Mark Donnolo and Michelle Seger Discuss Sales Innovation and Managing Change

Sales Effectiveness Radio - Mark Donnolo and Michelle Seger

About the guests

Mark Donnolo  is founder and managing partner of SalesGlobe, a sales effectiveness consulting firm that works with Global 1000 organizations on strategies to grow revenue. His work spans multiple industries including technology, telecommunications, business services, manufacturing, and financial services.

SalesGlobe helps companies grow profitably by developing and implementing strategies that improve the effectiveness of customer-facing sales, marketing and service organizations. Areas of focus include sales strategy, customer segmentation, channel strategy, sales organization design and deployment, performance management, and incentive compensation.

Mark is the author of the upcoming book, “Quotas- Using Design Thinking To Solve Your Biggest Sales Challenge” as well as “The Innovative Sale,” “What Your CEO Needs to Know About Sales Compensation,” and “Essential Account Planning.

He holds an MBA from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a BFA from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

Michelle Seger is Global Sales Strategy and Change Management Leader with SalesGlobe. She works with leadership teams to transform their sales organizations, improve sales productivity, and increase return on the organization’s investment in sales – from sales strategy to sales organization, to sales compensation.

Michelle has over 20 years of industry experience that includes technology, financial services, manufacturing, business services, consumer products, retail and hospitality. Prior to SalesGlobe, Michelle held leadership positions with US Bank, Accenture, Georgia-Pacific, and owned an international Italian franchise.

Michelle holds an MBA Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business, with a concentration in Global Business Management, and a BA in Spanish from Siena College.

Connect with Mark and Michelle on LinkedIn and follow SalesGlobe on Twitter.

About your host

Steve Maul is the founder and managing principal at The Semantics Group. He brings nearly 40 years of successful marketing, sales, performance improvement and management experience to the clients with whom he works. Having a career in direct and channel sales, sales management, marketing, finance and as an executive in companies both large and small, Steve grasps quickly the challenges faced by his clients and works to clear the hurdles that prevent revenue growth and predictability. His passion is not only helping his clients GET customers, but also ensuring that they can deliver the expected value so those customers will establish loyalty and repeat buying. Steve has authored dozens of performance improvement programs for sales, marketing, consulting and customer service professionals and worked extensively with world-class companies such as SAS Institute, CenturyLink, Cisco, FinListics, Fiserv, Mansfield Energy, Oracle, SAP, and others.

Follow The Semantics Group on Twitter and Steve Maul on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Episode Transcript

Announcer: [00:00:02] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it's time for Sales Effectiveness Radio, brought to you by The Semantics Group. Now, here's your host, Steve Maul.

Steve Maul: [00:00:16] Hello, everyone. And here we are with another episode of Sales Effectiveness Radio. I'm really happy today to welcome a couple of guests from SalesGlobe. I have Mark Donnolo, is the Managing Director, and Michelle Seger, who is responsible for Sales Strategy and Change Management within the practice. So, thank you very much for being here. Really appreciate you're taking the time out of your schedule to be with us. And what I'd like to start with is kind of just getting to know SalesGlobe up a little bit more. And Mark, tell me a little bit about what SalesGlobe does.

Mark Donnolo: [00:00:44] Thanks, Steve. SalesGlobe, we like to think of ourselves as a sales innovation firm. So, what we do is we solve problems for companies around their sales organizations and around growth. And what does that mean? Well, that means that we, usually, look at everything as a problem statement or a challenge question to solve, which we take apart, and we use a design-thinking process to get into some practical areas like sales strategy, sales organization design, sales compensation and quotas. So, how you pay your organization? And then, we get into change management as well. So, how do you actually make that change? How do you get beyond the recommendation and the PowerPoint to really make it work within the organization? So, that's a big focus area for us is getting the results from that.

Steve Maul: [00:01:26] So, that sounds like a pretty comprehensive approach to sales organization. It sounds like you've got your fingers in all sorts of pies.

Mark Donnolo: [00:01:33] Oh, well, I think we do. And it really comes from an issue-based approach. So, when companies come to us, it's kind of like the doctor, right. They don't say, "Hey, I need a sales compensation program." They say, "Hey, you know, it hurts here. What do I do about this?" And so, you find yourself going in different directions to solve those problems.

Steve Maul: [00:01:52] And that's great because I find a lot of people do come with the, "I need," and they don't really know what they need.

Mark Donnolo: [00:01:57] Right, and that's the first place you start is, "Well, let's not assume that that really is what they need." So, the whole idea of design thinking or sales innovation would be to redefine that problem. So, let's not take the problem statement as fact, but let's understand the story behind that, and then determine what they really need. And a lot of times, it's something different, or they'll come to you with certain words or certain language that you'll interpret. And so, it may be, "We need help with our sales strategy." And you know what sales strategy means to you, and you immediately interpret that, and start to go after that. Well, that may not be the right answer. What does sales strategy mean to you? What's the pain? What does it feel like? And what are you trying to really sell for?

Steve Maul: [00:02:36] So, a lot of digging into those issues because I've gone to the doctor and said, "I need an MRI," and he goes, "Slow down."

Mark Donnolo: [00:02:41] Yeah, yeah. Who's got the MD here?

Steve Maul: [00:02:45] Yeah, tell me a little bit more. And so, that sounds like that is part of what you have to do there is dig in and find out the real underlying issues before you can actually start to solve the problem.

Mark Donnolo: [00:02:54] Right. And I think that's where a lot of companies make their first mistake, and a lot of sales organizations make their first mistake talking about sales and customers. It is listening to what the customer says and answering that customer's question. Yes, we want to listen to what the customer says, but we want to make sure we're answering the right question. So, one jump you can get on your competitors thinking about people and sales organizations is understanding what the true root problem is or the root challenge is, and solving for that, not solving for just the words that come out of their mouth.

Steve Maul: [00:03:23] Yeah. A saying that I came up with a long time ago about customer requirements because you can never tell the customer that their requirements don't matter. So, I say, "We care but not that much," because we really do have to figure out why they have those requirements, why they're expressing that particular need or want before we really -- because we can prescribe, or we could go ahead and do what they're asking for, but if it doesn't work, who gets blamed? Well, we do.

Mark Donnolo: [00:03:48] Right. We're holding the bag.

Steve Maul: [00:03:50] Right.

Mark Donnolo: [00:03:50] And so, one of the big dilemmas is self-diagnosis. So, I was in a company before, and we had a problem that sounded like this, and here's what we did, and it worked well. Okay, that's kind of like diagnosing your own appendix.

Steve Maul: [00:04:03] Right.

Mark Donnolo: [00:04:04] It may not be actually what's wrong.

Steve Maul: [00:04:05] Right, right. So, obviously, what goes along with that is that the change management or any kind of the evolution within that organization as they adopt new ideas, new methodology, new processes, new compensation plans, whatever it happens to be. And we all know that change is a slow and sometimes painful process. So, Michelle, how does SalesGlobe help with that? How do you get a customer through that?

Michelle Seger: [00:04:31] Yeah. So, every company is a little bit different. It really starts with, at the very beginning, making sure that when we understand that we've been brought in to make a change at a company, making sure they got the buy-in of the executive team, and that you start at the very beginning to get their buy-in on communications. It really just starts with very clear communications on what you're doing, and why, and the benefit to the individual. So, there's always a benefit to the company, but you always need to turn that around in saying, "What is the benefit for the individual as well?"

Steve Maul: [00:05:05] And what's the success ratio with that? Because we all know that even if there's logical and cognitive recognition of the value of change, but then there's that whole emotional stuff that gets in the way about, "I'm being disrupted. The job I used to have may not be there anymore," or "I'm being asked to do more." The major motto in America, do more with less. So, we're going to take three jobs and pile it on your plate. So, isn't change wonderful?

Michelle Seger: [00:05:32] Right. So, if I'm actually managing that project, the success rate is about 100% but-

Steve Maul: [00:05:37] Great.

Michelle Seger: [00:05:38] I was just-

Steve Maul: [00:05:38] But, but, but, but.

Michelle Seger: [00:05:41] The reality is-

Steve Maul: [00:05:41] Not just by asking for it though, right?

Michelle Seger: [00:05:44] No, no, right. That was a joke.

Steve Maul: [00:05:46] I know.

Michelle Seger: [00:05:47] But anyway. So, you bring up a really big point. And most of the work that we do and the projects we do it's really not a head-cutting or even a cost-cutting exercise. It's really a growth exercise. Companies are asking, how do they grow? How do they grow their footprint? How do they grow their revenue? How do they grow their profit? And it's not necessarily, and in many cases, it's not, "How do we cut our costs?" but really, "How do we grow?"

Michelle Seger: [00:06:17] So, getting the organization to understand that we're doing business. We do a lot of global business. And we've got a multibillion-dollar company that we're doing sales transformation for right now. They are number one in their space. They've grown by acquisition a lot. They pretty much dominate that space now. They've got almost 2000. The plan is to have 2000 salespeople feet on the street. So, they're saying like, "What now?"

Michelle Seger: [00:06:46] And what we have determined is that in this particular client, they're not getting deep in their clients. So, they own the market, but they're not deep anywhere. And so, what we're doing is we're actually taking accounts away from salespeople where they're not penetrating, and we're showing them how they're going to earn more or as much as they did before. That's challenging because the minute you take away something, even if you haven't seen that client in five years, they think it's going to go down. So, all that to say, it gets down to one of my least favorite things, but one of the most important things to company, data analytics.

Steve Maul: [00:07:25] Sure.

Michelle Seger: [00:07:25] The proof source. So, even me being a people person, the way you get the buy-in is by showing people the money, and showing people the story, and building the scenario, and helping them understand how they're really going to get there.

Steve Maul: [00:07:38] So, that kind of ties back into what Mark was saying about compensation planning, and quota setting, and and sounds like territory assignments, account assignments. And then, along with that, does the expectation of performance get redesigned as well? Because if I'm expected to do more with fewer clients or fewer accounts in my territory, how do you bridge that gap to help them do that?

Mark Donnolo: [00:08:05] Well, it all fits together. We call it the revenue roadmap, Steve. So, basically, what that says is you've got four big layers in the organization or competency layers. Insight into what's happening in the market. So, insight is a good example that you brought up, Michelle, about, well, we're not highly penetrated. So, we have insight into our market, and our performance, competitors. You've got the strategy layer, which is, "Okay, our strategy to go to market is going to shift because of that." The coverage layer, "Okay. So, our roles are going to shift a bit, and our territories are going to shift a bit." And then, you've got the competency or the enablement layer, which has compensation, quotas, training and development, technology, et cetera.

Mark Donnolo: [00:08:39] So, all these things have to fit together. So, if we're going to take something, like the observation we made in that company that Michelle described, and we're going to adjust territories, well, we have to adjust how those roles are going to work. So, it's not just enough to say, "Well, we're going to take your territory from 50 accounts down to 20 accounts, and we want you to penetrate more." We have to help you understand how to penetrate more. We have to give you a value proposition to do that, to get into additional buying points. Then, we also, of course, have to adjust how the goals are going to work and the compensation works.

Mark Donnolo: [00:09:12] And the contrarian thing that happens here is when you reduce territory size, usually, you're not reducing the quota because the territory will tend to produce more. So, you may actually be increasing the quota, and that's been proven in company after company. So, counterintuitive to a lot of reps, but, again, back to change management, you have to communicate. You've got to give them that proof source for why that's really the truth.

Steve Maul: [00:09:36] So, the change management functions have got to be more than just organizational, or compensation, or operational. It's got to be at the person level to get them to change their behavior, their outlook, their sense of responsibility, all of those sorts of things.

Michelle Seger: [00:09:54] It does. And what you need to do is take them along that journey. And then tell them, not only explain the expectation, but then how you're going to get there, and how you're going to get them there. And then, it becomes a choice. So, some people maybe, choice or not, can't make the shift.

Steve Maul: [00:10:10] Sure.

Michelle Seger: [00:10:10] And so, you got to figure out what to do. Some people are really good, and they're good but maybe not in a particular role you have them in. And so, companies have to be bold. And many times, they're not, which is what leads to lack of of revenue, and profit, and sales in any way. So, what does that mean by being bold? Well, what am I going to do with these people? Do we retrain, redeploy, exit? Sometimes, it's the last. But taking people down the road, helping them understand the change, and then where they fit in the context. And then, it becomes, again, the personal choice the individual, the company choice to be bold, but support them along the journey.

Steve Maul: [00:10:51] Yeah. You hit a trigger for me because being bold is one of my favorite sayings to inspire people, to do things they might not feel they have the courage to do right now, and to help instill that courage, so they can be bold. But it seems like how they will be bold might be tied into their culture because you mentioned three different alternatives in their boldness that might not be perceived equally as well amongst those people who are being bold too.

Michelle Seger: [00:11:19] You're right.

Steve Maul: [00:11:21] Yeah.

Michelle Seger: [00:11:21] And so, we see that a lot of times. So, one of the first things that we want to do when we go into consult with an organization is to really understand their culture. We always start every initiative, I don't care if it's compensation, or we're looking to new organizational design, or something very tactical like segmentation of their business, we go in, and we interview people. And we go in and talk to them. And we really get deep into understanding the culture. And that actually sets the stage for how we approach the change management and how we approach the project.

Michelle Seger: [00:11:52] So, every single one is different because, at the end of the day, in the business that we do with sales, at the end of the day, I don't care how much enablement, how much technology, how many tools, how much AI is out there. At the end of the day, there are people at the end of the process, somewhere throughout that process. So, even if you've automated, you need to be thinking about that. And so, that tail-it approach is what will get you the buy-in.

Steve Maul: [00:12:17] So, yeah, because people are squishy. right?

Michelle Seger: [00:12:19] Yeah, they are.

Steve Maul: [00:12:20] They're hard to predict, and you can model their behavior, but they can go against their model.

Mark Donnolo: [00:12:27] That boldness point too, just to add in, I think that's a really important point because it's not just about changing the organization. It's about asking the leadership team, "What's your level of commitment to change?" And that's cultural, but the question we'll usually ask is, "What are you willing to do to make this change happen? How important is this change?" And it can even get to a level of, "What level of damage are you willing to sustain to make this happen if it's important enough? Are you going to be able to handle any broken glass that happens to make this change happen?"

Steve Maul: [00:12:57] And what do you find the response is to be? I'm sure they're varied but what-

Mark Donnolo: [00:13:02] It's varied. It's cultural, but I think you have to lay that question out because if not, the organization, the leadership team will just kind of operate in its normal mode. But if we say, "Well, we looked at the numbers, and we know that the trend is that quota attainment is declining over time. And pretty soon, the company's attainment is going to be declining. And there's going to be a point where it's going to be a much bigger problem to solve." And so, you get into motivators of change. And the biggest motivator of change is avoidance of short-term pain versus long-term aspiration. Like, "We're going to be great in the future," but if we see something coming that we have to avoid, that's a big motivator. And and that can get people's commitment. So, I think looking at those motivators can help us to figure out that level of commitment.

Steve Maul: [00:13:44] What's your experience, either of you, in living to the commitments that get made? Because asking for that commitment is one thing. And getting it, I suspect, you have a pretty high hit rate of people saying the right words in making that commitment. What happens down the road? Do they live to it, or how do you make sure they do?

Michelle Seger: [00:14:04] So, it depends. I hate to use that "it depends."

Steve Maul: [00:14:06] Sure.

Michelle Seger: [00:14:06] And it all starts, again, with the leadership and what they've done. So, we do tend to have a lot of repeat business. So, we have an opportunity to go in, and kind of audit, and look at what's happened-

Steve Maul: [00:14:19] There you go.

Michelle Seger: [00:14:19] ... for changes that have been made. And we also do counseling work with senior executives that we've worked with, so we can go back and see. And what we find is that leaders that stand behind what they're going to do, they can affect the change that they need, but we may go back, and we find out that some of leadership team may have gone, ones that couldn't take it along the journey. And it's no surprise. So, it has to be the leadership.

Michelle Seger: [00:14:48] Other companies, we have found that they've gone so far and haven't gone as far as they need to go because we do a lot of -- I'll give another story example. We do a lot of M&A work. And when you've got a company that may have grown up with a family, and they treat everyone as if they were part of the family, that becomes very difficult, especially when you're talking about multibillion-dollar companies that are now having to go to the next stage, and maybe a lot of the people just don't belong anymore. That's tough.

Michelle Seger: [00:15:19] And so, we do find that it's a mixed bag. Some make it and some don't. I guess, it depends at the end of the day how much do they really want to get to that goal. Sometimes, it's not a choice because maybe they've been acquired, and they're forced. But other times, they make the bold decision. And when you make the bold decision, what we find is that you bring along more people because you actually can find a better place for them than maybe a place where they didn't belong.

Steve Maul: [00:15:46] And in the absence of historical leadership, when people exhibit it, you tend to get more followers.

Michelle Seger: [00:15:52] You do. That's right. So, it's -- Go ahead, Mark.

Mark Donnolo: [00:15:55] So, we looked at this question. You're talking about the leadership. We looked at this question of change a few years ago, and cultural change, and sustainable change. And we found that there were three points that really made a difference. And one we're talking about, which is leadership, which is the message. We are going to change. This is what we're going to do culturally. The other thing was what we measure. So, you go all the way down to the bottom of what we call the revenue roadmap. So, what we're measuring, what we're paying for. So, that will help sustain change.

Mark Donnolo: [00:16:22] And in the middle layer, which is really important, was demonstration of that change. So, if you can find people in the organization to demonstrate to their peers what that change looks like. So, if you say - going back to the example Michelle was using - we're going to do a better job of penetrating accounts. We're going to be selling a full portfolio of our offerings. If people are showing how that's done, and they're being successful, then I go, "Well, I can do that." So, you take it out of the abstract, and you put it into the reality. And I can start to emulate those behaviors.

Steve Maul: [00:16:51] Become more practical.

Michelle Seger: [00:16:53] It becomes more practical. When they see the success, they start to ask for it because the idea is we've build a better model for you, whether it's a better lifestyle because you're working 80 hours now trying to get these 50 accounts, or you can really focus on the accounts that really matter to you. Whatever that thing is at the end of the day, the benefit is realized and demonstrated.

Steve Maul: [00:17:15] And the other wonderful thing about sales organizations is they like to compete. So, when they see one of their peers doing well, they want to be able to do that also.

Michelle Seger: [00:17:24] That's right.

Steve Maul: [00:17:25] Yeah, and we like competitors. That's a phenomenal backstory in how you do what you do. As I was preparing for for today's show, I noticed in Mark's bio, it says "Closet Art School MBA," which intrigued me. And looking into some of the other information that you guys sent me, the whole notion of design thinking when it comes to the sales organization. Tell me a little bit about what's going on there, Mark.

Mark Donnolo: [00:17:53] Well, the whole Closet Art School MBA thing, it was very painful at first, Steve. many, many years ago. I went to-

Steve Maul: [00:17:59] I was born.

Mark Donnolo: [00:18:02] I went to art school, undergrad, years ago in Philadelphia, became a designer in New York, did corporate identity and branding work. And back then, getting an MBA became a very well-known thing. And if you remember, Business Week came out with this ranking of the top business schools, and that became the hot thing. And so, everybody's looking through that and were like, "Well, that would be a great next step." So, I went off to business school because I really enjoyed the business side of things. When I was getting out of business school, and I was interviewing with companies, no real company, serious company, wanted to hire the art guy. They couldn't quite figure out what to do with me. So, I had to take the whole art thing, the design thing, and put it in the closet, and just interview as the business guy.

Steve Maul: [00:18:44] But I can do spreadsheets.

Mark Donnolo: [00:18:44] Right, right, yeah, yeah. So, yeah, I learned the spreadsheets and all that. So, what I figured out though was a few years later, a lot of this solution development I was doing, and I was doing with my team, actually, used those creative principles that we had used in design years before. So, it wasn't just about, "Here are the benchmarks and here is the answer," but it was about, how do we start to use those principles about desegregating the problem, and divergent thinking, and things like that?

Mark Donnolo: [00:19:11] So, that became something that is very important to us at SalesGlobe is design thinking to look at the problem differently. And as I described it before, the benefit for our clients is that they get new solutions and new ideas they may not have thought of otherwise versus, "Well, here's the benchmark. Here's what somebody did on another company. How do we think about this differently?" So, design thinking for us or sales design thinking, as we call it, is a process where we go through, and we take the problem statement, as we talked about before. We look at the story behind that and redefine it as a challenge question. We take the challenge question, we look at the components of that challenge question, and start to look for possible solutions to each of those components.

Mark Donnolo: [00:19:55] So, if we're trying to solve a problem around quotas, for an example, the problem statement might be around, "We need to fix quotas. Our quota process is broken." But when you disaggregate it, you might find that it has something to do with certain geographies, certain segments, maybe parts of the organization that were involved, perhaps finance or marketing that were involved. So, if you can tear that apart, and you can break it into its components, you can start to find different options or different ideas for solutions.

Michelle Seger: [00:20:23] So, it's a very simple process. And Mark put a lot out there. And the really interesting, cool thing that I'll say is, first of all, not only do we do that as consultants, we train our consultants inside to use design thinking, self-design thinking principles, but we also train our clients. We also give that knowledge transfer as they are building value propositions or trying to understand the needs of their clients. So, if you think about it, it's really kind of not so hard if you just take your problem statement, and then restate your problem statement. I mean, it sounds really complicated, but it's really not. And then, we do some parallel thinking. It sounds abstract, but I'll tell you, it's really not at the end of the day.

Steve Maul: [00:21:11] It actually seems pretty elegant, but I think that -- let me just surmise a guess as to why that might be so powerful because if your clients knew how to do that already, they would have done it before calling you. If they knew what the alternatives were, if they had more than the inspiration from last Sunday's Golf Show where they saw an ad for this particular technology, or a golfer wearing that particular visor with a consultancy name on it, that's the inspiration for change, perhaps, but the application of it is much more complicated, and they've never done it before. So, that's one of the inhibitors.

Michelle Seger: [00:21:50] Right. So, it's a new way of thinking, right, Mark? It's a new muscle.

Mark Donnolo: [00:21:56] And that's a great metaphor. It's a new muscle. So, you're basically building new creative muscle memory. So, it's as simple as taking whatever the thing is that you're trying to solve and asking questions about each of the key components of that. And so, we talked about sales strategy before, and we need a new sales strategy. Well, what do we mean by sales strategy? What is a sales strategy? So, asking those questions and bringing in others to talk about that. We talked about bringing in the outsider as well, bringing in others outside of your team to look at those ideas can expand thinking.

Mark Donnolo: [00:22:29] So, what we're trying to do is we're trying to just push beyond the obvious because most organizations will get through the first few steps of solution development. They'll identify the problem statement. They'll do something they call brainstorming. They all get together in a room with a lot of post-it notes and pulling a lot of stuff on the wall.

Steve Maul: [00:22:49] A lot of ignorance.

Mark Donnolo: [00:22:49] And then, what happens is after the brainstorming, they go off, and they say, "Well, let's type all that up and look at how we might develop, or we might implement some of those ideas." And they missed this whole discovery process of, "Let's go deeper and start to tear things apart."

Steve Maul: [00:23:05] Like our dear friends in Cupertino say think different, which is mostly differently, but that's okay, being a grammarian. No, but it is. It's taking them to a place they don't -- it's not that they're unable. They just have never done it. And you're telling me they are able because you can teach them how to do it. It's just like you said, a new muscle, something they haven't yet experienced on their own.

Michelle Seger: [00:23:28] Yeah. And once they do, it's a big aha moment. I mean, it really is. And we do it internally at SalesGlobe. When I first started at SalesGlobe years ago, and I didn't know a lot about sales compensation, I was probably one of the best ones at this because I didn't know what I didn't know. I was thrown out all kinds of stuff. And here I am five years later, and I still do that. but it's okay. But it does. Once people start to think a little bit differently, what we have found, even our clients, they can't solve things the way that their competitors are because their clients are looking for differentiation, or what's the real reason to change, to buy from you as opposed to where I've been comfortable buying from. So, that's really why this is very powerful.

Mark Donnolo: [00:24:17] So, if you take an example that you're referring to about sales compensation, there are plenty of left-brain structures out there on how to do sales compensation, or how to do sales role design, what have you, but if you can break some of those constraints that makes a difference. So, a very simple example, if you take sales compensation, one of the principles of sales compensation is you pay for results, not activities. Some companies we've worked with however, you find that the result is actually not the one thing you want to pay for. So, we work with the company in the beer business a few years ago, and what we found is that what drove beer sales through the retailer was not paying for cases or additional beer volume, paying the reps, but it was actually paying for the merchandising, paying for the marketing components that they got put in those stores. So, we paid for activities, which then produced results, which was beer selling through the store.

Steve Maul: [00:25:14] Right, because results are always achieved through activities.

Michelle Seger: [00:25:17] Isn't that interesting? Yes.

Mark Donnolo: [00:25:20] That would break one of the tenets of sales compensation.

Steve Maul: [00:25:22] Exactly.

Mark Donnolo: [00:25:23] So, you've got to break some of this. So, you might say, "Well, what is it that actually drives that result we're looking for?" And then, let's break some of those rules.

Steve Maul: [00:25:29] Yeah, because if you only pay on the results, and then you restrict the activities - and, obviously, there are some legal, moral, ethical restrictions, obviously - but if you start to then get over-regimented in the activities you're allowed to do or forced to do, you're actually working against your own outcomes.

Michelle Seger: [00:25:45] That's exactly right. Yeah that's true. The biggest challenge with that project though, Mark, is you and that team, you are drunk all the time. It was a real problem. But outside of that, it went extremely well.

Steve Maul: [00:25:57] It sounds like a lot of sales organizations I know. So, it sounds like a really creative and innovative way. And getting people to think differently is absolutely a great idea. And, obviously, you're getting the results you want from it. What are some of the other challenges that you see organizations facing today? You've touched on some of them with compensation and sales strategy. What are some of the other things, sales enablement things that you're seeing businesses really struggle with today?

Mark Donnolo: [00:26:27] Well, I think one of the perennial ones is quota setting, which is why we wrote the new book called Quotas! But it's-

Steve Maul: [00:26:32] Well-named.

Mark Donnolo: [00:26:36] But it has an exclamation point on it.

Michelle Seger: [00:26:39] It does, it does.

Mark Donnolo: [00:26:40] But one of the challenges, I think, is that quotas are a bit elusive in that we spend a lot of time on the incentive compensation plan, and at the end of the the quarter, we say we're going to go set quotas. So, somebody will go set quotas in a conference room or in the boardroom, and they're done; when, in fact, it really goes a lot deeper than that. You've got to understand the people components in terms of the dynamics of the team, the dynamics of the sales organization, and two very important counterbalancing factors, which is market opportunity and sales capacity.

Mark Donnolo: [00:27:12] So, quota setting, I think, is challenging because it just really is a new frontier for a lot of organizations. They haven't spent a lot of time on it. And the dynamic changes, because it's not all about the sales organization with quotas because you get heavy involvement from the finance organization, which tends to think a little bit differently than sales.

Steve Maul: [00:27:30] They think, "We want this much money. We have these many salespeople. Divide."

Michelle Seger: [00:27:33] That's it.

Mark Donnolo: [00:27:35] That's it.

Steve Maul: [00:27:35] And they either oversubscribed or undersubscribed.

Mark Donnolo: [00:27:37] Right, or that you got the basic impression.

Steve Maul: [00:27:38] Right, right.

Mark Donnolo: [00:27:39] And then, that does not always work. So, that's a big area for us. With the book, we went into those major components I just described, but we also used the design-thinking approach. And the idea is, well, we could write a book about quota setting, but that wouldn't help people necessarily solve their problems. So, what we did is we wrote a book about problem solving with quota setting as the object. And we're giving people a way to understand how to solve that problem with the tools that we're giving them for working on quotas.

Mark Donnolo: [00:28:10] So, again, as we said before, redefining the problem, divergent thinking, et cetera, applied to these building blocks of quotas around people, market opportunity, sales capacity. And with those tools, you can then solve the problem. So, it just hasn't really been explored. It's one of those, as I said, next frontiers.

Steve Maul: [00:28:26] Yeah. And that human element and the market opportunity element are kind of really important attributes or components of the equation. Who needs to hear that message? In your most client organizations, who should be -- so, I'm going to point to the listeners here to get that person to buy your book, for sure, because we know finance, how they do it, but we also know sales ops gets involved, and there is a sales strategy around quota achievement. There's a cultural aspect to that about how hard we want the whip to crack or how easily we want to be -- what a great place we want this to be to work. So, there's a lot of other cultural elements that enter into this as well, so.

Mark Donnolo: [00:29:07] Well, I think the key players need to really understand how this works because when we did the research on it, and we knew this intuitively, you've got senior leadership, you have sales leadership, sales senior leadership, you have sales operations, you have the people in finance, of course. So, they've got to understand how to work together. So, I think it's important for them to understand how this whole process works.

Steve Maul: [00:29:30] So, creating some teaming there.

Mark Donnolo: [00:29:32] Exactly, exactly.

Steve Maul: [00:29:33] Common outcomes, different responsibilities coming together.

Mark Donnolo: [00:29:36] Right. So then, take it to the other end, if you look at the field, and you look at field sales management, and even reps understanding how their quotas are set and how they can get a better quota is very important to them as well. So, not just getting the number, but how do I negotiate my number? Not in a devious way, but how do I know the factors I should be considering when my leadership tells me, "Okay, here's your number"? What should I come back with in terms of response? And how do I build a logical argument? And then, how do I understand how to go after and get that quota ultimately. So, I think, the book itself talks to several different audiences from a leadership standpoint and a field style standpoint.

Steve Maul: [00:30:14] Does it get into the compensation design as well, or is that something that you probably have to do? Because that's -- I mean, I've never met a salesperson myself included who didn't, the moment they got their comp plan, read it cover to cover and say, "How am I going to hit this? Where can I trick it? How do I optimize this for my results?" And so, where does that come in?

Mark Donnolo: [00:30:34] The book focuses on quotas exclusively. We have another book we wrote a couple of years ago called What Your CEO Needs to Know About Sales Compensation. It, actually, is the beginning point of that. So, if you put those two together, it'd be a nice gift set actually. You put those two together, then you get the whole size of the equation.

Steve Maul: [00:30:50] Available at a bookseller near you.

Mark Donnolo: [00:30:50] Right, right.

Michelle Seger: [00:30:51] I'll tell you what, if you bundle in an account planning, you can do an excellent three-for-one option there, but anyway. So, the point that you just asked, the point that you just made very clear, Steve, you're right. They're inexplicably linked. You can build the best compensation plan known to man and known to anyone, but if the quotas aren't believed, and they're not realistic, then yeah. So, it doesn't work right. So, we really do spend a lot of time, again, on change management communications, proof sources, helping people understand how they're going to get there.

Steve Maul: [00:31:28] So, communication is a critical aspect of everything I've heard today because the reps want to believe the quota wasn't just a number on a dartboard, and that there's a reasonable chance they can actually come close to it or exceed it. Nobody wants -- I'm sure there are people out there who would love to give me quota. It's exactly $10 less than I already planned on selling. But no, most people don't mind working for their quota, but they want to know it's achievable.

Michelle Seger: [00:31:56] They do want to know it's achievable, yes. This comes down again to the proof sources, and the data analytics showing them what it is. So, truly understanding. Mark talked about when you set your quota, you're looking at market, as well as capacity. So, it's more than just, "Here's the number." If they look at the market opportunity, we're talking about white space opportunity that they can truly penetrate and explaining to them how green space, new logo business, like where is it and how do you get it if that's the expectation of that role. And then, bouncing that against the capacity. In other words, how much we know you can sell, how many hours do you have, and how does that translate into revenue dollars that you have to sell. And so, you need to give them though the proof source and data behind it.

Michelle Seger: [00:32:43] And then, we also like to show when you're changing a plan, and even if it's a really good plan, what we typically will do is we'll show them an example of a deal. Here is your plan last year, and here's what would happen into the new plan, so that they really do understand how it would pay and benefit them at the end of the day.

Mark Donnolo: [00:33:01] So, that's Chapter 10 of the book, which is making change. And so, we get into that after you've done all this work. How do you introduce to the organization? And one piece at the end that Michelle is describing is what we call the communications campaign. So, it encapsulates a lot of those areas we've been talking about, which is your audiences, your key messages, your proof sources, your vehicles and learning modes. So, it sounds like a lot, but when you do that phrase, a program like quota setting, or like a new sales organization, or the change in the sales compensation program, that will, to a very large degree, make it more successful as a program in implementation.

Steve Maul: [00:33:44] So, you guys have been talking so far about stuff that happens organizationally, leader-sponsored, everything else. What's your advice, and what parts of this might be applicable to the individual who's looking at his or her territory, looking at the accounts, looking at their own performance? What can they do? What would be your advice be to them that if they don't have organizational change underway to try and do better themselves?

Michelle Seger: [00:34:11] Mark, you want to take that?

Mark Donnolo: [00:34:12] Well, I think it starts -- I'll take one piece of it, how you spend your time. So, that's one big sales operations area that we look at is time allocation or time focus. And on average, sales organizations or sales teams spend about half their time actually selling, and they spend the rest of their time doing other administrative or operational things. So, understanding what I'm doing with my time as an organization or as an individual makes a big difference. And we find the biggest predictors of success are going to be areas like time spent in contact with customers, assuming the right strategy, assuming the right messages, et cetera. So, knowing where I spend my time.

Mark Donnolo: [00:34:49] And I'd say the other big area, at least, for me, would be taking my goal as a rep and knowing how to break my goal down or rebuild that goal. So, if I've got a goal of $5 million, how many deals do I need to close to get that $5 million? And what does my pipeline need to look like? And we all know all the old adage is about pipeline, but in the organizations that do well with quota change and giving quotas to their teams, their sales leaders spend time with the reps talking about how to break that goal down and how you can hit your goal.

Steve Maul: [00:35:23] Right. Knowing what your average sales price is by route to market, new name versus existing customer, all those various attributes.

Mark Donnolo: [00:35:30] Right. And you could build a basic capacity model with a rep that says average deal size, the number of calls you need to make to get a call, to get a an opportunity, the number of opportunities that go to proposal, proposes to close, et cetera. And you can look at those factors. So, you can do that as a rep and as a sales leader.

Steve Maul: [00:35:49] Great.

Michelle Seger: [00:35:50] Okay. So, you made an assumption there I believe, Steve, which was, "I don't have the support," right? Did I hear you say-

Steve Maul: [00:35:55] Or there is just no initiative underway.

Michelle Seger: [00:35:58] No initiative underway. I like to-

Steve Maul: [00:36:00] I still got my quota. I just got it. I got my comp plan. I still think the quota comes from a Ouija board, but I still want to do better. So, what should I do?

Michelle Seger: [00:36:12] Okay. Scream quietly in your room now. Actually, just like, "Oh my God. What do I do?" So, that's what I want.

Steve Maul: [00:36:19] Sure.

Michelle Seger: [00:36:19] I always like to get the context.

Steve Maul: [00:36:21] All right.

Michelle Seger: [00:36:21] Yeah, the changes are really underway. So, I'm always thinking about the people side of things and whatever. So, look at -- just like what Mark said, I'd be looking at my accounts first and looking at how I can create my own level of account planning. So, be a little bit more strategic about your accounts this year. So, if I know I did X this year, what exactly did I do? And I would, at its most simple account planning, assuming that you don't have this process under way, the most simple thing that an individual can do is looking at, let's say, you got 10 accounts, take the first one. Okay. Who are my buyers there? Who are my contacts? What do we sell them today? What else could we sell them? Who else might be selling there? What other buyers might there be? Like go through a little bit of discovery on the pain points that your customer may have and engage them in the process.

Michelle Seger: [00:37:20] So, if you have a good relationship, talk to them about it. Let's talk about, together, how we can solve. What are the problems that you're trying to solve? We'll do a little discovery there. And then, together, how can I get you where you need to go? So, just kind of -- I think that account planning is just a real -- without going -- if they don't have a formal account planning process, I'm not talking about a document that's created and just sits on a shelf. Just in your mind, you can even think through some of the really first steps, which is, "Who are my buyers? What are their pain points? Who's my competitor? What are their weaknesses?" Like there's very simple things that you can do. That's one thing technology has done for individuals is it's put a lot of power in the hands of our customers but, also, in salespeople and individuals.

Steve Maul: [00:38:05] Because I hope the phone rings off the hook for you guys as a result of the show, but I always like to leave the people who are listening, who are the individual contributors, the ones who are out there facing the customers day in and day out, with some hope. They can't have to wait for the rest of the world to change around them. They need to be able to feel a sense of responsibility and accountability for their own performance. And I just want to clarify one thing you said, Mark, because you said about 50% of their time is spent selling. When you say that, what does that mean? Does that mean face time with a customer, or voice time with the customer, or the preparation for those meetings, or what kind of goes into that selling basket?

Mark Donnolo: [00:38:45] Yeah, it's about half the time on sales and sales-supporting activities. So, what I mean by that is proposal development and things that you're doing to-

Steve Maul: [00:38:55] Call planning, preparation, research.

Mark Donnolo: [00:38:57] Actual customer contact time tends to be about a third of total time.

Steve Maul: [00:39:00] Right, okay.

Mark Donnolo: [00:39:02] And then, the other areas outside of the sales time would be operational, administrative, putting out fires. Some of those are a little tricky because people will say, "Well, that is a sales activity. I do have to work with the customer on those issues." Well, that's where we would look at this idea of job decontamination to say, "You really need to be dealing with those service issues, or could we have another person, another role do that?" So, what's the highest and best use of-

Steve Maul: [00:39:27] Who doesn't cost quite as much and whose opportunity cost isn't more revenue.

Mark Donnolo: [00:39:32] That's exactly it. That's exactly it, yeah.

Michelle Seger: [00:39:34] And Steve, whether you have support inside for an initiative around that or not, typically, there is someone inside. It becomes a trust thing. Your salesperson doesn't want to trust that inside person, or customer service, or whoever it might be to really handle that problem, but they have to. I mean, they have to retrain themselves.

Steve Maul: [00:39:56] So, there's only 168 hours in the week.

Michelle Seger: [00:40:00] Right. That's it.

Steve Maul: [00:40:01] Nobody gets any more. So, revenue roadmap, I heard about design thinking. What else are the hot spots in your business today? What else are you hearing? Anything else that our listeners should be paying attention to?

Mark Donnolo: [00:40:14] I think one of the big ones is coaching and talent. And we can kind of talk about those together. Coaching is one of those things that everybody knows that they should be doing, or the organization is doing a little bit of, but either they're not doing enough of it, or they're not doing it the right way. So, is coaching me, as a sales manager, going in, helping a rep close the sale? Probably not. Is it helping a rep deal with transactional issues? Probably not. So, how much time are we spending on coaching, and what's the quality of that coaching?

Mark Donnolo: [00:40:45] Married up to that talent would be understanding your inventory of what you have on your team in terms of the characteristics that fit the optimal profile for that type of job. So, what do I mean by that? If I had a strategic account manager, for example, I might say the characteristics of that job look like this in terms of intellectual capabilities, behavioral characteristics, and these are highly correlated with success in that job. And if we don't see that, how do we coach and develop those people? And how do we also bring in the right people as we're recruiting new folks?

Steve Maul: [00:41:16] Yeah, because it goes to outlook, motivation, sense of responsibility, all of those things. And I always differentiate talent from skills because I can teach you talent, but you don't have to learn it.

Michelle Seger: [00:41:26] That's right.

Steve Maul: [00:41:27] And talent comes from within, and the coaching helps you develop that. But skills, I can teach you. And so, that's how I make that differentiation when I'm working with my clients.

Mark Donnolo: [00:41:36] Right. And that's one of those things, we talked about change management, that you can't change by PowerPoint. You can't change coaching. You can't change talent by PowerPoint. That takes practice. You have to change habits and what people do on a day-to-day basis. So, that's where you've got to get really close to the organization to be able to change those types of habits.

Michelle Seger: [00:41:56] Yeah. Coaching talent, hand-in-hand, right. So, we coaching, we are getting into so much of that because what we're finding is that as organizations are looking at understanding the individual contributors, they're not getting where they need to go, or finding that the managers aren't coaching because, usually, your best performers, what happens?

Steve Maul: [00:42:16] You promote them.

Michelle Seger: [00:42:17] You do. And what have you done to prepare them?

Steve Maul: [00:42:20] Nothing.

Michelle Seger: [00:42:20] Right. So, what do they end up doing?

Steve Maul: [00:42:22] Nothing or poorly.

Michelle Seger: [00:42:24] And selling maybe two, right?

Steve Maul: [00:42:27] Yeah, they become the super seller.

Michelle Seger: [00:42:27] They become the super seller.

Steve Maul: [00:42:29] They become the one who steps in when their person struggles.

Michelle Seger: [00:42:32] So then, what happens? You individual contributors probably don't hit their-

Steve Maul: [00:42:35] Quota.

Michelle Seger: [00:42:36] Right. You are like so smart, Steve. But anyway, you're great.

Steve Maul: [00:42:40] It's this cue card [crosstalk].

Michelle Seger: [00:42:41] And that's exactly right. I know. They're good, right?

Steve Maul: [00:42:45] I almost read the third one. No.

Michelle Seger: [00:42:46] Don't read that one.

Steve Maul: [00:42:49] Okay.

Michelle Seger: [00:42:49] But that's exactly right. So, what we're being asked to do is kind of assess now that the skill, the talent, if you will, of the management team, so that we can understand how they can learn how to coach better. And then, again, this goes back to the boldness. Some of those people, you need to really understand, do they belong where you put them just because they are your top performer? Do they need to be in that position? So, that's kind of hard. If I shift to something really different around organizational design, I don't know how much time we have talked about this stuff but-

Steve Maul: [00:43:23] We're good. We're fine.

Michelle Seger: [00:43:23] Inside sales and the evolution of it, what do you know about that? Do you know a lot about that?

Steve Maul: [00:43:29] Well, why don't you tell our listeners about it?

Michelle Seger: [00:43:31] Okay. So, it's like-

Steve Maul: [00:43:32] It doesn't matter if I know.

Michelle Seger: [00:43:34] So, what we're seeing is -- we're actually going to be speaking about this in Europe this summer. So, at SalesGlobe Europe, we have the largest Sales Effectiveness Conference in London, which is kind of fun. But anyway, we're going to be talking about the evolution of inside sales. And going back, maybe I read an article that was about seven or eight years old maybe as I was just doing some general research. And it said by 2020, there will be no field sales reps. Everything will be inside. And I'm going, "Hmm, that's interesting." And there has been a massive shift to the inside.

Michelle Seger: [00:44:12] But I think what's going to happen is and what organizations are discovering is a couple of things. It's not necessarily as cost effective as you thought because you can't necessarily take all your business and put it inside entry level positions. So, it's the professionalization of that role. Yes, you can gain more revenue and more profit, but it's not like you can shut off the field team and just shift everything inside. That's one thing we're finding out.

Michelle Seger: [00:44:40] And what we're also finding out is that what companies are doing is they're saying, "Okay, we're going to sell these products inside, these simple ones, and complex products outside." And we're finding that a lot of that's not working either because you've got inside and outside sales teams that are calling into the same client and creating a whole level of confusion. It's like there's this panacea, cure all of the inside sales. It's the secret sauce to selling more, and really penetrating, and growing, and doing it cheaply. And I don't think so.

Michelle Seger: [00:45:12] So, what are we seeing as trends? We're seeing a teaming effort of inside and out. We're seeing that that can actually be a real key to penetrating an existing customer. That's kind of cool, right? And the professionalization of the inside sales team. So, if I, for some reason, decide that I don't want to be on the road anymore, it doesn't mean it's the end of my career as a salesperson, and I can have just as lucrative and rewarding as a position inside.

Mark Donnolo: [00:45:38] And you're talking about managing change before. One of the things we're seeing there too is you're taking some of your best field reps, bringing them inside to demonstrate how it's done. So, it's not just an entry-level position anymore. And I think, also, there's a cost factor here, but there's also, I think, a factor that has to do with the customer, which is fragmentation of time. Customers don't have time to spend in sales meetings with reps as much anymore. So, it's easier to get to the point on the phone. Customers are better informed than they ever have been as we, I think, referred to before with the web. So, they have more information. So, they don't need the traditional rep to be able to open up the box and show the wares. What they need is they need somebody to be able to deal with their issues directly. And they also need somebody who can be consultative while they're doing that.

Steve Maul: [00:46:27] Right, because there's a lot of studies out there that showed that customer, 30% to 50% the way through their buying process before they pick up the phone and talk to a salesperson. They don't need salespeople like they used to because all that information is available. The knowledge is available. It's the persuasion that isn't that.

Michelle Seger: [00:46:44] That's right, yeah.

Steve Maul: [00:46:44] And so, the key there is it sounded like because when you start inside sales, a lot of organizations confuse that with business development and lead generation. And I think it's really important to differentiate those and delineate the responsibilities. But it sounded like that teaming effort that you mentioned would still depend a little bit on either that complexity or the type of customer you're selling to or the type of product you're selling. Is that true?

Michelle Seger: [00:47:10] Absolutely.

Steve Maul: [00:47:11] Okay.

Michelle Seger: [00:47:11] So, there are some organizations that, sure, you can go inside. It's really true. A lot of SaaS products, we're finding especially well-known services out there and software, it can be inside. And what we're finding is, particularly in M&A, we are finding that more of our customers, what are they trying to do? They're trying to provide complete solutions. They're trying to differentiate from a commoditized product that they had yesterday. They're doing more value ads. So, what we're finding is where you've got a teaming effort - you're exactly right, Steve - it's maybe I've got some hardware that I can get inside, but I've got some custom products that maybe I want to touch and feel or talk to someone who's very knowledgeable that can help me with a five-year strategy on this thing because it's going to cost a lot of money. And we have to even decide. Is that CapEx decision? Like helping me through. The thinking is where I might want someone to work with me.

Steve Maul: [00:48:08] And the nature teaming is a change for many organizations as well.

Michelle Seger: [00:48:12] Very different, yeah.

Steve Maul: [00:48:13] Because there's trust that has to be established and vulnerability. Yeah.

Michelle Seger: [00:48:15] It's tough. I'll tell you what, there is a panacea magic bullet on that one though, kind of. At least, so far, it's been working for us every time.

Steve Maul: [00:48:24] That's good.

Michelle Seger: [00:48:25] And that is where it's not worked, more companies have struggles with that, is we're getting in there, and we're finding that you have certain activities and objectives for the inside team, and certain objectives and activities for the field team. There is supposed to be teaming. And what we found is they're not linked. The minute that you link and marry their incentive compensation plans to each other, all of the sudden, all that conflict has gone away. And, actually, it's kind of -- Am I wrong, Mark?

Mark Donnolo: [00:48:57] No, I agree. We just saw firsthand with the company we're working with right now, the inside and field competed in the same customers. And we changed everything around, and we said, "Okay, you're going to be all paid on the same measures. Here's your portfolio of accounts. Here's your whitespace map, everything that we're selling now, and what you're not selling. And go at it. And try to figure out as a team how you're going to go get it." And it works.

Michelle Seger: [00:49:21] It does work, yeah.

Steve Maul: [00:49:22] Because absent of that coordination, you're putting the customer in the middle, and they get frustrated.

Michelle Seger: [00:49:26] They are.

Mark Donnolo: [00:49:28] Right.

Steve Maul: [00:49:28] No win.

Mark Donnolo: [00:49:28] Right.

Michelle Seger: [00:49:29] Yeah.

Mark Donnolo: [00:49:29] Yeah. We never want the customer to have to be the aggregator of our organization.

Steve Maul: [00:49:33] Right. Who do I call for what? That just never works out well.

Michelle Seger: [00:49:36] No, it doesn't. So, clear swim lanes, clear roles and responsibilities, clearly-linked compensation plan.

Steve Maul: [00:49:44] That's great. Any other hot spots we should all be talking about?

Mark Donnolo: [00:49:50] Gee, I think we did talk about account planning briefly, but I'll mention that again just because it really deserves that, which is another one of those that everybody does it. Everybody's had some kind of experience with it. A lot of people have gone to counseling because of account plans.

Steve Maul: [00:50:08] Yeah, the worst words in the world. It's time to build our account plans again, at which point, everyone rips out a clean sheet of paper, and starts from scratch.

Mark Donnolo: [00:50:14] Right. So, like we said before, Steve, it's one of those terms or one of those sets of words that we automatically attribute meaning to. So, whenever you say account planning, people have images flash up in their mind of what that is - the pain, the suffering, the presentations, putting in the file cabinet, pulling it out next year, and wondering if we actually ever did anything that we said we were going to do.

Steve Maul: [00:50:35] If it was in the filing cabinet, we didn't.

Mark Donnolo: [00:50:37] Right, right. So, I mean, we're lucky, but account planning we think of as creating a living account planning process. So, how do you do something, number one, that's simple that the organization will actually do, and they'll follow up on it? And how do you create a process that keeps them engaged throughout the year? And it's not about the presentation, but it's about making that plan visible, so that the entire sales team that's relevant to that plan can see progress on it. Building action plans within that account plan, putting it in CRM to make it come alive. So, it's not your your father's account planning process anymore. It's a very alive, enabled, active account planning process.

Mark Donnolo: [00:51:19] So, that's really important. So, we've got to get rid of those old meetings, and we've got to teach people how to do that and in very simple way. So, we're spending a lot of time doing that right now. And, of course, it gets results because we go through some creative exercises about, okay, you've got to make sure -- for example, we've got a big account. We've got to sell $10 million in that account next year. How are we going to do that? Well, how do we start to come up with ideas for all the opportunities that we can pursue? And then, how do we start to push our thinking to come up with new ideas that we haven't thought of before? So, there's some techniques we use there as well.

Steve Maul: [00:51:49] Yeah. And because we, so often, talk now about the buyer journey, instead of asking the question, "What do we need to sell?" we might ask ourselves what they might need to buy in order-

Michelle Seger: [00:52:00] That's right.

Steve Maul: [00:52:00] ... in order to accomplish their business objectives.

Michelle Seger: [00:52:02] Yeah.

Mark Donnolo: [00:52:02] Right. So, what they need to buy, we'll usually break it into a few pieces. What can we do to sell our stuff to the customer? What can we do to partner with the customer to help them sell their stuff to their customer? What can we do to partner with somebody else that is related to us in our business to work with the customer to give them value that we can't give them alone? So, we start thinking in different dimensions like that, and we start saying, "Well, if we've got a $10-million goal for the account, how do we find 30 right now? You'll run out at about probably 15 or 20, but we can find 30 by using some of those creative techniques, by using those different angles.

Steve Maul: [00:52:45] That's great.

Michelle Seger: [00:52:46] Yeah. Another real hot one is formalization of sales operations, or sales enablement, whatever it is that we want to call that. And people get so hung up in words. It's like, "How do you define sales enablement from sales operations?" And you can find a thousand articles out there that will tell you that I'm wrong by saying they're really one and the same. But if you look at what's going on in that space, it's the sales ops. It's about providing analytics, dashboard visibility, which is really required, and not in a manual way. It's evolving into even moving from data analytics to predictive analytics. More on that in a second. Sales enablement, people differentiate differentiated and say, "Well, that's really about providing the tools and the training for sales organizations." So, one about operationalizing the business, and the other about operationalizing, if you will, the salesperson, the individual. And I tell you that many organizations that we consult with, it's one and the same.

Michelle Seger: [00:53:48] But hot topic because it's usually disparate, and a lot of companies don't even have that function defined. Maybe territories, or planning, if it even happens, or quotas are happening in finance, which is really unrelated to marketing, which is building these products. And your sales team actually knows what they can actually sell. And then, none of these people are even talking to each other. That happens a lot.

Michelle Seger: [00:54:13] And so, what we find is the sales ops function, we're asked to install them - install, if you will - to bring that function into a company, and it allows you, an objective party, to bring all those parties together in the end. I guess, any company that's thinking about, "That's right. Quotas are here, and comp is there, and product is there. And how do we even start in our own company?" I would just say you, as a sales leader, sales organization, chief sales officer, whatever you might have there at your company, just think about what's our biggest pain point and what do we need first. And then, just start there with one thing. Build your case around that.

Mark Donnolo: [00:54:58] So, as you described, Michelle, sales operations is probably the most consistently inconsistent in organizations.

Steve Maul: [00:55:07] Sure.

Michelle Seger: [00:55:07] Yeah.

Mark Donnolo: [00:55:07] So, going from company to company, it's all-

Steve Maul: [00:55:09] There's no common definition.

Michelle Seger: [00:55:10] No.

Mark Donnolo: [00:55:11] So, one of the places we start with is define the mission of sales operations because the mission is, usually, by de facto, running around as fast as you can, being the busiest team in the building, and trying to do everything that sales organization doesn't want to deal with. The mission has to be something more like we are going to enable the sales organization to improve sales productivity, or profitable growth, or whatever that is. And then, everything has to flow from that mission. So, you described some of the functions like territory planning, segmentation, training, technology, what have you. Those all have to then fold into sales operations.

Mark Donnolo: [00:55:50] And then, also sales operations, this will be a controversial point, has to go in the right place. Does it sit within sales? Does it sit within finance? Does it sit within another organization? So, we do a lot of migrations of reformed sales operations, organization that are moving out of finance, wounded, into sales, so they can be productive.

Steve Maul: [00:56:11] Well, if it lives in any one of those, then it's suspect by all the others.

Mark Donnolo: [00:56:15] Right. That's right. That's right. Well, if it lives in finance, sales operations very much becomes an accounting type function. It's a control function. If it moves into sales, properly managed, it can become a revenue-driving function.

Steve Maul: [00:56:28] Yes. And as long as finance sees the revenue, they're happy with it. But otherwise, it's a giveaway to the sales organization.

Mark Donnolo: [00:56:34] Right. And granted, there have to be checks and balances to make sure we don't have the fox in the henhouse.

Steve Maul: [00:56:39] That's right.

Mark Donnolo: [00:56:40] And you also have to have sets of books that are consistent. So, sales operations, when they pull a forecast report, or they pull a report on results, it has to match what finance pulls.

Steve Maul: [00:56:49] Right.

Michelle Seger: [00:56:49] Right, yeah.

Mark Donnolo: [00:56:49] So, we have to make sure they're-

Steve Maul: [00:56:50] One version of the truth.

Mark Donnolo: [00:56:52] Yes.

Michelle Seger: [00:56:52] That's right.

Steve Maul: [00:56:53] Great. Well, how do people get in touch with you?

Mark Donnolo: [00:56:56] They can go to That is probably the easiest place. That's our website. And we have links to all of our social media out there.

Michelle Seger: [00:57:04] We do. We have articles out there. We got a lot of cool content. And we've got a great show coming up in Europe. Anybody that's in London this summer, if you're going to be there, Steve, that's coming up in June. But we'll also be at a few other shows that are happening in the United States. And you can find this out on our website as well.

Steve Maul: [00:57:24] That's great.

Mark Donnolo: [00:57:25] And you can also check us out on Amazon with the books that we've talked about. So, the new book, Quotas! Design Thinking to Solve Your Biggest Sales Challenge, that will be out in mid-October. And I think that's going to be a fun read. And Steve, I included a lot of personal stories in there, just full disclosure, because we wanted to take the mystique out of or the aura out of quarters being all about the numbers-

Steve Maul: [00:57:47] Storytelling.

Mark Donnolo: [00:57:47] ... because it's so much about behaviors

Steve Maul: [00:57:49] Yeah, storytelling is the way to do it.

Michelle Seger: [00:57:50] Yeah, lots of stories, yeah.

Mark Donnolo: [00:57:50] Yeah. So, I think it'll be a fun book to read.

Steve Maul: [00:57:52] Mark Donnolo and Michelle Seger, thanks so much for joining us today. We're really glad you're on Sales Effectiveness Radio. Appreciate all the insights you shared. It's been a pleasure.

Mark Donnolo: [00:58:00] Great. Thank you.

Michelle Seger: [00:58:01] Thank you, Steve.

Steve Maul: [00:58:01] Thank you.

Steve Maul: [00:58:02] This is Steve Maul signing off for Sales Effectiveness Radio. We'll see you next time.

Announcer: [00:58:09] Thanks for listening to Sales Effectiveness Radio, brought to you by The Semantics Group. To learn more and to listen to more episodes of Sales Effectiveness Radio, please go to

Published by
Steve Maul
May 14, 2019
August 14, 2019