What Every CEO Should Know About Selling

How do you find and retain customers? CEOs that want to build sustainable companies need to be in the customer acquisition business.

Photo: Ken Gosnell, CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience); Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Ken Gosnell, CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience); Source: Courtesy Photo

One of the most widely-known and influential thinkers on management, Peter Drucker stated the purpose of every business was to create customers. In fact, he said, “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.”

This simple statement is deep and profound – especially in the context of business activity and focus. When business leaders forget their primary focus is to acquire and retain customers failure is eminent.

One essential role every CEO must accept is that of Chief Sales Officer (CSO). The task at hand is to ensure every facet of business operations is customer-centric. Many times this translates to providing great customer service. However, before you improve customer service, you have to attract customers you can serve.


Acquire and attract new customers

Here’s a look at how to get started.


1. Schedule time to build your customer base

Our schedules reflect our priorities. Sales leadership and management should be a regular activity on your calendar. Successful CEOs know the importance of customer acquisition. Leaders that grow successful companies never leave sales to chance or happenstance. Instead, they make sales related activities a top priority. They understand that sales are the most critical activity in any business and they measure it relentlessly.

Q: How much time and effort do you give to sales? Do you track new leads  on a consistent basis?


2. Encourage customers to share referrals

The best place to find new customers is within the network of existing customers. Every CEO should work to develop a robust customer referral program. Customer referrals often come from treating your current customers well as you serve and meet their needs. When you don’t care about the customer, it sets a low bar for your entire organization to follow suit.


Photo: LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Unsplash
Photo: LinkedIn Sales Navigator, YFS Magazine

Q: Have you developed a referral program for existing customers? Does everyone in your company know how you feel about your customers?


3. Expand customer acquisition efforts

One way to find new customers is to broaden your search for new customers. More often than not, businesses serve a number of customer segments with their target audience. Look at historical sales, competitive targeting and determine the breadth of market reach you can explore in new demographics, geographic locations and markets.

Q: Have you identified an opportunity to expand your market reach?


4. Define your ideal customer with certainty

How well do you know your ideal customer? Many businesses find sales extremely difficult because they never really defined who they are selling to – their target audience. You will never know where to find a customer until you have clearly defined what to look for in the first place. This might seem like a simple task, but it is essential and often overlooked.

Q: Have you clearly identified quantifiable and qualitative characteristics of your ideal customer?


Finding customers can be difficult. However, it is the very essence of business. Remember, your business exists to find and retain customers. CEOs that want to build sustainable companies need to be in the customer acquisition business.


Ken Gosnell is the CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience). He serves leaders by helping them to have great experiences that both transform them and their organizations that enable to go further faster. He has worked with hundreds of CEOs and leadership teams to enhance strategic, operational and people accomplishments. He is an author, coach, and strategic partner with CEOs. Ken is the creator and facilitator of the Christian CEO Linkedin Group and creator of the CEO Experience Impact Assessment. He is married to Shonda, and they have four children. Connect with @ken_gosnell on Twitter.


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