Guest Column | December 17, 2019

Why Nobody Makes Quota: Sell Stuff That Matters

By Jay Valentine,

Red Flags When Hiring Sales People

Nothing works anymore!

Nobody is making quota. We turn over sales VPs every 18 months.

Our leads suck! Prospects won’t return our calls!

Sound familiar? It certainly does to the sales reps inhabiting B2B berths today and to the CEO’s paying their salaries.

There is a simple reason everything has changed. There is a reason buyers do not want to talk to salespeople; emails are sent by the thousands and returned mostly by “unsubscribe.”


Because, boys and girls, you are selling stuff that does NOT matter.

Your products matter to you. They matter to your investors. They matter to those dependent on your company. But the customer does not care.

She does not care because she has what she needs. The key categories of database, security products, virtualization, desktop management are all pretty much filled.

You have entered the world of “nice-to-have” and you have departed the world of “must have disruption.”

Have you noticed how long it takes your marketing department to point out your true differentiators?

Nice-to-have Nth generation technologies that continually improve on the status quo are not worth the investment. They are not worth the time to evaluate.

A signature artifact of this era is the committee decision where a company evaluates multiple offerings and decides to stay with what they have. The sales teams involved spent thousands of dollars in VC funding for those pursuits. They wasted days, maybe weeks, forecasting the deal into some part of the sales funnel. It was discussed endlessly in QBRs (quarterly business reviews—a mindless exercise of B2B sales teams).

The sales rep brought her manager to innumerable calls, as if anyone really wants to meet a sales VP. That sales VP applied his or her years of training to “move the deal to this quarter.” 

Then, nothing happened.

The prospects did not return calls. They went silent. Even the “internal coach” stopped returning calls and emails.

This, dear friends, is the state of B2B tech sales today. And it is only going to get worse.

You are selling stuff that does not matter.

Executives are making big decisions and they are buying disruptive technology; just not from you.

Executives, not CIOs, but those who must deliver a P&L outcome are buying stuff that matters.

Stuff that matters is disruptive. Stuff that matters moves a decimal point one or two zeroes to the right. If your product does not increase revenue or cut costs by a factor of 10 or more, it does not much matter.

Stuff that matters can be proven, demonstrated and delivered fast. Stuff that matters makes an impact next quarter, not a year from now.

Nobody is going to pay attention to your CRM offering that is “AI driven.”  That’s a cool feature but not compelling. Have a faster database? Who cares, the customer has a dozen database vendors already. Increase app dev speed 20 percent; nobody wants to take a chance at disrupting those dev guys unless there is a spectacular payoff.

Sorry, we’ll keep what we have.

The B2B tech industry will continue to march in this failed parade. It will buy the same lists from DiscoverOrg. It will continue to invest in Marketo-SPAM email campaigns delivering decreasingly small outcomes. Marketing types will chase the shiny objects – Account Based Marketing, storytelling, hiring bald sales charlatans from LinkedIn teaching your reps to accost strangers on LinkedIn. (Social Media Marketing)

And it all fails.

Because your stuff does not matter. It does not move a decimal point.

So if you want to be successful in B2B tech sales, find a product that delivers a remarkable outcome. Find a startup because you won’t find a disruptive product from the tech dinosaurs.

You may get a lower salary. You may have to create your own leads.

But you will love going to work in the morning and people will return your calls.

Jay ValentineAbout The Author

Jay Valentine is the CEO of, bringing disruptive tech products to market without venture capital and the VP of Sales for portfolio company Cloud-Sliver.