Chief Sales Officer - Cyber SaaS

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A Cyber SaaS business, who had recently been recognised as one of the fastest growing organisations in the US. Off the back of this success, and recent awards around innovation, they were now ready to take the next step in their growth. Based in Texas with an international outlook, they wanted to increase their reach throughout the global market. 



Looking for a Chief Sales Officer (CSO) with experience of working in a similar technical solution and size of organisation. Our client required someone with the experience of putting in place a robust plan which would rapidly increase growth, capitalise on existing relationships, while also building partner ecosystems.

They sought someone who had proven experience in quickly and effectively impacting on growth and global presence in a start up environment. This person had to not only be a seasoned sales leader, but also a proven commercial and strategic leader. This was about being able to reshape the internal processes and to retrain the sales and marketing team on solutions selling and agile sales methodology.

Due to the seniority of the role, the individual must be comfortable with public speaking and presentation, with the ability to take a proactive approach to the PR of the business. 



The first step in the process was to conduct a thorough brief with the client, understanding their internal culture and values and what made them so successful. Taking the time to understand their goals, and where they saw the business in 1-2 years’ time with a successful and effective appointment is key.

We also asked them for an appraisal of their weaknesses, where did they feel they needed to improve, what steps were being taken and how much this responsibility would lie with the successful candidate. As well as this, we needed to understand what resource(s) the successful candidate would have to execute their plan.

All of this was particularly important as we needed to be able to build a story around the client. They did not have a lot of visibility in the market, so the more we knew to position the opportunity the better. This information was also crucial to set up the research and to form the basis of screening and interviewing potential candidates.

The search had to be targeted and focused. With few direct competitors at their size and scale, a target list of 80-100 organisations was drawn up and within these businesses sales, communications and marketing leaders were targeted for discussion. 



From the list of target organisations Collingwood submitted a shortlist of 4 candidates within 6 weeks. The successful candidate was supported through the process with a thorough brief of the client’s expectations, and insights into what they wanted to achieve.

They were briefed and debriefed at every stage of the interview process –communication is essential, as the process develops new challenges can arise. The successful candidate was based in Europe, and were supported through the relocation process. They came from a Gartner recognised IaaS organisation who, within the space of 18 months, had grown from 8 to 50 people, from 0-$3.5m run rate and 300% CAGR – sales cycles closing at 70% on 3 week cycles as well as new inside and channel sales teams being built – all strategies implemented by this candidate. All of which our client wanted them to replicate in their business.

As a result of the success in this appointment we were also invited to find a Chief Marketing Officer, VP of Engineering, and several engineering appointments. 

About the author
Doug Mackay
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Having started his career in Executive Search in 1998, Doug set up Collingwood in 2005 alongside his wife, Claire Mackay.

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