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"The Big Four of Future Sales Managers" with Nancy Maluso

The Selling Excellence Podcast: Episode 11

On this episode of the podcast, Tim speaks with Nancy Maluso, a research and industry analyst from Forrester. Nancy reveals insights on the best and worst sales managers she’s ever worked with and how those insights can help executives think about shaping their future sales managers. You won’t want to miss the Big Four and much more in this episode.

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Episode Transcript

Tim Geisert (00:05):
Hey, welcome to the selling excellence podcast for business executives. We all know B2B selling isn’t getting any easier. And what’s worse, it’s getting more expensive. Hello, I’m Tim Geisert, your host and partner at Auctus IQ, a selling excellence as a service company. Our goal today is to give you insights on how you can turn your sales force into a company asset. We hope you enjoy.

Yes, indeed it is another episode. And we’ve got a special one here because we have a special guest Nancy Maluso, from Forrester. How are you today?

Nancy Maluso (00:37):
I’m great. Doing great, happy to be here.

Tim Geisert (00:40):
It’s good to have you. Gosh, I’m looking at your career and you have extensive experience just carrying a bag, working your way up through management. And now, now you’re an industry expert, right?

Nancy Maluso (00:53):
Well, as expert I guess, as you can get, in this life, I guess.

Tim Geisert (00:58):
In this life, in this sales life that we have.

Nancy Maluso (01:02):
Yeah, exactly.

Tim Geisert (01:02):
So given all of that, I’m just going to hit you with a question. It’s a question I love asking and it’ll be interesting to hear how you an answer it. So with all of what you’ve done in pretty much every level of sales, why do you love selling? Why do you love this profession?

Nancy Maluso (01:20):
I’m going to start with, I never thought I’d be in the profession. When I was majoring in computer science and math, I thought, “Oh, sales people are like, I’m not doing that.”

Tim Geisert (01:32):
Yeah. Right.

Nancy Maluso (01:33):
And then when I got in the working world, I just found I loved connecting with customers and solving their problems. And I started doing that from a service perspective. But I was like, “They don’t even know why they’re buying this stuff. There’s got to be a better way.” And then all the sales people were always having the most fun and they were making the most money. I was like, “I can do that.”

Tim Geisert (01:53):
Right, right. Yeah.

Nancy Maluso (01:57):
I said, I could be an honest, I don’t have to be a used car sales person. I guess you actually go be a salesperson and solve problems. So I did, I moved over and started doing that and I found that I just loved it. There was the administrative stuff, it’s not great.

Tim Geisert (02:13):
Yeah. Right. That comes with every job though, right?

Nancy Maluso (02:16):
Exactly. But being able to really solve problems and connect the dots between what’s going on in a customer’s world and what we can do to help them is just very fulfilling.

Tim Geisert (02:25):
Yeah. Well, it’s a great question that I love asking because you get such varied answers. Some of it is, like you said, serving the customers. Some, hey, you can make a great deal of money as much as a doctor or a lawyer, anybody else in a real profession. And really everything in between and the joy that it provides. One of my favorites of course, it’s really provided a great life for my family, which for people like you and others that didn’t really plan on getting into sales as a profession, it’s really kind of an amazing delight and surprise, right?

Nancy Maluso (02:59):
Yeah, it is.

Tim Geisert (03:01):
So today, with all of your expertise, and this is the thing, with an executive audience that we have here, the goal is to teach, what you do every day. That’s your thing, right?

Nancy Maluso (03:13):

Tim Geisert (03:14):
And sales managers seem to be all the topic right now, yet everybody seems to be a little lost on what to do with it. Would you agree with that?

Nancy Maluso (03:26):
Yeah. I think we have failed to spend enough time and effort in developing our sales managers and we’re in a bad place because of it.

Tim Geisert (03:34):
Yeah. So why is that? Why do you think that is?

Nancy Maluso (03:39):
Well, I think first of all, when baby boomers came up through sales, we all had sales schools to go to, all the core companies like NCR and IBM and Procter & Gamble and Xerox, they all had sales schools. You went for six months and you learned how to get dressed and how to have a meal and how to learn all the products and how to pitch and how to do all that stuff. And you weren’t released until you really knew what you were doing. And then when you became a manager, you went through manager school and we sort of got away from that. We had a cadre of really excellent managers and they were able to teach sellers sort of in a mentor real way. And so we kind of got away with it through the ’90s, ’80s and ’90s of not having these formal schools.

Then the boomers start retiring or moving out of sales. And now, all of a sudden, you don’t have that legacy knowledge and skill. And so we tend to promote the salesperson who’s the best at selling. And it causes two problems. One, we have an open territory that’s now going to be filled by somebody who’s not as good as the star sales guy. And two, we don’t train them on how to be a good manager and to make the shift so that they can really help others to be great salespeople.

Tim Geisert (04:50):
Yeah. And it seems like anymore, I know in your work and in our work, I spend a lot of time with sales managers, and what seems to be almost on the fundamentals of doing that role and doing that job because you’re right, there’s just a void of us teaching them how to step into those positions. So yeah, you get these battlefield promoted sellers who are really, really good, and then they get thrown into a sales management job and boy, it doesn’t always work does it?

Nancy Maluso (05:21):
Not always, no.

Tim Geisert (05:24):
I want to learn more about this and I think you’ve done some research in this area, but I’m going to ask you kind of a personal question first. And that is so tell me, just because we’re talking about sales managers and you’ve got a storied career, tell me about the best sales manager you ever had.

Nancy Maluso (05:42):
Well, the best manager was one who was really clear about what he expected. And even though he inspected the results, he spent a lot of time ensuring that the actions I were taking were the right ones. Reminded me, “Hey, did you talk to this per”… And then helping me? So really just reminding me of the key things that I needed to do. At this point, I was a great salesperson, I was making my number on a regular basis. But just double checking and then saying things like, “Have you thought of this? Have you thought of that?” Sort of brainstorming with me and encouraging me, but always being appreciative of the effort and the work that I did, but still holding me accountable, expecting me to get results. But understanding that just saying, “Get more results, get more results, get more results,” wasn’t going to do it. He continued to mentor me and develop me and I still talk to him all the time.

Tim Geisert (06:37):
So is it safe to say that he did a good job? If you break the job down into, he did a good job of developing you, but also helping you with deals.

Nancy Maluso (06:47):
Yeah. I would say he… So when I think of management, I think of multiple roles the manager plays. They’re a manager of the business. They manage the operations of the business, including forecasting and all that kind of stuff. And unfortunately, that’s the thing that we pay the most attention to today. As companies. And we just beat our managers up to do that right. But there’s four other roles. They have to recruit well, they have to develop their people. So they have to be a mentor and a trainer and all that kind of stuff. They have to lead us, they have to encourage us, they have to create the right culture. And they have to show their us their excellence. In other words, transfer, sort of demonstrate what good looks like and help us learn from their experience and knowledge.

Tim Geisert (07:33):
Yeah. Well, we’re going to dive a little deeper into that because that’s kind of the heart of why I’m so excited to have you here today. But I got to ask you another question.

Nancy Maluso (07:42):

Tim Geisert (07:42):
That is okay, you talk about your best manager. What was your worst manager?

Nancy Maluso (07:49):
All right. Well, there wasn’t one. I kind of call it my…

Tim Geisert (07:53):
Okay, we’ll group them into managers.

Nancy Maluso (07:54):
Okay. So there was the micromanager, right? The micromanager was somebody who was really in my business all day, every day, about, “What are you doing? Are you making enough calls? Are you doing this?” It’s like, dude, give me some time to do the work. But really inspecting the numbers. And that’s fine, but never really talking about the effectiveness of anything, helping you with the effectiveness. So micromanaging the work and wanting to see every little note and every little detail.

Tim Geisert (08:27):
Really? Really?

Nancy Maluso (08:28):
Yeah. Yeah.

Tim Geisert (08:28):
So he’d inspect every email or a follow up call and everything like that.

Nancy Maluso (08:35):
It was like, “Do not send an email to the senior VP of the prospect without my review.” It’s like, really, dude? I’ve been doing this for a little while. If I don’t know how to talk to them, he should hire-

Tim Geisert (08:46):
Did you really say that to him, “Really, dude”?

Nancy Maluso (08:48):
Probably, probably.

Tim Geisert (08:51):
You probably did.

Nancy Maluso (08:54):
Might have been under the breath, but yeah.

Tim Geisert (08:56):
Uh huh (affirmative). Okay.

Nancy Maluso (08:58):
And then there was the posse guy. The posse guy had his favorite people in the team and he was like, “Oh, Tim’s great, John’s great. What are you doing Nancy?” So you couldn’t get into the group you couldn’t. You were like sort of excluded from the friend group.

Tim Geisert (09:15):
You were not the cool kid and you’re not a part of the cool kids group. Huh?

Nancy Maluso (09:20):
Yeah. Which one of these people is not like the other. It had really nothing to do with me being female so much as he had his favorites and I wasn’t in it. And then there was the shamer.

Tim Geisert (09:33):
The what?

Nancy Maluso (09:35):
The manager who would publicly shame you. Oh.

Tim Geisert (09:37):

That’s motivating. That’s motivating.

Nancy Maluso (09:42):
“Did you close that deal? Well, why not? What happened?” Sort of the sarcastic jerk. The problem with all those things is none of those things ultimately helped me. I don’t know if those managers thought they were trying to be motivating and maybe shaming works for some people, it never worked for me. Maybe micromanaging works for somebody who’s really new and doesn’t know what they’re doing and they just applied it to everybody. So maybe there’s elements of those styles that worked, but ultimately, they were ineffective for me.

Tim Geisert (10:17):
Yeah. Well, okay. So that was kind of fun actually. And hopefully, they’re listening and they’ve learned their lesson. But here’s the thing, you’ve done a lot of studying of sales managers, and there’s a talk today about where is going to be the future of sales. With more and more companies going direct, more and more companies… Yesterday, Ford Motor Company was talking about how they’re going to sell their electric vehicles as an example and they may not use their dealer networks. Everything is up for grabs on what is going to happen to sales forces and sales organizations, specifically sales managers. So with your insight, knowledge, where do you kind of see the future happening and what does senior executives need to think about to shape that manager for the future?

Nancy Maluso (11:18):
It’s a great question. We could talk for three days on this topic and still not cover everything, but I’ll try to be succinct.

Tim Geisert (11:26):
Or we could talk for three days, that’s fine. I got nothing else to do. It’s a long weekend.

Nancy Maluso (11:36):
So the first thing is the world is changing and consumers are wanting to purchase in different ways. We do know that more and more of their interactions. So post pandemic, the number of interactions that buyers are having, have gone up significantly. And by interactions, I mean the work that they’re doing to make a purchase, right? Who are they talking to? What are they reading? Anything they’re doing to educate themselves so that they can make a decision.

Tim Geisert (12:01):
And that’s true for B2B as well as B2C. Right?

Nancy Maluso (12:05):
I can’t comment on B2C. I only study B2B.

Tim Geisert (12:07):
Okay. So we’re focusing on B2B. Okay, good.

Nancy Maluso (12:09):
I’m talking B2B. I’m sure that’s true with B2C. I feel pretty confident about it, but I don’t study those numbers. So we do know that the number of interactions that a single person undertakes is more, we know that there’s more members of the buying group and that went up significantly from pre to post COVID.

Tim Geisert (12:30):
Right, right.

Nancy Maluso (12:32):
But they’re doing more of that digitally, meaning they’re going to webinars, listening to podcasts. They’re doing all kinds of things and they’re not talking to sales people. They’re talking to customer success reps. They’re talking to vendor reps, partner reps. They’re talking to product managers, they’re talking to whoever they think they need to talk to get the information they need.

Tim Geisert (12:56):
Right, right.

Nancy Maluso (12:57):
And that’s the key. Can we, as a sales organization, get the information that buyers need to them in the way that they want? In customer service land, we used to call that omnichannel. We have to go use every channel to service our customer. Well, in sales, we have to use every channel to give get the information to our buyer in a way that’s best for them. So it used to be that the job of the salesperson was to give them information. That’s not our job anymore. They can get the information in a lot of different ways that are actually easier to consume, for many people, I’d much rather read than have some sales guide try to sell me. It’s just me. However, I do need to understand how this thing that I’m learning about fits into my world and how it’s going to change my world.

Tim Geisert (13:50):
Give it context, in other words.

Nancy Maluso (13:52):
It context. And sometimes there’s detailed questions maybe technically, or about fit or roll out or something that the generic answers don’t do it for me. And so I need to be able to talk to somebody who can help me with that. So our sales people have got to be really good at connecting the dots. But they can’t do that without knowledge about what the buyers already know. So either they’re going to be boring, because they’re going to repeat stuff the buyer already knows, or they’re going to assume stuff that the buyer knows and they might miss the boat. So we have to get really good at capturing and then sharing with sales, what the buyer already knows, where have they been, what have they learned, who’s part of the group, et cetera. So we have to get better at that. So we have to use technology.

And then we have to know when to bring the seller into the picture. When is the right time? It’s different for every buying group, it’s different for every buyer. So there’s a lot that technology’s going to do AI in particular to help with this. Managers have to become masters at understanding how that helps. And for the first time, what’s really great about this, and what gets me really excited is when CRM rolled out, it had no value to the salesperson, really. I could put-

Tim Geisert (15:11):
Yeah, A lot of people hated it, right?

Nancy Maluso (15:13):

Tim Geisert (15:13):
And they still complain about it.

Nancy Maluso (15:15):
Because it didn’t tell me anything. All it did was help forecast the business.

Tim Geisert (15:20):
Right. Yeah.

Nancy Maluso (15:20):
Maybe some of the notes help me if I forgot. But if I’m a good salesperson, they’re in my notebook, they’re in something else that I use that’s designed for me. So I think that these new tools though, for the first time, are helping our sellers, giving them insight into… So just let’s take content software that tells us that the buyer opened the thing we sent them and spent a lot of time on page five or whatever.

Tim Geisert (15:48):
Right, right.

Nancy Maluso (15:49):
I can use that info, that’s useful to me.

Tim Geisert (15:51):

Nancy Maluso (15:52):
Or if I learned that, oh, they looked at this webpage, they downloaded that, they did a self-service demo. Wow, they’re pretty far along. They’ve got multiple people in the buying group. This is hot. I need to prioritize this deal, this interaction because they’re right there. So it’s helpful to the sales guy.

Tim Geisert (16:12):
Yeah. Well, and it’s helpful because timing, it seems to matter. And what I mean by that is the way the buyers helping themselves learn and understand they’re at a point in time that isn’t in our traditional funnel. It may be somewhat organic and it bounces around. And so when they look at page five of that literature or that website, you better meet them there. Right? Otherwise, they’re going to feel as if it’s wasted time. Am right or wrong?

Nancy Maluso (16:45):
And the confusing thing is that when new members of the buying group come in, like purchasing might not come in until the 11th hour. Or IT, risk and security assessment might not come in until the 11th hour. But they still have to be educated. They still have to understand the solution. So they’re starting at the beginning. And you may not know what the other buyers in the buying group have told them or not told them. So you’ve got to really be really agile in your thinking as a salesperson, and our managers have to help us with that.

Tim Geisert (17:13):
So to kind of put a bow around this future sales, before we get into what is needed out of the sales manager, I liken the parallel to how we watch TV anymore. We watch TV on our terms, not on three networks terms.

Nancy Maluso (17:29):

Tim Geisert (17:30):
You get Hulu, Disney+, whatever you want and you pick and choose what you want to watch and when you want to watch or how much of it you want to watch.

Nancy Maluso (17:38):
And whether you want it commercial free, because you’re willing to pay or not.

Tim Geisert (17:41):
Right. So sales is going to follow that same sort of the buyer’s choice is going to be in control of the process and the traditional A, B, C, D funnel kind of gets thrown out the window, doesn’t it, in many cases.

Nancy Maluso (17:57):
It does. And it’s the buyer’s choice, though. That’s the keyword you said, is so we can’t dictate that. And yet we do, okay, our sales processes comes into the webpage, it hits the BDR, the BDR does their qualification steps. Then it hits the salesperson and then we bring in the sales engineer.

Tim Geisert (18:18):
Right. Right, right, right, right.

Nancy Maluso (18:20):
That’s too rigid. We really have to be more flexible. So it’s going to be a lot of change. There’s a lot of change coming in how we service our customers. We should be adding value to them in every conversation. And if we’re not, well, they might as well go get the info someplace else.

Tim Geisert (18:39):
So the sales manager. Okay, so we got this big problem. We got two big problems. One is we haven’t trained them like we used to. Right. And so we just kind of throw them into the hot vat of grease and hopefully it’ll sizzle up nicely. And then we’ve got this buyer change. So the manager, the manager is kind of there in the middle between the organization, the customer, the reps. What do they need to be thinking about? What needs to be on their minds every day when they show up at, at work at 6:30 in the morning? By the way, every sales manager should start at 6:30 every morning, don’t you think?

Nancy Maluso (19:17):
Wow. Okay. Maybe. When is your buyer waking up-

Tim Geisert (19:22):
There you go. But no, what are the things they need to be thinking about in today’s day and age as the sales manager?

Nancy Maluso (19:26):
Okay. So let’s take it down to first, some real basics, time management. A manager has to really fight against the demands of the corporate organization for information that the corporation should be able to get from systems. So they have to really jealously guard their time.

Tim Geisert (19:49):

Nancy Maluso (19:50):
And the focus of their time should be on the activities and the effectiveness of the activities that we need to do, to give the information to to the buyer so that they can make the right decision.

Tim Geisert (20:06):
I think you used a term one time and you and I were talking called got to be beware of those corporate asks that are getting in the way of the time. Right?

Nancy Maluso (20:18):
Yeah. We have to really kind of try to hold them at bay and give suggestions to the corporation on how those kind of asks should be automated or whatever. We get so many fire drills, “Oh, could you compile this list? Could you do this? Could you tell me about that?” Well, if it’s in a system somewhere, we have to try to point people back to those systems and have an operations person do those kind of pulls and stuff like that.

Tim Geisert (20:42):
So number one, top of your list, what we need to be think about is what are we doing to either hinder or help the time management of that sales manager?

Nancy Maluso (20:53):
Yeah. We have to really careful about what we ask them to spend their time on, 100%.

Tim Geisert (20:59):
All right. What’s number two?

Nancy Maluso (21:01):
We have to make sure they have the skills. And this isn’t necessarily in order of importance, by the way, these are just the order I’m thinking about them. Every company’s going to have to put them in the order that makes sense for them based on where they’re worst at.

Tim Geisert (21:17):
That’s the quote of a day, you need to prioritize by what’s you’re worst at.

Nancy Maluso (21:21):
Yeah, fix that one first. Scale is really important. So are we teaching our managers what their role is and teaching them how to impart their knowledge effectively? So for example, do we tell managers how to have effective one on ones with their team, with each member of their team? Are we suggesting what their agenda should look like, and that part of the agenda should be coaching them on something they need help with? Well, do you have a deal you want to strategize on? Are you having a tough time getting to a particular buyer? Are you struggling? Let’s figure out what they need and focusing on the actions that they’re taking in, if they’re effective in those actions.

Tim Geisert (22:05):

Nancy Maluso (22:06):
We’re going to do a forecast call, we’re going to look at the funnel, we’re going to do all that stuff, and that’s separate and distinct from a one on one, where our job really is to make sure that person is able to do what they need to do. And if that means I got to go take care of some corporate noise for them, if I need to go help them get a discount, whatever it might be.

Tim Geisert (22:28):
Yeah, but you’re saying something without saying it and I’m going to highlight it. And that is, you kind of have to take on a sense of servitude to the sales sales people, in that, do you need to block stuff out of their way? Do you need to coach them up? And that’s a big shift from being an individual seller, right? Because you’re kind of more about yourself when you’re an individual seller. Whereas a sales manager, you’re kind of having to come in and support the team, get them what they need, block things out of the way that are getting in the way. That’s a major fundamental shift that I see happening when people get battlefield promoted into sales management. Would you agree with that?

Nancy Maluso (23:03):
Yeah. Well, what happens is we say to them, “You got to forecast.” And we have them shift from actually doing stuff with customers to looking at numbers and forecasting. And yet, that’s part of their job, but we over rotate on that. So teach them how to do it and it’s part of their job. But we also have to teach them how to… And what I like to do with first line managers is to say, “Okay, you really understand your buyer. You’ve been really successful understanding your buyer. Use that knowledge, whenever you’re looking at opportunities with your rep to see, do they understand their buyer? Can you help them understand their buyer? Can you help them position themselves with the buyer better? Because you know how to do that really well.” Always think about what the buyer’s going to need and bring that perspective to your seller, because that’s what they need help remembering.

Tim Geisert (23:48):
And you know what Nancy, I’m going to add this in and I’m going to see how you feel about this. But not only the sales manager always thinking about the buyer, but also thinking about the rep. Think about what are what do they need? How do they react? How do you motivate them? What are the triggers? What are their blind spots? Almost treat them as an audience in the equation.

Nancy Maluso (24:09):
100%. Look, we know that our data shows that the number one reason people leave is because the company, I’m not going to make money either because the product stinks, whatever. [inaudible 00:24:22] Make money here. It could be the company, whatever, unfair quota, whatever it might be.

Number two is the manager, “I don’t respect my manager. My manager doesn’t help me and my manager doesn’t appreciate the work I do.” We can only appreciate the work someone does if we know what work they’re doing. And that doesn’t mean micromanage, inspect the work. It means support the work.

Tim Geisert (24:46):
Yeah. Right.

Nancy Maluso (24:47):
Like you said, be in service to it, support the work. That’s a big difference.

Tim Geisert (24:52):
You talked about time, you talked about skills, not necessarily in those order. What’s the third one?

Nancy Maluso (24:57):

Tim Geisert (24:59):

Nancy Maluso (24:59):
Our leadership has to have a culture that values what we just discussed. So values the fact that we need to support each of those. They’re not robots, sales people are not robots. I know we like to say they’re coin operated, which means we put some money in the thing, we pull the lever and they walk around and do what we want. It’s just not the way it works and it’s not what our buyers want. Our buyers want them to bring their unique perspective and capability to the table in an authentic way. And our managers have to see that, but they can only do it if there’s a culture to support that. So our senior leadership has to do everything we said that managers need to do for first line, senior leaders need to do with their managers and to walk that talk.

Tim Geisert (25:44):
Well, and culture. Culture can manifest itself in a bunch of ways. Right? One, it could be very positive, supporting, all of those sort of things. But if a culture’s kind of messed up, reps seem to be really good at talking about that stuff behind the scenes and wasting time on it, if it’s not right. You agree?

Nancy Maluso (26:03):
Yeah. All employees do.

Tim Geisert (26:06):
Yeah, that’s right. It’s true.

Nancy Maluso (26:08):
It’s just the fact of the matter is we got to vent it somewhere. It’s nasty.

Tim Geisert (26:14):
Okay. So that’s the third one. Is there a fourth?

Nancy Maluso (26:18):
So I want to make one more comment about culture. Sometimes we think it’s sort of this ethereal thing, and we have no influence over the words we use and the time we spend on different topics are absolutely going to morph our culture. If we spend all our time bringing the stick out and beating people up over a number. And I’m not saying that holding people accountable is not important. The best cultures I’ve worked in hold people accountable. But in addition to holding people accountable, they’re bringing in the support to help them. And our research shows that the number one thing you can do to foster a positive culture is a culture of appreciation. Separate from recognition. Recognition says I’m rewarding an outcome, appreciation says I’m rewarding or acknowledging the effort. And that doesn’t mean everybody gets a trophy. It’s using positive reinforcement and feedback to recognize when people do the right thing.

Tim Geisert (27:19):
Yeah. Right. That’s great point.

Nancy Maluso (27:22):
Yeah. The fourth thing is tools. Okay, so we’ve talked about what all this stuff the manager should be doing. The sales leadership, the enablement team, the operations team, if a company’s lucky enough to have all that, have to be in service of the sales manager and the sales team. And sometimes I think we get in service of the finance team, we get in service of the training team. We need to bring forward the technology, the roll out of that technology, our processes and all the training and reinforcement of training that we do has to be in service of the primary job of the salesperson, which is to foster the conversation with the buyer so they get the knowledge they need so they can make a decision.

Tim Geisert (28:14):
Years ago I worked with Disney. It was a good time to work with Disney and they had this litmus test question that they would always ask, because back in that day, they were buying ABC and they were buying all these other companies. And they’d ask a question before, if they would change the name of the property that they would buy, they’d ask the question. “Well, can it wear ears? Can it wear ears?” Well, ABC has to report things that aren’t about magic and joy and everything else. And so they kept it ABC. ESPN’s about sports and there’s tragedy. Can’t wear ears was about joy and magic and kids and all that kind of stuff. I thought it was a great little simple question, can it wear ears? And what you’re talking about here is it’s almost a litmus question. Are these tools really here to service, the customer, the process, the people that are trying to deliver that, right? I’m putting words in your mouth, but what do you think?

Nancy Maluso (29:09):
Absolutely. Even the tools that we put in place to improve forecast accuracy. And I bring forecasting up a lot because it’s been such a time suck for managers, such a time suck.

Tim Geisert (29:23):

Nancy Maluso (29:23):
But these tools help us be more accurate, but they also give lots of information that help us, as managers, be better at helping our reps. There’s lots of insight in there. And so we need to focus on that in the rollout so that people see how the tool brings value to that team. And if it doesn’t, we should question why we’re doing it.

Tim Geisert (29:45):
One of the things you and I were talking about when we were sitting down, we were talking about the US Navy and I was sharing this example with you where we had a speaker years ago who came to our company and his name was Captain Mike Abrashoff. And he talked about how he turned the worship in the US Navy to the best ship in the US Navy. And he had four or five key things. But he said that it all kind of comes down to this one role within the US Navy, which was a Master Chief. Master Chief was the senior most enlisted person in the US Navy, and work directly with the officer corps. That person, he says, that person not only runs the ship, but they also run the US Navy. And these managers, if you take that parallel, in many ways, that’s what they do. They run our companies, they run the revenue stream, they make things happen. And we need to probably recognize that, much like the US Navy does, for that role in every ship. Would you agree?

Nancy Maluso (30:46):
The first line manager is the most critical resource we have because they do connect. What happens in our conversations with, and I would say this includes first line customer success managers, first line BDR managers, anybody who’s customer facing, really that first line manager translates what the customer needs into how we can help them and translates what the company needs to get done and how we can do that. And this translation of perspective is so critical to get the engine moving. Okay, the Navy wants us to go from point X to point Y well. How are we going to get there? What are all the things we got to do to get there? I have to translate that into actions that my team can take, that makes sense to them.

Tim Geisert (31:36):
It’s critical. Yeah. Nancy, I can’t thank you enough for this. If you think about the takeaway here, you got to have the skills, give them the time, foster the right culture and provide them the right tools. That’s a great four way stop on the way to getting some success within the companies. And that’s fantastic. Anything you more you like to add to this?

Nancy Maluso (32:02):
Well, there’s some easy ways you can figure out what’s going on in all of these areas is to do a time study with your managers to say where are you spending your time?

Tim Geisert (32:12):

Nancy Maluso (32:13):
It’s really interesting because if they’re spending all their time doing something, well, is there a tool I could use to do it, is the process messed up? Why is that happening? Or doing an activity study with the sales team, they can be really powerful. In our service, we do them with customers. It’s part of our service to them. And it gives phenomenal insight into what’s going on in that organization. You can also ask some questions about culture, but usually the company’s HR program runs cultural things. We need to use those and really dig into them because it’s not soft, it impacts engagement and productivity and passion and value and all the stuff that motivate us as humans.

Tim Geisert (32:57):
Well, you heard it here, Nancy Maluso from Forrester. Brilliance on display, as they would say. Thank you so much for being here and being a part of this. Let’s do it again.

Nancy Maluso (33:11):
Okay. It’s a pleasure. You’re really fun to do this [inaudible 00:33:16].

Tim Geisert (33:16):
You’re very brilliant to interview. Thanks a lot.

Nancy Maluso (33:18):
All right. Take care.

Tim Geisert (33:21):
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Selling Excellence Podcast for business executives. I hope you gained some insight on how to help turn your sales organization into a company asset versus a pain in the asset. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Selling Excellence Podcast wherever you get your podcasts. And for more information about Auctus IQ, or to schedule a discovery call, visit our website at AuctusIQ.com. Until next time, this is Tim Geisert, your host and partner at Auctus IQ, here to help you sell more and grow your company.

Speaker 3 (33:53):
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