CEOs who stand on the side and don’t think they need to be involved in sales other than discussing the business with the VP of Sales in a weekly meeting are failing to understand their role.
CEOs must be engaged with sales and understand what is happening in the marketplace. This is part of solid sales leadership, and sadly too many CEOs downplay this aspect.
I encounter far too many CEOs who can’t recall accurately the last sales call they made.
CEOs who fail to spend any time in the field are subject to having their view of sales be filtered 100% by what the VP of Sales wants to share with them.
By the very nature of their title, CEOs have the ability to have discussions with customers who won’t entertain such discussions from other people lower in the company. Yes, the title “CEO” can make a difference. CEOs can ask questions others can’t ask. Better yet, CEOs will find out insights from customers that other people simply won’t be able to uncover.
A CEO who is engaged in the sales process will, over a period of time, identify significant opportunities. If a board does not require their CEO to be with customers occasionally, then the board is failing in their responsibility to the shareholders.
The amount of time a CEO should be out with customers is a moving target, as it can vary dramatically by industry, time of year, company objectives, etc. A good rule, however, is a CEO should make at least one customer visit per month.
One customer visit per month is not too much to ask, and over the course of a year, this would allow a CEO to gain a broad understanding of what is happening. Also, by visiting a customer a month, several new significant opportunities will emerge. That’s good business all the way around!
Is a CEO going on calls a threat to the sales force? No, because the CEO is merely doing what they should be doing. I see it more as a gain, because the CEO is opening doors and helping improve the overall business.
Copyright 2013, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.