B2B Sales Insights
- The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is the senior executive responsible for managing the financial actions of a company or organization. For these individuals, main duties include the both day-to-day and longer term financial planning, as well as tracking cash-flow (liquidity) and analyzing the company's financial strengths and weaknesses, while proposing corrective actions. Typically, the CFO will manage the finance and accounting divisions in a similar way to a treasurer or controller, and will be responsible the accurate and punctual delivery of financial reports. The main goals of the CFO are to optimize the financial performance of the company, in terms of its reporting, liquidity and return on investment.
- The Chief Operating Officer (COO) is the senior executive tasked with planning, directing and overseeing a company's operational policies, rules, initiatives and goals. The role involves executing both short and long-term plans and directives, using good judgment, vision, management skills and leadership. As the senior executive responsible for the day-to-day administrative and operational functions of a business, the COO typically reports directly to the CEO, and is often considered to be second in line thereafter.
- The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is a corporate executive responsible for activities concerned with the creating, communicating and delivering offerings that have value for customers, clients, and or business partners. A CMO's primary goal is to provide an environment for growth and increased revenue through developing complete and comprehensive marketing plans which promote brand recognition, increased audience reach and help maintain a competitive advantage
- The Chief Sales Officer (CSO) is responsible for leading the sales department to meet revenue and sales growth targets. A high level executive, the CSO effectively manages the entire sales department, overseeing all sales-related activities. A vast range of daily activities include most significantly, overseeing the day-to-day creation of sales strategies, studying reports and sales numbers in order to understand and assess performance and how successful sales strategies were. The CSO answers directly to the business stakeholders.
Differences in Roles
i) Chief Financial Officer
- CFOs usually concern themselves with three main responsibilities. The first is reporting, which involves teams of professionals preparing all the company's historical financial reports required for not just stakeholders, but other persons of interest, such as research analysts, governments and regulatory bodies. The second is liquidity, as it is the CFO's responsibility to ensure the company is able to meet its financial commitments and manage cash flow in the most efficient way. The third is return on investment, with the CFO seeking to help facilitate the company earning the highest possible risk-adjusted return on assets and return on capital. Other duties will include leadership, communication, negotiating with suppliers and vendors, and supporting the company's mission, vision, values and culture.
- The position of CFO changes significantly between small and large companies, and the differences include more than just scale. One of the most important differences for CFOs of smaller companies are the lack of staff and smaller structures. This requires CFOs to form closer personal relationships with other senior executives, who may be performing multiple roles at once. In smaller companies, the CFO is often seen as the right-hand person to the CEO, and therefore may also be involved in both operational initiatives and strategic planning. Consequently, although their area of expertise may be finance, the CEO may also need to have skills and knowledge in other areas, such as sales, marketing, operations and distribution.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are different for every business, and these provide the direction for key strategies which the CFO is required to implement. Therefore, it is the responsibility of CFOs in different industries to work and understand the specific challenges of each industry and how they differ from each other. This will allow the development of unique and highly specialized KPIs and support the analysis thereof.
- The role of a CFO has undergone changes in recent years. While the traditional responsibilities are still of critical importance, modern CFOs are now both expected and required to use their knowledge and understanding of the financial position of the company to drive the direction and success of the organization. CFOs therefore typically are required to show greater levels of leadership, effectively becoming business partners, to show and possess stronger knowledge and understanding of the company's business model and the wider industry, implement greater controls, especially in areas such as risk management and be successful strategists, from development to execution.
ii) Chief Operating Officer
There are typically seven types of COO
- The Executor — Leads the execution of strategies developed by the top management team, and tasked with the responsibility of delivering results typically on a frequent day-to-day, quarter-to-quarter basis. This is a hands-on role that involves aligning with the requirements of the CEO, while developing and implementing strategy directions and overseeing their progress.
- The Change-Agent — Required for the purpose of spearheading new initiatives. This COO has the responsibility of leading strategic imperatives, such as a turnaround, major organizational change, or planned rapid expansion. The magnitude of such tasks usually demands the change-agent COO has similar levels of unquestioned authority to the executor COO.
- The Mentor — A COO sometimes brought on by companies, to mentor a young, or inexperienced CEO. This can often be a founder, particularly in new companies, start-ups, or small companies with low levels of staff or working experience. A rapidly growing entrepreneurial venture may seek to leverage the experience of an industry veteran, with in-depth knowledge, networking capabilities and a proven track record of success. It is not uncommon in these situations that as the CEO develops, logically the COO role becomes either obsolete or is heavily restructured to benefit the company in other areas.
- The Other Half — The COO who is brought in to compliment the CEO. This is often someone who has the opposite characteristics and abilities as the CEO. By complimenting the experience, style and knowledge of the CEO, the COO aims to have to positive effect on day-to-day company activity, strengthening any strengths and mitigating against any weaknesses. These kinds of COO roles tend not to lead to higher positions in general but sometimes do.
- The Partner — A COO brought in to form a type of co-leadership with the CEO. Some CEOs work best when they have a partner, another person to share ideas and assist with operational processes and decision-making.
- The Heir Apparent — A person who becomes COO with the long term view to one day becoming the CEO. The purpose of the role is to allow the COO to learn about the company and develop the necessary skills needed to one day take over the role and perform adequately.
- The MVP — A promotion made to an executive, in order to prevent them from joining another company. This type of COO is usually appointed when a person is considered too valuable to lose, especially to a competitor. This strategy allows a company to keep high-potential executives motivated and intrigued about future opportunities, without setting definite timescales for leadership succession.
iii) Chief Marketing Officer
- There are five specific types of CMO role. The first is the Growth Driver. This CMO has a specific focus involved with the responsibility to create and manage profitable growth. Growth can be considered as revenue, market share and gross margin. All of which are considered critical business growth areas. Next is the Customer Champion. This role is focused with aligning the organization around customer centricity. Use of data and analytics to deliver improved and positive customer experiences along with measurable business results is commonplace. These CMOs may also aspire to expand their role as the voice of the customer, tapping into opportunities for CMOs to connect those aspirations to the needs of those customers. Third is the Capability Builder. This role is about amassing and deploying robust marketing capabilities. In this way, CMOs are able to demonstrate the functions reach and added value across the business. The fourth is the innovation catalyst. This role concerns CMOs using data and intelligence to create innovative new marketing techniques, and develop systems and ideas. Lastly the final role is the Chief Storyteller. This role consists of CMOs safeguarding and disseminating the news about their brands and their performance, and inviting consumers to participate in the narrative.
In addition to these roles, there are four types of CMO, three of which are new;
- The Supporter — The most common and well-known CMO, often seen in many small and medium-sized companies, and predominantly in the B2B sector. Supporters are typically and traditionally responsible for studying the market, creating unique and powerful marketing content and executing communications, such as advertising, emails, white papers, fairs, and more. Thanks to the digital revolution, supporters have become more responsible for the development of many digital assets and tactics, such as inbound marketing, SEO, SEM and many more. Primary aim is to generate high quality leads.
- The Revenue Generator — Responsible for top-level growth and more limited responsibility in designing company strategy. Typically oversee sales organization.
- The Strategy Formulator — These are CMOs who usually hold no direct sales responsibility, instead having a higher focus on the customer, the trends, the brand, and new product development. They might also participate in the design of the marketing plan, but have no direct responsibility on its implementation.
iv) Chief Sales Officer
- The role of CSO is the sales leader within a company or organization, however there are two other roles which are closely linked and often overlap, the roles of Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) and VP of Sales. CSOs typically sit in the hierarchy below CROs (when a company has them). The CSO is seen as the "strategic sales architect", the CSO is typically the executive who can manage and maintain the complex sales organization. The CRO is usually capable of managing everything the CSO can do, but also assumes a greater amount of functional and overall responsibility, in order to serve all stages of the customer journey completely.
Some main differences between the CSO and the CRO include;
- Core Responsibilities - The CSO is always most focused on closing deals and finding new business. CROs oversees many other departments, including marketing, operations, and client renewals.
- Daily tasks - CSOs must keep up to date with sales information, meaning daily check-ins on the sales team and monitoring all up to date reporting, and a focus on generating and nurturing leads. CROs spend their time paying equal attention to all different parts of the business, not just sales.
- Complexity - CSOs spend most of their time and focus on the sales aspect and keeping this running efficiently and productively. CROs have a more holistic approach to multichannel management.