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Panel Q&A | Individual Contributors – Sales Confidence

So for me the confidence and values the that were being shared particularly thinking what Jason was talking about in terms of leadership and coaching was really powerful stuff. How have you sought either a coach or a mentor and what criteria have you used to learn from somebody?

So your question is how do we evaluate whether our mentor is able to add value. Okay for me it’s a sense of accountability, so the person that the people that landed most about me into my life are the people that are willing to get in the fight. So I don’t like a critic who sits in the arena sitting there watching, I like someone who’s able to get in a fight with me and partner with me on struggle. So the people that I’ve learned the most from were prepared to get on the road and spend four days a week and it was necessary out in Europe you know developing me. That was a sign of a selfless leader, and somebody that was invested in me in my struggle, in my pain and difficulties, so my main criteria is are you going to get in a fight.

I think that mentorship and sponsorship are two incredibly important things, they are a bit different, but for me personally like it’s important to find sponsors in the business. Usually that’s earns, so if you’ve performed at a high level through revenue and targets, but I think the way you get true sponsors in a business is not just a number that you smashed, but how you got there, so if you demonstrate true leadership and getting that number you tend to get true sponsorship from senior leaders in the business or your industry. So personally for me i found some great sponsors at LinkedIn who’ve hopefully seen me do that, so that’s around sponsorship. And then when it comes to mentors, I feel like don’t be afraid to ask, like if you see someone in your business or outside your business in your industry that you find inspiring or you think is doing something really cool, reach out to them. Ithink one of the key things we should feel sort of responsibility towards even though we’re ICs I still think we’re leaders in our business, and we can still demonstrate leadership, it’s important to pave the way, and so when you reach out to a leader in your business for mentorship or advice, they’ll likely say yes if you kind of are very specific on what you want them to help you with. So they’re the two things sponsorship through you and sponsorship, and I think with mentors don’t be afraid to ask someone you find inspiring, and be specific about what you want them to help you with. 

So from my opinion, from my own experience it comes back to values about how much that other persons values are aligned to yours. So I was lucky enough to find a performance coach 3 or 4 years ago that is literally the person I want to be, the person I want to become in ten years right; physically, from a financial point of view, the languages that he speaks, the way he behaves. So for me I think it’s all about integration and talking to other people. One thing I’ll say if don’t be afraid of asking for mentorship, because you’ll be amazed about how many people are willing to give back. Because people that are very out there, are people that have been helped a lot by other mentors and coaches, and from my own experience, I’m now being mentored by the CFO at eBay and for me every minute with her is like literally a gold mine, and just because randomly, I asked her hey could you mentor me, I’m going through these financial challenges could you help me, and she said yes, you know and I can tell you she’s probably one of the busiest human beings on the planet. And always remember to give back so I love reading, I always give a book that is very meaningful to me, and I write a little letter and I send it to her as something meaningful for her. 

LinkedIn is prolific right now a few of you received some of my messages, I like to get to the point, but what are the recommendations in terms of personalisation in your framework for a message that you can actually nail?

Can be a bit controversial, I know talk about templates but I’m just not sure how well they work, so I think it’s not just about the personalisation, but it’s the timing. So you need to try and get these people in your network, so you can see what they’re talking about, because that’s the way you can personalise it it’s going to be different to any other rep and any other vendor. So I think it’s about getting the people in your network so you can see what they’re talking about and you can personalise your email that way, to be specific if they’ve shared an article about a specific topic obviously read it i would put the subject line of that article, enjoy the article you shared, when you do that the likelihood of response rate is more around like the 30/ 40% mark rather than the average amount is around 10%, so that’s a really specific tip

So for me it’s two things, I think one’s pretty common is you find something that makes you stand out, whether that’s being an article that you’ve seen that person or like a mutual connection. But something that’s worked really well for me and uh my co-workers are probably quite bored of it, so opening up with a joke, it just breaks the ice straight away, it instantly puts you out of the same category as every other person that’s trying to get hold of them. And it starts on a nice casual note before getting into the meat of what you want to talk about.

So let’s open up to the first question. What’s been your most difficult objection and how have you handled it?

So I was in a meeting with the CIO and he was 20 minutes late for a half hour meeting and he walked in and we had the slides ready, think I spent a year biking these slides, and my boss was in the room, and this is actually an observation about how he handled it because it’s actually not me who handled it. And i’d be lying if I said I handled it and I realised there’s a camera there so I was like actually. So we’re in the room anyway and the CIO walks in and says, forget about those slides take them all down, I just want to have a conversation, proper power frame turned up 20 minutes late, told us the agenda we had was wrong, you know, decided he was going to have a conversation and we’re in the room right this is a 9 million dollar deal, so I was like like totally like oh my god my life is over, and Jeremy basically just like not even phased he leans back in his chair and he says, but I’m about to tell you the greatest story you’ve ever heard, and he went I’m about to tell you the greatest story we’ve ever heard and he said what you talking about, and he said I’ll tell you what, I’ll show you one slide of the ten slide presentation we prepared if you don’t like it I’ll give you the nine minutes back. And naturally you’re not going to say no to that right, who’s going to say no no actually no don’t want that, so he said okay, show me your slide, and all in all after consequence of selling the company, and why we’re in the room and all the value that we delivered, we reframed the power in the room and enabled us to have a level of conversation as peers. So I think and maybe a theme of that objection is trying to take the sting out of the problem, and create charm and in that moment and lighten the whole thing up with something unusual, and what happens is they see you as a person, they don’t see you as someone going I’m giving you something that you will defend, and I will defend that, and then you will defend that and you get into this rabbit hole; think the way to do is to change the conversation and create a new conversation that didn’t exist before and that’s a good example of that. 

So I remember I think it was a year and a half ago I was meeting the CEO and I remember he was late, 10 minutes, and he sat down and he didn’t say hi or anything. He said I don’t like your business and I don’t like you because you work for this company. I was like, I remember my hand I was like shaking, like should I leave, should I punch him should I scream what should I do right! And I remember I honestly was like completely not expecting that I spent like probably 10 seconds thinking like should I just take the room, and I said, I promise you, that what you think about our company is 90% correct. And I want you right now to list three things that you believe and I’m gonna prove them wrong, to you right I’m gonna prove you that you’re not correct. And he mentioned you guys have 90 percent of progress on your platform, the second thing he said is you overpaid for this artist and this promoter, and another thing and it was like very easy to dismantle the whole thing because it was just based on the things that he has heard in the industry and in the media which most of the time is BS. So I guess that’s the hardest one.

I can share like my most common one which happens time and time again, is you’re too expensive. And so I think the reason I bring that one up is because there’s objection handling which is one thing, and for a long time my career I was like it’s all about objection handling I need to learn what the best response is to anything my prospect is going to throw at me. But I think when you get the objection of your expensive right at the beginning, it’s just a signal to go back to okay they don’t get the value, so I have to go back to discover like what business challenge do they have and how can I be a true partner to help them solve it. So yeah we get we get a lot I was at Gartner before LinkedIn. Now I’m at LinkedIn and both companies don’t discount and so yeah it’s been something I’ve had to overcome but yeah my advice around that is as soon as they say that they don’t see the value, they haven’t quite got it so you need to go back into the discovery and understand what business problem they’re trying to solve and how it aligns with the solution. 

One of the mantras I like now I have one kind which is a whole other story, but when I had a book of business of like 10 clients I’d be like okay I’m going to obviously do my business plan for the year and I’m going to fail fast, start to weed out what’s not going to come in what’s going to come in. But I would re-evaluate it every quarter because you don’t want to fail fast on the whole year, so I remember it was actually EBS, huge opportunity here I’m going to invest a lot of time in it and but then very quickly I was like okay halfway through the quarter it’s not quite doing what I needed it to do, I’m going to park it and I’m going to come back next quarter. So I use the whole I don’t know if you guys have heard of the big rocks pebbles and sand, that’s why I used to kind of prioritise so the big rocks are big deals that can hopefully going to come in the pebbles of the smaller bets, and the sand and the things that suck up loads of time and don’t come through and so I try to figure out what the sand is quickly but, I do go back to it once a quarter to see if it could turn into that one deal, I don’t know if that helps. 

Yeah I think everybody probably feels like there’s not a lot you can do, you don’t know how they think, where are they at. For me I think it’s always easy to nurture so they know who you are, they know what you do, so just nudge every couple of months with something of genuine value to them that’s not related to your product at all. So just keep them warm, keep them engaged speak to them as if they’re a mate, and if there’s something that they genuinely want and need, they’ll come back to you.

And just one more thing to add on that if like New York, or is it just one person you’re trying to talk to? Sometimes there might be other influencers or champions ,but just something to think about.

So one of the things that i’ve used has really helped me is putting on Google alerts about a company. SO that even 2-4 weeks I’m checking on what’s going on with that company. That probably doesn’t have to do with our day-to-day business so that I can have a better understanding of what pains about their finances, how many people they’ve fired, I’ve found that very useful.

A good question so I worked with the head under whilst I was a Gartner to to figure out I actually used a really embarrassing phrase I said I want to find the Harvey Spectre of the enterprise business, he heard me say that which maybe he will he’ll think. So that’s what I said I was like I want to find the players in the industry I just want to find these people that are operating at such a level that I want to find them, they must exist right because all these software companies are growing so fast they’re not doing it on air right so where are they? So at that time in my life I didn’t really know what I was doing so I trusted this head hunter and to find me people and then they brought my attention after that, and then when I met with them I walked in as if I was the prize, I was like I had this swagger, and I was like I was like I’m number one in the world and all this nonsense, and it was pretty evident very quickly that I was totally out of my death, so the way that you your question actually now fast forwarding to my position is you’re asking how do I evaluate a leader. So the way I do that now having matured a little bit in terms of understanding it’s the structure, I would recommend you use is based on the three r’s. So your recruitment, retention and revenue, are the three things that define great go to market strategy, and the leader of the go-to-market strategy needs to execute against those three things impeccably well; that means can he recruit an a-star team, does he have the ability and track record to do that, because if he doesn’t he isn’t going to the olympics. Se can be an a-star manager if he has a c-star team ain’t going anywhere right, so he has to do that and that is how does he do that, what traits does he look for, what’s his track record of doing that, do I back him as somebody that could attract talent about the highest level that’s the cornerstone it’s almost if you don’t get that right don’t pass go right. In terms of retention can this guy build a culture what values does he have what evidence of excellence does have, how do we develop people because eight players stay for two reasons, it’s the culture and the development. So how is he doing those two things he or she doing those two things, and what metrics are they doing to drive value and to improve people’s performance. And then in terms of revenue what’s the playbook, like what are they using to grow predictable revenue and how can they do that in a very evidence-based way, so you can use evidence of the growth today the average sales price how that’s gone up in time, what’s the what’s the annual contract value who are they selling to how that’s changed, these questions and discovery allow you to evaluate a leader based on data versus he seems or she seems like a great person. So use a structure that allows you to qualify and interrogate the leader properly and based on do I back this person to make a better one because as a candidate which essentially is what you’re in this hypothetical as, you’re making a bet and you have one bet and an investor has 100 bets, so your your introspection and discovery of this information is more important than ever. It also is a great indication of your ability so if I was interviewing you and you asked really intelligent thoughtful questions I think that you were a player, because that’s what you do when you meet customers that’s when you meet a CEO and you figure out business problems, you’re figuring out me you’re figuring out am I up to scratch and I like that so that’s what I would do. 

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