Sales Hustle is now Sales Transformation
Dec. 28, 2020

Episode #38 S1-EP38 Improving Sales Team Performance with Nigel Green

Joining Collin Mitchell in this episode of the Sales Hustle Podcast is Nigel Green. Nigel shares with us his story of how he got into sales. He also shares some sales tips for the sales leaders, which is very beneficial for sales folks.

Nigel Green is a Sales Team Strategy, Sales Team Design, Sales Leadership Training, and Keynote Speaker. He works with B2B companies looking to invest in sales growth. He is the guide embedded in your organization to build and lead strategic initiatives.

He is also a member of The Board of Advisors at Affirmhealth. At AffirmHealth, we help healthcare practices grow revenue, improve patient experience, and enhance population health with Advance Care Planning software.

Here’s a kindle version of the Revenue Harvest  book by Nigel Green.

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Episode 38

Welcome to the sales hustle. The only no BS podcast, where we bring you the real raw uncut experiences from sales makers across various industries. The only place where you can get what you're looking for too. Uh, your sales game today's episode is brought to you by sales cast sales cast helps sales professionals transform the relationship building process and win their dream clients.

[00:00:30] I'm your host, Colin Mitchell. What is happening? Sales hustlers. Welcome to another episode of sales hustle. I've got Nigel green today. He's the selling power magazine top consultant for 2021. Um, we're going to dig into some tips for sales leaders, uh, and see where it goes from there. Nigel. Thanks for coming on sales household today.

[00:00:55] Colin. It's my pleasure. Nice to meet you, man. Yeah. Thanks for coming on. So before we dive in, just tell us a little bit about your story, uh, the short version of how you got into sales and how you wound up working with sales leaders. I got into sales because I didn't really want to go get a job and it seemed like the only way to get a job.

[00:01:14] So, um, funny story. So I played football in college and our team physician. Uh, I can't remember what my element was, but we were just kind of shooting the breeze and he said, man, you gotta meet my brother. My brother would eat you up. His brother recruited me to come, go through the sales training program at Northwestern mutual.

[00:01:33] And that's how I got into sales. Uh, I just knew that meeting with people and talking all day was, um, probably better for me than sitting behind a desk, looking at spreadsheets. Hmm. Okay. So you got into sales because you didn't want to get a job, but I think you were mistaken a little bit about how much hard work it takes to be in sales, right.

[00:01:55] But yes, I unmistakably, uh, there is a lot of work that goes into being in sales, but anyone that's 22 years old has a high degree of naivete, but it's also worth noting that if you really love what you do, it doesn't always feel like work. Yeah. You're going to grind and yeah, you're going to hustle, but it's a hell of a lot easier to get up and do it when you love it.

[00:02:16] And. There are days. It feels a lot like work, but most of the time it's really fun. And that's, it's still, it's still true. Now. Now I'll tell you, my career has morphed into more of looking at spreadsheets, being a heck of a lot more analytical, but I'm helping people do what they want to do. And that's fun for me.

[00:02:37] Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So let's talk a little bit about, you know, the stuff that you work with sales leaders on and, and see where it goes from there. Okay. I am often hired when a sales leader is red lining. Okay. So that they are competent, they have been successful. Now they're at their point in their career where there's an injection of capital into the business, or there's been an acquisition.

[00:03:02] Something has changed strategically and their competency level. Is going to need to be stretched pretty extensively over the next 18 to 36 months so that the equity sponsor, the founder, the CEO can have the exit, the outcome that they need. They're good at what they do. It's just a heck of a lot better for the outcome of the business.

[00:03:22] If they have someone alongside them that has positioned and successfully exited a business. And I've done that a few times, so I come alongside and help them. Frame what needs to be done through the lens of you're on the clock, right? They, they, your equity sponsor that your CEO wants to sell this business at some point in the future, you can't afford to make mistakes, Cassius precious.

[00:03:47] So how are we going to go hit these really aggressive sales goals on a short period of time and big, good of fiduciary with the capital that we have. Okay. And so tell me these P these, you know, um, particular sales leaders. What's the first thing that you look at of where, you know, you can make some improvements and tweaks.

[00:04:08] They get, they see their big sales number and they immediately say, well, we're going to have to hire a bunch more people if we're going to get this done. And I say, no, we're not, we're not going to do that. What we're going to get really clear on first and foremost is. All of the ways that we get sales, what are the individual tactics that produce the highest yield, the highest return on effort.

[00:04:31] And we're going to figure out how we can create specialization around those tactics. Sometimes that sh that shows up in specializing customers and segmenting the market by how a customer wants to buy with you. So instead of having. Multiple reps carry multiple offerings in their bag. We're going to specialize that way.

[00:04:49] We're going to create specialization by stage in the funnel. I know that you started being a full cycle sales rep. That's one of the things that we blow up immediately because, um, there was a recently a study done full cycle sales reps raced waste about 38% of their selling week and just context switching.

[00:05:08] The mental load from going from sending prospect emails to following up on deals, to getting ready for demos is exhausting and a huge waste of time. So we go, so I go in and I really challenged leaders to is as much as it might pain to pull things away from people, let them do more by doing less. What does that look like?

[00:05:29] How do you break that out? By stage of funnel or by, uh, by type of offering. And, and it's usually about a 50 50 split. We do some stakeholder interviews with the reps, with the customers, with certain business units and we we've. A little bit, we take the data, but then make a gut check on the people that we have on this team, the sellers, how are they wired?

[00:05:51] Are they going to be wired to stay full cycle, but then go after a certain part of the market? Or are they going to be really good at it? Owning a certain stage in the sales cycle. And I'm guessing that could be some tough conversations for a sales leader. That's maybe had particular people on the team for a while.

[00:06:09] They've had the, you know, particular way that they've been doing things for awhile. Maybe you've been, you know, somewhat successful and now something has changed where they need to really put the foot to, you know, the foot on the gas. What do those conversations look like? And how does a sales leader approach that.

[00:06:23] Some of them are very difficult. Some of them, uh, there's a there's ego involved. There's certainly a lot of pride. Uh, oftentimes they'll call Colin. There's a sense of relief. Uh, I can tell you that equally as often you hear sellers say, you know what? I really don't enjoy prospecting. I hate it. I hate that I have this new business quota or conversely, I don't like managing the business.

[00:06:48] I I'm really bad at the details. I just want to go close. But typically, um, you approach the conversation the same way what's in it for you. What do you want to do? And you got to anchor the outcome that you want with something that's going to be a win for the seller. Maybe it's career. Maybe it's income, maybe it's quality of life, but you've got to leave some space.

[00:07:15] And that conversation to think about your people first, because you're never going to hit any of your aggressive sales goals. If you can't anchor the hard work in something that that seller wants to achieve in their life. And so starting from the place of. This will work, fill in the blank and letting the seller, or let that person tell you what they really want or why they would do something differently.

[00:07:39] Why they would align with all this change versus you're going to do this. This is the way we're going to get it done. You either going to sign up and stay, or you're not, I've found that doesn't really work well. Sometimes it gets to that, but let's never start there. Right. Right. And, and, you know, I happen to know that the best leaders know what that is for each of their contributors.

[00:08:01] Right. They know what it is that drives them. They know, you know, what it is to get them to, you know, go to the next level. They know what it is to get them to be willing, to change, to help them, you know, meet whatever their, maybe personal goals are. And they do, but here's, here's what the best leaders do.

[00:08:20] That's a little bit subtle, good leaders might come in and say, call, Hey, I know you're really motivated by this and that's why we're going to shift. And this is going to be better for you. And they're still selling them on it versus saying, can we have a conversation about a couple of things you shared with me that I've remembered over the course of working with?

[00:08:37] You know, it was this thing that was really important to you. Is that still true? And I think it's important to do that now because everyone's motivations are changing. Like I can tell you a lot of folks, what they wanted in March is not what they want now. Because the way we're going to market is change.

[00:08:56] People's values are shifting, you know, there's this rush of people getting out of cities and having a simpler life, wanting more time at home. Like I think everything that we think is important needs to be stress test and, and resurface with our team and make sure it's still really important. Right.

[00:09:15] Right. Not just assuming. But a bit of a discovery process with your, with your, with your sellers as a leader, right? Yeah. And then, you know, before, you know, just assuming that that's still valid, just, you know, being willing to be open, to have a conversation, if it's true, if it's changed and, and kind of setting that, that table properly to have that conversation.

[00:09:39] If, if the goal is if the priorities have changed for, for the people on the team. Yeah. One thing I tell the leaders I work with is you've got to be rigid. On the expectations rigid on the outcome, completely flexible on the plan, how we're going to get there. You've got to be really clear with your team.

[00:09:59] This is where we're going from a culture perspective from a sales objective revenue attainment. And this is going to, I'm going to be rigid on how we do it. I'm totally flexible with the role you play and I'm open to ideas on how you think we ought to get there. And so is what I hear you're saying is the plan could be a little bit different for each individual.

[00:10:20] It can be it. And what I mean by that is, um, We want, I want leaders to manage everyone the same, lead them all differently. So if that means that you have enough flexibility to have a little bit of leeway in comp plan, or a little bit of leeway and some, some bonuses around objectives that are important to their development, then do it.

[00:10:47] But may, but the extent to which you can try to have a framework that everyone aligns, that's going to be better for your culture. Long-term I think the best leaders leave a little bit of room in the roles and responsibilities in the incentive comp plans to account for the uniqueness of each of the individuals on the team.

[00:11:08] Okay. And what about the plan of getting to the goals for the individuals? The plan of getting to the goal? The only plan that's going to work is the plan that they buy into. So if the plan isn't authored and endorsed by the seller, it ain't going to work. Ain't going to fly. Now. There are ways to. Get them to endorse the plan, a little bit of coercion or getting their buy-in along the way you can go into it, knowing this is what the plan is going to be.

[00:11:38] How do you get them bought into it? That's going to be really a Testament to your strength. As a leader, bad leaders force it. It's all fit fed down. There's no, buy-in, there's no anchoring into a why or a vision or how this is good for you. That's why I say you gotta be rigid about the outcome. You gotta know where we're going to go, but you got to leave a little bit of room and create some space for the sellers to see what's in it for them and why they would do it.

[00:12:04] Okay, now let's break down. Cause you know, I've talked to a lot of, a lot of people in sales, you know, and. Part of this journey. There's people that sit on different sides of the fences of on, on different topics. Um, and I'm curious to know what your thoughts are on, on this particular topic, which is, you know, there's, there's a lot of leaders that think, okay, Hey, here's the activity quota.

[00:12:27] You got to hit this many calls. You got to get this many discovery. You gotta get this many demos. You got to get this many deals in the pipe and you need to close this percentage of those deals and really sticking to that. And it puts a lot of pressure on sellers. To then just put a lot of fluff in the pipeline that probably shouldn't have been there, or make calls that are meaningless to hit their activity.

[00:12:46] Quota. How important is activity quotas such as that, or is the end result? All that matters? Um, if you're watching this on video, you're seeing me smiling as you're asking the question, because I love this question. I have this saying, um, that I share with people all the time, as long as you're hitting.

[00:13:05] Your most important metric, which is sales closed revenue attained. You work for you as soon as you aren't you work for me. So if your, if your bottom line result is number of deals closed, this period revenue attain this period. I don't give a rip if you walk around and your boxers and I don't care, get it done as soon as you don't.

[00:13:31] Well, now we're going to have a conversation about how I think you ought to do it and how many activities at each stage I think you ought to do. And I'm going to be really clear that until you get back to the days where you were crushing it and not showing up on Friday until we're there, we're doing it this way, but when you're there, do it however you want.

[00:13:50] I actually, I liked that. I liked that. So it could be, it, it goes back to, you know, Uh, leading sellers differently, right? If seller one is hitting his goal over quota every month. Not coming in on Fridays, walking around in his boxers, leaving the heck alone. And here's what I said to him. They said, well, why is Johnny get to show up and have a beer at lunch?

[00:14:13] And then he leaves at three because Johnny sit in his goals. When you do that, you can do the same thing or whatever your equivalent is. Right. But here's what I tell Johnny, that's doing all that. I said, buddy, here's the worst thing in a seller's world. And it's not failure. The worst thing in a sales role is being successful and not being able to tell your leader.

[00:14:34] And yourself why you were successful. So enjoy it. But if you don't know a lot of replicated, you're going to find yourself on the other side of that experience and it doesn't look right. Mm. Okay. All right. So now, just to kind of piggyback on that question, how much rope or leeway do you give those people?

[00:14:58] That are hitting quota over quota, maybe doing it their way, whatever that looks like, how long would be once they stop or, you know, maybe, you know, how much rope, how much leeway do you give those people just enough to create whiplash? So as soon is, um, you fall short of the standard. I'm not going to sit around very long and let you, um, miss expectations.

[00:15:26] I'm talking a matter of days, like I'm not buying well, it was a bad month. Why don't subscribe to bad months. I have bad days. So until you, because I know that you got 20 to 22 selling days in a month. So you need to break that expectation down into a matter of days. So if you, if you start missing, I'm going to intervene.

[00:15:48] I'm not waiting until the end of the month for you to come and sit down, licking your wounds, saying I had a bad month. Here's what I'm going to do about it. Once you start getting behind, after about day seven, where we're intervening pretty early. We know more boxer Tom on Friday. They now work for you again.

[00:16:04] They worked for me. Yeah. Okay. Okay. But I think I build rapport and goodly. It's not about me. Good leaders need to build rapport. They need to know that's what's coming. They need to know that we live in a world where you work for you until you stop doing the things that give you that autonomy and freedom.

[00:16:26] Yeah. And, and what we're talking about here is, you know, people, people are doing things different ways. Using social media, using, you know, video using, you know, different networking events, you know, different things where it's just not all, you know, calls, discovery, demos. However you get to then go is fine.

[00:16:44] But if you're not hitting your numbers, then you're going to do it the way that's laid out. Yeah, which is more activity quota based. I got a good friend, Rory Vaden who says this success is never owned. It's only rented and the rent's due every day. And the good sellers just know the rent's due.

[00:17:04] And then it could look a little different for different people, right? Some people might have, they might more feel more comfortable in a smaller SMB marketplace where they got to do a lot of activity to get to the end goal, or there's other people who are more comfortable doing more with less people with bigger deal size.

[00:17:22] Right. So whatever that looks like, if you're getting to the goal. You know, doing it, do it, having the autonomy to do it your way is okay until you're not hitting it. Absolutely. And I think that the, now we're getting to this conversation of like, No two sales reps and no two sales organizations are the same.

[00:17:43] You got to get honest with yourself. If you're behind plan, or if you're failing, failing to hit some expectations for your company, you may not be the problem. It could just be you're in the wrong role. And you've got to get really honest about your strengths, and there's never been a better time than right now to do that.

[00:18:01] And let me give you an example. I know some really. Solid sellers who have been successful because they are highly relational and their company culture has shifted to more of a selling by zoom environment because of circumstances that are beyond everyone's control. And it'd be really easy for them to think.

[00:18:21] Cause I'm just not, I don't know what happened. I've lost my mojo. No, you're just not good at getting in zoom and doing a demo. You close deals in a better environment and it's time for you to say, I got to move on. This is not going to work for me. And nobody was at fault. And I'm seeing a lot of sellers that need to have that conversation with themselves right now.

[00:18:40] And they just, they they're putting it on themselves and it's not their fault. Um, now how do leaders that don't know how to lead in this new. Way of selling, what do they do? Well, they got to get really clear on how their sales process has shifted as a result of customer sentiment. Customer sentiment has changed.

[00:19:00] I'm arguing that it has forever changed. Even when we go back to whatever this new normal is, the world is so much more receptive to jumping on a quick call or doing a zoom versus you coming to my office for an hour. I don't want that anymore. Even when I think it's safe and we're all fine. I may not even go back to my office anymore.

[00:19:22] So I don't need you to come here for an hour. Just get on the phone, get on zoom for 15 minutes and get it done. I think that is going to be an indelible legacy of this pandemic and leaders need to understand that there are some good benefits to that the seller's role, their anatomy has changed, but your deal velocity and your pipeline velocity is going to be a lot faster in this new selling environment and in, if you can figure out how to.

[00:19:50] Recheck customer sentiment. And in rebuild your sales steps, your pipeline sequentially that matches the way sellers want to buy. Now, you're going to get, you're going to have sellers that are getting up to speed quicker, and your pipeline is going to move a lot faster. Yeah, no, there's, there's definitely some benefits to selling this way.

[00:20:09] A lot of people have already been selling this way, so they're ahead of the curve. Um, but yeah, people that weren't selling this way and are still trying to figure it out, are going to really have a hard time. Really have a hard time. Um, and it starts with the leaders, right? Maybe the leaders no longer qualified and needs to get some outside help of how the sales process has changed and what they need to be teaching and coaching and leading their team on is not what it used to be.

[00:20:37] Bingo. Yeah. And what do you, and a lot of things that go into that about, uh, the changes we need is you get all this resources in the budget. That's dedicated to travel and expenses that you don't have anymore. How are you redeploying that in training sales, enablement tools, the tech stack that your sales team needs to be successful in, in a world where we're you, you ought to be able to have some video you ought to be able to, um, send over decks and, and sell in three to five, seven minute soundbites versus taking people to lunch.

[00:21:11] So you've got these budget dollars that bait need to be redeployed in technology and enablement. Yeah. Yeah. And you know, the money that used to go to events and traveling and trade shows and, and all that by, by that buddy, that money can be better spent now on the things that you're talking about. Yes.

[00:21:29] And they don't even know where to start. And so, uh, I think that. You know, finding, finding someone that can help you navigate what is a really crowded sales enablement space to figure out what tools you really need so that your team can do more with less is probably an exercise. A lot of leaders, leaders need to think about as they go into 2021.

[00:21:51] Yeah, I just had, I just had a great conversation with, uh, Mario Martinez Jr. About video selling. And there's a lot of things that he broke it down, you know, where. The first, the first thing is finding, you know, getting help is, is definitely if you're not, if you're not well-versed in this, you've got to get outside help.

[00:22:09] Number one, as a leader, number two, finding out what the there's so many tools it's becoming such a crowded space, you got to find what is the right tools to use. And then there's gotta be a structure of how you use those. It's not just hop on a video. Not looking at the camera, dirty laundry in the background, like, like there's etiquette and there's ways, you know, you have, like, I think he said it's eight.

[00:22:35] I said 10. He said it's eight to 15 seconds. Those matter the most when you're sending somebody a video, whether it's prospecting or any part of any that's when they're going to determine if they're going to continue to even watch the video all the way through. And if you're not adding or leading with value, They're not going to see it.

[00:22:51] I mean, there's little small things. Like even most people, when they shoot a video, they look at the camera and they're in the center of the frame. Right. But what happens is when you send that video over, then the play buttons right in the middle of your face, they don't get to see you smiling, you know, and it's less inviting for them to even hit play small things like that.

[00:23:13] They can make a huge difference in your pipeline. Bingo. Couldn't have said it any better. So Nigel, thanks so much for coming on today. I know that you have something special for all the sales hustlers that are listening. Please tell them what you have for them, tell them where they can connect with you and any other closing thoughts.

[00:23:33] Yeah. Well thank you for having me. It's been a pleasure to riff with you for a little while. So I wrote a book, uh, Call to sales leaders, Almanac revenue, harvest a sales leaders, Almanac for planning the perfect year. I wrote it for sales leaders, but I think it's a book that, uh, anyone that has a number to hit should read.

[00:23:50] I live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, Kentucky. What I've done is I've borrowed timeless principles from our farm friends, and I've laid it out over the selling year. There are seven principles. You do these seven principles. Well, regardless of what your sales cycles are, you'll hit your number year in and year out.

[00:24:05] And I'm going to give anybody that wants a Kindle copy of the book. Give it to him. So we'll, we'll put some something in the show notes, so where they can go and access it. And it'd be my pleasure for you guys to give it a look. Yeah. Awesome. Thank you so much again, we will include that link in the show notes for you.

[00:24:20] Sales hustlers. If you're listening to the show, please write us a review, leave your comments, share it with your friends and we're listening for your feedback. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of sales hustle. Are you a sales professional looking to take your sales career to the next level? If the answer is yes, then I want you to go over to sales, check us out.

[00:24:46] And if you feel that you are ready, set up a time to talk with me and my co-founder Chris, I'm your host, Colin Mitchell. And if you enjoyed this episode, feel free to leave us a review. And share the podcast with your friends.