Episode OneHundredForty

Modernization Isn’t a Trend, It’s a Must

Guest: Chris Sweat, Founder of StemFlow

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About This Episode

As a sales leader, you have a vague idea that using Outlook 2010 isn’t helping you out anymore.

But you have no idea how to start modernizing.

(Though you suspect you may have to redesign your whole org.)

On today’s episode, I got to talk with my good friend Chris Sweat, founder of StemFlow, about what brought about his entrepreneurial career and everything he’s learned along the way about sales transformation.

When Chris saw he was having disproportionate success with technological tools, he began to wonder why more sales organizations weren’t modernizing. “What would happen if technology and modernization were at the forefront of the sales model?” he asked.

Tech tools were working for Chris personally but failing for organizations as a whole. Why?

Where orgs are going wrong with tech

Two-part answer:

1. The message is hard to spread.

When he was working on StemFlow, Chris spent hours every night conceptualizing reporting, data access, and how to reach out to sales ops and leadership.

2. There’s a lack of information flow.

Some people were having massive success, but those accesses weren’t being distributed. “Anything that any rep was doing that was amazing wasn’t making it to anybody except maybe the person that sits next to them — if that,” Chris observed.

Duplicating what your best people are doing and democratizing it quickly and efficiently through the entire organization to see it if will scale is where there’s a big opportunity to improve.

“Change pulls additional skills that aren’t innate to us in terms of suspending our preconceptions and trying to carry an open mind to ideas,” Chris said.

The rise of sales ops, revenue ops

The result of all this is a huge lack of strategy at the sales leader level.

Historically, the sales leader’s perspective has been very soft edge. “How does it look? How does it feel? How does it present? Does it empathize? Does it understand? Does it communicate what we perceive as value?” Chris said.

Software is asking the sales leader to build new skills around the harder edge, the analytics and the data. “Sales leaders or their counterparts are underestimating the time it takes to build new skills or that new skills need to be built,” Chris said.

The rise of these other roles in org design is a core component of StemFlows methodology when they’re in an engagement consulting on a sales transformation endeavor.

“Many organizations don’t have revenue ops or a CRO,” Chris said. “They’re definitely not thinking about building a sales enablement practice.”

Companies like this need to have an open dialogue about whether this is a transformation, a change effort that will require bringing technology into the mix. More than implementing a tool, it changes the whole sales process and even org design.

3 elements for success

When you’re doing a full blown sales transformation, you need to have 3 elements in place to be successful.

1 — Systems

This could be existing technologies — and not even sales technology. If you’re using Outlook 2010, that’s holding you back.

2 — People

This encompasses hard skills, soft skills, current competencies and capabilities. You’ll need to figure out what new skills will be required.

3 — Org design

Not every company visits the design of their organization more than once a year, so that’s not always a lever Chris can pull right away. “Hopefully we’re seeing enough success where we can start to look at augmenting the way the organization is designed to better support sales leadership and, without a doubt, to better support the front line salespeople,” he said.

Finally, you need people with the drive to push the boundaries of sales innovation. “When you’re trying to bring something new to the table and people don’t understand it, it’s not that they’re insulting your intelligence,” Chris said. “The initial reaction is to reject something that doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

People assume that innovation occurs on a grand world-creation scale when it’s just about a mountain moving a centimeter across a decade. “It’s small, it’s iterative, and when we look back, we’re like, Wow, that was a massive change. But it started with really small stuff,” Chris said.

Rapid-fire Q&A

What’s your number one tip for sales practitioners today?

If you’re out in the sales world, make sure that you’re at a company that is technology enabled, that offers a solution that you believe in.

What’s your number one tip for sales leaders today? 

Truly listen to your salespeople. Spend time with them, see what they’re seeing, hear what they’re hearing, and get that trench time, even if it’s a couple hours a week.

What 3 things should listeners remember three things from this conversation?

  • Modernization is not a trend. It’s a must.
  • It’s okay if you don’t know everything you need to know to modernize. Just keep studying.
  • It’s great to see how we can measure our performance in new ways. We have new ways to improve as individuals.

Get in touch with Chris about StemFlow on his LinkedIn.

For more engaging sales conversations, you can subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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