Chris Dumpleton, SVP – CloudSense – You’re not just born a Sales Person – Sales Confidence

Sales people are born and not made. those people are on and not made These were the words that my manager said to me in 1997 when I walked into his office to resign and I told him I was moving into a career in IT sales. he clary had a stereotypical view of what a salesperson was and I clearly didn’t fit the mould. But then I stepped out with confidence into my new sales career, it did cause me to self reflect. It also gave me an additional fuel that fired me to make this a great success. So fast forward 20 years, the recognition that I got recently was truly humbling particularly when there are such a talented peer group, I thought it’s only right that I acknowledge the pattern of act, so thank to everyone who has supported me. When I think about my own sales confidence, that’s come through being in sales and moving sales leadership, it’s come through time, it’s come through gaining experiences and come through success. But it’s been compounded by the time that I took to self reflect and look back at my success in figuring out probably codify that so that I could replicate my own success, but also so I can help others as I moved into self leadership become successful in their own right. 

So as I thought about what I’d talk about this evening, I thought maybe I’ll talk about some of the frameworks I’ve developed over the last 10-15 years or so and hopefully there are some things you can take away from that.

So when I think about that the SaaS sales engine for me revolves around five key pillars the first of those pillars is people. Each of these five pillars has five sub pillars and the five sub pillars under people are hiring, ramping, increasing breath to performance, coaching and development, and succession planning, and number one and five are intrinsically linked for me. I remember around 2008, in fact Tom Cassidy here just promoted me into my first self leadership, I was put on one of these high potential leaders of the future program and I was one of the most junior people on this program which was relatively daunting, and our CEO and one of the sales heads, to mentor 1-1 for that year. And it could go one of two ways; either disappear halfway through the year never to be seen again, or, you’d exit the year with a promotion and much more visibility within the company. Luckily I got through this process and it was great. On my very first call he said to me ‘Jeremy is there someone on your team that could take your job tomorrow?’. So I kind of thought about that for a moment, and I said ‘well not at the moment, there’s a few people I’m thinking about developing’, and he said ‘well you’re unprofitable at the moment, so I’m not even considering you for a future role’. And that was the kind of first thing I took out of that was when I’m hiring people, I’m looking for people I can develop, that can be better than me, knocking on my door, probably quicker than I’d want them knocking on my door asking for my job. And particularly in a high growth SaaS business, we know that change is the only constant, so getting people ready, so that I’m promotable and I’m ready for that next opportunity. So when I thought about what I’d speak about this evening, I thought id start with the first pillar of the 7 pillars and talk a bit about hiring. I’ve been through a process recently of hiring some first time leadership heads into my business and I was a little bit surprised when I asked people about how they hired and the lack of conscious thought about the process that underpins how they hire people. So maybe there’s 2 or 3 things you can take away this evening which you can start applying in your own organisations. For me, hiring revolves around something I refer to as TeC. It’s written down as a capital T, small E and a big C. it stands for talent, experience and culture. For me, I look for talented people at the right point in their career that offer that trajectory and are a great cultural fit for my business; I can give them the experience and teach them the rest. If you give me someone with loads of experience, that’s a great cultural fit, but has no natural talent, I’m probably going to struggle to develop them. If you give me someone with raw talent, with loads of experience, but is not a very good cultural fit for my business, it’s probably not going to work out. So I look for big T, little E, and big C.

Underpinning that, I’ve got a number of lenses or frameworks that I use and I’ll share one of those with you as well. The first thing that I do in an interview is I call it three legs on the stool. If you think about your life across your family, your work life, your other interests outside of work, it’s important to balance those three legs as equal. If one of those legs is shaky, the stool’s not going to be even. So just as Chris talked about, I look for something that someone’s passionate about, something they can talk enthusiastically about, because I want to make sure that all 3 legs on that stool are balanced, because I know that’s a good hire coming into my business. The stool also has to sit on a firm foundation or it’s still going to be rocky, and that foundation is your health. So your personal life, work life, hobbies, interests which is released from the stress of work on a foundation of health. That’s lens number one.

Lens number 2: hungry, humble, people smart. Imagine it like a Venn diagram, okay it’s an adaptation from a book called the ideal team player. I look for people that are hungry, humble and people smart and by people smart, I mean good emotional intelligence. You give me a sales person that is hungry and humble with no emotional intelligence, not going to work out. You give me someone that’s humble, emotional intelligence, but no hunger, that’s not going to workout. Any one of those scenarios, I need to find people in the middle of that Venn diagram, make sense?

Going quite quick through this, a lot to get through.

Third one, something that Greg taught me, he said there are three things you can’t teach anyone, that’s the 3 i’s. He said when you’re hiring people into your team, find a way of identifying whether they exhibit these 3 traits. These 3 traits are: intelligence, initiative and integrity. If you haven’t got those 3 things, nothing you can do about it. So people often ask me how I test for these things. I don’t have the time to go through this, but I’ve got a framework, and if you ask me how I test if someone’s humble, I’ll ask them ‘tell me about someone in your team or peer group that you work with, who’s better than you at something, in an area that really matters to you?’. And you’d be surprised at the amount of salespeople that say I’m the best in my team, because they feel they should say that. So I look for people with humility and I look for emotional intelligence and self awareness. People also ask me how I test for integrity so I would ask a question that says ‘if I was to talk to your peer group or team, would they describe you as person of integrity. And everyone says yes, so then you ask them how they come to that conclusion; it’s surprising how many people can’t answer that questions. So they are ways that you can test those kind of things.

I guess the final thing I want to leave you with is as rev started hiring first time leadership into the business, and I’ve moved into a seminar leadership role,I’ve never hired leaders before, and I was trying to see if TeC would apply but actually I’m looking for experience when I’m hiring leaders. So I’m trying to adapt this model for a new profile and individuals I’m going to hire. A and I’ve kind of settled in the last couple of weeks, on talent, emotional intelligence and culture, on the basis that you need experience, and there are many different leadership profiles out there in a turnaround situation, you need some or relative be confrontational, aggressive, some who can challenge the norm. In a startup environment, you need a different personality profile, and underpinning all those personality profiles is a strong emotion intelligence, which can comprises of strong self awareness, strong self monitoring and everything that falls into that emotional intelligence bucket. 

So I guess, to summarise, hiring for me is very conscious process and and I think there are two reasons why it is imprint to have a framework. Firstly if I’m recommending a senior hire for the business I’m trying to articulate to my CEO why I should hire this individual, this very robust framer that I can point to in terms of how I hire consistently tot he business. and secondly, as we’re going through the hiring process and I’m involving my peers in that hiring, we’re all talking in common language, we’re all referring to the same points and we make sure if there is any error, one of my colleagues can cover us, so we can get a very balanced TeC score coming out of the process. 

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