As a business owner, you’re probably used to wearing many hats. However, as your company grows, it will be important that you share the workload with a leadership team that will help you continue your growth and take your business to the next level.
One of the most important hires for your leadership team will be a CSO, or Chief Sales Officer. The Chief Sales Officer will, ultimately, be responsible for building your sales team and driving more revenue into your business.
In this article, we will explore several topics that will be helpful if you are considering hiring a Chief Sales Officer for your organization or if you’re pursuing a CSO career yourself.
The chief sales officer (CSO) leads your company’s sales department to meet revenue and sales growth targets. Their primary objective is to close deals, which means they are involved in everything from sales team training and development to daily operations, to customer relationship management (CRM).
Filling the CSO position is more complicated than simply promoting your top-performing salesperson. The right candidate will be good at sales, but will also be a savvy businessperson who can navigate complexities within the organization and market to drive results for your bottom line.
The CSO is the highest-ranked sales executive in a company. Although the role varies from organization to organization, a CSO is generally tasked with ensuring a company sustains revenue growth by increasing sales. They do this by overseeing sales activities and developing sales strategies. A good CSO drives sales through the following important tasks:
The CSO leads revenue forecasting by assessing sales effectiveness. They analyze every aspect that affects sales, from business tactics to pricing and sales strategies, to competitor activities. They also do in-depth market research and performance analysis.
The CSO compiles all their analyses into presentations, reports and recommendations to present to stakeholders. Their role is to help determine the effectiveness of current sales initiatives against key metrics and implement changes if necessary.
The CSO role is responsible for developing and executing sales strategies. They take the data they gather and use it to forecast sales performance and set sales targets.
For instance, say your company has a goal to convert more inbound leads to customers. As the CSO analyzes current sales processes they find you’re losing prospects during the multi-step process required for a lead to schedule a call with a sales rep.
The CSO may create a new initiative to optimize the appointment-making process and decrease the bottleneck.
The CSO is in charge of hiring, developing and retaining sales personnel. They work with the human resources department to develop a comprehensive process for attracting, onboarding and mentoring top sales talent.
This can include screening candidates and scheduling training opportunities. It also means overseeing employee retention and involves determining healthy and competitive compensation plans.
A chief sales officer works with other company leadership and executive officer team members to foster collaboration, faster revenue growth and higher profitability.
Research shows that companies that have strong alignment across sales, product and marketing deliver 19% faster revenue growth and 15% higher profitability compared to their peers. A CSO helps build that alignment by working cross-functionally.
That may mean collaborating with marketing to develop strategies that boost brand recognition and help the company reach sales goals, or it may mean coordinating training between sales and customer service to support customer satisfaction initiatives.
This role drives the company's customer acquisition strategy with a positive and efficient buyer experience from initial engagement through purchase completion. A CSO should work to orient the sales process around the buyer’s journey rather than force a buyer through a complex process that primarily serves the sales representatives.
This can involve revamping the stages of the sales funnel to be more customer-focused. It can also be as hands-on as managing key account relationships personally.
This role helps build a sound organizational structure and a well-designed territory and account management plan that allows sales reps to achieve their quotas.
The chief sales officer oversees all sales-related activities, including assessing, implementing and reporting on sales strategies that will bring in more revenue and grow your company.
As part of these responsibilities, the CSO is often put in charge of managing the vice president of sales and other sales manager
Sometimes, especially in a small business, you may see the job title chief sales and marketing officer (CSMO). This expanded role is responsible not only for the duties detailed above but also for fulfilling the duties of a chief marketing officer (CMO), including overseeing marketing managers and their team(s).
For example, a CSMO might oversee your company’s social media to ensure your brand is being well-represented online. They’ll be in charge of syncing the online strategy with the goal of building relationships with prospective customers that become leads in the sales process.
The roles of CSO and chief revenue officer (CRO) may seem similar, but they serve very different functions. Both are sales leadership roles that share the goal of increasing sales revenue. However, each takes a different approach to reach that goal, with the CSO focused on sales team activities and the CRO focused on strategy across the entire revenue organization.
There is often a need for both roles in an organization, especially in complex business environments with multiple sales channels.
A chief sales officer is a tactical master focused primarily on execution. Their objective is to outperform the competition and they concentrate on sales as they work to close deals.
A chief revenue officer works to increase sales by designing and implementing the right strategy across departments. This sales executive looks at the bigger picture and coordinates business development across departments. Their focus moves from marketing to product development to partnerships to digital marketing initiatives.
The role of chief sales officer requires specific attributes and experience. Though the customer buying experience has changed with the rise of e-commerce, the qualifications required for successful candidates remain largely the same. According to leadership consultant company Spencer Stuart:
A good candidate must have firsthand knowledge of sales, developing effective sales strategies and leading in a fast-paced and dynamic business environment. In addition, a chief sales officer should possess these essential qualifications:
A chief sales officer often has a bachelor’s or master’s degree in Sales, Advertising, Marketing, Finance or another business-related field. However, a degree may not be required if the candidate has equivalent working experience.
A chief sales officer should have at least 10 years of experience in high-level sales, working in a fast-paced, dynamic business environment. They should also have a track record of achieving and exceeding goals in leadership positions while growing a sales organization for businesses.
They should have experience developing innovative sales strategies that have helped put their companies ahead of the competition.
A chief sales officer must be capable of conducting research and analyzing raw information from various data sources. Candidates should be technologically savvy in using customer relationship management (CRM) software to monitor sales team activities and generate sales reports that let them see what’s going on behind the scenes.
They also need to be able to analyze those reports to understand what steps to take next as they work toward company goals.
As the head of the sales department, a chief sales officer must be able to communicate effectively with their team. Clear sales communication determines internal performance success as well as the organization’s ability to maintain and establish business relationships externally.
The chief sales officer must be able to communicate management-level analyses and opinions concerning the sales department to key stakeholders and the chief executive officer (CEO).
A chief sales officer should be able to lead a team of professionals in a single direction with a common objective and vision. They should be personable and able to make meaningful and strong connections with others. They should also be able to provide instructional materials to junior-level sales personnel.
A chief sales officer should be a consumer-oriented, people person with a commitment to delivering excellence to customers. They should be dedicated to quality, capable of working independently or with others, capable of multi-tasking and work well under pressure.
CSO pay depends on factors like the local cost of living, industry standards and company size. For instance, the following are average salaries for chief sales officers in English-speaking countries including the United States, United Kingdom and Australia (as of February 2021).
United States: According to Salary List, the average base salary of a chief sales officer in the United States is $197,572, median salary is $215,000 with a salary range from $111,999 to $250,000.
United Kingdom: According to PayScale the average chief sales officer salary in the United Kingdom is £92,000, with a salary range of £89,000 to £135,000.
Australia: According to Salary Explorer the average chief sales officer salary in Australia is 189,000 AUD, with a salary range of 96,600 to 292,000 AUD.
Because salary ranges vary widely, it’s important for you to know averages in your location and industry before trying to hire a CSO.
If you’re a thriving sales-driven organization, you will eventually need to hire a chief sales officer.
A leader in this position is focused solely on expanding your sales. So if your company isn’t hitting your sales goals, or you don’t have established sales processes and are struggling with how to move to the next level of sales growth, it’s time to look into hiring a CSO.
Getting the right person in position is crucial to growing your business, so take your time. Rigorously evaluate each candidate’s education, experience, skills and ability to adapt to change.
The success of your sales team directly affects the success of the company. When you make a CSO part of your sales strategy from the start, you put your team on track for growth.
The right person will set up processes that guarantee efficient growth. They’ll oversee your sales team’s development and track progress toward your sales goals.
Giving these tasks to a dedicated leader will allow you to ensure sales growth. Focus on the needs of your company when choosing a candidate to find someone capable of setting up effective processes and developing your sales team to reach its highest potential.
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