The CEO plays a vital role in sales. Spoiler alert: as leader of the company, you have to lead sales too! Hold on to your hat, don’t get too excited. This doesn’t mean you are in charge of sellers or that you are responsible for doing actual sales.
It does mean that you will play a vital role with existing customers and prospects when your thought leadership is needed, and it does mean that you can play a key role by evangelizing for your company by appearing on podcasts, authoring articles, being interviewed, and sharing ideas on social media.
Even if you have a CRO, CSO, VP of Sales, or someone focused exclusively on sales – they are probably focused on sellers and sales operations and not the customer experience. While these people help in leading your sales team and sales operations, you, the CEO has to look further to bring sales, marketing, and customer success together in a way you may never have done before so that they are focused on the customer experience.
Your role in sales has changed if you founded the company but you still have a role. The CEO’s obvious role is to be available to the senior leaders of your customers when appropriate, but more importantly, to set the overall sales vision with the senior team and support everyone in providing an exceptional customer experience. Since this makes many groups accountable, the sales team is not the only group that should be having an impact.
Sales is not about sellers, it is about the customer experience from hello to a satisfied customer who stays, buys more, and provides referrals.
I realize you may have a sales leader leading the sales effort but again, they are most likely focused on sellers. You must lead the sales charge because you are the only one who can truly change your company’s focus from an internal approach, to selling, to seeing the customer’s perspective and shifting every engagement point to provide a great experience. If you aren’t currently leading the sales effort, consider what your role should be.
I invite you to examine that today by asking yourself these important questions.
The CEO’s Role in Sales: Leading the Charge
If you know you should be taking a larger role in sales within your organization, but you aren’t sure how to get started, I encourage you to begin by answering the following questions honestly.
- What do I need to know about sales for this company to be successful?
- What are the outcomes I want from sales, and what do I need to know to achieve these outcomes?
- What role should I play in sales strategy and process?
- What should my role be with the sales team?
These questions will help you understand what you need to do next. They will also help you identify the gaps in your knowledge and experience that need to be filled for you to take your place as sales leader. There are so many ways to boost your knowledge these days that you are sure to get up to speed fast. Books, podcasts, courses, personalized coaching—choose your favorite method of learning and dive in!
The CEO’s Role in Sales: Putting Customers First
To become a better leader in sales, you also need to shift the culture of your business so everyone is focused on the success of the customer. Today’s sales environment requires a holistic approach; the sales team can’t do it alone. Pull sales, marketing, and customer success out from their silos so they can work together and focus on the customer experience.
This sort of reorganization is only possible with strong leadership. The CEO’s role in sales is first and foremost leading that culture change, that mindset shift, from “what we sell” to “what our customers buy.” It is about ensuring that every point of engagement that the customer has with your business is an exceptional experience.
Here are some questions to ask to build a customer-focused sales experience:
- What are we doing today to make it easier to be our customer and harder to be our competition?
- Are we intriguing customers with marketing messages that matter so our sales team can book conversations?
- Are we delighting the customer by delivering quality products and services?
- Are we supporting customers at every step in their journey, making it easier for them to find us, become first-time customers, and grow into lifelong, loyal customers?
- As CEO, what is my role with our customers?
The CEO’s role in sales is to lead the overall sales vision of the business. That requires you to be involved at a deeper level—to play a role in strategy and process and set goals for your team. It also requires you to set the culture of your organization, putting customer satisfaction at the forefront of all you do and making it easier for your sales, marketing, and customer success teams to work together.
Exceptional sales growth requires exceptional leadership. Answer each of the questions above, then start implementing changes to better engage and serve your customers. Do this, and you are sure to see sales increases like never before.