Three Ways an Interim CSO Creates a Strong Foundation for Your Permanent Leader

Engaging an interim executive isn’t something new. However, the current business environment makes the prospect more appealing to many business owners.

The disparity between the number of top-level vacancies and highly effective talent to fill them is one motivating factor behind the increased willingness to seek temporary executives. Another is frustration with a sales force that consistently fails to meet performance goals.

The data suggests that it isn’t the economy, or other external factors, that prevent 36% to 47% of sales representatives to meet annual quotas. An analysis by Accenture of the CSO Insights 2012 Sales Performance Optimization Study reveals that even as the markets stabilized and the economy improved in 2012, sales performance remained flat.

Finally, exemplary talent is rare and expensive. Interim management options give companies valuable time to compare candidates thoroughly before filling vacancies, without compromising revenue streams and delivery schedules.

Here are three ways that an interim CSO creates a strong foundation for your future leader.

Dispelling the Myths

In a recent interview with Bob Jordan (Association of Interim Executives), Barry Conchie, president, Conchie Associates, LLC, posited there is a distinct disconnect between reality and perception when it comes to a firm’s ability to accurately evaluate leadership talent. One role of the interim is to quickly, efficiently and accurately analyze the range of internal talent in a quantifiable way.

Putting assumptions, biases and prejudices aside, a skilled CSO interim looks for systemic deficiencies that are preventing the sales force from meeting sales expectations. Delving into organizational processes and methodology often reveals potential areas that need adjustments.


A professional interim is not interested in settling into a twenty-year position; biding time in anticipation of a six-figure pension with stock options. The average contract for an interim is two years. Therefore, the focus is on establishing a strong footing quickly; positioning the company for healthy growth after his exit. In essence, the interim CSO role is to create a flourishing environment rich with opportunities that make it possible for a permanent manager to succeed.

Company sales teams don’t work in isolation, solely responsible for revenue generation. Or, as international sales expert, Grant Cardone puts it, strategically speaking “All positions in the company must either produce revenue directly or assist in revenue creation.” To accomplish this, temporary executives work on the premise that all organizational departments are intrinsically intertwined.

Making the Tough Decisions

Richard Lindenmuth, interim CEO of the non-profit Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, hit the nail on the head when he said that, “Change, and particularly changing a system, is one of the hardest things that can ever be accomplished.”

Positive change requires executives to make tough decisions. To move a company from crisis to stability requires a dispassionate, strategic decision maker that isn’t worried about tickling the ears of top-level executives with flattery that perpetuates flawed thinking.

Engaging an interim CSO ensures companies have access to a leader with an extensive and exceptional track record across various industries from finance to telecommunication, for profits and non-profit organizations. It has been said that if you continue to hire from the same gene pool, you’re going to get the same genetics. Professional interim leadership is one way to modify the DNA.

About the Author

Mark Palmer

Mark Palmer In the course of his 40+ years in leadership positions in the technology industry, Mark Palmer has earned a reputation for leading organizations through challenges that are generally perceived as difficult, if not undoable. Whether as a CEO, COO or sales executive, Palmer has consistently demonstrated an ability to hire, develop and guide high performing teams focused on a common objective while embracing the values of integrity, accountability and trust. He is experienced in refocusing and restructuring technology companies faced with the need for a dramatic turnaround and rapid growth.