Accelerate Podcast with Andy Paul
December 1, 2017

#604. Happiness and Sales Success. With Bridget Gleason.

Bridget Gleason is VP of Sales for Logz.io and my regular partner on Front Line Fridays.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Bridget is doing fantastic in Boston, enjoying the change of seasons! Andy enjoys running in Central Park.
  • The topic is happiness. Bridget’s resting state is happy. There is a lot of stress she faces as a VP of Sales, and she wants to be imperturbable at work.
  • Andy cites author Emma Seppälä, about making work a place of calm, centeredness, and focus, to enable us to be more successful at work and in life.
  • Stress up and down the chain of sales has been ratcheted up. A recent study of stress showed 58% of people surveyed nationally report their level of stress is rising. In 2014, Gallup found employee engagement to be low.
  • Seppälä says decades of research have shown that happiness is not the outcome of success but the precursor to it. This resonates with Bridget. She doesn’t want her happiness dependent on future results.
  • When we feel burned out, we accept over-extension as a way of life. Then we blame ourselves for the burnout. Andy is not one of the 58% of over-stressed people. The perspective of experience helps him not to stress.
  • Emma Seppälä lists six myths of success. Andy comments on each myth. Seppälä isolates the actions of success from the feelings of happiness. Happiness is a state of heightened positive emotions that prepare for success.
  • Happiness leads to connections and is contagious. Bridget talks about how happy the VP of Customer Success at Logz.io always appears and how she asked him about it. She looks forward to encounters with him.
  • Seppälä divides happiness into three categories of benefits. On the intellectual level, it helps us learn faster and be more creative. Psychologically, it helps us bounce back from stress. Socially, it helps build relationships.
  • The turnover rate for SDRs (about a year) indicates they are not happy at work. As the prospect-facing team of the organization, it would be better for them to be happy. Can the inherent stress in their environment be reduced?
  • Seppälä considers there to be six keys to happiness. Living in the moment — being present with people — is the first. Andy explains the six keys. The last is to show compassion and be of service to others.
  • Andy hopes you will read the book and he invites your comments and questions about Emma Seppälä’s book, The Happiness Track, in the context of sales.

 

November 17, 2017

#598. Win with a Disciplined Sales Process. With Bridget Gleason. And special guest, Phill Keene.

Bridget Gleason is VP of Sales for Logz.io and my regular partner on Front Line Fridays. We’re joined on this episode by Phill Keene, Director of Sales at Costello.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Bridget and Andy discuss travel and weather, as Bridget is just back from Tel Aviv.
  • Phill Keene, Director of Sales at Costello is the special guest. Costello helps align front-line reps, managers, VPs, and CROs about pipeline deals to identify gaps and remove roadblocks in a three-part solution.
  • Phill explains the parts of the solution. One aspect proactively simulates a pipeline review to visualize what steps are needed for deals.
  • The Costello solution works with reps on calls, capturing notes and information, and guiding a rep through a conversation to find the path to a signature.
  • Phill describes how Costello saw that reps were using only the required fields in Salesforce but they were recording copious data on paper or stand-alone apps that never made it into a CRM. Costello addresses that issue.
  • The next aspect is to look at competitor statistics, the number of problems to solve and other data points to visualize gaps in the pipeline and how to fill them.
  • Ideal customers for Costello are companies already on Salesforce, with more than 15 and up to 200 reps, following a documented sales process, and having a VP of Sales who is motivated to enforce it.
  • 50% of SaaS reps hit quota, casting doubt on the efficacy of methodologies. Phill asserts that top performers follow a process. Andy says that top performers have their own process that is not often the general company process.
  • Phill uses examples of Costello customers improving their conversions by leaps and bounds when uniformly following a methodology.
  • People buy from people. Building a rapport precedes methodology. Principles come before methods. Methods must be built on engagement and the basic principles of sales. Phill dives into Costello guidance to the process.
  • It requires hiring for sales ability and investing in training and development; reps will feel purpose and they will want to stay and excel. The primary reason for sales rep turnover is the manager.
  • The inside sales model has a low close rate compared to other industries and market segments. Andy suggests rethinking every position, especially SDRs.
November 8, 2017

#594 Don’t Surrender to Your Confirmation Bias. With George Brontén.

George Brontén, CEO of Membrain, joins me for the second time on this episode of #Accelerate! Listen to George’s first visit in Episode 347.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • George says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is to stand out and differentiate themselves. They need to understand their buyers and their product’s selling point and communicate it quickly to their buyers.
  • George recently wrote about confirmation bias in sales, which led to this visit to Accelerate! Confirmation bias is selecting data to reinforce our existing beliefs, even when contradictory data is present. This is a human behavior.
  • We have a bias that we are not biased. We need to acknowledge that we have biases that impact how we communicate with and receive information from others. It is also important to understand others’ values or biases.
  • Andy cites the book Blind Spot, and Project Implicit’s online Implicit Association Test, that reveals biases. We all have biases. Our biases impact our communications with others. Listen to the words people use to detect biases.
  • Don’t take what the customer says at face value. There is a motivation behind it that a sales rep needs to know. The conversation becomes more productive if you ask probing questions.
  • We need to ask what new information means and if it challenges what we or the customer believe. System One thinking is easy. Perceptions are sticky. It’s hard to change them.
  • Sales reps need to help customers activate their System Two thinking. Messaging must be simple, or the customer will simplify them with their own assumptions.
  • Humans are not motivated by logic. We make decisions from our emotions, linked to our values and beliefs, and then justify those decisions with rationalization.
  • Andy suggests asking customers questions about their business they should know the answers to but don’t. Challenging is not to be argumentative but to awaken in the mind of the buyer a risk of missing something.
  • Sales reps have a confirmation bias that if the first calls with a prospect go well, the prospect is on the way to a sale even with subsequent contradictory evidence. They may skip discovery steps or miss influencers.
  • Sales reps tend to have ‘happy ears.’ This bias can be overcome by strict adherence to process. Don’t forget anything important. Make sure the prospect meets exit criteria for each stage of the pipeline. Look at details.
  • A thorough pipeline review can dispel confirmation bias. Managers also have biases. All reps need pipeline reviews and leads should be distributed to reps appropriately.

 

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

For Vice Presidents of Sales of high-growth companies based on a recurring revenue model — Andy is teaming up with his friend Jacco van der Kooij, founder of Winning by Design and author of Blueprints of a SaaS Sales Organization, to launch the Sales Leadership Accelerator Mastermind, an intensive 12-month learning, coaching, and mastermind program for the Vice Presidents of Sales of high-growth companies. If the responsibility sits on your shoulders to scale your revenue team, to hit the $100 million mark ARR and beyond, then the Sales Leadership Accelerator Mastermind will help you transform how you sell, scale, and develop the capabilities of your team to crush your goals. Enrollment is limited to a very small group, so go to SaaSSLAM.com now, to learn more and enroll today.

October 25, 2017

#588 The Simple Formula for Success at Work and In Life. With Keith Ferrazzi.

Keith Ferrazzi, Founder and Chairman of Ferrazzi Greenlight, and author of NYT bestsellers, Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success One Relationship at a Time and Who’s Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep Trusting Relationships that Create Success and Won’t Let You Fail, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Keith says the single biggest challenge facing salespeople today is loneliness. Sales is a team sport and not enough salespeople know how to lead sales teams and to collaborate and elevate individuals critical to a sale.
  • Sales today is focused more on the activities, metrics, and methodologies and less on the relationships to create. Keith sees an awakening of salespeople to creating value for people by being of service to all the parties to the sale.
  • Keith describes the first question a salesperson needs to consider at the first prospect meeting, “How do I make their career successful?” It means recruiting them as an evangelist of a solution that lets them look exceptional.
  • Have you earned the permission to shift the way they buy? Relationships include permissions, and even forgiveness if you misstep and ‘stub your toe.’
  • Keith creates a pyramid of value for a sales rep to work through: social value, product value, and co-creation value, to make the client personally successful. The pyramid combines personal and professional value.
  • Too many reps don’t believe they have enough to offer. Don’t rely on charisma. Sit your team down with the client team and ask what value looks like to them. The art of the facilitator is the art of the salesperson.
  • Keith explains what drove his search for authentic relationships from a young age, and how that has become his business success. Keith gives a thumbnail sketch of the chapters of Never Eat Alone and his success.
  • Build relationships abundantly with meticulous planning. Build a strategic alignment of your goals and your relationships. Be generous, authentic, humble, and vulnerable. Your relationships do not let you fail.
  • At some point in a strong enough relationship, you can be vulnerable enough to ask them for help. That solidifies the relationship. Keith talks about asking for help. Keith does deep talk, not small talk, creating mutual empathy.
  • Keith says networks replace what we used to depend on from company loyalty. Relationships between companies consist of individual humans, not the companies themselves.
  • Connecting with others is the most challenging part of sales. Keith tells how he will manage a 15-minute introductory call with an important prospect. It’s all about the prospect. Let them ask about you when they’re ready.
  • Keith talks about his practices in reaching out to people. Build your brand. A sales rep must be a thought leader. A LinkedIn link isn’t permission. Find more joy in your life and more abundance through leading with relationships.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

For Vice Presidents of Sales of high-growth SaaS companies and software service companies — Andy is teaming up with his friend Jacco van der Kooij, founder of Winning by Design and author of Blueprints of a SaaS Sales Organization, to launch the Sales Leadership Accelerator Mastermind, an intensive 12-month learning, coaching, and mastermind program for the Vice Presidents of Sales of high-growth SaaS companies. If the responsibility sits on your shoulders to scale your revenue team, to hit the $100 million mark ARR and beyond, then the Sales Leadership Accelerator Mastermind will help you transform how you sell, scale, and develop the capabilities of your team to crush your goals. Enrollment is limited to a very small group, so go to SaaSSLAM.com now, to learn more and enroll today.

September 19, 2017

#569 Should you become a Certified Sales Professional? With Willis Turner.

Willis Turner, President and CEO of SMEI, Sales and Marketing Executives International, Inc., joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[3:54] Willis says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is taking time out to sharpen the saw and keep up-to-date on the newest technologies and education.

[4:51] Organizations want sales reps to educate themselves. There is a trend toward self-directed learning, investing their own time and money. A sales professional is in charge of their own career.

[6:29] Work is becoming more flexible and outcome-oriented. Individuals need to keep up with industry education. Sales may be going in a direction of independence, as manufacturers’ reps often are today.

[8:31] SMEI was founded as a nonprofit in 1935. They follow their founding principles of career advancement support by certification for people in the sales and marketing profession and provide career readiness support for college graduates.

[10:25] SMEI offers four certifications by testing: CSE for sales managers, SCPS for salespeople, CME for marketing managers and SCPM for people working in the marketing department. Certification is a validation of individual producers.

[13:28] Certifications test for knowledge, not competence. There are pre-requisites which imply competence. To be certified you need experience in the field. A certification starts with a detailed job analysis and a bank of tests.

[17:22] Andy would like to see basic sales skills covered in sales courses at the university level, to prepare graduates for professional selling and sales management. Willis adds his list of theories and topics that should be taught academically.

[20:00] SMEI continues to update the certifications, based on their detailed job analyses, which are refreshed every four to five years. The core competencies include principles which are not trendy, as well as technologies, which are developing.

[21:50] Customers who are certified themselves in some discipline are the first to notice the value of a sales certification. This drives demand.

[25:34] Hiring managers could add certifications to job postings to help mitigate the risks of hiring salespeople. SMEI issues digital badges as part of the certification. The badges plug into LinkedIn profiles and at career centers.

[31:07] Willis explains the cost for individual certifications, including an online exam prep course, and annual renewals.

[32:19] Willis has not seen any movements toward government regulation of sales. He would like to see self-regulation by peers. People taking the certification recognize why they lost certain deals in the past.

September 15, 2017

#567. Overcoming Resistance to Being Coached. With Bridget Gleason.

Bridget Gleason is VP of Sales for Logz.io and my regular partner on Front Line Fridays.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:54] This is episode 97 of Front Line Fridays. Watch for Episode 100! The topic of this episode is coaching and helping people who have been promoted.

[3:40] Bridget asks about coaching reps who are resistant to coaching. One rep is aware of his distaste for it and admits it, which actually makes him quite coachable. Others resist it altogether. The feedback from your manager is important.

[5:32] Coaching is meant to be collaborative, not directive. It is encouraging. Ask questions, so people see for themselves what the problem is and have a framework to let them develop a solution for it, without feeling defensive.

[8:47] You cannot force someone to be coached. It is a joint activity. Wait until they are in a teachable condition. Let them stumble, and ask for help. If they don’t learn and don’t ask, they should be managed to another career. Don’t do their job.

[11:27] Another approach is to learn more about the account that the rep knows, and discuss the account with the rep. This was used on Andy in such a way that he knew he had some more work to do on that account.

[13:37] Andy comes up with another avenue: Find one thing on which to coach someone. Keep it small. If there is still resistance, that leads to a question: Is this rep in the right job? Bridget suggests hiring for coachability.

[15:54] Mark Roberge of Hubspot would have a candidate give a presentation, provide the candidate with feedback, ask them to leave the room, and then have them come back and repeat the presentation. Mark watched if they used the feedback.

[17:51] A person who doesn’t use the feedback is not aware of their situation. Observation and awareness is a very important aspect of sales. Listen intently and integrate what you observe.

[20:49] A person who visualizes the outcome of the coaching they receive, and then desires to go try it, is most coachable. They are curious. A person with poor performance is fearful to move out of their comfort zone, even to improve themselves.

[24:11] The lesser performers are those who complain about management and make excuses. The higher performers are always seeking new insight to improve themselves. You can only coach people who want to be coached.

[25:52] Where do you go for training at a company that has no experience in the job you’ve just gotten? Take a class, find a mentor that can teach you. Go and visit customers. Talk to product end users. Immerse yourself with customers.

[29:40] Being promoted from an SMB rep to an enterprise rep is opening many layers of complexity in one motion. You want a lot of support to complete the transition easily. Andy talks about doing it with no support. Build client trust. Be a pioneer.

August 31, 2017

#557. How to Create Accurate and Realistic Sales Forecasts. With David Griffin.

David Griffin, CEO of Vortini, a sales forecasting system, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:33] David says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is that the level of competition increases quarterly, making it difficult to achieve predictable income. The buyer is also more informed, both on you and on your competition.

[4:32] Vortini came to be when David was doing sales data analytics. David wanted to specialize, as it is a crowded market. He looked for core business processes that were not well-supported with software solutions, and found forecasting.

[5:08] David sees heavy investments in CRM, and pipelines of opportunities. However, pipelines don’t tell the whole story for a solid forecast. Managers create spreadsheets, send them to opportunity owners, and get their forecasts a week later.

[7:20] Forecasts matter because revenue expectations must be met. SaaS has issues around staffing, and manufacturing has problems around inventory, if forecasts are inaccurate.

[9:34] Vortini takes data from the CRM, compares it to history, and considers collaboration for pipeline deliverability. Then it creates a scenario around the pipeline and resources.

[14:44] Andy cites Philip Tetlock, saying that we should train people to become better forecasters. It is a skill that can be learned. Vortini focuses on history and information available, to step through the assumptions that create a forecast.

[16:34] Reps are nervous about committing. Under-forecasting is as great an issue as over-forecasting. It can mean canceled orders if the goods or services are not available on time. Corporate forecasts are built from many smaller forecasts.

[18:22] Forecasting tip: first, ensure opportunities are realistic and achievable. The last day of the quarter is not a credible close date. Are targets set too high by management? Setting targets 15% higher this year than last is a hope, not a target.

[21:58] It is essential to manage biases. Don’t put the forecast in a spreadsheet. Keep it in the CRM, so forecasts and the quarterly results can be compared within the CRM. People can see their bias by looking at the evidence.

[24:24] Make sure you are staying connected to the overall plan. Are your quarterly forecasts supporting the annual forecast? David compares day 70 in history with day 70 of the quarter and day 70 of the forecast. Watch for going off track.

[27:17] It might be better to work on fewer opportunities, and do a better job on them. Carefully convert as many as possible. Don’t burn your way through them. They represent the base of future wealth to the company.

[30:09] The forecast that works uses machine learning to look at history and make defensible assertions about times to close. Forecasting does not say a quick close is impossible, but that it does not match past observed behaviors. Talk about it.

August 27, 2017

#553 Push Your Limits to Achieve the Impossible. With Dan Waldschmidt.

Dan Waldschmidt, is a keynote speaker, business strategist, ultra runner, business owner and author of Edgy Conversations: How Ordinary People Can Achieve Outrageous Success.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[:53] Dan speaks to clients on ways to grow and dynamically scale ideas into massive money-makers. He also writes about concerns he faces and addresses in his own businesses.

[1:54] Dan pushes against what is “impossible,” by pushing limits — personally, with running; professionally, by strategizing to make “millions and billions” of dollars; and with clients, helping them to see the world differently, and to excel.

[2:30] Dan’s ultra-running goal for 2017 is to run another few thousand miles, in 100- and 50-mile races, and maybe a 200-mile race. Running gives him clarity for next steps. Transcendental Meditation and running keep him grounded.

[5:31] How did Dan cope when he wanted to quit, 20 miles into his last 100-mile race in the mountains of Alabama?

[8:14] Days after a race, Dan can reflect, “Dude, you didn’t even know that was possible, and you did it! What else don’t you know is possible, that is next on your list of things to do?”

[9:41] Instead of asking for salesmen to close better, ask why your business isn’t creating a brand or a customer experience so outrageously positive, that deals just automatically close?

[10:15] Dan couldn’t finish one race, because he had depleted his salt. Little things can have a fatal effect when you are trying to perform at a high level. The details matter when you answer the phone and how you brand.

[12:15] What are you prepared to sacrifice? Some people don’t progress because they have too many TV shows lined up to watch. Prioritize time. Your choices control your achievements. Be desperate to meet your goals.

[15:48] To perform at a high level, “burn the ships.” Make a list of five to ten things in your life that you need to burn right now, until you cross your continent and build new ships.

[17:54] To be amazing, you have to talk yourself down from your fears. You can learn not only to survive stressful situations, but to thrive, in spite of what happens around you.

[19:40] Successful people refuse to: excuse their mistakes; copy others (instead of building on their own strengths); or look down on others who are struggling (Dan tells of Jeff Bezos’s many years before Amazon turned a profit).

[27:09] Successful people refuse to: waste time doing things that don’t matter; or let the current chaos distract them from future success.

August 13, 2017

What Should You Be Doing, But Aren’t? Overcoming The Sales Fears That Are Holding You Back With Townsend Wardlaw.

Townsend Wardlaw is a sales transformation architect. In this episode, he talks in depth about the fears that paralyze many sales reps and provides effective strategies they can use to overcome them to transform their sales results. Townsend describes the common rationalizations that sales reps use to justify inaction in the face of their fears; whether it is fear of prospecting, fear of presenting or fear of asking for the order. He talks about the lessons he learned overcoming his own paralyzing anxieties of public speaking, and how you can use them in your own selling. Everyone in sales has fears about some aspect of selling. But they don’t have to hold you back! You definitely want to listen to this episode.

August 11, 2017

#537. Empathy: In Shorter Supply as Demand Increases. With Bridget Gleason.

Bridget Gleason is VP of Sales for Logz.io and my regular partner on Front Line Fridays.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[3:24] Andy recently interviewed Geoff Colvin about his latest book, Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will, a deep dive into the impact of industry and tech on employment, so far, and to come.

[4:57] Colvin covers the job changes through industrialization, electrification, technology, and the fourth phase, where the largest profession, drivers, are about to be replaced, and legal discovery will be done by machines, better than attorneys.

[8:01] Colvin claims the skills that will be more valuable are the human skills: relationship building, collaboration, and co-creation, where machines are ineffective. These skills are in the province of sales. Salespeople are not going away.

[9:17] Andy notes that sales management discussion groups online are filled with threads on technology and process, but free of questions on the customer. The interaction between two humans is what will continue to drive sales.

[11:04] Geoff Colvin quotes an Oracle exec: “Empathy is the critical 21st Century skill.” — Meg Bear, Group VP, Social Cloud, Oracle. However, yearly college research shows the amount of empathy is declining in students, since 1980.

[12:11] The population of people coming into the workforce has less of the highly valued skill of empathy. That may give an edge to women, and may help attract women into sales leadership roles.

[14:51] Oxford Economics research lists near-term needed skills: empathy, relationship building, teamwork, co-creation, collaboration, and cultural sensitivity. Women may be strong in these skills. Bridget sees one female to 19 male applicants.

[16:29] Does your job description call for empathizing, collaborating, co-creating, and building relationships? Andy has never seen a sales posting for those needed skills. Bridget recalls a former ad that moved her, based around empathy.

[19:44] Bridget first had a female boss at Engineyard, in 2012. More often she was one of a few females on a team. Females are underrepresented in sales — especially in sales leadership.

[20:52] As technology moves more into human jobs, it is still limited in the space of human interaction, and will be limited for some time. Human characteristics differentiate yourself in how you sell through engagement.

[22:33] Machines are getting better, but we are not. Moore’s law is still on track, or accelerating. So the way to be better is to be more human. Will SDR roles become automated? That may come sooner, as the role is more automatic.

[26:08] Co-collaboration will not become easily replicated through machine intelligence. If your role is one that does not add value to customers, they might as well be talking to a machine. Add customer value to your role.