Classic quotes from a very memorable scene from the iconic movie Glengarry Glen Ross — highly acclaimed both as the Broadway play by David Mamet and the 1992 movie starring Alec Baldwin, Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey and Ed Harris. Depicts the stereotypical rough and seedy side of corporate sales and sales management. A must see, if you haven’t already. [Curious? This scene is easily found on YouTube. Profanity warning.]
Another stereotype about Sales is the interaction between the CFO and the VP Sales usually involving images of fervent battles over excessive spending and ways to cut sales costs.
Like most stereotypes, this is a false understanding of a CFO’s potential impact on growth and the business investment in the sales process. The best way to understand the CFO’s approach to sales is to list some potential questions a CFO asks when addressing this critical component of a company’s overall operation. For example:
1. Have we carefully broken our sale process into value-add steps and are we applying the appropriate skills, effective and efficient resources at each stage?
2. Do we have a well-defined sales process with measurable metrics and performance indicators?
3. Are we targeting our sales efforts, resources, and expenditures to the most profitable accounts/ product lines?
4. Does our expenditure of sales resources by channel/ segment/ region coincide with the profitability for each of those?
5. Can we profitably accelerate growth with added sales resource?
An experienced CFO can bring you much in the way of strategic process and operational expertise. A stark contrast to the stereotype of simply a fervent cost cutter. The above questions shine a light on that broad base of expertise:
- Question #1 & 2: CFO as Expert at Business Process
- Questions #3 & 4: CFO as Expert in Margins
- Question #5: CFO as Expert in Growth Management
Knowing the questions to ask can facilitate significant insight on the sales and revenue outcomes and allow the team to make adjustments to improve success.
Michael Stier is an Area President for FocusCFO based in Charlotte, NC.