Ep8 Sales Team Productivity Strategies & Building the Brooklyn Bridge

Ep8 Sales Team Productivity Strategies & Building the Brooklyn Bridge

Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 8

Scott Santucci and Brian Lambert tackle decision-making in times of rapid change. Unintended consequences are a common variable when some humans make decisions where other humans are a big element in the success of that plan. In hindsight, its easy to say “why didn’t they just….” but human nature prevents people from asking some of the right questions at the right time.

They guys use an interesting story about problems the builders of the Brooklyn Bridge encountered. When they built the bridge back then, the followed “what they always knew”. And their beliefs actually made the problem worse. Their view of the challenge actually made the cure take longer. How did they figure it out? Well, It took looking at the problem from a different perspective to finally come to a simple solution. 

Join us at https://www.OrchestrateSales.com/podcast/ to collaborate with peers, join Insider Nation, participate in the conversation and be part of the continued elevation of the profession.


Nick Merinkers 00:02

Welcome to the inside sales enablement podcast. Where has the profession been? Where is it now? And where is it heading? What does it mean to you, your company, other functions? The market? Find out here. Join the founding father of the sales enablement profession Scott Santucci and trailblazer Brian Lambert as they take you behind the scenes of the birth of an industry, the inside sales enablement podcast starts now.

Scott Santucci 00:33

Hi, I’m Scott Tucci.

Brian Lambert 00:35

And I’m Brian Lambert and we are the sales enablement insiders. Our podcast is dedicated to asking the big questions you should be asking if you want to be successful in sales enablement. Specifically, we rethink reframe and revisit specific sales enablement, principles, topics and trends. And today, we’re going to reframe specifically we’re going to reframe the approach to enabling headcount versus enabling productivity. In other words, saying it again, enabling the headcount versus enabling to productivity. And I know that may seem a bit intellectual. So, Scott, why don’t you get us centered here with a story?

Scott Santucci 01:14

Sure. So, I don’t know the story is really going to help with the contrast between enabling to headcount or enabling to productivity, but we’ll get there. But in in terms of, you know how to think about this stuff, what I’d like to do is go back to 1869. And in 1869, George Roebling, had this idea of building a suspension bridge across the East River. It’s now known as the Brooklyn Bridge. That was the first steel wire suspension bridge of its kind. And in this day, this Gilded Age this era of almost anything is possible building you know, trains, cross cross country, telegraph. All these explosion of innovations and in the huge explosion of innovation and value during this peak of the Industrial Revolution, everybody was doing something new. And they went out to build this. This Brooklyn Bridge. Now, unfortunately, during the construction of this bridge, they ran into unforeseen problems. And specifically, when they were laying down the base at the bottom of the Hudson River, there, their first group of workers started to get sick. And at that point in time, they couldn’t figure out what it was. They just assumed it was the drinking habits at this point in time, the Irish this is these are all true stories. So, I’m not I’m not being racist. These guys were super racist at the time, so because they kept getting sick and stalling production. What did they do? They went and got another group of people, Germans, they got didn’t work out. So, they got another batch of people recently freed slaves. That didn’t work out. They got sick, too. They said, Hey, you know, the Chinese did a great job of building out, building out the railways, let’s bring them in. They brought them in. It didn’t work either. So, throwing all of this effort, all of this energy, time and time again, they just couldn’t figure out what happened, what was happening, what was going on. And really, what what, what they ended up doing is doing some medical analysis to figure out what’s going on. I mean, we’ve got to get this fixed so that we can get this bridge built. There’s a lot there’s a lot on the line. We said we’re going to build the first steel suspension bridge in the world and dadgummit we need to figure it out. So that’s it. My 1869

Brian Lambert 03:54

I like it. transported.

Scott Santucci 03:56

Exactly. So really what happened? What What What was going on? What was preventing all these people perpetually to get sick? Well, it turns out, what was happening is the people were being submerged to such depth in the Hudson River, that they were getting decompression sickness. What we now know is the bends. And anybody who’s seen any any movie with scuba diving knows about the bends. It’s it’s ubiquitous everywhere. Well, they didn’t know what it was, because they’ve never had an experience where they had to put people under that under the water at that depth before to where they could run into decompression sickness. So, the the moral of the story here is they thought it was one problem. They threw bodies and activity over and over and over again getting more and more people sick and many, many dying from this condition. When in reality, there was a much simpler approach that was safe. That was wouldn’t hurt anybody and to build these decompression tanks? Oh, you know, along the way. So that’s, that’s my framing story.

Brian Lambert 05:07

There you go. And so, you know, this is interesting, because in that story, you know, like you said, throwing bodies at it. One that’s a bit, obviously inhumane. So that’s obviously part of the challenge, but it’s also pretty expensive to constantly do that. And, you know, you basically at some point, it sounds like in that construction process, realize that doing the same old thing over and over again, that isn’t changing anything. And now, okay, at some point, there’s a tipping point to say, maybe there’s a root cause. Right. So, is that your point in telling that story with regard to sales enablement? Scott, what do you say?

Scott Santucci 05:50

Yes, so the reason that I’m the reason I’m sharing that framing story, for where we are today and the topic that we’re going to get into further point number one, this when did that story take place? It took place during the Industrial Revolution when you’re resetting and trying incredibly new bold things. Where are we today? We’re doing the same thing where we’re actually in the midst of a digital transformation where we’re going through the same kind of big changes that were going on in the 1860s 1860s. The 1890s as insane changes they went through today. One contrast.

Brian Lambert 06:35

Yes, so stay in there real quick. So, I don’t like that. I don’t like that level of life and death change here, Scott. What would you say to that? I want to keep doing what I’ve always done.

Scott Santucci 06:48

No, he could do that. Or you could look at when adjusted for inflation. Every single one of the robber barons are, are more valuable than any of the super rich people that we know of today, every single one of them. So, the amount of explosive wealth and they explosive standard of living and the huge amount of lifting people out of poverty, all of the benefits that happened all were a result of these massive changes. And really it comes back to you could look at it as the future is bleak. AKA the, you know, industrial revolution that’s bad. It’s sort of the Frankenstein view of the road.

Brian Lambert 07:33

Going to work and nasty factories and get dirty

Scott Santucci 07:35

Right, or we still people in New York still revere that brooklyn bridge that was started in 1869. It’s it’s that contrast it’s it’s really depends on on how you look at it. Where would we be as Americans or where would we be as Western cultures without railroads, ourelectricity. Some of the basic things that we for without gas without combustion engines. So that’s that’s where we are today. Where would we be without the internet? Where would we be without mobile phones? Where would we be without what we’re being able to do right now record a podcast this podcast would not be available. It’s a it’s a

Brian Lambert 08:17

Just think of all the millions of people listening right now.

Scott Santucci 08:19

Yeah millions, right.

Brian Lambert 08:22

All right. So, what’s your second point? So, I wanted to.

Scott Santucci 08:25

So, the second point is when you go off into that Brave New World, sometimes the way that you think about solving problems isn’t you’re gonna run into unforeseen challenges. And sometimes you need to take a step back instead of just throwing activity and bodies at it. Maybe you need to take a step back and rethink it.

Brian Lambert 08:43

Like that. And that’s an important analog for today. It because when you take that story, and you look at sales teams, you know, in the last 15 years, 10 years, somebody even say five years organizations sales leaders executives have been attempting to throw salespeople at their customer experience strategies or throw money at their digital strategies to look for skilled workers. I don’t I don’t have the number in front of me. But I read you know, a couple weeks ago that there are still 10s of thousands of jobs left unfilled, that are considered new economy jobs, digital transformational type of jobs. So there there is a gap in the ability to execute on these and when you throw bodies at it, the symptoms are going to rear their head. And I think when you frame out the the beginning of this podcast, when I said this idea of enabling to headcount versus enabling to productivity is what you’re saying here through the opening story, Scott that that we’ve been throwing salespeople as headcount to, to the strategy

Scott Santucci 09:59

Yes. There’s some, you know, there’s a macro trend that’s actually disturbing about our overall economy. And for the past 10 years, we’ve actually seen a decline, not an increase a decline in worker productivity. So why is that? And then you can factor in, let’s, let’s investigate the, you know, the overall work the workforce and all that other stuff. That’s sounds like a political discussion. But when you zoom in, and start asking the question, how productive are our sales forces today? Are they more productive than they were 10 years ago? And there’s a lot of ways that we can answer it. Uh, what I wanted to do is really talk about one specific company for which I have lots and lots and lots of data. I think we could shed I think we could shed light on that instead of going macro or instead of going back into history, we know talking about one specific

Brian Lambert 10:55

company. Yeah, let’s do that. So, we’ve got as a proxy for this idea of tackling this issue, one specific organization, so maybe, you know, we’ll start with, tell us a little bit about the sales team, the organization, and then what what transposed. And then I assume, through this discussion that we’re going to be able to provide our listeners with some action items as well. I’ll come up with three, you’d come up with three and we’ll, we’ll be able to provide a path forward to tackle this same type of discussion in our own organizations. Yeah, so let’s do that. And then so tell us frame it out a little bit for us around this one specific organization and their sales team.

Scott Santucci 11:35

Okay, so let’s let’s go through the case study. So first, what is the company the company I’m gonna take the names out to protect the protect the innocent, but it’s a $300 million company that is moving from selling a variety of security products in a you know, in hardware form to move into providing cloud-based subscription services. So that’s that’s basically what they were. So that’s that.

Brian Lambert 12:07

So, let’s do our first check. Is that indicative of a, in a shift in the revolution? Right, from industrial to knowledge work? Is that a massive shift?

Scott Santucci 12:16

Well, it is a, it’s a massive shift in terms of saying we’re selling physical products, old economy, to new economy, digital economy to a subscription based, you know, cloud based, cloud-based business model. Yeah, a lot of companies are going through this shift, some have gone through it earlier, rather than later. So, you know, everybody goes through it through a different way. But it’s a common factor. And it’s something that, oh, yeah, duh, of course, we need to make it but when you sold a physical thing, and now you’re selling, moving to selling a subscription, there’s a lot of changes associated with that.

Brian Lambert 12:50

Yeah, not only the business strategy, but the business model and how revenues recognized the way teams you know have to work together the actual solutions themselves, and how in Obviously, in what we’re going to get to hear how those how those are sold,

Scott Santucci 13:03

Yes, how sellers actually behave and what they think they’re selling and to whom they think they are and to whom they are actually selling to. So, the situation was the year before I was involved, the company had done some analysis and business analysis that pretty much every but every company does, and I’m oversimplifying it, it’s way more way more detailed than that. But like most companies, in order to come up with a compensation plan, you build a low end and a high end in terms of target, and you set a threshold level of your bookings per rep target. And the reason that you do that is you do that to calculate different, you know, obviously, to define the role of a seller but you also do it to set the compensation thresholds. And what they recognized was in their, in their opinion, too many of their reps were below 80% threshold. So, what is 80% threshold? In this case, it’s 80% of hitting quota. Okay, so far too few reps, how many we’re not hitting what we’re not hitting the 80% threshold is not important, what’s important, but it was a lot, it was more than more than 60%. What’s more important was how they were looking at it. So, in order to improve the performance of the average rep, you know, to get more of those reps up to the 80% threshold, which they were comfortable with. What did they do? Well, they looked at two things number one was the turnover and the overall turnover the Salesforce with 25%. And that checks with about industry averages or whatnot. So, it’s not it’s not a problem and they didn’t investigate that. Then what they did is they did did you know sort of the classic let’s survey the sellers and see what they need. Let’s talk the salesman. And see what they need. They came up with a whole boatload of activities that they needed to do. And they spent over 500,000 out of pocket and then a whole bunch of other energy and resource to build that set of activities. They rolled it out in the kickoff. And you know, what happened throughout that year? Well, throughout that year, not one single new rep hit the 80% target threshold that you might as well have not spent that money, because literally, nothing changed nothing. So obviously, we’re going were they This is where I enter the story and the conversation is, what more activities should we prescribe to the sellers? And my point was, all right, look, if you did all that work, there should be a relationship between activity and performance, right. So, we should probably figure out why that performance didn’t happen. In other words, Let’s not throw more bodies at you know, in the case ons, let’s actually investigate what happened. So, you know, that takes some doing but by framing it out this way that I was able to, you know, persuade them to, you know, go through with our engagement. And what we did is that let’s do a baseline, I call it a baseline analysis and simply put, what we’re going to do is we’re going to put in, we’re going to examine, first we’re going to categorize sellers into tiers of performance. And by performance, what we mean is their overall total bookings not not revenue per rep, but but but by booking bookings per individual. So of course, you know, we had some HR rules, and you know, that we had to follow to make sure it was blind and not and not that. And I think the biggest problem that we ran into Brian is this company was so comfortable tracking sales performance by quota and by product that we actually had to do a lot of data reengineering, we’ll call it to actually get out the contract value. And part of the difficulty through this exercise was guys that I only care about the level of activity the seller does in order to get a contract. Because the contract is ultimately what all this effort is for. And this the customer chooses to put in that contract what the terms are.

Brian Lambert 17:36

So, this is one of those things, right? sales is simple. And then you’d like to say you know, simple as hard. Yep. And I like to say hard is doable, but you have to, you have to do the work. This is an interesting so if i if i at the risk, and I’m just going to give this an example here to breathe some life into it. I had a call with like a sales enablement intern like two weeks ago. And she was saying, Hey, you know, when, when people go online and they, you know, you know, want to attend our events, they put in their information, and we can’t even cross reference that into our accounts. And that’s, that’s an example of a disconnect in from lead gen into, you know, an existing account via. And those types of disconnects are all over the place. And what you’re bringing up here is an interesting, you know, potential disconnect that you’re tackling on the front end, which is sales drives, bookings. And there’s activities related to bookings. So, what type of questions Did you get on that? And why was that hard? Who is that hard for?

Scott Santucci 18:38

What was hard for the sales operations team because the sales operations team has worked out how to report to the CFO, and the CFO was interested in product sales, because the company is interested in driving product sales, not services sales. So, what you know, since we that’s all we care about why would you look at things differently? And I said, I don’t know, I just want to figure out whatever is required to sell a contract, who knows, maybe some salespeople are selling services along with the products, because they think the selling those services help sell those products. So, if they, if he took that away, maybe they’d have a harder time selling it. I don’t know, I just know that there’s a level of effort required to get a contract. And I want to start with measuring that which means I’d like to have this kind of data please. And back and forth,

Brian Lambert 19:35

That doesn’t cross-reference into products at all

Scott Santucci 19:38

Right. So basically, what it ended up having to do is I took I said give me the you know, I went and got went and got a different data source for the for that and I keyed those up together, I keyed the terms up together, and I built I built my own data set to be able to piece part, the different product codes of which they track the business by to in order To get at an estimated contract value, so that was a that was a lot of work just to get something that I think is pretty simple. And the reasoning behind it is also simple. And it’s one of the reasons why the VP of sales and operations sign off on, on this engagement. So that was the first thing. So, once you get that data, and it’s really clean, and you know what it is, and you can match it to different sales channels, and of course, you eliminate revenue from, you know, different sources. So, you’re comparing apples to apples,

Brian Lambert 20:35

and people agree.

Scott Santucci 20:36

Yeah, and people agree. Now that now that you have clean data, you can do some really simple, powerful analysis. And here’s what we found. We took the sellers and grouped them into quintiles. So, think about that is 20 you know, 20% chunks. I’m a huge fan of the 8020 rule. And we also took, once we got that data and we got permission to find who the who the actual top reps were, we were able to cross reference their dollar values versus, you know, customer spent. And here’s what we found. We found that the top 20% of their reps, were generating $4.4 million. Their capacity rep, the average the target at 100% is 1 million. So, the 80% target, obviously $800,000. So, these people were four x or 440% higher performers that then the baseline these these reps represented 74% of the company’s bookings. No one knew that. And I took that list of those top performers, and I had different people, different leaders react. It like without saying that these were top performers. Oh, those guys complain all the time. Are you finding that they’re not performing? And none of the none of these leaders, Brian, none of these people who averaged 4.4 million, none of them came up as top performers because they were maybe 101 to 90% of the quotas? Because these guys have been stuffed with massive quotas.

Brian Lambert 22:26

And they’re complaining a lot. So, yeah, but by the way, they had the bands. But anyway, we’ll come back that I’m sure but so

Scott Santucci 22:34

just get your job done. Yeah. So, your number, you know, we’ve set your you know, we set your quotas at what we set your quotas are, but we’re going to compare everybody to whether they’re hitting their quota, rather than what their total bookings are.

Brian Lambert 22:47

But this is an assistant interesting point. So, I’m gonna play devil’s advocate, as I sometimes do on these. Well, gee whiz, Scott, you’re not telling us anything we don’t already know at 20 is applicable. We know that 20% of our sellers do all this. So, you know, not a big shock. And oh, by the way, you know, oh, by the way, they complain a lot. So, what’s your point?

Scott Santucci 23:05

Well, okay, if you know this already, have you done the analysis? for it? few companies actually have done this analysis because I ran into some of this at this company. Well, of course, you know, our 20% bubble, but they thought 20% performers were the people who met quota

Brian Lambert 23:22

across the board across,

Scott Santucci 23:24

Right. So, let’s, let’s make sure we’re clear on this. There’s a big difference between quota and actual bookings. There’s a huge difference. So, a quota based on your history. And so, I’m going to say guess what way to go for hitting 200% of your quota. So, you instead of your quota was a million, you did 2 million. Great job. Now that I know you can do 2 million, I’m going to set that as your baseline. I’m going to give you a little bit of a raise. So, congratulations. And then now we’ve reset your your quota. And that’s how it works. Now maybe it’s not that extreme right. But that’s how it works. And

Brian Lambert 24:05

Congratulations on having an awesome year. Here’s another 10% 20% for next year.

Scott Santucci 24:10

Exactly. And then maybe a 3% raise. Yeah, right. So, yeah, the company makes lots of money off of the top performers. And then what happens then is, because everybody’s focused on hitting the number, the number is based on the quota. So, we we concentrate more on whether you’re at quota than what your actual bookings are relative to other people, which in what you’re saying is about is that a better sign of productivity? Well, what I’m saying is, at the end of the day, if you’re trying to drive bookings, you should know where your bookings are coming from. Yeah, and an individual sales manager knows you know, who to lean on and who not to lead on if you’re looking at the aggregate. But when you’re overly focused on quote, obtainment as as your driving force tend to lose sight of the human beings. You know those few who human beings who’ve been there all along, just constantly performing?

Brian Lambert 25:08

And how many, how many reps did that equate to?

Scott Santucci 25:11

So, well, there’s about 16 reps. So, we got. So, you know about the time of the analysis. Here’s the other point of the analysis that I want to share, before we get into, you know, bringing all these people together. So, what we what we found was, you know, in terms of the analysis, we looked at the number of contracts, these, each of the, each of the sellers did, what’s the value of those contracts, sort of the types of contracts where they, you know, renewals, upsells different classes, we came up with different classes of cross sell the effort per contract, like was this getting this really, really, really hard or was it easy? So, we got, you know, we got some of that through some, you know, some interviews in the leg. So, we had a very rich viewpoint of you know, The effort and value and context of these different contracts. The second thing that we looked at was I couldn’t resist examining the turnover question. Now that I have a viewpoint Oh by the way, in terms of frame of reference, the top tier was 4.4 million. Tier number two, you know the you know, tier two performers 1.76 million, tier three, you know, the middle of the curve at point eight, 6 million for for you know, the, you know, the the core tile you know, or quintile number 420. Point two 7 million. That’s point two, seven, and tier five. The bottom 20% their average contribution was point o 3 million. Literally point oh, three per Rep. Correct. Yep. Point Oh, 3 million is

Brian Lambert 27:05

We we need, we need training for that point oh three? Well, you know what, what? Get there are a lot of Quick, quick prescriptions. So, the other analysis that we did before we say let’s but let’s not get into prescriptions yet, let’s keep making sure we understand what our situation is. The other thing that we did is we looked at the 20% 25% turnover. So, let’s, you know, let’s say, we’re looking at this again, since around the table, maybe I looked at this. Okay, I am giving this this readout to the to my clients. And the we, that this is this readout is for is for the CEO, the CFO, the head of sales operations, the head of sales enablement and the VP of sales and the VP of product all these groups. Gotcha well, thanks.

Scott Santucci 27:57

You’re welcome. So, the other thing that you know We talked through I did the analysis for I shared with them was, I was curious about the 25% turnover that you weren’t looking into. But of that 25% turnover, you know, those 50 plus 50 plus people who were who turned over from from the year before. Well, what was interesting is 80% of those turnover reps were were either tier one or tier two performers. So be average. If you average the tier one and tier tier two performer into we call it a you know, call it a productive rep, you know, in finger quotes, for every one of those you lost. You needed to replace, you know, based on what their average new hire to perform was in that year. And new reps 10 new reps

Brian Lambert 28:56

And I think this is another one of those Well, no kidding. You know, they can Sultan’s tell us this all the time. And to your point. But have you done the analysis for your organization? Yeah, these these are universal truths. And, you know, I’ve seen it in many a marketing message and webinar about the cost of losing top performers. And it’s like, Well, duh. But have you done the analysis? And then is everybody on the same page? Because, again, it’s a well, duh, for very smart people here, a bunch of VPSs. But they’re not wanting to look at the turnover.

Scott Santucci 29:25

I think that the point there is, it’s not about whether you understand it or not. It’s whether or not that’s been brought to the attention of all the decision makers. I think one of the key problems that folks in our space do is we hear something on a webinar, and we assume that knowledge is ubiquitous everywhere.

Brian Lambert 29:48

And then we can just declare it. We need to model our top here’s here’s one, right so using buzzword bingo here, we need to model our top performers because we got to focus on the 8020 and we got to keep Those that are high performers productive. So, there you go, Scott. That’s the answer.

Scott Santucci 30:05

Okay, so you’re, maybe that might be what I’m doing. I think the question would be, how you do it? And are you getting buy in? And are you looking at all the right data? And I’m telling you, it’d be this analysis, I’ve done this type of analysis for a long time, it’s never been harder, because companies collect so much data, and people are so insistent that other data gets factored in into the analysis. So, what it does is divert the focus of the attention.

Brian Lambert 30:37

And there’s a lack of, uh, you know, like I’ve been doing here, a little bit of this, well, let’s go fix it right now. And that really understand what what all these symptoms equal, you know, which is the bends right root cause here, and let’s make sure we understand it in totality, instead of jumping to a prescription.

Scott Santucci 30:56

The other point of this analysis is every one of the pieces every one of the executives involved in this company were really smart people. They didn’t do this analysis. Lots of companies don’t actually perform the analysis. And that’s why you get so many different massive programs to, you know, one size fits all to Salesforce. So, you know, it’s pretty easy to say, you know, oh, we’ve done that we do this, do that. But all you have to do is ask yourself, are you driving out a lot of activities and, you know, a real simple, you know, litmus test test of reality is, go on the sales floor, try to consume all the information and all the training and actually make calls the next day based on everything that you’re providing, being being provided, whether it’s from your organization or other organizations. And if you can’t digest all that material, guess what, you’re not doing the baseline analysis, just not you know, you can say all these things and that you know, this or you know, that doesn’t matter what you know or not what matters is whether or not you do the analysis. You get the buy in and it changes the behavior and the decisions. leaders.

Brian Lambert 32:08

That’s why my favorite phrase, and it’s, it is somewhat confrontational, but after this discussion, you know, I feel it’s warranted. It’s the, you know, well show me. Well, yeah, this is easy. And yeah, this everybody does it. Okay. Well, that’s cool. Show me the last show me the analysis. Well, we don’t have one. Okay. Well, let’s do one because it’s easy, right? It’s the old show me. Question. And people don’t like it at first because they want to dismiss the work because it’s common knowledge in 80/20. Okay, show me the 80/20 analysis.

Scott Santucci 32:40

Well, maybe I mean, I think I think there are. I think where we’re at is we’re so stretched, and we have executives that come in with their new, their new flavor of thing, their new prescription that we feel obligated to drive that forward. I also think another Another trend is an avoidance of fundamentals. And I think in times of great stress and great complexity, the best thing you can do is go back to fundamentals. And it’s sort of like the Warren Buffett School of investing, right? He’s very much about invest, investing in fundamentals. Right. And I’m, I’m of the same school. I’m very old fashioned that way. And you can look at the basic fundamentals. And if they’re not, if they’re not happening, no matter what degree of sophistication you put in, and going to work, because your fundamentals aren’t there. So back to this this issue. Let’s talk about like the Oh, heck moment that happened at this executive team, doing this doing this analysis, right. So, the first one is, oh my gosh, if we lose these performers, and now because you’ve made it clear, you know, we are not reporting on quota. because keep in mind executives don’t necessarily know the connection points, but they just want things simple. Show me bookings. Show me impact quota is a different thing altogether. So, it’s this aberration. That’s, that’s different. I’m not saying it’s not important. I’m saying two executive leaders that adds another level of abstraction.

Brian Lambert 34:28

Like on the radar, it’s one of those ghost blips you’re not quite sure what it is,

Scott Santucci 34:31

Right? So, when you just strip all that away, and say, where’s our money coming from? And doing that kind of accounting to recognize that you’re taking an average of four point, you know, the 4.1 million and the 1.76, you know, contributors averaging it together, and that’s where 80% of your attrition is happening. You gotta do something about it.

Brian Lambert 34:56

Yea, cuz I’m thinking okay, if we don’t know this I’m gonna put myself in that organization and try to have some, you know, try to think about this and what what the downstream impact of not knowing this is, you know, if I’m a, if I’m a hot, high performer in that top quintile, I’m going to say things like, because he said they were complaining, I’m probably going to say stuff like, this is getting harder. I don’t understand why I got to go to this training. This isn’t for me, by the way, I’ve been asking for this other stuff that nobody’s given me, I’m having to build stuff, you know, these these quote unquote, complaints? Yes. That’s probably what’s gonna happen. And then also the, you know, the, the flip side of that is, you know, and you and I’ve talked a lot about this, you end up with a lowest common denominator approach, one size fits all that in a believer gonna move the middle of the bell-shaped curve up. That’s quite a gap.

Scott Santucci 35:49

Yes. And you know, who, this middle of the curve, you know, we’ve heard a lot of that, that talk around sales coaching will will attack, not attack or Discuss sales coaching. Later, I’m talking about simply the decisions that are made, you know, in the benefit of the overall sales force. So, we took this sample, and we took the top 20%, actually less than, than the top 20%. But we found 16 reps out of the pool of the top 1%, just 16 and those 16 reps represented 70%. So that you know, you can you can do the math here about how much they generated a lion’s share of this company’s bookings. And, first of all, no one in management recognized these people as top performers. That’s number one. Number two is I’d interviewed a few and I knew in my sample set many we’re actively looking. And the company’s sales kickoff meeting was coming up. And I made a case. Why don’t we take these, this group of top performers and create our own separate track for him at the sales kickoff meeting, and let’s call it our Top Gun, you know, program like just like the movie. And we’ll make it exclusive. Only these people are invited, and they just won’t participate in all the General Sessions. And that was really hard. That was a really hard sell to sell to the CEO. I’m like, but they need to know all these things. I said, why do they need to know all these things? These guys are performing better than what you expect? I bet. My guess is we’re going to learn more from them than they can learn in our general session.

Brian Lambert 37:48

Yeah, so if I put my sales enablement hat on here, I’m gonna jump into that one now. So, we’ve got this external consultant Telenor CEO, we’re gonna run a Top Gun program and our CEO is not exactly convinced tonight. assume you’re going to convince him. But now crap, I gotta execute on that right? Now it’s gonna be a set aside a separate thing. And you know, there’s a bunch of challenges in wrestling with something like that, because everything you said makes total sense. But now a conference within a conference expectations now we’re going to probably have a bunch of executives in there. I don’t know exactly what to build, if I’m a l&d person, because in the past, I’m doing the bell-shaped curve stuff. So now I’m out on a limb, right? And this is kind of the nature of tackling these, these root cause issues. And that’s the point of tackling the root cause issues because if you didn’t, you would be doing what you had done all you know, before in the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again. So, I just wanted to recognize that say, you know, that’s okay. And there is a way to do that stuff. But somebody has to do that for the for the good of the reps involved, you know, and I think that’s what you did here, right?

Scott Santucci 38:59

Yeah. So, well. I just laid out Look, here’s what we’re gonna do, we’re going to take them for a day, the value that they will have is that they don’t participate in the jam pop thing and just not participating in that and getting to talk to and meet their peers, you know, a peer level networking thing that in upon itself is going to be valuable. But we’re going to do is we’re going to help them learn from each other. So, I’ll facilitate a you know, a day long meeting, and I do lots of facilitated meetings with lots of executives, and we’re just, you know, bring it down there, down there. And we’re gonna have we’re gonna have two objectives. Objective Number one is to, you know, give each of these sellers a voice, but also talk with you let them share with each other stories about how they do things, because they know better than each other. So, when do they ever get an opportunity to learn from each other? The second thing that we’re going to do is because of the the technique that I use to facilitate, I’ll be able to give you insights into specifically what what of the activities that you’re doing, are working or not working, and also, what it is that they’re doing so, so I can give you, you know, a readout to help help you guys better understand these top performers. And, you know, of course, the answers we already know, I already know what they do. And I said, Well, great, then I, you know, you’ll be able whatever readout to validate to validate that, but at least with that validated readout, you guys can use it to inform your decision making moving forward. like okay, that that that sounds good, that sounds good. So, the setup was actually easy for the sales enablement people, Brian, all we needed to do is create a different room and they asked, you know, what do we need said, all we need is a flip chart, and sticky sticky notes. That’s it and How we set up the agenda was there’s, you know, two parts to today. So, the first half of the day was open ended questions. And there’s a reason behind all this. And there’s their scientific and, you know, discovery, you know, type type reasons behind it. But really the goal is, what you want to do is you want to get them talking. So, you want to ask open as many open-ended questions as possible, because we don’t want, I don’t want myself to be putting words in their mouths. I want to hear how they describe the situation. I’m trying to get from them. The description of what’s the poison in the room, you know, there are canaries in a coal mine, if you will, I don’t how do we how do we unpack it? So, the first part of the day, I always do this and actually every sales team loves this. The first part of the day is I have each individual go around the room and I asked asked three questions. The first question is, what do you sell I said, what do you mean? You know, you would think that we should be able in our sales organizations be able to clearly articulate what it is that we’re selling? What do you sell? I’m telling you the top rep struggle answering that question. And they either think out loud, or say, well, you know what I mean. And of course, the other reps go, yeah, yeah, we know what you need. But it really comes down to either they’re selling themselves, aka as a problem solver. Or they’re solving problems. But all of it is in service of a customer.

Brian Lambert 42:36

Right? That’s why they’re six. Well, you know, not to steal your thunder. But that’s why because I’ve run this that’s the same questions and I asked, what do you sell? and there’s those that are the product pushers that sell the product and they rattle off the features and functions and talk you know about the product and the history of the company, etc. but those folks are not in the room here.

Scott Santucci 42:58

Correct. So, the next question. The first one is what do you sell? Who do you sell to? And then I, you know, of course everybody wants more context, people are very uncomfortable with having the wrong answers like, this isn’t about having the right or wrong answer. I want to know, from you what you think. And basically, in this case, the answer was why sell to anybody and everybody. So, we’ll help you understand that more. I can’t go to your CEO and say they’re selling to everybody, right? You’re not selling to the entire phonebook. Who who are you selling to? And basically, what what they what they articulated is because of the business problem that these guys were concentrating on, focusing on, which by the way, wasn’t in any of the messaging. It was in some of the product messaging, you know, sort of buried in there in the description of their grid strategy. The sellers were selling the sort of the business version of that. But nowhere in between did I have any connection to that. So luckily, I’ve done my homework. So, they were selling this, this concept of a more holistic view of solving security problems. And unfortunately, there is no one owner of that. So, what they have to do is they have to bring security people. And they have to bring networking people together, to help them see that they’re both at risk by both of them blaming the other group, rather than saying, Hey, we have we have a gap. And then they have to go and find an executive sponsor who’s willing to tackle it, because in each function, they’re not willing to tackle it. That’s not my problem. That’s not our remit. That’s the other groups parlour, and back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. So, what these folks need to do when they say sell to everybody, they’re talking about gaining buy in creating consensus getting people to agree, reducing the friction, bringing some thoughts on, hey, there are approaches on how to address it. That kind of stuff. That’s, that’s more what they’re what they’re doing. And they have no common vocabulary to describe what it is they’re doing. So, each of them described it in an experiential way. And every single rep said, what they use different words to describe what they’re doing. But every single rep understood what they were doing, because they were referencing real life, real live fire experiences that they were running into. So, the point being there, you know, of course, the company had personas and everything like that they just weren’t good enough. They weren’t detailed enough is specific enough. They had to navigate a whole bunch of different stakeholders. So, point number two. Point number three is an open-ended question. What do you need to do to sell more and it’s open ended? So, we heard a lot of comments around this order entry system that this company had rolled out as part of a price optimisation strategy. And what it did is it made doing quotes so complicated for these guys, that it would literally take them two days to get a good price go to a client. And the other difficulty that they ran into was, every single one of these people included services in terms of their proposals. And their viewpoint was, if our if our customers don’t use our products and services, they’re not going to buy the next batch from us, and the next batch is way easier to sell than the first one. So, it might as well get the get the professional services then the difficulty is they want to sell combinations of professional services, strategy services and training services. But since each one of those people were separate pnl’s they were competing against each other For that slice of the pie. So, what many of these companies many of these sellers were doing, were they built their own network of people outside the company to provide those services, which is ridiculous. But that’s, that’s basically what what we’re doing

Brian Lambert 47:17

Yeah, I’ve heard that before too. Yeah. Another one is I’ve seen a whole new shadow function crop up around, like solution architecture. And the people don’t even have that kind of title. But they can build a visualization. Like, and it’s not sanctioned by the company. It’s like this underground movement to build stuff. I’ve seen that too. It’s crazy.

Scott Santucci 47:42

Yeah. So that was the first part of day is really sort of level set. You know, where are we? And the second part of the day was, hey, for us, just this, this, this group of top performers. Let’s see, if we can’t create our own little, I don’t want to call profit. process. I don’t want people to think that I’m replacing a sales process like challenger. But it’s, can we create our own little process on how to navigate these kinds of deals? So, what we did is we workshop this together, it was really fun, everybody was engaged, lots of high energy. And, you know, we just sort of built it out together. And we said that, you know, so our first question is, what problem do we solve? And we used a variety different tools that, you know, brought to bear to, you know, define the define the problem. By the way, the problem that they came up with was very different than the messaging that was coming from marketing. Because these guys are focused on neither the networking people nor the security people, they’re focused on this problem that companies don’t even see. So that’s that was what they were, there was work they’re doing. And in order to sell that problem, they realize in order for us to be successful, we have to salt our clients a little bit and help them imagine what’s possible first, before getting

Brian Lambert 49:08

Put it on a little let it marinate a little bit. Is that what you mean? Exactly?

Scott Santucci 49:12

Yeah. Like some preselling ideas before you go hit them with what their real problem is.

Brian Lambert 49:17

There’s a whole book by Cialdini called pre suasion.

Scott Santucci 49:20

Yes. It was that we these are the things that that you know that they’re that they’re doing. Yeah. Then the next thing is, okay, so what problem do you solve? Then the next question is who gets fired? If that problem doesn’t get solved? So, we wanted to do is tease out who the wallet owner is, who are who are who our target was. And then we mapped out sort of like sort of imagine the wire if you watched, you know, the wire on on HBO. It’s sort of plotting out sort of the crime syndicate family and we you know; we’re trying to use terms like that. So, it People are fun and engaging and being creative. And guess what we plotted out that there are many, many, many stakeholders, I think we came up with 15 minimum stakeholders that they needed to get into to get by in front.

Brian Lambert 50:14

Well, you know, Well, duh, Scott that matches the research to that says there’s 14.2 people that are involved in the buying decision. So, you know, but yeah, have you done the analysis? And have you done the work? And, you know, can you have a conversation with those people, and like, I like to say is, you know, what, wave your magic wand and put them all around the same conference room table right now, and have them all agree to the solution.

Scott Santucci 50:37

Also, to there’s a difference between a number and average number. And then there is a difference between actually listing out specifically who those are, and then also, in the case of these are sellers trying to problem solve. It’s not just some abstract metric. What it is is, how are we going to deal with the friction point between this individual here Who sees the world through this lens? And this individual over here that works in networking? whose title? Like, how are we going to deal with the guy over here who’s on the security team, who has a network security discipline, and then deal with somebody on the networking team who is part of their remit, and part of their training, their Cisco training says Cisco’s part, or it says security is part of their remit. How do you handle that?

Brian Lambert 51:25

Yeah, I think that’s that’s what Gartner means by buyer enablement. But I don’t think people are quite tracking to that is if you put the 14 people around a table and get them to agree on something. They all each have their own siloed view, from their, their experience, but also their own perspective and kind of a hidden. I would ask you for the 16 people, did they have a skill in bringing those folks together?

Scott Santucci 51:50

So, I didn’t realize it and because they don’t have any vocabulary. So, what’s really frustrating to them at this point, is they know they’re not going to be able to talk about these issues. Outside of those walls, they’ve never been given. None of them had ever recognized that other were top performers. Every one of them said the things that they were doing, they thought they were breaking rules, and that they were, you know, kind of being shady.

Brian Lambert 52:16

Yeah, that’s I think, to me, it comes if you’re a top performer and I’ve checked this with top performers over the last 10 years or so, I said it Have you had to come to a point in your in your career where you had to basically say, I’m out, I’m done with this, or I have to do it in spite of my company. And everybody who stuck around has said literally, I’m doing it in spite of my company or where I’m at, and they’re not they’re not being jerks about it, is that they they realize that they have to go rogue, be successful, and that’s sad to me. That sucks, right?

Scott Santucci 52:52

It’s very sad to when you know, we’re talking about a gardener or a CED. What happens when challenger gets misapplied. So, one of the lone wolf reps, or reps that many companies want to stomp out? Yeah. Well, if you miss label a lone wolf rep, because many of these people would be perceived as lone wolves, I got to tell you, none of them had a negative attitude about the company. Were actually so hyper positive about the company. They were frustrated. The company was doing things to get in there were servicing their customers

Brian Lambert 53:31

Cause they want to sell more they know they can.

Scott Santucci 53:33

Well, I think that I think the issue here is and that that’s sort of a myth, misnomer, and I’m not trying to correct you, Brian, I’m sort of trying to deal with this overall opinion. Outside of the sales organization that salespeople are coin operated. The driving force for these people, wasn’t at least in this group, right. Every group is different. In this group, none of them their driving force was to sell more. All of them his driving force was to solve problems for the customers. They know that if they saw problems for their customers, they’re going to be rewarded financially later. The frustration isn’t so much about making money. They all know they can go get another job and make more money or make money. The issue is they believe in this business problem that they’re addressing, and they want to help their clients, which is why they get so more passionate and emotional. It’s not about you’re threatening their livelihood with the cash. Guys, we we we live to a bigger code here. Our bigger code is in service of our customers sometimes

Brian Lambert 54:42

And oh, by the way, I’ve tried and tried the nice guy approach and I’m frustrated. Right, my shoe on the table for example. Okay, so let’s recap real quick and then you can carry us forward. So, question one is what are you selling? Question two, who do you sell to and the who is the folks the network three what do you need to do to sell more four is what’s going to get people fired?

Scott Santucci 55:06

Yeah, no. So that’s fine. So that’s, that’s number five. But actually, I prefer two sets of three, right? Set number one is the first three, four, let’s baseline let’s, let’s understand who we are as, as the sales as a top seller, then we get into, let’s problem solve. So, question number one of let’s problem solve is, what’s the problem? Question number two is who gets fired if that problem doesn’t get solved? And of course, we can nitpick the words to be, you know, what goal that they have. Like, we’re not talking about messaging. We’re just trying to find the simplest way to get to the answer quickly.

Brian Lambert 55:44

Yeah. And I’ve used the who gets fired and it does net it out to those that are accountable. Right, which I like because you’re gonna have to get 15 accountable people to solve this, quote, unquote, problem. They gotta own it.

Scott Santucci 55:58

Right, you got to figure out who’s who’s motivated to drive it. And then how can you empower that? So, we gave, and I give this, I give that map, you know, that map of the adult wallet owner is is a term I, you know, I like to use it’s popular with, with with reps, and then all of the impacted stakeholders. I like to call that an agreement network. And what’s interesting is there’s common patterns about how an agreement network works itself out. And by sharing that with other reps, like yeah, you know, that that is going to make our job a lot easier. But even having that conversation, the terms they just, they just gonna get way too much pushback inside their companies. So, they don’t even bother bringing it up and just, you know, they didn’t even know who to talk to, because they didn’t even know these guys were top reps. And then so the last question, so that’s what probably saw who gets fired, they solve that problem. And the next question is, how do you help How do you help them be successful? And that really gets out to what’s the message? How do we bring the collection of our capabilities together, all that stuff? So, you know, walking through that this group was, you know, really energized, you know, they wanted to keep the ball forward, you know, moving forward. And what you can do is you can actually start modeling out, you can sort of say, all right, well, let’s build a pilot project off of this team. So off of this engagement, you can do a pilot project and say, Let’s keep this this group working together. Let’s help say, based on what you guys put together, are these the terms that you guys used? And if not, what words would you guys use to describe it? So that kind of looks sort of like step number one, how do we codify what we learned? Step number two, then is okay, is this thing that we learned, is this a repeatable process? Like, are we all following the same approach? And then how do we teach the person in enablement and other folks to teach it to the tier two, tier three tier four reps, how do we bottle it out? And then how do we assign different people to work on that? So those are those are ways that you can take the lessons learned from those top reps. It’s unrealistic to think that you’re just going to go take that information, model it out and drive training for everybody, because it just doesn’t work that way.

Brian Lambert 58:26

Yeah. Yeah. I agree. And the, the idea of, you know, in this case, replicating top performers, there, there’s a lot to that, obviously, knowledge skill, the methods that go on about it, how they relate their business acumen, this whole hidden skill, which is getting customers buyers, in a very variety of different altitude levels to agree because we only really talked about the 15 people, but each of them has direct Reports and end users. So, you know, mobilizing. In one sale that I had, it was at least you know, 40 people mobilizing 40 people in a direction is a whole other skill set. So that that those are things you can’t just wave your magic wand and train people on, so I totally attract him there.

Scott Santucci 59:20

Well, I also tell would add another thing. Um, keep in mind, how disengaged and disenfranchised these top performers feel, and how very few of them feel comfortable even bringing up what those issues are. So, you as a sales enablement leader, you have two choices, you can say, hey, I’m going to go raise, raise these issues up to our leadership. Well, you don’t have the credibility of the top performers. So, your heads gonna get bit off. And do you really want to handle that? Or do you want to hire somebody externallyto go do that for you? It’s very wise to hire an expert outsider to handle that friction for you. The second point then is how are you going to persuade? If the sellers themselves are so disenfranchised and so disconnected? They don’t want to bring up? It’s not worth the energy? What’s in it for you? Why Why would you tackle it? And also, how are you going to persuade? Are you going to persuade by citing studies from Gartner or Forrester, you know, serious decisions or whatnot? Because none of those things mean anything to an executive leader that care about their own data and their own performance.

Brian Lambert 1:00:39

Yeah. And you’re not going to be able to persuade with these cliches either at 20 modeling or top performers. Nope, no, that those those things are, you know, let’s get back to the basics.

Scott Santucci 1:00:49

You have our data that’s backed by a simple explanation. And then you’ve got to be able to weather the storm and you got to recognize That when you’re getting heat and aggressive pushback, actually what’s happening is they’re going through those leaders are going through an exercise in their head to buy into what your analysis is. Yeah, you know, given influence that, you know, the first thing is, it’s never real, it’s never really good to be an internal person bringing these things up, and not having the answers. The second thing is it’s always great to let an outsider take arrows for you. And the third thing is, if they’ve done it before, they’re probably gonna have a lot more examples to persuade the leadership then you do. And what you want to be in the position of is doing is get just getting the permission to get the pilot going, or, you know, and then get permission to, you know, drive it forward. Don’t don’t try to be the person with the answer. Because every single person at that table has massive amounts of data that you’re probably not thinking of. And, you know, will set you up to get eviscerated. You just don’t want to do that. It’s not It’s not

Brian Lambert 1:02:12

Not fun. I’ve been there.

Scott Santucci 1:02:13

Not only is it not fun, it’s counterproductive to what you want to accomplish in the first place.

Brian Lambert 1:02:18

Yeah. So, Scott, we’re running out of time, but let’s let’s hit our, you know, top three here, right. So, each of us go through and say, here’s some takeaways for me. I don’t know if I have three, but it goes all the way back to the beginning this idea of do your own analysis, right. I think that that’s critical, a woven that throughout here. These cliches don’t necessarily translate into today’s activities too well, and there’s just too many assumptions that people make, and you know, I would say try the show me you know, let’s let’s do it and let’s look at it together. And then you know, to a takeaway is This idea of building the network internally, we’re talking about it with top performers. And they how they have to connect the dots using air quotes in their customer base, but somebody’s got to do that inside your own organization to help these top performers out. So, while the the session illuminated the challenge, now the dot connecting has to happen, and you need to find folks that are able to tackle that and build it out over time without jumping to the answer, because this is a root cause challenge, not a symptom it’s trying to be tackled. Right so what what do you have Scott for some takeaways?

Scott Santucci 1:03:39

Well, I would say I think this is a my takeaway takeaways would be depending on which camp you’re in, but if you’re in the camp that says nothing, I heard here is new. Then my feedback to you. My takeaway for that is just because it’s not new for you doesn’t mean it’s not new for your CFO, or CEO, or even your head of sales. And it’s not so much whether it’s new, it’s connecting the dots and helping them see it impact their business. I want to provide one story here that was really illuminating. I had a conversation with a CEO of a four or $500 million company. And he was asking me, you know, what’s, what’s wrong with a sales performance? The Board of Directors is on him to, you know, better manage the sales organization. And I, and he was he actually pulled out this book on being a frontline sales manager that he was reading. And I said, you know, let’s call him George. Right. But, you know, George or Pete Well, it doesn’t really matter, john, john. Why are you training yourself to be the subordinate of the subordinate of the person who works for you? Why don’t you just ask what you want? And sales is very, very simple. At the end of the day, if you don’t know who your target audience is, you’re going to direct your sellers on the wrong people. So, ask questions about who are you selling it to? The second thing is, if you don’t get access to those people, nothing matters. So, ask questions. Are you getting at that, with the adult wallet owners? Question number three is how successful are those meetings demand an insight into how successful those meetings are? And what asked what you could do to help make those meetings better? Question number three is do you have a shared vision of success? The ideas that your company has are on your company’s vocabulary and your words and about your products? Your customers speak like that? Do they have the tools to turn your ideas into a project plan? What are we what are you guys doing to help them do that in order to just enable them to buy from you and the last one is, you know how productive your business cases? And that CEO took eight pages of notes and said, no one’s made sales more clear to me all all of the sellers that I and my team are giving me tons of jargon and I don’t understand what they’re talking about. So, the reason I share that with you as if you think you know these things, that’s great. Please ask yourself, what if my CEO doesn’t know these things? How am I going to help them see? And how am I going to communicate them? The second feedback item is if you’re not doing these things, find a way to work on messaging on getting permission to do it, because you’re going to get a lot of pushback from the people with the data to say that this kind of analysis isn’t important. And I think you need to anticipate a lot of that pushback, and it’s way better to assume that you’re going to get a lot of pushback, rather than that rather than do it. If you don’t do the this, this kind of analysis though, you’re going to run blind, and you’re constantly going to be doing activities. And you’re going to be in that same kind of loop. And you’re going to be in the same pattern where you’re selling the sellers out to go work on the case arms and making them sick. And you’re a part of doing that.

Brian Lambert 1:07:24

Yeah, that’s great points. So, thanks, everybody, for listening. And, you know, one of the things is that I would want to encourage you with is, if somebody doesn’t tackle these issues across this cross functional view that we’ve outlined, there’s very, very little chance that anybody will so you know, what, well, this this discussion has been a bit intellectual, not at not academic, but intellectual. You know, somebody’s got to do the thinking and the the cross pollination cross functional dot connecting here. And I think that’s the value of sales enablement to me is is having this discussion. This is not a hard it is simple. The challenging part is the interpersonal piece. And that to me is is the why sales enablement important. It’s a people profession. And to your point, Scott, not everybody has the same understanding. So, great, great advice. Great takeaways. Thanks so much for listening. Everybody. As always send us your notes. Send us your comments. And really, you know, from from my perspective, keep them coming. I appreciate everybody’s engagement around this, you can send a note to engage insidese.com, and we’ll see on the next one. Thanks so much.

Nick Merinkers 1:08:32

Thanks for joining us. To Become an insider and amplify your journey. Make sure you’ve subscribed to our show. If you have an idea for what Scott and Brian can cover in a future podcast or have a story to share, please email them at engage at insidese.com. You can also connect with them online by going to insidese.com following them on Twitter or sending them a LinkedIn request.

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