CSO, CRO, VP of Sales: Which Leader Fits Your Company? Which Fits You?

By Masami Middleton

As sales consultants, we encounter sales leaders with a variety of fancy acronyms in their titles. In addition to the SVPs/EVPs of Sales, the sales leader landscape also includes CROs, CSOs, and CGOs. While these titles imply a distinction in roles, to most people, it’s just alphabet soup. 

What’s the difference between a Chief Sales Officer (CSO) and a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) or Chief Growth Officer (CGO)? From the CEO or board member perspective, which role does your business need? For a sales leader, which role is the best fit with your capabilities?

The easiest way to distinguish between these roles is to compare their scope of responsibility, core objectives, and what defines success. Appointing a “big hitter” to a CSO, CRO or CGO role, rather than a VP of Sales, indicates the need for a greater span of oversight from a strategic, revenue generation, and customer lifecycle perspective.

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3 Essential Considerations When Restructuring Your Sales Team

By Joni Santos

Consider this scenario: Your company is in growth mode and has acquired several smaller players in your space in recent years. The newly combined selling organization is a mess. Not only are multiple reps calling on the same customers, but it is evident that some sellers are focused on accounts with minimal potential, while others don’t even appear to have the skills necessary to sell and deliver on your value proposition. You aren’t seeing the results you expected and are under pressure to rectify the situation before you lose more market share.

A reorganization of your salesforce is necessary, but where do you start? And how do you ensure you are making decisions that will maximize impact and not just “rearrange the deck chairs,” so to speak? 

Whether you are merging disparate sales teams into one or merely restructuring your team to compete more effectively, a reorg can be quite daunting. Truthfully, there are many “balls” to juggle when restructuring, but if you stay focused on the three essential considerations of alignmentsize, and enablement, you’ll end-up with a sales organization poised for success.

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Top 3 Generational Takeaways for B2B Selling, from a Soon-to-be Sidelined Millennial

By Kelsey Peusch

It was the title of the Bloomberg article that first struck me as I scanned my daily Google alert email - Gen Z is Set to Outnumber Millennials Within a Year. For a moment I felt sad and then forgotten as I considered my own generation slipping into the abyss. Dramatic – I know, but the reality is (was) that Millennials were once the focus and had been for as long as I could remember. Who are they? What made them this way? How will their behaviors impact the way we engage with them in a B2B selling environment? As I contemplated the seemingly premature death of the generational spotlight, a sentiment I’m sure every generation that has come before mine can appreciate, I started to grapple with what this meant to ME...

For the past several years my colleagues, and I, have spent countless hours asking ourselves these questions. We wrote a book about The Multigenerational Sales Team, have published 13 blog posts on the topic, and have been discussing generational impacts on sales at events like the Dreamforce Conference, on podcasts like Quotable, and with a variety of clients globally over the past 18 months. Generational considerations are one of several lenses with which we view sales effectiveness. While the book explores each generation, the impetus and focus always tied back to Millennials – a generation which is set to exceed 75% of the workforce by 2020 (Brookings Institution).

Once I got past the fact that the key differentiator between Gen Z and Millennials was a keen sense of self-awareness versus self-centeredness (rude, though 100% accurate based on my reaction outlined above), I started to think less about what it meant to me and more broadly about how this changes our approach for preparing organizations for the next generation of sellers and buyers.

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Top 10 Account Planning Mistakes to Avoid

By Masami Middleton

In B2B sales, driving revenue from existing accounts is far easier than landing net new customers. With so much opportunity available, why do mature sales organizations still “wing it” with their Account Planning process?

According to CEB/Gartner research, only 28% of sales leaders believe their account management channels meet their cross-selling and account growth targets. Thoughtful, intentional account plans provide real strategic insight and actionable game plans for account teams to meet growth targets. For sales managers, account plans provide an excellent foundation for consistent coaching conversations, insight into forecasts, and an overall way of staying engaged with customer activity.

Account Planning is the process of determining the best way to grow and add value to existing accounts. While many organizations engage in both Account Planning and Territory Planning (systematically determining how to optimize impact over a portfolio of accounts), the purpose of this post is to explore the deep dive Account Planning process to dissect one account at a time.

If your team is currently digging into Account Planning (or about to), here are 10 common mistakes to avoid.

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Why Newly Promoted Sales Leaders Rise to Their Level of Incompetence

By Kelsey Peusch

Whether you are a successful top performer seeking a senior management position or you’re already a senior Sales Leader looking to hand pick your next protégé, there is something you should know. It’s been statistically proven that the best sales representatives won’t make the best sales leaders.


All too often we encounter sales leadership teams yearning for the skills and structure required to elevate their team’s performance. We are talking about sophisticated, highly educated, teams of men and women, the majority of which were top performers in their respective organizations.

The jarring realization, one we must often share with our clients, is that the skills required to be a high performing seller are different than the skills required to lead high performing sales teams. Seems obvious, no? Unfortunately, we see organizations seeking to retain top talent by rewarding them with upward mobility with little regard to skill set.

This anomaly is known as The Peter Principle which presupposes this fact: “If organizations promote the best people at their current jobs, then organizations will inevitably promote people until they’re no longer good at their jobs. In other words, organizations manage careers so that everyone ‘rises to the level of their incompetence’. ”

Sales is no different and here is the proof.

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Using Buyer Personas to Drive Sales and Marketing Alignment

By Masami Middleton

How common is this scenario between Sales and Marketing at companies you’ve worked for?

Sales depends on Marketing to nail down the target customer and deliver leads.
Yet when the leads come in, the vast majority are not qualified.
As a result, the Sales team gripes about needing more help from Marketing.
After all, they’ve got a big budget – what are they spending it on?

Regardless of how marketing allocates budget and resources, I would bet the most common issue behind the conflict and misalignment is a lack of well-defined buyer personas.

Buyer personas create a common language between Sales and Marketing to talk about the real people who represent your ideal customer. The quicker you can relate to these target customers and address their pains and goals (at the top the funnel), the better you can meet their needs in every marketing or sales interaction down the funnel.

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Break Through the Proverbial Brick Wall of Sales with Transformative Thinking

By Joni Santos

Picture this – You’ve been nurturing a deal for quite some time – much longer than the average deal, as a matter of fact. It seems that no matter what you say or what you do, you can’t make headway with this new prospect.

Every meeting you schedule is moved or cancelled. Every email you send goes unanswered or is met with a combative response. Every recommendation you make adds fuel to the rapidly spreading fire of negativity and ultimately ends with a resounding, “NO!”  

You’ve hit the proverbial brick wall of sales. It’s almost as if you and your prospect are speaking different languages.

The problem may be that you really are speaking different languages. Sure, your spoken language is the same, but what about your brain language? Let me explain…

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Boosting Sales Coaching Creativity: 3 Techniques to Reinforce Basic Selling Skills

By David Szen

I spend a lot of time with sales leaders and my hat goes off to the hours they work and pressures they accept in their role. Their job is a hard and often thankless one dealing with complex client, employee, organizational, competitive, and financial pressures.

Sales leaders have a great capacity to reinforce essential selling skills in their teams, but all too often, the day-to-day demands get in the way. While dealing with daily pressures and fire drills, many of their reps are stumbling on fundamental selling skills. The ones I hear a lot about are: 1) discovery/questioning skills, 2) navigating and answering the tough questions, and 3) delivering relevant and powerful value messages.

Here are three techniques to put the creativity back into coaching and develop these key selling skills amongst your team.

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Where’s the Beef? Lessons for B2B Sellers and Marketers from Arby’s®

By Warren Shiver

As a proud card-carrying member of Generation X, I distinctly remember the classic Wendy’s® commercials with actress Clara Peller asking “where’s the beef?” Yes, those were the days when we actually watched commercials on TV… and watched broadcast TV outside of live events.

If you’ve watched any broadcasted events lately, especially sports, you can’t help but notice the long-running (by today’s marketing standards) advertising campaign from Arby’s® claiming “We Have The Meats®”. Admittedly, your author hasn’t frequented an Arby’s® lately, but I can’t help but applaud their creativity and especially their focus on a core and differentiated value proposition. I haven’t seen the data, but I’m guessing there is a strong overlap between those who religiously tune into live sports and carnivores.

What can those of us in the B2B world learn from this great marketing?

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Changing the Tires on a Sales Team in Motion: Sales Transformation vs. Sales Disruption

By Masami Middleton

How many times have you heard the term “sales transformation” and thought it’s just consultant speak?  Or an ideal that’s impossible amidst your team’s never-ending hustle to make the number? 

If you are a seasoned sales leader, you’ve probably lived through all kinds of disruptive forces.  Mergers and acquisitions, business model changes, new competitors, and leadership or rep turnover. These factors can render your sales strategy, process, selling skills, or organization structure obsolete (or dated at best).

While many sales leaders recognize that a transformational change is in order for one or more of these areas, actually executing it feels like changing the tires on a car that’s moving fast.  But what’s the tradeoff? Would you rather change the tires now for future performance gains or skip it and risk a high-speed blowout on your sales team?

NASCAR pit crews change tires and re-fuel multiple times over 200-400 laps to give their racer the necessities to win.  We recommend a similar, sequenced approach to prioritize and execute sales initiatives across a transformation journey.

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