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How I Survived Two PIP Plans in Sales (And You Can, Too) – ReadWrite

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Bob Buckley


I have survived two PIPs (performance improvement plans) in sales. Few people probably want to admit that they were ever on one, but a lot of reps go on those once in a while during their careers. I am also still friends with both my managers who put me on them. I doubt many people can say that.

What A PIP Is and Is Not

A PIP plan is something that a lot of people in sales dread hearing about. It kind of feels like you’re about to walk the plank professionally and there aren’t many escape routes. Getting put on a plan is usually the result of repeated missteps in a job. Typically, it’s your final chance at turning things around before being let go.

Just because you get put on a performance improvement plan does not mean you’re for sure being fired, though.

Some People Disagree with That

There are a few people out there who disagree with my general stance on PIPs. Human resources veteran Liz Ryan is a strong supporter of the idea that people only get put on performance improvement plans when management wants them out.

In some circumstances, that’s probably true. More than a few companies out there likely do their best to help an employee improve without actually putting anything in writing. Then, after repeated attempts at fixing the issues, they finally decide that’s all they can take and put someone on one.

Looking at the flipside of that, there’s also probably companies that don’t help their employees improve. After a certain amount of time, they just set the plan in motion. Next steps are usually escorting the person out.

Sales PIPs Are Different

In a nutshell, if you miss your numbers for a few months, that will get you on a PIP. Some can be escaped by hitting certain goals within a given timeframe and others take longer. Sometimes, a full quarter of consistent quota attainment is necessary.

I’ve seen more leeway for mid-market or enterprise account executives. Ultimately, the timing just scales with the amount they need to sell. Some reps have gone a year and a half without closing something in places I’ve worked, but that’s the maximum time I’ve ever seen.

Most companies have a pre-determined timeline in place to judge whether you should go on a plan if you are a sales rep or marketing/business development rep. This takes the emotion out of it for managers – either their employee hits and they don’t initiate a plan or misses and they do.

Whenever I’ve been in this situation, my manager has always been on my side. It’s a lot less awkward for them, too, since they get to root for you (or light a fire under you!) to try and steer things in the right direction.

How Many People Are on Them?

Even if going on a PIP feels like a lonely road, you’re probably not really alone. In companies with large sales organizations (and I’ve been in a few) there’s almost always a handful of reps getting put into performance management.

According to the Harvard Business Review, annual sales turnover can be twice as high as the overall labor force – that’s 27%! You might think it’s embarrassing to want to talk about it.

However, I’ve been in work environments where PIPs were so common, no one would hesitate to say if they were on one. That being said, I’ve also been in the reverse situation, so exercise discretion depending on your work environment.

Variations That Aren’t Called PIPs

In sales, I’ve also noticed that there can be performance management systems that lead to PIPs and have similar terms (but different names). No one gets fired for missing numbers while on those as long as they show up and try.

Again, though, I’m basing this on personal experience so it could be different for you. Pre-PIP plans are not to be taken lightly. In my experience, missing numbers on those usually leads to the actual performance improvement plan next.

The terms usually mention something about being let go early if you stop trying and have a bad attitude about it. They also have similar requirements for getting off of it successfully.

Why My Situation Was Good (And Yours Could Be, Too)

I doubt many people look back fondly on performance improvement plans regardless of the outcome. Since I’m a human being, I’ll admit that the two I survived still sting a little to think about.

At the same time, though, they were actually good for me. A few positive things happened with the first one. If you get into a similar situation, doing these things might save your skin:

  • I audited everything I was doing – my morning routine, eating, and most importantly, how I spent my day. This was as compelling an event as ever to change things.
  • Looked back at what had worked for me so far and how I could make more of that happen. Also, I started to investigate other ways of getting through to people. The ones who didn’t have phone lines, blocked our email addresses or were unresponsive on LinkedIn.
  • I strategized with my manager for how I was going to beat the plan. He added his input by meeting with me weekly to review progress.
  • I worked a few extra hours each week and every weekend. Almost fortuitously, I was made a salaried employee a week or two before, so it was legal for me to do that. The good news is that with my other PIP, this wasn’t an option, so I also have the perspective of only being able to work 40 hours during a plan.

The PIP’s Outcome

Along with having my best month to date, I developed some pretty useful strategies because of the PIP. The plan I’m referencing was just a 30-day one and there was no probation or anything after, which was nice.

My second plan was a 90-day gauntlet since I was in a higher quota position, but that’s for a different article. The pandemic also played a pretty big role in getting into the second one. Again, though, that’s for a different article.

I Also Discovered A Fourth Outreach Method: Video

It’s really true what they say, pressure can burst a pipe or make a diamond. Instead of losing my mind trying to get through to some people who wouldn’t reply, I started getting more creative.

Discovering video for selling might have been the biggest gem I found in that situation. I probably only used it about 20-30% of the time going forward, but when I did, it got results.

At first, I was using a service called Wistia, but then I found out our Salesloft package had a Vidyard integration. Both of those services are pretty similar, but I could drop videos into my emails quickly with Salesloft and Vidyard working together.

Plus, that gave me great analytics. Both Wistia and Vidyard have free versions if you ever want to give them a try.

There’s also a lot of free video editing software out there like OpenShot that you can learn to use in about an hour. If you want to show a prospect’s website in the video, using a free screen capture software like ShareX or OBS Studio is perfect for that.

Changing My Routine Was Also Big

Some other important moves I made were related to my routine. Mainly, I started getting up at the same time every day. In addition to that, I started eating the same thing at about the same time on most days, too.

There was something about that consistency that really helped me to stay calm and focused. There is some science behind that, if you’re on the fence about trying it. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has a great article about it here.

Looking at my phone and social media also went from the highest priority to the lowest priority, although those took months to completely break away from.

Tying It All Together

Getting put on a performance improvement plan is never fun. That goes for you and your manager who probably has no choice in putting you on it. If you decide it’s worth the fight, your chances of survival will be better by trying a few of the tactics mentioned here. Good luck, we’re all counting on you.

Image credit: Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay

Bob Buckley

Bob is the Founder of thiscollegelife.com and yourweatherconnection.com

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Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending

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Google eyed for $2 billion Anthropic deal after major Amazon play


London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.

According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.

The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:

“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”

The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:

“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”

The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.

The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.

Featured Image Credit: Photo from Kennek.io; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs

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Deanna Ritchie


As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.

Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI

In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.

According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.

One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.

To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.

Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations

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Deanna Ritchie


As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.

Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation

To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.

The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.

Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.

The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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