Actions Sales Leaders Need to Take in a Recession w/ Steve Benson | The Reid Method Insider Podcast

 Our returning guest, is founder and ceo of badger maps.

You probably know that by now, since last week’s introduction and badger maps is the number one route planning system for field sales reps and this man founded and created this whole concept.

After receiving his mba at stanford, uh steve joined google, where he became google enterprises top sales rep executive globally.
Actually, in 2009, in 2012 he founded badger maps to help field sales.

People be more successful with multi-stop route planning.

He is host of outside sales.
Talk a podcast that ever had the privilege of attending on where he interviews dozens of experts on top sales tips that share their tips and steve is also the president of the sales hall of fame, which he shared uh with us in the last uh episode.

So steve here we go again welcome back.
Thank you thanks for having me everyone, i’m really uh really excited to be here.

Continue this uh conversation we started last week.

Yes, and and the conversation i mean, i’ve had so much great feedback from last week’s show uh because, as you know, the the you know you bring a certain perspective uh to sales, because you know not only are you a former google world renowned sales, uh sales Rep but the founder of badger maps, a company based in in silicon valley or san fran.
So this is a big deal because you bring a totally different perspective to how to sales than how you know.
Let’s say i myself being in auto sales or an advertising sales rep or you know, other people may look at it.

So it’s always very interesting to get your take on certain things and tonight we’re definitely going to dive into another relevant topic on action.
Sales leaders need to take in a recession so uh.

Why don’t we, you know, talk right off the bat in a down economy because we’re kind of going through this right? Now, where most salespeople are you know, most sales teams or managers are not thinking about recruiting, and i believe that there’s definitely a lot of available.

Great sales reps out there right now who might be looking for a job.
So what are your thoughts on recruiting in a down economy? Yeah, it’s a great question.
It is a great time to recruit great sales.

People for your team.
The market for hiring great salespeople has been so tough for years, and and now it’s it’s really – i mean i – i haven’t seen it this good in a decade easily um there’s a lot of really talented sales.
People they’ve been laid off.

They’ve been furloughed because the economy right now and uh, and if, if you have the means, it’s a great time, to look to invest in in hiring them and getting more sales on your team as a result of those investments um, you know one way to think About this, if they will, if they’ll bring you more money um and it has to be at the margin – you know it doesn’t it doesn’t count if you would gotten anyway, but if, if a new rep will bring in more money than they cost, why wouldn’t you Hire them, like you, know, the all-in cost, if you can cover that nut uh and then bring it and they’ll bring in that and more um.

Why? What would stop you um and uh? You got ta look at how long it takes to get up to speed.
You need to look at how likely they are to succeed.

The you know, the the failure rate, all those things, but when you weigh all those together, i think um it can be.
It can be a great time to double down and get some great talent on your team um.
You know.

Another thing to think about is some reps that might have been very successful.
Uh on your team in good times, won’t necessarily be uh as successful in in these times right i mean and that’s uh, that’s that’s something you also do have to have to think about um.

You know that you, you might need to replace some reps with one who are on your team right now with people that would be more successful uh under these conditions – and you know, as a sales manager, you probably know who those people are um.

So what do you need to do to hire great sales people? You need to be very specific about the criteria.
What what you’re looking for that in a candidate and what you need them to do and who you needed to be to be successful in the sales role in your organization? You need to actually write them.
Write those criteria down and and give them give those criteria to the person.

That’s actually on the acquisition side.
You know a recruiter, etc.

You need to qualify the candidates that you’re hiring based on their characteristics that they can display.

You know to you during the hiring process you need to you need to design the hiring process in a way that it will expose.

Who has those characteristics that are going to be successful in your organization um.
You need to be specific in your job posting about what it is that you’re looking for in terms of hiring someone, so that you make sure that you’re attracting the right people to interview in the first place.
Don’t don’t put things in the job post that don’t need to be there? This is a mistake.

I see so many people make you know they they write down.
I need someone from a top school or they write down.
I need someone with an mba or oh.

I i need someone with whatever characteristic, if you, if you don’t, need an mba to be successful in a real role.
Don’t put that as one of the criteria don’t ask for seven years experience if you, if that’s not something you need, because you can scare off.

Potentially fantastic candidates that would have been really successful in your organization with these types of false requirements, i’d i’d much rather get a ton of applicants for a sales role and give them all some kind of five-minute sniff test, something that’s going to take the hiring manager.

You know, or with a recruiter five minutes to sniff out whether they’ve got you know the basics of what we need or not um then filter out a bunch of people and only have a few applicants, none of whom were really a great fit.

You know, and that’s such a great follow-up from last episode, that we did uh on how to lead teams in in unprecedented times, uh about choosing the right people and putting the right people on the bus, which is a quote from you, know, jim collins book.

So here we are diving a little bit deeper to the roots off how to select the right people, and you may need to re uh, replace some people and to the to that again about replacing some salespeople right now is there are some that are handling? You know not to blame.

Anyone who are overwhelmed rather, maybe is a better word by the current circumstances.
That’s going on some people.
I’ve seen it firsthand where some people are more stressed out some because everybody handles it differently right.

Some people are more overwhelmed by the circumstances right now and some people handle it much better, so uh putting the right people on the bus, especially in a time of crisis or where there’s there may be a recession or maybe there’s a lumen recession, can make all The difference in the world, based on what you’re saying so um as we talk about the the recruiting process steve, what does a solid, recruiting process? Look like in a down economy? Great question i mean, i think sales leaders need to rethink what their reps need in terms of characteristics and training etc to be successful in this economy, and they have to then adjust their recruiting process to make sure they’re bringing in that new rep.
So um, you know if you’re in a recruit, if you’re still recruiting right now, you’re still looking to build the team.
That means marketing the role uh correctly and acquiring applicants.

Um leads, and you know the way i look at it to make sure that they meet the specifications that you need for to be successful in the role.
So you know it, you need a great job posting that clearly identifies what applicants need to have not one that just describes the company and why it’s so great to work there.
Like you see on a lot of job applications, i think that’s a a wasted opportunity.

You know you, you want the right people to apply and you want to scare the wrong people off with your with your job application.
Um an applicant tracking system can be really helpful to keep everything straight.
There’s a ton of applicant tracking systems in the market um.

We just actually switched from one to another on our hr team, but these are really helpful if you know, and if nothing else, if you’re a really small organization, just keeping track of it in a shared google doc is fine, but you need to really be organized And keep track of things? Should companies rush get you know, even though they they may feel stressed about the current time and they’re going through all these applicants and whether they have a lot of applications or not.

You know, because you can, if they have a lot of applications, they just say well, maybe we should take all the best ones we can get or as fast as we are getting them or if they’re not getting a lot of applications, they could rush and pick The wrong ones, because maybe there’s not enough to choose from so what do you think about that? Yeah? I think that’s happened.
A ton lately and i think the the sales cycle quote-unquote on hiring new reps is going to look very different now than it did for the past decade, and so you do have to kind of change your perspective as a hiring manager.

On that you know it’s been, it’s been a situation where you did have to rush.
If you got, you know someone with a pulse, it seemed like they could do the job you needed to move fast to hire them with the right package that was competitive to bring them in, because it was such a tough market to get people that were great.
I don’t think that’s the case now, so i think you you don’t need to rush like you want to be timely.

You want the.
If you, you want an hr process.
A recruiting process where you get the word out well for a month, collect your applications um and, throughout that period of time you can be doing the putting people through the process but um.

I don’t think people need to feel like there’s a gun to their head.
The way maybe it’s felt for for the last little while yeah and that’s such a because i see that as a common mistakes, companies make um, because you know they focus on replacing the body so to speak, to get revenue.
But maybe that’s not the right person and then they have to go through.

You know the person leaves or another a better opportunity comes by they’re, not the right fit, whatever reason they might be, and then they have to go through the whole process again.

Absolutely well.
That that’s i, i think that a good process can help, keep you from doing that.

So, if you as a part of your hiring process, have have challenges or tests that really allow the candidate to prove that they have the characteristics and abilities the team needs right.
Now it really makes the hiring decision a lot easier and it allows you to compare their actual performance in a non-biased sportable way against the other applicants.
You know it takes away the as much you know going with your gut and makes it much more about the numbers and much more um.

You know if you can, because you can score their actual activity, so you know have them overcome an objection.

Have them pitch something have them, you know, negotiate with you, whatever skills that you identify are really important for a sales rep to succeed in your organization, make sure as a part of the sales uh application, or you know, um onboard the sales recruiting process you’re identifying.
If they have those skills or they don’t – and you know, i guess, if you’re looking for places to be faster, have the offer worked out before it comes time to give the offers out right.

So don’t have don’t have the legals and like the details and the operational side that you could have worked out up front, don’t have that hold up the process.

Don’t have that extend things and then also finally have a great onboarding process because that’s another place, i see people waste time here.
They, you know, if you’ve invested in a solid on boarding process, and these onboarding processes do need to be rethought out now, because you might have been able to get away with not having the best onboarding processes in place.

If a rep was kind of able to learn by osmosis from the other reps hanging around the office, now that everyone’s remote, you need a lot more process around that you have to rethink that.
Make sure you’re able to uh communicate knowledge and get your new reps up to speed? I think that’s another area that that that can be rethought through of on the recruiting process.

Right now, do you think in this interview and process or in this recruiting process, a good question or a good test would be the candidate themselves? You know probing or information about the company.

I mean if they come in and it’s kind of a one-sided conversation where they’re looking for a job and they’re looking for for employment, even even though they may have the qualifications steve.

Do you think it’s important for um candidates to study the company that they’re applying with right and have some questions and be ready? I think i think that is a.
If someone doesn’t know the blocking and tackling about your organization doesn’t know the basics.

It’s a real bad sign, they haven’t done their homework and it’s a good sign that they i mean especially for sales reps more true than with um.

You know, maybe an engineer or something but or a lot a lot of roles.
Really i mean a sales person.

You need them to know they have to do their homework and research on a customer before they sell them and and getting a job is a sales process effectively.
So, if they’re not able to answer the basic questions about you um and what the what the company is the product does, what you know if they haven’t done their homework, that’s a real bad sign.
I mean i i’ve i’ve seen companies ask some pretty specific questions and use them as almost like a cut question here and i don’t think that’s necessarily appropriate either i mean i don’t just want to hire the person who had the most time to do to memorize And learn everything about the company um, you know, but i think it’s it’s a it is going through an interviewing process and a you know.

According process of this nature, with a with a new employee, you get a lot of signals and i think that’s one signal.
I i i try not to put all the weight on any one thing, but that’s certainly a good signal, absolutely so impact um.

So you have a lot of a lot of experience in field sales.

Yeah, i mean in fact you founded the company badger maps as a result, a software company for field sales, people so they’re under a lot of pressure right now.

Uh, since you know you can’t go out into the field as much to meet clients.

So how do we bridge the gap steve of um having to face um or can’t do face-to-face visits, especially when the sales pitch is based on that customer experience of seeing and feeling and touching and hearing the product uh? And you can’t really do that over zoom? How do you bridge this gap yeah? Well, there are some hard stories here right now for sure there are a lot of products that are really best sold in person and anything else you do isn’t going to work as well.

So so what do you do now? In under you know this new world in which we live, so i think you know you have to stay productive.
You have to keep generating new sales cycles and moving existing sales cycles downfield, even if you probably aren’t going to be able to get it over the line, because you know your customer is closed right now, um, maybe you sell beer to bars and you you could Get someone all the way to the point of i’m going to get all my kegs through you now you’re, a better vendor they’re, going to be the case going to be cheaper, colder and delivered more in a more timely manner, etc, etc.
But i’m not going to be able to buy any kegs from you right now, because our bar is is very very closed.

So you need to keep moving getting the sales cycles right to the point, the tip right to the tipping point um and then then, once things open back up you can you can knock them all down and win them um.
I think it’s a great time to focus on fitting the top of the funnel.

If you’re in this, in, in this kind of limbo, state that a lot of field sales reps find themselves in um the the the end of the funnel.

You know the closing it can be really tough and in the middle of the funnel, like you can only take it so far in a lot of cases um, but the beginning of the sales funnel you can succeed at remotely just as well as you ever could.

So do more prospecting build more more lists of prospects, get awareness up in your territory and amongst your prospective buyers, um spend time building relationships with your ideal customers in other ways like social selling skills um, you know you can you can sharpen those skills? I mean this alone is a topic big enough to write a book about, but yes, um yeah.
I’ve interviewed several people on my podcast who are who are all different types of experts in social selling, um and uh.

You know it’s and i’ve.
I’ve learned some really interesting things from those guys um, it’s it’s it’s uh.
There are some clever tactics to generate new leads and to deepen existing relationships with existing customers and prospects through social media um.

I think uh, when, when you talk to your prospects over zoomer over the phone, the key is to sell and be productive right now and get sales moving forward.

Even you know, it’s frustrating sometimes you’re not going to close the sale, number deals or they’re not going to yeah there’s a lower percentage of them, but get on the calls build the relationships, help those prospects understand how they’re going to benefit from your solution.
Help them see that and then you know when they get to an economic situation, where they’re going to be able to move forward, they’re all teed up and ready to do a deal with you, and you know, i think it’s it’s pretty likely that when things are Turning back on for your customers, that’s about the same time that reps are going to be able to get back in front of these customers and close the deal in person because we’re all kind of living under the under the same uh viral regime.

Here you know, so what do you say to the sales reps, though you know whether they’re inside sales, reps or field sales reps, where they have to in some respect, accept that the process right now is longer going to be longer they’re going to have to do A little bit more grunt work a little bit more preparation and yes, they’ll close some a lower percentage, but the process will be longer and to maintain that relationship to to make the initial contacts to you know to build a relationship over time and, as you say, When the time is right and they’re ready that they’ll benefit from their solution, what do you say to those sales people? That might say? Well, oh, my goodness.
This is a long process and how? How am i gon na make any money now wait? Um yeah, i mean i, i think that uh, you know these are exceptional times and we need to take exceptional measures to be successful on them and and hey.
If you ever wanted an excuse to fail now, we’ve we’ve all got the best excuse in the world, but you know it uh excuses, don’t pay mortgages, unfortunately, and uh the bank’s gon na keep demanding that mortgage, so yeah uh.

You know, i think i think uh.
What do i tell a rep i so i’m telling my reps, let’s, let’s uh normally, we think about things in terms of months right, and i think that is one of the.
I think reps should think about things in terms of months.

I think for most companies i mean sometimes sometimes it’s weeks, if it’s a really high turnover product or whatever, but if you’re selling purses in retail or something obviously it’s different, but from for most businesses.
I think a month is a certainly in my industry.

You know software yeah, it is an automotive as well as well.

You live and die by modern day each month, pretty much and and so i’m telling reps hey.
You know we’re.
We’ve had a couple crappy months.

I mean this past month, uh june.
We actually we, the company did – is back to growing, but we were shrinking in in uh march in april and a little bit even in may, but you know um what i’m telling reps is hey.
Let’s think less about the months and more about the year and uh tee up the deals now that we can close in october november december january um because uh, you know the these months aren’t going to look as great, but it doesn’t have to impact our year.

All that much because we’re teeing things up now, you know where it’s it’s like bowling, but we’re not just laying out you know ten pens we’re just laying out a hundred pins and we’re going to get to strike it with a ball, and you know, october november, And so just keep tearing things up and when the world opens up we’re going to get these deals.
So that’s you must be ebola because that’s a good analogy.
I i i got the bowl maybe six months ago, i’m not a not exactly avid added.

No, no! No, i think i think that’s one of the things that’s closed right now, but yeah uh.
So what ends uh? What trends do you see in field sales reps over time in in the post covert world? You know if every zoom sales rep and every company that has a consultant practice around digital transformation, um you know, would have you believe that you know you know we’re willing to you know this is going to be the death of the field, sales rep.
So to speak, how do you see field sales, reps being impacted? Yeah? That’s that’s so true.

Every every uh every sales consultancy is like this is the end of the way you’re selling things yeah so, but never coming back, yeah we’ll it’s that the world’s never coming back.
But don’t worry we’ll we’ll train you uh for the way that things are going to happen now, but for a price um.
I’ve seen that a lot but yeah i mean i in in in terms of trends, is, is field sales dead.

Absolutely not.
I mean field sales is not going to die.

Face-To-Face meetings are crucial for a lot of different products and a lot of types of sales.

It shortens sales cycles, it deepens relationships.

It will always be important.
Um, it’s really hard to replicate the connection that’s made with customers, yes, person through zoom.

If you zoom over the phone, you just don’t get that right.
It’s you can’t look! Someone in the eye and interactions over the internet are clunky and awkward in in-person meetings, sales, people they have the opportunity to connect and really understand a customer, understand their problems and and people thrive off of social interactions.

Um, you know in person you can tap into those tap into real connections and create real life yeah.

They spill the guts more with you in person.
I think absolutely it’s hard to trust someone.

You know, i can’t believe i have somebody else on the show with me.

Talking about you know, face-to-face interactions and sales actually still matter.
That’s i’m a big i’m, a big believer in that, as am i right because it’s like you’re on social media right, you meet someone on linkedin or you meet someone on facebook and they’ll, carry on that texting, conversation forever and ever and i’m like okay enough of This already like it’s taken longer to type the damn message than to make the phone call and just like phone calls are better than you know.
Iming back and forth, or texting back and forth.

Face-To-Face meetings are better than phone calls.
It’s just you know it uh.
You know you just you can if you’re in the room with someone you can, you can see their objections, you can see their body language.

You can gauge how they truly feel if you’re, making a genuine connection with them or not you’ll, you’ll kind of know, yeah, right and and sales cycles shorten by being able to get the right people in the room and and hash out.
What’s going on what the objections are what’s interesting, what’s important, you can only do that.
It’s really hard to do that in a way that’s not face to face, and you know there.

There are a lot of reasons that, when all you can do is talk on the phone or use zoom sales cycles extend, they get longer um.
But once again the good news is, you know as soon as as soon as your team can get out there and get in front of people again, you know so so what i’m hearing from you steve is right.
Now these zoom calls these social interactions.

These, you know emails, follow-up, zooms messaging.
It matters right now, because we pretty much have not much choice right.
We have no choice in that, but don’t give up, don’t stop um.

It may be tedious one day.
May you know maybe easier the next day, but essentially what you’re doing is building probably the most valuable funnel that you could build for the entire year, because when things start to open up these uh you’ll start to knock him down with your bowl and pin analogy Right, you know you have 100 lined up versus 10.
You might be able to knock down 35 and close 35 or 40.

, and i’ve seen this happen in in the automotive space that i you know spend my days because we were closed uh end of march.
All of april and first week or two of may and when we went back so so during that time being off, we still fielded the chat, leads and the phone calls and the emails couldn’t meet.
Anybody couldn’t deliver.

A car couldn’t really see anybody, but so we were being told not to right by law, but these people were still calling and we were still returning calls and we opened uh in two and a half weeks in may.
We pretty much did a record.
You know for us uh, i think we delivered 82 cars or something in two and a half weeks, which was a good number for two and a half weeks after being closed and then june.

We just finished with, i think 127, which was a record june for us for our size store, i mean in the united states.
I know that’s peanuts, that’s like a week but um, but if we weren’t working on those leads throughout the last three four months and managing those inquiries, and so many there are some clients.
We spoke to six seven times right, sure and um, and this that sales cycle is harder and longer remotely than it can than it is when, when you can get them to show up in the in the showroom.

But you still you’re walking you, you can grind through it, you can, you can tee it up.
Maybe they still needed to come.
Do a test drive.

But yes, a lot of the other stuff was teed up exactly so.
When the time came, when we were able to open, we literally got flooded.
We literally had to manage the traffic strictly by appointments, because we couldn’t have people in the showroom all the time.

Touching all the cars right, they were all locked, so we had to manage that, but but you’re right as in we kind of teed it up and we still engaged we still send out – quotes knowing that when the time came, whether that’s in the fall for the Rest of the you know the the us or canada, the economies um.
We just need to continue to tee it up.
So that’s a that’s an amazing point.

So with that said, let’s now talk about communication, because this i this drives me crazy.
I just literally did a whole panel on on automotive dealership culture, which is kind of turning some heads, because i guess i touched a nerve, um and and largely that comes down to communication steve.
So communication is so important, especially in a crisis.

And so what are some thoughts? You have around how sales leaders need to change their communication in these times, yeah um? Well, people’s imaginations can get the best of them, and so communication is so important, particularly within large groups.
You know the gossip of impending doom in these times is powerful, it travels quickly and it can lead to rash decisions by employees and morale problems, and i think sales leaders need to communicate with their teams in a transparent and realistic and optimistic way.

They need to give them an action plan that um puts their fears to rest and lets them focus on the selling and people.

People want safety.
People want security and, as a business leader, you’re responsible for their security, that the base layer of their pyramid of needs.

Money to pay for food housing, you’re responsible for their health care, at least in america uh you you’re, ultimately you’re responsible for their long time, long term, financial security, right, um and things higher up the pyramid, too.

You know enjoyment of life and the wants, as opposed to the needs.

So i think one of your key responsibilities, because you have all this power – is to communicate with them clearly and truthfully about where things are at, so they can plan accordingly, if from a productivity perspective, if you don’t communicate clearly and truthfully, then your reps can spend All their time worrying about the worst and gossiping between each other, about it absolutely so, yeah you got ta as a sales leader.
You’ve got to tell people what is what is the immediate term plan? What is the midterm plan? What is the long-term plan and how do they change, given these different factors, you know, is it if it’s a small recession? This is what’s going to look like it’s a prolonged recession.

We’re going to have to take these steps, you need to make them feel comfortable.
So that they know what to expect and they can stay focused, i would recommend having over communicating in these times not under communicating.
You have daily huddles with your team.

At the same time, every day on the sale with the sales team bring bring the team together.
Um, even though they’re apart right now, like you, have to kind of keep everybody on the same page and leverage the relationships that exist, uh among them to support each other.

Through these you know the sands are often shifting around us right now.

You have to keep them focused on what’s important, the key performance indicators that you and and and help everyone see how everyone else is doing against their key performance indicators, um and and look communicate the success stories and help the and empower your sales team to communicate.
The success that they’re, having with other team members like oh, i figured out you know we if you, if, if you have, if you have a sales team, that’s selling beer to bars and they’re just getting killed out there because the bars are closed.

But then someone figures out: hey i’m i’m kind of getting on these big apartment buildings, mailing lists and we’re just delivering beer right to people’s apartments, empower your team to share that story with the rest of the team so that they can work on doing that too.
But over communicate in these times you know if you, a lot of teams are doing one huddle a day, but you know don’t don’t don’t be afraid to do two huddles one at the beginning and one of the end of the day.
Even just you know, 10 minutes each but yeah it doesn’t take a long time.

Yeah yeah it doesn’t take a long time to align people communicate.
Some key messages make sure everyone knows what they should be focused on.
So just from this um one question, i i mean i literally made a whole bunch of notes here, because it’s a subject that i speak to a lot um as far as sales, and you know leadership culture, because that is what drives whether you’re productive or whether You get through the tough times or not and you’re talking about putting their fears to rest, and that to me is, is literally what i’ve been been driving me crazy for the last three three months, and especially since we returned um for the last um six.

Six, seven weeks is, how does leadership put you know the sales team and their the you know, not just the sales team, but their entire staff put their their fears to rest, and i think this is where a lot of businesses and companies have either risen to The occasion in unprecedented ways or have fallen flat, uh on their faces because of this communication or the communication style and not being able to put their employees or their teams fierce to rest.

You talk about the base, um layer of pyramid of needs, where i know companies out there that don’t care about other people’s space.
Like you know, uh pyramid of needs, um, yeah and – and you know it’s uh.

We we have a monthly all hands meeting at badger where we’ll get the whole company together and all all the different heads of all the different business units.
We’ll talk and i’ll talk about, you know, what’s everybody’ll say what’s going on in their different units, i’ll give like a you know the big picture view of the company and – and i feel like these communication.

In these times those meetings have been really important.

Lately i mean we’ve, we’ve been dealing with covet and it’s like.
I guess we had a couple months ago.
We were dealing with.

You know that and what’s going on how it’s affecting the company and what it’s doing to sales and what’s doing to our existing customers and where i see the economy going and then last month we, you know, we we did a the the team meeting was.
Was all covered updates on that and how things were doing, but also we went pretty.
We really took took time and went pretty deep to communicate and think about and talk about as a group, you know black lives matter and what’s going on in the world on that front, and now this this month we’re going to do our big team meeting in A couple days – and i think the focus is going to be about you – know how what we’re, what actions and what steps we’re taking given what’s been happening and how how things are going and and looking forward for a few months of how we’re going to be Coming back into the office and how we’re going to do that in a way that that accommodates people that you know are vulnerable to disease or or live with parents or relatives that are vulnerable to the disease, etc.

And – and you know, kind of putting people have concerns and fears about all these things and we’ve.

It’s really important for leadership to to communicate, to empathize, to listen to understand, what’s going on with people, so that’s doing it at scale individually, because not everybody’s.
You know personal lives and home circumstances are the same.

You know some of us at work.
Don’t even know that there’s someone elderly in that other person’s home or someone with a disease being heart conditioned cancer lung.

You know, or just somebody that you know or somebody that’s um, maybe disabled or whatnot.

We surveyed the whole company on that and uh really twenty percent, because i i need to know right.
I need because it it it it uh.
It affects our our plans for how we’re gon na go back and when and what precautions we need to take and um.

You know that about a fifth of our company has um the employee either is vulnerable themselves or has a vulnerable person that they are.
You know closely in contact with and for people like that we have to we.
You know the until there’s a vaccine for those vulnerable people.

There’s not really a way to have them, come back yeah for special cases and special circumstances, and we have to be able to accommodate those people.
And so the hr team’s been been working hard to think through those issues and figure out how we’re going to approach that and that’s wow.
That’s i’m not sure i’ve heard of any other ceo and i listen.

You know i read enough and i see what’s going on, but i’d be interested to know if there are any other companies or major companies or small companies for that matter, that surveyed their employees or their team members to see what their special needs or requirements were To determine you know, rather than being told by that employee, i mean there’s a difference because we’re talking about communication here where the company could say well we’re reopening on july 1st and it’s the employee or the team member.

That has to come to management and say, but i can’t come back because right then you’re starting to find out and then you’re actually ill prepared, because you didn’t survey the situation ahead of time before you announced an open yeah.
I mean it’s not like it’s hard to do right i mean we just we.

We built a survey in google surveys, but i mean you could use surveymonkey or there’s a dozen tools that you could use for this, and but you got ta it’s hard to have the conversation at scale.
Right, like i can’t sit down with all these people and have a conversation i mean i guess we could have.
Individual managers have sit down and have a conversation with everybody, but it’s almost it’s almost better to have the you know this clean way of rolling the real information up, not not just like notes, but like the perfect like these, these were their answers right.

You know.
I wanted, i also wanted to know who was just uncomfortable with the concept of going back to work right like i’m, i’m not really here to hold a gun to someone’s head i’d, rather that you know, if they’re, even if they’re not vulnerable necessary but they’re.
Just necessarily but they’re just you know, you know not comfortable being in our in the work environment and would prefer work from home.

I want to be able to accommodate that because you know wow, so did you find steve perspective? Did you did anything surprise you actually from doing that survey uh because and folks we’re talking about communication here uh this particular question on communication teams in this episode, 71 is about how action sales leaders can you need to take in a recession or in times of Difficulty um yeah so yeah for sure there were things that surprised me there um i’m trying to bring up the results here.

Uh, i’m trying to remember the highlights that you know one.
One thing that i remember was that people were people felt really productive, working from home and uh.

You know, we’ve got open openoff, we have four offices and we have an open office plan.
In general i mean there’s some meeting rooms and some people have private offices, but in general it’s an open office, floor plan and people feel really productive, working from home and people that commute really don’t like commuting, and i guess you know these are things that you’d Guess or that you would know, but like the people that you know, we have people, especially in like these, like the bay area right where there’s traffic’s terrible, we have people with like a two hour.
Each way commute guess what they don’t.

Really they don’t want to come back to the office.
They know that right so and – and so you know it’s like you know, yeah, we know the traffic is bad in san fran, sometimes yeah yeah.
So i think you know it’s.

It’s uh that so that people really feel good about working from home in terms of their productivity.
I was, i was surprised, 90 of people.
That said, they really wanted to come back to the office.

It was because they of the friendships of people they have there.
It was the experience it’s the connection with their with their co-workers.
That was uh.

I was surprised at how what a big deal that was to people and how that came through in the survey um.
Well, you know why? I’m not i’m not surprised about that steve because i think we’ve actually heard or seen a little bit of this, where home, sometimes being forced to be home, is one thing then, rather wanting to be home because everybody’s circumstances there could be you know, family issues or Other circumstances right and for a lot of people work is more than just what brings them.

The paycheck right work is, is that you know valuable relationships.

That’s where some lifetime friendships are formed, um people there, because you spend so much time there.
So i’m not surprised that a lot of people would want to come back to work because they have you know that connection there and it may be a a safe place to let out you know – and you know to say things that they did because people come To work and share experiences that they’re dealing with at home, they get some advice, they go back home and you know they deal with it right, absolutely yeah.
So that’s great, i mean.

Obviously it speaks to the environment that you have at badger that 90 of the people want to come back because of their relationships with their team members.
So that’s awesome.
Yeah, we’ve we’ve invested a lot in the culture and i think that’s uh.

That’s played out over the years.
You know people will enjoy being here and and yes because we take care of people – and you know – i think, that’s uh, you know it’s it’s important.
I think you know it shows up in it.

I think that people tend to be short-sighted with their employees.
They tend to invest in having creating an environment that people want to work at work at for a decade.
You know in this in the modern world and the way people kind of think about jobs.

It’s very transactional.
People turn over all the time, but people really aren’t great at their job until they’ve been with you for at least a year and half the time, it’s two years before they’re, truly great and someone that’s been with you four years or five years.
They can get done more in half the amount of time as someone who’s been there for three months right, so there’s so much value unlocked by creating an environment that people want to work in for the long term and i’ve kind of always had that philosophy.

And i think that might be my first job out of uh after i got my mba was with ibm and i think that’s.

I think i probably picked that picked that ethos up from them.
You know so many people work at ibm for, like you know their entire career for 30 years, they’ve been at ibm and um.

You know – and i really i’ve tried to recreate that by by managing the business in such a way that people are really happy and want to stay around, and i think i think that it’s been good for the business and it’s it has.

Sometimes it has short-term costs to create an environment like that yeah in the long term.
I think it really does pay payback to the company and and that’s where so many companies literally fail and – and it’s a reason again.

I i had this panel discussion a week ago with industry experts, automotive industry experts talking about um.
You know how to improve automotive dealership culture, because in the auto space it is largely transactional.

Okay, no one can deny that it is largely transactional it.

It’s a month-to-month business.
You live and die by the by your month end and your year-end, and you know i i’m you know i’ve been it long enough, almost three decades to see that whether an employee has been there for eight nine years and i’ve seen this and they either resign Or move on to a better opportunity, as long as somebody else comes back and fits that spot, whether it be one or two people and still produce the numbers, it’s not a big deal right, it’s not a big deal and that’s where, like you’re saying you know It takes a while to build the full productivity of an employee and when you have 90 of your team, wanting to come back to work um.
Regardless of the circumstances that that says a lot for for culture and the things that they will do to thrive.

To make your company thrive in a difficult time, so that’s that’s awesome and congrats to you for developing and investing in that culture.
So one of the last questions steve is um.
How do your relationships with your customers change in this time? So we’ve talked about the relationship with the teams uh, your team members.

So what about the relationship with the clients? Sure um? You know, i think it’s it’s uh, it’s harder to build relationships right now over the phone or in zoom than it is in person um.
I think you know empathy is huge everyone’s talking about empathy right now and that’s you know fairly obvious.
I think you know the good news is we all? We all have one more thing in common in the world right, uh we’re all vulnerable in a similar way, or you know we we’re all kind of in this together uh, but it is a really hard time for relationship building.

I think you know if you’re not face to face, if you’re doing things over zoom and over the phone, you may get less trust from your customers.
You’ll have less customer loyalty they just they.
Don’t they don’t feel as connected to you if you take it out to a beer or bought a mistake right, so you may notice sales cycles becoming longer because of that lack of trust that lack of transparency that you would get um.

We we’ve we’ve all got to work against that right now and still keep setting things up um.
How can you do that? I think i think leveraging your sponsor is is more important now than ever.

You need someone inside these organizations to be your eyes and ears because – and you always needed this to be successful right, but especially if you have complex sales cycles and you’re selling a complex product, but you really need this now more than ever.

You know your sponsor’s.
Rarely the only decision maker, the only person involved in in a decision, especially with how tight purse strings, are right.
Now i feel, like there’s, there’s more decision makers on everything, so you got ta.

You have to work with your sponsor and kind of connect with them and and before a meeting uh try to uncover the what are gon na, be the objections from the other decision makers and influencers involved in this in this sales cycle or in this decision process.

For for you guys, and in that way, if you find out from that information from them, you can address them.

You’ve got to subtly prepare your sponsor on a premium call to bring up those key questions or make those key points to facilitate a discussion that that relationship with your sponsor is so much more important right now, because you’re pitching remotely you can’t read the room.

You can’t get all the information that you’d be able to in a face-to-face situation and some of the stuff you, you know, a great sales person is doing a lot of this stuff and then they don’t even realize they’re doing it right.
But then you put them in the zoomy and they’re like.
Why is this so hard? And it’s like? Well you, your last 15 years of experience, taught you these 10 skills and you’re, employing all of them almost subconsciously.

Now you can’t read the body language language.
You can’t you know you lose that natural chit chat and rapport building you, you don’t get the relationship in place with each decision maker that you can in person right you, you, you need your sponsor to do that.
They have these relationships in place.

They have this clout and – and your sponsor needs to follow up for you with all these decision makers and influencers to and herd the cats for you and get genuine feedback, uncover objections and then work with you to move the deal forward towards closure.

So i think of the six or seven questions we touched on tonight.
There are two that resonate big time and one was the second class on communication and put in your teams.

I mean there’s so many things i took away from that one.
Putting your teams fears to rest um talking about the base pyramid of needs, making sure that they can still enjoy life, clarity and truthfulness um.

You know having plans uh, immediate medium, long term plans uh daily huddles for updates, you know and relationships.

We touched on that relationships with uh team members um both inter team members relationship with management and um.
We’ve covered a lot in the last hour.
Haven’t we we have.

We have covered a lot okay and you probably think i wasn’t listening, but here i’m thinking crazy.
I’m like damn my fingers are going down here: uh open, my computer isn’t making any noise but um.
So you know this is this has been an hour but there’s one thing that we touched on a couple weeks ago when we um talked about uh in episode.

69 and 70, i think it’s going to be um.
We were talking about how management can you know manage teams now and they’re they’re? At the end, i remember i wish i was recording this question at the time where we touched on inter-departmental.
Um responsibilities, functions um, where, within certain companies like you, have have a great culture, as you described, where your teams gel your various departments um, you know obviously they’re independent.

They specialize in a specific area.
So they do that very well versus in a lot of companies where sales, reps or account reps are managing multiple different responsibilities.

So they’re managing chat, leads and e-leads that are coming in.

They have to see clients or visit clients out in the field or on the floor.
Um they’re, following up with deliveries, there’s a whole level of multiple responsibilities that they have, and you were touching on why it was so important to have specialized reps in specialized functions.
For the greater good of the company yeah, i do remember this.

We we stopped recording and then we started chit chatting you were like.

Oh, i wish i had recorded that.
Yes, yes, yes, i do so so yeah.

I uh i the this.
You know this is pertaining to the structure of the sales team and yes i’ll tell you, i’m not the expert on this, the guy who um the guy who wrote the book on this is aaron ross he’s uh.
He was a sales leader in the early days at salesforce and he wrote a book um, it’s called predictable revenue and, and he uh – i i had him on my podcast a few months ago and he gave a nice summary of what that was all about.

But i’ll i’ll do my i’ll give you the two minute version, but basically uh you know, and this is the reason this came up.
Is it’s important right now because it’s it’s it’s all about how you’re structuring your sales team right and now it’s a great time to rethink the structure of your sales team, because, though you know the sand is shifted beneath our feet.
Now we’re looking we’re, maybe the way we were doing things five months ago.

Maybe the sales team isn’t optimized for today.

So if you kind of think of and a lot of companies don’t do this, they just have you know one type of sales rep.
It’s called sales rep and you know they.

They know everything yeah, they do everything they they like.
You were saying they generate the leads they close the deal.

They manage the customers that are that are already customers, they manage their upsells, they manage their their experience, etc, and this is something i think that we’ve done in software um, that a lot of other industries haven’t done as much.

We we generally break a sales team up into three pieces.

One we call sdr so nsdr is uh.
Is the person who generates leads for your aes and the ae is the second piece you know account executive and that’s kind of like your classic sales rep.

They take the lead that is qualified from the str and they work the lead to closure right.
So the sales cycle um the the third group is, we call them.
Csas customer success associates or csms customer success managers, i’ve heard too they manage existing customers and they their job is to get upsells make sure the customer is successful.

So they don’t quit.
You know use quit coming back to you, but their job is to maintain that relationship get referrals from happy customers that all comes from that customer success rep, so three groups lead gen, is called sdr, closes the deal called ae and manages your existing customers called csa And it’s right now is a great opportunity to rethink the you know.
First first step, one is to, if you have everyone managing everything is to break off a few of them to manage your existing customers, because then you can actually manage the amount of time they’re spending with their with your customers and make sure that it’s the right Balance and a lot of companies are they over manage their existing customers to the detriment of generating new business, and so in general, if you, if you had 10 people and you snap off two of them and have them manage all the existing customers, they can only Do so much work and and by nature the other eight are now freed up to to generate more business but yeah, so in terms yeah on the other.

On the other hand, on the lead side that you have a better opportunity, if you crack off the other direction, the sdrs yeah you can, you have a better opportunity to generate more leads because you got your str’s focused on just generating leads, and that’s a great Time to generate leads because people are actually picking up the phone, so if you make it, if you make that sdr’s job not to close business but just to find new leads that you’re passing they they will, they will find more leads, and i i guarantee this Is a way to to make your whole sales team more efficient to specialize into these three areas and, at the very least, specialize into two areas: the existing customers versus the the prospecting uh to close reps.
So that’s so interesting because i i i know someone that has that just developed a whole online course about that.
Oh really, yes, interesting, yeah, yeah.

I think i think it’s something that we we think of as common practice in the world of software, but the rest of the world hasn’t caught.

His name is evraldweed by the way.
Oh, okay.

Well, that’s fantastic! Well, everybody should check that course out so the least performers blueprint, which i i i know it’s over your head, because i, i briefly showed it to you the other day was it talks about how dealerships largely focus on who’s coming through the door, the new traffic? You know new leads, uh new phone calls.
New chat leads new walk-ins and many do not manage their existing database very well at all, so they may be getting for every one or two clients they’re getting through the through the front door, two or three, or even through the back door and uh.

About Richie Bello

Richie Bello has a vast knowledge of the automotive industry, so most of his services are faced towards automotive dealerships. He couples all his skills with the power of the internet to render even remote services to clients in need of a little brushing

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