Hunters + Unicorns: The 33 CxOs – John Kaplan #010

“Once you’re a part of a championship team with A-players, great products, great leaders and great cultures, it’s very hard to go backwards. We were lucky. We were in the right place at the right time, but we worked hard. Once you’ve been a part of that, you’re always trying to build it better. That’s what we tried to do it at Force Management. We didn’t want to try to do another PTC, we wanted to do something greater than PTC. I’m not saying we’ve done that, but that was our mentality. - John Kaplan  


Hunters and Unicorns shares the playbooks from leaders, founders, executives and investors from high growth technology companies.   


In this special edition series The 33 CxOs we investigate the greatest success story in the history of software sales. Discover how thirty-three sales execs from one organisation, BladeLogic, became CXOs in the world’s 100 fastest growing technology companies. We uncover the stories and playbooks of the most prolific sales leaders in the industry.  


Episode 12 features John Kaplan, president and co-founder of the most influential sales training organisation in the world – Force Management. John has over 20 years of executive experience in sales, leadership, and execution, specialising in corporate sales strategy and performance management. Before Force Management, John was SVP of International Sales Operations for PTC, the fastest growing software company in the history of the planet that went from zero to a billion dollars in less than 10 years. Today, we are honoured to discuss with John his spectacular career trajectory, including how he left his 10-year role at Xerox in 1996 to “sprint” into a managerial position at PTC and go on to become the inspirational consultant, presenter and facilitator that he is today.   

“I was a college athlete. I did really well at Xerox, and I was really confident in my skills. Then I went to PTC and I was just in awe of the environment. Everybody was an A-player. It reminded me of when I went to Boise State in my freshman year. You show up and you’re like, ‘I’m fast, I’m strong, I’m a good hitter’, and then you realise that everybody is fast and strong and a good hitter. The people at PTC  were just incredibly smart, talented, committed, wise beyond their years.”  


Recruiting high-potential, driven individuals and indoctrinating them with the proven methodologies is a keystone of the McMahon playbook. John Kaplan and Grant Wilson had an insatiable passion for conceptualising the teachings, with the view of empowering future generations to learn the way. Opportune and essential, this was the genesis of Force Management.  

John Kaplan talks about their continued quest to understand the common traits of successful organisations. They aim to align the vision of the business at the top to the “three-foot conversations” on the field. We explore the best practices that are conducive to the operating rhythm and cadence of hyper-performance.    


Trusted by leading brands such as Snowflake, MongoDB, RSA, Segment, Okta and many more, John provides an insight into the methods they teach which have established them as a trusted enabler for the playbook companies.  

“I was on an airplane commuting and I looked around the plane and thought, “These people look awful, they are hating life.” I’m like, “God, I hope I don’t look like that.” I looked out of the corner of my eye and saw my reflection and I’m like, “Oh my God, I look like that!” I took out a napkin and a pen, and thought, “What’s missing on this plane?” What was missing was passion. So, I wrote down in a circle in the middle of the cocktail napkin, “Passion.” I said, “Okay, what am I passionate about?” I started to write it down, and I was really passionate about coaching and developing people … Force Management was actually sketched out on a napkin!”  


In this podcast you will discover:  

  •        The inspiration behind Force Management  
  •        The four essential questions you need to be aligned with for high-performance 
  •        How to build your sales process around your customers buying process.  
  •        Natural resting states when assessing suitability  


John Kaplan gives a unique account of how to drive organisational alignment, increase revenue, and deliver transformation. Eighteen years ago, Force Management was born out of the passion for growing and developing sales forces. He now works with some of the most influential companies in the world, helping them to understand their business, and stay engaged in the process to ensure their success.   


John talks us through his journey from the early days to the present moment and tells us exactly what he thinks it takes to build a modern-day unicorn. This extensive discussion is essential listening for those with an interest in sales strategy, anyone with a passion for the high growth technology space and the MEDDICC playbook.  



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