The Sales Development Podcast Episode 219 with guest Hilmon Sorey from Coach CRM
How do we not only do the job, BUT do the job, and do the job well?
Sales is simple, right? Maybe better described as “Deceptively simple” is a better way to talk about it. Its as simple and a moving target.
Join us as we borrow from the knowledge of Closeloop and now the Sales Coach of CRM Hilmon Sorey. After more than 10 years of training, we are happy to say that persistent is still key, but lets look at the new trends.
Together we answer the question of “How do we make the most of our people, processes, and technology advances?” Together we drive the pipeline and revenue forces in your business. Share in our discoveries!
Leave a rating if you enjoy this episode and tell a friend to listen!
David Dulany: Hello, hello, hello everybody. Welcome to another edition of The Sales Development Podcast. I am honored and blessed to have my next guest on the show, Mr. Hilmon Sorey, cofounder of CloseLoop and cofounder of CoachCRM. How are you doing today?
Hilmon Sorey: I’m great, David. I’m happy to be here. I’ve been actively following you for many, many moons.
David Dulany: Oh, man. OK, yeah. It has been many moons.
Hilmon Sorey: Hey, that’s good. The whole – what is it? Persistence is key, right?
David Dulany: Oh my gosh. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. We’ve been trying to figure out sales development and all the new trends and how to do the job for a long time and it keeps changing, right? And it keeps getting harder and more in-depth to try to get the best practices out there. So we’re hopefully scratching the surface after five years.
Hilmon Sorey: Well, you know, I think the important thing is that it evolves, right? I mean that’s part of the challenge is it’s a moving target. It would be great if these cats would stay in one spot and you wouldn’t have to hurt them. But they keep jumping and leaping and moving and, you know, yeah, it’s a constant thing and your contribution to the field has been immense and so I’m appreciative of it.
David Dulany: Yeah. I mean it keeps me – like it keeps me going every day to try to learn about this because at the end of the day, it’s pipeline and revenue and all the different – like that sounds so simple but it’s all the different pieces of the puzzle that you have to put together from the people, to the processes, to the technology and there’s so much involved and like you said, it’s always changing. So it’s an interesting topic. So here we are.
Hilmon Sorey: And then there’s that other piece that you can’t control which is the marketplace, right? And what your customer is doing and how they’re evolving and how they want to be interacted with and what their journey looks like and what channels they’ve decided to go deaf on. Yeah, absolutely.
David Dulany: Oh my gosh. It’s constantly changing and now we’re – especially in the tech industry, like we’re in the first to get hit by macroeconomic shocks. It’s almost like crossing the chasm. Like we’re the early adopter of whatever bad news.
Hilmon Sorey: That’s exactly right. We embrace it wholeheartedly, don’t we?
David Dulany: It’s just like just as fast as it goes off, it goes down. So, you know, just responding to all those and learning the new approaches that we need to take to be able to continue to build pipeline and revenue, right? It’s never-ending, man.
Hilmon Sorey: It is, it is. That’s what we love, right? Drinking from that well every day.
David Dulany: OK. So you’ve got such an interesting background and working especially with Cory Bray who like is another legend in our industry and you guys have been great partners for a long time. Tell me about how you got involved in CloseLoop and then now building CoachCRM.
Hilmon Sorey: Yeah. So CloseLoop really – going back to – I guess just a little of my background, right? I had been in sales for a number of years both professional services, management consulting sales. There was media sales working with a large digital media entity and then tax sales. You had, you know, increasingly more responsibility. It started off kind of like an inside sales, moved up to – it wasn’t called SDRs back then. It was telemarketers back then.
But yeah, yeah, I go that far back. We’re not going to talk about that. But, you know, moved into account executive and just strategic. Went down the whole path and then eventually had my own team and I got to a point where I could not move the needle anymore with my team. I was great as an IC. You know what I mean? And then with the team, I got to a point where despite the tips and tricks that I was immersing myself in, read every book under the sun, tried different methodologies to a certain extent and I realized it was a me thing, that I just could not get it done.
Then of course my employer realized it was a me thing too. So I was shown the door and I vowed to never let that happen again. I was that kid who for Christmas, I would get a remote control car and let’s say that’s seven o’clock in the morning when I have gone under the tree and I’ve opened the present.
You know, by 11 o’clock, that thing was taken apart and I’m trying to figure out how it works. So I kept that – yeah, my parents loved that. But – and sometimes I was even able to get it back together. The idea was I did figure out how it worked.
David Dulany: Thanks a lot, Hilmon.
Hilmon Sorey: Yeah. They still keep giving me gifts though. You know, the gifts got a little more intricate as time went on. But, you know, the gift of that to me is that I’ve always been someone who likes to take things apart, figure out like what is the core essence. You know, what’s necessary to put back together and how you make it faster, stronger and better, lighter, cheaper, whatever it may be.
So after leaving that gig, what I did is I decided, hey, I’m going to go work for one of the top sales training organizations in the world and that’s what I did in the Bay Area for one of the top franchises and did that for nearly 10 years, learning the ins and outs of training, working with literally thousands of companies and tens of thousands of sales reps and really getting immersed into what the challenges were that were facing folks in Silicon Valley because that’s where I was and how to go best about addressing those and how to build an organization that can do that effectively.
It got to a point where I realized, you know, what we were doing in that organization was no longer effective. We were kind of riding the fumes of old methodologies that have been created in the ‘70s and ‘80s and while human beings didn’t change, to your point, as the way you started to show, a lot of these things with respect to process and technology and rules of engagement and channels and all of these other things, the buyers themselves and intent data, things like these, have changed.
So I decided I was going to just take some time off. In the interim, Cory had become a client of mine. He was a head of sales for a legal tech company in the Bay Area. He was looking for a coach and I tried everything I could not to work with him as an individual because I wasn’t working with individuals at this point. I was like, oh, big time. These big companies are – there’s this kid from Texas, right?
And being Cory as he is, you know, he’s of course – his nature, he doesn’t take no very easily. So I made him meet with me after five o’clock on Mondays every week and we forged this spot.
David Dulany: So you can make him go away.
Hilmon Sorey: I couldn’t make – I really tried. I would be – and I would get a – I got to a point – here’s the interesting piece. We got to a point where we had tried so much with this company that I actually had to fire him. It wasn’t a Cory thing. It was a product thing and shortly thereafter he realized, well, Hilmon is firing me. Then I’m probably on the wrong horse. So he left that and, you know, to make a long story a little less long, we forged a bond and understanding that there’s very little overlap in our Venn diagram with our skillsets and we both have a lot of passion and we think a lot of expertise around the areas that we have capabilities.
So we looked at the world of sales enablement, the world of sales training, the world of professional development and management consulting in the same way and decided that we could come at this from a more powerful, more modern perspective. So CloseLoop was born and we’re about four and a half years into it now. We won at Selling Power Top Training Firm Award this year which is great and we’ve helped a lot of people grow. So that’s where we are today.
David Dulany: Oh, man, congrats. That’s awesome, dude.
Hilmon Sorey: Thank you, yeah. Thank you.
David Dulany: And, you know, I won’t mention. I just looked at your LinkedIn. I won’t mention the training provider that you were with for a long time. But people can look it up.
Hilmon Sorey: Yeah. I try not to name names.
David Dulany: Yeah, no, you’re totally good. With our mass audience of listeners, I think you will be good. So when you’re working with these companies, what discoveries have you made of working with sales teams? Like how has their needs changed and how do you enable sales teams within what you developed at CloseLoop?
Hilmon Sorey: You talked a lot about the nature of sales development specifically and how that’s a moving target and how the technology, the people, the adaption of management, the understanding of the marketplace, all of these things have changed.
It has the same impact on training and professional development and that’s what’s really interesting is that we take that and then we compound it with the fact that hey, you’ve got a team that could be hybrid. It could be remote. They might be in the office. If they’re in the office, they’re staring at screens all day long. They’re not in some sort of call center where you just buy and have these conversations.
There’s automation where the velocity of business is moving at such a significant clip that it’s well beyond what it was 10 years ago and, you know, obviously 20 years before that.
The impact is significant because particularly in the SDR world, your top of funnel demand gen is critical for proving out all of these hypotheses that venture capital has invested in, right? Most SDRs are in a B to C type organization that has got a high hockey stick expectation of revenue growth and scaled to get to the next gate, next tranche of revenue and fund development.
So all of those implications are sitting there and they’re wholly dependent upon being able to hire and train and execute and promote folks into the organization. So what has changed? Well, a number of things. Training delivery can happen in workflow. Coaching can happen in myriad ways whereas coaching used to be just a one-on-one conversation.
The retention of those assets and data can happen in different ways. The assessment of individuals can happen in different ways. So all of this is critically important to the function of performance management because that’s your ultimate goal and what we found in CloseLoop, this is kind of segueing into CoachCRM, what we found in CloseLoop was that the greatest fulcrum, the lowest-hanging opportunity with the biggest value reward was getting folks in that frontline manager role, competent around coaching, right?
If you’ve got competent coaches, a number of things happen. One, you’re more liable to hit your goals. You’re more liable to keep that manager. You’re more liable to keep your team. You’re more liable to be able to promote folks from within and it goes on and on and on the list here and this is a sunken cost because the individuals are in your organization anyway. You don’t have to go externally to bring in somebody to do this and then have them go away with their knowledge base.
You can build this internally and what we found was that when we were able to achieve this inside of our client organizations, they developed consistent and significant competitive advantage and that competitive advantage is something that they have retained ongoing and that’s really where we began to see an opportunity for a software tool platform like CoachCRM to exist in the marketplace.
David Dulany: Got it, OK. So this is so interesting because especially in a remote environment, the kind of the pathway to sales at least in the software industry is you’re an SDR and then you’re kind of up or out to some extent and then you become an AE if you’re doing well and you get promoted. Then they come in and they’re working from home and they don’t even have the sort of the bullpen like office where you could turn to the guy next to you or the gal next to you and ask the question and get some help.
So it’s very isolated and then the coaching might be just a little bit of training, you know, coming in and then a one-on-one. Maybe like once a week and some Slack messages. So it seems like it’s very isolated these days with …
Hilmon Sorey: Absolutely. Huge problem. You know, it’s – we named the company CoachCRM for a reason. CoachCRM stands for “coaching results management”. Sometimes people believe it’s a misnomer that it’s actually a CRM but it’s really “coaching results management”. The way we look at it though is if you were to pattern match against a typical CRM, you know, a typical CRM is looking at revenue and retention as the external goal of performance, right?
Well, if you look internally and you say, “What is your internal currency from the standpoint of human capital and what are you trying to do with relation to that team?” what you’re really focusing on is performance and professional development and it’s the same thing. You have opportunities their just like you have sales opportunities. You have leads in the form of challenges that if you can convert those challenges into resolution, you’re actually significantly impacting that person’s ability to perform, which should have a reciprocal impact on the business, right?
So how do you take these things? And David, you nailed it. There are myriad conversations taking place in everything from Slack to your CRM to the notes that your dribbling in. You know, in your call recording software to email, wherever it might be. They’re all disparate. They’re all over the place and the problem with that is it doesn’t create any consistency. It doesn’t afford any opportunity for activity progression and understanding the direction, moving the needle on something.
You can’t share it as tribal knowledge. It’s the bane of everyone’s existence. You know, we hopped on a little earlier and we were bemoaning what Slack looks like and where the messages are and Slack is looking more and more like email even though that’s what they were supposed to be assuming early on, right?
David Dulany: Right.
Hilmon Sorey: So great tool for some things, right? Not for coaching performance, right? So how do you create a tool that is not a burden to front level management or to leadership but instead is a tool that managers can sink into as a platform that’s going to help them to leverage a one-to-many way of moving performance both individually and for the entire team? That’s where we saw the opportunity and so the alignment here between CloseLoop and CoachCRM was that we did have this group of really fantastic, really top level, fast-growing clients who had these problems at CloseLoop and, you know, one of the best testing beds for software is a spreadsheet.
If you know Cory Bray well, he never met a spreadsheet he didn’t like. So he took our coaching training methodology which we wrote a book on, The Five Secrets of a Sales Coach, dropped it into a spreadsheet which we used in our training engagements and in those spreadsheets, we would work with management teams around here’s how you effectively coach in 20 minutes or less. Here’s how you go about holding folks accountable. Here’s how you go about ensuring that you’ve got outcomes. Here’s how you go about ensuring that to understand consequences and here it is in a spreadsheet.
We would roll that out to folks and they would continue to use that spreadsheet and eventually we got to the point – you know, after being in business a certain number of years, you get to a point where your clients are still your clients and they hit you back and they’re like, “You know, the spreadsheet is getting broken. I’ve got so many tabs. I’ve got so many employees. I’ve got people who have come and gone. I’ve got people who have been promoted. I need a better way of managing. Can’t you do something better than a spreadsheet?”
And you know, what better pull or push to get someone to create software than from a nice corpus of your client base telling you that they need something more? And that’s really where CoachCRM was born.
David Dulany: That’s interesting. So for the product developers out there, if you hear my spreadsheet is broken, you know, that should make you think. OK.
Hilmon Sorey: It’s part of our mantra, David. Even from a management perspective, when we go in and do something called a “sales effectiveness assessment” where we’re looking at strategy systems, staff and skills in an organization, when we look at systems, what we often say is like, “Why do you have such poor utilization here?”
Well, you’ve got poor utilization because you’ve over-engineered the tool. Like break the spreadsheet first. Do an analog to the extent that you can. Understand your process. Get a process that works and then exceed the utility of a spreadsheet before you go investing in sales tech. I know that’s going to make some people very angry that are in that diagram that you created. Seven thousand sales and marketing automation tools. But …
David Dulany: Only 500. I’m talking about the market map.
Hilmon Sorey: Yeah, the market map. That’s it, yeah. But really …
David Dulany: Well, it’s funny. It just makes me think because we’re a small company and the renewal came up for Salesforce.com and so the finance guy here at Tenbound was like, “You know, you could run this in a spreadsheet. You could save a lot of money,” and I go …
Hilmon Sorey: That’s it.
David Dulany: Oh, man. It’s hard to go back when you have …
Hilmon Sorey: It is hard to go back. It’s hard to go back.
David Dulany: It’s a great system and it’s like let’s go back to a spreadsheet but when you get that big bill, you’re like …
Hilmon Sorey: I will consider it, right?
David Dulany: Yeah, but that would break pretty quick. By the way, as you – you know, you’re rattling off all this stuff Hilmon. You guys have written like six books about this.
Hilmon Sorey: Eight.
David Dulany: Eight. OK, sorry.
Hilmon Sorey: Yeah. Yeah. I guess I need to ship you two
David Dulany: Yeah, dude. I mean – and everybody that – you have to read these books. I mean they’re very practical and you can tell that because of your work hands-on over the years with real sales and marketing challenges, that it’s not a bunch of fluff and theory. It’s like this – here’s exactly what we’ve seen be successful in coaching for example.
Hilmon Sorey: Yeah, it’s our big mantra there is we look at it like open sourcing. We’re like let’s just open the kimono. Not everybody can afford to work with ClozeLoop and not everybody is going to be a software customer. But everybody should understand what these practices are, where they came from and how they’ve been proven out and then make a determination around whether or not this is something that could be impactful in their organization.
So we have literally – we publish what we have proven, right? That’s our mantra and we publish it in a no-fluff way so that someone can take a book and get through it. In an airplane trip, that’s kind of our barometer, right? Can you fly cross-country, learn something and go buy it when you land, right?
David Dulany: Nice, OK.
Hilmon Sorey: And be able to take those things and move the needle. That’s the goal.
David Dulany: Yeah, yeah, and I think people, you know, they’re hesitant to like buy business books in general because they’re just like, oh, it’s another high level fluff that I can’t actually use.
Hilmon Sorey: Three pages of value, right?
David Dulany: Yeah. I mean it could be condensed down to like a blog post but with – your guys, it’s different. So it’s highly recommended that we check that out.
Another thing that made me think about what you’re doing is, you know, in the really old days and you said telemarketer. So I know that you’re with …
Hilmon Sorey: I’m really old, yes.
David Dulany: Yeah. So sales coaching was like if you’ve seen Tommy Boy or The Office, like the sales manager and the sales rep would drive out to the location, do the sales call and then drive back to the office and the coaching took place throughout that process as they were getting donuts and coffee and stuff and driving together.
I think it’s hard to replicate that in our digital environment. Just as you said, there are so many inputs and pieces of information. It’s like – it feels like people get kind of overwhelmed.
Hilmon Sorey: You know what’s interesting about that? I thought long and hard about this because we work with so many different types of teams and typically the SDR teams are a little younger in age. It might be closer to Gen Z and you got Gen Alpha coming along now. My kid is actually out there in her first job doing some stuff which is terrifying, terrifying and gratifying at the same time for obvious reasons. But here’s a thing that I’ve come to realize.
We may think of it – and I’m going to call out to you here, David. I’m going to pull you in to my age group. Make some assumptions, right? We may think of it that way. We may be thinking it’s difficult because you don’t have that high tough. You don’t have that managed by walking around where everybody gets to hear a conversation and you stop by and you go, you know, “That was really good. But you got to do this thing over here,” or you hear Jennifer across the way say something that’s really gold.
There’s certainly value in that and I will tell you that there’s a generation that has never had that kind of exposure and has lived with a phone in their hand, has lived with a screen in front of them and has navigated to the best of their own ability into a place inside of your office – well, maybe not literally inside your office but at least inside of your company without ever having that.
So the sooner we’re able to kind of divorce ourselves of the idea of what was was better and realize that what is is what is, then we get to a point – and the onus is on us in management. You know, one of the first things that I said in starting the conversation was it was a me problem, a managing piece, right? So if we take ownership of that and realize, wow, we do have a decentralized workforce, we do have focus on either hybrid or remote or maybe they’re in the office, whatever the situation might be, we do have technology we can leverage.
I need to learn what the pieces were that were most critical because it wasn’t the doughnuts and it wasn’t necessarily the car ride. It was the storytelling that maybe took place in the car on the way to Dunder Mifflin’s next meeting, right? It was the ability of someone to witness what you’re doing, right? Which is still not the best way to train somebody. Like watch what I do and then go do it kind of a thing but there’s a certain level of emulation and then really being able to break that rubric into its parts that allow you to be effective in getting someone where they need to be in an organization.
I will tell you this. If you want to go thin and agile on a tech stack for any sales organization, I say go heavy on a learning management system where you can actually invest in owning your own training in a way that has got space repetition, reinforcement, certification and I don’t mean like the talking head videos of like the old sexual harassment videos and …
David Dulany: Oh god.
Hilmon Sorey: I mean you remember this, right? They’re still out there on YouTube by the way. I mean good training that’s really leveraging stuff and not just full-on gamification where it’s all fluff, right? You got to work with somebody who understands how to train people. Then you go heavy on coaching, on a coaching platform that is built for managers to be able to coach one to many, be able to track challenges, understand how to move those challenges through resolution, engages enablement and leadership in the process of imbuing the manager with a guidance and with the training that they need to be impactful as managers because that’s a critical piece too, right?
That rolls downhill to the actual IC and the individual rep and then holds the rep accountable to activity that’s going to move the needle and tracks their performance and the CRM, right? Where you’re actually tracking deal performance which is your output of the production. Those three things when done well and in concert and thoughtfully considered can significantly move the needle on performance for a team.
David Dulany: Well, it’s interesting because one thing you mentioned leveraging the manager and how underutilized that resource is that I see out there and that they don’t have a lot of guidance and structure on how to coach and how to be effective in that way. It just makes me think – this is totally off-topic but Chick-fil-A pays like 100 grand for a great manager at one of their stores or more because I think that they realize that the leverage points of those stores is an amazing general manager and – you know what I mean? Yeah.
Hilmon Sorey: Absolutely. McDonald’s, any – I mean you think of – I spent some time in retail and like the retail management track was a fairly highly compensated track where they understood and there was manager development because they understood that was critical to the proliferation of their stores to quality assurance, to the retention and attraction of employees. I mean that’s the whole thing.
It’s so interesting that’s we cut our nose off despite our face in sales management often by either promoting salespeople to – you know, their Peter principle to their position of least knowledge and competence, right? So that does two things. It takes an awesome salesperson off the sales floor because Hilmon was great at sales and now we’re going to make him manager because we’re going to keep him and we want more people like him but we’re not going to train him how to manage. We’re also going to get rid of his quota number that he was hitting really well and put him in an office somewhere where he’s tracking down some other thing.
I mean it’s just so counterintuitive and very seldom do you find organizations that have really clear rigor around not just the coaching piece but the whole management trajectory which could be account – I’m sorry, accountability. It could be leadership. It could be understanding how to articulate vision down to your team from a high level strategy, understanding how to hire people, how to retain people, how to coach people. You know, all of these types of things that are critical in a management construct. I mean there’s a reason why Fortune 500 companies are so successful when we spend so much – so many dollars and so many resources in ensuring that frontline managers and all the way up to high level executive leadership are consistently trained inside the organization on whatever that organizational philosophy is.
David Dulany: Yeah, that is so true. Yeah.
Hilmon Sorey: And a lot of times one of the challenges is we’re moving at the speed of light if we’re talking about technology companies. If we’re talking about venture-funded technology companies, there’s not a lot of time to be thoughtfully considered in how you go about doing this. That’s where – you know, this sounds a little self-serving but that’s where you got to leverage an expert who has been doing this across multiple industries and has a lot of experience at this and can help you build what you need and pattern-matched towards where there has been some previous success rather than you out there trying to reinvent the wheel and losing great people in the process or missing targets.
David Dulany: Oh, 100 percent, yeah, and CloseLoop is still thriving, right? It’s still going.
Hilmon Sorey: Yeah. Oh, yeah.
David Dulany: So you got your whole advisory team on that end and then getting this intel into the CoachCRM to continue to build the product, yeah.
Hilmon Sorey: One informs the other, for sure.
David Dulany: Yeah.
Hilmon Sorey: Absolutely
David Dulany: It’s great and it’s interesting because, you know, a great platoon – you can have a great platoon but if you don’t have a great sergeant, they could be completely – you couldn’t imagine if a platoon didn’t have a great sergeant, you know.
Hilmon Sorey: You want to know what’s interesting about that analogy, David? So back to that story I shared where it was a me problem and they let me go because of it. Do you know what the parting words were of my CEO? He said, “Hilmon, this …” He actually said this with tears. He’s like, “I hate to let you go. But I need a sergeant, not another general.” That was his feedback and I was like – first I was like, “What the heck does that mean?” Right?
David Dulany: Yeah.
Hilmon Sorey: And then I pieced it together and it was absolutely the – I was not a leader of people at the time. I hadn’t developed those chops yet. I was instead very high level, strategic and I can do some things on my own. But I was not making my team better, yeah.
David Dulany: That’s funny. In the meltdown in 2008, 2009, our VP of sales came in at the company I was working with and he gave this kind of state of the union speech and he said, “We really need to focus on what we can control and let the rest go.”
We were just like, “Dude, whatever,” you know. But that fast forward like 20 years and I realized that’s a quote from Marcus Aurelius.
Hilmon Sorey: Oh, yeah.
David Dulany: A great stoic philosopher.
Hilmon Sorey: Absolutely.
David Dulany: And it’s one of the most useful things that you can think of. But at the time, this student has to be ready for the learning.
Hilmon Sorey: Isn’t that the truth? Absolutely. I wish I was ready when I was 22 but I had scraped some knees along the way.
David Dulany: I know. You got to learn at your own pace. It’s so frustrating because by the time you gain a little bit of wisdom, it’s like, OK, now retire and go …
Hilmon Sorey: … the pasture. That’s right.
David Dulany: You’re done, you’re done. So no, it’s interesting though. Just I think – like I always think if you had a magic wand and say you got some venture funding and you needed to put together a sales team. These days, the conventional wisdom is just hire like five AEs and an SDR to support that and they’re off to the races. But it would be better if you – say you had four head count that you hired a rev ops person, a coach, an enablement person and then an SDR and an AE. It’s like …
Hilmon Sorey: That will scale.
David Dulany: Yeah. You know what I mean? And then build the foundation and then add the individuals back into that.
Hilmon Sorey: You know what’s very interesting about that, we work with a lot of private equity firms as well and what we’re hearing from them is they are taking that piece. They understand the importance of it and they also understand – and obviously they have a different growth curve than with a venture-backed company. But they understand that piece and they’re building it in and that’s a place where we’re supporting them with frameworks and with rubrics and with metrics and with assessment tools and things like that that they can use.
But they find it so critically important and difficult to impress upon a CEO of a software company that’s growing that yeah, you know, put the money in rev ops and a coach instead of in these three heavy-hitting AEs and an SDR. Difficult argument to be made but, you know, again let’s go back to the spreadsheet. Put some of this stuff into a spreadsheet. See how things scale and don’t do the lemming mentality of just following what companies did 10 years ago because that was the path and you might be surprised.
David Dulany: Yeah, and it’s kind of like – you know, if there’s like a bell curve of just all the different aspects that come into great salespeople. You’re kind of the tail end as the A player who – there’s going to be an A player no matter – if you’ve got like two sticks and a rock or something. They will make it happen. But then the meaty part is like your average – your B and C players. It’s like that’s the meaty part of a population.
So if you don’t have the infrastructure set up to help them, then I think you’re just setting – kind of you’re setting yourself up for disappointment because they’re just not going to have the resources to be able to do the job well.
Hilmon Sorey: I think that’s true and I think it’s not sexy. You know, apologies to the rev ops, sales ops and enablement people out there. I’m sure you’re sexy in your married home but not sexy on paper whereas you could say if I get – you know, if I’ve got this time that I need to address, then I’ve got these number of reps who I’m going to partition based upon this attribution of potential revenue and that looks real, right?
It takes a little more horsepower, you know, in your mind to be able to figure out what the contribution to revenue is of having folks who are in these operations roles and support roles that actually provide and grease the skids for those sellers. Yeah.
David Dulany: Yeah, and if you go on to – I call it like “YouTube University” because it’s pretty much where I learned stuff.
Hilmon Sorey: Yeah.
David Dulany: You can go on to YouTube and you find like a very successful CEO who had a huge IPO. Now he’s a VC and he’s giving a talk at a conference about how to set up your go-to market engine. If you just got some funding, they’re going to say – they’re going to kind of map, OK, here’s how many SDRs you should get and here’s how many AEs and here’s what you should expect and stuff like that.
So there’s just sort of a knowledge gap of what it actually takes to run a really successful go-to market team which you’re addressing with coach based on what you’ve seen at ClozeLoop.
Hilmon Sorey: Absolutely. I mean some of the early results that we’ve had with CoachCRM early clients, there are three facets to the software itself. It’s the playbook, the clipboard and then there’s a piece that’s the university. The clipboard is really where all the action and activity takes place and where we hold folks accountable and just through the use of a clipboard, we had one client resolve every pick, every performance improvement plan inside of a month and you just think of what kind of continued impact that that has.
It’s just about keeping everything in one place, having absolute consistency, having absolute clarity, ensuring that folks are focused on what should be resolved and creating a space where a manager can go to as a repository to check out that activity.
Another team used the playbook really effectively in an organization that had a team of account execs that were pretty junior. Also had a team of frontline managers who had been promoted from being account executives that they had not been in this role before. Well, sales enablement came in, leveraged the playbook in a way that would allow for leadership and sales enablement to inform the managers around, OK, here’s what we’re doing strategically.
Here’s how this looks tactically in execution and here are ways we can help you to support your team either with resources or with specific concepts around how you go about training the team and do certain things or holding them accountable to the metrics that matter.
A lot of times that’s the challenge for frontline management. I know it was the challenge I was experiencing, that I was struggling years ago in managing a team. I didn’t know what lever to pull. There are so many things in sales. There are so many variables. It could be how you started a conversation. It’s your discovery. It’s your demo. It’s how you presented the demo. It’s who you talk to. It’s your follow-up. It’s your – I mean it could be a million things and really good managers know the throughput.
They’re like, “Oh, no, no, no. You just don’t ask campaign questions. You could skip all this other stuff but you will get people engaged in your process if you help then uncover that they’ve got a problem that needs resolution.” Right? So when you’re able to do that and it does take some chops and some gray hair or some no hair to get there, pull in those resources from your org to be able to support you in the form of this playbook and the resources could be up here. It could be someone who’s sitting right – figuratively sitting right next to you that has been at this a little longer than you.
So that’s where a playbook actually helped this organization to get folks for the first time hitting their numbers across the org. That was all led by the enablement team and then there’s another place where folks dropped into the university some opportunities to create real clear plays, real clear training from management that was point solution as opposed to boiling the ocean and saying, “Here’s your management training.”
Instead here’s how we’re going to train you on how to roll out this specific product and instead of us just pulling everybody offline for a town hall and product marketing going, “Here’s the new thing and it’s swifter, faster, stronger, lighter, better, stronger,” and then go back and sell it, they said, “No, here’s the real impact to our ICP and here’s how we can train and reinforce this to the team, roll this out and here are the challenges that we’re going to be looking for.”
So we’ve had – we’re early days with this but we’ve had some real significant activity and impact already evidenced from folks using CoachCRM. So we’re hopeful that we’re onto something that’s a unique tool, the first tool expressly for management and leadership as opposed to being a yoke around their neck that they need to go chase down and sit and listen to call recordings all weekend long;
David Dulany: Right.
Hilmon Sorey: Those types of things, yeah.
David Dulany: That’s amazing. So a couple of questions there. So the first example that you gave, resolving the PIP. When I think of resolving the PIP, it’s like the guy got fired. So …
Hilmon Sorey: I know, right? Because that’s what usually happens. A PIP usually is just like a foregoing conclusion.
David Dulany: Yeah, OK. So – and it’s interesting because when somebody – if you’re a sales manager and somebody had put on a PIP, it’s kind of like you’re being shown the door to some extent because you’re not making it. But what you’re saying is they plugged in the data and use CoachCRM and was able to get the person resolved on the PIP in a positive way.
Hilmon Sorey: Absolutely and it was our goal. We said, look, you got these folks sitting on the PIP. They’re still in the organization. Let’s not just forget about them completely. What is it? What is the challenge? What are they not realizing? Because here’s what we have to realize. Again it’s often a manager problem, right? It’s often I’m not holding someone accountable or I haven’t trained someone and imbued them with the skills or I haven’t shown them the things that they need to be doing or I’m not – whatever it might be. So we said, “How do we create some alignment here through software?”
So this isn’t you spending an hour and a half with Hilmon because he’s failing every week because that’s a recipe for disaster. You don’t necessarily want to do that. But what can we do to potentially impact this individual’s success? And we help them through our training. We help them narrow focus on what the challenges were and help them move those challenges toward resolution. And what’s better than keeping an employee – I mean you think about what that does to team morale. Think about what that does for that employee. Think about what that does for that manager.
Our goal is to make managers heroes. So many managers get the raw end of the stick. Is that a thing? I don’t know. They get something bad.
David Dulany: The very short end.
Hilmon Sorey: The short end.
David Dulany: Yeah.
Hilmon Sorey: Well, it’s the raw end. There’s a raw end of something that’s …
David Dulany: The raw end of the deal or something. I don’t know. Something like that.
Hilmon Sorey: That’s it, that’s it.
David Dulany: Yeah.
Hilmon Sorey: They get a raw deal at the short end of a stick. There we go.
David Dulany: It’s so true. It has got to be one of the hardest jobs. I mean …
Hilmon Sorey: It’s totally and here’s the thing. The things that they do that are highly impactful, the things that really good managers do, they’re inside of a black box. You don’t need to hear the conversation David had with Hilmon to help him to get his head back in the game or to coach him on how better to do something.
You don’t get that. Well, in CoachCRM, those conversations are tracked and so two things happen. One, it absolutely impacts the IC. It absolutely impacts the rep. But here’s the other little secret. It rolls up to leadership where that manager now gets spotlighted for being someone who is actively coaching, who’s coaching the right things, who is moving things toward resolution just like your opportunity CRM, just like your sales CRM does.
It moves things through a Kanban level of resolution and wow, now suddenly a manager is getting accolades and leadership gets to see with transparency how their strategic vision is being tactically executed throughout the organization. Really powerful …
David Dulany: That’s amazing and the other one I wanted to highlight is you said in the second example that sales enablement came in and sometimes you get kind of eye rolls from the sales team when sales enablement comes in …
Hilmon Sorey: What? What are you talking about?
David Dulany: I thought that – I haven’t been in the corporate world for a long time but I just remember it’s kind of like Jack Nicholson when he was being interrogated in the movie and he’s like, “You can’t handle the truth,” you know.
Hilmon Sorey: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. There you go.
David Dulany: There’s sort of that separation of I’m a sales rep and now I’ve got these people coming in and telling me how I should perform and stuff like that. So when – and that’s not at every company. But how do you get over that sort of standoff between OK, here we go with sales enablement again?
Hilmon Sorey: Yeah. I will tell you, the easiest way to do that is to be impactful. I know that sounds dumb but truly when we work with sales enablement, we tell these folks that you should be the internal consultant. Your job is to be able to understand where the gaps are, to be constantly assessing and evaluating and to be leveraging the relationships that you have because seldom do they have direct reports or direct authority over the sales team. They need to leverage relationships to ensure that they’re moving the needle on the things that have been identified as performance challenges or critical for the business.
I will tell you this. I have never met a salesperson who turns their back on someone who has helped them to be successful. So the goal there, a lot of times, sales enablement becomes special projects for you. It’s like, oh, we need content on so and so. So the sales team like goes running around, Googling some things, comes back with something and presents it in a PowerPoint, close the whole team off and nobody ever uses it, right?
Well, that was a misalignment of what sales enablement should be doing. You need sales enablement to be at the table in those critical discussions around where we need the team to go and if it is a piece of content, if it is a piece of training, if it is some level of coaching, whatever it might be, sales enablement needs to be at the forefront of ensuring that the IC is getting benefit, tangible benefit and then they need to make know that that has happened.
A lot of times there’s a lack of follow-through that these initiatives that sales enablement has run have actually had an impact. That you weren’t just put on this treadmill to go running because sales enablement said so. But instead, this actually correlated to your 120 percent attainment of goal, right?
So all of these pieces are critical. It just requires clear definition out of the gate, buy-in, right? And you get that buy-in when you’re impactful.
David Dulany: Yeah. Well, I think it’s interesting because if you’re in sales, it’s like you either made your number or not. But in sales enablement, it’s like you’ve got plausible deniability because like hey man, you guys told me to do this and …
Hilmon Sorey: I gave it to you.
David Dulany: Yeah. I mean I …
Hilmon Sorey: I don’t even know what to do on the call. Yeah, yeah.
David Dulany: But I think you got to have an attitude that it’s – my role has to be tied to the business objectives and I’m not just like a special project person running around and responding to whatever the VP of sales wants. It has to be more strategic for good or bad. You know, if you make the number, then you celebrate and if you don’t, then yeah, you’re in trouble too.
Hilmon Sorey: That’s right.
David Dulany: The sales enablement. Then this – the last quick thing is the third example, it was funny. The product marketing comes in and they’ve got this bank thing and it’s kind of a meme. You know, that this group of like thick Coke bottle glasses, their button is all the way up to the top.
Hilmon Sorey: That’s right, that’s right.
David Dulany: I just remember – and again things might have changed over the years. But I just remember those meetings where you’re just like, “What is this guy talking about?”
Hilmon Sorey: Why was this thing built? What is this feature for? You’re making what percentage of a revenue on this?
David Dulany: Yeah. I mean – and, you know, working with product marketing and sales is – it’s just like Venus and Mars kind of sometimes where it’s like, “Really? What?” you know.
Hilmon Sorey: That should be our next …
David Dulany: So how do you close that gap so that they can actually can give something that’s useful and then you can coach to it?
Hilmon Sorey: So we’ve got frameworks. I wouldn’t put the onus on them to give you something that’s useful. I think that the onus is on sales and maybe sales enablement to do some kind of translation. You know what I mean?
David Dulany: Yeah.
Hilmon Sorey: It’s this way. I’m thinking of – my wife is Persian and I remember when I – after she accepted my marriage proposal, I had to propose to her parents who were actually in Iran and I did not speak Farsi at the time. I do now, right?
So we’re doing this thing and she can translate on the fly. She’s an English professor. So I’m saying these things and she’s translating on the fly. I’m sure she did not translate verbatim what I said because it would have not been culturally-appropriate necessarily. There are certain rules of engagement for lack of a better term. There are certain levels of respect and things that I’m supposed to be imparting.
So she translated that on the fly. The onus was not on me to articulate this to them, right? It’s almost the same analogy. So when product comes with their domain of expertise, this is what we’ve done. We’ve listened to the customer. We’ve built this thing. We looked at the marketplace. We understand this is where it fits and this is what it’s going to do.
Well, sales has to do this and of course ClozeLoop has frameworks for this stuff. Sales has to do this thing of being able to sit through that and say, “OK. Feature, benefit understood.” I don’t go and sell features and benefits. What I do is I solve problems. So how do I take that and understand what problem someone would have to have today to care about this feature and benefit? So I can actually use real language with a prospect as opposed to talking again about how we’re swifter, faster, stronger lighter, better, stronger, right?
So that’s the key and if you – instead of the expectation being that product, it’s going to also understand how to talk to the prospect. If instead we say, “Great. They’re going to do their job really well and we’re going to do our job really well,” and we work together from that construct, you can have a more impactful, less friction-based or less confrontational relationship around the org and then, you know, that ties to marketing as well.
Marketing’s breadth is getting even more personal now with things like social and with other things that they might be doing and leveraging intent data that’s on a one-to-one basis and yet and still their goal is higher level inspiration of thought leadership and helping folks to understand where they are on that level of awareness, right? Whether or not they’ve got solution awareness, problem awareness or company awareness, these sorts of things. That’s kind of where the doctrine lies. So their messages are seldom as acute as a message would be when you’re talking to your target ICP as an individual who’s actually experiencing pain in their job to be done.
So again you leverage these same types of frameworks to be able to understand, well, marketing has got a job and we’ve got a job and the messages need to be aligned so that someone doesn’t engage in marketing material and then have a conversation with Hilmon and they’re totally disparate and not speaking to the same issue. But a lot of this stuff is done through the leverage of frameworks and clear understanding of what everyone’s role is.
David Dulany: Yeah, it’s interesting and this is just – this is going to be the topic of our next podcast. But how do you – you know, nobody likes to admit that they have a problem and so you know that there’s a lot of people in your target market that have a problem and you know for a fact that you could help solve it and hopefully, you know. That’s kind of step one. But how do you go about digging out if they’ve got a problem and they’re willing to admit it to you?
Hilmon Sorey: Yeah. I think that just goes back to basic sales of understanding how to leverage social proof, right? And being able to put people in a position where you’re creating a safe space through rapport and rapport is not, “Hey, what’s the weather in Austin?” and oh yeah, you moved from San Francisco. Are you still a Giants fan?
Like, you know, that’s not rapport building. That’s just banter which is fine. It’s part of the human connection, right? But don’t believe that you’re creating a trusted advisor relationship by lurking through someone’s LinkedIn and reflecting the things that you found, right? But if you’re leveraging things like SCALE, it’s something that we teach in triangle selling, which stands for status, certainty, autonomy, likeness and equity.
If you’re maintaining these things in your conversations with folks and just from the status perspective, I understand if I asked David, who does not know me, a direct question about, “Hey, so are you struggling with top of funnel at Tenbound?” he doesn’t know me and that’s a threat.
Why would David possibly say, “Yeah, top of funnel has completely dried up over the course of the summer and we’re going into this recession. I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do come January.”
You’re not going to tell – he’s not going to share that with me because that’s too vulnerable, right? But I could say to you, “Hey, David. We’re working with organizations similar to Tenbound and folks who are in a CEO role who had really strong sales and truly understand the sales profession,” and what they found is that right now, because the economy has shifted, a lot of what they knew to be true before has dried up a little bit and the top of funnel doesn’t look like it used to.
I don’t suppose any of this stuff is happening over at Tenbound right now, is it? Now, if you’ve got that problem, I’m not saying silver bullet, you’re suddenly going to confess and lay on the operating table and say, you know, “Cut me open. Yes, of course it’s my problem.” But I’ve reflected in a way where I’ve given you some social proof that there might be some people who are just like you, who I’m working with, who are experiencing this problem and here’s your chance.
If you want to share with me that you’re like some of these people, then we can actually have an open conversation and that’s one technique for how you go about reflecting these things and being able to create a safe space for an honest and transparent relationship.
David Dulany: I love that and that’s a good reminder. I have triangle selling. I can actually see it on my …
Hilmon Sorey: Ah!
David Dulany: So I need to go back and review the SCALE framework because that …
Hilmon Sorey: Please do.
David Dulany: That’s money right there and Hilmon, it’s funny. I mean you’ve probably forgotten more interesting and helpful information than I’ve ever learned in my life. So I want to keep the conversation going. I know that we’re going to be in Austin next week at the conference, the Evolve Sales Development Conference which is going to be awesome.
Hilmon Sorey: I’m looking forward to it.
David Dulany: And then you must have a lot of other webinars and podcasts out there. What’s the best way if people want to follow you and keep digging into your knowledge that they can get in touch?
Hilmon Sorey: Yeah. I would love for folks to connect with me on LinkedIn. My InMail box is – I want to say it’s the greatest hygiene but I do get to it at least twice a week.
David Dulany: OK.
Hilmon Sorey: And I’m happy to hop into a conversation. I’m happy to chat with folks about either CoachCRM or ClozeLoop or any of those things that you – like you said, I may have forgotten, that I’ve dusted off and then right now if anybody is interested, if the CoachCRM piece sounds interesting, hit coachcrm.com/startnow and you can hop into a free trial there and check out the software. Take it for a spin. We would love to hear your feedback and we’re really committed to driving performance for teams. So we’re heavy on providing professional services and getting folks up and running and helping them support their coaching function.
We just think it’s a critical need in the organization that has such a win-win, win-win-win all the way around. So I can do that as well.
David Dulany: Yeah, that’s amazing. OK. I’m signing up for “start now” and you mentioned something that people should think about is that professional services is really hard and not a lot of software companies even have a professional services arm. So they sell you the software and hey, good luck with that.
Hilmon Sorey: Yeah, yeah.
David Dulany: And so having ClozeLoop as your arm to help implement it and really activate it is an amazing advantage.
Hilmon Sorey: We think so. Our clients have really benefited from it. We enjoy doing it and it lock-stepped with our full compendium of knowledge. So we do what we can.
David Dulany: Amazing. OK. Hilmon, thank you for coming on and being a part of The Sales Development Podcast and we will see you over at CoachCRM.
Hilmon Sorey: I can’t wait to come to the conference. Thanks for having me David. It’s always a blast.
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