Building the right culture for growth

Lessons from my career at Splunk and BMC. Written by Tom Schodorf.

Why did I write The Success Cadence?

I have helped grow multiple companies, including BMC and Splunk, into market leaders. I truly believe that culture is the key ingredient that has helped us outperform. I learned early on in my career that this starts with hiring and continues in the training and review process, particularly with your sales team.

Sales is, after all, all about building and supporting personal business relationships. High-performing salespeople are the means by which those relationships are created and sustained. You need top-tier salespeople to create and support one-on-one relationships with senior-level decision-makers. If your objective is rapid, scalable growth, you must target such salespeople in escalating numbers, recruit them, hire them, support them, and ramp them up to full capacity … quickly.

The Success Cadence sets out a viable plan for doing just that.

Part One, Laying the Foundation: learn your real job as a sales leader.

Part Two, The Calendar Matters: discover how to establish and sustain the unique organizational rhythm – the cadence – of a rapid-growth sales culture.

Part Three, From Low Growth to Rapid Growth: gain insights on how to overcome the most common obstacles to launching and supporting "hockey stick" revenue growth.

You can transform your company’s performance capacity … by consciously designing a clear daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly operational cadence for yourself and your growing sales team.

Below are some key excerpts that you may find valuable. We promote these principles at Vertica, and we share these books and materials with prospects and portfolio companies.

p. 25

Specifically, the Success Cadence process requires aculture-driven, talent-driven, data-driven approach to leadership that mostleaders, in our experience, are simply not used to and won’t commit to. Thisnew type of leadership means you accept personal responsibility for protectingthe positive working culture of the team and for putting the right people inthe right positions—not just today, not just tomorrow, but constantly lookingforward to the next 6 to 18 months. It means accepting personal responsibilityto identify, onboard, coach, and retain high-potential contributors—people whocan make a dramatic positive impact now and perhaps an even more dramaticpositive impact a year or so down the line.

p. 30

The Success Cadence has the power to create rapid, sustainable, aggressive growth—growth that is driven by the internal momentum necessary to crush your competitors and transform your organization’s culture in the process. In fact, in our experience, it’s impossible to grow rapidly and sustain that growth without transforming the culture.

The Success Cadence is marketplace rocket fuel, waiting to be ignited. It just needs your commitment to follow through—your management courage to do what it takes to turn your organization into a destination employer for high-potential contributors—starting with those who can have an immediate positive impact on the performance of the sales team.

p. 34

The Success Cadence revolution always starts within the leader of a sales team, large or small; it is always launched, modeled, promoted and defended by you, in close collaboration with the senior leadership of your company; and it always expands outward. In this revolution, the sales organization’s operating cadence eventually sets the rhythm for every other team in the organization, whether or not that team is responsible for sales. That operating rhythm challenges some core assumptions about who should be calling the shots, which is as it should be. Why? Because salespeople and company leaders are entrepreneurial in nature—and entrepreneurs with discipline are key enablers and promoters in rapid-growth organizations.


...The rest of the organization must follow the rhythm, the cadence, that you, the sales leader, establish as you carry out your responsibility to attract, onboard, support, and retain an escalating, but always targeted, number of salespeople who are both willing and able.


The Success Cadence lays out a radically different plan ofattack. In this model, the executive committee—typically the CEO/founder andthe lead finance person—sets the strategic direction of the company incollaboration with you, the sales leader. You share that strategic directionwith your team, which you are personally responsible for recruiting, retaining,and growing, and then you lead that team in creating the action plan. You workwith them to get absolute clarity on who they need to target, what territoriesthey will focus on, what resources are needed to succeed, and how you can bestsupport them. Then the rest of the organization can follow your lead andsupport the sales team as it succeeds—and expands. This is what rapid growthlooks like. If you follow the Success Cadence, steady action in support ofexpanding revenue and expanding the company’s success in the marketplacebecomes the heartbeat of the entire organization.


p. 22

Rapid growth is only possible if you are willing to moveyourself and your team out of a product-driven culture and into a sales-drivenculture, one that is focused on the acquisition and retention ofwilling-and-able people on the sales team.


Success on both the individual and the team level depends onthe up-and-to-the-right movement, not just on a single project, not just on asingle day, but for the long term.

...moving up and to the right is the core recruitingrequirement. Moving up and to the right is the cultural norm you want toidentify, retain, and reward. It is the DNA, the foundation, the guiding idea,behind the Success Cadence. Tangible evidence for moving up and to the rightneeds to drive every one of your staffing decisions.