EMC Case Study

Regional Sales Manager Skyrockets Success From #13 to #1 Region

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No. of Employees in Sales Region: 177
Industry: Storage Hardware Solutions


  • Improvement from 27% to 95% A Player Sales Representatives
  • Sales region rises from #13 out of 15 to #1 in one year

The Challenge

Being promoted to regional sales manager at EMC was, to Greg Alexander, a huge honor. But, as he put it, he was "totally unprepared for that promotion." When he joined the organization, he was told sales results were poor, but he welcomed the challenge. If sales results had been terrific, at best maybe he could sustain them. But Alexander figured that his dynamic leadership style and success in sales would inspire and motivate poor performers, so his results would shine.

Within a couple of weeks he was disheartened. He looked for reasons or credible excuses for why his region had performed poorly. “Maybe my predecessor was a terrible leader,” Alexander mused. “Or maybe the recent hurricanes killed sales for a couple of months.” Not so. Others in Sales told him, “You inherited weak people so you’ll have to be a super leader, or maybe you'll have to replace a lot of reps… or both.” Knowing he was expected to dramatically improve sales in his region, Alexander initially faltered.

“I started firing the lowest performers," he said, "but I mis-hired 75% of their replacements. I was a bull in a china shop, working 100 hours per week and getting nowhere. I was on the verge of burnout.”

"The region I inherited was 13th of 15 regions in sales volume. After Topgrading for only a year, we shot up to #1."

- Greg Alexander, Regional Sales Manager, EMC
(Later Founder and Managing Director of Sales Benchmark Index)

The Solution

Alexander launched developmental planning for all, plus Topgrading. He had heard about Topgrading through sales executives in other industries, so he spoke to Brad Smart, attended a public Topgrading Workshop, and proceeded to conduct Topgrading Interviews with his entire team, starting with the sales managers.

“Within two weeks I knew my problem," said Alexander. "My tandem Topgrading Interviews make it extremely clear to me. The people who said my team was weak were right. Most of my sales reps did not show potential to become A Players.”

Alexander moved quickly to put his whole team on Individual Development Plans (IDPs) and used his network and recruiters to build a "virtual bench" of A Players if replacements would become necessary.

Low performers mostly found other jobs on their own, knowing they would fail to reach their agreed upon quotas. Alexander was then able to quickly replace the low performers with high performers from his virtual bench of Topgraded candidates. Ultimately, he replaced almost all of his district managers and half of his sales reps.

The Results

Says Alexander, “Bottom line, the combination of Topgrading coaching and using Topgrading to replace most of my team resulted in a new A Team in the first few months."

Alexander improved his team of sales representatives from 27% A Players to 95% A Players using Topgrading. After only one year, his sales region rose from #13 out of 15 regions to #1.

Following the region's tremendous success, EMC contracted with Topgrading to roll out the methodology across all 15 regions. Greg Alexander was named Sales Manager of the Year by Sales and Marketing Management out of two thousand entries - his team had nominated him without his knowledge.

Greg Alexander's Advice to Future Topgraders:

  • Don't cut corners: "I tried conducting solo rather than Tandem Topgrading Interviews, and my number of mis-hires shot up."
  • All sales managers should use Topgrading to boost their careers.

Talk to an expert to see how Topgrading can help your organization achieve similar results. Hire more A players today!

Improve your hiring success with Topgrading. The Topgrading methodology will transform your hiring process by increasing the number of A player hires and decreasing the number of mis-hires. Our leadership and candidate assessment tools will help you assess, hire, retain, and grow high performing teams. Contact us to learn more about the Topgrading approach to hiring and start achieving better hiring results now!

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