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Episode 2: What observations have you noticed in sales leaders in 2021

by James McCarthy, on 7/09/21 10:17 AM

Emily:

All right, so to kick things right off, according to a HubSpot sales enablement survey in October last year of the 500 sales leaders who were interviewed, 40% of them missed revenue targets. The report states that for businesses to continue to operate and grow. They'll need to address the factors, preventing them from reaching the revenue targets. So today on the episode we have Charles from Synx, do you just want to tell us a little bit about what Synx does.

Charles:

Hi guys. So awesome to be here today. So Synx is a marketing sales technology agency that helps enable sales teams, marketing teams to grow better by leveraging technology, enabling people to do their job better and giving them the tools and the modern tools they need to get their jobs done in the most efficient way.

Emily:

Awesome. Today we are also joined by James from Cradle. James, do you want to tell us a little bit about Cradle as well?

James: Yeah sure. Cradle is probably one of those tools that we hope Charles is using to help with some of the challenges his customers are facing. So our goal is to basically make the phone system experience, not shit, either for the customer or for those answering their phone. And part of that is serving up the right information to sales leaders so that they can see what's happening on the phones and help their teams get better outcomes for their businesses.

Emily:

Okay, cool. So that leads us to today's episode of turning the HubSpot flywheel. So today we're going to be discussing what observations have you both noticed in sale leaders in 2021? So let's kick things off with Charles. So 65% of sales leaders who outperformed targets had a dedicated sales enablement person or team. Charles, a big part of what you do is helping businesses grow. What have you noticed is the best way to help businesses grow ?

Charles:

There's two big components to this. Everything that you're trying to do as a business and data, save them time or help them make more money. So you think about your sales team that got X amount of hours in the week. The more time they are actually selling, the better outcomes you're going to have. So when you start thinking about a sales rep or a sales leader, where is the time being spent ? And you start chunking that down to admin, to lead follow up, and then just wasting time on the phone, potentially ringing the wrong people that aren't qualified. You can very quickly find a fair percentage of time that's being wasted. So if you were to go and look at those stats that you just read out before, I can bet you, especially with those sales enablement processes in place that those companies have the processes and the qualifications in place before it's the guys on the phones or the deals on the phone, or the sales people on the phone to follow things up. I can bet you that's the case and why they hit their numbers.

Emily:

It was interesting talking to you. We were just having a hearing chat before you're quite big about getting people on the same page in terms of leadership, how important is that with everyone being in line in terms of driving growth ?

Charles:

It's massively important. So obviously we're talking here about the fly wheel. So, that's getting your divisions talking to each other and spinning as quickly as possible. But the other component we talk about is like vector alignment. So imagine we're rowing in a boat, Emily or James and I are the two rowers, if we're not on the same page, we're going to spin around and around in a circle. We're not going to roll down the river. So when you start putting complexity of divisions, regions, states, countries into things, that alignment can be off very quickly, and then you fly wheel wont spin. So we've got to get fly wheel in place, and then you need to get the alignment throughout the business, working.

Emily:

For someone who might be listening to this and understanding that leadership is an important thing when it comes to driving growth, how long did it take you to kind of feel settled and growing a strong leadership value amongst your team?

Charles:

Yeah, that's a really interesting point. And we've worked with so many businesses that have done work in this component on their values and behaviours. We've internally done a lot of work on what our values are and who we are. And then we've been working quite a lot on the behaviours that we should be running with, that takes a long time to build. And I think one thing that is really interesting that comment that Darmesh from HubSpot, the CTO said a couple of years ago is check debt you can replace, financial debt you can always replace, but culture debt is really hard to replace, and it will skim through the business. So where the culture starts from those values and behaviours and, we're in a world that everyone is slightly unique and diversity is a real thing and it needs to be taken seriously.

You can't just treat everyone the same. So I think that component off getting your values and behaviours and how you want to work as a business is so critical in 2021.

James:

Hey that's really interesting Charles. I'm Keen to hear a bit about how you discover what the culture is like in the businesses that you're going into, and whether you make sort of judgements when you go in about the leaders and then what that means for the people further down the line.

Charles:

Yeah. So, obviously when we are meeting with a prospect, going through ourselves process, we have a bit of a value alignment checklist as such. It's not necessarily data driven yet because you're still, you're dealing with the sales leaders, to see all the marketing leaders. So you have to take a bit of a stab in the back at it.

Charles:

But what we generally do is we'll work with them for a period of time to test the waters, to understand, what they're saying to what they're doing. So that's what, when I start talking about values versus behaviours, you can have a list of values on the wall, which may mean something to people in the business, but then how you're actually behaving becomes really important. And when there's a misalignment, it's very obvious and we generally we'll walk, not walk away, but we'll start thinking about other options.

James:

Do you think there's a way out for businesses that do have those cultural challenges?

Charles:

I think it's, you definitely can. It's like resetting the vision. So you'll see it. I think sporting clubs are really the ones to look out for this because sporting clubs are, there's so much passion behind it. People love this sport. And, I suppose me is I do love my sport. You can watch externally what happens and you can pretty much see the clubs and sporting teams that do get behaviours and values working, generally get the results. It's no longer the legend that the champion matters. It's an all-in attitude. So I think you can, but it generally comes from right in the tops of the board or the sales leader, marketing leader, or the CEO doesn't believe in it. It's going to be really hard to turn that ship. So I'm a big fan of bottom up approaches with lots of things, because that's where a lot of the work is done these days.

So top down. But I think with cultures and behavior, it has to be everyone on board, but it's got to be led from the top. James: So if you're seeing some of those poor cultural things, what do they look like for the people at the bottom and these sales roles and user, how does that manifest?

That's something we were talking about just at the start, that if you're leading your enabling people and empowering them to do their work and listening to them and taking that feedback and it shouldn't be one way feedback, it should be bi-directional feedback. So if there's no listening happening and it's all dictatorship, it's going to be really hard to get your guys on the ground, doing the work. And you through my career, I've personally loved working with the boots on the ground because you find out what's really going on.

Because it can be a long time from being, most people start their career with boots on the ground and they work their way through the business. But when did they go back on the tools and such, that's why I love that show "Undercover Boss", you actually going back into the business and seeing what's going on. I think that's another sign of leadership. If it doesn't matter what you're actually doing, you should be able to do whatever it takes to lead. And that's the way I look at it.

Emily:

When you kind of implemented those strong values and felt like it was strong amongst your team, just quickly remind us how big is your team, Charles?

Charles:

So we're a small team that we then work with a series of partners as well. So...

James:

And you're also, you're working with other businesses that have got way more, way bigger teams than your own haven't you ?

Charles:

Totally, we are a small team, but also the partners we work with, these values become really important too. So, with the pace that if you look at how quickly this space's grown and the technology that's come in, like if you have that fixed mindset versus a growth mindset, you're in a bit of trouble.

So being open to change and moving past and fail quickly is something that I had to challenge myself with. Because when you come from a place where you're trying to get things right, all the time, sometimes you got to let a bit of that go and just move on and get on with it. So, from our level, it's taken me a long time. We work on it all the time. We review them all the time. We talk about them and we want it. And Then the next piece is understanding what behaviours, which we've got a whole lot to work on this quarter, on what behaviours we want to align with those values.

Emily:

Interesting. What changes have you noticed in sales in the last year?

Charles:

Oh, there's obviously, this huge, quick transition. The big thing I have found people that were already brought into this before COVID hit just, that will set up the success and they didn't have to change a great deal of thinking. The ones that still fought the change and wanted to control and not trust is going to struggle. So that's where these leading indicators of your values and behaviors become just so important because if you've read the, the Nike book or what's that, I can't remember the exact name of it, but he...

Emily:

I was to someone about this yesterday. Yeah. Shoe dog.

Charles:

I didn't necessarily agree with how he led, but he would only speak to his sales guy once a year, and wouldn't even reply to his letters, but he got the job done. So he trusted that the guy was doing the job. It maybe wasn't listening to the feedback that he was getting, but he let him go. And that's something that I think is really important. If you didn't enable your guys to do the job, what were they going to do? They're going to struggle,

Emily:

I guess it's a conversation around when you say having everyone on the same page, not necessarily not always having the exact same goal in mind, but having the right attitude and the right company values to kind of craft that drive of growth.

Charles:

Yeah. Like the other business, especially with high performance, they want to win. So as a group or a team, you flipping that mindset of you winning to, we have to win, like the team has to win. So then when problems do come up, you actually should be raising them, not bottling them up and saying, no James didn't do this correctly. You should be like, James, here's some feedback. If we did this, we all would have done better. Or the marketing team. How about this idea? So it becomes flipping that not trustworthy or the blame game into, here's an idea. This would help us how could we help you do your job better. So it just flips the whole conversation. You just get better outcomes.

James:

That really resonates with me. There's just, I've seen so much in the past. And I myself have been a leader in an organisation that just got into a very sticky cultural situation. And it wasn't because the people were bad and it wasn't because anyone had bad intentions. It's just because we really didn't have our culture really well understood and defined. And we didn't have everyone aligned on what it was that they were trying to do to contribute to the team winning. So yeah, that individual contributor versus the team acting together is really such an important thing. And when you see everyone banished out of the office, all of a sudden, it really, if you don't have that glue that holds everything together, suddenly isn't strong enough.

Charles:

And I too have had a similar situation. The company had a major problem. And I said, all I can help with this. And my direct boss didn't like that because that was and it's like, well, this is a much bigger problem than just your little quote. So instantly me as the person, I lost respect instantly. I'm like, it's all about you. It's not about other people.

Emily:

I'm interested to know how you tackled that because there's always going to be one right. So how did you kind of like tackle that problem?

Charles:

It was interesting that particular problem. I said, I had a list of requirements and I knew that the business wouldn't give me those things. So at the end of the day it was a problem, but they didn't want to really address it. I knew how to fix it, But they had to give me what I needed to do that. And it just was never going to happen. Maybe I was putting a hand up saying, yeah, I can do that. Give it to me. Maybe my ego was talking to you then. But I sort of knew that the business wouldn't give me what I needed to do to execute it.

Emily:

James have you had a similar experience.

James:

Well I've been at the top end of that chain, and I've been the one who's had to go, you know what the culture does need to change. And I'm the one who needs to lead this.

And often that starts with a really confronting conversation with yourself and then a period of immense humility with your team. But if you're willing to go through that, the result on the other side can be such a dramatic change in a way that your organisation runs.

Charles:

And I think the other piece of it, you don't generally go through this process unless you've had some pains. If it's all clean sailing and you're flying along, you probably won't even think of this, but at some point the turbulence is going to come. So when that turbulence comes, where do you lane into what you lanes into ? And I think that's the lesson last year too, is the turbulence came, guys that could lean into their values. Like we had some clients that they, it was all about their people. So they did whatever they could to keep everyone.

It didn't matter if it was a job that anyone didn't want to normally do. They're like, well, when that job we'll do that job, that will employ someone for another day. So I think that it's a really interesting one.

James:

So, thinking about businesses out there that might be listening to this Charles, who probably have good culture and they probably want to do the right things, but they're sitting there struggling because they're looking at a whole lot of things that they can't measure anymore, or gaps in how they understand team performance and gaps in knowing how to motivate and measure and incentivise and enable those people on the ground, doing the work. Where do you start? what do you look at first? Who do you go to?

Charles:

So that's a really good question. Most will go straight to the outputs. So, what did you achieve this year or this quarter or this week? I think the other piece of it, if there are challenges. You got to lean into what did you learn? So the person the team, the division, what did we learn as a group? And is that learning been taken on or is it replicating? So, as in it keeps coming up. So if it does keep coming up, there's something in there that's not working, it's not right. And then, I suppose where I'm going with this is you've got to get to the source of it and then work backwards from there. So then you would go, let's just say, you've got to, you might think and it's going really well. And it's marketing department's really happy. They're getting all these leads, but they're not converting customers as such.

So, that can be a big one. And this house, ringing everyone and talking to everyone, but they're not getting the results. So are they really qualified? it could be that sales and marketing alignment piece. That is the core problem. But how do you know what conversion rates through the whole customer journey is important to you and where is the actual gap? So that's what I mean, getting to the source of the problem first and then work backwards. And then you would have, you're leading the lag indicators through that core problem. So let's say it is the sales and marketing alignment is called, that's a problem. So you would look at something like, MQLs and to SQLs time between, and then SQLs to first call is 10 minutes, two days, two weeks. Oh, okay. That's the problem.

All right. Now we, we know the number let's then try and work on how to reduce that. And then you would highlight, work on that key metric. But I think the other part of it, like as a business, it's got KPIs coming up. There's so much data these days. So what does the CEO need to know? What does then the sales leader needs to know? What does the marketing manager leader need to know, who then combines the two? So there's going to be different score cards throughout the customer journey and just understanding where the problem is and drilling into it. And being able to do that now goes back to tools and technology stack that you're using. If you can't track it, then you need to work out how to, going back to the big brother conversation, the idea is having these metrics is not being big brother, as in, what are you doing James?

It's James, how can we help you with this data or this information? If I got this information for you, how can we help you do your job better? And when you start looking at it like that and enabling your team to go, we're not tracking you to the ends degree because it's like big brother. It's because we want to help you do better. And then we should all win. James: And look, again, I think that just comes back to having a strong cultural base to stand on, right? If you've got that trust, you can have those conversations and people aren't threatened by it because it has helped, enabling them as you say to succeed.

I think the base of it is, is enabling and looking for learnings. And some of the worst or what you would call the worst meetings are the best ones. So if you look at a meeting and if you're getting good cadence in a meeting, especially a sales and marketing one where they traditionally haven't had them together, but if you have it together, it could be a really confronting and issue talking meeting that you didn't like, but it was a very productive meeting. So that's something to just think about if there's not issues being brought up and discussed in your ideally solve in your meetings. And they're not real.

James:

Yeah, that's really true. Emily: I would want to know how to problem solve. And if I couldn't recognise that there was a cultural problem, the that's a big problem.

Charles:

Leading back to what I said at the start, the bigger the problem, time and money are the two components but the bigger, the problem, the bigger the money or time that you're going to solve. So it's problem solving at the end of the day, sales leaders, marketing leaders. What's the problem. And where's the source of that problem and get to the root walls of it and then work through it. And they might take two to three years to fix, a major culture problem. Especially technology, it's pretty easy to spin things up these days, but it's easier to start whenever it's harder than ever to scale, if that makes sense. So you just got to be patient and play the long game.

James:

Thanks Charles, that's been really good.

Charles:

No worries, thanks for having me guys.

Emily:

Thanks For listening to our chat with Charles. Next episode, We're going to be chatting with Brad from Markezing, but in the meantime, if you want to check out our previous episodes, feel free to go and have a listen chat to you soon.

 

Turning the HubSpot flywheel

A fortnightly show diving headfirst into the world of communication and HubSpot. Featuring insight, strategies and some great stories with our guests on all ends of the HubSpot universe.

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