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How Sales Leaders Can Help Their Teams Close BIGGER Sales

Tom Searcy is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and top-tier expert in large account sales. On this first and exciting episode of the brand new Sales Leadership Show, Tom explains the exact steps that sales leaders need to make to help their sales teams close massive, mega, huge deals.

You'll learn:

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Tom Searcy
Founder: Hunt Big Sales

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Coming up on today’s episode of the Sales Leadership Show, who’s more important in this equation of getting the deal done? Is it sales leadership, or is it salespeople? And then, I guess, specifically rockstar salespeople.

 

Tom Searcy:

Sales leadership. Oh, there’s a variety of reasons to that statement.

 

Will Barron:

Is there a process to close a large deal on to design the process behind a deal?

 

Tom Searcy:

If you take each of the stages along a sales process to know whether you were winning or losing, it’s an exchange of information and peer-to-peer conversation.

 

Will Barron:

Nobody’s ever said that, Tom. That is absolutely… I’m not lost for words. I’m just trying to process it because I feel like that’s almost a podcast in its own right. I love it.

 

Tom Searcy:

The excuses of losers. I’m so tired of this idea of salespeople going around, “Please, sir. May I have some more?”

 

Will Barron:

Hello, sales nation. Welcome to the Sales Leadership Show. I’m your host, Will Barron, and on today’s episode, we have a complete legend. He’s been on a bunch of our different podcasts over at salesmen.org over the years. He’s always fun to interview and record. Where we have Tom Searcy, is the CEO and founder of Hunt Big Sales, which you can find over at huntbigsales.com.

 

Will Barron:

And on today’s episode of the show, we’re getting into what leadership can and should be doing to help their teams close more big, big, big sales. Everything we talk about is available over at salesleadership.org in the show notes. And so, with that said, let’s jump right into it.

 

Sales Leaders Versus Salespeople: Who is More Important When Closing Big Deals? · [01:43] 

 

Will Barron:

On today’s episode, we’re going to get into what leadership can do to support salespeople closing, not just any sale, but I’m going to go beyond big here. Huge sales. That’s what I want the audience to be aiming towards after the end of this episode. But with that said, who is more important and I’m going to… I think I know which way you’re going to go because we’ve done a slight bit of preparation before the show, but so there’s a massively leading a loaded question, but who’s more important for an organisation who wants to close massive, massive sales, Tom? Who’s more important in this equation of getting the deal done? Is it sales leadership, or is it salespeople? And then, I guess, specifically rockstar salespeople.

 

“If it’s a huge opportunity, it’s not an off-the-shelf product. This is going to have something that’s got customization too. That could be pricing, terms, conditions, features, all sorts of elements because if it’s huge, it’s not off-the-shelf. And so leadership has to come in and help negotiate that and work through that and design that.” – Tom Searcy · [02:42] 

 

Tom Searcy:

Sales leadership, and there’s a variety of reasons to that statement, but I’d break it into three pieces. It’s sales side. Okay. So if you start about the idea of prospecting, getting to senior executives, that’s where your rockstars are. I mean, they have a core role. Once you get into the room of having an opportunity with a much larger opportunity or sales and senior executive, that’s when the sales leader steps in. The funnel has narrowed at that point. The opportunity has been qualified at that point. And now say sales leadership is in because if it’s a huge opportunity. It’s not off-the-shelf product. This is going to have something that’s got customization too. That could be pricing, terms, conditions, features, all sorts of elements because if it’s huge, it’s not off the shelf.

 

Tom Searcy:

And so leadership has to in and help negotiate that and work through that and design that. You need the weight behind it to take it back to owners or other senior executives and saying, “We need to go do this.” And then, on the back-end, you wind up putting in either rockstar salespeople or rockstar account managers to continue to work through that particular account. So if you look at it as three pieces, in the middle sales leadership. Now the design of how that all works on the front-end, the back-end, sales leadership did that, but where do they play the game? The minute they have a qualified opportunity.

 

Will Barron:

So let me play devil’s advocate to that slightly and give you my experience of sales leadership, getting in when I’ve worked in medical device sales, get involved in these larger deals. And it would usually be when I’m selling, not just 50 grand’s worth of camera equipment. It’d be 200, 300 grand’s worth of surgical imaging equipment across multiple theatres. What would happen is I would do all the work, and then my boss would come in, or his boss would come in and try and take all the glory. And basically just Kibosh, all of these meetings that I had and just bulldoze their way through them. So how do we… Obviously, that’s one perspective of the conversations and meetings and the deal.

 

Tom Searcy:

So it’s a bitter one.

 

Will Barron:

Of course.

 

Tom Searcy:

Yes. A bitter perspective.

 

What’s the Difference Between a Sales Leader Who Adds Value to a Deal and a Sales Leader Who Puts No Effort in Closing the Deal? · [04:11] 

 

Will Barron:

Clearly, I played it up slightly, right. For effect here, but what’s the difference between a sales leader coming in and adding value to the conversation versus what my experience, truthfully, generally has been where the sales leader will come in because their shitting their pants that the boss is going to get on top of them if they don’t. And it’s almost like they feel pressured. They want to be doing a spreadsheet. They don’t want to be in the meeting. That’s been my experience, but they feel pressured to come in. They don’t have the relationships I have. They don’t know the people that I know, the surgeons. They’re sitting down, and I have to introduce everyone, and it just gets a little bit awkward. So what’s the difference between someone coming in and adding value and being useful in the leadership conversation versus the sales leader being there just because they probably feel they should be?

 

Tom Searcy:

It’s a complex question, and it’s a good question. Starting off with the idea that a large account sales is a process. It takes a longer period of time. Rules and responsibilities have to be designed upfront. So the sales leader needs to get deeply involved in the period time of a qualified opportunity, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be in the room for having [inaudible [00:05:15]. One of my clients, I came on, and I was a contract VP of Sales for them for a while. And after our first meeting together with the team, I said, “I want to let you know. I’m going to take you off the hook. I never want you in a sales appointment ever.” Now, this is the owner of the company and you what he did? He looked at me and said, “Thank you” because he wanted to be a part of the strategy. He wanted to be in the background. He went all the rest of it, but he knew what his role was going to be. And the CFO bumped in and out of the process. Everybody had a role in the process.

 

“Sales leaders are not supposed to be sales reps on steroids. They serve a different function. And in that function, it’s about design of product, commitments made by the organisation, the ability to supporting declarations that are provided, et cetera.” – Tom Searcy · [06:01] 

 

Tom Searcy:

The design of all of that is just as much valuable as the being in the physical room. Now, other thing is that sales, good sales leaders that are in there, they know what they’re supposed to do. See, sales leaders are not supposed to be sales reps on steroids. All right. That’s not valuable. You have a rockstar salesperson that got you into the room. They serve a different function. And in that function, it’s about design of product, commitments made by the organisation, the ability to supporting declarations that are provided, et cetera. And then a certain peer-to-peer, if they’re bringing executives and then you don’t bring executives, then that diminishes their feeling of importance.

 

Will Barron:

Sure.

 

Tom Searcy:

So you have to bring someone who’s of that level. But I don’t believe that if you’ve got somebody who comes in there to kibosh and take everything, you know what they are? They’re just someone who’s a sales rep who decided that it looked better on their business card and better to talk about at cocktail parties by calling themselves a vice president. That’s a crappy sales leader. Coming in and trying to take all of a sudden. And you know, what a joke. That’s not leadership. That’s theft.

 

Tom Describes the Design Process For Sales Leaders To Help in Closing Big Deals · [07:10]

 

Will Barron:

And I love that you said that. You said it. I guess I was teeing you up to come to that conclusion. Right. But that’s exactly how I felt, but you put it in a more kind of appropriate manner than how I teed it up. So with that then, Tom, where does the design process start? If you were to sit down with a sales leader, who comes to you and says, “Hey Tom. I’ve got this massive deal that the lads, the women that put it together, it’s all ready to rock and roll, but they need me,” to use your language, “to design the backend of it. To build a structure around it.” Is there a process to close a large deal and to design the process behind the deal?

 

“If you take each of the stages along the sales process to know whether you were winning or losing, it’s an exchange of information and peer-to-peer conversation.” – Tom Searcy · [07:50] 

 

Tom Searcy:

Well, I’ve done this for a long, long time, and I’ve written a lot of books about how that works. All right. So let’s just kind of write it down as quickly as we can. If you take each of the stages along the sales process to know whether you were winning or losing, it’s an exchange of information and peer-to-peer conversation. So let’s just say the initial meeting is, let’s get everybody together and let’s do an assessment of what everyone’s needs are. Well, not everyone needs to be in that room. Maybe in your case, it’s a couple of surgeons, and maybe it needs to be you and someone with a medical background, and that’s all it needs to be there. So we figured out what the needs are going to be in that assessment. They determined that your medical device is going to work.

 

Tom Searcy:

Now, you want it to get standardised inside of the hospital system. That they’re going to choose yours as a preference. Well, that means that we have to go ahead and expand that, which means we need to go get the purchasing agent or whatever group that is on there, and a senior medical people are going to approve with that. And who are they going to want to talk to? Well, they’re going to want to talk to your finance and contracting people. And they’re going to want to talk to another senior executive because there’s a mucky-muck, touched based on that. And then after that, it’s going to be, how do we roll it out? How we’re going to train it? And who’s going to make certain that it gets implemented correctly? And who’s going to carry the liability? And then there’s a little different group.

 

Tom Searcy:

So what you’ve got in each of those cases is an exchange of information and appropriate peer-to-peer. Almost never will you have everyone who participated in the sales process on their side, on a huge deal. And everyone from your side in the same room at the same time. That’s why you have to break it down into the processes. It says for us to move forward, what information has to be exchanged? And which people have to be in the room exchanging it? And in the room and you and I both know it’s virtual world anymore. It could be video. It could be phone. It could be onsite, but regardless, that’s what I mean by being in the room.

 

The Roles and Responsibilities of Sales Leaders During Deal Negotiations · [09:28]

 

Will Barron:

How does this, Tom, just so I can frame this up in my own mind, is the sales leader being a conductor in the orchestra and the band only plays when this individual points to you and so you’re that involved? Or should the sales leader be more like a coach who sets the strategy, and then the team goes out and plays the sport? They react in their own kind of way and use their own initiative when needed.

 

“The last thing you want to have is a sales rep saying to people, “Well, I don’t know. I got to go back and check on that. I don’t know. I got to go back and check on that.” At some point, the senior leader on the other side is, “Why the hell am I talking to you? Give me somebody who can make a decision.” – Tom Searcy · [10:06] 

 

Tom Searcy:

Another good question. So when you’re talking about a huge deal and it’s dependent upon who inside of their organisation is going to be there and what levels of flexibility, because the last thing you want to have is a sales rep saying to people, “Well, I don’t know. I got to go back and check on that. I don’t know. I got to go back and check on that.” At some point, the senior lead on the other side is, “Why the hell am I talking to you?”

 

Will Barron:

Yep.

 

Tom Searcy:

Give me somebody who can make a decision. So in those cases, you’re going to need to have somebody who can go make a decision to be a part of that. However, the behind-the-scenes part, your sales leader should be in every prep session. Every prep session for a meeting, a phone call of any weight at all, and a debrief after every one of those.

 

Tom Searcy:

And it’s from that front and back, whether they’re in the room or not. Whether they’re supposed to be in the room or not. During the session, that’s a structured, how do we get ready? What are you going to do? Here’s how we rehearse. Then you’re going to run it. Then we’re going to come back, and I’m going to debrief you according to a structure. We use a rubric on the front-end and a rubric on the back-end because that way, everyone knows what’s going to be asked instead of a situation like, “Well, what did he say? Well, what do you think she thought? Well, what was going on there? What did they bring? Who came in late?”

 

Tom Searcy:

A ridiculous set of questions start to happen at the end of that because you have an organised a thoughtful way of preparing, and a thoughtful way of debriefing. So if you’re not in the session, yourself as a sales leader, every stage along the way you needed to be in the prep, and you needed to be in the debrief.

 

Tom Explains Whose Responsibility it is to Ensure Huge Deals Get Closed · [11:28] 

 

Will Barron:

So this leads me into a point, which again, I’ve never managed to really suss out myself. Now the ideal answer to this question is everybody, but whose responsibility is it to get this deal done? Is it you as a sales leader? Should you feel guilty if the deal doesn’t get done? Or is it the responsibility of the salespeople? And again, you’re just coaching them to success as opposed to directly holding their hand.

 

Tom Searcy:

I’ll draw an analogy. So I spent a semester as a theatre major until I realised I wasn’t willing to starve for my art, and I had no talent. And so, once I figured that out, but one of the productions that was in, they said, “Once the director has cast the roles, all other mistakes after that point are the directors mistakes.”

 

Will Barron:

Sure.

 

Tom Searcy:

So I thought that was very insightful, and I think it’s true about this. The director of this becomes the sales leader. If you put the wrong people in the wrong time, in the wrong place, asking the wrong questions, and getting the wrong information and presenting things in the inaccurate way. Just because you have the person there you say “You made a mistake!” No, you’re the director. You selected that person. You cast them in the role [inaudible [00:12:37] expert. You didn’t rehearse them well enough in advance.

 

“Once a deal has been approved to move through the sales process, the sales leader is responsible for every step along the way.” – Tom Searcy · [12:46] 

 

Tom Searcy:

You didn’t debrief and do the notes after the show to determine how it could we do the show better the next time. The sales leader’s job, once a deal has been approved to move through the sales process, the sales leader is responsible for every step along the way. You never get to wash your hands of the deal and say, “Well, you know what? I just gave it up to John and Sue. I just said what the hell. I didn’t think it was going to work.” Really? You’re the sales leader, dummy. Lead!

 

Will Barron:

That should be a t-shirt right there, Tom.

 

“I’m a big fan of empowering people who are qualified to be empowered. Don’t empower people just because it says so on a business card somewhere, or you read it in a book. Empowering occurs because people are successful at doing what they’re going to do.” – Tom Searcy · [13:15] 

 

Tom Searcy:

Right. I mean, the thing is that the idea is, people talk about this empowering people and all the rest of that stuff. I’m a big fan of empowering people who are qualified to be empowered. Don’t empower people just because it says so on a business card somewhere, or you read in a book. Empowering occurs because people are successful doing what they’re going to do. And the person who’s responsible for making all of that happen once we’ve qualified a sales, as a huge sale, sales leader.

 

Will Barron:

Are there any questions that we should be-

 

Tom Searcy:

Unequivocally.

 

Questions Sales People Should ask Sales leaders Before a Meeting and During The debrief Session After a Sales Conversation · [13:41]

 

Will Barron:

I love it. Are there any questions that we should be asking, Tom, during this either debrief or pre a meeting that are non obvious, but valuable in that I’m sure we’ll be asking questions like, “Who was in the meeting? Or “What was said,” but are there any questions that we should be asking to pull another layer of value out of the conversation that’s been had?

 

Tom Searcy:

Absolutely. I’ll give you several of them. The first one is this. It’s about the people. The sales leader has to determine from interviewing his or her own people, do we have an executive sponsor? An executive sponsors, not just a senior buyer. It’s someone who is able to sign on the line that is dotted, who has the authority to make that happen, has the urgency to get it done quickly, right? And it’s one of their top three priorities. If you don’t have one of those people, they’re not an executive sponsor.

 

“Every deal has an eel. Every deal has somebody who is maybe not negative to you but is negative to the idea of making a change or doing a business at this time. Or maybe they don’t like you. But lots of times, it’s not about personal chemistry.” – Tom Searcy · [14:35] 

 

Tom Searcy:

Then the next question is, who’s the eel? Every deal has an eel. Every deal has somebody who is maybe not negative to you but is negative to the idea of making change or doing a business at this time. Or maybe they don’t like you. But lots of times, it’s not about personal chemistry.

 

“We’ve all had spies. Our most successful deals have someone who on the side says, “Well, I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but I think it’s important that you know.”  – Tom Searcy · [15:02] 

 

Tom Searcy:

And then the third is, do we have a spy? So in every case, you’re looking for someone who is willing to give you more information than they would give to a competitor. We’ve all had spies. You’ve had spies. Our most successful deals have someone who on the side says, “Well, I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but I think it’s important that you know.” All of us are looking for spies. And what you’re doing is you get your executive sponsor upfront. Then you figure out who your eel is. You manage the executive sponsor, you manage your eel, and you leverage your spy. And if you’ve got people that are just professional and friendly, you are working with them over time. And that’s a whole different part of the things that we talk about, but it is how do you move somebody from being disinterested to interested to being a spy if you want to use the term or, let’s just say, more inclined to see you win?

 

Tom Searcy:

And so that’s the first part. Every sales leader needs to go through the inventory of people. And here’s the thing. In a long sales process, those names will change. Your executive sponsor doesn’t usually change, but who your eel is, who your friendly supporters are, and who your spies are, they’re going to change. That’s a part of your strategy is, how do I move each of those either into a neutral position or a positive position? Most people just say, “Oh, I’m going to offer what we have to offer. I’m going to listen to who we have to listen to.” And they don’t do a thorough examination and categorization of the people.

 

“Everybody who’s at that table on the side of your buyer, they’re buying for different reasons.” – Tom Searcy · [16:14] 

 

Tom Searcy:

Second thing is, is that everybody who’s at that table on the side of your buyer, right? They’re buying for different reason. There’s this belief that there’s this monolithic set of understandings between the on the buyer side as to what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s not true. Each person has got a different valuation as to what they want. So when you’re analysing the people, you also have to analyse what is their approach to this? And you see, it’s just say, “We offer an amazing value to our customers, and we provide remarkable responses. And aren’t people… Gosh darn it. They just care more.”

 

Tom Searcy:

That’s not the way it works. Some people are looking for financial benefits. Some people are looking for certainty benefit. Some people are looking for an innovation benefit. Your messages have to be tailored to the people who are in any meeting or session so that they meet those requirements. Even, or more importantly, all three or four or five or six categories are probably true. But if you’re talking about a category somebody doesn’t care about, then you’re going to lose them. So talk to them about what they care about. So that’s why you have to know the people. Then you have to know what they care about. And it’s through that, that you understand your process, your system, to get them through it.

 

Will Barron:

Let me just [inaudible [00:17:23] a second, Tom, because you’ve answered a question that I was going to ask, later on, so I just want to double down on this because I imagine as a sales leader, sales leaders get a lot of, well, they’re looking for the CRM and the say, “Oh, bloody hell. This looks like a potential huge deal here,” And then they ring the salesperson. The salesperson doesn’t want to look stupid, so they might have just put a typo in the CRM. Like, “Oh yeah. It’s looking great!” And, of course, at the beginning of the year, everyone’s saying, “Well, I’ve got no deals,” And so towards the end of the day, everyone’s saying they’ve got loads because the sandbagging the quotas and stuff.

 

How do Sales Leaders Qualify the Size of the Deal to Help in Deciding Whether They Should be Involved · [18:00]

 

Will Barron:

So what I wanted to ask you about, and I think you’ve outlined here so when I ask you if there’s any more you’d add to it, but how do we qualify as a sales leader, a deal that our sales team brings us as to whether we should be getting really wrapped up and involved in it? So you mentioned that we need a executive sponsor. We need to identify people who are negative to change, and we need a spy. Is there anything else that sales leaders need to do to work out whether this is a potential large deal that we should be investing our time into, or whether it’s just something that’s been put in the CRM that’s probably nothing’s going to come from it, and it’s just a pie in the sky?

 

“Time is the measure between truth and false hopes. So, urgency dictates whether or not it’s a real deal.” – Tom Searcy · [18:36] 

 

Tom Searcy:

There’s a couple of things. What I like to say sometimes is that time is the measure between truth and false hopes. So, urgency dictates whether or not it’s a real deal. And there’s people that believe that the world is best served by farmers, and I would say that that is a wonderful thing for 2019 and beyond are behind. From now on, urgency because the world is an uncertain and rapidly changing place. If this deal is not one that is moving forward within the next 90 days, then you can just put it in your tickle file, and you can call them later because all we are solving is the problem that we have in front of us. In 90 days from now, I will have new problems. Now, it may include the problem now, but if you’re not working on it now, you’re not going to talk to me until 90 days about it.

 

Tom Searcy:

So there’s an issue of urgency, right? And so if they can’t find, if they don’t know what the urgency is, then they’ve got to go find it. To declare it as being a huge deal worth your time. The second thing has got to be the issue of scale. All right. Is this a bite a little, nibble a little, bite a little, eat a little bit more, bite a little bit, eat a little bit more, and et cetera. Are we going to go ahead and climb a mountain based upon incremental performance? Or is this a significant enough change that their answer is, “Were going to change 40%, 50%, a 100% of our purchasing decisions because that decision is that big.” If you’re going in and say, “We’re going to try and get 10% of the spend of somebody and then gosh, darn it. We’re going to really serve them well. And then they’re going to give us 15 and 20 and 25,” and et cetera.

 

Tom Searcy:

I’ve got a 13-year-old child. She’ll be through college by the time you’re going to get that deal all the way done. So you look for deals of scale. So deals of urgency. Deals of scale. Scale is the amount of the purchase spend that is going to be out there. And then, you look for those issues in which you have alignment between your solution and their problem. Oftentimes what we do is we take in our solution, and then we try to crowbar that into their particular problem, or we oversweep it. We just say, “Well, it’ll solve these things in general. Honestly, if they do everything, then they’ll get a lot better.” That’s not the kind of deal that has a high enough yield to focus the sales leader’s time.

 

“The deals that a sales leader closes has to be at a rate greater than 50%.” – Tom Searcy · [20:50] 

 

Tom Searcy:

I mean, sales leaders have the training. They’re trading off time and expertise. If they’re doing it correctly, they are closing at greater than 50%. The deals that a sales leader closes has to be at a rate greater than 50%. Other than that, you were just taking any deal that comes in, and you’re not showing any leadership. You’re not showing any discernment. You’re showing desperation.

 

Tom Spells Out Evidence Behind His Claim of Why Sales Leaders Should Not Have a Closing Rate of Less Than 50% · [21:04]

 

Will Barron:

I don’t want to put on the spot too much, but is that an anecdote that 50% in that that’s what you see with your clients or is the data that shows that that is a number that we should kind of head towards?

 

Tom Searcy:

I would say, so my data is based on the 15 years I’ve been in the business.

 

Will Barron:

Sure.

 

Tom Searcy:

And so I’ll take you that way. Most companies come in with less than 50%.

 

Will Barron:

Yep.

 

Tom Searcy:

The systems that we train and things that we do, things I’ve experienced is that you as a sales leader should have nothing less than 50% that you’re putting your hands on. Otherwise, if… Let’s just say it’s 30%. That means 70% of your time is wasted, and you’ve wasted all the way through the sales process, which means that you wasted your time and your subject matter expert’s time and your finance people’s timing, and your salespeople’s time.

 

“As a Sales Leader, if you’re not asking the questions at the very beginning to determine scale, urgency, authority, for example, if you’re not getting all of that before you put your hands and start to drive a conversation, then you’ve wasted an enormous amount of time.” – Tom Searcy · [21:53]

 

Tom Searcy:

If you’re not asking the questions at the very beginning to determine scale, urgency, authority, for example, right? Unique alignment of skills and benefits. If you’re not getting all of that before you put your hands and start to drive that, then you’ve wasted an enormous amount of time. You’re doing what your rockstar salespeople are supposed to be doing. So you need to insist that they’re doing those things, bringing it to you, and once you’ve got that, your leadership has the opportunity to take it to 50% or greater on the close ratios.

 

Why Are Sales Leaders Unable to Hit The 50% Close Rate? Is it Because They Suck at Their Jobs or Are They Taking on Too Many Deals? · [22:25] 

 

Will Barron:

So in your experience then, Tom, because there’s two ways we can look at this, right? If you meet with a theoretical client and they are built, say they’re 25%, and we know that we should be aiming towards 50% of deals closed that our leader has been involved in. Is it typically because the sales leader sucks at selling and adding value throughout the sales process? Or is it more likely that they’re taking on too many deals and that they’re not qualifying the deals that they’re getting involved with enough?

 

Tom Searcy:

I don’t think it’s binary like that. Although it would be convenient if it was. Yes, you can suck and still hit greater than 50%. All right. Or you could be taking too many in, but a lot of it has to do with what qualifies you to become a huge sale prospect. Do your prep work. What happens too often is salespeople bring in somebody like you described; somebody big and an interesting company and et cetera. We like logos. We want to shop for the logos out there in the marketplace because they think they make us look big and credentialized all the rest of that stuff. And then we just do the best we can and see if we get lucky. My answer is that’s poor leadership. Poor leadership should have what we call target filter. A strong screen that says, “I’m not letting you into my sales. I’m not going to…”

 

Tom Searcy:

Sales rep, rockstar sales rep, do your work. You need to convince me that this needs to go into our sales process. Not just that you met a guy in a place that one time who said they might’ve be interested and happens to have VP on his card. No, no, no, no. That’s not enough work. I need you to do the work. And that’s how you get greater than 50% because you sell knowledgeably. What happens if your rockstar salespeople basically give you an unbaked cake to serve. And what they do is they say to sales leaders, “Now you go do all the heavy lifting.”

 

Tom Searcy:

And along the way, the sales leaders got this mess that they’re trying to get together. “I don’t have the right number of people, and I don’t know what roles they’re in. I don’t fully understand the problem. They just needed kind of this, that, and the other thing.” And now, I’m supposed to go dig all that out. Well, that should be coming… It enters the sales process because many, many of those things have already been discovered and discussed. And now, it’s time to go sell. And that’s how you get the greater 50%, is that you don’t sell half-baked cakes.

 

Tom Reveals The Amount of Time Sales Leaders Should Spend Pushing to Get Deals Done · [24:40]

 

Will Barron:

And again, this is mostly subjective, and I’m asking you for you to kind of use your background knowledge here, which clearly is extensive, but is there a percentage amount of time that sales leaders should be spending actually trying to close and support the team with these larger deals? Because again, in my experience is that I’ve had sales managers who are somewhat good at this. And I’ve had sales managers who just want to spend no time with salespeople and spend the whole time in a spreadsheet. And maybe I wasn’t aware, but they had pressures pushing down and to push them into that realm and other things. The whole point of the show is for me to learn a lot about this as well and take the audience on that journey. So maybe I’m being unduly harsh to some of these individuals I’ve worked with in the past, Tom.

 

Will Barron:

But is there a percentage that sales leadership should be spending, pushing to get deals done? Because clearly, they’re incentivized financially on deals getting done as well, aren’t they?

 

Tom Searcy:

Yeah. So the question you’re asking is, again, a complex one. Let’s just talk about two points. One of them is what is the ratio of small, medium, and large and huge accounts that you’re running? The spreadsheet is really an activity-based conversation, lots and lots of smaller sets. And then middle size, it’s a lot of direction. Larger and huge deals, that’s a lot of personal involvement. So depending upon what your plan is for the year, dictates into some degree how much time you’re in the spreadsheets, how much time you’re in the coaching, and how much time are you in the leading. If you’re only a large or huge company sales, that’s what your group is, you’re going to need to be at that a lot more of your time in that particular space.

 

Will Barron:

Sure.

 

“Smaller end deals typically provide you stability. They don’t provide you rapid growth.” – Tom Searcy · [26:20]

 

Tom Searcy:

So I think that you have to make the plan upfront. What percentage of my time? And the issue is that the smaller end deals typically provide you stability. They don’t provide you rapid growth. So you need to do as much as necessary and as little as possible on the smaller deals. Mid-size deals, what you’re really doing is you’re really doing development work for people. You’re trying to prepare them to move upstream to be bigger salespeople. The larger sales places where you really doing your sales leadership. Anything that you can offset to a sales manager to run on that smaller end of the cubes, that’s what you need to do. And then you move up from there. Different companies have different strategies as far as how much they’re going to do. But my answer is you should be spending the majority of your time as you can, based upon what the business strategy is up at that top end.

 

Tom Searcy:

I’ve got a free resource that, if it’s helpful at all. It’s a tool. It’s called Sales Planning in Two Cups of Coffee or Less. And it’s really about determining what your financial plan is. And you can find it on our website, and also, if you go to youtube.com to our Hunt Big Sales channel on YouTube, you’ll see that in there, and you can ask for it. But it comes down to… I point that out because it really is a tool to answer the questions that you’re talking about. So there’s no absolute, but there is an understandable way to diagnose it.

 

Should Sales Leaders Spend Time Every Month Helping and Supporting Their Team To Do Larger Deals? · [27:47]

 

Will Barron:

To put an absolute element on this, should every sales leader have at least 15 seconds a month to help and support the team to do larger deals? Is that fair to say?

 

Tom Searcy:

It’s more than fair to say. I think huge sales transform organisations.

 

Will Barron:

Yep.

 

Tom Searcy:

Not only are the inspirational and aspirational, but they redefine what is possible and capable, and they also cause you to stretch as an organisation because no two huge deals are exactly the same, which means working outside of what you’re doing off of card or off of standard offering is how you build and develop your business. And you’ve got a partner, a new company or new customer, I mean, who is really saying, “Love you. We need you to do this 10% or 15% more.” You can look at it and say, “You know, if I do 10 or 15% more, my company is going to get better and more marketable. And I’ve got this company here who’s paying the freight to get it done.”

 

Will Barron:

Makes total sense.

 

Tom Searcy:

So, yes. Always.

 

Tom’s Advise to New Sales Leaders · [28:54]

 

Will Barron:

Good. Right. I’ve got one final question that I ask everyone that comes on the show, Tom. And that is if you could give only one piece of advice to a new sales leader, perhaps the 30-days, 90-days into the role, what would that one single piece of advice be?

 

“If you’re a small to mid-sized business and you have the time and energy to spend time sending people to classes and getting people trained up and et cetera. What you’re doing is you’re feeding your turkeys, and you’re starving your eagles. If they want to advance themselves, then they should do that in their own time and on their own dime.” – Tom Searcy · [29:20] 

 

Tom Searcy:

Don’t train your people. I know it’s not what people would say, but I’m going to say it right now. Don’t train them. Look. Look, if you’re a small to mid-sized business and you have the time and energy to spend time sending people to classes and getting people trained up and et cetera. What you’re doing is you’re feeding your turkeys, and you’re starving your eagles. All right. The eagles don’t need to be in the class. The turkeys won’t learn. All right. People need to be product trained, absolutely. They need to be decorum trained. What’s the brand and face going forward?

 

Tom Searcy:

If you want to then train them how to do all the rest of the other kinds of things that are in sales, have them watch podcasts like yours or news in any of the on-time YouTube. If they want to advance themselves, then they should do that in their own time and on their own dime. The idea of tossing somewhere in a sales class, who then they’re absorbing whatever it is that they’re choosing to absorb rather than going and seeking out and getting what they need. Including when I talk about training, it’s like pouring water on rocks. What do you think-

 

Will Barron:

Sorry, Tom. I love that analogy. I’ve never heard that before. That is absolutely hilarious.

 

Tom Searcy:

The thing is that if I have somebody who is coming to me and saying, “I want to get better at this, that, or the other thing,” I have an enormous amount of time for that coaching, mentoring, and development. All right. I have no time to put somebody in a classroom and other than product knowledge. Product knowledge, that’s critical. But yeah, I mean, there’s this whole idea of “Well, we’re going to have some sales training.” Oh really? Okay. The people who don’t need it will take the most notes because they’re always trying to get better. The people who need it the most won’t pay attention. So it’s easy. Feed the best, clip the rest.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah.

 

Tom Searcy:

Survive. Get out there. And look, the world doesn’t have two years. We’re not IBM of a million years ago or Xerox who spent 18 months coaching you and developing you to be an effective salesperson and communicator. World doesn’t work like that. Although I don’t feel very strongly about it, but-

 

Tom Explains Why Hiring The Right People is Better Than Hiring The Wrong People and Trying to Train Them on How to do Their Jobs · [31:28]

 

Will Barron:

Nobody’s ever said… On any of the shows that we produce over at salesleadership.org and salesman.org. Nobody’s ever said that, Tom. That is absolutely… I’m not lost for words. I’m just trying to process it because I feel like that’s almost a podcast in its own right. And it makes sense, right, especially from the leadership level. Hire good people and feed them as opposed to hire schmoes and try and convince them. You’re almost trying to sell them on their own job, right? If you’re paying for training, and the not taking part in it, and they’re not being a professional, which is what we’re trying to kind of encourage of in the industry, right?

 

Tom Searcy:

Right. I mean, you’re writing investment checks. So for six months, nine months, whatever, you’re making some level of lower level of performance expectation, which you’re spending your time investing in them more than they’re investing in themselves. All right. That’s a disproportionate equation. It’s the old joke about faith, hope, and charity. At first, you hire somebody with faith. Right. And they start to do poorly. You hope they’ll get better. And then eventually, you’re just paying them charity because you never know they’re going to get any better. So faith, hope, and charity is truth. And so, just like I said, time is a separation between truth and false hopes. All right. The time is the same thing not only in selling process but in management and development processes. And everybody’s got an anecdotal story. Well, the one that says, “You know, I had this one rep who came in and was terrible, and you know, but we spent time with him. We invested in him and coached him. He eventually became my best rep.” Oh, who cares?

 

Will Barron:

Sure.

 

“Michael Jordan came from poor to a phenomenal athlete. Who did the work? He did. So if you’ve got somebody who’s not doing well, there’s an unbelievable amount of resources that are out there for them to invest in themselves.” – Tom Searcy · [33:46] 

 

Tom Searcy:

So it took three years for him to get remarkable. It took years, two years, for you invest in him to be completely a drain on the economy, and you stuck it out until the third year. How many years did it take to pay back the two years you lost? Like, “Well, he was my best rep.” For an hour and a half. I mean this idea that failure pays for itself in long-term success. All right. No one counts that what the amount of failure it was to get to this moment of tremendous success, and my answer is, who did you take that investment away from to put it into your failure, who ever eventually became your home run story? And people talk about that in sports, who did the work to go from being poor? Michael Jordan became from poor to a phenomenal athlete. Who did the work? He did. So if you’ve got somebody who’s not doing well, there’s unbelievable amount of resources that are out there for them to invest in themselves. All right. I promise. All right. I just-

 

Will Barron:

I love it.

 

Tom Searcy:

The excuses of losers. I’m so tired of this idea of salespeople going around, “Please, sir. May I have some more?” Like Oliver Twist.

 

What You Need to Do Before Asking For Help From Your Sales Leader · [34:15]

 

Will Barron:

Sure. Well, I think you made a few great points. One, we put published so… We’ve got a training programme in people who are really interested can get involved in that, right. But we published so much content for free that is just out there. And they’re so many other people doing it. You’ve got loads of great content as well. That if someone isn’t at least coming to you saying, “Hey, I listened to this. I watched this. I read Tom’s book on this and that. Can you do something?” Then, I guess it’s tough love, right? In that, you’ve got to… oh, let me put it another way. Maybe, is it fair to sum up what you’re saying there of, you’ve got to pick your battles? Is that fair to say?

 

Tom Searcy:

It’s more than fair to say you have to pick your battles, and also is more than fair to say… So a quick anecdote. I had a teacher first day of school in high school said, “I want to let you know, I don’t grade fairly.” Says, “I pick favourites, and they get better grades. So here’s what it takes to be a favourite for me. First of all, you show up prepared. Secondly, you’ve read the book and the materials. Third, you participate in question, and I have questions in the class. Fourth, you come up afterwards for additional readings, additional comments, or et cetera. And you do those kinds of things in class and et cetera. You’re one of my favourites. I’ll guarantee you. You’ll get a better grade.”

 

“You’re going to get more from me as your sales leader the more you invest in yourself to become excellent.” – Tom Searcy · [35:39] 

 

Tom Searcy:

Sales reps should be told the exact same thing. You’re going to get more from me as your sales leader is the more you invest in yourself to become excellent. And if you don’t invest in you and I’m the only one who’s going to invest in you, I won’t invest very much. So. Yeah, you’re right. Any of the people you talk… Any things that you talked about, when those people come up, they draw to you to help them. What do you do? You draw forward to be of help.

 

Parting Thoughts: Tom’s Book, website, and the Sales Growth Assessment ·  [36:05] 

 

Will Barron:

That makes total sense. Well, with that, Tom, because I feel like that’s another five topics week we could spiderweb into from here, mate. With that, tell us where we can find out more about you? Tell us about Hunt Big Sales and anything else you want to share with the sales leadership audience as well?

 

Tom Searcy:

So huntbigsales.com is the best place to find us. There’s a free assessment on there. Kind of says, where is your business at? It’s called the Sales Growth Assessment, and it’s right on the front page. It’s free. It gives you a report out that says, how is your business? And where are you as far as growing. We published a book in the last year called How to Sell in Place. It’s specifically geared toward those people and those organisations who are not able to be in front of customers as often as they have been in the past. It doesn’t mean that you’re not able to, but we’re moving… At the very best, we’re in a hybrid world where… And in the [inaudible [00:36:57] good is that we’re almost exclusively by text or podcast or by phone. And so you’re going to, you need different skills. You need different skills for building relationships, for getting into entry, supporting those customers, and we’ve put together a book and a whole programme; videos and workbooks and et cetera around that idea. And you can find that on our website as well.

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. Well, I’d like to-

 

Tom Searcy:

And all of our books-

 

Will Barron:

Sorry, mate. I interrupted you there.

 

Tom Searcy:

No, I’m just saying all the books and et cetera are also on Amazon.

 

Will Barron:

Good stuff. Well, I’ll link to all that in the show notes, over at salesleadership.org, and with that, Tom, I appreciate your time. I appreciate you, the fire and the energy from some of the kind of talking points you’ve had in this episode. I do appreciate that. It goes down well with the audience. It makes it entertaining and useful for them. And with that, Tom, I want to thank you again for joining us on the Sales Leadership Show.

 

Tom Searcy:

Thanks for the privilege.

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