of backed myself, I think, to be able to go in and have an impact. And I did that from the get-go at Brightpearl. I very quickly realized that the ICP was far too wide. I'd read “Crossing the Chasm.”

you know recently and I was like right we need our beat share we need to narrow down we need to do all this stuff and it was great because the co-founders there they listened to me and you know we had a really great kind of pivot in terms of what we were doing that that enabled us to really kind of kick on and raise a nice series B so so yeah they're the reasons is that is a long story.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, I mean, I'm sure a lot of that resonates. Everybody has their own experiences, but I guess that associating that large beasts with inefficiencies at best and that kind of political environment at worst is really difficult. But managing politics is there, I think internally. To be honest, as a salesperson, always my biggest frustration was internal as well. But also external alignment and making sure that your champion is getting the love from their internals.

That is something really important in deal making and that's kind of how we try to shorten the sales cycle with Flowla. What I want to ask you as we move to the next section of our chat is you mentioned early on you saw a business that was not running.

the money running in the right way, maybe not using their money in the right way, not being frugal enough, not meeting PMF and then spending all that money. Then you went to other places, you've seen other mistakes probably. In your current role today, or maybe in the last two, three years as the economic environment is also shifting, what are some of the common mistakes that B2B tech companies are making when it comes to their go-to-market?

Tom Glason: Yeah, a lot, unfortunately, Alper. And, you know, we've been fortunate at Scalewise to work with over 150 startups, generally kind of seed to Series B, B2B tech companies. And, you know, there is the classic mistakes that get made. I think, you know, one of the biggest ones that we see that really actually motivates us and what we're doing at Scalewise is hiring the wrong type of revenue leader based on the stage of business that you're at. And I think it's a massive impact, I think, not just the company, it impacts the team, it impacts the leader themselves. And it's easily avoidable as well. And I think the challenge that we see is that a lot of startups get ahead of themselves a little bit and they think they need big-hitting CRO to come in and they can kind of outsource all of their commercial problems to this person and they're gonna fix everything. But they fail to recognize that leader stage fit is so important when you're in a startup.

Alper Yurder: Yes.

Tom Glason: Having someone that may have done the 10 to 50 million journey multiple times, it really doesn't matter if you're one million and you're trying to get to five. And I've written about this on LinkedIn a few times. It's really important that you have someone that's done that stage relatively recently that understands what it takes to go from one to five. And I think the classic mistakes are that people over hire into revenue leadership roles. Or they do the reverse and they...

Maybe promote people up into leadership that aren't ready to be promoted up. And actually then I think you end up with someone that really is out of their depth that's struggling to kind of see around the corner of the problems that are going to come. I certainly have been one of those leaders in the early stages of my career. And it's actually one of the key things that inspired me to create Pavilion, which was obviously the London Revenue back in 2018. So, yeah, I think that is one of the biggest issues. I think the second big issue that I see is maybe tackling new markets too quickly or in the wrong way. So trying to expand from the UK to the US or other territories without having really nailed the kind of predictability and product market fit and playbook in their core markets. So in fact, I did a webinar on this for Seedlegals a couple of months ago, like, you know, how do you expand into the US in a capital-efficient way? And I think a lot of companies waste a lot of money and a lot of time doing it in the wrong way or at the wrong time.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, I'll get to that in a moment. It's in my notes because I want to talk about US expansion too. But on that first section, maybe let's double down on some specifics. And people always tell me that they really love it when they get like two, three very practical tips that they can implement to their day-to-day learning from somebody like you. So my question to you is, you mentioned, for example, the journey from one to 10 or 10 to 50 or whatever.

Tom Glason: Yeah.

Alper Yurder: What is the general journey that you engage with most commonly and maybe can you share maybe some like common mistakes very practical tips about or if you have a framework of how to go about that leader Stage fit or whatever you call it. Maybe can you talk to us a little bit about that?

Tom Glason: Absolutely. So yeah, we're commonly working with companies that have raised the seed round and then we're supporting them normally through their series A and their B. Sometimes we're coming in maybe when they've raised a series A, but it's that seed to series B journey that we work with. And the way I see it, there's quite a clear roadmap for how to think about revenue leader hiring when you're on that journey. And I think at the seed stage, you clearly you're at founder led selling stage and you're trying to develop new, well, you're trying to develop

your product market fit ultimately, but you're trying to win new logos, you're trying to learn from those customers, and you probably are doing it with maybe an AE or two or an SDR or two. But generally founders, especially non-commercial founders, which of which there is many out there, get to the point where they struggle to move past that next stage in a kind of scalable, repeatable way, and it's often because they're not able to professionalize that sales organization, put in the right systems, processes, enablement materials, like,

how do we hire and ramp on onboard people? And so our guidance when you're transitioning from founder led selling into a professional sales organization isn't to go out and hire a VP of sales that's full time or head of sales. Because quite frankly, you probably don't really know what you need in that person at that stage and it's often quite a big expense as well to carry when you're relatively early stage. This is where we've been really, really seeing a lot of traction in Scalewise. It's fractional…

Alper Yurder: Yeah.

Tom Glason: …heads of sales that come in for two or three days a week that have done that stage of journey, that have the playbooks, that can come in and almost act a bit like a player-manager, but really are able to shortcut a lot of the issues that companies make when they're transitioning from fan-led selling to a full sales team. And so what we see is a fractional sales leader coming in at that point. And then typically what happens is that fractional sales leader becomes responsible for hiring

the full-time replacement head of sales at the point at which that team has reached some scale. Now scale, you could talk about maybe four AEs and two SDRs, but essentially you've got a productive organization that most of the people are hitting quota, or at least a good percent of quota. You've got a reasonable yield on each sales rep, so you're looking at a three-to-one quota to OTE ratio, or maybe four to one, and then you're looking for for a proper head of sales that can help you scale from beyond that. I wouldn't be hiring a CRO, definitely not. I probably even wouldn't be hiring a VP-level person at this point. And I think titles are actually important because as you grow from there, the last thing you want to do is bring a VP of sales who ultimately ends up not being really the VP of sales you need and then you're having to hire a CRO above them. You've got nowhere to go. So I would start with, I would start.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, yeah, and then you don't know what to do with them. Yeah.

Tom Glason: heads off, you know, maybe even then go director, then go VP, then go CRO. Give yourself breathing space, give yourself room to grow and don't overindex on giving someone a high title because you're trying to attract them into the business. Attract them in in different ways, not just the title. Okay, so then you're looking ahead as well. Yeah, go on.

Alper Yurder: Yeah. I think we start seeing the fractional in the titles more and more and that's absolutely something that very practically I want to ask you something about. For those who might be hearing for the first time in this pod, like what is a fractional role? And then more specifically, my questions are around what are the recipes for success for a fractional person to be successful from both sides? Like, you know, what does the fractional...whatever needs to do to make it happen and the person who's bringing them in, what is the environment they need to create for that or what's the expectation they need to set on the fractional role because probably it's going to be different from a full -time role.

Tom Glason: Yeah, such a good question. I'm so glad you brought this up because fractional has become a real buzzword, I think, over the last two or three years. And, you know, certainly we're seeing a lot of people jumping onto the bandwagon, both people that have suddenly decided that they're fractional and also companies that are popping up saying they're a fractional community or a fractional marketplace or whatever it might be. And I think it's created a lot of noise in the market and a lot of confusion. And I think also...

Alper Yurder: Yeah. Is that just a shortcut for cutting salaries of people or not?

Tom Glason: Well, I think what ended up happening, in my view of it, and by the way, I can just share an interesting data point here as well, is that pre -COVID, so in 2020, when we first launched Scalewise, I looked at how many people on LinkedIn had an interim or fractional in their job title, and there was something like 700 ,000. Now, four years later, we have nearly 2 million.

Alper Yurder: Yes, please.

Tom Glason: So we've got almost a three X-ing of the number of people that have got that in their title. Now I think what ended up happening through COVID is a couple of things. A, there was a lot of layoffs of revenue leaders and I think people were struggling to find new roles because the hiring market wasn't as buoyant, certainly as we came out the back end of that period. And so people were like, well, what am I going to do? Well, I better move and do some consulting. I better be a fractional. I better put that on my LinkedIn because I can't just have a… gap on my CV of six to nine months with nothing. So that was the first thing.

I think the other thing was actually people made a lifestyle choice. They were like, look, I don't want to be in the office five days a week anymore. I've actually quite liked being able to take my kids to school and have a bit more flexibility in terms of how I work and when I work. And actually a minority decided to do this as a career choice. And it is a minority, I think, where they are seeing it as something they're going to do over the long term. And I think this is the base of the two different camps that you have within the fractional ecosystem. You've got people that are seeing it as a stopgap.

between roles and they're not really committing to be a fractional. They probably don't even have a huge amount of fractional experience and then you have career fractionals that decided this is what they want to do and they're making a career out of it and they're committed to really developing themselves as a fractional leader. And I think for clients, on the client side, it's become really confusing for them because you've got 28-year-old heads of sales that are suddenly saying that they're fractional CROs that have got no fractional experience.

experience and I think it's very hard actually for non -commercial founders to really, like with any revenue leader, to work out like who is any good, who isn't, who should I trust, who shouldn't, which is why I think we've developed the brand awareness and attraction that we have at Scalewise is because we take away that risk for them. We work with people and we recommend people that are experienced fractionals that have done these gigs before in their stage of business and ultimately know how to

to go and then have an impact quickly. So I think that's a key part of our value prop is making sure we've got a vetted community of fractionals. But I think the second part to your question, setting them up for success, is actually about really being clear on what the brief is. And this is regardless of whether you're hiring a full-time revenue leader or a fractional revenue leader.

Alper Yurder: Yes.

Tom Glason: I think part of the reason why we have such a high failure rate of revenue leaders is that that brief, that job description, that candidate pack, whatever you want to call it.

is not grounded in the reality of what that business needs because whoever has done that diagnosis of what that business needs doesn't really understand the requirements of the role. And so you end up getting a career recruiter that's never been an operator giving them a JD. You end up getting an investor that's never been an operator saying you need a CRO or you get a non -commercial founder thinking I need a VP of sales when you don't really know what the difference between a VP of sales, a CRO and a head of sales is. And so you've got this mass confusion about the type of revenue needed.

And ultimately then you go out and hire someone and it's not what you needed. And so how we set people up for success, this is what we do at Scalewise, is we use our operating experience as revenue is, and we lean into that process. We really dig deep on the requirements of that business. And they might think they've got a sales execution issue when actually really it's a pipeline issue. They might think they've got a middle-of-the-funnel issue and actually it's a bottom-of-the-funnel issue. So like our ability to go in and properly diagnose where the pain points are.

and then come up with a brief that really details out the requirements of the role. And importantly, the objectives and KPIs that they're going to be measured on and the specific milestones that they need to achieve in that fractional role is where that's how you lead to success in these engagements. And so it's being really, really specific about what's needed. And we're able to do that because we have the operating experience to lean into it.

Alper Yurder: Okay. Clear on it.

I love that. Okay. Thanks for clarifying that because I think fractional is such a trendy word, but in my circle, I think you're probably one of the top three people who talks about this and who's been living and breathing this for a long time. So if anybody's interested to discover more, they should definitely start following you. So what I want to do is a few rapid-fire questions, like one-minute questions, because I have a lot of questions for you, but I have very little time. So I'm going to go ahead.

I'm going to try to pick your brains in like under a minute of some very practical tips and tricks or your observations of things. So the first one again, to close on this fractional point, maybe like, can you give one advice to someone who is now opting for a fractional career? What should they do? What should they be careful about? And one to a founder or an employer who is bringing somebody fractional into their business.

Tom Glason: Yeah. My bit of advice for the Fractional Leader is join the course that I teach via Pavilion called How to Succeed as a Fractional Leader. It's a six-week course. I'm teaching it at the moment. We'll be doing it every quarter and it gives you the complete playbook for how to be a successful Fractional Leader from finding and winning opportunities to nailing your positioning in the market, actually diagnosing issues properly, to having a framework and methodology that you can rely on. So yeah, come and join my course on how to succeed as a Fractional Leader.

And then to clients that are thinking about onboarding a fractional leader, I would say that you need to really consider that this person, the whole point of a fractional leader is they're coming in and being a part of the management team. So they're not a consultant that's not gonna get their hands dirty. They should be willing and able to come in and operate as a full -time leader in your business, but on a part -time basis. And what that means is you need someone who has...

Alper Yurder: Yes.

Tom Glason: solve the kind of problems that you're solving at your stage of business. So that stage leader fit is really, really important, but also someone that can actually ramp and get.

essentially up to speed on the business incredibly quickly. They haven't got a three month ramp period. So they need to have fractional experience. They need to be able to know how to go in and diagnose issues quickly. They need to know how to manage and understand all of the requirements of that business. And they need to be able to have an impact really quickly as well. So I would say, find someone that's been a fractional leader before and make sure they've got the stage fit experience that they need for your stage of business.

Alper Yurder: Okay, we mentioned this point before in the conversation, but didn't get to it. So you already started alluding to the differences or similarities between UK and US tech scenes. And obviously Pavilion, the community that we're members of, we've already mentioned it for those of you who do not know about it. It's a specialist community for revenue and sales leaders, I would describe. Probably Tom would do a much better job of describing it.

But my question is, what are some of the more notable differences between UK and US tech scenes after all these years of being exposed to both and therefore for somebody going into their career to join a UK or US-based startup, is there a difference in advice that you would give them?

Tom Glason: Yeah, I mean, the one notable difference obviously is the size of the market. In the US, it's 10 times bigger than the UK. You know, the access to capital, but not just capital, but venture capital that is thinking way bigger than the UK or European. And so often what that means is, you know, you have got much higher expectations around growth rates. You know, you are probably going to scale that organization incredibly more quickly than you would a UK or European-based startup. And obviously, as a

as an employee joining a company that brings a lot of opportunity but it also brings a lot of risk because the whole point of the venture model and B2B tech is that there's a high failure rate and I think even more so in the US you know you're looking for unicorns and when something isn't on that trajectory of being a unicorn the VCs can very quickly start to restrict cash or it can be a lot harder to even get additional funding and so that can lead to big layoffs we've seen them over the last couple of years very big layoffs.

layoffs happening in the US. And so I think as someone that's thinking about joining a company like that, whether you be an individual contributor or a leader actually, is you've got to balance the risks and the upside, sorry, the rewards and the upside of being in a US-based startup that's going to be moving incredibly quickly with the risks and the downside of it being a tenuous job where if you're not performing as a revenue leader, you're going to be out relatively quickly. And by the way, even if you are performing, you could still be out.

and that's often you get upgraded because you're the guy that goes from one to ten, you're not the guy that goes from ten to twenty so yes you've done an amazing job at one to ten but now you're out, we're bringing the next person in so I think it's a lot more ruthless in the US and you've got to be prepared for that risk-reward balance and you know if you're early in your career that's absolutely fine if you've got kids and they're in private school and you know you want stability probably not so good.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, it's a bit more. Yeah.

Yeah, absolutely. And my last question is, you observe the tech landscape, obviously, it's your day in, day out, especially in terms of maybe like B2B tech landscape, are you observing some shifting trends and what is your opinion on our space, like buyer enablement, digital sales rooms? Have you any experience with those? What do you think of them? Do you think they make sense? And yeah, observation.

Tom Glason: Yeah, I love this.

I love the space that you guys are in. I was probably one of the first people to adopt a buyer enablement platform. At the time, it was a company called Biodeck. This was back in 2009, maybe 2010, I think. I don't even know if they still exist, but I absolutely loved it. I was like, what? We can have a website where we can upload stuff to clients and we can see what they're looking at and what they've engaged with and who they've invited in.

and we can then map and manage those stakeholders better. So I was blown away with it. I was surprised that the category didn't evolve and grow as quickly as I thought it should have done. But it's been brilliant, seeing the likes of Flowla and Trumpet and GetAccept and of course the big players, the Seismic and others getting into this space. And I think it's a huge pie. And I think the more companies that are out there evangelizing about this being a core part of your sales tech stack.

I think that the bigger that pie will become and I think it's a big enough pie for multiple players to have, you know, to create real value in this space. So yeah, I love what you're doing. I think it's definitely a must have in the SalesTech stack in my view.

Alper Yurder: Absolutely, I agree. And I mean, it's a must have, I think, if you're involved in certain types of deals, if you're just sending two emails. I think it was, what was it, your first, no, it was one of your experiences that you mentioned your sales cycle was one month and probably, you know, you were closing like, if you're in that kind of market, maybe you don't need one. If you're just sending two emails and done deal, maybe we should all go and apply for that kind of job. But my sales experience, unfortunately, hasn't been that.

And I think it definitely helps now both customer success and sales teams to have a tool like Flowla in their tool stack. It's been a great joy having this conversation with you, Tom. Is there any question that I should have asked you that I forgot to ask?

Tom Glason: No, you know, I think, you know, we obviously didn't get into too much around why I created the London Revenue Collective, which is now Pavilion. But I think a lot of that...

Alper Yurder: Well, yes, please. Let's talk about that a little.

Tom Glason: Okay. yeah, so maybe I can just say that it was around the time where I was really, really struggling to, to get to grips with driving triple digit growth year after year. And I was losing a lot of hair and I was like, there must be other people out there that are going through the same. Hey, that I can learn from and share my challenges with. And I couldn't find a community. I, you know, I'd been to a few sales confidence meetups, but it wasn't, there wasn't enough revenue leader concentration there. There was SDRs.

So I was like, right, I got to create my own community. But it was around that time I stumbled across this group in New York or the New York Revenue Collective run by this guy, Sam Jacobs. And I heard him talking on a podcast and, and I looked into what he was doing and he basically had 20 members in New York at the time and they would meet for dinner every quarter. And I was like, well, that looks good. I'm going to do something similar over here. So I actually reached out to Sam. We got chatting. We ended up meeting up a few months later and then I created the London Revenue Collective and he had the New York Revenue Collective. And I was full-time employed for the next three or four years whilst we were growing it, but Sam decided he'd quit his day job as a CRO. He would become the CEO of what is now Pavilion, and it's now the largest community in the world for go-to-market leaders. But it's incredible to think that really it started because I was just trying to scratch my own itch as a revenue leader, and now we have this amazing community. Obviously, still run the London chapter.

Alper Yurder: Yeah.

Tom Glason: You know it's been an incredible journey and obviously Sam has done amazing things with all the different facets of the membership now as well.

Alper Yurder: Absolutely, I mean every person that I have come across through my Pavilion membership, the community, it's I mean probably one of the highest quality of elite sellers out there so if not the best so definitely I think any of our listeners should definitely go and check it out and it's funny like thank you for bringing that up the first time I saw your name on a list I thought you were French and your name was actually Tom Glason: and not Tom Gleason. And I think I mentioned that to you at a dinner, but I love those dinners where, you know, the conversation is very informal, it's very chatty, and everyone's trying to help each other out. Yeah, thanks for still heading that up.

Tom Glason: Thanks.

Amazing, yeah I'll continue to do it for as long as I can, I love it, it's great fun.

Alper Yurder: Absolutely. And now that we've had you as a guest on the pod, I should actually reach out to Sam and invite him too about his perspective of starting all this up and what he thought of you and your performance back then. I'm sure he'll have great things to say.

Tom Glason: Yeah you should definitely get him on he's a great podcast guest so yeah you should do it.

Alper Yurder: Absolutely. Well, our time is over and I need to cut us on the clock just like any good therapist, which I'm a horrible therapist to be honest. Let's face it now guys, like by episode, what is this, 40, we know that I'm terrible with time management, but I'm trying to do my best. Apologies if we went over a little, but this was a great conversation and Tom has a lot of great insights to share. So hopefully we'll have him back.

That's a wrap on this episode of Sales Therapy. If you enjoy the show, subscribe to us. Any closing remarks, Tom, before we say goodbye?

Tom Glason: No, just you know, I know it's tough out there for revenue leaders right now, but you know, just know that there is community for you. Please do come check out Pavilion. As you say, our dinners are amazing space, you know, confidential space to talk through the challenges that you're facing. So yeah, please do get involved. There is help.

Alper Yurder: Absolutely. Well, thank you very much and see you on the next episode. So let's stop it.

Tom Glason: Thanks. Cheers.

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