Today’s topic explores the challenges a CSO faces when transitioning from a publicly traded company to a private equity firm. Paula Shannon, former CSO of Lionbridge, has a wealth of experience with this exact change. She delves into the impact of changing her sales structure, getting laser focused on the key metrics PE investors look at, and how she had a successful exit.
Having the How to Make Your Number to leverage during this interview will be extremely valuable. If you have the Workbook, turn to the Sales Strategy section. If you don’t yet have the Workbook, you can download it for free .
Segment 1: Moving into Private Equity
- Journey to the role of CSO, and consistently performing in that role. minute 3:42
- Transitioning from a public company to a private equity firm. minute 7:58
Skip to minute 5:03 when Paula talks common reasons why sales leaders miss their number, and ways to avoid them:
“Often times, what makes you miss a number is some unforeseen element, maybe a key customer going dark on you for a while or their own underlying business economics kind of shrinking. Your job as the top person is to fix that and to overcome it and to find revenue elsewhere. I would say I have not been successful every year in making the number, but where we have had those downturns was to own it, to figure out what we would do differently… ”
Segment 2: Common Mistakes When Transitioning
- Most common mistakes made when engaging with private equity suitors. minute 13:06
- The meaning of different theses (deal thesis, investment thesis, etc.) and how to prepare for each. minute 17:40
- Articulating your go-to-market and revenue growth strategies. minute 21:10
Listen to minute 13:25 when Paula discusses the most common mistakes sales teams make when engaging with private equity suitors.
“We’re salespeople. We’re people people. But that seek-to-bond moment is just a killer with private equity. I’m not saying that these are not charming people. There are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met, but they’re data driven. You’re sitting in a room full of quants. You may well be a qual and you may want to be bonding. But they’re not interested…”
Segment 3: Succeeding After the Change
- Objectively thinking about your org structure and design. minute 27:40
- Leveraging certain types of marketing automation software, market data, and AI. minute 29:24
- Mitigating churn and being more predictive relative to customer success and retention. minute 31:24
Skip to minute 30:09 to listen to Paula give advice on transforming your org structure:
“The most eye opening item for me was that through the work that SBI and Lionbridge did together on account segmentation. We quickly saw that we had made a mistake which was putting our longest tenured reps on our most important accounts. We didn’t want to lose those accounts. But the account segmentation showed us how much market share we had, and showed me as a leader is that I was not putting the top talent into the segments and the opportunities where there was growth...”