When Sheila Crosby left WorldCom Inc. in November 2001, after 11 years developing highly-successful nationwide direct mail and outbound telemarketing programs for new cellular customers, Cox Communications Inc. offered her the chance to literally play god. She was asked to fashion a new division within the MSO and totally reinvent the way Cox did business.
“We asked Sheila to go into the then-combined sales and marketing department and just rock their worlds,” says Cox Communications Arizona vice president and regional manager Steve Rizley. “We asked her to invent her own job and, in that process, create two separate departments where there had always been one. That meant telling people, 'You’re no longer in sales; you’re in marketing.’ And vice-versa. Despite being a complete outsider, she made it work. We’ve doubled our business in three years.”
According to Cox Western Group senior vice president of operations John Dyer, “Sheila and her team have led the company in generating revenue growth units on all our product lines, including adding $300,000 in revenue in Arizona last year, and [we] will grow more this year. The most interesting thing is she’s the first and only sales vice president in the company, [but] now many [Cox] operations are developing an organizational model like Arizona’s because of the results Sheila and her team have accomplished.”
As vice president of residential sales, Crosby is responsible for all facets of sales for Cox’s largest system, Phoenix. She also oversees all sales channels for Arizona and more than 400 employees.
Although only a 37-year-old cable novice, Crosby went ahead and created three new executive positions, including a director of sales operations, a director of retail operations and a director of customer loyalty. She hired many from within Cox but wasn’t afraid to go outside. “When I arrived we didn’t have sales reports; we didn’t have quotas. Nobody could tell me what individual sales teams were doing,” Crosby explains. “I shifted an order-taking culture to a sales-generating culture.”
The shift was big for Crosby herself, as well as for Cox Arizona. “I left WorldCom because I no longer enjoyed getting up and going to work,” Crosby explains. “When Cox recruited me, I got to create something from scratch, where people who work for me enjoy coming to work.”
As for her future: “It would be great to run this program nationwide and change the whole landscape of the cable industry.”