3 Reasons Why Recruiting Executive Sales Leadership Requires a Unique Approach in Private Equity
Scott Wielar | March 1, 2022
As the importance of driving organic growth has accelerated in recent years, the role of your most senior sales executive has shifted dramatically.
Gone are the days where success can be simply measured in building and running an effective sales organization. The elevated nature of the role has resulted in a new breed (and title) of sales leaders, such as the Chief Revenue (CRO) / Chief Growth (CGO) / Chief Commercial Officer (CCO). This paradigm shift in responsibilities necessitates a fundamental redesign in how private equity sponsors and CEOs evaluate the next generation of their leaders.
Traditional search tactics for sales leaders have grown stale and ineffective. By thinking more deeply about the recruiting process and tailoring it to the business’s needs as private equity-backed, CEOs have an improved opportunity to find exceptional talent suited to their space. This approach ultimately accelerates their go-to-market strategy, and in turn, revenue growth and margin performance.
In this blog post we will share how a radical change in thinking can open the gates to a new, more effective world of leadership recruiting.
Let’s begin by taking a brief look at the way the CEOs and executive recruiters traditionally drive the search process.
Traditional Search Focus at a Glance
Recruiting sales (CRO, CGO, CCO) executives often begins and ends with the same limited focus that has remained in place for decades, focused on three basic types of relevant experience to evaluate and select viable candidates—sales model (direct vs. channel), end-market, and product/service.
While this worked when the role narrowly encompassed “managing a great sales team,” today it is foundational at best in terms of netting a candidate capable of getting the more comprehensive job done. Further, this narrow focus on “foundational experience” as core to identifying the next executive sales leader is no longer acceptable in the realm of PE – there are far too many strategic moments that require leaders to think, act and lead differently. By blindly adhering to the same candidate evaluation criteria, CEOs and investors run the risk of missing out on the ideal candidate.
A Progressive, Value-Added Search Perspective
- The right mindset
- A disciplined approach
- A strategic “go-to-market” perspective
The Right Mindset
Finding revenue or commercial executives with the right mindset can prove challenging. PE-owned businesses act and behave fundamentally different. A capable candidate should possess the ability to thrive when faced with these unique challenges. They will have a solid sense of balancing Board expectations with in-market dynamics, a knack for handling the accelerated pace, a keen awareness of the talent types and levels required on their teams, a proven experience managing productive relationships with fellow executives/peers, and appreciation for how they are compensated in line with success of the investors.
Let’s face it. Rarely will a new revenue or commercial leader walk into an organization that’s well-run at all levels. If things were running on all cylinders, it’s highly unlikely the investor would have found the opportunity attractive in the first place. Ideally, a candidate in the PE space possesses a mastery of multiple perspectives on how to design a winning go-to-market and structure an organization… and won’t be painted into a corner in that regard. They should be able to tailor and implement a relevant, results-driving sales management philosophy and be capable of instilling and training their team with an aligned selling methodology.
The final component of a value-added search perspective revolves around go-to-market strategy. Winning in today’s market requires a much broader, strategic perspective than simply good sales tactics. Future leaders must master the picture holistically and marshal the collective resources of the organization against this vision.
For a revenue, growth, or commercial leader to succeed in the PE space, they must firmly understand the ideal target markets, segments and personas; articulate and deliver a clear value proposition; codify a distinct approach needed for each sales channel; and determine how offerings will be priced and packaged, among many other considerations.
The Right Approach with The Right Search Partner
A successful search for executive revenue, growth or commercial (sales) leaders needs to go beyond a traditional routine, tactical approach. At JM Search, we’ve been living and breathing in the private equity ecosystem for over forty years, and have a pulse on the trends shaping the executive talent model in PE. If you’re beginning your search for leaders who have what it takes to maximize the value of your investment, be sure you have a trusted search partner who knows the right ropes.
Interested in discussing how you can take a more relevant outcome-based model to ensure your next leader generates exponential returns? Reach out to us and we’ll guide you through the process.
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