Outside Influence

CEOs at some of the world’s leading companies are searching for new ways to break out of old ruts as they prepare for the “new normal.” Some might even say they need a sales and marketing transformation. Others just have an uneasy feeling that they’re not prepared for what’s next.

No matter how you frame it though, these new opportunities raise a fundamental question: Who should you turn to when you need to make big things happen fast?

The profile of likely candidates usually starts with those who have comfortable traits. You know the resume. It’s loaded with category experience, employment at a competitor, or even a long-time executive in the very company itself. In other words, it’s the profile of an industry insider.

But is that the right way to go when you need to accelerate? Is “comfortable” a winning proposition when it’s time to shake things up? What’s the opportunity cost in terms of real value? What’s the impact of a lost window of change?

When it comes to sales and marketing transformation, I’ve seen insiders fail more than I’ve seen them succeed. They play it so safe that “after” looks a lot like “before” and the market never really feels their impact.

Driving transformation – and making it stick – usually requires a change agent in sales and marketing. An outsider who can understand the window of opportunity quickly and then deliver a compelling new possibility aligned with the CEO’s vision. Unless you have that outside influence, you’re likely to get more of what you already have. That’s fine for some companies, but for those looking to capitalize on big opportunities ahead, business as usual won’t cut it.

4 Comments

  1. Tom Zsolt says:

    I agree

  2. James says:

    I've found that the people who can run an organization in steady state pretty much suck at being change agents … and vice versa.

    The ideal approach would be to bring in someone to shake things up (in a good way), knowing they'll probably last only a couple of years before the move on to a new challenge.

  3. Tom Butta says:

    That's certainly been my experience as well.

  4. Jim Mancuso says:

    An outside perspective is very helpful. It alleviates myopic behavior.

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