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 revenue acceleration, a podcast dedicated to helping software executive stay on the cutting edge of sales and marketing in their industry. Let's get into the show. Welcome to be tob revenue acceleration. My name is Dan Seberk and I'm here today with you 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 you on, so I'll top it for today is around what an agile sales team looks like at IBM. But before we go into that conversation doing, could you please introduce yourself to the audience and tell us a little bit more about yourself 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 love with technology. Somehow, after going to business school, wandered my way into software procurement. So I started my career buying software for, you know, a fiftyzero person organization eighty deals later, I transitioned into six sigma and process design and measurement systems and I ended up running recruiting for Asia and somewhere along the way in that journey we rebuilt the entire recruiting organization, the leaders, the model, the partners, the technology. Really loved that work and the work I'm doing now feels very similar to to that work back from two thousand and twelve. So that takes me here. And I've been a headhunter in between and had a couple of roles in startups and working with different customers like sears and Expedia and tea mobile and on their different recruiting models. So very talent acquisition focused. I always tell people if you sit down at a conference room table to buy a piece of software, you know and you look at both sides of the table, the vendor and the client. I've done every job except legal in that table. So my experience is very limited from a domain perspective that very deep within that particular...

...domain. Yeah, that makes sense, okay, good and earing. I understand the is that you're of course a 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 is so effective and how you're applying it or planning to apply it within your team at IBM here? Are Sure? Well, you know, this is something I just walked into. IBM is all in on Agile and industry benchmarks would tell 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 a relentless focus on the most value added activity on that given day. So that's the concept. Now our HR organization embrace this on very impressed by their work and we are a fast follower of HR so HR. Traditionally, in talent acquisition we had a recruiter that owned a job and hiring manager relationship. They drive the whole thing there. Think of about as a sales rep you know they have closed deals. They call them filled jobs. Having been in both worlds, the similarities are endless. But our talent acquisition team has reinvented itself with the agile methodology. They are twice as good as their former self in every meaningful KPI that talent leaders care about. And none of them own any jobs anymore. 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's all up to me then and they can become massively more efficient and I think the 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 any job is changing at a rate that we...

...can't really keep up with. So the more diverse the skill set in within your team or your pot of your sprint, the more likely you have the right person executing each task within a continuous 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 hw it 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 you bring that across to your sales team. What, if any, resistance have you seen from your team to actually implement that agile methodology and, if so, why do you think people are resistant to and how do you think you can help them to see the value that that you, of course, all right experiencing? Well, I think it's the right question. I think that we're experiencing tool overload like never before. So we view the tool. So if we want to talk about technology for a second, there's only two kinds of technology. There is technology that I have to click to do something with and there's technology that does all the clicks for me and delivers me an outcome. So I am ridiculously focused on the second category, and this second category 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 and your show up and it's a great meeting. Give you no change management, like what are you going to change? A little bit of territory rules and some 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 change plan meetings fall from a sky. So it's embracing that kind of a stack and really pursuing aggressively there. I'm out talking to sales enablement leaders all across the country right now. I'm calling a lot of IBM alumni now that I'm in this role. Not New to sales, but I'm new to enablement, and what 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 the second category. So your right, that change is hard because so many of these sellers and recruiters, to use the same analogy, have embraced and tried to 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 if it'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 of agile 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 talent division? That you, of course. What within what? What's the sort of strategy overall at Idam around that? Yeah, so agile has beaten us to the punch in marketing, right, so you're going to find it in many 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 in teams, then let's let's see if we get the same result in sales and then go back and consider how to roll out further. So the first team goes live in in August. Okay, all right, that makes sense. Now actually going off topic again. Really I'm sure audience would love to hear more about your thoughts and this, so I'll be in. Watson talent is a recruitment platform that's using AI to predict who is best suit, what is the best candidate for your organization. Now there's a lot to be set around automation and, to your point, there around the second type of technology, which involves no clicking. Ai Automation and making the lives easier humans is is right at the top of many organization priorities. But it's still a lot to be said for that human to human interaction in both sales and recruitment and hiring processes. So, in terms of using...

...your solution, how how do you think businesses can be sure that they're not missing less obvious aspects such as a person's attitude and work ethic, when a CV maybe can't give you that that that 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 think is 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 apply than ever before. There are entire companies who sold focus is to reduce the number of clicks to apply. So we've actually gone so far the other way that I would say to any organization not using our technology, you are definitely missing hundreds and thousands of great personalities that don't even get a look and and so when you compare that to looking at the people in your populations then have the best skill fit for the job. You still run a human process from there and assess personality and all kinds of culture fit. But when you lay out the math which we do. We have these lunch of Lemans and things that 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 a hundred twenty five, we do seven interviews per job and you just do the time based activity analysis. Half of the candidate population is never getting a look at all, and so how much buried treasure is in that group? So the 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 be a positive outcome and let you pick personalities and run your normal process from that point. That makes sense absolutely. Now that that completely makes seven sense. And again, I think across industries, when you look at tools like automation and that allpa world, there's always at...

...concern around how much is that going to enable a human or how much is that taking away from a humans day to 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 a human 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 humans job but improving their their abilities to make to make accurate judgment really, and also 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 intern the IBM, or what's your, I guess, your sort of recommended recruitment process from from that perspective is it's at a similar sort of combination to what you just described. Yes, we use all of the Watson solutions within our team and we really rely on them for innovation. They are way out ahead of the market in many areas and if you look at the war going on in cloud and you look at a little bit of leaked in data, it won'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 in a cost efficient manner because of the combination of agile practices and framework and high automation technologies like Watson. Yeah, that makes it and in terms of moving forwards, this is, as you said, very much a pilot within within your division at the moment. That IBM, and it's impossible to forecast what the results will be and and if this becomes a wider strategy. But of course, based on what we see in technology functions and what your colleague sounds if they're having success in the marketing department, I'm sure it will be a success in your team. That that idea of having pods and that Agile framework from a sales perspective at IBM. Is that so only? How much of a concept do you think that is, as a concept, going to translate across to to other organizations, or do...

...you still think, as it from a sales perspective, that's still will this sort of rigid model which isn't necessarily evolving, or other organizations maybe aren't looking at this pot methodology, if you like. I think the primary way to split in your mind is do you have a model where reps have four accounts or four hundred? The closer you get to four hundred, the more that the the addual framework is going to make 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, moving a cloth, you know, it's just a different problem. It's a different 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 have one account and you know we've got we've got software groups where people have over a 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 accounts and 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 of them 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 a a transactional, high volume approach, that's when when the real value of agile sales as a methodology starts to come into play. I think I would say 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 really about is what's the skill mix of the team in the pot? And you know, 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 and they 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 oracle or sap or others. Even if you have, you know, four accounts, but there's there's three or four or five stake quarders that you're working with on every deal. The principles of the skills based approach would apply to them as well. You're not going to get as much synergy from the tech side of the equation. So there's the text side of the equation and the skill 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 pretty share that. So you. So if it's taken time to share your thoughts with 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 on watching talent or continue this conversation off flying with you directly. What's the best way to get in touch with you? Yeah, traditional email. My emails right on my linked in page. It's first out last that I be AMCOM and I'm looking to engage. I've written several notes myself outbound to ibum alumni that 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 are disrupting their own sales model in some capacity. So I've had a bunch of very good conversations. Can Trading notes, so I'm game for that. Why Open for that? I'm actually doing a lot of that right now. So it's good timing. Okay, wonderful. Well, we'll of course circulate this and 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 you on the show. Awesome, thanks for having me. operatics has redefined the meaning of revenue generation for technology companies. Worldwide. While the traditional concepts of building and managing inside sales teams inhouse has existed for many years, companies are struggling with a lack of focus, agility and scale required in today's fast and complex world of enterprise technology sales. See...

How operatics can help your company accelerate pipeline 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 favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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