How to harness the power of your mission statement

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This is a podcast episode titled, How to harness the power of your mission statement . The summary for this episode is: <p>We've all heard of companies having "core values," but, how do you make sure that they don't become just words on a wall? This week, Kelly Wright, seasoned board director and former EVP of sales at <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">Tableau</a>, discusses the power of staying true to your company's core mission statement. From hiring the right candidates to achieving long term goals, learn how developing a mission-centered culture can chart a company's path to success. </p>
When it comes to sales...control what you can control
02:23 MIN
The two main ingredients of any company: mission and culture
01:32 MIN
Values: Not just words on a wall
01:24 MIN
Data Breakout: How important is it to articulate your company's values?
01:07 MIN
How to ensure you're following your mission
01:49 MIN
How to use your mission to guide your long-term goals
01:40 MIN
How to remember your values as you scale
01:36 MIN
How to incorporate your mission into your hiring process
01:46 MIN
Why you NEED to ask behavioral questions during the interview process
02:40 MIN
Why authentic employees are usually the most successful salespeople
00:59 MIN a word
00:32 MIN
Micro-action: Dig for stories when interviewing a potential new hire
01:15 MIN

Devin Reed: Welcome to Reveal: The Revenue Intelligence Podcast, powered by Gong. We're your hosts, Devin Reed.

Sheena Badani: And I'm Sheena Badani. Revenue intelligence is a new way of operating based on customer reality instead of opinions, making data- driven decisions based on facts instead of opinions or guesswork.

Devin Reed: And it's made up of three success pillars; people intelligence, deal intelligence, and market intelligence, you know, the things all revenue teams need and care about. Every week, we interview senior revenue professionals and share their stories and insights on how they leverage revenue intelligence to drive success and win their market.

Sheena Badani: You'll hear how modern go- to- market teams win as a team, close revenue with critical deal insight, and execute their strategic initiatives. Plus, all the challenges that come along with it.

Devin Reed: What's going on, everybody? Devin here. I am missing my partner in crime for this intro because Sheena is on vacation. She's down in Orange County, having a great time with the kids and I hope you're making sure you take time off as well. It's very important, especially after a grueling Q1. Hope it was a good one for you. Now, I'm really excited for today's interview as I always am, because we do our best to have the best guests. And today we are talking to Kelly Breslin Wright. Now, Kelly is here for two reasons. Now, I got introduced to Kelly because she just joined Gong's board and we're proud to say she's the first woman on the board as well. That is how we got introduced. Her expertise comes into play today because she was the first sales hire at Tableau Software, and she later became head of sales by climbing the ladder and ended with thousands of sales people reporting to her. So she knows all about scale and knows all about hypergrowth. And you're going to learn a lot from her today, but the biggest takeaway is you'll learn how to make tough decisions that will help you stay true to your mission and core value. Now, a lot of times, mission statements, core values at companies can become hollow. They can become words on a wall posters on a wall, and Kelly really breaks down, one, how to ensure that doesn't happen and how everyone from the first 10 employees to the 10, 000th employee that you hire, how to make sure they align with those values. And also maybe equally as importantly is the benefits that the company will see. It's not just about revenue. It's not just about talent, but there's a lot of different levers that staying true to your mission, your core values can deliver to you. So enough from me. Let's go hang out with Kelly. Kelly, I'm very excited for you to be here. Thank you for spending some time on Reveal.

Kelly Breslin Wright: I'm excited to be here, thrilled to be here. Thank you, Sheena and Devin for having me.

Devin Reed: Of course, before we get into all the fun stuff, can you just give us a quick overview of your role as a board director for companies like Fastly, Lucid and now Gong?

Kelly Breslin Wright: Absolutely. And I'm really excited to have just joined the board of Gong. My role on the board is to be a go- to- market and a voice of someone who has sat in the operator seat to help build and scale a company before. So on those boards, you typically have the investor, the venture capital firms that invested in you. You have the executives at the company and the CEO founders, and then there's some independent directors that bring that independent voice, usually from an operator perspective. And that is me on all of these boards.

Devin Reed: I have to imagine that no day is really to you like, when you're helping out these different types of companies, probably at different stages, it's got to keep you on your toes.

Kelly Breslin Wright: Well, it's not all about being on a board. It's what I love so much about having a career in sales, is that every single day is different. Everything is fresh. Every conversation is new and being able to come to the table to be able to be present and engaged and hear what that company needs the same as hearing what the customer needs so that you can help to solve the problem in a way that's really unique and special to that company. And that's what I love about the board work is different and fresh every day and each company is really different.

Sheena Badani: So Kelly, we'd like to start by getting to know you a little bit. You started your career selling educational books door to door. What was that like and how did that shape your own career going forward?

Kelly Breslin Wright: I did. I sold books door to door and many people asked me, " Why in the world would anyone do that? That sounds like a crazy job." And it was a crazy job. So for my four summers in college when I was at Stanford, I worked for this company called the Southwestern A, where they employ college students to run their own business, selling educational books door to door. And so that's what I did for inaudible in college. I was on the west coast. I moved to the east coast to suburbs of New York city, started my own business and sold books door to door. So inaudible me. So what you in the picture, imagine me 18, 19 years old, all the way up until 21 with a 25 pound bag of books, actual physical books before everything was digital on my shoulder, briskly walking or spitting from door to door and crazy things would happen, right? Sometimes it would be pouring rain. Sometimes it would be scalding heat where you're literally, or I was literally dripping sweat. Dogs would chase you, so you're sometimes trying to inaudible over hedges where the dogs are coming inaudible your ankles. Times police would stop to find out if I'm some dangerous person that was illegally soliciting door to door, and not to mention all of that is when you show up at someone's house knocking door to door, it may be inaudible but you're not always the most welcome person when that person answering the door sees during the day. And so many times people literally would slam their door in your face. And this is when people say, " Well, Kelly, why did you do this job?" But here's the inaudible. Over the course of those four summers, I sat down and spoke to over 12, 000 families.

Sheena Badani: So based on that experience, which first of all, you not only understood human psyche better, you made money. You also got a great workout it sounds like running around through different neighborhoods. What were the top two or three foundational sales skills that you learned through that experience?

Kelly Breslin Wright: Great question. Number one is control what you can control. And this has been a foundational learning for me is, I couldn't control what the elements were in the weather. I couldn't control what the mood was of the person that answered the door. I certainly couldn't control if they felt like slamming the door on my face, but what I could control is I could control my own attitude. I could control how I showed up every day. I could control how hard I was working. Everything that was within my power to control, I tried to control. And the important part about that is when I showed up at someone's door, they didn't care. They didn't even have any perspective of what happened at the door next to them. So to take all that with me, made no sense. So definitely control what you can control. Second is, hard work goes a long way. And we, as all of our sales professional, go- to market professionals, people know that. Of course quality matters, but there is a correlation between those people who work really hard and study and try to get better. So work hard together with growth mindset to improve and then keep on going. The third is really important to learn how to emotionally connect with other people. And by speaking to 12,000 families in their home, it's not just about how you say something. It's really about how you connect and how you make them feel and being able to be present and engaged and helping them to feel important and heard. And that is really not only the basis of sales, but that's the basis of leadership and just the basis of positive human interactions and relationships. And so those would be the three foundational skills I took away.

Devin Reed: I love that. I love the, control what you can control specifically when you're talking about, the house number two has no idea what house number one just did. And-

Kelly Breslin Wright: Absolutely, they don't.

Devin Reed: And my basketball coach, no, surprise, I did not go pro so you can tell me how good this coach really was, but he told me the best shooters have a short term memory, which is, if you miss the last shot, you have to forget it immediately. But if you made that shot, use that momentum to your next one.

Kelly Breslin Wright: The thing is, is that you forget if went well or if it went bad or well, but what you don't forget is all of the practice and the learning and the trading so that you can continually improve. You want to continue to improve from what went well and more importantly from your mistakes, but you can't let them get in your head.

Devin Reed: Right, exactly.

Kelly Breslin Wright: Sometimes what is the biggest problem is what we say to ourselves. And so say positive things and keep going.

Devin Reed: Absolutely. And I'm thinking of the mental game as well when you transition that to sales. If you have six sales calls today and they're on Zoom, if you have one that goes really poorly at 9: 00. Yes, for sure learn from it, but you can't keep that negative energy or that negative mindset on your 10 o'clock call, because that's obviously only going to make you worse. And I imagine too, if you can really master this, you can avoid sales slumps which is one negative thing leading to another to another. And before you know it, it's like a domino effect of not your best output as a salesperson.

Kelly Breslin Wright: Well, I think the other thing about that is it's all in how you look at it. Sales is a law of averages game. And so the way I look at it is if there's a really bad call at nine o'clock, that means I'm that much closer to a really good call.

Devin Reed: Love it.

Kelly Breslin Wright: Because you got to get the law of averages out of your way. So all of those things that are bad, I used to... even in the day spelling books to now, the more nos you get, it means you're closer to a yes.

Devin Reed: From those memories or that experience rather, eventually you landed as the 10th employee and first sales person at Tableau when they had almost zero revenue and now you're doing board work, right? So can you share a little bit more on that career story? And we love stories. We love highlights, or maybe just things that were surprising, as you've made these transitions.

Kelly Breslin Wright: Let's see. I did start as the first sales employee, the 10th overall employee at Tableau. I joined one month before we launched version 1.0 of the product. So it was very, very early days where if people asked a 100 questions or if they asked a 100 questions and then we got objections for each of them, the answer to 99 was, no, we don't do that. It's hard to sell when you're really early days doing missionary sales. And I think that's the reason that I joined was because I loved the mission. The mission was all about, we help people see and understand the data. And that really resonated to me. So I'd been in sales my entire career except a short fray into strategic consulting. But I joined Tableau... we can talk about this more, but I joined Tableau because I believed in the mission and really smart, talented people that were really collaborative and intentional about building a team together that could go make a really positive impact. And that's what we did early days. It was about missionary selling of just doing the work to help people realize that there was a better way. And we were a disruptive company with the disruptive mission, with the disruptive business approach. And I grew with the company. I started as the first sales person, and then I continued to grow and lead the company until ultimately Tableau went... while I was there over the 12 years I was there, from zero in revenue, basically zero to 850 million roughly in revenue. I was the 10th employee to about 3, 400 employees where roughly 1800 of them rolled into my organization, which was sales and field operations. And over that time we did global expansion, we added a different products. We grew into a bifurcated motion. We were doing SMB and high velocity sales as well as enterprise sales and all of those different stages, they were different and you learned something from it, but it all threaded back to, if you can stay single threaded on follow your mission, do it in a way that is in accordance to the company's values, be able to put people at the center. Then that was all good. That was just such an incredible journey because we were all building something really special to go change the world of data and help people to be more self- sufficient to answer their own questions. And then post that, I decided, you know what? I love being able to help grow and build companies. I love sales and being able to do that in a way where you can have a positive impact, an impact on the space, positive impact on the world, positive impact on creating really great workplaces. And I decided, instead of just doing that with one company as an operator in that company, I wanted to be able to be involved with more companies that were mission centric, really trying to create great businesses at the same time, being a very fantastic workplace where could thrive and do their best work ad that were disrupting an industry. And that's why I'm doing board work now and that's what guides me in helping to select what companies I align myself with.

Sheena Badani: This is great. This is exactly where we wanted to go deep on, really understanding how the mission of a company aligns to sales strategy sales execution at ultimately the performance of the company. Maybe if we dive a little bit deeper into your experience at Tableau, it sounds like at the leadership team was very, very intentional about defining the culture, building that culture around this unified mission. Can you tell us a little bit more about how did that culture play into the sales experience and into really creating that high performance sales organization?

Kelly Breslin Wright: Well, at Tableau, we were really intentional about it. It was front and center to everything we do. And when you ask those questions about the mission and the culture, there's really two main ingredients there. One is what is the mission? So at Tableau, our mission was we help people see and understand data. And then we'll come and unpack that in a moment. Two, it is about the values. What are the core values of the company, which helps to determine how the company operates? What are the operating principles? How do you engage with employees and each other? How do you engage with your customers and your partners in the community? So let's unpack each of those separately. First with regards to our mission of help people see and understand data. Each of those words were picked very specifically to articulate and tell the story of what we do because a mission is the essence of a company. The mission is the company's why. It explains the company's purpose, the reason why the company exists. So if we look at this for Tableau, help people see and understanding that. All those words were critically important, helping people because we weren't doing it for them, we were helping them. People is that the center of this. It wasn't helping companies. It wasn't helping the business intelligence team. It was helping the actual people who are doing the work, and to help them to see and understand their data. In this whole world that now we know when there's so much data, data was growing at an exorbitant rate and diversity of data was changing every day. The whole idea was, well, people are collecting all this data and have all this data, but if they can't make sense of their data, they're not going to be able to do their best work. And the whole world had so much data, how could we empower people to be more self- sufficient to be able to make answers and make decisions based on reason, not just based on opinion and a hunch? Sounds of like what Gong's whole mission is of being able to be less about opinions, more about reality, but this is what we were all doing in the world where people didn't really even care about data. And people cared about being able to be self- sufficient, being empowered, having more fun in their job, being more productive, saving time, all that came back to, we help people. We help you see and understand data. Secondly, it was about the values. So when you think about the values, there's a whole bunch of different values that you can have, but Tableau is very thoughtful about what makes sense to Tableau. What is important here. And I can rattle off what they were because they were so central to everything we did. We had eight core values, and if you go to Tableau's homepage now or you go poke around on their career site, they're the same values. And those values are, we are on a mission, we build great products, we use our products, we work as a team, we respect each other, we are honest, we keep it simple and we delight our customers. And those weren't just words on a wall. Those were values that literally showed up every day with how we behaved. And I can give you some examples of how they worked, but they threaded through our engagement, they threaded through our differentiators, they threaded through our annual performance reviews, whatever it was, and that culture of everyone being really passionate about our mission and everyone making sure that they were operating in a way that was in accordance of our values, helped to have us be a much more inclusive place where it was much more cohesive, and everyone was very clear of what the why of our company was and that helped guide a lot of our decisions.

Devin Reed: All right, everyone. Time for the data breakout, a quick sidebar to look at the data. Creating your values and an authentic mission doesn't just guide how you serve your customers. It also sets the tone for your company's culture and impacts your ability to attract top talent. According to a Korn Ferry survey of executives, 59% of respondents said purpose and meaning are their principal drivers at work compared to just 11%, primarily driven by pay and financial rewards. And when asked about the main reason why they choose to work for one organization over another, 33% noted that the company's mission and values are most important compared to only 12% that stated pay and benefits as the main reason they would choose one job over another. Now, I knew I threw a few stats at you, but in short, if you want to build your own A-team, you need to clearly articulate your mission and values in a way that resonates with the right people. Stay tuned to the micro action at the end of the episode, for tips to help you identify the candidates who best align with your company's purpose.

Sheena Badani: I can completely see that those core values would be embodied internally. And it's probably your hiring practices to how you're managing your team to hire interacting every day. I'm curious on like the external side of things. If you you spoke to some of Tableau's customers, would they see that mission come through clearly? Would they see that interaction and how those values were embodied in the sales reps and the customer success folks and the implementation folks? Did that come through and was that seen as maybe a differentiator for the business overall?

Kelly Breslin Wright: Well, I think this is an interesting topic to cover because many companies will think that they're being really clear on their mission and values, and maybe people internally even know, but that's not felt and that energy doesn't resonate out in the broader community with employees. So this is a really important distinguisher. If you are able to talk about your mission and if you were to go ask your customers about your mission, would they know what it is and would they know what your values are? And at Tableau, I feel quite confident that that was out there. And I'll give you a few reasons why. First, on the mission. We help people see and understand data. This was front and center on our homepage. Anyone that came to our website, that was the first thing they saw. It was front and center on our about page, our career page. Everyone knew that that was what it was. And on the career page, we talked about our values too. It was talked about at the beginning of every interview that we had. This is our mission, ad why do you care about it? Everyone that we hired had to be super passionate about that mission. So that might not be the customers, but in the community, we're building that. But what happened is if you actually went to every sales call, that our mission was our first slide in every sales deck. we always started it off that way. And then we ended up having a conversation to the customer, why do you care about this? Why is this important to you? And we kept on coming back. It was in all of our sales positioning. It was in all of our sales messaging. We talked about it at our customer conferences. We talked about it when we were on our road shows. And in fact, it was so out there, it was a theme when we had our customers together. It was talked about on our forums. It was talked about in our meetups, it was talked about in our Tableau user group. It was really, really central to what we did. And it actually was, when I talk about that the mission is the essence of what you do, it was even on analyst reports and things. This is what people talked about. So if you go back specifically to Tableau, we help people see and understand data. Why was that different? It was different because we helped people to be empowered. We helped people to be self- sufficient. We helped individuals to answer their own questions. We helped people to be able to interact with their data in a way they had never done before. So every time we talked about our differentiators, it really came back through our mission. And it was a major differentiator when people were looking at Tableau vis- a- vis our other competitors. In the same way I just talked about mission, we could have this same discussion separately if you want to do that. We can on the value side.

Devin Reed: My question was teed up and then promptly answered by Kelly, which is like, you had mentioned something a few minutes ago, words on a wall. And when I'm hiring people, it's something that is asked in interviews. When I know someone applying at a company or I'm familiar with those people, it's a question that comes up. " Hey, what's it like to work there?" You describe it. And then they go, " Okay, now what's it really like to work there?" And what they're asking is, are those words on a wall or is this something that the people actually embody? I imagine, as you were scaling Tableau, there had to have been times where it's really tough to make sure that those did not become words on a wall as you added... you're adding new people and they have their own perceptions and it might evolve. I'm curious if you could share any advice of times where maybe you had like quality assurance or you saw something like, hey, actually let's not do it that way because it doesn't align with our mission.

Kelly Breslin Wright: Okay. Three things immediately came to mind.

Devin Reed: Yes.

Kelly Breslin Wright: Let me quickly walk through those three examples. For me as a sales person, I mentioned salespeople's all about storytelling and authentically connecting, so I'm going to use three specific stories. First is, we are on a mission. One of the things that we did when we were hiring people is every person we asked, why do you care about helping people see and understand data? Why is that even important to you? And you can suss out so quickly, someone wants to work at our company because they want to be on a rocket ship. Like that's what happened? " Why do you want to work here?" And people go, " Oh, I want to be part of a rocket ship." " Well, why are you passionate about our mission?" " Oh, because I want to be at a company where we're on a rocket ship." And believe it or not, a lot of people have answers around that. And what we said early days, we said, we had to find the inner geek of everyone why they cared about data. And really important, why do you care? And people had something, where they were frustrated with data or they were a data geek, or they just really cared about using reality and using facts instead of just using opinion. So that was the first way that we speced it out. Two more stories to though, which actually make you kind of question, oh, are we doing this right or not? One might be relatively early days. And this happened all the time, but early days, I'll use an example at Tableau. I remember back in the days where a$ 10,000 sale was big, because our average product was a thousand dollars, so 10,000 was big. 50,000 was huge. A 300 or$500, 000 sale with massive, was like game changing. And early days, we would have these customers that would come. And I remember one in particular, they wanted to give us a$ 300,000 purchase order and they were ready to buy, but they wanted some customization and they wanted to actually quite a bit of customization and it would have derailed our development team for a while. And so we were on this mission of, we help people see and understand data. And there was this customer that wanted to pay us just a crazy amount of money, which would have been a flagship customer, a really good referenceable name, because it was a big enterprise name, and we would have loved to have had it. But the trade- off was our mission was we help people see and understand data in the great... we wanted to help the greatest number of people and the greatest number of customers and do that as quickly as possible. But if we had taken on this one deal, we would have had to allocate a bunch of developers, which would have interrupted us on our path to not be able to help as many people in as many companies, but we would have been able to help this one. And the salespeople on my team were saying, " Kelly, you are in crazy. We could get so much closer to hitting our quota and hitting our goals for the quarter if we just did this deal." But it wasn't the right thing to do. It. Wasn't aligned with our mission of where we were going, and it was a feature that wasn't so important to the majority of our customers maybe later on down the road, but the trade off wasn't worth it. And so you'll have to make the decision to do what is right for the business with the longterm bets that's consistent with your brand and your mission, even if you're giving up short- term wins and short- term gains. That's one story. Second story. As we at Tableau started moving into the enterprise and moving more globally and hitting a higher level of scale, we needed to get people that understood enterprise and scale better. And so as we start thinking about our values, there was, well, we can go hire these people that have everything we need on the experience and the resume and what they've done before their background, their resume background, but are we willing to do that if they haven't always operated in accordance with our values? And oftentimes people want to do that because they're a 10 out of 10 on all of that experience. But at Tableau, one of our values were we work as a team and we respect each other. And so hiring people that were beat your chest really big in ego that weren't very collaborative weren't good. They weren't great fits. Also, our value was we delight our customers, and sometimes there are people that were very, very good, but they were maybe a little bit abrupt with customers and customers didn't always think they were great. And even though they could have really helped us move the needle on our business in maybe a lot of operational ways, we had to say no and stay true to our values so that we not only created a place where we were being true to ourselves, but that also created much more inclusivity and a sense of belonging because we were practicing what we preach.

Sheena Badani: I loved your point on the hiring piece, because I think that mission and adherence to the mission really starts at that part. And the question that you asked every single candidate of why are you passionate about this mission is so important. I thought that was a really, really great tip. I'm curious if you continue to look at either the hiring process or the onboarding process like these early days of when new folks were joining Tableau, how else did you continue to incorporate that mission into that process and any tips for hiring managers or companies out there?

Kelly Breslin Wright: Absolutely. I think it's not only about the mission. It is about the values too. In the org at Tableau, I was there for 12 years. At the end of my tenure there, there were about 1800 people on my team. Virtually every single person on my team had to do a demo as part of the interview process. And so why did we do that? One, we did it because we wanted them to prove we're on a mission if they care they can talk about it. But also our third value was, we're on mission. We build great products. And then the third value was we used ThreadFix. So everyone at Tableau used the products. Actually, this is going back Sheena to a question you asked a while ago about how did this show up for our customers? Actually for years, Tableau was the biggest customer of Tableau. So we had more users, we had more dashboards, more reports, more workbooks. And so we were actually living and breathing and giving product feedback all the time because we were using it. That whole DNA was really important to have within our team. And if we go back to the hiring, especially this happened when we started going more to enterprise. When we were hiring a lot of the inside sales reps or customer success or sales engineers, they love getting their hands on the product, but a lot of more experienced enterprise reps, they aren't accustomed to using the product as much. They usually had a sales engineer, whatever. So we would say, okay, part of your interview process is you need to go do a demo on Tableau, download the product, go find whatever data is interesting to you. If you don't have data, you can use some of our sample data and you need to demo it. And oftentimes what would happen, some people would get super excited. Other people would say, if you hire me, I'll go do a great demo, but I'm not going to take hours out of my day to go learn how to do a demo before you hire me. And that was wonderful when they said that, because it was like, thank you. That is the end of our interview process, we are done. Because if someone wasn't interested in actually learning about our product, they didn't want to have a growth mindset to understand what they were going to use. They didn't have the energy or the desire to understand if they were going to be passionate about this. How could they be a mission centric person if they didn't even care about getting their hands on the product before they came? And so that was one example of how we were just able to suss it out. I think a second example is just when you're asking questions in the interview process, it's not just about experience and resume and what they've done. It's a lot about behavioral interviewing. And everyone at Tableau that was on the interview slate had gone through the training on behavioral interviewing. We understood how to tease out behavioral traits. We had specific questions that we asked to be able to assess whether or not they acted in accordance with our core values. And that was really important to everyone there. As it was not only in the interview process, but in terms of maintaining that culture once they were there, because this was part of everyone's annual performance review and quarterly performance review. We were always talking about, are you living and breathing the values? Are you being a guardian of having a positive culture and a good workplace? And people didn't get promoted, even if they crushed their number, if they didn't pass that performance metric, they didn't get promoted or they didn't get additional stock grants or whatever it may be. It was really important in everything we did.

Devin Reed: That's really interesting. I've never heard that before. You said a key word, a hot phrase for me, Kelly. You said there's specific questions that we would ask, specific is the keyword for me. If it's not a trade secret of Tableau, I'd love to hear, even you've got stories for days, I'll take even one, but as many as you're willing to give us, are there specific behavioral questions that hiring managers listen can use to suss out some of those qualities, those traits of candidates?

Kelly Breslin Wright: Well, Devin, the first thing that I'll mention, which is not totally on your question, but you said, " Oh, if there are any trade secrets." Here's my philosophy on things. Okay, there's trade secrets when it comes to IP and what your product is, but let's all just do the work of sharing what it's going to take to create really positive workplaces and to help create environments where companies can have cultures of inclusiveness, belonging, and just people having really positive culture. So I will share all day long-

Devin Reed: Love it.

Kelly Breslin Wright: ...any questions that you want to ask about that. There's some of the typical ones of what are your biggest challenge? How did you deal with it? What was the conflict that you had at work? What are your best strengths? Those are ones that are just typical. Some of the ones that I love to do is I like to get to what is someone's real, true, authentic stuff. Because we all know, and this is, people have the way that they act when they're at home or with the people they feel really comfortable with. And then sometime, unfortunately people put on a mask when they're at work and they act a little bit differently and they're not truly their authentic self. And to create a really positive place of inclusion and belonging, you want everyone to bring their authentic self to work. That's how they're going to do their best work and their true voice is going to be able to resonate and have the biggest impact. So therefore, one of the questions I love to ask is, who is it that knows you best? And they'll say their spouse, their child, their mom, their best friend, whoever it is. And then I'll say, " Well, how would that person describe you?" Many people ask, how would your boss describe you, or how would your coworkers describe you? And that's a good question too, but then you get, how is that person at work? I like the answer of, are you with your authentic self? So that's one of my favorite questions. Another question I really like to ask, tell me something in your life that you're most proud about.

Devin Reed: I like that.

Kelly Breslin Wright: And this is another question people do. They always say, well, tell me your biggest accomplishment that you're most proud of at work. But when you ask it in a different way, you get their authentic self, which you can see their values. Oftentimes people will talk about their kids or something that they did philanthropically or whatever it is, but you can actually see what's their passion and what's their mission and what gets them really excited. And then you can have a line of questioning that asks more about that. What was the challenge there? What was their biggest accomplishment there? What was their biggest challenge there? And then you get to the real root of what that person really is and what that person cares about in a different way than if you keep it all based on the resume. So those are some of the questions I like.

Devin Reed: I would say, if Sheena Badani were to describe you in three words, Devin, what would she say?

Kelly Breslin Wright: Hey, we'll have to do that maybe offline.

Sheena Badani: Yeah, exactly.

Devin Reed: That will be the outro, we can do that. Now, I was going to say of those questions which I love, tell me what you're most proud about. Is there an answer that comes to mind that really wowed you or really moved you? Because I imagine you had to have asked it to quite a few candidates. Is there one that was maybe your favorite?

Kelly Breslin Wright: Okay. I'm going to ask you this in a different way. I'm going to tell you one that is not my favorite.

Devin Reed: I'll take it.

Kelly Breslin Wright: It was great that I asked it because it was very clear where the interview process went. We were hiring a very senior level enterprise manager. And this person had passed with flying colors in terms of experience, scale. You looked at the resume and the resume just fuse fit all over the place. And I asked this question, tell me something that you're most proud about. Now, remember the context. This person was being hired to be a... I think it was a third level, the second or third level sales manager. So managing managers and sales reps, and what we were always trying is to have a place where there was no big egos to create a culture of winning where everyone else always felt good. And we were big on recognition at the company. And he thought for a moment and he said, " Well, Kelly, this one moment comes to mind. It was the end of the quarter, and it was the very end of the day of the last day of the quarter. And our team was going to miss the number and everyone was down and it was very frustrating. We were trying to get a couple of big deals over, but they weren't happening. And there was just one deal that was almost lost. So I jumped on the call. I was able to get the call, saved the deal at the end. And what happened was at the very end of the day, it was close to 5: 00 and it was back in the day when there were fax machines. We're back at the end of the day, and I got word that the order was coming through. So the order came through on the fax. I told everyone to gather round, I got the whole team, they gathered around the fax machine. I took the paper off the fax. I showed everyone, " Look, team. This is how it is done." I got the deal over the finish line and we all celebrated the win. And that was the most proud moment of my career."

Devin Reed: The listeners can't see my face, but I am disgruntled. It's like-

Sheena Badani: You're shaking your head.

Devin Reed: ...if someone could lift themselves on their own shoulders, that's what just happened.

Kelly Breslin Wright: It was just everything... if you go back to our core values of, we work as a team, we're honest, it wasn't there, but it was implied that we're humble. We don't have big egos. It was just, it was so much not the personality of the people that thrived at Tableau and who would want to work for that person?

Devin Reed: Right.

Kelly Breslin Wright: Maybe some companies they would, but it... and so I think that was the opposite example of where having those questions really helped to crystallize who's right on the team and who's not right on the team. Now, I can give you hundreds of examples of ones that just delighted me. I think it's actually proves the point of what you were asking better to give an example of something that didn't fit the mold.

Sheena Badani: Very true. I have added a couple of your questions around authenticity to my question bank for interviews. So if folks are going to be interviewing with me, they know what's going to be on there too now.

Kelly Breslin Wright: Oh good. It's good because even if they know what's coming, that's how you get the best out of people. Is people want to work at a place where they're authentic. One other thing to go back, how did the customers actually know? When people are really passionate about the mission of where they work and they're really excited about the values, then actually that becomes part of this selling point. Because one of the things that they can talk about is when they're interacting with the customer, it's not only about the company story and the company's positioning, but they can also articulate their own personal story. And that's how you can authentically connect. So one of the things we did at Tableau was asking people, why are you passionate about working here? And then those salespeople incorporated that into their sales pitches. So everyone had a slightly different way, but they could talk about at their authentic way, why they cared.

Sheena Badani: So Kelly, we are going to ask you one very specific question now. This is a question that we asked all of our guests that come on the show. There's no right or wrong answer, so we're not going to vet you out. We'll still have you on Reveal. So how would you describe sales in one word?

Kelly Breslin Wright: Connection. Sales is all about emotionally connecting with others. It's about emotionally connecting with your customers. It's about helping them to feel heard and understood. One of the best ways to connect is through stories but there's many other ways that that can be done. Regardless though, the sales people who truly connect will always be the best salespeople.

Sheena Badani: This is beautiful. And connecting to your personal story, your own personal mission, I think that's a great way to build that connection with everyone internally, externally and more. Well Kelly, we loved our conversation today. Very inspirational, lots of also tactical tips. We are so excited that you were able to join us here on the show and thanks again from us and from our listeners.

Kelly Breslin Wright: Thank you for having me. What a fun conversation. Thank you both.

Devin Reed: This week's microaction is something you can put into play today. We all attempt to present the best version of ourselves during a job interview. We dress the part, prepare ahead of time in order to answer the tough questions and try to reverse engineer the steps needed to get the job. But when you're the one doing the interviewing, how do you make sure you get past the facade to understand the person behind the personal brand? Here are some interview questions you can add to Kelly's advice today, that will help you get a better sense of a candidate's authentic self. One of my favorites is this. Tell me about a time that you received feedback and put it into action. The goal is to dig for stories and give them an opportunity to really open up rather than simply give the right answer. Another good one is, what kind of problems do you love solving? Selling is problem solving, so you want to see if there's real passion behind their answer. And the last one is, why us. It's a simple classic question that uncovers what about your company's specific mission that actually matters to them. Did you like today's episode? Subscribe now, so next week's episode will be waiting for you on Monday.

Sheena Badani: And if you really like the podcast, please, leave a review. Five star reviews go a long way to help get the word out there.

Devin Reed: And if you're not ready to give a five, check out another episode and see if we've won you over by then.

Sheena Badani: And if you have any feedback or you want us to interview one of your favorite revenue leaders, just email us at reveal @ gong. io.


We've all heard of companies having "core values," but, how do you make sure that they don't become just words on a wall? This week, Kelly Wright, seasoned board director and former EVP of sales at Tableau, discusses the power of staying true to your company's core mission statement. From hiring the right candidates to achieving long term goals, learn how developing a mission-centered culture can chart a company's path to success.

Today's Host

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Danny Wasserman

|GTM Enablement

Today's Guests

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Kelly Breslin Wright

|Board Director at Fastly, Lucid, Amperity, & Even. Adjunct Professor at UW Foster. Former EVP Sales, Tableau.