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How to Become a Chief Sales Officer: Job Description, Salary and More (and How to Hire One)

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.


A Chief Sales Officer Job Description

The Chief Sales Officer leads your company’s sales department to meet revenue and sales growth targets. The CSO role provides daily operations management and oversees the vice president of sales and other sales managers, like the Customer Success Manager (CSM). The Chief Sales Officer job description entails overseeing all sales-related activities including assessing, implementing and reporting on sales strategies that will bring in more revenue and grow your company.

However, before you decide to promote your top-performing salesperson to fill your Chief Sales Officer role, it’s important to note that the person you hire to fill this position must be good at more than just sales. The CSO job description calls for a savvy businessperson who is able to navigate complexities within the organization and marketplace to drive real results for your bottom line.


What does a Chief Sales Officer do as part of their role?

What chief sales officers do is important. Not only do they ensure that your company sustains revenue growth by increasing sales, but they also take on the following important tasks:

  • Analysis and recommendations. Leading revenue forecasting by analyzing business tactics, performance analysis, pricing and sales strategies, market research and competitor analysis. The Chief Sale Officer’s job is to then take these analyses and convert them into reports and presentations that can be conveyed to stakeholders along with strategy recommendations.
  • Strategy and planning. Overseeing the execution and planning of driving revenue growth and sales strategy by using analysis to forecast sales performance, set sales targets, determining the effectiveness of current sales initiatives against key metrics and implement change if necessary.
  • Hiring and retention. Hiring personnel, like sales representatives, and having the responsibility of developing and retaining them. A Chief Sales Officer is responsible for developing a comprehensive talent management process that attracts, onboards, mentors and retains the best sales talent to reach sales goals for the company.
  • Relationship and collaboration. Working cross-functionally with other leadership and executive officer team members, like the product lead and the chief marketing officer, to foster collaboration, faster revenue growth and higher profitability. The importance of this role was shown in a study by Forrester Research which found that companies that have strong alignment across sales, product and marketing deliver 19% faster revenue growth and 15% higher profitability compared to their peers.
  • Customer advocacy. Driving customer acquisition strategy for your company by providing a positive and efficient purchasing experience for buyers from initial engagement through purchase completion. The ultimate goal of the Chief Sales Officer should be to orient the sales process around the buyer’s journey rather than forcing a buyer through a complex process with only the sales rep in mind.
  • Lead and supervise: Helping the sales team work more efficiently by having a sound organizational structure and a well-designed territory and account management plan that allows sales reps to achieve their quotas.
  • A dual marketing and sales role: If you are working for a small business, you may have the job title: Chief Sales and Marketing Officer (CSMO). This expanded role will require you to not only perform the duties detailed above, but also fulfill the duties of a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) including overseeing marketing managers and their team(s). This includes managing marketing-related business development goals, the company’s marketing strategy, product development, partnerships, marketing communication, digital marketing initiatives and social media management.

What is the difference between a Chief Revenue Officer and Chief Sales Officer?

Although the function of both the Chief Revenue Officer and Chief Sales Officer is to increase sales revenue, the means they use to achieve that goal can be vastly different. As such, it is important to understand the difference between these important roles because confusing them could spell disaster for a growing company.

A Chief Sales Officer is a tactical master and focused primarily on execution. They are focused on beating the competition and work best in simple, single-channel business environments.

On the other hand, a Chief Revenue Officer knows how to increase sales by designing and implementing the right strategy for each channel. They are, therefore, better suited for more complex business environments with multiple sales channels.

Execution and strategy are unique and challenging skillsets, but aligning them with the right role is critical to their success.

For instance, if you put someone with Chief Revenue Officer strengths in a Chief Sales officer position sales execution could suffer. A Chief Revenue Officer is an expert at strategy and has a unique understanding of the company’s assets, thus their inclination to collaborate with others will slow down decision-making.

Conversely, if you put someone in a Chief Revenue Officer position who has Chief Sales Officer strengths, sales strategy could suffer. They will be more inclined to push program implementation and tactics and could neglect collaboration in order to make things happen quickly.


What is the average Chief Sales Officer salary?

Before hiring (or applying for) a CSO role, it’s important to understand what a chief sales officer makes on average. Following is a compilation of average salaries for Chief Sales Officers in English speaking countries around the world including the United States, United Kingdom and Australia (as of February 2021).

From the national salary estimates detailed above, you can see the range of chief sales officers salaries varies widely. This may be due to factors such as the cost of living in various countries and cities, industry standards and the size of the company.

Find the best new hires with this Sales Interview Checklist

Download this checklist complete with all of the best questions to ask during an interview with a sales candidate.

The qualities and requirements needed to be a Chief Sales Officer.

In order to be successful, there are several qualities and requirements needed to be a Chief Sales Officer, including experience in developing effective sales strategies, leading in a fast-paced and dynamic business environment and experience in sales. In addition, a Chief Sales Officer should possess these essential skills:

  • Entrepreneurial and creative. Innovation and creativity are key to being a good Chief Sales Officer, along with the ability to grow sales rapidly while maintaining business continuity.
  • Effective at teamwork. A good Chief Sales Officer must be able to handle teams well, be good at cross-functional collaboration and be able to align their team’s performance with your company’s sales goals.
  • Problem solver. A skilled Chief Sales Officer should be able to identify challenges and hinderances both internally and externally, along with sales opportunities, and be able to use their keen problem-solving skills to resolve them.
  • Agent of change. A Chief Sales Officer should be able to work within a dynamic environment and lead strategic change.
  • Customer advocate. Chief Sales officers should be able to tune into the needs of customers and be able to efficiently and effectively interact with them.

As the customer buying experience continues to evolve with e-commerce, so has the role of the Chief Sales Officer. According to leadership consultants, Spencer Stuart:

“As the role of the sales leader continues to evolve, key capabilities—such as the development and execution of sales strategy, account coverage and deployment, and management of cross-functional go-to market systems—remain vital.”

They go on to explain that when hiring a Chief Sales Officer, “Organizations must consider the full spectrum of sales officer expertise, including e-commerce, as well as their overall sales strategy when assessing their current sales leadership capabilities and needs.”


How do I get a Chief Sales Officer Role?

There are several qualifications you should include in your resume and cover letter to be considered for a Chief Sales Officer role. For additional help crafting an attention-grabbing cover letter and resume, we also recommend checking out the following Pipedrive articles:

Below is a list of important skills that might be mentioned in the job listing for a Chief Sales Officer position. If you’re hiring for a CSO or Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, consider the following skills and experience when crafting your CSO job description.

Education

A Chief Sales Officer should have at the very least a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree or master’s degree in Sales, Advertising, Marketing, Finance, or another business-related field. If you lack the degrees, an equivalent of the same in working experience is also acceptable for the position.

Work Experience

A Chief Sales Officer should have a minimum of 10 years of experience in high-level sales, working in a fast-paced, dynamic business environment. They should also have a successful track record of achieving and exceeding goals in leadership positions while growing a sales organization for businesses.

A Chief Sales Officer should also have a proven track record of developing innovative sales strategies that have helped put the companies they worked for ahead of the competition. A good candidate should also have experience working in strategic financial planning and the ability to deliver management-level analyses and opinions to senior executives, the c-suite and board members.

Analytical Skills

This skill is a must for any Chief Sales Officer. They must be capable of conducting research and analyzing raw information from various data sources. Candidates should also be technologically savvy and aware of how to maintain digital security and data security. While cybersecurity will primarily fall to the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), the CSO should have a general understanding of how to ensure that sales team activities don’t leave the business vulnerable to security risk.

Communication Skills

As the head of the sales department, the Chief Sales Officer must be able to effectively and clearly communicate with their team. This will be necessary to not only determine their performance internally, but also to determine their ability to maintain and establish business relationships externally.

The Chief Sales Officer must be able to communicate with key stakeholders and the chief executive officer (CEO) concerning the sales department in the form of reports, proposals and presentations and provide instructional materials to junior level sales personnel. Therefore, their communication in materials must be concise, clear and convincing.

Leadership Skills

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.

Interpersonal Skills

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, be highly motivated, capable of multi-tasking and work well under pressure.


When do I need a CSO for my business and how do I hire one?

If you’re a thriving sales-driven organization, the chances of you needing a Chief Sales Officer at one point is inevitable. When you will need a CSO depends on your customer relationships and your ability to grow those relationships.

Like so many things in business, customer relationships are not static, they are dynamic. Therefore, you must be able to drive changes in the relationship before your customer or competitor does. If that is no longer possible, that is the pivotal point where you know you will need to enlist the expertise of a Chief Sales Officer.

Once you have determined your need for a CSO or Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, here are some tips on how to hire one and what to include in the job description:

  • Look for someone with a strategic mindset, not someone with a tactical mindset. You want someone who can move the organization forward by determining alternatives rather than someone who knows how to get things done.
  • Hire for the future, not the present. You want someone who is comfortable with changes that are happening in your industry, technology, market and management processes.
  • Look for a creative thinker who can think outside of the box. A good Chief Sales Officer will think about “who else?” and “what else?” and can find and solicit new ideas.

Whatever you do, take your time when hiring a Chief Sales Officer by rigorously evaluating their education, experience, skills, and ability to adapt to change. Hiring the right person can mean the difference between the success or failure of your growing business.

Find the best new hires with this Sales Interview Checklist

Download this checklist complete with all of the best questions to ask during an interview with a sales candidate.

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