The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast
The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast

Episode · 3 years ago

Your Sales Motion: Taking it from Excellent to Elite


The people that hire you are not looking for okay, average or even good. They are looking for awesome, exceptional and elite. When salespeople take on a new career opportunity, they have made a conscious decision to pursue a career which is measured daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually on performance. Knowing expectations are high, how do we overcome the hurdles of average and operate at an elite level? Ray de Avila breaks down what it takes to be elite in this podcast.

Hello and welcome to the force management podcast. I'm Rachel Clab Miller and I am joined today by Ray de Avala. Hello, Rachel. Right, I am so excited to have you here. Good to be here, awesome. Well, as many of you out there no, ray childs the country working with our customers, really helping them improve sales performance and through that process he's worked with thousands of reps at it really a wide variety of companies, and ry and I have talked about what we wanted to cover on a podcast and one of the things that you've mentioned repeatedly is that they're over the past four years, one of the things that has been become clear is the difference between being good and being really great. Talk a little bit about that. Yeah, so sometimes that's a really fine line, right, and sometimes it's just some small shifts and things that can take it from being, you know, pretty good at something to being really excellent. But, Rachel, the context for this is that we know that now sales organizations, especially teams, people, were constantly faced with the pressure to perform at a really high level. I mean competition is so high now. You know, we've got educated buyers, innovation is happening so quickly. There's all these inherent challenges that we have in how we work with customers. Right, customers are expecting more intimacy from us and all of these things have come together really to create sort of a perfect storm for our sales teams. It's rough out there, right, it's right. I mean it is rough and some of it it's not all bad, right, it's just sort of how we've evolved in how technology is as impacted our lives as sellers. But one of the things that we've seen are is that our market places is really creating challenges that we've never seen before, and one of those areas is really largely around customer experience. I mean there's a lot if you pick up a Harvard business review or fortune you see a lot on this right. And so I started to look at this a little bit more closely last night and I found some statistics that were pretty interesting. One of them I wrote familiar with and talked about several times is that, you know, sixty eight percent of our customers live in this zone of indifference, which is crazy when you think about it. That means you're sixty eight percent of our people. Almost seven out of ten of our customers that are sitting on the fence right. They're not necessarily completely favorable to us. They don't love US and they don't hate us, but they're right there. They can go either way. They can go either way, and that's the point. The point is if seven out of ten of my customers are looking at us, they're saying, Geez, what's that nixt interaction going to be? In which directions are going to push me in? Connected to this, we found that seventy percent of customers reduce their commitment with a company following a negative experience. Most people are willing to change or go find something else to do. Right, and the more most shocking one, I think of all for me, which may be refreshing to some sellers ears, is that by two thousand and twenty cust shomers, experience is expected to overtake price and product as the brand differentiator. Yeah, that's pretty shocking right, because our whole lies we fight against competition and price. So what we're finding is that expectations are really high and people expect more and more and more and more from us. Yeah, I think those stats not surprising to me. I think if you log onto linkedin in the morning you'll see the similar stats. People are continually push publishing this type of information, which is great and it's good insight, but one of the things that we're often challenge with is great, okay, so what do I do? So what I'd like to do is take that information and really have you break it down for what it what does it mean for our customer facing team? Well, think about this. You know, we've talked about this pressure to perform and so we really look at it. Often times we look at these outside pressures from bars or from customers perspective, right, and all the dynamics changing that make my life difficult in my interface with the customer. But really, if we flip that around and we look at it from the perspective of our employer or the the the people that we...

...represent and work for, if we look at it from that perspective and put some context around this, Rightel let's imagine that that we're working with the small company. They do about a hundred fifty million a year in sales and and they've gone out and they've raised some capital and the purpose of that capital was really a scale watch new technology. Now, if I've got a loan that I've just taken from investors. Let's just say it's fifty million, which is reasonable. Right. What's the expectation going to be now? Right, they're going to want some return, right, and and they're going to expect return. They're going to expect high performance. They don't. They're not going to want average performance. Right. They're going to want someone that's going to come in and and and and really drive toward results so that they can pay back that fifty million and be on their way. Right. So, when you look at this, you've got private equity firms, you have shareholders, you have people at the highest levels in the organization that are really interested in performing at a high level. They did not hire you to be average, right. No, right, I mean think about that. I think of how that would sound in an interview. Right. So so, Rachel, you know, if we will play this, I'd say, Hey, Rachel, listen, I'm looking at your resume and and I really think you're a good fit here. I think you know, as I look at this, your background is very average. I think that your performance is less than superior, but it's okay. I mean you've been close to hitting your number for three years. So I am so glad you're joining this mediocre company and that you're an average performer and I hope you do very average here. Right. What with that? Right? Welcome to the team. Welcome to the team. I mean, we all know that that that's that's sort of a funny way to look at this, but people don't expect that. They bring you on board and they hire you because they want you to perform at an extremely high level, right, and they want you to perform at that high level. And in reality, what my happen is the majority of your employees might be might be average, but there is this expectation of over performance, especially in a sales organization. Yeah, so let's take this the next step. So let's let's look at life from a chief revenue officer or a CEO, a leader of sales. Right, we know there's high expectations, but if you put it in this context, think about this, a CEO or a board has entrusted you, as a sales leader with a company asset, and the company asset might represent a division, a region, a territory, might represent a list of accounts. It can be an asset as it relates to a sales leader. It can be an asset to a salesperson. But let's just let's just look at this from this perspective. If the company hands me a territory, they're expecting a certain return on that investment. They're saying that this territory or these accounts should produce this kind of an outcome. Right, and so there's this high expectation around whether or not that is a performing asset or a nonperforming asset. So as they start to look at your performance, they start to say, hey, how is it going out there? Are we getting that return on investment out of Rachel? Right? Is Rachel producing the revenue that we think that territory should be producing? Right, right. So if you start looking at things from that perspective, it kind of changes our vantage point a little bit. You start to realize the pressures there are for organizations to push people to be really great at what they do. Right. So if if that's a backtrap, and I think you've painted a nice picture for us to kind of rethink our performance in an organization. I certainly don't want to be the average performer, but if I'm a sales leader that company is trusting me with the reins of the Horse, and I said sales later, sales reps too. They are trusting me to go out get it done. How do I put my best foot forward? How do I make sure I'm doing what's necessary? Yeah, so, so, Rachel, one of...

...the conversations we have often with people as we talk a little bit about superiority, right, and we ask people about you know, listen, is your company superior in the market place? I mean do you have market place superiority, meaning when byers think about their space, they see you as a market leader? Well, most people say, we don't really have that. Our company isn't quite there yet, right. And then we'll ask, well, who is? And they start coming up with names that we'd all hear hundred times. The big dog, the big dogs. You hear apple and Disney and starbucks, and you know, there's there's there's some people that you hear over and over again. We'd take that down and say hey, well, what about brand superiority? I mean is it is your brand top of mind for people? Do People Know Your name? Do they think about you? Do they know that hey, they ought to consider you? Do they know you by name? Well, most people say no, and I hear the same names over again. How about economic superiority? Right, when we ask people, can you buy in any market, acquire spend lavishly on rd? They tell me no, they say they have to be pretty prudent. Most of us don't have complete economic or work for companies they have complete economic superiority. Right. So the point of this is that in any of these areas it's very difficult because most of us don't have control over these things. Right, we don't control market, we don't control brand, we don't control economics to a degree. Right. Right, and I think where you're going is that there is that light at the end of the tunnel, because there are things that you can control. So you need to concentrate on what you can control. That's right. And so we ask people, what's that one thing? Right, that you have complete control over? Well, your sales you have. You have control over your superiority as a salesperson. Right, I have complete control over how I decide I'm going to prepare for any an interaction. I can. I can prepare for that call, I can think about the questions I'm going to ask, the kinds of conversations that I should be having. How my centering myself around what's important to the customer. How do I make sure I represent ourself well and can articulate the differentiation that we have with people? So I have completely eat superiority around how how I manage that interaction. I think that's really important for all of us to remember and that you can't concentrate on the things that you can't can't control, but those things that you can control can make a big, big difference. And I as we talked about it right, whenever we do these podcasts, I always say, Oh wow, that sounds sounds great, it makes so much sense, but when you really put it into action, we know that building a superior sales team is difficult, right, it's not easy. That's why we're in business. It's really I mean, it's really one of the tougher jobs out there. Right, you're dealing with a lot of people with different backgrounds and experiences. You've got to manage everybody differently and and I really truly think it's one of the more difficult jobs out there, right. So, Rachel, there's a couple things that come to mind right that that when you think about about being superior, and first and foremost, I believe that there's people out there that need to make a conscious effort to be elite. Right. And if we use that term elee, I know it's a big word for people and it isn't for everybody. You know it's not an easy thing to achieve as but but the pursuit of it is so important. You know. So. So what's really interesting about this is when I pose this question to audiences and I asked them you know whether or not you know they have this desire to be elite, every hand goes up right, right. Everybody wants to be elite and I think people fundamentally know what elite looks like, especially their salesperson right, right, they see it a drive and come right, right. And there's people that you know, that you see in the organization and you know what elite looks like and you know. And so then I asked the question I I is his share with me. What are some elite behaviors you'd see in sales? People are in sales organizations and I hear the same things over again. Disciplined, right, they're consultative in their approach, they...

...prepare well, their trustworthy. You know, all the same things come forward. The last question I ask is, how confidently could you raise your hand and say that you demonstrate those qualities? Yeah, and the hands don't go up so quick right. And it's not to put people on the spot, but it's for people to have a moment that says, you know, I know what elite looks like, I know I want to be elite. So what's it going to take for me to close that gap? And sometimes it's writing things down and being very conscientious about what that end game is and what you're trying to accomplish. Right, to be conscious of the effort to be elite, to use the point you made earlier. Yeah, that's right. And so you know, one of the things that's that's interesting, Rachel, is I've observed this in different venues. Yeah, right, because I've started to think about this and how does this impact Salu and sellers and leadership and all that, and I started to look at us and some other venues. I, as you know, I've spent a good part of my life, most of my life, carrying a bag, so I've got all this sales experience. You can tell by the wrinkles I have, right. And but over the years, you know, I've had the good fortune of working for some people that I would say are top of the game. You know, and I've been the last the best of the best. We're around those kind of people, which has been exceptional. Parallel to this, I coach quarterbacks and I've coach quarterbacks for over twenty five years. So in a completely different venue, I've had the opportunity to be around people that you'd consider, we all consider, to be elite, right and and and I'm not just talking about players. I'm talking about players, coaches, trainers and different people that touch the sport. Heisman trophy winners, college, NFL players, coaches, all of these folks are people that I've had the opportunity to be around. So recently I was sitting in the locker room. I'm not going to tell you the NFL team, but we were. I was meeting with the Director of player personnel. We were talking about this. It's like, Jeez, you know elite and here were in a locker room. There's fifty three guys in here, the pretty great athletes, and instead of have this conversation and I said, you know, I'm just curious, how many elite people do you have on your team? And you know what would you expect? Well, I would expect, given that there at the NFL, it would be the majority right to highest level of the game. The couple part right, it's yeah, so so, you know, I that's what I expected, frankly, and and I was shocked at the answer that he gave me, because the answer that I got was somewhere in the neighborhood of four to five people. And I was shocked. I thought, wow, fortified people really and he said Ray, don't get me wrong, these are people that are blessed with with great talent. However, in this locker room there's only four or five people that really stand out to me. They prepare differently, they watch more film than everybody else, they pay close attention to how they're taking care of their bodies. They show up earlier than everybody and they stay later. They have this personal rhythm that is different than everybody else in the locker room. And so, you know, we talked about this. But the interesting connection here to selling is if you take a look at this, it's a small percentage of people on the fifty three man roster. If I go to sales leaders and I find out how many sales people do you have that are superstars, consistently, it's always a small number. Uh Huh, exactly. We always talk about the B players and how you get more out of the B players right at the a right, and so you know, there's some parallels here and I think the one thing that that seems to come clear for me, Rachel, is that you know, there's a choice here that needs to be made. Yeah, I think, as you're talking about the NFL players or which is it was just a really good example, that there's this idea that they're not taking their natural skills for granted, and that is a really important point. I think for the people out there listening that when we talk about elite sales people, we're not just talking about the top performs in your organization. I think what Rais saying is that everybody has a choice to make that conscious decision to be elite in what he or she does.

Yeah, I'm what's really cool about this, as I've looked at this, is that I've realized that elite really lives in every occupation, every part of the organization. Yeah, right, it really every walk of life, whether you know you're working down the street at at fast food restaurant or whether you're selling and representing, you know, a territory. It's not reserved for people at top levels in the organization. In fact, what I've found is it has really little to do or nothing to do with income, status, title or any of these accolades. It really has more to do with how you decided to pursue your life. Yeah, right, how are you living? What's important to you? How are you pursuing your career? What's your daily work effort? It's around things that we have complete control over. I think that's that's some good spirit to give the people out there is that it is a choice. We are talking about you and what you're doing in your daily rhythm and how you're executing that, and being elite is it is a great way to come at the sales job. So what kind of you know? You mentioned your work with quarterbacks and NFL players and the people that you've worked with. Give us one a certain example of somebody you know that's elite. Yeah, so I'm going to throw this guy's name out and he doesn't even know I'm doing this. So hopefully this is okay. It's all positive, so that's good. This gentleman's name is Steve Cameron. He works for he started a company actually called foremost development, and I think he's brilliant. He's a brilliant CEO, developer leader. He's a former colleague and we've gotten to know each other as friends and and he shared a moment, at defining moment, where he said there was a choice that he had to make and it was in college and he was a football player and he came back to the huddle at the end of the game where things were tightened and he noticed that everybody in the huddle they weren't looking at the quarterback, they were looking at him and almost to say, Steve, are you going to help us out? Yeah, what should we do? Right? And so I he teared up when he told me this and I love telling the story because he says, Hey, I was the captain of the team and I realized in that moment that I needed to lean in. I needed to lean into it and say, you know what, I'm going to take this thing by the horns and and I'm going to take responsibility for my success and we're going to drive this thing and and what he talks about is he talks about how that moment in his life was a time where he made a conscious choice and he said from that moment on the way he pursued school, the way he pursued his career and his leadership roles were all all circle back to that moment where he felt he made a choice. So, you know, it's a pretty cool thing. I think it's a legitimate thing that that people need to do is, you know, listen, do I want to be the best in if I do, there's some things that come with that. But I think there's this idea of saying it and then there's this idea of doing it. We said that, you know, the example was Steve. He need a conscious decision and once you make that decision you have to put it into ex execution. So, as we think about being part of an elite selling you organization, let's relate it back to sales. What have you seen in elite sales leader, sales people that should be front and center or a top of mine for the people out there listening. Yeah, so, you know, I experience this yesterday with you, right, we had taken a number of passes at this yes, right, you said fifteen. I thought three, but nonetheless there was some passes that we took at this little conversation yes and at the end of the day I wasn't feeling great and and I think I convinced you that we need to kind of rethink this, you know. And when I look at all of the things that contributed to me not hitting the mark the first time, they're all within my control. UHH, I had complete control over walking into your office yesterday and having an elite experience, right, but I felt short and that's the struggle that we all have. It's real...

...and it's for everybody. It doesn't mean that I'm not going to fall down. It doesn't mean that I need you know, I that I get my eyes off things that I know I need to do. What it means as it means. I've got to keep it in the forefront of what I'm doing. So when you think about elite salespeople or you think about elite sales leaders and you think about some of the things that are important to them, there's there's kind of three things that come to mind for me. Yeah, all right. The first one we already talked about, right, and that's making a choice, right. So, so, even though we had to grind through a number of these sessions. I think at the end of the day we felt we were doing the right thing. Yeah, for the business and for our listeners. Right. And so being elite means I'm committed to not settle for mediocrity. Yeah, to that point where I want to I want to mention that it that conscious choice may not always be the most comfortable choice. Right, yesterday, we've mentioned we've done this conversation a lot. It hasn't been the same any time that we've done it. So, but I think it's not always the comfortable choices, the comportable choice would say. I'll just go with it. It's uncomfortable to say, Hey, Rachel, we need to do this one more time. Totally and I know yesterday I was not popular, right, but I do know, I do know that that ingrained in you, like everybody here, a force management. We have this desire to do things right, right, and so, even though it's a long day and all of that, I know in your heart you're saying, well, yeah, we need to do that, yeah, right, so we show up. So you know, there's this commitment to not to elite and not being mediocre. With that comes this this sort of appetite to learn. I think that's that's part of this choice that I make, that that I've got to be open and willing to take feedback and to continue to improve. And then, you know, the last piece of this one that jumps for me is is holding yourself accountable to it. I mean, it would have been easy to just say okay, let's just go with it, right, right. So that's one thing. Is Are we making that choice? The second thing that comes to mind is that we know that elite leaders, whether the be say it or sales people, leaders, leaders in organization, sale leaders, they get their ice, focus on those things that are most important. Right. So, define what good looks like, know what good looks like and focus your attention on those things. You know, a forced management. We talked about this in terms of our management operating rhythm, our sales operating rhythm. Yes, focusing on those we call high valued activities, like what where should you spend your where should you spend your time, and what's going to yield you the biggest outcome? That's right, Scom that's right. So, whether you're a CRRO or or a sales leader or a salesperson, it's how do I make sure that I've got clarity around what's really critical to me, that I know that these four or five things. If I miss these, were in trouble. There's ten things I need to do, but these four are essentials, and then building a cadence, in a rhythm around that. And I talk often times with people about developing a personal operating rhythm, not just management operating rhythm or a sales operating rhythm, but what's my personal operating rhythm, because we need that balance in life, right. Yeah, so that's the second thing is elite people know what to focus on. And then lastly, Rachel, it's this link between process and performance. That's an important link. It's a crazy link. Yeah, you know, and I in the reason why I know this is so important is in I spend weekends out on a field with college, NFL, high school kids, players, young people that are trying to get better at their craft, and we might spend an hour and a half on were that first step is in a drop for a quarterback, one step and and so they know that if they do these things right, it's going to improve their chances of success. And I don't think that's any different for a sales leader or for a salesperson. Right, what are those core mechanics that I need to be doing that are going to make a difference in improve my chances of winning? It doesn't...

...mean I'm going to be perfect at it, but boy I am in pursuit of it and I'm increasing my chance as a winning yeah, I always use this phrase that grant Wilson, one of our co founders, uses a lot. He always says sales as a game of inches, and it says inches combined that really help you run the run the race. So it is these things that you've mentioned. Preparation, it's executing the value based conversation, it's being a ver racious qualifier. All of that adds up to not only you are making your number every quarter, but being an elite sale those person. That's right. That's right. So you know is we take a look at this. I know what your last question is going to be. Oh that I you're thought about this, right, but my last question I always left because my last question to all these podcasts, if you listen, you know I always say, so, okay, let's wrap it up with what's the bottom line? Land the plane, right. Yes, so listen given some thought to this. What I love about you know, our energy and what we do here is is, you know, this isn't really about a training event. It's not really about taking people through a bunch of things that they haven't seen before. Something, this stuff we share, you've seen before. Yeah, but I think what what we're committed to is we're committed to helping people perform at a high level. And and I think, if, if if I had one thing to say, it would be listen, you've got to make a choice if you want to be elite. Doesn't come easy. It's going to require you to get focused on those things that you know you ought to be doing, that are critical and important, building some cadence around that and, lastly, recognizing that there is a link between process and performance. It doesn't ensure that I'm going to win every time, but boy, it's going to give me a better chance than the people I compete with. Right, who doesn't want to do that's right, right. Thank you so much for this great conversation. You're welcome. Great Spirit for all of you out there listening. Go out and be elite. Thanks for listening.

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