Frustration as a Catalyst to Change

Feb 10, 2020
2 min read
Frustration can stem from a variety of situations, but how to choose to move forward is a defining factor for your success. Read how Xactly’s Founder and CEO Chris Cabrera uses frustration as a catalyst for continual motivation.

When you read the word frustration, what comes to mind? Perhaps you’re imagining an endless wait followed by a crabby teller at the DMV. Or, maybe frustration for you is running late for a meeting and being stuck in dead stopped traffic. Whatever your personal brand of frustration, you likely associate the feeling to a negative experience that you’d like to get out of as soon as possible. 

But frustration can also have an unexpected positive effect—inspiration and motivation. As an article about Richard Branson on recently discussed, frustration over a negative flight experience was the catalyst to founding Virgin Atlantic. For Garrett Camp, it was a New Year’s Eve debacle that included the frustration of paying $800 for a private driver that sparked the conversation about Uber. The founders of Airbnb were frustrated with high rent and hotel room shortages in San Francisco, and the list goes on. And for me personally, frustration played a big role in founding Xactly (you can read that story here) and in many ways, it is continuing to push me today.

At this point in my career, I’m long past sugar-coating anything—especially my frustration with people that want to maintain the status quo. For a long time, our company has been vocal about the need to get off of spreadsheets (and technology that’s been around since the late 70s and was never meant to be a compensation calculation tool!). And while we still get frustrated with those who are slow to get off spreadsheets, today simply removing the spreadsheet paradigm and automating is table stakes. 

Through the power of the cloud and the almost 15 years of empirical data, there is so much more available for companies that want to unleash their true sales power. I understand that change can be hard and uncomfortable, but when organizations continue to do the same thing and expect anything but the same results that’s where I’m baffled—and, yes, frustrated. We’ve all heard one of the world’s greatest innovators, Albert Einstein who said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” 

Enterprises can’t expect to succeed if they never look for opportunities to improve. With average quota attainment for companies hovering at just 53%, the conversation around enhancing your Sales Performance Management (SPM) can’t be pushed off any longer.

This year, let’s change the lens around frustration. Yes, it is a part of life, but ask yourself this: When it comes to compensation, would you rather continue to feel frustrated maintaining what you’ve always been doing? Or would you rather embrace the new era of Sales Performance Management and throw out the status quo? 

The key is to choose your frustration wisely. 

Once you have decided to be that change agent, I urge you to think about the impact that taking advantage of that empirical data can have on your organization. Combined with the latest cloud technologies you will address the inefficiencies in your processes and, most importantly, improve sales results. Use data-driven insights to compare how you perform and pay to benchmarks of peer companies (size, industry, geography, etc.) to recognize your company’s strengths and areas of weakness that can be improved upon. But be careful -- you may be surprised by both the results you drive and the opportunities for advancement that come your way. 

As always, this is an ongoing conversation. Please respond in the comments and let me know how frustration has been a catalyst for change in your own life or company, and how you are choosing to look at SPM differently in 2020.

  • Sales Coaching and Motivation
Chris Cabrera
Christopher W. Cabrera
Founder and CEO

Christopher Cabrera is a seasoned executive with senior management experience at both early-stage and public companies where he has managed sales, operations, marketing, and business development.