Mr. and Mrs. CEO 2021 Is Your Liminal Moment!
A CEO’s performance is measured by several standards. Soon, however, as the economy recovers from its government-induced coma, CEOs will be judged, and without mercy, on this KPI: Their company’s sales performance during the impending recovery. This is a “What have you done for me lately world,” and looking back if CEOs lack the performance and cannot boost sales quickly then they will be deemed unfit for leadership. Innovative leaders who adapt will drive companies that evolve into a stronger business model.
Of course, growing substantially in 2021 and beyond is challenging. The lockdown imposed to flatten the COVID-19 pandemic infection curve led to a steep economic decline “far worse” than the 2009 Great Recession, according to the International Monetary Fund. Despite the economic devastation, however, history shows that the U.S. economy will rebound with vigor. Many companies, however, will not, and the full weight of the blame will fall squarely on the CEO.
Keep reading because I have 3-imperative questions for you with a scoring system that reveals how prepared you are for a sales recovery.
While the health crisis and a collective sense of loss likely will remain with us for a long time to come, American business is jockeying to pivot from crisis mode to recovery. As workers grapple with either going back to an office or continuing home-based professionally and consumer confidence continues to rise, CEOs who have focused on cutting costs to conserve cash are focusing on ramping up sales to drive revenue. As shelter in place gets further in the rearview mirror the Great Sales Recovery is a liminal moment for leaders to build their legacies. This is where leaders build their future and drive the new business model creation for the next generation of 3.3 billion Millennial and Gen Z workers entering the fray that they will someday control.
Much more than the pandemic and economic downturn, the Great Sales Recovery will pose a huge challenge to America’s CEOs. Already a difficult assignment with a short tenure for the majority of CEOs, the corner office is about to see a sharp spike in the turnover rate. Few chief executives will be able to lead their company successfully through the recovery. Most CEOs simply are not equipped to drive the robust sales necessary to affect their company’s full recovery, which is exactly what directors and shareholders will expect…and demand.
Success in the Great Sales Recovery is not just a matter of sales rebounding; it’s critical that a company must grow its sales far beyond the status quo ante. Successful sales growth in the Great Sales Recovery means not just restoring sales to pre-COVID-19 levels but capturing both more market share and more wallet share with higher margins to replace the company’s lost revenue and restore its cash position and bottom line.
Success in the Great Sales Recovery means adapting to the realities of the new sales of the post-COVID-19 market, including virtual meetings, possible travel restrictions, buyers’ strained cash positions, and damaged credit, customers’ changed priorities and needs, and customers lost to the economic downturn.
Blinding spotlight on sales performance
Directors and shareholders will be aiming a blinding spotlight on the company’s sales performance in the Great Sales Recovery. Yet few CEOs either personally possess the sales leadership and skills or have a sales leader on their team capable of driving the sales necessary to meet revenue expectations.
Now more than ever, strong and effective sales leadership is essential for growing and securing the future of organizations. CEOs who fail to hit aggressive sales goals during the recovery will find themselves jettisoned for new leadership, not just in large-cap companies but also in midsize and smaller businesses. The CEO who did not have a strong selling system before the pandemic certainly does not have one now to ramp up for the Great Sales Recovery. Sales technology is only a part of the equation; ultimately, people and processes trump technology when it comes to sales and customer service, which beget revenue growth.
For CEOs who want to thrive with sales recovery but do not feel confident with their current sales leadership to meet the tremendous selling challenge they face, now is the time to embrace change and shake up their organization to build a custom revenue engine capable of meeting the looming challenge.
Usually, leaders only pretend they are willing to shake up their organization because resistance to change from managers, front line people, and even the leader’s mind scare them away from big change. Why risk supporting the grand strategy when you can maintain the status quo risk-free?
But the time is now for CEOs who are ready to effect change in their sales organization because the impact of the pandemic already has shaken their organization substantially. Change is always easier to implement in a time of change. A true, skillful leader will leverage the existing change to shake up the organization, people, and processes. At this time, the shakeup must be an intentional and systematic approach to evolve and upgrade the sales organization.
According to our firm’s proprietary Renaissance Methodology for revenue growth, this approach must be designed to work hand-in-hand with each business component to achieve four mission-critical and measurable goals:
- Identify more of your targeted buyers and get them in a CRM;
- Touch these decision-makers more often with the right thought leadership and branding; and
- Become more innovative while selling more creatively so that…
- Your people and processes follow up timely to close more deals.
Proactive CEOs with a proven plan to accomplish these four goals and accelerate quickly toward aggressive sales growth will be the champions whose organizations honor them.
To achieve sales success, a CEO must guide the entire organization, from the CEO down, to embrace a new sales culture that is designed specifically to wow customers, spawn innovation, and drive aggressive growth. Critical to these results are both an effective internal communication system and an external communication system that gathers intelligence from prospects and customers, which helps recalibrate both people and processes to reach the next level of sales and service performance.
The CEO’s liminal moment
As America’s economy enters the Great Sales Recovery, CEOs are facing a liminal, defining, and possibly existential moment. Strong leaders will undertake an analysis to gauge their own and their company’s readiness for the challenges ahead. To assist with that process, here are three imperative questions to answer, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most confident:
- How do you rate your ability to champion, lead, and deliver the growth results that capture significantly more market share with significantly higher margins
- How do you rate your senior sales leader’s ability to drive sales and move the company to the next level of growth as the economy revives?
- How do you rate your front-line people for their abilities and readiness to grow the organization measurably and strengthen it in sales and customer service?
*Your possible high score is 30. If you have a score of 26 or below then you need help. There is no room for B-plans or B-Players in this real-life struggle for survival.
After spending a couple of decades building custom revenue engines for organizations around the world, with over a billion dollars in documented sales results, I strongly recommend using a proven methodology to analyze your current capabilities, provide the roadmap, train the people, and build the systems for growing revenues and profits far beyond expectations. The smart CEO will bring a plan that ensures his or her sales organization is equipped and ready to drive sales and meet board expectations. The smart CEO will act now to ensure he will survive and thrive during the Great Sales Recovery.