Your CEO just gave you your marching orders.  “We’re going to organically grow the top line and profits by 30% over the next year.  We’re going to grow the sales force to make this happen.  I’ve discussed this with the Board and they agree with the strategy.  So tell me what you need to accomplish this and let’s move forward.” 

As a sales leader the opportunity to rapidly grow sales seems exciting.  You’ve got the backing of the CEO, and the Board of Directors.  You’ve got air cover.  You’ve got a mandate.  This is the stuff that great success stories are written about (and great resume’s), right?  Yes it’ll be hard work, but you can just envision a year from now when your boss recognizes your success in growing the business on a big stage.  

As the Chief Sales Officer, one of two options is now available to you.  

Option #1

Your boss, the CEO, told you to jump and you answer “How high?”  You’re going to do exactly what your CEO told you to do.  So you gather your management team and enthusiastically communicate the challenge and opportunity ahead.  They’re all for it and will help rapidly put the plan together.  You talk with your counterparts in Human Resources, Training, and Sales Operations (who will coordinate with Facilities and IT for the required resources).  They’re all behind you (after all, this comes from the CEO).  A week later, you present your formal plan to the CEO and tell her that interview scheduling is already in process.   You’re on your way to growing sales and being a visible leader in a great success story.

Option #2

You push back.  Your initial reaction is enthusiasm.  However, you're not entirely sure that this has been well thought out and, if not, you have a feeling that this might be a mistake.  You tell your CEO that before you move forward, you'd like to do some analysis that you’ll present to her in a week.  Then you and she can move forward from that point based upon her feedback.

What did you do?

So if you're a Sales leader (or have been one), take five seconds while no one is looking over your shoulder and your answer is totally anonymous, and submit in the poll to the right what you WOULD HAVE done before today, if your CEO presented the scenario in the first paragraph above?  Honestly.  

I’ll include the overall results in an upcoming post.  I'll also use a a validated scenario planning tool to illustrate some amazing insights regarding the impact of growing the sales force.  You'll want to see that, so please register at the top of this page to receive the new post.  And feel free to comment on your own experiences.