Identifying key players is not as easy as it used to be. Consider this scenario. It will highlight how hard it is to get buy in on a project:


You just lost a big deal.  You perform an exhaustive loss review. It reveals three big reasons why you lost. First, you got into the deal too late.  The prospect established evaluation criteria that favored the competition.  Second, the competitor’s rep did a better job.  You got outsold. Third, the competitor had a lower price. The distributor sweetened the deal on the competitor’s product at the 11th hour.


You design a sales improvement program to systematically address each issue. The program includes:


  • steve rutledge genesys leaderA demand generation overhaul.  Getting into a deal too late is never going to happen again. You meet with the:
    • Chief marketing officer
    • Director of demand gen
    • Advertising agency
    • Product marketing
    • Field marketing
    • The “hunter” sales force leader
    • Manager of the lead development team


  • patrick oleary yahoo leaderA sales training program redesign.  Your reps are never going to get outsold again.  You meet with the:


    • VP of HR
    • Director of recruiting
    • Manager of learning and development
    • Director of sales training
    • Sales training firm contracted to train the sales team
    • Front line sales managers who train the reps once in the field


  • A Channel optimization Initiative.  You will never get undercut by the distributors again. You meet with the:matt cox hp sales ops leader
    • VP of Channels
    • Director of OEMs
    • Director of Distribution
    • Director of Value Add Resellers
    • Manager of Systems Integrators
    • VP of Strategic Alliances
    • Manager of the Channel Reps


You need to get buy in from 20 people.  Good luck.  These are twenty unique characters. They might be eager at first but their interest will fade. It will be replaced with next quarter’s critical project.  Buy in does not happen.  You project fails.  Let the finger pointing begin. An alternative is to think about heroes vs. specific job functions.


6 Heroes of a Sales Turnaround

Think of your project as a movie.  You are the director. The work plan is the script.  You need a cast to play the roles of the characters.  You will have a box office smash if you cast these roles:


  1. The Hero– every project needs a strong leader. The project hero needs to be selfless.  He cannot accept the role to become a big shot.  He is in the role because he wants the sales team to be successful. The hero must truly care about his team.
  2.  The Dark Rival– this is a person of the same age, sex, and status as the hero. The dark rival acts as an oppressor.  This is the person known as the “anti-sponsor”.  Sometimes this is an external figure, such as a competitor. However, often this is an internal figure, such as a political adversary.  Nothing gets buy in faster than the identification of a common enemy.
  3.  The Wise Old Man– this is a person who does not take a direct part in the action. He plays a guiding role from the wings.  He appears at critical moments to offer advice. The Wise Old Man intervenes when things are going wrong. He brings the hero back to the right path.  He can see the future because he is not confined by this quarter. He knows the hidden rules because he has done this dozens of times.  Typically, this role is filled by a consultant.
  4. The Customer– this is the most compelling figure in the story.  Better serving her is the hero’s goal.  The union of the customer and the hero is the culmination of the project.  Sales turnaround projects without active participation from customers are flops.
  5. The Companions–  no one can pull off a sales improvement project alone.  There are usually three types of companions:
    • Sales ops- this is a close friend.  Faithful to the hero, no matter the outcome.
    • CMO- an ally very different than our sales hero, who displays complimentary qualities.
    • A Region- every sales force has that one region that will just “get it done”.  They blindly leap when asked.
  6. The Kid– the symbol of the new sales force is a “kid”. The Kid behaves the new way. He is pure. He is the living personification of the new breed.  The Kid chooses you.  You don’t choose him. He will be the unofficial leader of the new sales force.


With these 6 heroes on your team, buy in will happen.  Your project will succeed.


A Special Offer for the Sales Ops Hero

We have a soft spot for Sales Ops Heroes. Our co-founders, Aaron and Mike, were sales ops leaders prior to founding SBI.  


On April 16th 2013, we are celebrating these heroes.  Dan Perry will reveal the 2013 Sales Ops Leaders to Watch” list at DemandCon.  If you know an outstanding sales ops leader, nominate him/her by filling out this form.  Dan will spend 30 minutes with him or her.  If your nomination qualifies, Dan will include him/her on the list.  There is no higher honor we can give a sales ops leader. 


I would like to thank you for the nomination. I will send you our latest eBook for doing so. “Sales Operations Leader’s Toolkit” by John Kenney.  Tips, tools, templates, kits, and guides to make sales ops perform at a high level.


Good luck everyone.




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 >