Talent Strategies for Modern Business: Leveraging the Interim Executive Model – Part 5

Part-Time Sales Executive

Leveraging the Interim Executive Model

We never know from one day to the next when contacted by clients what their situation will be and which combination of resources and expertise they will need. Though many businesses share a number of underlying principles about how they run and how they are successful, each company is unique. They differ in any number of ways: where they are in their lifecycles, how they were founded and by whom, what has spurred growth, the leadership team, the culture, the challenges, and what type of expertise is needed at this point. 

At Cerius, we have been working with companies for more than a decade to find the right interim executive at the right time to help organizations fill their exact needs.

Organizations can leverage the expertise of an interim executive to get what they need in flexible, affordable ways. To offer just a few ideas, the following four chapters offer rare views inside a number of companies and show how they leveraged interim executives to bring them success through part-time and interim placements in small, midsized, and Fortune 100 situations. 

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. 

Lesson Learned: Part-Time Sales Executive

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.  

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