It’s that time of year when turnover among Senior Sales Leadership is on the rise. Companies realize they aren’t going to make the number, or at least there’s a strong suspicion. Executive Leadership begins to reevaluate sales strategy and the effectiveness of Sales Leadership. Sure, it’s a logical approach when you’re going to miss the number. However, is this the right approach? This is one reason why the tenure of a SVP of Sales or CSO is 19 months.  


Replacing the head of Sales is no small undertaking. The disruption to the organization is significant. Ripples can be felt at the corporate, field and customer level. Not to mention the ripple effect to the displaced Sales Leader. The Sales Leader who fails suffers lost wages, a reputation hit, and a reduction in personal marketability.


As CEO, perhaps you should be asking if you have the correct talent program in place. Does the rigor behind your sourcing, recruiting and hiring process include accountabilities and competencies? If not, it should. Greg Alexander addresses the issue in his blog A CEO Question: Should You Hire a New Sales Leader?  


Our research report, “How to Make the Number in 2015,” addresses talent under step 4 of our sales strategy methodology.  The report is available here.


It’s common to see hiring around pedigree or sales lineage. For instance, a candidate looks great on paper and has a track record of success elsewhere. After all, they were SVP of Sales with your competitor and were successful there… or were they.  Applying a Top-Grading approach to hiring will help with this type of scenario.  Top-Grading helps to avoid mis-hires associated with choosing candidates based on how they look on paper.   


Related to competencies, it’s good to ask, “What competencies are we hiring for?” Below are core competency areas we recommend with additional subcategories for reference:


  • Management and Sales Management


    • Sales Approach
    • Opportunity Management


  • Intellectual


    • Judgment / Decision Making
    • Converting Strategies to Tactics


  • Personal and Interpersonal


    • Ambition
    • Adaptability


  • Motivational


    • Drive for Results
    • Persuasion


  • Selling Skills, Selling Knowledge and Social Selling


    • Sales Approach
    • Social Intelligence / Social Savvy


There are approximately 65 potential sub-categories that make up the SBI library.  While some competencies are common, evaluating based on a competency profile is very situational. For instance, the growth phase of your organization will dictate the type of Sales Leader you want and need.  The competencies needed in a start-up phase are dramatically different than in the optimization phase.


Have questions around your current talent management practices? Consider having SBI conduct a virtual workshop around your Sales and Marketing strategies. There is no fee associated with the 90 minute workshop. We simply help facilitate a discussion around your current strategies.  Feel free to write me if you’d like to learn more.


Aaron Bartels

Helps clients solve the most difficult challenges standing in the way of making their number.

He founded Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) with Greg Alexander and Mike Drapeau to help business to business (B2B) leaders make the number. The world’s most respected companies have put their trust in and hired SBI. SBI uses the benchmarking method to accelerate their rate of revenue growth. As an execution based firm, SBI drives field adoption and business results.

His clients describe him as a consultant who:


“Makes transformational impacts on me, my people and my business”


“Solves my most difficult problems that to date we have been unable to solve ourselves”


“Brings clarity to an environment of chaos”


“Has real world sales operations experience making him qualified to advise us on a variety of sales and marketing challenges”


“Is able to spot proven best practices that once implemented will make a material impact on my business”


“Constantly challenges status quo and compels us to act”


“Focuses on execution and driving change to stick in our environment”


“Makes good on his promises while enabling our business to realize his projected results”

Read full bio >