Avoiding Organizational Complexity

February 16, 2021

Embrace full cycle reps….. again.

When did the separation of church and state, err… separation of full cycle into SDR and AE even happen? Back in 2011 a book came out called Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler, it laid out a step by step plan to have specialized sales roles. Like puka shell necklaces and frosted tips took off in the 90s, the idea of SDRs and AEs hit the beaches for some sun in the 20-teens.

The separation has evolved into this thing where people who are SDRs are somehow looked down on, as lower in the sales food chain than AEs, like they aren’t capable. Then SDRs are getting a chip on their shoulder from entitled AEs who don’t lift a finger and complain all the time. Deals are being lost because of crappy hand offs. Companies are spending time training two different groups of people that could be one. Meanwhile, back in the puka shell era, you started as a new sales person and you learned how to cold call, book the meeting(s), manage the relationship, and close the deal. At its worst the SDR/AE model looks like days of confusion and frustration.

Beyond the social swamp of issues that the separation fad has formed, you have the added unintended consequence of poor communication. Poor comms between SDR-AE, SDR-Buyer, and AE-Buyer. You know who gets screwed by this lack of communication? Everyone.

If you do a pass off poorly, it’s like a pothole. You’ve either popped the tired or jostled everyone in the car, or both. Either way, someone’s telling you to pull over and they’re finding another ride. My good friend Amy Volas just spoke to her experience of being driven down a rough road and having to find a new ride. In short, she had a great conversation with a person who she didn’t know was an SDR. She asked to see the product and the person said it wasn’t their job, he’d have to get an AE to show her, and that he wasn’t allowed to demo. Can you believe that? It went from pothole to sinkhole when the AE asked the same questions as the SDR, attempting to re-qualify Amy. She got out of that jalopy and found their competitor’s car driving on a much smoother road.

In Amy’s example, she lost her valuable time, the spectacular SDR lost a qualified prospect, the AE lost the deal, and the company lost the revenue. Sure could have been a different outcome with a full cycle sales person at the helm.
The monotony of only prospecting and taking qualifying calls makes the SDR role ripe for churn. An SDRs tenure and tolerance in their role has become shorter and shorter as they are asked to do more with more complicated channels and products. Burnout is blazing for our friends in this role. On the other end you have AE’s who think they don’t have to lift a finger unless it’s too close a deal, while complaining their deals they are getting handed are crap. If you’re in an org with these mentalities you’ve got a lot more to work on.

[Worth noting here that the best AEs have been and always will be the one consistently prospecting, even if they do have an SDR working with them.]

Enough about the quagmire of SDR/AEs, let’s talk about full cycle sales roles. You train one person to do it all and be it all. Supported by a group of other people who also do it all.

If you’re a full cycle rep reading this, stay humble. Great, you’re on top of your workflow, you have a stacked pipeline and things are going well. High five, you’re doing sales as it was intended. Keep it up! The purpose of having full cycle reps is to have continuity through the sales cycle, reps knowing what’s happening in their pipeline at all times and for efficiency.

Continuity and customer experience

Amy’s example above shows us why having one person as the main point of contact for a buyer is so important. You don’t want buyers feeling lost or passed along. This happens by having a messy pass off and making your buyers tell you everything twice. Once to the SDR and then again to the AE. Don’t be like that. Equip your SDRs with what they need to take the buyer from cold outreach to demo and maybe even beyond if the opportunity arises.


Besides the obvious of paying one person instead of two, the sales team is afforded efficiency by having a shortened buying cycle because the reps can close faster. When cold outreach turns into discovery on the same call, a full cycle rep can bring them all the way into the dock. Efficiency in the understanding of the buyer journey since they work the entire cycle every day will be heightened and everybody will be better for it.

Pipeline and deal quality

Full cycle reps have eyes on their pipeline at all times. They reps get to be the master of their own fate because they are ones in charge of filling their pipeline with quality leads. Rather than being the AEs complaining about the quality of deals being tossed at them from marketing inbounds and SDRs, they can find possible new markets, try them out quickly and move on if they aren’t a good fit. They will also have better insights into when deals could close, what makes them move faster, and which prospects are the best to chase.

This isn’t to say there aren’t amazing SDR/AE teams out there, crushing their goals and working flawlessly together. There are companies out there who do well with a separated model. I just know that a good full cycle rep can be just as successful with a lot less bullshit. Why have two people doing the job of one? Teach one to do it better.

Put that coffee down and check out these lessons from Hollywood’s most toxic sales floor.

The Playing Injured Podcast – heavy stuff in my episode. Josh Dillingham is a great host.

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No Response is a Response

February 09, 2021

“No response is a response.” 

I saw this a few weeks ago and it hit home for me. I wanted to expand on my interpretation of Brian Hamor’s tweet.

The new year seems to have exploded with tons of people starting new sales jobs. If you’re not an inherently objective person, constantly getting the “no responses” can cause a world of frustration borne from your own emotions. Before you start thinking you’re just not good at this new gig, how about we take a minute to evaluate [objectively] who you’re reaching out to.

I’m going to keep this simple, you can fight me on it if you want to:Yes, how you’re reaching out matters , and yes, who you’re reaching out to matters.
Nothing is still a response. No action is still an action and there is knowledge to be gained by receiving nothing in return. If we reduce the myriad of reasons why a prospect doesn’t reply down to the two most likely, we get:

  1. They didn’t see it
  2. They saw it and it held no value worth a response

But why didn’t they respond?! First, evaluate if your actual outreach was so impersonal and mass produced it was like your Aunt who bakes the same thing for every celebration. Everyone hates it, she knows it doesn’t get eaten, but she refuses to ask anyone what they like because one time, a new neighbor of her’s said it was delicious..and the whole family knows that new neighbor took one bite, gave it to the dog, washed the plate and said, “Oh my god Bev, that was delicious, thank you SO much”. Don’t be your Auntie.

We can handle no responses by evaluating what state your prospect is in. You can, and will want to do the evaluation during  different steps in your outreach by using hints from the prospects or company’s LinkedIn, company website, and any other way you can find out more.

From the prospects viewpoint they either have a problem and know about it or don’t know about it; or they don’t have a problem, know they don’t have it or don’t know they don’t have it. Let’s break it down in a way you can use to figure out where your prospect stands and what you should do next.
Prospects viewpoint:

  • A. Have the problem
    • i. known
    • unknown
  • B. Don’t have the problem
    • known
    • Unknown

Prospects State 

A- problem B- no prob
i- know Ai Bi
ii- don’t know Aii Bii

Pick three of your prospects in your outreach right now and use the chart.

Okay Scott, nice chart, what the hell does it mean?

A. Have a problem

Ai is when your prospect has a problem and is aware they are experiencing it. This is the Good Prospect. Arguably this is the best state because your effort can now be spent on discovering what pain the problem is causing.

Aii is when they have an issue but they don’t know about it. This is the Show Me Prospect. Your job at this point is to use your skills to help illuminate the problem. Do your research to make sure the problem exists. Don’t waste time trying to show off what pain they could be having when they don’t even know there’s a problem.

B. Don’t have a problem

Bi is when your prospect doesn’t have a problem and they know they dont have the problem your company solves for. Take a little time, build a report and ask this kind of prospect all kinds of questions. Did they ever have the issue, how are they solving it, do they know of any other folks who are experiencing it? This is the Resource Prospect. Don’t toss them away.

Bii is when your prospect doesn’t have the problem and doesn’t know they dont have it. The Time Waster Prospect. This is the bane of a sales reps existence. We’ve all wasted time with prospects who might look like they fit our icp, so we expend a ton of energy chasing them only to have to help educate them on an issue they weren’t having, and realizing there was no value if they knew about the problem or not. I’m sure you can think of several examples when you wasted time with Bii’s.

  • Ai (have problem, know they have problem) = your job is to find what their pain point(s) is
  • Aii (have problem, don’t know it) = help them realize its a problem
  • Bi (don’t have problem, know it) = use them as a resource to learn more
  • Bii (run away, run away* don’t have problem, don’t know it) = remove them from your outreach, keep an eye open for others you might have inadvertently started reaching out to

*hope some of you got the reference

Remember here that it’s a waste of time to chase a large number of prospects who you don’t know if they are experiencing pain or not. Dedicate a small amount of time to this. Managers and VPs, don’t expect stellar results if you’re asking your reps to go after both ICPs and potential ICPs. Either split up the responsibility for discovery of new ICPs or change your expectations of your team’s success rate.

By understanding the knowledge state your prospect is in, it can help you evaluate why they aren’t responding to your outreach. Using a tool to objectively evaluate your prospects also helps protect your feelings and gives you perspective on the overall quality of the organizations on your lead list. Take the information you discover and talk about it with your team. Clearly, there are tons of variables that can be added to an evaluation. My goal is to provide a simple framework to get you to start objectively thinking about why your prospects are responding, or not, to you.

Seriously, set up your own table and choose measurable variables, and let me know what you find.

TheGovCast is easily one of the top 5 events I’ve participated in. What a great group and fun podcast/live session.

Shine Talent Interviews is an interview series with Founders, CEOs and Executive Leaders hosted by Kristine Shine, Founder and CEO of executive recruiting firm Shine Talent. I joined her show recently and discussed – How to network online?

Busy podcast week for me as I was also a guest on The Modern Selling Podcast w/ Mario Martinez Jr.

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Excuse Factory is Closed

February 02, 2021


Own your success.

It’s easier to make excuses. I get it. Do the hard thing and close the excuse factory for good.

You might feel driven one day, come up with an amazing idea or plan, get the urge to execute – then wake up in the morning and it’s like being hungover. Little to no motivation or understanding how to get closer to clarity in making your idea a reality. Yet twelve hours ago you felt good; you felt confident. What happened?

So how do you own your success?

The first thing that gets in most people’s way: Excuses.

We don’t want to feel guilty so we make excuses to ease the pain.

Resist the urge to fall back on that pattern and let everyone else be really good at this. This is a powerful way to set yourself apart. It’s not self-serving and if you genuinely want to achieve your goals, it’s the first habit you need to break.

So what does this look like?

Take one step back.

One thing that kills me is seeing the new year roll around and people create resolutions without realizing their goals are too grandiose from the start. It’s a surefire way to fail and feel terrible while doing it. The obvious example is when someone creates a goal to start working out more.

What if you don’t workout at all right now? What is going to motivate you to even start getting to the gym every day? Is every day realistic in the beginning?

I’ve written about this before. In “Addicted to the Process,” I discussed the importance of setting micro-goals and building up to a macro goal..

I told myself I wanted to read more but instead of maintaining a broad goal: I’d get more specific.

What started at “I want to read more” ended up as “I want to read one book per quarter.” Clarity of focus. Attainable in scale.

After that small goal is achieved, not only does it create a positive association because it generates more “wins”, it leads you to want to do more because it’s so achievable and feels good.

So, get specific, make them measurable, and quit making excuses.

After years in the hospital, I learned that no one is going to be a better advocate for yourself than you. You need to find your internal fire to fight for what you want in your life and from your career and drive to it.

The more you leave room for excuses, the easier it will be to avoid your goals.

I wrote on LinkedIn the other day about being amongst my fellow degenerates; it ultimately led me to this place in my life.

There will be people that look at you whether you have a degree from a community college, a liberal arts degree from an esteemed university, or none at all and simply a mission to live out your dreams and they will tell you that you can’t do it.

If you listen to them,  you’ll start to believe it. So do the opposite.

Use their condescension as fuel for your fire.

Move in silence, hone humility, express gratitude, beat down the path that was paved prior and win your own way. Don’t be afraid to take the risks that others might be incapable of taking.

Some final thoughts and actionable ways to stop making excuses and own your success:

  1. Find reliance in yourself. Be your own advocate, and fight harder for your goals than anyone else.
  2. Plan accordingly. Make a schedule, stick to it as much as you possibly can.
  3. Smaller, attainable goals for more frequent wins. This is pure psychology: the more you condition yourself to feel the boost of making small wins, the more wins you’ll want to make and the larger and larger they become, you’ll have more confidence to do so.
  4. Enjoy yourself, but be committed. The road will test you, but remember: you never know how much time you have to make this goal a reality. So have fun, enjoy the journey, but be driven to it.

Owning your success and pushing excuses to the side will ultimately set you down the path you intended to be on.

So get out of your way, get off the excuse train. Own your success. Because you deserve it.

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My Fellow Salespeople

January 26, 2021

Sales is the garbage can of jobs.

The bin everybody threw their trash into.

I am that junk nobody wanted.

If you’re in sales, you just might be too.

We couldn’t get into Harvard or Stanford, and didn’t get that kush VC internship.

We weren’t smart enough or disciplined enough to go to medical school or law school.

Our liberal arts degrees cost us ~$200k and often proved worthless.

We got in trouble or made terrible decisions, and are full of flaws and weakness.

Our bosses and folks who run and build companies often don’t respect our function and wish they could automate us or even better, have an entirely self-serve purchase process.

And yet here we stand.

We refuse to give up.

We are resilient and relentless.

We buckle up every single day to do what THEY won’t do themselves.

Here we are – turning this profession on its head, and changing the way the game is being played.

Here we are – growing and developing our careers, impacting lives all around us, and out-earning everybody who told us we would never amount to a thing.

I see you my fellow degenerates.

Know your worth salespeople and sales leaders.

And use their condescension as fuel for your fire.

Surf and Sales Bonfire Session: Building a Revenue Operations Rocket Ship

Outreach Beyond Quota SKO

Did you read “From Rep to Manager” yet?

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