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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.

 

The Builder
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.

 

The Operator
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.

SBI 100 The World's Largest Sales Forces

In this issue, we rank the world’s largest sales forces.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.
Learn more about Greg Alexander >

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.

 

Video:

 

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.

 

Articles

 

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 >