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Sales Confidence – November Panel

Cool thanks very much for sharing all your insights. There’s a couple of themes that came out particularly from a leadership perspective talent came up a number of times, and also kind of you know that alignment, not only exec level, but the pressures that come with sales but also aligning marketing into that from an operational perspective. One of the things I’m keen to start on particularly this time of year one of the things I found running these events it’s always hard to get some people to come along, because there’s always the pressure of being tied to the desk, and as a leader how do you kind of manage the pressure that is getting put on you, as well as the pressure you’re putting on your team to perform that’s the first question?

Oh I think the first thing is to say you know you hiring really smart people, you’ve really kind of hiring entrepreneurial people as well right, and what you don’t want to do is micromanage them to a desk, you don’t want to tell them where to be when to be , you know for me it’s about look at here’s the mission that I’m setting you, you know, here’s your annual target, it’s your franchise, I’m going to empower you with a with a set of tools that are going to help you get way past that number because that’s what you want, you want to do the 200% year, but you’re gonna have to use your time wisely and one of the things I encourage people to do, you know, actually kind of wrote up this little map of you know here’s how you should structure your week you know, in our business we do mandatory pipeline generation Mondays, you know, we bring everyone into the office on a Monday we say you know you don’t really have a choice in the matter, but come and just get it out the way because it’s it’s a part of selling, and so if you leave that task until either the end a quarter and you’re feeling that pressure damn I haven’t booked any meetings you’re not going to make time for things like this, you’re not gonna go to the gym, you’re not going to spend time with your family, because you’re you’ve let it all pile up on yourself, and so as leaders I feel like we have to give people freedom, but then also give people the empowerment to say hey here’s a good way to just structure your time in order to maximize the return on time, and you know you’re RIO.

Yeah I agree with everything Luke said. We do mandatory call in Wednesdays get breakfast in, no one likes to do it but by the time you’ve realized you haven’t done it it’s too late, but try and balance that we’re all adults, so we have health and wellness Thursdays, we’ll go to the gym for two to three hours and go and do some yoga, and it’s it’s not if-then that it’s more trust-based that I trust that they’re doing the mandatory calling that I don’t need to know where they are on a Thursday. We do the usual quarterly business plans live and die by your number in Salesforce, but I think there’s in terms of what I do when the pressures coming down to the team I see my role, I call it air cover, I’m there to provide air cover, so I trust the team if we’ve got that trusting relationship and I can see the hard work, I’ll absorb the pressure and try and pick the right moment in someone’s, how they’re feeling that week that month, how pressured they are, and when they need to feel some of that stress I’ll let some of it slip through, and if I think they need air cover they’ll they’ll get air cover. So I think the leadership responsibility is that is that buffer.

I’m rubbish at it. I’m horrible at time management James knows this very well but I do with my team it’s easier across things off of others list than your own list right, so with my team I go through their list for them and I cross it down to make sure that they have enough time to get done what needs to be done. And I’m as the manager, I can tell them forget it throw that part in the trash, work on this so I’m good at that but unfortunately I’m rubbish at doing it for myself, and I work very late nights.

So one thing that that totally changed everything for me when I joined up the Dynamics, and you know some of you might know if Jeremy Dougan and say you know I worked directly for him for those first those a couple of years while we were setting things up he taught me about the leading indicators right, because the lagging indicators that most of us and I by is the forecast, but you can’t do anything about that in the quarter because it was already determined six months before that based on what you did or didn’t do, and so actually when you run a business based on leading indicators which for us is the number of new business meetings that you do, the number of proof of values that you do, the amount of activity you spending opportunities, that exactly allows us to with with years and years of data, forecast out a rep performance six months from now. And so the the pressure that leaders feel that comes all the way down because you know just the pressure is at the top and then that goes down to the next level, is because you’re chasing the forecast and because you feel out of control because you feel like you need to go look you need to close this deals to hit the number but if you hit the leading indicators every single quarter the forecast gets taken care of.

Okay everyone’s keen for the questions that’s so let’s go hit the room straightaway. Hi this is Lucas from GPDQ the question that I have so I’ll be growing the team soon and how do you deal with coaching your teams, I mean I know it’s kind of relevant to what you’ve just kind of started with the challenges, but how do you deal with coaching individually, I know that you’ve got big teams, small teams, but that’ll be just interesting to hear.

So it’s that’s a very good question and it’s quite pertinent, I just had a course in coaching last week so I think there’s there’s a key difference that I realise is one of the areas that I need to work on, my mantra, I think when I first started and looked to grow team I was very heavy in micromanagement, because I wanted them up all at the same level that I felt I was; looking at the same indicators the same level of trust, so I went very heavy on micromanagement for the first six months. I now only go heavy on micromanagement until they’re out of ramp and they’ve gone through the playbook and I’ve given them the best format that I can, and now it’s for them to go and adapt but what I identified in my 1-1’s was I was very much doing management and not coaching. So there’s a very key difference in that definition. I think management, micromanagement, leadership is about directing and giving them the answers or telling them what to do, and what I’m just dying to learn is that coaching is the total opposite, so I I’ve got a coach now and for me it’s more like counselling so they just keep asking why, exactly what I said as as tip one, why do you feel that what do you think the best course of action is, where rather than giving them answer it should be about leading them to find that answer themselves so actually I’m not yet qualified to talk about coaching, but I think the key point from me is there is a key difference between leading, and then actually coaching in the truest sense of the word.

Start with why, who’s around you in your organization is it just you building a team by yourself because all the coaching doesn’t have to come from you right, like his breakthrough ourselves was I don’t always have to have the right answer, so if you’ve got a good culture around you a lot of that’s gonna help you coach right. The culture puts the barriers around what ideally you don’t want a coach on so if that’s right, and then you’re just kind of fine tuning along the way and then putting them in front of the right people is really your coaching job, doesn’t always have to come from you shouldn’t come from. 

Yeah I mean you have to the one-on-ones, I mean you have to communicate you have to collaborate you’ve do all this. I guess my point is though there’s a like just just look around you and your organization, you know the village raises the children together, find the talent find the people you want to put that person in front of learn from, and develop kind of from different areas across your organization, I just feel like it you own the burden.

So I’ll echo all about and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this you know, especially with the unit the town is Simon Senate the Millennial thing as well you know people learn in different ways. One of the things that I learned about coaching was that and if you’re if you have high standards which I’m sure everyone in this room does, the first thing is to understand that when you hire somebody they’re not you, right, and they they’re not going to be the expectations that you have of yourself right. And the first thing you’ve got to do is outline the expectations and Jeremy actually used to do this thing with me to talk about the man on the moon; when we decided to put a man on the moon we didn’t say hey let’s go build a rocket just fire it at the moon… one step at a time ,so if you got a new rep in all I focus on for the first three months is pipeline generation to my standard because if you can get them to pipeline generate to the right standard that is the foundation that they’ll need for their entire sales career right, because everyone will come in at a different standard.

I don’t know what you think but definitely the top 10%, you’ll get more out of that top 10% incremental than you will ever get out of the bottom 10%. You’ve got to focus on the A players not the B players.

First moment of conflict! My view was going to be different I feel like if the a players are consistently over a hundred percent they’re going to manage themselves to that standard and the juice that you can squeeze out them is less than finding a B or C player who’s on 20% and then coaching them around to seventy five, hundred percent, so my goal will is the the middle lower performers, I do think there’s a there’s a D or E that speaks for itself. So equally you leave the top two quartiles and the middle, that middle half is where you can squeeze the most out of people through coaching and upskilling them.

It’s a two for two for America – don’t be a B seller in America!

Assume we can even this out then. I’m gonna controversial third option, I’m probably going to make it complex in my usual way. So I think the first thing I would do is is make sure I understand how you’re measuring people, because if you’re measuring people based on revenue you’re doing it wrong. Because revenue as I said before is a byproduct of everything they did before, and if you haven’t taught them the skills how to do that then that’s your fault not theirs. And so you’ve got to go back to a set of skill areas that you can teach that are going to help people get where they need to get to, because step one never hire a B player, you’ve screwed up, do not pass go, do not collect 200 pounds right, like go back good. Because the second you introduce a B player into the organization you’ve screwed it up, because then everyone will expect the standards to fall and eight players will either leave or they’ll drop their standards, and so make sure you don’t screw that up. The second thing is when you’ve got the talent in, it’s your job to develop it and everyone who is a zero dollar contributor – I’ve had people go from from doing nothing for a whole year depending the top rep in the world taking home 2 million pound paychecks you know within a quarter because we always backed them, and we always always focused on the skills the leading indicators that we’re going to get them to the result, not on the result itself.

So Luke, specifically talked about resilience you spoke about resilience how specifically do you measure it and codify it?

So how do I how do I measure it? I look I look always at real people’s life you know an interview with AppDynamics is a it’s a kind of pretty personal personal experience because I don’t really care about hiring salespeople I want to hire I want to hire great people, I will do the rest And so with resilience I kind of look for times when people have put themselves into difficult situations when you know like you know I give you a story about somebody that’s just been an exceptional performer for me, set his heart and soul on a career in the military didn’t go to university you know, but smart guy right, and he applied for the the Navy Special Forces underwater bomb disposal squad, so you go crazy like that, okay and bit special right, and spent his whole career just working towards a single goal, made it through nine hundred people got to the bottom two, got in, the did the training program, dived for six months but then on a training dive got the bends, almost died and was in a you know one of those crazy decompression chamber things for months, had to rebuild his entire life but then could have taken home you know honourable discharge from the from the Navy and sick pay and a pension everything, but didn’t, got straight back on the horse went into recruitment you know or a lot of us will have started out and, got into sales built his career up and you know never ever let it beat him. And I’ve got so many stories that people that have you know had those kind of experiences in their life, and for me people have been through that they can they can take a no on a deal right or a no on a cold call, all right, it’s people like unfortunately and I’m not saying these people aren’t also good but you know that haven’t had any of those kind of experiences in their life that they’re a bit more unpredictable you know when it comes to how they perform. 

John you mentioned something about creating like an agile team putting in with a Google Atlassian what is that, elaborate on it…

In my layman’s way obviously Agile has been a software developer method highly successful over I think the last two years maybe more, that allows you to form small core groups to quickly develop build MVP’s test, and if successful roll that out. What we’re looking to do particularly in Eventbrite right, and we’ve got agile coaches now part of the business, is we sit across a huge spectrum of the market SSO self-service large part of where our revenues come, sales, marketing, product, there’s so many challenges that we could look to fix sometimes based on the number of engineers you get any other company you might get caught in there as a sales guy would say about roadmap it’s coming out in q5 syndrome, but what we’re looking to do with the agile teams is get small pockets of people from any role in the company, so we can stretch and use their intellects and get them really, so an SDR could go and join the SSO marketing team on how do we get more organic clients saving up all about conversion rates and web pages and things like that, but if they’re passionate about it and they want to invest time in doing it, we feel that we can create a number of small groups to work on these bite-sized challenges breaking things down, and quickly move and test and if it’s successful move into version two, three and maybe implement it. So it’s been, anyone that’s worked or spend time with anyone from Google, they’ve got the 20% time you can dedicate 20% of your time in your work week to projects of your interest. This is an extension of that to try and help us for Eventbrite that will help us look to develop product or roll out internal efficiencies much quicker and I think for the employees it gives them something much more tangible to buy into the company, because then they’re flexing their creative muscles and actually building something, rather than chasing and MQL or a sales or in staying in their pigeonhole box. From an employee point of view you can get a lot more out of people and stretch them if you give them the chance to do that. 

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