It’s more important now than ever that CEOs lead sales. Yes, you heard me correctly, and I hear you saying, “Whaaat? Are you kidding me? I’m the CEO. I have to be strategic and run the entire company. I have a sales leader in place to lead sales.”
If you are of the mindset that sales is about sellers, your sales leaders should be leading that effort, but even then, you have a role to play in sales. And the first part of that is changing the mindset that sales is about sellers when today, more than ever, sales is about the way the customer wants to buy.
The CEO’s Role in Sales
The CEO always has a role in sales, which changes as the company matures. For example, as a founder, you may be the sales strategist and the first seller who does all the sales and lead generation activity at the beginning. When your company is 20 years old, your role as strategist remains, and you are now the evangelist and the chief customer officer. You get involved with very high-level complex deals, and your sales team positions you with influential leaders to develop relationships with customers and prospects.
But the most important way CEOs lead sales is by being the orchestrator. The buyer has become digital and no longer is their first interaction with a salesperson. Their journey is quite different. They most likely find your company through word of mouth and Google first. Your company is one of many that their buying committee is researching. They are looking at your website, social media, and internet presence. They are looking for content to read, watch and listen to learn what they need to know. They are omnichannel buyers, which Jennifer Stanley and her teammates explain so well in this article, The New B2B Growth Equation.
Because they no longer need to talk to a salesperson (nor in many cases do they want to, according to Gartner), your company must be prepared to meet them where they are. That means that many departments must work together to provide the customer with the experience desired. The salespeople become only one channel to the buyer, not THE channel.
For example, since the buyer wants to read, watch, and listen at any time of the day or night, it becomes imperative that you have a great content strategy that is up to marketing, not sales.
The CEO as an Orchestrator
CEOs lead sales because they are the only person who can insist on collaboration between sales, marketing, customer success, and operations. Therefore, as CEO, you need to understand the customer journey and what it will take to align your organization.
What Top CEOs Are Saying
Great CEOs lead sales. But don’t take it from me. Here’s what some of the top CEOs I know have to say about their role in leading sales.
Bronwyn Allen, President & CEO of High Profile, Inc.
Kate Bradley Chernis, Co-Founder & CEO of Lately
Mario M. Martinez Jr, CEO, Founder, and Modern Sales Evangelist of Vengreso
Kris Rudeegraap, CEO of Sendoso
Elay Cohen, CEO & Co-Founder of SalesHood
Jamie Crosbie, Founder and CEO of ProActivate
Pouyan Salehi, CEO and Co-founder of Scratchpad
Jon Ferrara, Founder & CEO of Nimble
As CEO, I make sure we are not out there talking about ourselves. Today customers are tired of being “sold,” and they don’t want to hear companies talk about how great their products and services are. Stop talking about how great you are and start talking about how you can make your customers great!
That’s why modern CEOs need to completely understand their customers’ journeys. A modern CEO is aware that their company needs to engage a constituency well beyond prospects and customers by sales and marketing. The constituency around a company could include editors, analysts, bloggers, influencers, third-party developers, channel partners, business partners, and more.
People don’t buy great products; they buy better versions of themselves.
As you can read from these quotes, great CEOs lead sales in a variety of ways! I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing all of these CEOs, and I hope you will listen to our conversations at www.salestalkforceos.biz or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.
Alice is nationally known for her expertise in elevating sales to increase valuation for companies with a B2B complex sale that have exceptional growth potential. She’s originally, from the widely known Miller Heiman Group. Spending her time strategizing with CEOs and their leadership teams to build the strategies that find new business and grow existing accounts is her passion. Her clients love her spirit and the way she energizes their sales organization.