Why the CEO is Responsible for The Sales Transformation


The CEO must lead the sales engine and not relegating the essential operations to a functional area.

The revenue objective is to delight the customer, but this is not efficiently executed with an internal organisational structure.

The traditional company structure is counter to any revenue-focused operation. Head of Sales has an equivalent functional head of department in Marketing HR, IT and Production. Each with objectives and strategies that contribute to the business mission and annual business goals. All heads of departments are internally focused on their silo of responsibilities, with cross-functional teams where the functional areas overlap. Essentially you are encouraged to stay in your lane.

Market-leading CEO understands this dilemma and transform the business model to focus on what’s important – customers. It is the CEO that has the will, the vision and the authority to transform the internally focused structure into a customer-centric organisation focused on delighting the customer.

CEO in Sales transformation-3753439_12

The Organisational Structure Will Depend on the Go-To-Market Strategy.

We have seen significant growth in the subscription-based model (SaaS). Now the customer relationship is giving continuous and ongoing delight rather than showing your best side for the one-off contract. Now your best side is every day, all day. Continuous contracts require a connected organisational structure boasting continuous improvement. No longer can a customer complaint be passed off between functional department. Small fires cannot be allowed to spread.

Bottlenecks do not hurt the bottom line at contract renew, but the subscription business model results are felt on a monthly and quarterly basis. Even in the B2B sector, the try before you buy and pay as you go, open and no penalty contracts is a competitive option that demands a customer-centred externally focused business model.

As CEO, you have fixed overheads and current liabilities, and the only guarantee of customer revenue longevity is to deliver a quality customer experience that meets the needs of your customers. To do this, you must invest in your people and your processes and have the right business model to leverage these assets efficiently.

No matter how well regarded the Sales leader is, they cannot transform the whole functional-based organisation without the CEO leading this necessary initiative. Neither is this the role of the Head of Sales.

Today, buyers and customers are conducting 70% of their research online and self-selecting the suppliers they want to talk to if they must speak to a supplier. More are preferring where possible an e-commerce option. A report from Forrester Research in 2017 estimated business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce transactions would reach $1.2 trillion by 2021. This accounts for more than 13% of all B2B sales within the United States (up from the $889 billion in sales by the end of last year).

Can you imagine moving a higher percentage of your products and services to e-commerce? There is not one function, whether Marketing, HR, IT or Production not affected by this change in the distribution channel?

CEO in Sales transformation-3753439_12

I support companies to transform their sales operations. One company I worked with increased their revenue by an additional $6 million in less than one year. This result was so far and above expectations that then led to an entire restructuring of the whole company processes. When you know it works you are compelled to move heaven and earth to remove all the internal barrier to creating regular and consistent customer delight.

This is how I created the winning results. Sales leader are under a lot of pressure to deliver results for the whole company, but this is where you can get your short-term wins. Buy stripping out the distractions and refocusing on what is important – the customer.

The first thing to understand is that the buyer does not want to be sold but the need to buy.

CEOs Need Short-Term Wins That Requires:

  • A complete understanding of who are your key customers.
  • A realignment of services across your customer groups.
  • An adjustment of the open strategic questions to identify opportunities.
  • An understanding of the key customer organisation decision-making unit and individual preferences.
  • Identify short-term wins and put everything behind achieving the result with trial and error and feedback loops.

In addition to this, the CEO must give the Sales leader the authority to invest in the long term success roadmap:

  • The long term wins that may take 1 to 3 years to deliver (or not)!
  • Future revenue success is dependent on this brave but challenging strategy.
  • All functions must work together to identify future opportunities.
  • The sales leaders are given the authority to resource and invest in a nurturing campaign unlikely to reap results at year-end.

If you want market leadership not only now but are willing to invest in it for the future, then this requires the CEO to be fully committed to making the decisions that will focus on what is important – the customer. Traditional hierarchy organisations are internally focused and cannot consistently and efficiently meet the changing needs of the modern buyer and customer. The CEO must transform the organisation aligned with the buyers preferred to go to market strategy to consistently delight the customer.

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Scale Your Sales Janice B Gordon

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