Part-Time Executives: Making an Enormous Impact in Less than Forty Hours Per Week (Part 5)
The right part-time executive can provide more than full- time results. In this series, we delve into case studies where part-time executives made a strong impact.
This series on part-time executives is an excerpt from our new book The Executive Search where we break down the myths of interim executives.
Part-Time Sales Executive: Doing Nothing Leads to Getting Nowhere
Rick, the CEO of a $20 million, family-owned electronics solutions company, had also been managing sales for the past few years after letting go of the prior sales manager. The company was over forty years old and had struggled the past fifteen years with managing the sales team. The industry had shifted; getting more business was no longer about relationships. The sales team was struggling with a mind shift regarding what their customers needed and how they purchased the product.
Being the visionary of the company, Rick took on the responsibility to help the sales team transition their thought processes and tactics.
It quickly became clear to Rick that he was not the best person to be managing the sales team, but he was hesitant to bring someone else in after a string of bad hiring experiences. At the same time, he was having a number of challenges with sales and knew he needed additional expertise.
In this situation, it is sometimes difficult to know where to begin. Is the issue the sales team, the leadership, the compensation plan, or the company? Is it a matter of just finding the right sales manager, or are other dynamics likely to challenge anyone you bring into the situation?
This is a perfect time to bring in an interim sales executive. Rather than jumping into all of the responsibilities of a full-time sales manager, including gathering leads and making sales calls, a part-time, interim sales executive can focus on the critical items. The interim sales executive will have experience working with a variety of sales teams and situations. Goals and deliverables will quickly become clear, based on the executive’s experience and a much-needed outside perspective.
In this case, we would have advised Rick to bring in an interim executive to assess the situation, beginning with the current team. How was their support throughout the company functioning? Did they have confidence in the company’s ability to deliver on what they sell? Were their primary challenges due to pricing issues? Was their compensation plan driving the right sales behavior? What did the sales process look like from end to end? The interim sales executive could then have eventually worked with Rick to find the right permanent sales manager or stay on for one to two days a week and continue managing the sales team.
In Rick’s case, he never did bring in a sales manager. A few years later, the organization is still struggling with the same issues, including increased competition, stagnant sales, and declining profits.
When you can’t decide which is the best direction to go with your business, doing the same thing you have always done is the equivalent of doing nothing at all. Not every decision will be the absolute pinnacle of greatness, but any affirmative short-term decision that moves in the direction of action typically involves less risk than the no decision at all.