Chief Sales Officer
Interim and fractional CSOs upgrade expertise while reducing risk and cost.
In today’s sales environment, companies must not only react quickly to changes in how buyers make decisions, but also to changing and rapidly evolving team demographics and organizational models. Too many of today’s CSOs would best be described as super salesreps. This profile no longer works.
How to Succeed as a CSO
Success in the CSO or Vice President of Sales role starts with a solid sales strategy and plan for driving profitable revenue growth.
The CSO or VP of Sales must collaborate with other leaders and define the markets and segments in which a company plays, which it will pursue and how it will create competitive advantage to win.
CSO Roles and Responsibilities
The CSO must continuously refine the sales strategy in response to shifting external and internal factors. A high-performing CSO must take on the following tasks:
Sales Model & StrategyCreate and execute against the strategy
Strategy and tactics
The right combination of strategy, tactics and effective, efficient execution equals success.
Coach the TeamOversee engagement programs and performance
CROs effectively oversee marketing execution to deliver buyer engagement programs and performance with on-target funnel volumes and velocity.
Lead Sales TeamSell Products and Services
Meet and Exceed Targets
CROs leading sales team activities and competencies to sell products and services and manage relationships, consistently meeting and exceeding targets.
Ensure Customer SuccessRetain. Up-Sell. Cross-Sell.
CROs ensure that customer success teams are executing effectively to maximize retention, up-sell and cross-sell.
Chief Sales Officer & Strategy
Success in the CSO role includes a solid sales strategy and plan for diving profitable revenue growth. A true sales strategy includes the following components and activities.
Aligning with Marketing to understand the total and serviceable addressable market, ideal customer profile with propensity-to-buy criteria to enable the sales team to effectively target buyer personas and buying processes. Knowledge of the customer buying journey also provides the foundation for an adaptive sales process.
Defining the optimal sales model and go-to-market coverage mix links overall strategy with field execution. It maps the direct and indirect channels for growth. And it also defines the linkages across marketing, product and customer success.
This involves assessing the best sales organizational design for the company’s markets, products, and services. The model must balance the requirement for new revenue, as well as the retention and growth with existing customers. Beyond reporting lines and boxes, the organizational design must also address talent requirements, territory coverage and quotas. The model should be reinforced through compensation plans that incentivize the right behaviors.
Process & Plays
This involves determining how prospects are qualified and guided through the buying process, designing targeted selling actions as well as content, and aligning them for new business acquisition. Lightweight, tailored and adaptive sales methodologies focus on running the right play at the right time. A formal process and tightly aligned and integrated MarTech tools are also needed to manage and expand account relationships. Lastly, the CSO is responsible for strengthening the situational awareness of reps to increase efficiency, productivity and individual performance.
A great sales strategy identifies the messaging for engaging multiple influencers in today’s consensus-driven sale including a strongly differentiated value proposition linked to value and business outcomes. Ultimately, this insight is translated into enabling tools that support scalable, adaptive selling behaviors: What to Do, What to Say, and What to Show in specific selling scenarios. An effective sales messaging plan drives tight alignment between sales and marketing.
Enablement and Operations
Every great sales strategy includes a combination of enablement (sales effectiveness) and operations (sales efficiency). Executing powerful enablement and operations is multifaceted. It typically includes playbooks, onboarding processes, training, coaching reinforcement and much more.
Sales strategy hinges on the ability to measure key lagging, leading, and behavioral indicators. These KPI’s help develop a great pipeline and forecasting process. Equally important, they provide the roadmap for front-line sales management, insights, and coaching. Clarity around metrics is also central to effective sales analytics and reporting.
Finally, an effective sales strategy leverages technology. A great CSO knows how to maximize their sales technology stack, including CRM, marketing automation, enablement tools, and talent management. For many sales compensation models, world-class configuration, pricing and quoting systems are essential to reducing selling time and enabling scale. Today’s sales leaders know how to use technology, data, and business-artificial intelligence to improve performance.
Interim and Fractional Sales Leadership, CSO or Fractional Sales Manager
Given the skills, complexity, sophistication and requisite experience to have an effective CSO, many organizations feel interim or fractional sales leadership in the form of a fractional sales manager or fractional CSO is a good option to consider.
An interim or fractional CSO offers the following specific advantages:
A search for a Chief Sales Officer typically takes 4-5 months with another several weeks expected to get the new in house CSO to full capacity. You may face a 1-2 quarter gap in finding your next CSO. TechCXO part-time and interim CSOs hit the ground running, usually with less than a two week learning curve.
Options for on-demand executives include defined project fees (e.g. assessments, project plans), hourly rates, day rates, or monthly retainer. A typical in-house CSO’s compensation, benefits and bonus will typically exceed $200k and include significant equity from a startup. There are no contracts, equity or loaded salaries with a fractional CSO who works faster and more efficiently than in-house resources.
Capabilities & Experience
A fractional or interim CSO is a proven executive. The experience of an in-house CSO may be mixed. Also, internal successors are rare. TechCXO On Demand CSOs are ready now to stabilize revenue, identity revenue supply chain issues, implement changes, help recruit new leaders and help with ramp up.