The impact of this is twofold:

1-      CEOs are spending too much time trying to find a super star sales leader. They have been burned so often in the past they view this decision as high risk. These leaders should be creating value by developing strategy, forming partnerships, making acquisitions, etc. not playing the role of sales recruiter.


2-      Candidates are spending too much time trying to land their dream jobs. This detracts from their performance in their current role.  These sales leaders should win the new job or commit to the current job, fast.


Here are the 5 most important questions my CEO friends tell me they ask when interviewing sales leaders:


Sales Force Effectiveness


1-      Can this candidate hit the number quickly? (Note: speed is paramount)


2-      Can I get my hands on verifiable proof that assures me this candidate has produced in the past?


3-      Is the amount of disruption this candidate will cause proportional to the amount of disruption the company can handle?


4-      How will the customers react to him or her?


5-      Is this candidate better than, equal to, or worse than the person in the same job at my top 3 competitors?


I have sat in on these interviews.  Here are my suggestions on what to do when asked these questions.

  • Lay out your sales strategy on a time line showing the CEO how long it will take to produce results.
  • Bring your last 5 compensation plans and last 5 tax returns to the interview. Sales leaders get paid based on performance.  If the tax return shows an annual income greater than the target compensation amount, you have proven you can produce.
  • When providing references provide customer and team references instead of former boss references.
  • Build profiles of the 3 sales leaders atop the top competitors and provide a compare and contrast to yourself.


If you would like to see examples of great sales leaders who recently landed their dream jobs, check out my friend Paul Rolls at IDT Inc. or my friend John Gleason from Ryder, or my friend Lee Wood from Thomson Reuters.


If you are a CEO looking to hire a new sales leader, check out my friend Elena Lytkina Botelho from GhSmart, She will make sure you only hire an “A” player.


Greg Alexander

Leads the firm's focus on the CEO’s role in accelerating revenue growth by getting the product team, the marketing department, and the sales organization into strategic alignment.

Greg is the host of The SBI Podcast, the most listened to sales and marketing podcast on the internet.


He is the host of SBI TV, a monthly television program broadcast on the internet featuring top B2B sales and marketing leader sharing their strategies to grow revenues.


Greg is the Editor-in-Chief of The SBI Magazine, the leading B2B publication focused on sales and marketing effectiveness.


He is the author of two critically acclaimed books Topgrading for Sales and Making the Number.


Greg has authored over 100 articles on SBI’s award winning blog, The SBI Blog.


He graduated from The University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BA in English and received his MBA from Georgia Tech.




Transforming the Sales Organization inside Fortune 500 Companies

Greg Alexander and John Gleason, Chief Sales Officer of Ryder, talk about the unique challenges of transforming a sales team inside of very large enterprises.


A Better Way to Structure Your Sales Force

Greg Alexander and Tony Capucille, Chief Sales Officer at Heartland Payment Systems, discuss the pros and cons of the 7 B2B sales organizational models.


Build a team of A Players Inside the Sales Organization

Greg Alexander and Todd Cione, Chief Revenue Officer at Rackspace, talk about hiring, onboarding, and developing exceptional sales talent.




Fill Every Role on Your Team with an A Player

In this article, Greg Alexander makes the case for applying the TopGrading methodology to the sales team, and outlines how to do so.


What CEOs Need to Know About Their Marketing Strategies

In this article, Greg Alexander and Rashid Skaf, CEO of AMX, discuss the role the CEO plays in crafting a company’s marketing strategy.


What CEOs are Looking for in a Sales Leader

In this article, Greg Alexander and George Norton, leader of Heidrick & Struggles Chief Sales Officer practice, discuss what CEOs need in the chief sales officer role.

Read full bio >