I am a sales success consultant, focused on inside sales teams. Performance improvement. Developing systems and processes. Maximizing inbound marketing campaigns. I have learned in the last 12 months the niche within in my niche, is to fill in an org chart gap between a CEO/ Founder and the sales team. Many small and medium businesses have a CEO at the top who is still dealing directly with the sales reps or sales manager. But that's a bad fit. There needs to be a layer in between. Someone who can take the CEO's vision, turn it into a strategy, action plan, and systems. And keep them out of the weeds on sales and drama. The challenge I am currently facing is finding those CEOs. The ones with holes in their org chart. Yes... networking can do it, but it's almost a needle in a stack of needles. Most of my clients have come from referrals or relationships. I would love any ideas of where I can find these types of leaders who need someone like me. Whether they realize they have a hole to fill, or they don't know how much better their business could run and how much more they would enjoy running their business (when they stop needing to directly manage a sales team).
It may just be how I'm interpreting your statements and question, but I'm sensing two different approaches are on your mind. Getting clarity around your end goal will help you attain that goal.
You indicate you are a consultant with a methodology that works. At the same time, you indicate that the identified need is often a missing layer between business owner/CEO and front-line sales - the missing layer is a type of sales leader/manager.
If you wish to fill the missing layer, that sounds like you are wanting to become a VP of Sales or some similar role. In that case, you would approach your problem as you would approach a job hunt. (The "how" for this fills innumerable books, articles, etc.)
If, on the other hand, you want to focus on consulting, AND you are still focused on the missing layer, you'll have to figure out some way for that layer to be filled. Are you giving the CEO new skills, helping the CEO identify someone who can fill that role, or some other approach? By the way, if you assume you can partially fill that hole as a part-time leader, I'd suggest re-thinking it. Leadership, including sales leadership, requires a wholesale commitment to the team. So, someone still has to fill that role.
To continue on that consulting path, though, you've actually pinpointed your answers. Referrals and relationships are ideal for a consulting firm of one. Beyond that, since you're a sales consultant, be your primary client. Use your methodology to stir interest, create a pipeline, convert to clients, etc.
One last thought. The needle in a stack of needles is an apt description. There is a HUGE number of small/medium businesses out there without a sales leader. Do some market segmentation for yourself. Industry, geography, company size, etc. to make the haystack smaller. You'll find there are a lot of needles hidden in that smaller haystack...
I have worked in technology sales for 6+ years now and have seen firsthand how SMB, high growth mid-market, and Enterprise companies structure their sales teams.
To your point, small and medium businesses have sales reps directly reporting to the CEO because there is NO need to have a middle layer of sales management. I have seen so many smb companies run without a head of sales because they have not reached the level of scale that requires a revenue leader. You're saying the above is a bad fit; however, many smbs who don't plan to scale are perfectly happy with the status quo because it works for them.
If your opinion is different than theirs, it will be on you to demonstrate the business-tangible value of having someone run their revenue operations so they can focus on strategy, vision, etc. This requires building tailored business cases to each CEO that you speak with.
For the SMBs out there, it will be incredibly difficult to convince CEOs (all CEOs are essentially evaluated primarily on revenue generation) to hand over arguably the most important part of their business to someone else.
That being said, I would start by examining which clients you have historically had success working with and use that information to create multiple lead generation campaigns to go after similar companies. Happy to get on a call and walk through a lead generation process for your service (inbound leads, thought leadership, email marketing strategies for outbounding, etc.)
You absolutely nailed it in this topic! Having the layer between CEO and Sales reps is crucial. However, developing that layer is sometimes easier said than done. My experience with the startups I am involved in have all struggled within the first year with this exact issue. I truly believe that every small business has this issue or has dealt with it in the past. I believe that targeting small businesses is where you will find 90% of your leads on this topic strictly because of how difficult establishing that in between layer can be. I would love to speak with you further on this topic if you would like more in depth advice on what I believe could be effective for you! Thank you and have a great day!