Stuart Lewis, President & CEO of 360 Leads®, knows what it takes to build a major brand – not only for his own company but also for the global brands his organization serves. 360 Leads supports the domestic and export oriented sales lead generation efforts of its clients across the globe from its operations in Canada, United States and Australia. Jonathan Farrington interviews Lewis about why the CEO can make or break sales lead generation programs.
JF: A CEO has the ultimate responsibility for company success. Stuart, how would you define their job in simple terms?
SL: Being a CEO is a tough job. Being a great one is even tougher. While there are many facets to doing a great job, there are three things that really matter.
- Establish a vision for your company to compete and win;
- Ensure you’ve got the right team to help execute that vision; and
- Create the circumstances for your team to be successful.
360 Leads’ recent global survey of C-levels and sales leaders uncovered the number one reason for sales lead generation campaigns missing their targets. That reason, given by 58.1% of respondents, was insufficient resources were provided to be successful with another 47.3% citing internal issues being obstacles. Bottom-line, the CEO did not create the appropriate circumstances for success.
JF: While I agree that the CEO needs to create circumstances for their team to be successful, how is the CEO responsible for failed sales lead generation itself?
SL: One of two things is true. There truly are insufficient resources dedicated to sales – or sales leaders claim this excuse as a reason for missing their targets. Either way, the CEO is responsible. A poorly resourced sales function means less sales. Managers that make excuses for missing targets versus taking personal accountability need support, leadership or possibly the exit door. It comes back to the premise – a great CEO needs to do all in their power to create circumstances for their people to be successful. Or if they have the wrong people to execute the vision, then maybe it’s time to change the people.
JF: Do you believe that everyone in an organization is a salesperson, even the CEO?
SL: My job isn’t sales. I have too much to do. Whether we’d like to admit or not, we are all salespeople and that starts at a young age. Remember trying to convince your mother to buy you the lollipop or convince your dad to let you go to that Friday night party with friends? How is it been forgotten that we all need to sell our ideas and promote our work product to someone else either internally or externally?
Great product engineers should be building things that somebody else wants to buy. Great creative directors understand that effective advertising isn’t about art; it’s about taking complex ideas and simplifying them for someone to buy the product. And as for the CEO, they are selling their vision to ensure clarity inside and outside the organization. At 360 Leads our vision is one we sell everyday – we will deliver more qualified sales leads than any other company. Our people, our clients and our sales prospects all understand that vision. As our CEO, I have no more important job than to sell that vision and ensure we have the people and circumstances to deliver on it.
JF: Some CEOs believe their sales people should handle all the prospecting and there is no need to invest in sales lead generation programs. What’s your thought on this?
SL: The role of a salesperson, like any other job, is comprised of countless potential tasks to have a full pipeline and to reach sales targets. When it comes time to actually close a deal with a prospect, most salespeople receive technical help and finance support to decide on how a product or service should be priced. When a contract is developed, in some complex situations it requires negotiations go through layers of management and legal. So why is it that when it comes time to negotiate a deal, a salesperson receives back-end support, and yet when it comes time to actually find qualified prospects, salespeople are often left on their own to find them?
The answer is – the culture of the company may have expectations of salespeople that are unrealistic. By investing as much in the front-end of the deal as is done on the back-end, sales numbers will go up. More qualified sales leads means more opportunities and more business. Salespeople alone can’t do this most effectively.
JF: What advice would you give CEOs looking to grow their sales?
SL: Every company has a different set of circumstances. But they all have one thing in common. They all need sales. CEOs have a tough job and part of that job is ensuring an appropriate revenue path from the products, services, sales and channel strategies they employ.
Best advice – make growing sales a top priority and take personal responsibility to find the people or third parties that can deliver on those sales objectives within the company’s vision. Then, create a set of circumstances for the team to be successful.
I look at 360 Leads, we play an important yet focused part of our clients’ sales process. We provide qualified sales leads for our clients’ sales teams to then manage through to completion. Our client CEOs or sales leaders have taken a step they believe creates conditions for their sales team to produce better results.
To learn more about Stuart Lewis and 360 Leads, please visit 360leads.com