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Chief Sales Officers’ Top Five Challenges

June 09, 2016 | By Phil Harrell

  • Sales leaders are dealing with similar challenges
  • Five challenges in particular come up consistently
  • There is data available to help give sales leaders the context they need to solve these challenges

There is no shortage of challenges (and headaches) that chief sales officers must meet head-on in order to make their numbers. The five challenges listed below have been coming up consistently in my conversations with many sales leaders over the past several months:

CSO Challenges
  • Organizational design and investment. What is the right organizational structure that allows sales leaders to make their growth targets with the lowest possible customer acquisition cost? What investments should a sales leader make in quota-bearing vs. support functions to accelerate growth and deliver the number? What is the optimal route to market to acquire customers?
  • Cross-functional alignment. How does a sales leader work most effectively with peers in marketing, product management, finance and HR to drive growth? How should the sales leader drive accountability with those functions so that revenue generation is viewed as a team goal vs. the sole responsibility of sales? What can a sales leader realistically expect from marketing in terms of contribution to the pipeline and from HR with regard to recruiting?
  • Talent acquisition and development. How can sales leaders consistently and systematically identify and hire the top talent that will help them meet quota? What are the optimal ways to onboard and develop new hires so that they can make an impact on the number as soon as possible? What are realistic expectations for new-hire ramp time to quota?
  • Sales rep productivity. How do sales leaders identify the key productivity inputs that lead to strong results? How can they diagnose which productivity categories they have the biggest opportunity to impact? What are the right productivity levers to pull to improve the productivity of their existing sales team? What should their sales team produce on an annual basis given the average selling price of their product?
  • Sales process. What kind of sales process should a sales leader implement that will be viewed by reps as a helpful tool because it helps accelerate sales cycles and win deals? How should the sales process be constructed so that it puts the buyers at the center of the process and is viewed by buyers as helpful? What kind of management cadence should be set up to ensure the success of the sales process? What are best-in-class companies doing with regard to forecast accuracy?

To answer these questions, chief sales officers are looking for data that provides the context needed to validate their course of action or reveal areas of improvement and best practices that other companies have used to address them. To learn more about these five challenges and how modern sales leaders are tackling them, please contact us.

Phil Harrell

Phil is an industry thought leader in sales and marketing with more than 20 years of experience building and leading high-performance b-to-b sales teams worldwide. He has held executive-level sales and marketing positions at well-established companies and hypergrowth technology start-ups, and has proven success in growing revenue in the hundreds of millions.

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