Change is inevitable. Twenty-five percent of SBI 100 companies experienced turnover in the head of sales role over the past 12 months. When the transition from one sales leader to another is executed correctly, the change can lead to improved company performance. On the other hand, the damage done from hiring the wrong sales leader can take several quarters, and in some cases several years, to repair.
To help ensure a successful transition, the CEO and board must carefully consider the right talent mix to lead their sales organization. This is particularly challenging when the new executive is expected to make lots of changes to the sales strategy while achieving immediate revenue goals. Generally speaking, two different types of sales leader can get the job done. We call them the builder and the operator.
When you need to start something new, this executive enjoys building sales organizations and capabilities. He or she will put the ideal performance conditions into place. The builder wants autonomy and limited oversight. Hire the builder when you need a transformation.
When optimal performance conditions already exist, the operator excels at stepping right into the sales organization and executing with precision. But the operator is not a strategist.
For every three operators, there is one builder. The contrasting skill sets serve sales organizations best during various phases in the company’s journey.
For instance, Xerox and IBM have successfully brought in different types of sales leaders to drive innovation and creativity as they evolve. Both companies have undergone major business transformations, changing from sellers of technology to providers of high-value services. Such challenges are common across global enterprises seeking new ways to deliver customer and shareholder value.