For the last 18 years, Tate Haymond has been in the sales space. Whether it be directly selling or managing salespeople, or managing sales managers to help them hone their craft. While at eVestment, Tate has been a part of 7-8 mergers and acquisitions, which has given him first hand experience working in the midst of multiple sales culture evolutions. For Tate, a process driven approach to sales and culture is key.
Head of Sales
Developing sales professionals in the financial software industry through the management of four separate sales groups. This includes training in sales techniques, industry knowledge and product details in order to properly communicate the value of our services to the prospect. I participate in discussions with prospects for larger deals or those that need a bit of deeper experience to pull across the line. My background combination of programming, manager due diligence and trading gives me the perspective to teach others how to combine their skills into consultative selling.
100 Glenridge Point Parkway Suite 100 Atlanta, GA 30342
eVestment, a Nasdaq company, provides institutional investment data, analytics and market intelligence covering public and private markets. Asset managers and general partners reach the institutional marketplace through our platform, while institutional investors and consultants rely on eVestment for manager due diligence, selection, and monitoring. eVestment brings transparency and efficiency to the global institutional market, equipping managers, investors, and consultants to make data-driven decisions, deploy their resources more productively and ultimately realize better outcomes.
From the Podcast Booth:
Series Quick Links
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Epic Company Culture Podcast, where your host, Josh Sweeney, will give you, the business leaders, HR professionals, and company culture aficionados, the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.
Josh Sweeney: Hello and welcome to the Epic Company Culture podcast. Before I get started I’d like to thank Prototype Prime for this amazing podcast space. Today’s episode is all about sales culture, and we have Tate Haymond here today to tell us about his experience with sales culture. Tate, it’s great to have you on the show.
Tate Haymond: Thanks Josh, I’m happy to be here.
Series: Sales Culture
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, well thanks for making the drive. Tell us a little bit about yourself and the company you work with.
Tate Haymond: Sure, so my company is eVestment. We’re based and headquartered here in Atlanta. We’re a financial data and software company, so managers report their information to us, and then investors look at the data to decide who to give their money to, and managers look at the data to figure out how they’re doing relative to their competitors and peers. Then we build analytics around that, so some of its individual analysis of a manager, some of its big data trend analysis that we might do. We’ve got about 450 employees worldwide, about 250 of those here in the Atlanta office headquarters, but offices in New York, London, Hong Kong, Australia, things like that as well globally.
Background: Tate Haymond
My background may be a little bit different than what some people would think from a sales perspective. Of course, you can’t really get a bachelor’s degree in sales, so it makes it a little tricky to define what is a sales background. I’ve got an engineering degree from Clemson and a master’s degree in OR from Georgia Tech. Originally was literally doing rocket science and just found my way into the financial world. I guess I found, over time, that I could program better than if I was surrounded by a bunch of talkers if I was surrounded by a bunch of programmers I could talk better than most of them. You just ebb and flow based on the environment that you’re in and that gave me a chance to go down the sales channel. For the last 18 years, I’ve been selling or managing salespeople or managing managers of salespeople and helping them hone their craft.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, and you manage a pretty large team over the Americas right now, right?
Tate Haymond: Correct, so my area of expertise in the Americas. We’re about 60 salespeople total across the world, about two-thirds of those in the Americas and those are under my purview.
Josh Sweeney: Got it, and how many head of sales type of roles have you had in the past?
Tate Haymond: Well the previous companies that I’ve been with really didn’t have sales structure, teams, that were really something to write home about. Most of it’s been with this company and evolving. We’ve acquired seven or eight companies along the way, we’ve merged as well. My experience is mainly watching that culture grow and evolve over time. We went from five salespeople reporting to the founder to 60 people, four layers of management, those kinds of things. We’re always evolving and finding new ways to tackle the problem or new ways to put the best resources in play in the right spots. It’s more of a single company evolution I guess I would say rather than multiple stops along the roadway.
Selling is a Craft
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, well it sounds like that’s a good challenge to have, growing a sales team from a few or founder, all the way up to 60 is definitely a good challenge for a growing business. Before we get into eVestment and the evolution of that, you said that some of the sales teams that you’d worked with weren’t really much to write home about. Tell us what you’ve seen in other sales cultures that you’re in the past that just didn’t really work for you, didn’t work for the employees. What kind of culture did they have? What were they running into?
Tate Haymond: Yeah, I guess I would say that I think a lot of people don’t realize that selling is a craft. It’s something you can get better at, it’s something that you can hone and learn. I think a lot of times people think we’ll build a product and we’ll pick some people to sell it, then they just go out there and will live and die with whatever they seem to come up with. We’ve done a lot of work over the years to try to develop a process that we believe in, that fits our culture, that fits our industry, fits our product suite, and then work with our team to get better at even little things. How do I start a meeting? How do I work with a specific plan? How do I take control of the selling process?
Selling: Execute Smoothly
Selling is one of those things that when you write down the words or you say them out loud it often sounds like a used car sales approach, like let’s challenge the client or let’s take control, and it starts to feel something that’s very aggressive. The trick is, can you take those thoughts and understand what you’re trying to accomplish, and then execute them smoothly so the client feels comfortable the whole way through. That’s a lot of stuff and it’s something you don’t really just do haphazardly if you want to be good at it.
The earlier stops didn’t really have much of that. It was much more of a just go do what you can do and this person seems to be doing than that person. I guess he’s just better than she is or something like that, as opposed to, let’s understand what’s going on underneath.
Josh Sweeney: It was more opportunistic sales hire, not a lot of training involved, what you would see in probably a lot of small startups and maybe even larger companies where they hire a salesperson and just let them rip.
Tate Haymond: Yeah and I think that it’s both of those things. One is a small, new product in a new area so the world doesn’t know much about it so it’s really getting the word out, and so they don’t spend a lot of times typically thinking about how do I really fine-tune the process. Other types of companies maybe it’s not really a culture, maybe they don’t think of it as selling almost. Maybe it’s something where the product or the data is just necessary and it just kind of exists, and so they don’t focus that much on how to streamline the sales process if you will. They just think more of well people need our stuff and so let’s just get the word out and this guy’s carrying the bag, anybody could do it, let’s just see how it goes.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I’ve definitely seen different companies over my course and my career, and you have channel sales organizations where leads are coming in through the channel, the sales process is a lot different. You have companies where what they have is required by law, so somebody has to have a solution and they’re one of the five companies so they’re always on the list. The sales process is a lot different from that whereas if you have to just go out and create new opportunities.
Tate Haymond: For sure, and how much competition do you have? Am I having to compare to the competitor? What are my strengths and their weaknesses, and how am I going to present that in a way that doesn’t sound like I’m presenting strengths and weaknesses? That sort of thing. A lot of that depends on the environment that you’re in, and as you said, the growth and stage of your company and all those kinds of things. While typically you can look at success and find groups that probably study it more, are more successful, just because a company has success doesn’t mean that they fine-tune their sales process.
Sales Process Evolution
There are plenty of companies that have done very well and don’t really have much in the way of a sales process and just things are working well. It’s one of those things that how well could you be doing if you did focus on it, and that’s one of those things that you can’t really measure, right? If we have done it differently would we be in a better spot today? Maybe, but we think we’re in a good spot already so we never thought of it, that sort of thing. It’s an evolution of a company as well I think when you start to hone in on the sales process.
Sales Process: Fabric
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I feel like there’s definitely a number of companies that were started by a founder. They’re the main salesperson and they do really well and they just basically stick with that. You’ll find out later that they grew to $30, $40 million or they do large transactions, they do multiple large transactions a year, so it’s $100 plus million company, but really one or two of the founders are still bringing in all the revenue.
Tate Haymond: Well and many times it’s more of a product knowledge type approach.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah.
Tate Haymond: I’m doing something that’s a little bit unique or there are not many companies doing it, and I just need to know that fabric better than the other competitors of usually maybe there aren’t any competitors and so I’m just telling you about what it is that I do. That’s not really selling. You could see some organizations where they have sales engineers, for example, and they bring in the expert to talk through all the nuts and bolts. That’s an approach, and some of those instances that you just described they are selling by just doing the nuts and bolts and the product or the instance or the surrounding circumstances just compels the buyer to say, “Okay I need that.” They’re not really studying the sales process in that instance. They’re just delivering content and information and ideas, and it sells itself. Could they be doing better though if they had a better sales process? I would contend yes but they don’t feel it because they think they’re doing okay already.
Pain Points Sell Points
Josh Sweeney: Right yeah, and doing okay already sometimes blocks the initiative to go out and do more, hone that process I’m sure.
Tate Haymond: Very much, and to be honest that’s what we work with our clients on. If I’ve got a client that I’m trying to prospect into, they may think that they’re doing fine already, and so the biggest challenge is are they willing to change the way they’re doing something in order to try to get better? If they’re comfortable and they don’t see an impetus for change, then you don’t really have anything to sell at that point. That’s really the crux of the matter. They have to decide that they have something that they want to improve upon. You talk about pain points and things of that nature, but at the end of the day, they have to change the way they’re doing something and they have to want to do that. If you can’t get them there or they can’t get themselves there, you don’t have anything to sell at that point.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I definitely understand the challenge of seeing if they recognize the pain point because as you get higher up in the tiers of management, it gets even harder and harder because it’s removed from the front line. Obviously, we do company culture, sales culture, different initiatives around that, and sometimes I’ll talk to a few employees at a company and their view of the world is very different than a CEO. The more layers the more abstraction that creates and CEO says, “We don’t have a problem.”
Tate Haymond: That’s exactly right.
Josh Sweeney: The retention rate may say something different or some of the other challenges I’m seeing and hearing are going to tell a different story.
Tate Haymond: Well and the perspective there is super important, again from your clients perspective. We sell a product that many times the client has built their own. If I’m talking to the person that built it they don’t see a problem, that I built it, it’s going fine.
Josh Sweeney: There’s some ownership there.
Tate Haymond: I like it, it’s okay and I’m proud of it, and so I don’t really want to do any changing. If you talk to the layer up, the executive, the decision maker, the message there then is if well if Fred, who built this leaves, what happens next? I mean he’s the only one that knows how it works so what kind of risk do you have in play by putting all your eggs in one basket in a homegrown system that nobody else knows how to operate and no one in the world can help train new people on it because there’s only one guy that knows.
Josh Sweeney: Right.
Tate Haymond: That messaging is completely different from who am I talking to in that sales process. At the same time, it can be inverted. Fred, down at the analyst level or the user level, has a big problem. Maybe it’s a very inefficient process and he can’t get things done in an amount of time so it means he can’t cover as much ground or just be as productive as he would like to be, but if he just walks down the hall and says, “I need $50,000 so I can be more efficient.” The executive says, “Well I think I pay you to do that stuff. If I make you more efficient are you just going to lower your handicap? What are you going to do with that extra time that’s going to mean something for me?” You can’t arm Fred to walk down the hall to say, “I just want this because it’ll make my life easier.”
Understanding the Dynamic
We have to then work with Fred to say, “Either get us in front of the decision maker,” or train Fred for what are the things that your decision maker cares about, so that when you say, “I’m going to free up some time,” you’re going to then apply that time to make, let’s say, more money for the decision maker. Now you’ve got his attention because that’s a problem he’s trying to solve. Understanding that dynamic and know who you’re talking to in that process is very important because you can lose deals that you thought you had won because that last bit wasn’t communicated to the right person.
Understanding which Side of the Fence Are You On
Josh Sweeney: Yes definitely, I mean each person is looking for a different solution, they have a different challenge. In that case, Fred needs to be armed with the information to go upstream, and then in the inverse situation, Fred needs to know the risk and other things that are happening in the business that are basically requiring the change to happen.
Tate Haymond: For sure, yes, and like I said, in his world, in his cubicle, in his closet he may not even be thinking anything of the larger business problems. You have to understand which side of that fence are you on and how are you presenting things properly so that you get both those boxes checked. If you leave either one unchecked you’re at risk of closing the deal, and so you want to make sure you understand that thoroughly.
Sales Culture: Territories
Josh Sweeney: Yeah I love it, so eVestment you said earlier that you’ve grown through acquisition, a lot of changes over the years, and you’ve been there what, 11 years now?
Tate Haymond: 18 actually.
Josh Sweeney: 18 okay my bad.
Tate Haymond: No my bad actually.
Josh Sweeney: That’s okay, so you’ve been there 18 years. You’ve been along for that ride. Tell me about what sales culture was like at the beginning and the evolution of that, what does it look like now?
Tate Haymond: Yeah, like I said it’s changed vastly. We were actually purchased by NASDAQ, we were private equity-owned until about 18 months ago and were purchased by NASDAQ. That’s another change agent, but as I said, originally you have two founders of a company and five salespeople that all report to one of the founders directly, and there’s really no sales process or things like that. There are territories that are defined and you’re just supposed to go out and talk to people. There wasn’t a ton of competition and so again you kind of make hay while the sun shines and everybody’s cool.
Sales Culture: Override
Even then you could see the very, very first salesman, for example, had an override on the rest of the salespeople that came on board. “Hey, I’m the first one. You’re going to bring on someone else, that’s going to cut into my opportunity set. I should get an override.” Okay great, well as the company continues to grow that becomes unfathomable, and so that goes away and melts off. Then you start thinking, “Well we’d like to be as best we could. Should we do some training of some sort and try to understand what are good processes?” There’s a ton of different sales training methodologies out there. I think you can probably learn something from all of them. I think some of them have a lot of extraneous stuff that is maybe even more confusing than anything else. A lot of it is what is that evolution for the situation that you’re in, the products that you’re selling, the industry that you’re in, so how do we hone our craft in that environment I think is the key.
As that evolves and the big move was probably about eight years ago. One company was purchased by private equity firm, so that put some new heat on okay, let me introduce you to some people that are in our portfolio that sell well and let’s start learning about that. Then that same private equity firm bought another company, two years later, two years after that we merged the two together and everything doubled overnight. That was the real impetus because we had everybody reporting to one person in two companies, glued it together, and suddenly we had 20 people trying to report to one person.
Sales Culture: Structure
Josh Sweeney: Make it work.
Tate Haymond: Doing pipeline reviews, all those kind of things. Just impossible to do. That forced layering of management and separation of teams and trying to understand how do we do that? Do we do it by geography? Okay yes, we’ve done some of that now so we have AMEA, Europe, and Africa, and the Middle East in one regional output, Asia, and the Americas. Well within each of those though now we’ve got client type separation as well, so one group works at the manager side, another group works with the investor side, so we’ve split that. The evolution as the company grows we now have $100 million in annual revenue and 60 salespeople, you can’t all report to the founder. You got to start putting some structure around that. We now have things like business development reps that support our sales reps and help them expand their bandwidth. Those kinds of things that we never had 18 years ago as we were getting started as a startup company.
While it’s not on paper, different company steps through the process, it’s different companies along the path because it’s changed so much over the time that we’ve had to learn and evolve and put structures in place, and redo structures when we thought, “Well that didn’t work very well, let’s try something else.” For us, it’s interesting because we’ve always and continue to view ourselves as a growth company. We’re always shooting for 20% growth a year. As the pie gets bigger those slices of growth get bigger and it’s a challenge to figure out how do we support that from a sales perspective?
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, so let’s go back to the beginning of that evolution. You talked about overrides, so one, explain overrides to our listeners and also tell us how would… if they’re a small business how do they keep something like that from happening? What decisions do they need to make now to think about what’s going to happen when they add new salespeople?
Tate Haymond: Yeah, it’s a great question. First of all overrides basically just mean let’s say I’m the only salesperson at the firm and then we hire you to come on board, and again you’re cutting into my opportunity set, and so the owner tells me, we’re small, “Tell you what, you’ll get 10%, of everything Josh brings in the door, and I’ll pay you on that as well.” It almost turns into a pyramid scheme, where I have enough people working for me underneath then how much work do I have to do and things like that.
Josh Sweeney: But it promotes coaching I’m guessing right?
Tate Haymond: It does, it does.
Josh Sweeney: So if you don’t know if you’re going to go to 60 salespeople you’ll immediately get some coaching and some mentoring.
Tate Haymond: For sure, you definitely get that.
Josh Sweeney: Maybe.
Tate Haymond: You help to bring those people up to speed no doubt.
Josh Sweeney: Okay.
Tate Haymond: The other thing is in a small company, and quite frankly in a large company too, I’m always looking for talent. If you give me a talent I can be successful. We can sell chocolate chip cookies if we’ve got talent. I don’t really care what the product is and things like that if we’ve got talent.
You have to figure out how do I hold onto my talent as well, right?
Josh Sweeney: Yeah.
Runners, Joggers, and Walkers
Tate Haymond: That’s a situation you’ve got someone who has the entire world and now let’s say you cut that in half, if that person still going to be incentivized to say, “This is a great company, I want to stay here,” and if you think they’re talented you need to work on some creative ways to make that work. To me, as the team grows and things get bigger, you still can’t lose focus on what we talk about as the runners. You’ve got runners and joggers and walkers, and you want to focus on the runners. Those are the guys that have the best chance to overachieve and give you outsize results. You want to help the joggers, if you can, become runners, and the walkers you pretty much should just let them walk through the door and that way you’re focused on the right side of that equation.
As things grow and you get more and more people involved and you’ve got to start figuring out how do I emphasize the runners, different techniques have to come into play. It doesn’t always mean you have the same rules for everybody. Jimmy Johnson was a Dallas Cowboys head coach and he had different rules for Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin and Troy Aikman than he did for the free agent guy that just walked onto the team. You produce you get different situations and circumstances, and so I think that’s okay, that’s a healthy environment to me. As long as it’s clear, everyone knows what the situation is and how do I evolve and what’s my path for growth. Why does this person get something that someone else doesn’t and you can back all that stuff up, I think it’s healthy.
Look to Improve
Josh Sweeney: Got it, so after that, you mentioned a little bit about training and different methodologies, so there’s a lot of different methodologies out there for sales training. Would you generally say that it’s better to at least have a methodology than to pick the perfect one or what are your thoughts around that? Because I know a lot of people… I’ve gone into a lot of organizations in the past implementing CRM and things like that where there was no methodology and I almost felt a lot of ways, hey just pick something and start moving in that direction so you have vocabulary, you have training, you have other resources that can train your team as opposed to going at it alone. What are your thoughts on that?
Tate Haymond: Yeah I would agree with you there. I think you need to be open-minded to try to always look to improve. As I said, you can hone your craft, so continually look at that. But if you just let everyone go do their own thing then you don’t have any way to know. Is this person just lucky or they like her better or they like him better? What’s the deal? How do we take that and repeat it? If I’m going to grow a team and I need to bring new people on board your methodology, I don’t believe, is going to be very successful if you just say, “Well here’s some new people, good luck.” You have to have some way to give them some guidance and coaching and mentoring.
Modify Your Process
For example, we use what we call the four-step start. Every time we start a meeting we define what that’s supposed to look like, and there are four steps, each of the steps has meaning behind it and the word choice means something. It’s one of those things that if you write it down it feels very wooden, but there’s meaning behind why you’re doing what you’re doing. Then there’s the practice of making that sound comfortable in front of the prospect and the client. But we don’t let that go without coaching instruction around it, right? If someone says, “Hey, I’d like to modify this,” fine like what’s the idea? Let’s do it optimally. Is there a reason we might tweak this word or add a fifth step or whatever it might be. That’s modifying a process, that’s not an empty vacuum that someone is just thrown into to go figure it out themselves. If someone has designed a process that’s really working why would we not try to share that expertise with others?
Yeah, I think picking some sort of process that you think fits your world is important because then you can modify an existing process. It’s very hard to modify something that doesn’t exist, and if everyone’s doing their own thing you don’t really have a process.
Things to Look Out for: Demotivating Managers
Josh Sweeney: Yeah I definitely understand the need and have experienced the need to put kind of upper and lower bounds on it. There’s the green field where you just hire a sales rep and say, “Go,” which normally doesn’t work out very well, and then there are so many restrictions where they don’t have enough flexibility to adapt. Somewhere in the middle is kind of the sweet spot. Talking about that verbiage, I was an enterprise sales engineer for years at Southeast and AMIA, and even in the demo training when we learned in sales engineering how to do a demo and how to do it correctly and the word choices we picked, there are lots of questions we were asking ourselves. Why did we show that? Did it have a meaning or did we tell them, “And you can click this button.” Pretty sure they know they can click that button but you see it all the time.
With that button example, what are some sales faux pas, things that you’ve seen over the years where you would tell our listeners I’ve seen it, multiple companies do it, wouldn’t recommend it that way?
Tate Haymond: Well I think there’s a couple of things, and I guess if you’re talking generalities, one of the things you have to look out for is a demotivating manager. They’re tricky to find and uncover and that’s the problem. No one wants to be demotivating. Typically a sales manager is tied to the performance of the people that they’re managing so they don’t want that to go poorly. It’s something that can be easily masked. Everyone’s trying hard, it’s just not working.
If you get into that situation you run the risk of having lower numbers than you would hope to get out of that group. You also run the risk of now losing talent, which is the worst thing you can do is put people in a situation where they’re not enjoying the role or they’re not having enough success or there’s too much stress there. What you really need to focus on is keeping connectivity to the members of the team as well so that they have an outlet to talk to you about problems that might be going on above the middle management layer, if you will, because I think that can definitely put people into a bad spot. As I said, it’s not obvious. The person’s not trying to do something wrong, and so it’s one of these things that can go on and on and on and you don’t realize it. That’s one of the big things I think you want to keep an eye out for.
One of the things that I think is interesting from a debate perspective is territories. You just described them. I don’t have territories, so in my teams and I wouldn’t say unique because I know there are some other people who do it. Most people use territories because it’s easy. If I define it then there’s no argument, there’s nothing to discuss, there’s nothing to think about. As I said, with my background I’m more of a thinker probably with the math and engineering, and so I don’t mind thinking about stuff if I’m trying to get it right.
Territories, to me, and it obviously depends on the situation and things like that. As I mentioned, we have some territorialization because of time zones. If I’m trying to call Hong Kong from Atlanta that’s tricky for sure, so some of that makes some sense, but within the Western Hemisphere my reps can go anywhere they want to and pursue any piece of business. To your point, to me that allows my runners the most opportunity. If they want to follow the sun east to west they can. If they are really good at asking for referrals and getting reference business they can follow it. There’s nothing worse than being really good at asking for a referral, giving it to you and it starts with the wrong letter.
Territories to Non-Territories
Josh Sweeney: Right, wrong state.
Tate Haymond: It’s in a different state or zip code or any of those kinds of things, and then you’re like, “I just busted my butt to try to find business for myself and now I have to hand it to this person who maybe I don’t think is nearly as good as I am. They did nothing and yet I get nothing.” Also, when you get those territories from a management perspective everything’s ring-fenced. Let’s say I have an underperforming sales rep in a territory, I can’t really do anything about it. If I’ve got something in a non-territory environment and someone’s not handling something well, I can just take it from him and give it to somebody else because there is no boundary that I’ve crossed or any rule that I’ve broken. I’m just saying, “Doesn’t look like you’ve contacted these people or done a good enough job of staying in touch. I’m going to hand it to Becky because I think she’s doing a better job.”
Territories restrict a bunch of stuff and it makes it tougher to have your higher performers really get a great opportunity. It’s easier and so some people take the easy way out. I don’t think that’s the best way to optimize it.
CRM is Everything
Josh Sweeney: Well there are rules like you said, you can put in place to handle this. I know in our CRM and what I recommended for clients for the past nine, 10 years when I had my last company was we wanted to know the last activity date. We want to know who you followed up with and did you get in contact with them, was it an actual touch point, a conversation or was it an email? I’m assuming you have some rules around that says, “Well they got this lead, that’s a sign to Joe, this other rep, but I can go in the CRM and see that he hasn’t contacted them in more than 90 days so run with it.” Is that how you start to solve some of those types of challenges?
Tate Haymond: It is.
Josh Sweeney: Or do you have other systems?
Tate Haymond: Yeah it is. The CRM is everything in that world, and we always say, “If it’s not in the CRM it didn’t happen.” You can’t tell me, “Oh I actually called them seven times.” It’s like, “Well I don’t see it.” Yeah, and that’s how we try to keep everybody peaceful. There are rules around that. We need to be talking to a prospect within the last 30 days. If we have an activity scheduled we need to make sure that that’s not more than 30 days out of date, so we give a little bit of cushion. If you didn’t call them yesterday like you were supposed to, the sharks can’t jump on it, but if you haven’t seen it in a month I’m guessing you’re not going to go find it two weeks from now.
Josh Sweeney: Randomly.
Tate Haymond: We put some rules in place. Quite frankly, some of that’s going to have to do with the number of opportunities that you have, the number of companies to target. If you have 40 salespeople and 20 targets you’re going to bump into people a bunch because everybody’s fighting over the same bones. It definitely needs to be thought of based on your environment, the number of opportunities that you have, the number of prospects that you have, those kinds of things. But if possible, fewer territories, less definition to me helps the people that want to help themselves. And in sales, in particular, people are looking for aggressive talent that wants to overachieve and most of the time make money, and so, as a result, you got to give those guys that kind of opportunity or they’re going to find another one.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, and I’ve done a bunch of studies and analysis on who people really sell to in various companies. Normally they really do get a regional concentration. Even though somebody doesn’t have a territory do you generally find that they are usually selling more within a given radius of where they live or where they operate from? I mean obviously you can get a 10% or 20% that they fly around for, but do you see those types of concentrations even when you don’t have territories?
Tate Haymond: It can happen kind of organically. A lot of our product, it’s a software product and data, so we can do a lot of things over the web with WebEx and demonstrations and things like that, so that doesn’t have the travel restrictions that we might have in other situations. I think if you’re traveling a bunch then yeah, you’re going to try to maximize that. What our reps tend to do is hone in on a location, at least for a period of time. I’ve got a great client in this area, let’s see if they know some other people in that area. I am going to go visit that client, who else is in the area that I can talk to and scare up while I’m there. It kind of happens organically, and in our world, there’s definitely some concentration that occurs.
One of our big segments is hedge funds. Well, 90 something percent of hedge funds in the world has an office in New York City or Greenwich or the surrounding area. As a result, there’s a ton of hedge funds up in New York City. If I’m selling hedge funds I’m going to have a big concentration up in New York, in fact probably 80% of our hedge fund sales team is based in New York for that reason. Some of it definitely depends on the type of company that you’re selling to, the products that you’re selling, that sort of thing. I just like to try to maximize the opportunity, and so I want to keep as few boundaries on my best people as I can.
Talent is the Key
Josh Sweeney: Got it. Any other lessons learned that you would like to share with the audience on your sales culture, some of the things you’ve seen as you’ve evolved and gotten bigger?
Tate Haymond: Well again I think just to reiterate a little bit, talent is the key and we want to make sure that we have as talented a crew as we can find. That helps in all areas. It helps in terms of fine tuning your process. Talented people will come up with good ideas that you can then bake into the process and help others. Talented people tend to want to show their stuff and illustrate what they can do, and so that’s a big piece of it. I would say, try to make sure that you’ve got a system setup to support those people. It’s very easy to define a system that restricts your best people, and if you get into that situation good people are going to find good opportunities. You’ll wake up one day and all you have are bad people because the good people have found better opportunities and the people that didn’t find better opportunities are the ones that are left on your team. You’re kind of in this mode where you want to continually evolve that culture of supporting the higher performers.
The other thing that I think you can do is we are constantly evolving the growth of that approach, so I mentioned we have business development reps that support our sales team members. We’re looking to evolve that even further with more like a junior sales rep role. Instead of having to jump all the way into a full quota carrying rep, they may have a smaller quota and give them a chance to get started up that ladder. We’d like to cultivate our own talent if we could. It’s very difficult to interview and understand what you’re getting in a 30-minute discussion or over dinner or whatever it might be. We’d rather pick from within our own pond if we could and promote from within. That’s another great culture thing. If people see that there’s an opportunity and as the company’s expanding and there’s new divisions that are being born and people from within the firm are getting those opportunities, another great way to keep talent.
All of that is about talent evolvement, and we found it difficult to always go out and find good talent. I don’t have a list of 10 people that if I have an opening I can call immediately and I know one of these 10 are there, it’s a hunt. If you can evolve your own you’ve got another leg up.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah I think the hunt is real for everybody now. There’s a talent shortage in every industry. I just read an article the other day that mentioned… Gartner had mentioned that the biggest risk to organizations now is the talent shortage. They went out and surveyed all these CEOs and executives and said, “This is the new risk for 2019, 2020 moving forward, that’s the number one challenge.”
Tate Haymond: Certainly as a company grows, the problem gets worse if you will. If you’ll think about it. Let’s say you have 10% of your staff is not performing well. Well if you have 40 people that’s four people. If you have 400 people that’s 40 people, so suddenly you got 40 people you have to deal with. Think of it from a management perspective and how do I work with and manage people like that? It’s not a fun thing to have to deal with that or ask people to leave or hire, any of those kinds of things.
The problem only gets worse if you are in a growth mode because the numbers get bigger and the number of people gets bigger. The talent shortage is key, you want to make sure that you put the best opportunity that you can in front of your best people so that you culturally grow the talent base. If you’ve got high performers that are doing well and are compensated well, they’ll also find magically other people like them that suddenly show up. All of that works well together, and as I said, the easier route is to define things in a way that I don’t have to think very much about it. In my experience that tends to hurt your talent growth because undue restrictions get in the way.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, so my last question is a little bit back, still on the talent piece. You mentioned there’s good and there’s bad talent. Earlier you mentioned there were managers of salespeople that detract and demotivate but they’re in hidden ways. What are some of those hidden ways that people need to look out for or listeners would need to look out for and say, “Is that happening in our environment?”
Tate Haymond: Yeah. First of all, I would say most sales managers were salespeople. It doesn’t mean that’s the right way for it to work. To be honest, they’re almost diametrically opposed personalities. I’m a salesperson. I’m eating whatever I can kill and so I’m out there by myself and my job is to hunt, hunt, hunt and it’s just for me and it’s all about me and that’s the focal point. Now I’m a manager, it’s not about me, it’s about the people that work for me, and so here comes an opportunity. Do you feel good about helping someone else succeed with that opportunity, or do you still have remnants of that hunter approach that you just can’t quite let go of?
Sales Management People
Most of the time the sales management people come from sales and that’s not always maybe the best place, because from a personality trait that’s just not really a good fit. I think that’s one thing to keep an eye on, is the person able to make that transition? I know for myself I moved into a mode where the value that I bring to the company is developing people. Yes, we’re measured a number of sales, opportunities, pipeline, all those kinds of things, but if I close one opportunity that’s not as impactful as if I can teach 10 people how to close 10 opportunities. The question is can you make that move or not?
The other thing is, if you’re in a management position, you’re trying to look out for some of these things. Sometimes it’s little things like slight digs or comments that are really out of place but it may be in a group setting and so the salesperson or receiver of that comment doesn’t feel like in that group they can say anything to say, “Hey, that wasn’t really motivating.” It’s those little digs and sometimes you try to laugh it off like that wasn’t that big of a deal or something like that, but it grows over time. It’s almost like in your personal relationship if you’ve got some sort of problem with your spouse, partner, whatever, it’s usually better if you address that up front no matter how small it is because what you’ll do is wake up two weeks later and suddenly seven things have happened and now it’s a bigger problem. You continually don’t take out the trash or whatever the instance might be. It’d be much better if we just addressed that up front.
Culture of Management
You’ve got to look out because in that dynamic the salesperson may not feel comfortable doing something to address the problem and it just may exacerbate and grow over time. If you’ve got a manager that’s not been successful or hasn’t been in your company and so you’re not used to how that person works or the culture of management in your company or something like that, like I said, it can sneak up on you. Because they’re not trying to do anything wrong, it just may be that they’re not a good fit for the dynamic that you put in front. If something like that happens it can sour a lot of people and now it’s starting to cost you talent, and that’s where you got to try to keep an eye out for.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah definitely. I know both of those things have come up in my personal and professional life. The digs and addressing issues immediately with people, friends, spouse, family, all of that. Then the same thing with the managers of sales teams. I’ve always been trained that you don’t take your best salesperson and make them a manager. Totally different person, totally different job. The personality traits are different. We train people on that now. The same thing with you hears about quota carrying sales managers. You can’t carry a quota and train and develop people full-time. There’s just not enough time in the day, so there are general things that some companies end up doing and we try to steer them away from doing those.
Tate Haymond: Well it’s difficult though. Let’s say I’ve got a high performing salesperson. What is their career path? Are they going to be carrying a bag at age 62? I’m doing this and I’m just going to keep doing it for 40 years? Do you know what I mean?
Josh Sweeney: Oh yeah.
Career Path: Salesperson
Tate Haymond: It’s very common to try to figure out how do I help these people on a career path. If they’re my best salesperson it’s probably unrealistic to think they’re going to just stay my best salesperson for 40 years, so that’s what happens. Then people are like, “Well they’re great, so maybe they can teach six other people how to be great, and so let’s just let them start managing a team.” A lot of it has to be the person needs to want to do that. Again, I need to want to help other people be successful so that I can work with them and watch them grow and take pride in their performance and success. If you can’t get over that bar then it’s just bad for everybody because the new manager’s not very happy or successful, people under him definitely aren’t. They feel like deals are getting stolen from them or he’s taking credit for things, those kinds of things. That doesn’t work, and so suddenly you’ve got this big mess on your hands. It’s hard to unravel unless you start getting rid of people, which is always a tough thing to do.
It’s one of those things that if we don’t get managers from high performing sales reps then where do they come from? If I’m managing a seasoned salesperson do I have enough experience to help them or not, or they look down their nose at me like, “You don’t know anything about what I do. You don’t have any experience. You’ve never sold to a large client.” Those kinds of things. It’s definitely a tricky proposition to figure out how to make that work, and it’s a matter of making sure that you’re matching up the personalities with the job I believe.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, well those are great experiences. I really appreciate you coming in and sharing them with me and our listeners out there.
Tate Haymond: Yeah, thanks so much for having me. I enjoyed it.
Josh Sweeney: Thank you.
Speaker 1: Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of the Epic Company Culture podcast with Josh Sweeney. If you enjoyed this content, please subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud, or Stitcher. For additional content and transcripts, visit epicculture.co. If you have questions or topics you would like us to address or expand on, tweet us at epicculture1 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Podcast Highlights and Resources
- Selling is a craft. It’s something you can get better at, it’s something that you can hone and learn.
- At the end of the day, they have to change the way they’re doing something and they have to want to do that. If you can’t get them there or they can’t get themselves there, you don’t have anything to sell at that point.
- Understanding that dynamic and know who you’re talking to in that process is very important because you can lose deals that you thought you had won because that last bit wasn’t communicated to the right person.
- As things grow and you get more and more people involved and you’ve got to start figuring out how do I emphasize the runners, different techniques have to come into play. It doesn’t always mean you have the same rules for everybody.
- I think you need to be open minded to try to always look to improve.
- You can hone your craft, so continually look at that.
- I think picking some sort of process that you think fits your world is important because then you can modify an existing process. It’s very hard to modify something that doesn’t exist, and if everyone’s doing their own thing you don’t really have a process.
- “If it’s not in the CRM it didn’t happen.”
- Talent is the key.
- Try to make sure that you’ve got a system setup to support those people.
The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) is a Global business network of 13,000+ leading entrepreneurs in 185 chapters and 58 countries. Founded in 1987 by a group of young entrepreneurs, EO enables business owners to learn from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life.
We educate, we transform, we inspire and we offer invaluable resources in the form of global events, leadership-development programs, an online entrepreneur forum and executive education opportunities, among other offerings designed for personal and professional growth.
At its core, EO is a collection of like-minded entrepreneurs focused on business growth, personal development and community engagement. In addition to our mission, vision and core values, our global makeup is comprised of nearly 13,000+ individual member stories.
Prototype Prime is a 501(c)3 non-profit incubator focused on early stage software and hardware technology startups. Our mission is to provide startup companies with the support they need to launch & scale.
Our suburban location within a 500-acre commercial office park, adjacent to a custom- built intelligent mobility test and demonstration track, is the ideal place to envision what smart cities of the future will look like.
James William Johnson is an American football broadcaster and former player, coach, and executive. He served as the head football coach at Oklahoma State University–Stillwater from 1979 to 1983 and the University of Miami from 1984 to 1988
The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football team based in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. The Cowboys compete in the National Football League as a member club of the league’s National Football Conference East division.
Cisco Webex, formerly WebEx Communications Inc., is a company that provides on-demand collaboration, online meeting, web conferencing and videoconferencing applications.