When Should A Software Startup Hire A CMO?

Charles Var, SyncHR


A straightforward answer for any SaaS startup wondering when to hire a CMO is, “When you can afford it” (or maybe the more literal answer is, “When your VCs tell you it’s time.”) OpenView suggests a CMO is needed once you’re ready to grow from $25 to $100 million in revenue. A simple web search for “When do startups need to hire a CMO?” will yield all sorts of opinions about the size of the marketing team, the age of a company, or your position in the market place.

Charles Var is a CMO, and his answer about when you need to bring on a marketing guru like him might surprise you. He’s held senior marketing roles at household names in the big tech world like Intuit and Symantec and has groomed marketing teams at multiple startups. Var currently leads marketing efforts at SyncHR, a Denver-based, VC-backed SaaS startup focused on the payroll and HR space. In 40 seconds, he breaks down a sound CMO hiring strategy for startups.

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That’s a question I ponder all the time. I’ve been at a couple of startups now and it’s an interesting question.

I think marketing has a very different role from what most people think of it as. It’s really taken on more of a revenue driving perspective, which is, “When you’re ready to start making money, that’s when you hire a CMO.”

Normally people would say, “When you’re ready to start making money, hire a sales person.” That may be premature because with that sales person you might dump a lot of money chasing the wrong thing.

So, bring in a CMO who can analyze the business and the market and the competitive landscape and say, “Hey look, here’s what I think are your crown jewels.”