This article will be the first of a series where I want to talk about CEOs and their involvement in the consultative sales process. It’s a passion of mine and hopefully you will enjoy reading as much as I have enjoyed writing and creating.
CEOs: Helping Sales by Staying Out of the Way: Insight 1
I’m not sure you agree with me, but in my experience CEOs should be involved in the sales process, but they shouldn’t lead it.
Sales efforts, especially in a consultative environment should be spearheaded by experts who understand and embrace a consultative selling process. While the overall strategy and direction of a company should certainly be driven by the CEO, I have yet to see an organization capitalize on the potential of all members of the sales organization and show strong growth while their CEO was leading and driving the sales process.
Why is that?
CEOs are charismatic leaders who have a vision for their company and a foresight for the future developments of their industry. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they should run every single department and be in charge of every detail. Micro-managing the sales process can happen when the CEO does not embrace or perhaps not understand a consultative sales environment, the selling cycle etc. CEOs micro-managing sales will eventually sour the work of the sales team.
The question arises: Why do CEOs then get involved in the sales process?
A few possible answers:
a) CEOs often don’t have very high regards for the sales practice or in other cases they don’t really understand it. Many CEOs feel that sales is really simple and that they are the best sales person in the room. That usually stems from the fact that they had to raise capital to start or expand the company. And yes, very often they are good sales people but that doesn’t mean that they are good sales management leaders.
b) Often CEOs get involved in the sales process due to a lack of success and a lack of trust that somebody else can make it happen. If success doesn’t happen fast enough, they often start micro-managing the sales manager and/or the sales team. Unless the sales manager is really savvy and knows how and when to push back, CEO meddling can confuse the sales process.
c) Additionally I have experienced CEOs getting involved because they felt there weren’t that many really good sales managers out there who could effectively lead a sales team. Now to be honest, there are, but managing a team and selling are two different skill sets. I have seen companies change sales managers twice a year in desperation.
So, what’s a CEO to do??
The successful growth of sales in your organization will depend on how well the sales process is built and who is leading it. Reflect on the values of your organization, what benefits do you offer to prospective clients. Why would and should they buy your offering? Once you have a sales leader who understands your organization and what you offer thoroughly and successfully builds a sales team, puts a sales process in place, then it’s time to step back and support the process.
Allow your sales leaders to lead the process. Make yourself available for any sales efforts and cheerlead the sales team from the corner office. Your vision and charisma will guide your sales team. Your belief in the organization will aid the team to attract new clients and grow business.
And never forget these THREE!
When identifying the benefits for your audiences, always remember to develop messaging that will help you get their attention.
If you have read my blog you will remember that people buy because you can help them:
• Make money and/or
• Save money and/or
• Improve their reputation internally
By: Monika D’Agostino
Chief Consultative Sales Officer
Consultative Sales Academy
© 2012 Monika D’Agostino