A CEO's most important job – Chief Revenue Officer
A CEO must be many things for a company to succeed. Many CEOs are visionaries and inspiring role models, some are brilliant at attracting and retaining the best talent, and every CEO is the ultimate decision maker. But when the quarter closes, the CEO is ultimately responsible for the top and bottom lines. And the top line is more important than ever.
The top line really matters
In today's economy, revenue growth is difficult for many companies to achieve. It takes relentless focus and complete organizational commitment to drive sales growth in the face of increased competition, in an ever-changing and stagnant marketplace. But growth is essential - most investors require it, and many customers only want to buy from a company that is successful which means a company that has sales growth. Yesterday, it was OK to focus on operational efficiency and cost control; today, winning required sales growth.
So, what can a CEO do to improve sales performance?
First and foremost, a CEO can attract, select and retain a sales organization that can deliver sustained growth. This can be an in-house sales team, an outsourced sales team or a hybrid organization. A CEO can assemble a sales team with the talent, drive and knowledge to succeed. A CEO should also align his entire organization to focus on the customer and make sure that at every customer contact point the customers' needs are met or exceeded. But a CEO can do more - he can be his company's secret weapon.
How to be your company's secret weapon
- Establish CEO-to-CEO connections with key customers and top prospects. The best way to make a CEO-to-CEO connection productive is make it beneficial for both your company and the companies of the CEOs that you connect with.
- Keep your communications at the executive level - leave the sales process and deal making to your sales team. You can add little to the day-to-day sales process and you will reduce your real and perceived power if you get involved in the details.
- Make sure everyone on your sales team knows and owns their role and isn’t intimidated by your involvement. Build a relationship of respect and trust.
- Build relationships that enable your team gain the access and information needed to build strong customer relationships and be there to help overcome any unexpected issues that arise.
Three things a CEO should avoid
- Don't personally change the company's pricing, service or warrantee policies for a specific deal without a lot of thought. For most business sectors, these 'special' offers are best coming from the sales rep responsible for the account - the primary sales contact - so that they develop a relationship with the client.
- Be careful that your pride in your own company and its products isn't perceived as arrogance.
- Make sure that you do not disrupt the sales process. The most brilliant and experienced CEOs are actually the most likely to disrupt everything because they know so much. Trust your team. If you don't trust them, perhaps you need a new team.
How are you driving sales for your organization?