BTSM Interview: Paula Campbell – VP of Sales, Touch of Modern

Our goal at Building the Sales Machine is to enable sales leaders in the tech community to help and learn from each other. We’re all in this boat together, trying to help revolutionary companies disrupt the norm. To make people’s lives easier, better, more fulfilling. We’ll aim to bring some of these great teams, leaders, and strategies to life through our articles, meet-ups, speaking events and interviews.

Paula Campbell is the Vice President of Sales at Touch of Modern, (aka ToMo) is a members-only e-commerce website and app focused on selling lifestyle products, fashion, and accessories to men. The company is based in San Francisco, California and was launched in 2012.  Paula is an experienced sales leader with a true passion for building high performing sales cultures while successfully launching new products and initiatives.  Paula has 11 years of sales leadership experience which includes growing sales organizations at LivingSocial and Verizon Information Services.

Paula’s answers to some BTSM questions below:

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from a mentor?

Don’t wait for anyone to write your job description.  If you do that, then you are at the mercy of what someone else values in your role.  You write the description through your work and successes and others will have no choice but to follow.

Best tip for sales teams that are scaling?

Don’t spend money growing the team until you have built efficiency within it.  When a few team members have emerged as the performance leaders, begin building a system that supports the strengths of these top performers and then modify and evolve the team structure around them.  This does a few things.  First, it is slowly churning the team, which allows for a solid core of top people to develop and set the success metrics.  This then sets the stage for a high performance level across the board in the sales organization because everyone that is performing at a top level is doing it consistently.   For example, top performers in sales typically are strong at a variety of skills which usually include hunting, qualifying (or disqualifying), negotiating and closing.  A system that supports management of existing accounts (Account Manager structure) allows for top sellers to focus their energies and attention hunting for new business, closing and negotiating as much as possible.  The next step for our team is to continue to support top performance by removing additional clogs that delay sales activities (admin work, details that affect overall sale performance,follow up, etc…).

Ultimately, we are actively building team trees that are designed for high performers.   As our team has developed, individual sales leaders within the team have presented themselves.  We are layering sourcing, account management, admin and sales performance production details around these “leaders” slowly while measuring the incremental increase in performance to support the structure financially.  This allows for a lot of internal training and growth by default of structure while also keeping the senior sales people involved in growing the team.   This is key because there is a team goal in place along with other incentives to encourage the teamwork mentality.  This really helps keep things lean as we scale, we are able to grow from within and in a step by step process that builds senior sales talent and grooms great management internally.
This is a slow churn because as top performers start to set themselves apart, the company starts to understand the level of performance that is possible vs. what has been done so far.  This builds an understanding of personnel ROI and allows us to sets compensation levels that will attract and motivate more tenured top performers.  Now there is a team that has more top level performers than bottom level and the mediocre mentality becomes very uncomfortable.  This is a methodical build that allows for a young company to remain lean while learning.  It is also critical to remove negative team members from the environment swiftly… everyone is replaceable.


Most important thing to learn for new sales managers?

Lead by example.  Many new sales managers try to be friends to gain loyalty.  This is the biggest and most detrimental rookie mistake a new sales leader can make.  In a growing a young environment, learning is king and learning can be fun but true learning is often uncomfortable.  Leading by example gives you the street cred to speak with authority because you know the role and this is where real loyalty is cultivated.  This level of loyalty will bring the best out of others because they are working for more than just themselves!   You are the teacher because you know it best.  Your teacher was never your BFF.   Great work commands great respect.

What traits do you look for in a sales person?

I look for the traits I cannot teach:


  • Hunger
  • Drive
  • Passion
  • Internal competitor
  • Honest
  • Consultative
  • Strategic deductive reasoning
  • Overall overachiever mentality
  • A strong sense of accountability to results
  • All things are possible attitude

How do you get buy-in from the people you manage?

Inclusion!  As a leader I like to talk with my team and others in our organization about challenges we face and solicit thoughts around these challenges.  When people understand the challenges, they tend to bring solutions.  When they bring solutions, they learn why those are good and, sometimes, bad ideas.  When they understand all of this at a high level – they usually understand the business challenges well enough to know that decisions are being made with a lot care and thought and, at some point, they have had an opportunity to bring their thoughts to the table.  This gets people on board and eventually, a lot of them stop questioning the larger company decisions.

Do you believe you’ve built a metrics driven environment?  What’s an example of something you’ve done that other organizations may not have thought of?

I drive a metric heavy environment with a clear focal point.  The type of sales team I like to foster makes decisions on how to move forward by the numbers.  In order for this to be effective, those numbers and the reason for their importance needs to be clearly communicated early and often.  This should always begin with a plan driven by individual sales math in the form of a personal roadmap for the measuring period.

We measure sales math to really account for a couple of things.  First, we find out where the sales persons process is breaking down so we can coach directly to that.  Second, to create a real time understanding of the work that will be required to get to targets.  When a person recognizes that, based on their call to close ratio, they are going to need to put forth herculean efforts to get to their goals, they become eager to learn or discouraged.  That gap narrows as their skill set grows.  If they buckle under the stress of getting there, than better to find out now and it’s time to move on. This is a divine separation in performance levels and each top performer on my team has different strengths, but they also share a couple of attributes –  they are laser focused and put forth relentless effort.  It becomes easy to spot these players in a low tenured group and even easier to understand where their sales process was breaking down because there is so much concentrated activity.

For example:

Backing into the volume number
Average revenue per sale divided by target = # of sales needed 
Activity Sales Math
# of suppliers added to the system to close count
what is the direct ratio and then focus on improvements in that ratio


Ultimately, there are so many metrics  that it’s key to parse out what matters most.  What gets measured gets done!  Keep the focus tight and clear.

Because data analysis is key to scaling, it only makes sense to exercise the bright minds we have hired in our org to continuously innovate and problem solve.  I have started a weekly program called the “Data Crunchin Luncheon” which is a voluntary organization-wide learning café of sorts.  At least one day before the luncheon, the attendees are sent a data set that is relevant to current happenings within the company.  We put the data on the big screen and talk through what the key take-aways were, what are the next steps, what are some additional questions we could ask ourselves, what are some actionable items, how do we follow-up, etc.  This is so effective for so many reasons, but primarily – it keeps the team engaged and learning while aggregating an array of strengths and experience levels for an overall learning environment that is riddled with buy-in.


16bc94fPaula Campbell is VP, Sales at Touch of Modern.  Before joining ToMo, she helped build sales orgs at LivingSocial and Verizon Information Services.   If  you like what you’re hearing Paula is hiring! Find out how to join her rockstar team here.