Javaid Iqbal, digital futurist, C-suite advisor on customer innovation, inspirational speaker and educator, longtime consulting executive with big five, a former customer engagement and success leader at Salesforce.com, and now, co-founder of a digital transformation consultancy focusing on innovation in the customer space. In this podcast, we dive into the ever-evolving expectations and needs of our buyers in the digital world.
Andy Paul 0:56
Hello and welcome to the Sales Enablement Podcast. I’m excited to be joined by my guest today. Joining me is Javaid Iqbal. He’s the digital futurist C suite advisor on customer innovation, inspirational speaker and educator, a longtime consulting executive with Big Five former customer engagement and success leader at salesforce.com and now co-founder of a digital transformation consultancy focusing on innovation in the customer space. So, Javaid, welcome to the podcast.
Javaid Iqbal 1:48
Thanks for having me, Andy.
Andy Paul 1:57
So take a minute, introduce yourself. Give more depth about how you got started and how you ended up where you are now.
Javaid Iqbal 2:04
Absolutely. So an interesting journey out of college, I was recruited by Ernst and Young in their consulting practice. And very soon I found myself sort of being asked to be sort of recruited by other consultancies as well And then when I was at PwC, IBM came shopping for them as well. So I said, Well, this is an interesting sort of thing that’s happening at that time. I then started some consultancies in the customer space and supply chain space, and so forth. And interestingly, I was asked to start teaching some courses in the customer space CRM and so forth, and reached out to Salesforce to help me sort of build a curriculum around the next generation of CRM. And as I was sort of talking to them, they came back and they said, well, why don’t you come join us? And here we are, many years later on to the next journey into the next journey and into the future.
Andy Paul 3:37
So what are the biggest challenges? So first off and on the show, we’re talking about everything from the seller side. So let’s look at things from the buyer side. So one of the biggest digital transformation challenges for customers is for our buyers.
Javaid Iqbal 3:58
Absolutely. So at the end of the day, customers are humans, right. And as things are evolving in sort of our day to day lives, we’re relying a lot on technologies, especially the mobile side of things and so forth. And that has changed the dynamic on how we learn, and more importantly, how we buy things. And customers have never had this kind of power in the history of industry, where, you know, they’re armed and equipped with the kind of information to go and demand certain services. And as that situation continues to evolve, it’s increasingly getting harder and they keep, you know, raising the bar for the corporations that the governments that, you know, are innovating for them. Consumption of this innovation, whether it’s coming from a technology or a product or a service, all that is continually being tested by the evolution of the human In the space of technology as well, and it’s staggering, it’s exciting. It’s keeping everybody on their toes as well. And when one example I always give on this is, in my talks is a six year old girl and this is a true example, a story that a colleague of mine told us of my days at Salesforce, he was sitting in his basement doing some work on a Sunday morning. And his daughter came and sat next to him on the sofa and said, you know, after 30 seconds of just sitting there said, Dad, why isn’t this TV turning on? And he said, Well, honey, you have to turn this TV on to turn it on and she said no, it shouldn’t, I’m here. It’s your turn on by itself. So what I asked my, my audiences in my in my customers is, are you ready for this six year old girl to be your customer and that sends some scary waves around and it’s interesting
Andy Paul 5:59
Yeah, her mother was sleeping and she picked up her mother’s iPhone and pressed her sleeping mother’s thumb against the button life on turn on an order like $16 from Amazon. quickly how quickly they’re picking this up, right?
Javaid Iqbal 6:33
Well, not only do they not only think about it this way, the consumption of technology is starting to become very easy in certain ways. And you know, the security part that you’re sort of marginally referring to is a is a whole can of worms. You know, that’s a long conversation in itself. But this five year old as a six year old or the five year old that you’re talking about are corrupted by, you know, googling something and requiring an answer right there. But what they know is that it’s very doable with just a few scans and a thumbs up and so forth. And they’re embracing the digital world so much quickly because they haven’t experienced all this in the physical world, right. And then the collaboration between the digital world and the physical world where a lot of this is happening is where the magic happens. And these five year olds are ever so ready, and are continuing to raise the bar on where, you know, people or companies would have to sort of meet them where they are in terms of their expectations. It’s marginally scary as well.
Andy Paul 7:50
It is marginally scary, but you know, you spend a lot of time talking about your work, you’re working with the customer experience, the buying experience. Certainly that was one of the themes of dreamforce this past fall interestingly, this there was a lot of talk right now about.
Javaid Iqbal 8:06
Andy Paul 8:08
I’m one of the people talking about it. I didn’t originate. This is that we’re seeing sort of a little bit of a push back here. Having looked out a little bit into the future where people say, Okay, well, maybe we’ve, you know, don’t say gone too far too fast. But we really need to understand that there’s really a role for a human in this whole thing, right, especially between this buying and selling the transaction right now, there’s a lot that we can automate so much of it, but ultimately, in the day, it’s still a person making this decision. And so how are you seeing that factored into as you know, people do this digital transformation? We’ve got these new generations coming up that digital is not a new skill. It’s just what is right for them.
Javaid Iqbal 9:11
Exactly. And, you know, often where I see a lot of the salespeople that I coach and sort of work with, where they fail is they focus a lot on just trying to know the client, I know the VP of so and so and I know that this sense of so and so and eyeballs, but this guy and that gal, so forth, but what they don’t focus on is understanding that client’s needs. And those are two different things. Because they focus on just knowing somebody, or a slew of people that would sort of maybe need your service or your product and so forth, versus understanding what their pain points are, and so forth and bring in the right value. I mean, I always reference that this recent book, value as a service by Rob Bernstein. And, you know, for the readers that have not, or your viewers that have not sort of ventured into that I highly recommend that book. The adage is that you’re not just selling a service or product, you have to be selling value. And value sort of comes above execution. And where people sort of on both sides, whether it’s selling or buying, they focus a lot more on the execution part making the deal happen from a time perspective or a need perspective or so forth. But they’re not sort of seeing what value the overarching value is providing. And that’s where the whole as a service of the subscription model has really blossomed because it brought about a need for nurturing the success focused individuals, that we’re not just sort of going about and helping the customer experience. But they were embedding themselves into the success journey of the customer. And Salesforce, in many cases, cases even sort of pioneered this or at least made it popular. Were on the front end of a sales cycle. you’d bring in the success resources, who would talk about the vision, the strategy, the journey, and even coach the sales folks on what is it better to sell, when is it better to sell what and how what you sell will be consumed. And if it’s not consumed, it will not be retained, and hence, you’re going to have an attrition. So the whole cycle, you know, from a humanistic perspective, requires some sort of supervision with value or success in mind. And I think a lot of sales folks are sort of going about just focusing on making their numbers or not thinking the whole value part of it, which is where they’re failing.
Andy Paul 12:09
Yeah, I would agree. I mean, I started thinking about your comments about Salesforce sort of being the pioneer in this is, it’s certainly within the space. But the thing that’s sort of interesting is that, like a lot of things that trends and things are supposedly new or innovative. So we see in sales these days that really sort of a repackaging of what’s been done before, but maybe done at a scale that perhaps was different because certainly the whole idea of customer success. I mean, I worked in a number of companies where we’re selling large enterprise products to large, very large enterprises. And we did just as you said, right from day one, we had our project manager as part of the sales team, which was imposed by the sales engineer, customer success, you know, engineering itself, whatever it took in order to help the customer navigate their way through the buying process. So that when the order was given there was a seamless transition to the success mode because that person had been integrated into the process the entire way. Right. And so I see this is sort of what we see today, which I think is really beneficial to customers as well as to companies is making that available enough technology make that available to a broader array of customers.
Javaid Iqbal 13:26
The process is never new. I think it’s more reimagining than repackaging. And the reason I say that is that you had people you know, embedded in the sales cycle up front, they were project managers or whoever were making sure that the sort of the sale happen, but the end to end the entire cycle of when the customer was acquired all the way till the end of the subsequent Through a very mechanized sort of vision, with metrics along the way that sort of guide you through the process didn’t exist. And what Salesforce came up with, which I thought was brilliant was this notion of an early warning system where your one if it’s a three year subscription, every quarter or every year, you go back your success people are focused to make sure that you know, all the warnings which are you know, the usage of the product, against people in companies in your industry and so forth. And there were so many other aspects of what came to the early warning system and so forth, were looked at throughout every stage of the process. And that ensured that the value that you have promised up front did not just dissipate or dissipate when you sell, sort of let them go after it was implemented in my way. That real journey begins then sure, that’s when they need hand holding and so forth. So, embedding this upfront and I’ve been sort of going to a lot of these and talking about customer success globally. Even at a place like Dubai and Singapore, where a lot of these notions are extremely new, these guys are still trying to figure out how this new technological advance and sales and others are going. And the value piece is a clear winner, in my opinion, that sometimes gets undermined just because they want to sell a product or make a number by a certain quarter or the year.
Andy Paul 15:47
Well, yeah, so I mean, there’s some reconciliation, I think that needs to be done between the two. Between the two, absolutely. So one question back on on digital transformation of customers before I complete that topic completely, as is also sort of seeing another sort of two different forces are banging up against each other a little bit, as, one hand we have this idea that the the buying committee, with some number of stakeholders involved, and that is somehow a trend that is, embedding itself more broadly and widely. And in our economy, both major enterprises, well, smaller companies, and certainly articulated in the challenger customer book, which is an excellent book, by the way. But then, on the other hand, I’ve been talking to more people recently saying, Well, yeah, that’s sort of true. But now we’re seeing as a result of these digital transformation efforts, we’re seeing new people coming into the C suite with very specific titles like Chief Digital Officer, Chief Transformation Officer, and so on. Who are perhaps trying to position themselves as that decision point as opposed to this broad committee. And people sort of thought for a while, you know, less effort, less attention needs to be paid to selling the C suite. Now, it seems like that’s coming back to the fore is that you need to spend as much attention on the C suite as well as with the committee, if maybe not more on the C suite than you did before.
Javaid Iqbal 17:23
You know, I recently was having a conversation with this CEO, who runs this major distribution company, and he was talking about how he’s hired a chief distribution of Chief disruption officer to sort of see the trends across industry and so forth. And, you know, I challenged him. I said, in many cases, you are the chief disruption officer, you are the chief customer officer and so forth. And you know, having sort of a committee to do that might not solve your problem. So I think what I’m seeing is as the enterprise gets flattened as roles get redefined. I mean, the adage that we’ve been sort of going towards that said that by 2017, CMOs will be spending more money on technology than CIOs. And we’re in 2017. Already that kind of shows that the power of buying is sort of being redefined and mystery redistributed to your point as well. And Ryan, the Chief Digital Officer, may be a great influencer on where it needs to go rather than the Chief Information Officer. You know, that kind of leads into another theory I have on blue collar versus white collar. It will talk about that another time.
Andy Paul 18:46
Javaid Iqbal 18:48
So I think as sellers, they also have to understand where the power really lies. I mean, if the vision of the company is going towards digital disruption, and the chief disruption officer is in some way influencing, if not just calling the shots, only, then you’ve got more stakeholders to sort of get to know and understand their needs, rather than, just one or two. So it’s a very interesting time on both sides buying and selling as this thing evolves from one state to another.
Andy Paul 19:43
Yeah, I love the idea of the chief disruption officer. I mean, that would be a cool job.
Javaid Iqbal 19:52
But you know, the definition in itself and the parameters are hard to define, though.
Andy Paul 19:58
Oh, yeah, we know that’s part of the beauty.
Javaid Iqbal 20:02
I mean, you could be a futurist and say, You know what, I’m the chief future officer. You never know that, right? But I was challenged by a CEO in front of a crowd once on sort of a mechanized way of going about, a digital strategy and the new stratosphere. And the question he had was, well, should I take a division sort of, make that all digital, and then sort of, replicated across and I said, Well, you know, you can’t just do this and just replicate. It’s a horizontal piece. And the more that you’re already late to the game if you don’t have a digital strategy and in 2017 Well, first of all, you know, that’s bad news. Sure, you should have thought about this earlier. The convergence of industry is the convergence of physical digital is sort of where it’s taken. And I call this the repeat of the y2k syndrome, where the CEO was like, what do we do with those two digits? Well, nothing happened between those two digits. But what do we do with this new digital thing? And people seem to be confused in the overarching way, which includes even buying the right tools. And it’s just the beginning. Because right now, there are social technologies that are sort of confusing them and so forth. Imagine when artificial intelligence is completely embedded in augmented technologies. It’s going to be a slew of things that if chief digital officer would be sitting pretty, because you continue to redefine the pose the goalpost that it’s like we’ll see next year
Andy Paul 21:39
And certainly, I think, somewhat caused perhaps by the term on the financial markets, it’s like, oh, my gosh, suddenly, we had all this dark fiber. And people thought, we’re never gonna have to lay fiber again in this country, right? Because we’ve got all this capacity and what that last, five years maybe or something like that, before the future overtakes it, and it seems like we’re sort of at another one of these really critical inflection points. So as you said, we’re digital’s fundamentally, I mean, it’s happened. We’ve seen it in industries, you know, Uber and Airbnb and so on. But it’s happening to the auto industry right now, this very capital intensive industry is becoming if you don’t have a digital strategy in the auto industry, you’re toast.
Javaid Iqbal 22:44
Absolutely, I mean, if you sort of start looking at Uber and I talked about this often as well. If you think about one Uber ride, one transaction of an Uber thing that you do, imagine the number of industries that converge to make that one transaction happen. You’ve got your finance and there, you’ve got the telecom and they’re the high tech, the transportation, you’ve got so many others as well. So the innovation at the intersections of these industries is where a lot of this magic is going to happen. And the handoffs are getting tougher.
Andy Paul 24:30
Oh, great. I want to spend some time on that. Because I think it’s made more complex by the fact of what you talked about is that you’re no longer selling in a silo either in the sense that you talked about just that Uber transaction, what there’s seven different impacts or industries that are impacted that you talk about, right? Well, you need to understand when you’re selling, but that more often than not, and more than ever before, what you’re selling is just a piece of something bigger and then You really have to understand how it integrates. And so you’re selling something beyond just your product or services. And I think that’s a real challenge for salespeople going forward . It’s hard enough, we always talk about these basic lessons about, lead with questions, don’t open your mouth and just do your pitch and so on. But think forward a few years that you talked about where increasingly what you’re selling is just a piece of an overall solution. And if you don’t really understand where it fits, and how it’s going to add value to the overall picture. You’re lost.
Javaid Iqbal 25:36
Absolutely. I mean, it’s like in a marathon you just set up to hand the baton to somebody else and they’re taking it over. And it’s the mechanism of the time that you handed that baton which will determine the victory at the end and it’s changing the dynamic of how the industry is being defined. I mean, the World Economic Forum is happening these days. The fourth industrial revolution is a big topic they talked about last year. And technologies are leapfrogging each of these sorts of divides. And the piece that you talked about is getting more and more complex. Because if you think about where the customer wants to meet you, are you to meet them within a structure of a structure. I mean, you think about gaming where you’re sort of, you know, you’ve got it, you’ve got the whole thing on, you’re playing a game and so forth. And all of a sudden, there’s an option to buy something within the game. So you buy that thing within the game or within an app, it’s an in app purchase, and so forth. So it’s one piece leading to the other leading to the other, lead with the other unless you’ve got the visionary mindset, and I call this the bartender versus the chef mindset, where in a bartender situation, when you walk up to a bar, you just tell them what you’re looking for, it’s typically some sort of an alcohol with a mixer and they sort of give it to you the transaction happened. But the chef tries to understand the restriction diet. You know, the kind of meals that you’re sort of privy to is that the right pairing of the wine and the palate cleanser and the whole thing. And unless you think about it in a chef sort of a mindset, you’re not going to be victorious in this very, sort of increasingly complex and very soon, which I call augmented selling world, not even the social setting. The authentic selling world is going to be a huge can of worms.
Andy Paul 27:56
So they’re gonna define augmented selling.
Javaid Iqbal 28:00
I recently read an article that there are a few companies that sort of help you in your buying journey through augmented reality, Lego is one where you sort of build the blocks and so forth. So if you sort of want to buy Lego for a city or you know, one of the towers or something like that, it is helping you to sort of frame your mind, help you build the right pieces, with a future in mind that you’ve got to sort of leave some space for this and that and when you’re making this buying decision. It’s like a connected journey, so to speak. So if you’re not going to be looking a few steps ahead. I need this right now. Purchases will be sort of harder because as this continues to sort of move forward you’ve got to be foundationally ready and agile to be in a world where you know like you said you own just one piece as part of a bigger piece.
Andy Paul 29:31
To my mind, one of the big trends coming up that people need to be watching is because yeah, like it’s it just doesn’t make sense the way we do it. And I’ve got this whole trend account based model getting count based everything, whatever you want to call it that, that more closely aligns sales and marketing together and how they targeted approach and capture business. And then you had the customer success part and you know, obviously on the retention side, but I look at it from the fact of service, it becomes more of a team approach to selling. Right now we’ve got a model that’s very much about sort of why called the hero based model, which is sales is the hero and in a rewarded accordingly, right, but in the world as we’re evolving, and it’s certainly as you described it, and certainly as I see it, even in the account based everything or count based revenue model. The sales is not necessarily the primary actor in all cases, responsible for closing the deal. And it’s a real challenge for salespeople to become the challenge for managers as they look at how they constitute their teams and how they compensate teams in order to keep people motivated.
Javaid Iqbal 31:10
But I think as the function in itself gets redefined, as these lines of sales service and marketing get blurred, and you know, upcoming comes in the way I look at things on the customer acquisition and the customer retention piece. I think that just changes the game. Because up until now it’s been on acquisition. That’s where the salespeople have been paid for. That’s where the hunting happens and so forth. But more increasingly is that these hunting farmers are sort of bringing in bigger deals because they understand the value and they can bring the value as well. So the retention, which sort of helps you even sell more at the end of the subscription, becomes your sales team.
Andy Paul 32:45
I understood based on something I heard at a conference last year that someone said at the sastra conference, which is almost coming up here, as we record this in January of 2017, but got the 2016 status conference, I think already at that point, so I made the comment in a panel that customer success was responsible for more revenue than new business development teams.
Javaid Iqbal 33:11
Absolutely, because Customer Success is understanding the needs, they are in it. They’re not just people who have bad status because they are there to sort of schmooze the customer. They’re there for the whole year. So one of the things that Salesforce did, I’ll give you an example of that was the whole concept of an advisor for the cloud. Digital’s sort of native was so new that a lot of our customers were having trouble going out there in the field and finding people that they could hire as well. So Salesforce came up with a concept of a program architect, that sort of is sold as a person for the whole year, which helps them sort of bring about the whole strategy. You’ve got a dedicated or a designated person, depending on which way you go. But during that one year, not only do you sort of sort of handhold them through the process, but you also help them get the right person to replace you after you’ve left, that could take the baton from you from the customer side, and take it forward. So it’s that kind of commitment. It’s that kind of sort of deep rooted focus that is going to be required going forward, especially in larger organizations that are sitting with these various types of systems and the way I look at them and you know, I’ve sort of had conversations at length with the different types of systems that are systems of record systems of engagement, systems of collaboration and systems of innovation. And people actually don’t know the differences between them. Most of these big corporations don’t even have enterprise architects understand that foundationally are they even ready to take on the next level of digital innovation that they want to thrive on?
Andy Paul 35:15
And to your point earlier, though, I think what’s really critical about that is that that necessarily limits what sales can sell. Because if the organization isn’t in position to foresee and envision, let’s say they buy something from Salesforce if they’re able to envision what’s what phases two, three and four are Salesforce, and how it could benefit them more broadly throughout the organization. You know, whatever those facets are you can only sell phase one, but then who’s gonna sell phase two or three and four? Well, that’s your customer success people. That’s your account manager. And yeah, they have to be extremely savvy salespeople. And it’s actually sort of interesting. It’s one of the things that sort of initially I think is okay. Well, how are these people being trained to sell? Because it’s a different type sale, then your front end hunter seller?
Javaid Iqbal 36:08
So people that signed up for success back in the day, were the farmers. And now, taking them from a farmer to a hunting farmer, that’s a different can of worms. And it’s not a sale for a specific problem. I mean, everybody’s moved to the Cloud, Oracle, Microsoft. Everybody has sort of leapfrog into subscription models for the product and so forth. So it’s become an industry problem, where you’ve got to embed yourself, understand the various aspects of technologies that are moving and sort of enable success that way. That’s a stakeholder right there.
Andy Paul 36:51
Yeah. I think arguably, you make the case that and I do is that, yeah, you’re in enterprise sales, at least your account managers. have to be bigger visionaries than your, you know, your people are trying to get the deal originally.
Javaid Iqbal 37:06
Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And, it’s a partnership. I mean, you know, IBM does it well, they’ve got sort of consulting and, and the sales partners sort of go in together with that kind of calm structure and so forth, then. And I think your earlier point, the comp structure needs to be looked at as well, because if everybody’s contributing to this sort of a bigger piece, and the sales guy walks out with a nice, big fat commission, it kind of leaves a bad taste on the other end as well. So absolutely. I think across the board organizations have to be redefined as well.
Andy Paul 37:41
Okay, so Javaid, we have just a few more questions. I got some standard questions asked of all my guests. And so the first one is a hypothetical scenario that you, Javaid, have just been hired as VP of sales at a company whose sales have stalled out a little bit. And they know they’re anxious to get things turned around back on track. So what two things could you do your first week on the job that would have the biggest impact?
Javaid Iqbal 38:22
I would try to understand the setting culture on how sales are typically done. And I think what I mean by culture is understanding the various aspects of methodologies and processes and so forth that are being looked at. And the second thing I would see is the caliber of salespeople. Are they chefs, are they bartenders? I’m, I’m very straightforward with that, in my opinion.
Andy Paul 40:01
Alright, so some rapid fire questions you can give me one word answers or elaborate if you wish. The first one is, when you personally are out selling your services, what’s your most powerful sales attribute?
Javaid Iqbal 40:14
The relationship aspect is the smile.
Andy Paul 40:18
Who’s your sales role model?
Javaid Iqbal 40:28
The one person that singles out in terms of the smoothness of the way he exudes sales was the head of our region within Salesforce. His name is Bendel. Fantastic person, one of the better sales leaders I’ve ever come across. A couple of things he does very well is a very laser focused customer understanding the needs of a big relationship guy, and a big picture guy. And I think that I’ve modeled some of my things on the way he’s done things and I think, you know, he’s been a great person to sort of look up to and I’m a big big admirer.
Andy Paul 41:20
What’s one book every salesperson should read?
Javaid Iqbal 41:29
I’m leaning towards I’d say two books. Now one definitely reads value as a service. Right. And if you’re added there’s a book called Customer Success recently came out months ago, I would strongly recommend that you know, the past is the forward is by the president of customer success and Salesforce as well. So fascinating to read, it will help you understand where things are going on that front as well.
Andy Paul 43:08
Excellent. Well, again, thank you very much. And friends, thank you for spending your time with us, as always, and remember, make it part of your day every day to deliberately learn something new to help you accelerate your success and easy way to do that. So make sure you don’t miss any of my conversations with top business experts like my guest today, Javaid Iqbal who shared his expertise about how to accelerate the growth of your business. So thanks again for joining me and until next time, this is Andy Paul. Good selling everyone. Thanks for listening to the show. If you like what you heard, I want to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming episodes please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher for more information about today’s guests, visit my website at AndyPaul.com