Sales Enablement PRO: Book Club Thu, 08 Dec 2022 12:10:49 +0000 en-US Sales Enablement PRO The must-reads for sales enablement professionals You've read their words, and now, you can listen to their insights first-hand! Book Club brings together leading authors of award-winning books on sales, management, leadership, adult learning, and more to dive deeper into their respective areas of expertise. Once a month, Sales Enablement PRO shares a book recommendation along with a conversation with its author. Join in by reading the books, sharing your thoughts, and tuning in for an engaging discussion with the thought leaders themselves. Sales Enablement Expertise From Experts no Book Club: Dr. Natalie Petouhoff on Driving Behavior Change to Enable Empathy Olivia Fuller,Natalie Petouhoff Thu, 17 Nov 2022 16:58:17 +0000 4ac6954b3b066abbb2201eff5907068b8af60020 Olivia Fuller: Hi and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

For many business leaders today, there’s often a huge disconnect between the experiences that they think they’re providing employees and customers and those employees and customers’ actual experiences. To bridge these gaps and deliver experiences that are truly employee and customer-centric, especially at scale, leaders need to make empathy a top priority. The book, “Empathy In Action” walks through how to do just that and I’m so excited to have one of the authors, Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, here to tell us a little bit more about the book. With that, Natalie, I’d love to hear a little bit more about you and tell us a little bit also about your book.

Dr. Natalie Petouhoff: Thank you. It’s great to be here and this particular topic is really near and dear to my heart for a number of reasons. I think it’s one of the key business constructs that if adopted, and that’s shifting a lot of paradigms to say that, but if adopted, it could really radically change corporate America and sales as we know it.

OF: Absolutely. One of the things that you mentioned in your book is this concept of how the book really came about because you noticed that while companies often say that the employee and customer experiences are important to them, there really hasn’t been that much actual improvement in the experiences that companies provide. I’d love to hear from you, why do you think that disconnect exists?

NP: Back in the day I was a Forrester analyst and they did a study and they asked customers, what do you think about the customer experience, and 80% of the customers said it’s horrible, but when you talk to the companies they all felt that they were providing great experiences. Now flash forward 15 years, Bain & Company repeated the same study and they got the exact same results. That’s interesting because it’s the same question, and so what I noticed was how can two groups of people, and this was across lots of companies so it wasn’t company-specific and it wasn’t industry-specific, it was just across the board, what I noticed was when you asked the question from a different person’s point of view, you get a different answer.

When you ask companies and executives how they think they’re doing, they think they’re doing great, but when you actually ask the people who are receiving the experience, either employees or customers, they have a completely different point of view. Really the concept in the book is if you’re an executive sit down and listen or shadow the people that you work with or do mystery shopping as a customer and understand that experience from that other person’s point of view and when you do that, what we’re finding when executives are willing to take that chance and to do it, they’re like, wow, this is horrible. Why do we do it like this? This makes absolutely no sense at all and especially if you’re a customer and you experience these things you’re thinking, what is the company thinking, I’m never going to buy from them, then you go to a cocktail party and you tell all your friends about the horrible experience. That spreads that bad word of mouth.

I think since the pandemic, we’ve all had a moment, kind of a cause for pause, everybody kind of shifted their life priorities and so I think we’re in an interesting tipping point from both the employee and the customer point of view where people are just fed up and they’re really not going to take it anymore and so at some point, what we’re seeing is especially from the employee point of view, we have seen the great resignation which was followed by quiet quitting, so you may not have the employees you had or may not have the loyalty of those employees and their productivity or willingness to go the extra mile. For customers, it’s very easy for them to switch channels or go somewhere else, especially with the increase in online, so it does really impact the bottom line. This is not just a nice topic, this is a bottom line whether your company is going to make it or not, especially through this recession.

OF: Absolutely, and actually, I’d love to dig in on that last point, a little bit more. Thinking about the year ahead and especially the economic times that we’re in right now, what are some of the potential consequences of that gap between the experience that companies think they’re providing and then the experience that customers and employees are actually having?

NP: Think about it as yourself, you go online, you have a question, you want to return something, you want to buy something, you start interacting with a chatbot and the chatbot gives you canned answers. They’re clearly not understanding because they’re not really listening, they’re not seeing what you’ve done, they don’t have any context, they give you canned answers and you can’t get what you need. Then you contact them on another channel and this time you’re mad and frustrated because they wasted your time. Likely this could be calling a call center or customer experience center and then you’re frustrated with the agent. Now, the agent has no context of why you’re upset and has no idea what you’ve done if you’re using traditional means to set this all up. Now that a customer has to explain everything they’ve just done, making them even madder to think about the experience they just had and on the other end, that poor employee having to not only listen to how the company does things wrong but also oftentimes the customer’s anger is misplaced and ends up being placed on them.

Think about it, if you’re a company and you’re providing bad experiences, how many times is that customer going to come back and buy from you? A lot of times companies have implemented self-service, like using chatbots, as a way to resolve issues, but if that issue cannot be resolved and then it has to go to another channel, you’re actually spending more money for the same issue. It’s costing you more money and it’s reducing the likelihood of a customer being a lifetime customer and buying from you again. The metrics that we want to measure don’t actually change, like average handle time or first contact resolution, but what happens is we’re now measuring them not from a cost-cutting point of view from the business, like we’ll just shove some sort of self-service technology at them and it may or may not work because they haven’t actually sat down and used it themselves, so they don’t know from that perspective, it doesn’t really accomplish what they wanted it to. Now you have a situation where if you started to measure the same metrics from the customer’s point of view, did I get what I needed, was it done quickly and easily, did it get resolved in one contact? This is about average handle time, the first time you get your resolution, so the resolution and the metrics haven’t changed, but what’s changed is whose perspective you are measuring it from. When you measure from the employee’s perspective, or you’re measuring from the customer’s perspective, and you actually do it really well, that requires new kinds of technology. Technology has only been out relatively shortly here in the 5th Industrial Revolution. That’s when you really start to change your business, but these are all new concepts. We’re on the cutting edge here, so a lot of people are going to say, but I’m doing that and I challenge them to look a little closer.

OF: Definitely. On that point about thinking that you’re doing the right things, what does empathy then actually look like in practice for business leaders today?

NP: If you’re being empathetic to the customer, you’re actually walking through that customer journey. Whether it’s contacting the company by SMS, chat, or email, what is that experience like? Is that experience something that you really get what you need quickly and easily without a lot of friction or is that experience really difficult? When you look at it from the employee’s point of view, how easy is it for the employees to do their job, can they really help customers or are there a lot of rules and policies and a lack of information?

There are four principles in the Empathy In Action book. The first one is listening, which is looking at customer event data. The second one is taking what that customer is trying to do, augmenting it with AI so that it becomes intelligent, and then that gives either the bot or the agent enough information to be able to quickly and easily handle that interaction and then learning by using computational analysis to look at all the interactions in a day or a week or a month that a company is delivering and then saying, what did we do well from the customer and the employee’s point of view, and where can we make improvements and then actually taking that data that is very measurable and making those changes.

OF: Absolutely.

NP: Doesn’t that seem like common sense?

OF: It does, and it’s something that you talk about in your book is the difference between empathy and sympathy and I feel like that’s where a lot of business leaders might be getting tripped up thinking, oh just sympathizing with my customers or my employees is thinking about their experiences, but it’s really walking through actually how they are experiencing and interacting with your firm. I’d love to hear about that a little bit more from your perspective, what the difference is between sympathy and empathy in particular with how it’s being implemented in businesses today.

NP: Sympathy, in our definition, is really coming from the perspective of how you see something, not how the other person sees it. Oftentimes it might be expressed as a feeling of compassion, maybe pity, you might hear someone say gee I’m really sorry that’s happening to you, and that’s really kind but it doesn’t really change anything. It’s only when you sit in the seat of someone else. This applies to all personal relationships, marriages, people that you’re dating, your boss, is pretty much any human interaction. When you sit in the seat of the other person and you see the world from their eyes and you start to really interact with them from their point of view, then you can start to really change what your behavior is. So sympathy is making a polite statement, while empathy is really seeing the world through their eyes and then changing what you’re doing to take into consideration what’s really happening to them.

You’re right, I think a lot of people see the title and they’re like, oh yeah well we’re going to train all our people to be really kind, and I’m not saying don’t do that, that’s a good thing, but this is the next step. The reason it says ‘empathy in action is because now it’s about behavior changes now, it’s about policy changes, process changes, and changes in how technology can deliver an experience, and that’s really the difference.

OF: I love that. I think we talked about this a little bit already around the next year and where businesses are right now, particularly with economic uncertainty, but also with a lot of the technological innovation that we’ve been experiencing, as you talk about in the book, the Fifth Industrial Revolution is what we’re all in the midst of. I’d love to hear a little bit more from you about really how businesses should be thinking about planning ahead, not just in this next year, but thinking about the evolution that will need to happen with being in this Fifth Industrial Revolution. How can businesses plan ahead and make sure that they are implementing empathy in action as they are evolving in the next year and beyond?

NP: If we look at the short term, we see that we are heading into a recession, so it’s really important to be able to retain your employees. It’s really important, especially if you’re in the world of sales, to really have your salespeople sit in the seat of the customer and understand when you’re selling to someone, what are they going through. What are their priorities? Not what you have to sell them, but what they need and want right now in the long term. It’s really that transition.

What’s happening in the Fifth Industrial Revolution, which just started in 2021, is the first time that we’ve had a meeting of humanity and technology and the ability to look at and change human behavior. The previous industrial revolutions were about efficiency and effectiveness from a corporate point of view and cutting costs, a lot of automation, so robotics and the internet gave us a lot of capabilities that we didn’t have before. Now, it’s really the first time, and that’s why this is such a new concept, is it’s the first time that people have really put this all together to really look at how we are using technology to change behaviors and how we enable our employees to be able to deliver the best experiences, especially as salespeople? How much information do they have on the customer, and what do they really need to know to be able to serve those people instead of just approaching it from just selling?

It’s less about the product and more about the outcome for that business and really looking at how you’re going to improve that company’s business, reduce their costs, increase their revenue, secure their place in the marketplace. I think when you really come from the place of understanding your customer and you sell from that place of being in service to them, it completely changes the dynamic. I would love to hear from people when they do sit in the seat of their customers and they are selling and they change that dynamic from me, me, me and I think you ought to buy this and you know, we’re going to give you a great deal and our products better than the other guy’s product, you know, all those things that we can tend to kind of default on. When we really slow down and really sit in the seat of that person, it takes more time, takes more research, it takes more effort to have the conversation. It’s different. It’s not so much in the numbers, it’s in the understanding and changing behaviors, that’s where success comes from.

OF: I love that. Yes, enabling behavior change, and I think that’s where our audience of sales enablement practitioners can add so much value to the business and really help leaders understand how they can implement this empathy and action. Natalie, thank you so much for joining the podcast today, it was such a pleasure to hear from you and learn more about your book and I can’t wait for our listeners to hear this and also pick up a copy of your book as well.

NP: Thank you. I really appreciate it.

OF: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders visit and if there’s something you’d like to share or a topic that you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

To purchase a copy of “Empathy in Action”, visit Amazon here.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:16:58
Book Club: Stephan Schiffman on Sales Habits That Fuel Success Olivia Fuller,Stephan Schiffman Fri, 28 Oct 2022 15:05:19 +0000 bf50e8ba4703165687c4b9b41b302e15483df73e Olivia Fuller: Hi and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

The sales landscape is ever-changing and in many ways, that means that the knowledge and skills that salespeople need to be successful also change over time. While the specific tools or methodologies that salespeople use may evolve, the core behaviors and habits that lead to success remain timeless. Steven Schiffman is the author of over 70 books on sales best practices, including the 25 Sales Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople and Cold Calling Techniques That Really Work. I’m so excited to have Steven here to share with us so much of his knowledge and wisdom. With that, Steven, I’d love it if you could just take a second and introduce yourself to our audience.

Stephan Schiffman: First, I want to thank you for inviting me. I appreciate that. I’ve been doing this for nearly 35 years now and I’ve met with and trained over 900,000 salespeople in 9,000 different corporations, in 43 different countries. It always thrills me when I get an opportunity to talk to people more directly. It’s not just a lecture, it really is a style and a feeling about how people can do a better job, be more empowered about their jobs and win because that’s what they talk about. I’m really glad to be here today. Thank you.

OF: Fantastic. As you mentioned, you have a wealth of knowledge and you’ve been doing this for decades.

SS: Forever. You can say that. It’s been forever.

OF: You really are one of the key thought leaders in the sales space and so, what I really wanted to start to talk to you about is a lot of your books mention how some of the old-school ways of thinking about sales and some of the old traditional sales tactics were no longer working. I think this is a theme that continuously you’ve talked about throughout your books and those old tactics continue to evolve. I just love to hear from you, what are some of the key challenges that you really think reps are facing today that they have been facing over your career, and how have you seen some of those challenges continue to persist over time?

SS: The thing that kills salespeople when I say it to them, whether it’s in a lecture or written or in a training, is no one needs you. No one needs your product. I’ll tell you why I say that because nobody ever gets this at first. Let’s just pretend you’re selling pencils. You’re going to go to someone who uses pencils. I mean, you don’t go to someone who doesn’t you go to someone who does. If you think about it, they have to have a pencil already. They have to have the product you’re selling already or you wouldn’t go there. You’re not going to go to somebody who writes in chocolates, which is a ridiculous analogy, but you’re not going to go to someone who doesn’t use what you have. Therefore, if you follow this, they already have it. They’re already using it, so you as a salesperson are an agent of change. That is you have to get them to rethink what they’re doing and buy from you. Most salespeople don’t get that. They go, oh, they really need this, No, they don’t need you, they don’t need your product because they’re using it already, just not yours. That perhaps is the biggest single difference that I can tell you about sales, whether it was 30 years ago, 10 years ago, or today. Same thing.

OF: Absolutely. I think what you mentioned there around they don’t need you, so what you need to do is then build trust. I think that’s something that you talk a lot about in your books as well is really how to build that trust. One of the things that you mentioned is the importance of communication skills. I’d love to dig into that a little bit. What is your advice really around how salespeople can improve their communication with buyers, and maybe what are some of the common pitfalls that you often see in how salespeople are communicating with buyers?

SS: The easiest thing that a salesperson can do is to listen. Now having said that, everybody says that. There’s no one who says you don’t listen. Everybody says to listen. The problem is if you don’t ask the right question, the answer comes back, it’s wrong. You have to ask the right question. So what is the right question? Well, most salespeople go in and say, well, what do you need? They don’t need anything. We’ve already established that. Instead, it’s understanding what people do, how they do it when they do it, where they do it, who they’re doing it with, why they’ve chosen to do it that way, and then helping them do it better. It’s about helping people do what they do better.

In other words, it’s an improvement on what they’re doing now. If you can’t find that, if you can’t say to someone, this particular product will help you do what you’re doing better, you don’t win, because why would they buy it? Would you buy something that’s less? No. You’ve got to buy something that’s more and in fact, every product is an improvement on the other product that was developed. If you just look at the simplest thing and let’s use the telephone. I remember telephones when you picked up the phone and asked the operator to get something. I remember the phones you dialed. I remember phones that all of a sudden became wireless and hello here we are. It’s all an improvement on what we did before.

OF: I love that. I think something that you mentioned there is helping your buyers solve problems and I think that’s a term that also stood out to me in one of your books. I think you said that salespeople need to have the mindset of being professional problem solvers.

SS: Agents for change. Helping somebody get to where they are, but you see the issue is if you’re only selling yourself that is in your mind you’re going to ask questions for you, that’s so wrong. You’ve got to ask questions about them, but most people don’t know how to create a conversation. The conversation is not that easy, so people start off and they go well, what do you need? I don’t need anything. Where do they go with that? You’ve got to have a question that really opens the exploration, opens the discussion that has some validity, and doesn’t sound frankly stupid.

OF: What are some of your best practices for coaching salespeople to come up with those questions and what are some ways that you’ve helped salespeople overcome that hump?

SS: Well, interesting enough, unlike most people who do this stuff, I really give it to you very specific, like I’ll tell you here’s what you say not hey think about it. Let’s all have a big group think. I’ve done that years ago, but I’ve learned. For example, what I teach people to do when they go into a sales meeting is to start out by saying, and literally, this is the scripting, ‘Before we get started would it just help if I tell you something about me and my company?’ Now, you go ahead and do it. You say, well, we’ve been in business for so long, we do this, we do this. Now watch. You say, ‘I’m just curious, how did you end up here? How did you end up buying that product? How did that happen?’ Now you understand the process that the person went through in buying what it is you have to sell.

In other words, how did they get to that point? The phrase that I like to use is ‘I’m just curious, how did you do this? I’m just curious.’ In fact, when you and I met, I asked you, Olivia, how did you end up here, how did this happen? Your story is a great story. That’s how you start. You don’t start with, let me tell you about our product. Who cares?

OF: Absolutely. I love that. The curiosity aspect, that’s fantastic. I think something else that you’ve talked about in this is kind of along those lines is really personalization and personalizing the plans for each unique buyer. I think a lot of that comes from what we’ve been talking about around listening, but I’d love to maybe hear a little bit more about the impact that personalization can have on a sales process. So in the deal, what is the difference that personalization can make?

SS: I’m so glad you asked that because it is not a written process. Now, you know certain things about people you’re gonna go sell to. I mean you have to know something but I’ll tell you something interesting about this is that everybody’s different. Everybody has their own reasons for doing things. Nobody just on a Tuesday morning calls you up with nothing to do. That doesn’t happen that way. So to me, the most important thing is understanding what questions we want to ask and what answers we need. Here’s the key and I think this is probably the most important thing I can tell you. I never submit a proposal. Ever. For anything and I never teach it. Don’t submit a proposal. What I do instead is submit a recommendation. This is what I’m thinking about. Here are the key elements, and here’s the price by the way, but here are the key elements. Tell me what you’re thinking about that recommendation.

As soon as somebody hears about a proposal they go price, that’s all that matters. Price. I don’t want the price to be an issue. I want them to say, you know, I like this. This makes sense. There’s the keyword, this makes sense, and it makes sense because it’s a recommendation that we can work through together. It is so much different than a proposal that says slap it down here it is, buy it or not.

OF: Absolutely, building that partnership with the buyer so that you’re guiding the buyer along in the process of thinking, you know, almost that your recommendations are also their ideas in a way.

SS: It is. That is exactly right. If I come in with a recommendation and say to you, listen, I’ve thought this through, and here’s what I’m recommending we do. Now that allows the person to say yes, no, maybe gee, I like that, and all of a sudden I can take my little pen and say, you know what, let’s cross this out, let’s put this instead, let’s move this to here. Let’s change this pricing, let’s do this. All of a sudden there’s a discussion. It’s not a fight. It’s not winning. It’s a discussion where we both come away satisfied.

OF: I think that can go a long way in building a longer-term relationship rather than just a short-term transactional relationship. I’d actually love to maybe here a little bit more about that. How can salespeople kind of overcome the challenge or find a better balance between having a long-term mindset versus just thinking about the short-term deal?

SS: I was working with one of my coaching clients last night, interestingly enough, and I said to them, let’s look at this one account and they have a dollar value. I said, but isn’t there the potential for more business? They said yes, so I said why aren’t we putting that in there? In fact, you have a 50% chance of getting more business from an existing account versus 20% of getting new business. You always have to look at the bigger picture. You have to say to yourself, I’m dealing with this one account, the potential is there. The reason that I say that is if you don’t think that way, you don’t go after it again. You just say, well I’ve got a sale.

Look. Anybody can make a sale. The best example I can use is the New York City subways. You go on the subway and there was a man there years ago, probably still there, who simply stands there with a little wallet and he stands there and he says, wanna buy, wanna buy, wanna buy, wanna buy, wanna buy. That’s all he does. He shows us a little wallet and just says wanna buy, wanna buy, wanna buy. At the end of the day, somebody buys. Of course, somebody’s going to buy it. In fact, his chauffeured rose always picks him up and takes him home because he’s figured out that eventually 42 million people walk past him, and eventually someone’s going to buy. So anybody can make a sale. That’s not the issue. It’s getting the repeat sale. That’s the issue.

OF: Oh, I love that example that really puts it into perspective. Building the relationship to get the long-term business and not just eventually someone will say yes if I’m persistent enough. So that’s fantastic advice. Something else that you talked about in your books is the need to really stay up to date on the industry trends and thinking kind of at a macro level perspective as well. What are some of your best practices for staying up to date on what’s happening in the industry and thinking about how that might impact a buyer and how their needs might change over time?

SS: Again, you need to go back to the buyer and you’ve got to listen to what they’re saying. You got to listen to what the problem they’re having now. I can tell you all my problems, it’s irrelevant, what you really want to know is what they are doing and what they have changed. The issue, which is kind of interesting, I think that salespeople bring with them what’s going on in the industry. I think it’s a crime when people do not meet with salespeople and I’ll tell you why. Forget the sale, just leave the sale alone. The salesperson is going to 100, 200, 300, or 400 different accounts and they get information all the time because people talk to them. They can actually disseminate more information than almost anybody. Most people are in their offices all day, working their day without knowing what the other company is doing. So a salesperson really transmits that.

The salesperson is great. They have tremendous information but people don’t use that properly. I refuse not to meet with anybody. I will meet with anybody because they’re going to give me information. They’re going to tell me something that I don’t know and that’s really key to the whole insemination, the whole beehive effect of a salesperson.

OF: Fantastic. Well, Stephan, I just have one final question for you. We’ve talked so much about best practices for salespeople, but one person that really does play a massive role in sales success is the sales manager. I’d love to learn a little bit of your advice on how sales managers can be a great liaison between the field and sales leadership and partner with both to make sure that best practices are translated from strategy into action in the field.

SS: It’s a great question. I mean really a great question. It is a deeper question that we have time to really go into. Let me give you just a thought though. This is going to sound terrible, just terrible what I’m going to say, but I find that most corporate sales managers are really enforcers, they’re not teachers. In other words, they don’t take the time to learn how the process works, how to make a call, how to talk to somebody, what really is a prospect, and because they don’t learn that they can’t teach it to the salespeople.

Now, ultimately the salesperson is the one that we have to count on. They are the one that carries the ball, so to speak. One of the things that I see is that most sales managers, and I see with my own books. My books were not bought by sales managers. They were brought by salespeople, they were brought on by sales leaders, but the managers, and I’ve always said this to my publisher 100 times, I don’t write books for sales managers, it just doesn’t get bought, which is true. Sales managers who are really the mainstream of this really have to become much more aware of what their representatives are doing, how they work, what it is they’re trying to accomplish, and how to speak to them, so they get the results that they need. Everybody after all is working on the same team, but sales is not a team sport, that’s a real contradiction for most people. We are told to build a good sales team, but it’s not a sales sport, it really is individual.

OF: Absolutely. That’s fantastic advice for the sales manager. It is so critical, but that also requires being willing to learn and being open to partnering with both the sales leaders in the field. That is fantastic advice. Well, Stephan, thank you so much for taking the time to share all of your wisdom with our audience. I learned so much in this conversation and I again, just can’t thank you enough for taking the time.

SS: Olivia, I want to just thank you because what you’re doing is something that most people don’t do. You’re giving out really solid information. You’re helping people who I hate to say, but are in the trenches every day because they’ve got to do every day and they need that advice, they need that help, and you’re conveying that in a way, I think that they understand and that to me is admirable beyond belief.

OF: Thank you so much, I appreciate that. To our audience, thank you so much for listening. We absolutely recommend checking out all of Stephan’s books and we will include a link to a few of those here in the episode description. Thanks for listening for more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders visit and if there’s something you’d like to share or a topic that you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Explore books by Stephan Schiffman on Amazon here.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:18:21
Book Club: Jeffrey Hatchell on Reinvigorating a Sense of Purpose in Your Career Jeffrey Hatchell,Olivia Fuller Thu, 18 Aug 2022 16:55:08 +0000 1c09aa12da8c39ab793fc8691d681f7ee2d0b8de Olivia Fuller: Hi and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

What is it exactly that causes some people to feel stagnated in their careers while others flourish and quickly ascend the corporate ladder? Well, it may not all come down to the difference in skills, but instead the expectations that we have of ourselves and our sense of purpose. In his book, “The Inspired Career“, Jeff Hatchell talks about how you can become empowered and engaged to breathe new life into your career and achieve success. I’m so excited to have Jeff here to talk to us a little bit more about his book today, so with that Jeff, I’d love it if you could take a second to just introduce yourself to our audience and tell us a little bit about your background and your book.

Jeffrey Hatchell: Sure, thank you so much, Olivia. It is my pleasure to be here and I’ll share a little bit about my background. I have primarily a background working in sales and sales leadership rules and transitioned into the sales enablement space a few years ago. I get to lead a team over sales enablement leadership development and it’s a lot of fun. I am also the author of The Inspired Career, as you mentioned. In addition to that, I’m an executive coach certified through the International Coaching Federation, ICF, and I am a PCC-certified coach. That’s just a little bit about me and I’m excited to be here.

OF: Fantastic. Well, I’m so excited to have you on the podcast today. I’d like to start by really diving into what is it about today’s business environment that is really presenting some unique challenges in the corporate world and particularly for sales enablement leaders. What are some of those challenges that they might be facing that caused them to feel stagnated in their careers?

JH: So when I think about just in terms of the environment today and what’s happening and just about last year and it seems to be continuing the great resignation, you know, it’s something that was hot and heavy. There are a lot of organizations trying to recruit other people away and it’s causing some organizations to have challenges as it relates to staff and having enough resources and enough people. Sometimes in that situation for those who have been in a role for any extended period of time, they may feel like, okay, should I start looking outside, should I start looking at external opportunities, and sometimes when you’re in a position for a little while longer when you’re seeing people constantly move and shuffle, it could prove to create that feeling of stagnation.

One of the things that can help is to take a fresh perspective of your role because in many cases there are things that we could do to continue to maximize, and I say maximize our role because there are so many different things when we are more innovative and think creatively and start to think about what else is missing, what else can I do, what else does the business need and where is there a demand for it, what could I be more innovate around in terms of creating? So one example I’ll just share in that regard, I’ll say one thing that’s happening in many organizations is change. Change is inevitable. Companies are constantly looking at doing things differently. They’re reorging, managing things from a different perspective, and I like to say it’s a good idea to be proactive as it relates to change. So not just looking and waiting for change to happen to you, but be proactive and think about what other ways can I organize my team myself, how can I see what I’m doing from a different perspective that can help provide and drive more results for our business partners that we serve the sales organization to satisfy their customers.

OF: That is fantastic. You touched on a few really important and timely things there, you mentioned the great resignation and all of this change that’s been happening. One of the things that really stood out to me in your book is you share a lot of stories about overcoming obstacles in order to achieve success and you really dive into your own journey. I’d love to hear about what are some of those challenges that you faced in your career, and how did you personally go about overcoming them.

JH: Sure, and one of the things I’d like to say is that challenge is something that’s inevitable. It’s part of the process. For me, I’ve had some unique challenges. They were unique to me, but to me, I’d imagine a lot of people can relate to them, but I’ve had periods of time throughout my career where I’ve been in roles, where I’ve been there for a while, where I felt stagnated to that last question and in some cases, it started making me think about things from a negative perspective and start going down a negative path and thinking about the business that I was in at the time, not being so great and nowhere is this really going anyway. It started to show up in my work and I remember one of my leaders at the time who I had a great relationship with, we had to have a hard conversation and he started to challenge me around my thinking and my attitude, and the way I was showing up for work and it had me think about my career and it was like, you know what, either I’m all in or I’m not in at all. I’d rather not be lukewarm and I decided at that particular moment given what was happening to leave that particular organization when everything was great, but I decided to leave and I went to another organization because I wanted to learn more about the training industry and I went to this, what I call a much smaller boutique firm versus the traditional fortune 500 company and this petite small organization had a major or change brought in. They were actually acquired by another company and the leader came in and they took a look at, you know what they normally do the business, and one particular day I remember they came in and basically said things were changing and they were gonna have to let me go. I like to use the phrase, I was fired.

So talking about having a career challenge, it’s like you’re pursuing something, you leave a great job, you don’t have to leave to go for something that is a dream job and you get fired. So for me, it was something that I had to really think about because at first, it was just unbelievable. Like I can’t believe I actually got fired. Just thinking about my background, it never happened before and it could really hurt mentally and emotionally, but the way to help overcome is to remember who you are, is to go back to the foundations and some of the things that helped to inspire me was to really remember who I was and to start to look forward versus backward, and to start to recognize what are all the great things that I was able to learn and achieve and what else do I want and really do have the paradigm shift about my situation to find the good and to start to take on the mentality that you know what this is working well for me, this is gonna work out for my benefit, to have that mindset that no matter what I go through that this is temporary, and that’s something that I think it’s important for us all to remember is that things are seasonal, temporary and I think what gets many people in trouble is sometimes they make permanent decisions based on a temporary situation. Having that mindset that this is short-term, “I’m going to get through it”, “things are gonna work out”, and literally, things did work out. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and when I look back on it, if I didn’t go through that situation, I wouldn’t even have this opportunity of talking to you about overcoming obstacles.

OF: Absolutely, and I love that perspective about looking forward rather than looking back and I think that’s a big theme throughout the whole book as well, you talk a lot about hope and one thing that I really loved also at the beginning of the book is you define hope as confident expectation and I loved that phrasing that just really stood out to me. I’d love to hear a little bit more about how confidence really does play a role in the ability to achieve your career goals.

JH: Yes, I’m loving your questions, Olivia, by the way. In terms of confidence and you had mentioned hope and I’ll even share, that I like to define hope by using it as an acronym. H, have a big dream. O, overcome obstacles, P, perceive the best in every situation. E, expect to receive. Confidence comes more from the more that we move forward and the more that we are, and I’ll use the word to have integrity with ourselves. Keeping promises to ourselves helps to build confidence in ourselves. So it’s not necessarily achieving the big hairy, audacious goals, but it’s the small daily things that we’re doing that’s leading to the ultimate goals that start to build confidence. In other words, if my big goal as an example is I’ll even say working in the enablement space and even getting there and knowing that hey, there’s a path to get there and there’s a path to thrive there and what am I going to do on a daily basis, and part of that is development and learning of myself and taking advantage of what’s available, what’s out there and organizations and platforms, such as Sales Enablement PRO and thinking about, you know, what else can I learn and grow and reading and doing things to really help.

It’s the daily things that you do and that I have done that helped to build the momentum from saying I’m gonna get up and I’m gonna work out and to actually do it. All of a sudden it builds that confidence. It’s like this morning I went to Orange Theory at five AM Class and it’s nothing like that to be able to say I got it in and it’s those little things that help you to stand that much taller because its promises that I’ve been keeping to myself and then it allows me to carry that on from an exercise work out to the work now all of a sudden because I did that and I know it was something I said I was going to do, I did it. Now when I’m in the meeting, I’m sitting back because I had my certain ounces of water that I said I was going to drink. Again these promises to myself just help to reinforce and build confidence and self-assurance within me so when I’m in the room in the tough decisions and tough conversations and hard meetings, because of all the smaller things that I do that helped me to really believe in myself, it really makes a difference of building confidence. So keeping promises to ourselves on the little things that lead to the bigger things.

OF: That is fantastic advice and I love that you touched on there really being true to yourself and you talk a lot about authentic leadership in the book as well and when you’re talking about developing your authentic leadership style, one of the things that you advise is for people to adapt rather than to adopt. I’d love to hear from you first of all, what are some of the ways that people can really identify what their authentic leadership style is, and then how can they begin to actually put that into practice within the context of their role and their organization?

JH: Sure. Now I’ll begin as relates to authenticity and it’s important and I know we love to use the phrase I’m keeping it real and I’m being real to myself and that person they’re so authentic and we love using those phrases and what it really does mean being who we really are. I like to say one of the ways that help us to align with that is aligning to our values. It’s going back to the foundation of what matters most to me and why. Thinking about that, helps us to remain authentic to who we are. The other thing you mentioned, I share the story of adapting, not adopting. What I mean by that is in an organization within a team because sometimes I think we can go way to the extreme with saying, hey, I’m just being authentic by being disrespectful and telling someone thinks I was just, you know, being honest and telling them. There’s always a way of doing things and handling things versus trying to just say, oh, I’m just being authentic.

When I say adapt, not adopt, what I mean is when I’m in a work environment, when I’m in a group organization, it’s important that I am able to flex and adapt my style, adapt my authenticity to fit in the flow within the team versus trying to force my way on others and the example that I love to use is the dancing example with your at a wedding and they’re doing a line dance and everyone is dancing to the same song, same beat, we’re doing the same thing, but if you narrow in on one person, they may be dealing with a little extra flair. So, it’s like I’m flowing with everyone else yet I’m being authentic to my own style and that’s the idea of the high authenticity and the workgroup is yes, be true to yourself, make sure that you’re in harmony with the overall team and the culture of your organization, but doing it in a way that fits who you naturally are.

OF: Yeah, that is a fantastic way to kind of reframe authenticity outside of the way that people might often relate to it, so that’s fantastic. As you know, a business function that’s relatively new and maturing in a lot of organizations, sales enablement leaders are often really focused on trying to elevate the visibility of sales enablement and really establish the credibility of the function across the organization. I’d love to hear some of your advice on how authentic leadership can really help sales enablement leaders carve out their place within the organization and establish a really meaningful path to success.

JH: When I think of the overall function of sales enablement, it is a pivotal role within organizations. I know there are various names for it, from revenue enablement to field enablement and sales enablement, but it’s all around the empowerment of our sales colleagues, and thinking from that perspective, it’s a critical role. In some cases, I know in different organizations the thought is, oh, I want to demonstrate and prove the value that we bring to the table which is important, and in many cases, we can do things on analytics and running numbers and I know one of the things that I did in my role as a test and control group for those who attended trainings that we put on versus those who didn’t and we looked at their sales results and there was a correlation that demonstrated those who attend the training tend to have better results and they’re the sales ranking reports are better. It’s doing things like that.

When it comes to being authentic and helping with the enablement function and knowing that yes, it is new, it’s always existed just in a different format and a different name and it wasn’t necessarily enablement, but all organizations understand the importance of training and development for sales and sales is the part of the organization that’s bringing and the revenue is bringing in the money and they say nothing happens until something is sold. So you can have the best products, best solutions, best engineering, and best technology, but if people aren’t selling, then what good is it doing? So because we are enabling empowering and helping them to be able to drive more results, this is a critical role and it helps to stand more confident knowing like, hey we have a seat at this table because of the role that we play without the development, without the learning, without the growing, without new hires coming on board and having a plan of action without the tenured sales, people being able to be developed without the leaders being able to have the right coaching skills to bring out the best and to reinforce all the training, then it can go in one ear and out the other or we can kind of get lax and start doing things our own way.

One of the other things that’s very important today in the sales environment is best sales practices and compliance and doing it the right way and the enablement function plays a role with that as well and really helps to stay within the lanes that need to be stayed in in this environment today to be able to drive results the right way by being empowered through the enablement organization.

OF: I love that advice and I love what you emphasize around really empowering the sales organization. That is fantastic advice. Jeff, I love this conversation. I just have one final question for you. For enablement practitioners that might just be starting out on their journey or maybe who are looking to refocus their careers, how can they begin to actually identify and set the right goals to reignite that sense of purpose in their careers?

JH: I appreciate the question, especially around igniting that sense of purpose and there’s a quote that says, I can help enough people do what they want, the problem is most people don’t know what they want. I use that as an example of understanding the importance of having a goal and having a focus and making a decision on what it is that you want. When I think about those new to enablement, thinking about getting into enablement and the impact and really stirring up, I’ll even say the fire on the inside to get excited about being in this type of a role, is remembering the foundation of what it does. When we talk about the word, empower the word, I like to view it from the perspective of helping people to develop what’s already there. It’s helping to enhance, to take to another level. There’s a quote that says, if you’ve already done it, that’s not potential. Potential is what you have yet to do, enablement is a function that helps people to maximize their potential to discover what’s still there that has yet to be maximized, that has yet to be fulfilled, and understand that.

When you’re thinking about a career like this, understand that this is a career that makes a difference, it’s a career that makes an impact. So the part to get excited about is looking at the end result of what it’s doing. When you see the revenues and you hear about, companies’ sales and results know that behind the scenes, somebody helped to enable that to make that happen and understand that the enablement function is a critical role that really drives results for the organization and just like the sales organization can take credit and say, hey look at what we did. We within the enablement space can sit back and say yes, but without us, it would not have happened and with us, it did happen. So enablement is a great place to be with great opportunities and future prospects.

OF: I love that, Jeff, thank you so much for sharing all of this insight with our audience. I certainly learned a ton from you, so I know our audience will too, thank you again.

JH: My pleasure, thank you so much Olivia.

OF: To our audience, we definitely recommend picking up a copy of Jeff’s book, The Inspired Career will share a link to that for you all. Thanks, and to our audience we absolutely recommend picking up a copy of Jeff’s book, The Inspired Career, and will include a link to that in the transcript. Thanks for listening for more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders visit and if there’s something you’d like to share or a topic that you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:20:59
Book Club: Mark Rhodes on How a Winning Mindset Empowers Sales Success Olivia Fuller,Mark Rhodes Fri, 29 Jul 2022 18:51:57 +0000 ccb2a2e7b7f8ce7d0c6212c73595e2f37f69dc75 Olivia Fuller: Hi and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

At some point in your life, you’ve likely been told that you can achieve anything you want if you put your mind to it, but the real key here is knowing how to use your mind to achieve your goals. This is exactly what the book Think Your Way To Success: How to Develop a Winning Mindset and Achieve Amazing Results by Mark Rhodes digs into. As Mark explains in the book, you can achieve success by developing a winning mindset. I’m so excited to have Mark here with us today to tell us a little bit more about this concept and his book. So with that, Mark, I’d love it if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and your book.

Mark Rhodes: Hi, thanks, Olivia. It’s quite interesting actually because when I was younger I was very shy and I got a job in an accounting firm and I was there for about seven years and realized, you know what, I wish I had gone into IT tech because I love the IT tech world. As an early adopter all those years ago on a home PC and I taught myself programming, but I worked in the accounting business world for about seven years. Then I moved over into tech, being a project manager, leveraging my business background, and all those sorts of things. I was doing some good project management projects at some really big companies, and then I spotted an opportunity to start my own internet software business and that took off really, really well. I had some really big brand clients and I was doing all of the selling for the business and after about sort of 2 or 3 years, a big Silicon Valley US company came along and said they wanted to buy the business. I said it wasn’t for sale until I got their fourth offer. Then I decided it was for sale.

Anyway, after the dust settled, I started thinking how did I do that? You know, how did quiet, shy Mark go and do that? I just seemed to be able to change in time to take the action that was needed to win these big sales deals and all of this. I became fascinated with success and what makes people successful and I started looking into how the mind works. I studied various things around mindset and things like that and that enabled me to almost reverse engineer myself and figure out how I achieved this success. I realized that most of it was down to mindset and that’s what led me to write Think Your Way to Success because it was after I’ve done all of that discovery, I thought, you know what, I could get this down in a way that it could help other people and not just help other people, I still use it every single day to help me go to the next level in anything I’m doing. So that’s really the story behind it.

OF: I love that journey and as you mentioned, the book really is all about the importance of mindset and helping people to be able to achieve their goals. I’d love to learn a little bit more. In your experience, what does it really mean to have a winning mindset?

MR: I think it means everything. I think all too often people discount positive thinking and mindset as some sort of soft skill or something like that, but I am always saying to people it’s actually an essential skill or part of our being because whenever you get into any situation in life or business if people are not achieving the results, they’re not achieving the results because they’re not taking the action or they’re not taking effective action and usually it’s down to mindset. It doesn’t matter how many situations I get pulled into with small businesses, large businesses, or global corporations, you find out at the end of the day, that most people know what they should be doing and the reason they’re hesitating or putting off is simply because of mindset.

I used to have a big fear of public speaking, it was my biggest fear and the only thing behind it was my mindset and how I was thinking about it. I could have read 101 books on the skill set of how to do public speaking and presenting, but I still wouldn’t have taken the action to do it because it was that mindset piece that was missing the belief, the confidence, the motivation, having a compelling goal and all of those sorts of things. So having a winning mindset through sports, through business, through everything makes all the difference.

OF: Yeah, absolutely. You mentioned something there around the fact that people tend to think about mindset as a soft skill, but as you talk about in the book, there really is a lot of science behind it and some of the concepts that you do discuss in the book are based on NLP. For our audience here who may not be familiar with what that is, I’d love it if you could maybe just walk us through that a little bit and tell us a little bit about what NLP is and what it actually looks like in practice.

MR: It’s quite interesting because when I do my talks or any other things I do, I never usually mention NLP because sometimes people have heard of it and they think it’s something like wizardry or magic to make people do things they don’t want to do and all of that, which is really not the case. NLP is really just the discovery by a couple of guys, Richard Bandler and John Grinder many years ago who basically looked into and formulated how our minds work. What is the link between language and how we act and the action we take or we don’t take, and I always say to people that really NLP is really summarizing this little formula that we have thoughts, and the thoughts we have determined how we feel? How we feel determines the action we take or we don’t take and the action we take or we don’t take determines the results we get.

For instance, if somebody is quite shy and they don’t want to go to a party, their thoughts are high and probably don’t want to go to this party, I’ll probably end up with nobody to talk to. I really don’t want to go. So thinking like that they feel really bad, so the action they take on Saturday night when they go to the party, they think they’re going into a dreadful experience, so they naturally keep their head down, avoid eye contact, stand in the corner because you would, if you thought you were going to a dreadful situation. It’s a confident person thinks differently and they think, hey, I’m going to have a great night, I’m going to meet some new people, but it will be a great laugh because they think like that they feel good when they go in the room on Saturday night they naturally keep their head up, make eye contact, smile, get talking to people and say what a great night. In the end, when they come around and say what a great night, what a great bunch of people, they’ve been to the same party as the shy person has. They just had a very different experience based purely on how they were thinking about it beforehand. This is why we say that, how we think about that, i.e. our mindset, that self-talk that goes through our head in particular about how we think about things has a massive impact on the results we get because just by thinking in a certain way we get different ideas, different actions, different results. It’s exactly the same in sales, how we’re thinking about every conversation, we’re going to have every call, every discussion with a potential client. That is all mindset driven.

OF: That is a fantastic example and really puts it all into perspective. I’m glad you brought up sales there because I’d love to dive into that a little bit more specifically here. What are some of the common challenges that sales reps often do encounter and how can having this mindset shift actually help them overcome those challenges?

MR: I think one of the most common things I come along, and this isn’t unique to sales, it’s across a large percentage of people in all walks of life and in all situations, is that human beings have this tendency to think more about what they don’t want to happen in a given situation, rather not what they do want to happen. Very often a salesperson, when you’re looking to help them improve their performance and you’re talking to them, what are their current thoughts about this meeting they’re going to go to or this call they’re going to have with a prospective client? What are their main thoughts about that? You know, what goes through their head about it and they’ll say stuff as we will probably be too expensive. They’re probably not going to change from their current supplier. So things like that. All the thoughts are going through their mind. They’re even saying those things themselves like I hope I don’t lose this deal. So they are constantly focusing their thoughts on failure rather than success.

With the way the mind works, if we focus on the failure rather than the flip side of it, which would be the success, then our mind actually just looks for more evidence to support what we’re thinking about just to give us comfort that we’re right. We really need to flip that around and be looking at the outcome we want. That was one of the things that I always naturally did with sales because I realized when I said earlier that I was looking at how I’ve done what I’ve done and the results I got, I realized that one of the things I was always really good at the sales and I realized that before I went to a sales meeting, that voice in my head was saying they’re going to love our products, they’re going to love our team. I know we can really help them. I reckon this client is going to go with us, I reckon we’re going to win this deal. That would be my motivational self-talk before I would go to it, but when you look at one of the things that I was really bad at doing, which is public speaking and presenting, I was so scared once I pretended I had a car accident to get out of doing a talk many many years ago, I’d be thinking differently before that. If somebody said Mark, will you do a presentation, will you do a talk all those years ago I wouldn’t be thinking about everything going right like in my sales example? I’ll be thinking about everything going wrong, I’ll forget my words, I look nervous, I’ll sound nervous. The audience might not like it. I might pass out because that thought-feeling action results in a sort of formula.

If you like the basic NLP formula, when I’m thinking all that thought pattern is doing is making me feel worse and worse and worse and I’m running away from taking the action. A big thing to answer that question, as I say is that salespeople are to make sure you’re focusing on the outcome you want to happen, not the outcome you don’t want to happen. So many people do it, I hope I don’t lose this sales deal, I reckon we’re going to be too expensive.

OF: Yeah, that is a fantastic point. You do talk about in the book the importance of coaching and really developing that positive thinking into outcomes. I’d love to hear a little bit more about that. What is actually the role of coaching and making this positive thinking actionable?

MR: The role in coaching really is to help people feel more comfortable about the actions they’re taking because the reason that people are either not doing things, they need to be doing, not having the conversations or they’re doing avoidance tactics like they’re emailing rather than calling is because they feel uncomfortable about the action that they need to take. So coaching is really about finding out what areas of the role that they’re doing or the situations they’re in with the things that they’ve got to say and do that they don’t feel too comfortable with. That’s where you need to find out why it is and then either look to change their mindset around that particular thing or you need to actually find a different way of them saying what they need to say, so they feel more comfortable with it. Sometimes you can change one or two words in what somebody’s going to say in a conversation and it makes them feel much better about it. So I can say that but a few words ago where you were doing it differently, I couldn’t say that you know, but you tweak one or two words and people are more comfortable. Coaching is all about helping somebody be really comfortable and confident about what they need to say and do in order to do their role effectively.

OF: Absolutely. What are some of your coaching best practices to actually build that confidence in reps?

MR: Firstly, it’s to make sure that they are focusing on the outcomes they want, and if there are some things that they’re thinking about that might go wrong, looking to go back and come up with ways to offset that and understand why that might not happen or how we can avoid it, or how we can make that better. The key thing is, especially in the world of sales, one of the things that I always have to look at coaching-wise is whether the person, because what it’s about what motivation strategy they’re using subconsciously to drive them to action. For anything we’re going to do in life, we need to be motivated to do it, i.e. we need a reason to take that action. There are two ways in which we as human beings motivate ourselves to do things. One is what we call the towards strategy or in the old days you call the carrot, which is we motivate ourselves to go and take this particular action because all the good things are going to happen if we take that action. Whereas in some instances people will use what we call the stick strategy or the away from the strategy is the reason they’re taking action because they want to avoid the bad consequences, they’ll have to suffer if they don’t take action.

For instance, you’ll often find that there’ll be some sales people where their performance is sort of consistently good and probably over a long period of time going up and up or something like that, and you get other salespeople where their performance is up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down there, just like all over the place, up and down continually. Once you look at that and think, well, are they spending a lot of time implementing every time they do a sales deal? If it’s not that they don’t have to implement, they take their foot off the pedal selling and you’re still left with that in a normal sales cycle. That is an example that someone is most probably using a motivation away from strategy and that what motivates them to get on the phone or get out there and see people start the sales cycle is actually thinking about all the bad things that will happen if I don’t actually get on and make some sales calls today, I might not hit my target and if I don’t hit my target, I might get in trouble. That’s an away from a strategy that they’re really forcing themselves to do this activity because if they don’t do it, something bad is going to happen when you get somebody else who’s doing the sales activity got a compelling goal, they want to exceed their target. They want to do better than they did last month. So they’re out there and both can work. The only thing is that away from strategy as soon as you get far enough away from the danger, your subconscious part of your mind thinks you are because now you’ve got a couple of sales conversations underway and you’re away from that danger zone, you’ve done a few conversions, then subconsciously you take your foot off the pedal when you drop back down again until the danger point comes because it’s the danger point of some disaster consequence happening that forces you to get back in. So that’s not ideal, but it’s also not ideal because the person who’s using away from strategy to motivate themselves from action is motivating themselves with negativity. They’re having negative thoughts. If I don’t do this, this might happen, then they’ll pick up the phone or go on teams or zoom in to have a conversation about somebody buying something from them, whereas we all know in sales the best way to sell it is to be enthusiastic.

It’s quite hard after you’ve told yourself a load of mental negativity to go and be enthusiastic, so a really big point, as I say, is in addition to making sure they’re focusing on the outcome they want, also making sure that they are motivating themselves with this. This is what we call the towards strategy of thinking that all the good things are going to happen if they make these calls if they have these conversations if they win these deals. That’s what I’m primarily looking for because those two things lead me to everything else that’s either helping them be successful or holding them back.

OF: I love that advice. As you mentioned, fear can be a powerful motivator, but it might not lead to that long-term and sustained success. So that’s a fantastic point. For our audience here, who really are a lot of sales enablement practitioners, I’d love to dig into a little bit about how they might be able to actually help support the sales teams in actually developing these mindsets. So what would your advice be for sales enablement practitioners and being able to help really create a healthy sales culture that does encourage this positive attitude in order to actually achieve long-term success?

MR: Yeah, I think one of the biggest things is to be mindfully aware that it is the mindset that is probably if there are people that are not quite performing, where they need to be, it probably is a mindset issue that is holding them back. As I said earlier on, a lot of people don’t value mindset as an important thing. You think about this, in any sales team, once somebody has been through all the training, and knows the products and services, every single person in that sales team has got access to the same tools, the same website, the same products, the same services, they’ve had the same internal training and yet you’ll get vast differences, you’ll get some people doing amazingly well and you’ll get other people struggling, but they’re selling the same thing and they’ve got the same corporate website and they’ve got all the same sales tools, they’ve got the same playbook, they’ve got everything the same. Why is there such a big difference in results? Mindset is the only thing that’s left as long as someone is out of the learning curve and getting into the groove and all that sort of thing once they’re up and running and they’ve done everything mindset is the thing that’s left so be mindful that mindset is probably the reason that people are not performing and then we need to look at that.

The biggest thing we can do is listen to the words they use because like earlier when I was talking about what strategies usually the towards or away from. You can find out that just by listening to the words they use somebody who’s using a toward strategy will talk about winning, achieving, and obtaining. There is somebody who’s using away from type strategy on themselves will talk about avoiding, not missing out on, losing. There will be very different words that they’ll be using. There’ll be avoiding disaster words rather than the flip side, which is the achieving words and also a big thing to look out for, you know if you’re in sales enablement and you’re looking to help people in mindset is the hesitation points. In their voice when they’re talking, there’ll be points where you’re listening to a call or something like that or you’re working with them, you’re doing a bit of role-play stuff like that where there are points that they’re uncertain. They will change their tonality slightly. They will hesitate a bit and things like that.

One of the biggest things we can do even with ourselves, not just as a sales enablement person, but any of us is to watch out for our hesitation points. When we say, oh, I’m going to give that person a call in a minute, oh no, I’ll do it tomorrow, they might be busy or I’m going to go and do this those are hesitation points and they are the reason why we’re stopping ourselves taking the action usually because it’s uncomfortable. That’s another thing I think that’s really important to look out for, but also to have this, I think when you say about a sales culture that encourages positive attitudes, it’s to have this sort of understanding that people usually doing the best they can with the skill set and the mindset they’ve currently got and for us sales enablement practitioners, it’s not just to help them develop their skill set, but more often their mindset so that they can be the best that they can be.

OF: That is fantastic advice, Mark. Thank you so much for sharing all of this with our audience. I know I learned a ton and I’m sure our audience did as well. So thank you again for taking the time.

MR: Thank you, it’s been great.

OF: Thanks, and to our audience we absolutely recommend picking up a copy of Mark’s book and will include a link to that in the transcript. Thanks for listening for more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders visit and if there’s something you’d like to share or a topic that you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:21:06
Book Club: Ian Mills on the Secret Behind What Makes a Salesperson Great Olivia Fuller,Ian Mills Fri, 17 Jun 2022 19:59:42 +0000 4a103069b94f913f0136ef6e40d80ae0fcd72a6f Olivia Fuller: Hi and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

What is it that truly makes a salesperson great? This is an age-old question that sales organizations have been trying to answer for years and the good news is that there might now actually be an answer. The book, “The Salesperson’s Secret Code” details some extensive research outlining the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that lead to high performance. I’m so excited to welcome one of the authors, Ian Mills, to the podcast today to tell us a little bit more about the findings. With that, Ian, I would love it if you could just introduce yourself to our audience and tell us a little bit more about the book.

Ian Mills: As you say, I’m Ian. I live just outside London. I’ve been lucky enough in my career to have worked in, I guess something like 60 countries around the world helping organizations to perform better. Hence the book came as a result of a lot of that experience and really wanting to delve into the belief systems that set top performers apart. I’ve been selling for over 40 years. I’m giving my age away. I’m 60 years of age, I’ve got three daughters, I’ve got two grandchildren. I’m an avid football supporter. Enough about me, let me see what I can do to help your listeners.

OF: Fantastic. Well, as you mentioned, the book is based on extensive research digging into those beliefs and behaviors that are linked to top performance for salespeople. Throughout that research, I’d be curious to learn what really surprised you most about the results that you found?

IM: Well, was it a surprise? Maybe not, but it was a concern. I don’t come from an academic background. I come from a practitioner background. As I said, I’ve been selling now for some 40 years. Like probably many of your listeners, I think I’ve been there and done it and therefore know what makes a great salesperson. But when you embark upon research, my academic colleague, Professor Ben Laker, said actually, once you can have a hypothesis, we do not know what the answer will come out of in terms of the outcome of the research. The scary thing is you have to invest significant hours and money in order to prove or disprove your hypothesis. We didn’t know whether there would be a secret code or a formula or a recipe for success. That was a little bit of a worry, because a year into the research, we still didn’t know whether there was a formula. So I guess I’m giving it away in the sense that the book has been published, there absolutely is a secret code, there is a common underlying belief system that binds top performers apart. It wasn’t a sort of surprise, but it was a worry that we would waste our energy, our effort, our time in something that actually couldn’t really be proven.

OF: Absolutely. You mentioned that investment of time and you really did conduct some very extensive interviews with really iconic salespeople for the book as well. I’m curious who really stood out for you in those interviews?

IM: In the formal research, we interviewed about 1000 salespeople across different vertical markets internationally in order to get the data to evidence the code, and then what we did is we thought, “well hold on, we’re trying to write a book here.” Books based on data have the risk of being really quite boring. What we thought we would do is go find some iconic salespeople, many of whom are now in leadership roles. But if you believe the argument that everybody sells, of which I do – so leaders sell, parents sell, we all sell because we’re all trying to influence others towards a desired outcome – let’s go find some exceptional people.

What’s really interesting about exceptional salespeople is none of them are perfect. I often use the metaphor of golf, it doesn’t matter whether you play it, you’ll get it. I’ve never met anyone who’s perfected golf, they’re scratch golfers, great golfers, but they will have bad days. The great thing about sales is that nobody has perfected it so everybody can learn. Even though we found these iconic people, none of them would claim to be perfect. One that I found really interesting was a lady called Erica Feidner from North America. I came across her in an article on, and said she’s one of the best 10 salespeople of all time, and I think half of them are dead now. Given that she was one of the very few that were alive, we interviewed Erica. It’s quite unusual she sells: Steinway Pianos. If you think about the top of musical instruments, that is Steinway Pianos for you. Most of the famous rock stars, Elton John for example, would play a Steinway piano.

In her heyday, Erica would sell 20 times as many Steinway pianos as the average seller. So clearly there was something magical about what she did. What was really interesting about Erica is from an identity point of view, she wouldn’t describe herself as a salesperson. She would describe herself as a piano matchmaker. She had this deep-rooted passion to make people’s dreams come true. If you can imagine an individual who maybe doesn’t even play the piano, but dreams about having a piano in their dining room and inviting their friends and family around and playing music, she will go on a quest to help them get there. It might take her a couple of years but they will buy a piano from her, they will learn from her, they will have that dinner party. I thought she was a brilliant exemplar around somebody who creates a unique experience, different experience and you sort of think about, “well, if I engaged with her, how could I not buy from her?” I kind of liked it but I like all of them. I think they were all in their own different ways quite exceptional individuals.

OF: Yeah, I love that mindset of being a piano matchmaker. That’s so unique, and that relates to the core foundational point of the book which is that beliefs drive behavior. You cover five core beliefs that really do play that massive role in influencing success, so fulfillment, control, resilience, influence, and communication. Can you explain to our audience a little bit more why these core beliefs are so important to a salesperson’s success?

IM: We could have done more but there’s a point in which you’ve got to stop, we’re trying to make something manageable, bite-sized and we’re trying to focus on things that make a significant difference. In our desktop research, we didn’t literally come up with those labels but all of the themes that seem to make a difference in importance to people were those five. They’d be language in different ways and contextualized in different ways, but if a salesperson aligned themselves to those five destination beliefs in a similar way to a top performer, the likelihood is that they’re going to be right at the top of their game. We have long evening debates about if we should do a little bit more, where do we take it, but our experience is that those five have resonated incredibly well.

OF: Absolutely. You also discuss the different attitudes or as you describe them in the book, journey motivators that salespeople can really have towards those core five beliefs. I’m curious if you can tell us a little bit more. How does a salesperson’s mindset when it comes to those core beliefs really influence their ability to perform or to underperform?

IM: It goes back to a comment you made a little bit earlier. The psychology is quite simple. The beliefs that you hold cause you to behave in the way you behave, the way you behave causes you to be the success that you are or are not. The trap that many organizations fall into is that they try and change people’s skill and behavior without changing their underlying belief system and then they wonder six months later, why it’s failed. The reason it’s failed is that they haven’t changed the person’s attitude, changed their mindset, changed their way of thinking.

Let me give you a slightly British example, but your listeners will get it. The first man to run a four-minute mile was Roger Bannister a long time ago. Now, we all know that what was more interesting is how many people ran it the year after. What was more interesting than that is why did they run it the year after, not the year before? I can tell you why. They would have sat on their sofa with their family the year before saying that nobody will ever run a four-minute mile and they were proven correct until Roger Bannister ran it. The following year, they sat on their sofa and said to their family, “somebody’s just run a four-minute mile, I’d better up my game and do just that.” Nothing changed in terms of equipment, nothing changed in terms of training techniques. The only thing that changed is their brain went from it can’t be done to it can be done.

I’ll give another little example of ability. Here’s a classic belief of successful people, successful entrepreneurs, successful salespeople. If someone can do it, I can do it. What I mean by that is, let’s take a sales organization with 1000 people. There must be a top salesperson, or top 10. Whatever it is, let’s just imagine it as a top salesperson. I could hold a belief that I could be that number one now, I can’t flick a switch and I can’t be it overnight, but if I really believe that I can be the number one, then what I’m going to do is go on a journey of learning, developing, educating myself, finding out how they got there and finding my journey to that destination. It might take me five years, it might take me 10 years, but I can get there. If I hold a belief that I’m in the wrong city, I’ve got the wrong territory, I’ve got the wrong account, my leader doesn’t help me, the competition are better, then we are then a little bit like the runners. I’ll sit on my sofa saying he had luck or she had luck. Those little examples will illustrate the importance of getting your mindset aligned to the art of the possible.

What’s the worst that could happen? I hold the belief that because she’s number one, I can be number one. In five years’ time, I’ve not quite made it, but I’m in the top 10. I’ve shifted from being 100 to a top-10 performer. I haven’t quite got there, but I got very, very close to it. What I’m not saying is that this individual should ignore knowledge and skill. They should absolutely hone those things. But if you’re a sales leader or if you’re in sales enablement, if you want to help an organization transform performance, focus on the mindsets and the beliefs because by doing that, you will also help them develop skills.

Let’s imagine I’m a salesperson in that sales organization. The first thing I’m going to do is phone up the top performer and I’m going to learn what they did. Then, I’m going to come away with a whole series of actions that are going to be incredibly hard work. I’m going to read books. I’m going to go on podcasts. I’m going to do things that I’ve never done before that scare the living daylights out of me, but might propel me forward, as opposed to I’m going to sit back and wait until sales enablement puts me on a training course. I’m going to take accountability and ownership of my own progression regardless of what they do for me. So, therein lies a clue to the best of the best they take ownership and accountability.

OF: I love what you said about having the mindset of the art of the possible and as you said, that mindset is what drives behavior. Those behaviors and skills are still important. If you were to pick one of those difference-making behaviors that really does set top performers apart, I’m curious what would that be for you?

IM: In my opinion, it is insatiable curiosity. There’s simplicity behind that, but also complexity behind that because what I’m saying is become a master at asking questions and listening. If you think about any sales individual or organization that misses their quota and they look back, the reason why they generally missed their quotas is that they didn’t find out what they needed to do to win, they didn’t uncover the problem, they didn’t understand what the competition were doing, they didn’t understand what motivated their client. They missed things either through their poor questioning or their lack of ability or willingness to listen to what’s being transmitted towards them. What I mean by that is more than the words, listening to the vibe, listening to the atmosphere, listening to the body language. I think that is insatiable curiosity.

Here’s the linkage behind the books. You’ve got to believe that actually that is game-changing, and if you believe that is game-changing, you can learn to become the most skillful questioner and listener that the world of sales has ever seen. Go on a journey of mastering the art of how you can be exceptional at doing that very thing. I think behaviorally that’s the difference that makes the difference. A very good friend of mine we interviewed in the “Leader’s Secret Code” is a military leader and he’s got a brilliant phrase. His phrase is “Be interested, not interesting.” If you think about the old world of sales, if you wind the clock back 20 years ago, salespeople needed to be outgoing, fun, and wear their heart on their sleeve. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but they would talk. We would say in the UK they would talk for England.

The modern salesperson needs to be curious, listen, and get intimate with the client and their world, their truth, and their reality. It isn’t about the salesperson and their product, it’s about the client or the customer’s issues – the very things that they need and want. You can only get there if you’re well-prepared, sufficiently curious, and sophisticated in the way you uncover all of those kinds of issues. That’s a long answer to a really simple question: be curious.

OF: I love that advice. You mentioned enablement a little bit ago, but I’d love to dive into that a little bit more here since our audience is a lot of sales enablement practitioners. What really is enablement’s role here and helping to instill some of those motivators and some of those behaviors among the sales teams that they support to really improve that consistent performance?

IM: Some of this will be a matter of opinion and personal experience. Sales enablement is viewed in different ways in different organizations and different vertical markets. So one sales director or senior vice president (SVP) of sales will describe it in one way and somebody else in a completely different way. That’s the same in every function, whether you’re an HR leader or whether you are an IT leader – every leader functionally has frustrations. In my opinion, sales enablement needs to become trusted advisers to the executives in the organization. Obviously the sales director, but other business executives, people who own the profits and losses, or people who own the profit. If you’re going to become a trusted advisor to those key budget-holding executives, a trusted advisor will share wise counsel or provide insight and will be a thought leader. Therefore, what I mean by that is it’s not about having your recipe and giving them a pick list of what they need. You need to immerse yourself intimately with what levers should be pulled that will be the difference that makes the difference.

Changing the belief system may be on the list, but actually, putting a CRM system in might have greater impact. How do you want to prioritize it, how do you attribute value, but how do you get those leaders to understand the value that you deliver? Given the fact that you will coach the sales organization that value-based selling is what they need to be doing, internally, you need to be doing the same. You need the sales director talking about the value that you’ve delivered, the difference that you’ve made, because that then gives you a seat at the table.

What that then means is that if you believe that changing the mindset, changing the culture, changing the belief systems is the difference that will make the difference, then you’re probably not going to be able to do it on your own. You probably need to partner with people who can facilitate that process and you also need to be brave because it’s quite easy to implement a technology platform. I don’t mean that literally, but it’s easier to implement a technology platform than it is to change the mindset of people or fight the battle of “well, why don’t we just replace salespeople”. Recalibrate the way they view the challenge or the problem or the ambition of the organization. If you can do that, you can get individuals to double their performance. Most people have the talent within, but what their leaders fail sometimes to do is to extract that talent and get the most out of them.

OF: I love that advice that’s so spot on to where enablement can really make a difference here. I do want to also go back to something that you mentioned as well which is that enablement can’t do it for salespeople. They can’t unlock that performance solely on their own, salespeople need to take ownership and have that accountability to shift their beliefs and their behaviors as well to improve their own performance.

In the book, something that I found really interesting is that there’s an accompanying psychometric test that salespeople can take to really see where they fall between that low and high performance. Can you tell us a little bit about how having that knowledge can really help salespeople be able to shift their beliefs and take ownership of their own performance? What does the organization need to do to help support them in doing that?

IM: If you think about the three legs of the stool, changing knowledge is easy because that’s studying. Changing skills is easy because that’s practice. Changing people’s mindset is very difficult because often their attitude is deep-rooted and it’s built up over many years. You can’t flick a switch and get people to think differently and often executives get that wrong. They run a conference, they present what the new world will look like. Everybody puts their hand in the air that they agree with it and does nothing about it. You have to coach, you have to mentor, you have to use a whole series of things in the kit bag to get people to the destination.

For example, I’ve used metaphor in this conversation, little stories, so you have to use stories, you have to build examples, you have to build models, you have to build case studies, you have to prove to people and evidence that people should put their toe in the water because actually it’s a lot warmer than they imagine it might be. Then, you have other instruments, so you mentioned our psychometric benchmarking tool.

It’s a proper psychometric tool. People go online and they spend half an hour completing a questionnaire around their attitude and beliefs and it generates a 20-plus page report. What that report does is it benchmarks them against the research findings. What it will do is say, “hey, you’re right on the money here and you’re right on the money there, but actually one of the things that you might want to start to think about is readjusting the way you go about influence, the way you go about communicating, and here are some tips and things that you might want to consider that will get you to that destination.” Then, if the sales leader recognizes and believes that this is the difference that makes the difference, then they will help that individual through coaching and through mentoring and practice to get to the desired state. The psychometric is a very clever way of laser-focusing on where the individual needs to consider adjusting their perspective around how they do what they do.

OF: That’s fantastic advice. Ian, this has been such a fantastic conversation. I just have one final question for you. With the way that the sales environment has changed so much in the past couple of years, how do you really see these five beliefs that we’ve talked about continuing to be essential in this new kind of virtual hybrid environment today and then maybe how do you even see them evolving in the next year and beyond that?

IM: I can tell you that we know because we’ve been using the psychometric instrument throughout the pandemic period or however you might describe the last few years. We’ve seen the way data moves and we’ve seen what it means and we’ve also through engagement with our clients, understood where they encounter problems. I’ll give you a good example: a salesperson might say that working from home environment, the lockdown environment, “I’m really good face-to-face, but I really struggle on this Zoom and Teams environment.” When they express that kind of language, however it is delivered, they’re holding a belief. They’re talking about the underlying belief system, “I’m good like this” and “I can’t do it like that.” That’s a classic example of when it’s not about their skill, because actually, we know that selling through a computer is quite easy but they have a barrier up. They have a mindset issue that I won’t be able to perform in this kind of environment. You’ve got to change that attitude and that will then mean that they’ll be open to learning how they might sharpen their swords in that environment.

The other one that I think is really quite important is around resilience. The two journey motivators from a resilience point of view are that top performers focus on both working hard and working smart. But what we know is the top 5% invest a greater level of energy and working smart than they do working hard. Again, in a virtual environment or a hybrid environment, you’ve got to absolutely be more creative around the way in which you operate to get to your desired outcome. That goes hand-in-glove with my example a moment ago. I think the way you rethink how you might operate in that hybrid world is really essential, but you’ve got to be open-minded to do it. You’ve got to believe that you can be good. You’ve got to believe that you can really learn. You’ve got to believe that you can model others, and you potentially can be exceptional because whichever way you believe, if you believe you can, you’ll get there. If you believe you can’t, you’ll be proven correct, you won’t.

OF: I love that, that is wonderful advice, and thank you so much Ian for sharing all of this expertise with our audience. I know I learned a ton from this conversation and I know our audience will too, so thank you again.

IM: Thank you. I enjoyed it. The time has flown, incredible.

OF: To our audience, thanks for listening for more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders visit and if there’s something you’d like to share or a topic that you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:28:04
Book Club: Micah Jacobson on Empowering Learning by Being Open to Outcomes Olivia Fuller,Micah Jacobson Wed, 25 May 2022 17:35:47 +0000 1ad816cb0c9700623ed2d8454d65e6ac0ee3a1ca Olivia Fuller: Hi and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

If you think back on the things that you’ve learned throughout your life, chances are that the things that might stand out the most are when those learning moments were rooted in an experience, when we engage in experiential learning, we’re able to retain that knowledge better over time, but in today’s fast-moving sales environment, how can enablement really guide those meaningful learning experiences?

In the book, “Open To Outcome“, Micah Jacobson shares a five-question model to help guide that experiential learning through thoughtful questioning and reflection. I’m so excited to have Micah here with us to tell us a little bit more about this book. So Micah, with that, I would love it if you could just take a second and introduce yourself to our audience and tell us a little bit more about your background and your book.

Micah Jacobson: Thanks, Olivia. I am really excited to be here and what a special privilege to be able to share some work that has been a passion of mine for I would say almost my entire life. I have such a weird background compared to many enablers in that I came specifically through the world of education into sales enablement. At 16 I started working with the concepts around neurocognitive psychology and how it is that the brain takes in new information. I’d like to say that I specialize in how sensation becomes memory and memory becomes action, which to me is at the heart of what we do in sales enablement. It’s a real pleasure to be here, thanks.

OF: Well we’re so excited to have you on to dive deeper into all of the things that you talk about in your book. One of those is you really talk about the value of experiential learning to help drive retention over time and long term. That’s a concept that’s really rooted in a lot of neuroscience and you talk about that neuroscience background in the book as well. I’d love to hear a little bit more about why that experiential aspect of learning is so valuable to the learning process.

MJ: Yeah. What a great concept. I’ll tip my hand here a little bit and tell you that I think all learning is fundamentally experiential. I think of experiential learning in the broadest possible way of saying that there’s sensation out there. We hear, see, touch, taste, smell, we get this sensational impulse and maybe that’s all from the time that we’re in the womb even. Maybe that’s all human learning. We distinguish it sometimes from some passive forms of learning when I read or I watch something and I’m not really taking an active energetic role in that learning, but I would argue that there’s still sensation. I’m still reading something, I’m still watching something and so really you can use the concepts in Open To Outcome with almost any form of sensational learning.

I think that the more you can get emotion into it and the more you can involve multiple senses, the more immersive learning becomes. The evidence is just really clear that that’s more powerful longer-lasting learning. That’s where the concepts and Open To Outcome are really most effective.

OF: I love that. In the book, you walk through a model for really guiding deep and meaningful reflection. That model in the book is called the five questions model and that can really help guide a lot of that experiential learning. I’d love to hear from you a little bit more about that model. How do those questions in particular help to really guide that learning experience?

MJ: Yeah, well, let me first show some incredible humility to educators who have come before me because we didn’t invent the model of questioning as a fundamental source of learning. We can go back to the ancient Greek philosophers and the Socratic method and there’s just so much educational richness in understanding how the brain learns. All we did was take a minor step forward by building specifically on the work of Pfeiffer and Jones in the early 70s where they started talking about using an experiential learning model to structure conversation in such a way that you guaranteed learning. It’s where you can say no matter what’s going to happen, you’re going to learn something.

My original work was with high school students. We had to teach them to become facilitators in less than an hour. I know that many of my sales enablement teammates out there have similar challenges where they’ll bring in, for instance, a sales expert and say, okay, we want you for an hour to do something different than your job and be a facilitator, be a coach, or an educator. We needed a fast way in. We needed a way to say, how do we get somebody who doesn’t really know much about learning or education and get them into a conversation rapidly. The five questions really grew from that desire to say, okay, let’s abstract from the learning cycle and how the brain learns naturally in 5 specific questions that have been asked in order and with a little bit of empathy and a little bit of care about the people you’re talking to will virtually guarantee that some kind of learning always emerges in the conversation.

That’s really the origin of the five questions. We found it so successful that we’ve now been able to teach it to literally tens of thousands of educators, business folks, sales folks, and facilitators in many, many different walks of life and it’s just been so gratifying to watch continued success with just five simple questions.

OF: Yeah, that’s fantastic. You mentioned that this can really be applied to a variety of learning scenarios, so it was initially developed in that high school setting, but you’ve also been able to apply it to a sales rep learning as well. I’d love to hear maybe a little bit more about that with most of our audience being sales enablement practitioners. How can kind of the core principles of this model be applied to enablement for sales teams and how can that really drive impact for sales rep learning specifically?

MJ: Olivia, it’s such a great question. Let me see if I can distinguish between the normal approach, sort of, how we are trained and this goes back to our earliest education days. You know, we tend to parent like our parents, we tend to be in relationships similar, we tend to teach like we saw teachers teach us in school and so you get a lot of what in education is sometimes called the stage on the stage environment where we love to be the person who knows. There’s nothing wrong with that. It feels really good to know something and to be able to share that with others. There’s just a natural human inclination to want to be an expert of some kind.

That sometimes then translates into lots of lecturing, lots of talking at our learners and the shift that that happens is when you start to realize, oh, wait a minute, I don’t actually like listening that long to very many people. That’s sort of a harsh thing to say, but let me take it back to our high school days or maybe our college days or even before that for some of us. Do you remember those times when people sort of droned on and on and it’s really easy for your brain to tune out and the moment we tune out, learning is gone. If there was a first principle of learning, it would be attention. We have to pay attention and so the five questions allow us to maybe get away from that desire to always be the expert and empower our learners to be the expert by simply calling their attention.

The very first question is did you notice? And there’s sort of an ellipses after that. That suggests that we want to call attention to something specific because the moment we get our learners to pay attention, whether that’s paying attention to how they’re handling an objection, paying attention to how they’re introducing a script, paying attention to their talk listen ratio on a sales call, every time we get them to pay attention to specific stimulus that is an incredible opportunity for learning and that’s the foundation of the five questions.

OF: That’s fantastic. You mentioned something there that I actually want to dig into a little bit more, which is the old way of doing things being kind of that lecture model. You talk in the book about the distinction between teaching someone and coaching someone. I’d love to learn a little bit more about the differences between the two. What does teaching look like versus coaching?

MJ: Yeah, I spent a lot of time talking with teachers about this because we have this noun called a teacher or this noun called a coach and sometimes people can confuse the noun I am a teacher versus the verb, I teach people things. There’s a verb to teach. They’re not the same thing. When I think of teaching someone something, I’m really thinking about new information, new stimulus. Once you’ve taught me that two plus two equals four, you can’t really teach me that again. Does that make sense? Sort of like once I’ve got it, I’ve got it. It’s it’s we’ve all had that experience of someone trying to teach you something that you know really well, I might even be mansplaining right now. I’m not sure what that experience is, but it never feels good to be taught something you already know. So I really distinguish between the moment you don’t know something to the moment you do know something. That’s a teaching moment. I’ve been taught something.

Then from that moment on, all I can really do is be reinforced, reflected or coached in that environment. So we teach someone to do a golf swing for the very first time, but every time you swing a golf club after that you’re being coached. Either you’re coaching yourself or someone’s coaching you. Same thing in sales, you can teach someone new product features, you can teach them how to handle a competitive question, but after that it’s a matter of coaching them. Did they handle it most succinctly? Did they handle it with that kind of passion? Did they maintain the energetic kind of value-based mission of the company?

Every moment after you’ve taught is really a coaching moment and that shifts the perspective from, I’m telling you something to I need you to tell me something so that I can see what it is you actually know and how you’re delivering that information. That distinction is lost on many facilitators, but when you get it, when you understand that once I’ve taught someone I need to now ask them questions, man, does that change your practice, and it’s really, really powerful.

OF: Absolutely. You talked a little bit about this just now with what this looks like for sales reps, but I’d love to dig a little bit deeper if we can. In enablement, how can practitioners really balance the two? Balance the teaching moments and the coaching moments and how can they be recognized when the right time might be to teach versus to coach?

MJ: Well, I think for me at least, I can’t speak for everyone, but for me at least the first step is letting my ego go because I need to recognize that even though it feels really good to be the expert in the room and to feel like I’m sharing my best information, what I need is for my reps to take action. I need them to feel good. I need them to feel like experts. So that means I need to shift again from that answer orientation to the question orientation. Then for me, I try to get really clear on my objectives. What specifically am I trying to drive and how do I make that a behavioral drive versus just an understanding or know. In our team at Salesforce, we do not do learning objectives that say understand new product features or become aware of. We want behavioral learning objectives, to create, demonstrate, master these observable skills that we can watch someone do.

As soon as I have let go of my ego and have very clear objectives, now, what I can do is I can start to think about how do I introduce a stimulus, make someone read, watch, participate, make a choice, do something and then get them to reflect on that choice, get them to reflect on what it is that they’ve done. If I can draw their attention to the thing that matters most, whether it’s maybe talk time in a customer call, I’d say I want you to be aware of the percentage of time you’re talking versus your customer talking. At that moment of awareness, we’ve now opened up a learning opportunity because now we can say, well, why do you think that happened? Why did you talk more than you wanted to? Why did the customer talk more than you wanted them to? Whatever that observation is. From there, we can abstract principles that can drive future conversations and now we’re already down that learning cycle, so we’re still driving towards the outcome that we’re achieving, and we did it by calling attention to the thing that we wanted them to notice.

OF: I love that. That’s great advice. Thinking about outcomes, and going back to the title of the book as well, with being Open to Outcomes, you talk about how, from the perspective of the facilitator, it really requires, kind of resisting the temptation to impose the facilitators desired outcomes on the learner, but still keeping sight of the focus of the experience. How can facilitators and practitioners and enablement for example, really maintain that balance of, of being able to not impose the desired outcomes but keep it focused as well?

MJ: Gosh, this is such a leap of faith. It really requires willingness to step out onto an edge, which feels pretty uncomfortable for a lot of facilitators, sales enablers who are driving outcomes. They need revenue goals for their company, they need to make sure that corporate messaging is clear and transfers the way that senior leadership wants it to transfer. We need to show a reaction. People need to like us, they need to think that our programs are good enough that they want to come back and all of those things kind of combine to create a sense of desire for control. That desire to say, I am going to force-feed you the information and sometimes we even have that fantasy that we can do it, because we said it, someone else went, oh man, that person said it in my life has changed.

But our own experience belies that like that is not our experience, whether it’s our parents telling us what to do when we’re kids or our first boss who we thought was an idiot or that spouse who’s like, hey I noticed the garbage isn’t taken out again, when people tell us things it’s hit or miss whether it really hits in that moment and so it’s taking that leap of faith to say yes, you are not going to always be able to control exactly what happens for your learners, but if you can learn how to ask really skillful questions, you actually gain more control by giving them the opportunity to express back to you what you just told them, in their own words.

If we trust ourselves to ask good questions, then we sit back and listen and now we can really understand whether our messages are really hitting or getting through. If I’m just talking right now, I have no idea what anyone else is hearing, I have no idea, Olivia, what you’re hearing. All I could do is maybe reflect back and say, well Olivia, what do you think I said? Now I’m getting a chance to see, did my message really come through? That is really hard for a lot of enabling professionals. I’m right there with you. I have the same exact experience, but man, is it powerful when you can let go of that ego.

OF: Fantastic. Well Micah, thank you so much for taking the time to share all of this with us today. I know I certainly learned a lot from you in this interview and in your book. So I know our audience will too, thanks again.

MJ: It was an absolute pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.

OF: To our audience, thanks for listening for more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders visit and if there’s something you’d like to share or a topic that you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:15:35
Book Club: Karen Mangia on the Power of Listening to Improve Customer Experiences Olivia Fuller,Karen Mangia Tue, 26 Apr 2022 18:10:01 +0000 4a11eb0f71687896c113637a4ae0530b2e5356a8 Olivia Fuller: Hi and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

In an increasingly complex business environment, it can be difficult to know what to pay attention to, how to prioritize business initiatives, and ultimately improve performance. In this modern landscape, our guest today, Karen Mangia, explains that one voice rises above the rest and that is the voice of the customer. Karen details this idea in her book, “Listen Up: How To Tune Into Customers and Turn Down the Noise”, and I’m so excited to have Karen with us today to dive into this even further. So with that Karen, I’d love it if you could just take a second and introduce yourself to our audience and tell us a little bit more about your book.

Karen Mangia: Thanks so much for the opportunity to be here. When I think about my career, a north star for me has always been about spending time with customers, listening deeply to their stories and providing a platform to advocate for what they care about most. That’s taken a variety of forms through the years from sales and sales leadership to customer experience and voice of the customer roles, and I’m fortunate that now six years into my role here at Salesforce, I have the opportunity to not only listen to and advocate for our customers, but also share some thoughts and strategies about new ways to engage with customers. I mean, I don’t know about you, but the only thing that’s changed the last two years is everything right?

OF: Yes, absolutely. One of the things that you talked about in your book that really resonated with me was the value of approaching customer conversations with a beginner’s mind. So I’d love it if you could tell us a little bit more about how that mindset of acting as if you’re hearing a customer for the first time can really help salespeople to actively listen and ultimately how that can help them ask really great questions?

KM: A beginner’s mind is a gift. I’ll never forget the time I went out on my very first sales call. I was an accidental salesperson. I started in project management and because of some early retirements at the company, found myself with 100 customers in the star module. That sounds glamorous, doesn’t it? I mean, I want to be a star, just like your listeners do. I came to understand over time, I think star actually stood for small, troubled and risky. I mean, these were 100 of the smallest accounts and I was ecstatic that one customer agreed to see me. So walking into their office to give my very first sales pitch, I had on my best and by that, I mean, my only interview suit and I had printed out proposals for them. You remember this old-school idea with the template, right? I’d filled in the blanks, handed each person the proposal open to page one, I proceeded to read the proposal to them and I got the deal. I mean, how is that even possible?

What I came to understand is I truly had a beginner’s mind at that point. I had one customer out of 100 that was willing to see me. It was literally my first sales call, and so to prepare, I had asked great questions. I listened as if I were hearing it for the first time because I truly was and I had done my homework.

Now it took many lost deals before I understood really the gift of a beginner’s mind, and I think about that as having the discipline to forget everything we think we know and have heard so that we can hear what’s being said to us for the first time. I find when we are able to listen deeply, we get context that we might otherwise miss if instead the script playing inside our head is saying ‘oh, I’ve heard this story before. I know what they’re gong to say, I know what I’m going to say or what I can sell them or how we can solve this.’ We miss out on the opportunity to get curious and to discover and to be present right there in that moment.

OF: Absolutely. I love that story, and definitely the point around really getting curious. In the book you walk through a few different types of really meaningful questions that salespeople can use to get curious about their customers, and ultimately really dig deeper. I’d love to hear a little bit more about what some of those important questions are and really how they can help reps have more of an impact with their customers?

KM: I used to think that being a great salesperson or sales leader was all about having the right answers, and what I’ve come to discover is that great salespeople and sales leaders ask great questions. It’s about tapping into that sense of curiosity, discovery and inviting our customers to share maybe a hidden story, concern or opportunity with us. This is a starting place I find particularly effective, especially after a time of change. Now with your customer, I mean besides the pandemic, that could be a new product, a merger, an acquisition, entering into a new market. I like to start by asking the big impact question. Big impact questions help us look in the direction of how things work. The big impact question is ‘who is your customer now?’ I mean, I find that the definition of who the customer is changes on a regular basis and not everyone inside of an organization holds the same definition at the same time and as a salesperson, that means there’s probably pain and possibility.

So when you look in that direction, sometimes people are shifting from end-user customers to distributors or partners of the reverse. Maybe in bringing a new product or service to market, they’re selling to a new person or persona or buying center. Who is your customer now has a big impact question that helps you find the lead domino. Like when you would build those domino trains, right? When you’re a kid, you wanted that one lead domino that if you set it in motion, everything else fell into place. That’s what you’re looking for inside of that question.

Another one that shows up for me is what I call the genius question. The Genius Question was inspired by one of my favorite entrepreneurs, she built a $25 million dollar business, and is growing, based on the genius question and here’s why. She is a professionally trained pastry chef and so she has spent hours decorating those beautiful presentation cakes, you know, the parts of our life that we photograph ourselves like these beautiful wedding cakes and graduation cakes. One day she’s assembling what I have to believe is probably her 1000th cake. She looked at it and she asked herself, how could this be easier? Here’s what I love about that question. So many times we hear someone ask in a survey or the customer question, how could we make this easy, usually referring to a process or support or a contract negotiation. The reality is that easy might not be a realistic outcome. I mean, I happen to work in high tech. High tech is complex, it’s probably never going to be easy. What it can be is easier.

Easier invites discovery, innovation, and invention, and what it says is a little bit at a time will get better together. We’ll have progress, maybe never perfection. Now in her case, Christina Tosi, the CEO of Milk unfrosted the sides of the cake. I mean she literally took something away and what I love about her story and that genius question is inside of our organizations, ours and our customers. I think about that easier question as a way to challenge nostalgia or what we would call the way we’ve always done things and what she discovered that’s often the solution for our customers as well is to take something away. We can simplify something just a little bit and still maintain the integrity of the experience. So those are a couple of my favorite questions that really open up the conversation and invite some journey of discovery. Also co-creation with your customers, which is a really powerful loyalty-building tool.

OF: Absolutely, those are fantastic questions. On that point that you just mentioned around co-creation, I’d love to dig into that a little bit because you do talk about that being a benefit of some of these great questions is really tailoring the customer experience and helping the customer define their needs on their terms. So I’d love to learn a little bit more about that. What really is that value of co-creation for a customer relationship?

KM: We all feel greater ownership of what we helped to create. I mean right now, you and I are creating a conversation together and ideally some compelling content and because we both share an ownership role in what we’re creating, we feel more invested in the outcome. What happens in making this an equal experience. The same is true of our customers, when we invite them to create a solution with us, a new process, a new feature, a new service, they inherently feel a sense of not only being heard, but a sense of ownership, like they’re participating in creating the experience they’re going to have as opposed to something happening to them. So I think about co-creation as a transcendent business skill, and it really starts by getting curious and asking great questions and then inviting customers to solve problems with us. Ultimately, when we step away as customer experience leaders and sales leaders our opportunity then is to thoughtfully consider out of that creation, what are we in a position to offer that the customer has signaled matters to them that they’re willing to accept? I find then we come together and feel a shared sense of ownership in that outcome. We’re not just interested in the experience. Now we’re invested in what we’ve created together.

OF: I love that. That’s fantastic advice. I want to also go back to something that you mentioned around kind of that genius question. You talked about those moments of genius really being created by thinking about what we could take away rather than what we could add. So I’d love to learn about that in terms of delivering just a really great customer experience. How can reps kind of take that less is more approach to their customer relationships?

KM: Well, harder is a habit and easier is a choice. I mean think about how many times we message how busy we are or the difficulty of a negotiation or a contractor making our quota. What would happen if instead of thinking and speaking and looking in the direction of harder, we looked in the direction of easier. I like to think about making changes in what I call a five-minute fix approach. I mean in the moments where we feel burnt out or overcommitted, the temptation is the grand gesture. Now I need a big vacation, a sabbatical, a job change, whatever that looks like. Maybe what you could try is five minutes at a time. Could you take five minutes back from a meeting? Could you start your day five minutes later and end your day five minutes earlier? What’s one task that’s small that you could take away and here’s what we’re looking for. Momentum.

When we try something and it only takes five minutes if it doesn’t work out, we don’t feel overinvested. If it does work, we get momentum and salespeople are notoriously great at counting, so, you know, even if you made a 1% daily improvement, you would more than have doubled your impact in 72 days. I feel like we can all do something for five minutes and in 72 days benefit from double the impact.

OF: Absolutely. On the flip side of that, enablement customers are often the sales reps or the customer-facing reps at an organization. So I’d love to think about this from that perspective as well. How can enablement also simplify the rep experience to help equip them to be able to better engage with customers in this way?

KM: Microlearning is enablements five-minute fix. When I think about what it’s possible to learn or discover in five minutes or less, doesn’t that feel good? I mean if I tell you we have a five-hour training program or a five-minute video which would you choose if you are the rep? If you’re the enablement person, what’s your uptake likely to be, five minutes at a time as opposed to five hours or five days at a time? Thinking big, acting small means we can enable you on a bigger concept in five minutes a day. Think about how simple that would be if that’s how you could start or finish your day with one little five-minute enablement video. You’re more likely to retain the information, people are more likely to be consistent, you’re more able to measure outcomes and results.

OF: Absolutely. I think that’s spot on with microlearning. That’s really a key way that enablement can get the attention and mindshare of reps these days. That’s fantastic advice, Karen, I loved learning from you in this conversation. I just have one last question for you and I know no one has a crystal ball necessarily, but I’d love to hear maybe your perspective on really as the sales landscape just continues to evolve, how do you envision the role of enablement, really shifting to help play a role in really gathering these deep customer insights?

KM: Enablement teams and leaders have the opportunity to become orchestrators of outcomes and here’s where the concepts we’ve been talking about come together. When you think about what’s possible to co-create an outcome that is shared between the customer, the seller, and the enablement team, and then you think about how to move towards that outcome five minutes at a time, what enables us to do is to win together. Now we’re invested in the outcome that we’ve selected. We talked about how important ownership is and what role co-creation plays in that, but when we agree on that outcome, the enablement team is critically important to step in and orchestrate our path to realizing that outcome together. When I think about what’s possible and how quickly information is coming from every direction, I think enablement teams are best positioned to help quiet the noise so that we can all focus on realizing those outcomes together.

OF: Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. Well, Karen, thank you again so much for sharing all of these insights with our audience. I know I learned so much from this conversation and our audience will too, so thanks again.

KM: My pleasure and I welcome connecting with your audience on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and I have a new Youtube channel, so there’s an entire show with more insights going live soon, so subscribe there.

OF: That is so exciting to hear, that’s great. To our audience, we do also recommend picking up Karen’s book, “Listen Up”, and check out her other books as well. Thanks for listening for more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders visit and if there’s something you’d like to share or a topic that you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:17:04
Book Club: Amy Franko on Enabling Reps for the Modern Selling Landscape Olivia Fuller,Amy Franko Wed, 30 Mar 2022 16:59:13 +0000 95350a38a03b965f981abd905aa74620b8dbe9a0 Olivia Fuller: Hi and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia. Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

As the sales economy has shifted, so have the ways that buyers engage with salespeople and this means that the skills and tools that salespeople need to be successful today are constantly evolving and sales enablement can be the key to equip teams for high performance. Amy Franko explores this evolving landscape and best practices to enable success in her book, “The Modern Seller”. I’m so excited to have Amy with us today to talk a little bit more about some of these best practices.

With that, Amy, I’d love it if you could just take a second and introduce yourself to our audience and tell us a little bit more about your book

Amy Franko: Olivia, it’s great to be here. Thank you for having me and just a little bit about myself, I got my start in technology sales. For the first 10 years of my career, I was in the tech space and I was in sales roles for companies like IBM and Lenovo. Then about 15 years ago I took the big leap into entrepreneurship and I started my own organization that really is a fun, exciting intersection of all the things that I love to do, which is sales, leadership, and learning and development. Sales enablement is really a great descriptor for the type of work that I love to do because today what I do is I work with mid-market-sized organizations across a variety of different sectors. I will work with their CEOs, or their sales teams, a lot of times it’s a combination of both, and what I help them to do is improve their sales growth, improve their results in the realm of sales strategy and also skill development and in other consulting oriented problems that they’re looking to solve. So that’s a little bit about me in a nutshell and in the work that I love to do, that I get to do.

OF: Fantastic. Well, we are so excited to have you here and to learn from all of your amazing expertise. You actually spoke at one of our events last year, the Enablement Assembly and in that you shared an interesting statistic that sellers that are hired today could need up to 10 new skills in less than two years. Why do you think that sales skills are evolving so quickly?

AF: Yeah and in that particular skill or that particular statistic I should say was something that I had picked up in my own research from Harvard Business Review and when I read that particular statistic it really struck me because of just the acceleration of what sales professionals and also by connection, sales enablement professionals, need to be continually evolving and learning. I think the reason why it has grown so exponentially and so quickly is that there’s just a larger swath of skills that are needed for sales professionals and sales leaders to be successful. It is not only the tactical skills of a sales process. Identifying opportunities, prospecting, presenting, negotiating, closing, those skills are still extremely important, but now they’re surrounded by other types of skills. Skills behind the skills, I like to call them. These are things like business acumen, things like agility, thinking like an entrepreneur. These are the things that were really the catalyst of writing “The Modern Seller”. So, I think that that swath of skills has really gotten a lot wider. I also think it’s a great opportunity for sales professionals and sales enablement professionals to not only build those skills and themselves, but sales enablement professionals I think can be cutting edge and be leaders and make sure that sales leaders and sales organizations are building those skills.

OF: Absolutely. So your book details five of those skill sets that are really becoming essential to sales success today. You talk about being agile, entrepreneurial, holistic, social and ambassadors. I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about why those skills rise above the rest and then what role do each of those skill sets play in today’s selling landscape.

AF: It was interesting as I was researching the book. As I was researching the book, I was interviewing sales leaders and sales professionals, mining my own experiences, mining current research and really just looking at my clients and prospective clients and as I was looking through all of those sources and looking for patterns and trends, which is absolutely a skill of today’s sales professionals and sales enablement professionals, what I started to see were these categories that were presenting themselves to me and those were those five that you just mentioned. I call them the five modern selling capabilities and I see these as skill sets that we can be building as sales leaders and sales professionals that help us to better execute the everyday sales skills that we need to be working with our clients and our prospective clients.

OF: Definitely. So in this modern sales economy, how can enablement leaders help salespeople keep pace with all of this rapid change and really stay ahead of the curve?

AF: I like to think in frameworks and I teach in frameworks so that’s how I’m going to tee up the answer to this question. I really believe that sales enablement leaders, practitioners think in what I like to call a center of excellence type of framework. For any given organization, there are a variety of centers of excellence that are needed to be successful with sales. This is everything from your structural pieces like your technology stack, your CRM to your process-oriented pieces, like your sales processes, your sales methodologies, your people. So your talent acquisition, the way in which you compensate people, the way in which you skill people up. So there are different centers of excellence that I believe that if sales enablement professionals and leaders can organize around those and tap into them, they can solve virtually any sales problem to help their sales organization excel.

OF: Absolutely. You also mentioned in your book and I found this very interesting you know that there’s a disconnect today between executive leaders and the sales organization. I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit about some of the potential symptoms and repercussions of that disconnect and how can enablement really helped bridge that gap effectively.

AF: Yes. If I start with the back end of that question first with the role that sales enablement professionals can play, I see this in the learning and development space too, and I think it translates well. First, it’s the concept that as sales enablement professionals and leaders that you are peers and you are in the business. You may have certain things that you specialize in like talent acquisition or tech or whatever that happens to look like, skill development, but you have to see yourself as someone who works on improving the business first and seeing yourself as a peer. I think that’s a big part of the equation where sales enablement professionals can play, but to kind of come back to the first part of that question, which is what, what are some of the issues?

I think one of the biggest issues is the disconnect and sometimes the communication challenges between a board of directors, executives, executive staff, so your C suite and then the sales organization. So for example, if especially in publicly traded organizations, you maybe get some analyst advice or analyst opinion, I should say, about how the organization might structure itself to be more profitable into the future, you might have a board or a CEO that says we need to change our go-to-market strategy, we need to change the way in which we price and sell certain products or solutions. That can have a major downhill impact on the sales organizations and on customers and it’s something that I see pretty regularly because it ends up having an unintended consequence.

The symptom is the lack of communication at the top and changes in the business that are made sometimes at the top without thinking all the way through what the unintended consequences might be. The result is the unintended consequence which could be lost customers, lost revenue, lost star performers on your sales teams because they aren’t happy with the outcome of some of those decisions. Those are some of the things that I see the disconnect in those groups and sales enablement professionals and leaders can be the solution to that because if they’re paying attention to everything that’s happening from that sales perspective, people process technology, they can plug in and be a part of that solution, assuming that they have the right seat at the table, right, that they have to be a part of those types of discussions at the very top of the house.

OF: Absolutely, and one of the things that you mentioned there is really the importance of relationships. Building connections across the business really requires you to have very strong relationships with partners. A strategy that you recommend in your book is actually called the Social Capital Framework, which includes the idea of a mindset for relationship building. How does that mindset really influence enablements’ ability to build effective relationships, particularly with stakeholders?

AF: Yes, so for anybody who’s watching or listening, just to give you a very quick recap on the framework, so that social capital framework has four pieces to it, there is mindset, there are goals, there is your network ecosystem and your habits and they all play a role in your ability to build really strong strategic high impact relationships. The mindset piece is so interesting because it’s probably the most foundational piece, but sometimes you have to take action in the other parts of the framework in order to build the mindset, it’s sort of this double-edged sword, if you will.

I would say from a mindset perspective the mindset first, and I’ve alluded to this a little bit, is that you are a professional in the business, who happens to have sales enablement expertise and taking the mindset that you are a bridge builder. You are a relationship builder. You have a strategic seat at the table. You’ve earned that seat at the table. We have to have that talk track in our minds, so that’s part of the mindset, but the action also has to follow where you’re building your own skills. You are making sure that you’re a part of the right conversations and that’s where sales enablement leadership can play a really important role. But the mindset and the action have to have to be in sync. And sometimes you have to take the action to build the mindset.

OF: One thing that you talk about when it comes to building those partnerships and relationships is the idea of nurturing your network ecosystem. I’m curious if you could tell us a little bit, what advice would you give enablement practitioners to really build out their network and develop some of those high impact business relationships and how can that actually help enablement stay ahead of some of the trends as you know, the sales landscape continues to evolve?

AF: Yeah. I’ll give maybe two or three real tactical pieces of advice around building those relationships. I would say first and foremost, and some of this depends on your own personal career background, so I feel like I was very fortunate to have 10 years of my career early on in sales because it gave me such a fantastic foundation for what I do now. But not every sales enablement professional may have been in a sales role, right? So I always highly encourage any professional or leader, spend some time with your sales teams, whether you’re spending time with them virtually, or if you have the opportunity to spend time with them in person and with customers that right there is always gold because it just gives you a real-life perspective of what a customer might be going through, what a sales professional might be going through in order to create successful relationships. That’s always one of my first pieces of advice to anybody in the sales enablement field is to spend that time.

Beyond that, looking at your own skill set in order to build business acumen in order to continue earning that seat at the proverbial table, building your skill set in things like go-to-market and strategy, like sales strategy or go to market strategy, building your skill set in finance will help give you more credibility for having conversations with high-level executives or perhaps board members of your organization. If I just use myself as a very quick example, I don’t have a finance background, but I am the board chair of a local nonprofit here in Columbus the Girl Scouts and I wanted to build that financial muscle and I knew I would need it as the board chair. I joined the finance committee and I don’t have a finance background and I’m with people who are audit professionals and finance professionals and CPAs, very smart finance people. But I brought a different lens to it and an entrepreneurial lens, a sales lens and I asked different questions. Not only was I learning, but I could also add value in a different way. If you don’t have those skills don’t let that stop you from getting those skills.

Then my very last tactical piece of advice is to be a connector and to almost think about your sales team’s almost like prospecting in a way you want to connect with the people that you’re serving and introduce them to maybe one another, to new ideas, to new resources when you are a connector in your organization or you’re part of an organization like Sales Enablement PRO that that right there is gold because you build so many different types of relationships and connections that you can’t help to start seeing those connections and then helping other people make those connections.

OF: Fantastic, Amy, thank you so much for sharing all of this insight with us today. I know I certainly learned a ton from you and I know our audience will as well so thank you again. For our audience, how could they connect with you?

AF: Yeah so the two best places to connect with me: the first is on my website, You can go out there to learn how to get the book which is available on Amazon. There are lots of other free resources out there as well and then secondarily feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know that you heard me on this podcast. It would be great to see you out there as well.

OF: Wonderful. To our audience. Thanks for listening for more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders visit and if there’s something you’d like to share or a topic that you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:16:57
Book Club: Michelle Silverthorn on Changing the Workplace With Authentic Diversity Olivia Fuller,Michelle Silverthorn Thu, 17 Feb 2022 16:31:03 +0000 2d18bf6940204a7ecfe3d23501ffd2b556eb2f55 Olivia Fuller: Hi and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO Podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices, so they can be more effective in their jobs.

As calls for diversity, equity, and inclusion are being listened to more and more in businesses today, it’s also become clear that many workplaces still have a long way to go to create real change. Michelle Silverthorn, who’s an expert on culture change discusses how business leaders can transform diversity and inclusion from lip service to authentic and people-centered allyship. And she’s here to talk to us about this topic a little bit more from her book, “Authentic Diversity”. So with that, Michelle, I would love it if you could introduce yourself to our audience.

Michelle Silverthorn: There is my book, “Authentic Diversity”, right behind me, I know you can’t see that if you’re listening, but I am Michelle Silverthorn. I am the Founder and CEO of Inclusion Nation. I am so happy to be here and really talk about what it is that we can do to build these spaces of real belonging and inclusion in the places in which we work. I have run this fantastic consulting company. I love my company; I love the people who I work with. I have clients from every possible industry you can think of, who are at various stages in their DEI journey. I do a lot of trainings and a lot of workshops about bias and authenticity, and belonging and diversity. It’s a great job to have and great people to work with, and I’m happy to do it.

OF: Fantastic. Well, we are so thrilled to have you here to talk to us a little bit more about your book. And one of the things that really stood out to me that I loved about how you told your story is you really broke down the old ways of thinking about DE&I, and then mirror that with some new approaches that business leaders can really take to change the workplace in an authentic way. So, I’d love to learn a little bit more, why is that old way insufficient to really create that real change? And how can those new ways really disrupt the status quo?

MS: I love that question. I always think about people have you read the book; it’s divided into two very distinct halves. The first half are the five old ways of thinking about diversity. And the second half are the five new ways of thinking about diversity. And I tried to parallel them as much as I can, but you can’t do everything great. But when I think about the old ways, I think about how we constantly make the business case for diversity. We constantly say, “How much money is it going to make us? What is the business generator? What is the revenue? What can we get out of diversity?” Well, you’re really just reducing people to numbers. And the challenge with that is, if it doesn’t work out, then the revenue doesn’t go up or the problem-solving skills don’t increase, or there’s a lot of conflict, then what was the reason for you doing it in the first place? That can’t be enough.

And then I talk about how we go to all of these bias trainings. And they tell you that bias is fine and everyone has it, and I wrote this actually, it was published, I literally went to the publisher the week before George Floyd’s murder, and what I’ve loved over the past year is that people in all these organizations have changed their thinking about bias, about race. I spent so much time in this book telling it’s not enough to just say that your bias and that microaggressions exist, it’s fine. You have to really think about how it affects someone’s career. At every single step in the process, those little, tiny cuts, what do they do to a person right from when they’re onboarded, right through the part where they leave your organization?

So, that’s the second thing. We talk about race and why it’s important to talk about race, I talk a lot about my experiences as an immigrant, I’m a black immigrant to America, my experiences learning about going through the experience coming from a country that is about 90% Black to a country that is not, and what that means to your self-esteem, your image, and also your ability to be able to, “Do I think if I stay here, I can succeed here?” This idea of how we all start at the same line. You onboard someone, it’s fine. Everyone has the same amount of experience and they’re just all starting at the beginning, but that’s not true. We are all starting at different starting lines.

And then the last part, which is really important to me, is this idea that you have to assimilate to succeed, that unless you follow this prescribed direction of success, which was prescribed and defined when people like me weren’t even allowed in the workplace, then that is the only way to succeed. And when you flip that away, when you flip that idea, which is what the second half of the book is about, these are new ways to succeed, how we talk about race, how we hire people, how we onboard them, how we design really useful employee resource groups, how we can actually have sponsorship programs that work, and most of all, how we can make sure that if I come into a space, I feel like I belong here and I can succeed here. And that’s really what this book is trying to talk about.

OF: That’s fantastic. And you mentioned this a little bit just now, this discomfort with talking about race or talking about diversity in an authentic way, and really bringing that to the workplace, and that’s a point that really stood out to me throughout the book, also was that theme of comfort, that business leaders are really too comfortable with the way things are and unwilling to become uncomfortable to really make real progress. So, why is that discomfort necessary to make change in the workplace?

MS: I think about discomfort as what I think about when we want to try to learn. You can always feel comfortable. But at some point, when you start hearing things that you weren’t exposed to before, when you start having conversations that you weren’t aware of, when you start listening to experiences of people who hadn’t had a chance to share their experiences before, all of that’s going to increase your discomfort. And what I share with people– if you’re feeling uncomfortable, that’s good. I have a couch behind me, if you’re listening to this, I have a really comfortable couch behind me, I have taken many naps on that couch. But if I tell you, “Michelle, get up, go change the world,” I’m like, “No, y’all, I’m sitting on my couch, I’m really comfortable.”

We move from spaces of discomfort. That is the reason that we learn new language to say. We learn about why we should share our pronouns. We learn about how we can make someone feel included. We learned that the happy hour that we’ve had for so many years is exclusive, that a golf term that we use make people feel marginalized. We learned all of those things and we learned them because we are uncomfortable.

So, the thing with discomfort is once you recognize that you are feeling uncomfortable, either because of the space in which you’re in, the conversation you are having, the realization that you just had, how can you then move your space not to a point where you are going to feel comfortable, but rather to a point where you understand that you can learn from that discomfort? So, what is the language you need to use? What are the skills? What are the behaviors? What are the actions? Who are the people you need to talk to before you go talk to this person? All of those are things that we only learn when we start towards spaces of discomfort. And that’s what I really am encouraging folks to try.

OF: I also want to go back to something else that you mentioned at the start here too, which is this idea of bias. Sales enablement practitioners are often really heavily involved in developing new sales talent, all the way from the hiring process through to onboarding and then ongoing training as well. And you talk about in the book, and you mentioned this earlier, how bias can often be underestimated or even excused. Since it can heavily influence the hiring and promotions process if it’s not talked about or if it is excused, how can practitioners start reducing it without excusing it, especially in that hiring and career pathing?

MS: That’s an excellent question. What I would start with is you figuring out, as whatever your role in the talent process is, where does that bias look like. You can’t do that without data. What does your data show you? When you look at your data, whose resumes are coming across? You’ll never exactly know what are the racial and sexual orientation and ethnicity of each name that comes across, but you do know who you interview, you do know who you bring onboard. You can tell by how they answer various demographic questions, if they answer them. You can tell who’s getting promoted. So, as you look at your actual data that is in front of you, where do you see those biases occurring? If people are leaving, why are they leaving? Is there a certain demographics or an age, certain place in the office where they are sitting, that they always leave because of that, you cannot get anywhere until we start with the data. Start with the data and what is that data showing you?

Then once you look at your data, you see recurring patterns of this particular group, they’re not getting advanced through the system, or when I get their reviews or evaluations, when I get to review them, and I see here’s where they need to improve their sales techniques or their markets of their services, whatever you see on your data, I see this trend again and again, and again. It starts with looking at the data. The reason I always tell people to start with the data is that I can give you all of the advice on how to interrupt bias as an individual, and I will, I do this in the book, I talk about being aware of it, second-guessing yourself, looking at objective evidence, but at the end of the day, the way that you actually deliver change is through systems, right? So, you look at your systems and you see where are those barriers existing? What am I doing to contribute to that? Am I sending the same resumes over again? Am I recommending the same people for this particular development training program? Am I recommending them for this particular really high in-demand region? Whatever it is, what am I doing that could be improved? And you just keep checking yourself.

Checking yourself is one thing I love. I was on a call recently and there were 25 people from the HR team and every single one of the people in that HR team was a young white woman and almost all of them had blonde hair. And at the end of the call, I reached out, I was like, “Can you tell me a little bit about the diverse composition of your team?” This wasn’t the training, this was to go to the actual training. We were just trying to talk to the HR people about their training. But when we think about that, when we actually look at the facts and what they show in front of us, what does that show you about the assumptions and stereotypes you might have? And the easy answer is, “Well, that’s who we hire, that’s who comes through our doors.” Then that’s the work you need to change. You need to change who you hire and who comes through your doors. And that’s where you start.

OF: I love that advice of starting with the data and looking at it through that lens to really figure out where the problems actually lie. That’s fantastic advice. So, digging a little bit deeper into onboarding, another point that you talk about is that not everyone starts from the same starting line. So, how can sales enablement professionals, who are often leading this sales onboarding, how can they start to remove barriers and build more equitable programs with that in mind?

MS: I think it goes back to what I just said about the data. When we know that everyone is not starting from the same starting line, you’re doing a great job, your HR team is doing a really great job of recruiting a diverse pool of candidates, a diverse pool of employees who start out. What questions are you asking them on the onboarding process? We don’t just make assumptions about how they speak the same language; they understand the same terminology, they know who to talk to when they need access to certain places. There are a lot of assumptions made about people when they start out the job. I want you to do the work of really understanding from individual perspectives, where is it that this particular person is starting from.

And what can really help that is when you look at the data, and you say, “Okay, when I have black team members who are at this position, at this job, or they have this exact same position, a common thread in their evaluations is this, or a common response they have in their self-evaluations is this, or when I look at this inclusion survey that my company just had when black professionals, they list this as their main point of contention or their main point of challenge at this company, or when we look at exit interviews, here’s something that comes up.” Use all of that, to inform what are you going to onboard people in. Are you going to onboard them with understanding the market that they are serving, the product that they are delivering? Do they need more access?

A lot of the challenge happens with the social networks that exist inside a company, do they need access to those social networks? Do they need a guise? Do they need a sponsor? Do they need a champion? All of those questions you’re going to ask yourself, but you need to look at what is it that the black professionals who you have seen their data from or their surveys from or their evaluations from, what is it that they are also looking for three, four years down the line because in year zero, then you can start delivering it on the onboarding process.

We do a ton of survey work at Inclusion Nation. And part of the reason we have to do so much of that survey work is so you use those responses to that data to then inform the questions that you ask, the resources that you offer, and the assistance that you deliver.

OF: That is wonderful. And you mentioned something there that I want to dig a little bit more into, which is sponsors. You talk in the book about how that can really be a powerful resource to help create equity and bring people into that social network that they might not have otherwise in the organization. So, how can a sponsor really help create that equity? And then how can professionals embed sponsorship into the culture of a company in an authentic way to make that a normal thing?

MS: That is a great question. And what I love about that question is, when I wrote this book, it was April 2020 and it was May when it went to the publisher, sponsorship is very different now than it was in May, because so many of us are working remote. And we have spent two years working remote. And I talk to women’s groups very, very often. A lot of women have taken a huge brunt of labor when it comes to remote working, whether it is women who live alone, women who take care of elderly family members, women who have children. There are just a lot of burdens that we have taken on. So, what does sponsorship look like, not just in a workplace where we are in person? What does it also look like in a workplace that is remote?

What I encourage people to do is a lot of male success in the workplace, and I mean, most of our workplace leaders around the world, around this country are white men. Most of white male success is because there’s a guy who takes another guy under his wing and says here, “Come let me show you the way it’s done,” or “I want you to take me to this client,” or “Hey, I like you and I want to hang out with you some more, let’s go play golf.” There’s are all those little things. So, when people talk to me about how they never had a sponsor, they never did it that way, I’m like, “You didn’t have to, because those informal connections were already for you.” What I’m trying to do is to formalize something that has existed for so long in the workplace, but has existed, has excluded women, people of color, BIPOC professionals, people who are of marginalized identities, from that access.

So, when I think of how you sponsor someone, what are the projects they have access to? Are you speaking up their names in rooms where their names are not being spoken? Are you sharing with them, “Here are the insights to how to work with this customer or how to work with this manager, how to be successful.?” Those are the kinds of things I want a sponsor to do, in addition to, “I want to be your mentor, I’m going to guide and show you the path. I’m also going to say that say, you mess up on this deal or whatever it is, you are going to get my support and say you should give this person a second chance, because I know they do good work.” Or say, no one’s thinking about you for that stretch project, that superstar assignment that can get you to the next level, you as a sponsor or your sponsor is going to look and say, “I think she’s ready. I know she’s ready. And I know she’s ready because of this, because I have had experience with her doing this.” They look at your evaluations, and they say, “Okay, here are your evaluations. X, X, and X are good. But you know why I need you to work on Y and here’s why.” That’s the kind of thing I think a really good sponsor is going to be able to do.

OF: I love that advice. Just being able to have someone to advocate for you, to challenge you, definitely can help. As we were also talking about with not having the same starting line, it can really help get people to a more equitable starting line as well. I love that. My final question for you, you talk also in the book about how the business case for diversity is insufficient. And instead, businesses need to think about people-centered inclusion. So, what does people-centric inclusion look like in the business world? And how can leaders ensure that their initiatives, their programs, and the systems that they have in place are working for their people?

MS: I love people-centric diversity. The reason I call this book “Authentic Diversity” is because it’s about people. People who have different values and identities who come from different cultures and have different religions, it shouldn’t matter who you love or where you worship. You come into an organization, that organization says, “Because you are part of this organization, I will make sure that you have no barriers to your success.” That’s what I want. That is what equity is, it’s removing those barriers, removing the barriers, because you are a parent or because you don’t have same-sex partner benefits, or because you don’t have paternity leave benefits, or because you aren’t getting the equal salary that you deserve, even though you work the exact same amount as the other person, who by the way was named a director when you got named a manager, and you’re doing the same amount of work.

All of those barriers, that is what people-centric diversity is all about. It is not about only about how we can make more money. I would like to say this. The business case is a necessary thing to talk about. But if the business case was enough, we would have solved diversity 50 years ago, because we make the business case all the time, endlessly, nonstop, and we are still having conversations on how we can improve diversity.

When I think about people-centric diversity, go back to who you are as an individual, take yourself out of the system itself. When you look at someone who is on when you’re a team who you’re onboarding, who you’re training, when you are looking at the sales enablement work that you were doing, do you respect that person who you’re speaking with? Are you listening to them? Are you listening to their challenges? I go through a whole list of the questions I want people to ask in my book. Are you not gaslighting them? Do you agree that there are biases that they have experienced? Are you willing to be open to the fact that their experiences, their perspectives are very different from yours? Are you willing to learn, “I’m going to engage with this person, I’m going to engage with difference? I live in silos and I could talk about race a lot, segregation, our communities, our neighborhoods, but I’m willing to get uncomfortable, get out and commit to this. I’m willing to speak up when it comes to diversity. I’m willing to talk about our diversity goal and why this matters to our company. I am willing to say when someone interrupts when a woman already said in the meeting, I believe Sariah was making a point, or when someone sends around a joke mocking a new transgender hire that you stand up and say, ‘No, we do not do that here,” and you make that person feel welcome and comfortable as well.

That’s all part of people-centered diversity. And I would love if we could start there. Instead of starting with, “Well, here’s how much money businesses can make from diversity.” You can always talk about that, but that’s not going to be the reason that you are going to succeed in this work. It’s just not. And that’s why I love people-centric diversity.

OF: That is fantastic advice. Michelle, I’ve so enjoyed this conversation. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast, sharing all of this expertise with us. I know our audience is going to find so much value in everything that you shared. So, thank you so much.

MS: I love it. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you for inviting me. You can always find me. For everyone listening, I’m on Instagram, I’m on Twitter. I think we’ll have the handle somewhere. But I love talking to people. So, reach out to me if you need anything else at all. And I love talking with you. Those were some fantastic conversations and questions. And we got to do this. The work of diversity includes all of us. And that’s the work that we’re going to do together. So, thank you for having me.

OF: Fantastic. And to our audience, we definitely recommend picking up “Authentic Diversity”. We’ll include a link of where to buy that in the episode description. And thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit And if there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

You can find “Authentic Diversity” available for purchase here

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:21:19
Book Club: Tim Cortinovis on the Future of Sales and Marketing Automation Olivia Fuller,Tim Cortinovis Tue, 18 Jan 2022 19:12:51 +0000 42790e18c170ba2153db38816c80cb0ead7017f5 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices, so they can be more effective in their jobs. AI and automation are no longer merely buzz words or subjects of a science fiction movie. From chatbots to virtual assistants, you’ve actually likely interacted with these tools more than you might realize. But what do the tools look like in the world of sales and marketing and how can businesses really use them to their advantage? This is a topic that Tim Cortinovis explores in depth in his book “This is Marketing Automation! This is Sales Automation!“, and I’m so excited to have Tim here, to tell us a little bit more about his book today.

Tim, with that, I’d love it if you could introduce yourselves to our audience and tell us a little bit about your background and your book?

Tim Cortinovis: Yeah, thank you Olivia for having me on the podcast. I’ve been in sales for twenty years now. Right after my Master of Arts studies, I entered sales. As a little boy, I was a little bit nerdish and I coded and tried to program my computer with Eliza, a chatbot-like program. Even in my studies and afterward, I’m looking for ways to automate tedious and monotonous tasks. And now, since 2011, I’m working as a global keynote speaker and I give talks and workshops on sales automation. My book is actually about how to take advantage of all the opportunities that come up right now.

OF: Fantastic. Well, again, as I mentioned, I’m so excited to talk about all of these topics around marketing and sales automation. I think it’s such a growing topic in our world today. And you know in your book, you talk a lot about the different reasons why this might be becoming more and more common in the business world today, so why is it that business leaders today might really be struggling to grow the business and what are some of the challenges that you’ve noticed that are making this problem a little bit more difficult.

TC: Yeah, three main topics, I see there. Gartner states that 30% of buyers nowadays want a seller-free sales process. 30% of buyers don’t want to talk to a salesperson anymore. That is a huge obstacle. And what is more, markets are highly saturated, it’s becoming more and more difficult to talk to our clients. And the third one is that it is getting harder and harder to find smart salespeople to cope with these challenges.

OF: Absolutely. Yeah, those are all very pertinent points here. Your book is all about how automation can really be leveraged in sales and marketing to help leaders overcome some of those challenges, in order to more effectively grow their business. I’d love to hear from you, how can automation really be used in these functions to reduce repetitive tasks and free up time to focus on some of those more high-value efforts, as you mentioned.

TC: Yes, of course, Olivia. If you look at the whole sales cycle, from lead generation, lead qualification, trust-building, closing, and predictive selling for the cross- and upselling, depending on the complexity of your solution, you can practically automate the whole customer journey. But even if you do not want to do so, it is highly recommendable to automate lead generation and qualification. So, your sales team gets let’s say nine to ten closings on ten calls. But before, they did ten calls and they got one or two closings. So, if you use sales automation, everyone is happier – your customer and your sales teams.

OF: Yeah, that’s a great point. So, more specifically, you also explain how AI and automation can also help across three fronts, which you mention are prediction, matching, and decisions. So, what does automation really look like in each of those areas of practice?

TC: Yeah, that’s a good point. Prediction you can use in two ways. You can predict what the customer is going to buy. And if you can show her, what she most surely is going to buy, you are the fastest in the market, as nobody is faster than you, if you know beforehand what your customer is going to buy. So prediction is a good tool to do this, and on the other side, you can use prediction to predict which of your leads is the hottest. You know, beforehand, we as salespeople came to our offices, opened our laptops and saw a list of one hundred leads. And now, you have to decide by your guts, which of these leads are the hottest, as you only have time to call ten of them. So, which one to call? Now, AI is going to do this job for us and tells us which one to call. So, this is prediction.

Matching is really really good at matching which sales rep is best for that kind of client. So, beforehand, you can match the sales rep to the client and increase the number of deals.

Decisions, you can use AI strategically, to decide which target market to enter, which target groups to address, so AI helps you to strategically develop your business.

OF: Yeah, that’s very interesting how it can be used in all three of those areas. Beyond just how automation can really help a business operate more smoothly, you also talk about the value that it can have for customers, so I’d love to learn a little bit more about what automation looks like from the customer’s perspective and how can it really improve the customer experience?

TC: Yeah, that’s really the most important point of all, I think. Buyers nowadays demand three things. They want the fastest process possible, answers the same moment they sent out the text message. They want the simplest process possible, no forms, no hassle. And they want total transparency in price, process, and supply chain. And I think, personally, this is only possible with automation. You can’t do this manually. And there is huge evidence from the States, from China, from Norway, from Germany, that buyers value speed and ease of use much more than the human touch and the communication.

OF: That’s super interesting. Could you actually tell us a little bit more about what that evidence is?

TC: Yes, for instance, the New York Times reported last year, that in more and more fast-food restaurants, or the drive-through lane, voice bots are used to take the order. As they couldn’t find any more people to do this job, they use the voice bots for the ordering process. And people love it, because it’s much faster than before, it’s easier. In Germany, we have some bots in insurance companies, for hail damages, for instance, and people love it. If you have a hail damage, you have about five thousand to six thousand people calling at one time at 8 in the morning after the hail damage, at the contact center and when a bot answers, it’s much faster and much easier for them. So yes, we have evidence that people love it. Another very good example is from Norway. They have a huge Norway bank, they also have a bot answering the customer enquiries and there was research and they came up with the point that people like to talk more with the bot about their financial situation than they like with humans. So, they feel more secure, more safe, talking to a bot about their financial issues.

OF: Yeah, that’s very interesting. I’d actually, if you don’t mind, love to learn a little bit more there. You know, there’s been lot of talk in the area of automation, about what the role of a salesperson looks like going forward. How do you envision, you know, with bots and all of these different AI tools at the forefront and as you mentioned, customers really enjoying that experience of interacting with bots, what does the role then of the human or the seller look like, and how do they provide value in addition to some of those automation experiences that a customer might have?

TC: Yeah, that’s a very, very good point, as I am personally deeply convinced, that AI and automation is not going to take away work from us as humans but will deeply change the quality of our work and leverage the whole thing. That means, beforehand, as a salesperson you sold something, a program, a screw, whatever that might be, and now you’re going to sell the whole relationship with your enterprise, with your company. So you have to grow at that point, and the kind of standing you need is now you have to communicate on the C-level, with the customer company and to sell this relationship between your company and the customer company. That is a whole other job to do.

OF: You know, as we’re now in 2022, how do you really think that automation practices in sales and marketing will continue to evolve in this next year or even beyond?

TC: Yeah, I see four topics here. First of all, leadership takes into account that there are more and more hybrid teams, mixed teams made of AI and human members. Sometimes, AI is going in the lead. Talking about leadership, this will be an important point to take into account. Then, voice. As we’ve seen in the industry where nowadays robots are working without the cages, side-by-side with human workers, we will see in the office, humans working side-by-side with AI. That AI will be working with a voice and you’ll interact with your AI colleague via voice, so it’s totally easy to use AI tools on all workplaces in the office. And of course, another big trend is automation automating itself. We saw this in the last years, and I think this will be much more important in the future, as we see the first software working on automation itself.

The last one is reduced complexity. AI is so easy to use nowadays and there are frameworks like AI as a service or composable enterprise, where we can see unskilled, or – yes, let’s say unskilled – humans working with AI, because it is so easy. This will be the fourth complex, where we can see huge growth in the upcoming year.

OF: Well Tim, thank you so much again for sharing all of your expertise with us and with our audience. I know I learned a lot about AI and automation here, so, thank you so much and I really enjoyed having you on the podcast today.

TC: Yeah, thank you Olivia for having me. If anybody wants to meet me, please go to LinkedIn, I hang around there a lot. Contact me on LinkedIn, and then we can have a chat or write together.

OF: Also, do go check out Tim’s book, it is available in a link that we’ll include in the episode description here. Thanks for listening. If you’d like more tips and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:13:40
Book Club: Julie Hansen on How to Build Meaningful Relationships on Camera Olivia Fuller,Julie Hansen Tue, 14 Dec 2021 20:25:00 +0000 bc8ed01fec269945ddf3770f3b8191412db8f8b9 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices, so they can be more effective in their jobs.

Creating relationships and memorable experiences for customers in a virtual environment is fundamentally different than how we connect in person. To truly communicate with credibility and influence, salespeople need to build their on-camera confidence. In her latest book, “Look Me In The Eye”, Julie Hanson shares best practices for engaging with an audience on screen. I’m so excited to have Julie, who is also a returning guest of the show, back to talk to us a little bit about her new book. With that, Julie, I would love if you could introduce yourself to our audience and tell us a little bit about the book.

Julie Hansen: Absolutely. It is great to be back, Olivia. We’ve kind of come full circle here. I am a sales trainer, sales coach, I work with a lot of sales teams on presentation skills, demo skills, and those customer-facing conversations. I started in sales and then I added on a second career as an actor. I’ve had kind of those two career paths most of my life. I really kept that up until I got to be a manager and I realized as I was working with new salespeople that I really used a lot of the skills that I learned as an actor and they were very well received — and I ended up starting my own business.

The book really evolved because I did that for many years and then the pandemic struck and suddenly, I see everybody racing to be on camera. I’m thinking, “oh my gosh.” We’re throwing tools and technology at these salespeople and they don’t know how to talk to a camera. Nobody knows that. I realized that those are the skills I learned as an actor that we don’t have in business. You don’t even have them naturally as an actor, you take classes to do that. I recognized we’re missing this really vital step. Out of that came a video course, my “Selling on Video Masterclass”, and also the book, which was really a combination of working with a thousand salespeople over the course of the pandemic and just addressing the challenges and questions they had about being on video. I really tried to make it a guide to bridge that gap of knowledge about the second.

OF: That’s fantastic. I think one of the things that really stood out to me while reading the book is that there’s actually a lot of science behind building relationships and having an effective interaction with a customer. You break down some of the differences between building relationships on video versus in person in the book. I’d really like to dive into that a little bit to start. I’m hoping that you can tell us maybe a little bit about what is really missing in these video conversations today and how that impacts how people really are able to connect and develop relationships online.

JH: Yeah, it’s a very important question that we seem to have skipped and we started with, “okay. Let’s just turn on the camera and can you see me? Can you hear me? Great. Let’s go.” And we’ve forgotten the certain qualities that are necessary for a relationship to develop, whether it’s face-to-face or virtually, and those qualities are things like being credible, being authentic. We like to think the other person is interested in us beyond a transaction. They listened to us well, they’re empathetic. We take those for granted because most good salespeople have been honing these skills, their entire life. What we don’t realize is that once you’re on camera, a lot of those qualities are either unobservable or miscommunicated, or the seller is engaging in behavior that is incongruent with those qualities.

I’ll just give you an example, for instance, in order to make someone feel like you’re interested and you’re actively listening to them, what do we usually do?

OF: Yeah. You’ll, you’ll respond to them.

JH: Yeah. You respond to them and you’ll be looking at them. If someone was pouring their heart out to you, you would rarely be looking at your phone. Or if you would, they would call you out and go, “Hey, I don’t think you’re paying attention.” And yet this is the type of behavior that we’ve deemed acceptable in business because it’s just easier to do that because we want to connect with that screen, but it doesn’t read to your customer that you’re interested in them, that you care about them, and that you’re listening. That’s just one example of the ways that things are, are miscommunicated on video.

Another thing is that when we are face to face, we actually have science on our side because there’s a chemical that helps us form a relationship. It’s a hormone called oxytocin, and you may have heard it called the love hormone, which seems a little intense for sales. But it’s something that makes people feel good in your presence and comfortable with you and able to open up. The hormone is actually released when someone makes direct eye contact with us or through physical communication, or even just seeing someone’s hands can sometime make us feel more trusting. And as we know, there’s so little eye contact taking place on video that it’s very hard for these relationships to develop. We are forcing our words, our language to do all the work for us. That’s just not practical because relationships are built on emotions, not logic.

OF: Yeah, definitely. I’d like to dig into that eye contact piece a little bit more. I mean, obviously that is the title of the book. It’s all about how you’re able to actually overcome those challenges that you mentioned and create that connection on screen. But creating eye contact on camera often means you’re looking directly into your camera or you’re looking at your computer screen. That can feel a little awkward for people. I’d like to learn maybe what are some of the challenges that people might be experiencing in maintaining that eye contact over video and what are some of your best practices for actually being able to overcome that?

JH: Yeah, it’s one of the most counterintuitive things. There’s a lot of counterintuitive things about communicating on camera and that is making eye contact. The truth of the matter is, whatever we tell ourselves to be true, the truth is that your customer will not feel like you see them hear them or care about them if you’re not looking at the camera, not your screen, not your notes, not their ear. They’ll look at their eyes through the camera. If you’re not looking at the camera, There’s a disconnect going on because when we’re in person, if you and I were sitting across from each other face to face and you happen to glance down or glance at your hands or glance at my hands, I know you’re still engaged because we have a shared environment.

When you break connection with that camera, your customer doesn’t know what you’re looking at and they’re not going to assign the best motives to you, right? They’re not your mother. They’re not going to say, “oh, well, she’s probably looking at my screen.” It’s going to feel like you’re being inattentive. It’s very important. It’s a very challenging skill. I think we have made very light of it and we’ve done a disservice to salespeople by just saying, “just go and get on camera and talk to people.” It’s not a simple skill. I took weeks of on-camera acting classes to learn how to do it. There’s a whole process and I break it down in the book about being able to see that person in the camera. Being able to visualize them, talk to them, because when you’re an actor, oftentimes you’re on a set and you’re supposed to be having this dialogue with your scene partner who isn’t even on the set that day. You’re just having it with the camera, and it has to be dynamic and real, and you have to be in the moment and thinking about talking to that person. There is a way to see that person in your mind’s eye, project them into the camera, and have that type of conversation.

Now, the challenge is that we want to read that body language, right. That’s what keeps drawing us down. Certainly, there are ways to try to line up your camera as close to that person’s image as possible, which likely it’s not going to be a perfect fit and to start to rely on some of your other skills. One of the most underrated skills that we don’t take advantage of is our peripheral vision. For example, when I’m looking at the camera, I can see with my peripheral vision just a few moments ago that you’re nodding. If you’re moving your head or if there’s some major change in expression, I don’t have to break eye contact with the camera every time, every two seconds. Learning to use your peripheral vision more consciously is something I also talk about in the book, because we’ve just relied on it when we’re in traffic or something, it just kind of comes to the rescue once in a while. But it’s actually a skill that we have. It’s something that we can call into play. That means we don’t have to check in as much as we think we do. Once you start to release yourself from relying so much on reading that body language by just looking at your screen, you’re going to be a lot freer on camera and you’re going to make your customer feel more connected.

One thing I think that also is keeping people from really looking at the camera and using these other skills is that we think we’re going to see something on screen that’s really going to tell us something. I challenge everyone to get on your next virtual meeting, look around at the audience, and tell me what their faces say to you. Because 99% of the time, they will have this very plain, what I call “RBS” — resting business face. It doesn’t give away an ounce of intention or meaning or feeling. We’re trying to read something that is not there. As I explained in the book, we’re trying to read body language in the same way we read it in face-to-face interactions, but the truth is people have very different behavior when they’re in front of a screen. We have recall on-screen behavior. We’ve been trained when we get in front of a screen to be passive, “just give me the popcorn and I’ll watch.” Right? People are not as expressive. They’re very closed. Occasionally, if somebody that’s way more expressive, you can catch that with your peripheral vision if it’s meaningful.

Understanding that there are a lot of differences on what matters and what we need to pay attention to on video is very important. I mean, certainly you want to check in when you start to see things in your peripheral vision that maybe are concerning, like if someone keeps looking distracted. But we don’t want to start glancing down all the time because that type of eye contact reads being guilty or suspicious. That does not help your credibility.

OF: Absolutely. You mentioned a few really important things there. I think one of them is this notion of authenticity and really making sure that we’re comfortable being genuine on screen and not kind of becoming a passive as you mentioned, or acting differently than we would in a face-to-face conversation.

But you mentioned also that you’ve taken a lot of training on how to talk on camera and that can feel unnatural for a lot of salespeople still today. I’m curious what some of your advice would be for how people can really build their confidence so that they can show up to these virtual meetings and be their authentic selves.

JH: Yeah, that’s a great question. First of all, speaking to a camera is an unnatural act. There is nothing natural about it. Nothing has really prepared us for this and to approach it like it’s no big deal and you don’t have to change anything, it’s sort of foolhardy because we are in a new medium. We’re in an artificial environment and to communicate naturally in an artificial environment is a challenge. There are certain things we have to “cheat for the camera” on. One of those cheats is making eye contact and then another cheat is learning to keep your movements within the frame. You don’t continually remind people you’re in this artificial environment or move too fast and it doesn’t read well or it makes you look nervous because it doesn’t feel natural at first.

People don’t think, “well, I don’t want to, I want to be myself. I want to be natural,” but there are a lot of ways we’ve cheated for our audience in person. For instance, when we’re presenting, we might turn ourselves a certain way so that people can also see the slide that doesn’t feel terribly natural, right. I have to be bigger because I’ve got a bigger audience. I get that it’s new, but it’s not like we haven’t learned new things before. We really need to learn these new behaviors in order to make our customer’s experience a positive one and memorable and stand out. One of the things that I coach people on, because you mentioned that word being comfortable. We want to be comfortable on camera. I want people to not confuse being comfortable with being natural. Comfortable is like, “I’m going to get kind of comfy. I’m sitting back. This is me. I’m natural.” Our energy goes down and our face gets very blank, and their voice gets very monotone that does not read on well because the camera already takes away a percentage of your energy.

We have to actually bring more energy to the camera. If you start focusing on being comfortable, you are taking off another chunk of energy and that’s not how you’re going to connect with people. I don’t mean you have to be uncomfortable on camera, but you have to understand what’s appropriate for this environment. It is kind of you at a heightened state. It’s getting to that state of, I can’t wait to talk to this person. I’m really excited to be here and meet them and share this. That’s the type of energy we need to bring.

Then, you need to learn how to speak in the confines of this frame. All that energy, all that meaning, that expression that you used to bring with your whole body when you were in person, it has to be conducted and conveyed in this small frame that we have. That takes practice. That takes practice on the body language, that takes practice on the eye contact. You need to develop some muscle memory around what you don’t want to be talking to the customer. You certainly don’t want to be checking your own image. Right? All these things take practice and they’re all kind of separate skills. I see people struggle to do them all at once and then they get frustrated.

In the book, I tell people to master this first and then move on to that. It’s really relearning some of the things we thought we knew for this virtual world. They’re important skills and the people that learn those and start to embrace them are the ones that are really going to stand out and make those connections, especially as we go into hybrid world and suddenly salespeople are competing with vendors who are maybe getting face-to-face with their customers. You have to think, how can my virtual skills stand up to that?

OF: That is a fantastic point. You mentioned a lot throughout that last response about the customer experience and thinking about the energy that you’re bringing to that conversation to keep them really engaged. I think that’s a great point that if you’re also matching that up against people who might be having in-person conversations, how do you show up and be able to create a memorable experience over a virtual environment as well?

Digging into that piece a little bit more, I think the last time that we had a chance to connect was kind of at the beginning of this whole move toward virtual selling last year. In the last year and a half, something that I know we’ve all become familiar with is this concept Zoom fatigue or video conferencing fatigue. I think that’s something many of us can resonate with, but it’s also something that we can overcome and that we can do something about to be able to create those memorable experiences. I’m curious, from the perspective of maybe having a customer that is experiencing a little bit of that fatigue, maybe they have their video off or something along those lines, what’s your advice for how, as a seller, you’re able to really create that connection and keep people engaged in those virtual conversations?

JH: Yeah, that is one of the biggest challenges that came out of my work with salespeople virtually was like, “gosh, people are so passive. How do I get them to engage with me?” And many of them aren’t on camera anymore, like you said, and that is sadly a function of how awkward and uncomfortable video calls and meetings have been. People don’t want to show up and let it show in their face that they’re not interested or paying attention. That’s the mindset people are coming to virtual meetings with. You have to think about that, what that means. Certainly, when people don’t have their camera on, it shouldn’t impact our energy and you have to let it not impact your energy. It’s not going to impact their experience. Don’t worry, that does not affect their experience because they know that you’re on and they’ll feel engaged if you’re engaged, if you feel engaged with them.

You have to let go of this idea that you need to physically see your customer to be engaged with them. That is a very specific skillset. Understanding that and then knowing also that people come to these meetings in a very passive mindset that’s been repeated over and over by hundreds of salespeople. What we need to do is understand that that’s the expectation and not be so freaked out by it because salespeople are like, “oh my gosh, they’re so passive.” We instantly think they hate me. They’re bored. They want to be off this call. We go to the worst possible place instead of understanding, “okay, people are going to be passive. What can I do to break that pattern?”

The first thing I tell people is you need to, first of all, drop the wishful thinking. Which is, “Hey, I want this to be interactive. So please, ask questions as we go,” because that’s just white noise to customers. They won’t ask one. That means you have to take control of it. You have to be responsible, and you have to plan that interaction and you have to break that pattern that they’re coming to the call with, which is “I’m going to just sit back and listen and let you put on your show.” I have to get them engaged right away because I am training my audience for how I expect them to interact with me. If I don’t engage for seven to 10 minutes, I’m going to have a hard time getting anything out of them. I also have to understand that just because I can’t see them doesn’t mean that they’re not engaged.

What I see salespeople do over and over is because people are more passive, we just keep talking. You see it, you hear these long monologues on sales calls because we’re so afraid to stop because we know nobody’s going to answer. It’s going to be really uncomfortable and awkward, so we keep going and we just create the self-fulfilling prophecy where people are like, “oh my gosh, this is horrible.”

You have to get in the mindset that just because I can’t see someone doesn’t mean they aren’t listening, smiling, nodding their head, and that’s an acting technique. This is as close to acting as you will get when your customer’s not on camera — you have to see them, respond, act as if they have responded in a way that’s most appropriate. If I say something funny, I’m going to assume that they’re smiling or going, “oh, that’s silly” or whatever. Most people are going to have normal reactions, right? Most of the things we’re saying aren’t going to be so inflammatory or controversial that they could go one way or the other. Allow space for that reaction, even though you can’t see it. Visualize it. Imagine somebody going, “that’s interesting.” That gives you the energy to continue: “Another thing we can do that I think you’d find interesting as well is X, Y, and Z.”

What we’re doing is we’re creating a dynamic conversation. That’s one of the things that’s also missing in video in virtual conversations is that traditional communication loop where we say something, our listener receives it, and they respond and then we feed off that response and we get this constant train of information. Well, when your customer is in on video or is particularly passive, you don’t get any response. That is when panic sets in and we start to throw out a bunch of stuff or we jump ahead or we keep checking in over and over and drive people crazy. It’s very important to have these skills for those types of moments because they happen all the time. Right now, people really aren’t prepared for them unless they toughen themselves up and go, “okay, I’ll just ignore it.” But they may not be responding in a way that encourages their customer to engage with them.

OF: Absolutely. I think you brought up some great points about overcoming some of our own assumptions about how people are reacting and responding to things. That is fantastic advice. Julie, my last question for you, I know no one has a crystal ball by any means, especially in today’s business landscape as things are changing so quickly. But looking ahead as we’re moving now into 2022, and you mentioned a little bit of how the selling environment might be changing, I’m curious what your biggest piece of advice is for salespeople today to really be able to show up for their customers in an authentic way as we move into 2022?

JH: Sure. First of all, it’s not going to feel authentic at first. All these things that I teach, it’s going to feel like wrong to go against everything you’ve been taught to do face to face. That doesn’t mean it can’t be authentic. Once you start to internalize these skills, just like you’ve learned to type, just like you’ve learned to ride a bike. Don’t be put off by that also. We have just barely tapped into what’s possible in terms of connecting through video. We’ve turned on our camera. That’s it. That’s all we’ve really done. I want you to watch personalities on TV, whether it’s a reporter, an actor, or even a Peloton instructor, notice how engaged you feel with them. There are experiences I’ve had where I feel like that person is right in the room with me. I don’t know them, but I feel like they’re talking just to me and they’re talking to a million people. That is not magic. That is not something they were born knowing how to do. That is an actual skill that you can learn.

I think we’re going to see this increase in a small percentage of people that are going to master that and they’re going to be deadly competition for you. I think in 2022, it’s kind of either get on board or you’re making your life harder by fighting this and going, “I’ll just do the bare minimum to communicate on camera.” You’re going to be left behind. It’s an investment in yourself and in your future to have these skills, so I would not wait.

OF: Wonderful advice, Julie, thank you so much for sharing all of your insight with our audience today. I know I always learn so much from our conversations and cannot wait for our audience to hear all that you had to say as well.

JH: Thanks, Olivia. So great to be here with you.

OF: Fantastic. To our audience, we do definitely recommend that you go pick up a copy of Julie’s latest book to learn more about all of these things that we talked about today. We’ll include a link to that in the description below. Thanks so much for listening for more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

You can find Julie Hansen’s book, “Look Me In The Eye”, available on Amazon here.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:27:44
Book Club: Larry Levine on Proactively Building Connections by Selling From the Heart Olivia Fuller,Larry Levine Thu, 11 Nov 2021 18:23:36 +0000 31679699ed93c9a972b4eaaaf638afaa2274a69e Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

When chasing down sales goals, it can be easy to look outward and focus on the external factors that influence success. But instead, true success really starts from within. In his book, “Selling From the Heart”, Larry Levine talks about how sales professionals can really embrace their authentic selves in the selling process to build the deep relationships that ultimately fuel success. I’m so excited to have Larry here with us today to talk a little bit more about his book.

With that, Larry I’d love if you could just introduce yourself to our audience and tell us a little bit about your background and your book.

Larry Levine: First of all, I’m super excited to hang out with you, Olivia. Thanks for having me on. What a journey it’s been. I’ve taken almost 30 years of office technology sales experience all in the LA marketplace, and I’ve sandwiched that all into what I call my life experiences and bringing “Selling From the Heart” to the forefront. It’s all about bridging sincerity, substance, and deep relationships with your current clients. It’s been a dream to bring “Selling From the Heart” to the forefront, and I’m the co-host of the Selling From the Heart podcast.

OF: Fantastic. Well, I’m so excited to dive into your book and some of the key points that you discuss. One of those is really the importance of developing your personal brand as a sales professional to better connect with customers. I’m curious, how can self-awareness and defining your personal values and that introspection really help salespeople ultimately experience more success?

LL: It’s a great question. I’m going to take you and your listeners back. This probably goes back about 16-17 years. I remember my very first business coach and mentor taught me the whole concept behind self-awareness and self-reflection and really understanding who you are. The reason why I bring this up is I was struggling with to get calls returned. People were hiding behind voicemail and email. My coach taught me the whole idea about learning how to play. I’m going to use his exact words in the online sandbox. He said, “you’ve got to learn and understand how to build a presence online. You have to be congruent with who you are. In other words, how you carry yourself face-to-face. I’m going to coach and replicate this, and you’re going to walk that same line online.”

Not knowing anything other than I’m not afraid to try new things, Olivia, I just dove into this. This is before I knew what LinkedIn was, what social was, and all that. He started helping me build out a website and I had a little small website as a sales professional, but this is where I drove people to learn something about me that created a little bit of differentiation. If we fast forward today, the same applies, but I think the tools are a whole lot different than they are than they were 16-17 years.

OF: At the heart of the book is really the concept of authenticity. But as you just mentioned, the skills that salespeople need to be successful are constantly changing and evolving. I’m curious, what are some of the skills that you think that sales professionals really do need today in order to build those genuine and authentic relationships with customers? How have you seen the skills evolve even in just the last year and a half with all of the acceleration of virtual work and digital customer engagement?

LL: There’s a lot, but I’m going to really home in on three. I think these are the same skills, these are the same ideas, the same thoughts, that apply face-to-face – they just have to be married in the world that we live in today. The first thing is we have to, as far as to build these relationships, be really intentional with how we connect with people. I think connection is part of this. How well are you going to connect with somebody? I always say, are you going to connect with them, or are you going to really connect with them? There’s a huge difference because I’m a big believer that it’s so easy to connect, but it’s ever so difficult to truly connect, especially when you’re building relationships. That would be one of the first. These are all going to be C words, Olivia. I think the first one, in building these relationships, we have to be intentional with how we connect.

The second is how we bring care to the forefront. I smashed this all together and it kind of paints a picture, but in order to show that you care, you need to be willing to give a rip. You really have to care and you need to put it out there. I think as humans we’re really cognizant. We have a sixth sense. It’s just an innate quality that we have in ourselves: we can sense when somebody is really caring or fake caring, just enough to get that sale moving in the right direction. People smell fakeness almost immediately.

Then one of the last things I think we need to bring to the forefront, especially with what we’ve gone through the last year and a half or so, is we’ve got to bring compassion to relationships. That means, “I understand what you’re going through. I feel for you. I can appreciate that.” When you can take the combination of intentional connections, bringing care to the forefront, and just smashing it with compassion, watch what happens to how you start building these deep and meaningful relationships.

The last thing about this is the more that you invest in these relationships, the more you’re going to be able to collect on these relationships. We all know on the financial side of this, if you fail to invest, you’re never going to be able to collect on anything that you invest. The same applies to relationships.

OF: Definitely. I love that you brought up that concept of care, because that really relates to what my next question is for you, which is around the mindset of ownership and accountability. In the book you discuss the difference between average sales reps and high-performing sales professionals. You break down that difference as the top performers, having a mindset of being the CEO of their own book of business, rather than just being an employee of a company. What are some of the best practices for motivating this mindset of accountability and ownership among salespeople?

LL: This might go back to how I was raised. The time that I grew up in, so now I’m going to date myself for everybody, but I grew up pre-internet. A vast majority of the first, I’m going to say seven to eight years of my sales career, the Internet really didn’t even exist. Nothing like it is today. The tools and all that we have available, I didn’t have. The way I was brought up in sales, I didn’t have SDRs and BDRs or ADRs or all the other acronyms that go with this. I was solely responsible for 100% of everything that I did. From prospecting, all the way through the sales journey, all the way through the end even after they became a customer, I had to do all of this myself. I remember a long time ago, an early mentor of mine said, “Larry, treat this as if you own the business. Though you’re in the four walls of this company, treat it as if it’s your own business. Do the things that an owner would do, that a CEO would do.”

It’s not to disrespect the sales profession at all, because I love every aspect of the sales profession. However, I believe there’s a huge difference when it comes to ownership between a sales rep and a sales professional. A sales professional is going to double down on themselves. They’re going to hold themselves to a higher degree of standards and self-accountability than a sales rep. They’re going to look at this and say, “this is my career. I chose to be in sales. I’m going to become the best at it.” If you go in this with the mindset of “I’m the CEO of my own company”, then I’m going to do the things that CEOs would do as opposed to a sales rep who looks at this as “I’m just an employee inside a company, I’m just going to do the things necessary just to get by.”

Again, Olivia, this isn’t to disrespect sales, it’s just to open up their minds and it’s a whole mindset. I can choose to be a professional and do something about it, or I can choose to be a sales rep and sit back and have people do things for me.

OF: I love that advice. I want to pivot just slightly here, because up until now, we’ve really been talking a lot the different ways that selling authentically can help salespeople experience more personal success. But another point that you really talk about in the book and that you’ve talked about in this podcast too with the three Cs, is that the power of selling authentically really lies in helping customers achieve more success. In the book, you talk about this in terms of servant leadership. I’m curious if you can tell us how servant leadership applies to sales and really what does servant-led sales look like in practice?

LL: Oh, this is so good. It’s chapter six in “Selling From the Heart”. I love it. I learned this later on in my career. In order to really understand, Olivia, what it means to serve and how this applies to sales, we have to understand that it all starts with being giving. To me, the best way I can describe this to everybody who’s listening is if you want to understand what it truly means to serve, go out and lend a helping hand out in your community, out in your marketplace, give without asking anything in return, because the whole concept behind serving is to give. It’s to help, it’s to do this without asking for anything in return. It’s a mindset.

I learned this later on, as I started to give back into my community, is they are feel-good moments. To me, serving is proactive and a lot of times in sales, this is a mindset thing, but I’m going to talk about proactive and reactive and how this all ties together. A lot of times we might say something like this: “Olivia, I’m here to provide great service. We’re here to provide great, outstanding customer service.”

There’s nothing wrong with that, but to me, service is a reactionary, defensive move. We react to something that’s happened. However, if you want to be proactive and give, then it’s, “Olivia, I’m here to be a servant. I’m here to serve. What can I do to help? How can I help?” The best way to do this is the only way I know how: go out and lend a helping hand. It ties this in together, and then you’ll get the full idea of what it means to serve, to serve without asking for anything in return. A lot of times this is hard for salespeople and sales leaders to understand, because if we do this, then we expect something in return. A servant-minded or a servant-hearted is going to get something, but it may not come back right away. But when it does come back, it comes back impactful.

OF: That’s fantastic, Larry. As you mentioned, it may not be a natural instinct or inclination for people to lead with authenticity. I’m curious, for our audience who are a lot of sales enablement practitioners that are focused on helping give sales teams the tools and the resources that they need to succeed, how can sales enablement really help sales teams embrace this mindset of authenticity and really help sales professionals gain the necessary skills to sell truly from the heart?

LL: I think sales enablement plays an important role in this because you’re involved before, during, and after the sales process. With the journey with customers, there’s the product, there’s the company, there’s the solution, there’s service-centric skill sets that enablement brings to the forefront. But if I asked a group of sales teams and leaders if relationships matter to them, there’s going to be an overarching 100%, absolutely. But then the question comes into play: how are you building and growing and nurturing these relationships?

You can call it soft skills. We could probably come up with some better words if we’ve really thought about this in a little bit deeper thought, but I think sales enablement can help sales teams bring in the soft skills and how they better connect to the buyers and their clients. What do relationships look like? What does a genuine relationship look like before, during, and after the sale? What does it mean to truly connect? They can help provide them the tools and the skills necessary along with role-playing and then having them go back and ask their clients what the relationships look like. I think sales enablement can become the facilitators towards some of these soft skills to help salespeople learn what it means to sell with dignity and sell with the heart and truly connect to the clients.

OF: Absolutely. Well, Larry, thank you so much for sharing all of this with our audience. I know I certainly learned a ton from you, so thank you again for taking the time to share with our audience.

LL: That was my pleasure. I had a blast.

OF: Fantastic. To our audience, please do go check out Larry’s book, “Selling From the Heart”. Thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:15:24
Book Club: Stephen Diorio on Aligning the Commercial Model to Drive Growth Olivia Fuller,Stephen Diorio Fri, 15 Oct 2021 16:46:15 +0000 e25284d9f61b58cfcdd5c0fbb4de7d002588dc3b Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices, so they can be more effective in their jobs.

As sales becomes increasingly data-driven and digital, it also becomes more complex. As a result, buyer expectations are evolving and organizations need to adapt to a modern commercial model in order to accelerate revenue. This is a concept that Stephen Diorio and his team at the Revenue Enablement Institute explore in-depth in their research. Today, he’s here to talk to us a little bit more about some of the key findings of this research and their upcoming book.
Stephen, with that, I’d love if you could tell us a little bit more about yourself and your organization.

Stephen Diorio: Great. Thanks for having me. I’m an engineer, I grew up in the factory at GE, and so I’m all about the science of growth. Since 1985, I’ve been trying to drive the continuous improvement of sales and marketing performance and transformation at the enterprise level. I built a consulting firm named MarketBridge that was able to transform a number of companies like IBM. I was the first sales and marketing analyst at Gartner group back in 1998. Through all of this, I had a full head of hair, which you can’t see. And I was an investor and board member in terms of sales tech.

For the last decade, I figured out something that probably your audience understands. Transformation comes from the top. I’ve never met a sales enablement professional who didn’t know what to do. The other question was, did their CEO know what to do and were they committed to doing the things from the top down to transform the commercial model. As a by-product of all that we’ve wrote a book, and the book is about revenue operations. We’ll talk more about that. But the business reason for writing the book is to educate boards, CEOs, and what we call CXOs – that’s the top growth leader in the company. It can be a sales executive, but it’s more than likely a CEO or somebody with a broader remit.

Three big reasons we wrote the book: one, organic growth and importantly, the assets that created brands, data, technology, channels are directly linked. Two, firm value – your stock price or the bio of your firm and financial performance margins and profits and cash flow. The problem is what we’re seeing in organizations is businesses are trying to manage a 21st century commercial model that’s digital, data-driven, dynamic, and accountable, meaning you have to demonstrate results with management practices and structures invented in the last century. What we’ve done is help owners, CEOs, and the CXOs to remake their commercial models to be more digital, data-driven, accountable, and higher performing.

We’ve forwarded this notion of revenue operations, and you and I can talk. There’s a lot of definitions, but we’re publishing a book. We’ve built a blueprint and we’ve outlined an operating system for getting all the assets in your organization working together around aligning them to drive more growth. That’s the reason we wrote the book, and we can talk a little bit more about what that means and why your audience might be able to use some of these principles in their day-to-day.

OF: Fantastic. Well, again, I’m so excited to have you here with us today.
As you mentioned, your team recently published some comprehensive research on revenue operations in a 21st-century commercial model. That really details how revenue operations can better align with commercial teams and processes to help accelerate revenue growth. At a high level, I’d love if you could just tell our audience what the key components of that model are.

SD: Absolutely. We’ve assembled the leading academics, practitioners, and experts in the science of growth. What a CEO will typically say is this is about the people, process, and technology of growth. That all comes down to alignment: aligning teams, aligning operations, aligning systems. One thing we’ll talk about that’s very important is aligning processes. No single person owns the cross-functional commercial processes.

And this notion of assets – what’s really important in this day and age in the 21st century, the assets that support growth. By that, I mean customer data or your brand or your digital selling infrastructure or your sales technology stack or whatever IP you have is probably worth most or more than most of your company. For example, the customer data inside American Airlines is worth more than the actual company according to a bank that financed them. They like to say, we’d have a great data business if we get rid of the planes.

What that boils down to is there are six things that are needed. Two will be very familiar to our audience. One is commercial enablement, the technologies that support data-driven selling and training. And the other would be commercial insights, where I know a lot of operations professionals and enablement professionals are involved. The big other four are commercial leadership, the notion of a CXO, which is not a buzzword but really somebody with a broad remit to unify sales, marketing, and services to do top-down transformation to make the business more data-driven digital and accountable. The second thing is commercial operations. We’ll talk more about this but think about it. We need a single point of control for the cross-functional commercial processes for all the operations and data inside the company. Fragmented management of these assets hurt our ability to plug the gaps in the journey where bad things are happening, or to really truly leverage the value of data in our business.

The other one is commercial architecture. The world is constantly moving. If you read the Gartner research or any customer research, 82% of the buying process is digital. People want faster and more complete and relevant answers. In the last 24 months, we’ve learned that people don’t really want to travel. The engagement model has changed. Coverage models have changed. I’m sure everybody in this audience have added development reps at the front of the process, specialists and overlays in the middle of the process, and customer success at the back of the process.

When you factor in all those changes, the way we compete and cover assigned territories is probably obsolete, even if it’s over the last nine months. Aligning your coverage and resources around a modern model in employing digital engagement and different cadences can have a 50% impact on top-line growth and a 10% cost of sale impact.

The six components, and we have a blueprint we can share, are leadership, operations, architecture, enablement insights, and this notion of assets, technology, data, and content that drive growth. Managing those in a unified fashion is really what revenue operations is all about.

OF: Definitely. How can enablement and revenue operations partner together and really complement each other to drive that alignment across revenue-facing teams?

SD: Yeah, so this is great. Someone’s going to put a big CRO title on top of the organization and that’ll either have beef and substance or it won’t. But if I’m in an enablement or operations roles, that’s kind of fuzzy math there. Enablement in one organization is operations in another. But if you think broadly, sales enablement needs to be working with sales ops because sales enablement, technology and engagement, technology and readiness, or training technology are all connected into the same stack. So how can we manage those things separately?

Second, the difference between marketing operations and sales operations in a world where you have all these BDRs and development reps at the front of the process, driving all the way through, is blurring. The tech stack should be different. The data signals that marketing creates are incredibly useful to salespeople, so they should be partnering. I know there are specialty people who just do CPQ and tools and fulfillment, but at the end of the day, if I’m in an enablement or operations function, I want to be working together with one single view of the process and make sure that the systems and data align along that process. You don’t need a mandate from the top to do that. It’s common sense, and you’ll create financial impact. There’s plenty of things that an enablement organization can be doing to lead their leadership down that path.

OF: I’d like to dig in a little bit to what some of the risks are with not having a well-managed commercial model. Can you tell us, what are some of the costs of having a poorly managed commercial model and how can misalignment across commercial teams really hinder growth?

SD: That starts at the top with firm value. If you’re in one of these hyper-growth businesses, the average SaaS business has to be growing at 50% with really strong retention to support their stock price. We see leaky buckets, consumer attrition with acquisition at the front, but another big cost I think to the board is opportunity costs. So many businesses have so many attractive markets that are out there. A lot of these businesses are getting funded because of the addressable market, but if you cannot attain that market and gain share of that market, you’ve got a problem.

Quite frankly, alignment of resources to that opportunity is a big point of failure. Cost to sell is an obvious one. Organizations that aren’t aligned are at least 10 percentage points off on cost to sell market margin. Leakage is another big one. Margin leaks out throughout the journey in terms of lead leakage, price leakage, price compliance. Margin is bleeding out of the cracks in a fragmented organization because of handoffs or lack of ownership. That’s an easy one to go after.

Then, this notion of return on assets. Adoption, utilization, and return of selling technologies is incredibly low. It’s 30 years after the advent of CRM, and I think organizations need to be looking at the return they’re getting on these assets. A small bump in adoption will lead to much higher returns on some of the enablement technologies you were talking about before.

OF: Then on the other side, there are a lot of benefits to having that well-managed commercial model. One of those values is cross-functional alignment. And you mentioned that in the research and the impact on the customer experience as a result. So, from your perspective, what does it mean to have a unified customer experience and how is that really a competitive advantage?

SD: First, very few CEOs can turn to one person in their organization to say what happened at the front, middle, or the back end of the customer sales journey. Whether that’s a proxy person, whether that’s a hard line, we need one throat to choke for the entire cross-functional commercial journey across the organization.

The second thing is visibility into what we call the moments that matter. If you listen to my friend Brent Adamson at Gartner, only 18% of the B2B buying process involves humans. That means that less than 20% of the time, I have the ability to impact. Those conversations are more and more important. Real-time, conversational intelligence and guidance is critical to make sure that we’re saying the right things in those moments, we’re listening to the right trigger words, and we’re monitoring the customer experience.

The third thing is ensuring complete and relevant answers to customer questions. Customers don’t care if they’re talking to a BDR or product specialist or a CSM, they want a complete relevant answer in real-time. Again, this notion of speed is really coming through.

Lastly, you’ve really got to understand the key points of failure, leverage, and scale in the process and measure and manage them. Every organization has leakage, bad handling, bad setups, bad customer experiences, bad opening experiences. Putting them on a board and owning them and measuring them is critical. I’d say focus on those four things.

OF: Definitely. Having advanced analytics to provide data-driven sales guidance is becoming more and more critical for organizations to really be able to grow and scale. How can revenue operations and sales enablement help gather and provide those insights?

SD: This is really important piece for alignment. Alignment in two dimensions. Typically to deliver guidance, we’re dealing with a tech stack of four or five different systems or panes of glass that are managed by four or five different types of people. Second, there’s a convergence going on. Sales enablement technologies are merging with sales readiness technologies. We’ve seen two acquisitions in the last week. More importantly, they’re going to connect to sales engagement technologies in terms of speed.

Right now, someone’s got to look past the different categories that the analysts are talking about and look at three things. There are three core food groups in terms of customer engagement data. One is CRM. That’s obvious. Two is email and calendar data. People can generally grab this. All this data exists in almost every organization. A third is external buying signals. These are first-party signals coming from your website that people in marketing aren’t sharing. Fourth is seller activity data. This is conversational intelligence, recording calls, that type of thing. Then, customer engagement data, how they are responding. Every single organization, if you send people content, most sales enablement solutions can tell you whether that content was consumed or moved around. Content is like a tracer bullet. It flies around your customer’s organizations and shows you what’s going on. Everybody is recording Zoom calls nowadays. But that data’s got to be combined with signals that you’re getting on your website, email, calendar, and CRM. Those are the five food groups. If any CEO had the will, they should be able to harness that data.

The second is analytics that you need to combine all of those things. It’s conversational intelligence. People can take just the call and derive certain conclusions from that, but it’s possible to take all five of those to create a complete picture of what’s going on and you want to do five things there. One, prioritize opportunities. In real-time in the call, recommend the next best play. In real-time in the call, do one-to-one coaching at scale. This is really cool. People can get an alert saying, “oh, a sales call is happening right now. Here’s the recording.” It’s even better to say your sales rep just said something really, really stupid. You better drop in on that call. It’s a teachable moment and an account save. Then real-time seller guidance, saying, “oh my gosh, the client just asked her trigger word. They’d mentioned a competitor. They mentioned something to go after.” Rather than wait until after, you should be doing that through the call.

Then, I’d love to talk about four measures. You should be deriving measures to run your business on pipeline account health and opportunity health on a scale of one to 10 all from engagement data. I talked about the five food groups, using analytics to drive five growth drivers. This sounds complicated, but my understanding of the stack and most of the companies in this call, this is very doable in a 60 to 98-day timeframe with existing technologies. If an enablement provider can’t do this, then you should be demanding this sort of thing.

OF: Absolutely. This has been a fantastic conversation, Stephen, and I just have one final question for you. What are some of the analytics that practitioners really should be tracking and leveraging to empower revenue growth and scalability today?

SD: Yes, absolutely. The big trap here, and I think most people on this podcast know that, is everyone goes after a bag of metrics, everyone measures what their machines can generate. But the scorecard for sales enablement should be firm value and financial performance: revenue growth, profit growth, and cash flow.

If you walk back from what is creating revenue and profits, you’ll come with big four metrics. One, account health as measured by customer lifetime value and actions that are making that go up and down. Second is opportunity potential based on a propensity to buy, buying signals, firmographics, demographics. You should have a pretty hard number that says Account A is worth $10 million, Account B is worth $200,000, and the probability of closing that.

The third is seller performance. Several capacity assumptions, seller productivity assumptions, how well that they’re developing in terms of ramp is critically important. Then, pipeline accuracy. A lot of this is a lot of where the rev ops software companies come into play, but you should be blending many different data sources to get that number as predictable and accurate as possible because garbage in, garbage out.

The big four metrics are: visibility into account health, opportunity potential, seller performance, and pipeline accuracy, at the top of the house. If you take a process perspective, I talked a lot about measuring the key points of failure and leverage in the end-to-end process. You should be using this customer engagement data, these five food groups, to measure those things. That’s a basic thing. Are the plays that work being executed? Sales organizations know what they’re doing. If there’s a hundred sales reps running the right plays – and again, I’m using plays broadly – here are the people running the plays that work. That’s pretty simple.

Second, most of our energy goes into training and development. A lot of that leaks out of people’s ears because of human nature. In 90 days, ask yourself the question, “is the training changing sales behaviors in ways that are changing buyer outcomes?” So many people are pumping energy into training, assuming it’s the right thing. It is the right thing, but are we using this data, this customer engagement and seller activity data, to tell us half the people did it and of those people, their customers are converting more. These are pretty granular metrics, but if you think about the four things that are driving firm value and the key points of leverage in the end-to-end to commercial metrics, you’ll be coming up with really useful analytics.

OF: That’s excellent advice. Well, Stephen, thank you so much again for joining the podcast today. I learned so much from you and I can’t wait to share this with our audience.

SD: Thank you so much.

OF: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:20:46
Book Club: Todd Caponi on the Power of Transparency in Sales Olivia Fuller,Todd Caponi Wed, 01 Sep 2021 15:59:12 +0000 df34caeecdc10b2013b2d96b5baad5edafe02e86 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their role.

When most people think about the act of selling, they often think that it’s all about making something seem desirable to motivate someone to buy it, but what if it was actually about the opposite? This is an idea that Todd Caponi explores in his book, “The Transparency Sale,” where he makes the case that leading with your flaws and actually embracing vulnerability is the key to building buyer engagement. As Todd puts it, effective sales today requires radical transparency, and he’s here to tell us a little bit more about why this is so essential. With that, Todd, I’d love if you can introduce yourself to our audience and tell us a little bit about your book.

Todd Caponi: Cool. I’ll do it in story form because I think it’ll crystallize this. I’m a multi-time sales leader. My last role was the Chief Revenue Officer of a company here in Chicago, where I am, called PowerReviews. You could probably guess from the name PowerReviews, we were in the space of helping retailers and brands collect and display ratings and reviews on their websites. Meaning you’re buying a pair of Crocs or a sweater on Vineyard Vines or whatever, you look at the product, you scroll down, there’s the reviews. That was us for many cases, doing the collect and display.
Here’s what happened. We did a research study with Northwestern University here in Chicago that looked at when a website’s acting as a salesperson, i.e., an e-commerce site, what do people do? What do human beings do? There were three data points that came back from it. Two of them changed my life in only a way that could be changed for a nerd like me because I’m super behavioral science data nerdy.

The first step that did not change my life was that we all read reviews today. I’m assuming, Olivia, when you’re buying something that you haven’t bought before, you probably read reviews first, but here’s the two that blew my mind. Number one, that 85% of us go to the negative reviews first. I don’t know if when you’re reading reviews, you skip the fives and go right to the fours, threes, twos, and ones, but that’s what most of us do. The second data point that changed my life was a product that has an average review score between a 4.2 and a 4.5, that range on a five-star scale is optimal for purchase conversion. You’re selling something on a website, right under it somebody who’s bought that comes back and says, I hated this product, here’s why, and it’s right under the product, somehow that actually helps it sell more. I looked at that and thought, alright, that’s when a website’s acting as a salesperson, what happens in human to human or B2B selling? Should that dynamic be the same? As it turns out, it is.

I found really, really quickly that, again, if 85% of us go to the negative first, it’s what our brain desires. When we start a conversation by embracing something that maybe we’re not great at or that we give up to be good at our core or a competitor that we’re looking at might be better at than us, when you lead with that, magic happens. Sales cycles speed up, win rates get better, we work deals we should be working, and we stop working the deals that we’re going to lose anyway, we lose faster. From trying it out and seeing that magic happen, I like a lunatic, quit my job and wrote the book, “The Transparency Sale,” which really talks through not only the data, but the behavioral science, and then how you apply it to every single stage of your sales process from positioning and prospecting to even negotiating and post-sale clients.

OF: Yeah, I’m glad you brought that story up because I think that helps put this into context a little bit more with actually one of the key points that stood out to me in your book, which was that embracing imperfections and prioritizing honesty is really how salespeople can better engage customers. Can you tell us a little bit more about this? Why does transparency, even in maybe areas where a product or service fall short, how does that help build loyalty?

TC: Well, yeah, there’s a couple of things. First of all, if you’ve been to Ikea before or Costco or been on a Southwest Airlines flight, those organizations, those companies, those retailers, they embrace the things they give up. Ikea is a nightmare. When you walk into an Ikea, you know you’re in for it. When they hand you a map, you’re like, I need a map to buy stuff? What? Then you’ve got to find it, you’ve got to go to the warehouse, pull the boxes off onto carts that don’t have brakes, jam it into the back of your car Tetris style. swear your way through that, get it home, thinking that you just left the nightmare back at the store. Instead, you open up the box, there’s 150 parts and no words on the work instructions other than like Sparta or whatever their crazy brand names are, and then when you’re done, you’re like, oh, you know what, that looks pretty good. We should go back. we should’ve bought the end tables with that bedroom set. Ikea shoppers, it’s a nightmare, yet they’re incredibly loyal. They’re the number one retailer for furniture in the world for 13 straight years.

Costco, the same thing. You’ve got to buy a membership, there’s very limited brand selection, if you want some ranch dressing for your salad you’ve got to buy almost a gallon, if you need a toothbrush here’s a half dozen, we’re going to have somebody at the door that’s going to check your receipt to make sure you’re not stealing anything. And yet, number two retailer in the country is Costco behind Walmart.

The point being that obviously over promise and under deliver is a bad idea. We all know we never should over promise and under deliver, but there’s something crazy I discovered. Under promise and over deliver is also bad because it creates a short-term satisfaction spike, but it becomes unsustainable, and it is a form of lying believe it or not. We get something I like to call expectation inflation. If we keep doing it, then I’m going to take what you tell me and I’m going to add a little to it, and if I don’t get that, I’m going to be disappointed.

The point being that in our brains as human beings, when expectations are set properly, and we feel like we trust that we can predict what our experience is going to be like, that’s what triggers our decision. When expectations are set and consistently met over and over and over again, that’s what creates loyalty. You go to a Starbucks here, I’m in Chicago obviously and you’re in Seattle, the heart of Starbucks, the coffee tastes exactly the same. Go to Europe, the Pike Place is still the exact same, it’s consistent expectation setting. It’s building that consistency and that’s what creates customers that not only buy, but they stay, they buy more, and they’re more likely to advocate. I’m clearly biased, but it all starts with transparency and setting proper expectations, not over promising and under delivering or doing vice versa.

OF: Actually, on that point, you also emphasize that every interaction with a prospect is really a decision point for them. What role does empathy play in the decision-making process for buyers, and how can reps really take advantage of every interaction with buyers to not only reduce skepticism, but also build better engagement?

TC: Yeah. Well, there’s a funny thing about empathy, I’ll start there. When I scroll through LinkedIn, and people are like, oh, you’ve got be empathetic, and then they go on to explain it, 9 times out of 10 they’re actually talking about sympathy, not empathy. Empathy is literally being able to see the world through the eyes of the people that you’re trying to communicate with. Empathy actually takes it to the point where you’re almost feeling what they feel along with them. To be truly great at what we do as sales professionals, as sales enablers trying to get into the heads of the salespeople that you’re trying to enable, that empathy, not sympathy, like, oh, I hope things are good in these trying times, that’s sympathy, empathy is, hey, I understand you.

From a buyer’s perspective, I’m going to give you a weird analogy. A quick story. In Seattle, they don’t have Culver’s I don’t think. Culver’s is a fast-food place and they’ve got something called butter burgers and then they’ve got frozen custard, which is heavenly. It’s really, really good. A few months ago, my wife and I and my two kids, who are 8 and 10, we’re out and about and we my wife was like, hey, should we go get some ice cream? My kids with their hawk ears are just like, ice cream? Yeah, let’s go! They’re all excited, so we go drive to Culver’s because they love this frozen custard. We’ve got the means; we’ve made the decision to go there. We get there, the line for the drive thru is 15 cars long and then we can see there’s a bunch of people waiting for their food right on the other side, where the pickup window is. We’re just like, oh gosh, this blows. We get in line because the kids are bought in, they’ve got the means, they’re there, they want this reward. Within two minutes, my ten-year-old daughter leans forward and she’s like, hey, can we just go home? Like really? Then my eight-year-old was like, yeah, I don’t want to wait here. Let’s go. Alright! We were there, the reward is there, this fantastic reward, but we get there and within two minutes, our expectations hadn’t been met. There was this expectation that the journey to the reward was going to be difficult, which in the end made that reward looked less sweet even to a 10-year-old and an eight-year-old.

My point being, when you think about the processes that you take buyers through, expectation setting and empathy, understanding that that perception of a reward may be biased by the perception of the journey to get to it. That’s part of what empathy is. Do you have an opportunity to differentiate in the way that you sell? Part of what transparency does is it does the homework for the buyer.

There was a study in 2017 by the Corporate Executive Board, which is now part of Gartner, that looked at consensus buyers and looked at, how do they spend their time? What they found is 39% of their time was spent talking to you, talking to your competitors, or talking to their internal buying groups. That leaves another 61%. What are they doing? They’re back-channeling you because all they hear is perfect five-star stuff. They’ve got to call their buddies and check with analysts and if you’re in the tech space, they’re going to the G2’s and the TrustRadius’. They’re even reading Glassdoor reviews. That’s homework, that’s like extra cars in the drive through line. How do we reduce those cars in the drive through and make the journey as frictionless as possible? When we do that, because I’m betting you anybody who’s listening, if I say, who’s your biggest competitor, they’re probably going to go, oh that’s the status quo. Yeah, it’s the status quo, and many times it’s not the customer it’s you. This part of transparency is about removing homework.

Now, this was one of those rants, Olivia, but I I’ll just add one little piece to it. Another piece of empathy, we all think that consensus selling is hard. We got to sell and there’s multiple buyers, we’ve got to wrangle them all, how difficult. True, but consensus buying is harder. These buyers, they don’t have a whole organization behind you. Your sellers, they’ve got you, sales enablers. Your buyers, they don’t have buyer enablement, they don’t have processes. The stuff they’re buying from you, they buy once ever. They don’t know how to do this, so consensus buying is harder. Now, add to it that all of those buyers are remote just like you. Consensus buying just got harder. They can’t run into somebody in the parking lot or run into them in the kitchen getting coffee, consensus building for your buyers just became much more difficult.

When we think about the elements of transparency, but just to your question about true empathy, see through the customer’s eyes that at home, it’s added cars to that drive thru. You’re going to find that no matter how sweet that frozen custard is, even the kids look at it, that’s an amazing reward, but gosh, this is going to be too hard, I’m going to prioritize something else. Your buyers are doing that, and transparency is just one of those ways that you can remove friction and make that drive thru line look a lot shorter.

OF: Well, that’s a fantastic story. One of the points that you brought up throughout that was around buy-in, and in the book, you talk about one of the steps to really create resonance with buyers is actually through building a mutual decision plan. What are some of the core things to include in a mutual decision plan and how can that help streamline the buying process for the buyer?

TC: Well, yeah. It goes back to that point about the buyer not having the expertise in buying like you do in selling. How do we remove friction from that buying journey and set proper expectations? I call it the mutual decision plan in book, which is sitting across the table with the individual or across your Zoom or across the phone, and just helping them see what that journey is going to be like. The mutual decision plan really brings all of these pieces together. That perception of a reward being biased by the journey and transparency and true empathy. It’s about sitting across the table and going, hey, listen, when we work with companies like yours, here’s some of the steps that they typically have to go through. Can we just match those up and make sure that we’ve got the journey right?

I don’t know if you’ve ever mountain climbed or anything, but imagine going to Mount Everest, and there’s a Sherpa there that meets you. The Sherpa’s just like, it’s a big mountain, how do you want to go? Which way do you want to go? You’d probably be like we’re all going to die. There’s a confidence that’s built. A lot of salespeople are like, oh, I don’t want to put the customer into a box and feel like I’m creating all these structures around them. If it’s positioned right, you’re giving them confidence that A, you know the journey, and B, you’re setting an expectation about what that journey is going to be like.

That Culver’s example, my family and I, we went a few weeks ago to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in Tennessee. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, it’s like Vegas for kids, but there’s Dollywood. Dollywood is this big amusement park, it’s a fantastic amusement. You get there and one of the rides the kids wanted to go on, there’s a line. At the entrance to the line, it says it’s a 40-minute wait from here. We’re like, alright, cool. That Culver’s example is when expectations aren’t met, the Dollywood example, we gladly waited in line because they set proper expectations with us. We knew what that journey was going to be. We made the decision. Is the juice going to be worth the squeeze here? We said yes. It was probably like 38 minutes; it was right on. We were cool with it because they set proper expectations.

I think that’s part of the power of, hey, his is what the journey is going to look like, we’ve seen it a hundred times, I want to help you and enable you to get to the goal line in your decision, whether it’s with us or not. Here’s the expectation around it, let’s add in some of the things that are unique to your situation. If you don’t want to go on this journey, that’s cool too. Let’s part as friends right now. I think that’s part of the power of all of this.

OF: Definitely. We’ve been talking a lot about the buyer’s journey and the buyer’s experience, but a lot of that has been in the context of leading up to the initial purchase. It’s just as important to keep customers engaged and continue to drive loyalty throughout their entire experience with an organization. I’m curious if you can tell us what are some best practices for really partnering with revenue teams internally to continue to deliver value through transparency?
TC: This transparency is not only just about the front of the sales process. Friction removal and the buying journey is not about the front either, it’s about the whole process. One of the things that I teach a lot of is this idea called transparent negotiating. I don’t know about you, I always thought it was weird that when we get to the goal line of a deal with a customer, the customer says, yes, it requires a different person to negotiate than it does to sell. As a matter of fact, like I learned how to negotiate from a former FBI hostage negotiator. We’re not negotiating the release of hostages from a bank heist, and this person I’m negotiating with, I need to have a relationship with post-sale. What are we doing?

I had stumbled upon a concept called transparent negotiating, which is basically playing your card space up around the four things that matter to you and every for-profit organization in the world, which is every single one cares about how much you buy, so volume, how fast you pay, so the timing of cash, how long you commit, so the length of commitment and when you sign. Those are four things that we’re willing to pay you for in the form of a discount. Commit to more pay faster, commit longer, help us forecast. That’s another one of those examples of A, you’re building trust to the goal line instead of eroding it via traditional negotiation methods, B, you’re getting value for every dollar you give away in the form of a discount, and C, you’re giving them the cards to negotiate their own deal. You’re removing friction in a big way, and you end up with more valuable, more predictable deals, and you’ve built trust to the goal line. That’s one really important piece that I would hope that everybody would think about. Think about the negotiation that you do.

Now, to your question about sales enablement, I have a slightly different take on sales enablement than most. I’ve got this book, but I’m in the midst of writing my second book right now, which is called, “The Transparent Sales Leader,” that hopefully will be out in February. I feel like sales enablement’s role is essentially three core components. Number one is this idea of what I call amalgamate, which is going across an organization to their leaders and helping to curate all of the requirements across the organization, and then prioritize them and work with sales leaders on we’re going to say yes to these, we’re going to say no to these, and every new thing that comes in is going to require one of the yeses to go away. You amalgamate. The second piece is orchestrate, which is on those priorities, now you focus on orchestrating. What is the most efficient and effective way of getting those priorities and the goals associated with them into the brains of our salespeople in an executable way?

The third piece is what I call evaluate, which is, how’s it working? Measuring, adjusting. Sales enablement is the first line of understanding whether your new hires are going to make it. Having structures in place that allow them to be able to see those warning signs upfront and be able to communicate those. I think when sales enablement thinks about their role, that way, that becomes such an effective partnering mechanism. As a CRO and a multi-time sales leader, when those structures were in place and there wasn’t an expectation that sales enablement is the dreaded sales trainer, no, that’s not the role, the role is to help prioritize, execute on those priorities and then help us see what’s going on in the field. That’s where partnership truly takes place and becomes so valuable. When that clicks, that’s where I, as a sales leader, invest more and more and more in sales enablement.

OF: Digging in there actually a little bit more about enablement’s role, you mentioned this, but enablement often plays a large part in arming reps with the tools that they need to be successful. To your point, it’s also about driving collaboration among key stakeholders. How can enablement really ensure that reps across revenue teams have the knowledge and skills that are really needed to engage with prospects and customers in an authentic way?

TC: In the last three business days, I’ve had five different sales leaders reach out to me going Todd, do you know anybody? I’m hiring sales reps; I can’t find them. There’s such like a frantic mode right there. Before I answer your question, for anybody who’s in sales enablement who’s listening, the thing that I’ve told all of those sales leaders is that right now, according to ZipRecruiter, there is 714,000 open sales roles. Your organizations that are hiring are competing for talent against all of that. Then you add to it that the number of new unicorns that have been established, the funding that are multi-billion dollars that are considered unicorns, year over year, beginning of the year to beginning of the year pre COVID, it’s up 600 percent. That’s only going to get worse.

My advice for all of the sales leaders that I gave was this: look at your job requirements. You’ve got sales roles, you’ve got 10 bullets of the things you’re going to look for, cross off five of them. Right now, find five that you’re going to be fine if you live without, and then double down on enablement. Take one of those head count, take the dollars, and use it to invest in more internal resources to assist enablement, allow enablement to go outside and bring in outside practitioners to fill in the gaps and the holes, and just focus on taking those people that are not quite going to be able to check all the boxes and get them upskilled or out as quickly as possible. You’ve got to do that now. That’s number one on this whole thing.

I guess that answers the question. If you can seek ways to help educate your leaders to understand that conundrum, that you’re going to be bringing in some people that don’t check all the boxes. Then you’ve got to invest in enablement. I know that’ll come across as self-serving, so hopefully my words here will help you, it’ll help you with that justification. The competition for talent is real and it’s not going away anytime soon. I think sales enablement is the success or failure of many of these organizations.

OF: Definitely. I’m so glad that we have you here to share your perspective on sales enablement from the perspective of a sales leader. Digging into that a little bit more, my last question for you is really around, given your background as a sales leader, what are some of the key metrics or things that enablement leaders really need to be tracking to reinforce the importance of transparency and also their impact on business?

TC: Number one, one of the things that I used to screw up is this idea of we need to at all times have four X our quota in pipeline looking across my salespeople. One stat that you can use that’s really effective when you think about transparency is your ratio, your win percentage. That’s really, really important, but there’s another data point, which is time to loss. The deals you lose, how long is it taking you to lose?

My point being, I used to manage my reps and I’d be like, hey, you need to always have four X quota in pipeline because we know we’re not going to close everything. What did the reps do? They filled it four X filled with crap because that was something I was measuring. If you do transparency right, and you lead with, hey, we give up this to be great at our core, our competitor might be better in this area and if that’s going to be important, let’s bet that now, or hey, our pricing based on our understanding of your environment is going to be between X and Y, if that’s going to be trouble, let’s discuss that upfront before we invest a bunch of time in each other. If that won’t match, let’s part as friends right now. What that ends up doing is like I said, it speeds sales cycles because you’ve built it on a foundation of trust, your win rates should go up mainly because you’re working deals that you should be working and instead of working the deals you’re going to lose anyway, you lose them really, really quickly.

The answer, again, is look at your win rate. If you’re only winning 20, 25% of the deals that you’re qualifying, there’s a qualification issue. I bet the transparency upfront would help vet some of that, so you’re spending time on the deals you should be working or you’re spending time prospecting into the opportunities that would be better for you.

That second data point is look across your losses and figure out is it taking us two weeks to lose or two years to lose or six months to lose. If it’s taking you that long to lose, analyze the heck out of that and use that as a really key data point to see whether or not transparency could be a powerful tool to get more efficient in your pipeline.

OF: Fantastic. Well, Todd, thank you so much for sharing all of these insights with our audience. I know I learned a ton from you and our audience I’m sure will as well. Thank you again.

TC: Hey, thanks for having me. As you can tell, I’m such a nerd for this, I could rant about it all day. Again, sales enablement, there’s nothing more important right now in this economy, in this market. If I can be a resource for you or anybody else, please reach out. I’d love to help out in any way that I can.

OF: Awesome. To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:27:50
Book Club: Darrell Amy on Enabling Trust to Empower Revenue Growth Olivia Fuller,Darrell Amy Tue, 17 Aug 2021 16:37:24 +0000 7859ee0fa8b754ba251fe023e3d7362f0096b2f1 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices, so they can be more effective in their jobs.
Many organizations today are missing out on opportunities for revenue. Whether it be focusing on just one end of the client life cycle or focusing too much on their own department, many leaders struggle to maximize client relationships due to misalignment across the revenue engine. In order to adapt to change in the business world today, stakeholders across revenue teams need to collaborate to unify the client experience. Enablement can play a crucial role in bridging the gap between sales and marketing to help reps establish trust with clients and grow revenue.

This is a topic that Darrell Amy explores in-depth in his book, “Revenue Growth Engine,” and I’m so excited to have him on the podcast today to share some of his key insights. Darryl, with that, I’d love if you could just introduce yourself to our audience and tell us a little bit more about yourself.

Darrell Amy: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for having me here today, Olivia. This is going to be so much fun, I’m a huge fan of what you’re doing. I think it’s so awesome and I’m really excited. “Revenue growth engine” is about aligning sales and marketing to accelerate growth. After starting in sales in the early 90s and then also getting involved in starting a digital marketing agency in 2004, I’ve spent the last almost 20 years now with one foot in the sales world, one foot in the marketing world. I’ve been noticing that a lot of times you’re not heading in the same direction. I’ve also seen that when sales and marketing get aligned and focused on the same goal, amazing things can happen. That’s why I’m passionate about the revenue growth engine, helping companies build an engine to accelerate their sales and marketing growth.

OF: Fantastic. Well, again, I’m so excited to have you here with us, and I know I learned so much from your book. One of the core things that you discuss in this book is a common problem that organizations experience where they either focus on gaining net new clients or selling to existing clients, but not always both. In your experience, why might organizations only be focusing on one or the other?

DA: Well, we tend to lean on I think what we’re good at. If you’ve got an organization, and these are the organizations that I grew up in, we were hard-charging sales, go get the deal, ring the bell, let’s go land it, and we would get the deal and we leaned on that. My friend Mark Hunter says you don’t close a sale, you open a relationship. The mindset of sales is “I closed the deal.”

I remember my very first company I worked for, they used to have a policy that I actually have adopted, and it’s even in the book, called 100% sold. We would come back with the first order for a net new client, and we’d be like, “yeah, we got the new order,” and we’d ring the bell, write it on the board, we’d celebrate. Very quickly, about five minutes after this celebration, the sales manager would come up and go, okay, great. Now, what are we going to do with that client? The reality is for most organizations, you’ve got a wide portfolio of products and services you sell, just because you land a deal, that’s just the opening, that begins the relationship. The challenge is most sales-centric organizations are really good at landing deals, but they’re not necessarily good at expanding deals. They’re good at net new, they’re not good at cross-sell. They’re good at market share, they’re not good at wallet share.

What I’ve discovered, and this is what gets me really excited, and actually this is the key theme behind a book I’m writing this summer called, “Exponential Growth,” is when we get both of these going at the same time, net new and cross-sell, all of a sudden, we moved from linear growth to exponential growth. I’ll ask companies, are you better at net new or are you better at cross-sell? Great thing for all of us listening in right now, are we better at net new or are we better at cross-sell? If you get good at both, and I say put processes in place for the one you’re not good at, and if you can show modest growth in both net-new and cross-sell at the same time, it’s astounding what can happen. 12% growth in each of those areas can literally double revenue organically in 36 months. It’s amazing.

OF: Yeah. I’m glad that you brought up revenue impact. As you mentioned, focusing on one end of the client life cycle means that a lot of organizations are missing out on revenue. How can focusing on really the entire revenue engine help organizations grow revenue?

DA: Well, you know, it reminds me of the idea behind the book. I’m a strange person, I actually like to mow my lawn. The reason I like to mow my lawn is the phone can’t ring, I can’t check email, and I listen to great podcasts like the Sales Enablement PRO podcast while I mow the lawn. Anyhow, one day I’m mowing my lawn, I’m puttering across the lawn and I’m looking down the driveway and I see my car and I realized, my car has an engine and so does this lawnmower that I’m sitting on driving. It just so happens, the lawnmower, I looked it up later, it has a 27.5-horsepower engine. Now, if I want to take my lawnmower and drive from where I am right now to Seattle, it theoretically is possible. It’s going to take me a long time. I also have in the driveway a car with eight cylinders and a 427-horsepower engine, and I realized, every business has a growth engine, the sum of your sales and marketing efforts. The question is, how many cylinders are in that engine? The more cylinders we can put in place, the more power we bring to the engine.

When we’re looking at our companies right now, and this is what we tried to do inside “Revenue growth engine,” is hold up a framework for you to look at and go, okay, what cylinders are in place? What cylinders are missing? What would it mean to our organization if we were to add the missing sales and marketing cylinders in terms of driving results?

OF: I love that. Going back to the point that you made earlier around the value of relationships, you also talk in the book about building meaningful client relationships and the importance of really being seen as a trusted partner versus just more of a transactional vendor relationship. I’m curious, how can reps really establish themselves as trusted partners with clients?

DA: I love this question, and this is so critical. Right now, it’s funny you asked that because one of the podcasts I co-host, the Selling from the Heart podcast with Larry Levine, this is the topic we’re addressing right now and throughout the fall, which is trust. Trust is the most important commodity that any salesperson has. The problem is we live in a post-trust society. I mean, skepticism is at an all-time high.

Literally yesterday, and this is a fun exercise, well it’s not fun but it’s a good exercise, google the Edelman Trust Report and see what they had to say about salespeople and about companies and executives and marketing people don’t get off the hook either. Salespeople were just barely above politicians once again.

Trust is really hard, and I believe that trust comes out of relationships. Starting relationships is the ball game. When you look at enabling sales, we talk a lot about, obviously we need product knowledge. In fact, I was just on the phone yesterday with a sales enablement leader for a large healthcare company, and they were talking about four core initiatives. There’s a product knowledge initiative, obviously there’s a sales skills initiative, there’s a business process initiative, but then there was this initiative, which I was there to talk about, which was the soft skills. Which is kind of demeaning, but soft skills yield hard dollars.

One of the things we’ve got to get very competent at in enabling our sales teams to do is to be able to develop and sustain trusting relationships. I believe trust gets you in the door, loyalty keeps you there. This right now is really hard, and I don’t know that anyone has completely solved the problem because a lot of the things that we’ve leaned on, like independent market research reports, somebody goes, yeah, whatever, you paid to have that written. Even testimonials and things like that, case studies, people meet with such skepticism right now.

One of the things that I believe is critical in the next decade is enabling our salespeople to be able to develop relationships of trust with their prospects and clients. When I say clients, we know there’s multiple decision-makers in the B2B transaction, so you’ve got to be able to build trust. At Selling from the Heart, we call it speed to heart. How quickly can I get to that relationship? I think it’s the ball game. I think marketing can help in a number of ways.

Yesterday I put together the outline of a book on this because I think it’s so critical, but I don’t even know exactly everything that needs to be in that book. I think trust-building is the new frontier of sales enablement, and we’ve got to figure that one out together.

OF: Absolutely. As you mentioned, trust is hard. I think given all of the change that’s occurred in the last year and a half in the business world, from the economic turbulence to the shift to virtual that many of us went through for the first time, this has in some ways only gotten harder. What are some of the challenges that you saw revenue teams encounter in building trusting relationships with clients in the last year and how can organizations really overcome those challenges?

DA: You know, it’s interesting. That’s a fantastic question, with COVID, the pandemic, the moving to remote offices, distributed decision-making, and larger teams. I was on a podcast last year at the beginning of the pandemic and I was quoting Brent Adams, his work around there’s 6.7 decision-makers. It was funny, this is the world we live in right now, he actually chimed in live, and goes it’s 11 point whatever. I was like Brent Adams is here? That’s cool. Shout out to Brent, but the pandemic, I think it was the great revealer because I think a lot of sales teams discovered that the emperor has got no clothes. I mean, I’ll quote Larry Levine again, he likes to talk about the empty suit. When it came to relationships with clients, a lot of people began to realize, hey, we don’t really have great relationships with our clients. They’re just ordering from us.

Don Barden, another new favorite author of mine, wrote “The Perfect Plan.” I was having dinner with him a couple of weeks ago and he said, hey, look, when someone gives you an order, they’re a customer. It’s the second order when they become a client, and that’s when you know you’ve earned the trust. I think during the pandemic, what happened was it was like this big spotlight on, oh, wow. we’ve got a massive trust gap here. We’ve got a massive relational gap now. Fortunately, a lot of smart, proactive salespeople.

What’s great about sales is we figure things out and we get it done. A lot of sales professionals said, uh oh, and they got on the phone, and they started building relationships. They got on video, and they started building relationships. At the time I think there was this, well, I don’t know what else we can do because we can’t get orders, but I think that moment of realizing that relationships are paramount was really critical.
I think while a lot of people got caught with, uh oh, a lot of them stepped up, a lot of sales teams stepped up and actually developed that. Now, here’s the deal. Now that business is flowing again, are we going to begin to take the relationships for granted, or are we going to continue to invest in our network?

OF: You mentioned earlier, the role that enablement can play in enabling trust and soft skills to help reps engage with clients more effectively. From your experience, how can sales enablement best collaborate with revenue leaders to really maximize business impact?

DA: I think the sales enablement profession is, first of all, it’s just awesome. I mean, it is really awesome. The work that sales enablement people do is really critical, important, and impactful work. I don’t think sales enablement people get thanked enough. Sometimes it’s the exact opposite. I just want to go on record right now, thank you, keep doing what you’re doing. it is very, very valuable.

I think sales enablement people, especially in enterprise and in larger companies struggle because there’s a lot on your plate. Between all of the different training and product knowledge that needs to happen, the tech stack and all the training around that, it’s just so many different competing things happening with sales enablement. I think one of the things that we’ve got to do right now in sales enablement is get creative in terms of how we’re educating our people and developing skill sets.

Thinking of another conversation recently, everyone’s gotten back in the classroom now that some of the restrictions have gone down, and now they’re cramming a year and a half of training into these events. Some of it is necessary. Other organizations have been trying to enable and train their sales team through death by video. It used to be death by PowerPoint now it’s videos of PowerPoint. One of the things that we’re experimenting with at Selling from the Heart is we’re looking at hybrid coaching models with bite-sized chunks, not a classroom, on the go, and then operationalized throughout the week through virtual community-based coaching.

I think a lot of the things we’re going to need to do as sales enablement leaders is look for creative ways to take these core skills around product, sales, business process, and the soft skills, and be able to equip reps to do that. I think it’s going to take a lot of creativity. I don’t think we yet know the answer to that, but one thing I do know about the sales enablement community is we’re going to figure it out. To me, that’s exciting. It’s a lot though, and going back to the beginning of this segment, I just want to say huge shout-out to the sales enablement people because you’re doing great work. You’re working incredibly hard, and I just want to go on record saying thank you.

OF: Absolutely. Well, I know our listeners certainly appreciate it. Throughout this whole conversation, and I know definitely in your book, a really core theme that stood out to me is collaboration, particularly in that partnership between sales and marketing. Going back to what you were talking about a little bit ago with how sales and marketing both play a massive role in that revenue engine, I’m curious if you can tell us maybe a little bit more why it seems like historically these two teams are often at odds with each other? What really is the value of a strong partnership between sales and marketing?

DA: Why have they been at odds? This is a fun question. I’ve had this unique perspective for the last I guess now 18 years where I’ve been involved in sales and sales development and all of that, and then also been engaged on the digital marketing side through web search, social inbound, account-based marketing now and all of that. Where’s the gap? Oh, there’s so many different things, but rather than focus on the gap and the departments, how they’re silos, there’s not shared language, there’s this list of problems we could talk about for the rest of the podcast. What I discovered was, it’s so funny because even as I was writing the book, the book is titled “How to Align Sales and Marketing,” and even just the title of the book I’m like, do you put Marketing and Sales or do you put Sales and Marketing, who goes first? You can tell who’s leading based on how they do that, I could not figure out a way to do it without putting one ahead of the other one on top of the other.

The reality though, is it’s not about sales and it’s not about marketing. As much as I love selling, as much as I am passionate about sales and sales development and all, it’s an amazing career, it’s not about sales and it’s also not about marketing, as much as I love the incredible technologies and innovation. I love the challenge of marketing. It’s not about margin. It’s about revenue. The “Revenue Growth Engine” actually came about while I was getting ready to present to a conference of sales and marketing professionals. The marketing professionals had basically dragged the sales leaders to this conference and the marketing professionals were all excited about the technology, gadgets. Sales leaders were all in the back, they were in the back of the room, arms folded going, we could be out selling something right now. What I realized when I was preparing for that conference, nobody’s right or wrong here, but what’s wrong is the focus is not on our department or our discipline, the focus is on revenue and the focus is on revenue from ideal clients.

What we unpack in the book is how to get aligned around revenue goals for net-new and cross-sell, how to get aligned around who your ideal client is, and then the secret sauce that came to me while I was writing this book is not only is it about the ideal client, but the way we align sales and marketing is we actually look at client experience. If you go outside the sales and marketing world to the operations world, there’s this entire rich discipline called customer experience or CX. When I saw that and I started reading the “Experience Economy,” started getting to know Joey Coleman with “Never Lose a Customer Again,” I realized, wait a second, let’s stop focusing on sales and marketing, let’s start focusing on the customer experience. Then let’s ask ourselves the question, what do we need to put in place to make this experience awesome, frictionless, and create pipeline velocity? Now we put sales and marketing in the room, not to argue about who is right or who generated the lead or whatever, but we put them in the room to say, hey, let’s look at the customer experience and let’s collaborate to make this customer experience amazing. When we do, we are going to drive revenue and we’re all going to win.

OF: Absolutely, I love that. Well, Darryl, you have landed some fantastic points throughout this conversation, and I know I learned a lot from you and I’m so excited to have our audience listen to this as well. Thank you again for taking the time today.

DA: Awesome, thank you.

OF: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:21:32
Book Club: Andy Whyte on Navigating Complexity in Sales With MEDDICC Olivia Fuller,Andy Whyte Wed, 14 Jul 2021 17:32:01 +0000 f147f5bd0a672d41fdae11c17784d283d2208eca Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

The world of sales is becoming increasingly complex with more stakeholders involved in buying decisions, intensifying competition, and rapidly changing expectations of the skills and knowledge that sellers need to be successful. In navigating this complexity, the MEDDICC methodology can help provide a common language for everyone in the sales organization to more efficiently and effectively qualify deals and generate a clear path to success. Andy Whyte’s book, “MEDDICC,” lays out strategies and best practices to successfully implement the MEDDICC methodology, and I’m so excited to have him on the podcast today to share some of the key insights from his book.

With that, Andy, could you please introduce yourself to our audience and then tell us a little bit more about your book.

Andy Whyte: Yeah. Hey Olivia, very good morning to you. Hello to the audience. Thank you very much for having me on the show. I’ve been listening to the back catalog, and I’ve been really enjoying the episodes so it’s great to be on the show, thank you for having me. As you said, my name is Andy Whyte. At heart, I’m a sales guy. That’s pretty much what I’ve always done since leaving school. Went into sales and started doing door to door sales selling home improvements, then worked in a cell phone store selling cell phones, and then got into SaaS and started climbing the ladder up of doing more senior roles and taking on larger propositions from selling to SMB’s to selling to enterprises and all different kinds of SaaS solutions. More recently, I went into sales leadership within the last five or six years with a couple of different startups.

The book came about really for a couple of reasons. One was I stumbled across MEDDICC myself as an individual contributor back in 2014 or 2015, and I just felt like it was something that as soon as I learned about it, I was like where’s this been all of my career? I don’t know anyone else who’s ever stumbled across some methodology or something, but it just made me feel, not happy because I’d found it, but sad because of all the time I’d wasted on deals before and deals that I’d lost and all this stuff. I could have saved myself the heartache if I had MEDDICC, so I embraced MEDDICC, loved it. It really helped me as an individual contributor, and then as a sales leader it helped me a lot as well in enterprising up the teams I was leading.

One of the strange things around MEDDICC is it’s 25 years old this year, but no one really had ever stopped to document it or put any kind of book together for it. I definitely saw that as an opportunity to put some of my ideas and thoughts around MEDDICC down on paper. What started as a first blog post iterated into where we are today with a book and a lot of great experiences that have come from that. That’s the background story of myself and MEDDICC.

OF: Fantastic. Well, again, I’m so excited to have you on the podcast today to dive a little deeper into your book, which I know I personally learned so much from. In the book, you note that MEDDICC is a qualification methodology, so I’m curious, how does that differ from a traditional sales methodology and what makes MEDDICC different and unique compared to some of the other qualification methodologies that are out there?

AW: Yeah, that’s a great and actually really important question because it’s funny, it is a methodology of course, MEDDICC you can call a framework as well. I tend to swap between both of them. It’s in sales, so by definition you’d say, well, isn’t it a sales methodology? I guess you could call it that. The only reason why I like to point out and not refer to it as a sales methodology is because generally, the definition of a sales methodology is how you talk to your customers, how you engage with your customers. MEDDICC is much more around qualifying where you are with those customers, should you be engaged with those customers. It doesn’t necessarily dictate how you should engage and what messaging to use and how to talk to the customers.

Likewise, the same with the sales process. Some people refer to it as a sales process, and it’s not. It’s a framework that sits underneath the methodology and the process, and the reason why it’s important just to differentiate the two is that you can really only have one sales process and one sales methodology. If you were to think of MEDDICC as being a sales methodology, you would assume that you can’t overlay it over the top of the framework methodology you already have. That’s why it’s important to differentiate the two.

Then when you think about MEDDICC as a qualification framework or methodology, it’s funny how when you get into the qualification framework world, it seems to be a world of acronyms. I can’t even remember most of them. The most famous ones are obviously MEDDICC and BANT. There’s a whole load of other ones. There’s one called CHAMP. There’s some with G’s and C’s and all this sort of stuff in there.

I think where MEDDICC really comes into its own is that it sees you all the way through the sales process and beyond into post-sales and actually pre-sales process. MEDDICC looks so broadly, not just at the qualifying actual moment in time, but it talks about who you’re going to be working with, the proposition that you’re taking to those people, and what would those people be interested in. It can really go pre-sale as well and start to help influence how you market your products and how you message the value of those products as well. And how, of course, all the people internally talk about the different stages of revenue.

That’s where I think MEDDICC really comes into its own. It’s not to say that the other qualification frameworks aren’t good, but it goes very broadly across the entire sales process.

OF: Definitely. As you mentioned, MEDDICC is an acronym and in the book, you walk through each of the different stages of the MEDDICC methodology and also some additions that companies are beginning to use.

At a high level, I’d love if you could just dive into what those stages are, and also when it might be appropriate to supplement them with some of those additional steps.

AW: Yeah, no great question. As I said a moment ago, MEDDICC is 25 years old this year and it was born inside of a company called PTC. Really where it came from was a guy called Dick Dunkel who invented it. He worked in sales enablement, probably one of the firsts, PTC was probably the very first people to do sales enablement, and he’d come out from the field with the task of helping PTC to level up all the new salespeople they were hiring. One of the exercises they did was to look at why PTC were winning deals, why they were losing deals, and why deals were slipping. What he found wherever he went, whatever sales team inside of PTC he went to, was that there was a continuity in the answers to those questions. These actually rolled up to being the elements of MEDDICC, which was at the time six elements, which is MEDDIC with just one C on the end and two D’s.

That obviously served us very well. It’s proliferated almost like no other methodology since that time, but what’s actually happened as technology landscapes have evolved, there’s been two particular elements that have come into be popularized inside of MEDDICC. That’s why a lot of people will know MEDDICC as MEDDPICC because it has an extra P in there.

As I said, one of those letters is the “P,” which generally stands for paper process. What this is, it goes without saying, but it’s the process that occurs when you start to talk about contracts. SLSA’s, DPA’s, there’s all of these three-letter acronyms that exist now that weren’t around when MEDDICC was created because generally it was on premise software, you owned the licenses and data privacy wasn’t such a big thing. The paper process has become much more complicated. It’s also the big reason why deals slip, because of the paper process. What a lot of organizations will do is they’ll call the extra P out and that’s why the extra P stands for paper process.

The extra C is for competition, which again is a similar situation as time has evolved. Now, I think there’s something like a hundred new SAS companies a day. Competition is not just your rival solutions, there are other initiatives that exist that could be taking the same budget or resources that you’re going for. It’s not just about money, it could be that the teams are helping to implement whatever solution you’re talking about. Inertia is a competitor as well, the customer just staying with what they’ve done or what they’ve already got. Then of course they can build it and sell so easily now with cloud structure and that sort of thing. Competition becomes much more of a thing today than it used to be all those years ago.

That’s why you had the two letters in. For anyone that’s listening that doesn’t know anything about MEDDICC or know what the other letters are, very super high level, you’ve got the “M,” which is for the metrics. These are the quantifiable measures of value, so this is the KPIs if you like. The economic buyer, this is the overall authority, the best way of finding this person is the person to say no and others say yes, and they say yes while others say no. Then you have the two “D’s,” which stand for decision criteria, decision process. It’s the what and the how the customer is going to make a decision-type process I talked about. The “I” stands for identify the pain or implicate the pain, which speaks for itself. Then you’ve got the champion, which is for me, the most important part of MEDDICC. It’s the one person who’s going to be your person inside of the customer who’s giving you information, helping you to navigate towards a successful outcome. Then as I said the next one after that is the second “C” for competition, which I talked about.

OF: That’s great. One of the key points that stood out to me is you also highlight the importance of discovery, but specifically how it should be thought of as a mindset rather than a stage. I’d love if you could explain that a little bit further. Why is that mindset of discovery impactful in enterprise sales?

AW: Yeah, great question. I might be a bit controversial here, but I’m going to go as far as saying, if you’re a salesperson and you’re not doing discovery, then you’re not being a salesperson. You’re being an order taker because if you can’t learn from the customer and adapt to suit the challenges and goals that they’re trying to aspire to or solve then you really are just going to be talking about your own product. Hopefully, if it works out for you, if you’ve got a good product and it’s well suited, then you’ll be taking the order. That’s the first thing I’ll say is proper selling cannot be done without discovery.

Why I say it’s a mindset is because it’s not really about going in with a bank of questions that you need to try and find the answers to. Quite often when people have that mindset of, I just need to do this stage of discovery, it’s not a great experience for the customer. On the other end, it feels a bit like an interrogation. The mindset of discovery is to be genuinely curious because inside of you, you know that to really have the best chance of finding a good fit for your solution, you need to really genuinely understand the customer’s business. You need to understand their goals, you need to understand their challenges, you need to understand where they want to get to and what could be hurdles in the way for them there. Then see, and this is a really important thing, see whether your solution is a good one. Not always will it be a good fit. It may be that the customer does not have enough interest. It may be that your solution is not the right solution for them. I think that we really need to popularize qualifying out in sales.

As much as you should be curious to try and find opportunity and strengths for your solution, you should also be thinking, well, do I really want to have to invest the amount of time the deal needs if it’s not going to work out for me, if it’s not going to be a right opportunity for me. Having that very open-minded genuine curiosity is going to lean you into finding real value that you can uncover.

Then where MEDDICC comes into that, I always look at it like this. Generally, in discovery you’re trying to understand a few things. You understand the lay of the land you’re trying to qualify, but you’re really trying to find some pain. I quite liken it to a bit like mining for gems is the discovery, and finding the pain is like finding a gemstone, maybe they call it a diamond. Where MEDDICC comes in is it’s going to help you turn what is still a valuable gemstone, it’s going to help you turn that into a diamond ring by putting metrics against what the value of solving that pain would be. That’s where the pain, the metrics, buddy up to.

The other point on this actually, which is important, why discovery is a process is because it’s something you do throughout the deal. In enterprise sales by nature, they’re generally complex, they’re generally long, there’s generally multiple stakeholders involved. Every single stakeholder, every different part of the deal, have new things to learn and will adapt and shift. If you’re up against a good competitor, they’ll be trying to adapt and shift it towards their strengths and towards your weaknesses. You have to be in your toes to make sure you bring it back towards yourself. Discovery is something you should be doing right up until the ink on the signature for the contract is drying That’s in my mind how I see it.

OF: Great. You touched on some of the skills that make salespeople successful just now but explore that a little bit more in the context of today. As the world of work has evolved really rapidly in the past year, the skills that are required to be successful in sales have also now evolved as well. In the book, you talk about some of the characteristics of great sellers. I’m curious from your perspective, what are some of the key attributes of really elite salespeople in today’s environment?

AW: Yeah, I have one favorite for this and it’s definitely not something that I came up with, but it’s something I heard and it’s outside of sales and it really resonates with me. This is the idea of taking action over having the intention to take action and actually being able to take action. I think that’s something that in sales is critically important. That’s really the difference for me between the elite salespeople and those that could be elite who have all the skills, have all the knowledge, have all the experience, but just never quite make that step up to being what we know as elite.

The best example that I think will resonate with the audience on this is we’ve all been in those team deal reviews, where somebody is presenting a deal and as a team, it’s a great thing. One of the things I love about sales is how we can come together as different professionals who have different roles in sales and hear someone talk about their deal and brainstorm how we can help them make progress.

Wherever I worked, there’s always been a salesperson who is not elite, but they know all the answers. They’ve got the answer for everybody’s problem in their deal, and they’ll tell you it as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. That is having intention for me, they know what the right things to do are, but when it’s really, really important, they don’t do it.

In a MEDDICC sense, they’ll know how important it is to access the economic buyer. They’ll talk about it to everybody, but they won’t do it themselves. They’ll say, well, it’s hard to get there and all this stuff, which it is of course, but that’s kind of the beauty of it.

For me to answer your question, it’s really about taking that next step to taking action. In reference to this world we’re in right now where most of our meetings are remote, we’re missing out on that beautiful time that we never really valued before, which is the time where you’d meet the customer in their reception area, and they’d walk you to the office room and then you get to the meeting room and then you’d get the walk back. That might only be 10 minutes, but in that 10 minutes you would build rapport, you would build relations, you could ask for debriefs, you can ask for an insight ahead of the meeting, all that kind of stuff. We don’t get that anymore, but we can.

That’s the difference between action and intent. You can most definitely put some time in with that potential champion let’s say before the meeting. You can put some time in after the meeting. In fact, you could top and tail any meeting you have with anyone else by doing that. That’s what the elite sellers will do. Those that are a little bit below elite will know that that’s a good thing to do, they know that’s within their grasp, but they won’t take that step. That’s probably an example of the difference between elite in today’s world.

OF: I love that. Another thing that it really stood out to me in your book is you write that the most significant factor to the success of your MEDDICC implementation lies in your frontline sales managers’ hands and enablement often works very closely with frontline sales managers. I’m curious if you have any advice for how enablement can give frontline managers the support that they need to properly execute the implementation and really engage them as champions of the process?

AW: Yeah, that is a fantastic question. I think being a frontline sales manager is one of the loneliest jobs in sales because you’re in this accountability sandwich where above you, self-leadership, we’re always asking you for numbers, for the reports, all this stuff. Below, your sales team is looking to you to protect them from the noise above, but also help empower them. You don’t really have, except for your peers themselves, but they’re also in a funny way because it’s a competitive industry they’re almost your competitors and you have sales managers on the same level as you, you don’t really have anyone who’s your buddy, except for sales enablement. Sales enablement are the people, especially in a MEDDICC implementation, who are like your secret weapon for success because what you need for successful implementation of MEDDICC above anything else is momentum.

You need to have some forward momentum and wins with it. What I mean by that is, you’ll know this much better than I and your audience will know this a million times better than I do, there’s this thing that happens in all good sales organizations that are trying to evolve and develop and move themselves forward where one minute or one month it will be a new sales tool that comes in. It’s a new analytics tool. It’s going to help you figure out something that you didn’t know about your deals. The next minute it’s a new sales methodology. What tends to happen is you get this flavor of the month scenario happen and underneath it, the sales team, the individual contributors are like okay, what is it this month. MEDDICC, okay, we’ll be hearing about MEDDICC for the next month I guess and then it’ll be something else.

What you need to really turn the tide with that kind of mentality is you need to be able to show the value to the salespeople. The great thing about MEDDICC is aside from managers, as an individual contributor, it can really help you to figure out what you need to do with your deals regardless of anyone else around you.

To get the salespeople to have that mentality, they need to see some wins. Sales enablement is like the best friend for sales managers there because they can help keep the managers on their toes, help share best practice with them, remind them because as you know, sales managers have a lot of things on their mind. Reminding them of certain elements of MEDDICC that could help in certain scenarios and share successes. I think just that as a partnership really, really helps.

Then there’ll be a lot of things in the sales enablement locker, a lot of documentation, a lot of collateral that relates very closely to MEDDICC. I think that bringing those into decision criteria is a great example. Decision criteria are really around, especially technical decision criteria, it’ll be around what are the criteria for which the customers base that decision? Well, most good sales organizers I know have a document that suits that. It’s about sales enablement empowering people to get that document across.

The last thing I’ll say on this point is that where MEDDICC really comes into its own is as a common language for the revenue teams to use. It means everyone is talking about the same thing the same way. An example of this, champion is probably the most used phrase in sales. Outside of MEDDICC, if you meet two different salespeople, they’ll have completely different definitions of what a champion is.

What MEDDICC does helps you define what is a champion? What is this part of it? What are the metrics? It’s really going to help sales enablement and sales managers to increase the efficiency of their conversations and really make sure they’re talking about the right things. When they are talking about the same thing, they’re defining it the same way as well.

OF: Absolutely. I just have one final question for you. We’ve talked a little bit about the complexity of sales today and I’m curious to learn, how can MEDDICC really help foster deep engagement with customers given this increasing complexity?

AW: Yeah, that is a good question. I think one of the things that’s adding complexity to sales today is the massive choice that customers have. As I mentioned earlier, when we think about competition, it’s not just solutions that are rivals of yours, you’ve got other initiatives and other things that the customer could be looking to do. It could be looking just to stay the same. Risk is dangerous, change is risky. Build it themselves is another thing.

Then there’s this whole other scenario, which is that whilst there are of course people listening to this that will have Germany working for an organization who has a solution and you may have two, three, maybe five other vendors that do a similar solution. There’s this whole Venn diagram now of solution providers that do the same thing and then something else, and then something else. As a customer, you can have 10 options to solve that one thing you want to do and some will do it very well, but some will do it not quite as well, but they’ll do all these other things as well. That creates a lot of complexity for customers.

The thing I think salespeople always forget is that our customers are not professional buyers. 99% of their day job is spent doing their job. They only spend 1% thinking about buying that bit of software to help them do their job. They’re not out there spending all day reading G2 Crowd and all this stuff. They’re not necessarily experts in buying, so what you really need to be able to do is to approach the customer with, again, that curious mindset to really understand what it is they’re trying to solve and genuinely talking about how your solution can help solve that problem, if it can.

Sometimes, like I said earlier, sometimes you may not be the best person to help them. One thing is for sure, if you went into an engagement with a customer and you were to genuinely take an interest in what they were trying to solve, what their problems were, and you turned around and said, hey look, thank you for your time today, but actually, I don’t think we’re the right fit for you, let me help you put you in the right direction of who is, I guarantee you a year, two years, five years down the line, when that person is an ideal prospect for you, that person will take your call and meet you 100%. You would have bought so much credibility and that person is probably likely to introduce you to other people that you can help. I think this is a long game. I think if you have a long game mindset in sales, it will help you out a lot.

The short answer to that question, other than that long version, would to be that trusted advisor to your customers and have that genuine curiosity to help them solve their problems. You’ll be surprised at just how much more information the customer provides you if that helps you do your job better.

OF: That’s great. Well, Andy, thank you so much again for making the time to join our podcast today. I certainly learned so much from you and I know our audience did too. Thanks again.

AW: Well, thank you for having me on and thanks everyone for listening.

OF: To our audience, thanks for listening for more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:24:36
Book Club: Henry Adaso on Content Mapping to Drive Customer Engagement Olivia Fuller,Henry Adaso Wed, 09 Jun 2021 17:51:16 +0000 b74e24c73e304b787527001dd96aeff8e99476cb Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

In today’s business world, customers are inundated with noise, and this means that the risks of pushing generic content loom large, but the power of an innovative content strategy can mean more engaged and trusting customers. In his book, “Content Mapping,” Henry Adaso shares a blueprint for mapping content to the buyer’s journey and I’m so excited to have Henry here with us today to share some of the key insights from his book. With that, Henry I’d love if you could introduce yourself to our audience and tell us a little bit more about your book.

Henry Adaso: Hey Olivia, thanks for having me. I’m Henry Adaso. I’m a storyteller, a recovering journalist, and an accidental marketer. I worked for many years as a journalist early on in my career and it taught me the story craft, which I now bring to my marketing work.

I currently work as the Head of Marketing for CEMEX USA. CEMEX is one of the largest manufacturers of building materials in the world. I oversee all of our marketing activities online and offline, and as you mentioned at the top of the podcast, I recently published a book.

OF: Great. Well, thank you again for making the time to talk to our audience. I’m very excited to dive into some of the concepts that you talk about in your book. One of those, you explain that content really needs to align strategically with the needs of customers throughout their journey. Why is that customer-centric approach so important, especially given the state of the business world that we’re in today?

HA: Sure. The marketplace is so crowded that we don’t have much of a choice, but to adapt. We really have two options. One, we can become the loudest voice in the room, we can yell louder than everybody else, we can publish more content, share more social media posts and send more emails. We’ve all seen that that is not always the best approach.

The other approach, and the other path, is to figure out how to be the most relevant voice in the room. How to find the people that need what we have to offer and be of service to them. When we do that successfully, we have a better chance to engage and resonate with the right audience.

OF: Absolutely. I could not agree more. In the highly virtual environment that many businesses are in today, what are some ways that professionals can gather insights on their customers to deeply understand their needs and preferences?

HA: I think that’s a great question. I think it’s important to decouple two things. One is that sometimes we get into the trap of outsourcing our innovation and product development to customers by asking them what they need. I’m sure if somebody asked me what I needed in the early 2000s I would have said I wanted a way to play more music without having my Walkman or the disc skipped, but I wouldn’t have thought of an iPhone or an iPod. That’s where the innovation piece comes in. We have to simply innovate.

The second thing is yes, we need to listen to the needs of our customers, understand what they need from us so that we can better serve them. I’ll offer two suggestions for people that sell to customers and people that sell to businesses. If you’re selling a consumer base, one of the smartest ways to gather those customer insights is a website called You may have heard of it. If you go into Amazon and type in the name of your competing product, review the reviews, literally filter them and only look at the critical reviews, you’ll learn a lot about what people are looking for. If these are things that you already offer in your product, now you know what to do, you can speak more to those strengths in your marketing. Or you can see it as an opportunity to innovate and to try to meet the demands of those customers.

That’s on the consumer base. On the business side, if you’re selling to a business, chances are that business belongs to some sort of organization, some trade publication, they probably have conferences and especially today they probably have virtual events and they probably have lots and lots of them. If you go to their website, the trade website, and you pull up the agenda from the last conference, that gives you an idea of what people are talking about. What’s pressing for them, what’s urgent and important and timely, and you can try to speak to those things in your marketing.

OF: Those are some great tips. I love that advice around innovation. Shifting gears just slightly, enablement practitioners can often be liaisons between teams such as marketing and sales to help drive collaboration. From your perspective, what role can cross-functional collaboration play in the content mapping process?

HA: There’s always this stereotype of marketing and sales as two warring factions with completely different needs and never shall the two meet. In reality, we’re all working for the same side, the customer. I think the most important way to enable that cross-functional collaboration is to ask more questions.

Sometimes as marketers, I know speaking from a marketing perspective, we sometimes show up with all the answers. We think we should be doing this, and sales should support us in doing that. Really, we need to be asking questions. We need to be asking sales, what are the customers really saying? What are their frustrations? What are their objections? What do they like? What makes their eyes light up when you talk to them? What does that journey look like? Then, how can we better support you to make sure that we’re serving the customer in the right way. I think asking questions on both sides and learning from each other can help us get to a better collaboration.

OF: Fantastic. Now, particularly when it comes to content strategy, what are some best practices that you have for driving alignment between sales and marketing teams?

HA: Speaking the same language and just understanding how to translate some of the insights from sales to marketing and vice versa. For example, to be more specific, when we talk about content strategy, one key component of a content strategy is the buyer’s journey. Who better to talk to about the buyer’s journey than sales. Marketing needs to be asking the question, how does the customer go from A to brand. What does that timeline look like? What is the buying cycle? Are they shopping today to order for yesterday? Or are they shopping for pricing and trying to buy from the cheapest vendor? All of those different insights from sales can help inform marketing.

Then vice versa, marketing can say to sales, “hey look, these are the content pieces that are resonating the most. We think that this could probably support you in your sales effort.” It’s finding the common ground between sales and marketing in terms of what each party is learning from the customer and then translating that into better marketing and sales assets.

OF: Love those tips. You mentioned in your book that in B2B sales, the biggest enemy can often be status quo. How can content strategy help combat that tendency to lean on status quo for customers, and what are some ways that practitioners can really leverage content mapping to deepen customer engagement?

HA: Sure. It used to be that back in the day, you could create the same piece of content, the same offer, and you send it out to everybody and then you just pray that somebody responds. Things are changing. Everyone’s being inundated with marketing messages and sometimes it can be harder to stand out, especially in the B2B environment.

I think the first thing we have to do is to make sure that we’re not trying to reach everyone, that we’re only going after people who need what we have to offer. That’s not going to be the entire market or the entire universe. That’s step one. We have a better chance to resonate if we’re meeting people at the point of their needs and if they already have a need for what we’re trying to sell to them.

The other thing is to understand who the true decision-makers are. In some cases, we tend to assume that the decision-maker is whoever’s sitting at the top of the tree. It could be whoever’s sitting at the reception desk, and we have to understand that as well. Maybe it’s the marketing coordinator, not the CMO. Every organization is structured differently, and people have different levels of influence within the organization. We have to do that work upfront, that research upfront, to truly understand who drives the decision and reach out to those people in a way that makes sense for them.

One example that I share in the book is the idea of mapping your offer in a B2B context to each member of the decision-making family. Imagine that you and your family are planning to go on a vacation. Chances are everybody doesn’t want to go to the same vacation spot. Somebody wants to go to Disneyland, somebody maybe wants to go to Jamaica, and someone wants to go on a cruise. It’s the same way in the B2B environment. Multiple people have different things that they find appealing. In some cases, it’s numbers, it’s analytics. In other cases, people are drawn to the story, or they’re drawn to how this product can help them solve a problem.

We need to be able to map our content to each of those individuals and their roles based on what it is that their job gets measured on. If you’re in procurement, maybe it’s making sure that you get the best deal, but also ensure quality and safety and things of that nature. Whereas maybe if you’re in a finance role, it’s more analytically driven. It’s understanding what are the different ways that we can speak their language and then how can we map content to those different appeals.

OF: Absolutely. With this shift to virtual, many companies have had to quickly pivot their strategies in the past year, and change is continuous, so now companies are beginning to transition back to in-person or hybrid environments this year or thinking about what that might look like for their organizations. How can professionals really ensure that their content mapping strategies continue to resonate with customers as they undergo transformation?

HA: That’s a very important question. It’s amazing how for 20 odd years people resisted this pivot to digital, and then everybody did it in two months. Now the downside of that is that it feels like we live in a world where every day feels like Cyber Monday. We’re all getting emails and text messages and all kinds of marketing information. Part of what we need to do is to figure out how to increase the value of the work that we’re doing, and not necessarily turning up the volume and trying to send more emails than the competition.

That means constantly reviewing and evaluating our content strategies to make sure that whatever we’re doing is actually working. I recently took my car in for a tune-up. If I wait 10 years before I take my car in for a tune-up, I’m going to have a big problem. Our content strategy will need to be re-evaluated from time to time as we receive inputs from the marketplace, as we receive input from the organization or the brand or the customer, we need to pivot just like we’ve done recently to make sure that we’re still able to resonate.

OF: That is fantastic advice. Well, Henry, thank you so much again for taking the time to share your expertise with our audience. I certainly learned so much from you.

HA: Thank you for having me. This was a blast.

OF: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:13:15
Book Club: Laura Fletcher on the Power of Design Thinking in Training Programs Olivia Fuller,Laura Fletcher Thu, 20 May 2021 17:09:21 +0000 ed5a1fdda456d7676e4c17cfc214d12caa31ad87 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

Teaching reps new knowledge or skills is often easier said than done. The training process can be tedious, and often learning programs fail to bring about the behavior change necessary to help organizations meet their strategic goals. This is where design thinking can really make a difference. The book, “Design Thinking for Training and Development,” walks through how to apply the human-centered design thinking methodology to learning programs to improve outcomes and make learning stick.

Here to talk to us about this concept today is one of the coauthors of the book, Laura Fletcher. Laura, I’d love it if you could introduce yourself to our audience and tell us a little bit more about the book.

Laura Fletcher: Sure. My name is Laura Fletcher. I’m a senior program manager for leadership development at Salesforce. I think most people are familiar with Salesforce, world’s number one customer relationship management or CRM platform. My role there is to develop and manage learning programs.

Before I came to Salesforce, I was the manager of instructional design at a company called Bottom Line Performance, which is where I had the opportunity to first really get in and explore design thinking, and ultimately coauthor this book with my friend, Sharon bowler, “Design Thinking for Training and Development.”

The book really came out of that partnership and being able to experiment with my team and try some new things, see what works, see what didn’t. I would say the book is really a documentation of our experience and where we found best practice and where we found cautionary tales so that we could help our fellow practitioners incorporate design thinking and have some quick success with that process.

OF: Great. Well, we’re so excited to have you here to tie into those topics a little bit deeper. As you mentioned, your book really centers on how to apply design thinking methodology to the development of learning experiences for employees.

I’d love if you could just tell our audience what is design thinking and why is it important to consider in the context of training programs?

LF: Yeah, it’s a good question because I think as you start to get out there in Google land, it can feel a little bit ambiguous. If I distill it down to its core, design thinking is really a human-centered approach to problem-solving. That’s it. It really is designed to prioritize understanding the context and environment of the end-user. Because of that, design thinking became really mainstream and popular within the product development space, but it has obvious application to solutioning in almost any field, training included.
What made it really attractive to us at Bottom Line Performance as we started exploring it was noticing how absent learners typically were from the design and development process. Design thinking pulls learners into the thick of things from the very beginning, keeps them integrated throughout the process. I think what makes it really well suited to learning and development is, in the book we talk about finding the sweet spot, which is balancing what the learner needs and what the organization needs, and also the constraints of the project. When you think about it, it is a triple Venn diagram.

Seeing this in action, we did some empathy mapping with a pharmaceutical sales rep a few years ago. We noticed that this persona that we created, they were in the car half of the day, they were working mostly on an iPad, but as new training initiatives rolled out, those often defaulted to e-learning courses that were optimized for laptop. As practitioners, we know there’s a lot of advantages to using e-learning. It checks a lot of boxes like making it easy for us to meet accessibility standards, making it easy to track completion. Those are very organizational-based needs, and they are at odds with the needs of our mobile-first field-based learner.

Those kinds of initiatives we can see very easily, they’re not hitting the sweet spot once we start to uncover that learner’s context. At the end of the day, ultimately, the organization’s goal is for those field reps to implement whatever’s being trained, that’s why we’re here doing what we do. When we take that time to uncover details about the context where the reps are going to be learning and applying the new information, it helps us be able to make more win-win sweet spot decisions about the content and the format that we include in training solutions.

I think when you just say it, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. One format decision, Laura. So what, we put it in a podcast or a mobile game instead of an e-learning course. But when you start to think about the learning journey similar to the way you would think about a customer journey, and you start to appreciate that just like that customer our learner can opt-out of a learning journey at any time, it does prioritize that learning experience design.

You start to optimize the format and you start to improve usability and you strip out irrelevant content. One by one, those improvements remove obstacles and annoyances that impede a person’s ability or that rep’s ability to engage with the content, and not only add up to a much better learner experience, but also help you achieve better outcomes.
It’s that sweet spot mentality that I think really is attractive to us in the learning and development space.

OF: Fantastic. You mentioned there are some problems that you’re seeing with some of the other formats that you were encountering. I want to dive a little bit more into those.
What are some of the common mistakes that you’ve seen companies make in the design of training and development programs, and how can design thinking help avoid or overcome some of those mistakes?

LF: Yeah. I mean, that’s what it boils down to, how is design thinking going to improve what I’m able to achieve? I mentioned thinking about learning journeys very similarly to the way that we think about customer journeys. I think marketers spend a lot of time considering, how does my customer find out about my product? What’s their buying experience like? How do I keep them engaged with the company to build loyalty or frankly, to build sustained behavior over time? Which is very similar to what we’re trying to achieve.
In contrast though, learning designers, at least in the past, I think we’ve tended to focus on the learning event. The course or the workshop or the thing. We spend so much time thinking about how to optimize the thing that we tend to give insufficient attention to what happens before the event and even more importantly, what happens after that thing. That’s really problematic because, for example, I can create the world’s most gorgeous and informative reference resources, but if I have to put those on an LMS where the experience is not great, so maybe it requires a lengthy login or I have to search or I’ve got to go through multiple click paths to navigate to what I want, I know that would demotivate me from trying to access those, and it really devalues what I’ve worked so hard to create.

If the pre-event interactions can make or break my motivation and then the event is able to either build awareness or build some initial skill, then it’s what happens after a learning solution or event that really decides whether my learner is actually going to perform that behavior on the job. I could create the flashiest product launch event the world has ever known. Maybe I’ve done a really thorough job in planning this. I’ve created talk tracks that could sell sawdust to a lumber mill, but if reps leave that event completely energized and then they get back on the job and they don’t have great customers to pitch to, or their managers can’t answer questions about the new product, or it just turns out they figured out they can make a better commission just selling the simpler stuff in their portfolio without support reinforcement or continued practice opportunities, those are all points at which they may opt-out of that learning journey.

The things that happen before and after a learning event, I think as an industry, are our most underutilized opportunities to build motivation and retention and sustained performance. I think not so much about errors that people are making as much as missed opportunities. When I started thinking about my role more in terms of designing this learning journey and less like designing an event, speaking for myself, I feel like I noticed a few things.

Number one, I was forced to understand my customer, or my learner, on a much deeper level than I ever needed to just to design an event for them. It goes from just accepting content to thinking about, what is the experience to get from they don’t even know that they need this to they’re sustaining this behavior consistently.

Another thing I realized, I really have started designing much more for the points of need and much less for formal training experiences, like full workshops. When I start to think about all the touchpoints that are necessary to get from point A to point Z, a lot of times you realize that formal workshop or that big event or that big thing, does it move the needle as much as those tiny nudges along the way? That’s definitely been something that I’ve noticed changing in my own practice.

And then the third thing that I would say it has changed for me to recognize some of these missed opportunities is that I gained a much greater appreciation for all of the non-training factors that influence performance. I think about things like the role of manager reinforcement or incentivization factors, or frankly de-incentivization factors or process inefficiencies. All these things that are affecting people’s ability to perform.

Those then become either assets or hindrances to the learning experience that I’m trying to create. All of those things now, I am able to take into account as I’m designing the learning journey and focusing much less on just building a pretty thing.

OF: Definitely. You brought up so many great points there, but one thing that you mentioned is really thinking about the customer when you’re designing these things, which in this sense is your learner.

You also mentioned at the start of this that the key to design thinking is being human-centered. What are some ways that practitioners can involve learners in the design of training programs to ensure that learning experiences resonate with them?

LF: Yeah. One point of clarification that I’ll make is I think when you first start to read about design thinking, you’ll hear a lot about empathy or empathizing. I think sometimes there is a misconception that this process is very touchy, feely. We’re all talking about feelings, and how did you feel about that learning exercise? In the book, Sharon and I very intentionally referred to the process as gaining perspective rather than empathizing. The act of collecting insight into a learner’s context as one critical piece of the design.
To your question about what are some ways that you do collect that insight or uncover some of those contextual factors, I will say if time and travel were never an issue, and I know they are, but let’s just pretend for a minute that we live in a world where that’s not a problem, I would always want to start a project with a chance to observe my target audience on the job. I’d want to experience their work environment. I’d want to see when, where and how they’re actually performing the skill in question. See how you learn things on the job when you have to learn a new skill. How do you usually do that?

I did an observation once in a mining facility where between the ambient noise and the required ear protection because of that noise level, I couldn’t hear a thing. I was listening to my guide on the worksite, basically lip reading and realizing, if I were a new hire in this environment, a misunderstanding because I couldn’t hear well could just have dire consequences. I know that’s a very extreme example to prove a point, but today I think a much more common equivalent is mask-wearing. When everyone is wearing masks, how does that environmental or contextual change affect how customer-facing roles are performed? How is that performer then working around that new constraint?

Another benefit of using observation as a technique is that you get to see firsthand how people’s tools and processes are impacting how they work. I think about a university admin staff that I worked with, they were using what had to be at least ten-year-old computers and software. Those challenges are integrated as part of their day-to-day reality, but if I’m creating training for them half a world away, it’s invisible to me as the designer.

Observation gives you so many advantages that we’re blind to without doing something like that. Now, I said that was if travel and time were not major constraints, and the fact is they are. While observation isn’t always a reality or a possibility, there are two methods that we love for uncovering some of that context that we really talk about at length in the book, and those are empathy maps and experience maps.

Like I said, we go into this in-depth. We give you really step-by-step instructions for using those, point out some of the best practices that we’ve recognized, including virtual delivery. With today being very restricted on the amount of travel and face-to-face interaction that we have, there are really good virtual tools out there that make those two activities, empathy maps and experience maps, really easy to use.

I think about something like Miro that has built-in templates already for empathy mapping and experience mapping. To be honest, in a low-tech version, I’ve found that using a table in a Google doc actually works really well because it does pretty well in letting multiple people work in fairly real-time, seeing where each other are typing at any one time. It just makes it easy to collaborate. Lots of tools to choose from in order to collaborate that way.

Whether you’re using an observation or interviews or experience mapping, all of that work is to gain perspective that’s going to inform the format and the content of your training design. When you’re transitioning from design into development, one of the other great and probably underutilized methods for incorporating learners is to do some quick and dirty prototyping and get them involved in that activity. You can get early feedback about what seems like it’s going to work best in your design.

When I say prototype, to clarify, this can even be as simple as a sketch on a whiteboard. I think we often go a little bit too far in prototyping, thinking it has to be more like a first draft than a literal prototype. My gauge for myself is that I want to feel completely unattached to a prototype for two reasons. If I’ve gone too far with a prototype, it starts to feel like it’s going to hurt to throw it away. If I get to that point, then I’m less likely to get totally honest feedback from my stakeholders. If it looks like it’s very polished, then they’re going to be much less likely to offer as critical of feedback as they might otherwise have.

The other thing is I want to make sure I’m not inadvertently trying to hold on to anything that I’m attached to in case it’s really not working, and I’m the sticky wicket. If you involve learners at the start of the project, doing observations, doing empathy mapping, and then you also seek their feedback through the development process, doing things like prototyping or other review cycles, you have a lot more confidence that the solution and the experience you’re creating is hitting that sweet spot.

OF: In putting the learner at the center of learning design, how can practitioners also balance the interests of the business to ensure programs also help achieve leadership’s strategic goals?

LF: That’s really what it’s all about. At the end of the day, that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing. That’s where that idea of the sweet spot comes in, balancing learner needs, organizational needs and project constraints. Honestly, it’s really difficult to over-prioritize the learner’s needs over the business. That’s probably because training requests don’t usually originate from our audience. In our line of work, the genesis of most of our training projects is with that business stakeholder. Any weight that we’re giving to the learner, we’re doing that as more of a counterbalance, so it’s hard to go overboard.

Now that said, measuring outcomes of training is vitally important. This is something that should be planned into the project, starting from the very beginning. I will say, a project or a solution that doesn’t solve a real problem has no hope of hitting that sweet spot because that involves having to meet business need, and business needs are focused on behavior change that impacts the bottom line in some way or cuts costs in some way. It has to be based in that real problem designed to meet a real need and we have to measure in order to ensure that happens.

While design thinking doesn’t have a lot to say about measurement, this is where we can look to best practices from the learning industry and pull in that insight and perspective. We all know measuring training outcomes is really difficult and even if you have strong data points like sales numbers, it feels very concrete, but it’s still hard to pinpoint what exactly is attributable to training and really what’s caused by other environmental factors. My best suggestion, as we try to prove the value of solutions to the business, is to pilot new training initiatives using that experiment group control group model.

If you carefully select a group that’s really going to represent your target audience, for example, you’re not just pulling the super motivated people that always sign up for everything, but if you’ve got that fairly representative pilot group, then when you look and compare data between that pilot group and the general population, it helps you be reasonably confident that differences that you see in their results can be attributed to a training program.

I would say, just to editorialize, my two cents about evaluation are that we need to stop being afraid of what the results are going to be. I say that as somebody that of course is not in love with getting critical feedback any more than the next person. If I have something on the shelf that’s irrelevant or that’s not useful, I want to know about that because the thought of having large numbers of people consume training that’s a waste of their time, or that’s going to compromise the credibility of future training designs that I publish, I think that’s much worse than finding out that a pilot program didn’t meet its objectives after all.

I have a motto that I say in my head about, today is the cheapest possible day to fail. Assuming that we can’t go back to yesterday and make changes in the past, today is always the day. Even if your changes are a little bit painful, it’s always the best to make those sooner than later so that you don’t have solutions out there that are doing more harm than good.

OF: I love that motto. You also emphasize that learning is not a one-time event and you’ve said that throughout this conversation as well. How can sales enablement practitioners help to reinforce learning concepts beyond training sessions to ensure that they stick long-term?

LF: Yeah, I really hope that this is what the learning experience design conversation gravitates toward, this idea of a learning journey. I think once you get into the habit of designing journeys rather than just designing events, you almost start to have a collection, or a bouquet, of potential reinforcement options that you can pull from and reuse quite a bit.

There’s a spectrum. When you think about reinforcing more awareness level topics on the low end of the spectrum, where it’s really more about the learner just deciding to do something, it’s not that they need a particular skill it’s that you’re just trying to trigger a behavior. Reinforcement could be as simple as some follow-up emails, checking in and saying, “hey learner, it’s been a week since our workshop, did you do the action item you committed to?” Something like that.

As you move down the spectrum towards more complex skills, just like your customer journey, it’s going to take those multiple touchpoints to address different points of need that are going to evolve over time. For example, what’s your learner going to need the very first time they run into a non-textbook example? What happens when they start to lose steam, how are you going to share success stories? How do you bridge the gap between when they first learn a concept and when they actually have an opportunity to apply it?

I mentioned having a greater appreciation for all the factors that influence performance. One thing that I’ve started to really appreciate in the design phase is that not all reinforcement, and frankly, probably the majority of reinforcement is not about providing another thing. It’s not about providing another resource. A big part of reinforcement is tapping into the environmental factors, the social factors, the systemic or organizational factors that are present in the learner’s context.

I think about things like, what is our manager’s role in the learning journey? How am I going to make sure my learners have the best tools for the job? I see learners that have the tools and learners that don’t, how can we raise that equity for tool access? I also look at things differently when it comes to invisible obstacles, or I mentioned things that incentivize or de-incentivize performance. Where can I remove or mitigate some of those de-incentivization factors so that they’re not compromised and we’re not making it harder for them to perform the skill that I want them to?

When we start to consider all of the reinforcement factors that aren’t just another thing, it really brings it back full circle to this idea about gaining perspective, the knowledge of the audience’s realities. If there’s one thing that I can leave people with, it’s that having that understanding and uncovering that context is a little bit like the key to the magic garden. It can help to unlock understanding and strategies that make you much more able to communicate, connect, and engage with your learners far more effectively, and in doing so to realize better organizational results as well.

OF: Fantastic. Well, Laura, thank you so much again for taking the time to share your insights with our audience today. I learned so much from you.

LF: Thank you, Olivia.

OF: And to our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:27:47
Book Club: Roderick Jefferson on the Blueprint to Sales Enablement Success Olivia Fuller,Roderick Jefferson Tue, 20 Apr 2021 16:41:40 +0000 cd1565ee857d2be8f4dbad96f15d289198eda0d0 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

Sales enablement as a function has undergone massive transformation in recent years, and as it’s continued to be elevated more and more as a strategic business function to empower revenue growth, practitioners and business leaders want to know what good looks like. But in sales enablement, there’s no silver bullet or secret sauce that will lead to success for everyone. However, there are some core components of successful sales enablement that professionals can apply to their own organizations to drive meaningful outcomes.

Roderick Jefferson’s new book, “Sales Enablement 3.0”, covers just that, and I’m so excited to have him join us to talk a bit more about his book. Roderick, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Roderick Jefferson: First of all, thank you very much. I’m absolutely honored to be here and can’t wait to dive into this. A little bit about myself, I am the consummate salesperson. I started as a BDR, so I’ve got a lot of love for them. I understand that role and how difficult it is. I got promoted into AE, went to president’s club, and all that fun stuff, and then got promoted to sales leader and promptly turned it down. I know it sounds odd, but it’s because I figured out that I absolutely loved the process of selling versus actually taking down big deals. I stepped at that point into my first training role and that was years ago with, at T&G.

I’ve been fortunate since then. I have run enablement at Siebel Systems, NetApp, eBay, HP, Oracle, Salesforce, and Marketo. While that was a great run, I decided I was going to be a masochist and go out on my own and give it a shot as a consultant, which went really well. I had a great time for about three years consulting and helping companies. I started in the SMB space and then slowly got pulled further upstream by some larger clients and then realized done everything I wanted to do as a consultant, and it was time to come back in house. As of today, I am the vice president of field enablement at Netskope, which is a network security company.

OF: Fantastic. As I mentioned, your new book is titled “Sales Enablement 3.0”.
I’m wondering, can you just tell our audience a little bit about what “Sales Enablement 3.0” is all about? How have you really seen sales enablement evolve over the last few years, given your wide breadth of experience, and then what do you think is really the current state of the function right now?

RJ: Well, I’ll go backwards and then I’ll come back to today if I can. If you would’ve asked me that as a couple of years ago, I would have said sales enablement was about breaking the complexity of sales into practical ideas, through scalable and repeatable processes that will lead to accelerated speed to revenue, increase seller productivity and customers for life, and then ultimately leading to increase revenue. Now, to answer your second question and why I wrote the book, we have completely changed now. I believe that sales enablement is more of an innovative approach focused on increasing sales productivity, through systematic, personalized, and collaborative approaches, designed to support the buyer to fuel what I’m calling the conversation economy.

There was a time where we could talk about how do we help them increase productivity, decrease pain. Well, COVID changes everything, as we know. Even the pre-COVID things were starting to shift to where enablement now has become more of a strategic function that is woven into the fabric of companies. We should be a part of the go-to-market strategy. We are actually a differentiator if done correctly for both internal and external messaging and positioning around the key differentiation, competitive advantage, and business value of a given company. We’ve stepped away from what I call the kiddie table now. We sit squarely at the strategic table at a C-level. It’s interesting, the last three companies I was at, sales enablement and now field enablement was actually one of the top five initiatives for the overall company, which really speaks volumes to how much we moved away from being just training.

OF: Absolutely. I could not agree more that sales enablement really must be a strategic function and viewed that way by the C-suite and given that seat at the table. You described “Sales Enablement 3.0” as both an art and a science. I’m curious, what do each of those aspects look like and enablement today – the art and the science – and why is it important to have both working in tandem in order to be successful in sales enablement?

RJ: Fantastic question. When I was putting this together, I was like, how do I bring both the art and the science together that I’ve seen over the last few years? I realized something really quickly. There are no silver bullets. There’s no single approach that’ll guarantee success. However, there is a formula, just like any other successful process, program, or tool that requires a combination of practical application, trial and error, mixed with a lot of conversations with different sales leaders to understand what their wants, their needs, and their expectations are. You’d take the practical application piece and you tie it together with learning how to and how not to.

You look at it from the processes, programs, platforms, tools, all of those things that we do, but there’s another piece and here’s where the art comes in. Think of an orchestra. you’ve got strings, percussion, woodwind, brass, and they’re all trying to play the same song. Sometimes the notes are out of key. They’re out of faith. Now, let’s align that to the business units: you’ve got marketing, product marketing, product management, HR, engineering, sales, and enablement. We’re all trying to do the right thing for the customer, but most of the time there’s a lack of collaboration or coordination. Sometimes we’re stepping over each other. Sometimes multiple messaging is going to the same prospect or customer. Until – just like the orchestra – internally, one person or one organization that I call sales enablement steps up and taps the stand and all of that chaos before now becomes a beautiful piece of music. There’s the art piece of it.

OF: That is a fantastic analogy. I love that orchestra. You mentioned this also, that your book lays out a formula or blueprint for building a world-class enablement organization. What are the core components of an effective enablement strategy in your opinion?

RJ: I think there are eight pieces and they fall into three categories. I look at it as strategy, architecture, and then reinforcement. In the strategy piece, it’s about defining and building a charter that outlines and defines what enablement means to your company and what it doesn’t mean. I don’t mean this isn’t my job. I’m looking at it more of here’s what we are best at what we bring the largest amount of value. Here’s how we can collaborate. Also, here’s how we can be what I call the translators of dialects and languages.

Let me explain that briefly. We go out and we meet with different customers and prospects. We come back and we say, “product marketing, absolutely love the first call pitch. Problem is, slide eight gets a little fuzzy. Can we either smooth that out or remove it?” Then we come back to product management and say, “we’ve heard this same request for a feature 10 times. How do we get that moved up on the release cycle?” Then, step over to sales and talk to them about not only our ICP, or ideal customer profile, but because we don’t have enough acronyms, I’ll add another one. IEP — what’s our ideal employee profile for our sellers? Because as companies grow, the maturation cycle requires a different type of seller. You may have that volume velocity sell upfront, and then as you grow, you’ve got more complex and or larger big-ticket items. You need a more mature seller. Then we go to HR and say, “as we are out recruiting, here’s what we’ve worked with sales to define as a new IEP. Here’s the new look for the recruiting piece.” On that point, I think enablement has to be a part of the overall interview process as well.

Then you’ve got to look at how do you make learning a marathon and not a sprint? And I’m talking about everything from talent acquisition, role-specific onboarding, to a business acumen at a role-specific level, to coaching and reinforcement for your first and second-line managers on two levels: one net-new manager for the first time and second, the legacy manager or that old dog that we’ve got to teach new tricks because obviously we are all looking at things differently now.

Then you’ve got measurements and I’m not talking about smiley sheets and butts and seats like we used to look at. I’m talking about what are we doing to impact revenue-generating metrics. Then finally, you’ve got to have a succession plan in place because how are you going to get folks from that individual contributor level to leader? I don’t necessarily mean just sales leader. They may figure out along their journey that, “Hey, I want to go look at product marketing or product management”, or “I may want to go look at this thing that we’re calling sales enablement. I think that fits me better.”

OF: I love that holistic view of all the possibilities of how salespeople can grow in their careers and how sales enablement can support that. You did mention a few core partners that sales enablement works with in the business and going back to that orchestra analogy as well, one of those core leaders is the sales leader. You talk about the importance of really understanding the needs and expectations of sales leaders to be able to design effective enablement programs. What are some of your best practices for really building alignment with sales leaders?

RJ: It may sound corny and simple, but I start every conversation with sales leaders with a single three-point question. Do you want me to listen, do you want me to coach, or do you want me to fix? The reason I do that is because it allows me to put on the right set of ears, if you will, and hear what it is that they need. Secondly, it shows them that this conversation is all about them. The second is I approach sales leaders with a simple three-part process. That is listen, learn, then lead. Too many times as sales enablement practitioners, we want to dive in because we’re fixers by nature, but that may not be what that sales leader needs.

Then the third piece is when I’m building out a seller enablement org, my goal is that everyone on my team has carried a bag in some sort prior to going into enablement, whether you’re a BDR, an AE, a CSM, you’re in channels, or wherever you may have been. The reason is there’s an enormous amount of credibility by saying I’ve walked in your shoes and I understand what’s going on. Plus, it raises our BS filter a lot higher with sales because we’ve done that job. We can go, “that’s not going to be two weeks. It’s more like four days. Come on now.”

OF: Yes. I love that point about really having credibility with sales leaders and one of those ways that you can also build credibility is just by furthering the sales leader’s strategic goals and their priorities. In your opinion and in your experience, how does sales enablement help further the strategic priorities of sales leaders?

RJ: First and foremost, don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know”. We don’t have the answers to everything and we’re not the fix to every problem. We are a matter of fact, we’re not the break fix organization at all. Back to credibility, when you say that to a sales leader, most people think, “Oh, no, I’m supposed to know this. I can’t say, I don’t know.” No, no, no. What it does is it gives you credibility because it gives you an opportunity to learn from them. It also forces you to be the perpetual learner and listener to learn from the sales leader.

The next is talk to them in the language that they speak. Don’t try and get them to speak sales enablement jargon. Too many times, we throw all of these cool acronyms out thinking they’re going to pick it up. No, listen to them as your internal customer, not your stakeholder. That’s because if their stakeholders, that means you’re beholden to them as an internal customer. You’re doing everything to ensure that they are successful and satisfied, but it also has to be mutually equitable. That’s where the third thing comes in. You cannot be a sales scribe. You cannot be seen as sales support. You cannot be seen as the break fix organization. You need to outline what your value is that you bring and agree with the sales leader upon what enablement means in your company at this particular point of the maturation cycle. Come back on a regular basis to make sure that as the company is changing messaging, positioning, competitive landscape, hiring acquisitions, those kinds of things, that you revisit what that definition means and agree upon that so that when you have your deliverables – which should be no more than five, because above five, you’re setting yourself up for failure – when you have those deliverables, you can always come back and you have a baseline with them. That way, the goalpost doesn’t move when you think you’re about to jump into the end zone and score.

OF: Absolutely. You actually touched on something that I want to dig a little bit deeper into, which is really just defining your deliverables and how you’re going to measure results so that you really have that alignment. What are some of the core metrics that you recommend looking at in order to really just prove the business impact of sales enablement?

RJ: I love that question, because for so long, we have been seen, as I said earlier, as smiley sheets and butts and seats, and those days have changed. If you don’t have hard line metrics, then you don’t have a lot of value to the organization or to sales in general and they will completely cut you off. To that point, I believe there are two types of enablement metrics. First, there are the metrics that we influence and then there’s the others that we own. Let me say this as a caveat, if you’re in enablement and you say that you’re driving revenue, I call BS. Unless you’re carrying a bag, we are influencing. We do not drive revenue. Let me say that again. We influence and impact, we do not drive revenue unless you have an actual number on your head that your team is responsible for.

On the influence side, it’s things like accreditation completions, average deal size, collateral frequency, usage, deal velocity, pipeline created, closed deals, product mix, quota attainment quarter over quarter, annual time to first close, win and loss rates. We impact those with our processes and programs and tools. The things that we actually own are things like the accreditation process, the biannual needs analysis, the program-based surveys, the usage stats, the communications, the e-learnings, all of the pieces that come together that we help. As I talked about, there is a journey and marathon of learning earlier that we own.

Then we come back on the back end with reinforcement and that reinforcement is working directly with and partnering with the sales leaders to ensure that they own the adoption, the execution, and most importantly, the positive modeling of all of those programs that we have. We can give you the best, most world-class programs, processes, platforms, and tools in the world. What if the sales leader first and second line doesn’t buy into it and own it? We’re dead in the water.

OF: Yeah. That’s a great way to think about it, the metrics that sales enablement has influence over versus those that enablement can own. You are very forward-thinking in sales enablement, so I’m curious, how do you think the function will continue to evolve in the next year and possibly even beyond that?

RJ: Phenomenal question. I’ll give a little book teaser. Don’t be afraid of AI, make it your friend. It’s everywhere. I think that AI is going to play a larger piece and role in sales enablement than ever before going forward. I also think that the metrics that I just outlined there are separate metrics for sales and separate metrics for CSM. Those are going to be your best friend. If you don’t have dashboards right now, start getting them together out of your CRM. Metrics are going to play a bigger role.

I also believe that we’re going to become more and more ingrained in the fabric and the culture of companies, because I’m seeing more and more CEOs now that are putting enablement on their top priority lists and their deliverables list.

The next is build a field enablement council as I call it. That is, bring all of the players together. The product marketing, marketing, product management, HR, bringing them together once a month, once a quarter to make sure that everyone is on the same page. You have to become the orchestra master. That is going to become more and more important because the changes in landscape from a competitive perspective, mergers and acquisitions are going to play larger piece in what enablement actually does. Determine where you are in the maturation cycle of your company, and start building for where your CEO is trying to take you. Start that build today. Don’t be afraid of scaling automation and don’t be afraid of AI. Those are going to be an integral part of enablement going forward and play an even bigger piece. At one company, I was even reading out to the board, what our metrics were on a quarterly basis. I believe that enablement is going to have a higher profile in companies than ever before.

OF: That is fantastic advice, and I love your perspective on the future of enablement. Roderick, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to our audience today about your book.

RJ: Thank you for having me. Again, I’m absolutely honored and I am dying to get that baby that I call my book out there to the world so that they can see and grasp and my hope is start executing on “Sales Enablement 3.0”, which is I call the blueprint sales enablement excellence. You want to get there, go grab the book

OF: To our audience, you can find Roderick’s book now on Amazon. Thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

You can purchase “Sales Enablement 3.0” now on Amazon here.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:19:34
Book Club: Jeff Kirchick on Enhancing Authenticity in Sales Olivia Fuller,Jeff Kirchick Thu, 11 Mar 2021 17:39:56 +0000 b2f2f769928fd37f5c1c986100f6f6e972fbe413 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices, so they can be more effective in their jobs.

Whether or not you work in sales, everyone has to sell all the time. Maybe you had to sell your boss on why you deserve a promotion or your kids on why they need to eat their vegetables. Selling is a skill that most people need to hone to be successful, but although we’re all familiar with the need to sell, people are often skeptical of situations where they know they’re being sold to. This is where authenticity becomes essential. It breaks through those barriers to establish trust.

To help us understand a bit more about why authenticity is so critical to sales success today, I’m so excited to welcome Jeff Kirchick, the author of the book, “Authentic Selling” to the podcast. Jeff, could you just tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and some about your book?

Jeff Kirchick: Sure. Olivia, thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure. My name’s Jeff Kirchick. I’m the head of sales for Next Caller, which is a technology company in New York City, focused on fraud and authentication for enterprise contact centers. I’ve been working in sales for a little bit over a decade.

Something that is a little bit of a fun fact about me is that I actually focused on English and creative writing in college, which is kind of a non-traditional path for a salesperson. You don’t often hear that, that the people that are working in sales were in the library writing poems and short stories in college, rather than going to a business program. But it actually kind of was a natural reason for me to write a book. I’ve always wanted to do more with my writing. In terms of risk, marrying writing to my career was probably the least risky thing to do.

The book itself is really designed for two distinct audiences. One is for salespeople. So, that’s why we’re talking here, you and I. This is a way for salespeople to embrace authenticity in their selling philosophy. But for everybody else, this book is for them as well. What if you don’t work in a traditional sales setting? What I’m trying to show in this book is that everybody really is a salesperson in some way, and that you can improve your everyday life through understanding basic sales principles.

One of the motivations to write the book actually started a few months into the pandemic. Our political dialogue was very charged and still is today. In fact, I would say that our political dialogue has been very unhealthy for quite some time. I noticed that a lot of people that I know, or even that I don’t know but who I follow on social media, are very quick to judge others and to call them names like they’re stupid or this or that. I thought to myself, it feels like people don’t really have basic sales acumen. If they did, this conversation would be a lot better. People would be more inquisitive. They would want to know, they would ask more questions, they would have less assumptions. Salespeople know those things; salespeople know how to get their ideas rejected constantly. They know how to have empathy. That’s what I write about in the book. In some ways, it’s trying to get through to everyday people to help them have better conversations.

OF: Awesome. One of the things that you talk about in your book as well is how authenticity can be a differentiating factor, especially as we’re seeing so much technological innovation with the rise of machine learning and AI continuing to disrupt the B2B sales landscape. Why is it that authenticity is becoming so critical to the sales process today?

JK: Yeah, for sure. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are those two buzz words that you hear all the time now where it’s to the point where it’s almost kind of annoying when you hear it. It’s used so often, but it’s because they really do have such a large presence. The presidential candidate Andrew Yang had a lot of his platform about automation and preparing for automation. Specifically, he looked at the trucking industry and how there would be so many truckers that would be out of jobs with these autonomous vehicles. You see that Uber and Lyft are working on that. So, what happens to all of their drivers when that happens? That’s true for everybody, and this book is for everyone. The idea and the book is, if you don’t want to be replaced by a machine, you need to start thinking about what makes you better than a machine. At the end of the day, machines are better than humans in a lot of things. They can take regimented programs and learn them a lot faster than human beings. But what machines can’t do better than us is actually be us. They can never be authentically us.

It depends who you ask, there are some people who think that they can become intelligent, but for now let’s just say that your humanity and your authenticity is what separates you from the machines in the selling world. That’s true as well. We’ve seen that automation is taking over the sales world. There’s a lot of sales enablement companies that end in “.ai” these days. That’s because they’re automating functions that human beings used to do. Salespeople need to pay attention to this, as well. It’s really not outlandish that a machine could be doing a full-blown sales cycle in the next decade. I know that that sounds really strange to people to imagine a machine doing that job because you imagine salespeople as these outgoing people who take you out on client entertainment or take you out on the town in Vegas or whatever. There’s a lot more to it than that. Machines can overtake those functions.

There’s a lot of debate about the science versus the art of selling. And look, it’s a debate for a reason. But I think that most people allow for a seat at the table for the art. In other words, there is an art to selling even if you believe that it’s more scientific and that artistic side of sales is where the human element can really shine in my opinion.

OF: Absolutely. I think you’re spot on there. I think being able to add your own unique personality in the sales process is so critical. In your book, you demonstrate some of that yourself. You’re really vulnerable in the stories that you share and writing about some of your own personal experiences and your journey to finding your authentic self. How has that really helped you in your own career? How does vulnerability help build trust and ultimately demonstrate authenticity?

JK: Sure. It’s a good question, Olivia. I think that what it comes down to is it’s about leading by example. I wish I had it here right now, but there’s a famous drawing of two different leadership styles, one where there’s the leader who’s sitting on a throne telling everybody to move this big rock. Then, there’s another one where the same individual is just moving the rock themselves. People admire the leader who moves the rock out of the way more so than the one who tells them what to do.

That’s where vulnerability comes in because vulnerability is leading by example, in the sense that you are showing people how it’s done. In other words, if people are trying to learn from you, let’s just say that they don’t know what success looks like, and you just tell them what it takes to be successful, they can’t relate to that because they don’t understand what you’re saying. However, if you say to them, “look, I was once like you and I made this mistake. Here’s what I learned from that mistake. This is what I did instead. That’s why I’m successful.” Then, people can relate to that because you’ve identified the same hurdle that they seem to keep running into. You’ve acknowledged that it was a problem for you. You don’t pretend that you were just some know-it-all who succeeds all the time. You need to be vulnerable to establish trust with people. It’s not easy to tell people things that are personal or difficult. When people see that you are going out of your way to want to tell those stories, they will view you as somebody who’s honest.

I think a lot of times leaders who only talk about the good things they’ve done actually have less credibility because people don’t relate to that. We’re human beings. As human beings, we’re all flawed. For somebody to act like they don’t share the same flaws as anybody else, it just doesn’t seem realistic.

OF: Definitely. Something that you mentioned there that I want to dig into just a little bit more is that being authentic isn’t always just about highlighting the good, it’s about being honest. Part of building that trust is through accountability. So, what does accountable behavior look like in practice in sales today?

JK: Yeah. There’s actually a great link between vulnerability and accountability. Accountability, vulnerability, and authenticity all go hand-in-hand. I’ll kind of explain why. When you make a mistake and you know that you made a mistake, but let’s say you’re stubborn about it. In other words, you’re not going to be holding yourself accountable to your mistake. What happens is that you put on a facade about what really happened. There’s kind of like an external version of yourself that you put out to the world that denies any responsibility, but the real you is inside and kind of with your hands over your face pretending that it’s not you, right? So, the real you is in there, but you’re not exposing that to the world. That’s where authenticity and accountability are linked. It’s hard to hold yourself accountable. When you make a mistake, it’s hard to tell people that you made a mistake. That’s why I think, again, going back to the point about vulnerability, when people hold themselves accountable, or when people are vulnerable with others, they earn more trust because they’re perceived as being honest.

To answer your question about what that looks like in a formal sales setting, it means that you take ownership of all shortcomings. If you’re a sales leader and your team is not getting the job done, you could point your finger and say, “I don’t have a great team.” You could also point the finger at yourself and say, “I’m not a great leader because I haven’t enabled these people to succeed.” And there’s two different types of people. There are some people who prefer to point the finger at their team and to tell them to work harder and to do this or that. Or, there are people who will put their neck on the line and say to their team, “it’s a failing on my part that I have been unable to make you successful.” I think that people will, first of all, react a lot more positively to that second statement.

But it doesn’t mean that the sales leader shirks accountability for their team, as well. You can have different levels of accountability. But what I think is dangerous for leaders or even salespeople is to always shirk responsibility entirely. Anytime there’s a shortcoming, even if it’s not your fault, it’s always your responsibility to fix it. You always need to be accountable to your shortcomings in some way, shape, or form.

OF: Speaking of shortcomings, being able to improve your own skills and also support your team and improving their skills is really important to building authenticity. Sales training can play a key role in that. But you also talk about in your book how sales training can be one of the biggest challenges to authenticity. Sales training today often doesn’t really focus on how to sell authentically. So, because sales enablement is often really responsible for driving a lot of sales training programs, how can enablement practitioners help salespeople really build those skills that enhance authenticity through training? What does good training look like in your opinion?

JK: Yeah, it’s a fantastic question. It’s funny, I was talking to one of our SDRs this morning and we were talking just about random stuff, and she made a comment to me, something along the lines of, “I really appreciate that you gave me a framework but allowed me to spread my wings within that framework.” In other words, you didn’t just tell me what to do. I think that’s because people like to have some level of autonomy, they don’t want to show up to work and just be told what to do and go home.

I think it’s important when you’re training people to establish that this is a framework. It’s not the end-all and be-all. There’s a chapter in my book where I talk about cold outreach strategies and that chapter lays out a framework for how to write a good cold email, but it doesn’t tell you exactly what every single word needs to be in your cold email. It just says here’s a framework, a general thesis that works at a very high percentage of the time while still allowing you to be creative, allowing you to be a human being. I think it’s important that you establish upfront with the mentee or the listener that I’m going to give you tools, but I want that you want to empower them. In a lot of ways, you need them to understand what motivates them too.

One thing that I always do at the beginning of hiring anybody, or when I’m doing a new mentorship engagement, I ask people, “what is your why?” And I push them on that. I’ll ask them over and over again, because usually the surface-level answer is not the answer that I’m looking for. You really need to dig deep. I’ve been really surprised when you ask enough times that actually, sometimes people end up crying because their “why” is just something incredibly personal. When people are able to really think about why they’re even doing this – because it’s not conscious for them – a lot of the time it helps them to put more energy effort, creativity, etc., into everything that they’re doing. It anchors them to what they’re trying to get out of life. Because a lot of times in a program, you’re really trying to pigeonhole someone and just are thinking very narrowly about how do I do this one little thing. They can lose sight of like the bigger picture, like why they’re even in that program to begin with.

You need them to be thinking about the big picture. What is the landscape beyond this thing that we’re trying to teach you? Why is this thing that I’m teaching you going to allow you to get there? I think that often unlocks something inside of people where they feel a lot more energized about what they’re learning and that encourages them to apply it in a much more meaningful way.

OF: I really love that advice around helping people find their why. So, pivoting just slightly, we talked about training being part of the solution to helping to develop that authenticity. But you also talk about hiring authentic salespeople in your book. You talked about some specific traits that you look for, and one of those that you mentioned is hunger. Why is hunger so important for success in sales and how does it relate to authenticity?

JK: Yeah. I should add a caveat that I think hunger is probably more important for inside salespeople than it is for outside salespeople. So, SDRs who are writing cold email, that’s a monotonous job. They get a lot of rejection. Most of the time, people don’t even bother to open their emails. So, I think that hunger is particularly important for the beginning of your sales career. I mean, I think it’s important for all aspects of your sales career, but the reason it’s not the most important part of selling itself is because hunger could be applied to any career field, and it is meaningful to any career field.

I wouldn’t say that hunger is necessarily specific to sales as something that’s important, but I do think that when it comes to selling, it does have kind of a special place in my heart, because if you’re really passionate about solving problems for people that will come through in the way that you interact with people. You can be a really hungry salesperson, but if you’re hungry for the right reasons, which is that you are genuinely interested in trying to make somebody else’s life better, I think that customers can see that you’re very hungry. But my motivation is that I actually enjoy making other people’s lives better. If you were to ask me, why do you want to make money? It’s because if I have a lot of money, I can make other people’s lives better. I could afford to write more. I’d have financial freedom to be able to try to touch more people’s lives. I think it’s an innate part of us as human beings that we want to help others. That’s why they say it’s better to give than it is to receive. I think that we all enjoy giving.

The reason I say hunger is important for an outside salesperson isn’t kind of the intuitive reason of like hustling and working hard. It’s more for being hungry to help solve problems. If you’re really sincere about wanting to help people, they can tell the difference between being hungry to close a deal and being hungry to solve a problem. There’s some nuance there, but I think it’s an important nuance.

OF: That’s awesome. You mentioned just now some of your own personal goals for success and what that looks like, but I’m curious, how does authenticity tie back to performance goals and really help drive business impact?

JK: Sure. So, I can only speak for my own experience, but for me personally, I think it has led to more business. I sell to enterprise Fortune 100 clients, typically million-dollar-plus average contract value. So, it’s kind of a lengthy sales cycle, like a nine-month sales cycle on average. You can’t just be a fly-by-night salesperson to succeed in what I’m doing. I think that’s true for most salespeople, right? I mean, it’s true for pretty much anybody. I’ve gotten feedback from customers, and this is probably the number one thing that I would love to hear and the most rewarding part of my job is when there’ve been a handful of customers that I’ve signed up with, who said something along the lines of, “we want to work with you because of you. You never made us feel like you were trying to sell us something. I always felt like you just wanted to help us.” That’s an actual quote, not verbatim, but something along those lines from one of my customers.

I think another one had moved forward with one of our competitors for a year. I never changed the way I treated them over that period of time. I remember when he decided to change his mind and work with us. He said the same thing, “I appreciate that you didn’t treat me like I had a dollar sign over my head when I moved forward with a competitor. You understood and you treated me the same way for that year. You kept providing me value. You were a friend to me.” That’s the stuff that you want to hear.

There are some people out there who are big believers in the science of selling who would say, “Jeff is just the ‘too nice’ guy, maybe his philosophy works for some people and not for all.” I think there’s some legitimate debate around how much room at the table there is between the science and the art. But for me personally, it has been very beneficial towards getting a lot of business in the door for my company. One thing that I will say about it is that it makes me feel good about what I do. I feel good knowing that every day I’m presenting an honest version of myself. If I were generating these sales by putting on a different hat, I don’t know how I would feel every day. That’s important, it’s important for you in your career to feel good about the way you do what you do.

That’s another thing that I don’t want to be lost in this. It’s not about performance. It’s not just about performance. Performance obviously matters a lot, but it’s also about how you feel every day. Are you excited about the way that you’re doing business with people? If you don’t feel good about the way that you’re doing business every day, that will catch up to you, it’ll come across in the way that you present things, it’ll affect your mood. I think it’s important for performance, but also for the human psyche.

OF: Absolutely. That actually relates really well to one of the quotes that I loved in your book that you mentioned a few times, which was just around, “treat people like they’re a great friend of yours and just talk to them like you have that friendship there.” That’s some fantastic advice. Thanks again so much, Jeff, for taking the time to share all of this insight with our audience, I really appreciated the chance to talk to you more about this book.

JK: Yeah, thank you for having me. It was a great time.

OF: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Curious to learn more? You can find Jeff’s book here.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:22:29
Book Club: Eric Coryell on Building Accountable Teams Olivia Fuller,Eric Coryell Thu, 11 Feb 2021 18:00:19 +0000 8d97bdbb0e36a4353684f9ce03883d8e76306ed1 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we are here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

In the execution of cross-functional initiatives, sales enablement is often the glue that pulls the efforts of multiple teams together. Responsible for landing corporate initiatives in the field, sales enablement must often connect the dots between leadership’s core objectives and how the actions of reps will support those objectives. This means that cross team collaboration is critical to the success of sales enablement. Enablement can help enhance collaboration by instilling accountable behavior within teams. To help us understand the importance of accountability in teams and how to build it, I’m so excited to welcome Eric Coryell, the author of “Revolutionize Teamwork”. Eric, could you please take a moment and introduce yourself and a little bit about why accountability in teams is so important to you in your work.

Eric Coryell: Sure, glad to. My name is Eric Coryell. For me, accountability and team started with my first job out of college. I got a degree in economics, had no idea what to do with it and so I got a job as a buyer. I was a pretty decent buyer, but I was also pretty good at understanding what the boss wanted and saying the right things. I got promoted as a result and kept working my way up the organizational chart. Then as I got into a leadership role, being good meant you had to have teams that were good. And I discovered low and behold that the people who were working for me did the same thing that I did. They would say what I wanted them to say, and they knew how to play the game well, as opposed to what they really felt. At that point, I realized this isn’t going to get us to where we got to go. If we’re going to be an effective team and effective organization, I got to get them to say what they really feel and I got to get them to become accountable, not to me, but to the results and to each other.

So, that’s when I started to play with the idea of maybe there’s a different way around managing accountability. At the same time, this was back in the nineties, early nineties when we were all a relatively small company. Working with the big boys, the Baxter’s and the Abbotts, and they were so large and so dysfunctional, we discovered the only way that we are going to work effectively with them is if we became functional. We went to this idea of cross-functional teams, way before it was a thing. Low and behold, those teams were pretty much a mess. And I realized that some of the same things I was learning about leading my own team applied to those cross-functional teams. The more I played with it and try things and fail more often than I care to admit, started figuring out what was required to get teams to become accountable. Then with every job I had from that point forward, I worked really hard at leading my team as a team. Most importantly, putting them in position to be accountable to each other and not me and found that in the long term, they were higher performing teams than those that weren’t.

OF: Absolutely. That is a great introduction to your book, which centers on the importance of accountability. What does accountability really mean to you and why do you maintain that concept that’s often said of holding people accountable is actually a myth?

EC: Most people will say being accountable means you’re going to do what you say you’re going to do in the time frame you said you’d do it. And that’s just kind of how we walk around and say, that’s what it means to be accountable. Well, who’s always done what they said they’re going to do in the timeframe. They said they do it. I think it’s at the moment when someone doesn’t do what they say they’re going to do in the timeframe, they said they do it. You’re going to find out whether they’re going to act accountable or not. Some people when they fall short of expectations, make excuses, they point fingers, they procrastinate the height, and those are all non-accountable behaviors. Versus those that are accountable, what they do when they fall short of expectations, is they take ownership and then they start doing something different till they get it fixed. So, to me being accountable means if I’m not getting the desired results, I start doing something different. That’s kind of the way countability is inside of organizations.

But if someone does not act accountable, if they don’t get the desired results, then someone else needs to step in and start being accountable. In other words, doing something different until it gets the desired results. And that’s almost always the leader. It’s the leader’s job. If someone’s not performing or if results aren’t happening, the leader’s the one that needs to step in and address those issues and start doing something different until they get a result. So that’s what I was told as a leader, “Eric, you need to hold these people accountable.” Well, holding someone accountable, looks like this: you tell them what to do. You make sure they have everything they needed to get the job done. You incentivize them. You put measurements in place. You set goals. You give them feedback. If after all that they don’t get it done, you go in and you coach. Then you ask questions and you re-incentivize, and you beg, and you threaten, and you cry, and you pray, and you do whatever it is you do. If none of that works, if giving an ultimatum that doesn’t work, then you liberate them. That’s pretty much the process.

That’s the act of holding people accountable, which I did for a number of years. Until one day I asked myself, at what point did I ever really hold them accountable? Well, you could argue I held them accountable and I let them go. But up until that point, who really had the accountability. What I realized was it’s the leader that’s setting expectations. It’s a leader, it’s an incentivizing and making sure that the job is going and giving feedback and coaching and begging and threatening. So, I’ve come to believe that that notion of holding someone accountable is really a myth. What I hear when someone says, “hold you accountable,” all I really hear them saying is I am taking the accountability from you and I now have it. I think that’s what we do inside organizations is we assign different levels of accountability, different people, right? So, you’re accountable to do this and you’re accountable for that. If an individual doesn’t meet that accountability, their boss has to step in and take it from them. If the boss doesn’t mean their accountability, their boss has to step in and take it from them and that’s kind of how we manage accountability inside organizations.

OF: Those are some great points. I hadn’t thought about it that way where people often think of accountability as after the fact, rather than being managed ongoing and holding yourself accountable in a way and understanding what those behaviors are as an individual contributor in a team setting. With that said, what makes a team accountable and why are accountable teams so rare?

EC: That’s a good question. Most typical, hierarchical structures have the leader that has the accountability. As a leader, I like that because I have control. But it’s also exhausting at the end of the day, I feel like all the world is on my shoulders and the team will only be as good as the leader holds everybody accountable. But there is another way to manage accountability and that’s to get the team to manage the accountability, such that if performance isn’t happening or if someone’s not getting the job done, the team starts to address those issues and it’s not always a leader. So that’s the notion of what an accountable team is. Accountable teams are different than most things, because in most teams, while we call them teams, especially inside a business environment, you have six people that report to me, I call it my sales team, expect them to act like a team.

But the inherent things are not in place there to actually make that team function like a team, and especially not act like an accountable team. So, to get a team to become functional, which is really the first step. There are certain things that need to be in place. You need to have a clear, defined purpose of what’s the team here to achieve. You need the measurements and metrics that tell you whether or not you’re achieving that, obviously you need competent people and capable processes. I’ve yet to see a functional team that tolerated incompetence. And you need capable processes. Good communication, no decisions you can and cannot make solidifying roles and responsibilities. The most important thing to get a team to function is their needs be a shared fate. And by that, I mean, what happens to one happens to all, and that’s really the driving force that will go to a group of people that actually function like a team and inside business structures more often than not the only shared fate that exists on a team is everyone’s having to survive the boss.

The conversations amongst everybody to be like, did you hear what you said today? What would you see what you did yesterday? And those will be the conversations that create the shared fate for most teams. It’s not a very healthy shared fate, but it’s usually all that exists. If you look at sports, there’s a shared fate we either win the game together or we lose the game together. There are certain environments that automatically almost create all those things. You have to take the time to create that you get these five things in place, however, and you will watch a group of people actually start to function like a team, but you can have a functional team and all the accountability can still rest with a leader. So, if you want a functional team to become accountable team, what makes teams truly accountable is if that team gets good and comfortable at dealing with their real issues together. And by that, I mean, the real issue is any issue that affects the team’s ability to achieve their purpose. Once we know what the team’s accountable for, if something’s getting in the way, a year real issue that if the team’s going to be accountable, they’re the ones that are going to have to start dealing with those issues.

Good news is most issues aren’t real, right. If someone’s got bad breath, we don’t need to bring the whole team together and talk about their bad breath. It’s not going to affect your ability to be successful. But if someone’s not equally invested in the team, that’s a real issue. Someone’s not behaving by the values and standards, which we agreed to, that’s a real issue. Probably the biggest one is if someone’s not performing, that’s a real issue. If someone’s not uploading into the deal, that’s going to affect the team’s ability to be successful. When I grew up in business, I was told, “Eric, you praise in public and criticize in private,” but if you paid attention, most performance reviews are done in private. Then you wonder why you don’t have teams. If you look at a sports team, performance reviews are held in front of everybody. It’s totally normal, but in business we preach and do just the opposite. And in fact, I think most teams, when we get together for meetings, we actually collude to avoid talking about our real issues.

We’ll work really hard to avoid those tough topics. We’ll talk about those issues in the meeting, after the meeting and the bars in the bathrooms and the hallways where it’s safe, you know, the one or two people we find safety on. I think most teams work really hard to avoid talking about their real issues. They do just the opposite, but accountable teams don’t. Accountable teams get in the habit if something’s getting in the way of them being successful, they don’t ignore it. They don’t talk behind each other’s back. They don’t sit around waiting for the leader of the boss, the coach, the parent, to solve their problems. Instead, they learn to talk to each other through those things, whatever they are. The second the team gets good at doing that, that’s when they start delivering high results. So that’s when you start to trust each other, you respect each other, you have each other’s back and it becomes more about the team than it does the individual. Well, the only way to get there is to get that team comfortable and good at dealing with their real issues. That’s the secret to getting teams to become accountable.

OF: Yes. I love the concept that you just mentioned of dealing with real issues together. I actually want to dig a little bit deeper into that, what are some of the challenges or obstacles that you think stand in the way of building accountable teams and then how can team leaders help to overcome those challenges?

EC: At the very heart of that issue is getting people to say what they really feel. I think most teams, the reason that doesn’t happen is I think on most teams, there’s what I call a psychological contract. By that I mean there’s an unwritten rule, it’s unspoken, but it’s a contract that exists on most teams. It says contract that keeps us from doing this, and the contract goes as follows. I will not talk about your performance. You just don’t talk about mine. I call it psychological. Very few people have ever had that conversation with a teammate. We don’t sit to our teammates and talk about you have to run me, but it is clearly a contract that exists on most teams. And I know it’s a contract because if I were to walk into a team and start critiquing someone’s performance in front of everybody that person’s going to feel portrayed, you just broke the deal.

Even though the deal has never spoken and they’re going to have no choice but declare thermonuclear war. And here we go, I mean, how dare you talk about me in front of everybody. I’m not going to talk about you. And so, I think it’s that contract that really keeps this from happening.

How to overcome that, I think two things need to happen. One is that shared fate, there has the shared fate is what creates the motivation for people to say what they truly feel because if my success is intertwined with your success, if my failures that are trying with your failure, I am highly motivated to have those conversations. But the second thing is trust. If I really trust your intent, if I know you’re sharing these things with me, just tell me, get better. If I know you’re sharing, as soon as we just help the team get better, I’m not so scared to do this. If I know you’re attentive, tell me, get better.

If I trust your intentions to help the team and get past my ego pretty darn quick. If there isn’t that trust, if I don’t trust your intent well, my little ego flares in a heartbeat, I get defensive and have all sorts of it. So, making this happen really requires that meaningful shared fate, that feeling of what happens to want to help install, but it also requires getting that level of trust. And once you have that, then you can break the psychological contract because now we can go on and sort of having these conversations and we realize that we’re dealing with these issues for the betterment of the team. We are dealing with these issues for the betterment of each other. If you don’t do that, however, it feels like an attack and I tend to get defensive and I tend to feel it the way to play it safe as to avoid talking about these things. When in reality, that’s the least safe thing.

OF: That is very interesting, that trust and safety are such core components to accountability and teams. A lot of that, as you’ve talked about, really comes down to the culture within teams. I think especially if a team is operating dysfunctional, it’s because they lack that culture of safety and trust. So, with that in mind, what are some actionable steps that professionals can take to really build a culture of accountability within their teams, and maybe overcome that dysfunction that’s really harming the culture of their team?

EC: I think to overcome it, some of the stuff you need to do is purely structural. And I kind of alluded to a lot of these things before. There has to be clarity of what we’re here to achieve. Honestly, next to me, your team, start the meeting out, have everybody pull out a blank sheet of paper and have them write down what they think the purpose of the team is. Rarely, I don’t know if I’ve ever had it happen where the answers matched. So, the starting point is starting to lay the strong foundation. The first step is what are we here to achieve? Second step is how do you put metrics in place that tell us whether or not we’re achieving them, because if we’re going to be accountable, we got to do something different.

We need to know when we’re falling short. Competent people, capable process. Honestly, most teams already have that. But the next thing I got to do is I got to build this shared fate. I got to do the things that will start to get the team to feel like a team. So often as a leader, you’re responsible for this and you’re responsible for that. You’re responsible for that. I have an issue with that. I talked to you. I have an issue with it. I talked to you and then I wonder why you’re not acting like a team. I got to change the mindset of you guys are individuals with different accountabilities that are ultimately here to achieve the team’s purpose. I got to start to do the things that build the shared fate. I’m going to co-locate their desks. I’m going to get them to respond accountable for achieving a set of metrics together. I can do a compensation; common enemy create shared fate difficult challenge to create shared fate.

So, my job as a leader then is to dial up the shared fate. Those things to me are the structural foundation you need to put in place. They’re not hard to just take some time, energy and focus on the other side of the equation. I call it the behavioral changes that need to take place and ultimately to build trust. There’s some wonderful work out there. And trust Bernie Brown is extraordinary. All sorts of people who have done great work on trust. But I think on teams, probably the most important skill set is our ability to learn, to work through our issues together, whatever they are to learn, to talk them out, and that is the challenge. First of all, it was a psychological contract, but a lot of our behaviors, at least the behaviors I were taught actually destroys trust. So probably the most important skill set I get to teach teams is literally the importance that whenever anyone talks, everyone speaks only on their own behalf. And by that, I mean, when I’m speaking, I can only speak from my own frame of reference.

There are two rules that I teach that make that a reality. The first rule is I don’t allow group pronouns to be used in meetings. I don’t allow people to use the word we, they, our, anybody. Everybody gets that so our teams avoid their real issues. You’ll hear someone say all the time, someone will say, “well, you know what our problem is, our problem is we don’t follow a process.” Well, who is “we,” who is, “they?” I don’t want to point out the individual. That’s not doing it. I don’t want to address the real issue. So, I throw a pronoun at it and teens tend to then avoid their real issues. So, my rule is, I mean, outside of media, of course use those words, “We won. We lost,” that’s great. But when I’m working through an issue, no. If someone says we, I just played the interrupt, say just exactly, who’s we, who’s they. Yeah, because I can say I’m not fun to process. I don’t see any one of you following a process. Like I said, the two of you aren’t on a process, just can’t say we’re not following a process.

The second thing I do, and this sounds even crazier, but I don’t allow questions to be asked in meetings. Believe it or not. Questions are actually passive-aggressive and being a little bit extreme here, the only time I ever allow anyone else to questions, if they make a statement first. Because almost all communication breakdowns take place when someone starts with a question, because when I begin with a question, your mind will immediately start making assumptions around that question. Why are you asking that question? What answer do you want to hear? And the fact of the matter is the brain always thinks the statements. So, there’s always the thought what we tend to do is we take that thought, we twist it into a question for safety sake. You’ll hear someone asks a question like, don’t you think it’d be a good idea if we did this, as opposed to saying, I think this would be a good idea, but I’m afraid to say, I think this would be a good idea because I can get rejected.

If I ask it as a question, that’s the terrible idea I could say, “yeah. I thought so too. I was just checking.” Right? I don’t have to own it. But I promise you that that’s where things fall apart. Because when I ask the question, it gets misinterpreted. A great example took place two years ago, my wife and I put up Christmas decorations all throughout the house and super late at night, super tired, I’m in the kitchen. Almost done, she walks in, she asked me a question. She goes, “don’t you think it’d be a lot easier if you did it this way?” I’m tired to begin with then I think to myself, well, no, I know how to put Christmas lights out at Christmas and I had this complete meltdown. When in reality, she had a really good idea. She just expressed there was a question. I made some false assumptions around that question. Right? So, the rule is you can make a statement. You can ask the question. If the data got a question, this has got to come after the state.

So, the no issue would have said, “Hey, I’ve got an idea that may make your life easier,” statement. Now she can ask the question. Do you want to hear it? I can make a statement. I think this is a good idea then I guess the question, what do you guys think? I don’t know what you think. So, learning to get everyone to speak on their own behalf is the skillset that literally enables people to start working through issues without judgment because when I don’t speak on my own behalf, if I walk into a meeting and say something like, “Well, Olivia, we don’t think you’re doing a very good job.” What do you hear when I say that? You hear the wheel who’s we, you would talk about, we have my back. Oh my gosh. And trust is instantly destroyed, which is a very different thing than if I say, “Hey, I don’t see you doing a good job and that’s okay.”

We can talk about that, but the second I throw a “we” at it, all sorts of things start to fall apart. You start to feel like, even terminal back trust gets destroyed. So, the secret is getting everyone to speak for themselves. I don’t allow someone to walk into a meeting and say, Johnny and I were talking, come speak for Johnny and myself. Almost every district of meeting is laced through the weeds, intervention starts with them. We think you’ve got a problem. These are full of it. It happens because we talk about these real issues outside the meeting, before it comes to the meeting, and then we bring them together in a wasteland. So that’s why it’s so important everyone speaks for themselves. And the last piece of the puzzle is learning how to have the conversations in a constructive way, every real issue, every issue that that’s going to get in the way of any team being successful is always the conversation about the gap that exists between expectation and reality.

So, I expect these results, I’m seeing these results. I expect this behavior, I’m seeing that behavior. Every real issue has its source in that gap. The problem is the tendency for us as humans is to put it off, put it off, put it off to find the I’m sitting on so much frustration with my expectation and the time I come to have the conversation it’s “Let’s just start over.” So, teaching groups, how to learn to stop, slow down. Let’s talk about what our expectations are. Make sure we’re on the same page. What does performance look like? Let’s talk about reality. What are you seeing? What I’m seeing? And then the third source is, is talking about the impact of the gap that exists. We may agree there’s a gap, but we do disagree on the impact.

A quick illustration. It goes back a year ago. My daughter was home at the time, and her room forever has been a mess. And it finally occurred to me, I’ve never really set the expectation that you keep your room clean. So, I sat down with her. I’m like, “Shannon, you’re old enough now where I expect you to keep your room clean at all points in time.” So, we are now on the same page in terms of expectations. Well, the next thing you know, we’re having the reality conversation because she starts telling me that it is clean. I’m like, no, that’s a mess. That’s a federal disaster. In fact, this is what a clean room looks like. So, I finally got to the point where she agreed it wasn’t clean, but now we’re having the third conversation, which is the impact of the gap because her next counter conversation, comments to me was well, so what, I keep the door closed. I don’t want my friends in the room. She literally goes, it’s safe. I mean, if I trip up, I fall into a bunch of clothes. Why is it a big deal?

My room was clean. So, I’m like, why is it a big deal? My first thought was, well, I had to. So, you should, I’m not winning that argument. And then it occurred to me like you’re nine months away from going off to college, and if your roommate’s a neat freak and you can’t keep her room clean, that’s a problem. And quite frankly, my job as an adult is to send you off into the world as a semi-functional adult. And part of it is somewhat functional is being able to keep her room clean. So, she’s like, fine, what do I need to do to prove? Keep her room clean? I’m like, well, keep it clean for 30 days straight. Sure enough, she did. Then the room’s a mess again. But the point was is we had to work our way through each of those issues. And I will tell you every real issue has its source.

So, as I get to work with teams, I can get any team through any issue. And as long as everyone speaks for themselves and as long as they take whatever that issue is and learn to break it down into those components. And with that, you can take on virtually anything. As teams start to take on these issues, whether it’s performance or investment or behavior, then trust gets built. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. It becomes second nature, but learning those skillsets is not natural. I was always told, ask questions, don’t make statements, don’t use I, all that kind of stuff. But what I’ve come to realize if you want to create an accountable team, it’s much the opposite.

OF: You mentioned something important there about performance expectations and really making sure that those are very clear, and everyone knows what good is supposed to look like. So, in terms of metrics for accountable behavior, what are some of the criteria for those metrics that teams should adopt?

EC: You make a good point. One of the big things is I go into a team and ask every individual what they’re accountable for, and they’re almost going to only talk about their own world. I’m accountable for sales in the North territory. I’m accountable for the sales in the South and the East or the West or whatever it is, right. If a team is going to be accountable, what needs to be clear is what is the team accountable for? So, by that saying, okay, look, you guys, you, as a team are accountable to generate X number of new customers, total sales margins of the job code, whatever that is. And I’m going to hold you accountable as a team to those metrics. So, if one of you is not upholding the deal, you need to start talking to each other and start dealing with those issues. That’s really the essence of an accountable team, but you’re not going to be able to do that unless you have really clear metrics. So, the metrics first and foremost have to tie exactly back to that purpose.

So, at the end of the day, I got to look at those metrics and say, you know what, if they’re hit on those metrics, the team brings their accountability. So, having done this for longer than I care to admit, a few things that I’ve learned. First of all, I’ve ever seen a team successfully be accountable for more than like five metrics. So, my first rule is you should be able to clearly determine whether or not you’re achieving the team’s accountability with three to five metrics, in some cases, but no more than five. Using some metrics or some metrics. So, we’re going to measure activities and things that lead to the overall metric. So, you want to make sure that metrics you’re truly focusing on are tied directly to the purpose state. So very often I’ll color code the purpose statement in a certain section of the purpose statement, I’ll color code to the actual metrics so we can tie a one-to-one correlation between those things. That was probably the first thing. It’s got to tie directly.

The second thing is you can’t have too many and this isn’t a little bit more subtle, but you got to make sure the team has influence over those metrics. Because if you’re going to ask a team to be accountable for something, you have to have very little influence over it. As soon as the metric starts going itself, they’re going to do this and it’s not our fault. So, one exercise I very often do is one, three, three of a metrics. I’ll get together with the team and say to create a little T chart. What’s in your control? What’s outside of your control? And that happens a lot in the sales arena, right? So, what’s outside of our control. Well with competition does commodity prices, and they’ll start studying all these things that are out of their control. Well, what’s in your control. Like, okay then why am I paying you? But what is in your control, our efforts, how we approach the customers, the sales system we use, et cetera, et cetera. So, once we get that up there, then we have to look back and say, is that enough of this metric truly inside of our control, where we can be accountable to it. If so, much of it is outside of our control, then I’m going to say it’s a bad metric. I just had this happen to me two weeks ago. So, it’s fresh in my mind, but working with a manufacturing team and one of their metrics has been cycle time.

From the time a job gets released to the floor, at the time it’s off the door and they’ve been struggling with it for about a year, the root cause kept coming back and they had outsourced the parts they couldn’t control the players league. And when the player fell behind, they started to struggle. So, it was a bad metric from that perspective because they really didn’t have, they swapped out planters and they continue to be a problem. So, what they did to make that metric inside their control, as they started measuring the time it went to the floor to the time it went to the platers, stop the clock. Started the clock, when it came back to finish. Now they were in control of all those things. So, they had to tweak the measurement so that it was something that they were inside of control of. I think the third component is you have to make sure that they have a high degree of influence around those metrics. And then the fourth thing, is that it needs to be measurable on a timely basis.

If it’s a metric that you can only gather data around, like an employee survey, something like that. Once a year, it’s really hard to be accountable to that. So, you really want to pick a metric that has a regular cadence to feedback. We got to find ways to generate that feedback. So even if it’s customer satisfaction feedback, we’re going to cycle it over a period of time, as opposed to just hitting everybody once a year. So, we’re going to get out and get data, and then we can use that data to get better. I’d say those are probably the four most important things to have good metrics.

OF: Those are fantastic tips. I want to go back to something that you mentioned right at the start of this conversation, which was around cross-functional teamwork. Sales enablement professionals are often responsible for leading a lot of cross-functional projects. I’m curious to hear from you, how can accountability be built in that cross-functional team dynamic, where the team might not necessarily be working together daily, but they still need to come together to meet very specific organizational goals?

EC: You’re going to get me on my soap box here. More and more organizations are going to that model. If you think about the hierarchical model, the hierarchical business model actually starts in the early nineteen-hundreds. When companies started to grow in size, we have to figure out how to organize them. We adopted the military model. It was the Romans, right. And the military of general’s officers, soldiers, thinking, telling, doing, and we would specialize. So, we’d have a sales department, operations purchasing, whatever it was, but that’s not the way business flows in a slow-moving world. Back in world war one, we’ll work to that model, we could send all the information up to the top. They would make the decisions come down from on high until everybody went to the front line. People would do it.

Today’s world is so much faster. We need the decisions to be made closer to the customer. We need that cross-functional perspective in that we can’t just work in these silos and make the best decisions. Every organization I know is wrestling with that. The cross-functional team idea is, the first step at doing that, the problem with cross-functional teams we realized that over to best service the customer, we need someone from sales, and we need someone from purchasing and maybe an estimator and project manager. We’re going to pull these people out of their apartments, put them together and say, be accountable to each other. The problem is at the end of the day, if I’m the inside salesperson, I’m reporting to my inside sales manager or the purchasing person, I’m reporting to the purchasing manager for the project manager, I’m reporting to you. So, while we are supposed to be accountable to each other, at the end of the day, is even being on there to look to my source of separation, which is my boss, which isn’t on the team. That’s where these cross-functional teams start to break down and I’ll call it a matrix organization. So, in order to get that to work, it takes a leap of faith.
The leap of faith is very much what we’ve been talking about today. That is to get the team to become truly accountable. But that requires then that I am now accountable to my teammates and not to my boss. So, my performance review is no longer going to come from my boss. My performance review is not going to come from my team. I may still have a boss, but the boss is now a coach. The purchasing manager is making sure that all the purchasing people are using the best software, their personal development, all that kind of stuff. But those purchasing, those buyers are reporting to me. They are now reporting to the team. And that’s the only way the long term is to make this work. That you don’t need the managers. They’re still there, but they’re in a different role. It’s much more like coaching.

Coaches don’t get to play the game, but I’m here to put the players in positions so they can be successful. I’m going to create a good playbook. I’m going to train. I’m going to do all those things necessary, so they go play the game and be successful. And that’s a different mindset for leaders. I think as a leader, it’s hard because they got to let go of control. And that’s probably one of the biggest single challenges in making this happen is getting the leaders comfortable, letting go of control, but there have to be just like a coach in a sport and they can’t go out and play the game. They’ll all tell me during the game, it’s pretty helpless feeling when I run out there and tell them what to do or do it for them. But I can’t, it’s no different at work. You create these cross-functional teams. All you can do is put them in a position to be successful and trust that they’re going to be successful.

Well, if they’re not, the team has got to step up and take the accountability. So, you got to do these things we’ve talked about, but the purpose of metrics and all those things in place. And then if a team isn’t hitting those metrics, the team has got to get together and start resolving those issues. And they have to know how to have those informal conversations and work through those things. Ultimately, if a team can’t do that, the leader’s got to step back in and take it from them, but it’s not a natural act. In order to make this work, you got to kind of go all the way in and get these teams to become accountable to each other, as opposed to doing half and half where you’re a team, but then you report to different people. That’s a leap of faith and it’s not easy to do, but then it’s really what’s required to get those cross-functional teams to work.

OF: That’s very interesting that you mentioned that it takes really a mindset shift, especially from the manager’s perspective and really being more of a coach rather than solely managing performance. So, I just want to ask one final question, and this has been a great conversation by the way, but I want to go back to something that you mentioned as really being the core ingredient of accountable teams, and that’s the concept of shared fate. So, let’s dig a little bit deeper into that. How do you create a shared fate and why is that so integral to the success or even the failure of a team?

EC: You really touched on what’s most important. I’ll tell people, you know, not every group of people should be a team. You’ve got to decide, do I really want them to be a team? If you do, you need to build that shared fate, the stronger you need that team to be, the greater the shared fate you need it to be. So, let me illustrate it. This will happen in sales environments to where all the sales manager calls me up where for my sales team, I’m like why? And they’re like, well, teams outperform individuals. Not always but keep talking. Well, I got four salespeople. I got Johnny, he’s got the North and Beth has got the South and Mary’s got the East and Frank’s got the West. I’m like, okay, well, how do you think? Well, they get a base pay, but they all get a pretty big commission check based upon the sales. They generate the respective geographies.

Like, you want them to be a better team. Well, yeah, simple. Take their commissions. Add them up. Divide by four, pan the same. Oh, I can’t do that. Mary’s my rockstar. Johnny’s brand new, Mary’s would be giving money to Johnny and that’s not fair. Do you want Mary helping Johnny or no? If you do, and then you need it. We do create a team and you need to create a shared fate. You may decide, you know what? I just want Marie to work with the Falcon giant, to worry about the North and go, in which case I’m going to say, don’t sweat the team thing, but if you want them to act like a team, if you want them to help each other, if you want them to be invested in each other, then the very first thing is you have to create a meaningful, shared fight.

That’s what’s going to start to create those conversations and do the things necessary to get them to act like a team. Now, I also have to give them the ability to influence each other. Mary’s got to be able to go talk to Johnny and coach them up and help them out because I can’t just say you’re going to share in the commission, but you have no influence over that person. So, the key becomes, how do you build that shared faith? High performing teams need high levels of shared fate. A classic illustration is the military. I actually have a good friend. He’s a former Marine, accidentally Coleman ex-Marine. Once that was a mistake, and I asked them because we were talking about bootcamp. I’m like, well, what happens in bootcamp? And he said well, Eric it’s different depending upon where you go, but it’s all to the same effect. I’m like, Oh, yeah. What’s that? He goes, well, I figured it out the second day. Like, well, what happened was all the Sergeant came in the barracks, woke us all up in the morning, dragged us all out to the beach and told all of us that we’d be going from here to over there as fast as we possibly could along the Mark obstacle course.

It turned out to be a 90-minute physical gauntlet. We slammed at the point, we almost drowned. We ran forever. We climb these walls. We crawled under barbed wire and then we had to run around and around this obstacle course in the forest until they finally blew the whistle, and we got the finish and I finished first. I’m like, that’s awesome. He’s like, Nope. I’m like, why? He goes, well, they lined us up on the order of our finish and the Sergeant got two witches in front of my face and tore me apart. I’m like, why you won? But I also happen to pass up all my teammates who were struggling in the forest and I kept going and I figured out really quick it didn’t matter when I finished it, it only mattered when everybody else finished. And that’s what they did during basic training was they made your life increasingly miserable, so you figured out it was about the team and not you. And if you didn’t, they got you out because in the heat of the battle, you better have each other’s back or people’s lives are at stake.

Everything they did was to build shared fate. We all lost our hair. We all wear the same clothes. We all eat the same food. Point being the stronger you need a team to be the stronger, the shared fate you need to create. So, in those environments where it’s high stress, high pressure, I have to do everything I can to build, share, and faith. Other things may not require that same level of shared fate, but there are lots of ways to do it. I really think it stems from how does the leader treat their team? As a leader, I would find a sales issue. I texted my sales manager or HR, should I talk to HR manager and then wonder why they weren’t acting like a team. It wasn’t till I started saying as a team, you are accountable for the sustainable profitable growth of this organization. And I expect you as a team to deliver on that. And I started talking to them in that way. Did they actually start acting like a team? Because now all of a sudden, the HR manager was equally owning the sales metric and she’d run over to the sales manager and say, here’s what I’m seeing.

I got these ideas, and they started investing in each other. You can build that shared fate in a variety of ways. You can do it by making it hard to get on the team. When we come out of COVID and go back to the office, if you really want to build shared fate, take your entire team and say for the next day weeks, we’re all going to work together of this conference room, bring your laptop. That creates a sense of shared fate. There’ll be amazing, what that does, a common enemy creates shared fate, a passion around. She means something meaningful to us. Create shared fate. You can do a compensation. There are all sorts of ways to do it. In fact, a very good example, I always tell people, go home, watch “Miracle on Ice”, watch “Remember the Titans”, watch “Saving Private Ryan”. They’re all stories of these teams that did extraordinary stuff because the leader knew how to build a shared fate, whatever that was. That’s why that’s so important because without that shared fate, you’re really not going to have a team.

My definition of a team is a group of individuals with a shared fate, the stronger you need that team to be, the greater the shared fate you have to build. If you’re not able to create one, then I would probably say, don’t sweat the team thing. Go get a group of individuals, go do some great stuff, but don’t worry about the team thing. Just know that the accountability is always going to be on your shoulders, which isn’t the worst thing, right? You have lots of control, but the downside is it puts a lot of pressure on you because the team’s only going to be as good as you are. If you wanted the team to perform to a higher level, then you’re going to have to learn to let go and put them in a position of becoming that team by doing all the things we were really talking about.

OF: Well, those are some fantastic and very powerful examples. Thank you so much for sharing those. And thank you again for taking the time, Eric, to talk to our audience and share a little bit of your expertise in how to build accountable teams.

EC: Well, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

OF: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:38:44
Book Club: Keith Rosen on Coaching as a Language for Sales Leadership Olivia Fuller,Keith Rosen Thu, 07 Jan 2021 17:27:34 +0000 92d6463aa70b8cc5ae88042caad77e7da957b6e2 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we are here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m so excited to have Keith Rosen join us. Keith is the CEO of Profit Builders named one of the best sales leadership coaching organizations worldwide. Since 1989, Keith delivered his programs to over 3 million sales leaders and practically every industry on six continents and in over 75 countries. Inc. magazine and Fast Company named Keith one of the five most influential executive coaches. He’s been featured in Entrepreneur, Inc., Fortune, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Keith has written several bestsellers, including “Own Your Day,” “Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions” and is the winner of five international best book awards and the number one bestselling sales management coaching book on Amazon for the last seven consecutive years. His latest book, “Sales Leadership”, was named the 2018 sales book of the year. Keith, could you please introduce yourself to our audience?

Keith Rosen: Absolutely. Hello everyone, out there globally. My name is Keith Rosen and basically, I spent the last 30 years and had the privilege and the pleasure of working with hundreds of thousands of sales leaders and salespeople on six continents and in 75 countries helping sales leaders and salespeople transformed from manager or salesperson to exemplary coach. And it’s been an honor to be able to work with these companies. And these are the companies when they’re looking around and trying to figure out how to build a coaching culture, that’s me, I’m the person they call.

OF: That’s fantastic. We’re so excited to have you on today. And as we were talking about, actually just before we started this interview, I personally am a massive fan of yours and have read all of your books and definitely have gleaned so many great insights from them. I’m so very excited to have you on today to dive deeper into those. But one of the key themes that you bring up in your books is that just because someone is a manager that doesn’t necessarily mean that they know how to coach. So why does coaching require a unique skill set and why is that coaching component so critical to being a successful sales leader?

KR: I’m going to start off with that last part and backtrack. And I will say this as directly as I possibly can. If companies are not investing the time, the money, the energy, and have the stakeholders involved to make sure that a coaching foundation coordinate sustained, no company can continue to grow to the level they want set a different way. Coaching is the only way for managers to accelerate the sales growth, engagement, and trust amongst their team. Period. And I’ll give you a quick analogy, Olivia, on this one. I’ve heard it so many times when I’m speaking to senior leaders and they’re talking to me about wanting to either train their managers on how to be better coaches, because it’s not natural. And we’ll talk about that in a minute.

They say to me, “Keith, we want our people to coach at least 50% of the time.” Once I hear that I know they have no clue what coaching is because coaching is not something you do to someone. It is not an event. It’s not like, Olivia, you’re my direct report. You’re coming to me with a problem. One second, let me get my coaching hat. I’m going to put it on right now. And now I’m going to coach you. I’m going to do this. In the most simplistic form, coaching is the language of leadership. Just like sales is a language, leadership is a language.

When managers tell me, “Oh, we want to coach more, coach less, or coach more directly,” or, it’s every conversation is a coaching conversation. So, when we’re talking about developing skill, skill is one thing, mindset is another. And that really speaks to the other component of why managers struggle so much, especially today in a world of constant change and uncertainty, how are they building a team of sales champions? How are they building a remote team of sales champions? And again, going back to my point before every conversation being a coaching conversation, my job is to make manager’s jobs easier. You know, I don’t sit here and throw all this theory at them. If they learn the language of coaching and have a framework that they can follow, and this is the mind shift that every leader needs to make is leading with questions in every conversation, rather than leading with answers. And it’s an occupational hazard for managers because every organization I’ve ever worked with is result driven. Every organization has revenue goals and sales goals.

So, unfortunately this becomes an occupational hazard for managers, senior leadership and frontline salespeople, because now everyone has a target on their back. So, if everyone has a target on their back, what are they focusing on? What’s the next deal, the next results? Everyone’s focused on the future. And especially now, fear lives in the future. Uncertainty lives in the future. Anxiety lives in the future. We need to bring ourselves back in the moment, because the last time I checked this is where life happens. This is where we engage with people. Every conversation you have is in the moment. And the definition of coaching is the art of creating new possibilities and you’re doing that in every conversation. In every conversation you’re either building people and you’re building their competence and you’re building their critical thinking as well as their critical questioning skills, because salespeople will need to coach their customers today, or you’re eroding them.

OF: I love that answer. That was fantastic. And you touched on so many important aspects of why coaching is really critical to leadership and why they’re kind of interchangeable in so many ways. So, let’s dig into that a little bit further. What are some of the core characteristics of successful coaches? Maybe just beyond having the mindset, but what actually kind of leads someone to being a great coach?

KR: Yeah. I could probably go through 80 characteristics and it’s interesting because when most people ask what makes a great coach or what makes a great salesperson, or even when they say what’s your profile of your ideal client, those lists are always about measurables. You know, about results. We work with clients that are from X million to X million dollars in revenue every year. That’s all great. But who do you want to work with? Are they the type of person that your company and you are aligned with in values and integrity and the way you like to work in collaborate?

I learned a long time ago if you want to build a business you hate, just work with people you can’t stand. Okay, that’s it. And so, taking all that to your question today, it’s not just about what they need to do and learn the skill of coaching and a framework of coaching it’s about who they need to be. It’s about how you’re going to show up every day. You know, how do you show up every day? Every day we’re going to be challenged. Every person today on this planet is challenged. They wake up in the morning, what’s today going to bring? No other point in anyone’s life today has there been more fear and uncertainty, and this is the time when, more than ever, where companies are trying to streamline more and they’re trying to leverage technology more and do more things faster.

I hate to disappoint all the companies and managers out there; you’re doing the wrong thing. Doing more of the wrong thing faster in a world where sales has changed and your buyer’s buying habits have changed, is not going to fit. Leaders, salespeople need to stop, take a step back and reconnect with their buyers in a way where, how would they like to buy so they can now align how they need to sell that. That’s what needs to change today and going back to the characteristics. So, what does that mean? Empathy. To me, the most important say skill or attribute today in sales is care. It’s about humanizing the experience that you have, whether you’re a manager or whether you’re a salesperson, we need to humanize the sales process. We need to humanize how we engage with people. After all you’re in my home right now. It doesn’t get more intimate than this. And if leaders are not taking the time to care deep enough, to build that trust with their people that, that, that transcends to customers as well.

Again, top characteristics. My personal word of the year is a resilience. I think that to me, encapsulates everything that each person, if they can truly embrace and build their level of resilience that will allow each of us to adopt and align around changes rather than fighting. There’s no going back, everyone keeps saying, “Oh, I want to get back, when it gets back to normal.” There’s no going back. This is only going forward. And that’s the part where bringing back to the characteristics, innovation, collaboration, care. I did a great Q&A VIP session with Salesforce a month ago. Again, talking about what are the characteristics leaders and salespeople need to leverage more than ever: creativity.

So, what they did is they said, we want you to be a guest at our event with a small intimate group of our top customers, and we’re going to do a whiskey tasting So they sent out, you know, three small bottles of whiskey and who am I to say no. And then they brought these whiskey connoisseurs to the call and they spoke for a little while. And then afterwards I spoke a little. The point is, who’s doing that? Who else is doing that? Managing salespeople, keep cold calling. Your customers are just as desperate for human connection as you are. Humanize the sales process. That’s the most important thing.

Finally, in this world of such uncertainty, the one thing that every single person has on this planet is the power of choice. And it’s the most underused power that we as human beings have. And we only have three things in life that we have absolute control. It’s our attitude. It’s our actions or reactions. It’s how we respond to things in the world. You know, I learned a long time ago, it’s not the events that surround you, but it’s how you respond to them that create the quality of your life. So, actions, reactions, attitude, and mindset, everything else is an illusion. Focus on the things we can control rather than the things we can.

OF: Definitely. And speaking of things that you can control, and you touched on this a little bit as well, especially in the context of just where the world is at today, fear is absolutely something that is really driving a lot of negative behaviors that we’re seeing both in sales, as well as leadership. So, in your book “Sales Leadership”, you actually outlined 15 different toxic tactics that can make coaching ineffective. But I’m actually curious in the context of today, what are some of those toxic tactics or common mistakes that you’re seeing, and have they changed at all, or maybe shifted? What are some of the common mistakes that you really are seeing coaches make today?

KR: I would say number one, I would say it’s getting worse hands down. Every tactic that I listed there is getting worse. I have so much evidence and of course, you and I have such a limited time I want to make sure we maximize the media value. But just as a point of reference, I was talking to a senior VP, global organization, two levels away from the CEO multi-billion-dollar company. It’s client of mine for years, and during a coaching session he said, “keep listening.” Like every leader here, it’s amazing CEO confidence is an all-time low. Gee, I wonder why? But that’s a whole other conversation. But he said to me with that sense of fear and concern in his voice, he said, “Keith, with all the uncertainty going on with all the furloughs, with all the layoffs, with our revenue down, maybe this is a time we stop coaching. And maybe this is a time we just be more directive and tell people what to do.”

If I had a universal two-by-four, it would have reached them across the head and in a very loving and affectionate way, but that’s sad. This is when every single person’s character is tested. This is when your integrity, this is when your priorities, this is when the essence of who you are is put to the test. We don’t get tested on our good days. We get tested on our bad days. That’s one of the true essences of our character emerges. It’s really easy to go out and sell and manage when things are going great. Okay. Just like I said before, CEO confidence. CEO confidence can go great when everything’s going well. But what about now?

Unfortunately, it’s just bleeding back to the point I made earlier, companies are scrambling around trying to figure out what they can control when I just share with you the three things I can, and that’s it. And I really love how you’ve been this whole conversation together, because now we’re moving into one of the things I mentioned before, the greatest toxic thing that people are doing right now, I could break it down to one thing is not being present in the moment. I will challenge any person who’s listening to this or watching this, and I’ll give you my mobile number. You can call me or email me to challenge me. 99% of every person’s waking hour they’re living either in the past or they’re living in the future. Cerebral conversation talks to the inner game. The greatest leaders and salespeople I know are masters at living in the present, being engaged in the moment. Because selling and coaching’s defined same way by me, the art of creating new possibilities in every conversation. If you’re living in the future and focused on your result, creation happens in the moment. New possibilities are created in the moment. Active listening happens in the moment. And if you’re worried about your result, “Am I going to get the sale? Am I going to hit my quota? Am I going to get fired or overload?” You’re no longer in the moment you cannot coach or be a sales professional. At that point, you’re focused on fear. Fear is driving you. And as I said before, because every single person, any organization has a target on their back because they have to achieve results. Results live in the future.

So, this becomes a global conundrum and occupational hazard where managers or leaders are always focused on the next deal. The next, you know, the next pipeline review, the next business review the next meeting. But how much time are they really stopping to focus on now? And if you’re not focused on now, you’re not in the process and you don’t coach the result. You coach the process.

OF: I love that advice. So, we’ve talked about some of the skills and characteristics that make an effective coach, but I’d love to dig in now to how people can really put that into action. And one way is through the leads coaching model that you’ve developed and talked about in some of your books to really help guide an effective coaching conversation. So, I’d love for you to just take a moment to kind of walk us through some of the core elements of that model and why that approach is so impactful.

KR: Absolutely. Again, as I would love to go through the whole framework. This framework has been adopted I think at this point by 10,000. I think the last time my marketing director checked, 10,000 of the top global organizations today. So, I’m going to share with everyone right now what I call a 60 second coaching strategy. So, no manager can tell me they don’t have time to coach. No salesperson can tell me they don’t have time to coach. So here it is, Olivia. Let’s say it set the stage here. So, you’re one of my direct reports and you’re coming to me and saying, “Hey Keith, I’m working on this deal. I need your help. I really need to know what to do here” Now gee, why do you think you would come to me like that? Asking for an answer, I wonder who conditioned you. That you go to your manager every time you want an answer. I don’t suppose there are no cheap problem-solvers watching this or listening to this because last time I checked, most managers lead with answers. A direct or sale or peer or someone in another department follow up comes to them and says, “I need your help. Here’s my challenge.” First reaction, manager rewinds, searches through their database and in a nanosecond, they respond with, “here’s what I’ll do or here’s what you need to do.” I’ve never met a manager who didn’t want a team of independent, accountable salespeople.

Here’s a paradox. Managers create the very problems they want to avoid. Every time you give an answer, you’re creating dependency. You’re not building their problem-solving skills. You want to team up confident people, you’re robbing them of their confidence because when they leave a conversation with you after you told them what to do, they’re thinking, “wow, my boss is doing my job for me,” but a lot of them thinking, “I guess my boss doesn’t trust me. I guess they don’t think I could do my job.” What do you think that’s going to do for engagement, especially in a world we are all remote right now? So, let’s stop that bad behavior and replace it with just one question. And here it is, someone comes to you, you’re a manager. I come to you, I’m your direct report with a problem. Suspend your innate response to give an answer because you think it’s quicker.

No, it’s not. You give answers every time. Here’s the real irony. When you tell someone what to do and it doesn’t work, that salesperson gets to come back to you and say, “Hey boss, my hands are clean on this. You told me what to do. Not my idea, your idea.” Successfully robbing people, the very accountability, we want to instill. How’s that for insanity? So here we go. I promise you the 60 seconds set a coaching strategy, which will probably take me less. Here it is. Someone comes to you looking for help, here’s how you respond. “Hey, Olivia, thanks for coming to me. I’m happy to share my opinion with you. However, you’re a lot closer to the situation than I am, and I trust you and I trust your judgment. So, what’s your opinion on how to move forward and handle this so that you can achieve the results you want.”

OF: I think that was 60 seconds.

KR: Every manager can do that in every conversation, every conversation. Wow. Thanks for coming to me. I’m happy to share my opinion. However, you’re a lot closer to it than I am, which is true. And I respect you and I respect your judgment, building confidence. So, what’s your opinion on how to resolve this? Everyone listened to me. Coaching is a language, we talked about that, selling is a language. Why do you think I’m using the word opinion rather than what’s the solution? What’s the answer? Tell me what you’re going to do. Because solutions and answers can be right and wrong. Opinions are not right or wrong. They just are, and everyone has them. So, when you ask someone for their opinion, they can’t look back at you and say, “I don’t know.” You don’t know your own opinion. So, managers ask that question. You always can get an answer. And by the way, if you ever get to the other, “But the boss, I really don’t know.” Then you could add this other one of my other favorite questions. Well, if you did know what would it be?

OF: I love that, that’s a fantastic way to approach those conversations without giving away the answers and helping to really build that confidence. Like you said, you’ve talked a lot about how coaching happens all the time, and it isn’t something that is necessarily just a scheduled part of your day but is more just organic and happens in the moment. So, given the kind of virtual environment that many sales teams are now, what are some challenges that sales leaders might encounter or that salespeople might encounter in trying to get effective coaching and for leaders to actually conduct effective coaching conversations that aren’t just a pipeline review?

KR: Yeah. So, I mean, I’ll say very directly if managers are not coaching effectively, salespeople aren’t selling effectively. It’s that simple. Money and deals are being left on the table. Don’t tell me it’s tough out there. Don’t tell me the market is tough because I know a lot of my clients that are absolutely crushing. And I’m not just talking about the industries that better have a nice rebound because of the pandemic. I’m talking about every industry here, all right. Leaders of the nucleus, leaders you are the heartbeat of the company. How can the company grow if you’re not growing, your people can’t grow. If you’re not growing, they’re going to remain stagnant.

So, when it comes to not only coaching, you know, now expound that to the fact that now, oh my gosh, I’m talking to a screen. Now how about this one? Olivia, I’m sure you haven’t heard this one. I’ve been hearing this a lot. So, Keith I got a promotion in February and I met my team once and then they went virtual and I’ve never seen them again. I’ve been hearing that a lot. These are caring managers. Most managers I know are caring people that want to help people succeed, and they’re struggling with the same issues because they’re not getting coaching from their managers. That’s not how you build a coaching culture. Everyone gets coached.
So, with remote coaching, they struggle on a good day with regular coach. Remote coaching is a whole other level. So not only that, as I mentioned before, those managers who really hadn’t had an opportunity to build relationships with a new team, now they’re building relationships on a one-dimensional screen. Just like your salespeople are selling, trying to build relationships on a one-dimensional screen. So, the one thing that managers must have, and Olivia, I have some great resources I want to make sure that everyone gets their hands on. Number one, I want to make sure everyone gets a free copy of my new book, “The 60 Second Sales Coach”. I also have another document that I want to make sure everyone gets, which is exactly what you’re looking for.

What’s the conversation as a manager that I need to have with my team that is now remote, that will allow me to reconnect with them, keep them motivated, keep them inspired, hold them accountable and make them still feel part of a team where so many people are feeling isolated and alone, which is leading to depression. Managers didn’t sign up for this, but the greatest leaders I know support people unconditionally. They are selfless. Those are two other characteristics. Okay. So, the conversation, I’m just going to give everyone here a few questions that you can ask. And by the way, managers, this is not just for you to ask your direct reports salespeople. This is the same conversation you could be having with your prospects and customers. As I said before, this is about humanizing the sales process.

So, let me share a couple of questions. As a manager, talking to some of my employees having a one-on-one with each one and just asking, just being human and saying, “Hey, listen, I’m struggling. I know everyone’s struggling through this and I’d love to have a conversation to see how you’re adapting to our new environment and how we’re doing business. And I’d love to share how I’m doing, and maybe we can learn from each other. Are you open to having this conversation?” What I just did right there is setting intention. Managers, especially today, if your intentions are not clear, people default to fear. You call up one of your salespeople and say, “Hey, got a minute. We need to call.” They’re going to run the other way. Why? Because they think what did I do wrong, am I getting fired? Am I in trouble? Might be put on an infamous pit.

Your companies know what that pit is. Right? So, when people don’t know intentions, they default to fear. So, what I just did is set clear intention around the conversation. It’s called the audit enrollment, which Il talk about my book, so that people know what’s in it for them. Now that I’ve done that, I could ask some questions such as, Hey, you know what? Now that you’re working and you know, there’s no more line between personal life and work, how have you adopted what are some of the changes you’ve made that are working well for you? What are you doing every day to shut down? What are you doing every day to shut off? Because now our home is now our office. So, what are you doing way to just turn off and focus on your family and the people and the things that you love to do?

How good are you being at taking care of yourself? Are you practicing self-care? How effective is your routine? Do you have a daily routine from the time you wake up until the time you end your day, that details the specific and measurable actions that not only move you forward to your business goals, but keep your life in balance and harmony? I can tell you’re right now on a good day, most people don’t have that. This is an opportunity to reinvent your lifestyle. Beyond that and again, this speaks to not only speaking to our employees, but also to our customers is, what are you struggling with? If I’m a manager talking to one of my direct reports, I’d want to know, “Hey, every conversation I’m here to support you. But I don’t know how much interaction you want with me, what type of cadence you want to develop so that you feel connected and part of a team?”

Other questions, how are you honoring your priorities and your core values at home? How are you setting boundaries at home, so family knows you’re working, or significant others know you’re working? And finally, and this is that other part. You’re in my home right now. Okay. This is my home. This is my happy place in my man-cave in my office. But you’re in my home right now. Managers, when you’re speaking to your employees, salespeople, when you’re speaking to your customers and prospects, unless they have a green screen or something, you’re in their home. And as a manager, having a one-on-one or a team meeting, and you see one of you directs, clearly, they haven’t slept in days. They look stressed out. Maybe they’re wearing the same stain shirt they’ve been wearing for the last five meetings. Maybe as you’re having the meeting their head is down. Maybe during the meeting, children, dogs, cats, family, running around everywhere. Some people even told me their offices is their closet.

Then what about the people that are sitting there and rather than having an organized workplace, all you just see is just clutter. As a human being, are you going to tell me as a manager say, “Okay everyone, I know it’s tough out there, but listen, I’m here to support you. You’re doing great. Just, just be like Teflon and get out there and keep selling. Okay. You’re doing a great job. Good job, everyone. You look great. I’ll see you next call.” Managers have no idea how to have these conversations and the reason a lot of times they don’t is because first of all, they’re thinking, do I need to have HR? Is this a compliant conversation that I gave him to have on such a personal level? Yes, you do. HR rules, guidelines need to change because everything’s changing now, and we need to adopt. Managers need to be comfortable having these personal conversations with their people.

Again, I wrote an article, I’ll leave this last point here. I wrote an article a few months ago about the new top corporate value is low. And love doesn’t mean, you know, interpersonal relationships. Love means care. Love means concern. Love means empathy. Love means being human. Love and just being authentic, it means caring enough to want to connect with another human being and who doesn’t want that?

OF: Absolutely. I’m so glad that you brought up that intentionality is really core there. And you also mentioned so many great characteristics, like authenticity, empathy, love, care, vulnerability, all of those are always important. But I think even more so right now, and you did touch on this a little bit, but you know, as kind of the lines between work and home for so many are being blurred right now, time management is something that’s becoming really difficult. And especially for sales leaders who already didn’t have a lot of time, they’re already stretched pretty thin. What often can happen in those situations is coaching kind of gets deprioritized, or maybe pushed to the back burner for folks that just have so many other things on their plate that they feel really take precedent. But as we talked about coaching is one of those core things that can really make or break sales success. So especially in this time where it’s so difficult to manage time effectively, how can sales leaders really kind of take their schedules into their own hands and get back on track to be able to make time for coaching?

KR: You know, the first part in terms of salespeople and managers coaching, it’s interesting. Back in the day when I was traveling a lot. God, I miss those days. I was in Ireland and I remember it was the second day of my leadership coach training and we were going around the room. And one of the managers that keep us, and I’m so committed to coaching. Okay. I see the value. I know it’s the most important thing as a manager that I need to do every day, but I’m struggling with trying to fit coaching around all of my other responsibilities. Before I could respond, another manager jumped in and said, wait a second, you need to look at this in a different way. You can’t ask how are you going to fit coaching around all of your other responsibilities? You need to ask how you going to fit all of your other responsibilities around coaching. And that’s the fundamental mind shift that every leader needs to make today. Now keep in mind there’s every conversation being a coaching conversation, and there’s also scheduling the one-on-ones with each person on your team at least once a week.

For those managers that are thinking, “But Keith, you’re doing the math. I have 20 direct reports. You want me to schedule a one-on-one with each of them once a week?” Tell me what’s more important. Tell me what’s more important than spending time with your people. Because the last time I checked it, when managers wake up in fear, they wake up and they say to themselves, they asked himself the wrong question, they ask themselves, “What do I need to do to hit my business objectives today?” That depersonalizes what leadership is all about. The best leaders I know, wake up and ask themselves, “What do I need to do today to make my people more valuable than they were yesterday.” This is the fundamental mind shift. And that belief is going to precede experience.

How you think is what you get. Okay. And what you believe is what manifests in your life. Okay. So, your beliefs proceed your actions. So, everything that we’re just talking about here, you can’t be a great coach or a great salesperson if you haven’t embraced, not just the skillset, but if you notice how much we’re really talking about mindset today. And that’s always going to be more important. Who you are is always more important than what you do? I mentioned earlier about having a specific routine and a lot of people have told me if I can’t do that or Keith my business it really doesn’t allow me to have a routine like that, or, you know, I tried it and it didn’t work out. Let’s be clear. Anyone that’s tried a routine and it didn’t work out means one of two things. You didn’t build it the right way or you’re an adrenaline junkie. Okay. Because a routine is consistent action, consistent thinking, consistent results. Adrenaline is a rollercoaster. I don’t suppose, Olivia, you’ve ever ran into any managers that feel like they work really good under pressure, or they have a lot of incomplete tasks on their plate, or they thrive on solving problems. I’m sure none of those managers are listening or watching this, right?

OF: Absolutely.

KR: Adrenaline, you can’t have a routine if you’re an adrenaline junkie, you need to tap into another energy source called momentum. Consistent actions. So, when you wake up in the morning, I bet every single person has a routine, but it’s not conscious. We need to bring it to our conscious level. I’ve worked on the same routine for probably the last five years. Because I’m doing everything consistently. What am I doing? I’m taking care of myself. I’m practicing extreme self-care, I’m doing my yoga, I’m working out at the gym, I’m doing kickboxing, I’m playing golf, I’m mountain biking. Self-care okay. Taking care of me. Those are the things that you need to build into your routine.

You know what else I built into my routine? Making sure I go out and see my parents. And I am so blessed they’re only 15 minutes away. Making sure I call my mom every day and it’s so hard. Everyone knows that those are the things I forgot to do, and I’ll do it tomorrow. You won’t forget if it’s in your routine and I will leave two points. If you don’t have the appointment, you don’t have the commitment. So, if coaching is not scheduled, if prospecting is not scheduled, if self-care is not scheduled. If having putting time aside to spend with your loved ones is not scheduled. All that self-care is going to be overshadowed by your business and your career responsibilities. And I can tell you with great certainty this is the part where people struggle with most. I want everyone to hear what I’m saying. This is not a bad opportunity. This is a great opportunity for you to stop, look in the mirror and say, am I living my ideal life? And if I’m not, how do I want it to be?

Most people can’t even answer that question. So, the reason why people fail at setting a routine, you know, all roads go back to time management, but you don’t build a routine. First, you have to start here, and really quickly personal navigation system is your North star and your guiding light. It’s your internal compass that pulls you towards your ideal life. When I asked people send me right now what your personal vision is, most people don’t even have one, let alone know what it is. when I ask people to send me what their goals are, either their goals are what I call should be goals, which is something they were told to do. Or it’s a lifestyle. You know, for example, a goal is I want to improve the relationships I have with my people, my family, my team, my coworkers. That’s not a goal because the goal has a finite end point. So, what are you going to do? You’re going to improve the relationships and then go back to making them toxic again? No, that’s a routine.

Do you want to stay in shape? Well, do you lose weight and exercise for a month and then go back to eating poorly and not exercising. That’s lifetime, that’s lifestyle. A lot of people confuse tasks or goals with lifestyle. Most of the goals that people have are not goals. They’re part of the things they want to bring into their life always. So that’s the good news. And when you can identify your ideal life and you can pull out your core values, and what is most important to you, only then can you design your day around what the life you want to live. Otherwise, you’re always going to feel off.

OF: So, I just have one final question for you. And this has been an awesome conversation and you’ve shared so much with our audience. So just to kind of wrap everything together, what are some of the key things that you’re seeing successful sales leaders do right now to really stand out and what is it that’s setting them apart?

KR: What I’m seeing they’re doing, number one, they’re like I said before, they’re putting the people first. Number two, they’re realizing it isn’t about you. It’s never about the managers. It’s never about the coach. It’s about your people. I’m always behind the scenes. I’m on the front. I’m behind to make my people look great. My clients look great. Okay. You need to have a framework that you use in every conversation. Give yourself a roadmap of how to have a conversation. That’s the most important skill of leadership, because at the end of the day what makes a great leader? How they show up, their presence, their commitment to their people, and what’s the skill, how they communicate.

OF: Fantastic. Well, Keith, thank you so much for sharing all of these fantastic insights with us and for taking the time. And we absolutely are so excited to share your resources that you mentioned with our audience.

KR: Yeah. So just to make sure they know where to grab my stuff, I have some really new I decided over the last several months of every book, every resource I decided to put out for free because that’s what people need today. So, everyone can go to my website, and forget about how many podcasts on there, download my new book. “The 60 Second Sales Coach”. That’s not just for leaders. That’s for salespeople to have ever been in a situation where you wish you had the right question. How about I give you 600 of them in this book, grab it. And finally, what kind of coach would I that’d be if I didn’t honor the attributes and characteristics that I shared with you that make an exemplary leader. So, I want to give everyone out there my mobile number, and I want to give everyone out there my personal email address. My personal email address is
If you have a question, if you need me, you are not alone. Like it or not I’m your coach. You’re not bothering me. If you need someone to lean on, contact me. Lean on me. My mobile number (516) 233-9239. I know you’re probably thinking Keith are you crazy for giving your personal phone number out. As I said before, what kind of coach would I be if I didn’t model unconditional leadership and that’s what I want for you.

So, Olivia, thank you so much for the opportunity to work with you. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to your global audience. I truly hope we make an impact in people’s lives that they really need today.

OF: Thank you, Keith. And to our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about. Please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:42:38
Book Club: Anita Nielsen on Building Resilience in Times of Uncertainty Olivia Fuller,Anita Nielsen Fri, 04 Dec 2020 17:54:03 +0000 636cdde519da041a6ae364beb04d8204bdce8a20 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

As many organizations start to plan for another year with uncertainty, mindset is particularly important to overcome the innate challenges that can arise from a lot of ambiguity. Anita Nielsen, the author of Beat the Bots, is one of the leading sales enablement consultants and sales performance coaches who’s coming to us with more than 20 years of experience and B2B sales. Anita has worked with sales leaders around the globe to develop high performing sales teams. Today, Anita is going to talk to us about the tools and strategies that sales enablement can adopt for the upcoming year and beyond to plan effectively and continue to drive business impact and resiliency. Anita, could you please introduce yourself to our audience?

Anita Nielsen: Hello everybody. It’s wonderful to be able to speak with you today. I’ve got a lot of information to share with you specifically to help you do a great job at being a sales enablement practitioner and really relating to your salespeople.

OF: So, your book “Beat the Bots” focuses on how people can adapt to the evolving market, especially digital transformation. Over the past several months, we’ve seen a lot of rapid change in these areas. How can sales enablement help the organization respond to this rapid transformation?

AN: So, we’re going to start with change is hard. Now, before you write me off as captain obvious, stick with me, the reason I wanted to call this out is because change is hard not just right now, but it’s hard all the time and what we have right now, it’s like a perfect storm. You’ve got this change that has to do with this pandemic. And this is the kind of change that’s actually potentially hurting people’s livelihood. And it’s not just one person, everybody’s going through this change and they’re going through it in some different way. It’s bringing a lot of like a maelstrom of emotions up for everybody. And as we all know, some people are better at handling their emotions than others. And sometimes our friends in sales can get a little bit emotional when things are not going their way. And this goes back to the idea that it’s an opportunity, right?

So, how you help them manage this change is going to make a big difference. I’ve always felt that sales enablement practitioners, and later as our change agents, and I think at your core, that’s what you do. That’s what you’re set up to do. And that change is involved, the change is about helping that salesperson do the best that they can in their sales conversations and beyond. Ultimately, we’re devoted to growing revenue, but the process of getting that salesperson to that point, that’s where the differentiation for sales enablement lives. It’s very difficult to find people that can be that devoted to helping salespeople move forward.

OF: Absolutely. So, building on that, what does it mean for sales enablement to help build resilience?

AN: Right now, psychology. If you look at psychology and how that defines resilience, I want you to be able to build resilience. That’s going to be a huge component of how you get this additional trust and show your leadership. Well, resilience is one of these words that it means different things. So, typically when someone says resilience, you get this image in your head of like bouncing back. And the thing is that’s just not what it is because as we know right now, resilience, we’re never going to bounce back. I don’t care how good we are at being resilient. That’s just not going to happen. We will be changed by whatever change we’re going through when it’s at this scale, and so psychologists and psychology, it’s defined as the ability to face adversity and to navigate your way through it.

And sometimes even be able to end up better or having grown or evolved because of it. That’s the difference between people that are resilient, and that aren’t. And I think that if you keep that in mind as you’re working with your sales professionals, you’ll find that they are starving for people to help them be more resilient, especially right now. So, the idea of resilience, I want you to think of it as this there’s people that face change and adversity, and it can break them. It changes them in a way that takes something out of them, but what we have to do it, and what our opportunity for leadership is to show the salespeople that they can be resilient in a way that they can bend with the change. It doesn’t have to break them. It doesn’t have to diminish whatever their value was and whatever it was that they were doing in their day-to-day business, it changes it, but it doesn’t break it and it doesn’t end it.

It’s more a matter of navigating around it and figuring out how to take this moment in time and make it something that they can grow through. Ultimately, I think that’s the idea that when you go through something like this, you want to walk away with not just what you had before, but maybe a little bit of a different insight, maybe a better insight on how you can face change going forward.

OF: To get really tactical here, you put together a framework with four steps to put resilience into action. Can you share that framework with us?

AN: So, as I was trying to think of what I wanted to share with this audience, which as you know, sales enablement people, I’m a sales consultant, you are my people. And so, I wanted to make sure that I put something together that would be easy for you to go back and just implement and just do things around these four areas that’ll help you see a change and also help you to cement your relationship with the sales professionals and the organization and their leader, going forward. So, we’ll start with engaged right now. I think a lot of times, one of the challenges that we have as sales enablement professionals is sometimes there are too many salespeople and it’s really hard to get out and reach out to all of them.

And I think what happens is we end up so busy doing the other work that we have to do that. It’s not that easy to go out and reach out and keep our thumb on the pulse of salespeople and what’s going on in their day and their plate. Now I’m making a blanket statement. I know that there are tons of amazing sales enablement professionals who are devoted to understand their salespeople. But unfortunately, my observation is that’s not the case all the time. And so, for that reason, I think I wanted to include engage as the first step in this framework. When I say engage, I don’t mean just do activities and things like that with them. I mean really engage, pick up the phone, call them, ask them questions that will make them really think about where they’re at and how they’re going to move forward.

So, for example, you just pick up the phone and call a salesperson and say, “Hey, how is this impacting you? What are you saying? What are your customers doing?” And, the one thing that I’ve learned about salespeople, and we’ll talk about this in the next one as well, is they love to talk. And they get kind of a bad rap for always being the ones that talk too much. Well, the truth is they like to talk, but they love to feel heard. And I think in this time, if you can be the people that are there to listen to them and kind of hear what they’re going through and then offer suggestions or provide different things that you can to help facilitate their change process, you’ll end up winning some trust and credibility with them that’ll serve you very well longer term.

The next item is empathy. So, when I say empathy, I mean really try to look from their perspective. Now, before you start throwing stones at me and tell me that you have, you obviously do that already, you think you do right. We all think we do. I think when we are in it, it’s a little bit harder to remember to be the person who’s really listening and trying to understand the other person’s perspective. And it’s natural. When you’re in a moment, you’re sometimes you’re listening and you’re trying to think of what your response is. Well, as, as much as salespeople do that all the time, they don’t love it when someone’s doing it to them, and they can tell.

So, it’s really important right now that you use empathy as a way to connect and to show them that they’re being heard, like I said before, but also that you’re trying to understand them. So, if you did pick up the phone and call that sales professional, and they started to talk about what this means to their plate, well, you can share a little bit about what it means to you and you can talk about how what they’ve said impacts you in one way, too. We’re all going through this. And in that, you can talk about how you see what they’re feeling, and you can understand and appreciate it. And I promise you this empathy and kind of a little bit validation. It goes a really long way to help salespeople with their confidence. And which all of us know that confidence is a key component to helping them be successful as a sales professional. So really important.

The reason I bring this hope situation in here is because the thing that is lacking right now is this idea that there’s something good on the other side of this, right? I think that’s not the mainstream view. Everyone is just looking at this as uncertainty. What’s going to happen next, it’s craziness. Is the economy coming, back, blah, blah, blah, all these things. Well, everyone could use a dose of help. And I think you’ll find when humanity at large is kind of being trampled, individuals will let their humanity shine through. And I think that’s what these sales professionals need. They need someone to help them find hope and just show them that there is something on the other side.

Now we may not know what that is, and I don’t think anyone expects us to, but we have to focus on the fact that we want them to know that they can get through this and we’re here to help them as sales enablement professionals. And what that’ll do is that’ll show them that, “Hey, this is somebody that I can talk to that’s actually got some things to say that are positive and that are going to inspire me or make me feel better instead of being down in the dumps and acting like negative Ned or negative Nancy all the time.” And it happens right when you’re in that mindset of am I going to make my number? Am I going to be able to pay my bills? It’s a really scary place to be. So, provide hope as much as you can. Ultimately that hope is going to be fuel. It’s going to help propel them through this whole change in this pandemic and the idea of helping them grow.

Next up we have educate. So, here education comes in tons of forms and what I want to hone in on here though, because I’m talking specifically about the pandemic. This pandemic has caused all sorts of questions for salespeople. So, they have uncertainty in general, but if I’m a sales professional and I’m sitting here thinking about how this pandemic is impacting me I need to figure out how it’s impacting my customer and as easy as somebody on the outside may think that is, it’s really not that easy, right? Because customers are holding a lot of things close to their best when people are in situations like we all are. Sometimes they get overwhelmed. Sometimes they have anxiety. Any of those things are going on and it’s difficult for salespeople to actually get in there and understand those.

One component of education could be maybe going out and doing some research around how customers in that industry are responding to this pandemic. What are they calling out as challenges? What are they calling out as opportunities? Put that together, give it to the salespeople. They’ll be so excited and surprised that is something that will linger in their mind and you will have built some additional trust and goodwill, which again, that’ll serve you in the long run, right? Because even when this pandemic is done, you’re still going to be helping support these people. It helps to establish that partnership. So that’s one idea. Talk about what their customers are, with their customers are going through in their plight. Bring that to them. Then what’s happening in the industry as a whole. What are the changes? How is this economic shift impacting the place where you sell, and how they sell? Really important.

Another thing you can do is do like webinars. One of the things that we all figured out very quickly with this pandemic is that Zoom is going to be our friend. Zoom or WebEx, and what I found, and I hate to say this because it’s not the nicest thing to say, but salespeople who are really good at meeting face-to-face with people struggle a little bit when it comes to moving to video. And it’s not their fault. They’ve never really had to practice that. They’ve never really had to learn how to be good on video because their bread and butter, their whole life is revolving around going out and meeting customers and seeing customers face-to-face and building that relationship. And this goes back to that empathy. Right? So, think through these things that I’m saying, because that is what they’re actually going through.

This idea of now I have to be on a video. It’s like mind-numbing. It’s totally taking away one of the things that they use to differentiate. So, what can you do? Can you educate them on how to be better? That’s definitely a skill that can be trained. How to carry yourself on video, what are the things that you can do from lighting? What can you do for, you know, where you speak your microphone? All those kinds of things. You can do some research around that, show them some quick tips and things that they can use. They’re going to use them because they’re right in the middle of this zoom revolution. And then they’re going to see they have the thought to realize that this is something that we’re going to need and brought it to us before we had to try to go figure it out. And before you actually were able to, well, you gave it to them and then they will understand that, “Hey, you know what, before I even had a chance to figure out that I wasn’t good at this, they already knew that I might struggle and they brought this to me.” So that’s another really important thing.

Last, but probably the most important, I look at communication as a form of education. And so, what do I mean by that? There is so many things that need to be said during times like this, whether that is information around how and when to go back to the office, maybe it’s information around what the messaging is that’s going out to the market. What are we doing as a company? To tell the market where we’re at all different kinds of information that not just for the sales organization, for the company as a whole, that type of communication needs to, it needs to get to the salespeople. They need to feel like they’re a part of something bigger and that they have their thumb on the pulse of kind of what’s going on around them and they understand it because that not knowing is really painful, that actually will cause more anxiety.

So, if you figure, if I’m living in this time and I’m a sales professional, I already have zero certainty on how my life is going to go after this pandemic is done. If my numbers are going to turn around. And then you add in this uncertainty of is this change going to change me? Is it not going to change me? These are all things that you can address through education and communication. And the key though is that communication. Salespeople have a BS meter unlike anybody else. And so, it has to be transparent. It has to be clear and it has to just be honest, because they will see through the spin and the BS faster than pretty much anybody. They understand what that looks like and they have to try to make sure that they don’t do that to their customers. So be honest. Sometimes the news isn’t good, sometimes what you have to share with them isn’t great but they need to know it. And they’ll respect you for having taken the time out to explain it to them and share it to them in a way that is honest and straightforward.

So next, we’re going to talk about empower and empower means so many different things to people. And it’s almost like one of those words that people say it all the time and what does it even mean anymore? I get that, but I want it to mean something really specific for you at this point, if you’ve done what we’ve talked about in this framework, you’ve already given them some information that they need. You’ve given them some validation. You’ve given them guidance, all those things that they do need to help pull through and to build their resilience. This is that final nudge. We all know that salespeople, even if they have all the knowledge and the information, there’s no guarantee that they’re going to adopt what we’re asking them to, or that they’re going to go do what we’re asking them to. We’ll talk a little bit more about this later, but that’s what you’re after here that whatever that thing is, that’s stopping them, figure out what that is and help push them past it. And then this could be, you could have a zoom happy hour. You could give them some special collaterals, some special content, whatever that looks like in your context, it’s pretty vast and varied.

The idea behind this, the intent is you want to help them take that last step between knowing all the things that they need to do to be resilient, to actually going out there and practice being resilient and getting better at it. And that’s what empower is. And anything I’ll tell you about being somebody who empowers others, not only is that great for the salespeople, but honestly, that’s something that’s going to feel really good to you, right? Because you will have helped these individuals go out there and do something that they maybe wouldn’t have been able to do without you. So that’s one of those bonus points for sales enablement practitioners when you do connect with salespeople at that level, and you’re able to have that influence on them. It’s a pretty powerful thing on both sides.

OF: As we often hear, as you’ve mentioned throughout this, change can be really hard. So how can practitioners help to ensure that change sticks? Not just in the short term, but long-term and actually becomes habit.

AN: So, this goes back to again, psychology and neuroscience. Those are kind of the things that I like to talk about. It starts with a very basic idea of the brain and how the brain has two systems, right. There’s system one, which is a very, it’s like a subconscious autopilot, intuition, instinct, emotion, all of those things live in this first system. Then there’s a second system. That’s a rational system and that’s the system that requires logic and data and information. And sometimes it gets so much information and looking for so much detail that it’s indecisive, right? Because it gets overwhelmed. And so, the idea is to look at the human brain as a sales enablement practitioner. I teach this as salespeople as well. You think about the human brain is two pieces. I’ve trained salespeople for a very long time, and I’ve tried in ways to say the new brain, the old brain, the neocortex, the amygdala, blah, blah. And they just look at me and they nod and then they leave, and they don’t ever remember what I taught them.

And so, I was reading a book, one by Daniel Kahneman and then about a gentleman called Jonathan Haidt, and basically what these individuals have done is they’ve thought through what that means to speak to somebody on the brain level. So, the system one and system two, so logical and rational, they realize that for an average human being to understand all this neuroscience is no small feat. And so, they came up and I believe it was, Jonathan Haidt, who actually came up with the analogy. It came up with this analogy to help you better understand what it means to try to get someone to change. You’ve got here this rider; he’s pointing in a direction. So, there’s clearly something that he wants to do in somewhere. He wants to go, and he wants this element to go with him.

Then you’ve got your big six-ton elephant, right. And that elephant is kind of hanging out and he’s not in any kind of rush, doesn’t seem to move. And they’re kind of sitting on this path and, ultimately this image, what you want to think about it is that this writer represents the rational brain. So, we just talked about right, that’s the part of the mind that is looking for data, wants to do analysis. Once facts, objective, this rider represents that brain, right? That system in the brain, the elephant then represents the other system, which is the emotional system in the brain. And so, when you think about change, you want to think about the ride on the elephant, emotional rational, and there’s one other aspect, which isn’t necessarily, it’s not a part of the brain, but it’s part of the equation for change. And that’s the path. The path represents the external environment. It represents the road, the path that they have to take, the steps that they have to take. And the trick with the steps is that you want to make that path as easy as possible because people don’t like to change when there’s 8,000 obstacles in their way. So that’s a path until you’ve got rider, rational, elephant, emotional, and path the way forward in this case.

So, I want you to think about this. If you are supposed to interact with both systems in the brain in order to get someone to move, if in order for the ride on the elephant to move, they have to move together, right? Like that rider’s not going anywhere unless the elephant moves. The elephant’s just going to go wherever if the rider doesn’t direct it. So, if you think of this that way, let’s think about people as individuals who you have to talk to their rational mind and their emotional mind. The beauty of this is if you think about it, if they both have to move together to move. If one of them doesn’t agree with the other, or if there’s any kind of contention between the two, what do you think is going to happen? No one’s going anywhere, right? If that rider thinks that they know something and they want to go, then if it doesn’t want to go, it’s not going to matter. So, when there’s a fight or when there’s a contention between these two, who is your money on, is your money on the six-ton elephant or on the little dudes sitting on top, trying to get the elephant to go.

Obviously, it’s going to be the elephant, right? That’s where it goes, because you can try to pull the elephant, you can try to push the elephant, but that thing is not going anywhere. It has six tons of emotion in this case. And so, the idea is you have to be able to get the elephant to move. You can spend all day talking to the rider. So, for example, in our situation, I’m a sales enablement practitioner. You can talk to a sales professional all day about the deal stage velocity about any other metrics that they have. And it may or may not go over their head, they may or may not care, but if you start talking to them about how their commission structure is going to change or how their livelihood is going to change, or any of those types of things that hit the emotion particularly powerful are like fear and those types of things, that’s what you have to do. You have to get to the elephant in order to get them to move forward.

OF: So, in your book, you also mentioned a way to remember this writer elephant analogy, and also what it means in the context of sales. Can you explain that a little bit more to our audience?

AN: Given your big explanation on the whole rational and emotional mind, but at the end of the day, I want you to remember this. ABC, the REP or ABC the REP always be considering the rider elephant path. Absolutely a hundred percent in your interactions with salespeople and sales leaders, but in your interactions with pretty much anybody in many, if you want people to work with you to collaborate, to be influenced by you, this is it. This is how you’re going to do it. You’re going to constantly remember that if I’m asking someone something, did I give them the right data? Did I give them the right information too? Did I figure out what their emotion is that could be holding them back? Did I create hope that made them kind of want to move forward faster? Those are the things you have to ask yourself. I love this because it’s not just ABC the rider elephant path. It’s ABC the REP. So, this is always be considering the rep the sales rep. And if I could give you one piece of advice about being a sales enablement practitioner, it’s always be considering the sales professional or whether it’s looking at their perspective, whether it’s understanding what is valuable to them, as long as you keep in tune with what they need. And don’t get too far off the beaten path on different processes and data sets, you’ll be fine. Ultimately, if you want them to move with you and do what you need them to, you have to make sure that you’re dealing with the emotion.

OF: Well, Anita thank you so much for taking the time to share these strategies with our audience and to everyone listening. We absolutely recommend picking up a copy of Anita’s book, “Beat the Bots”. And we’ll share a link to that book with this episode as well on our website.
Thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Check out Anita Nielsen’s book, “Beat the Bots”, here.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:23:53
Book Club: Fred Copestake on the Importance of Partnering Skills for Sales Success Olivia Fuller,Fred Copestake Tue, 17 Nov 2020 20:16:05 +0000 9a2040ee2b8260e51fc4502c2baa0352fca104e3 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

So, you’ve likely heard of IQ or the intelligence quotient, which measures our logic and reasoning abilities. And you’ve also likely heard of EQ, which measures our emotional intelligence. But what about PQ? In his new book, “Selling Through Partnering Skills”, Fred Copestake explains how partnering intelligence is a critical third layer of skills that salespeople need to be successful today. When people know how to build effective partnerships, it can lead to increased trust, collaboration, and more. So, we’re so excited to have Fred join our podcast today to share some of the key insights from his book. Fred, can you please introduce yourself to our audience?

Fred Copestake: Sure. Yeah. So, Fred Copestake. Congratulations, you got the name right. I get cupcakes, snowflake, chopstick, but Copestake, you’ve got it. Now, I’m the founder of Brindis, so I’m a sales training consultancy. Over the last 22 years, I’ve been around the world 14 times, 36 countries, I’ve worked with over 10,000 salespeople. So, I’ve been involved into helping salespeople get better for quite a long time. And so, that’s why I put the ideas into the book to make sure that we’re sharing stuff and keeping up to date with the latest, if you like.

OF: That’s great. So, your book talks about the importance of PQ or that partnering intelligence that we mentioned, but what does it mean to have partnering intelligence and why is that important for sales?

FC: PQ. So, if you think of IQ, any Q, people probably know these, and PQ is like the lesson and cousin, if you like. It was sort of back in the nineties where I studied then did some research around this, that you found that people are involved in politics and business alliances have got these elements. I mean, these elements, it’s great because we can recognize them, we can understand them, we can train them and then they break down with these six things.

First is trust. So, trust is foundation with your relationships, trust is about being able to communicate well. Another one is win-win orientation. And again, we talk about that in sales a lot. We talk about mutual benefit, we talk about how people negotiate, how we can compromise, how we can problem-solve. We talk about self-disclosure and feedback. So, this is like giving part of yourself. So, talking about what it is that you need and equally feeding back to customers, and maybe even challenging them saying, you know, helping me to help you sort of thing. We talk about comfort with interdependence. So, as we start working with somebody, we do become interdependent with them. So, we have to give up elements of control, which is another important thing for professional sales. Comfort with change, again, I’d say professional salespeople need to be all over change. We’re change agents to a degree. And then future orientation, we want to be looking forward in the stuff we’re trying to do with our customers, rather than always looking backwards and making these decisions based on past, we’re trying to sort of look at things going ahead.

So those 6 things, it’s PQ. And then, so for me, that just really spoke for anybody involved in professional sales that’s something that we would want to be thinking about.

OF: That’s fantastic. So, as you mentioned in the book, you discuss six different elements of PQ and one of those is trust. So, let’s dig into that piece a little bit more. What does trust have to do with successful partnership?

FC: So, trust, like I said, it is the foundation for all relationships. Better trust will get us better communication. If we communicate better, then we’ll start to understand people better. And so, the things that we say we’re going to do, we can do, people can become more reliable, we can become more credible because people will know that we know our stuff. We can work out where we’re comfortable sharing information with people, when I’m coming into it with them really the thing with trust is we can work out is somebody doing all these things that they’re saying and promising for themselves or really for the partnership, what’s the degree of their orientation towards themselves. So that’s for me sort of how trust breaks down. When we look at the ten C’s, the ten C’s, again, you can split into two areas. So, we can look at the sort of the areas which are more to do with the relationship that we need to build when we’re building trust and then equally there are things that have to do with task. So, there are two parts of the ten C’s.

OF: That’s great. So, another thing that you discuss in your book is the value framework, which helps salespeople really put those partnering skills into action. So, can you tell our audience what the value framework is?

FC: The value framework. So, if you imagine it on the one hand, you’ve got your PQ, you’ve got the partner skills and you’ve got those six elements I talked about. On the other hand, you’ve got sales best practice. There’s a lot of good stuff out there. We don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. You know, there’s like there are loads of good things. People have their favorite sort of questioning techniques. They’ll have ways in which they go about doing certain things and key account management, structures they use. All that looks good, we don’t need to lose that. But what we need to do is to bring it together with this concept of partnering skills and that’s what the value framework does, but that’s what kind of emits these things together. Where very basically the V is about validating. So, it’s making sure that the right opportunity, the right customer, it’s somebody that we can work with and we can collaborate with, it takes two to tango if you like.

A is about aligning. So, then this isn’t doing your homework. This is thinking, okay so I reckon this is a good opportunity. I think I can add some value here. So, what might that value look like? How can I start to think a little bit like them put myself in their shoes start to really work out this is where we could do some stuff together, so that you’re well prepared to go to have valuable meetings, and that’s the L, leverage part, leverage that information, leverage insight, help people think, work together, so that we can start to put together decent propositions, a good proposal, and underpins prop up what it is that we were saying we can do together. Prove it, have a plan to do that. And so that E, evolve, the relationship and the things we did, it can start to evolve. So, that’s what the value framework is, validate, align, leverage, underpin, and evolve. And it brings all that good thinking that we’ve got into very practical way of applying it and making it work.

OF: Fantastic. So why does that value framework approach have an impact? Maybe what are some of the things that you’ve seen with how it’s been successful?

FC: The value framework I actually developed out of another one, which was customer success management. So, customer success is about delivering outcomes, isn’t it? And so, I looked at that and thought, you know what? We keep saying, these things are different, they’re very close together, sales customer success motion. I love taking learnings from different areas and thought that’s about delivering and so this was what the framework for delivering on sales has got to look like. So, that’s why I take that and sort of had, a bit of a tweak with the original one that I based that on.

And so that’s why we know it works. And, I think it’s so important because if you look at this shift in selling from where we were just talking about, maybe consulting and solving problems, which is great, that’s a good, solid foundation to being value-based again, I’ve got no problem with that, but they’re more now for foundations and that we need to be getting this collaborative mindset to really be making a difference in the way that we need to operate today. We need to be more customer-focused rather than just thinking my sales process, my sales ways of operating, I am going to do this stuff.

Going back to the expression I used before, it takes two to tango. Customers we know are more advanced down buying cycles. We know that the information’s available. We know that they’ve got their own ways of working. So again, the key salesperson is going to work that out and start to kind of align and do things in a way that’s collaborating for that. And again, not really skills, the mindset, the practical application of it, help people to do that.

OF: That’s great. So, another thing that you talk about in your book is the evolution of the sales profession, and you actually go through some different periods in time and the different trends or fads that were going on in sales at that time. But just given the many business changes that we’ve seen in the world just over the last few months, how have you seen the sales profession evolve recently, and then maybe how do you think sales will continue to evolve in the next year or even beyond?

FC: Certainly, I mean, virtual selling, it was kind of there anyway, the technology was certainly available, I guess that for whatever reason, maybe partly the sales person, maybe to a degree the customer, the other buyer didn’t really want to engage in it so much. It was forced on us. And so, how to do things, sort of using the technology available, using video conference and the rest of it. And what I’ve seen is that people have done that, they’ve done it okay. And the people have done it around with dining room tables and everything, and, and this insight into people’s more sort of personal life and things has been eye-opening, and that’s a lot for building relationships, I think.

But going back to sort of the professional selling piece, everyone’s been okay at it. But the professionals that are professional that care about what they do, have started to do things which are raising the bar. They’re looking at how can they use the technology to get better at the way they do this stuff? How can they collaborate better? I forget if the tech does lend itself to better collaboration and not just the video conference stuff, but if you think about the platforms, how you can share things, you can create stuff together. You don’t need to be stood around a whiteboard to do a good whiteboard. You could argue a digital whiteboard is better because rather than go, “Oh yeah, I’ll draw this thing,” it’s like, there you go I put the picture I wanted in there. You go and get the document that you wanted to share. So, it’s not just scribbling on the screens and things. We’re seeing this level of virtual interaction and virtual selling really start to rise. I think that’s what will continue over the next year or so. I saw some McKinsey figures just recently where they said that 65% of customers are saying, actually it’s just as effective working that way, quite a high number.

So, there’s this opportunity to keep pushing that bar and raising it. So, this is all good stuff. Now, the other thing that I’m seeing that people still resisting. Now it’s going to go back to normal, I’m going to be okay, my stuff is far too important to do over a VC or whatever. That gap is getting bigger. And so, the people that are sort of here and not moving with time to even be okay at it, but positively trying not to, I’m going to get lapped. I think the other thing that is something we’ll start to see and people just like, “Oh yeah we can get rid of people because our customers don’t want this.” And we’re picking people that I can work with because they get this stuff and I can pay better.

OF: That’s fantastic insight. Well, Fred, thank you so much for joining us today. And to our audience, we absolutely recommend picking up his new book, “Selling Through Partnering Skills.” So, thanks so much again, Fred, for taking the time to share some of your insights with our audience.

FC: That’s my pleasure. Thank you for inviting me.

OF: Absolutely. To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, or expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Interested in learning more about your partnering intelligence? Take the PQ Self Audit here using the code: PQSALES

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:13:11
Book Club: Dave Brock on Empowering Sales Managers to be Effective Coaches Olivia Fuller,Dave Brock Tue, 13 Oct 2020 16:53:23 +0000 5666dada54e4328f33692fe0ebd2d8edf38c98e7 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

A rather hot topic in sales enablement lately is that of sales coaching. And that’s because organizations are realizing that when it comes to behavior change, coaching can really move the needle and unlock the potential of reps at all levels. But in order for coaching to be effective, sales managers need to know what good coaching looks like.

Today, I’m so excited to have Dave Brock, the author of “Sales Manager Survival Guide”, join us to talk about some of the strategies that he lays out in his book. Dave, I’d love it if you could just take a moment and introduce yourself to our audience.

Dave Brock: Well, first of all, thanks so much for inviting me to participate, Olivia. I’m really looking forward to this conversation. As Olivia mentioned, I’m the author of “Sales Manager Survival Guide”, and the upcoming “Sales Executive Survival Guide”. In addition to that, I run a consulting company called Partners in Excellence. There are about 15 of us. We focus on really business strategy and sales and marketing strategies with kind of a global customer base.

OF: So, in your book, you include coaching as one of the core areas of responsibility for sales managers. Why is coaching such a critical part of the sales manager role?

DB: Yeah, let me back up a little bit to provide some context. You know, you think of what the sales manager’s job is and oftentimes when I talk to people and ask them, “what’s your job,” they say it’s making the numbers. And that really isn’t the sales manager’s job. That’s your people’s job. The job of the sales manager is to maximize the performance of every person on the sales manager’s team. And one of the most powerful tools to maximize that performance is coaching. So, then you see that coaching and finding every opportunity you can to help the person recognize what they’re doing, learn about how they might improve, and how they might do it better. And in enabling them then to try new things and to improve that performance. Coaching plays such a vital role in driving performance improvement.

OF: That’s fantastic. So, we talked about why coaching is so important, but in your opinion, what is it that makes a good sales coach? So, what are some of the key skills that managers actually need to be able to conduct effective coaching sessions?

DB: So, I think there are a few things. One is you have to genuinely care. You have to care about the individual that you’re coaching. You have to care about her success and her ability to grow. Not only in what she’s doing today in the job, but what she can do in the future in terms of her future developments here, coaching both for the short-term kind of tactical execution and their long-term development as a sales professional.

So, one, you got to care. Two, you got to really listen, and not listen for the things that you want to hear but really listen and hear what they’re saying and really be curious about engaging them about how to improve. And I think the final thing, there are a whole bunch of things, but I think the final thing is you got to get your ego out of it. Too much of the time it’s about demonstrating about how smart we are, where that doesn’t really make any difference. You’re trying to make the person, the salesperson you’re coaching, as smart and as capable as possible. If we don’t get our egos out of it, we stand in the way of effective coaching.

OF: Definitely. So, you mentioned that there are different styles of coaching, but in your book, you also talk about some different ways to coach and some different types of coaching. So specifically, you differentiate between directive and non-directive coaching. So, can you explain to our audience what the difference is between those two and when each of these approaches should be used?

DB: Yeah. And I think that’s a good point because too often, I think when we learn how to coach with some people, the way they teach you how to coach is they teach you a certain style. And really to become a better coach by adopting and integrating a number of styles. And if you kind of peel back all the different things people teach you, there is kind of two fundamental ways of coaching, which is directive, which is basically as the word implies. It’s telling somebody what to do. You know, go out and see Olivia and talk to her about those issues, then come back and tell me what happened. That’s directive coaching.

Non-directive coaching is one that’s more question-based. It’s more things about asking the person to the salesperson to think about and reflect on what’s happened. So, it may be, I just made a sales call on Olivia. What were the results? What happened as a result of the sales call? What are the next steps? What are the next actions? Is there anything you might’ve done differently that could have enabled you to accomplish more? Is there anything, did you set reasonable objectives for the call, and did you accomplish all of them? Or, what could you have done better? Those kinds of things tend to be more examples of non-directive coaching where you’re trying to get the person to think about and figure things out themselves about, could I have accomplished more? What could I have accomplished?

So, the way you recognize non-directive coaching is it’s a lot of question-based things. It’s a lot of how, why, who, what, those kinds of things. So, again, the person develops better themselves. And we all know it, when somebody tells us something, it doesn’t really sink in very well. When we figure it out ourselves, we own it, we internalize it and we’re more likely to do that the next time around. And so really good coaching helps people learn. It helps the salesperson learn and at the same time it helps the sales manager learn. So, it’s kind of a collaborative learning journey.

OF: In terms of when to coach, you also wrote that coaching should really take place informally. In this virtual environment that we’re now in, how can sales managers take advantage of those opportunities to coach in the moment and informally when they might not be passing each other in the hallway or just be able to grab someone at their desk for a quick chat.

DB: Let me give a step back and give a little bit of context. As a manager, we should find as many opportunities as we can to coach and develop our people. So, part of it is we do pipeline reviews, we do deal reviews and so on, and so forth, and those have a business management context to it, but we can use those as powerful coaching vehicles as well. We can, you know, doing a deal review, get them to think about how they might approach the deal differently and help them in developing more impactful strategy, but there’ a lot of in-between spaces. In the old days before COVID, and when we used to go out on sales calls and things like that, you know, there was a lot of what we used to call windshield time. Where I might go out with a salesperson, on a call, as we’re driving out to the customer, as we were in the elevator, or in New York City going up to the offices, I start saying, “well, what are your goals for this? What are you trying to accomplish?” And so, on and so forth. So, I’d use that as an opportunity to coach and help them think.

After the call, I would say, “how did you do, what could you have done better? Might you approach some things differently?” And those kinds of things. So, you use those times. So, I basically try and find every opportunity I can to coach somebody, even if it’s for a minute or something. There’s the time we spend, we don’t see you have watercourse anymore, so there’s a time that you spend in the Starbucks line and you have the opportunity to look at something and get them to think about things differently. So, I’m kind of one of these where you always think about always be closing, from a manager’s point of view you should always be coaching.

OF: So, I mentioned in the beginning that sales coaching is such a hot topic in sales enablement right now because it can have such an impact on behavior change. But in your opinion, what is sales enablement’s role in coaching and how can enablement really be involved in helping to prepare sales managers to be more effective coaches?

DB: So, I think there were about three or four key things that are really important that sales enablement does is one train managers in how to coach. Most managers have had no formal kind of training and even though they want to coach, they don’t know how to coach. So, sales enablement can train managers informally in how to coach.

Two is, as sales enablement launches new programs for the salespeople, there’s the reinforcement, there’s kind of the activation and reinforcement phase. I mean, we’re all familiar with it, with the data that says the half-life of any sales training is less than 30 days unless there’s some sort of coaching and reinforcement. So, every new program, every new initiative that sales enablement launches should have an accompanying responsibility and coaching role for the managers.

If we’re doing say a new account management program, sales enablement needs to sit down with the managers beforehand and say, after your people have completed this account management program, you have the responsibility for coaching and reinforcing what we introduced to them in that program over this period of time. You might put together a semiformal training program or advice about how they reinforce the account management concepts and so on and so forth. And if you have that then you’ll build those skills, people will come out of that program they’ll be coached by their manager in applying those skills in real life, and they’ll build those skills and they’re far more likely to sustain those.

So, those couple of things, and there is a thing, you know, I’ve kind of gotten into debates with people in the Sales Enablement Society, and other sales enablement professionals, sometimes sales enablement gets into coaching roles. I’m working with a very large telecommunications right now where they have a small team of sales enablement professionals coaching, but what they’ve done and what I recommend is that they do it as a compliment to the sales manager, not to displace the responsibility from the sales manager. So, for instance, these coaches are spending a lot of time with new employees and helping them with the onboarding process. So, they’re doing a lot of coaching around products, around markets, around how the company works, and so on and so forth where they can do that very effectively but also in sync with what the sales manager is doing.

I do believe that there is a role for sales enablement to do some very specific coaching, but always as a compliment in reinforcement to what the sales manager is doing, not to displace the sales manager or even to give the sales manager an excuse if sales enablement people are doing coaching so I don’t need to do that. It’s a big key part of the manager’s responsibility to coach.

OF: So, we’ve talked about coaching from kind of the individual side and developing sales managers, but let’s talk about developing a coaching culture. What do you think are some of the key challenges that organizations run into when trying to establish a really strong coaching culture and then maybe how could sales enablement help to overcome some of those barriers?

DB: I think part of it is it’s hard for a sales manager to coach if that sales manager isn’t being coached herself. Managers all the way up the food chain have a responsibility for coaching. So even if I’m maybe the CRO or the CEO, I have a responsibility of coaching the people that report to me, they may be VP of sales, chief marketing officers, or so on and so forth. And the nature of that coaching and how you coach changes because they’re much more experienced, they’re much more mature and so on, but they still need coaching. And that needs to be cascaded down through the organization. So frontline sales managers should have an expectation and ask their managers to be coached, and that kind of thing. So, doing that starts to set up a coaching culture.

Two is training and learning, and so on and so forth. I think sales enablement can provide a lot to really help them on how we train our people, train our managers in how to coach, how do we in fact coach them in coaching as well.

Three, I think what sales enablement can do is provide the tools and make sure the managers are using the tools that facilitate the coaching. So, for instance, if I’m doing a deal review and all we bring up the deal in the CRM system, we look at the opportunity in the CRM system, we use that as the basis for a coaching discussion. You know, at the end of any coaching session, you want to agree on what are we going to do? What are the next steps? Who’s going to do it? Do I have some things that I need to do? Do you as the salesperson have some things you need to do? What are we going to do and by when? And we need to leverage the CRM system to record those as actions or activities.

As a manager, one of my favorite reports in Salesforce is the activity report. If we’ve sat down and agreed on some next steps and some next activities, and I pull up the report and say, Olivia hasn’t done any of those that sets up a coaching opportunity for me to say, you know, Olivia, what’s standing in the way of your ability to meet your commitments. So, helping the managers understand how they use the tools for coaching.

The other thing I think that we get wrong about coaching is people think of, and I’ve already implied this already, people think of coaching as something I do separately from the day to day business. And the reason a lot of coaching doesn’t get done is we prioritize the day to day business, and then any leftover time we have, we do for coaching. But guess what? We had no leftover time. That’s why you have to integrate coaching into everything you do when you’re sitting doing pipeline reviews, when you’re sitting doing deal reviews, when you’re going out on a customer call, when you’re debriefing on a customer call. Every single opportunity that you have, there’s a way you can inject a little bit of a coaching conversation into it.

OF: How can you really measure the impact of coaching?

DB: The ultimate way is you expect to see improvements in performance. So, you expect to see when rates go up. You expect to see maybe if you’re coaching them to increase the average deal size, you expect to see average deal size go up. You expect to see performance of percentage of people making quota, you expect to see going up. What they do want to do is you want to look at what are the leading activities, what are the leading activities that tell you that the person is internalizing the coaching that you’re giving them.

So, for instance, things like using the CRM system and saying, we’ve agreed on these next steps. I, Dave, need to do some things on this. You Olivia, you need to do some things on that. Monitoring that they’re actually executing those things is a measure that says, I know if we meet those commitments, you’re more likely to make quota than not. Quota may be a year away. So, you want to look at some of those leading things, you’ll want to start looking at, is the person, are they chasing better quality deals, more active deals, or hire a guy deal. You’re going to want to inspect them and see what’s that change over time is the quality of deals.

I have a client that went through a massive change with all their people. They wanted to take their average deal size from 10,000 a person up to a 100,000 per person. And so, what we did is we went through some training and we went through some coaching and they have planned to do this over a two-year period, but with the coaching that they instituted, they did it in nine months. In over two years, they got the average deal size up to 500,000. So, there’s some real tangible business benefit to these things. I’d say the other thing too is to be very focused.

An analogy I like to use is I attempt to play golf, I’m not sure I really play golf, but one time I got a good buddy of mine who was a really good golfer and I said, my drive just is terrible, can you help me. And he said, you know, here are the six or seven things, Dave, you need to fix. And I was getting so confused with all those six or seven things that my drive actually got worse. Then I decided to pay money to see a professional. And we started out slowly. He said, Dave, this is the one thing I want you to do right now. And then I mastered that, and he said, okay, Dave, this is the next thing you need to do. And over time, my drive started improving. It still sucks, but it started improving.

And so, I think we as managers sometimes confuse our people because we try and coach them on too many things. And, so we have to look at, we’ve adopted kind of a methodology of how we identify the highest leverage coaching opportunity and focus just on that one thing, get the person to master that, then move to the next. Then move to the next and move to the next. Oftentimes what you find you get them performing better at that one thing. And a lot of the other things that they aren’t doing well, actually disappear because there’s a ripple through effect.

OF: That’s fantastic. Well, Dave, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today. We really, really appreciated you providing some actionable tips for our audience.

DB: Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate the invitation. You guys do some really important stuff, so I appreciate participating.

OF: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:23:14
Book Club: Lee Salz on Core Strategies for Sales Differentiation Olivia Fuller,Lee Salz Thu, 17 Sep 2020 17:24:14 +0000 9f67edbe818479473602361f20f66a28ad0f9b08 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs. When someone claims that they’re the best at something chances are it triggers some skepticism. Think about your own buying tendencies as a consumer, without solid proof or clear differences between competitors it’s likely that you’d have a hard time believing that one is better than the other while both claim to be the best. That’s why differentiation in sales is so critical. As buying decisions are becoming increasingly complex with more stakeholders involved, more information available online, and more market saturation, organizations need to devise a strategy to not only stand out to buyers, but to motivate them to take action. Sales enablement can play a core role in helping sellers develop the skills and behaviors they need to differentiate themselves.

Today, I’m so excited to have Lee Salz, author of “Sales Differentiation”, join us to talk about some of the advice that he lays out in his book. Lee, I’d love for you to take a moment to introduce yourself to our audience.

Lee Salz: Well Olivia, first of all, thank you for having me on the show. Hello everyone, I am Lee Salz, as Olivia mentioned to you. I’m the author of the bestselling book “Sales Differentiation”, and also have a consulting firm called Sales Architects. And what I do is I work with companies to help their salespeople win more deals at the prices they want.

OF: Fantastic. So, you titled your book, “Sales Differentiation”. What is sales differentiation all about?

LS: Well, sales differentiation is a philosophy that I’ve developed over 30 years working with companies in every industry. You could name companies of all different sizes, selling products, services, technology, software, as a service, and it B2B, B to C, even business to government. And I’ll tell you where the idea even came from. When I was a teenager, I got this summer job. We had a family friend who had this crazy business idea. And I’ll give you an idea of how old I am, this was back in the 1980s. And his idea was transportation for dry cleaning. So, he had this idea that you have these brick and mortar dry cleaners, but if you were a busy executive, you didn’t have time go to the dry cleaners to drop off your clothes and you didn’t have time to pick it up. So, he developed strictly the transportation arm and you may say, “wow, well, this is 2020, that’s not overly interesting.” This was 1986. It didn’t exist back then. So, we had this crazy idea that people would pay more for this service and he hired me as his driver. And I was rooting, I’ll tell you, Olivia. This had to work because I needed the money, this was my summer job. And the question is, did it work? Were people willing to pay more for this service? And the answer was some.

I lived in a town called Marlboro in New Jersey, and we had a lot of people in our town that commuted to New York City, which is about a 90-minute commute, and executives who were making that commute, who were still dressed, I mean, this was again, 1980s, so people actually wore suits to work. They needed a way to get their clothes dry cleaned. Their dress shirts, their suits. But at the same time, didn’t necessarily have the time to do it. Some people had a way, maybe they had someone at home that could do it for them, but they didn’t have the time themselves. So those executives who didn’t have someone that could help them out saw tremendous value in that service, and very quickly signed up.

Those who had a resource for it, just saw it as a very expensive, unnecessary service. So, it taught me a couple of really important messages. Number one is yes, people will buy different if it’s meaningful to them. But not everyone is going to see value in what you offer. So you have to figure out who will see meaningful value in what you’re selling and focus your selling time there rather than wasting it chasing the masses where you get to the finish line and the deal either stalls out, or they squeeze you on price because they don’t really see that meaningful value. So, the business did work when we focused with that alignment.

OF: I love those two keywords that you just mentioned: meaningful value. So on the other hand, what are some of the biggest mistakes that salespeople make when trying to differentiate themselves?

LS: Well, there’s a lot of them. So, I just told you, I grew up in Marlboro, New Jersey, and I now live in Minneapolis and there’s a little bit of a climate difference between those two geographies. And when I lived in New Jersey, whenever it snowed it wasn’t a big deal, but we also didn’t want to deal with it either. And when I came to Minnesota and discovered a new definition of the word cold, as well as amounts of snow compared to back east, my neighbors would be out plowing the snow, having a grand old time. But people like me that are from the east coast, we don’t deal with snow that way. We get a guy. We get a guy to deal with the snow. So, when I moved here, I had to find a guy to deal with getting the snow off my driveway, my sidewalk and the walkway up to my front door. And I used this online service called Thumbtack and put in my criteria and they connected me with guys, if you will, that could handle snow removal. And there was one that lived in the same city where I am in Minneapolis and we exchanged some pleasantries and then I got his price and he was by far the highest price of anyone there. And so I sent him back a one-line email saying, “boy, I wish your price was lower.” And he sent me this hateful email because it was my fault that I didn’t see the value in what he was providing.

In no time where when we were communicating back and forth did he demonstrate meaningful value, it was just pleasantries. Nor did he say an expectation with me that his price would be higher. And he’s been around like 25 years and he talked about the quality of what he offers, the reliability in what he does. Quality? Please. I’m asking him to get snow off my driveway and my sidewalk. What is this quality? Well, he did what salespeople do so often, he just tossed out the word “quality” and he left it for me to figure out what it meant and why it mattered. He also tossed out the expression “reliability”. Again, salespeople toss that expression out and we leave it to the person on the other side of the desk to give it meaning, to give it context.

And here’s the thing about differentiators, if you’re going to leave it to the person on the other side of the desk to figure out what it means and why it matters, one of two really bad things are going to happen. You either never get to figure it out, or they’re going to give it a meaning that doesn’t help your sale, either way you lose. So, it’s on you as the salesperson to give meaningful context, to help them see the value in what you’re providing.

OF: Yeah, that’s such an important point that you really can’t put the burden on the buyer to understand that. So, in your book, you raise that interesting point as well, that people don’t know how to buy what salespeople are selling. Within sales differentiation, you say that that’s both a sales obligation and a sales opportunity. What do you mean by that?

LS: Yeah. You know, the worst feedback that salespeople have been given is they’ve been told that they’re selling to educated buyers. It’s not true. See, there’s a question that I’ve asked audiences all around the globe. I’ve asked in every industry you can name, every sale setting you could imagine. And the question is this: who knows more about the world of potential opportunities in your industry, you or the people you sell to? And not one salesperson in all of those audiences, all around the world, all those sales settings has ever said, “oh, the people I sell to know much more about the world of potential opportunity and solutions in my industry,” not one.

So, we know more about the world of potential solutions in our industry than the people that we’re selling to. Yes, they have access to information, but we still know more than they do. And to me that gives us both an obligation and an opportunity. I believe if you’re in sales, we have an obligation to help people make informed buying decisions, which gives us an opportunity to shape buyer decision criteria because they don’t know how to buy what we’re selling.

OF: And you’ve developed 19 sales differentiation concepts. And one of those is that how you sell and not just what you sell differentiates you. So how can our listeners really put this into practice to help sales reps improve the customer experience?

LS: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, when I look at sales differentiation, I separate it into two parts. There’s sales differentiation in what you sell and sales differentiation in how you sell. So, the what you sell side is understanding what your differentiators are to whom they’re relevant, when they’re relevant, and most importantly, developing a communication strategy so someone on the other side of the desk is just as excited about it as you are.

And that’s where most attention is paid from both. Not just the sales side, but also executives. How are we going to differentiate the widget? But we have this other side of the equation as well. It’s the how you sell side of the equation. Every interaction, every touchpoint you have with a prospect gives you opportunities to provide meaningful value that the competition does not. How you prospect, right? That initial contact you make, how you handle a discovery meeting, how you handle a proposal. Every interaction, right? How you handle customer service, how you handle account management. Every one of those touchpoints challenge yourself with this question: What is it that I can do different than my competition, that my buyers will find meaningful?

So, it’s not different for the sake of different, but something meaningful, something that they will appreciate. And if you take the time to think about that, you’ll find there are so many opportunities that you can stand out, provide meaningful value that your competition doesn’t. And I have another book that’ll be coming out one year from this month, building off sales differentiation it’s titled “Sell Different”. And I get even further into that side of the equation of differentiating how you sell.

OF: Well, I am very much looking forward to reading that book when it comes out next year. I think that how you sell part of the equation is just so important. And in your book, you delve into that a little bit more as well using the term “personal value differentiation”. What is that and why is it important to sales differentiation?

LS: Absolutely. Super important concept. So, we talked about differentiating what you sell and differentiating how you sell. Within the how you sell umbrella, there’s personal value differentiation. I don’t care if you’ve been in sales a couple of months or 30 years, there is value that you personally bring to the table. And I find salespeople don’t think enough about that. And if you don’t know what your personal value is, you can’t possibly position it in a meaningful way. You see when someone buys from your company, they get you as part of the deal, right? You’re part of the package. You aren’t working for those guys; you’re working for these guys. So, what is that value? So, if we don’t know what that is, we can’t leverage it to help us win more deals at the prices that we want. So, there might be expertise that you have in your industry, in the product that you’re selling, but there’s an expertise that every one of you watching this should have and may not have at the level that you should. And that is expertise in the people that you’re selling to.

So, if you normally call on CFOs, you should know that CFO role inside and out. What’s keeping them up at night? What are the challenges that they’re having? What is key terminology that they use? What are their folk layers? What are they trying to accomplish? Because if you know that, if you have that mastery, you can connect your industry with their world, and you demonstrate meaningful credibility. Remember, you know more about the world of potential solutions in your industry than they do. So, they need you. But they got to trust you. And the way that trust is established is by becoming an expert. An expert in your world, but also an expert in their world so they see you as that valued resource.

OF: That’s excellent. I think another one of the big questions that has been on everyone’s minds over the last few months with how the world has changed is how to differentiate yourself in a virtual selling environment. In your opinion, what are some of the challenges that salespeople might face in differentiating themselves in this new normal and how can they overcome some of these challenges?

LS: Yeah. Great question. It’s definitely a different selling time right now. We hear this expression “virtual selling.” But think about it, virtual selling is just inside sales on steroids. We’re overthinking it, right. Yes, there’s sensitivity we need to have in the communication that we use and the tools that we use, but let’s not overthink this.

We put this name, virtual selling. It’s a pretty name, it goes with the times. But I think we’re also putting way too much emphasis on it. That being said, not everyone fits in an inside sales role or a virtual sales role and not everyone fits in an outside sales role. So that’s one of the key consideration points as you look at this, there’s plenty of assessment tools when companies are hiring. And they look at where does this person fit best? Is it in that insight sales role or in an outside sales role? See when you’re in inside sales there are certain things that you have as disadvantages that outside salespeople have.

One of them is when you meet face to face with someone, you get to see body language and facial expressions and taking notes and all those kinds of things. In a virtual environment you may not have that opportunity unless you’re using a webcam. Now, if you’re going to use a webcam, one of the things that’s also very different is, if I’m an outside salesperson I’ve been taught to look someone in the eye, that’s a sign of respect. Well in a virtual environment, looking someone in the eye is not really looking them in the eye. I have to get comfortable looking in the lens of a camera because that’s truly looking someone in the eye and that’s very different. So, what that tells us is if we’re going to use a tool like that, we’ve got to get comfortable with it. So, if I’m looking down here talking to you, because I think I’m looking at your face and I’m really not, it’s odd, it’s awkward, and it makes for a very uncomfortable selling environment. But when you think of the selling aspect of it, there’s a discovery meeting. Well, that discovery meeting, you should be preparing the questions you’re going to ask, the information you’re going to share. No different than when you were selling outside. You get to a point where you need to memorialize the relationship in a proposal. So again, very similar, but one of the things that you would be able to do in an outside sales environment is to present the proposal.

When I see a lot of inside salespeople, now called virtual salespeople, do is they email the proposal over and sit there and fingers crossed saying, “Oh my gosh, I hope I get the deal.” Never, ever, ever email a proposal. Present it. Just like the outside salesperson would sit down with someone and take them through it, use a virtual environment like the zoom meeting, for example, show it on screen and walk them through the different sections of it. Because if you send it over, here’s, what’s going to happen. They’re going to flip to page seven, which has the pricing on it. And they’re going to look at the price and they’re either going to love it, or they’re going to hate it. And they’re either going to say you got the deal or more likely, they’re going to say nothing and go dark on you.

If you guide them through it, it helps to remind them of the differentiators that you have. Why are you even talking, so the challenges that were covered during discovery lead them down the path and then explain the investment that’s associated with your solution. But the key there is mastery of the tools that you’re using. Using a webcam, some type of sharing tool, whatever it might be. The time to figure those out is that when you have a client involved, you do that outside. You make sure, you know every aspect of those tools inside and out, and then guide them through that process just as you would in outside sales. Don’t overthink the role, but rather take what you did in outside sales and figure out ways to apply it in that virtual environment.

OF: Well, those are some fantastic, actionable tips. Lee, thank you so much for taking the time to share your expertise with our audience. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation.

LS: Well, thank you for having me, Olivia. It’s been great fun.

OF: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:19:18
Book Club: Colleen Stanley on the Importance of Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leaders Olivia Fuller,Colleen Stanley Mon, 10 Aug 2020 18:00:25 +0000 56bc7faa2cf99602049db2fd4af446d14ad1f5c4 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs. Today, I’m so excited to welcome Colleen Stanley. Colleen, could you just take a minute and introduce yourself to our audience?

Colleen Stanley: Well, first of all, Olivia, thank you for having me, I’m really happy to be here today. I’m president of Sales Leadership, and we are a sales development firm. We specialize primarily in sales leadership training, sales training, and then obviously work with a lot of companies on virtual keynotes these days in the environment of COVID, and consulting work. So that’s kind of the big umbrella.

OF: In your book, “Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership”, you explain how sales managers often approach the development of their teams by coaching training on the hard skills, but that soft skills are just as critical to sales success. Why should sales leaders focus on enhancing the emotional intelligence of their teams?

CS: Well, obviously my answer’s going to be biased because we’ve been working in this space for almost 10 years. I would say the first thing though, is when you start studying emotional intelligence and incorporating it into your sales training and coaching processes, what you’ll find is it really bridges the knowing and doing gap.

Let me give you a couple of quick examples. What we have framed often as the sales rep IQ– which is very important, by the way, consultative stuff, skills, negotiation skills, asking questions, asking for the business– but when you take a look at one part negotiation skills, you can teach a lot of the IQ there, however, many of us have seen a seller that’s been taught good negotiation skills, and then when they get with a really good negotiator emotion start running the sales conversation.

They get nervous, and because they get nervous, they start discounting or overselling or defending and justifying. So, the coaching in this situation would be coaching the salesperson on self-awareness in emotion management, because if you don’t remain stable, you’re not able to execute the hard selling skills. It’s really the bridging of sales IQ and sales EQ.

OF: Definitely. So, what are some of those soft skills that you think are most important for success in sales today?

CS: Well, there’s a lot of them, but let’s maybe take a look at three of those, and one I just mentioned, and that is emotion management. That is really the ability to remain calm or relaxed in any kind of sales conversation. In order to develop your emotion management skills, not default to fight or flight responses in a sales conversation, that requires the development of another skill and that is emotional self-awareness. That which you’re not aware of, you cannot change, and that which you’re not aware of, you’re bound to repeat.

If you ever observe, even in your personal life or professional life, if you continue to make the same mistakes, usually the root cause is you’re just simply not slowing down enough to think. What’s the trigger event that’s causing me to respond in a manner I regret?

Then I would say a third one, it actually starts with an E, is empathy. Well this, it’s actually become kind of a buzzword in business today, is knowing what somebody else is thinking or feeling. The reality is, how can we possibly think we want to know the human being, if we don’t know or can’t care about what they’re thinking or feeling? But here’s the caveat, Olivia, is many people confuse empathy with validation skills, repeating what someone has said. Empathy is not validation skills because really great empathetic salespeople say what somebody is not saying, they hear the conversation that’s not happening. In order to back up and develop the empathy skill, you’ve really got to sit and think because how can you know what somebody else is thinking or feeling if you simply don’t think, take the time to think about what you are thinking or feeling?

I would say, if you start with the three E’s, you’re going to get a very good start on sales success with yourself and leading a sales team, teaching those skills, reinforcing those skills, coaching to those skills.

OF: Fantastic. So, one important factor that you outlined in your book is a desire to learn continuously. How can sales managers really help foster a culture of learning among their sales teams?

CS: Well, the first is make it easy on yourself, sales managers. Include in your hiring and vetting process of potential candidates their aptitude and attitude for learning. It’s interesting, but I go off to speak to groups, CEOs, VPs of sales. Obviously, they are learners. They were taking time out of their day to come to a conference. Now, today they’re virtual, but back in the day they were in person. So, these are very busy people, so they have an aptitude and attitude for learning.

But I will pose this question: how many of you are vetting your potential candidates at your company for learning? The answer is always the same. They kind of look left, look right, then not too many hands go up. First of all, hire for learning, but like anything, then you’ve got to create a culture of that learning.

Number one, model it. Are you as the leader modeling it? Are you telling people, “Hey, here’s this book I read, here’s a conference I attended, here’s my mastermind group”? And then the third is actually incorporating your coaching. A really easy way to do that is to have a book group, say “Okay, you guys, this is the book of the month. This is what we’re going to be reading this month”, and then have members of your team teach the chapter to other people on their team. When you teach, you get better at the knowledge. So, those would be a few tips I would share with the audience on how do you really create that learning culture out there.

OF: So, you also discuss how building an emotionally intelligent sales team really begins during the hiring process, actually. What are some of the key things that you think leaders should be looking for when they’re selecting candidates that really demonstrate these emotional intelligence skills?

CS: One such skill is, in the EQ world it’s called self-regard. Actually, that’s simply having an inner confidence, but let’s take that a step further. When you truly have an inner confidence, you’re also a person that’s able to admit your strengths or weaknesses. When you’ve got a person that’s willing to admit their strengths and weaknesses, that leads to a highly coachable person, because coachability is huge in life.

All of us have been that sales leader that they were going to give that well-intended feedback, they use the sandwich method, something positive, what you need to improve on, only to be met with “Yeah but, yeah but…” or shifting the blame to you. So, when you hire somebody that’s got that ability to admit their strengths and weaknesses, you’ve also got a coachable person.

I also suggest hiring for humility because when you take a look at really confident people, there’s a fine line between arrogance and confidence. Humble people are learners because they don’t have know-it-all-itis. They’re actually really kind of curious about what they don’t know.

I would say a third skill to hire for is delayed gratification. I got to tell you, in these times of the pandemic, putting in the work to earn the reward, instant gratification are getting weeded out right now. Sales cycles are getting longer, you’ve got to reengineer value propositions, you have to learn how to maybe have new conversations with new decision makers. So, I would say delayed gratification is a huge skill, and backed by research for successful people, regardless of the industry.

OF: In the book, you also talked about the concept of defining your non-negotiables. So, the soft skills that are really most important for you on your team for salespeople to demonstrate. What are some of your non-negotiables for your teams and how can sales leaders identify and apply their own?

CS: Well, the first one, Olivia, is actually take the time to go, what is my nonnegotiable? I don’t think a lot of sales managers take the time to say, I guess the popular term would be what’s my red line? I think when you really get clear on that, taking the time to think– thinking is a great skill for all us to have– is writing those down and developing interview questions around those. For example, I grew up in the Midwest on a farm. I grew up in a work ethic family. Now today, where we’ve got work-life balance, and we’ve got lots of talk about that, I understand all of that, but there are times in your career where you’re going to be out of balance. It simply is the reality of life. So, one of my non-negotiables is a work ethic. A question I would ask, two or three questions around this, is tell me about the hardest you’ve ever worked in your life, because my concept of a work ethic, it might be very different than the candidate. I like to ask people when their first job was because you really can’t teach a work ethic if somebody’s never had a job until they’re 30. I’m being facetious there. So, I’d say a work ethic is number one.

I would also say honesty. Now, this is going to sound like, well, who’s not going to say that? But, if you back up, you can work with a lot of things, but you cannot work with a game player. You can’t work with somebody again that doesn’t have the confidence to admit a mistake, somebody that’s assertive enough to say, “Hey, Colleen, I disagree with you”. I mean, that’s where honesty comes from. This is actually being assertive enough to state what you need. I would say those are really two non-negotiables for me. I can accept mistakes. I will not accept a lie.

OF: Now, Colleen, given the world that we’re all in now, a lot of sales meetings and coaching conversations are happening virtually now. What advice do you have for how sales leaders can continue to facilitate really effective conversations through digital channels?

CS: One thing I will give people hope for immediately, did you know that remote sales management is not new? It’s been around for a lot of years. In fact, when I became a sales manager, I had the good fortune to start with a small company that actually today they’re the largest in the world in their industry.

We were remote sales managers. We had salespeople, all over the country, I guess you call them virtual offices now. So, be a little careful that you’re not making a bigger deal of it than it is. Now, with that being said, I do think with remote sales management, you’ve got to be more intentional. What’s making it difficult for a lot of teams right now is that they didn’t choose to start the business model with remote sales management. So, you’ve got salespeople that signed up to be in an office, a culture. There’s a vibe there. I’ve got my neighbors, it’s kind of fun. You’ve got your neighbor that you’re hearing ring the bell or whatever there.

So, I do believe managers need to be more intentional about reaching out. One thing, I’d advise everyone, sales leader, salespeople is to make sure you don’t fall victim to something that’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect. This is a work of psychology that basically says we all think we do more than we do. We all think we’re better at things than we are. So, a sales manager might think they’re having enough coaching conversations. They might think they’re having enough communication, but if they really track it, their KPIs, maybe they’re not having enough of the conversation.

The second piece of advice– and I just worked with a group yesterday where they are an inside sales team that just had to move into the remote offices– so one thing I suggested to them, I said, recreate what the day in the life in the office used to be like, from the time you entered the door, you saw somebody in the highway, you won a big deal, you hung up the phone and said, “I screwed that up”. Create those moments remotely and involve your sales team in that. Do try to recreate as much of that as possible. So those would be my two tips.

OF: Well, Colleen, thank you so much for joining us today. You provided such tremendous advice for our audience, and we really appreciate you taking the time.

CS: Thank you, and thank you for being so well prepared. You made the interview quite easy and pleasant.

OF: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:13:31
Book Club: Jim Kirkpatrick on Leveraging the Kirkpatrick Model in Sales Enablement Olivia Fuller,Jim Kirkpatrick Mon, 10 Aug 2020 17:50:32 +0000 797cb2a9bdeae15f0e53b7c52f33584d4cd81a18 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a podcast from Sales Enablement PRO. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs. Today, I’m so excited to have Jim Kirkpatrick, the co-owner and senior consultant at Kirkpatrick partners join us. Jim, I’d love if you could just take a moment and introduce yourself to our audience.

Jim Kirkpatrick: Alright, it’s really my pleasure to be here and thanks for inviting me. Jim Kirkpatrick, Kirkpatrick Partners. I am a chip off the old block, the oldest son of my dad, Don Kirkpatrick, who invented the four levels back in the 1950s, and over the last 20, 25 years I’ve been carrying the torch and worked for the company as a co-owner of Kirkpatrick Partners.

We are doing our best to help learning providers and talent management people to become business partners and not just training providers.

OF: To what degree are current evaluation processes in most organizations on track to demonstrate training’s value to the business?

JK: Well, I hate to say it, but for the most part, they are not. People are following tradition faithfully, smile sheets to see if the participants are happy, pre- and post-knowledge tests to see if they’ve improved their scores and what they’ve got in their head, and maybe a 90-day or 120-day survey to find out what’s going on out there. To be honest, there’s two things wrong with that. One, you’re not getting nearly enough information using single-source or single-method kinds of things. Most of this stuff is not really relevant to performance. The biggest problem is not focusing on the performance itself, but only finding out at 90 days, are we seeing anything from our training? And doing nothing about trying to inspire it or compel it to happen.

For the most part, senior leaders are not finding the data and the information that learning providers are presenting as credible that they are indeed making a difference in the business.

OF: What is the Kirkpatrick model?

JK: There are four levels: level four is results. We want to do some kind of a business needs analysis to find out what results are stakeholders looking for. Then, level three is behavior. To what degree people applied it, which will then lead to level four. We want to find out what kind of performance and behaviors will people need to do on the job at level three in order to see the results. Level two is learning, what will they need to know? What skills will they have to have in confidence to perform their job? Level one is reaction, just good adult learning theory of how can we reach them so that they’re even interested enough to learn in the, in the beginning? For instance, 15 minutes works better than 45 minutes for those kinds of things. That’s the reverse order of what it takes to plan effectively.

Unfortunately, most of our industry thinks we start with level one, with the smile sheet. We do level two, some training and hope they learn it. Then, as I said, a survey for level three and then really, basically say level four is unattainable. And it’s just not true.

OF: Your training often refers to building bridges. What does that have to do with evaluation?

JK: Well, I had a conversation, just one-on-one with Stephen Covey about 10 years ago. I asked him about his seven habits, is there one that really stood out against all the rest? And he said, “No, really they all equally all kind of work together”. I said, “I know that, but is there one that you think our industry needs to perform more than others?”

He kind of looked around, all kind of twinkly and said, “Yeah, there is. Seek first to understand before for you seek to be understood”. That’s what the bridges are about. Our industry says, “I can’t get any buy-in from senior leaders. We can’t get any buy-in from the managers”. It’s because they have not built bridges with them, relationships and earned the right to get collaboration with them by first seeking to understand. We’re so eager to start peddling our wares, our competency models, and our learning objectives and our skill gaps closing. They don’t care about that stuff. We have to first build strategic bridges with our senior leaders to get them on board with this, and to hear them out before we start talking.
With the supervisors and managers, we need to hear them out. What are the challenges that are going on? Hopefully what will happen then is, if we listen, there’s enough with their goodwill in mind, they’ll say, “Jim, you got something that can help us”, and I’ll say, “As a matter of fact, I think we do”.

I love the word enablement that you use. I got to call you on that because enablement could mean a couple of different things. It could be enabling the results, or it could be enabling the performance. We look at both. Level three enables the results, it’s the only pathway to get to results, but you’ve got to enable the performance and turn the learning into doing.

I love that you don’t just call it sales training. You call it sales enablement, enabling people, whatever it takes to get them to do their job so that the results will be forthcoming. So, I just got to call you out on that word. It’s a good one.

OF: How can you get buy-in for training programs from senior leadership?

JK: Well, first of all, do your homework. You know, review the mission statement, the vision statement, the core values, those kinds of things so you’re educated from a strategic point of view before you just go in and say, “What keeps you up at night?” The buy-in, I can tell you is not just a senior leader, a program sponsor saying, “Yeah, it sounds like a good program. I’m behind you. Go for it”. Buy-in for us is in action. What we try and do is talk to the senior leader, the program sponsor, the senior salesperson for instance, and make sure they understand that the more they are actively involved in the follow-up and the accountability and championing those who are doing well and challenging those who aren’t, the faster the behaviors will take place and the quicker their results will come.

We have to make that kind of a business case to them that first of all, we got to end the madness. Training alone isn’t enough to get the job done. It never has been, it isn’t and never will be, but the bridges and the buy-in through action will help enable and help pull through the performance in order to get the results. We have to first convince them, don’t rely on training alone, rely on the collaborative effort, the cooperative efforts, and you guys, senior leaders, have more authority and more influence than all the rest of us put together. So, then you want to make sure you’re giving them some things to do, working out with them things that are easy to do, that are not too complicated, and you reserve for your mission-critical programs.

OF: How do you ensure that training is effective in creating the behavior change that’s necessary to improve performance?

JK: Well, first of all, training won’t. It will give people the skills to do it. Look at what’s happening with COVID-19. It’s a beautiful example of something that we should emulate. They are focusing on three critical behaviors and that is the mask, washing your hands, and social distancing.

Certainly, there’s a little bit of education about what’s causing the virus and this and that. There could be some training about that, but it comes down to, over and over, is how many different ways Dr. Fauci and Deborah Birx and the whole world is trying to remind us and compel us to do it with the signs on the highway, the circles in central park, the plexiglass, all the different things that are designed to enable us and compel us to apply those three critical behaviors.

They’re really right when they say the degree to which we apply those critical behaviors will determine how quickly we flatten the curve. We’re seeing in places where those behaviors aren’t happening, even though people know better, we don’t need to train them about those things. They’ve all heard it. The world has heard it. It’s all about how we get them to do it. Those are the areas that are either successful or not, the degree to which they’re applying those three behaviors. Follow the science, follow the data, see what kind of numbers you’re getting, real numbers. It’s a beautiful model for us to engage in, and you can see how difficult it is when you’re out there. Very few people, at least around here are wearing masks and they’re huddling up together. They’re having fun on the boat together and the beast is still around.

OF: Now, Jim, what does the future of training look like from your vantage point?

JK: We still will always need foundational training. I understand that, but we can’t be putting 85% of our effort into it. The key word is performance. Those of us who will apply learning – and I don’t call it microlearning, I call it micro performance boost. It isn’t just about quick little things to get into my head, but it is things that will get into my head quickly that will cause me to do my job better. I think the future of training is giving people things that they need to improve the job that the supervisor has recommended, the supervisor is supporting, that will act quickly and easily to improve their performance.

Once we get back to a new normal, there isn’t going to be time and money on a lot of training that is not hitting the performance mark. That is a luxury that is gone for the most part. It really needs to be the short things because of our short attention spans, needs to be videos in a variety of different means in order to help employees do their job better. Their supervisors say, “These people helped us” and the senior leaders will say, “Job well done, come back and help us more”.

OF: Well, Jim, this has been a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much for sharing your insights with our audience.

JK: My pleasure. Good talking to you guys.

OF: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:11:28
Book Club: Lisa Goldman on Building Strong Professional Relationships Olivia Fuller,Lisa Goldman Mon, 10 Aug 2020 17:36:24 +0000 f16dea57ce463df9a5de1c142bdd47c8599c2049 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club: a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices, so they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m so excited to welcome Lisa Goldman. She is the author of The Moonshot Effect. Lisa, thanks so much for joining us. Could you please take a minute and introduce yourself to our audience?

Lisa Goldman: Thanks, Olivia, good morning to you. Good morning or whatever time of day to anyone who’s listening to this. I’m really thrilled to be here.

I’ve been a management consultant for about 30 years. I started my career at Apple and I’ve since worked with about 350 companies, probably over 4,000 executives in business of all kinds and it’s really allowed me — the reason I’m telling you that is to illustrate how well it’s allowed me to really steal best practices from all kinds of industries and great people.

If I had a talent at anything it’s at copying, and that’s what I’m here to talk about today — those things that I’ve seen that are really outstanding and worth copying and replicating in one’s business and one’s business practices because they work so well.

OF: Lisa, like I said, we’re so excited to chat with you today. Sales enablement is a highly collaborative role and professionals often need to work very closely with cross-functional stakeholders across the organization. And in your book, The Moonshot Effect, you discussed the impact of fundamental people skills and building alignment in the workplace. What are some techniques that leaders can use to better connect and then create resonance with those that they work with?

LG: Yeah, I would say that there are so many books written on this and so many things around creating that alignment and resonance with people that you work with. I’m going to boil it down to one thing. I’m going to make it really easy.
And that one thing is “create partnership.” People like to work with others that they feel in partnership with. You like to have friends that you feel in partnership with, you like to create with people who you feel you have some kind of partnership with.

And, although many people get that kind of by chance in their lives, there really is a technology to it that you can do. Creating a partnership, first of all, starts with identifying the people that you want to create partnership with. Salespeople are really good at this and sales enablement people, I think out of their halo effect with salespeople, become good at that also.

So that’s really step number one, find the people who, if you created a great partnership with them would make the biggest difference. Pick three people, set your sights on them and literally write them down. So that’s step number one, identification.

Step number two is it’s got to come out of your mouth. You have to literally say to the person — I have an intention of creating a partnership with you. And the reason I want to create that partnership is, so this is step number three — is the end of that sentence. Is set a goal that you are inviting them to work with you on. I’d like to create a partnership with you so that we can increase the number of people who we have in our sales training by two X, by the end of the year, or whatever that thing would be. So, if step one is identify the person, step two is say your intention, specifically, and step three is state what the goal is.

Then there’s a fourth step. This is a really easy step, but nobody does it. Very often, people do the first three. Step number four is, will you participate with me in that? Ask them the question. You don’t get married by falling into it. Someone’s got to ask somebody. So, will you participate in that with me? We don’t know what we’re doing yet, but let’s do that together. Are you willing to go along?

And 99% of the time people say yes. When they say yes, something magic happens, and that’s what we’re talking about. That’s what real partnership and that resonance gets created. You don’t have to leave it up to chance. You can have it happen any day, every day.

OF: Absolutely. You also wrote about the importance of showing genuine appreciation for the work of others. Can you tell us a little bit about why that acknowledgment piece is so critical to building professional relationships?

LG: Yeah, so here’s what I think. I’ve worked in, as I said, 350 companies all over the world in China, in Japan, in many countries in Europe, in all over the parts of the US, all industries. People are at their core very, very similar. And what I think is that — I’m actually getting goosebumps thinking about it — what really is at the heart of it is people want to make a difference. They want to. They want to participate in something that they know is going to make a difference and do it with other people. So, you mirroring your appreciation for them knits them into that system very tightly. And it’s them knitting them to you. So, the importance of acknowledging people’s contributions is that you’re giving them exactly what they came for. That’s what they come to work for every day.

OF: In your book, you outlined four different levels of acknowledgment. Could you tell our audience a little bit about what each of those different levels represents?

LG: I think acknowledgment, like partnership, can be left to chance or kismet or chemistry.

So, as you referred to in my book, we refer in the book to four steps of acknowledgment and they’re not linear steps. One is not better than the other — they’re different flavors, really. If I scream each one more complicated, you might start with vanilla. Hey, vanilla is the basis of some pretty fantastic desserts. So sometimes you need vanilla, right? It’s not like it’s wrong and the fourth level is better. I want to outline them so people can see various moves in the game that they could use, aspects of the tool.

The first is, acknowledging it’s about the thing. I sometimes call it “nice tie acknowledgment.” Like, oh, that’s a nice tie, that’s a beautiful blue color on you. That’s a great background that you have, you’re in sales enablement background. That’s a really clear report that you gave at the presentation yesterday.

It’s about the thing. It’s the thing. That kind of acknowledgment is terrific and wonderful. It’s also just about the only kind of acknowledgment that most people use. It feels low risk, like you can do it without feeling too embarrassed. You might embarrass the other person, and in fact, sometimes people go, Oh no, no, no, no, that was just our first try or, you know, try to back away from it. That’s interesting but it’s still powerful. So, the first level of acknowledgement is about the thing.

The second level of acknowledgment is about you — you and the thing. “I really appreciate, and in fact I do appreciate that you wore that color today. It’s so easy to see you on the screen and it’s really easy and clear for me to look at you. It’s great that you chose that color. Your presentation, your clear presentation in the meeting yesterday — I really appreciate how much detail you were able to convey in some very simple ways. You really have a talent at simplifying things without making them then be throw away or belittled.” So, the second level of knowledge acknowledgment is about you. The person that I’m acknowledging.

The third level of acknowledgment is about me. Most people don’t like this, they don’t want to do this thing. So, what that looks like is, “I saw the video that you did and the blue blouse that you wore that made it so easy to see you. And I realized, I am on Zoom all day long and I don’t pay attention to what I’m wearing so people can see me well, and it inspired me to relook at that. And I’m not going to do that anymore. I’m not going to wear an old brown t-shirt.”

So, it’s about what you inspired in me. “The clarity of the presentation that you made yesterday. The way you simplified those complex ideas — I had meeting with my team the following day, and I asked them: “Could we take the first 10 minutes to simplify something that we’ve been working on that’s been so complex? And in fact we’ve been complexifying it and instead we simplified it and it changed the entire relationship that people had to this project. It’s about what your thing inspired in the world.

Now, the reason this is so important is this: people want to make a difference. As I said before, this is the juice. People are talking about someone who has a loyal group of people who work with them and when they go to another company, those people would follow them. This is why — they know that what they do, their contribution is valued and makes a difference and they’re told so and this is why people come to work.

It is the cure, by the way — sidebar, it’s the cure for overwhelming burnout. People get overwhelmed and burned out because they’re just on the gerbil wheel and working, working, working, and lots of activity and it doesn’t make a difference. When you let them know that it makes a difference and what difference that is — huge. This is huge. It reinvigorates people.

The fourth level is — I’m going to call it the “so that” of it all. It’s not only did you make a difference, but you made a difference “so that” we all can walk into a different future together. “So that” the fact that my team now knows how to simplify things, it now allows us to have a much more of an impact on the strategy that our company, delivers and does in this market. And we never would have had that opening before. It points everyone towards the future and keeps people aligned and knitted together in a way that is so easy to do, not almost never done, and people are hungry for and missing. So those are the four levels.

OF: That’s fantastic. What does positive acknowledgment look like in practice? How can leaders really make it a habit to acknowledge the work of others in a productive way?

LG: When you’re using the word habit — I love that you’re using the word habit, it’s very powerful.

So, I have a habit of not going to the gym. I gotta tell ya, that’s my habit, right, of not going to the gym? And how I change that habit is I have a friend and I’ve told her I’m going to go to the gym four times this week. Well, not now because we’re enjoined from going to the gym, but in regular times, and I call her up every day that I go to the gym and I keep a little track.

And that’s how you change a habit. Having a habit to do something means you have to declare it as a goal. One of the things I often suggest to people is that they literally take a post-it note and write on it, “I’m going to suggest three acknowledgments today” and they stick it in their office or on their computer or their calendar where whatever is upfront for them. And sometimes you might want to up the challenge and say three acknowledgments before 10:00 AM or before 9:00 AM if you want to get it out of the way.

Having a daily goal is what’s required to change a habit. Waiting for the opportunity, it will never happen. It has to come from you taking a step into the world rather than make waiting for the world to indicate that it’s now time, like somebody does such a great report or that you are inspired to say something.

One of the examples that I use and I actually do often is I challenged myself to acknowledge every barista who makes any coffee for me. And sometimes I’ll forget and I once forgot, I got all the way out to my car and I turned around and went back and said, “I have to tell you, this is one of the best – it happened to be true — one of the best coffees I’ve had in a long time. Thank you so much for making it this way.” And she stopped dead in her tracks and looked like she’d been hit by the love bug.

It really made a difference to her. The opportunity is everywhere, and it’s not about opportunity. It’s about intention. That’s how you make a habit.

OF: How can professionals go about really intentionally developing and maintaining those relationships in their professional networks?

LG: One of the things that I heard from a very senior sales head of sales for a multinational 20,000 person company here in the Bay area, she said very specifically about sales enablement that the key to success for sales enablement was being able to create these kinds of things.

Being able to scale, and scale means you have to have that powerful partnership and be aligned on what the outcomes are so that you can track them and deliver them. And all of that requires intentionally developing and maintaining relationships.

So, in addition to the partnership, things that I referred to earlier, I think there are some very clear, easy, very low tech — I am going back into the stone age of low tech because it works so well — things to do. One of the things I recommend if you are wanting to expand your network into other companies or other sectors — people outside your company, or if your company is large enough, even people inside your company — set a Google alert for that person’s name, set a Google alert for that person’s company. And anytime something comes up, send them an email and say, “I saw this, congratulations,” or say something about it so that they know there’s someone out there in the world.

Here’s what I can tell. I do this with every client, every company I work with or have ever worked with. Here’s what I can tell you. Nobody sends them emails about that. You will show up as one of none and that’s great. So that’s a very low-tech thing to do and you don’t have to search the newspaper. It will come to you.

The second thing is — I am a fan of handwritten notes. I worked with a CEO of a very large company on the East coast in retail actually, and she did something brilliant. She wrote a handwritten note to one of her employees and there were 12,000 employees — one of her employees every day, every single day she wrote a handwritten note to somebody. 99% of the time they were somebody she didn’t know, so she had to randomly pick somebody and then find out something about them and write them a thank you note about the contribution that they were making.

This made her hugely likable. People would frame them, they would show everybody. A thank you note is very, very powerful. One of the easiest things you can do: get on Amazon and order a bunch of really fantastic cards. They could be from a museum or just some really high-quality cards that you can mail and send one a day for thirty days and see what happens. That’s something you can do. You can do it to people inside your company, on your team. If you know that it’s somebody’s birthday and this also will help you craft your ability to acknowledge, but those are things that I would suggest.

The third thing is that companies have boards, but people don’t often think about having a board for themselves. And that’s something you can do. You can decide, I’d like to have a board of advisors and I’d like to invite four people to join my board of advisors and certainly in pre-COVID times you could take them out to lunch once a quarter, but maybe you have something fun, where you have a Zoom call and you’ve arranged for everyone to have lunch delivered to wherever they are. And have a board meeting once a quarter that’s your board, or to have advisors. People don’t need anything else than that. People love the invitation. I’ve never heard anyone report back that someone said no to them for that. So that’s a great way to build your network as well.

OF: Lisa, thanks so much again for taking the time to talk to us today, we really appreciated your insights.

LG: You’re so welcome. It really was my pleasure. Thank you for thinking of this and thank you for doing it too.

OF: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know.
We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:22:24
Book Club: Julie Dirksen on Designing Learning Programs to Improve Retention Olivia Fuller,Julie Dirksen Mon, 10 Aug 2020 17:30:43 +0000 a010371077e29982f3e999b5ace546663012eecc Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices, so they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m so excited to have Julie Dirksen, author of “Design for How People Learn”, join us. Julie, I’d love If you could just take a minute and introduce yourself to our audience.

Julie Dirksen: Yeah, so, my book is “Design for How People Learn” and I identify primarily as an instructional designer. So, how do we design good learning experiences that are effective at helping people basically be better at their jobs?

Almost all of what I do is geared towards kind of adult or workplace learning. “Design for How People Learn” came about because it seemed like we were sort of missing a first book in the field that explained some of the underlying principles to people in terms of how do you think about designing good learning experiences, and what are the factors that you need to take into account? We had some older ones, but there hadn’t been one in a while. And so, my whole marketing plan for the book was hopefully other people will recommend it. And, that’s worked out pretty well. I think we’re somewhere over about 50,000 copies sold at this point.

It was described the target audience as, “Hey, you’re a good customer service rep” or it might be, “Hey, you’re a good salesperson, we’re going to let you train them.” They’re salespeople and then all of a sudden you have to take all of this domain knowledge that you have about your job and figure out how do you communicate it to other people.

And so that’s really who the book is aimed at. And that was my origin story. I was, “Hey, you’re a good data entry person, you can teach data entry to other people.” So, I had a data entry job and I was a college student. So many people come at learning and training and sales enablement from a domain expertise point of view. The whole point was to give people some of the key ideas and background in order to be able to then figure out how do they take all this great knowledge that they haven’t communicated to other people.

OF: In your book, you talk about the importance of assessing different learning gaps when designing a learning experience. What are some of the different types of learning gaps that might be present?

JD: People are always looking for something, have a systematic way to think through a learning problem and to, to decide what to design for it. And that’s where things like learning styles come from like, “Oh, that’d be a way to analyze the problem.” It turns out the evidence base behind learning styles isn’t very good. There doesn’t seem to be much evidence to support that it’s an effective model. I wanted to give people sort of a different tool set and you’ll see a lot of times KSAs are knowledge, skills, attitudes, and I actually expand on that a little bit.

So, I look at if it is a knowledge gap, what’s going to help people. Sometimes that is the gap between where somebody is and where they need to be. If you have a very experienced salesperson who totally knows their product line and all you’ve got are a few updates to that product line, then knowledge is all they need. They just need to know what those updates are. They’ll be able to take that knowledge and go and use it. But if you’ve got an inexperienced salesperson who doesn’t know much about the product line at all, just handing them those facts probably isn’t going to be enough to help them adequately apply those in the workplace.

Sometimes it’s a knowledge gap, but sometimes it’s more than a knowledge gap and a lot of training unfortunately gets treated as we just need to tell people the thing and then they’ll do something differently. I also look at things like procedural gaps, where we have a really defined rule set. So, the procedure for filling out a sales report or the procedures for doing an order or something like that might be really specific. And we have a nice set of rules and we know exactly what correct performance looks like.

But then there are also skills gaps. Skills have one really simple thing. Is it reasonable to think that somebody can be proficient without practice? And if the answer is no. They really can’t be proficient at practice. For example, could you call somebody up and explain it to him over the phone? Well, procedural stuff, maybe you could just talk them through the steps, right?

But with skills, you’re never going to call somebody up and explain golf to them over the phone, and then expect them to be able to go out and play golf. So, anything where we really know that practice is going to be important in order for somebody to get good at something, that’s what I consider to be a skills gap and skills are particularly important because then the answer is sort of built right into the question of what do we need to do for these people?
Well, we need to give them opportunities for practice and figure out how they’re going to get feedback on their performance. I can go as deep as you want on kind of different kinds of skills and what the issues are. A lot of times it’s seeing enough case examples. That’s a big one that shows up in skills gaps, right?

Expertise is often brought about because people have seen enough examples that they start to really understand what the patterns are. But sometimes that stuff is subtle. So, like buying signs from a customer might be something that an experienced person can absolutely pinpoint. Boom, that’s a buying sign.

But if it’s somebody new and they’ve only seen a few customer examples, they may not be able to kind of pinpoint those. The question is how many cases does that new person need to see in order to develop that same level of expertise that your experienced person has?

I also look at gaps around habits, which are things that are it automatic or nearly automatic behaviors that occur in response to usually a trigger in the inbox. So, something you kind of do without thinking about it. You can have knowledge that flossing is a good idea. You can know how to floss adequately. You can even be really motivated the floss. You totally want to start flossing but it’s still not a habit for you. Then when we have that issue of we need that extra mile or ensure whatever the distance would be to make it a habit. Then the question is, how do we do that? Do we build it into procedure? Do we change? Do we make people much more aware of the triggers in the environment and kind of a prediction and how they’re going to handle that trigger so that the habit starts to become a little bit more automatic for people? Do we just practice it enough that they can do it without thinking about it?

There’s a number of different strategies specific to that. If you identify that the gap has habit built into it, then you know there’s some other things that you can do to kind of help with that. Also motivation gaps, and I sort of referred to this as people know what to do, but they still aren’t doing it.

So, people know they’re supposed to wear safety equipment, and yet, for some reason it’s not happening. And then there’s kind of a whole set of questions that you go into with motivation, because quite frankly, we typically think of motivation as people don’t care enough, but usually what the problem is with motivation is that there’s no feedback in the system to reinforce the behavior. Or there’s the other motivation problem – this system is actually set up to reinforce the wrong behavior. I was talking to some people in one of my workshops and they were talking about their company’s different attitudes towards making calls in the car when people were driving.

Both companies actually had a policy against it and one had a policy against it that was followed up on very carefully. And you know, it was a serious infraction if you’re found to be making a bunch of calls while driving. At the other company, it was like, “well, yeah, technically it’s against the rules, but you know, we had to hit your numbers without doing it.”

Everybody just pretends it’s okay. And I’m like, well, you know, the issue there isn’t how motivated this person is to be safe and driving, the issue is, what is it the feedback mechanisms that are in place in both of those environments? Then the last one really is environment. Sometimes it’s easier to fix the system or to fix the tools or to create supports than it is to try to fix the person.

I’ve been using hand washing as an example, and obviously that’s super top of mind for everybody at the moment with pandemics and things like that. But I mean, the hand-washing compliance and health care used to be closer to about 40% and now, and I will grant you it’s been a few years since I pulled the data, but the last time I pulled the data, it was closer to 70%, but the difference was less about changing the people and more about the addition of things like alcohol-based hand rubs and changing the physical environment to make hand-washing super convenient and just part of the process of moving around the physical environments. That’s a case where we can spend a lot of time trying to persuade people to act differently, but actually fixing their environment probably has a bigger impact in that case.

OF: When people have different levels of knowledge, how can you address that with the design of your learning programs?

JD: Yeah, and it really depends. So, if you’re in any kind of environment where the learners are interacting with each other, then figuring out ways to sort of have respect for the people who have more knowledge and then enlist them in the efforts that you’re doing. So, whether it’s group work or having them kind of pairing them up with somebody who’s more of a new person so that they can actually use some of their knowledge and information to help some of the other people in the class. Also, it’s less tedious for them if they’re actually helping people, as opposed to just sort of being told stuff that they already know.

So, this is one of the really hard problems in classroom environments. This is a tough thing, because you want to design your class experience to target the learner where they’re at and when they’re kind of all over the place, it’s hard to have multiple experiences. Especially in kind of face to face classroom and things like that, that in digital environments, I think a lot about is about layering in the environment. So, we’ve got the sort of straightforward version that should be good for everybody, and everybody should be able to understand. But then you can build in some aides and supports for somebody who’s really new. So, I didn’t understand this thing. Tell me more. And you can also build in the learn more or more advanced topics.

And so, creating a good way to sort of set options in front of people so that they can adjust to the level that they want to be at, or that they need to be. I do think that if it’s a good digital learning experience, stuff that you’re asking your learners to do, and so some can access more help or some can speed through it faster, depending on their levels.

So, there are ways to design some of those digital learning environments so that the learners themselves can adapt to it because our computers are still pretty stupid. And the smartest person in a learning environment is still going to be your learner. So. giving them some choices and options that they can choose to see, “yes, I need more information” or “no, I really don’t”. They’re probably the person best able to judge that at any given time. It’s not perfect, but it’s still a better solution. So, trying to figure out how do we create environments where people can adapt the environment themselves, or make choices about how much information they needed at any given point.

OF: What are some strategies to command the attention of your learners?

JD: And this is a hard problem. Honestly, I think this is one of the hardest problems of the big switch that we’ve had to do to virtual learning is when you are in your virtual environments, you’re not leaving your regular workplace and kind of going to a place with less distractions, which is what happens when you go to a training class.

And I mean, there’s other reasons why training classes are maybe less ideal in the sense of they don’t have the context of real life. But at the same time, the fact that you’re sort of stepping out of all of these distractions is a huge benefit. And I think part of the reason that there’s continued to be as much face to face learning experiences as there have been is because it’s definitely cheaper to do digital and not fly people some place. Mostly we can’t right now, so that changes the equation. But I think that the social aspect and the aspect of being able to put yourself outside all of those distractions and things.

So, I think there’s two pieces. One is ensuring that any of your virtual learning experiences are giving people a role, some reason or some active thing to do. So, even if it’s just a Zoom session, can you be asking them questions? Can you have them respond in the chat? Can you have some things that they work on?

Can you use breakout groups? Can you do anything that kind of creates that sort of focus of “I have to do this thing, so that helps me pay attention.” The other piece is there’s certainly strategies that you can encourage people to do about, “Hey, remember to shut off all of your notifications and remember to turn off the ringer on your phone and put it face down.”

Some of those kinds of things, because I know I’ve gotten busted a few times because you’re in a meeting and you know that this part doesn’t apply to you and then you’re checking your email and all of a sudden somebody says your name and you’re like, “I don’t know what we’re talking about.” That’s a very normal part of any kind of online learning environment is how many people are checking their email and things like that.

I’m also a big believer with those kinds of things, it’s not like yelling at people or shaming them, but kind of enlisting them in the solution and the problem-solving. So, what you could do at the beginning of one of those Zoom sessions is go, “okay, what strategies are people using to help them be here and be present and be focused.” And if you even just talk about it and people volunteer strategies, now they have an investment in actually then doing that thing. So, getting people to participate in the conversation of how do we manage those distractions? And then you serve to a certain extent. You just have to accept that. But some of it’s a little bit inevitable. We’re all doing the best we can right now.

OF: What’s the difference between recognizing and then recalling information? And then how can you ensure that retention actually occurs with the information that’s learned?

JD: Absolutely. So, one of the biggest issues with most of the kind of self-study learning environment, so anytime you’ve done any learning course or things like that, it’s relied really heavily on recognition-based learning. So, a multiple-choice test gives you three or four answers and asks you to recognize the right answer.

That’s a much easier cognitive task than being able to just recall the right answer and type it in or something like that. It’s really easy for a lot of those environments to just really rely on recognition. But unfortunately, in the real world, when you’re dealing with a client objection, nobody’s saying, which of these three choices would you like to respond to this client with?

That’s not how that goes, sadly. You don’t have the Google glass thing that gives you your little choices right up there here. Which option would you like to say to this customer? We may get there eventually, but we don’t have it right now, in most cases.

If people have only learned to that standard where they can pick it out of a list, which is recognition, then they may not be able to actually recall it and be able to use that answer when they go back out into the field and they’re talking to somebody. In order to get them to that recall standard, where they can actually generate the answer for somebody, they probably need to practice actually doing that.

Now, one of the nice things about digital tools is there are a lot of ways for people to like record themselves or things like that. So, I know that there are a number of webcam-based sales simulation things that are out there in the world. Those can be really nice. I like the ones where people actually have to come up with their own answer as opposed to just choosing one from a set of options and choosing one from a set of options can be a great way to learn it in the first place, but it probably won’t get you to the point where you can actually then recall that answer when you’re talking to the customers.

So, the question is how do we get the practice to the point where people can actually remember this answer and use it when they get out into the world, as opposed to just being able to choose it from a list.

OF: How can learning design help turn skills into habits?

JD: Yeah. So, one of my favorite sort of little tools or tricks is something called the implementation intentions. And what implementation intentions are, this is a researcher named Peter Gollwitzer. Who’s done a lot of work in this area. And what he’s looked at is basically just setting up a little script for yourself when X happens, I’ll do Y. And so basically, we know that we’re going to get certain responses back.

So, let’s say we’re in a sales call. We know we’re going to get certain objections. I think with objections, there’s pretty good stuff around when you get this objection, here’s what your plan is. But you think about it in terms of all of these sort of little triggers that exist out in the world.

So, I’ll give you an example of what an implementation intention might look like. Let’s say you want to quit smoking and you know that you’re going to get cravings to smoke at some point. So, you can create an implementation intention that says, “okay, when I feel that craving what I’m going to do, I’m going to distract myself”. And that one’s okay.

But you can actually get more specific. So, you could say if I get a craving to smoke, because I’m stressed out, I’ll call my sister and my sister will talk me down. Or if I get a craving to smoke because I’m bored, I’ll play Candy Crush on my phone. Or if I get a craving to smoke because I’m around other people and it’s socializing, I’ll chew gum. I’m just going to have my plan ready because typically we run into these situations where we’re trying to formulate a new habit.
We don’t really know exactly how we want to respond to it. We know we want to do it, but we don’t necessarily, they have like the little script written in the back of her head because it’s much easier to execute if you’ve already decided on what the action is when you bump into this thing.

So, if I hear this objection, I’m going to ask this question. Or if I bump into this problem, I’m going to do this thing. It’s a really tiny thing, but it’s actually kind of a nice life hack for stuff. I have a standing implementation intention that when I can’t find something in my house, so let’s say I can’t find the key the garage door or something like that, when I do find it eventually, I will put it back in the first place that I looked for it when I started looking for it, because that’s apparently where my brain thinks it belongs. And so instead of putting it back where I found it, I’m going to put it back where I think it should be.

And then that way, things are easier to find after the next time I need the key to the garage door lock or something like that. So, having those little things can be a really nice strategy around habits.

OF: Well, Julie, thank you again for sharing your expertise here with our audience. We really enjoyed the conversation.

JD: Yeah, no problem, absolutely.

OF: To our audience. Thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:20:34
Book Club: Julie Hansen on Applying Acting Techniques for Sales Success Olivia Fuller,Julie Hansen Mon, 10 Aug 2020 17:30:28 +0000 482f01da7dad90970e7168ae87b1186a813fdce3 Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club, a Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices, so they can be more effective in their jobs. Today, I’m so excited to have Julie Hansen, author of “Act Like A Sales Pro” and “Sales Presentations for Dummies” here to talk to us.

Julie, I’d love if you could just take a minute and introduce yourself and your role to our audience.

Julie Hansen: Yes. So I started out in sales and, also, somewhere along the way, started doing some acting and, after a 20-year career in sales, I started my own business – Performance Sales and Training, which is really coaching salespeople to use acting techniques for those customer-focused engagements, whether that’s a presentation or demo or a pitch, because they really are applicable there. So, that evolved into a business. I work with sales teams all over the world, just on applying these principles to have more successful demos and presentations that really grab people’s attention, speak to their needs, and win more deals.

OF: So, your book, “Act Like A Sales Pro”, details different ways that salespeople can leverage acting techniques in their jobs. How are some of the skills needed to excel in sales similar to those needed to be a great actor and vice versa?

JH: Well, it’s interesting. So, when I started out in sales, I came from a buying background, so when I got into sales, I had this notion that people would call me back and everybody would be happy to hear from me because as a buyer, that’s your experience. And it was nothing like that. So, it was quite the shock to me. I really did not feel confident in my role. I didn’t deal with rejection very well. And I saw all my peers around me seem to handle it much better. And I thought, “okay, what can really help me just get over this fear in this role?”

I enrolled in an acting class, and not only was it a lot of fun, but I learned how to really just live in the role to understand that we all play roles in our life. You may be a spouse, a parent, a teacher. And your role at work can turn you into another person, but you bring different parts of yourself to that role, and just being the best you in that role as possible. And focusing on that, I just found so many commonalities between the two practices and it really helped me get over that fear of reaching out to other people, being rejected.

I had a director tell me that there’s a part for everybody. And I think that same is true for sales. There’s a customer for everybody. And sometimes it’s just that you are not the best fit and it’s okay. And it’s not a personal attack. So, being able to take that less personally was also very helpful.

OF: You mentioned in the book that first impressions can happen in as little as seven seconds. How can salespeople go about creating a really memorable first impression?

JH: It seems nearly impossible, doesn’t it? But actually, there’s a lot going on in those seven to 10 or 15 seconds. And there’s a lot of different studies on that first impression number, but let’s just say it’s short and it’s fast.
And we make all these judgments. If we’re making judgments in seven to 10 seconds, it can’t necessarily be about what you’re saying, right? Because you can’t say that much in 10 seconds, but our brains are working much faster and we’re processing all this information. We’re processing what we see and we’re putting it together with what we hear, how you present yourself.

We have to take into account that both that physical presence, that verbal presence, how we sound, not just the words we’re saying, how we show up. And I think that is often overlooked in sales today because first impressions, not only do they happen quickly, but they are very hard to reverse. And if anybody’s been stuck with a nickname they were called early on that you’d like to shake, you know how hard that is.

People get something set in their mind and yes, you can change their mind, but it’s a much harder route. So, if you could start off strong, you have a much better chance of really building on that good first impression. And the thing about first impressions is that really most of the work starts before you get on the call before you get in front of the customer.

That is something I learned as an actor. You aren’t on just the minute the curtain goes up or the camera goes on. You are in role well before that. You are prepared, you are warmed up. You have the right energy. You’re vocally prepared. You’re focused on the customer.

And what I see happening in sales a lot is people just showing up, just trying to turn on in the moment, going from one thing to the next. And that’s very difficult. That puts a lot of pressure on you and it’s not always that effective. So, taking the time to do a proper warmup before each call so you can be present for that customer.

OF: Fear can often be a really big obstacle in delivering effective sales presentations. What are some techniques or ways that salespeople can overcome stage fright or that inherent fear, in order to deliver really effective presentations?

JH: That’s a great question. I struggled with that as well.

And so that’s why I really love this element of being an actor because a lot of actors have stage fright. I would usually have stage fright even as an experienced actor and it’s not a bad thing. So, first of all, understanding that it’s part and parcel of some people’s lives and it shouldn’t be paralyzing, but there are things you can do to manage it.

And to channel that energy into the presentation and into the pitch, a couple of things that you can do that are very practical is warming up. If you’ve ever been backstage before a show or before a shoot on set, you’ll see that actors are rarely just sitting there kind of waiting for their turn to go on.

They’re moving around. They’re loosening up because when you’re fearful or stressed, you tend to get very tight. You get very tense, your body gets very small. Your voice gets small. You just retreat into yourself. You have to push against that. You have to vocalize big and you have to move big just to keep that energy up and going.

So, that’s one thing you can do. The other thing that I learned as an actor, that’s been really helpful in this area is being clear about my intention. If I am really focused on how I want you to feel about our conversation or what I’m trying to convey to you and get that across, I have very little time to think about, “Oh my gosh, what am I doing with my hands? Why do I feel so nervous?” It’s almost impossible.

So, getting a really clear intention like I am here, I want to get you excited about this topic. I want to reassure you that this is the best change for you. Being so customer-focused, you don’t have time to take your own emotional temperature, as I call it, can help you over that hump.

Because a lot of times, as an actor, you’re in front of a lot of people and it can be scary, but if I’m just focused on this other actor that I’m talking to, trying to be in the moment in this scene, then I’m not worried about all the other people and what they think.

OF: How can improv training help salespeople better listen to their customers and then respond to their customers’ needs?

JH: That’s why I think improv is so helpful. I almost think it should be required training for salespeople or anybody in business because let’s face it, you go in with a script or maybe it’s not written out, but you have an idea what you’re going to say.

The other person has their own script. You have no idea what they’re going to say. Certainly, you get a good sense after a number of types of calls with certain customers, but you really are improvising as you go and adapting. And what I love about improv is most people think it’s “Oh, you just say the first thing that comes top of mind.”

Right? That’s what we think of improv, but actually there’s some rules that improv players follow in order to react quickly and in a way that moves the scene or the conversation forward. If you look at it, that’s really the goal in sales is to just keep moving the conversation forward. Isn’t it?

It may not be in a direction we anticipated, but we certainly don’t want the conversation to come to a stop. So, some of the rules of improv that I think are really relevant are first of all, being in the moment. Being in the moment, you have to certainly do all the prep you can do to be physically, mentally, and vocally prepared, know what you’re going to say, how things might go, and then you have to just be present. I’ve seen so many presentations where the salesperson starts in one direction. The customer has a question which would naturally take it in a different direction. And yet, they just go back to what they were doing because they cannot pivot because they’re not confident. It takes a certain level of confidence in your knowledge to do that.

The other rule I like is the rule of yes. This basically means you just have to accept whatever is given to you, it’s the reality. You can’t argue with someone else’s reality. So, just accepting they have a differing opinion about that, acknowledge that, not trying to bury it or argue with it, and then adding another perspective. So, not necessarily trying to just squash that objection and just get it over with for good, but just trying to get around it, give them enough of an acknowledgement and a different idea to consider, like by adding your perspective.

And then you can start to really prep, soften that objection, and keep the conversation moving, which is so important in sales.

OF: You also wrote about how role-plays can sometimes be ineffective, because they’re used to judge seller’s knowledge. How can practitioners utilize role-plays in a way that’s more results oriented?

JH: Yes. I think this is really important because roleplay in theater and performance is used to practice. It’s used to try different things. Some things work, some things don’t. If you feel like you’re being judged, you’re not going to be trying new things. You’re going to be doing what you always do, or you’re just going to do what you know the judge is looking for.

And then when you’re done, you’re going to go back and do exactly what you’ve already done because it’s comfortable. If you really want it to use role play in an effective way, set salespeople up for success. First of all, let them understand what the criteria is and make that criteria very clear and specific as to just a couple of goals, such as today, we’re going to work on role-playing your value proposition and perhaps one other thing, like making better eye contact, but not this whole list of things they’re trying to accomplish.

And then keep the feedback based on those specific objectives. Not necessarily that we don’t go back to the other things that they could work on, but it’s a trust factor when somebody is being vulnerable and they’re practicing. You can’t say you’re going to focus on one thing and then start critiquing them on a whole bunch of other things.

That’s going to shut everybody down. So, I’m just using it as an opportunity to train people both in the moment, so if you see them going in this direction, instead of waiting until the end, also using some of that just-in-time coaching practice, which I do as an actor. The director is not going to let you keep going if you’re going in a wrong direction. Right? We’ve got a show to put on, so I’m going to stop you there. You’re doing that same thing you always do. Let’s try this, adjust it. And that way, not only do they get that physical stopping of themselves, they also get to get that new experience in their body.

You can have a debrief afterwards and it can be very intellectual, but unless they try it and see how it feels, get it in your body, get new voice things, they aren’t really going to change

OF: In your career, both as an actor and as a salesperson, how has your performance benefited from applying acting techniques in sales and then vice versa, applying sales techniques to your acting practice?

JH: Yes, they’ve both been gone hand-in-hand, so that’s such an interesting question. And certainly, my first aha moment was how much acting applied to sales. It was like, “wow, this is so intuitive”. Being able to share that with other sellers is really a joy as an actor, understanding that in sales, all this discovery process and how much more discovery contributes to your understanding of the customer and a better presentation, a better pitch, it’s the same thing I learned as an actor. The more I understand about this character I’m playing or the other people in this scene, the deeper my understanding of the situation and ability to really connect with them and express that.

And I would say just currently, with this virtual environment, that I learned as an actor when I was doing a film work and television work, that it’s very different acting on camera. It’s very different. It’s a whole different set of skills. And I went into my first year after being in theater for a couple of years for a television show, I didn’t know where to look. I felt so uncomfortable and awkward. It was like I was new all over again. So, I have really focused recently on helping sellers make that transition to this virtual world because yes, we’ve got the technology and there’s all these tips on backgrounds and how to make it more engaging, but ultimately, how do you connect with another person through the camera?
I developed a selling on camera masterclass that just uses techniques, because it’s not natural. It’s very counter intuitive, but ultimately, why do we have a camera on if we’re not going to use it to connect with the other people?

OF: Well, Julie, those are some fantastic tips. Thank you so much again for taking the time today to share this with our audience.

JH: My pleasure. Anytime.

OF: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:16:21
Book Club: Carole Mahoney on Creating Behavior Change Through Mindset Olivia Fuller,Carole Mahoney Mon, 10 Aug 2020 17:30:06 +0000 f415bd42bb990aa0aff8e977fb0de0eb63a1610e Olivia Fuller: Hi, and welcome to Book Club: A Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I’m Olivia Fuller. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs. Today, I’m so excited to have Carole Mahoney join us.

Carole, I’d love for you to just take a second and introduce yourself to our audience.

Carole Mahoney: Yes, I am the founder of Unbound Growth. It’s funny because we were just talking before we started the call that — I’m in the country, so if you stalk me on Instagram, you probably already know that I’m a country girl, a dog mom, a wife, I’m a mother to two sons and a little bit of a nerd.

I started Unbound Growth when I saw that salespeople were selling in a way that didn’t allow buyers to really want to engage with them. It was just a misalignment. And barely half of salespeople were making quota year after year, despite huge investments in time and in money and in tech and in training. I found that even if they did sometimes make quota, it was not always enough because there was customer churn happening in the company. So, I started doing some research and studying the science behind how people make decisions and how we change our behaviors.

As a result of that, I transitioned my lead generation agency into a sales consulting, training, and coaching firm. And I took all of that science and data and I started testing it in the field with sales teams. And we’ve seen salespeople who were on plan about to get fired, go from that to being top performers in the company, selling the largest deals in company history, hitting over 200% of quota in some cases — in less than a year.

By working with some frontline managers, we’ve seen teams go from barely scraping together 80% of quota at the end of every month or every quarter, to then hitting 130% of quota or more consistently, and growing their teams and the size of their teams.

We’ve also consulted business owners and founders, and those in the C-suite to help them to hire the right people for the right role to begin with, because even today with the market being what it is, as far as hiring people goes, we still have to make sure we’re hiring the right person for the right role. We’ve also helped them cut down their hiring costs in the time to hire and increase the success of those sales hires by up to 90%.

So, I really kind of see myself as a change agent. I kind of go when there needs to be a behavioral change happening in the sales organization and I really dig into not just what they see happening, but why it’s happening and really get to the root cause of it rather than throwing more training and tactics at people. Although that’s part of it — changing the approach and the tactics — we’re really digging into what’s going on behind the scenes. What are the hidden weaknesses that we might not even realize is the thing that’s actually tripping their teams up from executing the way they want to.

OF: In your book “Mindset Matters”, you said that improving sales comes down to behavior change. Why is behavior change so critical to success in sales?

CM: When you think of success in sales as being successful in any kind of a job function where you have to perform under high stakes pressure, managing our behaviors in those situations is critical. Whether you’re performing in sports or in the arts, whether you’re a doctor or a lawyer, even as parents and partners to our spouses and loved ones, being able to manage your behaviors, your emotions, and how you show up is critical to success. And sales is absolutely no different. In fact, I’d say even more important, I think. Because one of the things that I love about sales and I’ve talked to a lot of salespeople and a lot of sales leaders, and I hear this consistently — is that one of the things that they love is the ability to tie their results directly to their activities and their behaviors. That if they want more, if they want to be more, their efforts directly contribute to that. And you know, from how much we reach out to people, to how we follow up and follow through and what we said we were going to do, how we communicate with people to help them to understand their problem and for us to understand their world and be able to offer them insights that they might think differently about a problem or a solution. And hear things like, ‘well, you know, I never thought of it that way before.’

This is also though our biggest challenge, right? In being able to manage our behaviors, to get our results. It’s also our biggest challenge because how we show up a lot of times depends on how we think and what we think. And that can be sometimes those hidden weaknesses that get in there in our way. Our beliefs, our mindsets about ourselves, our value, our environment, and the world around us.

Those things become our mindsets and how we see ourselves in the world, which is then becoming our behaviors, and how we act and show up becomes our results. Behavioral scientists called this the theory of reasoned action and our intents in that is the theory of planned behavior. Our mindsets and beliefs directly impact our behaviors in all aspects of life: sales, weight loss, performance, in every way.

OF: Behavior change can often be a difficult process, and you’ve talked about the need for sellers to really have incentives to put in the effort necessary for growth. What are some ways that sales reps can be incentivized to change their behaviors?

CM: In a lot of the research and studying that I did is digging into this and identifying, why are we so resistant to change?

It’s usually in relation to fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of an uncertainty of what the future is going to look like, which we are all suffering from to some extent right now. And this is why I think one of the reasons why it’s so important to have a cognitive approach to sales coaching embedded within your coaching framework. Because cognitively, when we’re dealing with those fears and those types of things, it’s hard for us to imagine the future. And because it’s hard for us to imagine, the unknown is scary to us. And so, we avoid it. And when we avoid it, that causes all kinds of other problems.

In order to get over the fear of the uncertainty, we need to have identified what our personally meaningful goals are for making the change. What do we want our future to look like? And why is that so important to us?
So, goal setting for — I see this happen in school, many sales organizations, when I asked them about, do you or your team have personally meaningful goals that are driving them to make these changes that you’re talking about implementing in your training and coaching programs? And they say, ‘well, they have quotas and they have activity plans and they have playbooks and they have a smart goal setting model to use.’

And the problem with that is when you try to use quotas and commissions as a standalone to try and motivate and incentivize people, the problem with that is the data shows from over 1.9 million sales professionals that the top percentage of salespeople are not necessarily motivated by just money. They’re actually motivated by things that are more interesting intrinsic, like being the best at something, being reputable with others, being a resource to others, mastering their craft, being the best they can be.

And frontline sellers and managers who dig into the reason why those things are important and the why behind their actions are more likely to do whatever it takes to reach the goal, no matter how scary it might seem. And that might include letting go of some long-held beliefs and mindsets.

There’s a story that comes to mind of a client that I worked with. His name is Michael Douglas, not the actor, the salesperson. And when I started working with Michael, he had a goal of increasing his income and his revenue by a certain percentage. And we dug a little bit deeper into it and one of the things that we found is that he really wanted to feel that he was able and confident from now and into the future that he was going to be able to provide for his family. And that he wanted to make that investment in being the best that he could be for that reason. Now that’s something that’s a lot more motivating than you need to hit X number of quota this month. For Michael, this was the incentive for him to change the beliefs, long-held mindsets, and now as a result of that, he’s closing largest deals in company history. He went from selling three, six figure deals a year to selling three times that in less than nine months.

So, this is how we get people to change behaviors, is by guiding and helping them to tap into their why. And not that we spend forever there, that we have to imagine the perfect why that’s going to be the magic pill that’s going to motivate us through everything. It’s still going to be hard. It’s still going to require grit. But when you dig and you think, why am I doing this? And you were reminded of the reason — then you’re willing to go through the uncomfortable changes that you need to go through to get there.

OF: You have another book that’s dedicated to sales coaching, and more specifically about determining the value of sales coaching for sellers. From your perspective, what is that value and why is sales coaching so important?

CM: Revenue. I think that’s every salesperson’s, every sales leader’s answer to that question is going to be its impact because of revenue.

There’s a lot of other reasons why, so let’s tackle the revenue question first. Same data from 1.9 million sales professionals — I also did an analysis on the sales managers and the salespeople who reported directly to those managers, and the things that I found were that when managers who were trained on how to coach and had been coached themselves and consistently did coaching multiple times a week for an hour and more total per week per rep, and it was about 50% of their time — that those managers who did those things saw their salespeople were 49% stronger than those that didn’t.

And if you acquaint abilities to revenue, you can look at a 10% increase in abilities can equate to as much as 33% of revenue give or take. You start increasing the abilities by 50%, imagine what that does to revenue.
So, there’s that, there’s a retention of your top six salespeople. I think it was a Deloitte study that showed that salespeople who are coached are more likely to stay. And I think it was actually a study that was done by The Bridge Group and ExecVision, that showed the salespeople who were coached not only were likely to stay longer, but they were 45% more likely to recommend others to come and work for your company.

So, imagine if more of your top performers who you’ve been coaching then had more others that were like them who could be like also top performers coming to your company, which goes back to the hiring piece. Here’s the other thing of it though, is that coaching doesn’t just increase revenue. It doesn’t just increase the retention of your top salespeople and make it easier for you to hire more salespeople.

It also helps you to retain more of your customers. We talked about in the beginning, in the intro, how — I don’t know if I mentioned this part, but actually the increase in revenue is one piece, but we actually saw teams retain customers of over 98% retention rate. And when you’re a SaaS based company, that is an absolutely critical number, especially right now.

But the interesting thing — it wasn’t just because of customer service. There was an interview that was done by Mark Roberge, who was the CRO at HubSpot, and he was talking about when they were scaling the sales teams there. And he said that when they started having churn issues, they thought at first that it was going to be related to customer service issues.

But what they found was that it was actually tied directly to the rep who initially sold them. So, when they started instituting this type of coaching and training, they found that reps who set the expectations properly with buyers so that churn was less likely to happen later, and then retention went up.

I saw the same thing happening when I was working directly with some of HubSpot’s teams and others that not only did retention go up but discounting went down because they were selling more on value and selling consultatively. So, they’re not only getting more revenue, keeping more revenue and the customer longer, but they’re doing so at a higher dollar amount.

OF: How does sales coaching help create behavior change?

CM: It creates behavior change if you’ve done it the way that it’s not just your sales manager going in and telling them what they should do, it’s not a pipeline review. It’s not a one-way conversation. It’s also not an hour-long conversation that you might have once a week.

Ideally, sales coaching helps to create a behavior change because you’re challenging their beliefs. You’re helping them apply the knowledge that they’ve learned in training to actually execute in their day to day on the job execution. There’s a model that’s the adult learning theory model, which shows that the largest percentage of our learning happens in the application and then the day to day, and not theoretical, but real life.

So the more that we can have coaching be not just a reinforcement of what they’ve trained, but actually allows salespeople to take what they’ve learned — the knowledge in their head — and apply it to the words and the actions that come out of their mouth. So that’s one way that coaching helps to create that behavioral change because in order to change the behavior, first we have to recognize that the behavior needs to change, so challenging beliefs and approaches, but then we have to practice those new approaches, those things that we’ve learned.

And so coaching should really be like practice sessions, like drill sessions. The two-letter word, every salesperson almost hates is “role play.” And not like the theoretical, take it easy on you, this conversation never really actually happens kind of roleplay. But actually, even taking your recorded calls that you — everybody should be recording their calls right now — and listening to them and finding one point in the conversation, one set of questions to practice and drill and practice and drill until it becomes second nature to that salesperson.

That builds their confidence in executing in those new abilities and skills that they’re learning. Or fine-tuning the ones that they thought they had perfected as well, because coaching applies to experienced salespeople as well as new and in the practice, in the challenging and in the beliefs, it also happens that coaching can help create behavior change. When we’re having managers who are not giving them all of the answers, not telling them what they need to do, but asking the critical thinking questions to get them to start coming to their own conclusions so that the behavior change isn’t something that’s imposed on the salesperson. It’s something that’s collaborated with them. That’s something that’s really important in the coaching and coaching relationship is that they have to feel like they’re part creating that conversation, otherwise you’re just nagging them.

OF: In your opinion, what does good sales coaching look like? What are some of the skills that you really think are necessary for good coaches to have?

CM: There’s over a dozen different skill sets and mindsets and even beliefs that need to be incorporated into a good coaching persona, and we measure for all of those with using the same data we mentioned. First, we talked about this before — what’s the impact? It has to be done consistently, not ad hoc, whenever issues arrive or end of the month or pipeline review time, but something that gets scheduled like a religious event on their calendar that if it’s Christmas day for coaching time. So that kind of consistency and structure to it.

When I’m working with sales teams as their outsource manager, I sometimes will schedule two or three, a minimum of two or three, 15 to 20 minute calls a week, minimum. And sometimes it’s every day, depending on how much work needs to be done with the salesperson or how motivated they are to want to get to the next level.

And each of those calls, like for Monday’s example, we’ll debrief. And Monday’s debrief or Friday afternoon’s debrief is really looking at: What happened? Why do you think that that happened? And what’s a different approach that we can do? A lot of times a debrief might be like a call review, where I will have a salesperson send me a call and they’ll say, I really felt like I struggled at this particular part, here’s where I think it’s going on. They’ve listened to it and they’ve thought, all right, this is where I think I need to improve.

And then I can debrief with them and ask them questions. Like, all right, how did you get to this point? What’s the background story? I’ll ask them questions like, why do you think that they reacted that way on the call? What question do you wish you had asked in that moment now that you’ve listened to it? And we’ll practice that so that the next time they get into a situation and call like that they can execute on it.

But then I’ll also debrief with them to figure out okay, what’s next? What can happen next with this particular call? What’s the strategy? What’s the approach? What’s it going to sound like? Let’s role play that too. So that’s part of the debrief. And as I mentioned, I’m asking a ton of questions. I’m not telling them what I think happened, I’m asking them what they think happened, and I’m asking more and more clarification questions to get them to start actively recalling what happened and come up with a plan for attack, so to speak.

Another thing that’s really important for managers who want to coach is you can’t have a need for approval from your salespeople. If you’re more worried about whether or not your sales, person’s going to like you because if you don’t like your manager, then you’re not going to listen to your manager, then you’re not going to be able to have those tough conversations. Those coaching conversations that you sometimes have to have when they fall flat on their face and they will. And you have to be able to do that and if you need their approval and you need them to like you, it’s going to be tough. Obviously, you’ve got to be able to control your emotions. If you’re emotionally invested in this deal closing, it’s going to be really hard for you to sit on your hands and close your mouth and ask the questions to get them to learn.

They have to have a sales process. It’s kind of like, if you don’t have a sales process that you’re following and using that in your coaching, it’s trying to give directions to someone who doesn’t know how to read a GPS or a map. You don’t know where you’re at and you don’t know where you need to go next.

Obviously, if you can’t tell, I have a passion for this. And that passion for coaching and really that patience even for coaching –I have a side story. I have a little bit of a scar here on my lip because I have a rescue dog and this rescue dog has a few emotional issues. He’s been abandoned. And so he has some beliefs that get in his way, and it manifests whenever he has to go into his doghouse. He goes into his doghouse and he has this little front porch and he stands on the front porch and he stands there and he barks and he whines because he believes in his mind that he can’t take the one-inch step off of the porch to be able to get them to run around in his little doggy area.

And so one day, I was actually getting ready for an interview, very similar to this one, and I had to get on the phone and he was outside and whining and barking because he was stuck on his dog porch again. And so normally what I would do I do is I would coax him out, I would basically doggy coach him to try to get him to come off of this thing.

But that day, I didn’t have time. I was running around, I was going a little bit crazy and I’m like, you know what? I just need you to stop barking. So, I’m going to come over there and I’m going to rescue you. And before I realized what was happening, he got this look on his face. Like he suddenly realized, Oh, mom is coming. She probably has lunch. And he takes off running and he has this 50-foot long cable, and the cable hit my head, hit my face. I thought I lost teeth. There was blood everywhere.

And I realized I had done exactly what I teach and coach sales managers to do all the time, which is don’t rescue your salespeople. You’ve got to let them work through it. And that’s what happens when you don’t have the patience and the passion for coaching, is that you’re going to give in, you’re going to try and rescue your salespeople, and there’s going to be a disaster at the end of it. And — you robbed them of the opportunity to learn.

You have to understand those things — by rescuing the salespeople, you’re hurting them. You’re going to hurt yourself because you’re going to always be rescuing them and handling things like joint sales calls effectively, getting commitments from your salespeople to make these changes, these are all of the things that are necessary to learn to be an effective coach for your salespeople and not get clipped by a dog runner coming at you at 25 miles an hour.

OF: Well, this has been some fantastic advice for our audience, so thank you so much, Carole, for joining us.

CM: It’s been so much fun. Thank you for letting me tell you about my rescue dog.

OF: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

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