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      The Ultimate Sales Leadership Guide: How Sales Leaders Bolster C-Suites & Companies

      Top Executive Recruiter Ash Wendt

      By Executive Recruiter Ash Wendt — Top Marketing & Sales Executive Recruiter Ash Wendt has deep experience and unmatched expertise in sourcing extraordinary talent for C-suite roles centered on sales, marketing, operations, and finance. As a founding partner of Cowen Partners, Ash Wendt is also a pioneering thought leader frequently quoted in The Wall Street Journal and other prominent journals.

      Sales leaders can be an integral part of any C-suite, devising critical strategies, making key decisions, motivating teams, and paving the way to achieve an organization’s financial goals.

      In fact, companies with the right sales leaders in the right roles can achieve higher win-loss ratios while seeing sales team turnover drop and revenues increase.

      That’s true for businesses across several industries, and it can transform everything from sales processes and lead generation to team performance, retention, and motivation.

      Highlighting what it can take to maximize sales success in organizations and industries across the board, this guide on sales leadership shares a deep dive into the following topics (simply click on a title or phrase to jump to any section).

      Sales Leader Roles

      While different companies may have nuanced responsibilities and goals for each of these sales leaders, the following presents a more general look at what each sales leader does and how they can be essential.

      These key sales leadership roles can comprise a C-suite, focusing on distinct needs while fulfilling specific objectives.

      VP of Sales

      Focused on sales processes and customer engagement, the VP of sales typically oversees traditional sales funnels while managing quotas, refining sales approaches, and collaborating with other teams to drive optimal success and more profits.

      VP of sales can be responsible for several high-level priorities, campaigns, and long-term objectives, including (but not limited to):

      • Devising and refining sales strategies
      • Recruiting and maintaining a motivated, successful sales team
      • Determining which new markets to enter, as well as how and when to make a debut in those markets
      • Identifying potential issues and developing proactive solutions to resolve emerging problems
      • Analyzing ways to maximize revenue from each lead
      • Navigating, negotiating, and closing high-stakes, high-value deals

      Chief Revenue Officers (CROs)

      With the broadest view of an organization’s sales goals, the CRO focuses on optimizing a company’s sales funnel, leveraging upsell opportunities, and handling practically all-things revenue.

      From developing new sales lines to analyzing prospects and capitalizing on sales opportunities, CROs work with other sales leaders, as well as across marketing and sales teams at large, to:

      • Meet annual recurring revenue (ARR) goals
      • Scale the revenue to hundreds of millions
      • Cultivate lasting relationships while efficiently leading sales teams
      • Achieve other key sales objectives

      Chief Sales Officers (CSOs)

      Focused on big-picture sales strategy and what it takes to carry that out, CSOs typically take an active role in analyzing metrics, organizing sales teams, developing innovative new strategies, and creating long-term strategic plans to achieve an organization’s bigger, broader goals. To that end, the best chief sales officers tend to possess certain skills, qualities, and experience. Specfically:

      • CSOs tend to be aggressive executioners.
      • Chief sales officers usually know exactly how to close deals and secure big wins for companies
      • CSOs usually have a sales background and sharp negotiation skills
      • Chief sales officers set target goals, forecast growth, and make key decisions that define sales teams and, ideally, set them up for success

      Sales Managers

      Broadly in charge of planning, directing, managing, controlling, and executing all matters relating to sales, sales managers serve are responsible for staffing and directing sales teams while maximizing profitability and growth in manner that aligns with a company’s vision and values.

      To this end, sales managers focus on sales productivity, optimizing sales team performance strategic decision-making, market trends (and getting ahead of them), and more.

      Sales Leader Salaries

      Sales leaders and top performers generally command competitive salaries and compensation packages, which may include base compensation, commission, bonuses, benefits, and possibly more. While specific salaries for sales leadership can vary by geographic location, industry, company size, and several other factors, the table below highlights the average salaries for sales leaders working in and with the C-suite.

      Sales Leader RoleSales Leader Salary
      (on average)
      VP of Sales in Tech$301,370
      VP of Sales in Financial Services$230,000
      VP of Sales in Manufacturing$180,500
      Chief Revenue Officer$255,524
      Chief Sales Officer$255,350
      Sales Manager$127,975

      Sales Leadership Recruiting

      Recruiting skilled sales leaders requires an in-depth knowledge of various sales executive roles, screening for the right skills and qualities, and even assessing leaders for personalities and company culture fit. No matter how new or advanced a company’s recruiting processes are, taking the time to hire the best sales leaders for different roles can be integral to the ongoing or future success of that organization’s sales team.

      Enterprise Sales Leadership

      High stakes and highly complex, enterprise sales tend to involve mid- to large-sized companies, as well as multiple decision-makers and stakeholders, extended sales cycles, and greater efforts on the parts of sales teams. These characteristics are primarily due to the fact that enterprise sales involve larger deals. Consequently, the payoffs can be more rewarding, with the potential for far greater profits, especially when organizations have the right enterprise sales leadership, teams, and strategies in play.

      SaaS Sales Leadership

      Effective SaaS sales leadership requires more than just strong technical skills and an exceptional ability to analyze, manipulate, and interpret data. Today’s SaaS sales leaders need to have cross-functional expertise, a client-focused approach, a solutions-oriented mindset, and a strong SaaS sales team to rely on.

      Here’s what modern SaaS sales leadership needs to be optimally effective while achieving next-level success.

      Sales Leadership Advice for CEOs

      CEOs focused on sales growth and improving sales leadership have several strategies and resources at their disposal, from talent assessments and collaborative tools to innovative recruiting methods, hiring more sales leaders, refining sales leaders’ roles, and more.

      Getting started may simply take some prudent advice, pointing CEOs and other business leaders in the right direction, so they can lead sales teams and organizations toward better performance and greater growth.

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