Sales leaders rarely leverage the Chief Strategy Officer as a resource. Interlocking with the corporate strategy officer is placed on the same level of importance as meeting with the corporate safety goon. But when your strategy officer is the real thing, you have access to a secret weapon. It’s difficult to grow revenue faster than your industry’s growth rate and faster than your competitors. The Revenue Growth Diagnostic interactive tool will help you determine if you are likely or unlikely to make your number.


You have an opportunity to leverage the strategy officer to help you connect the corporate strategy to the sales operating plan. In the process, you build an advocate on the executive team.  It’s time to rethink your view of the strategy officer. There are three significant reasons you should care about strategy.


Recently I published a podcast recording of my interview with Julian Lighton, Chief Strategy Officer at software company Renaissance Learning. 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’s recent podcast demonstrated how the strategy officer can help a sales team.


The top three reasons why a sales leader should care about strategy deserves additional attention for our audience. Below are Julian’s top three reasons from my recent interview:


  1. Strategy Sets the Agenda and Priorities with the Executive Team 


The strategy officer tends to set the agenda and the dialogue around priorities with the executive team and the board. From a sales point of view, if you want to influence that agenda and be involved in the conversation, then it’s important to not only have a great relationship with the Head of Strategy, but to think in strategic terms.


The strategy office can help the sales leader to come up from the execution of the tactical. The team effort can work together to frame the sales objectives back into the corporate strategy framework. The sales and strategy leaders can determine precisely how sales create value and then tie it back to the strategy. Therefore, whether it be a set of customer issues or partner issues or sales team issues, it’s important to address the value drivers. That’s number one.


  1. Strategy Allocates Resources


Conversations around strategy tend to address resources. A firm’s resources are rarely elastic. Most are fixed and not variable. The conversation around resources should be able to map resources against a sales philosophy. It’s incredibly important and addresses a lot of the issues around how we’re going to use our resources to create the highest impact in the marketplace.


From a sales leader’s perspective, if he’s going to be the field general and run a campaign, having somebody who is his closest adviser, a friend who is with him on that resource train.


  1. Sales Influence in Acquisitions and Corporate Development


The third reason is to be engaged in the dialogue on whether to build, a buy, or a partner to create value. The sales force is nearly always involved in taking a build. Whatever the company creates as a set of product or services to market. They’re vitally important in terms of the partner conversation but sales are rarely involved as much as they should be in terms of the buyer conversation.


Most companies, particularly now, are making more acquisitions than they have been over the last twenty years. The acquiring of new companies come with new teams.  This includes new sales, marketing, and product teams. To be part of those dialogues and to be front and center as the voice of the customer means that there should be a healthy relationship between sales and strategy.  This gives sales the ability to influence the strategy in terms of the acquisitions and corporate development.




You should care about strategy to influence the agenda. This puts sales leaders able to make sure that the resourcing is done with all the facts on the table. Since growth is not just organic, it’s also inorganic, you want to be engaged.  The debate between build, buy, partner needs the input of sales.


Have expectations gone up and you might be 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






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 >