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Do you think salespeople make good CEOs?

I was having this conversation with someone last night and thought to put the question out here. My friend was of the opinion that salespeople are numbers oriented when it comes to sales. They have singular perspective on sales but a CEO would require to have a birds view at the whole org sometimes favoring sales and sometimes not.


What do you guys think?

Do salespeople make good CEOs?
Attached poll
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๐Ÿฐ War Stories
15
Lumbergh
Politicker
+3
Sr Account Exec
Finding a CEO with a sales background *almost* guarantees a better sales culture and having a top leader who can be brought in to confidently push deals forward is a great asset
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
100% agreed!
Salespreuner
Big Shot
+11
Regional Sales Director
So apt. Absolutely ๐Ÿ’ฏ agreed
napped
Politicker
+7
Senior Business Developer
Yes, yes, YES!ย 
Salespreuner
Big Shot
+11
Regional Sales Director
Absolutely ๐Ÿ’ฏ yes. Reason? Situation handling, Convincing and ROI driven mindset while keeping positive rapport
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
I think so too. Their self motivation seeps through the organization. They show ability to motivate others too!
Salespreuner
Big Shot
+11
Regional Sales Director
Absolutely ๐Ÿ’ฏ
Chep
WR Officer
+10
Business Development Team Lead
I think talking to people is key as a CEO and sales helps tremendously with that
34fifty
Valued Contributor
+5
Team Lead
Yeah. Being CEO requires soft skills more than technical skills imo
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
True that
Lambda
Politicker
+6
Sales Consultant
sales and marketing run a business, but vision is also important, salespeople can definitely make good CEO's so long as they don't spend there time selling but spend it growing
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Very well said!
SalesPharaoh
Politicker
+8
AM BDR
Also those CEO would be grounded with what the company is capable of and what it is missing they wouldn't be blinded by the product teams self praise.ย 
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
That is so true! But do you think salesperson CEO would be able to take a step back from sales?
SalesPharaoh
Politicker
+8
AM BDR
Well there are cons, one is asking too much from sales, and yes usually there is a unique character who wants this position which is a big picture/grand scheme of things character.ย 
They will be risk takers and might ask to launch several products and see the big picture performance as opposed to what each team is doing. So they would see product x doing well, y not so much and z doing well. If you are in y you will get fired. But for the CEO the overall was a successful experiment ๐Ÿค”
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sahil
Notable Contributor
+15
Deepak Chopra of Sales
I wrote fairly extensively about this before, but to recap:

1. Most of being a CEO is pure sales: recruiting, fundraising, PR, investor relations, etc. Salespeople make awesome CEOs.

2. But building technology is MUCH more difficult than you can imagine. Salespeople tend to be optimists, so they tend to overestimate what they can accomplish and over promise/underdeliver.

This is the #1 reason salespeople fail as CEOs
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
This is very well said. Balance is a key when it comes to being a CEO. Putting yourself in your people's shoes and looking at things from their perspective is very important
MrMotivation
Politicker
+4
Sales
The best CEO's I have worked for have had some kind of sales background. Probably many reasons for this, but I think the main one is that the best sales people are "Quarterbacks". They know how to delegate and to rely on the knowledge of others for a common goal.ย 

The worst CEO's I have worked for are the ones who know they are the smartest in the room, which obviously causes faults across different orgs within the company
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Well said. I think as CEOs, delegation is one of the most important skill
ventox35
Opinionated
+2
Director of Business Development
I'd like to invert the question and answer "yes"
The tactics you develop help you sell your vision to investors, to your employees, and to everyone you interact with. Always b sellin
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Totally agree with this!
Allisce
Politicker
+4
Account Executive
Works for me
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Really glad to know!
Rigeyyy
Opinionated
+1
Account Executive
Absolutely. That ceo will have more grind and grit then anyone elseย 
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
100%
paddy
WR Officer
+10
Account Executive
The best CEO's have sales experience
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
agreed!
Bittersweet0326
Politicker
+5
Digital Business Associate
Definitely - They have been in the trenches and understand where the money is made and how the company grows.ย 
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Yes that makes sense!
stratman
Politicker
+2
Sales Engineer
I think it really depends on the type of business.ย 
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
How about SaaS?
BlueJays2591
Politicker
+6
Business Development Manager
Yes. Money driven and able to think outside the box.ย 
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Well sometimes CEOs are required to not be money driven. But outside the box, I'll give you that
BlueJays2591
Politicker
+6
Business Development Manager
I would have a hard time working for a CEO that's not money driven.ย 
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34fifty
Valued Contributor
+5
Team Lead
A salesperson knows the product, market and customers. Definitely helps if sales people pick up some basic finance and operations along the way.ย 
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
A crash course can nudge them into finance but ops I think is best when you learn on job
RB
RBO
Opinionated
+1
Sales Manager
There's not a silver bullet here because it depends heavily on the stage of the company. In earlier stage companies the CEO's job is heavily centered around conflict resolution/getting the team to move in the same direction and raising money (pitching).ย 

Kinda sounds like what salespeople do daily.
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
So they would make good CEOs lol
RB
RBO
Opinionated
+1
Sales Manager
At the right stage. In later stages, you probably want someone who is more operations-focused.

Also, not if they're a dick.
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Bl
Blue_Turtle
Good Citizen
SDR
Donโ€™t most CEOs come from sales? To be an effective CEO you need to be a skilled seller of every big picture idea and aspect of your company. Not to mention being able to sell a job to those hires you want to snag and anything else. Sales skills carry over into to many aspects of life as well as your career. For a CEO to be effective but come from a non-selling role you can bet he/she will be leaning on their immediate circle to convince people to invest, build, sign on, etc.
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
If you are thinking about famous CEOs then they don't come from sales but it's a learnable skill. But I get your point. As a CEO, you are always selling to new recruits, to VCs, to board, to clients, to your partners, to shareholders, etc
DataSlangah
Politicker
+4
SAE
I think it depends on the person, but mostly yes.ย  CEO's are supposed to create and perpetuate a vision of a company.ย  Salespeople tend to be very passionate and paint good pictures.ย  Plus you have a COO to do all your admin work.ย  JK
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Haha. Also salespeople are fueled with motivation. So very hard for them to just stop caring
MandaMustWin
Good Citizen
Major Accounts District Manager
It's the been there, done that mentality. Some of the best CEOs start from the bottom. They know what the employees are going through, they know what works and what doesn't, and they have the experience and drive to lead. 10/10 would recommend!
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
100%. Very well put
Hotlead
Politicker
+6
SDR
I think the knowledge of understanding that things happen would be the most important part.ย 
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
You mean why things happen? Or things happen in general? Sorry, didn't get you
Trinity
WR Officer
+7
BusDev
Not necessarily. Being a CEO is more than just having a sales background.ย 
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Yeah I think so too although sales def is a big part
goose
Politicker
+10
Sales Executive
Sales oriented CEOs often surround themselves with experts in other areas of the business (since they are often high d's and lack focus on details). ย They are great to work for, especially if you are closing a whale.
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Totally. Either way I think its a good practice for a CEO to surround themselves with experts from different fields
Wolf
Opinionated
+2
Account Development Executive
Good CEOs definitely come from a sales background. That is the best way to truly understand the market, the buyers, etc. The President of Microsoft Canada even said so himself to me before.
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Oh that's awesome! I agree with you that good CEOs should know how to sell
Allisce
Politicker
+4
Account Executive
Our CEO has a sales background and it is great because he truly values us and we get rewarded a lot for that. the rest of the company isn't a fan but screw them we bring in the money
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Haha. As long as it works
Austin
Celebrated Contributor
+6
Founder - ** ***
I sure hope so... Iโ€™m attempting to make this transition right now.ย 
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Yes I know. Good luck!
SpamFolder
Good Citizen
Business Development Representative
Yes! Especially if itโ€™s a well structured organization with lots of people and departments to support areas that a sales CEO needs help with like accounting and budgeting or whatever
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Yes absolutely. It would surely work thenย 
detectivegibbles
Politicker
+8
Territory Rep
Love this question.ย 

Previous CEO - Engineering background, only held one sales role entire career, founded company...fyi this was a tech startup.ย 

EXCELLED AT: high level thinking, new idea implementation, technology

LACKED AT: Team inclusion, Feedback for sales team (our sales VP was pretty useless when it came to training and feedback), general scope of what our quarterly/yearly goals were on sales side, delegating.



Current CEO - former salesperson, 10+ years in same role, took company over from family. We actually have 2 presidents on purpose (I report to the sales side obviously). It allows for there to be constructive conversations on direction without just one opinion being the end all be all. It's a great structure that other companies could benefit from.ย 

EXCELLS AT: intentional connection and inclusion of entire team, delegating things he isn't good at, master of verbal aikido with relationships and diffusing tough situations, created culture around the employees and not the business. On the surface, just exudes the best leadership qualities.ย 


LACKS: Not much I can find in my first year so far.ย 


It's noticeably night and day difference. Not that I had a bad experience at the startup, but just seeing how two guys, the same age, lead in completely different ways is extremely fascinating.ย 
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Thank you so much for your response. This is very insightful. I lean towards your opinion too. Me being a startup founder from not sales side can totally related to this
detectivegibbles
Politicker
+8
Territory Rep
By no means was my previous CEO bad. Just different and excelled at other things.ย 

Always felt he could have delegated decision making a bit further and taken our input with intent and initiated on ideas a bit further, thats all.ย 
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happyears
Good Citizen
AE
If you're not selling, you're being sold to. CEO gotta sell everything and anything - internally and externally!ย 
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Preach!
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Preach!
LordOfWar
Politicker
+6
Director
Yes, they will know the resources and timeline it takes to close deals.ย 

That being said, I know plenty of CEOs who THINK they are salespeople and end up just risking deals when they go off on a tangent, misspeak about products or bring up politics.
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
I have another active thread that talks about politics. These things are so inter-related
LordOfWar
Politicker
+6
Director
Yup, and unfortunately many CEOs get away with too much and carry the boss attitude into public encounters. A good CEO knows their place is to aid the team, not force their opinion down everyone's throats.

I tend to like CEOs who have been in the trenches of business (sales, finance, production, etc) over the ones who never spent time actually building business at the lowest level. Perspective helps leaders be better.
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Fi
Finance
Good Citizen
sales
Maybe.ย  Having experience in sales can help a CEO with building a culture of growth and of empathy towards the front line, which could do wonders long-term.

At the same time, if you're an incredible producer, you may be an absolute horrendous leader/manager.ย  So many traditional companies operate on the belief of "really good at sales = really amazing god leader of the people".ย  And I'm not sure that's necessarily true across the board.
Ace
Arsonist
+9
CEO
Yes, also the leader needs to show empathy towards all the people working under him. Not just front line. They need to have a bird's eye view of the whole situation
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