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Learn from the brightest minds how to predictably and efficiently grow revenue.
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Sales Operations Improvement: Alan Kingsley-Perkins
Alan Kingsley-Perkins jumped onto Sales Ops Demystified to share his vast knowledge and experience as Sales Operations Improvement consultant at Kingsley-Perkins LTD.
Check out all the other episodes of Sales Operations Demystified here.
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Interviewer: We are being joined by Alan Kingsley-Perkins of Kingsley-Perkins Limited.
Alan Kingsley-Perkins: That’s right.
Interviewer: Alan comes with– I know this is going to be a very special episode because Alan comes with what we believe to be 30 and 40 years experience in sales operations at companies such as IBM and City Group. We also have what Alan calls Scorpio, for those people watching, here which is a sales operations framework-
Interviewer: That we will be going into more detail. Fantastic. Thanks for coming in.
Alan: Let me just give a slight background, I immigrated to Australia paying a £10, so it was known as a £10 [unintelligible 00:00:43] way.
Interviewer: I think I heard about this.
Alan: What it was, you got to pay £10, we had to stay two years. Okay, but that was no problem. I went to Australia.
Interviewer: Which year was this?
Alan: This was ’74. 1974 that is, not 1874. I joined an insurance company at the time selling domestic insurance, which is household insurance, houses et cetera, in Perth. The problem we had, when we sold the policy, you were given a 30-day cover note and the policy should be with you within 30 days. Unfortunately, I was so good at selling that I sold so many policies, and added policy, motor vehicles, et cetera, that the back office couldn’t keep up. We’d investigated it because customers started complaining they weren’t getting their policy et cetera, so we started to investigate and we looked at the operations, which is now known as Sales Operations, and it was a mess.
Interviewer: Was this one of the first instances of official–? [crosstalk]
Alan: Yes. In those days it was called Organization in Methods. We analyzed the way business was done, and it was a mess, so I came up with a new way of doing business, a new way of issuing policies which meant they could walk away with the policy that day, so it took off. Over about five months we increased our sales by about 600%, and we kept going. Head Office heard about this in Melbourne, they said, “What are those lunatics in Perth up to?” They sent a couple of guys over, they saw what we do. We did a flow chart, all the processes were flow charted on the wall, using as we flow charted symbols. Wow, they couldn’t believe it. I was then moved to Head Office in Melbourne and I introduced the same sales operations model across the 32 offices across Australia.
Interviewer: You moved out of sales and then officially into–
Alan: That’s right. Yes, officially into sales operations. When I look back, I never did sales again, and we tied it up to the sales operations, we became the hub, if you like, in the process, and we’re monitoring, watch the business grow. In those days it was really over the counter type stuff, and then we got to– Remember it was called insurance over the phone, you could actually write your insurance over the phone, which was fantastic news. Anyway, that was then. We changed the company around and we really excelled. Then my wife said to me, “I’m unhappy in Australia, I want to go back to England.”
Interviewer: You came back?
Alan: We came back to England where Ruiters, the newsagents, had just gone public, and they wanted to sell their products rapidly, but they didn’t have the infrastructure in the business to process the orders, so I was called in to work with them across, I think it was about 12 countries across Europe, to put in sales operations function, which we set up, based in London with a sub-office in Switzerland, and we ran that and the company took off, and we became the center of the hub for following transactions throughout the way through.
Interviewer: Since then you’ve been consulting with sales organizations?
Alan: Exactly. Since [unintelligible 00:04:07] Ruiters, and then there was a big problem in the UK due to the IRM and black Thursday, for those old enough to remember, so I went to the Middle East where I joined City Group as their Quality Director. One day they said, “We want to bring in, for ourselves, pro-active selling and we want to pay commission. Can you please come up with a strategy, a process, etcetera for us to do that?”
I set about coming up with a modeling tool, so I can measure what we sold, how much we sold, when we sold it, how many meetings we’ve required to sell it, what products we were going to sell, who the target audiences where, and we put it all together in a big business model, we worked out the compensation required to pay the staff, so we didn’t pay them too much, and we didn’t pay them well enough. Over six months our sales went through the roof of the game, as he took off we couldn’t believe it. The broad structure in the telephone structure and the ATF structure just don’t just change dramatically across the Saudi Arabia. People in London in the head office in London saw this and said somebody got mad. Said there’s something wrong with their figures. The figures too great, they can’t be selling that much. They came in Soros and I showed them the model, show them this here and they said this is fantastic, I know. We can’t believe this coming presented to London.
I went to London and I presented the proposal to et cetera, plus this everything we’re doing. They said we can’t believe this. After we got to New York to present in New York and I was told this is now the Citigroup sales operation model, go back to AMIA and implement it across the 16 countries. I spent the next four years traveling 16 countries across AMIA, implementing it. Sales went through the roof, which was absolutely incredible and as you know, this Citibank share got shoved to the roof because of the volume. [crosstalk]
Interviewer: Can we talk about technology. In the most recent company that you were consulting with or working with, what was the technologies that they were using?
Alan: Salesforce. Salesforce was the one which most companies, with all the companies I’ve worked for have used. I’m as a Salesforce administrator. I have all works because I could run it, I will choose the vehicle and that’s really the basis.
Interviewer: That’s the core whether you think or have you had experience with any other tools that you can say on top of Salesforce?
Alan: No, the biggest tool reviews obviously is, unfortunately, is Excel. Because we download stuff from Salesforce into Excel and then you can manipulate it further. I know there are tools out there which are better than obviously better than Excel on top of the Salesforce which does this stuff. Generally speaking, the problem I’ve had is that it’s required now and to bring in new technology can take time can take effort. They need the information now we need to make the changes now. Salesforce is changing evolving as we were doing it, so we were latching on to new editions of Salesforce.
That was moving on, business was changing so you needed to look at the change that the focus of the business is constantly changing. You’re really panicking running and trying to get management commitment to take in time and saying you’re not going to see the results for this for 12 months but you need to invest in this software. Particularly in the software industry itself, there’s no patience to wait this time. Things have to happen now could be target have to be met et cetera. To me, there was always a stumbling block to moving on from what we had.
Interviewer: Well, we’re talking about CRM, how have you historically managed the quality of the data in Salesforce?
Alan: Yes, quality in Salesforce is subject to the training and the discipline of those people who use it. Most of the companies that I’ve worked with are made up a several smaller company which should be merged, bought over et cetera. The background information they have is a big difference. Is trying to link that together saving a history it’s been now impossible. You’re limited sometimes up to two years information because, of course, the decisions are so different. The first thing to do, the first thing is training. Making sure everybody knows the importance of accurate correct data going in.
Which brings us to this motive thing about salespeople or salesman. I’ve no interest in Salesforce, it’s your job. I sell, I communicate. No, you don’t unfortunately, because you have to put the data in there. Which is where we come in to make sure that they put the data incorrectly and you can run programs which shows if the data is not correct and pick out. It always comes down to a number of individuals. Okay, if you’ve got a Salesforce of 20 people, you’ll find it’s four. Its four and we can’t be bothered because they’re so good at selling they were still worried.
Interviewer: What do you with all those four people? Would you like [unintelligible 00:09:38] and explain or?
Alan: Yes, it depends. If you’ve got a long sales cycle and most of your sales is to do with large corporations where you’ve got to get some stakeholders et cetera, then in those cases, we sometimes give an administrative assistant. This best person will look after your admin. You do the top-level diplomatic stuff and we will manage the rest of it because we can’t trust the data you are giving us. It was a small organization with the fast to around time with a cycle, you could get the job done. Get the job done, just do it. I’m not interested in [unintelligible 00:10:24] how he couldn’t get into Salesforce. I’m not interested, do it. Because interesting that there’s a correlation between those people who don’t do it and the success is fast.
On the top end, it’s because they’re successful and doing their job. They’re actually not very good. You’ve got to train them up, make sure they’re doing the job and that’s where you can start all over them.
Interviewer: Got it and apart from getting people’s bit of data in the system, how else will you get buy-in from the sales team to do something different? Do you just literally sit them down and tell them to do it?
Alan: Yes, okay. This is a win-win situation. Why am I doing this? Why am [unintelligible 00:11:06] what do I get as an individual salesperson? Well, you get statistics where you’re standing, you get our support if you’re not getting enough leads. You get our support if there’s a problem with the things that you get. There is support if there’s a problem with the processes but we have to have the information in the system for enable us to support you. Most of the time, they see it and they think about and they run with it. It’s like having no smoking policies. We don’t get to smoke in this office, can we get your guarantee you won’t smoke at the office?
Yes. Okay, we now sign, we’ve agreed we won’t do it. They do it, they’re in trouble and it’s the same thing with data quality and putting in the data. If you could show them if you could do some examples and say look, here’s a report we’re running with that data because we don’t have it but this is what it points to. These are the decision support information we can get from this. If we can get that decision support, which means we can better target our marking, which means we can better target their products, which means we can increase our sales side, which means we can increase your commission, can we get your commitment to it?
Interviewer: That’s nice.
Alan: Guess what happens, yes.
Interviewer: That’s a really nice way of thinking about it, bringing all the way back to what they actually care about which is– [crosstalk]
Alan: That’s right, they commission themselves as well. After sales, they’re only interested in their commission. Well, you can actually turn that round a bit further so they’re also committed to the business they’re working for. That’s the way you do it to get their buy-in and then you’ve got reward programs. You’ve got the benefits you can get if you do the job properly and they stick if you don’t. The carrot stick working in most cases, but you need to be on to it, you need to see it, you need to have the energy to constantly watch what’s going on.
If you slip, management the business concentrates on what management looks at. So, if you take your eye off it, it will slip. You’ve got to constantly look at those KPIs, look at divisive few measures and make sure that they are reflecting what you’re interested in is your business and concentrating your efforts on.
Interviewer: Sure. Moving onto onboarding salespeople, do you have any stories or experience of effective or ineffective onboarding?
Alan: Yes, onboarding starts off with recruitment. If you recruit the wrong person, then your onboarding is not going to work too well. If your company’s suffering from most likely high staff turnover and you know you’ve got a very good name in the market, then that would affect the type of people you can be able to recruit. You start pretend saying, can we recruit people we need with the skills knowledge and experience which matches their company? It’s first thing. Second thing, you need to have a proper structured induction program.
Similar to in schools when somebody new chap started school, they always have a friend. This is going to be to look after you the first few weeks while you get engaged. That’s us, that’s sales operations. Just making sure they’ve got their laptop, just making sure that it works, just making sure they’ve got their own ID code for salesforce.com, making sure they’ve gone through the three-day training course how to use Salesforce.
Alan: Three-day training course. We used to try and do it in a day. I know that people used it last couple that works out. That’s funny, we don’t understand that part. Well, we didn’t use that part so that’s why we stopped. Though most companies only use I record between 5% and 6% of Salesforce capability. It’s a record and that’s all. It’s three days of training on Salesforce, with a structured program, we print screens and explain every field on those screens, what it actually means, and then we’d run them through, we could do– we’ve got obviously mock-up so we can run through various activities to follow all the way through and then at the end of it, they get a certificate so from now salesforce are qualified as a salesperson and we then continue to monitor them thought it, but that’s the key is that first two weeks in the job to make sure they got it.
Interviewer: Then before that it’s actually trying to get the right people as well.
Alan: That’s right and that’s a disaster you can spend three weeks and change somebody up, you could tell, they say you can tell the person within just the first 30 seconds you can very quickly if this person can take onboard the process in which is required to do the job and let’s just say back down to HR and then the recruitment process but generally speaking, it works.
Generally speaking, if you’re in tune and in correlation with your HR, it works because if it doesn’t business can suffer. You’ve got 20 sales staff I model this so I’ve shown the business what happens, you’ve got 20 sales staff and you lose two, that can impact dramatically on your bottom line and then go south and if one of those is one of your top salespeople and they leave halfway through the year, take us three years to get those numbers back up and we model this and we show it to the managers and the business, say, “Look, this is what will happen, so, first of all, how long did it take and when you bring a new person in to become competent and start making the numbers three months.”
How long did it take after they become competent, become professional? Another three months, how long after that before they become excellent? Three months, so you’re looking at a nine months cycle before you get to that level of your top 5% which [unintelligible 00:17:05] achieve what you’re aiming for. I really think less of that is less than perfect.
Interviewer: On a topic however you thought you made salespeople more productive.
Alan: The various aspects of productivity, first of all, it’s their own productivity, how many meetings can they do? Every customer meeting with [unintelligible 00:17:27] et cetera what is their capacity within the business and are they matching that capacity or do four sales calls a week? Well, unfortunately, for sales calls a week is not going to make the numbers.
Through our modeling we are able to show you need to do three a day. For example, this so if they do three calls a day, some perspective so that’s one-hour excess, still have your three hours, you’re working hours, still got five hours, so get where you’re going et cetera whatever. Let’s say you do three meetings a week and three meetings a day and it takes three meetings to close a deal. Now I’ve got a specific number, they’ll say, “If you can, can you agree?” It’s a salesperson, “Can you agree to do three meetings today?
Yes, “Can you agree that your level of knowledge skills, you can close the deal within three meetings?” Yes, okay, so if you do that, then you will make your number, we’ve identified that. It may be four meetings a day but you’ve identified okay, so if you guarantee to do that we will guarantee to generate enough leads, qualified leads for you to meet your target okay? If we say in order to meet your target we’ve got to give you 50 leads per week, there we are so based on those 350 leads per week, basic what the sales conversion rates et cetera, we’ll make the business happen okay.
Interviewer: You are essentially getting the sale person to agree to you what they’re going to commit to, in exchange for who you’re going to commit to?
Interviewer: Now those leads are they our self operations responsible for finding other things or is that marketing?
Alan: Yes, it’s marketing. If marketing the customer sales or as an independent function, some of it is an independent function but lead generation is a customer sales as required so if we require 3,000 leads per week, we want commitments or 3,000 leads days per week. If they say we’re going to give you two, I don’t need so many salespeople or geographically I don’t think they can’t do it, so there’s no point in me saying to a salesperson, “Can you do three meetings a day.”
If there’s only need to do two because we can’t generate leads for, okay so that’s where you get the buy-in from their side and then you come down to a very tricky question, “What is a lead?” What is a lead? Is it a telephone call? There you go. Is it a voting register? Is it everybody within this certain age? Is it this, is it that? No, so you’ve got to agree what lead actually is when it reaches a salesperson, and we say it should be a qualified leader it’s somebody who will be interested in buying our product. The consumer is not, you’re spinning your wheels. Okay, so most companies have telesales functions to start off with that generate interesting only when that interest is generated then go to the salesperson to follow through.
Other companies don’t do that, I have a third party to generate a list which then gets spit out to the salespeople and the salespeople say, “Well we wish, we said three [unintelligible 00:20:44] to close the deal, I’m getting five calls and even then I’m not closing the deal.” That’s always a dilemma, every single organization I’ve been with, the problem has been generating sufficient leads to feed the sales funnel. Okay, you can’t get it and senior management got fantastic ideas we’re going to travel our business while the year-end, we can get 6% of the market share we’re going to get 12% of the market share, it’s some [unintelligible 00:21:17] stuff, chest-beating stuff.
You use the statistical information which we in salesforce have and we could trust, we could then go back and say look, “We agree with your aspirations, it’s just not going to happen.” “Find a way to make happen.” We can’t, it doesn’t work and all you’re doing is looking for car crash sometime this quarter or next quarter. Then if you move forward with that, with the full car speed and you’re now going to miss you this quarter because you’ve overstated your target, what do companies do? They start to bring food deals from next quarter, into this quarter and how do you do that?
Heavy discounts, so now you stopped discounting you start reducing your value and guess what? When you get to next quarter you’re way too late now. They’re gone, so it’s that statistical knowledge which sells, which the sales appraisers team are able to provide to the business to make sure they make the right decision and if they don’t treat the sales operations with that level of business professional respect they lose.
That’s put salesforce actually the first seat at the table, you’ve got finance, technical, what else have you got? I forget what the five are now [unintelligible 00:22:42] is one of them but the fifth one is sales operations.
Interviewer: Okay, can we talk about KPI’s. If you had one metric of KPIs judge yourselves even if you’re running one right now, what would you choose?
Alan: The biggest KPI would have to be performance against target because that’s really your target is what everything’s based upon achieving that. Your key KPI making sure that you are reaching their target.
Interviewer: With the revenue [unintelligible 00:23:14]
Alan: Yes, revenue, so there’re three where there’s revenue, there’re new sales which Lisa says you’ve got upgrades, new sales and revenue. You have three together, those three because that’s what the business of the shareholders will be looking for et cetera. They’re number one. VFA has got a few meters as well, they’re known as. That’s what we would concentrate on but behind that, it’s all of the other aspects of those across the scope [unintelligible 00:23:48]
Interviewer: Why the alignment of those [unintelligible 00:23:50]
Alan: Yes, okay.
Interviewer: Because we can actually find this online right?
Alan: It’s somehow perfomance
Interviewer: We will link below, wherever you’re consuming this there’ll be a link below this.
Alan: Yes, that’s true on my Facebook page that this there, you can see this. This was developed basically in Citigroup in Saudi Arabia when we first started to get involved in proactive selling. The first thing we did , which is where Scorpio. Scorpio stands for sales planning, compensation, organization design, results tracking, prospect management, internal metrics and operational support.
Now, this start with operational support, sales operations and the sales force is only one aspect of selling, it’s got to be the whole company, it’s got to be involved in selling, whether you’re decorating, whether your price of the orders, whatever your job is in the business you have responsibility to generate sales if not directly then it’s to the salespeople. That last one operational support, so when we go, we master the business, do everything we possibly can to support the growth. Going back to these, you see here, the first one [unintelligible 00:25:05] planning when I first joined you is what is the model, what can we sell, how many leads can we achieve each day, who can do this, how many meetings does it take to close a sale? That’s the modeling. That’s the first one, is modeling the business so you know based on the numbers of stuff you’ve got placed [unintelligible 00:25:23] new experiences. I mentioned the 25% new, 50% qualified, and 25% excellent salespeople. Based on those fundamentals, you can now model your salespeople.
Then it’s working out how much we’re going to pay them. [unintelligible 00:25:40] and the basic in commission. You’ve got to work that out correctly, otherwise, you get silly situations where people are walking away with vast amounts of money but no [unintelligible 00:25:52] sales. That’s got to be right.
In addition to that, I have to put these on again. Then you’ve got performance incentives where that’s a team. When you put the team numbers together as well. That helps [unintelligible 00:26:05], and then incentives for other members of staff within the business to generate leads for you.
Organization design. A critical aspect is the organization design. Too many businesses act in silos. Straight lines. “This is us, this is us, this is us.” If you look at my business guide, [unintelligible 00:26:30] a musical note on it. I forget what it’s called. That really says to make your business run, you have to have harmony. You can’t have silos. Businesses have got to run in harmony, which means they both have the same objectives to meet. You can’t have one department having one objective and then a different one have another which conflicts. It wounds the business. Let’s make sure the organization is designed for it to support every aspect together in harmony.
Results tracking. This is the key. This is Salesforce. What are we going to measure? How are we going to measure it and who are we going to report this to? Is it going to be a statistic or is it going to be a decisions report information? My view is it’s got to be business and support, where 30% of our targets so far, at least calls a bigger deals. So what? It means nothing. That’s a charged action. Is this good? Is this where we should be? Is this right for the time or are we behind? Maybe we’re ahead. We need to understand what it means. Those two. Results tracking–
Interviewer: Prospect management.
Alan: Prospect management. Thank you very much. We’ve mentioned this before. Where are these going to come from? They’re going to be coming from [unintelligible 00:27:50], they could be coming from other marketing activities. Who are they going to come to? Who are going to manage them? How are they going to get allocated to the salespeople, et cetera. All those aspects of prospects needs to be managed. We’ve got this software to manage that, to look at it. The last one?
Interviewer: Internal metrics.
Alan: Internal metrics. That’s everybody again. That’s saying internal metrics says if we want to grow our business, we want the voice of the customer and the voice of the employee. I can’t have employees leaving. I can’t do it. It breaks my business, hard turnover, damages the business. I need to find out [unintelligible 00:28:31] the employee that they’re happy.
Obviously, the voice of the customer. [laughs] [unintelligible 00:28:35] I need to understand whether my customers are happy, are we good [unintelligible 00:28:40] business which is really the basics of that. How easy is it for us to do business? Everybody on this call buy stuff from the internet. How easy is it? Some companies, you could put your details in and bang, [unintelligible 00:28:55] is done. Others, “Where’s that pay code? Where’s the page gone?” [laughs] It says that it’s going to pass me through to payments, it didn’t pass me through. I spent three hours. I might as well gone to [unintelligible 00:29:06] to book this myself. [chuckles] That’s really there, how easy are we to do business with.
Interviewer: Got it. [unintelligible 00:29:13] go to a link below down at this [unintelligible 00:29:20] for your help. There’s a lot more detail we haven’t been able to go into. Everything, you’ve got here. My final question is, who has taught you the most about sales operations in your career?
Alan: I don’t think it’s been an individual. I could mention a couple of individuals who have prompted me to push this through. First one, I have to say was in Saudi Arabia. it’s the princess. I can’t mention the name because I think [unintelligible 00:29:48]. Her commitment to us– What’s the word? Giving the authority. That’s the word I’m looking for. To give the authority for us to to make a decision to do things it’s only coming to restrict you been doing that. They put you in a box and keep you in a box but doing it seniors and executives take the other and allow you to prove it do it. I can make a few mistakes but prove it so that’s why the other guy in Australia Jeff, he was the same. He was ago he spotted me in person with me to Nobel in Reuters it was God was Stuart he’s gone now but he was the same giving you the ability and the scope to do it. Get out just do it without being held back all the time.
Interviewer: Got it, [unintelligible 00:30:40] with them, ain’t that famous?
Interviewer: Anything else any final words before we finish?
Alan: Yes, if you want to good search operations function seek out the decision, seek out the shakers and movers in your business. The people who solve problems those people who find that there’s an issue and fix it, okay. They’re there. They may not be in sales operation, [unintelligible 00:31:05] they might be technical but there’s spark of people there who understand the business enough, understand the process enough to fix problems. Grab those people through whatever the size of your business you need and put them in sales operations and free them up.
Take them away from the strandings. They’re there, they’re fixing the problem, there might be a secretary. It might be a cop it might be whoever, they’re there. Everybody knows them but guess what, they’re the go-to people. They’re the go-to.
Interviewer: Why would you take them from where they are in the business into sales operation?
Alan: Because they can do a much broader business-wide and effective activity while they be kept [unintelligible 00:31:46] and they will do it. They still do what they did in their own departments but they could broaden out and if you get three or four people and they all work together, you become a team of excellence, a name-saving management starts to use them and use them for proper business analysis, for properly sales operational effectiveness and you watch the business grow.
Interviewer: Got it, so that is what I want to finish on is if you’re currently in sale operations or sales leader or CA, find the people in other departments who are super effective, bring them together so they can have a bigger impact on the growth of the business?
Alan: Yes, exactly.
Interviewer: Alan, thanks so much for your talk.
Alan: Thank you for listening to me.
[00:32:30] [END OF AUDIO]