Kyle Porter on Leadership as Service

There is no lack of companies and their CEOs that go through the motions of woke capitalism, turning it into performative theater to satisfy customers, partners, and investors. Only over time do you see which firms are sincere in their efforts at stakeholder capitalism and which ones view such positions as a way to goose profits and burnish their image.

BP was a perfect example of greenwashing until they befouled the Gulf of Mexico.

I’ve known Kyle Porter, CEO of Sales Engagement Platform SalesLoft, for about nine years. I was impressed when he mothballed his first product because it wasn’t aligned with his belief in sales authenticity. It was a gutsy move. While he didn’t burn his boats (i.e., immediately remove the product from the market), he stopped selling the service and phased out the product while fulfilling current contracts.

Early on he set out five principals for his company. He has discussed them at user conferences and posts them on SalesLoft’s company page:

So when Kyle announced that SalesLoft was internalizing the cost of its carbon footprint by paying for carbon offsets, I asked him about it. He framed the discussion as part of a broader social mission:

From the beginning, this has been a mission-led business. I didn’t found a company because I wanted to make money in sales, I founded a company because I knew that a business would be the greatest vehicle that I could create to make an impact on the world. And that starts with our customers and changing their lives. It extends to our employees and providing them with a place where they can learn more, grow more, do more, find fulfillment, and serve others. And that extends to our ecosystem and the places that we serve.

If I’ve got influence and capabilities, why not yield those to make the world a better place at the same time…

Einstein said the purpose of life is to serve. I believe that a leader’s role is to serve, and I believe that I’ve been entrusted with a unique story, with capabilities, with resources, with a great business. And it’s my job to be a steward of that and use it to make the world a better place.

So when you look out, you see that we emit 35 billion metric tons of carbon, and SalesLoft is emitting carbon, as well, through our server ecosystem, through our travel, through our office space HVAC. We have an opportunity to take it seriously, and we have an opportunity to have a net-zero impact on the world, then we’re going to take that.

Fortunately, we were able to find a great partner [Green Places] who helps us offset our carbon footprint, and commits us to operating in an energy efficient way.

We stand for something. We act on it. It’s one of the many things that we want to do as a business.”

SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter (Interview: Michael Levy 8/20/21)

Now, I’m hoping that Green Places keeps Kyle’s feet to the fire on his promise to be carbon neutral. Simply paying for offsets should only be the first step in meeting environmental objectives. The real progress happens when a company works with its employees, vendors, and partners to reduce their carbon emissions. I have no doubt that Kyle is sincere, but even those with the best of intentions need to be advised on next steps and best practices. Just as SalesLoft provides Guided Selling and Next Best Actions to sales professionals, advisory services such as Green Places need to provide Guided Leadership and Next Best Actions to C-level execs.

The SalesTech space is fortunate to have some mensches at the helm (Kyle Porter, Henry Shuck at ZoomInfo, Manny Medina at Outreach, Jeff Weiner at LinkedIn [retired]). Sales has often been a highly competitive, self-serving profession (“coffee is for closers”). Having executives with a stakeholder perspective that preach and implement authenticity, privacy, diversity, collaboration, career development, and environmentalism positions their companies against the stereotypes of the sales profession and helps advance the profession.

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