#1 – Introducing The Sales Team Success Formula

By David Masover

What the heck is The Sales Team Success Formula and why should you care?

That’s exactly what we’re going to tackle in this episode, and in this podcast.

I’m David Masover, creator of the formula, host of the podcast, and a 30-year veteran of B2B sales and I can tell you, there is a lot of suffering in a lot of sales teams that just doesn’t need to be.

Reps suffer due to a lack of clarity, motivation, and the ability to consistently get results.

Sales managers and leaders suffer because they can’t move the needle on team performance as effectively as they need to.

Company leaders suffer because sales revenue is the lifeblood of their company, and too often a sporadic, inconsistent, black box.

And prospects and customers suffer on the receiving end of unprofessional and unhelpful sales engagements.

It doesn’t have to be like this!

There is no one thing that needs to change for sales team effectiveness to improve dramatically. Sales teams operate within a system, so a holistic approach is what it takes to make lasting and meaningful change.

…and that’s exactly what The Sales Team Success Formula is all about!

In this first episode, I’ll explain exactly what the formula is, how it works, what you can expect to get out of it for your team, and why it matters.

In the episodes that immediately follow (episodes 2-10), I’ll map out the pieces of the formula in detail so that you will know exactly what it takes to turn things around in your sales organization – big or small.

And in the episodes that come after that, I’ll be sharing stories from the front lines, more detailed and nuanced explorations of elements of the formula and components of sales team performance, and we’ll have guests to offer their perspectives on sales team improvement issues for your benefit as well.

So welcome to The Sales Team Success Formula podcast!

Here’s to your success!

Transcription

Hi, I’m really glad you are here for the first episode of The Sales Team Success Formula Podcast. 

I’m David Masover host of the podcast and creator of The Formula

Let’s get right into it!

In this first episode, my goal is to answer a few questions about what The Sales Team Success Formula is all about and what you can expect from this podcast, specifically in the first 10 or so episodes where I’ll basically map the entire Sales Team Success Formula program out for you, just the way I take clients through it – and we’ll jump into that in just a few minutes.

But first, a quick word to listeners of my previous two podcasts which are now discontinued, Driving B2B Sales Revenue and CEO Sales Insights.

Those podcasts were my first podcasts, and I absolutely fell in love with the medium of podcasting as a way to connect with listeners and the greater sales community. If you were a listener to one or both those podcasts, you know that we had great guests and solid insights and conversations about a wide range of sales issues across several dozen episodes for each podcast.

But I heard from a lot of listeners that while they enjoyed the episodes, thought I was a good host who prepared well, got good guests, and asked good questions about important B2B Sales topics, they wanted to know more about the work I was doing with clients, more of a learning podcast where I used the opportunity less to explore a somewhat random collection interesting topics and more to just teach what I’m teaching in the field and share what learnings are coming out of those experiences.

Now all of this input and reflection about my podcasts unfolded during 2021, which is a year over which I decided to make my own business much more focused.

Prior to 2021 I was doing a lot of different kinds of coaching and training and consulting across a wide range of B2B Sales Topics, but over the course of 2021 I decided that I wanted to focus on what I saw as some of the core, key problems in B2B Sales organizations.

Now there area lot of problems in B2B Sales, things you hear about all of the time like:

  • No enough reps hitting quota;
  • Companies spending tons of money on training and very little of it sticks or gets deployed;
  • The overwhelming number of tools and technologies to support sales but how most don’t get used as they should or deliver the reports or results that the marketing promises;
  • And that turnover at all sales roles very is high and tenure is dropping fast
  • And let’s not forget prospects and customers – depending on the study you look at you can see that most would rather do just about anything other than engage with a salesperson in order to help them make a decision about using the product or service of a company.

So there are all kinds of problems around B2B sales, which is the focus of this podcast and of The Sales Team Success Formula, but one of the things that has always bothered me and quite frankly puzzled me is that most of the attempts to solve these kinds of problems focus almost exclusively on salespeople.

Training, tools and turnover – sometimes with a side of PIP but ultimately turnover – these seem to be the most popular choices for most companies, all focused on the salesperson as a way to address sales issues.

So what’s wrong with that, you might be thinking – of course you have to focus on salespeople to fix B2B Sales problems because that’s where the rubber meets the road, right?

Actually, I disagree.

That perspective only makes sense at a superficial level, because anyone who has had a job in an organization knows that management and leadership sets the tone and the priorities and that systems and processes or the lack thereof have a huge impact on effectiveness – and if all of that is not properly oriented and executed, then it doesn’t really matter what you do to improve on the front lines, the results are thin at best because the structure to support them is not as strong as it needs to be to have a really significant impact.

So all of that, and it makes even less sense to try to solve sales problems exclusively at the front lines when you start talking to sales leaders who often express frustrations around things like:

  •  A lack of transparency into deals
  • A wild west approach to sales where every rep is off doing their own thing their own way and without great or consistent results to show for it.
  • Little to no ability to predict revenue
  • And – a word that I hear more often that you might imagine – chaos. That the macro level view of sales and company leaders about how sales works in their organizations is described with the word chaos. 

Now companies live and die by revenue, and the kinds of B2B sales organizations I work with rely heavily if not exclusively on salespeople to generate that revenue – and the word that comes up is chaos? Now this is a problem!

So how do you begin to address that?

The fantasy that many seem to have, is that if you just hire great salespeople and shut your eyes while they go and do great things for you whether you can see them or not just doesn’t seem to be working – it’s high time that more and more companies started looking beyond front line salespeople for a solution, and the truth is – you don’t have to look far, but you do have to change your perspective.

Now as I’ve seen it, in my three decades in B2B sales – the front line sales manager – which is the person that reps report to – whether that is someone with the title sales manager or the CEO in a small firm or any of the other job titles that might have reps reporting directly to them – this person that the reps report to, this person we’ll call the Front Line Sales manager, this is the person who has the greatest potential to impact the salespeople and the sales team as a whole in a positive way because they are that person who is one step back from the front lines and to the salespeople this is the person that represents management, leadership, systems, processes, structure, culture, and all of that other stuff that supports front line execution and effectiveness.

If you believe that a persons boss should have the experience, the motivation, the time, the inclination and the resources to help their team succeed with their mission, this idea is not so hard to embrace, but the sad truth is this:

In the modern era, that relationship between the front line sales manager and the reps who report to them – is mostly about neglect.

Most front line sales managers typically don’t have the time, the skills or – very importantly – the infrastructure to do what they potentially could do to support and effectively hold reps accountable – which is what their core function should be in a highly effective sales organization.

So here’s the bottom line – after spending more than three decades in B2B sales, I can tell you that the best front line sales managers I have ever seen coach, coach frequently and coach well, and the best sales organizations value and support the coaching that comes from the front line sales managers.

All generalizations have their limitations, but this one has an awful lot of truth behind it!

Coaching matters, and coaching from the front line sales manager because of the combination of support and accountability that can come with it is extremely powerful.

Many companies go part way here and embrace the coaching idea but can’t figure out or don’t prioritize having that done internally which is a huge missed opportunity, and they choose to outsource coaching because the front line sales manager is too busy, doesn’t have the skills, has too big of a quota – I get asked to come in and be the external coach quite frequently and to be honest, I just don’t do this anymore. 

Why not? I mean the money is good and I enjoy coaching salespeople, but to me, when a company is outsourcing front line sales coaching it is a red flag.

You really have to ask yourself – what is the sales manager so busy doing that helping reps succeed and holding them accountable to the things that will get them to that success isn’t important enough for them to get to – and especially in an environment when there is so much frustration from sales leaders about the sales function, many of which are using the word “chaos” to describe all of that!

It’s completely backwards, and I’m just not interested in being a part of that any more.

So a lot of folks hear me talking about these kinds of issues and concerns and start to go down tangents like can you teach a sales manager to coach, not all sales managers are capable of coaching, all kinds of questions and concerns around the idea of having the front line sales manager coach the salespeople.

What I’ve learned over the last several years, is that this isn’t the best way to look at the problem, and that’s where the Sales Team Success Formula comes in.

The Sales Team Success Formula is not all about teaching front line sales managers how to coach, but rather it is a program designed to establish the kind of infrastructure, kind of a sales team operating system if you will, in which reps have clarity about how to execute and what is expected of them; tech and tools are well integrated to what the reps execute so that they actually support that work AND generate meaningful insight and metrics; and the front line sales manager can harness that dynamic – that insight into what salespeople really do in the field and that insight they get from properly deployed tech and tools – into a structured management system of support and accountability, which is ultimately what proper sales coaching is supposed to be about.

In other words, if you set up the infrastructure correctly, and allow time for effective execution of a few basic management practices within that infrastructure, the benefits of coaching are practically an automatic output of the system regardless of the inherent or taught coaching ability of the front line sales manager.

As an analogy, it’s the difference between telling someone who never played the piano to sit down and play something nice – which is pretty much impossible, and teaching someone to play and then asking the same question. When you have a plan and a schematic, and the core knowledge then execution of anything becomes a lot easier.

That’s what we are shooting for with The Sales Team Success Formula – that is why I’ve chosen to focus my work around this core concept, and to share so much of this with the world of Sales Peeps through this podcast, through Open Houses I do every month or so, through content on LinkedIn and in a lot of other places…

Because there is just too much unnecessary suffering in the world of B2B sales today.

  • Reps are suffering because they don’t know what to do, how to do it, and they don’t get any support for getting it done.
  • Prospects and customers are suffering because they have bad experiences with salespeople and can’t get the information they need to make decisions and move on with their objectives or solve their problems
  • Sales managers and sales leaders are suffering because they can’t impact sales team improvement even though they buy things and take initiatives
  • And company leaders are suffering because generating revenue is the life blood of their business, and it’s a black box that isn’t working well.

So I’m going to spend the next 10 episodes of this podcast spelling out for you exactly how The Sales Team Success Formula works in so that you can start working on it in your own organization if you are a do it yourself kind of a person, or if you’d like to consider having my help in working through this with you and your team, you’ll get a very detailed sense of what we’ll do, why it matters, and the huge positive impact you can expect from doing this work, establishing this infrastructure, and the benefits you will reap from all of that on an ongoing basis from it.

So now that you have some of the backstory about all of this and some idea of the problems that the formula is designed to solve, in this introductory episode I’m going to spell out for you what the Sales Team Success Formula is all about, and to help clarify the concept, I’m going to walk you through a graphical representation of it.

You can get the graphic I’m describing here from a link in the episode notes which might be useful to look at as you listen, but if you are driving or unable to do that for some reason I’m going to try to map this out as if you are not looking at the graphic – because this will help you understand what the program is, and why it’s so effective as an operating system for an effective B2B sales organization.

So the graphic that describes The Sales Team Success Formula starts with a triangle – a nice balanced equilateral triangle which you might remember from geometry as being one with sides that are all the same length. No special reason for that except that it is nice and balanced, but try to imagine that as a point of departure.

Now we use a triangle because we want to think about your front line sales operation as a system of three interconnected elements, one element for each point of the triangle, and the interconnected nature of the relationship represented by the lines that connect the corners.

Let me explain.

So on one corner or point of the triangle, you have your salespeople. At a high level, their job is to engage and interact with prospects and customers in pursuit of sales.

On another corner, you have the tools and technology that the salespeople use to engage prospects and customers – so this might be things like CRM or communications software or any other tools and technology that reps use while executing their primary job of seeking sales with prospects and customers.

The third corner of the triangle is the Front Line Sales Manager that we discussed – the lynchpin of a well run sales organization and a critical part of the system tasked with supporting the reps in their pursuit of sales success and holding them accountable to the things that will get them there..

So imagine that triangle – salespeople on one corner, tools and tech on a second, and the front line manager on the third.

Got it?

Great!

So within The Sales Team Success Formula, each of these elements that sits on each of these corners is something we’ll dig into, and we’ll cover each and all of them in detail in future episodes of this podcast, I go into the details a lot in my social content, in the monthly open houses I hold, and of course when I work on The Sales Team Success Formula with clients. These details of each element here are really important, but what’s equally important and often missed is the interconnection between these elements. To keep this high level for right now, let’s defer on the details for the moment and explore this interconnection between the parts next.

Now again – I have to emphasize here – this is NOT to say that the details are not important, the details are hugely important, and we’ll go deep into them in the immediately upcoming episodes of this podcast, but in this first exposure to the system, let’s get a handle on the system as a whole, and then dig into the parts, and then interconnect them – because not only is this how The Sales Team Success formula is designed, but also because this is the path to B2B sales team success.

So get the triangle back into your head – equilateral triangle, reps on one corner, tools and tech on another, and the front line sales manager on the third, and let’s think about the three lines of the triangle that connect the corners.

Now we’re not going to make this a geometry lesson, but if you think about the corners or points of the triangle, any two corners have a single line that connects them – and in the graphical representation of The Sales Team Success Formula, these lines represent the relationship between the elements on any two of the corners, and if you think about them in a certain order then the graphic represents a dynamic system that generates a flywheel effect of growth and improvement which is what we are going for here.

So what are these connections between the elements that evolve into a positive, growth oriented flywheel of total sales team success.

Let’s start with the salespeople on one of the corners of our triangle. Their job is to engage with prospects and customers to get sales and revenue for the company, and they use the tech and tools on the second corner of the triangle to get that core function done – so the line that goes between the salespeople and their tools represents execution.

Now again – In The Sales Team Success Formula and in future episodes of this podcast, we’ll dig deep into the details of what salespeople do to get these sales and to pursue these opportunities, and we will use this clarity to select and deploy tools and tech that work well within your organization – but let’s just cut to the benefits for now and get to the details in the upcoming episodes.

So what happens when you set up and deploy tools properly as a reflection of a clear understanding of what the reps are really doing in the field to get new business.

When you base tools and tech selection and deployment on a clear and detailed understanding of what reps do in the field to get new business the tools match up to the actual work that reps do and because of that they support that work in a real and meaningful way.

We’ve all heard about and have probably seen how CRM for example can be purchased and deployed with a lot of promise and a lot of cost too, but the reps don’t really use it except as a logging tool at the end of the week because they have to in order to get credit fo their work. This is an example of a poorly deployed tool, and reps don’t use it consistently and no good insights come out of the tool for just that reason.

On the other hand, if that same CRM is deployed based on a deep understanding of the actual work reps do to get sales and it is designed to make that work easier, reps are a LOT more likely to use it to do that work not just as an afterthought, and that supports the execution that connects the salespeople and their tools in our triangle – so in your mind or if you are making notes – write execution on the line between salespeople and tools – and recognize that it’s the detailed understanding and clarity of what reps are doing in the field to get sales that we need to pursue that makes this work far better than what you may have experienced in the past – that’s just not something we can skip over – and we won’t – but for now, let’s just understand this at a conceptual level and get to the details after we finish exploring this at the high level.

One quick note here – a lot of sales and company leaders I talk to think they know what their reps do in the field but after digging in a bit it becomes clear that most reps are out doing their own thing their own way – which isn’t necessarily bad, but if you don’t have some kind of a high level framework that everyone is following, it’s really hard to deploy tools that will be used consistently and that will provide any kind of data and insights that will be useful and have any kind of data integrity.

If you are not sure if you have a framework like this or not, or if you think you do – go ask each of your salespeople one-on-one to describe their process for going after new business from start to finish of a single deal. If your experience is like mine, you might just realize that you are further from a common framework than you think, and you should realize just how limiting that can be – and how much potential you have to grow and scale once you sort that out.

OK, with that said, let’s think about the line in our triangle that connects tools with front line sales managers. If we think about the poorly deployed CRM example, and we think about the front line sales manager trying to use data from the CRM or example to get insights into the sales team, we can see that this is a fruitless effort. The data that comes out of the CRM or other sales execution tools will only be useful if it reflects what is really happening as reps do their work, not an afterthought or the results or a minimally utilized logging tool.

So by digging deep into what reps do – which is a core part of The Sales Team Success Formula, and tying that to tools and tech so that they are useful and used by reps when they execute their work, we not only make the line of execution between reps and tools stronger, but we create real insights and analytics for front line sales managers who can make observations based on the tools that give them real information about what is happening with the team in the field.

This is not the only place that front line sales managers should be getting this kind of information, but to be able to get good, valid, high integrity information here will enhance the front line sales managers ability to quickly get insights that allow for analysis and oversight – so the line between the front line sales manager and the tools and tech is that – insight, or analysis – whichever you prefer – but this is a critical part of the system if you want it to run both efficiently and effectively, which should absolutely be part of the goal here..

And that leads us to the third line – possibly the most important line – the line between the front line sales manager and the reps.

I say possibly the most important line because of what we discussed about how the best managers coach and the best organizations have managers who coach, but only possibly because it’s the other two parts of the triangle that make efficient and effective coaching possible.

Remember, within The Sales Team Success Formula we are not relying on the coaching skills of the front line sales manager alone to account for the kinds of suport and accountability that make the relationship with reps so powerful and effective, but also the infrastructure that is set up by the deep analysis and understanding of what reps are doing in the field, how tools are supporting those efforts, and what analytics and insights come from all of that.

So the line between the front line sales manager and the reps is about management – which can be encapsulated with the words support and accountability. When front line managers have a clear view of what reps should be doing in the field, have insights and analytics about what is getting done, and spend some time providing support and holding reps accountable for their efforts in pursuit of the results they are responsible for – now you’ve got a very powerful system.

So that’s the graphical representation, and that’s the essence of The Sales Team Success Formula.

Reps using tools to execute effective sales work with prospects and customers, tools supporting those efforts AND offering insight and analytics to front line sales managers, and front line sales managers providing support and accountability to reps.

And that’s what generates this positive flywheel effect. 

When front line sales managers support and hold reps accountable based on what is really happening in the field, they do this regularly and with an orientation towards improving the team as a whole, reps execute better, and that execution is reflected in analytics, and managers can learn from that and help reps improve even more still, and your sales organization grows thad thrives because as a whole it is the beneficiary of this virtuous cycle of execution, insight, support, accountability, improvement, and growth.

Not so terrible, right?

So to get there, we need to see our sales team systematically – as the triangle graphic represents – as a point of departure.

From there, we need to get granular about each point in the triangle – what exactly reps should be doing – who specifically should they should be talking to, what they should be saying, how should they be executing on opportunities, etc.

Then take those learnings into tools and tech and go deep into how to connect them to real rep activities in a way that they really support execution AND provide insights, then take all of that and inform the front line sales manager with exactly what they need to know in term of insights and how exactly to use that to support reps, hold them accountable and grow the team as a whole – which should be the primary goal and which ultimately is a great outcome for your sales team – don’t you think?

So that’s it in a graphical nutshell described in an audio podcast – The Sales Team Success Formula and the flywheel of growth and improvement it can create for your B2B Sales Organization.

Now in the next 10 or so episodes of this podcast, we’re going to take a deep dive into each element of our triangle of The Sales Team Success Formula to expand on each individual part, and also describe how to tie them together to help you create the integrated system that will help your sales team thrive.

That’s the point of all of this!

I hope this is both useful and interesting for you and that my effort to describe a graphic worked for you, I’ve also played those games in school and in corporate retreats where you try to describe a graphic and the other person draws it and that doesn’t always go so well, so remember that you can get the graphic in the episode notes and do check that out if it is interesting for you, and also check out the rest of the upcoming episodes of this podcast to fill in the details of the formula so that you can really see how this approach to total B2B sales team improvement can supercharge your sales organization and give you the results, the piece of mind, a culture of execution and excellence, and a systematic approach to revenue generation that almost every sales and company leader I have ever met is seeking.

If that’s true for you too, then I think you’ll really enjoy and benefit from the upcoming episodes, and to learning more about The Sales Team Success Formula.

If you’d like to find out what the formula can do for you and your team, head over to my website at www dot sales team success formula dot com and sign up for a one-on-one consultation and assessment with me and let’s find out if this program is your best next move for B2B sales growth and scalability.

So to close out this episode I’d like to thank you for being here for this first episode of The Sales Team Success Formula podcast, my best wishes to you for your ongoing success, and see you for the next episode where we’ll start getting into the details and putting the pieces together to start building out The Sales Team Success Formula for your B2B sales team.