20Sales How to Close Sales When Selling to CFOs, How to Guarantee You Win Every Renewal, Core Questions All CFOs Ask Today When Buying, Why Revenue Operations is the Most Important Role in a Company with Steve Goldberg, CRO @ Salesloft

Summary Notes


In a dynamic conversation with Steve Goldberg, Chief Revenue Officer at SalesLoft, the discussion delves into the evolving sales landscape, emphasizing the shift towards performance-driven markets and the critical role of Revenue Operations in a company. Goldberg shares insights from his extensive experience, including the importance of understanding customer motivations, the art of identifying change agents within organizations, and the necessity of crafting a sales process that focuses on solving core business problems. The dialogue also touches on the changing roles of Customer Success, the impact of AI on sales, and the value of data-driven decision-making through Revenue Operations. Goldberg underscores the significance of relationships in sales, the strategy behind navigating renewals in a CFO-driven budget environment, and the balance between fostering urgency and maintaining customer-centric negotiations. Throughout the discussion, an underlying theme of adapting sales strategies to current market demands and the power of grit and determination in sales success is evident.

Summary Notes

Market Shift to Performance-Driven

  • The market has transitioned from being nurturing to focusing on performance.
  • Budgets are now more closely scrutinized by CFOs.
  • Companies are still open for business, but renewals are treated like new deals.
  • CFOs often question the necessity of renewing a service or product.
  • Revenue operations is considered a highly valuable role within companies.

"The market has changed from a nurturing market to a performance driven market. Yes, budget, everything goes to the CFO. But no, they're not shut down for business. Every renewal is a new deal too."

This quote highlights the increased financial scrutiny and performance expectations in the current market, emphasizing the importance of justifying renewals and expenditures to CFOs.

The Genesis of 20 Sales

  • Harry Stebbings and co-host created 20 sales to share the expertise of sales leaders with founders.
  • The podcast aims to prevent common mistakes by providing insights early in founders' journeys.

"Harry Stebbings and I started 20 sales because I thought there was so much trap knowledge in the minds of incredible sales leaders. And so many founders would really benefit."

The quote explains the motivation behind starting the podcast, which is to unlock valuable sales knowledge for the benefit of founders.

Introduction of Steve Goldberg

  • Steve Goldberg, Chief Revenue Officer at SalesLoft, is the featured guest.
  • SalesLoft is a sales engagement platform acquired for $2.3 billion.
  • Steve has extensive experience in sales leadership roles at various companies.

"Today's show is with a sales master, Steve Goldberg, chief revenue officer at sales Loft, the sales engagement platform that was."

The quote introduces Steve Goldberg as an accomplished sales leader and sets the stage for discussing his insights on sales and leadership.

Liveflow: Financial Analysis Tool

  • Liveflow is presented as a leading financial analysis tool.
  • It integrates with accounting systems to automate financial modeling and reporting.
  • Liveflow offers a library of customizable templates for financial forecasting and budget management.
  • A promotional offer is available for listeners of the show.

"Meet Liveflow Liveflow is the leader in financial analysis. According to G, two Liveflow helps finance teams at Y Combinator, OpenPhone landing, AI, and thousands more forward thinking companies to turn their spreadsheets into a real time FPNA platform."

This quote describes the capabilities and benefits of Liveflow, a tool designed to enhance financial processes for companies.

Outreach: AI-Powered Sales Execution Platform

  • Outreach is an AI-powered sales execution platform.
  • It offers automation and artificial intelligence to optimize go-to-market activities.
  • The platform provides sales engagement, revenue intelligence, and revenue operations in one solution.
  • Outreach is trusted by over 6000 companies, including notable names in the industry.

"Outreach is the only aipowered sales execution platform that unlocks seller productivity to help sales teams efficiently create and close more pipeline from prospecting to deal management to forecasting."

The quote summarizes the value proposition of Outreach, highlighting its AI capabilities and comprehensive sales platform.

Steve Goldberg's Love for Sales

  • Steve Goldberg's passion for sales developed naturally from his background in psychology.
  • He overcame the negative connotation associated with sales by embracing the role of salespeople as problem solvers.
  • A pivotal moment for Steve was recognizing the psychological aspect of sales while working with Gateway Computers.

"And then at one point I realized that, you know what? I'm going to embrace this, because salespeople are problem solvers and they help your customers solve their problems, which makes your customers at the end of the day, look really good and hopefully get promoted and move through their career."

Steve's quote expresses his epiphany about the positive impact of sales professionals and how they contribute to their customers' success.

Understanding Customers

  • Steve emphasizes the importance of knowing both the business and personal motivations of customers.
  • He uses research and conversation to understand customers' backgrounds and build relationships.
  • Recognizing body language and personal interests helps Steve connect with customers on a deeper level.

"You always have to understand everybody's business motivation and their personal motivation and once you understand that, you really can help."

This quote stresses the significance of understanding customers' motivations to effectively address their needs and build trust.

Call Volume and Quality

  • Steve discusses the balance between call volume and quality, suggesting that fewer, high-quality calls are more important than a high volume of calls.
  • He advises salespeople to be smart and catch prospects at the right time.
  • Understanding who you're talking to and conducting research is crucial for effective sales calls.

"I don't know about how many you can make. Because I think it's all about quality, not quantity."

The quote conveys Steve's belief that the quality of sales calls is more important than the number of calls made.

Identifying True Buyers

  • Steve explains how to distinguish a true buyer within an organization.
  • He notes that buyers in large enterprises are often politicians, while those in SMBs are operators.
  • The ability to navigate and understand the internal politics of an organization is key to identifying a buyer.

"And when the CFO is putting pressure on them, or their CEO is putting pressure on them, how are they going to take to that?"

This quote highlights the importance of understanding the dynamics and pressures within a buyer's organization to assess their buying capacity.

Signs of a Non-Buyer

  • Indicators of a non-buyer include someone who insists they are the sole decision-maker.
  • True buyers are typically collaborative and do not discourage communication with other stakeholders.
  • Understanding the culture and typical tenure of roles within the target company is important.

"Well, one, if they tell you they're the buyer, people usually tell you they're the buyer. They typically are."

The quote suggests that a person's claim of being the sole buyer is often a red flag that they may not have the decision-making power they purport to have.

Champions and Change Agents

  • Steve differentiates between champions and change agents within a deal.
  • A change agent may not hold the highest position but is crucial for driving adoption of a solution.
  • Identifying the true champion or change agent is an art and is essential for successful sales.

"I think what David told you earlier on was that I was able to always figure out where the true champion is in an organization and where the true change agent is in the organization."

This quote underlines Steve's skill in identifying key individuals who can influence the sales process within a customer's organization.

Deal Reviews

  • Steve discusses the importance of deal reviews and minimizing surprises.
  • Understanding the personal wins of stakeholders can provide insight into their tenure and commitment.
  • A good deal review involves coaching and managing to anticipate and address potential issues.

"You've got to naturally always be looking and always have these conversations with people going back to what is their personal win?"

The quote emphasizes the need for ongoing engagement and understanding of stakeholders' personal goals to ensure a smooth sales process.

Ownership of Deal Reviews

  • The first line manager is responsible for owning the deal review process.
  • The overarching system is designed by higher-level management, but the process should be consistent across all levels.
  • Questions asked by upper management should be mirrored by those asked by their teams.
  • Deal reviews vary depending on the stage of the quarter or year, with different questions being pertinent at different times.

"So one, it's really the first line manager needs to own the deal reviews."

This quote emphasizes the importance of the first line manager in taking responsibility for the deal review process, ensuring its effectiveness and consistency.

Objectives of Early Quarter Deal Reviews

  • Early in the quarter, the focus is on gaining an understanding of the current situation.
  • The purpose is to comprehend the problem being solved, the unique value proposition, and whether the buyer agrees with it.
  • Medpic, a qualification process, is used to identify what is known and unknown.
  • The goal is to establish mutual plans and alignment for the quarter's end, while also closing business early in the quarter.

"At the beginning of the quarter, you're going to be asking a different set of questions because you're really going to just try to get an understanding of what's happening."

This quote explains that the initial part of the quarter is dedicated to gathering information to form a foundation for the rest of the quarter's strategy.

Indicators of a Bad Deal Review

  • Dishonesty during deal reviews is a sign of a bad review process.
  • It is the role of the first line manager to detect dishonesty through regular one-on-one interactions.
  • Deal reviews are conducted with both sellers and first line managers to triangulate information and minimize surprises.

"What makes a bad deal review when. People aren't being honest?"

The quote highlights that honesty is critical for an effective deal review process and that it's a key component of a successful sales environment.

The Role of Forecasting and Preparation

  • Dave Bernitsky is noted as an expert in forecasting, emphasizing the importance of being prepared for deal reviews.
  • Detailed scrutiny of deals is necessary to identify gaps and avoid surprises.
  • Consistency in this process leads to more reliable closing of business.

"Dave Bernitsky is the master at forecasting."

This quote points to the significance of forecasting in deal reviews and the need for thorough preparation and analysis.

Performance-Driven Market Shift

  • The market has transitioned from nurturing to performance-driven, affecting the deal review process.
  • The expectation for performance and discipline is returning, challenging those unaccustomed to such an environment.
  • Consistency and integrity are crucial, even in the face of negative feedback, such as Glassdoor reviews.

"The market has changed from a nurturing market to a performance driven market."

The quote indicates a shift in the market that necessitates a focus on performance and accountability within the deal review process.

Identifying High Performers in Interviews

  • Grit is a key trait to look for in potential hires.
  • The interview process includes a thorough examination of a candidate's life decisions and career path to identify trends and decision-making processes.
  • Case studies are used to assess a candidate's ability to understand and solve problems.

"One, you've got to really look for grit."

This quote underscores the importance of resilience and determination (grit) as qualities that are sought after in candidates for a high-performance culture.

The Current State of Budgets and CFOs

  • Budgets are now more strictly controlled by CFOs.
  • Despite tighter control, CFOs are still open to making deals, especially when significant problems need solutions.
  • Every renewal is treated as a new deal, with CFOs critically evaluating each one.

"Yes, budget, everything goes to the CFO. But no, they're not shut down for business."

The quote clarifies that while CFOs have a tighter grip on budgets, they are still open to investments that address significant problems.

The Necessity of Solving Major Problems

  • Companies are expected to do more with less, focusing on solving top-tier problems.
  • There is a shift towards a high-performance culture, with an emphasis on enablement and improvement.
  • The approach is to get better before getting bigger, ensuring a strong foundation of high performers.

"Companies are doing more with less."

This quote reflects the current business climate, where efficiency and problem-solving are prioritized over expansion.

Process Adaptation and Efficiency

  • Companies must adapt their processes in response to market changes.
  • Salesforce shifted from a hunter-farmer model to a hunter-hunter model to address downgrades and foster growth.
  • Bringing the customer success (CS) team into the sales process early ensures customer confidence and understanding.

"So we shifted to a hunter hunter model and we shifted our process."

The quote exemplifies the need for flexibility in sales strategies to maintain efficiency and growth despite market challenges.

Early Selling Process and Customer Success

  • Emphasizes the importance of integrating the handoff into the early selling process.
  • Highlights the challenge of demonstrating customer success during the sales process.
  • Stresses the need to show prospective customers what it's like to work with the company and achieve specific outcomes.

You got to do it as part of the early selling process.

This quote underscores the necessity for sales teams to incorporate the transition from sales to customer success early in the sales cycle, rather than after implementation.

Role and Evolution of Customer Success (CS)

  • Discusses the evolution of the CS role since its creation at Salesforce.
  • Differentiates between the skill sets required for CS and other roles.
  • Notes that CS often becomes the first line of support, limiting their ability to be proactive and strategic.
  • Suggests that maintaining access to buyers and power players is crucial to customer retention.

I think that the skill set of a CS person is different.

The quote highlights the unique skills required for customer success roles, which differ from other positions within a company.

CEO Involvement in Sales

  • Argues that CEOs should not close deals but provide vision and confidence to customers.
  • Believes CEOs should engage with customers to reassure them about the company's direction and alignment with their needs.
  • Emphasizes the importance of the entire organization in building relationships with customers.

What they ceos should give the customer the confidence about our vision and what we are doing as a company.

This quote clarifies the role of CEOs in the sales process, focusing on vision and confidence rather than closing deals.

Sales Playbook

  • Describes a sales playbook as a guide tailored to different business segments, such as commercial or enterprise.
  • Explains that a playbook should create a competitive advantage and be consistent and strategic.

It's got to be designed and architected into those businesses.

The quote explains that a sales playbook must be specifically designed to fit the business segment it targets.

Founder's Role in Creating Sales Playbook

  • Discusses the founder's passion and its role in early sales success.
  • Notes the transition from passion to process as a company grows.
  • Suggests that founders may lack experience in creating enterprise-level go-to-market strategies.

But what you help me do, help us do as a company, is convince multiple people in a company that we can solve their problem and it's great for them and they got to move down a process.

This quote reflects on the founder's realization of the importance of a sales process that convinces multiple stakeholders within a customer's organization.

Revenue Operations (Rev Ops)

  • Identifies Rev Ops as a critical role that merges data and science.
  • Recommends hiring an analyst early to inform decisions with data.
  • Shares an example of how Rev Ops helped identify and address a trend in customer churn.

Rev Ops is probably the most valuable role in a company.

The quote emphasizes the value of Rev Ops in using data to inform business decisions and strategies.

Enablement and Customer Outcomes

  • Shifts focus from adoption metrics to outcome metrics.
  • Describes proactive strategies to demonstrate value to customers, especially to CFOs.
  • Outlines the importance of continuous engagement and demonstrating business value.

We've changed our whole adoption strategy to outcomes versus adoption because nobody cares if I come to you and say, here's how many logins you have.

The quote explains the shift from tracking product usage to measuring the impact on customer business outcomes.

Differentiation in a Noisy Market

  • Advises focusing on the "how" to differentiate in a market with similar products and messages.
  • Stresses the importance of proving and demonstrating value to customers continuously.

You got to focus on the how and you got to stay maniacally focused on the how.

This quote suggests that the key to standing out in a crowded market is to concentrate on how the product delivers value.

Discounting and Contract Terms

  • Argues against flat rejection of discounting, prioritizing contract terms that ensure customer success.
  • Discusses the importance of setting up a sustainable relationship with the customer.
  • Advocates for fair negotiations without clear winners or losers.

I care more about what's in the contract than how much they're paying us.

The quote indicates a preference for contract terms that facilitate customer success over the price paid.

Balancing Urgency and Relationship in Sales

  • Highlights the need to respect the customer's timeline while maintaining urgency.
  • Discusses the delicate balance between pushing for a close and understanding the customer's needs.

I think there's a respect component of that where you build relationships and you're working towards a moment in time where you got to have a tough conversation.

This quote addresses the balance between driving urgency in sales and respecting the customer's decision-making process.

Importance of Timing and Mutual Planning in Sales

  • Natural sales processes are preferred, but timing is crucial due to business cycles.
  • Mutual plans help avoid last-minute efforts and align interests.
  • Compelling events should be planned and backed into for effective sales strategies.

"What I'm asking you for not to do anything unnatural, but if you can do it in this timeline, we'd appreciate it."

The quote emphasizes the balance between not forcing unnatural sales tactics and the appreciation for meeting mutually agreed timelines.

The Role of Relationships in Sales

  • Relationships in sales are key to navigating the ups and downs of deal-making.
  • Building strong relationships with procurement and other stakeholders can influence outcomes.
  • Sales is a team sport; it's critical to be multi-threaded and not rely on a single point of contact.

"I think relationships matter because a procurement person, if they're told what to do by the buyers, they'll work towards those dates."

The quote highlights how relationships can influence procurement processes and decision-making, making them a critical aspect of successful sales.

The Necessity of Tough Conversations in Sales

  • Tough conversations are essential for closing deals.
  • Sales leaders may need to step in to have these conversations when others can't.
  • Having tough conversations is a skill that can be learned but may not come naturally to everyone.

"What I've learned was that you can't be afraid to have the tough conversation."

This quote underlines the necessity of confronting difficult issues in sales to move deals forward.

The Impact of AI on Sales

  • AI is expected to enhance sales by providing better insights for smarter conversations.
  • AI may replace certain aspects of the sales process, particularly in transactional business.
  • AI's role is to augment human sales efforts, not necessarily replace them completely.

"AI is going to make people smarter, and it's going to bring information to them so they have better insights on how to have smarter conversations with their customers."

The quote suggests that AI will empower sales reps with information for more effective customer engagement.

Evolution of Sales Tactics

  • Solving business problems remains a constant, essential sales tactic.
  • Traditional relationship-building activities like golfing are becoming less prevalent.
  • The focus on time efficiency and value has shifted the nature of sales interactions.

"Solving business problems. You still have to be able to, you always had to be able to solve business problems."

This quote reinforces the enduring need for sales tactics that address the customer's core challenges.

Creative Deal Closure

  • Creativity in sales can involve personal gestures to maintain visibility with clients.
  • Balancing professionalism with personal touches can influence deal closure.
  • Building relationships allows for these creative approaches without overstepping boundaries.

"I've had reps do that where they might find out, not in a creepy way, because they built their relationships where someone might have been on a ski trip and when they got back to the room, they had a bottle of wine there for them or something just to remind them."

The quote illustrates how thoughtful, creative gestures, when done appropriately, can keep a sales rep top-of-mind with a client.

Advice for New Sales Leaders

  • Mastery of current roles is crucial before advancing in a sales career.
  • Personal life changes, such as marriage and children, can alter one's readiness for leadership roles.
  • Obsession with winning and continual learning are key traits for success in sales.

"Know your trade before you're ready to move to the next role."

The advice given in the quote stresses the importance of fully understanding one's current position before seeking advancement.

Personal Growth and Sales Leadership

  • Having children can shift a salesperson's focus from self to team.
  • This change in perspective can enhance one's ability to coach and lead effectively.
  • Personal growth and life events can significantly impact professional development.

"But when I started to have kids, my schedule, my personal schedule changed. I had to be a little more organized. I had to think for other people."

The quote reflects on how personal life changes can lead to a more team-oriented and empathetic approach to sales leadership.

Impressions of Company Sales Strategies

  • Salesforce is commended for its sales process and leadership cultivation.
  • Transparency and trust were key components of Salesforce's strategy.
  • Unique sales processes tailored to a company's strengths can be highly effective.

"We just had such an incredible sales process designed and built around what made us great and what made us unique that nobody could compete."

The quote praises Salesforce's unique and effective sales process that set them apart in the market.

Reflection on the Natural Flow of the Conversation

  • The unscripted nature of the conversation allowed for a more authentic and insightful discussion.
  • Curiosity and natural dialogue contributed to the success of the conversation.

"I appreciate the conversation and that just flowed. Nice. And I appreciate your curiosity."

The quote appreciates the spontaneous and genuine quality of the conversation, highlighting the value of natural engagement.

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