Episode 39

Consistent Communication - The Path to Accountability and High Performance


In this episode host Lucas Price is joined by Tim Strickland to delve into cultivating clarity and accountability in high-performing sales teams. The conversation navigates through Tim's remarkable journey from real estate to leading revenue-based roles in major tech companies, providing a real-world backdrop to the discussion on building elite sales units.

Key themes include Tim's personal growth through an athletic background, transitioning from individual contributions to impactful leadership, and the role rigorous daily cadences play in driving sales results. Alongside these narratives, the episode expounds on the dynamic interplay between accountability and organizational transformation, emphasizing the patient yet determined effort to foster a culture that prioritizes these values.

Take Aways

Changing culture to foster accountability in an organization should occur incrementally, focusing on quick wins and leveraging internal change agents for support.

Regular and transparent communication, exemplified by daily stand-ups and stand-downs, provides a fertile ground for instilling clarity and accountability in teams.

Empathy and honesty, coupled with data-backed points, are crucial for effectively navigating difficult conversations in a leadership role.

Building a culture of debate and openness to feedback is essential for the continuous improvement of an organization.

The self-expectation of delivering to the fullest potential sets the foundation for a leader to drive accountability within their team.

Learn More: https://www.yardstick.team/

Connect with Lucas Price: linkedin.com/in/lucasprice1

Connect with Dr. Jim: linkedin.com/in/drjimk

Connect with Tim Strickland: linkedin.com/in/tim-strickland-4a114224

Mentioned in this episode:

BEST Outro

BEST Intro

Lucas Price: [:

today, we're going to be talking about how to do that with Tim Strickland. Tim is an advisory partner at Summit Partners. In that role, Tim works closely with Summit's investment team to identify new investment opportunities and collaborate with portfolio company leaders to help shape growth strategies and focus on long term value creation.

zations and led go to market [:

Tim held customer success and sales leadership roles at Marketo, where he was part of the leadership team that led the publicly traded company through a take private acquisition in 2016 and subsequent acquisition by Adobe in 2018. Tim, thanks for joining us today.

Tim Strickland: Yeah, Lucas, no worries. Glad to be here. How are you?

Lucas Price: I'm doing great. Yeah. I can I'd like to hear a little bit more about your background before we start talking about accountability and clarity. How did you get into sales?

y after college. Graduated in:

And then in 2008, the housing crisis hit. And so stayed at that firm. And we were, it was a custom home builder. I was there for three years the company, the firm itself did an amazing job of continuing to push through that kind of [00:02:00] down housing cycle. Ended up buying a lot of properties during that time at depressed rates.

picked back up coming out of:

And so I was like, you know what, I think I might maybe want to go try that. And so reached out to a lot of people on my network and found a gentleman who was on the board of a series, a funded B2B. Referral marketing technology business called extol got a meeting with him. Then got a meeting with the CEO and got into sales from there.

And then I worked my way up [:

I, a lot of, when some people ask me that, I just say that I stumbled into it, but but a lot of learnings along the way, just by doing and failing and succeeding and a little bit of both. And that's how I got the career path started.

Lucas Price: What do you think it was about you that led you from sales to sales leadership? Why was that a path that you chose to go down?

Tim Strickland: I think just impact, when you're managing a book of business or when you're managing a territory or when you have an individual quota, there's only so much that you can do on behalf of the broader business. And so I thought by moving into a leadership role, I could have a larger impact on the broader business.

And that ended up being the case.

ackground that gave them the [:

If you have the drive and determination, sales can be one of the easiest areas to succeed. And if you don't, it's the hardest area to succeed. What, where did you get that?

Tim Strickland: Yeah I don't know that I can point to any one thing, Lucas, other than just my, maybe my background in athletics. I played athletics growing up, multiple sports in high school, was a collegiate athlete. I think when you're in those kind of team environments and you're forced to continually compete through failure, you build resilience.

And sales is one of those things where you're going to fail an awful lot. And you've got to be confident in your ability to succeed in the face of that. And you've got to find ways to stay the path and to lean on other people for support. And so maybe that part of my background Ended up, you know driving some of the success that i've had.

ortunate too lucas. I've had [:

And so seeing that in action and seeing how they built culture and how they set up cadences inside of the business and the accountability, you already mentioned this, that they drove I've tried to take bits and pieces of all of. What I thought was successful from those leaders and wrap it in to how I operated businesses in my leadership roles as well.

at are speculative, that are [:

And so the people you work with and the things that you can learn from the people that you work with and that the dependability and reliability and resilience of those people is like incredibly important to your career because you don't get to spread your bets over six companies as an employee. Hearing you talk about how much you've learned from the people that you've worked with just reminds me of how conscientious everyone should be when they're taking a job.

Tim Strickland: Oh, for sure. It's not only that type of experience, but when you're interviewing, you always meet with the hiring manager and typically you meet with the hiring manager's boss. And I think those are really important people to suss out. And can I learn from this person? What can I learn from this person?

ortant for people as they're [:

And so I think, taking the opportunity to be conscientious in that way and learn from those individuals. I think helps you be a better leader over time. And then the spreading out your bets thing we can pull on this thread as it relates to operating, we, I think the truly successful revenue leaders find areas inside of their businesses to place bets.

And so while you may not necessarily be able to spread your bets out over multiple companies, like an investor does. You can definitely spread your bets out across your business to see which ones pick up and which ones don't. I see that happen in some companies and I don't see it happen as much as I would like to see in others.

: I think accountability and [:

Tim Strickland: It's definitely hard to be accountable if you don't know what you're being held accountable for. So yeah, I definitely feel like those things go hand in hand. It's interesting. I was in my role as an advisory partner at Summit. I do a lot of work with existing portfolio companies, and then I do a lot of work in due diligence with our deal teams who are signing letters of intent and things of that nature.

And I was on the phone, I'm engaged in a product project right now with one of the companies with which I work that is around specializing. Teams inside of their organization to give more clarity to those individuals on what they should be spending time on so that they can be better so that they can be more accountable to the business and so that the managers can hold them more accountable to the business.

get bigger, asking people to [:

Lucas Price: yeah what were the things that happened in your career that made you like elevate like accountability is a key pillar to success and building a high performing team where there, was there something that you saw that made you think this is really one of the things that I'm going to emphasize as I build out an organization?

Tim Strickland: That's a good question. If I'm in a role that's responsible for delivering revenue to an organization I am going to hold myself accountable to delivering those results, even more so than I'm going to hold my team accountable to delivering those results.

think it's really hard as a [:

If you're not the one who's pushing on that. Harder on yourself. So I think that's one piece of it. And it's also one of. it's one of the things that I've found enabled myself to be successful in my early stage career that just followed me into the later stages of my career.

Like I, I was never going to be in a position where. Even if I was going to miss a number, right? If I was going to miss a month or if I was going to miss a quarter, or if I didn't deliver a year that I wasn't going to be out there giving 150 percent of everything I had to give there. Because one, that's my job.

of that opportunity. And so [:

Lucas Price: I would imagine there's also a connection to athletics as well. I know people hear way too many sports analogies, but you played football at Princeton. I played high school football, which I know is not the same thing. But, I know in football, sometimes there's you have a job to do. And sometimes on a given play, a given call, like your job could be pretty easy and you could think I want to do more than my job. But if they run the wrong play, when you try to do more than your job, then there's going to be accountability Monday morning when you look at the tape. So I would imagine that athletics played into the idea of accountability in terms of Hey, if I do, you If I do something other than my job on this play, then, it's, there's going to be an accountability moment.

Everyone's going to see it up on the screen together.

nside of businesses that you [:

Lucas Price: What, one of the things I'm wondering about with this is and it goes back to my intro that the idea of accountability is easy, but a lot of times you go into an organization. And maybe it's some, a portfolio company you work with. Maybe it's a an organization you entered and you were like, Hey there's not the right level of accountability here.

And I'm going to be a change agent for it. And I think like being that change agent for it, there's a lot that you can do wrong. It's hard to do it the right way where the business continues to move forward. So can you tell us about like some of the challenges, things to watch out for?

swing and you miss, then it [:

It's got to happen over time, and you've got to find little wins to celebrate that kind of bring people along with you. And then you have to find the people inside of your organization who buy in early to the change that has to occur. And you've got to lean on them, and you've got to make them change agents.

It's like changing culture is not a me job, it is very much a, we job. And so find those people and lean on them and then bring other people into the organization who buy into that vision as well and lean on those folks. It is a total team effort.

inciples around the cadences [:

Tim Strickland: The one that I. I would bet actually still exists today at ZoomInfo was, and this it's actually accelerated in COVID when all of us went remote. Our teams and our managers, myself included, did daily stand ups at 8am in the morning, and we did daily stand downs at 5pm in the afternoon or 4pm in the afternoon. And it was what is our goal for today? Let's talk about that goal. Let's give the team visibility to the goal or goals. What do we want to do today? What do we want to accomplish? And then checking in at the end of the day with everybody on that team, how did we do against it? Why did we succeed? What are ways in which people are succeeding?

Didn't achieve their part of that goal? Why, what can we learn from that? How can we make that message more broad? How can we take the wins that we're seeing and communicate those out on a more regular basis? And it, if you want to drive accountability, talk to everybody every day that's part of it.

managers, myself included to [:

Not only can you remove those roadblocks, but you can give real time feedback that everybody hears. And if you do that on a regular basis, you're going to be in pretty good shape. And some people think we run 60 day sales cycles, or we're not running that many opportunities at one time. How can we get together twice a day and it'd be productive and not monotonous. Find ways to make it valuable. The people are on calls every day, all day. And there's always opportunities to give feedback where people can learn and get better.

Lucas Price: Is that something that every manager is running with their team and then as you as a leader, are you rotating between teams or what are the mechanics of how that works?

tween teams and then I would [:

Are there certain areas of the business that are being impacted by something that I need to know about that could have a negative impact on the rest of the business? How are my managers doing? Are they okay? Are they doing well? What is the culture inside of their organization?

How are their reps doing? Which reps are doing really well? Which ones need extra help? Who can I potentially elevate into leadership positions? You get a lot of visibility when you see people a lot. And so I think that's one reason why a lot of leaders want to get people back into the office.

Is so that they can have that type of interaction in person. But if you have to do it remotely, I still think it's really valuable. You learn a lot.

h that in order to bring the [:

Tim Strickland: Yeah, I think we would do, especially in the revenue organization, we would do monthly all hands calls. And that was a look back on, on the prior month, how did we do and a look at the current month that we're in, what do we need to go deliver? And then we would do quarterly all hands with the entire business, not just the revenue organization where our larger company strategic goals.

Would be reviewed for the prior quarter and then set for the next. And then our annual planning with finance, Lucas, that was the top level. Hey, what do we have to deliver? How are we going to go deliver that? If it's particularly related to revenue, what are the leverage points that we have inside of the organization to go extract growth?

o we feel like we can invest [:

But in the kind of financial planning that, that would happen every six months.

Lucas Price: Part and parcel with accountability is difficult conversations, right? Is what

Tim Strickland: you have enough of them, you get used to it pretty quick.

Lucas Price: you get used to it, but they can still go wrong. What are the things that you keep in mind in terms of like how to handle a difficult conversation? And I'm actually, I'll go first on this one and you

Tim Strickland: Yeah, go.

about what those boundaries [:

Is acknowledging and understanding and believing the other person's feelings about it. That doesn't mean accepting what they want, but it means, but being grounded in, both, this is what my boundary is and, and I believe the feelings that you have about my boundary. And so I would say those are the kinds of two things that I try to keep in mind in those difficult conversations.

Tim Strickland: The way that I would answer that, I think is two fold or maybe three. One is similar to one of the themes that you just drew on, which is basically empathy. I think, which is if you're having a difficult conversation, you're having it with somebody else or a group of other people. And so trying to understand their perspective is really important for the dialogue because you could come into a dialogue that you think is going to be a hard conversation with a preconceived notion.

the time,. Or think about a [:

And then too, when I think you still need to be honest, you need to convey your your feeling or thought or belief about a given topic. But I've always also. I think had greater success in those moments, if I can back up points with data and so empathetic and being armed with information, I think is really helpful.

one thing, but you better be [:

Lucas Price: Of great points. I think that a lot of times it, getting to the truth is the most challenging part. And and I think that can be what's challenging about empathy as well. It's like empathy is like a key part of it. But a lot of times that empathy can be like, Hey, I went in with one preconceived notion.

I've talked to this person, they've changed my preconceived notion. It was, I wrong, or am I being run over by this person? Am I being persuaded and convinced of things that are not true? And I think like balancing that and sorting through that is, one of the things that's very difficult about management.

forward or the best path to [:

And disagreement is perfectly fine. And a lot of times you'll have these quote unquote difficult conversations or debates. And walk away still disagreeing and that's perfectly okay.

Lucas Price: Great conversation here today, Tim. You've shared a lot of wisdom with us to start to wrap us up here. What do you have a couple of takeaways that our listeners should think of just to summarize if you are thinking about building more accountability into your organization and how to build more accountability into organization?

Tim Strickland: As a leader, take it slowly, celebrate quick wins, find the change agents inside of your organization to drive the change on the organization's behalf. And don't feel like you have to do it alone. Build a support system and then find people inside of your organization to champion that change.

So be very deliberate about [:

Bring people along and find the other change agents to work with you. And then, the other point is you talked about the daily standup and the daily stand down, but I think that very consistent communication, open lines of communication, really understanding what's going on within the organization helps you get to the truth that brings the accountability to the organization.

Those are some great points. Where our listeners find you online?

Tim Strickland: You can find me on LinkedIn. You can also email me at tstrickland at summitpartners. com. If you want to chat further.

Lucas Price: If you enjoyed this episode of building elite sales teams, please leave us a review and your favorite podcast app. You can find more content about building elite sales teams online at yardstick. team slash blog. And you can also find me and yardstick online as well. Thank you for joining us today.

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About your hosts

Profile picture for Lucas Price

Lucas Price

Lucas Price has nearly 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur and executive leader. He started his career as a founder of Gravity Payments. Later, as a senior executive, he built the sales team that took Zipwhip from less than $1 million to over $100 million in ARR. He has shifted his focus to solving the waste and loss of failed sales hires.
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Dr. Jim Kanichirayil

Your friendly neighborhood talent strategy nerd is the producer and sometime co-host for Building Elite Sales Teams. He's spent his career in sales and has been typically in startup b2b HRTech and TA-Tech organizations.

He's built high-performance sales teams throughout his career and is passionate about all things employee life cycle and especially employee retention and turnover.