"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."
— William Arthur Ward

How a Manufacturer Survived the Exit of their Sales Leader — and Top Producer

Client Manufacturing company

Business Need

A mid-sized manufacturing firm (a.k.a. ALPHA) was reeling from the unexpected resignation of their long-time VP of Sales.   Not only was he ALPHA’s top sales producer, but he left behind a sales organization that was vastly underdeveloped and struggling.  During our initial conversation with ALPHA ownership we discovered:      

  • Minimal visibility into their sales pipeline and no sales forecasting in place, causing serious cash flow issues

  • The VP of Sales position had been back-filled, but the replacement had no sales management experience

  • No formal selling process or sales training  

  • Individual sales quotas were being established, but there was no system of accountability

Cornerstone 3’s Solution 

Once ALPHA’s organizational gaps were identified, CORNERSTONE 3 (C3) designed an action plan using our “High-performing Sales Organization Model” and worked with the new VP of Sales (a.k.a. Dan) to implement it.  We started by working with the team to craft a clear, differentiated value proposition then trained the entire sales and marketing team on value-based selling (VBS).  Next, we established a sales pipeline framework and added individual reviews to the weekly sales meetings.  At year-end, we designed and implemented a “bottom up” sales planning process.  To ensure sustainability, we provided Dan with additional tools that spanned salesperson selection, individual development planning, coaching, and customer proposals.  We also created Dan’s personal development plan and coached him as he transitioned from Operations Director to VP of Sales.      


At the end of this engagement, ALPHA had much better pipeline visibility and revenues were projected to increase by 36% YOY.  The new sales forecasting process would enable Operations to plan capacity and improve the company’s cash flow.  For the salespeople who had adopted the VBS methods, close rates improved and seldom were their opportunities being won with the lowest price.  Although these gains were impressive and the key elements of a high-performing sales organization had been established, ALPHA was still at risk.  Unfortunately, a portion of the sales and marketing staff had not embraced the VBS approach and management was not confronting underperformers or replacing them.  Time will tell if ALPHA’s management has the fortitude to rigorously discuss issues, ensure accountability, and make the tough people decisions when needed.     

To learn more about our Consulting or how your organization may benefit, please contact us at (612) 599-6011 or talexander@cornerstone3.com.