Sales acumen now the key performance differentiator for C-level executives

By Anonymous (not verified), 9 December, 2015

Sales acumen now the key performance differentiator for C-level executives by Sharon Snell

Companies that find innovative ways to capture and engage their customers are increasing their market share, revenue and profits in this age of the empowered customer. The largest skills differentiator between C- level executives in these top companies and their low performing competitors, is the concentration of talent with higher sales acumen. The findings signal that C-levels need to have a strong grounding in sales, marketing and finance which normally falls outside their technical areas of expertise.

This is according to a new research study which assessed over 7000 candidates from both high and low performance companies. High performance companies are led by teams who possess certain skills set that provide them with the competitive edge. The study analysed participants scores over 37 competency areas and the outcome showed that employees from high performing companies outperformed their low performing counterparts in a number of key competencies. By comparing employee performance scores with company performance, researchers have come up with a set of core skills which enable companies excel.

Top 5 differentiating skills of C- level executives

  • Sales Acumen – 32, 3% higher

  • Strategic Planning 27.1% higher

  • Negotiating 27% higher

  • Financial Skills 25.3% higher

  • Marketing 21.8% higher

Technical and functional expertise are not a differentiator in the C-suite

Once managers reach the C-level, they find that their technical and functional expertise do not matter as much. This means that the skills that help managers to get to the top are no longer sufficient once they enter the C- suite.  If you take the CIO position for example, the skills that she would require, would focus less on technical IT capabilities but rather on how to create a holistic IT system across multiple organisational platforms which supports increase sales, revenue growth and market share. CIOs with sales and marketing experience are in high demand by recruiters. Traditional sales and marketing managers are struggling to deal with the new age of the customer. Enter the CIO, who has the technical savvy and sales acumen to align the business technology systems and processes to primarily attract, service and retain customers.

Sales acumen is not measured by having sales knowledge. C –levels must be proficient in nuanced persuasion skills like sales, influencing others, political savvy and presentations which are key to inspiring people to follow. They must have the intellectual ability, mental dexterity and versatility to interact with a wide segment of the business stakeholders. Technological savvy is also key to understanding the new age customer who wants to be engaged on a number of platforms and demands a high quality customer experience. Typical C –level positions are that of the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Information Officer, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer and Chief Financial Officer. The research report is entitled ‘Business Skills that set high-performing organisations apart’ and can be accessed at



Copyright: Portal Publishing (Pty)Ltd | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
Skills Portal | Careers Portal | Jobs Portal | Bursaries Portal | Skills Universe
About us | Contact us
Portal PublishingPress Council