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What Should You Keep in Mind when Hiring your Next Chief Sales Officer?

For new tech start-ups and even for mid to larger businesses, ensuring that the sales team is a strong unit full of diverse employees that complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses is key to driving business growth. The success of the Sales team will help make or break the company goals and revenue.

This is probably why hiring a Head of Sales or Chief Sales / Strategy officer can often be looked at as a daunting task for enterprise or mid-size companies.

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If you make the “right” hire, the company’s ability to scale will shift drastically leading to better results and accelerated growth. A hire that doesn’t turn out to be a good fit for the company will lead to unnecessary cash burn.

The Chief Sales Officer is given the task of leading a company’s complete sales function to meet goals and overall (global) revenue targets. This individual would typically serve within a company’s executive leadership team and would have senior roles like The VP of Sales and Sales Director reporting to them.

Here are a few things that can help when you’re considering a new recruit to head your company’s technology sales or sales initiatives.

Business Acumen

Your Chief Sales officer or Chief Strategy Officer will be responsible for every sales related activities while also looking into the daily operational needs and productivity of every sales member. The responsibility that comes with implementing new sales processes, assessing strategies that are working while reworking those that aren’t, the ability to report on every sales task to upper management are all important for the company and are crucial to supporting overall revenue and growth. The role of the Chief Sales Officer involves more than just selling or bringing in revenue, for larger companies it also involves re-assessing tasks and strategies on a global level. This itself goes to show how necessary it is to shortlist someone with a comprehensive business acumen, someone who thinks like a business person so that it is easier to navigate marketplace changes and organizational needs.

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What Drives Them?

Money is a driving factor for almost anyone with a profession – you need money to survive in the world. The good thing about sales is that salespeople stand to earn more than their base salary because of their commissions and based on how successfully they achieve their quotas. But for anyone in a leadership role, like a Chief Sales Officer- if money is the only driving factor, it might not sit well with the rest of the attributes that the position demands. A promising hire is one who has a passion for overall team management, someone who has the right priorities in place to be able to led the team to achieve company goals and revenues. Money cannot be the only driving factor!

Past campaigns in past roles

A successful sales person who has served in various sales roles in multiple companies will have several campaigns to talk about and several strategies to discuss with you based on their past experience. Identifying someone who can openly discuss what campaigns they formulated in their past capacity and how it helped raise their previous company’s bottomline is a good way of understanding how your potential hire approaches sales as a task. A Chief Sales Officer who has gone through the various sales hierarchies in multiple organizations will also be able to relate to everyone across the organizational hierarchy. By understanding what challenges people at various levels could be exposed to, it will help redefine objectives and plans to help keep the company on a continuous growth path – a priority for every sales leader, especially more so for a Chief Sales Officer.

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Interest in developing a team

The role of a Chief Sales Officer is a high level position – the responsibility of developing the potential of every sales team member falls under this person’s key responsibility area, in  most cases. While hiring a Chief Sales Officer, not only is it important to identify personnel who are passionate about developing teams while focusing on every member’s personal growth, it is also important that the person has an innate understanding and interest in doing so. Without this attribute, tightening strategies and identifying loopholes among the staff will fall on the sub heads or lower level reporting heads and they might not have the right understanding, experience or capability to lift the team the way it needs to be in order to align to overall revenue goals.

The ability to sync with other teams

Proper alignment between sales and marketing will pave the way for better closures. A Chief Sales Officer has to ensure that there is proper alignment in terms of processes and feedback not just with marketing heads but also with other crucial departments like Finance. Aligning efforts, keeping the CFO in loop, understanding where business revenues are suffering, understanding how to impact the bottomline further by working with finance to breakdown operational needs and expenses are some tasks that can boost the growth and development of the company. Sales is responsible for revenue generation and should therefore work closely with finance to understand more about the company’s financial status – past, present and impacted.

Love for data and sales technology and sales automation!

Every technology sales and marketing leader today needs to be a data-driven professional! Without an understanding of how to use data and the latest analytics or sales automation systems to drive goals and reduce time taken on repetitive tasks, the team faces the risk of falling behind. In today’s uber competitive environment, the right sales technologies can enable the efforts of sales teams and it is crucial for sales leaders and C-suite executives to understand the latest innovations in salestech and how they can use it to their advantage.

There is no perfect salesperson or for that matter, there is no perfect hire. But when you hire someone with the right attitude and skill set – you can assume you’ve made good headway already.

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