Management consultants wear many hats – advisor, change agent, devil’s advocate. Sometimes we find ourselves in the role of therapist. I sat down for coffee last week with Tom, a recently fired Chief Sales Officer (CSO). Over the course of the hour, Tom shared many confessions about his recent failure. Time and distance have a way of bringing personal insight.
A frequently cited statistic notes the average tenure of a CSO is less than 24 months. Yet, this can be a misleading data-point. In our work, we see many CSO who are thriving, leading transformations and driving growth. These leaders survive beyond the two-year mark and build solid track-records of success. Others struggle, too often the victim of self-inflicted wounds. And this was very much the case with Tom, the fired CSO.
Our casual chat quickly evolved into a post-mortem on his troubled tenure. With Tom’s permission, I summarize four important learnings:
It’s a raw irony of life that we learn the most from our failures. New CSOs can choose to not be another depressing tenure statistic. It all starts with a few early, smart decisions.
Contact us to hear more lessons learned from successful new CSOs. For those sales leaders in need of a coffee-fueled therapy session, the first cup is always on us.
About The Author
Researcher, consultant, and sales leader, Brian uses a data-driven approach to drive sales effectiveness. His clients include leading sales organizations in financial services, technology, healthcare, and professional services. Using insight from academics and change management, Brian helps senior leaders and sales enablement teams understand and succeed in today’s more demanding market. His research has been published in Harvard Business Review and other outlets.