Do We Need Chief Sales Managers Anymore?

Not according to author Geoffrey James, in an article for BNET. Commenting on a story in Selling Power magazine, James says, “I’ve been around sales and marketing teams for decades and, in my observation, most SVPs and CSOs inside large companies are pretty darn useless.  In big firms, the real work of sales management almost always takes place in the trenches, among the regional sales managers and channel sales managers who actually work with reps on a day to day basis, coaching them, measuring them, and helping them to be successful.”

Do we Need CSOs to Bring in the Money?

I’m adding Chief Sales Officers to the growing list of titles with Chief in front of them.  I wrote about this in a blog post earlier this week.  If you don’t mind, I’m going to reprint that article here because in upgrading my WordPress blog, this post got lost in the shuffle.

Do We Need a Chief People Officer?  Title Creep in the New Millenium

It used to be that titles in most companies were pretty standard, and pretty few. For example, there was the C-suite gang:  Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Information Officer.

But an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Fighting Downhill Sponsorships” talked about how the need to bump up sponsorships to train future Olympians has led the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association to name a new Chief Revenue officer. Add CRO to the ever-growing list of new titles. Notice how one word changes the job description: Chief Financial Officer keeps the books, but the CRO is actually responsible for bringing in the money.

As usual, I turned to the trusty Google AdWords: Key Word Tool to see who might be searching the term CRO. The result was nada. Give it time; the title and function might actually catch on. Add to that the Chief Risk Officer, Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Engagement Officer – the list goes on.

But it seems to me that there is another C-suite officer desperately needed in most companies:  the Chief People Officer. As expected, HR management in various iterations came up pretty high in searches. But what does human resources really mean? That’s such a vague term. It’s all about the people in the company. The CPO should be at the table with the other C-suite folks in strategy sessions about to grow the company. S/he should be leading some of those sessions.

Without good people, there goes the company.

Leave a Reply


  1. We implemented the Chief Revenue Officer title at the Los Angeles Times back in 2008. Although your search came up blank, there are certainly companies that are starting to use the new verbiage. As you say, the finance guy is responsible for the books, but the revenue guy needs to bring in the moola.

    Perhaps it’s companies that are feeling the pinch that are trying the hardest to create a new mindset when it comes to money. As a matter of fact, I’d bet on it.

  2. The proliferation of CXO titles is definitely getting out of hand. In most organizations the Chief People Officer would report to one of the other CXO positions. If you do human resources well it helps the organization. Unfortunately, I have met Human Resources staff that were neither human nor resourceful, as the old joke goes.


  3. Agree with you completely about the inflation in titles. Catch is a lot of people are keen on titles because of their low self esteem. Some Indians in Dubai just had cards saying Executive, which was the same as assistant.

    Human resources people are often mediocre and not able to do more than read a CV. Consequently companies frequently don’t hire people that are truly talented.

  4. CEO is also Chief Entertainment Officer for some people! Why do we have a obsession with titles anyway? They are only labels and rarely, even beyond the case of Human Resources, tell you the truth of someone’s role. Plus roles differ from company to company. I suggest Cease Every Title – CET.

  5. Words have the power we give them. I remember 10 years ago calling a receptionist the Director of First Impressions. She did such an awesome job because of the title until the company decided that she couldn’t be a director because that had major legal implications and she couldn’t be a manager because that had salary implications. So they removed the “title” and she did a good job with little enthusiasm To misquote Shakespeare – “a title is a title by any other name”
    What gives people passion and a sense of purpose and what matters to them so that they feel empowered is what counts. We just have to get over the habit of shortening everything to initials only and confusing others who have different meaning for that acronym.

  6. I agree with the others Jeannette. It must get very confusing for employees especially new ones who have to learn what each company’s titles mean.

    The last large company I worked for at our Asia Pacific management meeting all of us who headed up the departments including the director of HR. She was part of the decsion making for the company and the regions.

  7. It has been a long time since I’ve worked for a company with a HR dept, but I agree that someone should represent the people at the C-table. I’m surprised that isn’t covered already.

  8. Makes you wonder what happend to the days where you could actually tell what someone did by their title doesn’t it?