Great sales leaders start with ‘why’

This November, we staged the 2nd Sales Confidence live event. We were privileged to hear some of the best sales leaders in the SaaS industry speak. Everyone left inspired and motivated to act on what was said. Based on the talks at the event, we’ve put together the Sales Confidence Skills Series. Even if you couldn’t be there, you can still share the learning.

Karen Mcallister

Our second speaker was Karen Mcallister. Karen is Senior Regional VP for Communications and Media at Salesforce. I’m sure Salesforce needs no introduction! Karen is in charge of the team that sells Salesforce into telecoms and media companies, and was previously Sales Director at Oracle. The theme of Karen’s talk was ‘My leadership journey’. It was divided into 3 parts, where Karen shared 3 tips that have helped her achieve success. The first was ‘start with ‘why’’.

What is ‘why’?

You’ve probably seen the TED talk by Simon Sinek, it’s pretty well-known in entrepreneurial circles. If not, here’s a link. In this talk, Sinek shows us ‘The Golden Circle’, where ‘why’ leads to ‘how’ and then ‘what’. While all companies know exactly what they do, the best, such as Apple, know why they do it. They ‘start with ‘why’’.

Karen’s take extends this theory to sales and leadership.

‘Great leaders know why they do it. They know what they believe in. People follow great leaders if they believe in what the leader believes in. They don’t do it for money. They don’t do it for the paycheck. They do it because they want to. Great leaders inspire by talking about ‘why’. That’s the really important thing.’

What’s Salesforce’s ‘why’?

Karen then let us outsiders into what drives Salesforce. Its ‘why’.

‘Our CEO is always quoted as saying ‘the business of business is to improve the state of the world.’

Karen then related how Salesforce divides its ‘why’ into 4 key tenets. 4 key things Salesforce believe in.

‘Growth, innovation, trust and equality. Our customers are our family. Their success is our success.’

‘Notice I didn’t mention SaaS once?”

It’s true. SaaS is what Salesforce does. It isn’t why they do it. All the teams at Salesforce buy into this ‘why’, and it’s why they do good work.

Karen’s ‘why’

Karen went on to tell us about her ‘why’.

‘I believe we’re at the most exciting time for our industry. Everyone’s got a supercomputer or two in their pocket. If you’re not talking to your customers, digitally you won’t be in business. AI is here and it’s real. I talk to my customers and tell them how they can transform to connect to the digital customer. I’m passionate about that.’

‘I also believe I’ll only succeed if my team succeeds, that I’m only as good as the people around me. I need to empower my team to be the best they can be.’

Karen’s ‘why’ is helping businesses meet the challenges of today’s digital economy. She is also driven by giving her team the tools to succeed.

The value of your ‘why’?

The best thing about knowing your ‘why’ is it gets you up in the morning. You a purpose that is on a higher level than just making sales and collecting your paycheck.

Once you’ve found your ‘why’, by definition you’ll be putting your customers first. At this point, it pays dividends to think about their ‘why’. If you can draw up your ideal customer persona, and think about what’s driving them, you can appeal to that ‘why’ in your sales process.

What’s your ‘why’?

So now we know the ‘why’ that drives Karen Mcallister and Salesforce, how about you? What is your ‘why’? Why do you do what you do? Let us know in the comments below.

Oh yes, I forgot. I haven’t told you my ‘why’. Well, you can read it here.



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