TQ (Technology Quotient) for CEOs


19.2 minutes


Luca D’Urbino

What is your organizational TQ? How would you calculate it, and why does it matter? Technology quotient is the ability of every human on your team to leverage their tech stacks, giving you a unique competitive advantage. This article can be the difference-maker, a reliable roadmap to predictably and methodically surpassing quarterly Board-level targets. Somewhere out there your rival CEO is reading this and grinning like a cheshire cat. Because they’re already doing the unthinkable (fusing human and machine to 8X output) I’m about to suggest in this article. You need to take a chance and look around the curve so the future doesn’t swallow you whole. If we both outrun a bear, it doesn’t matter who has the better running shoes. I’ll just hop on my Vespa.

As I work with C-Levels on tech stack optimization and upskilling their teams on REV tech, the first response is push-back. CXOs relegate their understanding of advanced sales tech to their Ops, or Demand Gen generals. “This high-volume stuff is for the kids.” But the stakes are too high. “Delegation” in this area is a cop-out. It will kill your revenue. Abdicating responsibility will cost you millions. You will be displaced by a smarter enemy. Even possibly your entire company will go the way of the dodo. Do I have your attention?

The fortune 500 is a graveyard littered with the bones of technology avoidant CEOs. 52% went extinct since 2000 and household names get added to the endangered species list daily unsuspecting. Blackberry, Blockbuster, Kodak needed to learn Michael’s Law: As your technology quotient increases, KPIs are exceeded by orders of magnitude. Your outlook toward “TQ” permeates everything you do. The leader is the culture. This is an open letter to CEOs to upgrade their organizational TQ competency, roll up their sleeves, and get their own hands dirty.

An advisor at True Ventures, Lars Nilsson, (who also runs Global SDRs at Snowflake), conjectures that top tech companies will need to invest $1,000/rep/mo on tech stacks to stay competitive. I know of companies puting in 5k/rep/mo! Two tectonic forces are driving this trend: subspecialization and convergence. Alpha platforms are merging, converging, and swooping up the point solutions in an M&A frenzy to ultimately build Sales Clouds. The primary marketing clouds will converge everything very soon. Billions in VC poured into the category last year, it’s hard to find one without a unicorn horn that’s not doing 100MM rounds.

Like IQ and EQ before it, TQ can be upgraded individually and as an organizational capacity. Are your competitors leveraging intent data? Some are, some maybe not. Many bought the platform but haven’t calibrated it yet with effective RevOps. Faced with a panoply of tech stack choices, what would you buy? “I hire people to tell me that.” You can’t Jack Welch your way out of this. As a modern business leader, you need to understand all the new families of tech, practical applications of ML and AI, and deploy an effective tech stack optimized strategy to minimize risk. But the process is broken, and we need to train our people first? No doubt automating bad process is folly and the human enablement gap is the definition of insanity. But there’s no time. Logic and reason can’t save you now. It’s like holding a forecasting session with a T-Rex and Velociraptor

Why care? Would you want to: Generate the output of 30 FTEs over 6 months with only 5 FTEs in six weeks or, do 7-figure deals within a quarter by tracking heat-seeking triggers, surge data, and job-relationship changes. Imagine the difference between blasting 30,000 emails a week to get zero meetings vs. making 20 “live” contacts with prospective customers per hour utilizing parallel assisted dialers, getting 3 referrals and 2 high quality meetings to convert into opportunities.

If you don’t understand the gravity of these use cases, all you need to do is read my book, “Tech-Powered Sales” to learn about the new best-of-breed of sales technology and how to deploy it for your team across every aspect of the funnel. 70% of what a seller does can be fully automated (since 2017!). Ken Krogue shocked the industry in Forbes years ago when he revealed that a ghastly 36% of a seller’s time is spent selling. Study after study by the leading analysts show that only about 40% of quota-carrying reps ever hit their number. Blame the product, inflated VC/Board expectations, and commoditization, the statistics for sales success keep plummeting.

Bushwhacking through the uncanny wilderness

With the advent of weaponized outbound and inbound, it’s so hard to be signal in the noise. When COVID hit and we all went remote, everyone rushed out and bought a shiny new sequencer, power dialer, and a bunch of kits. It looks like picks and shovels in the Gold Rush. Now they’re all too busy blasting emails, calls, and native ads, and yet there’s no organized way to weild this power. Carpet bombing and hope is not a strategy. I’ve analyzed hundreds of vendors. They are not all created equal. There are many ways to think you’re personalizing at scale while obliviously scorching earth with all the C-Levels in your TAM, blowing out your domain, and getting a scarlet letter on your email sending reputation. There are ways to dial a high-quality list of cell phone numbers, which can become a flywheel for your revenue engine or turn you into a bad actor.

The average enterprise has 91 solutions in the tech stack and CFOs are tearing their hair out understanding why they’re investing in a trio of overlapping enablement solutions.

CEOs need to care about what’s in their tech stack more than ever because it’s the make or break point to out-innovate competitors. All solutions are perceived with parity by modern buyers. They’re further along the buying journey than ever. Vendors commoditize themselves as prospects clandestinely research online. Every leading website is bursting with bewildering jargon. Prospects really can’t tell what’s an apple and an orange anymore. When you go to market with a high-technology sales approach, YOU become the differentiator. Your GTM itself will position you to out-flank competitors. We’ve known for decades on an individual level (insert countless Gartner studies), “the way we sell” is far more critical than what we sell. When you are seen as ahead of the curve with automation, you earn the respect of prospects who think,

wow, if their outreach is this cutting edge, imagine the quality of their products and services once I’m a customer?

Here’s your 2022 essential tech stack and order of operations: LinkedIn is the modern Bloomberg Terminal. Sales Navigator is table stakes because LI is a self-healing database of 700MM B2B professionals. Since it’s a walled garden, you still must find a way to get your team accurate direct dials and cell phone numbers to contact the prospects you find there. You then can’t be calling them one at a time. As Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

To dial a phone one at a time or send emails one at a time in the 2020s is downright medieval.

Now that you have social media dialed in for targeting, direct dials and emails to make human contact, a sequencer to automate and scale outbound emails, plus a parallel assisted dialer to dial 4-11 numbers at a time, you need to think deeply about intent data and targeting to improve the initial lists. Intent Data, psychographics, and trigger event mapping will help you apply the 80/20 Rule to your GTM to maintain quality and increase conversion. You can even use blended tech stacks actively pinpoint the 3% of any target market actively seeking out your solution.

Advanced tech stack optimization gets into solutions like revenue intelligence that help you listen to all your teams’ calls, coach against insights, and gain competitor intel. It includes things like chatbot interaction from the front of your site, AI-writing assistants that suggest reading level, brevity, ways to scan annual reports for relevant data points, emotional AI that can read a prospect’s voice tonality or facial expressions live on calls, and full-blown guided selling that’s running algos across your entire GTM motion. I don’t want to scare you away or make this like a pie in the sky “Minority Report” scenario. Clippy will be back but he’s Jarvis in Iron Man. My book is designed to give you practical solutions to the quantum leap you today, but it will take several investments to innoculate you so your bulletproof in the Singularity.

The cost of inaction is extinction

You need to invest in more experienced operators at the top of the funnel, train up anyone green in your ranks, spend on the top tech stacks, and invest in training on those stacks. You need to build out a RevOps competence. Just like sales training, tech stack training requires “reinforcement” too. Why waste your time? This all sounds insanely expensive and time consuming? The cost of inaction is extinction. If you take my advice, you will turn your organization into a revenue engine, a cash register vs. a cost center, and I will show you exactly how. By reading my book and following the advice in this article you can get a 2-5 year leap in your industry vertical niche. Why would you delegate that? Dive deep into it, master it, invest in it. Own it. Win now. The first-mover advantage is unlocking this rare knowledge and deploying it first in your category. I’ve compiled it by running Ops for an SDR-as-a-Service venture that sent millions of targeted, personalized, automated emails for 100 concurrent startups at once, spending millions in OPM (other people’s money) on experiments YOU don’t have to make.

The most concrete steps I can recommend in this short article after scaring the hell out of you are: find a budget, simply hold back an entire FTE outlay and put that money immediately into tech stacks. You want to create Seal Team Six and arm your best soldiers with space-age battle gear. Secondly, you want to understand your current tech stacks and how they can be better integrated and consolidated before augmenting them with specialized tech. Where are they overlapped, what can you cut? What needs to expand? Lastly, you need to be unrelenting in your willingness to test everything out yourself using the scientific method controls.

I realize I’m losing you now that this information is too tactical. This is not the realm of a true CEO in the corner office. But just like the brilliant illustration, humans need to learn to think like robots and robots like humans. Autonomous campaigns free you up as the leader to innovate. I have worked with a myriad of organizations across nearly every vertical on tech stack optimization, and improving their organizational REV TQ has shattered all conceivable norms of productivity and the numbers have rocketed swiftly into hyper-scale rarified air. The last two destroyed their quarterly targets. How can your competitors touch you when each rep executes the equivalent of 3 full-time equivalent selling days of work in one afternoon? With the state-of-the-art technology in rev tech, it’s now possible to break the quality and quantity sound barrier.

CEOs can become TQ literate, upskill their TQ, implement tech stacks on every possible element of their organization including even CSM, upsells, cross-sells, and churn mitigation. How is mechanization servant leadership, right and humane? Because in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the burden of manual task monotony, cognitive load of context switching and multi-tasking, is soul crushing. Yoking intelligent humans with unnecessary repetitive process that can be automated easily violates the human spirit, shreds morale, and the kicker is, humans know it when they’re are being turned into machines.

Look at the automobile assembly line. Aaron Ross’s classic Predictable Revenue model, which became the bible of Silicon Valley scaling, trumpets the simple but powerful idea of specialization. It inadvertently created the SDR-AE Industrial Complex which makes it pretty hard to Moneyball a two position system: Baseball has 9 positions, so we have to in tandem critically rethink organizational design from first principles if we’re going to unleash our inner Billy Beane. What happened to lean automobile manufacturing and Six Sigma? The robots are now on that same assembly line, and the humans are configuring the robots. Automation looks like a Cambrian Explosion in lean manufacturing. The robot is now sitting in the CEO’s chair smoking a fat cigar.

The future is here, unevenly discombobulated

Organizations of the future will be run by humans sitting in self-driving ubers. CEOs will become technical, gaining a deeper understanding of data science. The humans will train the machines. The machines will train themselves – pressure testing their own algorithms endelessly, AB testing even your go-to-market motions. Chinese futurist Kai-Fu Lee predicts, “Artificial intelligence will probably replace 50 percent of human jobs within ten years. AI will do the analytical thinking, while humans will wrap that analysis in warmth and compassion.”

Nothing can replace the strategic factors of humans: complex solutions, empathy, consultative approaches, creativity, synthesis – at least not until 2035. Every industrial revolution has created a massive wave of new jobs, so even if Kai-Fu Lee is right, The World Economic Forum & McKinsey predict unforeseen 4IR jobs will explosively contribute to the global economy and GDP, especially if CEOs can lead the charge on upskilling their workforce in time. I hate to quote John Connor of Skynet but “Fate is what we make.”

Educate yourself on tech stack optimization to understand the layer cake of solutions, even in layman’s terms. Build out a RevOps function inside your company but don’t fly it blind. Don’t just put lipstick on a pig and rename Sales Ops, RevOps. Don’t think you can buy Tiger Woods clubs and shoot below par! Hold back human hires to upskill the quality humans you have with better tech stacks. If you don’t do all of this, another company reading this article (or my book) will eat your proverbial lunch. CEOs reading this should take heed. I’ve worked with Luddite C-levels who are running amok technology avoidant. They plugged in these basic frameworks for process mining, tech stack selection, tech stack optimization, and tech stack training, and saw their business units jump by a factor of 8x in under 90 days.

Adapt or die. It’s Darwinian. While my advice may cost you hundreds of thousands, even millions initially, after years of research, speaking with hundreds of experts, and watching legions of early adopter GTM leaders deploy these strategies, I can unequivocally state: raising your TQ will shatter all expectations of revenue output, efficiency, and at the end of the day – what’s more custom centric than tripling your customer base and getting to net negative churn? At the same time, you fuel your growth engine like never before.


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