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Learn from the brightest minds how to predictably and efficiently grow revenue.
Navigate the changing B2B sales landscape. Expert insights from the 2024 Benchmark report guide you towards improved win rates, shorter sales cycles, and lasting customer relationships.
Jennie Drimmer, CRO of Thomas International, joins the Revenue Insights Podcast to share strategies for crafting effective sales kickoffs. Learn how to focus on big themes, communicate business impact, and drive results in any economy.
Effective Leadership, Evolving Go-To-Market Strategies, and Self-Sourcing with Chris Elliott, CRO of BizLibrary
Discover Chris Elliott's strategies for maximizing seller performance within today's buyer-driven sales environment. Learn how self-sourcing empowers top performers, why understanding buyer journeys is vital, and how to foster a high-energy work culture that boosts sales success.
The Four-Step Framework to Reimagine Sales Teams with Ben Stroup, President at Velocity Strategy Solutions
In this episode of the Revenue Insights Podcast, host Lee Bierton is joined by Ben Stroup, President at Velocity Strategy Solutions, an on-demand strategy and management consulting firm. Ben shares his insights on how Velocity uses people, processes, technology, and data to reimagine sales and revenue teams, and move the needle toward a modern-day revenue operation and management approach. Companies must move from monitoring lagging indicators like revenue to analyzing leading indicators like customer acquisition costs (CAC) and customer lifetime value (LTV). Ben also touches on the importance of aligning internal teams to a common goal.
Ben Stroup is President at Velocity Strategy Solutions, an on-demand strategy and management consulting firm. He brings over seventeen years of leadership experience in revenue management and consulting to this episode of the podcast. He describes himself as someone who always ended up with tasks no one else wanted to do or those deemed undoable. And yet he always managed to find a way to succeed thanks to his out-of-the-box thinking.
- Ben’s LinkedIn
- Velocity Website
- Ben’s Book Recommendation The Future is Faster Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
- 00:30 – 5:55 – Ben’s Story
- 06:51 – 16:30 – The four-step framework to digitally transform sales teams
- 17:02 – 19:44 – Monitor and analyze leading indicators for revenue growth
- 19:54 – 29:09 – Using revenue operations to understand customer needs
- 30:17 – 38:02 – Team alignment starts and ends with talking to and not at each other (please use this for the main post)
- 38:18 – 42:52 – Ben’s Book Recommendation: The Future is Faster Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
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People who have the most capability to make strategic decisions, resource allocation, and set priorities are the least connected to the problems and challenges, which is why they sometimes get surprised.
And so if I could shorten the distance between that and create kind of a continuous feedback loop where senior leaders can be connected to the change within their organizations and outside their organizations, it would give them the capacity to influence the present and change their future. Welcome to Revenue Insights. Every week we’ll be joined by revenue leaders from some of the most successful and highest growing companies.
Together we explore how they built their revenue teams, the journeys that they’ve been on, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Revenue Insights is brought to you by Epstim. We’re a revenue intelligence platform designed to help revenue teams to build more pipeline, close more deals, and retain more customers. Hello there. You are listening to Revenue Insights. I’m joined today by Ben Straup. He’s the president of Velocity Strategy Solutions.
Ben, it’s great to speak to you today. It’s great to be here. Thanks for the opportunity. No problem at all. We’ll start as we always do.
What’s your story?
What’s your background?
Tell us a little bit more about Velocity.
Yeah, absolutely. So the last 20 years, I have been in a variety of settings from enterprise software sales to managing multiple business units inside publishing and professional service firms. I’ve started and sold a business. I’ve been part of a global nonprofit. And I’ve also helped a large consultancy expand on some growth initiatives and that.
And through all of that kind of twist and turn, I found a kind of a common thread, if you will, is that I always ended up being the person that got the problem. Got assigned the problem no one else wanted or the challenge that no one else thought could be overcome, or the obstacle that everyone thought I would fail at. And I always found a way to be successful.
And so what I like to say is that I’ve never lived in a normal context. So all of a sudden, when we showed up in March of 2020, and things got turned upside down, that was kind of business as usual for me because I was always tinkering inside organizations from $25 million to $600 million a year or more in revenue. And I was always in parts of those organizations that were in disruption and turmoil.
And so I’ve always found a way to help them be successful, turn that around, and create new opportunities for growth and particularly profitable revenue.
And so as I kind of thought through this, going into 2017, 2018, kind of feeling ready for a new venture, I started to think about, wow, I’ve had the privilege of working with some great leaders who gave me opportunities to do things that I really wasn’t qualified to do simply because no one else wanted to do them.
And by taking them on, it created a challenge and an opportunity for me to step into the world of possibilities and create a preferred future that was really meaningful both to the leader and to the organization. And I thought, as I’m observing what’s happening in the marketplace, change is happening outside the organization faster than what changes happening inside the organization.
And the larger you are, the more removed the leadership is from that disruption because of just all of the permission systems within the organization that insulate leaders. So people who have the most capability to make strategic decisions, resource allocation, and set priorities are the least connected to the problems and challenges, which is why they sometimes get surprised.
And so if I could shorten the distance between that and create a continuous feedback loop where senior leaders can be connected to the change within the organizations and outside the organizations, it would give them the capacity to influence the present and change their future. And that was really the basis of Velocity. When you think about 2018, we’re in a high growth cycle.
And so when I launched in 2019, this was about how do we capitalize on the growth that’s here?
You’ve got a existing revenue line that you want to accelerate. You’ve got something that’s accelerating and you want to build that operational architecture in order to sustain and support that. And originally, the business plan was to start in March of 2020.
The consequence of small decisions, right?
So by starting a year earlier, I had a runway. And what was wild was that COVID actually increased demand for what we were trying to do because people were looking for a method and a process by which they can bridge between now and next.
And so it has been an unbelievable journey for nearly four years now, where we’ve worked with a number of organizations and leaders that are varying shapes and sizes and varying industries and verticals, but they all have a common kind of experience. What they’re doing today, they’re doing the best they know how to do and are getting similar to declining results.
So in other words, their operational costs are increasing in order to maintain or perhaps to even offset a decline.
How can we come in and establish root cause and bring data into that equation so that we have an objective view of what the problem is?
How can we identify what that opportunity is for the future and define what success is around it?
And then how do we in fact create interdependent and interdisciplinary teams infused inside a culture of learning that allows for constant continuous adaptation and growth until you have enough of a formula to integrate back into core operations?
So we like to describe ourselves as bringing the operational framework to the strategy table so that you can actually turn your why into reality.
And we think that now has never been a more important time to reimagine what next gen operations might look like, particularly for those who are trying to create strategies around realities and assumptions that may have never been true before, at least are very different than how they’ve been understood and practiced and managed in the past. You paint a really beautiful picture of the work that you guys do.
And I certainly found a lot of similarities with revenue operations as a function as a whole. Right. And I think there’s so many different areas that we could go into with that. But I’d like to start with your approach to it. So from looking through your LinkedIn before, I know you described yourself as a disruptor on this podcast, with respect to loads of revenue operations leaders.
And I’ve done enough of the episodes now where I can start to see the common threads and the trends.
So firstly, what is your approach to going into a business?
And you talked a lot about identifying what the root causes are.
So could you give a simplified version of what that looks like?
And then how you approach ultimately transforming the business at that point?
Absolutely. When I think about disruption, particularly what kind of the fire we bring back to the community, if you will, it’s really about approaching problems with a much more holistic perspective. We’ve got to bring everybody to the table. Pre-pandemic, you would have a strategic offsite, leadership would go away to a really cool place and have a lot of fun. They’d come up with some great ideas.
They’d come back to the organization and the operations team would literally just say, What were you thinking?
And what happened was, is we didn’t bring the right people to the table so that we could fully flesh out what was possible or how it could be possible. And I think this is part of what we have to learn how to do is that it’s not one person or one function that solves the problem. We have to bring a 360-degree view to that particular challenge.
A great example of this is how MD Anderson… I’m from Houston. I grew up in Houston. How MD Anderson surrounds itself with patients. Rather than looking with one patient for the eye of one specialty, the doctors form a 360-degree view around that patient. They’re sharing information with each other. They are talking and collaborating together. And they’re finding that their insights are an equal part or at least contributed by everyone’s perspective.
Well, we have to think about that and how we manage through where we are now because what happened during the pandemic was not… It didn’t create something. It revealed what was already true. That the hallmarks of the kind of the industrial management philosophy, division of labor, privatization, verticals, all of that had come to its logical end.
That even was further accelerated in the early 2000s after 9-11 and the debacle that led to Sarbanes-Oxley. And you started to see the infusion of accountants and lawyers into the C-suite, which really diminished a lot of innovation and really trumpeted and increased the value of risk mitigation and management. So that just further doubled down on eliminating errors on that whole concept that made the industrial management philosophy work.
The only problem was the way that we were going to market was becoming much more integrated. And particularly in the rev-op space, we started to see the move from chief sales officer and chief marketing officer to chief growth officer or chief revenue officer. And we started to see leadership teams experiment with that. All of a sudden, when the pandemic hit, we realized that not one person had all of the answers.
We needed each other to have the answers. So we’ve actually developed a four-part framework that helps us help organizations make that transition. And it’s people, process, technology, and data. So we have to have the right people oriented around the right strategies. And we use a tool called the Predictive Index. So we believe it brings people analytics to the table.
So through a very short behavioral analysis, we’re able to actually identify the work preferences of the team in orientation to the strategy. So for example, working with one established, mature organization, 80 plus years old, very predictable revenue patterns, their leadership team is almost… About 80% of it is process work preference, so how they show up is, tell me how to get it done and I’ll follow that.
And then the other 20% is in the results category. I’m going to continue to do what I always have done until the new method is proven. These are most of your salespeople too. This is why it’s so hard to get salespeople to sell something brand new is because until you prove it, I’m not going to change anything.
Well, guess what?
Why do you think the board is unhappy with their progress against innovation and new revenue?
Because they don’t have the right team. They’ve got to actually disrupt the team dynamics so that it’s more probable that you’re actually going to achieve that. And we believe that’s a completely undervalued assessment in today’s leadership climate is not just do we understand each other through Myers-Briggs or DISC or other things, which tend to be more really nice exercises about getting to know each other.
But it’s really not understanding how do we increase our capacity to have a 360-degree view around the challenge. Then once we have that settled, then we got to decide how that team works together. Technically we call that standard operating procedures and service line agreements. But basically, I like to use the word permission systems. These are generally accepted ways in which we choose to work together.
So how do we understand what we need from each other?
And how do we understand how our work contributes to another person’s success?
So it’s not just what do I have to do?
But how is my success going to help somebody else be successful?
And that’s really how you begin to define the process. And because we’re doing things in new ways, old processes don’t fit or they’re too inflexible in order to really be effective in this new world. Or it’s been kept and passed along through oral tradition. And there’s really no understanding.
If you remember the beginning of Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye asked the question, why do we do these things this way?
I don’t know. Tradition. And that is how many of our teams are working together. We don’t know why they do it. We just know this is how it’s done. And this is what we inherited and this is what we’re going to preserve. And so understanding the right teams around the right strategies, working together in the right ways, then helps us prescribe how we use technology.
And this is where I think it really the rubber meets the road. If you ever want to know, I like to say, if you ever want to know how functional or dysfunctional your organization is, change your CRM or ERP system based upon the context of your business. And you will discover just how non-functional it is.
Every time we’ve guided an implementation into an ERP or CRM system, it surfaces the painful corners of the organization that are keeping it from moving forward. Things that we like to tuck under the rug, things that are hard to see on a spreadsheet. But once we understand the right people and the right ways to work together, we use technology to institutionalize that.
So we create a single technology spine that runs across the organization. This is the dream of the ERP in the transportation and manufacturing world. You have a single point that is connecting how the organization works together to achieve that particular outcome. By doing that well, you achieve two things that are important to the next step, which is the data part. You automate the collection and the structure of that data.
The reason why companies have thrown so much money at data and it’s proven to be invaluable is because the work hasn’t been done around how it’s collected, what the data dictionary is and the meaning is, how it’s to be used, what actions it’s to be to inspire, and what it means inside the context.
So if we do that work and build that into the technology, we reduce the human effort in order to collect and structure the data, which means that we get quicker access to the data that we need. And the idea in our framework is real-time data that’s piped back to the people on the team so that you create that continuous feedback loop.
So people process technology and data, creates the energy you need to really fuel a culture of learning so that as you’re moving forward into the unknown, you have the ability to adapt in 90-day increments in ways that are not just based on human perception, but are really challenged and validated by objective realities.
And we believe that strength enables an organization to do things that it presently doesn’t know how or doesn’t believe it’s possible to do.
Now the grand scheme in my mind is what would that look like to have those small systems existing inside an entire ecosystem?
So rather than industrial management seeing an organization in boxes and verticals and categorization, what if we started to see organizations like a solar system?
And each planet has its own structure around that, very similar. And then we just find out how do we find the balance and alignment between all those things so that what’s most important at the top gets cascaded down throughout the organization in a way that every single person, even the lowest individual contributor understands how their success contributes to the success of the company.
And that’s a process that we bring in its entirety to an organization. And have found it to be incredibly helpful in helping them bridge the gap between now and next. I love the analogy almost of the gravitational pull of the core of the business and everything revolving around it. Something that you said at the beginning really stuck out to me from that.
And you mentioned how often it begins, it’s like an offsite with the C suite and they come back with all these wonderful ideas and then they plan around the execution of it.
So something that I’ve seen being debated a bit is for revenue operations or operations as a whole, do you believe it’s an executive function or will be an executive function in the future?
In fact, I think it’s going to be everyone’s responsibility. There will have to be… Revenue operations is how in fact a company goes… It is the best way to describe a go-to-market strategy. Is the operational architecture that’s the counterbalance. It’s the engine of the car, if you will. And so without a doubt, it will be represented at the C suite.
But I think what it also represents is an opportunity to see revenue integrated into the larger scheme of things. And what’s also interesting is I think revenue is a lagging indicator. So I think what it really will afford organizations to do is to begin to create structure around leading indicators that actually gives us a much more quantifiable approach to building equity within our customer base.
And I think that’s where the magic is going to happen. And so what I think revenue operations is doing for us now inside of organizations is helping demonstrate what it looks like for sales, marketing and service to operate as one team on a single technology spine operating from a single set of data that’s allowing for more collaborative and interdependent conversations that are driving meaningful change.
I think we can back that up from the actual transaction and start to see better forecasting tools by looking at leading indicators, which is an interesting thing that we’re starting to do now, is build dashboards and dynamic measurement analytical environments that look at the things that are contributing to the revenue operations, which is building the other side of that conversation.
So when you look at data graphs and how they’re able to, in real time, be able to identify anomalies or changes in patterns, that begins to feed leadership both on what’s happening on the lagging indicator side, but then what’s also happening on the leading indicator side. And when you can shorten the distance between those two things, we don’t have to wait till 90 days is complete.
And then an analysis is done to understand if we were successful. We’ll know every 24 hours whether or not we’re on track or off track. And when you think about a time of persistent disruption, that is a superpower that a leader can have that it presently wasn’t able to get access to. Something that really stood out there.
So what are those?
You mentioned about the factors underneath contributing to revenue. I’d love to hear a little bit more from your experience and perhaps from some of those reports that you have been doing.
What are the most common factors then are you finding that are actually contributing to the revenue number?
So it obviously depends on sectors and all that. And what that is, what we like to start with is let’s take 5 or 10 really best clients and 5 or 10 ones that maybe were not as profitable or didn’t work out. And let’s do a regressive analysis and bring them all the way back up to the top of the funnel and let’s retrace and recreate those journeys.
Where did they touch?
What did they do?
What did they interact with?
All of that. And that begins to give a model for us based on actual behavior, not perceived behavior, but actual behavior. And then we can begin to create some structures around that to be able to understand how in each phase of that continuum, there’s a beginning and a middle and an end and the propensity to move through those phases actually helps us understand what that looks like. So think about this.
One of the ways to begin to conceive this is to pull back from the old direct marketing days when you did a lot of heavy database analysis. And you would have new growing plateaued declining.
Well, new categories, new accounts was a precursor to growing accounts. And then growing accounts was a precursor to plateaued accounts. And then new accounts was a precursor to declining to lost accounts. So there’s four quadrants right there. If you looked at each of those as a portfolio of business, and you had a revenue number of X, each of those portfolio managers could have derivative numbers that lead to that.
And they can have early, mid and late stage indicators that told you both how are people moving within those segments, and then what was the propensity to move from one segment to the next. So if you started to see that you had new but you didn’t convert them over into the growing at the same rate, then that’s going to affect your growth rate.
If you start to see that people are staying longer in the growth, that’s going to affect your profit. If you start to see that you have an increased movement of growing to plateaued, that’s the beginning of decline, both in potential quiet loss, but also you could be doing something in an unprofitable manner.
And then of course, your ability to forecast the propensity to move from plateaued to declining is how you look at attrition and begin to forecast against that.
So if you use that framework and start to add some, what if we had portfolio managers that sat over that?
Those portfolio managers live above the tactics. We too easily, in the rev ops world, we too easily just tried to take the practices of agencies and bring them into and drop them into a corporate space without appreciating the interconnectedness of that. So we have to have somebody that’s creating meaning that’s sitting on top of all the tactics.
So it’s not, I need to look at a single email because a single email doesn’t make a lot of sense. What we want to know is over a 30 day period that this particular person or contact and this particular stage take steps that are descriptive and reflect that of the ideal client or customer that’s going to be the most profitable and stay with us the longest or not.
And that allows us to begin to learn and be in a relationship. The customer is already telling us everything we need to know. We as companies have just been relatively deaf to what they’re saying.
What rev ops allows us to do is to create that listening platform that allows us to tune in and tune up our businesses so that we’re actually delivering on the expectations and the assumptions the customer brings back to us. So really great book that I read called The Age of Customer Equity.
And I would highly recommend any rev ops leader, heck any CEO, really read that book because I think what it does is it begins to change our view of lifetime value, which is… Speaking of the direct marketing world, that’s been the ultimate name of the game.
How can we extract the most amount of revenue and the most profit out of every single client?
Instead, I think the product becomes the product and services that we deliver today are a function of the current reality of the customer or client that we serve. And if we’re in a dynamic relationship with that customer, they’re going to tell us what products we need to sunset, what products we need to introduce, how we’re going to innovate, how we can improve those products, all of that.
And that creates a lifetime relational equity that can be incredibly valuable over time. Now service-based businesses tend to do this really well. Think about law firms and CPA firms. They grow and adapt with their clients as their needs grow and adapt. And that creates long-term trust.
Why can’t we do that with products and services across the board?
But we’ve been looking at risk mitigation and really trying to drive the highest value. And I’m not saying that those are bad things, but they cloud us because it reduces the customer and client to a transactional volume. And unless you’re in just a huge space where you can burn through clients and never end up with…
Or never have fewer new than you have existing and you can manage that churn rate, then you really are in trouble. And most organizations can’t handle a high volume of churn that, like, say, really large organizations might have that have more consumer-based products. And so the more that we can build the structures to listen to our clients, which I think is what RevOps can really provide us, the better we can do.
How can we create the sales process to be a more pleasurable experience?
How can we reduce the friction in that process?
How do we equip in the marketing side of it to help discern and decide and identify what the customer and a prospect stands for and what they’re most interested in doing?
How does that separate us from our personal preferences and helps us adapt and push into the areas that the prospect is already telling us that they want to?
I think about in the old days of enterprise software, you didn’t put pricing on your page. Oh my gosh. That was the wrong thing to do. Because you wanted to put call for enterprise.
Well, today, when I see call for enterprise pricing, I know exactly what that means. It’s going to be a long, painful process where they’re going to do this really broad.
And all I want to know is, am I in the ballpark?
Is this thing $1 million a month?
Or is it $10 a month?
And so the idea of increased transparency is where the market is pushing everybody. That transparency isn’t meant to discredit. That transparency is meant to say, yes, I believe what you believe. I believe you can help me. And I believe I can afford your services.
Well, if you can increase the conversion rate of those that you’re surfacing as MQLs and SQOs in your pipeline process, then you actually have the ability to reduce the length of time that they’re in your pipeline, which means that you have a better line of sight to what your close rate is going to be and how you can forecast that revenue.
And it also helps you forecast demand so you know how to do your staffing. From that standpoint, one of my clients were identifying that their sales cycle is going from about 250 days to about 425 days, so the last two years. So that means that we got to adapt measurement systems to support a longer decision cycle. And I suspect that this is something that all organizations are doing.
So the pace and cadence in which we try to move people through the pipeline has to adjust and adapt in that particular process. And so this is where I think revops can really lead the way because it’s got enough technology and enough data and enough experimentation because it’s not yet been solidified and corporatized, if you will, my word, and squeezed all of the creativity out of it just yet by internal audit.
So it could really bring some magic to the organization.
And what I’m hoping is that not only does that represent a C-suite, is that it changes a mindset and inspires a mindset shift where the CEO is, what can I learn today?
How can we better understand the clients that we want to serve today as humans and not just as objects to extract value from?
I really like the quote you said there almost as revops as a way to listen to your customer. And so often what I find is, okay, great, I’ve got all of these insights.
I know, I’m starting getting insight into what the factors are that are slowing down the ultimately the deal velocity of deals that are in my pipeline.
Often then the challenge is, well, how do I use that information?
So that point is great being able to listen to it.
But now that I’ve got this information, how do I now deploy this across my sales team?
You might have one rep who’s absolutely killing it.
It’s like, this guy or gal, she’s worked it out because she’s doing X, Y or Z.
How do you then take that nugget of knowledge and then deploy it to everyone else?
Particularly going back to what you’re saying earlier, I think ultimately a lot of people are very resistant to change, particularly reps on the frontline. You got to prove it to me first.
Is that nugget enough?
So over to you.
How do you take that and actually deploy it to the business that you’re working with?
You’ve got to start talking with each other, not at each other. When I was on the sales team, it was, gosh, if marketing could just provide better leads, I’d close more deals. When I started leading marketing departments, I was like, if sales would just be better at closing deals, then we’d have more budget to work with to deliver what it is that they want to do.
And I think the problem is that we have broken up the functions of marketing, sales and service as a result of how we manage the costs within an organization. But that is not how someone outside the organization experiences the organization. So we have to reset. We have to think about those three functions as a single go-to-market team.
How can we learn from each other?
And how can through that, can we grow and can we set some objectives that could lead to some breakthrough realities?
So marketing needs to hear from sales.
What’s working and what’s not?
What do they like and what are they not like?
We just did this exercise with a client. And one of the interesting discoveries is that the long form content, white papers, that have been a huge part of their sales enablement toolbox is becoming less and less utilized. We’re seeing less reads, less time on that. And so we started to experiment with diagrams. Same concept, same copy, same idea.
We just literally created a visual version, whether it’s a diagram or an infographic or what. All of a sudden, through the roof again, people are sharing it inside the client side of it.
And so that insight came from sales and marketing and service all sitting down and saying, how do we solve?
What am I seeing and experiencing?
How can we appreciate that and listen to that?
And then how in fact do we learn and grow from that?
And so I think that’s a key part is that we’ve got to start talking with each other and not at each other. And I think what RevOps does is it enables us to be able to talk about it in a way that’s outside of personal perception. So instead of, well, the leads just aren’t any good.
Okay, well, let’s look at that.
Are we taking longer in certain stages of the deal pipeline?
Are we not getting the same average contract value?
Are we changing the mix of products?
Are the people who are involved in the decision-making cycle?
One particular client we learned with this exercise is that there were at least two more additional people for a total of six people on average involved in a buying cycle at the enterprise level.
Well, you know what?
More people, more time on the salesperson’s part. That means potentially a shift in sales enablement. It means a shift in how we forecast what will close and when. It also means potentially a shift in playbooks. And then as we start to learn from each other, we have to translate that down into information that’s helpful because not everybody processes information the same way.
So strategy people, innovation, agility, work preference types, man, we want to talk it out and then we’re done.
And we need that operational architecture to say, okay, how do we take that idea, that insight, turn it into a hypothesis, establish the basis of measurement, and then after a period of time of measurement, how do we take that learning and improve the hypothesis moving forward?
Well, from an operational standpoint, a key element is when you start seeing the same thing again and again and again, you want to adapt and evolve your playbooks. So what happens is you get quarterly initiatives sent down through the VP of Sales, we need playbooks. And so the sales manager says, fine, we’ll create playbooks.
Boom, done. But the playbook is a dynamic, ongoing document. That’s the whole point of this is that everything is in flux at all times. It’s as good as it is with the information that we have. New information could, in fact, infuse new ideas and new possibilities into that mix. I think it also asks us something of sales leaders to be different.
And I think that’s something we’ve really seen in the last couple of years. Recognize that this isn’t just an adversarial relationship between the salesperson and the sales manager.
I mean, like some of my first sales experiences, you either find a way to be successful or you find another team to be on. That is just not a helpful environment for anyone. It doesn’t mean that everyone… We should tolerate mediocrity. But it also means that we have to help people unlock the genius that’s within them. They have the ability to do things. They have a desire to do things.
And it’s our job to help bring out of them what’s already in them. And that could be a series of exercises from skills training, to leadership training, to being exposed to different environments. And then we have to figure out how can we take a stand for their success.
When I was leading a large team, about 100 FTEs, and had 6 or 8 direct reports within that, my message to each of those direct reports is, my job is to understand what you’re anticipating to be an obstacle and to remove that before you experience that as an obstacle. And then your job is to do that with the people who report to you and all the way down.
And so as a manager, if we focus on developing people, those people are going to take care of our prospects and our customers in ways that we wouldn’t have imagined. And I think about certain people that I’ve done business with for a long time. I really don’t care where they are. I just want to work with that person because I know their integrity.
I know that they’re taking a stand for my success. And then in the midst of that, I’m going to create a relational dimension that is very staying. And I think this idea of trust is a very relational concept. And so even in high transaction volume environments, it’s about trust. And I think about the company that puts fertilizer and takes care of all the stuff throughout the year on our grass.
I mean, it’s a very simple service. It’s a very inexpensive service.
But you know what?
I get a text from the same guy a week before he comes.
He says, Are you seeing anything, experiencing thing that we need to talk about?
I get a text after he leaves that says, Here’s what we did. Here’s what the next treatment is. And here’s how, if you have any feedback for me that you can give that. Holy cow.
I mean, that’s a brilliant process. And so I think that’s the most important thing is we have to take a stand for the people that we believe should be part of the team. And we have to help them be successful. Sometimes we discover that being successful is them not staying in their current role. And we might find another role for them within the organization or elsewhere.
But it means that it’s not about just cracking the whip and scaring people to death and throwing chairs and pounding tables and turning over conference rooms. It means saying, you know what, let’s figure this out together. And in this environment, I’m sorry, there’s no simple answers. And if somebody tells you it’s a simple answer, they’re not being honest with themselves or they haven’t come to grips with reality.
Ben, I want to wrap up this conversation with one final question. And you’ve already mentioned one book in our conversation.
What is one book that you’d recommend to other revenue leaders and that could be in operations or to VP of sales or even CEOs?
Yeah, I think there are the one…
Well, gosh, there’s a number of books. So it’s going to be hard to just decide on one. But if I were to say one thing that I continue to see resistance and accepting, it’s the concept of the rapid pace of change. And so there’s a book called The Future is Faster Than You Think.
And its basic premise is that the idea of specialization and perfection, so the idea that over 20 or 30 years, you can eliminate risk and you can maximize what the future is going to look like, those days are gone. Because the speed of technology, the speed of the world is changing. The number of variables significantly outweighs the number of constants at this point, as we look at it.
And so it basically says we have to put ourselves in a learning posture.
Well, there is a high degree of humility on the role of senior leaders. What got them to where they are is their ability to be decisive, to be right, and to be successful.
And so there’s a high degree of fear in the C-suite right now around this idea that I don’t know how to manage my organization moving forward when the things that I have always trusted may not be as trustworthy as they have in the past. I can’t always depend on the trend lines. I don’t know what’s happening inside my organization. And I don’t know what the future is.
I mean, it is perpetual anxiety. So the future is faster than you think. The message to them is, get into a learning posture. Because that’s where the win is going to be. And the process of evolution is the only survival and ability capacity to thrive in a rapidly changing environment. To the manager, the learning culture is how to in fact do you connect current reality with preferred future. It’s your roadmap.
Who do we need around the table?
How do they need to work together?
What technology do we need to bring to create visibility and to lower the friction of collecting instruction that data?
And then how do we use that data to create new insights and meaning in real time?
So I’m making decisions every 24, 48 hours, not every 90 days, which is just too slow in this new environment. To the individual contributor, learning says, whatever you’re doing right now probably won’t exist in five years. And whatever you’re going to be doing in five years probably is yet to be invented. And if that doesn’t spark energy around creativity and adventure and excitement, then I think you’re going to really struggle in this new reality.
So that is a book that I think everyone should read because I think each layer of an organization can pull something from it.
And I think if we take a stand as leaders and say, we are going to create a culture of learning, it will be the single most significant decision that you make at how it shapes how you prioritize and allocate resources as we move through this next decade or two of persistent disruption. Excellent. Excellent recommendation.
Ben, to our listeners, if they want to learn a little bit more about you to connect with you, where can they find you out there?
Yeah, absolutely. So there’s a couple of destinations. On the website, you can go to benstrop.com and you can see just a quick overview of a little bit more about me and my history and background in that. So learn about the work with Velocity. You can go to VelocityStrategySolutions.com. And then the two places that I’m active on social media are Twitter and LinkedIn. And Twitter is at ben underscore Stroup, S-T-R-O-U-P.
And then LinkedIn is just Ben Stroup. And you’ll be able to find me there. If you want to get to that really easily, we’ll include those links as well as also your two book recommendations down in the show notes of this episode.
Ben, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on. It’s been great to talk through things with you. I feel like we could go on for significantly longer, but I’m going to call it there. Thank you so much again. And to everyone that’s listened to this episode, thank you very much. We’ll see you next week. Thank you. I really appreciate the opportunity. Thanks for listening to Revenue Insights.
If you want to learn more, subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll deliver every episode straight to your inbox. If you have any questions, feel free to connect with us on LinkedIn. Our links will be in the episode notes. See you next week.