Kristie's Blog

Addition by Subtraction


We spend most of our life trying to add more to it. More money, more friends, more activities, more fun, and more time off. What if life, work, and sales weren’t a quantity game, but a quality game? What if you could enrich your life and work by saying “No” more often? We are over-scheduled, stressed out, and under the delusion that more is better. Saying “No” or “I wish I could” isn’t easy, but it’s better than saying yes and being resentful. #ownyourownshit

“Choose Discomfort over Resentment”

– Brene Brown

There are two areas that I introduce the addition by subtraction philosophy to my clients: People and Pipeline.


I know. Subtracting people sounds harsh. I believe that in some cases it’s an “addition win/win”.

Here are the situations that I believe subtracting people will add to the team and organization:

  • Chronic Underperformers: These are the reps that will have a great month and then 2 bad months, over and over again. You’ve coached them, you’ve counseled them, you’ve put them on a performance plan and they still struggle to hit quota consistently. It’s time for the sales leader and the rep. to come to terms with the fact that this isn’t a good fit for them. Maybe they’re in the wrong seat on the bus, maybe the job is too big for them, or maybe there are outside factors that are at play. Getting up every morning with a fear of failure and lack of confidence is no way to live. If they’ve worked hard and tried their best, I suggest you put them on a “transition out” plan where they can transition their accounts in exchange for time to look for a new position. You should truly want everyone to be successful and helping them transition to a position that they will be successful is kind, not cruel.
  • Constant Criticizers:

“Often those that criticize others reveal what he himself lacks.”
– Shannon L. Alder

Life and sales are hard enough without an employee or teammate constantly challenging every suggestion that is shared or decision that is made. I’m all for people  “seeking to understand” and then offering an educated opinion. That’s not what these individuals do. Their glass is always ½ empty and they are happy to criticize you personally, tell you all the reasons that “it” won’t work, why it is a bad idea or subject others to their black cloud. They suck the emotional life out of you. These individuals don’t get three chances, they get one. Try to help them understand how their negativity is impacting you and the group. If, after that authentic discussion, they are unable to become a positive force, then it’s time to help them move on.

  • The Unethical Employee: This one is a gimmie. Once you’ve verified, without doubt, that they have done something unethical it’s time to find an empty box. There is no second chance and no appeal process. Thank you for your service. We wish you the best.
  • The Accountability Adverse: IF you have a sales culture of accountability, and not every company does, then releasing this employee back into the world won’t be a hard decision. You’ve laid out the expectations: quota, pipeline, meetings booked, etc. In exchange for clearly stating expectations, you get excuses for why these expectations aren’t being met:“My territory sucks”
    “My SDR is new”
    “The product is missing features”
    “The sales process doesn’t work for me.”

Don’t confuse not wanting to be held accountable with a lack of skill or motivation. They are not the same. These individuals sometimes just want to do it their way. I call them “Cowboys/Cowgirls.” You need to explain to them that some expectations are non-negotiable and if they are unwilling to be held accountable then you need to let them go. I recently wrote a blog post on this topic if you’d like to learn more.


I recently got this question from a sales leader, “How often should my reps. be cleaning out the pipeline?”

I had to take a deep breath, so my smartass didn’t come out too quickly. “Spring, of course! Everyone knows Spring is the time for cleaning!”

The answer is, of course, every time a deal is dead.

I have an objective way of determining if a deal in the pipeline should be closed as lost.

Here’s my sniff test:

  • They said No!
  • You’re told another priority has moved in front of this evaluation/decision and “why don’t you call them in 3 or more months.”
  • There is no FIRM next action/meeting and you’ve had no 2-way communication with them in 60 days.
  • The prospect missed the last scheduled appt. and has gone under for the last 45 days.
  • You lost your contact or DM and you’ve not made contact with the replacement in 60 days.

To be clear, I’m not saying these deals can never be in the pipeline in the future, but for now, they aren’t engaged in the sales process and you need to move on. BTW- STALLED is not a STAGE!

Saying No to bad or stalled deals in the pipeline will be easier than saying no to people. The most successful people understand that not everyone is meant to be on the journey for the duration. Take a hard look at your team and pipeline as the year is winding down. Now is the time to start Spring Cleaning!

Sometimes Less is More.

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