21 February 2023 |

Assessing Opportunity: Turnaround Job

By Alex Alleyne

One of the toughest jobs in SaaS sales is what I call a Turnaround Job. In simple terms, it is when you walk into an underperforming team and your role is to redirect the team towards excellence.

This is typically the job that no-one else wants, because you are inheriting an existing team and therefore you immediately onboard the heavy burden of their challenges from day one.

I have been in this exact position and I have also been able to transform teams in this position at a record breaking pace.

In a follow up send, we will deep dive how you can do the same, but first, let’s unpack how to effectively qualify whether a turnaround job is for you or not.

Have you got a “skill” or “will” challenge?

You know you are staring down the barrel of a turnaround job if you are walking into underperformance.

The next question you should be asking yourself is, what is the poor performance down to?

Have you got a team of sellers who are high potential but haven’t had the support, enablement and environment to thrive.

Or are you walking into a team of sellers that have everything they need to become successful, but they lack the desire and drive to want to become great.

If it is the former, then you have a climbable mountain to conquer. If the latter, I would strongly caution your decision.

This comes down to a skill versus will challenge and this a battle in which a strong will wins everytime.

If you have a team that has the tenacity to want to become successful, your role becomes to foster an environment from which they can thrive.

Trying to ignite desire in a team that simply has none can become a close to impossible feat and one in which you may immediately set yourself up to fail.

Go High & Wide

It is critical throughout the interview process that you meet with a wide range of stakeholders to truly qualify whether you have a skill or will challenge.

Meet with the hiring manager, the people team, customer success and supporting teams to truly unpack internal and customer sentiment.

During your conversations with the hiring manager, you need to unpack how much autonomy you will have around decision making.

The last thing you want is to be in a situation where you have to turn around an underperforming team, but you lack the empowerment to be able to make early decisions to get the team on track.

You need a hiring manager that believes in you, trusts in your vision and is willing to empower you with speed of decision making to forge a new path.

Forming your decision criteria

Before you say yes to a role of this nature, you need to have key criteria to ensure you are setting both sides up for success.

One of the first areas I investigated before taking on my first turnaround job was to deep dive the market opportunity. 

If you are to get this team back on track, you need to know that the broader opportunity for the company is significant with enough runway to make a transformative difference.

A small market opportunity only ever gives you limited scope to drive change. You need to use websites such as Crunchbase and LinkedIn to look into the credibility of the C-Suite, revenue growth and how effective their big bet decisions have been to date.

You need to look into the experience level of the sellers you are inheriting. If you are walking into a team of 20 year Enterprise-level sales veterans, you are potentially looking at a tougher road in terms of shifting mindsets and perspectives to your new vision.

Whereas if you are taking on a team of early in career new sellers, there is a higher likelihood of your new vision being received with a level of open mindedness. 

You also need to get comfortable with the fact that a 90-day plan doesn’t exist with a turnaround job. You need to be able to understand the landscape and make effective decisions at pace.

Within the first 30-days, you will be expected to make some form of difference whether you like it or not. 

I recommend ensuring that you step into any new role with a clear point of view around how and where you can drive early impact. Don’t expect yourself to simply be able to figure it out on the fly.