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Deb Calvert

By Deb Calvert (2732 words)
Posted in Leadership on July 25, 2013

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Deb Calvert


People First Productivity Solutions




Deb Calvert, author of the DISCOVER Questions™ book series, founded People First Productivity Solutions in 2006 to help businesses build organizational strength by putting people first.  The PFPS focus is to boost company productivity through people development. This work includes leadership program design and facilitation, strategic planning with senior managers, team effectiveness work and executive coaching. Deb has worked in, trained for and been featured as a keynote speaker in a wide variety of industries, and she has particular expertise in the produce/agriculture and media industries. 


Deb is certified to facilitate The Leadership Challenge® and also works with executives, managers, sales trainers and sales reps as a Humanistic Performance Coach. She is certified as an Executive Coach by the Center for Executive Coaching. She is certified as a Master Sales Coach and Master Trainer. She is a charter member of The Sales Force Advisory Board and a graduate of the Accelerating Sales Force Performance executive program at Northwestern University. Deb is also a member of the American Society for Training & Development, national and Mount Diablo chapters, the American Management Association, and the SF Coaches chapter of the International Coach Federation. Additionally, Deb is a Certified Practitioner with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and other assessment tools.


Deb has worked as a sales productivity specialist and sales researcher since 2000. Her work led to the development of DISCOVER Questions™ and the 5-book series launched in 2013 with Book 1 for Professional Sellers. She has worked with the media industry for over 25 years as a consultant, a corporate director in Sales and Human Resources for a Fortune 500 company and as an Operations Director, Training Manager, and Sales Manager. Deb’s early career included a variety of inside, outside and major account sales positions. Over the past 10 years, Deb has worked with over 300 media companies to accelerate sales productivity. Deb hosts the CONNECT! online radio show for selling professionals where listeners ignite their selling power in just an hour.


Deb’s unique mix of senior-level Sales, Human Resources and Operations experience gives her a unique perspective in understanding the challenges faced by companies and senior leaders.


Training and Consulting Services


Leadership Development Programs

Deb has worked with Fortune 500s, privately-held international companies, mid-size companies and not-for-profit organizations to develop more than 50 customized leadership development programs. These range from intensive, immersion programs designed to help leaders recognize and utilize their full potential to single-day workshops focused on introducing the concepts of leadership.


Working in partnership with Barry Posner, co-author of The Leadership Challenge, and Camp Fire, a national youth organization, Deb is currently developing The Youth Leadership Challenge. Deb has worked extensively with youth leaders, ages 8-18, to support development of a leadership mindset beginning at an early age. This begins, for leaders of any age and at any level, with reconciling values with action and getting clarity on personal priorities. 



This is People First Productivity Solution’s premier program for leadership development. While PFPS offers an extensive range of services, resources and training for leadership development at every level, CONNECT2LEAD is the most comprehensive and transformational program. Participants will experience The Leadership Challenge and create a development plan based on the 360-degree assessment. Leadership Practices Inventory®. Additionally, participants will work to improve their decision-making, conflict resolution and communication skills using the MBTI assessment as a starting point. Supplemental training modules are selected to meet the needs of your company and participants, all with an aim toward helping people connect more effectively as leaders.


Executive Coaching

One-on-one development coaching to support senior leaders who are already high achievers. With new challenges come new opportunities to continually stretch. For senior leaders, there are seldom few internal resources available to help with the stretch into new terrain. Deb is certified as an Executive Coach and has worked with over 100 senior leaders and managers to help them extract and cross-apply what they already know so they can stretch themselves toward next-level goals.


Sales Training Programs

People First Productivity Solutions customizes sales training modules and comprehensive programs. We survey all trainees first to ensure the right fit between participant needs and selected content. Then we work to build training suited to your industry, products, marketplace and team. All case studies, role plays and examples are highly relevant so participants are able to immediately apply what they’ve learned. 


Deb and her team of trainers will also work with your in-house trainers. We offer train-the-trainer programs, including a competency model for trainers. Whether you’re looking for your own branded training program or a ready-made program you can bring to your team quickly, PFPS is a solution you will want to consider. Our methodologies are research-based, field-tested and modern.  


Advance the Sale

This is the premier sales training program by People First Productivity Solutions. This 2-day survey course covers the entire sales process and includes the most recent research and techniques in the world of selling. Participants will be engaged by a high level of interaction and challenged to connect with buyers in new ways. Even the most experienced sellers will learn ways to advance the sale more rapidly to a close. 


DISCOVER Questions™

Sellers, Leaders, Coaches, Managers and Trainers all need to master the art of asking quality questions. DISCOVER Questions™ Get You Connected is the training and book series tailored to each of these five audiences. But the universal need for improved question-asking skills is also revealed by the 25 years of research done by Deb Calvert. PFPS offers customized training programs using these 8 types of questions and the techniques for using questions to get connected. 


Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

Deb is a certified practitioner and uses the MBTI assessment to build teams, help individuals connect more effectively and strengthen self-awareness. Deb’s familiarity with other personality type instruments and commonly used assessment tools enables her to support your team as they make connections between what they already know about themselves and one another and what they will learn as they become acquainted in new ways using MBTI. 


Keynote Speaking Topics


Leadership at Every Level

Leadership isn’t a job title. It’s not a natural-born quality. It’s not an endowment of authority. Leadership is an attitude, backed by a set of behaviors. Anyone can be a leader. When everyone in an organization sees themselves as leaders, the empowerment and enablement has a multiplier effect that drives real results. 


This inspiring program is ideal for organizations that recognize the power of igniting sparks inside everyone. Your people will see themselves differently and be ennobled as they realize they are, indeed, leaders.   


Leader… Manager… Mentor… Coach? What’s the Difference?

There’s a time and place for each of these roles. But most people get stuck in a self-limiting rut because they are defined by their job title alone. Ideally, everyone who supervises others would be adept in all four of these roles. But that can’t happen until they understand the differences and appropriate applications for each role.


In this engaging presentation, packed with anecdotes and examples, Deb will describe the differences and provide a simple tool that pinpoints which role is the right one in any given situation. When you are capable of leading, managing, mentoring and coaching, your versatility will make you and your entire team more effective. 


DISCOVER Questions™ for Real Connections

When you know how to ask questions and understand the purpose of eight discrete types of questions, you are in the driver’s seat of every conversation. Your questions will yield the information you really want to know, and they will engage others in ways you never knew were possible. Constructing quality questions is easy when you have the DISCOVER Questions™ approach to work with.


This program will challenge the way you think about questions and will red-flag your communication foibles. The “Queen of Questions” will make you laugh and make you think about how you can solidify your connections with others just by asking different questions. 


Buyers Have Changed. Have You?

If you are in sales (and who isn’t?), this program may be the turnaround you need for truly getting alignment with and loyalty from your buyers.


As buyers, we’ve all changed. Drastically. But as sellers, we deny those changes and continue doing business as usual. But that doesn’t work, and it never will again. Be sure the sellers in your organization understand what has changed, why it’s changed and how they must immediately change, too, in order to be effective in building your bottom line. 


The 12 Dimensions of Trust 

Trust is the glue we need for every interpersonal connection to stick. Buyer/seller, manager/ direct report, co-worker/peer… It all hinges on trust. But here’s the problem. Not everyone uses the same criteria for determining whether or not others are trustworthy. That leads to big misunderstandings and accidental breaches of trust. 


In this eye-opening program, Deb reveals the12 Dimensions of Trust and gives you the tough love perspective you may need to genuinely build and sustain trust in your workplace. 





DISCOVER Questions™ Get You Connected

Book 1 for Professional Sellers will help you become the one seller buyers WANT to talk to. Endorsed by highly esteemed thought leaders and some of the biggest names in selling, this book is the result of 25 years of field research on over 10,000 sales calls. Understanding and using DISCOVER Questions™ sets sellers apart from the pack and enables them to connect with buyers and close more sales.


The Evolution of Sales

Extensive research on buyer behaviors shows that modern consumers are more empowered and less loyal than ever before in history. This white paper, based on a 2012 survey of 1,000 sales professionals, describes how sales professionals perceive these changes in their buyers. The findings reveal a marked denial among sellers, sales managers and sales trainers who tend to believe “sales is sales” and there is no need to change. Deb describes what has changed and what must change for modern sellers to meet their buyers’ demands and expectations.   



This weekly blog serves The CONNECT! Community, people who want to strengthen their connections with themselves and others – something that is becoming increasingly difficult to do in a wired world. The CONNECT! Blog was named a Top 50 Blog in 2012. 


Advance the Sale Blog

Formerly called Expedition, this weekly blog serves professional sellers with tips, techniques, current research and encouragement for selling more effectively. This is a no-fluff blog with hard-hitting truths for sellers who genuinely want to advance the sale by meeting buyer needs. 


CONNECT! Online Radio for Selling Professionals

Bi-weekly radio program by sellers for sellers, CONNECT! Online Radio is where you can go to ignite your selling power in just an hour. Available as a live, call-in program and archived for download on iTunes or blogtalkradio, this program features sales coaching, podcast-format training and interviews with big-name sales superstars. 



I participated in Leadership Skills Development courses Deb created… hands-on classes that encouraged attendees to solve problems, create new opportunities, and mentor others… Deb created a positive swell of development that everyone in the company was excited about…Learning from Deb in these classes originated my first spark of wanting to become a leader… Deb taught me what classes, books or webinars could never teach me. Deb helped me to learn from situations, coached me through tough times and guided me to invest in my own and others’ development. I was fortunate to learn early from Deb valuable principles that will last my entire career. Emerging leaders in your industry will grow rapidly from Deb’s creative, insightful programs and coaching. She has inspired hundreds of people to make a difference in others’ lives… like she has in mine.”

- Marty Goodnight, Advertising Director, The Springfield News-Leader Media Group


“When I came to the San Francisco Examiner as Advertising Vice President in 2009, one of the first things I did was contract for training services with Deb Calvert and People First Productivity Solutions. My job was to build an effective sales team and significantly increase advertising revenue. I decided to start with a comprehensive sales training and coaching program for the entire sales team, and the clear choice was Deb Calvert. Her experience in media sales and her engaging training style were unparalleled. She surveyed our team and customized the training to fit our unique product and our market. Deb has contributed to our success in other ways, too. She provides 1-to-1 coaching with all sales reps, teaching them to apply what they’ve learned in training to the accounts and categories they call on. Additionally, she has provided several management training programs, as well as tools that have helped improve our hiring processes and internal coaching capabilities. She serves as a consultant to me and to all the sales managers, helping us to continually improve our effectiveness and our sales culture. As a result of all our efforts, including Deb’s partnership and services, we are one of very few U.S. newspapers experiencing our third consecutive year of revenue growth. My sales team is stronger and more motivated than any other sales team I’ve seen in any other business. “

- Andrew Stark, Media Executive


“Deb has been working with me since the beginning of 2007 when I became the Director of Growing Great People at Driscoll’s. We were going into our third class with the Driscoll’s Leadership Institute (DLI). Our program was highly training-based and theoretical. Deb was brought in to “connect the dots” with the programming and make it applicable back on the job so people were working on their development and applying their skills in the real world… (As a result), we have raised the credibility and effectiveness of the program significantly. Deb has been very responsive in adapting what she knows to what Driscoll’s needs to develop our folks based on where we are as a company. She is definitely one who takes feedback and brainstorms the solutions as a partner for the betterment of participants’ experiences…What I really appreciate about Deb is her ability to partner with others in our Company – the participants, their managers and executive management. Deb made herself part of Driscoll’s, and she is very respected by our Company’s leadership… I appreciate the opportunity to highly recommend Deb Calvert. She has been extremely valuable to our Company in growing our people.”

- Janet Heien, Director of Growing Great People, Driscoll’s


“Deb Calvert knows how to make things happen… Deb is a team player who cares deeply about the success of her clients. She is conscientious, responsible and incredibly bright… She is a master at designing, developing and integrating programs and people practices that make a significant impact on the bottom line. I enthusiastically recommend Deb as a management consultant, trainer and catalyst for effective change.”

- Carole Phipps, Professor of Organizational Development, San Jose State University


“…Everyone in my industry has known for quite some time that a major shift has occurred, but no one that I’ve spoken with (including top management at very large companies) has been able to identify the issue and develop a plan of attack the way that Deb has. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling – human behavior has changed due to the amount of data available to us on the internet and we all have to adapt accordingly and change our game plan. Deb has shown us that relationships are still important but they must be backed up with value and that value has to be emphasized and tied in every step of the way.

This training could not have come at a better time for me. Deb has shown me how to think from the buyer’s perspective and how to dig deeper to make sure that the most pressing need is uncovered. A solution that addresses that need will be high value and will trump any objection in terms of pricing or preference.

I really appreciate the level of coaching that she provides and especially the ongoing support and feedback. She truly understands the struggles we’re facing and genuinely wants to help us succeed. It has been a pleasure and I look forward to sharing many success stories with her in the near future and beyond! 

- Cat Louis Account Manager at Temporary Solutions Inc.  



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