Insight

Executive Search Case Study: Chief Sales & Marketing Officer

by Sami Barry
glass roof

Completing this assignment in three and a half months, we worked in collaboration with the President to secure a professional from a direct competitor who quickly assimilated himself and is now enhancing the success of the company in its various sectors. The new CSMO plays an instrumental role in creating a comprehensive and strategic sales plan, developing a marketing and business development team, and establishing standards and practices for the company’s brand in the marketplace.

Challenge:

Chief Sales & Marketing Officer

Our client is a national full-service architecture, engineering, and program management firm. Due to sustained growth and desired market expansion, our client sought a recognized industry leader to join their executive leadership team as the Chief Sales & Marketing Officer (CSMO). Reporting to the President, the CSMO is responsible for the strategic and tactical development and implementation of the company’s national sales plan, which is intended to support the generation of profitable sales revenue and growth.

Accountabilities of the role include: strategic business planning, new market identification and pursuits, and the creation of a metrics-based sales organization. In this capacity, the CSMO collaborates closely with corporate leadership and regional management to support growth and diversification initiatives; and hires, develops, and mentors a team of current and potential business development, sales, and marketing personnel. As a company officer, the CSMO plays a vital role in ensuring the firm’s overall success, sustainability, and evolution for the foreseeable future.

We had not previously represented this organization on an executive search, and therefore, spent much time getting to know the company, and its objectives, structure, and environment. We worked directly with the President on the assignment, and he was articulate about the expectations for the role, and ideal candidate qualifications, including the intangible traits that would be important for a strong cultural fit. He wanted to attract a recognized industry leader who had broad expertise and experience leading high performing sales organizations, and who could strategically penetrate new markets and cultivate lasting relationships to create opportunities for sustained growth and market diversification.

The President wanted to expedite the search and begin recruitment activities immediately. It was late November, and while we were in a position to begin the search, we were aware of the potential challenges that we may encounter by beginning a search so close to the holidays. We were also concerned with attracting candidates that time of year with many professionals expecting outstanding bonuses that are paid in January or at the end of the first quarter. We discussed these concerns openly with the President, and he respected our perspective and appreciated us being forthright. We jointly decided to begin the search immediately since all parties understood the potential issues, and we determined a search schedule that would effectively sequence the stages of the process around the holidays.

Strategy:

As part of our process, we met with the President and the entire executive committee in our clients headquarters to discuss the key attributes, goals, and expectations for the role. From this meeting we were able to craft a position description as well as a tailored search plan to ensure success.

Due to the specific qualifications and traits desired, it was necessary to conduct a national search targeting high-level individuals within competing organizations to our client in addition to those in contractors, architectural and engineering firms, and third party management organizations. In particular, we honed our focus on executives that had varied market sector and multi-region experience related to the identification, pursuit and capture of strategic accounts or clients.

Our client was presented with diverse candidate options and interviewed candidates from a variety of organizations including multi-national A/E/C’s, national management firms, and a global facilities services entity.

Results:

Despite our initial concerns about beginning the search process in November, we completed the assignment in three and a half months. The client was highly collaborative, which made the assignment flow smoothly and cohesively.

The President selected a professional who had held senior business development positions with major competitors. The individual’s focus was major pursuits, new business acquisition and management, business intelligence and analytics, and client satisfaction with emphasis on the federal and state government, transit, rail, aviation, higher education, and healthcare markets. His professional references described him as having a strong reputation for sales management, direct selling, capture management, and business development. They said he develops trust and shows passion for his clients. He provides leadership by leading by example and working in a collaborative manner with his internal teams.

We have spoken with the client and candidate many times since completing the assignment to ensure the transition continues to progress smoothly. The client has expressed that the professional understands how to win a sale, is resourceful and innovative, and he works in collaboration with the regional managers and internal sales and business development teams. He provides leadership and expertise to ensure that the sales team fully understands and complies with the company’s global sales strategy. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to develop relationships, providing personal facetime with both clients and colleagues, which people appreciate and respect.

The candidate was originally interested in the opportunity because it provided him the opportunity to be part of the company’s leadership in cultivating and developing an internal team, and leading pursuits, which was appealing and closely in line with his background. Upon joining our client, he quickly assimilated himself into the organization and has been responsible for spearheading the overall effort to create the cohesive national sales plan. This has included the development and implementation of standardized practices and procedures related to the sales process, developing training mechanisms for his internal team, and the creation of a collaborative work environment that supports and drives continued growth.