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Ted McKenna  

Business Leader, Advisor & Co-Author of "The JOLT Effect"

Ted McKenna is a master in helping organizations overcome customer indecision, a problem that plagues all lines of business. McKenna draws on a first of a kind study of over two and half millions sales calls to deliver ground breaking research on how to overcome the dreaded “I don’t know” with his signature JOLT Effect.

McKenna has held executive leadership positions in product, strategy, research, advisory, and enablement for Tethr, Russell Reynolds Associates, and CEB (now, a part of Gartner). An accomplished sales and customer experience researcher whose work has appeared in the pages of Harvard Business Review, McKenna’s most recent work focused on mining unstructured conversational data using advanced data science and leading AI/ML tools to build models, scores, and behavioral frameworks.

Speech Topics


From the bestselling co-author of The Challenger Sale, a paradigm-shattering approach to overcoming customer indecision and closing more sales. In sales, the worst thing you can hear from a customer isn’t “no.” It’s “I need to think about it.” When this happens, deeply entrenched business advice says to double down on your efforts to sell a buyer on all the ways they might win by choosing you and your business. But this approach backfires dramatically. Why?

Because it completely gets wrong the primary driver behind purchasing decision-making: once purchase intent is established, customers no longer care about succeeding. What they really care about is not failing.

For years, sales expert Ted McKenna has been busting longstanding business myths. Now in The JOLT Effect, he and co-author Matt Dixon turn their trademark analysis and latest research to the vital and growing problem of customer indecision—and offer a shocking new approach that turns conventional wisdom on its head.

Drawing on a brand-new, first-of-its-kind study of more than two and a half million sales conversations from across industries, they reveal the surprising truth that high-performing sales reps grasp and their average-performing peers don’t: only by addressing the customer’s fear of failure can you get indecisive buyers to go from verbally committing to actually pulling the trigger. Packed with robust data, counterintuitive insights, and practical guidance, The JOLT Effect is the playbook for any salesperson or sales leader who wants to close the gap between customer intent and action—and close more sales.


There is a growing problem in professional services that is often acknowledged but rarely discussed openly: clients—even long-standing ones for whom firms have delivered unquestioned value in the past—are much less loyal to firms and partners than they once were. Today’s clients are far less likely to choose a partner or firm with which they have a pre-existing relationship, even a long-standing one. For the vast majority of partners, this dramatic shift in client buying behavior spells trouble: the traditional business development approaches they’ve long relied on have not just become unproductive, they’re now counter-productive to the goal of building a healthy, sustainable book of business.

But top performers have figured out a different, surprising approach that is redefining what it means to be a rainmaker in today’s professional services market. Based on the world’s first in-depth, quantitative study of professional services partners, The Rainmaker Genome Project identifies five statistically-defined types of partners—Experts, Confidants, Activators, Debaters and Realists—and shows how and why only one these partner profiles–Activators–are able to drive consistent growth in the modern client buying environment. The Rainmaker Genome Project provides the roadmap for any professional services partner or firm leader looking to chart a path to greater client retention, revenue growth and firm profitability in the new era of client disloyalty.

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