In this episode, Mark Welch, founder of Street Savvy Sales Leadership shares how to craft an action plan to improve sales performance in an organization.
Some topics we discussed include:
- The challenges that today’s sales teams face
- What does a best in class sales teams look like
- The difference between customer success and sales productivity
- Where to begin when crafting an action plan to improve sales performance
- How to craft an action plan to improve sales performance
- Why you should invest in allowing salespeople to build their repertoire of customer stories
- Why you should start with hiring and sales leadership
- Metrics to watch for
- How to measure sales leadership’s ability
- Should leadership treat their sales teams like customers
- and much more
Mark Welch 0:00
I joined one organization where I was hired as the VP of sales. I think it was my third VP of sales position. And it was the highest turnover I had ever experienced in my life. About a month in I felt like my head was going around 360 degrees if somebody was going out the door. So a month in I went into my, my boss was the CEO of the company at the time. And I said, What's with the turnover here? What's going on? I was only there a month. So I didn't have the answers yet. And his view was, Oh, it's sales. There's always high turnover in sales. And I'm going and he had a very aggressive revenue growth plan. And I'm thinking, Okay, this is not going to work. There's no way I can have this kind of turnover and be successful. So got, you know, in partnership with HR, we did a number of modifications and changes in that, you know, the hiring processes, onboarding, mentorship, and we reduced the turnover. Literally in six months, we reduce the turnover in half.
Vinay Koshy 0:57
Hi, and welcome to the predictable b2b success podcast. I'm Vinay Koshy. On this podcast, we interview people behind b2b brands who aren't necessarily famous but do work in the trenches and share their strategies and secrets as they progress along their journey of expanding their influence and making their businesses grow predictably. Now, let's dive into the podcast. Whether it's a new year or a new sales cycle, everyone wants the next reporting period to be better than the last. Unfortunately, most organizations operate on hope, and they have dreams instead of goals. What's the difference between a dream and a goal? Really utilizing an action plan to improve sales performance? And as a leader? Do you know the secret to crafting a goal-focused bottom-line boosting action plan for your sales organization? Regardless of your answer, our guest has a few answers that could interest you. He is a sales organization advisor sales team developer certified sales and sales management coach and author. As the founder of street savvy sales leadership, he helps business to business companies build, grow, support, and maintain best in class sales teams. His passion is helping to build high performance focused accountable sales organizations, and answering that critical, all-encompassing question. How do you get the most sales productivity out of your sales organization? Mike Welch, welcome to the podcast.
Mark Welch 2:34
Thanks for having me, man. Vinay. much appreciate it. Great to be here.
Vinay Koshy 2:37
It's a pleasure. Mark has a whole bunch of questions that were swirling through my head as I was looking to do this. To keep things a little bit focused, we'll explore trying to create an action plan for sales to improve sales performance. But I'd love to know what you would consider being your personal area of strength.
Mark Welch 3:04
Great question. I think there's a quote my father gave me a long, long time ago and used it more than once, with age comes wisdom. So I've been around the block a few times. And I think what I offer really in the sales world with my clients, and what they tell me, is just, you know, I've been through so many different organizations have, you know, carried a bag, been a salesperson, line sales manager, a variety of sales, leadership positions. So I just can get to solution pretty quickly. I can assess gaps and really figure out, you know, how to make sales teams better in in whatever the circumstance happens to be? Because the answer is going to be different in every organization that I work with. So yeah, it's I think it's really that insight. And based on the wisdom I've gained over the years, and all the studying I've done to get to solution.
Vinay Koshy 3:53
From a business point of view, what would you say is something that areas strength that businesses don't know, but should?
Mark Welch 4:02
Another great question, I think it depends on the business, of course. But you know, I think one thing that I've that I've discovered in sales organizations, it's it's crazy even to hear myself say this, but a lot of sales organizations don't use their existing customers, enough to get more customers. I can't tell you how many organizations I've gone into, and you assess what's going on and help them build winning sales teams, and you find they never asked for referrals. They don't, they never even have the discussion. They don't ask the question. And all's it is is asking one simple question. And there's a statistic out there that says that 80 over 80% of customers are more than happy to give a referral When asked if they're happy customer and only 10% of sales people ask. So that tells you something. So that's that's one thing I would I would look at, you know, it's just so easy to do.
Vinay Koshy 4:55
I'm also curious when you decided to Street savvy sales leadership. Was there a specific problem that you were trying to address?
Unknown Speaker 5:08
Yeah, it was.
Mark Welch 5:09
I mean, I'm not sure if it was a specific problem I'm, you know, as it kind of relates to your introduction, I have this just crazy fanatical, passionate about sales productivity. And I just to be honest, saw so many sales leaders and leadership scenarios where they got it wrong. And so I really wanted to study that I really wanted to figure that out. And that led me to starting my own business and writing the book that she said, the sales leader, because everything revolves around how you get the most out of every single one of your sales resources. How do you do that? And the answer is not Oh, well train them, give them you know, give them a skills training program or whatever, you know, I take the view of more holistically and look at the organization as a whole, and how can you best pull all the various leavers to get to that, you know, point where you're as close to perfection as you can get? There's no such thing as perfection, but as close as you can.
Vinay Koshy 6:07
And with organizations that come to you for assistance? Are they specifically asking you for help with their sales productivity? Or there's the question usually start with something like Mark, I'd love to increase revenue this quarter or something of that nature?
Mark Welch 6:24
Well, it's interesting, most of it comes from a specific problem. And a lot of the time, it revolves around just something that, you know, they lack in, and oftentimes, it's, they just simply lack the confidence in a certain area. But a lot of it is, you know, I, a sales leader just left, you know, I I'm lost, I just, I want to make sure this next hire is the right hire. So help me, that happens a fair bit, you know, organizations that are just starting up a new division, and it's a different kind of sales process, they want to help want help setting that up working with an organization right now, which is an e commerce company, and they want to start an outbound arm of the company. So I'm helping with them, you know, from basically from a startup situation to do that. So a lot of it is around hiring, talent management, the whole talent management cycle, if you will, so hiring, onboarding, coaching, etc. So a very specific problems at the end of the day, it's about how much productivity I'm going to get out of the team at the end of the day,
Vinay Koshy 7:31
Maybe would it help if you could help paint the picture of what a best in class sales team looks like?
Mark Welch 7:38
Great question. And, you know, not everybody likes that term, I will tell you as well. But I think once we talk about it, people maybe will understand it a little bit more, just from my perspective, you know, you can look at it, I think, from a couple of perspectives, both externally to the outside world and internally, right? If you're a sales organization that is competing out in the marketplace, and your product looks like everybody else's, and it's a very competitive market, and you're taking market share, and it's because you're the talent that your salespeople, chances are, externally, you likely have a best in class sales team. You know, that's kind of one way to look at it. You know, if it's a it's a incredible growth company, sometimes the product does it for you, you know, salespeople show can be very good in those circumstances. But, you know, growth kind of industries, it's maybe harder to measure. But when you're in a really competitive market, and you're taking market share, and your product looks the same as everybody else's, that's when we look at a best in class scenario. But I think a more important and more relevant way, is you really kind of got to look internally. And from both from the art and science perspective, you know, what is their sales process look like?
How is their funnel management conducted? Do they have robust analytics, so that, you know, the science part of it has to be solid? And equally, if not, more importantly, a lot of people argue the analytics is getting more important. It certainly is, but not to take away from how important the art is. And that is, it's incredibly important. I think, that you know, to me, sales leadership is the fulcrum point of sales success. sales leadership is the fulcrum point of sales productivity. So having a caring, supportive, credible sales leadership makes an incredible difference and leads to best in class sales teams, where they have effective and timely coaching, you know, leadership that cares about their people, they're supporting them in a robust way. And customer focused obviously, and an organization a sales organization that has a growth mindset. So has you know, that constant continuous improvement curiosity, because we met as mentioned earlier on sales is no such thing as perfection. It's something that you have to just grow and learn with every day. So it's It's organizations that create that learning environment. And you can cut, you can almost feel it when you're in those kinds of sales organizations, because there's a high sense of energy salespeople are engaged, they collaborate really well, there's a great teamwork. And it's a creative problem solving environment. Those, to me are the kind of the signals of the best in class sales team.
Vinay Koshy 10:22
It's interesting to hear you say that, because if if, for example, I would do a search for improving sales performance, I would get a list of points, which would include choosing the best CRM, you know, making a more effective pitch analytics, of course, and a whole bunch of other perhaps more technical aspects of improving sales performance, but from what I hear you saying, you're suggesting that leadership and culture essentially the key ingredients to you know, improving sales performance, and that sales is more of a team sport rather than individual star being encouraged to, to go all out?
Mark Welch 11:09
Yeah, 100%. I mean, there's, there's no question that you have to have, you know, good prospect, good prospecting machine and a great prospecting engine, you have to have your salespeople have the skills and the expertise to have a really good conversation, that's a value to the customer, all that stuff. To me, that's, that's tactics, you know, that's the kind of the layer below having great sales, leadership and having a great culture, because you can have those skill sets and all that all that stuff that's really, really important to close and win new customers. But if you don't have a great culture, you're not going to keep those top performers because they're not going to want to hang up at that particular organization. You know, I as a part of my research in my book in interviewing dozens and dozens and dozens of sales professionals, and I digitized all the information and then then wrote the book, it was over 80% of the salespeople that I talked to had left the organization sometime in their in their career because of sales leadership that didn't meet their expectations. You know, it's just, it's just, it's proliferated out there just in terms of the volume of people that move around, because they're not satisfied with how they're being supported from a leadership perspective. So to me, it's, it's the it's the linchpin of sales team success.
Vinay Koshy 12:32
I'm curious though, I would concur with you in terms of the fact that people leave their jobs because of management or leadership, as opposed to the job itself. I'm curious if, say a VP of Sales came to you or Director of Sales came to you, and suggested that they need to make some changes within their team or their department. If you're suggesting culture is a key issue, wouldn't that be more of a or organization encompassing challenge, as opposed to just the sales team culture?
Mark Welch 13:09
Yeah, very good point than either there's no question about that. But I also believe, and yeah, you can have a have an overall organization because of you know, who's at the CEO level that creates a toxic environment, for sure. But I also believe there are subcultures built within the culture. You know, I live in Canada, a country culture, a company, sorry, a country that has a variety of provinces. each province has its own culture, various cities, you know, there's cities and towns within my province that have different cultures. And the same goes for an organization, you know, the culture that is, in your accounting department is going to be different from the culture of the leadership that you have in your sales team, they're just going to be quite different. Now, for sure, there's an overriding culture. But you know, I've witnessed it, I've seen it I've man led myself, and you can absolutely impact and have an incredibly strong culture as a as a sales leader within an overall culture of an organization and have an impact that way.
Vinay Koshy 14:13
So where would you start? If you were to do this process out in terms of looking at helping an organization improve their sales? performance?
Mark Welch 14:25
Excellent question. You know, I,
every time I get engaged by a client, it's different. You know, I really look at it, you know, there's kind of 10 leadership imperatives that I look at, and I don't necessarily think there's kind of any sense of order in it but you know, if I was kind of go from a starting point, obviously, it's like okay, what is your hiring process? Who Are you hiring what you know, kind of I would look at that is kind of step one. You know, are they the right people for your organization? You know, what is good look like from a sales perspective. For a sales hire, who is going to help? Who has the most, or the highest likelihood of success in your company? And you know, what are your onboarding practices that is often underrated as something that needs to be built. And it can make an incredibly big difference between, you know, a jaded employee, six months down the road, or a highly energized, highly engaged employee, that's going to give you a great return on your investment in two or three or six months down the road. So onboarding is mission critical. And then after you go through that process is, you know, what are the right measurements, you know, making sure you have effective coaching mechanisms, because I'm a very strong believer in the power of coaching and the kind of change that can make the transformational change you can make in your organization. And, you know, you kind of end it really with culture, because you kind of do a lot of these things. And you have the right sales, leadership culture kind of just takes on a life of its own.
Vinay Koshy 16:01
Just listening to what you're saying. And a lot of what you mentioned, could potentially double up as requirements for customer success, representative or person or team? Is there a good degree of overlap? And at what points do you see a differentiation between the two?
Mark Welch 16:24
Yeah, there's, there's no doubt, I think, again, most of my work, a lot of what I get asked to do is around hiring. And I think a lot of the the thoughtful hiring processes that you've put in place can be included in different roles. I've been involved in hiring inside salespeople and sales development reps, the requirements are different, but the process is the same. And it's the end, the beginning of that process is, again, what is good look like for that role in your company? You know, there's people out there that argue that, oh, if the person is a good sales rep, they're been successful in this other organization, they're going to be successful here. Not necessarily the case. So it's, I think, you know, and one of the ways to figure that out is you actually model, you know, if you have a team of 10 2050, salespeople, interview your top three or four sales reps, like really dig deep around, okay, what makes those reps really, really successful in my company? What habits do they have? What is their day look like? What is their focus? How, what are they doing, that makes them so successful? What are their traits? What characteristics Do they have, and document all that. And then, and then kind of put that into a process of Okay, we, you know, I'm not talking, you know, I'm not trying to give you the impression that you hire a bunch of clones. But these are things that you can look to, to, to recruit to hire. And then you you put that in place in terms of how you interview them, how you assess them in the process, and check for references, etc. So that at the end of the day, your success rate in your hiring just goes way higher than than what it what it's typically going to be if you don't put that five in place, it makes it I mean, I joined one organization where I was hired as the VP of sales, I think it was my third VP of sales position. And it was the highest turnover I had ever experienced in my life. About a month in I felt like my head was going around 360 degrees if somebody was going out the door. So a month in I went into my my boss was the CEO of the company at the time, and I said, What's with the turnover here? What's going on? I was only there a month, so I didn't have the answers yet. And his view was, Oh, it's sales, there's always high turnover in sales. And I'm going and he had a very aggressive revenue growth plan. And I'm thinking, Okay, this is not going to work, there's no way I can have this kind of turnover, and be successful. So I got, you know, in partnership with HR, we did a number of modifications and changes in that, you know, the hiring processes, onboarding, mentorship, and we reduced the turnover, literally in six months, we reduced the turnover in half. But you know, and this is not a big company, I'm not talking about bringing in consultants and spending 10s of 1000s of dollars, it's not putting in a thoughtful process for these kinds of things is not a massive amount of work. And you can really make a huge difference.
Vinay Koshy 19:21
What were some of the things that you did with in conjunction with HR, I mean, hiring a ticket is certainly a key part of the element. You mean things like onboarding and other aspects? What does that kind of look like? Just some of the listeners can wrap their heads around? The concept from a certainly.
Mark Welch 19:38
Yeah, so I mean, think about, you know, onboarding, and maybe some of the historical experiences you've had, as, you know, joining any given company, I'm sure, you know, maybe you had some really good experiences and maybe some not so good. I remember joining one company and I felt like I wasn't on boarded like six months later, I felt I was still Having challenges figuring the place out, right? But we actually came up with a plan that a day by day plan, we mapped out what the journey was going to look like for that salesperson. What does the first day on the job look like? What do we want to accomplish day one? What do we want to accomplish day two, week one, month one. And we still we mapped out a program and that program I've built and I can I kind of take it from I can take it from organization to organization, but I do customize it in a fairly significant way to each organization. their circumstances is that a senior person, they're bringing on board a junior person, you know, that kind of thing. There's, there's things that you change about it. But it's really, the more effort and thought you put in at the front, the more return, you're going to get down the road. And it starts again, with doing a bit of the work around what is good look like first, so you know what you're hiring in the first place. And then the onboarding is just making sure that you've got the tools and the processes and the support there, that they're ready to hit the road running as quickly as possible.
Vinay Koshy 21:06
Okay, so when you say What does good look like? Are you talking about steps that the potential sales rep needs to take, as opposed to just say metrics, like revenue targets need to hit for the onboarding?
Mark Welch 21:23
It's, it's really all encompassing, because what you really need to do is make that new hire so comfortable that they know, okay, if I do X, Y, and Z, if I do these things, I know that I'm on average, based on the research that we've done in this organization, the thought that we put into this, you're going to be successful. So you actually map out the kinds of things that the rep needs to do to be successful. So yeah, that's I mean, it's, I mean, it's simple is the first day making sure all the tools and support and computer stuff and everything, all that stuff's done in their their setup, and they know their CRM, all that kind of stuff gets done in the first solo, but then it's, you know, what is the story? What kind of conversations what's, who you need to talk to, you know, what's the right target, you know, all those things you need to all those building blocks you put in place in advance. And the more you do have that, you know, and I'll step back for a second, because one of the most important success criteria for a salesperson is focus, the more focus they are, the more clarity they have, the less confusion, the absolute, proven, more success, proven, the more successful, they're going to be, you know, and you know, so that speaks to, you know, making sure that they're prepared and helping them be prepared. And they're, so they're not trying to figure out things on their own.
Vinay Koshy 22:50
I don't know what your experience has been with the onboarding scenarios that you've helped companies with and had yourself. But I'm just thinking back to an early experience where I started with a software as a service company. And I was suddenly introduced to how the system works and upgraded. But a key component that I found particularly useful early on in the process was being put on a wind back campaign, for the first time in the organization. And just having the opportunity to ring people who had been on a free trial past customers, and just talk to them, you understand both their position, their reasons why they wanted to try it out, and where they were today. And yeah, certainly influenced a lot of my thinking, you know, in down the track in terms of reaching out to your customers. 100%. Yeah. I find personally, though, that most organizations don't invest in allowing salespeople to talk to existing customers.
Mark Welch 23:53
Yeah, well, there's, there's a variety of ways to do that. I, you know, again, I'm working with this particular client that right as we speak, they hired a brand new outbound salesperson, they've never had outbound before, the entire organization is built on the current commerce inbound leads. So what I did, because when I had a pet peeve, you can't have this guy starting and just doing nothing but cold calling, that's, that's gonna be a very long, long, challenging road for you as an organization. It's a small company. So we set up this whole process of, Okay, why don't we send them out to the clients that have actually come into this particular organization, got a quote, but didn't convert. So he, we gave him an opportunity to talk to a whole pile of customers, that not customers, actually, but they were potential customers that came in for a quote, but they were real. We knew they were real because they actually got a quote from us. So that gave him an opportunity to talk to a whole pile of customers right off the bat that was semi qualified,
and he closed a bunch Because they were definitely they needed the service, they needed that product that this company delivers. So it wasn't a matter of calling 100 people and just trying to find out if they needed something or not. We knew that. Yeah. So he had he got, he got running very quickly because he was having the conversations, you know, basically in a second week on board. So you hit the nail on the head, it's Yeah, you got to do all that stuff around, you know, what's the story, you do the product training and all that kind of stuff. But then give them give them some kind of experience as soon as possible. That is low risk. That is real life. Your point?
Vinay Koshy 25:37
So that's excellent. I think the other aspect of is, is that it also helps you build stories of customer success, and yeah, and issues that similar clients in the future will be experiencing. That's critical. Yeah. To the whole sales process.
Mark Welch 25:54
Yeah, 100% of the day, it's very well said, it's, it's, you know, until you live something and really experienced it. You know, you can tell other people's stories. Yeah. And that can work. Absolutely. But the best stories are the ones that you've you know, the bruises, you've got the you know, the mistakes you've made, the successes you've had, for sure, those are the best stories that you can tell for sure. So well said.
Vinay Koshy 26:17
Other other metrics that you would put in place other than just kind of having more of a checklist with the onboarding process?
Mark Welch 26:28
Well, the metrics, the metrics would be so vary depending on the kind of company and the sales cycles in that thing, that sort of thing. You know, there's the common, just a ton of common KPIs. I have a whole chapter in my book on KPIs. But one of the one of the metrics as it relates to human capital, if you will, and hiring and onboarding that I don't think sales leadership pays enough attention to his turnover type of measurements. I worked for this one company that had the VP of Sales midsize company, and they did a lot of things that weren't well done. But metrics was one of their, they were really good metrics. And, you know, they knew their sales turnover by quarter by tenure. So and this was the company that had the huge turnover challenge. They knew what the numbers were. But they obviously, you know, before I got before I got their, they were okay with it. But so I think that that's really important. Because when you think of a, you think of a sales organization, for example of you know, say it's got 50 people, salespeople, and they lose, say two reps a month, and you think two reps a month, okay, that's not good. But you know, we can live with that. That's okay. But think of that over a year, two times 12 months is 24 people, they've lost half their Salesforce in that year. How do you recover from that? And when so when you think about it a month, okay, it's not a big deal. But when you really do the turnover statistics, and make that statistic real, that turnover, you're just not going to grow an organization with those kind of numbers. And though the number I was dealing with at this company was higher than than 50%, you know, so it's something that we had to change, obviously. But knowing that turnover by tenure, quarter over quarter really helps you analyze, you know, problem areas and be able to close gaps. And because you can also do it by geography, of course, too.
Vinay Koshy 28:27
What about the sales leadership's ability? How would you measure valuable or their ability to really lead an organization, you've, you've covered? Or talked us through a few aspects that are critical in terms of leadership? Yeah. But if, again, if you were to be able to measure their ability or a scale on which you place them, how would you approach that?
Mark Welch 28:55
Yeah, that's, it's an excellent question. And, and a challenging one, it's a tough one, for sure. I mean, there's, there is the, you know, just observation and, and, and how they communicate how they carry themselves and what you observe, and the result of their leadership, you know, how energized and engaged and successful their team is, of course, but you know, if you're someone like me, who's an outsider and my businesses as an advisor consultant, when I did about a year and a half ago now is I got certified in a leadership assessment tool. And so every time I go into a new organization now it's it's mandatory for I just tell them guys you have to, I have to use this assessment tool for your leadership team for me to be able to help and coach and it's a tool that it's you know, a lot of assessment tools out there. Basically, label you put you in a category or box and say this. This is a pretty deep assessment tool. It looks at preferences and traits, and really helps you be selfish. were around some of your potential weaknesses in leadership competencies specifically. So it can look at things like your achievement orientation, your, you know, your communication ability, your strategic thinking, your thinking, your problem solving. You know, there's basically five categories of things how you execute your resiliency and relationship building how you influence and, and carry yourself and communicate that way, engagement, how you lead people. And it's incredible to me when you go through this assessment, and can talk to leaders about their strengths, and areas that they may perhaps need some development and how that much that that can, can really help them be more self aware around some of the gaps that they might have. I think it's really important to use those kinds of types of tools outside of just kind of observations, observation of what you might see, it's almost like an extra proof point of view.
Vinay Koshy 31:00
Sure. So the assessment covers characteristics and traits, as well as skills, would that be correct?
Mark Welch 31:08
Well, it's more preferences and traits. So, you know, it's based on a couple of theories. But, you know, one of the theories is performance enjoyment theory, which is a common well known theory. And what it says is that, the more you enjoy doing something, the more you're going to do that particular activity, trait, whatever it might be, the more you do it, the better you're going to, you're going to get at it, the better you get at it, the more positive feedback you get, and thereby, you're going to want to do it even more. And the corollary to that is that if there's things that you don't like to do, you're going to tend to avoid them, you're going to look the other ways, and I don't want to do that, you're so you're not going to get better at those things. Therefore, you might get negative feedback or no feedback at all. And then you're going to avoid them even that much more. So your preferences and your tendencies and what you like to do. And what you don't like to do are very, very important in terms of who you are, and what you're good at and and areas that you need to develop in. So that's kind of what that particular assessment is based on. And it's incredibly accurate. It's just blows people away when when we do the assessment, and then I do the debrief afterwards, they go Wow. You know, okay, and the beautiful thing about it, and I, you know, I did the assessment myself, and I've had a number of assessments that I, I kind of looked at and said, Yeah, that's right. That's me. But then Okay, well, what does that mean? It doesn't help me really, except for identify you who I supposedly AM. But what this one does is it actually puts it into context, and helps you understand, you know, why you're behaving the way you're being, and why you're doing what you're doing in that particular way, so that you can really get to the bottom of it. And that's the first step in changing right. So it's a pretty powerful tool. It's been very successful. Very helpful.
Vinay Koshy 33:02
Correct me if I'm wrong, but are you saying that it is an indicator of motivations, intrinsic motivations within people? It can be? That's a part of it.
Mark Welch 33:11
Yeah. Yeah. Yep. Self motivation. And it deals with stress levels. And yeah, it's pretty, you know, a full blown report is like a 90 page document that it gets into some copious details. So measuring can measure your level of engagement in your current role, you know, but it is it's Yeah, I love it. It's been very, very helpful. I have not all the clients I've given it's been, you know, they just rave about us. But you know, so it's just that extra check over and above. You know, whatever process you go through in trying to figure out the capabilities of your of your leadership team.
Vinay Koshy 33:51
It does also form the basis of an audit, if you will, of the organization and personnel in order to determine the course of action that you'd recommend
Mark Welch 34:01
100% Yeah, yeah. glad you said that. Yeah, I mean, it. And those kinds of tools are built in, you can actually scatterplot all your leaders and, and, you know, I went through a process a few months ago of doing that for an entire leadership team. And then we brought the whole team together. And we we actually talked about, hey, these are the these are the traits that I'd have. These are the traits that you have. And then everybody, you know, there was there was it was a leadership team that was somewhat dysfunctional. There was some real, you know, there was fighting and there's the things weren't going well, right. And this really helped them understand where the other people were coming from. And it just kind of opened up the floodgates of being more open and working together as a team, and much, much, much in a more effective way. It's just marvelous. Excellent. And it starts with self awareness, right?
Vinay Koshy 34:55
Yep, certainly. Another point that comes to mind What you're saying is that, and this is this is what I'm hearing. But you're always suggesting that leadership should treat their sales teams more like customers. Would that be a fair point? Yeah.
Mark Welch 35:19
I'm sure you've heard of the term servant leadership? And I would view it more that way. I think I know, you're, I think I know where you're coming from. I do think a customer's, you know, slightly different relationship. You know, all joking aside, you're not trying to sell them maybe or at times, but I've just, I think the experience of, you know, I don't know what your history of, you know, how many leaders you have? And you think back, you know, what, what is what is the kind of relationship you did you have with their leadership that really a leader or manager that really inspiring you really made a difference in your life. And I think those are the kind of leaders that you know, they're truly authentic, you know, you can't fake it. They are who they are, is truly authentic, cared, they really care about the people. And that's where you get another layer of a level of engagement with your people, whether it's salespeople, or it doesn't matter what department and in that example, and, you know, everybody uses the term engagement, what does it really mean it, you know, it's getting that extra discretionary effort, because somebody really wants to perform not only for themselves, but for you as their manager. It just has that extra meaning for them. And engagement. You know, there's all these employee engagement surveys out there and, you know, you chip checkoff on a scale of one to 10, or whatever. And, yeah, you know, companies can move the needle from an engagement perspective overall, from there, you know, by creating better culture and doing a variety of things. But true engagement really happens one to one, you get engagement, one employee at a time, and the most important relationship that you'd have in improving engagement is with your direct manager. And so that's why I always say, like I said earlier, you know, sales leadership is the fulcrum point of sales, productivity, they are the lever for improvement. And it's in, you know, there's a variety of ways to describe that around. And that's why it's such a big job. I call it an ... it's a calling, it's not just a job, right to be that kind of leader that you and I are talking about is a calling.
Vinay Koshy 37:30
Excellent. I did have a question around the sales leadership, in terms of not just retention, which which I'd like to explore as well. But also the fact that they're almost creating a brand, if you will, within within the organization, which is not just a brand that's attractive to potential customers, as with the entire organization, but attracted to other salespeople, as well as the employees in terms of what is being offered?
Mark Welch 38:10
100% in it, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, you know, you hear the stories of great sales leaders, you know, and salespeople falling, following them from company to company, right. You know, the salespeople, you know, take that a step further, the salespeople are your brand in the marketplace. And so you have a positive, passionate, caring, supportive company, and culture, sales culture, that kind of spreads to your salespeople that then spreads to your customers. And it spreads to the community, the sales committee out there that, you know, it's a small world and in each, you know, in each, you know, in, you know, Toronto or Melbourne, a different city around the world, they're all small centers, salespeople talk to each other, you know, people know, that's a good thing sales company, that's not their leadership. There's great That one's I wouldn't touch that with a 10 foot pole. So yeah, I'm not sure if that's what you're getting at. But yeah, the that it's a huge part of their brand and and how they can attract top performers, is through that. that very thing that he just suggests? Absolutely. Very important.
Vinay Koshy 39:16
It's certainly I'd like to, for you to elaborate on retention, because that is obviously a key part of the whole process. But in talking about retention, and just going on for that conversation, where we touched upon branding, would you say it is worth sales teams investing in their own personal brand?
Mark Welch 39:39
I would. You know, we're living in a world now where I'm sure I don't know what the statistics are. But I gotta believe the majority of times when a salesperson is going out to see somebody that person is going to research who you are first, you know, every single time I you know, Somebody refers me over to somebody else, or I'm about to have a conversation with somebody. When I, when you invited me to have a conversation, I look up, I go to LinkedIn, I do some research, I figure out what is this person all about what makes them tick as much as I can, you know, at that, you know, quote, unquote, you know, superficial level or whatever, on social media, but it gives you a sense of somebody. So yeah, your your presence now, in this age, where social media is so pervasive is extremely important. Yeah, I know, in my business, I spend quite a bit of time, you know, doing LinkedIn, and then I redo it and redo it, and no, making sure that it's always relevant and the value and posting content and that kind of thing. So yeah, 100%,
Vinay Koshy 40:45
Could you elaborate on this idea of retention, and what it would look like from, from your perspective, as you look to help organizations improve sales performance, because in some areas, you can say that it's almost like, you know, fruit marketing that there's, there's people coming and going all the time, about high turnover? How does an organization create not just a culture, but environment where people want to stay?
Mark Welch 41:14
Yeah, it's a great question. And I and you're right, I think that I don't want to be little the fact that, you know, if you do, you know, three or four things, or half a dozen, or even a dozen things, different projects, and different improvements, that all of a sudden, all your ills are going to be solved around turnover and turnover can be, you know, far more severe in certain settings than others, for sure. But there are absolutely things that you can do, that can mitigate, you know, turnover, and improve retention as much as possible. And, you know, I think we've talked about it a couple. So culture is very, very important, who you're you know, who the leader, the manager, the company overall, you know, having a passion for, you know, what you deliver the services you offer, I think is very, very important. You know, I left the company early on in my career, and there was nothing wrong with the organization, like my boss, everything was good. But I just could not identify with the product that the company was selling, I didn't want to have anything to do with it. It was very early on, it was very happy, I got the job. They gave me, you know, six years of good experience. But it was a product that I couldn't identify with. So that was really the main reason why I left I think passion for the product is important. You know, I think the whole issue of, you know, gaining trust between the manager, and the people on your team is really, really important. And with that, you know, jack welch said, trust is, you know, trust is truth, the more trust there is, the quicker you get to the truth. And so if you, if you have built that kind of relationship where you can have those kinds of conversations, then you can figure out what what is important to each individual on your team and making sure that you're that you're having those conversations. I mean, you know, again, I'm working for another firm. I'm a part time sales leader for them in this particular circumstance. And I'm having conversations with employees that have been there for three, four or five years that they have never ever had with any other manager. And there's simple things like, Well, you know, what are your objectives in reading? What do you want to? What do you want to do in five years from now? What are your goals? Personally, what's important to you? As a person? You know, I care about that stuff, you know, about them? And they're like, Oh, my God, wow. I mean, sometimes they don't even know how to answer because they've never been asked, and I think and oh, my good lord. Like that's, as a manager, if you've never, that's just doing your people a disservice if you don't care about them in some way, shape, or form. So I think this communication is very important. I think coaching is life changing. It's, I just can't say it enough how, how effective coaching is transformational, you know, not being an advice giver, certainly, it's good to, you know, if you like myself, I've got 30 plus years of experience, I'm likely probably have some good advice here and there. But more importantly, is asking really good thoughtful questions, to help them be self aware, and help them solve their own issues and challenges, because chances are they know what the answer is, they just haven't thought it all the way through yet. And if I'm just telling them how to solve a problem, versus helping them solve it themselves, that's going to be way more stickier. And they're not going to need me as much in the next conversation potentially, or certainly, they're not going to come back to me with the same problem. Because they they kind of solve it themselves versus needing mine. So I you know, I think the whole idea of retention is multifaceted. It's you know, it's a culture, it's the relationship and you know, pays in that ballgame to you know, your compensation plan. It's, it's, that's why I have 10 leadership imperatives 10 things you need to look at You know, to build a winning sales team? It's there's a lot to it for sure. But once you have it all in place, yep. You know, and thought through it, it's not that that's difficult.
Vinay Koshy 45:10
You mentioned coaching. And I was wondering, how would you identify a person's ability to coach effectively and create that winning team?
Mark Welch 45:21
Yeah, that that's a, that's a really tough one. Because it's a matter of, you know, can you actually sit in the room to, to kind of witness somebody coaching one of their people, right, that's, that's challenging to do, right. So,
you know, I think there's a lot of sales managers who, you know, first of all, never been trained, they've never had, like, I'm a certified business coach, I went through a very rigorous process, to become a coach. And, and I say this all the time, I did it so late in my life. Like, if I hadn't done that 20 years ago, it would have made such a difference in so many situations I was in that I screwed up, you know, that I would not have screwed up if I was a better coach. And, and so it's really hard. But I think you got to give them the support, you have to give them the tools, you have to make sure that they've been trained to know how, as a starting point, and then you know, you're gonna you can get feedback from salespeople, you can you can ask questions, you know, so how, you know, what kind of conversation Do you have to just open it up? What kind of conversations you have with your salespeople? What does that look like? You know, how are you doing that? Do you do pre and post cold sales, pre planning, post planning, kind of meetings? And what are those look like? What kind of questions do you ask, you know, what is the feedback you get? So, so there's conversations you can have in his questions you can ask around that. And, you know, I think over time, you're certainly going to tell, you know, because coaching has some very important core elements that just need to be there, you know, it needs to be timely. So you know, if you're, if you're having a situation with a, with a challenge with a rep, you don't wait a week for two weeks for your next one on line, you coach there, right in the moment. You know, john wooden, a very, very famous basketball coach in the United States said, you know, if he didn't coach within the first five minutes of something happening, he didn't even bother had to be done right away. You know, it's gaining the trust that yeah, I think he can tell over time when a manager has the trust of the people. And that his signals likely a very good coach,
Vinay Koshy 47:24
you mentioned business coaching, would you recommend that sales leaders actually take or undertake a business? coaching course or certification?
Mark Welch 47:36
Yeah, I would 100% you know, I don't necessarily I don't know, if they need to go through what I went through, which was 80 plus hours of a very extensive training and doing case studies and, and real time, coaching back and forth in a variety of situations. You know, I think it's powerful if you do go through that process, but it can be expensive, and it's taught and, and costly and takes a while. But yeah, I would highly recommend getting some form of training. I, you know, I think that, you know, certainly there are people that it almost comes natural to, you know, it's like, Michael Jordan was a very, very talented player. And he was probably one of the hardest working players, but he also had a natural talent. You know, I think that's his natural talents out there. But there's a lot of great, you know, effective coaching programs out there that really can make a difference.
Vinay Koshy 48:35
Mark, this has been terrific. Is there some aspect of putting together a plan to improve sales performance that we haven't quite covered? But you'd like to bring to the fore? Because it's important?
Mark Welch 48:50
Yeah, I would say so one of the things we didn't talk about, I think, you know, I think everybody would know, and understand and recognize that you need to have a sales plan, right? And so, but again, it's amazing to me, how many organizations do not push that sales plan down to the sales rep level, most sales reps have never ever done an actual sales plan. So, so I'm not talking about an account plan that's important to especially in larger strategic account scenarios. But again, working for another organization, currently, the rep. The reps in this case had never done sales plan before I created a you know, an outline for them. And they built it. And, and what that does is it puts the onus on them to say, Okay, what do I want to achieve in 2021, for example, and and based on what I what I want to achieve, forget about what the company wants to achieve for a minute, what do I want to achieve? What am I personally going to do to get there? You know, what, what activity am I going to do, you know, right down to if it's, you know, you know, a more transactional kinds of sales process, you know, how many calls Do I need to make, on average? How many customer visits or zoom calls now? Whatever it might be, what activity do I need to do to be successful? What challenges do I have? What do I need to not stop doing start doing change, whatever, what development Do I need. So you build your own sales plan that then rolls up. And what I often did was, I had every one of every salesperson on my team, create that, and then I get together on an off site for half day, full day, whatever. And I'd have them present those plans to the team. And we talked about it, you know, and compare notes. And they would learn from each other. Very, very powerful. Because then you can say, at the end of the year, it's not, well, you didn't meet your numbers, what's going on? And this is what I This was our plan. You can say, that was your plan that you you said, This is what you were going to do what happened? You know why, you know, and I'm not saying you just do that once at the end of the year? Of course not. You're doing it throughout the year. But it's very powerful, because then it's it's it empowers them to achieve what they said they were going to achieve versus what you what the plan told them to achieve. That was written by somebody else. Yep. So I think it's very, very important. I don't care how Junior the role is you can give it to SDRs. You know, get people to create their own sales plan.
Vinay Koshy 51:21
That's a very valid point. Mark, thanks so much for this. If listeners wanted to find out more or to connect with you, where would you recommend they head to?
Mark Welch 51:32
The one My website is street savvy sales leadership.com. They can get me find me on LinkedIn for sure. I'm always posting and creating content here and there and my email is Market Street savvy, sales, leadership, calm and you can email me if you have any questions as well, anytime I love to hear from you.
Vinay Koshy 51:51
Terrific. Thanks so much, much.
Mark Welch 51:53
Thank you, Vinay for the opportunity. Appreciate it.
Vinay Koshy 51:56
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