Effective Incentive Structures & Driving Revenue Growth w/ Dustin Deno

10/10 GTM Episode 16
Transparent sales process - working together
Listen on Spotify PodcastsListen on Stitcher PodcastsListen on Apple PodcastsListen on Google Podcasts

Welcome to Season 2 of 10/10 GTM: The Podcast for Revenue Leaders!

Our guest for Episode 16 is Dustin Deno, Chief Revenue Officer at Affinity. Dustin brings more than 15 years of sales leadership experience to the conversation. Before Affinity, Dustin held leadership positions at companies such as Showpad, Maropost, and Salesforce.

In this episode, Dustin and Ross discuss how to align incentive structures with business objectives that drive predictable, responsible, sustainable growth. 

Listen to the episode here, and get the key takeaways from our conversation below.

Aligning incentive structures with business objectives 

To align the incentive structure with business objectives, begin by clearly defining your organization's objectives. Then customize the reward systems to foster behaviors that align with these objectives. 

Affinity uses a two-pronged approach to encourage progression and skill development. “In our business, depending on the segment, if you hit your number multiple periods in a row and you consume the enablement, you automatically get promoted the next period,” says Dustin. 

In addition to this framework, Dustin’s team also tiers enablement for specific roles which helps drive engagement and consistency throughout the sales cycle. “We have AE1, AE2, and AE3. If you’re an AE1, then the enablement you master is about how to do the job. It could be as basic as learning the CRM and how to use the tools. As an AE2, you focus on how to master the job. Then, as an AE3, you start learning how to do the next job — which is what allows you to go up market.” 

Rather than being subjective, this approach provides reps with a clear path forward and ensures they have the resources needed to be successful. It also enables sales leaders to identify reps that are struggling and provide them with the coaching and necessary resources to help them get back on track. 

Driving growth in a responsible way

If you’re looking to drive consistent, sustainable growth, a key starting point is to analyze your existing incentive structures for sales leaders. This process involves asking a series of questions aimed at optimizing performance: 

  • What specific outcomes do you expect from sales leaders? For example, driving consistent performance across their team and calendar. 
  • How can you effectively motivate sales leaders to prioritize coaching and performance? This involves creating incentives that naturally encourage these behaviors and are integrated organically into their role. 
  • How do you strike a balance between achieving immediate targets while driving sustainable growth? This should include designing incentives that reward immediate outcomes, as well as long-term development. 

By asking and answering these questions strategically, you can create a holistic, responsible approach to driving growth. This setup enables your sales leaders to meet targets while also contributing to the sustainable development of the team, and align with the broader vision of the organization. 

Leading a revenue team 

When leading a revenue team, clarity and collaboration are essential. For example, when you’re setting targets, all stakeholders should be aligned with the company’s goals and strategy. This means the senior leadership team maintains an open dialogue to ensure every department is on the same page and working toward the same objectives. This collective support allows you to work toward the implementation of a unified strategy, and provides your teams with clarity and direction. 

In the absence of this communicative and collaborative approach, resources are wasted unnecessarily. Plus, it can lead to challenges with cross-departmental collaboration, which hinders productivity and progress. 

Dustin is seeing a clear shift happen in how revenue teams are run. “Revenue leaders are moving away from the ‘growth at all costs model’ in favor of an operational model that focuses on driving efficiencies and sustainability.” 

Rapid fire: Dustin’s fast sales insights

In a rapid-fire Q&A session, Dustin shares his insights with us on a wide range of topics: 

What’s the main reason most teams miss their ARR goals? Lack of coaching. 

What’s your favorite resource for revenue leaders? Mark Roberge’s book, “The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million.”

What’s the number one challenge for revenue leaders in 2024? Can they meet their growth expectations with the framework they have? The shift in valuation is creating challenges for organizations.

SMB, Mid-market, or enterprise? Enterprise — I enjoy solving big problems for big companies. 

What’s the most important org: Sales, CS, or Marketing? Sales is number one in my heart. I’m a sales leader so I’m always going to sit in the sales corner. But, CS is becoming a very close second.

Best way to unplug from the demands of leadership? I take time to spend with family, friends, and travel. 

About Dustin Deno 

Dustin is an accomplished sales leader with more than 15 years of experience in leadership roles. He specializes in growing SaaS companies, and believes the keys to success are hiring top talent while simultaneously creating a culture of execution and collaboration. Before joining Affinity, Dustin held leadership positions at Showpad, Maropost, and Salesforce.