6 Sales Leadership Lessons from Larry Ellison


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This is a reply to a question on Quora titled – “What are the characteristics of a great sales leader” – the answer was from Dan Pepper.

In the early days of Oracle, Larry still worked with the growing sales force on a frequent basis. Even before Oracle’s current headquarters were built, Larry would address the employees at the Davis Drive location in Belmont.

Then, when the 500 Building was completed at Redwood Shores, Larry would address the employees from a catwalk in the lobby atrium on Fridays or whenever there was an announcement.

Make no doubt about it – Larry was a charismatic, confident and inspirational leader.


1. Simplicity of Message

Larry had distilled all of the Oracle product offerings into this mnemonic, “CPCS.” Oracle was Compatible, Portable, Connectible and Scalable.

2. Use of Brute Force Logic

Larry used to dissect competitive products with piercing logic. After gales of laughter from listening to Larry shred the competition, you felt like an utter failure if you couldn’t carry that message forward with the same fervor.

3. Listen and Act to Remove Objections

Believe it or not, Larry can actually listen. He used to ask the sales force on a constant basis to bring him objections. Larry explained, “It’s my job to make sure you don’t have any objections – that way you don’t have any excuses.”

4. Culture of Commitment – Consistent with #3

Larry expected every sales team member to make a commitment of achieving their quarterly number or higher. You were expected to meet your commitment. If not, you were cashiered out or you left voluntarily as soon as your number looked out of reach.

5. No Cap on Success

Since Larry was already successful, he didn’t care how much money you made – jealousy was for losers. If a single sales rep was the most highly compensated Oracle employee, he was fine with that – the sky was the limit!

6. Success Breeds Success

The dynamic created by #1-5, was one where you hoped that your fellow sales reps would never lose a deal because each competitive loss made it harder for you to sell – why defend a loss?. Yet, you desperately wanted to sell more than anyone else.


Finally, Larry used to tell customers that Oracle was keenly interested in their success because Oracle’s enjoyment (license/services fees) would scale with their success. It was a virtuous cycle.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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