Today’s episode is hosted by Riva’s VP of Sales, Ken Lorenz. He will be talking to Tony Hughes, author of Tech-Powered Sales: Achieve Superhuman Sales Skills, about the importance of Technology Quotient to sales team success, leading your sales team into the fourth industrial revolution, and how to elevate your sales performance to superstar status.
Guest: Tony Hughes, international keynote speaker, best-selling author, professional selling educator, award-winning blogger, and the most read LinkedIn Author globally on the topic of B2B sales leadership.
Tony is the co-founder of Sales IQ Global and is also ranked by Top Sales Magazine as the most influential person for professional selling in Asia-Pacific.
With 35 years of sales and business leadership experience, Tony is an experienced CEO and company director having served as Director of Sales for public corporations and as the Asia-pacific Managing Director for a number of tier-one global technology companies.
He teaches ‘modernized selling’ within the MBA program at the University of Technology, Sydney, and has taught for other universities.
Tony serves on a number of advisory boards and his clients include Salesforce, SAP, Docusign, Adobe, Schneider Electric, New Zealand Government, TAL Life, Zip Water, Findex, BAE Systems, Flight Centre Travel Group, IBM, Qualtrics, Red Hat, Agilyx, NEXTDC, Grant Thornton, DB Schenker, Canob and UBT with their 4,000 member companies globally.
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BP = Betsy Peters
KL = Ken Lorenz
TH = Tony Hughes
Welcome to the Rev-Tech Revolution Podcast, where we combine our 10 plus years of data integration experience and All-star guests to explore how organizations drive revenue through cutting-edge, Riva technology. Today’s episode is hosted by Riva’s VP of Sales, Ken Lorenz. He will be talking to Tony Hughes, author of Tech-Powered Sales: Achieve Superhuman Sales Skills, about the importance of Technology Quotient to sales team success, leading your sales team into the fourth industrial revolution, and how to elevate your sales performance to superstar status. All of this and more on the Rev-Tech Revolution Podcast.
BP: So let me formally welcome you to another episode of the Riva Revolution. My name is Betsy Peters, and I’m the VP of Marketing and Product Strategy here at Riva. We created this series because every day our clients remind us that we’re in the middle of a business revolution where the focus of the enterprise is shifting from shareholder returns to customer value, this means that people, processes, and systems must re-orient to put customers in the center. This series of conversations with Riva’s All-Star guests, also known as Revolutionaries, is our way of exploring the ways leading organizations use data and CRM to empower their teams and improve customer experience, and to share that information with the field. Today, we’re thrilled to welcome bestselling author Tony Hughes, he’s a former CEO and sales executive, he’s a keynote speaker, a consultant and a trainer, so we are just delighted to hear all about the development of technology quotient and how that helps leading global technology firms earn contracts in excess of 100 million. With that, I am pleased to introduce Ken Lorenz, VP of global sales of Riva International, and he’s an instrumental member of the Riva team. He’s leveraged his experiences and ERP and CRM that to help financial, healthcare, and government clients and their efforts to develop scalable, secure and compliant customer data integration solutions. He takes active role in every step of the sales and implementation process, working closely with our clients to understand and address their needs and challenges, and with that, Ken, over to you.
KL: Thanks, Betsy I appreciate the introduction and Tony. Good day.
TH: Hey Ken. It’s my morning tomorrow for you, so I’m coming to you from the future… I’m really looking forward to the conversation. It’s good to see you, buddy.
KL: Good to see you as well, and this is definitely gonna be a future conversation without a doubt, I gotta tell you, I’ve been looking forward to this conversation for a couple of months now, I have an opportunity to have you on the show and talk through some pretty narly topics for sales people and customer-centricity, I think is gonna be a lot of fun. So what do you think? Should we get started?
TH: Yeah, let’s go ahead and jump in.
KL: Alright, well, let’s jump in. Let’s start off maybe a little bit easy. Tony, what gets you out of bed in the morning? What makes Tony tick?
TH: I really believe that the world of professional selling is in trouble, I think this is gonna be a decade of unprecedented change, and yet I also believe that selling should be a noble profession. To me, and for me personally, selling is about making a positive difference in the lives of others are both personally and professionally, and if sales people do their jobs well, they’re the fuel that provides everyone else in their organization employment, and they’re the ones that help their customers remain relevant in their markets, so they enable their customers to thrive.So selling is incredibly important. There was a time many decades ago, where a president of the USA turned up as a keynote speaker at a National Sales Conference for sales people, so it’s a really important profession and it’s absolutely in trouble.
KL: Well, the trouble part worries me a little bit, Tony, as well, I’ve been in sales for more than 100 quarters, is the way I like to look at it. And the landscape is definitely changing. You know what, you and I worked together years and years ago with sugar, we kinda went our super ways for a while and came back, but in the meantime, you’ve written some really interesting books, Combo and Joshua principal, but your latest book, Tech Powered Sales, I thought was just absolutely spot on. It brings out a lot of the concern I think that people have in sales. One of the main things you talk about is technology quotient. Talk a little bit about that and why that’s important.
TH: We’ve always known that to sales people and leaders in life and society to be successful, you need a reasonable level of IQ, but you definitely very high levels of EQ, emotional quotient, you need to understand yourself and how they relate to others well, and then the world of selling in business and politics, you need to understand the interplay and dynamics of relationships, I’ve been able to work for politics in a positive way with people.
So we’ve always known that IQ and EQ is important. But now today, TQ technical quotient is essential. We live in an era of AI and automation, and for sales people, they tend to drown in the very data that a TA that’s able to save them. And we need to find a way to use the data to drive out their level of productivity, and a really good friend of mine is a pilot, his name is Richard, he was the command pilot on the most serious Airbus A380 incident in the history of the airline was when one of the four engines, the inboard engine exploded, and since prep or faster than the speed of sound through the fuel tanks through the fuselage, luckily, it didn’t hit any passengers, but it took out a large portion of the main fiber optic trunk line that runs down one side of the aircraft, but the cut a long story short, he and the other crew on the flight deck were able to save the lives of everyone on the aircraft and get the plane back on the ground, because Richard as the pilot is also a software engineer, and when he converted from going to Airbus, from jumbo jet Boeing 747s to the Airbus A380, he took the time to understand the way the Airbus Flight law and specifically the way that the pirated software was written so that in a crisis it could be man-and machine working together as a cyborg to actually save the aircraft. And that’s actually the reality for sales people today as well, they need to learn how to use their tech well, and yet most sales people, are just nowhere near at the level that they need to be.
And that’s another thing, all sellers are wrangling all of these different platforms trying to get it all to work, it’s been really tough for sales people in the last 18 months or two years.
KL: So when you think about wrangling all their technology and you’re working with a variety of different salespeople, right? Folks that are new to the profession, folks that have been around for a long time, what advice would you give somebody, depending on where they’re coming from and how to get up to speed on the text stack…
TH: Well, a lot of people tend to obsess on some of these more new and emerging technologies that are coming through, and they literally is a Cambrian explosion of tech. That’s how my co-author with the book, Tech Powered Sales, Justin Michael, describes that it can be an explosion and it’s easy to go and focus on the new shiny sparkling object, but the reality is most sales people do not use their own CRM system well. Most of them don’t use simple integrations that can give them time back around the way that they transcribe meetings and get notes into core, the way that they integrate email into CRM, the way they configure their own dashboards and reports to help prioritize where they’re going to focus… A really big area the sales people should focus on is automating the monitoring of trigger events, because trigger events contextualize engagement for us, they find signals in the marketplace where there’s highest propensity to buy, but pre, the red ocean shark feeding frenzy of where these other tools like maybe a Bambara would go and measure by a sentiment based on what people are searching for on the Internet. So if you look at what strategic selling is, to me, by definition, it’s engaging early at senior levels in a way that helps the customer co-create their business case and then de-risk their initiative by securing consensus, and a good seller should do all that in a way that creates positive bias for them and disadvantage of a competition, all in the best interest of the customer, so that to me is in essence what captures the heart of strategic selling. Well, if you’re going to engage early monitoring for trigger events is really essential, so I know I talk about a number of technologies there, but to me, your company there’s a fortune in tools like a good CRM, whether that’s a Salesforce or Dynamics and Oracle, whatever is the organization is using, so I’ve invested in that, learn how to use it well, we’ll be the best user in your company, make sure you sort out the data hygiene pieces, and then if you’re given a tool like say Sales Navigator, learn how to construct a Boolean search, learn how to do a Boolean search outside of the Sales Navigator wizard. So you really understand the logic behind what you’re trying to build, these are basic fundamental things, and yet, most sellers are still living in the past trying to trade on the fact that they’re good at relationships, and they feel like they’re good at talking, and that’s not the future of selling for the people that we wanna get to in sales that do not know us yet… Absolutely, definitely they’re not lonely and bored looking for new friends, they don’t lie awake at night thinking “gee, I got a slow day tomorrow, I really help a sales person gives me a call to tell me about the joys and wonders of what their product does or solution does”. They’re just not interested. So unless we can find a way to break into the world of those people with context and relevance and where we’ve got a strong point of view on how that person could drive improved results in their role, then we don’t deserve to be building the relationship. Sellers shouldn’t be asking for the time advised to educate them without the buyer first understanding why this conversation would make sense.
KL: Sure, well, to me, it sounds like you’ve gotta really have balance, you’ve gotta have a little bit of technical savvy, you gotta have a lot of ambition, but you can’t forget about “I need to know what’s going on with my customer”… I think there’s a quote that you’ve made recently about, it’s not about… It’s not about how much you know about your product, it’s how much you know about your customer and how you can help them solve their problems. But that creates a certain balance problem for finding sales people of the future. If you had your druthers, would you lean towards somebody who could talk to a CEO or would you lean towards somebody who could use the tech… or is both the real answer?
TH: Well, that’s a really great question, and let me answer that with an analogy, imagine that you’re walking on the aero-bridge to board a flight, and as you get to the threshold of the aircraft, one of the aircrews, they’re looking at your boarding pass, and as you look to your left into the cockpit, you overhear the captain talking to the co-pilot and he says, “Hey look, I really love flying, but I’m just not into the tech”. Now, for me, I would wanna turn around and exit, I wouldn’t wanna get on that flight or imagine, imagine if you’re at your doctor and you’re doing the whole consultation with your doctor and they’re not taking any notes, they’re not typing anything into their patient record system, they do all this diagnosis on, they write out a script and then they say, great, we’re done. And you say, Hey, hang on a minute, aren’t you gonna update my records in your patient management system, your CRM, .. And imagine if they say, Well look, do you want me to diagnose what’s wrong and give you a prescription, or do you want me to fill in my record system, which one? I’ll tell you, Well, you’re a professional, I want you to do both and yet the number of sales people that have said to me over the years, Hey, Tony, do you want me out there seeing customers or do you only filling in the CRM…
And I say, I want you to do both. You idiot. You are a professional. How can you have any chance of executing a job competently if you’re not keeping your records up-to-date, we have no chance as an organization of executing our customer-centric customer experience strategy, unless we have a single source of truth about what’s happening with their customers. we’ve got no of bringing sales, marketing service and support, Admin and financial together to give better levels of service than our competition, we’ve got no chance of doing that if we’re not using a system of record. So the moment is seller even asks that, it’s unprofessional. So to me, what we need is, is we need people that can bring old school in a new school together, we need seasoned experience people that can carry the conversation into the C-suite, but people that are willing to modernize the way that they operate and actually embrace the technology that they need to execute today. Because whether you’re a lawyer, a doctor or dentist, to surgeon, a pilot, whether you’re in the Army, the Air Force, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, technology is a huge part of you being able to execute your role today. And for sellers, they need to find the insights amidst of the data that they need to find ways to filter and leverage the huge amounts of data that are being generated out there, and the need to avoid being seen as a clumsy spammer in the way that they operate.
KL: So that actually takes us to an interesting topic, we can talk about the tech, but what’s underlying with tech is the data, and understanding what you can use and what you can’t use, and as sellers, it feels like of late, we’re having more and more handcuffs put on us. Our ability to reach out to people that we don’t know has become significantly limited. What’s your advice for getting through that particular issue, and I know we spoke a lot about this around Combo, but I’d love to get your take a year or so later. How do you break through Tony?
TH: And that really is the key – the job of the seller, and also the marketer – but a job is to break through into the world of the person we’re seeking to help. That’s really the ironic thing about selling is we’re in a profession where we’re being rejected by the very people we’re trying to save and help, right? So here’s the reality, most organizations err too much on the conservative side when they think about data, they’re really paranoid and fearful. So I talk about this in the book, Tech Powered Sales. There’s a big court case that that happened, HI-Q versus LinkedIn, and then Microsoft…their LinkedIn, that Microsoft lost, so I could talk about it a little bit later. But every organization, first of all, needs to have a data privacy officer, so make sure you’ve got a data privacy officer in your organization, and if anybody that you’re marketing or selling to wants to opt out of being contacted that you are able to send that request to your data privacy officer. So that’s really the first thing. As far as standards go, there’s two big ones in the world to Europe is GDPR, and om USA the California CCPA regulations are probably the strongest. And then most countries, like here in Australia where I’m from, will also have any spam legislation that people are dealing with… So he’s the basic premise, public data is public data, and that’s what the HI-Q/ LinkedIn court case was all about, and Microsoft/LinkedIn lost the initial case and then they lost the appeal. And what the courts rule is that public data is public data, so Ken if you or I set up a LinkedIn profile, and in our LinkedIn profile, we say all of this information we flag it is available to the public, LinkedIn already allow Google to scrape, to machine read all of that data and index it, and that’s why for those watching this now, that’s why you can often run a search within LinkedIn if you’re not linked in free account, or premium account, business account rather than navigator, but you can run a search and LinkedIn for Ken Lorenz and if Ken is outside of your three degrees, if you’re on premium or your two degrees, if you’re on free – two degrees of connections – can one come back and if you got… Ken doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile. Well, he does, but it wasn’t within your search pool. And the interesting thing is, if you then go I… I couldn’t find Ken, I’ll go into a Google search, the first thing that comes up is Ken’s LinkedIn profile. And the reason is, is LinkedIn allowed Google to scrape, machine read, and index all of the publicly-facing data, so they allowed them to do it. Whether you’ve got someone manually inputting data by manually reading and typing into a database that information on a place like for example LinkedIn or off customer’s websites, or you’re machine reading it, it’s the same thing. But it’s the same thing and it’s public data, so you can work with public data. The next thing is, well, how should we use that data? So we then fall foul of the rules, and it’s just bad practice anyway, because it damages our own corporate and personal brand, we then fall foul of the rules and damage our brand if we just become a scammer, if we’re just loading rubbish generic content into whatever our Gatling gun of automation is, there’s a new category of technology called sales engagement platforms. Things like Outreach, Average.IO, Sales Loft, Ring DNA, these kinds of platforms, if you’re just spamming people in those platforms, you’re gonna get unfriended very quickly by people, right? So they’ll say take me off and remove me. So the positive position with all of this, so we want to avoid those things, what we can do is we can drive one-to-one outreach where it is contextualized, so if you contact a stranger and you say, Hey Mike, congratulations on the Series A capital raise for the business, and I’ve noticed you’ve just launched a new product or you’re paying a new office up in Toronto. Hey, the reason for the call is I think there could be an opportunity for you, and then you talk about benefit and also benefit B. Do you mind if I ask? Now, what you’re not doing is you’re not doing mass marketing, you’re not spamming anybody, you’re contacting someone based on something, you noticed; this is one to one average. What they’re trying to do with the technology today, and it’s not working very well, yet, but it will improve by the time is… I talk about it in the book Tech Powered Sales with Justin Michael, this concept of liquid syntax, where you seek to ingest into your outreach automation platform, personalization attributes that we feel are relevant, but most people that do that are really clumsy with it, and I see it weekly. I’ll get someone contacting me saying, Hey, Tony, I noticed that we’re both based in Sydney, would it make sense to catch up for coffee, and I’m thinking, Well, no, there’s five and a half million people live in Sydney, that’s no valid reason to actually catch up at all… Sorry, Ken you still there, Buddy?
KL: I am still here Tony. Nothing like working from home these days, so let’s talk about that for a second, and all the distractions of working at home, like dogs…
TH: The curious kind…kids… Homeschooling. Yeah, all of that.
KL: So on that topic and probably unprepared, but what’s your advice for sellers that are working from home?
TH: Invest as much as you can into good broadband internet, often you’ve just got what you’ve got… even if you pay for premium. The next thing you need to do is get a good light source behind the screen rather than behind your head. If you’ve got bright light behind you, you become almost indistinguishable, so you want people to be able to see your facial expressions. So make sure that your face is well lit, the thing you’ll notice with Ken and I is we’ve got the camera, at about eye-height with us, you don’t want the camera sitting down on your lap where people are looking up your nostrils, staring at your double chin and your ceiling, and they feel like you’re looking down on them. You want peer-to-peer communication, learn to look them in the camera rather than staring down at the screen…So right now, I’m looking into the camera, and it takes a lot of practice, to get comfortable doing that because the way the narcissistic human condition is wired, is when we see a screen where one of the people we keep staring at ourselves on the screen, that’s just how people are wired. Or we’re looking at the person talking on the screen, but as a seller, you create the strongest emotional connection with the person if you’re looking them in the eye, which means look at them in the camera. The other thing is invest in a decent microphone, often the microphones on a laptop themselves, it just aren’t very good, and that’s what I’ve done in my home office here is about a studio light that’s right behind the laptop. I’ve got a decent background with my own bookshelf, so there’s no distractions, there’s not a door in the background. Now I know you’ll end up having what you’ve got… I’ve seen so many sellers, especially the outbound reps, where they’ll be sharing an apartment with one or two other people, and it’s just so tough on them, and it’s really tough, but do what you can with those things that I’ve talked about. And then the challenge is to get the other person to turn the damn camera on. So we work out at the techniques saying, “Hey, it would be so good to see your face. I know you might have some bandwidth issues”, but I just wanna tell you an absolute reality, the notion of multi-tasking, especially for the male brain, is a complete fallacy, and if you think your prospect is really listening to anything you’re saying when their camera’s off and they’re skimming through their email inbox. So for me, I’ve got 22,000 unread emails in my inbox. I’ve got 340,000 people that follow me, and are connected to me on LinkedIn, every time I open my LinkedIn email, my email inbox. It’s kind of overwhelming, and the male brain can’t be skimming and deleting emails and half listening to you giving a sales pitch, it like it just doesn’t work, so do all you can to get them to turn their camera on. If you’re doing some kind of presentation or pitch, let them know you’re gonna be asking questions, say “Hey, I’ve got a couple of slides, I just wanna go through” – by the way, avoid slides, if you can set up a separate web cams, you got two web cams plugged in on a white board, you know that you can switch cameras and go over to a draw, like think about how you can be creative, but even if you’re presenting slides, I think some kind of demo say “Hey, I’m just gonna show a couple of slides – I’ll show you just one thing in that product, but I think speaks to what you asked about… But I’ll only do that for a second and then I’ve got a couple of questions for you based on what I show you here”. So they’re thinking, Holy crap. He’s gonna ask me a question about this, I pay attention. So think about the attention clock that’s always ticking when you’re talking with people, and think about how do I drive engagement?
KL: So I’m gonna stick on this topic a little bit Tony. So think a little bit about… We used to talk about the golden hours of calling 7:00 in the morning to 8:00 in the morning, 5 to 6, 6 to 7 at night. How do you think that’s changed with people for our buyers working from home as well?
TH: Yeah, it’s definitely changed because calling people in their commute time was a really good effective thing to do, and the reality for most people… I know in the US, people talk about the great resignation that’s going on across the corporate world, where for whatever reason, whether people feel fatigue, burnt out, whether the way that they’ve been treated or their colleagues have been treated through really tough economic business and social times is caused them to think, I really don’t like this company, I wanna go do something different, I don’t know what the reasons are, but I think a lot of it is people just felt that they were always on. The lines, work and personal life got completely blurred, and I know for me, that’s been the case. I’ve disciplined myself that at 6:00pm every day, I leave my office, I go out and help prepare our family meal, I watch some TV, I don’t go back and work ’cause I’m just a workaholic. Its not good for our mental health. So here’s the thing, what I found is that people increasingly answer their cellphone. They’re getting bombarded in LinkedIn messages and email, they’ll answer their phone and increasing levels, so if you can get a hold of someone’s cellphone number, they’re answering at all times of the day now, whereas you used to mainly get them in the shoulder periods and lunch time. So I’m finding people answer the phone, and especially if you embrace the concept of Combo, we won’t go right into Combo become was about pattern interrupting the way that people are wired to ignore strangers or someone they think is selling or marketing to them, and your pattern interrupt by making their mobile device ring and they go, I don’t know who this is, I’ll dump the call. That’s okay, you got their attention, you make the device ring or vibrate, then it goes ding, and they go, Oh, they left a voice mail and I wonder who it is, and I’ll listen to the voicemail and you don’t give you a long-winded pitch, you just say, Hey, Tony, it’s Ken from Riva, looking to get 10 minutes in your calendar. I’ll send you an email. They “ahh, I wonder what that’s about”. Bing! An email just pop into my inbox, 95%, I’ll read the email. But if you just sent that email on its own, don’t know this guy looks like sales spam, ignored, delete. And then a few days later, you can…Ken will phone again. Hey, Tony, it’s Ken – you won’t even say where you’re from, it’s Ken, I’m just following up, I’m wondering how Thursday… 11:15 would work for you? I’ll send you a calendar invitation. Hang up. So it rings, I got a voicemail, ding my inbox has got a reply to that thread that you sent previously, Hey Tony, just following up wondering at Thursday works, ding a second thing pops into my inbox its a calendar invitation. You’ll be amazed how senior people are wired to accept calendar invitations because only people that belong in the calendar tend to send them to them. So what’s happened is in 48 hours or 72 hours, and if you premise all of that with the day before that first combo you ran, you are looking at them in LinkedIn anyway, and you may be sent them a connection request it, you’ve had a single thing that just gets in there all bit by connecting in LinkedIn with tour selling to them, just say, Hey, I’m a huge fan of the company, notice this, love that article you published, would you connect in LinkedIn and then you run a triple, that’s three touches. So forth with the one before, so you run a single then a triple, and then you run a pint, so your phone, voicemail, email calendared, texted, you could even have text messaging right to all of this, you’ve run in essence, 8 or 9 touches in two, three days. On average, depending on whose research we choose to believe, it takes seven to 13 touches for a buyer to respond, most sellers give up after just two or three, they misinterpret, being ignored as being rejected and they’re just wrong, they’ve just failed to find a way to be relevant to the person.
KL: Well, I gotta share with you, Tony, you took us through that training a while ago, my team took it to heart… I think they do a pretty good job of it. However, they tend to practice it and they practice it on me. “Hey Ken” text message “you need to talk about this meeting”. Email, “Hey Ken” Team’s message, “Hey Ken you gotta talk about this proposal”? So I can tell you personally from an internal managing up standpoint, it works as well.
TH: Yeah, and Ken the reality is someone listening, this might go – well Ken, don’t you get annoyed that the person’s pinging you on multiple channels, and maybe you do, but I’m sure the thing you think is, I need to deal with this ’cause it’s not gonna go away. Like, I need to get on and approve the pricing request or approve the terms that they wanted to be reviewed, or if I don’t get on with it, they’re not gonna go away, I can’t just ignore them. Alright, so the best way to deal with this and stop my device binging is get back to them, and that’s all we want as a seller… Or we wanna send the message, I’m relevant to you and I’m not going away. So don’t ignore me, give me a valid note or give me some engagement, but don’t ignore me. It’ll take you more time if you try and ignore me.
KL: Awesome, awesome. So one last question for you, and then we’ve got some questions that are coming in on the chat… What’s next, Tony? What’s next for Tony Hughes?
TH: Well, I’m actually trying to get my IP into a global sales enablement platform. It’s a new business I’ve started called Sales IQ Global. So we’re moving all of my methodologies around building pipeline, winning the complex sale, retaining and growing existing clients into Sales IQ for sales enablement. So if people wanna find out more about the concepts, that’s certainly a great place to go. I will publish some more books as well, I wanna do a book on sales leadership, I wanna write some non-business books also. I’ve got some thoughts about where I think the world is going and it’s not going in a very good place, because amidst all of the peacocking around in virtue signaling, other people love to do, we’re just living in an increasingly polarized world with falling amounts of empathy, which is a real problem, so… Yeah, that’s probably what I’m looking at doing next and just focused on trying to stay healthy.
KL: And getting in the software business is a fun thing, Tony.
TH: Yeah, it is, it is, it is.
KL: Alright, well, it looks like we’ve got a question from the chat, so I believe this is coming from Mike – what do you see as the biggest barrier to sales organizations, and it’s a this or that question – sales adoption in effective usage of the technology or understanding and internalizing the tech, that technology can enable better ways to do things.
TH: Yeah, so most people implement technology poorly, and Ken, you and I have got a long heritage in the world of CRM, and about 70% of CRM implementations fail and they fail for a whole bunch of reasons, and it’s almost never to do with the technology that was selected, it’s a lack of clarity about the improved outcomes that are trying to be driven, it’s a failure to enable process within the technology in a way that gives people back their time and makes things easier. We absolutely live in a world now where the game is all about omni-channel customer experience, and for leaders watching this, you’ve got no chance of delivering great customer experience unless you first still live a great employee experience. So this whole thing of single source of truth about what’s going on and give people time back in the way you enable processes for them, that’s also the best way to capture the relevant data that we need. So I’m a huge fan of what Riva does with the email integration into CRM because it’s essential, the email is the one way that people are communicating, it’s the thing that indicates proof of life between the two organizations and the progress of a deal or the health of a relationship, and you wanna be capturing all of their communication in a way that’s automated. The things like recording and transcribing calls and getting those meeting notes into CRM. All of those things are really important. So yes, we need to implement the tech well. People are spending on average for tech start-up in the States at the moment, companies are spending between $1,000 and $2,000 US per month per employee on tech, I believe that’s gonna go to $5,000 per month per employee by the end of the decade.
But, but let me rewind a little bit before all of that, because again, there’s no point trying to automate poor process, there is no point throwing technology at something that you don’t already truly understand, it’s not gonna magically solve the problem, so if you think about automating trigger events you go, Hey, let’s get some technology in that automates the monitoring of trigger events for our reps. Well, okay, that’s great, but the thing I would ask is, do you have absolute clarity about your ideal customer profile, and as part of that, do you also truly understand and have you documented your ideal customer profile and have you documented your buyer personas. So if the C-suite executives that form consensus are, for example, the CIO, the CFO, the CEO, the CHRO, maybe say the four key executive buyers..have you documented those buyer personas and do you know how they measured in their role, what’s important to them, the stresses and challenges that they’re facing, where they’re educated and go and find their insights within their industry, what the trigger events are that matter to them? What the common push backs or objections are likely to be for the person in that role, which words and phrases really resonate well for them and driving a conversation, if you haven’t documented that well, that’s one of the things we do, Sales IQ, we’ve got templates for this, if you haven’t done that well, you’ve got no chance of building the right message, you’ve got no chance of knowing what trigger events to monitor for. So the thing with tech is you need to apply the technology to something that you’ve taken the time to truly understand, because that’s the only basis on which you’ll be successful in trying to automate, and what I see with these new platforms, so we know within, for example, Salesforce, they’ve implemented a version of sales engagement platforms called HVS high velocity selling or sales. But again, if you just load rubbish spam messaging into these platforms, all you’re doing is damaging yourself, you’re burning through your list faster in a way that damages the probability of success in the brain, so we need to get those foundational things right before we start throwing technology at it, and that’s why there’s the rise of this function within organizations now called Rev ops, so this thing of revenue operations, it’s the age old chestnut, how do we bring sales and marketing together effectively, but what we know is, is marketing’s been reasonably good with tech stacks for quite a period of time. So there’s martech, but now there’s sales tech stacks, there’s just this massive proliferation of sales tech, so bringing MarTech and sales tech together to drive good marketing outbound that creates inbound and then enable sellers to also do the targeted outbound more effectively as well, is all really important while we’re aligning with by his journey.
KL: So speaking in the tech stack, Tony, this may be our second-last question. Clearly, you did a ton of research in the book, you and Justin as well, looking at the technology companies. Why did you do that research? What did you do to really uncover all of those technologies?
TH: Well the first thing is, we had hundreds of people collaborate with this on a version of the book that we put up as a Google Doc, and the book is the compilation of some of the brightest minds on the face of the planet with all of this, but the thing we thought about is what really is the essential tech stack might be a central stack, you wanna work with us as a seller and what are all of the optional pieces. And we sort of bucketed the technologies around those, and the thing we concluded, based on our experience and all of the customers and clients that I’ve worked with as well, as at the foundation, you have to have a CRM which includes your marketing automation piece. So CRM with marketing automation is absolutely essential, you need that single source of truth to actually bring the organization together to support this journey. The next thing in B2B selling that people need is they need that network social intelligence piece, so things typically like LinkedIn Sales Navigator. The next big piece of tech is the sales engagement platforms, it’s really the hot thing right now. So Zand Group, Apollo, all of these technologies that are out there, Outreach is probably the best known one, are really essential now to try and drive personalized sequences within a cadence that we think works. The next thing is all of the data enrichment, and that is certainly what Riva does, so how do we get the right data into these systems so we can go and find the insights, find the trigger events, make sure that we’re well-informed and educated with every single into interaction. Next piece would be monitoring for trigger events is really, really important, role-based changes, capital raises, launching new products, all of these things that go on because a new senior person into a role is usually hard to affect change, and they’ve got about a five-month window where most of the things they want will get approved by their boss. And then we got into things like dialers, we both the Chris Field, good friend to connect and sell the parallel sister dialers or dialing technology, and then good collaboration tools, and that’s kind of the kind of the essential stack, and then there’s lots of other things that get in to the optional piece.
KL: Got it. So Tony, I’m looking at our time and we’re just about done, but I’ve got one last question for you, and I think I can tell the answer, but I’m gonna put it out there anyway. How do you bot-proof your career?
TH: Yeah, well, the first thing is those who fail to embrace technology are the ones most likely doomed to be replaced by it. If you allow yourself to be someone who helps people just transact what is perceived to be a commodity, you’re in deep trouble, and if you think that the killer piece of value that you provide that’s going to protect you is relationships, you’re deluded. So what we need to do is recognize that, yes, relationships matter, but in building brand new opportunity pipeline people aren’t looking for another friend. So all sellers have to provide the level of value or customer and employer that actually funds their role. Like being a pilot today, like being a surgeon, a pathologist, a lawyer, all of these other white-collar professions selling is no different, we have to get good at embracing technology and rather than thinking about being replaced by tech, think about what tasks would I outsource to tech. For, for example, rather than me trying to decide, Well, which of the emails am I sending do I need to put into CRM, run something like Riva, just make sure that all of that email is ingested into the system. Rather than thinking, Well, I’ve got to take all these meeting notes and type them up into CRM, think How do I get a plug-in for my Zoom meetings that I’m running that records, the meeting, transcribes it, and gets those meeting notes into CRM? How do I automate the monitoring for trigger events so I know who I should be calling so I’m operating where there’s higher probability? On the back of the old school things of understanding product market fit and intrinsic value with my ideal customer profile and my buyer personas. So if you think about it, I’ll let technology, I’ll outsources to technology, all of the things that does really well. The filtering of big data, the automation of tasks, the monitoring of trigger events, all of these things, and I’ll go focus on the human elements. So here’s the punch line with all of this, if you wanna fire-proof your sales career, search for places, environments where there is complexity and risk and politics, where a business case needs to be built to secure approval to change, where consensus has to be gathered across the organization to de-risk that change, so we wanna focus on these human things, a great story telling, sense of humor, transferring belief, creating emotional connection to change in niches that people are trying to drive, where we can help them navigate ambiguity in politics. These are the things the bots will never be able to do effectively. So don’t play to the strengths of the tech, play to your human strengths, and get good at using tech to make you insanely productive. Justin Michael really coined this term… Well, he says, I did that I called him a sales-borg, but in my mind, he did. This whole thing have become a sales borg, this fusion of human and machine.
KL: Awesome, awesome. Very good Tony. So I’m actually gonna welcome Betsy back to join us. I think she’s got one more question that needed to be answered. And I’m going to let her ask that question.
BP: Thanks, Ken. So Tony, I’m curious about Rev ops and how frequently you’re seeing that in the market place right now, especially for forward-thinking companies. Is that a normal position that you’re starting to see or is it still leading edge?
TH: Yes, well, we had this role about five years ago, come to the floor of the chief revenue officer that maybe did or didn’t work. In some environments, it didn’t really break down the walls between sales and marketing. What we’re finding is rev ops is the resurgence of that role, and it’s become increasingly relevant because of the bewildering array of tech that organizations are trying to wrangle, so bring sales enablement with sales and marketing management to bring the tech stacks together to create great employee and customer experience. So I’m seeing it everywhere, and the larger the organization, the more relevant the Rev ops is obviously, if you’re a small business, you won’t have all of the segmentation, you might have one person that’s managing the sales team of seven people and doing a bit of the marketing, with a couple of people assisting them, but in bigger organizations, rev ops are a very real thing, and it’s a permanent trend.
BP: That’s great. If you don’t see that title and you are a tech-minded salesperson, What would your next recommendation be on the tech side, like who do you go to get help to enable all this stuff?
TH: Yeah, so there’s typically sales ops within most businesses, so the VP of sales will have someone doing sales ops, but the thing I would say is, fire up YouTube. Make yourself a cup of tea, you get a beer or a glass of wine at night time. Turn the damn TV off and start to educate yourself around all of these things, so for example, if someone’s a Salesforce customer, we know that there’s all of these Trailheads that you can do in Salesforce, you can become really good at how you use your CRM system, you can be really good at building Boolean search, take the time to go and understand one of these sales engagement platforms, if the organization’s purchased it, become the one that’s excellent with the technology because you’ll become one of the most valued people inside the organization. They’ll ask you to start training and coaching others. So if you’re looking to become more relevant within your own organization, if you’re looking for a promotion, you’re looking to fire-proof your career, learn how to apply the technology well, to the role, because most sales people, whether they’re lazy or apathetic. I’m not sure what the reason is, it’s like the sales manager says to his rep, are you just lazy or apathetic, is that the reason you just keep missing your number every single quarter, and the rep says, Oh, I don’t know, and I don’t care. Alright, so you definitely don’t wanna be that person, right? You wanna be the one on the team that’s going the extra mile.
KL: Alright, I’d say We’ll give you a break right there. Tony, is there anything you’d like to turn the tables and ask me?
TH: Ken look… You’re a great sales leader, I’ve known you for a long time. What are you seeing is the number one attribute that is making your people successful? Is it growth mindset? Are they using tech… What is it?
KL: I think the number one thing that we’ve done, and it’s helping our sellers tremendously, is that hedgehog focus on ICP and with my partners help with Betsy’s help on the marketing side, really making sure we’re turning the corner in speaking their language, understanding their business issues. Our technology could be considered quite horizontal, but we play in specific industries for a reason, and so the concept of flipping the ladder and in speaking the value totally makes a difference for our team.
TH: Yeah, yeah, I really like that. And for those listening to this, the hedgehog principle comes out a Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, and it’s… What’s the combination of things that makes you impregnable to competition is really the concept, and Ken I agree, it all begins with clarity about your ideal customer profile.
KL: Absolutely. Alright, Tony, one last one. Sorry, from the peanut gallery. Star Trek or Star Wars?
TH: I love both.
BP: I don’t know. Can we allow that?
TH: The big thing I’m looking forward to his Top Gun Maverick, I can’t wait until it actually hits the cinemas after all of the delays. It’ll be great movie.
KL: Absolutely, absolutely. Tony, always a pleasure to talk to you. I’m looking forward to the day when you and I can share a cup of coffee together physically.
TH: So Thanks, Ken. Thanks, Betsy, you really appreciate having the on huge fan of Riva and what you’re doing. Thank you.
BP: Thank you both very much for a super interesting hour and especially Tony, to you for your time and your insights. And as we now officially recruited every one of you into the revolution, we want you to know about our next conversation focusing on the insurance industry. We’ll host a panel of industry experts and discuss how leveraging the data trapped your CRM can be a game changer, and set financial advisors apart in the industry, keeping them all in alignment with regulatory and reporting requirements. So keep an eye on your inbox for the invitation coming in the near future have a great rest of your week. And thank you again.