So what makes a good commercial director? Well, the best one I knew was part salesman, part accountant, a touch of marketeer – but 100% problem solver. Ideally that’s what you want as an aspiring business owner and looking across the chasm and wondering how on earth you will get to the other side – someone you can rely on who has done it once or twice before. It’s tough keeping all the balls in air – there’s never enough cash, time or resource to do the job justice but somehow you need to get there – and this is where a good CD will pay dividends. A safe pair of problem solving hands when you need to set and execute your commercial strategy will save you much sleep particularly when lying awake in the wee small hours fixating on cash flow, sales revenues or expansion funding.
Do you need an accountant a sales director and a commercial director? I would say “yes, definitely” but you don’t have to make full time appointments if your life stage does not yet call for that sort of commitment just yet. A good CD will manage all your commercial resources including the afore-mentioned bean counters and sales johnnies (and should get the very best out of them) to give you the best chance of success. He/she will be highly operational but will still be able to provide you and your board with quality input. Their overall task is to negotiate your company through the commercial landscape and they will need to be multi-skilled and multi-talented and able to field and return any number of hot potatoes. They should be able to own your complete commercial process and be able to manage a myriad of vital issues such as rationalising your product/service development, identifying new market opportunities, determining the optimal pricing to balance profit with customer/client satisfaction, and directing sales and marketing operations. You most likely will need help in your fundraising, recruitment of key staff and any potential acquisitions that your NEDs might be unfamiliar with and this is where a good CD will be a godsend.
The trick, of course, is getting a good one. They will have been around the block a time or two, will be up on all the normal modern marketing witchcraft, will be completely fearless and will know where to get their hands on essential revenues, funds and resource – a jack of all trades and master of all. It’s well worth shopping around for the right person because when the going gets tough the tough get going – don’t settle for second best!