B2B Revenue Acceleration
B2B Revenue Acceleration

Episode · 2 years ago

72. Elevating the Sales Profession

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

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 two thousand and twenty and over the next decade, that are focused on the mental health of their leaders and professionals are going to be much more successful than their peers in industry. You're listening to be tob revenue acceleration, a podcast dedicated helping software executives stay on the cutting edge of sales and marketing in their industry. Let's get into the show. Hi, welcome to be to be a revenue acceleration. My name is Ornim, with you and I'm yet today with JEM ski funder and see you at seals confidence. How are you today, James? Really excited to be on the show. Thank you for having me. It's been an exciting start to two thousand and twenty. I'm really keen to share any nuggets or insights that could be useful to you or your listeners. Yeah, we will take all the neggets well, thank you for coming as well. So today we will be talking about elevating the sales profession. But before we go into a details and we had take your to a pick, would you man introducing yourself as well as your company sells confidence in in more detail of audience. Sure well, thank you again for having me. My name is Jameski on, the CEO and founder of sales confidence. Our vision is to build the world largest be to be sales community. So Day to day we're focused on helping elevate the sales profession and helping people each stage of their career with their performance, mindset and well being. I personally have been in the sales and software industry for over ten years. I was very early in a British as company called Huddle. I had a fantastic run there and then I went on to join linked in. Linkedin was an incredible experience for me personally and professionally, and while at Linkedin I was responsible for the UK and Europe's flagship companies as well as for an extended period of time I was actually the world's number one social seller at Linkedin. On linkedin while working FALLINGTON. So today we're building sales confidence and we also have a conference called susk growth, which is held annually on the eighth of July here in London. Okay, so that sounds like a great background. So today gems. As I mentioned early on, we want to speak about elevating the sells profession and we know that every single business needs sells people to be achieved, to be able to achieve their reserves and to grow. But through the year, and especially in certain industries, sales people have developed what they would call a bad reputation and I think there is a few stereotypes and negative perceptions around around the sense profession. Could you please share with us what these perceptions are and why do you think they have organically been established? Great Question. So I think as a buyer, if you've purchased something on the High Street in the last five to ten years, maybe you've bought a mobile phone contract or you've decided to rent a property or buy a...

...property, or maybe you've been on to buy a car. These are experiences as a consumer that often feel very transactional, very fast. Possibly your pressured into making a quick decision because it's a very competitive marketplace. So I think generally over time, as a buyer, particularly and buying consumer and goods or services, we've often been left disappointing with the buyer experience. When I think of what I understand today is the sales professional, and I guess I'm focused mainly on the be tob sales professional and particularly within the software industry. What I tend to find is incredibly bright, thoughtful, caring and often very emotionally intelligent sales professionals who really do care about understanding their buyer, understanding their buyers needs and providing the right solution at the right stage for that individual in their company. So I think we have been as a profession. We've often been perceived as individuals not creating great experiences and having been organizing community events for now three years here in the UK and now expanding internationally, the people I interact with they truly care about creating amazing buying experiences. But I do feel like we've been impacted by experiences we've had in our day to day lives and then that translates into the perception of what people perceive a sales professional to be like. And I think if you were to come to one of our events, you would certainly not recognize those negative experiences and you would fully want to embrace the type of sales professional and sales leaders that we build as part of our community. Okay, now that makes sense and from your perspective again says Professional. Prove our value and be seen as part of a whether would call a MOS strategic function. It's really important as a sales professional to intimately understand your target buyer, the type of company, the type of industry that they operate in and the type of stage they are at in their research. If you look at reports from the likes of Linkedin or Detwo, which is the world's largest platform for software and reviews, and you will understand that about sixty two, seventy percent of the time for a virus spent researching their problems and researching solutions in the marketplace before they interact with the professional. So the point that you have that first phone and conversation or facetoface meeting, it's really, really important that you understand your customer and their needs and you can only do this...

...by research 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 you understand the company that you're talking with, then you will be in a better position to advise them at that strategic level. And what I found particularly in the enterprise so when I'm talking about enterprise companies, I'm talking tenzero employee size company. So think about Lloyds Banking Group here in the UK that has eightyzero employees, class or UNI leaver as another example. They have thousands of people and often from a decisionmaking process there's more than you know group buying this. So there's seven to fourteen individuals. You can actually add a lot of value if you understand the different needs of those different individuals. I think as a professional today we may be get an inbounds request that information or we start the process with one individual we believe is the only decision maker. And so you're much better multi threading, which basically means connecting with people at different scales and different stages within the organization and an understanding the organization and connecting the dots on behalf of that buyer. So then when you elevate yourself and you want to add value 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 the type of I you truly have to understand the organization and the people that you're looking to advise. Okay, we know that in a in soft to ourselves, and I think it's probably true in most of the sales profession. We know that a large part of the earning, of the potential learning of selves people is based on commission and to that extent you know the I guess you need to sell, you know that, to get your money out, to make more money. So is there anything that you suggest doing around commission, plan, around structure, so sells people become that advisor in a way and that person that will, you know, really invest time in engaging with a different person in those large accounts, understanding their need, you know, and really trying to lead with best practices and and technically helping the D end user in a way. But don't you think that the way people are paid and the way commission seems to be awarded to sells people, you know, there is a fundamental change that needs to happen. They're basically because you can spend some times educating, but truly sells people want to sell, they want to get that commission. Yeah, that's absolutely fine. I'm a huge advocate for commission and centralization. It's been proven and well documented by the data that it's very effective. You just have to look at a sales performance management company like exactly, that's been doing this for over a decade. Now, let's just be clear. Making a sale and closing a deal is an extremely positive thing to do as an individual within the sales and organization as a company. Fundamentally,...

...there is no single company out there that is surviving unless their sales function is performing. And just the turn that on its head slightly. It's the buyer that matters and it's that buyer experience and we all love to buy. So there's nothing wrong with having love for sales and closing the deal. Now, one we except that it is absolutely okay to close to the other we except that there is a different type of wiring from a fundamental behavior spective when you think about how the sales professional is incentivives now, particular early in your career. So maybe you're in your first sales role and you imagine what the world of a business leader, sales leader, could look like and you're probably working towards maybe your first fiftyzero pounds per year and your earnings, or you know that kind of magic one hundred thousand which people really enjoy hitting. I'm absolutely fine if you're creating value for the buyer and you're creating value for the company that you work for. That you should be rewarded from a compensation perspective and there are some solutions like exactly that. I can help you with that. What I would add to this, and this is what I am a a advocate for, is sharing the rewards of a sale beyond the sales function. As we all know, the most successful sales individuals and leaders are heavily supported by their marketing function, customer success, product PR content. All of these other people in the business should be rewarded in the success of sales. So for us at sales confidence, as an example, elements of our product lines. So, particularly when we think about ticket sales for our annual conference that's grow from the eighth of July, every sale that is made that is not directly impacted by a sales professional who's picked up the phone and closed the sale, the results are shared amongst everybody in our company, even our freelancers that get a share of the reward, because I deeply understands that every single individual in the company has an impact on the sale. So just the recap from a framing perspective, let's appreciate sales, that's appreciate why they are rewarded. Commission and there's lots of different approaches to optimize the efficiency of compensation planning. Let's not take it away from the fact that 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 around the sales organization or supporting the Sales Organization. Yeah, that makes Ba makes sense. Yeah, I think it's it would, don't move, be ideal to have not only with the rest of the team because obviously you're right, the the sales people out there the front of the company, the other people are going out and seeing within user you would be also very unconventional but probably very interesting for ourselves, for our company, ourselves function, to have a commission bland based on the actual benefits that you're delivering...

...to your customer. So basically, has the benefits are growing technically the service person good get more money, which ultimately would probably removed the beddy mage ore, the that pushy sells gay type of maybe attitude that some of the some of the end us up in to be speaking about. I think you know, if you look at net promoter score and MPs, or you look at the experience of the buyer once purchase has been made and real rewarding sales but also customer success or the Account Management Team and for the continuous engagement of value returned in the product. I definitely see there is value and I've seen some examples of that play out in companies. I think, though, there is just a kind of a business model perspective on, you know, when the commission is paid, from a kind of a piano perspective, and how that's built particularly into assess model and how that scales over time. You know, I'm just explaining, I feel like. You know, the idea of rewarding the sales professional post sale is a good idea, particularly around MPs. But I've got enough. Nothing really asked that add to that. Okay, that makes sense. That makes sense. So we know that part of your objective at serves confident is to elevate the serves profession as well as to pot sales professionals to develop their skill and grow. That carry our bath as a as a successful sence person. So if we want to go into a little bit more details, what are the initiatives selves confidence as in place to support this shift of bus section from the markets or from the bad sales gay to the good sales gay. Yeah, great question. So the first point is is that we're interested in supporting salespeople were at each stage of their career with their success, but in a sustainable way. So, you know, the pursuit purely for an objective of a hiring calm or, you know, being number one is not good enough in our community. So we're heavily, if invested with our membership and we just launched our first one hundred members of last Wednesday actually, at one of our evening events, and we're focused on creating experience where they're being edu educated, they have access to mentorship, they have access to expert coaches and they have access to people that can help accelerate their career. More broadly than that, it's really important for us. You've been talking to daisy top man, our PR and communications manager, and we're going to be telling the story of the importance of the sales professional a lot more broadly. So, for example, this year we're going to be featured in the sales performance report within the rack on Teur, which is a supplement that goes into the times to over a million decisionmakers in the UK, and this is an opportunity for us the highlight the importance of the sales professional within the sales organization. Will also going to be published across typical major mainstream and business media and the tech press. So there's a lot of liquidity in the market,...

...meaning there's a lot of venture capital being invested in technical solutions and software, often into individuals that don't necessarily have commercial or sales experience quite often, but they understand how to build a product to solve problems and it's the similar space that I imagine with your own business that you're solving in an area, creating leads and opportunities for these type of founders. So we're just going to be telling the story more broadly, yes, within the SASS industry, and so you would see us a major events like SAS stock in Dublin and SAS growth here in the summer and Sasta in the US, telling the story on stage. But also, you know, how can we get the BBC or mainstream press like the evening standard to hear our story and understand that? You know, my story as well comes from a very personal journey. You know it's well publicized now, but you know I was admitted to a hospital when I was as twenty years old and due to a kind of a mental health and diagnosed, and as a result of that I've kind of pursued and progressed to understand myself and my my mindset and how we can help people and develop. So I think what we're going to be doing is telling the story and the narrative that sales people, like marketing people, like product people, are any type of person. Are just human beings and we care about each other like anybody else. And while, yes, we are rewarded more than most, yes, we have a significant income, we so are people, we have feelings, you know, we care about each other and we want 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 the emotional intelligence, the importance of being selfaware, being self aware of how your sales process or the sales experience is created for the buyer, we're going to be in a much better position to create better buyer experiences in the marketplace. That makes sense. Well make my last question is, as pretty much you know, along your story and some of the thing that they've seen on a on your website gays about the wellness and the mental wellness of the sales proficient. So I don't know. That's another thing is that he's seen is that it seems that lots of people can have consider the sales function of the dove gay. You know, the tough people are, are very confident, can speaker at etc. But I'd like you to develop a little bit more about, you know, what were you're finding in time of mental well being being and you know Houl. Do you ever bought out you could it, because it's got to be something that's pretty difficult to discuss as a sens professional that you know we want to keep their the exerting away. So I would you out your project to be. Can do you see it the big us as something he's taking my mind now she has SOS confiencing in about our big is issue. HMM, it's a great point. I mean, look, it's been a personal experience of mine that I've been impacted by my own mental health challenges. Over the...

...last ten years. I've spent time in a mental health hospital, which is quite unusual to hear. You know, I guess a public figure, CEO and a founder. I'm speaking openly about that. But I'm committed personally to raise awareness of mental health. I mean it's been world documented now. I think the royals and the heads together foundation of done an amazing job in elevating the awareness around mental health in the UK. Sadly, you can look into social media and a daily basis, and you were here, of the impact of negative mental health and individuals. Now, from our research and also personal experience of being working in and leading sales organizations over the last ten years in the UK, I think the sales leader is under more pressure than most leaders in an organization. The reason is, especially in software, you've got venture capital individuals that have high expectations. I mean an example we had Renvora, who is a world leading founder, coach and runs a company called SMP, can munications, and he was speaking in an event last week about founders going to the venture capital community and making promises, often based on pure speculation. You know that their company is going to be the next great big thing. Or whose responsibility is it to deliver on the targets set by the founders and the venture capital community? It's the sales leader. So the sales leader has the responsibility in the weight of the world on the business objectives of the company. Plus he has or she has to manage her own self doubt and pressure, knowing that often a sales leaders tenure is less than eighteen months in a venture capped, venture capital backed business. Then he or she has the responsibility of, you know, the five, ten, twenty or whatever number of sales professionals that they must look after in order to deliver a number. So there is pressure, positive pressure, and also negative self doubt coming from all angles. And while you know, a sales leader may be perceived as a good public speaker or in individual that is charismatic or inspirational, and I know lots of analytical, introverted sales leaders, by the way. But like if you take the beginning of this conversation and focus on that perception, then you would argue that why does a company need to support the sales leader? Well, it's simply because the pressures are immense and it doesn't matter who it is. You know, frankly, you know my greater purposes to support the teacher, the the nurse, the care worker, the professionals that maybe don't get them recognition and respect and also have their own personal challenges. I just happened to be a very proud sales professional that's very proud about the profession, in the value that sales creates in the world, and I just want it to be acknowledged that these individuals are, like the buyer, their humans. They need support day to day. So that's why, for us, you know, we're focused on supporting the sales professional each stage of their career with performance,...

...mindset and wellbeing, and it's that holistic approach, which means right now, you know, we have the attention of the world and sales confidence because there's simply not an organization out there that's designed a business model in the way that we have, and you know, I'm proud of that and I'm proud of the fact that we are going to be looking at for each other. But by extension, if you're listening to this and maybe you just support the sales organization, so maybe you're in sales operations or sales and ablement or marketing, you know we care about you as well and I just feel, while difficult to your point about speaking about the challenges with your own mental health, you just have to create safe spaces in your organization and and give people permission to share. It's difficult balance and you know I would I would tread carefully and I would seek advice when you start opening up what people's personal challenges are. But it will completely change the culture and the positive attitude that employees or extended team members have towards you as a company and as a business if you invest in their mental health. It's as simple as that. It's linked to performance and those companies right now, in two thousand and twenty and over the next decade, that are focused on the mental health of their leaders and professionals are going to be much more successful than their peers in industry. Thanks for your insige, gents. We really appreciate the say that you to detain today too, to share your suits with our agience. So, if anyone wants to connect with you, to carry on the conversation or pick your brain up, what's the best way to get told of your gems? The first thing to do is add me on Linkedin. So Search James Ski on Linkedin and send a personal message that you heard us both speaking today, and then we can look out. You can also check us out at sales confidencecom and if you want to come to our annual conference on the eighth of July, which is for sales, revenue and marketing. Leaders are old billings gate. We've got capacity one thousand five hundred. Leaders were flying in people from Silicon Valley. So we've got people are Aaron Ross, is the founder of predictable revenue, Nathan Lacqua, red and Bar Yaco, who's the founder of winning died by design, and many other top UK and European leaders. And if you want to come to that actually and you want to promote this and you send us all of an operatis fifty code, so we give you a fifty pound discount on any tickets if you use the code operatis fifty. There you go. We are that everyone operatis operatics fifty right, correct. I will make sure that we put that online as well. Well. That's very that's very generous of you, gems. Thank you very much for that. We definitely did check the conference and see if the dairy a little but we'll will try to put bay and say it and supportsry in which you're are doing. So once again, many things for your time today. It was an absolute pleasure to have you on the short jobs amazing. Thank you very much. Thank you so to Katerina for organizing and daisy and our side. It's been a...

...pleasure to be on here, and good luck with the future. Thank you. 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 BEDB 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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