Frustrating? Sad? (…or Great News!)

By July 9, 2010Finance

I don’t quite know how to react to the feedback I’m getting on my series of selling with finance blog posts.  It ranges from comments like, “Excellent, this is so critical,” & “I commend you,” to “I wouldn’t waste my time reading this irrelevant-to-sales stuff,” and “Sorry, I skipped that post because I don’t understand finance and don’t need to.”  There’s not actually too much in between.  Seems pretty polarized with vastly more of the latter.

Consider this.  I randomly picked 25 companies with headquarters in GA and looked up the titles of their corporate officers.

  • 8% have a Chief Sales Officer  (2 of the 25)
  • 64% have a Chief Marketing Officer (16 of the 25)
  • 100% have a Chief Financial Officer (That’s 25 of 25 for math challenged)

While I wouldn’t characterize my little study as statistically valid, experience tells me that the CSO % might creep up into the double digits with a more extensive survey.  The CMO number is probably about right.  I’d be absolutely stunned if the CFO data changed one iota.

Given those percentages, who has the most clout?  What discipline is absolutely essential to every company?  Can you effectively sell without fluently speaking the lingo of the corporate officer who is most essential and has the most clout?

  • Should I be frustrated that the majority of sales reps and managers are basically clueless financially?
  • Should I be sad at the sorry state of this essential skill set among my peers in sales; in my chosen and loved profession?
  • Or is it great news!!!???  Puts me at one heck of a competitive advantage!

What do you think?

FYI – Here’s the series:

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Todd Schnick says:

    I am one of those people who have NO idea what you are talking about with all that fancy schmancy lingo.

    And that’s why this series is so important to me… thanks….

    • Todd,

      RARELY is the phrase “fancy schmancy” used to describe anything associated with me! And finance is no harder to learn than all the social media intelligence you’ve been able to stuff into my thick head!

      TY

  • Dave Brock says:

    Consider it this way. For the people that get it, their win rates will sky rocket! For those that don’t get it, and don’t want to, they will be relegated to the bottom of the profession — high pressure telesales calls — providing those wonderful examples of worst practice that we all write about.

    Pardon my cynicism, but we aren’t missionaries (though we sometimes want to be). We can only help people that want to improve and perform at the highest levels of a great profession.

    • Dave,

      You’re right about the “missionary” thing. Somehow though – maybe because selling with the $$$ numbers is so powerful – I still feel compelled to “preach” at least a bit.

      Todd

  • I think you should take the negative comments to this good series of post of yours as great news. You will make a difference and have what it takes to be continuously successful.

    Yet there is a sad message in this post and that is your survey. From what I know, the percentage of companies you found with a CSO correlates pretty much with the percentage of CEOs having come to their position through the ranks of sales.
    This means, that most top executives do not understand sales and therefore take uninformed decisions on what sales should be and how it should be staffed. The result of this is that the average tenure of a sales VP or CSO is less than 2 years.
    The low number of CSOs also is telling us that Sales ls not considered very strategic by company leadership . Sales leaders are kept at VP level not meriting a CxO title and not eligible for a seat at the strategy table. Yet what is the life blood of any company? Cash. Whose activities bring cash into the company, sales not finace, they just know how to count and spend it. So, while it is essential to cater to the CFO in your customer’s organization, the CFO in your own company probably does not merit the same level of attention.

    • Christian,

      Thanks for the feedback. Your comments regarding lack of the C-Suite’s appreciation of the vital role of sales as cash generator is right on the money. That said, I still think it’s the responsibility of we sales types to earn our way in, starting with, as you suggested, the customer CFO.

      Todd

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