Episode 63: Chad Dyar on Competencies to Mold Successful Sales Managers

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Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. 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.

I’d love for you to introduce yourself, your title, and your organization.

Chad Dyar: My name is Chad Dyar. I am the head of field operations and enablement and Hearsay Systems.

SS: Excellent. Well, I’m so excited that you are able to join us today, Chad. Thank you.

CD: So happy to be here.

SS: You also recently participated in the Sales Enablement Soirée event in San Francisco, and there you actually talked about an initiative where you put together core competencies for sales managers. What are the core competencies that you identified?

CD: So, I think these are going to be different for every organization based on the sales process, what type of team – inside, outside, field sales – but the ones that I was working on previously were things like coaching, forecasting accuracy and deal management, rep development focused on the reps’ core competencies, opportunities for cross-functional partnership, and then culture was a big one as well.

SS: Fantastic. I love those. Can you explain to our audience how you went about identifying those core competencies? What was the process like for validating that those are the right competencies that lead to success?

CD: Well, actually it’s a crazy story. I locked all of the sales leaders, including the CRO and VP of marketing, VP of sales, all in the same room, and we hashed them out. We decided to look at the sales core competencies for the reps and figure out what should the managers be spending their time doing? And then how are we going to measure their impact doing those things? What do we hold them accountable for?

And then we also had a big focus on professional development. So, one of the things we thought of is how do we get a manager to a senior manager or director position? What skills do they need to be successful? And let’s empower them by thinking about their growth, how they can grow into their next role, and what skills or what competencies they need to identify and exemplify to be able to get there.

SS: Absolutely. And you touched on this ever so briefly, but I’d like you to elaborate. How do you measure whether managers are meeting those competencies?

CD: It’s really all over the place. We basically start with a spreadsheet where we put everything and then we decide how we’re going to measure one by one. For coaching, we use coaching technology to make sure managers were doing it every week and that their reps are improving the different areas that they were coaching on. So, if we identify that a rep was maybe stronger in discovery, but weaker in qualification, we would be measuring how they improved and how they’re qualifying their deals over, of course, the quarter. So, forecasting went right down the line with what the reps were responsible for and how the managers were coaching to better behaviors.

And then we also had an event called the “Coaching Olympics” where we put the coaches on full display. They would have a panel of judges from the C-suite of the company watching them coach in real-time. And then we scored on a rubric we built out for that. So, we’re able to use that as well for the base level of what excellent looks like in the company.

And then I think for forecasting accuracy and deal management, that’s really your CRM. You’re looking at what they say they’re going to bring in versus what they bring in and how they’re meeting with their reps to go through those pipelines weekly and predicting accurately what’s going to close and what’s not going to close.

For the rep development, it’s a similar. We’re developing the core competencies for each of these salespeople. And if we have a great enablement and training program and they’re going through it and they’re taking assessments and they’re going to practicums and practicing those new skills, we can track improvement. We look at the managers who are responsible for those reps that are improving. And we’re asking reps, are you spending time with your managers? Are they working with you on these? How are you getting better? Which ties right back to the coaching as well.

The ones that are a little bit fluffier are the cross-functional partnerships. How are they working with partners in marketing, finance, the other teams that we collaborate, customer success? So that’s a little bit more of the qualitative feedback that we’re getting from those teams. And just watching people that we put in positions to go and sit in on meetings and learn more about those teams in the partnerships they have, how that’s impacting their career and how they’re stepping up to the plate and how they represent sales in those meetings.

And then the last piece is culture. It’s really looking at their team. Are they recruiting great people? Are they keeping great people? How is it when we have some type of gamification on the floor, their teams all in, who usually wins? What are they doing just to build that camaraderie across the team, make the team lean on each other and learn from each other?

So there’s a lot of different ways you can measure all those. Some of those are going to be hard numbers that we’re looking at for what’s improving. Some of those are just going to be, how are they participating in the culture of the company and adding value?

SS: Absolutely. And now I’m sure along the way this all was smooth sailing and you got no resistance whatsoever. From your perspective, what are some of the challenges you faced in holding sales managers accountable to these competencies and how did you ever overcome those challenges?

CD: So the challenge is always the same. It’s, “I have a number to hit. I need to be working on these deals. I need to be doing second and third calls and sitting in meetings.” And everything was really just all around the number. So if you make the only thing they’re responsible for doing be hitting the number, and that’s all they’re focused on, then they’re going to throw everything at that and they’re going to miss a lot of opportunities to help people grow along the way.

So, we really made it a part of the professional development path. It is, “here’s how you get to be a manager. Here’s what a great manager looks like, and here’s how you become a senior manager or a director.” And then we put the recognition piece in as well. We had events like the Coaching Olympics, and we made sure that managers that were doing all the things we were asking them to do, were getting the right recognition, the positive feedback, callouts in not just team meetings or department meetings, but in company-wide meetings to say, “Hey, this manager’s doing this new thing and it’s affecting us in a really positive way.”

I think you really have to change the culture. It’s just like when we built the coaching culture, it was a change. It was a change for reps to sit in meetings and get coached in their calls and have to listen to them and score them and bring them in. But once you get to the other side of that change and people start to see value in it, they not only adopt it, but they drive that culture forward.

SS: I love that. And what are some best practices or maybe really tactical examples of how sales enablement professionals can provide ongoing support and competency development for these sales managers?

CD: I think the best way to provide support is just to have a great training curriculum in place for managers because they have to learn these skills. Some managers have a lot of natural talent. They were great salespeople, and they bring all of those ideas with them. But becoming a leader is a different skillset. Getting people to do what you want them to do, learning how to really listen to people and understand their strengths and weaknesses, a lot of that has to be learned.

So, I think enablement plays a strong role in partnering with the learning and development team and the people teams to make sure that we’re delivering trainings and assessments and that we’re staying really close to anything that we’re measuring. So, for measuring forecasting accuracy, for measuring coaching over time, we need to stay close to that and be able to call out when people are falling behind or when people are zooming ahead.

When people are falling behind, they need that little bit of extra attention. Or maybe they need the VP of sales or some of the other sales leaders to intervene and help them understand the importance. Or when they’re zooming ahead and they’re excelling. We had a coach that was phenomenal that I worked with a few years ago, won the Coaching Olympics two years in a row, just delivered world-class coaching weekly to the team. And the team was number one across the board. So, we were able to roll some of those best practices down to the rest of the team, were able to sit in those coaching sessions and find out what is it that’s working, what’s making her have such a stronger impact than a lot of her peers. And then we were able to basically operationalize that, put it into a training rolled out across the team. That became the new baseline for coaching for our company.

SS: Nice. Now, I want to pivot the conversation just slightly because you will recently wrote a book, Bring Your Best Self to Work. And it’s about the importance of authenticity and building professional relationships. So how has authenticity helped you as a sales enablement professional to build partnerships across the organization?

CD: Sure. Anyone that knows me knows that I’m myself all the time and it gets me in trouble a lot of the time. I’m Southern, I have a big personality. I come from the world of performing, I’ve been called dramatic from time to time. And I think my theatrics has definitely helped me when I get up in front of people to catch their attention and to heighten the experience for a lot of people.

But on the authenticity side, beyond just feeling comfortable being myself, it’s really being curious about other people. I’m endlessly fascinated by other people and I lead with about a million questions when I’m in a new work environment, because I really want to understand what motivates people. I want to make those deep connections and understand not just what they do in their day to day, but what motivates them for their career? What motivates them in their life? What are they passionate about?

And when I find those deeper connections and actually build those friendships, it helps me to understand their strengths. It helps me to define a strong communication strategy with each of those people, and it helps me understand how to leverage them to achieve success for all of the shared responsibilities that we have. Helping people lean into what makes them excited about work engages them in a deeper level than just throwing a bunch of projects at them because their title seems like the appropriate title to engage for that type of project.

I’ve built really great relationships across the battle lines of sales and marketing through the years. And most of my strongest partners are our marketing professionals these days. There’s a ton of work for a sales enablement and product marketing to do together when we’re defining a content strategy, building assets, positioning, doing deep work on buyer personas.

So, having those great relationships, understanding what makes people excited about talking about those things and getting those deliverables in place, helps me not only win in my role and achieve success for the company, but it also helps other people shine as well, and it puts them in a position to demonstrate what they love about what they do. And I think when people come to work every day and are able to exhibit the things they love about their work and things they love about their life, it just engages them more in the culture of work and makes it a more fun place to be.

SS: Yes, absolutely. That’s 1000% true. How can other sales enablement professionals establish themselves as a trusted advisor and really build authentic relationships?

CD: I have a four-step process for this and it’s really simple and easy to remember. The first one is show up. Number two, be present. Number three, add value. And number four, have a laugh. It’s really that easy. I think a lot of people overcomplicate what it takes to get along with people and to have great relationships at work.

And there’s a lot of different variations of this, but showing up just means be there, be present in the office, be present in meetings. Bring your ideas to the table. And then add value. Make sure that you’re bringing something with you that you’re not just taking. A lot of people in connective roles, like enablement is a connective role, can delegate a lot of stuff out and just ask for people to do a bunch for them and then just aggregate that stuff and deliver it.

I have a great example of yesterday – I do work, I promise you I do – but I had a meeting that I led. It was our biweekly enablement go-to-market meeting. And my responsibility was just to get all the great ideas from a bunch of senior leaders and put them into a slide deck and then help them present. So, a lot of the work was basically just getting it all together and then they got to shine. And I basically facilitated it. I think people that live in that lane all the time miss a lot of opportunities. It’s about adding value back to people.

Then the last piece, which I feel is just really something that I do all the time and it’s added value to my life and I think the people that I work with, is have a laugh. Lighten up. We get really intense sometimes if we’re behind on the numbers or behind on the projects or if the workload is heavy. And that’s literally every day in most companies. So it’s nice to be able to have some liberty in the workplace, whether that means everybody runs to the kitchen and cracks a beer at the end of the day to just unwind, or planning group activities, or just taking a minute out of the day just to go grab coffee with a couple of people and check in.

So, I think a lot of it is creating those great relationships and being able to leverage them at work so that you have a place to decompress. You have trusted relationships with people to be able to confide in and kind of let off steam, or an old analogy in my book is sucking out the venom. Sometimes you just need to get out and talk about what’s wrong and then figure out how to fix it. And it’s nice to have people in the workplace that you can do things like that with.

SS: Those are fantastic steps, and you’re right, absolutely easy to remember it and should be easy to do. Thank you so much, Chad, for joining us on our podcast today. I really enjoyed our conversation.

CD: Thank you.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit salesenablement.pro. 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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