We’re so proud to be celebrating Women in Sales Month once again.
For each week in 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 more experienced 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.
Today, we are joined by Giovanna Savorgnan, Director of Sales at WFAA.
Gio shares so many amazing observations, such as:
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 and gurus who have years of sales experience from a wide range of industries. I'm your host, matt Sunshine, ceo at the Center for Sales Strategy, a sales performance consulting company.Stephanie Downs:
We're so proud to be celebrating Women in Sales Month once again. For each week in 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 more experience, 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. I'm Stephanie Downs, senior Vice President and Senior Consultant at the Center for Sales Strategy. I'll be joining Matt Sunshine on the show for the entire month of October. Today, we are joined by Gio Savorgnan, director of Sales at WFAA. Gio shares so many amazing observations, such as why it's important for everyone, from the top down, to fully believe in the mission of the organization, how the best managers are as good at coaching as they are teaching and, lastly, by really great sales leaders have to lean into the unknown.Matt Sunshine:
All right, Gio, thank you for being here. This is going to be a great conversation. We've known each other a long time and these questions are right in your wheelhouse, and so I'm excited, excited for us to dive in. So, with that, from your point of view, what are the things that you look at in a sales department that lets you know that things are on track? In other words, or said another way, are there some KPIs, some key performance indicators maybe three, four, five that you tend to really zero in on to help you drive performance?Giovanna Savorgnan:
Sure, first, thanks for having me here today. I think that what I look at for my team is, first and foremost, do I have alignment? And that starts with the management team. Everyone needs to believe in the mission and believe in what we're doing. We don't need robots, but everyone needs to understand what we're trying to accomplish. So it starts there and then funnels down to everybody else in the department, from sellers to account managers, you name it. They all need to understand and be aligned as well, because if we have fractures in the system, it will get in the way of us succeeding. It'll certainly slow things down. I think the second thing is clearly defined strategy and what we're trying to accomplish. So it's one thing to tell them AEs I'm using them as an example but it's one of the things to tell them that this is our strategy, so let's go do it. And it's another thing to say this is our strategy. This is why we built the strategy the way we want it. And then these are the tactical steps that we can take to get there. Does everybody agree? And so if you can get those two things, then you're really going in the right direction. And the last thing is APIs measurement. Are we doing the number of activities we need to be doing? Are we hitting our revenue goals? If we aren't, what's holding us back? So to me, those are like the three big ones.Matt Sunshine:
Yeah, diving just in on that a second, is there a particular hack that you use to determine or to know if there is alignment? Is there a specific activity metric that you look at? I know you look at all of them, but is there one that you kind of lean on a little bit more? Just your comments on that.Giovanna Savorgnan:
So I think that people I don't care what you do everybody has so much coming at them and so repetition is a big piece of it. We try to do that through visuals throughout the department, through our sales meetings. We try to anytime we see success associated with our strategic plan, we are going to celebrate that. And it's not a sale, necessarily it can be, but it can be anything in the department that reflects what we're trying to accomplish. So I think it goes back to just constantly reminding people and then you know, and when you see something that's not what you want, addressing it immediately and trying to figure out what's at the root. So to me it's just keeping the you know, watching your guardrails and making sure that you're always staying in your lane.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah, so you're already starting to touch on some of this, especially thinking about alignment across the organization and mission and vision, or you know, kind of the value of the organization and getting everybody aligned on that. What should salespeople, sales managers, really be focused on? Think about it in terms of big rocks or the highest priorities. Where should they really be paying attention?Giovanna Savorgnan:
There's a whole bunch of them. I really think that the sales managers, particularly local sales managers, have one of the hardest jobs in the building. They're managing up, they're managing down and they're managing across, so and then they've got clients, of course, and all the problems. That not necessarily problems some good or bad, but you know, a lot of times they're dealing with things that they need to fix. So you know, I think I, you know, the successful sales manager is really good at problem solving. They're also good teachers and motivators. You know, we often say that you shouldn't have to motivate people, that they should have it within themselves. But everybody has a bad day. Everybody has a bad day, so you do have to be there to help them through. I also think that the job of the sellers has become much more complicated and there has to be empathy number one, because a lot of people have been here when we sell one product and now we're selling a whole bunch more, and so you need to have empathy with your sellers but at the same time, push and push, because their future is dependent on change. They have to if they want to be successful. So a manager has to be able to convey that and also know. You know it's one thing to be empathetic, but it's another thing to, you know, hold people up and let's go, let's push that big rock together, yeah, yeah. And then I think the other one is just learning. You know, I think a sales manager has to be a coach and a teacher, and the teaching part they need to know just as good as the AEs or all those credibility, really quick, yeah.Stephanie Downs:
So you already you said the sales people that their job has really changed because of the complexity of the job and the number of products. Well, sales managers jobs have also changed a lot over the last you know, pick a year, three years, four years, five years. It's really changed, right? Give us some comparison of what it was like to be a sales leader in an organization four or five years ago compared to what it's like now.Giovanna Savorgnan:
Well, the big is that. You know they have those COVID obviously, but COVID really did was accelerate the change. The change was already coming, yeah. So I think that, as leaders and as sellers, you know you can't. You can't just stick your head in the sand and hope that it'll all go away. It's not going away. So, you know adapting to that is critical, and so you're looking for people that are very adaptable and open to change.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah and yeah. That goes back to the role of the local sales manager and how hard that role is, because, you're right, they have everything kind of comes at them in a variety of different ways, but they also have to be really good at leading their team through that change management and through all of those pieces, in addition to everything else you described Exactly.Giovanna Savorgnan:
You know one of the things you know, Stephanie and I are fortunate that we get to do these podcasts with so many exceptional leaders just like yourself, and one of the things that keeps coming up again and again, whether prompted or not prompted in your case, not prompted is that these really effective managers are really more coaches and teachers and they are managers. And you know there's lots of reasons for that. Technology is probably the biggest reason for that. A lot of the reporting stuff is being carried, yeah, but as you look and in your role, you have the opportunity to see lots of managers, lots of leaders in lots of different positions. So I'm asking you to lean on your experience and what you have access to, seeing what makes a great sales leader Like what are those, when you think of the really good ones. If you could design one, what would you steal? What would you? How would you do it?Giovanna Savorgnan:
Yes. Well, I think that a really good sales leader has to really lean in to the unknown, because we don't know where things are going no business does at all and so the ability to just lean in and go for the ride, I think it's first and foremost. I think we all, you know, we all have a tendency, like it or not, to go well, we've never done it that way or carry, or whatever it is. But you know, I look for sales managers that are just like hey, I got this, no matter what. Yeah, I like it, I want to go be the first on the roller coaster, if you want to call it that. So I'm always looking for someone like that. But then I also want someone that really cares about their people, particularly this next generation. They don't want a boss, they want a partner. And there's a balancing act, but it's real and it's not going away. So looking for someone that's going to really partner with their sellers and celebrate their successes. I think those are the two main lines. The other one I would bring up and it hasn't really changed but it's still important is that you know our job often is to roll rocks uphill and to solve problems and you've got to like that. You know it's like. You know people that like doing puzzles.Stephanie Downs:
You have to enjoy doing that and figuring out the solution, because I think AEs will move the world for you if you can help them make their life easier, that is so true, and I think as leaders, the better they do at really conveying the mission back to some of the things you said at the very top of the conversation, the better they are at sharing the vision of the direction we're going, how we're going to get there. It doesn't mean it's always going to be seamless and it's always going to be perfect, but when they really can get that, buy-in sellers will push the rocks uphill If you really help bring them along and they know where they're going they'll do it and they know they have your back.Giovanna Savorgnan:
You have their back.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah, that's right For sure. Yeah, all right. So think about if you were speaking to a group of brand new managers, brand new sales managers. What advice would you give them? You know, what would you tell them that they should really be paying attention to from a learning standpoint, or what they should know early on in their positions? What would you recommend to them? So?Giovanna Savorgnan:
you know I've seen them all, but I think you have to come in. I always tell people that that leadership isn't learned. I mean, isn't it? You know you're not born with it, it is something that you learn, and so you have to go in with a mindset that you're learning this new role and somewhat humble about it and with that, ask a lot of questions. Yeah, so I always tell people be honest about what you don't know, ask the question, ask questions. Ask questions, don't be afraid to try something and make a mistake, and that's how you learn. So I always just try. I'm looking for independence and I'm looking for people that are just, you know, willing to take a change, willing to learn, willing to adapt. Yeah, and you know, sometimes you might not agree with a strategy or something, but have an open mind and give it a try.Stephanie Downs:
Yeah, there really is something to the whole leadership mindset concept. When you really think about having that leadership mindset, it is a combination of talent, but it's also, you know, it is also mindset. Think about it in the sense of you know, the innate talent is what helps you really be successful when you practice an area of talent. But that mindset that really is it's about the instructions that you give yourself in those different scenarios. Because, back to what we said earlier, there's always something coming at them, right, right. What instructions do they give themselves in that moment to tackle that scenario so they have a better outcome or they're more successful, whatever the scenario is?Giovanna Savorgnan:
One thing I tell people managers often is that usually they're coming up from the ranks, yeah, so they know everything and they typically, you know, when they move into this seat they want people to do everything exactly like they did it and perfect. And I always say be happy with 80%. Someday you'll get them to 100 or they'll get themselves there. But first start, just be happy with 80%, yeah, yeah.Matt Sunshine:
But yeah, what I think that we've seen over and over is, first of all, sometimes there's a right way and a wrong way to do something, and when there is a right way and a wrong way, we should. Managers need to be extremely clear, and if someone's doing it wrong, they need to be corrected, and if they're being right, you need to be told that too. Sometimes there's different ways to do things, and just because somebody doesn't do it the same way you did it doesn't mean it's the wrong way, it's just a different way. Now I say to managers hey, somebody, let you become you. You need to let them become them Right, and it's being authentic and being real and not being afraid to put yourself under control.Giovanna Savorgnan:
And the other thing I always tell managers is give yourself some space to learn, because you're not going to be great, you're not going to be perfect your first year. It's going to take you six months just to get your feet on the ground, so give yourself some grace.Matt Sunshine:
Yeah, we used to have a client that would always say it takes four seasons. It does. We can try to speed it up. There's some tricks to that, all right. So maybe the last question I always say maybe the last question is the big one, and so you never know where it's going to go. Stephanie, I want to reserve the right task follow up questions. So this is kind of a future thinking question and before we jump ahead, we should acknowledge the fact that the job, that the sales departments of today look very different than the sales departments of three years ago or five years ago, whether that's because of sales enablement tools or lead generation tools, or a division of labor strategy, or the impact that AI has started to have, or using screens, using video, it has changed. But looking ahead three to five years, what are some of the changes that you think we'll see in sales departments?Giovanna Savorgnan:
That's a tough one because none of us have a crystal ball, but we can't see patterns. We can read through the trades and kind of make some assumptions. Being in media and going through what we're going through right now, which is is TV dying, is it not? It depends on what article you read. There's definitely a place for it, in my opinion, forever, but I do think that the role of digital and the role of streaming will continue to gain in popularity, and how we fit into that ecosystem isn't completely. You know, we don't really know the future yet. We've got ideas, but I think that the department you know, if you think back to even I mean, I'll say from what I got here in 2018, we had five, I believe, people inputting orders. Today we have one. So you know, and you think that's impossible, but it was because of technology. So I think technology is going to continue to play a role. It'll never substitute face-to-face and relationships that we have with our clients ever, ever, ever impossible. But it will continue to be there and, and you know, it's our job to figure out how to use it efficiently so that we can ideally, have more people on the front line versus less. I also think the job is becoming, particularly for a seller, continues to become more sophisticated, and so, you know, our sellers need to get more sophisticated, if they already aren't. And certainly people that move into our business will probably be coming from different areas. It might not necessarily be coming from a television station in another market. So you know, that's. Those are some of the things I see, I can see. I believe that local particularly local advertisers we will continue to play a critical role in their growth, in their future. There's a lot of confusion out there. Our businesses are struggling, they don't know what to do, and we have the knowledge and the skill set to provide that. So we've always been a consultant, we've always been passionate about growing businesses, but it takes on. It'll take on a different look as we move forward, and so why don't we say better together? You know all our products work better when they're together, and that, I think, is where we're headed In terms of structure. You know, I can see I can see more field managers helping our sellers on the streets, and I think that's important because I think, as as local grows and importance in terms of revenue, that'll be needed yeah.Matt Sunshine:
Yeah, there's some consistency in what we're hearing again and again and again when we ask this question, which is, which is really the strength of doing these right? You're, you're not trying to a lot of smart people all saying the same thing Things like technology is going to continue to be a big part of what we do. It is and can lean in and embrace it, and it's our friend. Also, more feet on the more, more time in front of people At the same time that there's technology, more time in front of people face to face, and managers that are more in the field, because the recording aspect of the job is so important, taking care of somewhere else. More time, yes, yes, literally literally at your fingertips, versus spending half a day finding it or preparing it forever.Stephanie Downs:
Right, yeah, stephanie, we're going to say something I was just leaning back to the technology as our friend. Yeah, yeah it does make our jobs easier in a lot of ways.Matt Sunshine:
Absolutely, I think. I think that my recommendation would be that anyone that listens to any of these podcasts that we're doing is that they should listen to them all in like the same day.Stephanie Downs:
It really is amazing.Matt Sunshine:
Wow, you hear it once you hear it three times, you hear it five times, you're like, okay, all these smart people are saying something very similar. They must learn something. Yeah, hey, attention, Gio, thank you so much for joining us. We really really appreciate your expertise as a successful leader is so valuable and so appreciated, so thank you so much. We will make sure that anyone that wants to reach out to you will make sure your LinkedIn information is all in the show notes, and so people will be able to connect with you that way and for everyone listening. Thank you so much for joining us and we look forward to hearing and seeing you on another podcast in the future.Giovanna Savorgnan:
Fantastic. Thank you for the opportunity.Matt Sunshine:
This has been improving sales performance. Thanks for listening. If you like what you heard, join us every week by clicking the subscribe button For more on the topics covered in the show. Visit our website, the center for sales strategycom. There you can find helpful resources and content aimed at improving your sales performance.