How the CEO Decides which Sales Leader to Promote


Share on LinkedIn

Remember in elementary school when you lined up to pick teams for football? Two captains would pick. They decided who was good. No forms, no reviews, no 360s. Good ‘ol fashioned public stack ranking. And when somebody was picked before you, it stung.

Fast forward now 30 years. Same thing happens in business. And when you aren’t picked first, it hurts. You wonder why you weren’t the top choice.

What does my peer have that I don’t?

which sales leader to promoteThe Head to Head Evaluation tool will show how you are ranked internally by your CEO. It will give you insight to answer the question. You will receive 4 benefits:

  1. Find out how your CEO ranks you.
  2. Identify the gaps holding you back from the number 1 slot.
  3. A series of activities you can do in the next 90 days to improve.
  4. Prepare yourself for faster promotion.

Your Frustration

Dave is your peer. He was picked to be on the Executive Advisory Committee. He is working on a strategic sales initiative with your boss and the CEO. This is a signal that a promotion may be coming. The last 3 people named to this group were promoted inside of 18 months regardless of department. Your boss doesn’t think you are as good as Dave. You find this troubling because your production is equal to Dave. In fact, in some quarters you beat him. So how can Dave be perceived as better?

Your Truth Serum

Your boss rarely uses your formal performance evaluation with the CEO when discussing talent. Here is how it works:

During the quarterly review, the CEO asks your boss a few key questions. The CEO lives for quick headlines and sound bites. He likes stories about you in the field driving the business. The answers determine where you are put on the real stack rank. The stack rank the CEO keeps in his head. The stack rank he use to drive strategic initiatives. The stack rank he uses to give out stock options. It is never published. But it is monetized. Ask Dave.

The questions are centered on six key components.

# 1 – Grit

Grit defined as a person with passion and persistence. How have you responded to a missed number or critical feedback? Did you blame others or did you own it?

WhyCEO needs to know he can rely on you. It is hottest the closer you get to the sun. He can’t even think about you in the next job if you are not gritty. The criticism at board meetings is nothing like a quarterly forecast review.

30 Day Improvement PlanGo ask 2 peers, 2 direct report and 2 mentors for feedback. You want an example when they have seen you buckle under pressure. What happened and what do they think is the flaw holding you back? Embrace the feedback and then take it to your boss. Tell him what you have done to identify the gap. Most importantly, have him hold you accountable to improvement.

#2 – Tolerance Level

How many C players have you fired? Can anybody look at your region and say you tolerate mediocrity? Good Sales VPs that don’t become great fire slow. An example of high standards is found here.

Why—CEO needs a tough sales leader. He doesn’t have time to listen to stories about this person or that person. He won’t guide you through it. He needs a guy who won’t tolerate mediocrity

30 Day Improvement PlanWrite down the name of the person on your team you have thought of firing continuously. You have tolerated them. Call HR. Tell them it is time for this person to leave. Liberate them and yourself. This is the move your team is wondering why you haven’t made yet. It will have a multiplier effect. The rest of your team will say “ok, time to pick it up”.

Download the Head to Head Evaluation Tool to get all 6 and tips to improve each one. Identify why your Peer might be beating you.

Your Chance to Thrive

Nobody likes a silver medal. Being left behind is not what you signed up for. Three things for you as you assess your talent against your peers:

  1. Set your baseline
  2. Choose the area with most opportunity and the associated improvement ideas. There are a series of 30 day sprints to make a splash.
  3. Be comfortable with questions. People will notice a shift but it is positive. The team and your boss will see you have found another gear. You have decided that being second is no longer acceptable.

If you have a thought, drop one below. Your peers are all trying to get an edge.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Sharrers
Matt Sharrers serves as Partner of SBI. Matt works primarily in the Fortune 500 with clients including: Ryder, Integrated Device Technology, Informatica and Danaher. Matt is the author of "Promoted to VP of Sales: The Year 1 Toolkit". His work has been profiled in Sales and Service Excellence, Sales Journal Constitution and Leadership Excellence.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here