Just Sell It: The Sales Exec Delivers Results (and Cash)

Sales numbers are constantly under the corporate microscope. So is the executive who manages them. That lens has a particularly tight focus during challenging economic times.

Sluggish economic environment or not, the mandate to increase sales remains the same. Fewer resources available to meet targets? Sales strategies need to be reconfigured? Just do it. All scenarios call for a sales exec on the top of his or her game.

When that senior sales executive is an interim, you can bet the sands are shifting particularly swiftly, perhaps amid a turnaround scenario or after the abrupt departure of the permanent CSO.

The experienced sales exec going in on an interim basis must have unique insights and experience to share with management. One lesson from the recent recession:  don’t focus too much on the short term. It’s a dangerous temptation in rough economic waters. Recent belt-tightening caused some companies to shorten scope on their sights, resulting in short-sighted strategies that don’t bode well for long-term performance.

A high-quality senior sales executive won’t promise results that are undeliverable over the longer term. Strategy must have a multi-level focus on the short-, medium-, and long-term paths. “You have to be realistic about where the company will be in 3 years, not just 3 months,” said Alan McKendry, a Europe-based interim executive and founder of McKendry Consulting. “A CEO shouldn’t bring in a sales exec who overpromises, but focus on making resources available to meet the longer-term goals,” he said.

An interim CSO enters an engagement not simply to bring short-term benefits, but with the long-term outlook the foremost concern.

As the economy returns to a more brisk pace, the interim sales exec offers companies the skills  to meet changing demands by interacting with other C-level executives–particularly their marketing counterpart–and shepherding the sales team.

Making use of existing technology, like customer relationship management systems, also helps the sales exec perform well. But the essential mission for an interim remains the same: communicate a crystal-clear vision and motivate top-notch results.