CRO Spotlight

CROs Can't Afford to Have an Ego, With Todd Heger

July 19, 2022

CRO Spotlight

A B2B podcast for current and aspiring CROs, CEOs and other leaders. In each episode revenue experts Warren Zenna and Lupe Feld are joined by a guest as they set out to explore every last area of a business that you can leverage to generate revenue and drive meaningful change. Warren and Lupe speak your language - join their revenue crew.

In a role as complex as the CRO, it's impossible to have expertise in every area. So, how do you respond right when you're entering a new territory.

In this episode Warren and Lupe are joined by Todd Heger, CRO @ Digilant. They cover why coachability and humility are essential skills for CROs, the power of seeking advice, a quick hack to diffuse team tensions, the importance of managing talent, and why you need to insist on transparency during the interview process.


Connect with Todd on LinkedIn or at the Digilant website.

You'll find Warren and Lupe on LinkedIn too.

Empower your sales team to transform their sales. Find out more about the Create Pipeline course from Sales IQ here.

Warren Zenna
Co-Host @ CRO Spotlight Podcast + CEO @ CRO Collective
Lupe Feld
Co-Host, CRO Spotlight Podcast
Todd Heger
CRO @ Digilant

[00:00:00] Warren Zenna: Hi and welcome to the CRO Spotlight podcast. I'm Warren Zenna from the CRO collective and I'm here with my co-host Lupe Feld. Hey Lupe.

[00:00:15] Lupe Feld: Hey Warren. This is Lupe Feld, and I'm glad to be here with you.

[00:00:19] Warren Zenna: So this podcast is really for aspiring CROs and CEOs and current CROs whom are interested in learning from not only us, but the great guests that we're going to have.

[00:00:28] Lupe Feld: We're here to tell you that there is other areas of the business that can drive revenue and we're going to look and inspect and come up with some great ideas for us to bring in as much revenue as we can, and drive some meaningful change for the business.

[00:00:41] Warren Zenna: So tune in, we have some exciting opportunities coming up for a really amazing conversations and any B2B leaders I think you're really going to enjoy it. So thanks for tuning in and we look forward to seeing you.
Okay, and welcome to the next episode of the CRO Spotlight podcast. Hey Lupe, how you doing?

[00:01:04] Lupe Feld: Great, Warren, how are you today?

[00:01:05] Warren Zenna: I'm really good. So I'm real excited. We have a, a really great guest here. Todd Hager, we Todd and I have spoken many times and I've asked him to be on this podcast a while back and we sort of lost track.

I'm really glad Todd's here, Todd. Thank you.

[00:01:18] Todd Heger: Yeah. Thanks for having me. Thank you. Thank you.

[00:01:20] Warren Zenna: So Todd is the Chief Revenue Officer of Digilant which is a omni, you know, omnichannel, digital marketing media company, which I know. Well it's a pretty, pretty, a well established ad tech company. It's my old stomping grounds. So Todd, I'm gonna ask you to introduce yourself, be a little bit more eloquent about some of your background, but thanks for being here.

[00:01:39] Todd Heger: Sure. I'll do it quick and abbreviate, but I'll go all the way from the beginning. I started off in an adage on the ad agency side umpteen years ago, media buying national television national radio in New York.

I did that for about five years. Then I went to ESPN for a period of time on the international side, not as a sales guy, but as a, as a sales planner, so sales support, but I have to imagine the people that would watch this would know that role. Then I was there about two years, left the company. Then came back again.

About three years later and was there for a longer stretch both as a salesperson. And then after that, I had my first opportunity to, to run a team and then I left the organization and as luck would to have it, I guess it was luck was a little bit of planning. My wife is from new England, so we relocated up to new England.

I had to reinvent myself cuz there's no real publishers up here that are in the ad space, but there's a fair amount of ad tech. I got into digital. It was a tossup between digital and another place that was in the video space. I got a lot of advice, which I think was the beginning of me really actually chasing down a lot of outside advice, which I could talk to talk about at Naum and got into digital.

I've been here now. Boy, I think November's gonna be 10 years. Whoa. I'm not even sure if that's something to be proud of. That's something I should. Maybe round down a little bit. Some people, you know, people hear me say five years and six years and like, wow, had oil. Good for you. You've been there a long time.

But then when you start saying eight, nine, they're like, geez, maybe you're, maybe you're an old dog and you need some new tricks. So, so here I am. And like I said, I've been with the company about nine years. I came in as an individual contributor in the new England. And reported to a guy who was probably 10 years my junior and taught me a whole lot.

And, you know, I had, no, I had no issues with the, with the age thing. I just wanted to learn programmatic as fast as I could. And then that led to an opportunity to be the VP of the east coast, but do that out of, out of new England and then from there, national sales and then CRO a handful of years ago.

And then the scope of that continue. Continues to grow. In other words, my responsibilities continue to grow. So that's sort of in a nutshell,

[00:03:48] Warren Zenna: Got it. 10 years. So you came in as a salesperson?

[00:03:53] Todd Heger: Yeah, I did, I did.

[00:03:54] Warren Zenna: Got it. So you get New York background, you hear that? It's like on a podcast, they send ambulances my way.

[00:04:02] Todd Heger: Right, right on cue. Right.

[00:04:03] Warren Zenna: They're like he's on a podcast and they dispatch a, a, a, a fire truck. So I'm fascinated by and I know Lupe and I, you know, we talk about this a lot, right? This idea that it seems 98% of CROs are ultimately were once just we're we're salespeople. So. Did you have ambitions to be a CRO when you first got the job? Like how did this sort of come about?

[00:04:29] Todd Heger: Yeah, I mean, I dunno if it was ambitions to be a CRO proper I think it was ambitions to be a manager to manage people versus be a salesperson. I never really thought I was an excellent salesperson. I think I was good enough at initial conversations and storytelling about what we're, what we're selling.

And I was pretty good at simplifying it in varying jobs. Maybe, maybe oversimplifying it, but beyond that, my level of attention to detail and things like that, weren't always the best when it came to being a salesperson and managing my pipeline and all my prospects and all of that. And I was, I think, just more apt to a bigger view.

I wanted to be part of the strategy of a company I wanted to be at headquarters. That was a number one priority when I moved to new England. Right. Cause if you're a media sales guy and you moved to Boston, most of the jobs you're remote and you're phoning, you know, you're on the phone talking to headquarters in New York.

So I think that was, that was a key part. When I, when I moved here is that I wanted to be with an organization then an office here, so that, so I had head room to grow and take on responsibility.

[00:05:28] Lupe Feld: You know, I think it's a, it's interesting journey to see somebody who has done a number of different jobs and then ends up as the CRO. It, it really talks to your ability to grow and develop and your openness to learn and accept, you know, bigger challenges. And, and there's a lot of people who are probably listening, who aspire to be a CRO. And you know, what what level of risk taking, you know, did you have to do in some of the roles that you took that got you here? Was it I know it well, and I can do it. Or was it kind of learn as you to some extent?

[00:06:09] Todd Heger: Probably, I mean, it's the lame answer, but it's probably a mix of both. I had some gut instincts on markets that we needed to expand where we needed to hire people just on, based on my past experience and my network of talking to people outside the company about where they were building teams, where they were finding revenue.

So that was a big piece. That was a bit of risk because that was new. New thinking to the management. I had probably at the time, because a lot of them didn't have. Media sales background, they had more ad agency background. I realized pretty quick and I was actually told this by a buddy when I was brought into the company that that was, he thought that was the biggest value that I, I probably brought to the table right off the bat is that I'd come from a, such a large ad sales organization that I just, the basic things that I knew that I thought were table stakes.

People within this org didn't know. And mind you, I mean, back then, you know, the org had a whole lot of smart ad tech people. So I'm not. I'm not trying to speak poorly of them, but I think, you know, I, I had a, I had a good compliment to what they were, what they were missing and as for risk taking yeah, I mean, I, I think that's a large part of why I really focused on talking to people outside the org as much as I can.

And I always value that. Maybe I value that sometimes too much people think my approach is a little weird. I got no problem calling people that I don't know that aren't even prospects and aren't potential clients, but they're people that do what I do. But maybe they're five years ahead of me. Or maybe they're like Warren, who, you know, is a coach and a consultant as a business.

And I'm, and I, I got no problem to come to those folks with my hat and my hand and say, Hey, look, I'm thinking about doing a, B and C. How does this go wrong? Where are the blind spots? I'm not seeing. I probably have those kind of conversations once a week. And I've got a portfolio of, I don't know, six to eight people that I can call or text and, and run stuff like that by and they'll for the most part they'll they'll respond.

They'll help me out, which is, which is great.

[00:07:59] Warren Zenna: It's great to hear that. That's great. Sorry. I know Lupe and I both have the similar point of view on this. Not enough people ask for help.

[00:08:06] Todd Heger: Yeah. It's a sign of courage, right? People think, people think it's lame. People think, oh, Hagar's just gonna call one of his buddies.

He doesn't really know what he's doing. Like, okay. Yeah, but like, I mean, I don't have the answer to everything, but at least I got the resources to go get a bunch of pretty good answers and I'm gonna average 'em out. And, and then someone's gonna, and, and when people tell you those blind spots, I literally phrase it like that all the time.

Like, what am I not seeing? How does this go sideways? And then people will tell you stories and you're like, holy cow. And then that, you know, maybe helps me look good to my existing employer internally. I go back and tell 'em, Hey, you know what, if we do go down this path, we gotta watch out for. and then, you know, shit, if it happens, you know, even if it's an unfortunate, at least at least proves valuable.

[00:08:47] Warren Zenna: No doubt. I mean, I, you called me a couple times and I really appreciate it.

[00:08:53] Todd Heger: I think I called you in Mexico. Didn't that right? I think I, but you said let's go to once app.

[00:08:57] Warren Zenna: Yeah, I was like fine. I hit thing is, I mean, I get a lot of this but I, again, I put myself out there as. You know, as a resource, cuz it's what I like to do, but I'm surprised at how, of the amount of people that I'm talking to don't call me.

And, and again, it may be because they don't think that they, I have anything interesting to say, but you know, it also could be that, that they suffer from what you said, which is if I call somebody for help, it means something about me or it means like I'm not good at what I do or you know, it, it, that imposter syndrome thing, I think.

So I, what I'm hearing is thematically and I, I wanna highlight this is. And I agree with this. I think what, what I would say your skillset, which is knowing what you don't know and seeking advice from people that do in my view is a key component of a CRO competency because it's too complicated, a job to know everything.

So I think the best CROs understand that they need to collect data from other sources to be successful, as opposed to trying to figure out themselves. Because I've seen this consistently, like, you may not like, kind of have distinguished it that way, but I could, as I could assure you that coachability, which I, this is what this is.

Display of coachability. Yeah. Is,

[00:10:13] Todd Heger: Well, it's a lonely job, right? I had someone I had, sorry to interrupt you, Warren. I had someone, I think I said that to someone years ago and that's what led me. And you know, you talk about coaching. I mean, I, that was a big part too, right? I mean, I, someone. I had gone to for a ton of advice.

And I had finally said to her, you know, this, this is a lonely job. I'm like, I can't go to my bosses about it. One they'll think, I don't know what I'm doing and their advice, they might not have. They haven't done my job. So one they're gonna think, I don't know what I'm doing. Two, whatever they suggest. I'm not sure I can take to the bank and it's gonna work.

And I can't ask the people underneath me to the level that I need to. I mean, sure. I got some people I trust that advised me well, that are my lieutenants, that I couldn't live. But if I keep going to that, like their confidence in me could tank, like I gotta go off campus to get some advice. And then that led to an introduction to a guy.

And it was, you know, similar to you, Warren. It's like, Hey, talk to this guy, see, you've got good chemistry. Do you talk about things the same way? Do you see the industry the same way? And if that clicks you know, you gotta think about taking the guy on as a coach. I mean, I've, you know, I've got that and that's one of the people that's on my list and I've gone through little programs with him.

Part of the program, you know, it's a 10 session thing and he teaches me, you know, we talk about the things he wants to teach me in half the calls. And then the other half of the call is, you know, what's this week's news flash, what's this week's hurricane. What are you dealing with? And that stuff is just, it's invaluable. I mean, I wish I had learned that a long time ago.

[00:11:41] Warren Zenna: What shift did you think? What, what had you learn it? What made the.

[00:11:45] Todd Heger: I wanted to be, it's a combination of, I was, I wanted to be successful. I wanted to be good at this. The job that I had of managing people was important to me to be good to the people that I led.

I didn't wanna let them down. I didn't wanna let myself down because this was, this was where I wanted to be. And just like, and just fear, like a little bit of like, I don't wanna bomb this. Like, I don't wanna be scared of this. And then I got done being tired. I mean, I'm sorry. I got done being scared.

and I said, I can't be the only guy talking to people and, and, you know, and when you reach out and ask for help, again, I'm probably beating, beating this horse dead here, but like nobody ever says to you, well, geez, Hager, like how do you not know that no one says that they're always like, okay, here, let me, let me walk you through this.

[00:12:27] Lupe Feld: So often people people's ego gets the best of them and that fear of. Being viewed as less than, but every leader that I have worked with who is or worked for who is an outstanding you know, performing CEO, CFO, CRO, whatever position they're in, always seeks guidance and always, if nothing else seeks validation, am I do it?

Am I, am I right? Am I crazy? And I think that is the key to not just fighting the loneliness, loneliness of the job, but to really grow and develop and, and do the job. Right. So kudos to you for embracing it and, and publicly speaking about it, I don't know that that many people admit to it or own it. And you know, maybe this will inspire somebody else to pick up the phone and phone or make a friend. Yeah. And look, I mean,

[00:13:26] Todd Heger: I'd be lying if I I'd be lying. If I said, you know, if I didn't say, look, maybe someday I wanna be that guy. Like I would, I I'd love to be that guy. If people could call me and say, Hey, I need a little bit of help. I need a little bit of guidance to someone who's becoming a VP of Sales or I don't know, becoming a player coach somewhere.

And they're freaking out about managing someone or giving BA giving tough feedback and they don't know how to do it. Like, I'd be happy to be there. I don't, I, I, I feel like the coaching thing. there's not enough management training out there, right? No, one's getting management training that, that was cut from corporate budgets eons ago.

I'm sure there's research to prove that point. But like, I, you know, I used to work for a, a real big company and they had programs like that built in, but when you go to smaller outfits, they don't have it. And when you become a manager, it's like, okay, well, welcome. You know, Lupe, you've got four people you're responsible for figure it out.

You gotta lead 'em. And nobody coaches you on how to, how to do that. So. Yeah, I'd love to. I mean, I hope somebody I could do the same for, you know, what some of these folks have done for me. And, and you talk about ego. I mean, that's a, that's a real hot button for me. I, I remember I read somewhere in a business book again, a handful of years ago when I, I was probably late to the party of reading business or leadership books.

And there was one that just hammered home, like, you know, ego is your enemy. Like it is your enemy. Shut it down. Like you, you don't, you don't wanna be right. You wanna win, you wanna win as the team. Like, hell if you're. Like, that's not, that's not victory, great stuff.

[00:14:46] Warren Zenna: So what'll happen now is you're gonna get a lot of phone calls because you just said that on a podcast.

You, you get flooded with emails in text messages. That's a, I know it's a wish. I doubt I doubt it. Yeah. I doubt it. See, anyway, so I'm, I'm saying, you know, Todd's open for business. He wants to help you. So give him a call. So, so I, I'm curious about something. So this is really interesting to hear. So you, you were a sales person, you're an individual contributor.

You even humbly admitted. You probably weren't the best, but yet you rose to the top and became a manager. I'm curious when, when. Talk about the moment at which the CRO role first became on your radar. Like what, what was the process and the circumstances surrounding your ascendants from being a sales manager into a CRO?

[00:15:31] Todd Heger: I'm sorry. Do you mean, when was I aware you don't mean when I was aware of the title? You mean when was it gonna be in my future?

[00:15:36] Warren Zenna: No, no, no. In your company, like the point that I'm talking about, your like tr your transition from that role, when, how did that happen? Like, did someone come to you and say, we want one, or like, what was. Point at which you grad graduated, let's say from being a sales manager into a CRO.

[00:15:51] Todd Heger: Oh man, I'm probably gonna give you such a cliched answer. I, again, go back to where I said, I knew I wanted to continue to lead beyond just the sales team. And I knew that, you know, a CRO role done right. Is more, you're not ahead of sales.

I wanted to take on more. And I just started doing the. Like start filling in the voids. I mean, not stepping on toes and throwing weight around that I didn't have, but just picking up stuff like, oh, I'll take care of that. I'll take care of that. Oh, you know, what would be good? Like I'll, I'll, I'll handle this team putting out that fire with that team, which is what a CRO should do if they were overseeing both of those teams.

So I just stepped into that role and I, I, it was opportunity, right? I mean, a little bit of it was luck because that void, that void was already there.

[00:16:34] Warren Zenna: So was the company openly expressed a desire to create a Chief Revenue Officer, or did you sort of create the role by just doing more?

[00:16:43] Todd Heger: It's a little bit of both. There was a CRO before me. Who's our current CEO. She was in the role for a, a short, I think it was a short window of time. I wanna say maybe it was a year. Maybe it was, well, maybe it was less. So the title was already familiar with within the organization. Got it. And then she was moved up and then I think there was a window of time where it was still.

and that's when I, you know, and I, at that point, I think I was the SVP of sales and I was truly just running sales, which was mm-hmm I think, 16, some odd people. And then it and then it was, then I moved up to CRO and then we moved varying parts of sales support. Underneath me and we've been doing great.

We've been, you know, a lot of it's luck, a lot of it's hustle, a lot of it's hard work, but I'll take all of it. The last, last two years have been dynamite.

[00:17:24] Warren Zenna: Interesting.

[00:17:25] Lupe Feld: Yeah. I, I, I think you hit on a great point. I, I think, you know, those aspiring to get to a higher level position, have to look beyond their position.

And I think you have to. try to fix anything that's broken or not working correctly. And it's having that vision for doing better for the entire business that checks off some of the boxes that you won't get any other way and makes you ready for that next level position, whether that's becoming the SVP of sales or becoming the CRO of the business.

[00:18:00] Todd Heger: And then the big, and ideally what you're hoping is that makes you the obvious choice. And then going back to sort of throw back to something we said a moment ago I think you got a big ego. I think a lot of people with big egos have a hard time doing that. Like I'm not doing that job till I get the title.

Like, of course I'm the guy I don't need to prove to them. I don't need to pick up, you know, I don't need to change the toner and load and load the copy here. I don't need to cover all that stuff to prove I'm hustling here. Some people just, they assume they're gonna get it and they wait. and I never assumed, I never assumed it was a lock.

So I feel like I got to, I had to hustle harder.

[00:18:31] Warren Zenna: Yeah. You know, I'm hearing a couple things in this, this discussion, cuz I, we talk a lot about the competencies of a CRO. Like what makes a good one? It's a very important thing because when people who are listening to this are thinking about becoming a CRO they'd naturally think what skills does it require?

And you're demonstrating in this conversation. Two key ones, one. Humility and coachability, which we talked about before. Right? You look for help and you go and you seek answers elsewhere. You're willing to, I don't know. You know, and then the second thing you're showing here is use a word here that you're probably gonna think is like a little bit wonky it's purse capacity, which is, you know, you're going outta your way to do things way before you're asked to right.

You're not waiting to be told what to do, or you're not waiting until your title reflects what to do. You just do it because you see that it needs to be done. And those are qualities that are innate. I mean, I think you could teach people some of these things, but I honestly think those two things are just certain character things that people have, you know, you just watch 'em in their natural environment.

Yeah. Neither they're humble or they're not, or they're enterprising or they're not. So I, I think that you. By recognizing them, you can say, I wanna bring more of that to my skill sets, but you're displaying them. So that that's one thing I wanna point out because I wanna make sure we're sort of emphasizing certain things here.

But the other thing I think is interesting is it sounds to me like your company already had a good understanding of what a CRO is, would you say that's true?

[00:19:57] Todd Heger: I think they had a rough idea. The scope of it now is greater than it's ever been in the past. So that's new, but that's proven that's proven to be success.

You know, I mean, you've got better ways of putting it more, but, you know, having everyone that is client facing that is the front of the office on one team. So that they're all aligned. If they're not, and you've got three disparate teams, then you've got disagreement. Well, I can't solve for it. So then the tie breaker becomes the CEO every time.

And like the CEO doesn't have time for that. That's not, that's not a good use of resource. Mm-hmm and I also think it's better alignment to make sure that there's success. Right? So sales people are motivated. Compensated probably should say that other way around. One way and people that are in charge of delivery might be compensated another well that's that doesn't work.

You want that to be aligned as well? And guys like me, I mean, I shouldn't say guys like me, but CRO done. Is gonna have visibility on why that alignment is really important.

[00:20:54] Warren Zenna: So that was something that evolved over time. The company sort of seems like it matured in a way over time.

[00:21:01] Todd Heger: And, and look again, I I'm gonna go back to like these weren't my ideas.

I got coaching. Hey, I'm new to, I'm a, I'm a rookie CRO. What am I not doing? Well, how come this team and coaches say to me, Hey, why are buddies well, what about this team? Well, who do they roll into? Well, how are they getting paid? Well, wait, why is. and I, you know, I'd have, I don't know, behind, you know, every one of those questions , but I'd have, I I'd want to go feverishly figure it out.

So yeah, so I, I, it, it developed into that and, and it's, and it continues to work, continues to evolve. And, you know, the other challenge is that isn't always easy, right? Like sure. You're taking over other teams and your fiefdoms getting bigger, which of, you know, you gotta be careful that doesn't feed your ego because it really shouldn.

And that comes with a whole other host of problems. You gotta help teams get along that probably before didn't get along.

[00:21:46] Warren Zenna: How do you, how do you do that? I'm curious, what's your, how do you approach that issue? Because it's a big one.

[00:21:51] Todd Heger: Yeah. I I don't have a master answer for that. I know when they' issue, I always try to drill down and determine, I try to eliminate the drama.

The, the drama of the easy answer of the drama is. Operations hate sales sales, hates operations. Sales planning thinks that salespeople get paid too much and operations is overworked and you, these blanket statements and they just become dramatic kind of noise. And you really find out, maybe you've got one or two people that aren't communicating very well or aren't communicating enough, or maybe you've got someone who's, you know, really kind of negative about X, Y, and Z.

And you gotta give 'em that feedback that they've gotta be a little bit more. They've gotta change their attitude. And then at the same time, and that that's more backward looking, right? When you have existing problems that you're walking into. And then when you've got day to day ones, I try to drill down into 'em really fast to shut them down.

And I don't mean shut them down. Like, Hey guys, shut up, stop fighting in the sandbox. I mean, like, let's have a conversation. What are you really mad at? And let's try to talk about that and figure that out. And you know, little silly tactics I was taught. Tell me about the problem. Without using any names or any pronouns, it's hard.

but when you do that, then it's no longer, Hey, well, Warren showed up late and then Lupe didn't have her slides and that team sucks. They're never on time and they're never ready. And then it's more like, Hey, you know, we went to this meeting and we weren't ready. And the slides weren't there. And we started late now that I can relate to that, but you gotta take the targets out the.

I, I, I'm a big believer in that and maybe it's been effective with me. I'm not sure it always works. Talk about the problem. Talk about the business impact. Don't talk about Tom Dick or Harry. I

[00:23:33] Lupe Feld: like it. I think I'm gonna steal that one and for the future.

[00:23:37] Todd Heger: It ain't mine. So just pass it along. It ain't mine.

[00:23:40] Lupe Feld: No, I, I think that's, that's great advice. There's there's so often, you know, personalities in, you know, that's part of being human, but removing that and having you, the, the mission is to be unified in the. And sometimes that gets lost through personalities and in individual roles and the focus of the role, but everything's tied to everything else.

And if one silo breaks down because they're focused on. their own initiatives. I think the whole mission kind of goes sideways. So that's yeah. Yep. I believe that's really the, the view and the role of a CRO as well is keeping the peace and unifying the vision.

[00:24:22] Todd Heger: Yeah. And appreciation. Right's the other end of the spectrum.

Right. So after they're getting along and you think like, so, and so's doing a good job, like give appreciation often and with detail I'd, I've got a, someone on my team who says that to me, all the. Like, appreciation's great. Hey Todd, add a boy. You're doing a good job. That's nice to hear. I'm not pouring cold water on that, but if I say, Hey Warren, I really love this program.

I, you know, I love how you, you know, cut up X, Y, and Z, or the advice you gave me two months ago about compensation really hit home. And especially the point you made here. Well, shit, that, that means more to you. Like that's one, you take this more authentic and more genuine. and also you're better at being better, right?

Like people want to, people want the feedback and the bad, but they don't put enough value in the, in the accurate examples of the feedback in the good too, right. Like when you get busted and you're in trouble, it's like, what really happened? What did he say happened? People don't, but you don't ask that when you get an at boy because it would seem weird, you know.

[00:25:23] Warren Zenna: It's interesting. Right. We, we, but we've put so much detail and we're ad we're admonishing somebody. I, I completely agree. Right. You have to do it for both sides too. What, what exactly are you saying? I did good in what, what was that exactly, exactly. Well,

[00:25:35] Todd Heger: I mean, think about asking that question

[00:25:37] Warren Zenna: Generally good? Okay. Well, thanks. You know, it's. That's great.

[00:25:41] Todd Heger: Right? Like stop fishing for more compliments. Todd, Don be so

[00:25:45] Warren Zenna: Exactly. I'm I'm curious though. How big is your team? Like how big is the organization that you're currently overseeing at scope?

[00:25:51] Todd Heger: My responsibility. Yeah, right now it's just short of just short of 50.

[00:25:58] Warren Zenna: So there's 50 people that roll up to you.

[00:26:00] Todd Heger: That's right.

[00:26:01] Warren Zenna: Mm-hmm and how many of those people are like running teams?

[00:26:07] Todd Heger: Uh, six.

[00:26:09] Warren Zenna: Okay. So you have six managers who report into you? Yeah.

[00:26:12] Todd Heger: Got it. Yeah. Six lieutenants that roll directly into me and then underneath them, some of them. Managers one layer down.

[00:26:18] Warren Zenna: So coming from the context of, you know, people being like the key to success, right.

Good people. Right. Everyone knows this, right. If you have the right people in place, that your job is a lot easier, how do you manage that? How do you manage finding the right people? Coaching the right people, identifying the right people, making personnel changes. Do you have a process for this? And what was it like over the last, let's say two or three years in developing this.

[00:26:39] Todd Heger: All right. So you gotta keep me honest to make sure I answer all those questions. I'll I'll my gut reaction is to start off in to say originally I was not, I'm not good at, I wasn't good at it. It was a number one area. I wasn't, I wasn't very good at hiring. And if I got someone good, it was, I really thought it was luck.

And as a re an in compounded with that, I was also scared of getting rid of people. I, I probably should use different words, but scared of, you know, telling, putting people on a PIP or, or

[00:27:01] Warren Zenna: I understand.

[00:27:03] Todd Heger: They're not the they're not right for the organization. Mm-hmm and I was slow to do that.

So and that was another area where early on, I was struggling and, and needed a coach and soundbite that I always heard was the second you think that person isn't right. You're probably 90% there. And you actually think you're 10% there cuz making a U-turn on that thought is rare. And again, I don't have any data to prove.

but hell if it hasn't proven out nine outta 10 times, mm-hmm since then, it's, it's, it's just been a gut and go with your gut and move quickly and be fair. Right. You know, people are gonna move on and, and, but you're, but the place is gonna be okay. There's better people out there. I feel like I'm giving very kind of jargony answers.

But don't be scared of that. And you know, another example I learned of that or another. Thing that I learned helped me be a better boss to give me the confidence to move faster and to not be scared of making those changes, is that in the times where I did, and it was a long time coming and I was scared of the day after, because I just thought, shit, we're gonna be short on staff.

We're gonna be short on revenue. How are we gonna do this? The team I think, had greater confidence in me, or I won't even say it had anything to do with me. They were just relieved. Cuz they felt like the right move was made. Right. Hmm. And I never put myself into their shoes. Right. The people that hustled, the people that performed like my, my, a team who is going, Hey, Todd, I'm over here.

I'm 120% goal. And you're squeezing me on X, Y, and Z. You've got these people that are 50 to 60. They've been here a long time. Like, why are we not addressing that? They're pulling me down. right. And, and the things that go on in the head of those top performers, like, Hey, am I carrying those guys? Am I over gold?

And those guys have easy street goals. Like, why are they still here? Isn't it obvious that they're under performers. And when I saw that, that gave me greater confidence as I continued on. And I got, I, I, I tried to get better to try to accelerate how I evaluated people. And then. So that's, that's dealing with, that's sort of answering the question about the team I'm working with and and moves there.

And then the other is I don't ever stop recruiting. I just can't, I can't ever stop recruiting because I don't know when I'm gonna come across the right people, but that's a generic answer. Everyone says that I don't wait until I just have jobs open. It's normally too late. And geez. I mean, I don't know when this other people will see this on the internet, but the job market for hiring is like the last six months for guys like me it's just murder. it's just murder, finding good people. Any thoughts on this Lupe? I know you've dealt with this a lot.

[00:29:47] Lupe Feld: Yeah. It's, it's tough. You know, it's tough when you're the top producer and you are delivering and you see people that aren't delivering that are ignored and just kind of given a pass.

And so it, it takes courage. It takes courage to, to do the right thing for the business. To do the right thing for the individuals and it, it can be it can be humbling, but it, in the end, you know, you have a shared responsibility, you know, to the business, to your people. And those two things have to be in balance.

And yeah, the market is tough and some people listening now might think, well, you know, if got, if I got somebody that's delivering 50%. to goal or to quota. Yeah. Then at least I've got a body that's delivering 50%. Right. But what about the guy that's killing or gal that's killing themselves delivering 150%.

They're gonna be significantly more marketable and you might end up losing that individual. So there's, there's a lesson here totally for

[00:30:57] Todd Heger: everybody. Right. And right. And what's that mean? People always just say to me all the time, like when things, when times get. Or the market gets crazy. Your good people find the good people out there, find jobs fast.

Yep. Yeah. And then what, and then you run the risk that, you know, your good people leave because they have no confidence in you. And you're stuck with that 50 percenter that you hung onto too long. And it's like, and you know, once you live that you're like, well, I mean, that's, that's a horrible situation cuz now you're tied to that person even more, cuz you'd rather, you know, 50% of something than zero when you try to bring someone new in.

Right. So But I, I, I never say I'm great at this I'm hiring. Hiring is tough. I, I rely on a lot of people that I work with, who I really trust to help me interview people who are better at evaluat. Certain capabilities that I'm,

[00:31:43] Warren Zenna: I'm just not, do you do it by committee or like what's the process of bringing on someone new?

Is it you? I mean, cuz I, I developed a process after a while which worked, but took me time to figure it out. I'm curious if you had one,

[00:31:55] Todd Heger: I don't have a formal process. I've got about three people within the org. If I get, if I can get, at least if I get all three of them to have talked to the person or at least two I, I, I really trust their feedback again because they're just, they're able to evaluate and sniff out things that I.

That I'm just not, I'm not that great at yep. But I'm also, again, current job market, like issue. You gotta be careful how many people you put 'em in front of like that, cuz that costs you time. I had someone recently tell me I get a kick out of this. I love this. And again, no data to prove it's just a nugget, but it's a, it's an interesting, they said when you first get a candidate and you get their resume and you have your first interview, you've got seven business days to pull the otherwise assumed they could just be gone that. You can

[00:32:40] Warren Zenna: Almost like a York city apartment, right? It's like, you can get right better show the cash. You put money down. When you, when you walk in with some cash, you're gonna lose the, lose the rent. Right. It's crazy. It's amazing. Right. It's really is a, is a, is a employer's market right now.

I, you know, you, you remind me of something. I wanna switch to a different topic, but I wanna hit on something first. And that is, you know, when you're working underneath a executive and you're on that executive team and that there, there are people on the team who aren't performing or they don't fit in, or they're creating issues.

It's it's really a very stressful and difficult thing to be almost held hostage by the inaction of your leader to take action. Cuz you can't do anything. You can't fire the person, you have to work with them. And I remember, yeah, when I was running a team, I was, I was an executive. I was running a team and there was a couple of like, let's say you know bad apples, you know, on the team that were really bringing the team down.

The I realized the longer it took me to take action on it. The longer I was holding my other good people hostage to this situation. Right. Right. So it taught me to go, you know, it's not just about whether I think they're good. It's like, I need to keep my people. In a good situation, right? You keep them care of them.

You know, and I can't think about my own concerns around letting somebody go. It's like, if I'm seeing my best people are being brought down, then I can't have that happen. It was a big eye opening thing for me. It really got me to change the way I perceive things. So I, I appreciate you acknowledging that.

And I think it's a great competency for CROs to know how, and when it's time to move the things around, to make sure that your best people are in the best environment they can to.

[00:34:16] Todd Heger: Right. And if those people are in the best environment, that should better your business, right? So

[00:34:21] Warren Zenna: A hundred percent, everything goes up at that point.

[00:34:23] Todd Heger: Right? Right. It's like, what, again, another catch phrase I'll give you is like, like leadership eats last, right? I should be the lowest priority. If I can, if I can make things as good as possible for my best people, my best people will perform performance equals revenue, profit, whatever your metric is. And then the company does better and the team win.

I mean, that's, that's how I operate or that's how I think

[00:34:45] Warren Zenna: A hundred percent. That's great. So I wanna switch gears cuz we didn't talk about this yet. And before we sign off, I wanna make sure we get the, to how, if you're talking to a CEO right now, who's in the process of thinking about either a. Promoting somebody to be a CRO or hiring one from the outside.

What are some things or advice or perspectives that you could give a CEO around bringing a CRO on and what the best way to ensure that CRO succeeds?

[00:35:12] Todd Heger: Oh boy. I wish I had more time to think about this one. Warren can bring you on again. I think, I think most, I think most immediately it's and these are probably more questions I'd have for the CEOs.

Like what are you trying to solve? That your head of sales isn't solving, right? Whether you wanna bring someone in from the outside or in, from the outside, or you wanna move someone up, are you hoping to drive greater revenue and have more sales or are you trying to have greater synergies and processes internally?

I, I feel like that's the most immediate win is the, is just the internal organization. If it's done right. If you think you're gonna bring a CRO, cause they're gonna hit it outta the park and they gotta Rolodex and they're gonna go sell you more. You, you don't need that. That's not your, I mean, sure.

Them some could, but that's not you, you could do, you could save some money and do that by other means. I think you're, if you're doing it for the right reasons, you're doing it for more organizational reasons. Maybe you've maybe you've got teams that are at each other's throats and you've gotta smooth that out in.

And then maybe they're at each other's throats to the point where it's people leaving and it's actually hurting the bottom line. Right? Cause you got one team that's measured to hit a crazy profit number by a month or a quarter. Then you've got a sales team that's measured to hit a revenue revenue number by a year.

Well, that may sound like a small difference, but trust me, you let that run for a while. You you've got, you got a lot of battles internally because you got a lot of. I dunno, it's the best answer. Best answer I can give you.

[00:36:40] Warren Zenna: That's excellent. So, okay. No, no, it's it, it it's great. So, okay. So, so let's say they take your council and, and they determine that they need somebody to really come in and create alignment.

What's the way that you believe a CRO needs to be best supported to do that job. What are the things that CROs need in order to do that effectively and win in the role?

[00:37:02] Todd Heger: Well, the first one they need is time where you need an understanding of what that timeline is. Cause that's not gonna happen over. You've gotta come in.

You've gotta assess the team. You've gotta see if they're welcoming into the idea of a CRO. And again, I'm going with your scenario that they never had one before. So that's gonna take some adjustment on what the heck is this guy or gal gonna do. Then they've gotta come in and actually assess what they're working with.

Then they need the time to actually make the changes. If changes need to be made. With either personnel or process or structure, and then that needs time to actually get some traction and prove out loop any thoughts?

[00:37:32] Lupe Feld: Yeah, I think they'd also, I wanna make sure that they have the right you know, this is an obvious one, but the, the oversight on all the teams that are maybe not aligned or creating mischief with each other, just to make sure that they had the, the ability to have a voice that will be listened to and assessed.

[00:37:53] Todd Heger: And you know what, one other one that actually just came to mind. Again, I know I'm gonna have a way better answer for this warrant in about an hour is, is you gotta control the P and L or at least you gotta have visibility on it. Of all those teams, right? So if you don't have visibility on the dollars and cents across the 2, 3, 4, 5 teams that you're running as a CRO, well, then you can't, you, you don't have as much flexibility.

You don't as much visibil visibility as to where you can maybe move things around. Maybe there's a team. Maybe they have too many teams and it should be from five to three. Maybe there's a team they're missing. Well, okay. I can move a couple bucks here from a couple bucks there and I can create that if you don't have that stuff I mean, you it's, it's fitting for someone with a creative mind.

Who's gonna look at that and move the pieces around the puzzle and re Ji it. But I think that's to your advantage, right? I mean, I, I, my boss will laugh. Have no doubt. He hears this.

[00:38:37] Warren Zenna: I mean, I have clients right now, Todd, who are CROs, who are in really bad situations. And in two cases, the thing they said to me was the red flag that they saw when they were interviewing and accepting the job was they did not, were not given transparency into the data about.

And that was like, okay. Yeah, I should have known, you know, if they're not willing to show me everything, you know, do the full kimono, you know, reveal here. Yeah. Then I shouldn't, I shouldn't do this. And in fact it turned out that they're right. So I think it's great. It's called it. Maybe trust or transparency.

Right. You need to have the full boat of information you need to be at that sort of let's call it star chamber table, right. Where all the dirty laies being talked about and you to be given everything. It's like, if you're the president of United States, you, they probably walk you in a room at one point and go, okay, Mr. President, here's some stuff that you gotta know.

[00:39:26] Todd Heger: That's what's really going on. Yeah. Well, and that's, that would be, that would be advice I would give, I would give. As, as you know, I'm like a sophomore CRO, I'm still kind of, I still sort of think I'm a rookie as to other guys, guys, and gals who are pitching CRO jobs.

That would be the one thing I would say a buddy of mine gave me this nugget and said, you know, you just tell them when you're interviewing, I'll sign an NDA. But like, I gotta see, I gotta see more than what you're telling me. You can't just tell me that your product's awesome and you, and you bit, you blew out last year's number by 125%.

Like I need to see what's under the hood. So I know what I'm working with. And so, and just make sure you're not hiding some big, some big challenge that I'm not find out

[00:40:06] Warren Zenna: Big October surprise. It's gonna hit me three months from now. Like what Novi.

[00:40:10] Todd Heger: Yeah, exactly.

[00:40:11] Lupe Feld: Yeah. Yeah. It's interesting that if you were interviewing as a, you know, VP of sales or CRO, if you were interviewing somebody to lead your team within your team, You would probably ask really tough questions.

You would probably ask some behavior based questions. You'd ask for some example, some validation, some proof. Yeah. And often when you're the person being interviewed, you don't feel like it's your place to ask those questions, but in a CRO interview, it is definitely your place and you need to make that space a safe space for.

The person that's interviewing and for yourself, otherwise you're gonna be hit with some surprises. You're not gonna like in the long term.

[00:40:58] Todd Heger: Yeah. That would be advice. I would. It's interesting. Right? Because if you're the head of sales, let's say the head of sales somewhere else, and you're interviewing for the CRO job.

You don't know to ask those questions cuz you don't know how you're gonna get burned because you don't know that when you, you need to see something behind the P and L to find out there's not some whopping bill that you owe in October or whatever it is that you gotta, that that impacts your P and L.

But yeah, that would be, that would be something I I'm, I'm sort of changing your question Warren, but advice I would give to CROs that were pitching CRO jobs. It'd be that I would say, look, I need, and I love the answer. I need an NDA. Like, I'll sign whatever you want. I won't tell anybody, but like holy smokes, like I gotta see way more than, you know, the product in your, in your top line performance.

[00:41:38] Warren Zenna: Well, that's great.

[00:41:38] Lupe Feld: Yeah. So my advice Warren would be pick up the phone, call up Warren, pick up the phone, call another CRO that you see visible in the, you know, in LinkedIn and say, Hey, I'm about to interview. You know, what should I, what should I know? Yeah. And be humble. Yeah. Right. Because you don't know what you don't know.

[00:41:57] Todd Heger: Yeah. And what you do on LinkedIn is you call the folks that are senior, that used to work there in the last two years with your hat and your hand, and say, look I don't mean to eat up much your time back. Can you just tell me what's cooking over there? Is it as Rosie's they say? Yeah. I mean, I know buddies have done that before

[00:42:10] Warren Zenna: A hundred percent. I I'm working on developing a, a whole sort. I could say like, almost like a, like an interview question thing for CROs, because I think this is such a key missing misstep. And you know, it's not just asking the questions, it's knowing how to deal with the answers you get too, because you know, it's not like everyone says, okay, sure.

You know, it it's, it's a battle, you know, you're sort of negotiating in a very, and it's about understanding what the answers mean, et cetera, et cetera. Yeah. But I, I, I couldn't, I couldn't disagree. Agree with you. Sorry. More, this is so important. And I, and I think that the CEO. Right. I'm looking at the other side, the CEO of a company needs to understand that if they're interviewing somebody for a job of this scope and this size, and they understand it the way that you describe Todd, they should want to show this person everything.

[00:43:00] Todd Heger: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, as an expression, I say all the time to my boss, I mean sometimes serious. And sometimes I, Jess is like, look, I'm only as good as the information you give. Like, if you want me to perform the more I know and look, I don't need to know every bloody thing, you know, but the more tools you gimme, you know, the more data you give me the better answers, the better solutions I'm gonna give you.

[00:43:20] Warren Zenna: All right. Well, look, we're we're at the hour here. So this has been really great. You've been really very, I I'd say very humbly, honest about a lot of things, and it's been really great to hear the way that you think, and I could see why you're doing a great job over there. So I want to thank you for.

Joining us today in this conversation, it's been helpful for me to actually gave me some things to think about in terms of how I'm supporting people. So, so, thanks.

[00:43:42] Todd Heger: Well, look, thank you. I'm you know, as I said to you, when you first offered this to me, I'm like, are you sure you really want a guy like me? So I'm, I'm happy.

I'm if I'm helping somebody out there, you know, then this is a win. So thank you.

[00:43:53] Warren Zenna: A hundred percent.

[00:43:53] Lupe Feld: I was just gonna say, thanks. I, I appreciate it was, it was great to hear your point of view and I love, you know, the humility you bring to. You know, to the role and, and the process. So thank you.

[00:44:04] Todd Heger: Thank you.

This episode was digitally transcribed.

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