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Are you a CRO or a CMO? (And I don’t mean Chief Marketing Officer)

I have spent my entire career in hands-on, operational sales leadership. One phrase that has helped with my success and will forever stick in my mind is: If you help people get what they want, you will inevitably get everything you want. This includes your prospects, customers, partners, and your people.

To accomplish this in sales, you need to do a couple things:

  1. Make sure your prospects understand your solution’s Value, so that they can sell it internally with a clear, concise, business outcome-oriented proposal to their management team (most importantly no one likes to “be sold”; everyone likes to buy)
  2. For your sales teams, do they have everything to assist them in exceeding their sales goals by 25% or more?  Are you providing them with great sales enablement? Is marketing providing them with high-quality sales leads? Are you teaching and inspecting your sales teams on using your sales methodology and coaching their progress effectively?  Do they have access to true sales tools that can actually help them sell more of your solution? As I like to say, “No one gets paid till somebody sells something.”

Today it seems like there is a plethora of “sales tools” to monitor all sorts of sales metrics with the promise of helping sales reps to sell more and increase their productivity to overachieve their sales targets and help your company crush its top line goals. But we are now at the point where I keep hearing:   “We have so many sales tools we do not even use the ones we have effectively; so why would I want to add more?”

Furthermore, “We are still coming just short of our quarterly target; seeing big deals push to the next quarter, seeing deals shrink by excessive discounting, not seeing my new reps ramp up fast enough with their pipeline. In short, seeing 20% of my sales team “get it” while 80% are struggling.``

IDC puts sales tools into 11 categories:IDC Market Glance _ Sales Force Productivity & Management_sq

These products and the fine companies that sell them, all have their place. But I believe they all fall into one of two categories. Either sales management or the top of the sales funnel. For example, CRM is a huge category in the sales world, but I’m sorry, I don’t think any world-class sales rep would say it helped them sell more products. Rather, it is great for management visibility - tracking deals, pipeline, target marketing, and territory assignments. While it would be impossible for a company to scale without one, it should be called what it is, a sales management tool.

The same can be said for sales productivity tools that help with prospecting, enablement, generating quotes, and managing partner relationships. I would strongly argue that NONE of them help address the massive problem sales reps face today and will only get worse in a declining economic environment. A tool the sales reps can use themselves to help more effectively CLOSE deals faster, with lower discounts, and a higher ASP all the while forecasting accurately.

The problem I continue to see is sales funnels that look like a spinning top. Fat on the top and too skinny underneath. To be blunt, for too long we in sales leadership have bought tools that are good for management, the back office, marketing, finance, and operations while slighting the very people all success ultimately depends onthe sales rep, the rainmaker, the tip of the spear, the face of the company, the frontline in battle.

Remember the most important question in the "3 Whys" that MUST be answered to help your prospect BUY your product to solve their problems. Why BUY Now? To win against your competitors, you need to provide a simple, easy-to-understand business case. DecisionLink and its ValueCloud solution, turn your sales reps into Value sellers and conversely your prospects into Value buyers. It works like this: it allows your sales reps to build a professional business case for every prospect and every deal- no matter the size of the account.

The traditional way for presenting a business case to prospects is for the sales reps to kick it to the Value Engineering team to build the business case depending on the client (size and type) after 1 or 2 discovery meetings. This is not scalable for every sales rep for every deal. Ask yourself this question: Do you expect every sales rep to use a CRM tool via a centralized group of CRM experts for every entry? Of course not! So why would you have a centralized group of Value Engineering experts to build every business case for your sales reps? Don’t get me wrong, Value Engineers are brilliant subject matter experts and understand how to calculate the value your solution offers. But you can’t scale them linearly, it’s too costly.

With DecisionLink, every sales rep for every deal can build a business case on their own. In this world, you can leverage the Value Engineers’ expertise to build your Value selling differentiators, while devoting the bulk of their resources for the mega deals. And if you don’t have Value engineers, no worries, DecisionLink offers a turn-key service called Ignite that will jump-start your team’s Value selling journey. It provides all the necessary expertise to build out your Value differentiators into repeatable models along with rep and management coaching that insures your success.

What’s most important is as the CRO, it’s up to you to drive all Revenue on the company’s behalf. YOU need to own Value selling for your entire sales team and organization. If you want to open up the faucet at the bottom of your sales funnel, DO NOT DELEGATE THIS! Inspect what you expect. Be the expert on your Value drivers. Inspect your rep’s Business Value Assessments (BVA) to see if they are easy to understand and provide a compelling business case. Can your reps present them in a compelling way? Have they gotten quotes from the prospect’s future users of your solution agreeing with your Value drivers and outcomes? Have they gotten their prospect’s coach, champion, or economic buyer to agree with its conclusions? Have those folks agreed to use it internally with their budget holders to help them buy your solution?

As I liked to say when I led sales as the CRO, I’m a sales rep that has the biggest quota in the entire company. It is important for you to own Value selling and have your team “buy” into it. Don’t be a CMO, which for the purpose of this article stands for Chief Management Officer. A CMO flies a desk always wanting more data, delegating things like Value selling to Value engineers or sales ops, rarely gets in the mix with prospects to truly understand what the sales rep is up against, and can’t be bothered with a deal unless it’s ready to close. They may dictate a process but haven’t gotten involved with the various steps involved in the process itself. Don’t buy or implement another “sales tool” that doesn’t actually enable your sales reps to sell more now! Be a Chief Revenue Officer, after all when it comes to revenue the buck(s) stop with you. Put a tool in the sales reps hands that will help them actually close business faster, with less discounting, higher ASPs and actually close the deal when it’s committed to close. Again, help drive your company’s Value selling, and automate your sales reps Value selling capabilities with ValueCloud.

By finally putting a sales tool that will actually help them at the bottom of the sales funnel you will drive incredible sales success. They all want massive overachievement. Helping them get what they want will insure you, your company and its shareholders get everything they want.

Gone to sell,


On Tuesday, August 30 on CrowdStrike’s Earnings Call, they announced they were the 2nd fastest company to achieve $2B in ARR. CrowdStrike is a big DecisionLink customer. A quote from that call:

 “We saw them thinking about how they could spend more with CrowdStrike and reduce their overall spend in security. And as we've talked about before, we spend a lot of time in value selling and something we call our business value assessment where we actually compute an ROI, which typically is 150% within the first year. So that's the kind of strategic conversations that we're having up and down the stack. And then when you think about the macro environment, people don't want to add heads.”

George Kurtz
CrowdStrike CEO


Joe Sexton_sq

Joe Sexton is the former President of Worldwide Field Operations at AppDynamics. Prior to AppDynamics, he spent significant time in senior leadership roles at McAfee, Mercury Interactive, and CA Technologies. At each of those companies, Joe’s distinguished himself with his commitment to Customer Value which was critical to each companies’ success. Widely regarded as one of the ultimate sales leaders in the software industry, Joe’s leadership driving the growth of AppDynamics from a $12M early-stage company to a near $4B exit is a pinnacle achievement in the SaaS industry.

Joe serves on the Board of Directors of CrowdStrike, DecisionLink, Menlo Security, Contrast Security, D2IQ, and BrainBox Intelligent Marketing. He was recently on the Executive Advisory Board of PagerDuty where he helped their sales team while they transitioned from a private company to being listed on the New York Stock Exchange via a successful IPO.

Joe earned his BA in Marketing from the University of Kentucky. He is very passionate about mentorship, helping women succeed in the workplace, and teaching salespeople how to become Value Professionals.