Speakers: Julian Lighton | , SBI
Demonstration on how a Chief Strategy Officer can help a sales team.

Julian Lighton Podast


Today’s show is a demonstration on how a Chief Strategy Officer can help a sales team. A common challenge among sales leaders is taking strategic imperatives the CEO has laid out in the strategy and translating that into an operating plan. The head of strategy can help sales leaders solve this problem.  It’s difficult to grow revenue faster than your industry’s growth rate and faster than your competitors. Leverage the How to Make Your Number in 2018 Workbook to access a revenue growth methodology to hit your number quarter after quarter, and year after year.


Joining us is Julian Lighton, Chief Strategy Officer at Renaissance Learning. Renaissance is the leader in K-12 education technology enabling teachers, curriculum creators, and educators to drive phenomenal student growth. Julian’s experience includes leading strategy at Hitachi, Cisco, Neustar, and Rovi, which is now TiVo.  Before that Julian was a partner in software and services at McKinsey.  Julian is uniquely qualified to demonstrate how the strategy officer can help a sales team.


The greatest contribution to the sales team by the head of strategy is to hold the problem together.  This involves asking, “Which is the greater priority? Therefore, what am I really supposed to be doing?”  This approach keeps the problem from disintegrating and being left with five different problems.  Asking these questions prevents problems that aren’t commonly defined and fractured resources working on different things.


Julian describes the Value Creation Plan, a framework to understand how a company generates value for its shareholders.  This breaks down into a series of value drivers and underneath that a series of KPIs or metrics. For a sales leader, the top value drivers are going to be market acquisition.  The includes finding new logo customers, net new customers, driving wallet share, cross-sell, up-sell and finally renewals if you’re in a subscription or services business.  Listen as Julian demonstrates what a sales leader really needs to understand to move each of the KPIs attached to the value drivers.


Why this topic? The best sales leaders we see blend strategy and execution masterfully. The average sales leaders we see don’t understand strategy, even though they think they do because they think a collection of sales tactics is a strategy. This is not their fault. Most of them have never been trained on strategy development. This is where a partnership between the sales leader and the chief strategy officer can be a great partnership and produce great results.


The final segment of the show addresses the elephant in the room.  Often sales leaders think strategy is disconnected from getting the job done. They’re worried about hitting this month’s quota. Why should a sales leader care about strategy? Listen as Julian outlines three reasons sales leaders should care about strategy.


Have expectations gone up and left you wondering if you can make your number? Here is an interactive tool that will help you understand if you have a chance at success. Take the Revenue Growth Diagnostic test and rate yourself against SBI’s sales and marketing strategy to find out if:

  • Your revenue goal is realistic
  • You will earn your bonus
  • You will keep your job