January 16–18, 2024
Park MGM Las Vegas | Las Vegas, NV

Thank you!

Thank you for attending the 2023 ICCFA DEAD Talks Sales Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada! This year’s event was incredible and filled with learning, networking, and fun! We hope to see you back next year for another amazing two and a half days of expanding your careers as deathcare sales professionals and family service counselors.

Save the date for January 16–18, 2024, when DEAD Talks returns to Las Vegas, this time at the Park MGM Las Vegas hotel!

Join ICCFA Today!


  • 3:00 – 7:00 PM
  • 3:30 – 4:00 PM
    Whether you are attending DEAD Talks for the first time, or back for more of a good thing, conference co-chairs Ann Marie St. George and Phil Tassi, offer you a warm welcome and will share tips on how to make the most of your time and enjoy yourself at DEAD Talks 2023! Along with our hallmark 18-minute, info-packed “DEAD Talks”, we will also have a hands-on presentation workshop, Wheel of Objections gameshow, networking receptions, lunch-and-learn sessions, and a pre-need sales championship.
  • 4:00 – 5:15 PM
    How many times have you come up against, “Just send me some information,” or, “We need to talk with the kids first”? Join host John Bolton, as he spins the Wheel of Objections and puts our gameshow contestants to the test, forcing them to work through the brush-offs and potential roadblocks to give you a closer look at how to anticipate, overcome and handle objections.
  • 5:30 – 7:00 PM
  • 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • 7:15 – 8:15 AM
  • 8:00 – 8:15 AM
  • 8:15 – 9:15 AM
    KEYNOTE PRESENTATION – Storytelling to Drive Business: How Stories Can Motivate & Persuade
    LaQuita Cleare
    The art of storytelling is as old as time. Stories have always been used to pass on information from one person to another in a meaningful way. Today, storytelling has a central place in the business landscape – stories are the backbone of growth. LaQuita Cleare truly understands the delicate balance between the art of storytelling and the science behind it. She has written stories, performed stories, produced stories, and helped hundreds of leaders and companies get in on the secrets of good storytelling. 
    In this keynote, you get in on the secrets of good storytelling and learn how to build a captivating narrative, overcome imaginary barriers, boost your presentation skills, and make people care about your message.
    LaQuita Ann Cleare, CEO of Clear Communication Academy, has the incredible ability to transform a simple speech into an outstanding performance. She prepares CEOs, actors, executives, marketing professionals, and other public figures with skills to enhance their presence on stage, on camera, and in media outlets. She has also worked with politicians to overcome their fear of public speaking and become more dynamic speakers. Most importantly, her work focuses on authenticity. In addition, she is also a company favorite to work with sales teams and employees on both internal and external communication. 
    Her master’s studies in social psychology enabled her work to be science and research based, while her degree in theater helps her take client’s vocal and physical delivery skills to the next level.  
  • 9:15 – 10:05 AM
    WORKSHOP – Dynamic Presentations Workshop: Structure and Tools To Make You Standout
    LaQuita Cleare
    Presentations are a core element in the day-to-day of any business. From weekly reports to sales, and investor decks to corporate event slides, if you’re operating in a business setting, it’s hard to avoid giving a presentation. Sadly, most presentations are boring – 79% of people tune out after a mere 10 minutes of a presentation. With no real hook, too much text, and loads of information but no story to connect the dots…the list of mistakes is huge!
    The good news? The best presenters weren’t born great – presentation skills are completely teachable! This presentation skills workshop will help teams and individuals take their presentation and business communication skills to the next level. You’ll learn how to create storylines for your presentations, express your ideas clearly, and read the room so you can adapt your presentation for maximum impact.
  • 10:05 AM
  • 10:10 – 11:00 AM
    HEADLINER- Why Cremation Selling Should be No Different
    Néctar Ramírez – Forest Lawn Memorial Parks & Mortuaries
    Many pre-need counselors struggle to attain a high average policy value when selling to cremation families.  Your approach to presenting the cremation information is often the culprit.  We will review how you can apply your traditional services presentation to cremation families and positively impact family satisfaction and your average cremation policy value.
    Néctar Ramírez believes in educating not only the mind but the heart. When people are passionate about what they do, they can’t help but succeed. Néctar has 20+ years of experience in sales and training. She has a track record of high performance in sales and demonstrated effectiveness in training. A sought-after speaker at national and international forums, Néctar has trained hundreds of sales professionals, customers, employees, and students to achieve company and organizational goals and realize the best version of themselves. She is currently the senior vice president advance planning for Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks & Mortuaries and sits on the Board of Directors for the ICCFA.
  • 11:00 – 11:20 AM
    DEAD TALK #1 – CX for Cremation
    Clift Dempsey, CCFE,
    CCrE – Leaf Cremation
    In this session, Clift will discuss how to offer “experiences” for the cremation customer along with customary options any firm can provide. The objective is to share new ways to present cremation experiences and take home a list of these experiences and options to implement immediately.
    Clift Dempsey, CCFE, CCrE, is a third-generation funeral professional having started his career at the young age of 20 selling cemetery arrangements for his family’s three cemeteries in Rome, Georgia. Clift quickly became involved in the profession’s state, regional, and national associations, learning more and more about the industry. While working fulltime for his family’s business, he graduated from Shorter College in 1993. Clift went on to become a member of the board of directors for the Georgia Cemetery Association, and the Southern Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. He is a 2019 graduate of the ICCFA University. Clift is the CEO/Founder of Leaf Cremation which serves families in Georgia and Ohio. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the ICCFA, legislative chairman for the Georgia Cemetery Association, and is appointed to the Georgia State Board of Cemeterians.
  • 11:20 – 11:40 AM
    DEAD TALK #2 – Permanent Memorialization for Cremation
    Nina Perry – Riemann Family Funeral Homes/Park Lawn Corporation
    Join Nina Perry as she presents what our profession can do to change the mindset of a cremation family. Nina will present real-life situations concerning urns that have never been placed and present questions we should be asking ourselves when an urn goes out the door. Did you automatically assume the urn was going home with the family and neglect to offer every option? Did their loved one’s legacy end when the urn went home with no place for extended family to visit? She will share creative ideas on directing families to permanent placement of their loved ones as well as ways to help you explain its importance.
    Nina Perry started her career in funeral service 15 years ago after seeing the importance of having an intentional plan in place and memorializing the ones you love as part of the healing process. She has spent the last few years managing sales at several Park Lawn Corporation mergers throughout the US. Everyone has a story and Nina has found her true passion for cremation placement from her own personal experiences. She was the chair and presenter for the Tri-State Cemetery Convention for Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
  • 11:40 – 12:00 PM
    DEAD TALK #3 – Presenting High-end Products
    Daniel Thomas – Forest Lawn Memorial Parks
    Join Daniel Thomas as he helps you look at ways to increase your sales average for high-end cemetery property and mortuary services.
    Daniel Thomas has worked at Forest Lawn for over 25 years, all in the advance planning division. During his time with Forest Lawn, he has been a training manager, assistant manager, regional manager, sales training director and is currently the vice president of advance planning. In Daniel’s current role, he is responsible for the operational aspects of advance planning including onboarding, training, CRM management, and collaborative efforts. He also heads up the social media elite team responsible for transforming leads from digital platforms into sales.
  • 12:00 – 1:30 PM
  • 12:30 – 1:15 PM
    B2C COUNSELOR LUNCH SESSION – Are Lunch and Learns DOA?
    David Bailey – Carriage Services
    The “Lunch and Learn” is a concept that has been around for a long time and, like any well-worn idea, it can lose its energy and impact. This is where David Bailey comes in. Learn how to master this incredible opportunity to tell the story of pre-planning in a winsome and compelling way to as many people as possible, in the shortest amount of time. We all want our lunch and learns to be powerful and effective – come find the tools and inspiration to make that happen for you!
    David Bailey is a man of many talents. An accomplished celebrant, speaker, podcaster, and voice-over talent, he has leveraged his diverse skillset to lead Carriage Services pre-need seminar program as their community relations partner. In this role, he has developed the roadmap for family seminars focusing on the importance of pre-planning and the impact that this thoughtful act can have on families and their loved ones
  • 12:15 – 1:15 PM
    B2B SUPPLIER LUNCH SESSION – Create Your Elevator Pitch for One-on-One Conversations and Beyond
    LaQuita Cleare, Clear Communication Academy
    Are you pitch ready? Do the words flow out of your mouth with confidence and precision, or do you stammer and say “um” far too often? Are you captivating your audience with a great story, or boring them to tears with nothing more than dull, complicated PowerPoint presentations? Do your gestures add to the pitch or leave the listener wondering if you’ve had too much coffee?
    You only get one shot to make a great first impression.
    Join LaQuita Cleare as she shares her vast experience helping CEOs, entrepreneurs, and sales teams in a variety of settings, from boardrooms to pitch competitions to make their first impression count.
  • 1:30 – 1:40 PM
  • 1:40 – 3:30 PM
    Watch and learn in real-time as pre-need sales counselors give their best Personal Planning Guide presentation, handle objections, and hopefully close the sale to a prospective client. Each presentation will then be critiqued by a panel of expert judges who will point out areas where they excelled and areas that would benefit from more information.
  • 3:20 – 3:25 PM
  • 3:25 – 4:15 PM 
    HEADLINER – Sales Person or Sales Professional – What Separates the Masters from the Mediocre?
    West Fougler – Envision Strategy Partners
    “I want a beautiful yard, but I hate yard work. I really like a clean and organized house, but I hate housework. I want to be in great shape, but I don’t feel like working out. I love making sales, but I hate prospecting!” If we only do things we like or when we feel like it, we are unlikely to find success in anything, especially in sales. This presentation will focus on the why, how, and when we should prospect to help establish the habit of doing things we don’t like to do!
    West Foulger has worked in the funeral profession since 1997. West has a passion for building lasting relationships and serving families. For more than 23 years, he has worked to build pre-need sales teams with large corporately held firms and family-owned operations. West has a successful track record working with funeral homes, cemeteries, and combination locations. This success led to co-founding Envision Strategic Partners in 2016 where he used his 20+ years of experience to help more privately owned funeral homes and cemeteries develop a pre-need program that could compete with any firm in any market.
  • 4:15 – 4:35 PM
    DEAD TALK #4 – How to Form Your “I Help” Statement
    Liza Attenburg – Park Lawn Corporation

    Stories can make or break interactions in every aspect of business – employee recruitment, outreach marketing, social media, and more. But nowhere are they more necessary and impactful than in the pre-need sales presentation.
    In this session, Liza Attenburg discuss:
    – How and why stories are more psychologically impactful than facts
    – How to toe the line between professionalism and vulnerability when incorporating storytelling into the sales process
    – How to form your “I help” statement and personal brand around the stories to which you most closely connect, illuminating the authenticity in everything that you do.
    Deathcare may be a second career for Liza Altenburg, who started as a sales counselor in 2017 and joined Park Lawn Corporation as a sales manager in 2021, but she has found her life’s work in this amazing industry where she has been a top producer year after year. She brings more than 20 years of experience to the cemetery world as a corporate sales trainer, public speaker, and John Maxwell-certified DISC behavioral consultant. Liza has helped thousands of entrepreneurs to achieve their goals by implementing consistent and proven sales strategies. Turning her focus to deathcare has fulfilled her in a way that she didn’t know possible, and she is incredibly proud of the team that she has the opportunity to lead.
  • 4:35 – 4:55 PM
    DEAD TALK #5 – Top 3 Community Outreach Programs
    Mark Anthony Panciera – Panciera Funeral Homes and Cremation

    Every profession must adapt to the ever-changing ways of technology, including sales and marketing. Without social selling, you can expect to achieve the same results that you’ve experienced for generations. Have you ever thought about marketing being superior to sales? Mark Anthony Panciera will help you embrace that thought and will share three simple breakthrough steps of social selling that will honor tradition while igniting your firm’s growth.
    Mark Panciera began his professional journey with a performance consulting firm that provides professional development to Fortune 1000 companies, healthcare systems, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and athletics. Years later, he was recruited by Service Corporation International Direct as a marketing analyst to manage the multi-million-dollar marketing budget to increase investment return and decrease investment spend. Now, he is the fourth generation Panciera overseeing the expansion of Panciera Funeral Homes and Cremation, a 90-year funeral service provider.
  • 4:55 – 5:15 PM
    DEAD TALK #6 – Aftercare 3.0
    Ellery Bowker – Aftercare.com
    Aftercare is typically thought of as grief support, but grieving isn’t the only issue families face when they lose a loved one. Wrapping up their loved one’s affairs is required and is often a tedious and arduous process that is made even worse when they have no idea what they need to do or how to get it done. Ellery Bowker will discuss ways funeral homes can offer support for closing an estate, and, in doing so, position themselves as the experts before, during, and after the loss of a loved one. This metaphorical “hand holding” opens the door to easy conversations about “next steps” which include pre-arranging their own services.
    Ellery Bowker is the CEO & founder of Aftercare.com. With almost two decades of experience providing simple solutions to help funeral professionals grow their business, he’s now a thought leader and speaks regularly at state and national conventions. His presentations are full of insights and humor and will have you thinking about how to add more value to your families without doing any more work. 
  • 5:15 – 6:15 PM

  • 7:30 AM – 12:30 PM
  • 7:30 – 8:45 AM
  • 8:30 – 9:00 AM
  • 9:00 – 9:05 AM
  • 9:05 – 9:55 AM
    WORKSHOP –Beyond the Numbers: Managing a Successful Sales Team
    Bob Gordon, Jr., CCE – Cypress Lawn Cemetery Association
    There’s a lot more to managing a sales team than excelling at sales. In this fast-paced session, Bob Gordon Jr., president and CEO of the Cypress Lawn Cemetery Association, will present his top tactics for growing and leading successful sales teams. Both seasoned and new sales leaders alike will gain strategies they can put into action right away.
    Robert “Bob” Gordon Jr., CCE, began his career at his grandfather’s cemetery and funeral home as a teenager. He worked in every position, eventually rising to the level of vice president. He went on to hold director positions at the El Camino Group, Carriage Services and Service Corporation International. Bob is now the president and CEO of the Cypress Lawn Cemetery Association. He is a licensed funeral director and cemetery broker.
  • 9:55 – 10:15 AM 
    DEAD TALK #7 – No Hidden Agenda
    Kacie Derby – Baue Funeral Homes/ Park Lawn Corp
    Are your sales meetings captivating and effective, or do they need some work? Join Kacie Derby for this session where you will learn how to make your meetings interactive and get everyone involved, and ensure they are engaged. She will also show how to create the most effective agenda based on what topics are included and when they are discussed during the meeting.
    Kacie Derby has been in the industry for 11 years at Baue Funeral Homes and St. Charles Memorial Gardens. She manages a team of salespeople and admin professionals producing more than $9 million annually and prides herself on protecting the culture of the team and the individuals on the team through open communication. Kacie presents at all of Baue’s seminars and has given many presentations to the community and to other professionals in the industry on various topics surrounding funeral service, cemetery, and advanced planning. 
  • 10:15 – 10:35 AM
    DEAD TALK #8 – Training New Hires
    Erin Embry – Carriage Services
    In this session, we will identify key statistics for employee training and discuss five specific focuses that expand and provide true opportunities for new hires. Join Erin Embry for this can’t-miss session where you will learn how employee engagement and commitment are vital to the training process and go hand-in-hand with the consideration of expanding your process and abilities with technology.
    Erin Embry has been in the funeral and cemetery industry since 2015. Her experience started in sales and transitioned into training sales counselors, developing agendas and approaches with funeral directors, working on job-related specifics for maintenance/ ground crew members as well as providing leadership support and motivation. Since joining Carriage in November 2020, Erin has had the opportunity to develop training courses used by sales counselors, created resources, rewards, and training material for counselors, sales managers, and operational leadership. She has mastered the approach and delivery of new hire training and content.  
  • 10:35 – 10:55 AM 
    DEAD TALK #9 – World-Class Training & Coaching
    Aaron Butler – Domani Pre-need
    This session is a crash course in effective coaching and training, using practical experience and real instructional design research that is perfect for both new and experienced sales leaders. Theory is great but application is key, and attendees will walk away with 100% actionable steps to create their own world-class training and coaching plans on the plane ride home. This session will help you answer the following questions: 
    – How do I keep from losing these new agents in the first 90 days? 
    – I need to cut the time it takes to onboard new agents by half. But how? 
    – This producer just isn’t closing. How do I get them to change their approach? 
    – My one-on-one trainings are falling flat every time. How do I move the needle?  
  • 11:00 – 11:50 AM
    FINAL SPEAKER  – The Best of the Best: Hearing from You and Making Real Change Happen!
    Shane Pudenz – Carriage Services
    DEAD Talks is a wonderful conference and opportunity to learn and understand new and practiced concepts within the industry. With all the great speakers and the knowledge shared, the question is: how do you implement it within yourself, your team, or your organization? One thing is for sure: you either do it or you don’t. This session will be focused on recapping the sessions from the previous two and a half days and giving personal insights on how you can bring what you’ve learned back to your business and utilize it. This session will be different as it will require your engagement through sharing some of your best practices and even asking specific questions related to your business. The goal is to make sure you leave with a plan and come back next year ready for more.
    With over ten years of experience in the deathcare industry, Shane Pudenz is a sales leader that has delivered throughout his career. As the vice president of sales and marketing with Carriage Services, he is responsible for leading a national sales and marketing team of over 200 people. Shane believes strongly in the Carriage core values of partnerships, support, and empowerment and continually uses them to motivate his teams for success.

  • 11:50 AM – 12: 00 PM
  • 12:00 – 12:15 PM

Photos from the 2023 DEAD Talks

View All of the Photos from DEAD Talks

Past presentations

We keep presentations from previous years available for you in our archives.

DEAD Talks 2023
DEAD Talks 2022
DEAD Talks 2021
DEAD Talks 2020


Sponsorship Opportunities

If your organization is interested in showing your support for the ICCFA and the deathcare profession, consider becoming a sponsor! Attendees at DEAD Talks will see your organization’s logo and branding, solidifying your place as a leader in deathcare. Sponsorship opportunities include keynote speakers, virtual networking, commercials, audio/visual support, and more!

For sponsorship opportunities, contact the ICCFA Headquarters at hq@iccfa.com.

Become a Sponsor