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Masterclass on Let's Talk 2021 Compensation Plans

I attended this webinar in October on compensation plans. It was the best, most data-driven conversation I’ve heard. Here’s what you can expect to learn:

Even though the economic recovery may take longer than they initially expected, there are strategies that organizations can adopt to rebound and rebuild momentum in the year ahead.

“Do the right things and the right things will happen.”

- Kristie Jones

Doing the Right Thing Requires #DisciplineI share this with founders, sales leaders, and reps on a regular basis. I truly believe that if each and every person does what they know to be the right thing then the universe will conspire to make sure the right things will happen. Things like financial security, success, promotions, work/life balance, and much more.

What’s the catch, you ask? Doing the right thing requires #Discipline!

Here are the most common #discipline struggles I see from both sale leaders and representatives:

Your Funnel is a Fantasy

It appears that there were enough deals in the pipeline and yet here you are again, a few days left in the quarter and you’re only at 52% of your Q3 goal. The quarter started out as it usually does; a “full” pipeline, reps confident they will hit quota this month, and you reporting the good news to the board. But with only a few days left neither you nor your reps feel good about how the quarter will end.

So what happened?

Are You a Self-Centered Seller?No one likes a selfish person, but that’s how a lot of sellers come across.

I tell sales reps and sales leaders daily:

“It has to be all about them before it can be all about you before it can be all about us.”

So why am I still getting emails, LI messages, and phone calls from marketing departments and sales reps only talking about the features of their product or service and not about how their product/service would help me increase revenue, reduce costs, or just make my life easier?

Let’s talk about how we can let a prospect know that’s it’s all about them.

Objections are born out of fear. Fear the prospect will spend money on something they won’t use or get value from, fear that they will look bad if it doesn’t go well, fear that others in the company won’t be open to switching vendors or spending money on some new strategy or vendor.

The best way to deal with that fear is to better understand it and get to the root cause of that fear. So put your therapist hat on and let’s go to work. 

I teach my clients that you handle objections by asking questions. I call this peeling back the onion. You need to get through all the layers to figure out what’s really at the core of the fear.

“Chose Discomfort Over Resentment”

- Brené Brown

These are awkward times. You and your sales reps are still working from home. You’re being asked to think about equality and how that might change your leadership style. You and your team are under a lot of pressure to hit the revised (or not) revenue targets you’ve been given. AND the end of the quarter is just days away. 

Like every company out there, start-ups and privately-owned companies are worried about the impact of the current economic situation.  The #1 priority is figuring out how to keep the business afloat with limited people and financial resources.

feature article1Most owners or founders have not ever led a sales team during a crisis – and are unsure how to lead, motivate, and drive the activities necessary to capture new revenue.  What made your team successful during the past 3 years will not work in the current economic climate.  Do you have experienced Sales Reps? Are you positioned with the right strategy and process to effectively sell in a crisis? 

Cutting costs will not address the lack of revenue.  To survive, you are going to have to sell your way out or risk going out of business.

You were happy with your sales team. Most of your reps were hitting at least 62% of quota. They loved working for you and the company. Who wouldn’t? Free lunch on Fridays, beer in the fridge, and you weren’t really holding them accountable to performance metrics. Life and the economy were good; until they weren’t.

As you are finding out, what worked then, won’t work now and this might include your sales reps. You need experienced hunters, with a track record of success, to help you sell your way out of this economic challenge. I know you’re not sure now is the time to bring on a new employee, but a sales rep that can bring in net new revenue during this time is an investment in your company’s future.

Last week I had the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion with John True, Managing Partner at Cultivation Capital and Adam Weber, Co-founder of Emplify, an employee engagement company, around strategies executives need to take now to position their companies for a bounce back. 

Here are the key takeaways from that discussion.

It's week 3 and the humans are starting to get on my nerves.

Week 1

Something's going on with the humans. I'm not sure what, but something is different.

I was really excited when Logan showed up, 3 weeks ago, out of the blue with all those boxes of clothes. It's been a while since he's lived here, but I remember that he thinks the floor of his room is where all things cotton should be placed - clean or dirty. My favorite are dirty socks, underwear, and shorts. I take them, chew on them, and then hide them under the bed, causing him to say, "Where the hell's my other sock." We've been playing this game for years. I think it funny he still asks the question. It's good to have him home!

Prospecting During Times of Uncertainty

These are new and unusual times. Overnight we went from a country with the Dow over 29,000, an unemployment rate under 3% and most companies seeing very healthy YoY growth rates. Now we are facing a very different reality. I believe those who are adaptable, innovative, resilient, and understand we’ll need to “SELL” our way out of this will have the best chance of coming out ahead in the next few weeks. That includes  the need to prospect and filling the top of the funnel to ensure there will be revenue (and commission) in the months to come.  

Here are some tips to help you be more comfortable reaching out to prospects during this unusual time. 

3 Clues that Your Sales Process is Broken

I worked for a CFO once who would regularly say, “That sounds like a broken process.” I got tired of hearing that, not because he was wrong, but because he was right.

I often get calls from Founders or Sales Leaders asking if I will come in and evaluate their sales reps. because they aren’t sure they’ve got the right players on the team. I gently say to them that I’d be happy to interview each rep., and provide feedback, but only after I’ve had a chance to evaluate their sales process. Most of the time I find the people aren’t broken, their sales process is. Without a formal sales process and KPI around it reps. will flounder and sales leaders will be frustrated and clean pipelines will be a fantasy.


The dictionary definition of productivity is:

  • The amount of time it takes to complete a task.

The KKJ definition:

  • The ability to identify and execute on tasks that will result in providing the highest value outcome.

So what’s the big deal? Why should sales leaders care about and measure the productivity of their sales reps? Because it matters. What I love about sales is it is the blending of art and math. I tell sales reps. I don’t care if they work harder or smarter- just hit quota! Productivity is the grease that makes the sales wheels move. Each prospecting call, email, discovery call, demo, and negotiation will all add up to success if done consistently and effectively.

stalledI was doing a pipeline audit for a client a few years ago when I ran across a sales stage called “Stalled”. What is this, I asked? “Oh- That’s where we put all the deals that we think will close someday but are currently stalled out. We don’t want to lose track of them.” WTF????

So as crazy as this sounds, they aren’t the only company I’ve run across with a similar thought process. So let’s set the record straight. Stalled is not a stage in the sales cycle!

base salarySo, sometimes I refer to myself as “The Badass Sales Leader”. I do this to set the right tone for hard conversations I need to have with Founders and Sales Leaders about behaviors I have no tolerance for, like Sales Reps. who take their base salary for granted. Let me be clear. I’m all for paying SDRs, AEs, and CSMs a base salary along with commission and bonus. What I’m not ok with is NOT getting ROI on that investment.

By now I'm sure your sales team is good at uncovering the pain points and challenges your prospects face. But are they digging to get the negative financial impact those pain points are having on the prospect’s organization? Are they able to calculate what the cost to the company is for not solving the issue? Are they able to calculate the positive revenue or negative cost impact that purchasing your product or service can have on their business and bottom line? Finding pain puts the prospect in the pipeline, understanding impact leads to more closed/won deals.

The most dangerous time in the Customer’s Journey is after the deal has been signed and before First Value Delivered (FVD) has been realized... Implementation!

It doesn’t matter if you have a self-serve ecomm product/service or sell an Enterprise software solution – Your customer MUST have a successful implementation experience or your company risks churning them in the future.

A successful implementation experience is really in the eye of the beholder – so there is no reason to guess.

Here are some questions to ask your customer during the handoff call with the sales rep. (see how I made the assumption that this is a best practice at your organization?).

T-minus 45ish days and counting. This year is coming to a close and even though you’re working hard to squeeze all the revenue you can out of 2019, it’s time to begin thinking about next year.

There are 2 ways I like to help my clients prepare for the next year:

We spend most of our life trying to add more to it. More money, more friends, more activities, more fun, and more time off. What if life, work, and sales weren’t a quantity game, but a quality game? What if you could enrich your life and work by saying “No” more often? We are over-scheduled, stressed out, and under the delusion that more is better. Saying “No” or “I wish I could” isn’t easy, but it’s better than saying yes and being resentful. #ownyourownshit

“Choose Discomfort over Resentment”

– Brene Brown

There are two areas that I introduce the addition by subtraction philosophy to my clients: People and Pipeline.

If Player Coach was a Good Idea Then the NFL Would be Doing It

I regularly speak with founders that are looking to get out of the sales leadership role but can’t justify hiring someone who’s sole responsibility is to manage a group of SDRs (Sales Development Reps) or AEs (Account Executive). Instead, they’ve decided to add a quota carrying rep who will also play the role of sales leader. I cringe each time I hear this. Here’s why...

Identifying Your Ideal Customer

If you don’t choose who you want to do business with, then your customers will choose you! And these customers might be less than perfect. Understanding your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) will dictate everything from product features or service offerings to your marketing and prospecting strategy. Here’s what you need to know to make sure everyone in your company from Product to Marketing and Sales understands who you want to do business with.

There has been so much written about the Millennials that I’m afraid we aren’t getting ready for Gen Z. They have hit the workforce and although probably not decision makers yet, they are individual contributors and their opinion matters. They don’t know a world without smartphones and technology. They are used to connecting and communicating in less personal ways; text, email, slack and chat.

Disrespectful Demos

Using the word disrespectful may seem harsh, but I need to get your attention. I’m tired of seeing Sales Reps., Sales Engineers, Solutions Consultants and Technical team members be disrespectful of the prospect’s time and intelligence while demoing their product.

According to CEB, “57% of the purchase decision is already complete before the customer even calls the supplier.” If we know this (and we do) then why aren’t we putting in the same amount of time and effort learning about our prospect and their needs as the prospect has put into learning about our industry, our company and our competitors?

article header women


Diversity and Inclusion is the HOT topic in tech right now. It’s no secret, tech is too white and too male. I believe the uncomfortable conversation will have to continue to come from women, minorities, and anyone who doesn’t currently have a seat at the table, just like the #metoo movement.

Gifts via Direct Mail

SDRs and AEs are working hard to personalize their message to prospects. Like the commercial says, “What better way to say I love you than with flowers.” Everyone loves to get something special in the mail.

Hello I am... Accountable

I’m on a quest to help companies create an accountability culture. I believe a lack of accountability is affecting many company's ability to grow revenue, keep customers, and retain high performing employees. My quest to understand why creating a culture of accountability is so difficult led me to a place I didn’t expect - the realization that accountability is very closely tied to vulnerability.

Video is working!

vidyard example

More and more of my clients are using Vidyard to send prospects and customers customized video messages as part of their outbound prospecting strategies.


I went to Atlanta last week for SalesLoft’s Rainmaker Conference. It was a great three days of networking, learning, and inspiration. I wanted to share with you my favorite sessions from my time there.