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What Role Should the CEO Play in Driving Sales Performance Improvement?

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Sales Performance Improvement is often deemed as the responsibility of the sales leadership and too often the improvements are inconsistent or insufficient to directly affect results. Successful CEOs take a different approach and let us explain how.

As Chief Executive Officer or Managing Director (“CEO”) you are the person leading the development and execution of the company’s long-term strategy with a view to creating shareholder or owner value and often reporting to a board of directors. Your leadership role also entails decision-making ensuring all day-to-day management requirements are met for implementing the company’s long and short-term plans.

Your key personnel lead sales, marketing, operations, and finance and you look to them to lead their teams to deliver. For some areas of the business, the processes are rigid, and the expectations are deeply embedded through formal education and training, placing constants on how they operate. Finance and operations are examples of those areas. They are disciplines and functions that are universal and must be done.

For sales and marketing, there are many variations of what is right and wrong. Each company adopts their own style and process of what they believe is best – often with little structure and process, believing sales is an autonomous environment. Marketing is creative more than functional. For incumbent sales and marketing leadership in those environments, they will focus their teams on the points that the CEO considers to be important. They take the lead on the CEO’s priorities. This, combined with insufficient measurement and evidence-based processes, causes the company’s results to suffer.

Another key cultural aspect of sales organisations is the belief that good compensation plans drive performance. CEOs become reliant on this cultural ascertain, believing it will deliver the outcomes they require. Increased salaries and incentives raise the cost of sales unnecessarily. The bottom line is salaries alone will not drive behaviour and deliver results. Sales performance improvement is more complex than salaries or employee loyalty and effort. Like all areas of business, it is about processes, measurement, and know-how on how to read analytics.

As a CEO, you have a critical role in ensuring the sales leadership adheres to sales organisation effectiveness. It is your responsibility to understand the dynamics of the business and ultimately communicate and drive the strategies that grow revenue. You need to understand and ensure the implementation plans are installed and correctly measured and actioned.

The effectiveness occurs best of all when the CEO has a strategy implementation process squarely on their radar and keeps it at the forefront of the mind of the sales manager

The CEO must ask the right questions of sales managers that keep them and their teams focused on the key drivers. They need to adhere to the adage of working on the business rather than in the business. Too often, CEOs are drawn into customer transactional conversations by sales managers rather than remaining focused on the key drivers and action plans, ensuring strategy implementation and revenue goals. Once the drivers are reviewed, then customer transactional conversations can be engaged. 

With quality information being extracted on how to achieve sales performance improvement, CEOs can ask the right questions in relation to sales effectiveness, performance, and implementation. Their focus transcends to the sales manager, and their team has a direct impact on sales performance improvement.

To discuss how to establish the disciplines and processes to enable CEOs to drive improved sales performance, please contact our office.

To read more about this topic, purchase a copy of “The Sales Focused CEO”

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© 2014 Sales Focus Advisory  All Rights Reserved

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About the Author: Adele Crane

A leader in Implementation Consulting.
CEOs and Managing Directors have relied on Adele Crane to solve challenges with the performance of their sales and marketing since 1990. Her consulting experience in delivering results in 90-120 days is unprecedented by any other known sales and marketing consulting professional in the world. As an author of 3 acclaimed books, appearances on major media, and publications in USA, NZ and Australia, Adele’s experience brings fresh thinking and contemporary practices to business.