Sales is a process, especially in a consultative sales environment, and depending on the industry, your sales cycle could be multiple months long. CEOs in far too many cases step in to take control or manage the sales process, particularly when sales don't happen. I have seen it all. CEOs doing the sales training, CEOs being on initial sales calls, CEOs coming to the rescue. It can cause panic and fear with the sales staff and otherwise utter confusion both internally as well as with prospective clients.
So here is a scenario to contemplate. Let's say sales are not being closed as planned. The CEO panics and thinks he/she needs to take control. As a result, the salespeople fear that they might lose their job and/or that they won’t make money.
The sales managers do both. They panic and fear, both for their team, for their compensation and for their reputation. CEOs, take heed, for there are very good and business-smart reasons for you not to get intimately involved!
Here are 7 reasons why CEOs should not be involved in the sales process:
My Message to CEOs
Hire a sales manager or somebody who will lead the sales process whom you trust and step away. Let them work their magic. There are many experts out there who can lead a successful team and put revenue on the books. Another big piece of advice: Leave your ego at the door (of the sales team)! It's not about you, it's about the end result.
My Message to Sales Managers
Sales is a process and a process needs to be documented and communicated. Invite your CEO to your sales planning sessions, explain your strategy (if you have one) and manage expectations. If you do that, your CEO (if he/she is wise) will move out of the way and let you do your thing. If he/she doesn't, think about moving on because a CEO involved in the sales process hardly ever leads to success. So, you will have to move on either way, on your terms or the latest when layoffs happen due to the lack of sales.
My Message to Sales Professionals
Be mindful who you work for. If you don't, you will not be successful and end up changing jobs every six months. If you do however, understand your craft, manage up. Help your sales managers be successful. Provide insight into your work and supply reports on your progress. Applying your sales skills will lead you to success. With clear communication and market research results (e.g. we are targeting the right people for our service offering!) you will be able to get support from your managers and you will succeed.
But only if everybody leaves their ego at the door.
Monika D’Agostino is Chief Consultative Sales Officer of the Consultative Sales Academy.