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This post was first developed for the CEO membership of VistageConnect.com, Vistage International’s revolutionary new online community built for the express purpose of developing executives using virtual peer advisory sessions.

What is the one job the CEO must be accountable for?

Imagine you just got the right people on the bus, and they are in the right seats.

Imagine that, in addition, you have successfully implemented 360 feedback, nailed down a good health insurance program that’s affordable, successfully tested a cross-generational leadership model, your team developed an offshore strategy, started receiving great customer service metrics from the CRM, and (finally!) you have a way to address capital requirements.

You have listened to all the experts and applied their thinking, backed up with reporting systems and process like ERP, CRM and ISO — but when you go home at night and sit down at your desk with a glass of wine, your stomach is in knots from the fear that you can’t predictably grow profitable revenue.

So the question to you and every CEO who is trying to build that great customer service company culture is: “What is the one job the CEO must be accountable for?”

If I were a member of a Vistage group processing your issue of “What is the one job the CEO must be accountable for,” my feedback to you would be:

In this ”new economy,” you are accountable for only one thingcontinually growing PROFITABLE REVENUE.  STOP focusing on all those other things that sound nice and focus only on predictably growing profitable revenue.  Align your company to anything that ethically supports growing more profitable revenue.  If it aligns and creates execution leverage, it deserves attention and resources.

Anything that cannot be shown to support growing profitable revenue is a distraction, creates chaos in your business, confuses the market and puts you at risk.  Remember you can do everything else right, but if you don’t keep growing profitable revenue, you will first become irrelevant and then go out of business.

The right people on the bus, Green business, high customer satisfaction levels, CRM, ERP, ISO or a great culture are only really great when they align with your revenue strategy and leverage revenue execution. Any program, process, tool or methodology that is not aligned to a very specific revenue strategy, while at the same time providing leverage to help the field execute profitable revenue growth, is a threat to your existence no matter how well intentioned, implemented or operated. Anything not aligned to your revenue strategy is an anchor holding down growth while reducing cash flow and profits.

Steps to take if you want to challenge what you THINK you know:

  1. Focus on your revenue strategy and structure in order to leverage aligned execution, which virtually guarantees your success in the 21st Century. Everything else either supports profitable revenue or gets in the way.
  2. Ask your team to help.
    • Have them write down a one- or two-sentence description that defines your current revenue strategy. Now you review the results for alignment and clarity.
    • Then have them answer the question: “Do they believe the total organization’s primary focus and commitment is to align around this revenue strategy: Yes or No?”
    • Next ask, “Will this strategy produce long-term profitable revenue growth: Yes or No?” (You need a “yes” to both.)
    • Make a list of the Top 5 areas that you commit resources to today, by function: Finance, HR, Operations, Supply Chain, R&D, Sales, Marketing, Senior Leadership, Planning, Business Development, etc. Then ask your team to put a “+” or “–“ next to each to reflect that function’s alignment and contribution to profitable revenue. A “+” requires both alignment and positive contribution —  and everything else is a minus.
  3. Summarize your results and decide what you think the next steps to an aligned revenue strategy are – once you have them, present them to your coach in your next one-on-one session.
  4. After your one-to-one, take your plan for an aligned revenue strategy into an issue-processing group to have your answer questioned.
  5. After the feedback from your Vistage group, field test your answer with at least 5 prospects, 5 customers and 5 past customers.

Adjust your plan, be flexible, don’t cling on to old-school ideas that no longer work, get out there and make sure you win The Revenue Game!