B2B Revenue Acceleration
B2B Revenue Acceleration

Episode · 2 years ago

54: What an Agile Sales Team Looks Like at IBM w/ Ewing Gillaspy

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

An agile sales team is really, uh, agile. But there’s got to be more to it than that.What’s the secret sauce that allows reps to handle 400+ accounts?

I sat down with Ewing Gillaspy, Outbound Sales Enablement Leader at IBM, to talk about what an agile sales team really is.

“It has a relentless focus on the most value added activity on that given day,” Ewing explained.

The more diverse skillset you have within your team, the more likely you have the right person executing each task. Therefore, your outputs become better.

 

You're listening to be to be revenueacceleration, a podcast dedicated to helping software executive stay on the cutting edge ofsales and marketing in their industry. Let's get into the show. Welcome tobe tob revenue acceleration. My name is Dan Seberk and I'm here today withyou and Gillaspy, outbound sales enablement leader at IBM Watson talent. You in. How are you doing today? I'm doing great. Thanks for having me. I thank you for coming on the show. It's great to have youon, so I'll top it for today is around what an agile sales teamlooks like at IBM. But before we go into that conversation doing, couldyou please introduce yourself to the audience and tell us a little bit more aboutyourself and also what you're doing at IBM. What's in talent, the company,of course, representing, you're sure, I'm a failed software developer that studied, you know, computer science as a background. was always in lovewith technology. Somehow, after going to business school, wandered my way intosoftware procurement. So I started my career buying software for, you know,a fiftyzero person organization eighty deals later, I transitioned into six sigma and processdesign and measurement systems and I ended up running recruiting for Asia and somewhere alongthe way in that journey we rebuilt the entire recruiting organization, the leaders,the model, the partners, the technology. Really loved that work and the workI'm doing now feels very similar to to that work back from two thousandand twelve. So that takes me here. And I've been a headhunter in betweenand had a couple of roles in startups and working with different customers likesears and Expedia and tea mobile and on their different recruiting models. So verytalent acquisition focused. I always tell people if you sit down at a conferenceroom table to buy a piece of software, you know and you look at bothsides of the table, the vendor and the client. I've done everyjob except legal in that table. So my experience is very limited from adomain perspective that very deep within that particular...

...domain. Yeah, that makes sense, okay, good and earing. I understand the is that you're of coursea strong advocate of using the agile framework for sales teams to be great,if you could share with us and our audience why you think the framework isso effective and how you're applying it or planning to apply it within your teamat IBM here? Are Sure? Well, you know, this is something Ijust walked into. IBM is all in on Agile and industry benchmarks wouldtell you that roughly eighty five to ninety percent of most agile projects are successful. Drive it, drive a measurable improvement. Of course it came from Software Engineering, from the S and what I love about it is it has arelentless focus on the most value added activity on that given day. So that'sthe concept. Now our HR organization embrace this on very impressed by their workand we are a fast follower of HR so HR. Traditionally, in talentacquisition we had a recruiter that owned a job and hiring manager relationship. Theydrive the whole thing there. Think of about as a sales rep you knowthey have closed deals. They call them filled jobs. Having been in bothworlds, the similarities are endless. But our talent acquisition team has reinvented itselfwith the agile methodology. They are twice as good as their former self inevery meaningful KPI that talent leaders care about. And none of them own any jobsanymore. They're in pots, they're in teams, they're in sprints,and so if you can take a recruiting organization and break down the siload accountability, where I own an account, I own a job or a client,so to speak, in sales or I own I own the wreck. It'sall up to me then and they can become massively more efficient and I thinkthe same opportunity exists in sales. And just to finish the point on why, it's really because of skills. The skills needed to be successful in anyjob is changing at a rate that we...

...can't really keep up with. Sothe more diverse the skill set in within your team or your pot of yoursprint, the more likely you have the right person executing each task within acontinuous sprint or framework and therefore your outputs become better. Yeah, that's interesting. And as when you both know, you mentioned about you're generally following hwit within ideam and and it. And there are occasions, of course,right hl can be very much compliance driven. So as a result of that,often they can be resistant to change. Without in mind, and if youbring that across to your sales team. What, if any, resistance haveyou seen from your team to actually implement that agile methodology and, ifso, why do you think people are resistant to and how do you thinkyou can help them to see the value that that you, of course,all right experiencing? Well, I think it's the right question. I thinkthat we're experiencing tool overload like never before. So we view the tool. Soif we want to talk about technology for a second, there's only twokinds of technology. There is technology that I have to click to do somethingwith and there's technology that does all the clicks for me and delivers me anoutcome. So I am ridiculously focused on the second category, and this secondcategory has almost no naysayers. You're not going to find a sales room.It gets upset when something like outbound workscom books an appointment on your counter andyour show up and it's a great meeting. Give you no change management, likewhat are you going to change? A little bit of territory rules andsome contact strategy and maybe you know don't touch a certain account number of times, all on the back end, all manage by sales ops. No changeplan meetings fall from a sky. So it's embracing that kind of a stackand really pursuing aggressively there. I'm out talking to sales enablement leaders all acrossthe country right now. I'm calling a lot of IBM alumni now that I'min this role. Not New to sales, but I'm new to enablement, andwhat I'm teasing out from these conversations...

...is that they're very tool overloaded,but they, like me, have not unlimited budget but unlimited appetite for thesecond category. So your right, that change is hard because so many ofthese sellers and recruiters, to use the same analogy, have embraced and triedto use these interfaces that, quite frankly, most of which are just not intuitive, and so it requires a lot of failure to get to efficiency ifit's the kind that I have to click and do everything. Yeah, okay, that's an interesting point. Now you're rising there. And in terms ofagile within a sales environment that they are putting together in the context of IBM, is that something that's being rolled out as a as a company wide strategy? Is that something that's more of a pilot within within the watch and talentdivision? That you, of course. What within what? What's the sortof strategy overall at Idam around that? Yeah, so agile has beaten usto the punch in marketing, right, so you're going to find it inmany different marketing organizations. It's new to sales and and this is a pilot. So we're embracing this idea that if talent acquisition can do better work inteams, then let's let's see if we get the same result in sales andthen go back and consider how to roll out further. So the first teamgoes live in in August. Okay, all right, that makes sense.Now actually going off topic again. Really I'm sure audience would love to hearmore about your thoughts and this, so I'll be in. Watson talent isa recruitment platform that's using AI to predict who is best suit, what isthe best candidate for your organization. Now there's a lot to be set aroundautomation and, to your point, there around the second type of technology,which involves no clicking. Ai Automation and making the lives easier humans is isright at the top of many organization priorities. But it's still a lot to besaid for that human to human interaction in both sales and recruitment and hiringprocesses. So, in terms of using...

...your solution, how how do youthink businesses can be sure that they're not missing less obvious aspects such as aperson's attitude and work ethic, when a CV maybe can't give you that thatthat thought, sort of picture or impression of of each candidate? Excellent question. So multiple answers here are. I'll give you the one that I thinkis most applicable to cross industries, and that is that we've as an industry, we focused on making the Canon experience so simple that it's easier to applythan ever before. There are entire companies who sold focus is to reduce thenumber of clicks to apply. So we've actually gone so far the other waythat I would say to any organization not using our technology, you are definitelymissing hundreds and thousands of great personalities that don't even get a look and andso when you compare that to looking at the people in your populations then havethe best skill fit for the job. You still run a human process fromthere and assess personality and all kinds of culture fit. But when you layout the math which we do. We have these lunch of Lemans and thingsthat we do from time to time and we take participants through the math.If I've if I'm working twenty eight jobs with an average advocant volume of ahundred twenty five, we do seven interviews per job and you just do thetime based activity analysis. Half of the candidate population is never getting a lookat all, and so how much buried treasure is in that group? Sothe human model doesn't even have time to inspect everything in front of you.The machine model gives you a start that is statistically significantly more likely to bea positive outcome and let you pick personalities and run your normal process from thatpoint. That makes sense absolutely. Now that that completely makes seven sense.And again, I think across industries, when you look at tools like automationand that allpa world, there's always at...

...concern around how much is that goingto enable a human or how much is that taking away from a humans dayto day job? And I also think that carries over into things by AI. How much can you gather using technology from a person's profile versus what ahuman can get it? I guess it's just the way that the world's moving. It's also, to your point, not about taking away from a humansjob but improving their their abilities to make to make accurate judgment really, andalso making those individuals more efficient. So that completely makes sense to me.Out of interest, is that something that you're using as a solution yourself internthe IBM, or what's your, I guess, your sort of recommended recruitmentprocess from from that perspective is it's at a similar sort of combination to whatyou just described. Yes, we use all of the Watson solutions within ourteam and we really rely on them for innovation. They are way out aheadof the market in many areas and if you look at the war going onin cloud and you look at a little bit of leaked in data, itwon't take you very long to realize that many other organizations that you've heard of, the usual suspects, the high margin companies, are hunting from us.So we've had to reinvent ourselves and we've actually been able to do it ina cost efficient manner because of the combination of agile practices and framework and highautomation technologies like Watson. Yeah, that makes it and in terms of movingforwards, this is, as you said, very much a pilot within within yourdivision at the moment. That IBM, and it's impossible to forecast what theresults will be and and if this becomes a wider strategy. But ofcourse, based on what we see in technology functions and what your colleague soundsif they're having success in the marketing department, I'm sure it will be a successin your team. That that idea of having pods and that Agile frameworkfrom a sales perspective at IBM. Is that so only? How much ofa concept do you think that is, as a concept, going to translateacross to to other organizations, or do...

...you still think, as it froma sales perspective, that's still will this sort of rigid model which isn't necessarilyevolving, or other organizations maybe aren't looking at this pot methodology, if youlike. I think the primary way to split in your mind is do youhave a model where reps have four accounts or four hundred? The closer youget to four hundred, the more that the the addual framework is going tomake a immediate and significant impact. The closer you are to four accounts each, the economies of scale won't be there. And while you know so, movinga cloth, you know, it's just a different problem. It's adifferent set of problems, and so it's organizations that really need to scale.And we've got it. We've got a certain parts of IBM better like that. So we have everything right. We have the model where some people haveone account and you know we've got we've got software groups where people have overa hundred so and in digital was sometimes it can be even higher than that. So it's where it's where you have that opportunity to scale into more accountsand an efficient manner, where you're going to get the synergies. Okay,interesting. So really, if you're looking at it that that real top ofthem pay amid large enterprise account sales rep that maybe is handling ten accounts.The traditional model would still still makes sense. As you move to more of aa transactional, high volume approach, that's when when the real value ofagile sales as a methodology starts to come into play. I think I wouldsay it slightly nuance from that. What you said is is dead on.We look at it more in terms of the skills. So what it's reallyabout is what's the skill mix of the team in the pot? And youknow, when you think about building the perfect seller, the the creative writer, the strategic thinker, the visionary can do their own demos rights really well, follows up meticulously. The CRMS beautiful. You know, everything's just perfect.There's just not that many that you...

...can hire and they're really expensive andthey know who they are. They tend to be lone wolf's for obvious reasons. So even if you had four accounts, you know, like some an oracleor sap or others. Even if you have, you know, fouraccounts, but there's there's three or four or five stake quarders that you're workingwith on every deal. The principles of the skills based approach would apply tothem as well. You're not going to get as much synergy from the techside of the equation. So there's the text side of the equation and theskill side of the equation. They really go hand in hand. Okay,that make sense. That's been really you for insights hearing. So I'm prettyshare that. So you. So if it's taken time to share your thoughtswith our audience, which is which must be much appreciate it from our side. If anyone wants to connect with you to learn more about I be onwatching talent or continue this conversation off flying with you directly. What's the bestway to get in touch with you? Yeah, traditional email. My emailsright on my linked in page. It's first out last that I be AMCOMand I'm looking to engage. I've written several notes myself outbound to ibum alumnithat were in sales enablement here and now moved on to maybe a start up, and so I'm I'm aggressively seeking these conversations, looking for others that aredisrupting their own sales model in some capacity. So I've had a bunch of verygood conversations. Can Trading notes, so I'm game for that. WhyOpen for that? I'm actually doing a lot of that right now. Soit's good timing. Okay, wonderful. Well, we'll of course circulate thisand give you the platform to hopefully have more of those conversations. But again, many thanks for your time today. You and it's been great on youon the show. Awesome, thanks for having me. operatics has redefined themeaning of revenue generation for technology companies. Worldwide. While the traditional concepts ofbuilding and managing inside sales teams inhouse has existed for many years, companies arestruggling with a lack of focus, agility and scale required in today's fast andcomplex world of enterprise technology sales. See...

How operatics can help your company acceleratepipeline at operatics dotnet. You've been listening to be to be revenue acceleration.To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favoritepodcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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