Sales Hustle is now Sales Transformation
April 27, 2022

#295 S2 Episode 164 - THE POWER OF STRATEGY: The Importance Of Strategy And Systems In Selling With Master Of Enterprise Sales, John Stopper

Today on Sales Transformation, we are going big time! Collin Mitchell will be joined by none other than John Stopper, a master of enterprise sales and founder of NorthStar8, a company devoted to helping people learn more about strategic sales. This episode has a lot to unpack as John discusses his Compass Selling system, as well as the importance of strategy in sales.


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HIGHLIGHTS

From writing code to selling software, to enterprise deals
Compass Selling: concept and evolution
The premise of enterprise selling
The power of tactics and strategy
Today’s challenges for both sellers and sales leaders
Focusing on developing your skills

QUOTES

John: “The basic premise is, it's a navigation tool because a fixed plan or a playbook, that you see in transactional sales doesn't work.”

John: “Probably the greatest joy of my career has been helping some people be really successful.”

John: “An enterprise companies buy from companies, companies don't buy from a salesperson. So the more relationships that you could build, the stronger the bonds are, you become part of their culture.”

John: “Once you started operating at that strategic level, you start meeting with more senior executives, and you start playing at that level.”

John: “ You want to be great at your craft. And if you're great at your craft, the money comes with it. So you focus on developing your skills.”

Learn more about John in the link below:

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/johnstoppernorthstar8
Twitter: John_Stopper
Website: https://northstar8.com/

Connect With Collin on LinkedIn

Want to Start, Grow or Monetize Your Podcast? Book a Free Strategy Call HERE!


Today on Sales Transformation, we are going big time! Collin Mitchell will be joined by none other than John Stopper, a master of enterprise sales and founder of NorthStar8, a company devoted to helping people learn more about strategic sales. This episode has a lot to unpack as John discusses his Compass Selling system, as well as the importance of strategy in sales.

 

Join Our Free Podcast Community HERE!

Want to solve a leaky sales funnel? Get Signup for your Free RevenueGrid trial HERE! 

Want Your Reps Hitting Quota in 2022? Get Your Wingman Free Trial HERE!

HIGHLIGHTS

  • From writing code to selling software, to enterprise deals
  • Compass Selling: concept and evolution
  • The premise of enterprise selling
  • The power of tactics and strategy
  • Today’s challenges for both sellers and sales leaders
  • Focusing on developing your skills

QUOTES

John: “The basic premise is, it's a navigation tool because a fixed plan or a playbook, that you see in transactional sales doesn't work.”

John: “Probably the greatest joy of my career has been helping some people be really successful.”

John: “An enterprise companies buy from companies, companies don't buy from a salesperson. So the more relationships that you could build, the stronger the bonds are, you become part of their culture.”

John: “Once you started operating at that strategic level, you start meeting with more senior executives, and you start playing at that level.”

John: “ You want to be great at your craft. And if you're great at your craft, the money comes with it. So you focus on developing your skills.”

Learn more about John in the link below: 

Connect With Collin on LinkedIn 

Want to Start, Grow or Monetize Your Podcast? Book a Free Strategy Call HERE!  

Looking to start your own Podcats? Book a FREE strategy call. 🚀

Transcript

[00:00:00] In the world of sales, you either sink or swim or breakthrough to the next level. My name's Colin Mitchell. And this is sales transformation, a new kind of sales show designed to bring you through the epic life-changing moments of elite sellers. So you can experience your own sales transformation.

[00:00:29] Hey, before we start today's episode, I wanted to bring you in on the best kept secret in B2B sales. If you're serious about social selling and your only strategy is cold DMS through LinkedIn, you're missing the mark big time. Learn how I fully manage revenue generating podcasts can change your life and your pipeline@salescast.com.

[00:00:55] All right. Welcome to another episode of sales transformation. I am very excited today to have John stopper on he's helping guide high performance sellers, enterprise sales teams, um, for strategic sales to scale productivity and generate more revenue. John, welcome to the show, how you do. I'm doing great.

[00:01:15] Thanks for having me. Yeah. Yeah. This is exciting. I'm been looking forward to having you on the show. Um, want to just before we kind of dig into some of the topics that you're passionate about, um, tell me a little bit, just kind of about your, you know, your, the short version of your, of your sales. Uh, I got into sales.

[00:01:35] Uh, no one sits out to go into sales. You kind of back into it. Who grows up saying, I want to be a sales guy. Uh, no one. And I went to Sierra. I started off as a writing code, uh, programmer analyst systems analyst, and I was pretty good. Getting people to describe the requirements for system design. So somebody said, Hey, you should be a sales guy.

[00:02:00] So, uh, went into selling, uh, software to large corporations in New York city. So I cut my teeth on wall street and, uh, always sold to large. Companies with some people will call the complex sale, but you know, all fortune 500 fortune five, uh, and started doing large deals and, uh, got good at that. And then somebody said, Hey, you're good.

[00:02:27] At strategy sales strategy, would you be a VP of sales start running our New York office. And I did that and got good at that. And then somebody said, Hey, do you. Run a software company. So I got a shot at, uh, you know, being a CEO. I ran a couple of companies and then about 10 years ago, I started my own management consulting firm, north star.

[00:02:54] Uh, and the reason I started is I saw tech companies in particular making the same mistakes over and over again. And basically it was, they go through very defined stages of growth and it's in the transition from one stage to the next that they're getting. And so I developed a system for assessing the gaps in maturity, around structures and processes for generating revenue.

[00:03:22] And so I've been helping companies for the last 10 years with the revenue growth strategies. Okay. So, um, so you, you sort of started selling enterprise type deals in the very beginning. Yeah, it was, uh, I mean the first deal I ever did was with IBM and, uh, Then, you know, you look at all the big wall street firms.

[00:03:49] I sold to most of those guys. And when you sell to wall street firm, what happens is then they take internationally. So then you do a deal in New York and you're flying to London to get that operation. You're flying to Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong to get that. So it's a great springboard to start doing global deals.

[00:04:09] So that was a great, uh, Thing. And it, you know, as long, the way I started developing my own sales system, which I call the compass compass selling, uh, because I kept getting lost in my deals. Right. You got 10, 20 decision makers, influencers, multiple value propositions. And, uh, you know, so I developed a system so I could navigate and, you know, quickly orientate, where am I at?

[00:04:39] And then how do I execute? Hmm. All right. So, I mean, so in that first role, you created your own system, um, based on the challenges that you saw, um, just in the normal way that organizations were approaching enterprise type. Yeah, I just, I wasn't getting it. I took, I read every sales book. I took a bunch of sales training, but they were all around tactics.

[00:05:08] How you sell and none really gave you good guidance around how you sell, especially in enterprise deals. So with my systems background, my programming background, I just started mashing together. All these things I would find from different methodologies. And, uh, you know what, I would look in parallel spaces, right.

[00:05:32] Which are great sources of, uh, insight. So reading military strategy, business strategy, stuff like that, I started incorporating those pieces to it. So what did the compass system. The basic premise is again, it's a navigation tool because a fixed plan or a playbook that you see in transactional sales doesn't work, fixed being the key word there.

[00:05:59] That's correct. It's like, uh, you know, I think it was Isaac. I said, plans are worthless. Planning is everything. Or as Mike Tyson said, everybody has a plan until they're punched into dose. And, uh, you're punched in the nose a lot. Sometimes you get kicked in the teeth. You got it. Yeah. It sounds like you've been there.

[00:06:20] So. No, that's the basic thing is, okay. It's really based, uh, the core principles. When you get so many variables, you've got to big things down to core principles and the core principles are time, velocity and position. So you're always looking at what's my time to close. How much velocity do I have, right?

[00:06:43] Velocity is the energy that brings the deal forward. And then your position is where am I at? Vis-a-vis people process profile and value. And that drives your strategy. So an enterprise deals strategy drives your tactics. In transactional sales tactics drive your strategy. So if you've got to have a good strategy in place to drive what you're going to do or how you're going to sell, and that's the basic basic pens.

[00:07:14] Okay. And so how long were you in that first role there in a sales role in that first sales role? Uh, I was selling. I'd say 10 years. Okay. And then from there you took, uh, uh, was a VP of sales position, right? I ran sales, probably four. Seven or eight years. And then I was a CEO of a software company for seven years.

[00:07:44] Then, uh, I had three other CEO positions, each one had an exit, so I've been a part of some nice exits. Great. Okay. Well, I'm curious to know about your transition from say. To sales leader to VP of sales. What was that like? Well, it's, you know, it's a complete, you got to go back to square one, you think, oh, great.

[00:08:10] I'm this great sales guy, right. I know what the hell I'm doing. You don't know anything. And, uh, you know, you got to care and feed for the team of people and you're accountable for their success. That's the big switch. Is, I gotta be in this for you, you the salesperson. And I got to coach you and I gotta be active.

[00:08:33] I got to go on your sales calls with you. Uh, you know, uh, probably the greatest joy in my career has been helping some people be really succinct.

[00:08:46] And I think that's where a lot of people who are successful sellers than to sales leaders, uh, struggle a lot. Right. Cause you know, starting back over thinking you got everything figured. Or the most common is thinking everybody should sell the way I should sell. Right. And not viewing it as the way you described it as like, you know, your job is to basically you work for them and you support them right.

[00:09:12] As, uh, these individual sellers. Um, and I'm curious from the time of that first sales role, um, to taking that VP of sales, uh, position, figuring out a, you know, new, uh, you know, back at zero coaching people and managing a team. Um, had the system that you created in that first row had evolved over time, or, you know, what, um, what was it like and, you know, it's training and coaching other sellers on that system.

[00:09:42] Yeah. Great question. Uh, Collin. When you're a sales guy, you're managing four or five deals simultaneously. And so I designed COMPAS selling, like to orientate around that, but when I went into a VP role, uh, I'm managing 20, 25 deals or helping coach them. Right. So I had to adapt and evolve compass selling so that I could drop in to any.

[00:10:09] Ask a few questions quickly orientate, and then start working on our deal strategy. Um, you know, and that's, I'll give you an example. Um, one of the components of compass selling is what I call the value chain. It goes from efficiency affected this risk mitigation, strategic growth and customer experience, and 70 to 80% of all salespeople sell efficiency.

[00:10:40] My offering is going to help you do things faster, better, cheaper. And, but that is the weakest value prop that there is. When your deal slip from quarter to quarter, they're usually efficiency value props. So the coaching is okay, who do we got to get to, to look for additional levels of value. So when you're selling to a senior executive, they, they, they care, but not that much about.

[00:11:08] They're employees doing things faster, better, cheaper with a right. If you're working weekends, I don't really care. I'm working weekends, but you wouldn't care about is risk to their business, right. And to their business plans. And can your offering mitigate risk? So are strategic initiatives. So that's what I mean by strategy work.

[00:11:30] And as we look at deals, you know, we do these workouts and say, okay, who do we have to get to? And how do we map the value to their profile or their persona. Right, right. Yeah. Uh, I mean, that's why so many sounds. Blues to their biggest competitor, uh, which is their prospects doing nothing. You know, what's interesting, I'd say 75% of all the deals I've done and it's over 2 billion.

[00:12:01] It's a lot, not as much as a lot of people, but guess where the money comes from when you do these deals. We we steal it or my sponsor steals it from budgeted projects. So when you have a deal, that's budgeted to close this quarter and it slips. Yeah. Guess what happened? It got stolen and reallocated to somebody else who out sold you on something else that had, you know, a, they saw a bigger value in solving or a higher risk, uh, that they didn't want to, um, You know, have to potentially, um, deal with yeah.

[00:12:50] Excellent. It's I mean, if I see a deal, slip shit, somebody stole my money. I mean that's cause you think about these senior CEOs today, the pressure they're under, around budget, your competitors, budget allocation. And if they see, Hey, somebody might not have to work weekends, it could do the job more efficiently.

[00:13:14] Well, hell I got this. My hair is on fire over here. I'm taking that money just as you said, uh, you know, great insight con right? Yeah. I mean, if the job is getting done, There's not a lot of motivation to try to get it done faster and less, not getting it done faster has some risk tied to it. Yeah. So you're, so that's what strategy is, right.

[00:13:43] It's simply getting from point a to point B in his direct manner as possible. And so as we do these workouts, it's about how do we. Good get up that value chain. How do I position my offering from efficiency to effectiveness, to risk, to strategic growth and who do I gotta get to, uh, to position that that's just one example of.

[00:14:11] The coaching. And when you mentioned like, you know, deal slipping, um, and going man, somebody stole my money. Right. So how do you be more proactive about that to make sure. That your money doesn't get stolen because to a product or a service that has nothing to do with what you do, right. They might be meeting with three people just like you to solve a specific problem, but if something else becomes more of a priority, um, how do you mitigate your own risk as an enterprise seller?

[00:14:46] To make sure your money does get stolen. Yeah. You know, one of the things that starts early in your sales process and the mistake, it's not a mistake, but you got a strategic decision to make. Do I go narrow and deep or broad? And if you go narrow and deep, you get your sponsor and all your activities with that one person, you get what I call single threaded.

[00:15:10] You don't get enough optic in to what's going on in your organization. And. So I like to build a strategy. We get as broad as possible and leverage my team to bridge to as many people in the buyer as possible. Right. So you're saying, Hey, what else is going on in your company? What are some of the pressures you have?

[00:15:34] So you're not just selling your product, you're doing discovery and learning about their business and the pressures they're facing across the board. And then you could do, you could early in my career, I got, uh, thrown out of a CIO of Merrill Lynch's office twice. Um, cause they kept trying to pitch him on my product and he said, don't come back until you can tell me something.

[00:16:00] I don't know. And that was the best lesson I ever received. So I'm kind of coaching to constantly say, okay, how can we go to senior executives, give him insight about something. They might not see that our offering can help them with.

[00:16:20] So not an easy task to do. Yeah. It's uh, well you can, you, I like to use the assets of your company. So get your CEO involved in the sales process to call their CEO of your head of product management, your head of develop, whatever assets you have. It's really building those bridges. And that's a key part is bridging straps.

[00:16:44] Because an enterprise companies buy from companies, companies they'll buy from a salesperson. So the more relationships that you could build, the stronger the bonds are, you become part of their culture and it really strengthens the allocation of capital to your you're offering. Right, right. So it's more, it's more of a team selling approach, you know, um, when you're selling at that level.

[00:17:13] Exactly. That that's the other basic premise. It's the use it's how do I deploy, manage and deploy a deal team? I've had deals where I've had as many as 30 bridges built, right. 30 people from my company bridge, but the deal came out to be over $40 million. So it w I'm the, I'm more the orchestrator, right?

[00:17:36] I'm just, I'm not the primary relationship. Um, facilitator, I'm a date like the dating app. Yeah. Yeah. That's a lot of connections to make one deal. But look at what happened, I mean, and you know, for, so for salespeople today, I mean, by getting good at strategy, I'm telling you when I was just selling because of my technical acumen, I was making a buck 20 bucks 50, and then when I got good at tactics, you know, more knowing how to sell, you know, double my income, which was pretty cool.

[00:18:16] But when I got good at strategy, all of a sudden you're making four or five, 600 over a million a year. I mean, it's, it transforms your life. And once you started operating at that strategic level, you start meeting with more senior executives and you start playing at that level. So there's a lot of enterprise sellers that aren't quite playing at that level.

[00:18:39] What can they do to be more strategic in their deals? And. Work towards or getting to play at that level. Yeah, there's it's first of all, get a planning process, not a plan in place, but a planning process. Um, I just read a great book, the lion hunters or the lion trackers guide to life. Have you heard of that book?

[00:19:07] I have not, uh, it's written by this guy. Uh, I forget his name, bullied something. Um, he was actually grew up in a safari camp where they track lions and the motto with the book is, I don't know where I'm going, but I know exactly how to get. And it's sort of that way with enterprise deals, it's get a planning process, a place you don't know what your final is going to look like, but have a process for knowing who you got to meet with how you're going to, uh, map value to them, uh, research to profile.

[00:19:48] The profile of the company tells you a lot about how they're going to buy. And then you've got to map your sales process to their buying process, as opposed to just trying to get them to follow you or. Yeah. That's, that's where a lot of stubborn sellers lose deals, right? Try and get your buyers to buy the way you sell.

[00:20:08] Yes. The, you know, there's so much pressure for salespeople to close the deal this quarter. Um, you know, it takes a life of its own and the only way you're going to make your numbers by having as many, a lot of active deals at the same time. Not by giving discounts. It's, that's the, uh, you know, we all fall into that trap, right?

[00:20:36] I mean, what do you, what do you see? I mean, you, you, you, you're in the sales, you talked a lot of sales leaders and sales people. What do you see some of the challenges today? Yeah. I mean, some of the challenges that I think we've talked about quite a few of them, right. Is. You know, I'm not being strategic in the deals.

[00:20:57] Um, you know, not having a process or trying to get your, your, uh, buyers to buy the way you sell. Right? Like, I mean, sellers are coming in to deals pretty informed. You know, a lot of times, if it's a problem that they really give a damn about solving, they've already done a lot of work to even engage with you.

[00:21:17] The seller, and a lot of sales organizations are wanting them to take, you know, several steps back in the sales process when they're already a little bit further, along than we've seen them before, because. You know where technology is, the amount of information that's available online. Um, and you're going to lose deals because of that, you know?

[00:21:38] So you kind of want to meet your buyers. You don't want to skip steps. There's some basic things you can't skip over. I get that. Um, but you're trying to, you know, a lot of folks are stuck trying to get their buyers to take a few steps back when they're already further, along by the time they engage a seller.

[00:21:54] Yeah. Yeah. That's a big issue. I see it reversed. You know, they were saying 80% of the buyer's journey's done before they engage a salesperson. I'm seeing that reverse. Now they're actually engaging them sooner because there there's so much coming at them that they're looking for insights early and the company, the other danger is assuming that buyers today know what their buying process is.

[00:22:23] I think COVID is sort of blown up. They don't know how to buy your product. You got to educate them. Yeah. Yeah. And, um, You know, I think the one thing that you've said is really true too, is, you know, how have a process, right? And the process is, is got to have some flexibility to it as well. Right. Um, and you know, uh, mapping your sales process to their buying process and, you know, The challenges, like you said, they don't always know their buying process.

[00:23:01] It's, you know, it changes it's different, you know, there's right now there's, you know, maybe more people involved that have to sign off and, um, you know, getting all those different value props to the different stakeholders, um, and getting them to all agree in buy-in that your solution is the one that's, you know, worth stealing money from something else that was already busted.

[00:23:24] Right. It's, it's a, it's a, it's a tough gig, man. It's a tough gig. It's always been tough. I don't people say sales is harder to, I think it's always been a tough job. Um, you know, and the people that, that the toughest job is a sales VP CRO, uh, you know, there's so much operational pressure. On these folks today, right?

[00:23:49] You got to get all this software installed. You got to manage your forecast. Um, and boy, if you give a bad forecast, I've seen more people lose their job over that than it is. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, with so many people not hitting quota is it's hard to forecast accurately, right? Yeah. You know, forecasting is interesting.

[00:24:16] Forecasting is a language is what it really is. Think about this. It goes from the most junior salesperson all the way to the chairman of the board. Right. And it goes through the entire company. What's the forecast. How's the quarter look, how's the month look. And when I go to a company to build up a revenue plan, the first thing I look at, and as far as give me your forecast, tell me how you do it.

[00:24:46] It shows you the culture of the company. And it tells you a lot about their structures and processes.

[00:24:57] I think they're doing it wrong in a lot of cases. People don't know how to forecast and it gets them in trouble. You know, I spoke to one, um, you know, revenue leader over at SalesLoft, and he's also a, you know, a sales leader, a revenue leader slash. Coder and he's, he's, you know, um, gotten it as close as I've, you know, accurate, the closest, accurate forecasting that I've ever heard anybody say.

[00:25:25] Um, but there's very few leaders that have that skillset to get it accurate, you know? Yeah. Let me ask Jeremy is his name's Jeremy Donovan, great company SalesLoft. Yeah. What do you see as some of the big challenges for sales leaders today, you know, from your seat? Besides forecasting, obviously forecasting, you know, recruiting and keeping top talent.

[00:25:57] You know, that's, that's a, that's a big challenge. I mean, there's, there's a lot of options that sellers can pick, you know, and the younger generation of sellers are, they value different things than, you know, um, and also just, you know, Maybe not having a one size fits all comp plan. Right? I mean, everybody values different things.

[00:26:26] There's a lot of, you know, younger sellers that, um, would join an organization just because of the opportunity and mentorship from a specific sales leader. And it's not necessarily about the base of the comp plan or the OT. Right. Um, so understanding what sort of culture you want to build. Right. And understanding what, you know, these potential recruits value and not making a lot of assumptions around everybody values the same thing, not, you know, not everybody's money motivated.

[00:27:01] And everybody thinks that sellers have to be money motivated. Um, and I used to think that way too, and it's not true. Yeah. Money. Well, money comes right. You can't focus it. Um, you want to be great at your craft and if you're great at your craft, the money comes with it. So you focus on developing your skills.

[00:27:30] Um, you know, I want to ask you about sales, coaching, and training. I, uh, I took this comp a selling course. In fact, we're building it into an e-learning course that we're going to launch in a month here. Um, I just see this gap that sales leaders don't have the time to coach their people. They're too busy with other stuff.

[00:27:52] Um, I, I did some market research. I go into LinkedIn type in sales trainers, sales coaches. I got over 12,000 hits. I went to Amazon and put in sales books. There's over 200. But everything. I see people are screaming for, for coaching and training, which your thoughts on that? I mean, the thing was sales is like there's process and strategy and frameworks and ways to get the job done.

[00:28:31] Um, but. Everybody. Yeah, there's, there's different nuances and personalities of waves of getting it done and styles and things like that. So there's always opportunity to be learning more and, you know, sales leaders can only provide so much, you know, and I think that a lot of times. They, you know, if they can, if they can put their ego aside for a minute and realize that they don't have to be the only one to teach their team everything.

[00:29:00] Um, then yeah. And there's a lot of organizations that already do this right? Where they give, you know, stipends for educational budgets for their sellers to, you know, put towards training or. By courses or work with, you know, people or, um, things like that. And that's why a lot of the programs too, are always offering like certificates when you complete, because then they can take that certificate back and, you know, get reimbursed all or a portion of, you know, what they spent out of their own pocket to, you know, take their, um, growth as a seller into their own hands.

[00:29:36] You know, if you're not getting enough for support or resources from the organizations like. That's, you know, it's, it's on you to take ownership as a seller to get what you need to take yourself to the next level. Yeah, that's good insight. It's funny. Um, sales, VP, I think the biggest problem, and I was just as bad as anybody, you know, I think I know everything and, you know, I wouldn't, would it be rare for me to be impressed by somebody to bring them in?

[00:30:05] Although I always had. Uh, I, I still have coaches today. I still pay for sales coaches. Um, but it was so bad. I sell to, uh, the board and to CEOs and then they usually go and they go, Hey, you VP of sales. You must do this training.

[00:30:32] Sometimes you got to come in from above to help them out. Yeah. Yeah. Well, John, this has been, uh, fantastic having you on really enjoyed these topics. Tons of value here for enterprise sellers and, and such, um, what's the best way for people to learn how you know about the course of your drop-in and, and about, you know, anything that you're doing.

[00:30:55] Where's the best place for them to follow, connect and get that information. Yeah, they could go to my website, uh, north star eight.com or star number eight, or check out a LinkedIn, uh, John stopper or our company page. North story on LinkedIn? Um, no, be happy. Just give me a call, send me an email in mail.

[00:31:19] Happy to if somebody has got a deal that they need work on. Give me a call. I'm happy to help you. I love doing this stuff, so no obligation. Awesome, awesome, incredible. The bigger and the Harrier, the deal, the better. The Harrier, that's it bring all your hairy deals to John help you knock them down. That's great.

[00:31:42] We'll include your LinkedIn. They're linked to the website in the show notes, everybody. Um, thanks again for coming on, John. If you enjoyed today's episode, please write us a review, share the show with your friends. It really does help us out. Um, and we're always listening for your feedback. You can go to sales, transformation dot F.

[00:31:59] Drop me a voice DM, and I will get back to you. Hey, you stuck around that tells me you're serious about your own sales transformation. If you're tired of doing things the old way and want to get started in your journey with other people on the same path, head over to sales, cast.community, and crush your numbers on your leaderboard.

[00:32:18] Yeah. It's free sales cast, doc community. Send me a DM with your best pitch and mention this ad. And I might even give you free access to our best temples.