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Motivation, inspiration, data and the right foundations

By Chano Fernandez

CEO, Growth & Transformation Leader

Boardwave Patron

Fast Company recently announced Chano Fernandez as one of the top CEOs in the 2022 list, according to his employees. He shared his insights with Boardwave Members about how he applied his leadership skills to scale sales at Workday.

We were recently fortunate enough to have Chano, former Co-CEO of Workday, hosting one of our Boardwave Debates @Breakfast. In his time at Workday, Chano helped scale the business from $469m to $6.2bn in nine years, alongside impressive roles at McKinsey, Infor and SAP… so it’s no wonder he was recently named one of the best CEOs in 2022. We received great feedback from Chano’s session about scaling sales and going international, so we wanted to share the highlights of his talk here for anyone who couldn’t be there on the day. So, what did Chano have to say about scaling your sales?

Getting the right foundations in place


Without the right company foundations, you’re fighting a losing battle. That means getting three things right:

Chano Fernandez, Boardwave Debates @Breakfast, February 2023

  • Great purpose, vision and strategy

  • Great culture and values

  • People (especially sales leaders) who act according to these values

Once you have the fundamentals in place, it’s time to consider the execution. That means finding…

The right go-to-market strategy


There are a number of ways to set up your GTM strategy, such as by geography, segment, industry, solution and more. It’s up to business leaders to find the priority angle and why that’s the priority angle, along with the hierarchical interaction between each of the factors.


Leaders must also consider how much the GTM strategy should evolve each year, how many accounts will change hands and what the level of disruption caused by this evolution will be. Also, importantly… how should your GTM strategy change as you prepare to enter new markets? Sales as a science

Viewing sales as a science gives you a lot of visibility over what is going on, helping you make the right decisions driven by your own data. But of course, the context around your data is extremely important.

Some of the data points to consider include:

  • KPIs - agree on a number of them that the entire organisation understands, aligns around and knows why they matter, such as sales growth, pipeline quantity and quality and productivity per head

  • Predictability - this is the most important ingredient at scale. You achieve predictability through consistent GTM operations, such as a solid sales methodology, the power of qualification and the cost of opportunity

  • Team sport - how is your full team working together? That means sales, services, pre-sales, marketing, sales operations and partners - how is everyone aligned and working towards your common goals?

Enablement and training

Enablement and training are crucial for businesses, but it needs to be a) the right amount and b) the right quality.I’m also a believer in the power of how! A proper certification process is important, as is ensuring your sales team isn’t focused on your amazing products, but on the business problems and use cases we’re solving for.

You should also understand how well your people understand the industry and are able to speak the same language as your customers.

Developing a motivated sales organisation

We didn’t do QBRs (Quarterly Business Reviews) to demotivate people when things haven’t quite worked out.

We had them to encourage the right discussions, learn what we needed to change and set clear outcomes and actions collectively.

QBRs also exist to create trust. Without trust, you don’t have high-functioning teams. You can be tough as a leader, but you must always be fair and respectful. This is how you will make your team feel inspired, motivated and believing they can succeed.

Going international

What is your initial market focus? Is your highest differentiator a good fit? How much can you take on at a time?

These are just some of the questions to consider when you’re preparing to go international with your business. Many European software leaders get distracted by their European neighbours, and focus their time and energy here instead of the large, consistent markets such as the US, which often hold more rapid growth opportunities.

Whatever you decide to do, just don’t rush it. Plan properly, get the right foundations in place and constantly check in on your data to monitor the success of your growth efforts.

Boardwave Debate @ Breakfast, February 2023

Interested in attending a future Boardwave Debate? Take a look at our upcoming events here!


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