It is not uncommon to see the CEO making sales, at an operational level, rather than focusing on more strategic issues for the company. While this is understandable in the early stages of a business, it cannot become a bad habit.
The fundamental role of the CEO
The CEO helps increase sales in many ways – some obvious, some not so much. Keeping the CEO in an operational position can hurt your company due to a lack of strategic vision, increased customer acquisition costs (CAC), and a simple lack of scalability. Want to avoid these problems? Here are some tips on how to avoid common mistakes.
Management: bringing the company’s departments closer together
The CEO concentrates on different responsibilities, which vary according to the company’s stage. But in addition to technical knowledge, this leader has an important political role – uniting professionals around single goals. That’s why it’s important to advocate for integrating people, processes, and technology. The better the relationship between the different sectors flows, the greater the value delivery to internal and external stakeholders.
- Define and communicate Mission, Vision, and Values;
- Encourage the construction of SLAs between the areas;
- Acquire software that monitors the customer from Pre-sales to Customer Success.
But nurturing relationships takes time. And you know who has little time available? The CEO, making sales. The ideal would be to appoint a Business Manager or other type of manager specific to the Sales area.
Visibility: brand strengthening
The company needs to be known for the market to believe in it. The CEO is the prominent brand ambassador, attracting customers, suppliers, and investors. Imagine Apple without Steve Jobs. Or Facebook without Sheryl Sandberg. Rather than having your CEO make sales, consider having him as a front man. Generating charisma and credibility paves the way for Marketing, Pre-sales, and Sales teams to sell more. By decentralizing attraction, prospecting, and traction, you gain scale. And who doesn’t want to expand?
CEO: the new sales coordinator?
This position was even discussed ten years ago. But this diversion of focus proved harmful to companies. The CEO is a strategist, above all. But when it comes to selling, you may want a specialized manager (VP, Director, or Manager) with a tactical focus. This manager is responsible for planning the operationalization of the business process and will only bring the CEO to the table when – and if – he is indispensable.
You see, it is important to have a sales machine CEO. He needs to know how to assemble and present a convincing pitch. After all, he is the company’s main spokesperson, often responsible for attracting investors. But this professional is too valuable to spend his time prospecting and negotiating with clients unless the ticket is high enough to justify his involvement. That’s why we recommend that the CEO only make sales in the case of strategic negotiations with key accounts. In other words, when the prospect represents a significant change for the company. Choice criteria can be:
- Percentage of revenue representation in the future;
- possibility of entering new markets;
- substantial gain in authority, as in the case of being a large and renowned customer.
Connections: participation in events and executive networking
Constant contact with the market is an effective way to sell the product. The CEO gains visibility and credibility for the company whenever he is a speaker, interviewed in the media, and networking. And he can bridge the gap between acquired contacts and the sales team.
CEOs talk to CEOs – they can shorten sales time by generating interest in the solution offered. A CEO involved in the sales process will know how to identify significant opportunities. Don’t underestimate the power of opening doors and helping to improve overall results.
Don’t get distracted by the strategic management of the company
The CEO is always at risk of being swallowed up by routine, especially in small and medium-sized companies. We have gathered some precious tips to prevent this from happening in this post. But there are two serious mistakes less experienced CEOs make, especially when networking. We brush up on how to avoid them.
- Do not change the company’s pricing, service, or warranty policies on your own. It is best to rely on the know-how of the sales consultant responsible for the account. This way, you ensure that they develop a fruitful relationship.
- Do not interrupt the sales process. The brightest CEOs are more prone to this – since they know a lot about the company, they believe they are immune to error. Trust your process and your team.
Remember: the CEO’s role is to keep his eyes on the company’s future. It exists to increase cash (and consequent transfer of capital) to the partners. Involving him in the sales strategy is one thing; calling you to run key account sales is another. But never, ever reach the CEO for routine sales. But how (when?) to remove the CEO from the operation? What is the way forward? The answer is simple: delegate. The first step is to properly define how the business process works and the roles of each team member. And, if you find it risky to compare the level of knowledge between different hierarchical levels, know that it is unnecessary.