At Improving Sales Performance, we are proud to be celebrating Women in Sales Month once again.
For all of October, we have an amazing slate of women sales leaders who will be sharing their unique insights.
From offering advice for sales managers new and old to surveying the anticipated landscape of sales in the years ahead, when it comes to Improving Sales Performance, these ladies know how it's done.
Joining Matt for the entire month is Stephanie Downs, SVP & Senior Consultant at The Center for Sales Strategy.
Today, our guest is Katie Reid, Senior Vice President & Market Manager for Bonneville Denver
Katie makes so many awesome points. Such as:
ABOUT IMPROVING SALES PERFORMANCE:
Improving Sales Performance is hosted by Matt Sunshine who speaks with guests that are thought leaders, experts, and industry gurus, to share their insight, tips, and knowledge on various topics that help companies improve sales performance.
2:17 When you look at the overall sales organization or the sales department specifically, tell me a few things that you look at on a regular basis to know if you're on track or not.
4:03 Not being surprised is key
4:42 Category focus is the "secret sauce"
6:26 Thinking about sales leaders in general, what are really the biggest, the highest priority things, they should be paying attention to on a day in and day out basis?
6:52 Everything is more complicated
9:12 Do you find an onboarding new sellers today that it is harder to onboard them and it takes longer or not?
9:20 Mentoring in a hybrid environment
11:17 You have to be way more of a partner now
12:33 The pro's and con's of having so many resources these days
15:25 So thinking about that related to sales leaders, what do they have to be great at today?
15:31 They have to be strategic and in the trenches
17:02 So if you were giving advice to a new sales leader, say you're onboarding a new sales leader, you know, in Denver, what advice would you give them?
18:13 A sales leader's job is to remove obstacles
20:31 When you really look out three to five years, how do you think the sales departments are going to continue evolving?
Welcome to Improving Sales Performance, a podcast highlighting tips and insights aimed at helping sales organizations realize and maybe even exceed their goals. Here we chat with thought leaders, experts in gurus who have years of sales experience from a wide range of industries. This season, we are celebrating women in Sales month by talking to some amazing women sales pros. Joining me for the entire month of October is Stephanie Downs, SVP and senior consultant at the Center for Sales Strategy. She'll be sharing her insights along with our fabulous guests. I'm your host Matt Sunshine, managing partner at the Center for Sales Strategy, Sales Performance Consultant.Stephanie Downs:
We're so proud to be celebrating Women in Sales Month for all of October. We have an amazing slate of women's sales leaders who will be sharing their unique insights from offering advice for sales managers, new or more experienced, to discussing the anticipated landscape of sales and years ahead when it comes to improving sales performance. These ladies know how it's done. I am Stephanie down, senior Vice President at the Center for Sales Strategy, and I'll be joining Matt Sunshine on the show for the entire month of October. Today our guest is Katie Reid, senior vice president and market manager for Bonneville in Denver. And Katie makes so many awesome points. Things like avoiding surprises by keeping a watchful eye on your entire sales funnel, maintaining and fostering organic growth, communication and coaching in a hybrid work environment, and the power in truly understanding the individuals who are reporting to you.Matt Sunshine:
All right, let's jump in. I know, uh, Stephanie, you and I have, uh, we have a list, a pretty good list of questions. Yeah, I'm excited. I'm excited to get to this. I'll let you take it from here.Stephanie Downs:
Okay, perfect. Okay. So Katie, when you look at the, um, just overall sales and organization or the sales department specifically, tell me a few things that you look at on a regular basis to know if you're on track or not, or if the team's on track or not, I should say.Katie Reid:
Yep. Um, so here's what I always say. Um, I like to keep it simple. And so there are just certain things that we continue to look at, and that is your key account growth. What are the key accounts doing? And of course, from there these days it's attrition. Yeah. What is that attrition number? Then you gotta look down to your target account and new business. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>, what are those stats? And I just don't mean the revenue regarding target account. I think this is where people can, can get off track. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>, and that is literally if somebody doesn't have target account revenue, but then how many accounts are they working on and where are they in the funnel? It's not just the end results, but everything happening Yeah. To get to the end result. Right. Um, and then the big one, I think these days more than anything, because you've seen such swings is category growth and or decline. Yeah. What is happening, you know, what's emerging and, and what's deteriorating really. Yeah. Yeah. And we've seen that pretty significantly over the last couple of years of different categories that are emerging and the ones that are going away. Um, and comment slash question on, uh, the new business. You were saying that you look at it at different stages, right? I mean, you look at how many top, how many new accounts are top of the funnel or leads coming into the funnel, How many are in the middle? How many are at the bottom? Did I state that general the right way? Yeah. Because I, I think to me what it is, is not being surprised. So if you don't have a bunch of new business that's hitting the books right now, you better know why and where it is then or when is it coming. And so I think people, and it can go both ways. Maybe you have a ton of new business right now, and then there's nothing in the funnel, and so you're about to hit a decline in that area. And so it's really looking at the entire file. So a couple, you know.Stephanie Downs:
No, I was just gonna say, I mean, we all know from experience, if we're not looking at it at each of those different stages, that really causes the peaks and valleys in our business. Right. And those are, they're frustrating and difficult. Matt, what were you gonna say?Matt Sunshine:
So two things. Um, you and I, Stephanie, you and I attended a conference last week where there was, um, some call outs from veteran successful veteran sales people that really pointed to category focus as one of the biggest and best opportunities, the secret sauce, right? Like, if you really wanna know what I'm doing, I'm focusing on a few categories. I'm going deep. And I, and I love the fact that you're bringing that up as one of the, uh, the key things that you look at because I I, I agree with you. I think that's important. The other thing I just wanna highlight, you didn't say it in these words, but what you're saying is the difference between pending management and pipeline management.Stephanie Downs:
<laugh>. Yeah.Matt Sunshine:
And, and I think so often, uh, sales leaders, they're really good at pending management. Yeah. You know, what are you gonna add? Right? And by the way, what are you gonna add? It's fair, right? But what's in the pipeline is it's very different. We all got better at talking about that. Probably revenue, uh, increases.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. I like the way you said that. That reminds me of, you know, we always talk about performance metrics. I mean, we know we have to look at the revenue number. I mean, none of us are ignoring that. Right. But we don't spend as much time thinking about the leading indicators. You know, back to your point, Katie, of key account or the activity level or how many new and the number, I mean all of those pieces, cuz we know when we measure those along the way, the output and the revenues should follow. Right?Katie Reid:
Yeah. We just need to spend more time on the front end of the process versus the end of it. Yeah. Um, Matt, anything else you wanna add? I'm gonna keep moving. Okay. Um, so thinking about just, uh, sales leaders in general, what are really the biggest, um, the highest priority things, they should be paying attention to those big rocks on a day in and day out basis.Katie Reid:
So we really kind of just touched on it, but number one is their account executives. Yeah. What exactly are their account executives working on? Um, from the, every part of the process mm-hmm.<affirmative>, um, from there, to me it's because it has gotten so much more complicated and there are so many more things to sell. Hopefully sales managers have stationed initiatives, whether it's a spec specific station, whether it's an, there are events, whether whatever they are, right. Like they, they have to focus on that. And then the third is exactly what we were just talking about again, is category insights. They, I feel as if they should be leading the charge on finding some, some resources and things or just little nuggets or whatever for vbrs. But those three things to me are the, the big rocks for this, for the sales managers to be focused on.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. Yeah. And, um, I'm somewhat backtracking on you on this, um, but both of them tie together, you know, I think a lot of times when we talk about this, it, it, we look at it in a one size fits all, or like looking at everybody as a whole, it's really important to do that from an AE by AE analysis, right? Yeah. Of a deep dive per ae. How many are contributing to the overall cause? Is it one or two or is it seven or eight out of a group of nine or 10? And, and looking at it a little bit more in depth, um, and then your point on them leading the charge with the category focus, it's probably not gonna happen if they're not leading the charge, right? I mean, they really have to drive the behavior.Katie Reid:
Absolutely. And you know, it, it goes back to also on your account executives, it's not just knowing obviously their strengths and talent, but if you have somebody brand new in versus somebody that's five years, 10 years, 15 years, what are the expectations for that seller?Stephanie Downs:
But what are they doing in their day? How are they constructing their day? It's really easy to get sidetracked and, you know, squirrel, um, and head somewhere else, but they, they have to know what those guys should be focused on and what their big rocks should be every day.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. That, um, we were talking to somebody else earlier and having a very similar conversation about setting very clear expectations. And of course, course we laughed and said that could be an entire conversation on its own. Um, but I think onboarding new sellers, we have to have different expectations than what we've had in the past, and they have to be way more defined than they've ever been before.Katie Reid:
Um, so I'm taking a total sidebar here. Do you find an onboarding new sellers today that it is harder to onboard them and it takes longer or not? I'm curious.Katie Reid:
100%. And part of the reason is, and right wrong or indifferent, when folks are hybrid, you have just lost a mentor and somebody that they're getting to listen to all the time. And so they're so isolated that, that they're, they're missing all that. I mean, I go back to my very first sales job. I sat by this woman that was so incredible and I eves dropped all the time and she took me on calls and we laughed when she got rejected. But all of that was like so organic and you just, you I was a sponge. I, there is no doubt I was successful because of her. Yeah. They don't have that now.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. Yeah. It's a missing piece. We have to behave as sales leaders. We have to behave differently when we're onboarding and have a more defined plan and a more structured process and, and more hand holding for lack of better words.Katie Reid:
Yeah. I told our sellers here because there were lots that didn't wanna come back in, quite frankly, for various reasons. Yeah. And I, my request was of them, somebody helped you when you started and was sitting next to you. It is kind of your obligation to give back in that and help others grow, whether it's one day a week, but do something to help the new people just as you were helped and nobody had to ask that person to do that.Stephanie Downs:
Mm-hmm.<affirmative>. Yeah. I mean, we're already starting to touch on the next question I wanna ask you about just how things have changed, you know, when organizations, but when you look back a handful of years and really today in what you envision, uh, to come related to sales leaders, how drastically different is that from three years ago to today? Even?Katie Reid:
Uh, it is so much more complicated and sophisticated than it was 3, 3, 5, 10 years ago. Right? Um, I mean, you think about it and it makes me snicker now, and this was a CSS rule. Like if you went out on calls, you were to sit in silence as the manager and coach. Well, you cannot miss that opportunity right now. There's too much competition. There's, there are too many shining objects, right? It is about getting to that next appointment, getting to that next assignment, getting to the close, whatever it is. And so yes, you've gotta define the roles of, of before going in, but you are way more of a partner than you ever have because it's just too much. And it's, it's just so complicated. Yeah. And there are so many pieces, um, and as I said, competitors that to me, this is, everybody's in this together.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. Yeah. I think, um, you're right though. I mean, everybody's gonna play a role in it. The key is to have the conversation ahead of time, of what role you on each person to play. I think that's where the"miss" happens at time in those scenarios.Katie Reid:
Well, I'll go one more than that even is, I think you also run a risk of the hot potato being thrown to the managers and then the seller's not learning. And then you can't have the volume. Like you do have to teach as you go and model, right? Sure. Um, but there are so many resources that will go on a call that you have to be, you have to really carve out what you want that account executive to do and every team member. But I, I do see account executives almost getting a little too quiet and a little too passive because they're not the experts that maybe your digital specialist, specialist digital manager is. And, and it is a fine line.Matt Sunshine:
Yeah. Yeah. I I I think that, you know, we, we, we've done a bunch of podcasts with, um, various experts like yourself. And this, this is a common, a common theme right. That we have. And the wonderful news is that we have a but an abundance of tools and resources that we can use to do what we've always done, which is try to help businesses grow their business, right? Mm-hmm.<affirmative>, that's what we've always been in the business of doing. I don't see that changing. Um, and, and wow, aren't we fortunate what we all used to sit around years ago and say, if only we had, we now have<laugh>, but knowing how to use all of those things, I mean, it really does require a, a level of expertise mm-hmm.<affirmative>. Um, and as soon as we do that, then we swing the pendulum to people being product peds and justStephanie Downs:
Right. Way too. HaveMatt Sunshine:
Product information. Yeah. And we lose that sense of, and and that's a constant balance. And I think you're right, Katie. I like the way you said, and I think it's, it's worth repeating. I like the way you said you can't have that hot potato, right? You can't have that. And that maybe that is a requirement to some preplanning. Um, maybe that's a requirement of, uh, some role playing that goes on and everyone hates those words.Stephanie Downs:
Practice, we'll call it practiceMatt Sunshine:
<laugh>. It's not role playing. We're just practicing.Katie Reid:
We're rehearsing we're That's right.Matt Sunshine:
Not a role play. But I think that's important because I don't see any slowing down of products coming at us. No, it's, mm-hmm.Stephanie Downs:
Mm-hmm. No, uh, you know, something you said in that Matt reminded me too though about just the kind of the show up and product throw up, for lack of better words. I think that it got, um, exacerbated over Zoom because we had less time with clients, We had shorter time to make an impact where sitting face to face, you usually get a little bit more time. I think that got worse over the last couple of years. I think it's a paradigm shift that we've gotta get back into thinking about what the client needs and how can we drive results and get past all of that. Yep. So, Katie, you said, um, complex and sophisticated. So thinking about that related to sales leaders, what do they have to be great at today? Well, they have to be a chameleon for sure. Um, but no, you know what?Katie Reid:
They have to be strategic and they have to be in the trenches. So, and, and what I mean by that is they have to be able to see the big picture and see the trends and as I said, be, you know, really understand the categories. But they also have to be able to analyze quickly where their AEs are getting stuck. Where are they good in the process? Where what is not happening and why. We all know it's not just cuz they don't wanna do it, there's a reason why things aren't happening. And so they really have to be able to understand that mm-hmm.<affirmative>. Um, and, and I think with everything else, they have to keep the AEs focused mm-hmm.<affirmative> and motivated because it is really easy to get sidetracked and you can think you're super busy, but you're not getting anything done<laugh>. Um, and so that's why I say they have to be in the trenches too, cuz they have to really understand what the AE is, is struggling with or, or not for that matter. Right?Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. Yeah. They need to be able to make some, you know, some sort of data driven decisions related to each individual on the team cuz then they can coach to it and train to it and all the obvious things. Right.Katie Reid:
They have to model that behavior. Yeah. And they really do. I think before you could have sales managers that could get away with it and be like, good job, way to go. Um, and there's just, you're not getting anything done with that. You, you have to be way more in the weeds than you probably did a few years ago.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. So if you were giving advice to a new sales leader, say you're onboarding a new sales leader, you know, in Denver, what advice would you give'em?Katie Reid:
So honestly, it would be about, they have to be a marketing expertise. Sure you have to know your products and you better know them, but more importantly, you better know how they work together and you better know how to solve a client. Like if a client needs to sell these widgets, what are you going to do? How are you going to put this together? Um, so it, again, it really is how does everything work? And then to me it does go back again though to you better understand the individuals that are reporting to you and their talents. How are you going to motivate them mm-hmm.<affirmative>, um, how are you gonna remove obstacles when you know they have them mm-hmm.<affirmative>, um, all those things that I think, you know, are still so important that there's, there's a whole nother piece to this. Um, and it's truly the, the marketing expertise and what you bring to the table.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah, absolutely. Matt, what do you wanna add to that?Matt Sunshine:
No, it's just, so it's every once in a while, Katie, you've said things that are so, they're like, they're truth, right? It's like truth and, and, and I, I just wanna call it out, but I don't, I think sometimes the manager, manager doesn't realize that their job is to remove obstacles, right? I mean, if you have a very talented, successful salesperson, the the best thing that you could do is make life easier for them. Easier remove obstacles so that they can perform at a higher level, giving them like a bonus or giving them more responsibility. Those might be things that you need to do as well, but if you were to ask them when no one else is around and you were just to say, Hey, what can management do for you? They would tell you if you would listen, they would say, if you could just remove these obstacles and help me here. And it, something that Bonneville has spent a lot of time on, um, is this notion of only about 35% of your time of a salesperson's time is actually spent selling. And so rearranging the organization, rearranging the structure so that that can become 45% or 50% of the time. Wow. What, And really what that is, is removing obstacles. Right? And, and you guys have done a great job with that. I know it's a constant work in progress. It's not easy. Um, but I think that needs to be highlighted in this forum right here that removing obstacles in, in 2020 to 2023 really can mean is your org structure correct? Mm-hmm.Katie Reid:
<affirmative> fair, very fair.Matt Sunshine:
Mm-hmm.<affirmative>. Yeah. And I think you guys have done a good job of that.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah. And that's gonna continue evolving. Just, I mean, think how different all organizations are in the last couple of years. I think it, we would be narrow minded to think that another two years from now that that's not gonna change again. Right. Right. Yeah, for sure. Um, so I mean, speaking of that, when you really look out three to five years, how do you think the sales departments are gonna continue evolving Katie? Or changing?Katie Reid:
So I, I, I think that's a great question. And it's so funny because I think we even talked about this a year ago and it, and it was this, um, area that Bonneville has gone in with our account managers versus account executives Yeah. And what the account managers take off the account executives place so that they can continue to sell, but we're not there yet. And, and we're not even there with what is still expected of an account executive.Stephanie Downs:
So for instance, I have somebody that can open doors that nobody else can open. Yeah. He's truly unbelievable on it. Yeah. But we have a long way to go on the rest of the process. Wouldn't it be awesome if we could even build that out and that was his job. Yeah. And the, the people that were good at the CNAs and putting the, you know, the whole package together was somebody different. Yeah. Um, and then again the account manager was fulfilling. If we could get there, I think that we would really be onto something instead of asking our AEs to do so much Yes. Of things that are not naturally talents of theirs. I mean that's what it comes back down to it yet. Yeah. But I like, I like the way you said that of this...and then this because so many either dabble in it or they have a little bit of all of that, but it's not that defined. We need a team that's generating leads. We need people that are selling solutions and then we need a team that is serving clients and helping us grow so we can start back<laugh>,Katie Reid:
Right. Because it takes too long. Our cycle is so long because again, it's so complicated. Even, you know, the nine touches getting the appointment, it's so long. But if we could just really have people hammer on those different paths, I do think, um, we would become as, as sophisticated as the process has become and the products have become and our world has become. Right. That's where we're not quite there yet.Stephanie Downs:
That's right. Cuz the process really has changed. Even back to our conversation with the category focus. I mean, there's a reason that we're becoming more category focused. We should, we're we're more of experts in this space. It expedites the sales cycle. We get appointments, I mean all of the above, right? Yes. Yeah. Matt, any final thoughts?Matt Sunshine:
No, no final thoughts for me. I just really want to thank you, Katie, for taking the time to join us today to spend 20 minutes talking about sharing your expertise, talking about these very important subjects. If anyone wants to reach out to Katie, we will put her LinkedIn, uh, information and the show notes so that you'll be able to, to, uh, get a hold of her and, and communicate with her directly. And, uh, thank you so much again for joining us and we, we'll see you again on the next, uh, episode of Improving Sales Performance podcast.Katie Reid:
You got it. Thank you.Matt Sunshine:
This has been improving sales performance. Thanks for listening. If you like what you heard, join us every week by clicking that subscribe button. For more on the topics covered in the show, visit our website, the center for sales strategy.com. There you can find helpful resources and content aimed at improving your sales performance. And if you'd like to connect with any of us, including today's guests, please do. You can find our content information in the show notes. Until next time, get out there and sell.