Select your preferred player below to subscribe now:
About This Episode
Is the sports metaphor overdone in sales?
Especially not if you happen to be a former professional soccer player who won a national championship.
My guest on today’s episode is Neil Barlow, Senior Director of Global Sales, New & Exp, at Diligent. We talk about sports insights for coaching SDRs, as well as MEDDIC, Neil’s favorite sales methodology.
After playing sports at a high level, Neil was looking for a transition that would challenge him professionally.
“When the curtains came down on my soccer career, one of the things that jumped out at me was sales. Sales is super competitive. It’s an awesome space,” Neil said.
Similarities between soccer and sales
Neil decided to jump right into his next career phase instead of riding the bench.
Here’s what he heard about sales from some teammates who’d transitioned:
- You work as hard as you want to work.
- There’s a strong team vibe.
- It’s very competitive amongst individual contributors.
- There’s even a leaderboard!
“Sales is very black and white,” Neil said. “That excited me, the ability to go in and continue to learn, continue to challenge myself.”
A bonus that Neil discovered was that he loved the opportunities to talk to different companies and help them solve challenges.
It wasn’t long before Neil transitioned again, from individual contributor to leadership.
He shared some advice about becoming a leader.
1. Focus on being a great individual contributor.
You need to earn the right to have the conversation about whether management is for you.
Take that time to get to know managers and pick their brains about what it will take.
2. Make sure you really want to go into management.
There are 2 sides to management: being a great coach for your team and… process.
Neil credited his mentors with getting him excited about operations and building effective processes.
“Have that conversation in the mirror,” Neil said. “Do you want to go into management or do you feel as though it’s just the next step?”
3. Understand coaching
What does it mean when a professional soccer player uses the word “coach?”
“You’ve got to spark that natural curiosity in people,” said Neil. “Your job is to figure out what motivates them.”
A coach measures success in the achievements of the team, not individually.
“You become a puzzle piece that has helped them get into their overall goal itself. It’s awesome. It’s rewarding. It’s exciting,” Neil said.
All about MEDDIC
Neil said he has been impressed by and grateful for his sales team’s curiosity and desire to learn.
He called himself a “massive nerd” about MEDDIC, which he used as an individual contributor and brought with him into leadership.
Briefly, MEDDIC is a sales methodology that looks at 6 pillars of the sale.
- M is for Metrics
- E is for Economic buyer
- D is for Decision process
- D is for Decision criteria
- I is for Identify pain
- C is for Champion (or Challenge)
“Each letter stands for the characteristics that make up a good deal that is likely to close,” Neil said.
As a leader, Neil teaches his team to think in terms of MEDDIC, especially when they’re trying to forecast.
Neil explained his impressive processes for focusing on MEDDIC.
“We’ve built a system into Salesforce with the help of our awesome Salesforce operations team and marketing operations with Domo,” Neil said.
The calculator asks a couple of questions based on each aspect of MEDDIC.
The response to each letter ranges from -2 to +2 to help you calculate the likeliness of the deal to close, on a 0-20 scale.
You can sort the opportunities based on their scores.
- 11-14, win rates are about 75%
- 15+, win rates are 91%
“It’s drastically helped the team improve our conversations, improve how we go through the process, and get guidance on what that next step is,” Neil said.
For example, a rep doesn’t have to wait until a one-on-one to look at the opportunities and see that it lacks the M or it lacks the E. “A simple question like who else is involved in making this decision? might help move that opportunity forward,” Neil said.
Implementing MEDDIC from scratch
Neil was encouraged by an empowering mentor to follow his passion for MEDDIC (and draw up some KPIs).
Neil shared the first steps for launching the MEDDIC framework in your sales process.
- Recognize that MEDDIC isn’t the perfect solution for every single organization. It’s most effective at orgs with long, complex sales cycles that involve multiple buyers.
- If MEDDIC is for you, then get your team bought in. Go to your top performing reps and share the idea. Chances are, they’re already considering these elements and will be overjoyed to put a framework behind it.
- Get the messaging together and identify the impact it will have on your organization.
“Focus on the outcomes you’re looking to reach,” Neil said. “We are rolling out MEDDIC because we want to achieve these 3 things before the end of 2020.”
Be sure to create a shared language around MEDDIC.
You’ll be so proud when someone stands up and says, “So I have a strong champion, but I need some creative ideas for how they can reach the economic buyers.”
Whether you implement MEDDIC or another methodology, Neil had this parting wisdom to share.
“How you sell is more important than what you sell. That is very much the golden rule of sales,” he said.
Reach out to Neil on LinkedIn — and if it’s about MEDDIC, prepare for him to jump on the phone and nerd out a little bit (his words).
Until next time, stay safe!