B2B Revenue Acceleration
B2B Revenue Acceleration

Episode · 1 year ago

72. Elevating the Sales Profession


No business is succeeding in a viable way unless its sales department is achieving.

Sales is the core driver of any business. That being the case, why are sales professions viewed with negative perceptions?

I recently interviewed James Ski, Founder and CEO at Sales Confidence, about how to elevate the sales profession.

On today's episode we discussed: the source of negative perceptions of sales professionals, how to recognize the strategic function of sales, why sales compensation should be shared with support roles, and the importance of focusing on mental health for sales leaders.

(Use the discount code Operatix50 for £50 off when registering for the Sales Confidence’s SaaSGrowth 2020 conference.)

To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

Those companies right now in twothusand andtwenty and over the next decade that are focused on the mentalhealth of their leaders and professionals, are going to be muchmore successful than their pears in industry. You're, listening to be to B RevenueAcceleration, a podcast dedicated helping software executives stay on thecutting edge of sales and marketing in their industry. Let's get into the show, I welcome to be to be a revenueacceleration. My name is Oveniam with Ynm. Today, with Gem K, funder and Cyou at salls confidence. How are you today? Gims really excited to be on theshow? Thank you for having me. It's been an exciting start to two thusandand twenty. I'm really keen to share any nuggets or insights that could beuseful to you or your listeners. Yeah will take all the negats wel. Thank youfor coming as well. So today we will be talking about elevating the selfprofession, but before we go into a details and we attace you to APIC,would you mind introducing yourself as well as your company, sells confidencein Inmoreditare Falgence sure? Well, thank you again for having me my nameis James Ski I'm, the CO and Founde of sales confidence. Our vision is tobuild the world largest B to be sales community so day today, we're focusedon helping elevate, the sales profession and helping people at eachstage of their career, with their performance mindset and well being. Ipersonally have been in the sales and software industry for over ten years Iwas very early in a British S. company called hobble and had a fantastic runthere, and then I went on to join linkto. Linkedam was an incredibleexperience for me personally and professionally, and, while at linked in,I was responsible for the UK in Europes flagship companies as well as for anextended period of of time. I was actually the world number one: A Dsocial seller at Linketin Omlinktin, while Working Forlington, so todaywe're building sales confidence and we also have a conference called Sas Groth,which is held anually on the eighth of July here in London, okay. So thatsounds like a great background. So, today, jams as ementionally on we wantto speak about elevating the serf profession, and we know that everysingle business need selvs people to be achieve to be able to achieve theirresults and to grow, but through the year, and especially in certainindustries, seics people have developed what I would call it bad reputation,and I think there is a few stereotypes and negative perceptions around aroundthe sems profession. Could you please share with us what these perceptionsare, and why do you think they have organically been established greatquestion, so I think, as a buyer, if you've purchased something on the HighStreet in the last five to ten years, maybe you've bought a mobile phonecontract or you've decided to rent a...

...property or buy a property, or maybeyou've been on to by a car. These are experiences as a consumer that oftenfeel very transactional very fast, possibly your pressured into making aquick decision, because it's a very competitive marketplace, so I think,generally over time as a buyer, particularly I'm buying consumer andgoods or services. We've often been left disappointing with the buyerexperience when I think of what I understand today is the salesprofessional, and I guess I'm focused mainly on the B to b sales,professional and particularly with in the software industry. What tend tofind is incredibly bright, thoughtful, caring and often very emotionallyintelligent sales professionals who really do care about understandingtheir buyer understanding, their buyers needs and providing the right solutionat the right stage for that individual in their company. So I think we havebeen as a profession. We've often been peseived as individuals, not creatinggreat experiences and having been organizing community events for nowthree years here in the UK, ND and now we'll expand it internationally. Thepeople I interact with they truly care about creating amazing buyingexperiences, but I do feel, like we've been impacted by experiences. We've hadin our day to day lives, and then that translates into the perception of whatpeople perceive a sales professional to be like, and I think, if you were tocome to one of our events, you would certainly not recognize those negativeexperiences and you would fairly want to embrace the type of sales,professional and sales leaders that we build as part of our community. Okay.No, that makes sense and, from your perspective, Alkansas Professional,prove their value and be seen as part of what I would call a Mor trategicfunction. It's really important as a Salles professional to intimatelyunderstand your target buyer, the type of company, the type of industry andthat they operate in and the type of stage they area in their research. Ifyou look at reports from the likes of linkd in or G two, which is the worldslargest platform for software reviews- and you will understand that aboutsixty to seventy percent of the time for a virus spent researching theirproblems and researching solutions in the marketplace before they interactwith the professional. So at the point that you have that first phoneconversation or face the face meeting, it's really really important that youunderstand your customer and their...

...needs, and you can only do this byresearch and to become an expert and a trusted advisor and truly be strategic,and I don't mean that from simply a language perspective. But if youunderstand the company that you're talking with an you will be in a betterposition to advise them at that strategic level and what I found,particularly in the enterprise so and when I'm talking about enterprisecompanies, I'm talking tensand, employee, size, company, so think aboutLloyds Banking Group. Here on the UK as eightyzard employees, plas or UNIleaver as another example, they have thousands of people and often from adecision making process. There's more than you know, group buying this so thes,seven to fourteen individuals. You can actually add a lot of value if youunderstand the different needs of those different individuals, I think, as aprofessional today, we may be Gettan imbounds request for information ar westart the process with one individual we believe is the only decision. Majorand so you're much better multi fredding, which basically meansconnecting with people different scales and different stages within theorganization and it understanding the organization and connecting the dots onbehalf of that Bie. So then, when you elevate yourself and you want to addvalue strategically you're much more well informed, it's not good enough.Just to know your own product is not good enough. Just to understand thetype of by you truly have to understand the organization and the people thatyou're looking to advise okay. We know that in insolt T, ELR selves and Ithink it's Probay true in most of the serts profession. We know that a largepart of the earning or the potential earning of CER people is base oncommission. And to that extent you know they. I guess you need to send. Youknow to get your money or to make more money. So is there anything that yousuggest doing around commission plan around structure, so ses people becomethat advisor in a way and that person that will you knowready invest time inengaging with a different persona in those large accounts understandingtheir need? You know and really trying to lead with best practices and andtechnically enting that the en user in a way, but don't you, think that theway people are paid and the way commission seems to be awardy to sericepeople. You know there is a fundamental change that its to wappen there.Basically, because you can spend some times educating but really seme peoplewant to say they want to get that. Commission yeah. That's absolutely fine!I'm a huge advocate for commission incentivization. It's been proven andwell documented by the data that it's very effective. You just have to look aselfperformance management company like exactly that's, been doing this forover a decade. Now, let's just be clear: Making a sale and closing a deal is anextremely positive thing to do as an individual we've been a sales, anorganization as a company.

Fundamentally, there is no singlecompany out there that is surviving unless their sales function isperforming and just e turn that on its head slightly, it's the buyer thatmatters and it's that blir experience and we all love to buy. So there'snothing wrong with having love for sales and closing the deal now on. Weaccept that is absolutely okay to closeto the other week sense that thereis a different type of wiring from a fundamental behavior spectire when youthink about how the sales professional is incentivized, now particular earlyin your career, so maybe you're in your first sales role and you imagine whatthe world of a business leadourselves neither could look like and you're,probably working towards, maybe your first fiftysand pounds and per year,and you wearnings or you know that kind of magic, one hundred thousand, whichpeople really enjoy hitting I'm absolutely fine, if you're, creatingvalue for the buyer and you're, creating value for the company that youwork for that, you should be rewarded from a compensation perspective andthere are solutions like exactly that. Can help you with that. What I wouldadd to this- and this is what I am a advocate for- is sharing the rewards ofa sale beyond the sales function. As we all know, the most successful salesindividuals and leaders are heavily supported by their marketing function.Customer Success Product PR content. All of these other people in thebusiness should be rewarded in the success of sales, so for US ethellesconfidence as an example elements of our prunut line, so particularly whenwe think about ticket sales for annual conference sasgrowt on the eighth ofJuly, every sale that is made that is not directly impacted by sales,professional whos picked up the fineal close the sale. The results are sharedamongst everybody in our company, even of freelances Thay get a share of thereward, because I deeply understands that every single individual in thecompany has an impact on the sale, so just the recut from a framingperspective. Let's appreciate sales thats appreciate why they rewardedcommission and there's lots of different approaches to optimize theefficiency of compensation planning. Let's not take it away from the factthat we should be proud of sales and we should be proud of closing the deal,and actually we should extend the rewards for those individuals aroundthe sales organization or supporting the Sales Organization. Yeah. Thatmakes perfect sense. Yeah. I think it's it would almost be deal to have notonly with the rest of the team, because obviously you're right, the servepeople, art t e, the front of the company, the otherpeople going out and and seeing within JUSA. It would be so veryunconventional, but probably very interesting. FORSELVES for companyourselves functioned to have a...

...commission plan base on the actualbenefits that Youe ddivering to your customer. So, basically, as thebenefits are growing technically, the sers person could get more money. WHECoultimately would probably remove the bad mage or the that pushy sandis guytype of maybe ITEC Ou get some of the some of the NUSAP in to be speakingabout. I think you know if you look at net promoter score and NPS or you lookat the experience of the buyer once purchase has been made and realrewarding sells, also customer success or the Account Management Team and forthe continuous engagement or value returnd in the product. I definitelysee there is value and I've seen some examples of that playout in companies.I think, though, there is just a kind of a business model perspective on youknow when the commission is paid from a kind of a pno perspective and howthat's built particularly into assass model and how that scales over time.You know I'm a just explaining I feel. Like you know, the idea of rewardingthe sales professional post sale is a good idea, particularly rat NPS, butI've got nough. Nothing really else to add to that. Okay, that makes sense.That makes sense. So we know that part of your objective hat servs confidenceis to elevate the self profession, as well as sheports as professionals todevelop their skill and grothe carrier path, a successful sensperson. So if you wantto go into a little bit more detais, what are the initiatives sellsconfidence as in place to support the shift of perception from the market sofrom the bad sertsgay to the good seves gay yeah, great question. So the firstpoint is: is that we're interested in supporting sales people at each stageof their career with their success, but in a sustainable way? So you know thepursuit purely fough, an objective or a hire income, or you know, beingnumber one is not good enough in our community, so we're heavily investedwith our membership and we just launched our first one hundred membersa last Wednesday actually at one of our evening, events and we're focused oncreating experience where they're being ed educated. They have access tomentorship, they have access to expert coaches and they have access to peoplethat can help accelerate their crript more broadly than that, it's reallyimportant for us and you've been talking to daisy, Topman, R, PR andcommunications manager and we're going to be telling the story of theimportance of the sales professional a lot more broadly. For example, thisyear we're going to be featured in the sales performance report within the Rekconter, which is a supplement that goes into the times to over a milliondecision makers in the UK, and this is an opportunity for us te highlight theimportance of the sales professional within the sales organization were alsogoing to be published across now, typical major mainstream and businessmedia and the techpress. So there's a...

...lot of liquidity in the market, meaningthere's a lot of ventur capital being invested in technical solutions andsoftware, often into individuals that don't necessarily havecommercial or sales experience qut often, but they understand how to builda product to solve problems. And it's the similar space that I imagine withyour own business that you're solving in a area. You know creating these andopportunities for these type of founders. So we're just going to betelling the story more. Broadly, yes, Wi'vh in te assess industry, and so youwould see us a major events like Sasstock in doubly an an Sasgrove herein the summer and Sastar in the US telling the story on stage, but alsoyou know: How can we get the BBC or Mainstreim press like the eveningstandard to hear our story and understand t a you know. My story aswell comes from a very personal journey. You know it's well publicized now, butyou know I was advised to a hospital when I, as twenty years old, I'm jue toa kind of a mental health and diagnosis and as a result of that I've kind ofpursued and progressed to understand myself andmy my mindset and how we can help people and develop. So I think whatwe're going to be doing is telling the story and the narrative the salespeople like marketing people like product people. I any type of person,are just human beings and we care about each other. Like anybody else and whileyes, we are rewarded more than most. Yes, we have a significant income. Weto our people. We have feelings. You know we care about each other and wewant to do the best job that we can do. So I think if we can tell that story,and we can focus on the importance of emotional intelligence, the importanceof being selfaware being self aware of how your sales process or the salesexperience is creatid for the buyer, we're going to be in a much betterposition to create better buyer experiences in the marketplace. Thatmakes sense well. My last question is the is pretty much noboom along yourstory and some of the thing that I've seen on a on your website, gays aboutthe wellness and the mental wellness of the seric profession. So I no anotherthing is that hes seen is that it seems that lots of people can of considerother SEIS function of the tough guy. You know the tough people that are veryconfident can speakerot, etc, but, like you to develop a little bit more aboutknow what her you're finding in term of mental wellbeing- and you know how doyou a Bo out, you could them, because it's got to be something thatis vettydifficult to discuss as sort os professional. That you know will wantto keep the the exert in a way so I'll. You out your project to Pickan you SAto pick as as? U K W something that he's taking more min now, yes, ferscontes me our biggest issue, hmmit's. A great point, I mean L, it's been apersonal experience of mine that I've been impacted by my own mental healthchallenges over the last ten years. I...

...spent time in a mental health hospitalwhich is quite unusual to hear you know, I guess a public figure C Anda founder,I'm speaking openly about that Bu, I'm committed personally to raise awarenessof mental health. I mean it's been world documented. Now I think theroyals and the heads together foundation have done an amazing job inelevating the LS round mental health. In the UK, sadly, you can look intosocial meduring a daily basis, and you will hear of the impact of negativemental health on individuals now from our research and also personalexperience of being working in and leading sales organizations over thelast ten years in the UK, I think the sales leader is under more pressurethan most leaders in an organization. The reason is, especially in software.You've got venture capital, individuals that have high expectations. I mean anexample: We had Renbora, who is a wold leading founder coach and runs acompany called SNP communications, and he was speaking in an event last weekabout founders going to the venture capital community and making promises,often based on pure speculation. A you know that their company is going to bethe next great big thing or whose responsibility is it to deliver on thetarget set by the founders and the venture capital community. It's thesales leader, so the sales neeader has the responsibility in the weight of theworld on the business objective of the company plus he has, or she has tomanage her own self doubt and pressure. Knowing that often a sales leader'stenure is less than eighteen months in a venture, capt venture capital backedbusiness, then he or she has the responsibility of you- know the fiveten twenty or whatever number of sales professionals that they must the cafterin order to deliver a number. So there is pressure, positive pressure and alsonegative selfdoubt coming from all angles, and while you know the salesleader, maybe perceived Eres, a good public speaker or an individual that ischarismatic or inspirational, and I know lots of analytical introvertivesells iis by the way but like. If you take the beginning of this conversationand focus on that perception, then you would argue that why does a companyneed to support the sales leader? Well, it's simply because the pressures areimmense and it doesn't matter who it is. You know, frankly, you know my greaterpurpose is to support the teacher, the the nurse, the careworker, theprofessionals that maybe don't get the recognition and respect and also havetheir own personal challenges. I just happen to be a very proud sales,professional, that's very proud about the profession and the value that sailscreates in the world, and I just want it to be acknowledged that theseindividuals are like the buyer, the humans. They need support day today. Sothat's why, for us, you know we're focused on supporting the salesprofessional, each stage of their...

...career with performance mindset andwell being, and it's that helistic approach, which means right now. Youknow we have the attention of the world and sales confidence because there'ssimply not an organization out there. That's designed a business Morelin, theway that we have- and you know I'm proud of that and I'm proud of the factthat we are going to be looking out for each other and but by extension, ifyou're listening to this- and maybe you just support the sales organization, somaybe re in sales operations or Seles an aberment or marketing. You know wecare about you as well, and I just feel while difficult to your point aboutspeaking about the challenges with your own mental health. You just have tocreate safe spaces. In your organization and give people permissionto share it's difficult balance, and you know I would, I would treadcarefully and I would seek advice when you start opening up what people'spersonal challenges are, but it will completely change the culture and thepositive attitude that employees or extended team members have towards youas a company and as a business if you invest in their mental health, it's assimple as that, it's linked to performance and those companies rightnow in two thusand andtwenty and over the next decade that are focused on themental health of their leaders and professionals are going to be much moresuccessul than their pears in industry. Well, thanks for your inside Gims, wereally appreciate the Fay that you took yeur time today to share your soutsWithour Gens. So if anyone wants to connect with you to to carry on theconversation or pick your brain up, what's the best way to get oll the Fougems, the first thing to do is ad Miol Lington, so search James Ski onLinkedin send a personal message that you heard us both speaking today andthen we can look at. You can also check Tis out salls CONFIDENCECOM, and if youwant to come to a annual conference on the eighth of July and which is forsales revenue, Ond marketing leaders Ar old billions game, we've got capacityfor fifteen hundred leaders, we're flying in people from Silicon Valley.So we've got. People like Aaron Ross is the Fander, a predictable revenue,Nathan, lacker Retnbar Yako who's, the founder of winning Di by design of manyother top UK an European leaders, and if you want to come to that actually-and you want to promote this- and you send us a kind of an operacti fiftycode, so wel give you a fifty pound discount on any tickets. If you use thecode operatic fifty there you go, we are that everyone, oparatics operatics,fifty right, correct, well make sure a we put that online as well. Well,that's very there's very generous of you jum. Thank you ver much for that.We definitely did check the conference and see if the dairy alote but wwilltry to pop by and SAR and support Rin WHAC Yooe doing so once again, manythings for your time today. It was an absolute pleasure to haveyouundersujebs amazing. Thank you very much and thank you so to Caterina, FO,organizing and Dasyan our side. It's...

...been a pleasure to be on here and goodluck with the future. Thank you. UPER ADICS has redefined the meaning ofrevenue generation for technology companies worldwide, while thetraditional concepts of building and managing insize sales teams in househas existed for many years. Companies are struggling with the lack of focus,agility and scale required in today's fast and complex world of enterprisetechnology sales. Seeow operatics can help your company accelerate pipelineat Operatics, dot net you've been listening to B, to b revenueacceleration to ensure that you never miss an episode subscribe to the showin your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening until nexttime.

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