20Sales The 3 Profiles of a Sales Rep, How to Negotiate in a Sales Process, How to Sell to a CFO & How You Should Shift Sales Messaging in a Downturn with Frank Fillmann, CRO @ Salesforce Australia

Summary Notes


In this insightful conversation, Frank Fillman, a seasoned sales leader and CRO of Australia Salesforce, joins Harry, the host, to discuss the art of sales and customer engagement. Frank emphasizes the importance of understanding a buyer's metrics, values, and organizational priorities to define value and tailor solutions effectively. He shares his journey from selling knives in college to leading sales at Tableau and now Salesforce, highlighting the significance of recruiting top talent and fostering a team-oriented culture. Frank also delves into the nuances of sales playbooks, stressing the need for them to be client-oriented and assist reps in ramping up quickly. The dialogue covers strategic account planning, the role of empathy in sales, and the impact of COVID on remote selling techniques. Frank advises sales leaders to align compensation with company goals and maintain close customer and team connections to ensure success in a dynamic sales environment.

Summary Notes

Understanding the Buyer's Perspective

  • Discuss the importance of understanding how a buyer is measured and their priorities.
  • Emphasize the need to define value and values from the buyer's perspective.
  • Highlight the strategy of going a level deeper in understanding the buyer's organization.

"Number one, how are you measured? What are the metrics that you as an organization, as an individual are measured by at the organization level?"

This quote underlines the necessity of comprehending the metrics and standards by which a buyer and their organization evaluate success, which is crucial for tailoring a value proposition that resonates with them.

Introduction of Frank Fillman

  • Detail Frank Fillman's professional background and accomplishments in sales.
  • Outline the services offered by Zoom Info and Salesoft for revenue teams.

"Our guest today has been awarded number one sales vp of the year for North America three times. His accomplishments include $500 million of new revenue closed in five years and a billion dollars in revenue managed."

The quote provides a snapshot of Frank Fillman's credentials, setting up the context for his expertise and the weight of his insights on sales strategies.

Frank Fillman's Entry into Sales

  • Describe Frank Fillman's early experiences in sales and his progression to IBM.
  • Mention the significance of having sales experience and the advantage it provides in professional sales training.

"I knew I wanted to be in sales straight away. In college, I worked for a company selling knives in people's homes... I ended up running an office as a college student, and I was 20 years old."

This quote illustrates Frank Fillman's early determination to pursue a career in sales and his rapid advancement, which laid the foundation for his future success.

The 'PhD in Sales'

  • Discuss the importance of recruiting in sales and the impact of hiring talented individuals.
  • Explain how early sales experiences contributed to Fillman's sales leadership approach.

"Stack rank of recruiting, the art and science of recruiting, a big part of it is how do you recruit a college student to go sell knives?"

The quote emphasizes the critical role of recruiting in building a successful sales team and how early experiences can shape a sales leader's approach to team building.

Handling Tragedy and Its Impact on Professional Life

  • Explore the concept of resilience and how personal challenges can contribute to a professional mindset.
  • Discuss how overcoming personal tragedies can instill a sense of gratitude, resilience, and a drive for success.

"It's about resistance and persistence... how you respond to that is going to help define you."

This quote reflects on the importance of persistence and how personal resilience, shaped by overcoming adversity, can positively influence one's professional demeanor and success.

The Bold Mindset in Sales

  • Discuss the implications of a bold mindset on taking risks and pursuing challenging opportunities.
  • Examine the potential benefits of adopting a risk-taking approach in sales.

"I do think that it creates a bold mindset and encourages you to go for jobs, for example, that you're unqualified for or go for deals that you're not in a position to win."

The quote captures the essence of a bold approach in sales, where taking calculated risks can lead to greater achievements.

Defining a Sales Playbook

  • Define what makes a sales playbook repeatable and relevant.
  • Highlight the importance of client orientation and the need for sales representatives to ramp up quickly.

"Repeatable and relevant. So I think first it's client relevance... It's got to be client oriented."

This quote underscores the necessity for a sales playbook to be focused on the client's needs and preferences, ensuring that sales strategies are both effective and efficient.

The Concept of Total Addressable Market (TAM)

  • Break down the concept of TAM into near/far, big/small, and known/unknown elements.
  • Discuss the strategy of starting with the money and working backward to build a sales playbook.

"I think at Tam, there's three elements to it. It's either near or far, right? It's either big or small, and it's either known or unknown."

The quote explains the fundamental aspects of TAM and how understanding these elements is crucial for targeting the right opportunities in sales.

Industry Playbooks and Sales Ramp-Up

  • Describe the process of creating industry-specific playbooks and account hypotheses.
  • Discuss the benefits of industry relevance for both the client and the sales representative.

"The first thing that you're asked to do is create an account plan... I would argue that you want to have an account hypothesis and you want to go back and finish that in q one."

The quote emphasizes the importance of developing a hypothesis-driven account plan early in the sales process to ensure alignment with industry-specific opportunities.

Specialization of Sales Teams

  • Discuss the approach to verticalizing sales teams to address industry-specific customer problems.
  • Explore the strategy of team-led learning for scaling sales expertise.

"So doing it one by one as a sales leader would be really hard to literally teach every seller. But if you selectively build teams in the right way, then you're having the team teach the team."

The quote advocates for a collaborative learning environment within sales teams, where more experienced members facilitate the ramp-up of newer ones, promoting efficiency and scalability.

Hiring Strategies for Sales Teams

  • Debate the merits of hiring multiple sales representatives simultaneously versus focusing on individual hires.
  • Highlight the importance of creating a competitive yet supportive sales environment.

"If you hire the right people that are just super competitive... a lot of those problems go away. So how do you find fast horses? You hire a fast horse and guess who they run with?"

This quote stresses the value of hiring competitive sales representatives who naturally drive performance and contribute to a dynamic sales culture.

Team Dynamics and Hiring for a Sales Team

  • Importance of diverse skills in a sales team for running an "and business."
  • Need to assess if potential team members can work together, especially avoiding conflicts with two alphas.
  • Speaker A has experienced failures in team dynamics due to conflicting alpha personalities.

"If you have two alphas, it's never going to work. And I've screwed this up a few times, by the way."

This quote emphasizes the incompatibility of having two dominant personalities in a team, which can lead to failure. Speaker A admits to having made this mistake in the past.

Identifying Sales Profiles During Hiring

  • Speaker A uses specific questions to identify a candidate's sales profile.
  • Questions revolve around passion, pride, and the ability to create demand.
  • The importance of having a closer who is passionate for breaking records in enterprise sales.

"If you ask them what their passions are, what they're most proud of, what's a deal where they create a demand that never existed before? Someone's either going to get excited and passionate, or they're going to look at you like you've got two heads."

This quote demonstrates how Speaker A discerns a candidate's suitability for a sales role by gauging their reaction to questions about passion and creating new demand.

Creating Demand in Sales

  • Creating new demand involves looking at known and unknown demands.
  • It's about understanding customer problems and providing solutions they hadn't considered.
  • Speaker A cites Frank Slutman's example of learning from diverse customer product usage to create new opportunities.

"What problems does a customer have that they don't understand how to solve, where you've created an answer to them."

This quote highlights the strategy of identifying customer problems that they may not be aware of and crafting solutions, which is a valuable skill in sales.

Negotiation Process in Sales

  • Speaker A believes starting negotiations with price leads to a focus on the wrong details.
  • The negotiation should begin with understanding the buyer's metrics and values.
  • Transparency and alignment on deal structure are key for a successful negotiation.

"My preference would always be, start with a blank canvas, find your buyer and spend some quality time."

This quote suggests that negotiations should start with a clear understanding of the buyer's needs and goals, rather than jumping straight into discussing prices.

Communicating Wins in Negotiations

  • Transparency about wins for both parties is essential in modern sales negotiations.
  • Speaker A advises starting with the customer's priorities before discussing the seller's goals.
  • The book "The Go-Giver" is mentioned as an influence on Speaker A's approach to serving customers.

"It's about being really transparent. But if it starts with you, I don't think it's really authentic. It's got to always start with them."

This quote underscores the importance of prioritizing the customer's needs and being transparent about the seller's objectives to establish an authentic negotiation.

Importance of Recording Sales Calls

  • Speaker A emphasizes the importance of immediate feedback and learning in sales.
  • The preference for a hands-on approach over formal recording and dissecting of sales calls.
  • Role-playing and debriefing are crucial for continuous improvement.

"I like to do an obsessive in the trenches process with my team where we spend a lot of time prepping, we do a lot of time role playing, we go to the meeting together and the first thing we do when we're done is we go debrief."

This quote explains Speaker A's preference for an immersive, collaborative, and immediate feedback process for sales training over formal recordings.

Hiring for Potential vs. Experience

  • Speaker A prioritizes potential (hypo) over experience in hiring, except for high-profile customer environments.
  • Belief in hiring individuals with adaptability and potential for growth.
  • The importance of setting up less experienced hires for success.

"For me, it's always hypo one, experience two."

This quote reveals Speaker A's hiring philosophy, which values potential and adaptability over past experience in most cases.

Supporting High-Potential Sales Reps

  • Speaker A advocates for mentorship and hands-on guidance for high-potential reps.
  • The importance of senior leaders participating in meetings and providing real-time support.
  • On-the-job training and allowing reps to take the lead after gaining experience.

"Someone who's more experienced, get in the trenches with that person and say, look, you've never had a CEO meeting before. Let's figure out how they're going to operate and run the meeting."

This quote illustrates Speaker A's belief in the value of experienced leaders mentoring new hires, especially in high-stakes situations like CEO meetings.

Measuring Sales Rep Effectiveness

  • Speaker A discusses the challenges of measuring effectiveness in long sales cycles.
  • Emphasizes the need for hands-on training and personal involvement in the sales process.
  • Importance of setting realistic expectations and timelines for new hires in strategic sales roles.

"I don't think there's any substitute for on handholding on the ground training, and so the only way that you do that is personally getting involved."

This quote conveys Speaker A's commitment to personal involvement in training sales reps, which is seen as irreplaceable for effective learning and performance assessment.

Onboarding New Sales Reps

  • Speaker A's onboarding process includes building an account plan, conducting a tam analysis, and aligning sales processes.
  • The creation of an industry playbook for reps to easily access information and materials.
  • The goal is to enable new reps to focus on sales without being bogged down by preparation.

"I want to build an account plan, but let's call that a hypothesis. That way we're immediately starting to take action."

This quote describes Speaker A's proactive approach to onboarding, which involves engaging new reps in active planning and execution from the start.

Industry Playbooks and Sales Success

  • Industry playbooks are essential for sales teams to provide a structured approach to clients.
  • They include problems faced by the industry, solutions, examples of success, and a plan to achieve it.
  • Playbooks offer a framework that increases the chances of sales success.
  • They help salespeople make informed calls, talk to the right people, and quickly become relevant to the client.
  • Adjusting playbooks quarterly allows sales teams to focus on closing revenue throughout the year, rather than scrambling at year-end.

"So what we do is we build industry playbooks. So if we're covering an insurance company and the insurance adjuster, that example we used earlier, we're going to put together five slides in the industry with 80% accuracy."

The quote explains the creation of industry playbooks tailored to specific sectors, which help sales teams approach clients with a high degree of relevance and preparedness.

Creating and Sharing Effective Sales Materials

  • Sales materials must be clear, concise, and easily understandable.
  • The process involves a diverse team to bring various perspectives and experiences.
  • Encouraging trial and error and learning from mistakes is key.
  • Slides are created collaboratively and are designed to be simple yet informative.
  • The materials serve as a guide to inform discovery and demonstrate preparedness to clients.

"And then we put together five very simple point and shoot slides that a fifth grader could read and understand."

This quote emphasizes the importance of simplicity and clarity in sales materials, ensuring they are accessible and effective for the sales team.

Generating Urgency in Sales Cycles

  • Creating urgency should be client-focused, not based on the selling organization's interests.
  • Understanding the client's timeline and working backwards can reveal the immediate need for action.
  • Presenting a success plan that aligns with the client's goals can encourage earlier commitment.
  • Offering financial incentives aligned with the client's success can also create urgency.

"And if you actually take that very logical objection of, not now, we're six months away. And you programmatically work back and you create a success plan based on their timeline."

This quote underscores the strategy of using the client's own timeline to logically demonstrate the need for immediate action, creating urgency in the sales process.

Addressing Slipped Sales Targets

  • Adapting the sales approach to include a CFO's perspective is crucial in the current environment.
  • Proposals should include a clear demonstration of financial value.
  • Understanding and articulating the economic, operational, and qualitative value is essential.
  • Communicating how the product aligns with the client's financial goals can help win CFO support.

"That's the CFO, and they're probably going to get personally involved in an enterprise deal. That's material."

The quote highlights the increasing importance of the CFO in the decision-making process of enterprise sales, necessitating a targeted approach in sales proposals.

Adapting Sales Messaging to Economic Cycles

  • Sales messaging must evolve with changing economic conditions and buyer priorities.
  • Cost efficiency and financial impact are currently high priorities for buyers.
  • The sales narrative should be adjusted to align with these new priorities for relevance.

"Your messaging and your value prop should absolutely be shifting in alignment with them, or you're going to be irrelevant, then that's your fault."

This quote stresses the importance of adapting sales messaging to remain relevant to the buyer's shifting priorities, particularly in a changing economic landscape.

Forecasting in Uncertain Times

  • Forecasting requires a combination of historical data analysis, AI trends, and qualitative reviews.
  • Involvement in customer interactions and a deep understanding of the business can improve forecasting accuracy.
  • Regular reviews and adjustments to forecasts are necessary to manage risk in uncertain times.

"So what we do is we do a bottoms up deal by deal analysis, and then we go back and compare it to the math model and whatever AI says, and we go, do we believe the truth of this?"

The quote describes a comprehensive approach to forecasting that combines data-driven models with hands-on deal analysis to achieve a realistic outlook.

The Role of Sales Leaders and Weekly Reviews

  • Sales leaders should be involved in the sales process, not just managing from a distance.
  • Weekly reviews of big deals keep leaders informed and able to assist when necessary.
  • The agenda for these reviews should include both immediate issues and structured, forward-looking planning.
  • Involving the whole team in reviews fosters a collaborative environment focused on elevating performance.

"All of our big deals, we do a weekly review, full stop, every single week."

This quote emphasizes the importance of consistent, regular oversight and involvement by sales leaders in the sales process, especially for significant deals.

Multithreading in Sales

  • Multithreading involves engaging multiple stakeholders within a client's organization.
  • It is a strategy to mitigate risks such as losing a single champion within the client's team.
  • The approach should start with customer obsession and a thorough understanding of the client's needs.

"If you really want to understand what the customer needs, I think a traditional sales cycle of thoughtful discovery in a few meetings and being single, threaded into like one buying unit or one person, that's scary."

This quote explains that relying on a single point of contact in a sales cycle is risky and that a multithreaded approach, which involves multiple contacts, is more robust and customer-centric.

Understanding the Customer and Organizational Challenges

  • Emphasize the importance of being customer-obsessed to understand challenges across the organization.
  • Suggest buying the product and engaging with retail associates to gain insights.
  • Stress the need for conversations across departments (IT, data, line of business) for comprehensive understanding.

"Buy the share if you're selling to a cell phone organization, go buy the cell phone, go into the store, talk to the retail sales associate, you get to really understand broadly the challenges across the organization in a multifaceted way."

This quote underlines the importance of deeply understanding the customer's experience by directly engaging with the product and frontline employees, which can provide valuable insights into the organizational challenges and customer needs.

Establishing Top-to-Top Alignment

  • Discuss the necessity of aligning top executives before deal time for thoughtful conversations.
  • Emphasize alignment not just during deals but as a proactive measure.
  • Suggest that CEOs, CIOs, and business executives should align to create a wired organization that benefits the customer.

"And I don't mean when it's deal time, I mean like before it's deal time where it is a thoughtful conversation of aligning, whether it's the ceos together or the CIOs together, or line of business executives together."

This quote highlights the proactive strategy of aligning high-level executives across organizations to ensure that both parties are on the same page, fostering a collaborative relationship that benefits the customer.

Transparency and Access in Sales

  • Advocate for transparency and open lines of communication with the customer.
  • Suggest having a direct line to a peer in case of issues, promoting transparency and trust.
  • Argue that transparency reduces risk in the sales cycle by ensuring access to the organization at all times.

"If someone's stuck, have the bad phone to call your peer who's my boss, that drives transparency, because at all times they know they have ultimate access to your organization."

The quote suggests that providing customers with direct access to higher-level contacts within the selling organization promotes transparency and trust, which are crucial in maintaining a healthy business relationship and mitigating risks.

Aligning Sales with Product, Legal, and Design

  • Recognize the challenge of aligning sales with various functions like product, legal, and design.
  • Stress the importance of understanding how peers are measured and what they need.
  • Suggest opening conversations with alignment on priorities and expectations.

"By the way, the first question I always ask every time I to meet with those leaders, how are you measured? What do you need from me? And these are the three things I need from you."

The quote emphasizes the importance of understanding the goals and measurements of success for different departments within an organization to ensure that sales strategies are aligned with these objectives, fostering a cohesive approach to selling.

Customer Success and Sales Alignment

  • Discuss the challenges faced by customer success teams and their alignment with sales.
  • Suggest integrating customer success into sales calls and elevating their role.
  • Propose conducting success reviews instead of just quarterly business reviews.

"If you're measured against everything, you're measured against nothing. And so I think one way to kind of make that problem smaller, bring success on the sales calls with you."

The quote addresses the issue of customer success teams being overextended and suggests that incorporating them into the sales process can improve alignment and recognition, ultimately benefiting the client relationship.

Constructing Sales Compensation Plans

  • Emphasize aligning sales compensation with how the company is measured by shareholders.
  • Discuss the importance of creating aligned incentives between the company, customers, and sales reps.
  • Acknowledge that misalignment can create tension and disrupt the sales cycle.

"The biggest challenge you want to solve is alignment with how the company reports to their shareholders, whether that's a private or a public company."

This quote emphasizes the need for sales compensation plans to reflect the company's overall performance metrics, ensuring that sales incentives support the company's goals and shareholder expectations.

Hiring and Retaining Sales Talent

  • Highlight the importance of hiring people with the ability to visualize the end state and reverse engineer customer challenges.
  • Discuss the value of finding and retaining visionary individuals.
  • Mention the difficulty of teaching communication with senior executives.

"Finding people that can be visionaries, that can imagine the end state and then creatively reverse back engineer through the lens of the customer the challenges that they're going to see and then how to remediate that and then bring that to life and take the customer on the journey and inspire them and excite them."

The quote stresses the rarity and value of individuals who can envision the final outcome and strategically guide customers through challenges, making them highly sought-after in the sales industry.

Sales Tactics and Approaches

  • Discuss the unchanged importance of listening, discovery, personal relationships, and face-to-face interactions in sales.
  • Recognize the need to adapt to remote sales approaches during COVID-19.
  • Mention innovative ways to engage customers and teams remotely, like virtual events and digital experiences.

"Listening, discovery, personal relationships, face to face."

This quote reaffirms the timeless nature of fundamental sales tactics, despite changes in the sales environment, such as the shift to remote interactions during the pandemic.

Transparency and Authenticity in Sales

  • Criticize the outdated practice of hiding information in sales.
  • Advocate for transparency and authenticity in sales interactions.
  • Acknowledge the easy access to information that customers now have.

"Hiding information. The idea of solution selling, which is I have information you don't. And I'm going to tell you what. People have wild access to information on your firm and the organization and the product."

The quote criticizes the old sales tactic of withholding information, emphasizing that in today's information-rich environment, transparency and authenticity are key to successful sales interactions.

Hiring Sales Teams and Maturity Curves

  • Discuss the challenges of hiring sales teams as a company scales.
  • Emphasize the need for industry experience and understanding customer needs.
  • Suggest hiring experienced professionals for enterprise sales and segmenting the sales team by market.

"I think there's a maturity curve of an organization going from a few customers to really big and scale. And I think as you start to hire the sales team, you're going to get to a maturity point where you want to move upmarket."

This quote discusses the evolution of a company's sales team as it grows, highlighting the importance of hiring experienced sales professionals who can meet the expectations of upmarket customers.

Sales Leadership and Team Focus

  • Advocate for sales leaders to prioritize their team's success over their own.
  • Suggest serving the team and supporting their growth and success.
  • Acknowledge the loyalty and production that come from a selfless leadership approach.

"It's not about you, it's about your team. So I always think that you want to put the customer first. I think you got to put the employee first before the customer."

The quote suggests that a sales leader's success is directly tied to the success of their team, and by prioritizing the team's needs, a leader can foster loyalty and high performance.

Empathy in Sales

  • Call for greater empathy towards sales teams, especially considering recent challenges.
  • Stress the importance of staying connected to the customer and the sales rep experience.
  • Suggest spending quality time with sales reps to remain humble and relevant.

"Empathy. I think we need to really remember how hard it is for our team."

The quote advocates for a stronger sense of empathy in the world of sales, recognizing the difficulties faced by sales teams, particularly in light of the pandemic and remote working challenges.

Sales Strategy Impressions

  • Praise Miro for its ability to connect teams and facilitate visual collaboration remotely.
  • Highlight the importance of tools that adapt to both remote and in-person work environments.
  • Recognize Miro's impact on team cohesion and productivity during remote work periods.

"For me, it's Miro now that everything's been remote, and of course, we're trying to ramp that back."

This quote expresses admiration for Miro's sales strategy, which effectively leveraged the need for remote collaboration tools, showing adaptability and innovation in response to the changing work landscape.

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