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Increase Your Growth IQ, with Tiffani Bova [Episode 700]

Tiffani Bova, Growth & Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce and author of Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business, joins me on this episode.

Key Takeaways

  • In Tiffani’s role as a sales leader, so many people asked for growth advice that she started looking for patterns in high-performing companies; then she wrote Growth IQ.
  • Tiffani’s real-world experience gave her a leg up at Gartner over analysts with only academic knowledge. She became a research fellow on the future of sales. Then she joined Salesforce where she meets clients worldwide.
  • Tiffani quotes Ginni Rometty that “Growth and comfort never co-exist.” That set the frame for the book. Tiffani says the one thing about growth is that it’s never one thing.
  • If your organization is comfortable now and it doesn’t have a problem, now is the time to invest in where you think you need to be in two years. Pilot and test things while you’re strong and growing.
  • Successful companies constantly check the canary in the coal mine. If your growth slows for two or three quarters, look at what is slowing you down. 95% of your issues will be internal problems.
  • 80% of companies will go through a growth stall and few of them will recover to robust growth. In a stall, you go into defense mode and cut back on marketing. That’s the wrong time to cut back.
  • Tiffani says there’s only one thing sales reps can control — their behavior in front of a client, whether on the phone, in an email message, or face-to-face. Sales reps need to be serious students of their profession.
  • Sales managers are squeezed between the client-facing reps and the VPs. They manage down and up. They need to empower reps to do what’s right for the customer. Andy wants reps to close a greater percent of leads.
  • Tiffani coined the term Seller’s Dilemma about changing processes while generating revenue. Think about NASCAR pitstops. How long do you pause to change the things you need to change? Watch the data and make the changes.
  • Innovation must be rewarded even if it fails. If a campaign doesn’t work, try a different one. Have a culture where people are willing to bring ideas to try new things to generate new revenue.
  • Tiffani challenges sales managers to enable their reps and also carve time out of their own day to study circumstances and make appropriate changes. Tiffani cites Mike Bosworth on improving quota attainment.
  • Tiffani summarizes the book: Understand the context of your market, the combination of changes you need to make, and in what order you need to make them. Andy recommends the book to you.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul

It’s time to Accelerate! Hey friends, this is Andy. It’s kind of a milestone day here for Accelerate. Today is Episode 700. That’s right, 700 episodes of Accelerate – the sales podcast of record. I think that’s kind of crazy. When I look back at when we started, and everyone I’ve talked to in the few years since I started this, there are a few things I want to thank people for. First, I want to thank you: all the thousands of listeners that have supported the show and keep me going, keep me motivated, keep me inspired. I also can’t begin to thank enough the hundreds of incredibly smart and talented people from throughout the world who have made the time and their schedules to come here and join us and share their wisdom and their insights about this business of selling that we’re all involved with.

Okay, let’s jump into business here with a guest. Joining me is Tiffani Bova here on episode 700. Tiffany is the growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce and author of a new book titled, Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business. Now, today, we’re talking about, as her title suggests, making smart choices and how you grow your business. And there are going to be two primary themes in our discussion first, based around this quote that’s in her book from the chairman and CEO of IBM, Virginia Rometty. The quote is “growth and comfort never coexist”. Great, great, great quote. And the second theme is, as Tiffany writes about, the one thing about growth is that it’s never just one thing. So we’re also going to get into many of those mistakes many companies make when growth begins to stall, which is to place the blame on others to look for external factors. As Tiffani points out in her book, when this happens, most of the time, maybe 95% of the time, your problems will be internal issues. We’re also gonna look at why sellers need to become serious students of their profession. Now, this is just not self promotion. This is actually in her book. And as I’ve said many times, and as Tiffany points out, the only thing sellers can really control in sales: It’s not the price. It’s not the product of the features. The only thing they can control is how they conduct themselves in front of a buyer. So the need to become serious and learn everything you can about your profession is so profound. So we’re going to talk about that much more. So let’s jump into it with my guest today. Tiffani Bova Tiffany, welcome to the show.

Tiffani Bova 4:37
Oh, thank you, Andy, for having me.

Andy Paul 4:39
Or should I say aloha? aloha?

Tiffani Bova 4:42
Yes, that is the proper way.

Andy Paul 4:43
That’s the proper way. When was last time you were in Hawaii?

Tiffani Bova 4:49
Not not so recently, unfortunately. I piled on 300 flights and about 340,000 flying miles last year. So yeah, I had very little time to make it home.

Andy Paul 5:04
Wow, that is a that’s a big year by any any measures back to my big years.

Tiffani Bova 5:09
Yeah, that was my biggest ever.

Andy Paul 5:11
Yeah, not sure I ever hit over 300 runs during a lot of international travel. Wow, that’s a bunch.

Tiffani Bova 5:17
That’s a bunch but I enjoyed every mile.

Andy Paul 5:22
Oh really? I imagined I mean for me I always enjoyed when I was doing a lot of international travel, I enjoyed being there, it was the getting to and from I wasn’t too thrilled about.

Tiffani Bova 5:34
Well, that’s true. But, I don’t even pay attention. Let’s just put it that way. I just don’t pay attention. Just meander on a plane, get on a plane, get off a plane. It could be worse, it could be driving on the 405 in Southern California, which I would much rather fly somewhere than be stuck on the 405.

Andy Paul 5:50
Especially if there is nobody else in the car. You could have been in the carpool lane. Of course, not that it matters sometimes in LA with the carpool lane.

So we’re gonna talk about your new book, Growth IQ. So tell me – what was the impetus to write this book?

Tiffani Bova 6:09
I think it was a combination of a lot of things. Ultimately, I had spent a decade at Gartner and now I’ve been here at Salesforce for three years. And even before Gartner I was running sales, marketing and customer service organizations very early in the cloud, and for technology companies.

The underlying question of being a sales leader was always like, “how do we grow?” And how do we keep momentum of the business, and how do we grow more than last quarter or last year? What are the things we could be doing better? And how are we going to become smarter using technology to grow the business? It was a series of these handful of questions that I consistently either asked myself when I was a leader, or clients asked when I was advising and now here at Salesforce, clients ask pretty consistently, I mean, regardless of whose research you look at, the number one question priority is his growth – for, the CEOs and business leaders. It was more of a look if I could encapsulate this into some really great stories and lessons learned from businesses that have been able to recover from a stalling growth or accelerate growth as they’re looking for expansion, or even just, , maintaining the status quo, but growing at market rate. What would I tell them? Because I would get asked the same questions over and over.

So, a very dear friend of mine, she’s on Shark Tank, Australia, her name is Naomi Simpson. She goes, “I get stopped on the street all the time, and people say, ‘I got this idea, like, how do I pitch it and what do I need to do?’ Literally, I get asked 20 times a day, so the easiest thing for me to do is write a book, because then I could just say, ‘read the book.’” So, part of it was that, and a lot of it was finding these patterns in the high performing companies and what they were doing and big or small, I think there’s a lot of lessons to be learned for any organization, regardless of industry or region or size. So that was the long answer to the quick question of what made me think about writing the book.

Andy Paul 8:17
Well, so for those of us – and I have to admit I’m in this crowd – who are very familiar with your work as an analyst and so on, what products were you selling? And who were you selling for?

Tiffani Bova 8:31
Well, I started out early on selling for a legal software company that was doing Boolean searching for big document cases that were being scanned and coded. And so instead of a paralegal having to dig through 10s of thousands of documents looking for something, it would basically be scanned and coded and then you could search through those documents. And this was in early 1996, 1997ish. When I was working for them, I was the only sales rep, we were doing 100,000 a month or something like that. I knew that it was dial for dollars. I’m gonna call 100 people and 10 will call me back – that grind. I was reading a lot of technology product news one day, and there was an ad for this value added reseller, which I didn’t really know what that was. And so I read this ad, and I’m like, “Oh, hold on a second. So like, they’ll sell our stuff for us?” So I reached out and said, “Hi, how do I get you to sell our stuff?” That was my entry into understanding third party channels and indirect channel programs.

I convinced the CEO and founder at the time to go recruit five or 10 of these guys. And so of course, we really could 10 X the software and the revenue and everything we were doing and it really was a flywheel of growth for the business. I was eventually recruited away and started working for a time based billing software, once again, into legal so I was very deep in a vertical and really learned that vertical. Then I left and went to a value added reseller selling into the vertical that was selling hardware and software and services and outsourcing services. So I got the spectrum in a vertical, moving from software, to software and hardware, to services to, the full lifecycle, if you will. And then we got bought by a distributor at the time and I started selling professional services. And then I landed at Sprint, which was random for all kinds of reasons, but they wanted to stand up a professional services organization and said, “Hey, you know how to do this, why don’t you come here?” And one of the clients was an investment client for Idealab, which was one of the very first .com investment VCs. I decided that this cloud thing – it wasn’t called that then – was kind of interesting and really different for me, and so I wanted to go to try that out. I started working for a web hosting company, we received 65 million in funding and went out and rolled up a bunch of small little hosting companies and were really pushing the envelope on what it meant to get small businesses on the web. I mean, this is 2000, and then I started working for the largest web hosts in the US, we were four times the size of Rackspace at the time. And ultimately, we were a locust beta client, we were constant contact’s, beta client, we were Plex’s beta client. And so we were really at the forefront of things like infrastructures of service, and it wasn’t called that then we were an application service provider. I was really fortunate to then run sales, marketing and customer service. So I learned a lot about social selling and selling via chat and phone and then how to use customer service as another sales engine and how do you scale 10 people, and search engine optimization and banner ads. I mean, we own the word ‘web hosting’ for like five bucks. This was interland, which is now web.com. Our dedicated business became Pier 1. And then a lot of our intellectual property was picked up by other web firms. But that was super early.

It sort of indoctrinated me into selling the subscription services online with no field sales, no face to face sales in a really hot industry. You really had to teach them. When the transition happened between air land and web.com, I left and was hired by Gateway Computers to stand up a division for them for indirect selling, which they had never had before. They had closed the stores to sell through partners, and so they brought me on board to stand that up. And I was there until Gateway broke to half the business to Acer and half the business to micron PC and then I landed it, then I landed at Gartner. And so I didn’t know my path, looking back when I was at Gartner, I looked back and said, What’s great about this is that I understand selling software and hardware and services and cloud. I’ve worked in distribution and telco and not that I’ve run multi billion dollar divisions, it was just that I had experienced it as a rep and as a leader. It gave me this very unique practitioner’s perspective at Gartner, and I think that gave me a leg up against other analysts that may have just been more academic on those particular topics.

Andy Paul 13:52
That is what you encounter mostly.

Tiffani Bova 13:55
That is what you mostly encounter! I was able to understand the little subtleties of doing things. Who knew, 10 years later, I was a research fellow and really pushing the envelope on the future of sales and really the digital impact to the way companies will integrate sales, marketing and service and then Salesforce offered me something that I just couldn’t resist. Now I have this wonderful opportunity to balance two things: I get to travel around the world and meet with clients and, and hear and learn all the wonderful things they’re doing. But I also get to work with clients that are trying to figure out their way forward. And so once again, it all kind of led to this book, Growth IQ, but more importantly, it’s a combination of my own experience and all of the thousands of conversations I’ve had over 25 years.

Andy Paul 14:52
Okay, let’s, let’s jump to the book. I’m glad we got that background, because I think it’s as much a part of it. It is unusual for analysts to have been a practitioner to the extent you were, at least in my experience. It’s always like talking to an academic who’s studied sales, but never really done it.

So the constant theme throughout the book is that this whole idea of growth is really hard, and it’s not something to take for a given.

Tiffani Bova 15:25
Yeah, I would tell you that one of the very first quotes in the book is “Growth and comfort never coexist” from Virginia Rometty, the CEO of IBM. That really set the frame for the whole book. One of the number one things I would hear from a client is “look, we’re really struggling in this quarter. Like we have to end the quarter strong. What’s the one thing we can do? Should I spend more marketing dollars should I hire more salespeople? Should we cut costs?” The same dials would get turned. I learned early on that it was never just one thing. That really began this whole thought process for Growth IQ, which was: the one thing about growth is that it is never one thing. If you’re comfortable, even if you’re growing now, if you have a sales team or a company that’s growing, and you say “I don’t have a problem,” this is the time to actually invest in where you think you need to be one, two years from now. When you’re coming from a place of strength, of, “we are growing,” this is the time to pilot and test things. Because if they don’t work, we’re not betting the business on it. If you’re already starting to feel a stall, and you’re trying to make a course correction, it’s a lot more risky. Because you don’t have the additional capital to make those investments. Things are slowing down, you may have to actually cut costs, morale might be lower, all of the things are working against you, versus trying to do it from a place of strength.

Andy Paul 16:54
Well, that seems to be an issue that you often see with startups. There’s assumptions like, “yeah, we’re doing really great and it’s gonna continue,” as opposed to what you just talked about, which is, “yeah, it’s going really great now, but may we’ve had some great good fortune, we hit a moment or something, but the moments don’t last.”

Tiffani Bova 17:17
It’s not only that it doesn’t last, but those that I’ve learned are very successful are the ones that constantly have this kind of canary in the coal mine, where you have a quarter that’s really strong, another quarter that’s really strong, and then you have a quarter that’s a little softer, but still strong. And then another quarter that’s a little softer than the last quarter, but still strong, but it’s going slightly in the wrong direction. So you were growing at 10%, and you were growing at 11%, then 9% 10%, then seven, then eight, then six, then seven, right? You’re still growing, but you’re not going 10, 11, 12, 13 right, you’re going you’re still growing, but you’re you’re growing less.

And maybe not even keeping pace with your market. But when it goes two or three quarters of either flat – no growth – or a decline, even slight is where you need to say “Hold on a second, something’s going on. Is our marketing not as effective, or our sales teams?” You need to look at what is causing whatever is happening.

Many companies make the mistake of looking externally, like, “what’s happening in the market that’s causing us not to grow?” There was a great study by Bain looking across the industry and the CEOs were great in the research in saying that, like 90 or 95% of the issues that they were facing were actually internal, not external, when it came to growth. That tends to be an area for improvement where when you start to see things start to slow down to look inward first. Can we optimize what we’re doing? Do we have the right tools in place? It’s a people & process issue. Once you’ve exhausted that, then you can go, “Okay, now what’s happening externally?” Unless you are in a highly regulated industry, where you have no control over regulations changing that completely disrupt your market, that’s different. There are always outliers. But in the mean, you have to be willing to pay attention that you cannot just brush off a quarter or two of softness as just an anomaly. You need to really dig into why it’s happening so that you can get ahead of it. Because if you’re in a full blown growth stall, there’s research out there that shows that some 80% of companies will go through a growth stall and some point in their lives, only a small percentage recovers.

Andy Paul 19:55
What do you mean by recover? Obviously companies go through that. A high fraction survive, do you mean recover to robust growth again?

Tiffani Bova 20:04
Yes to robust growth. A lot of that has to do with what I was just describing: if you’re in a stall, then you’re in defense mode. You may have to be cutting back marketing spend. If you’re cutting back marketing spend, it’s impacting leads. If it is impacting leads, then sales, right? And so, once you start to cut anything, you’re coming from a place of, well, so how do you recover if you’re cutting? And so that’s why if you’re growing, and you’re growing well, that this is the time to invest. So even if you stumble, you course-correct. You can fix it. You’re always going to be coming back to a place growth, But if you get into, four to six quarters of no growth, or declining growth, that’s considered a full blown growth stall.

Andy Paul 20:56
Yeah, well, then I think there are two really interesting points in there that you talked about. One is, when you’re looking at internal events as being the things that are dictating whether your growth is continuing, is those, those are things you have control over. And you mentioned that and you write about that and you say, , what a shame it is, after all the internal factors are what you’re supposed to have control is supposed to move by your competitors and market shifts are black swan events. So I think that’s really critical in this is you think about it also with a more narrow sales focus. And time so I see salespeople having troubles, it’s because again, they’re looking externally as well as saying, Well, what are the things that I have control over? That I can dictate that I can that I the levers, I can move that will make a difference?

Tiffani Bova 21:41
Yeah, and and I say this often, and I get mixed results on what I’m about to say, but , I feel like, , once again, as a recovering seller,

Andy Paul 21:51
I like to call myself is there such a thing?

Tiffani Bova 21:52
Yeah, no, really? Well, yes. Because we’re constantly , if you don’t carry a quota anymore, it’s like you yearned to have the quota again, and then , so? Yes, but yeah, yeah. So it is that, I believe there’s one thing a sales rep can control. And only one thing. So, as a rep, I’m talking an individual quota carrying account executive, I don’t get to pick my quota. That’s for sure. I don’t get to pick usually I don’t get to pick the territory I’m selling into or the vertical I’m selling into, I don’t get to pick the tools I’m using. Usually, , I don’t get to pick what I do every day. , it’s called 100. People like this is what I measured on I don’t design my own comp plan. I , I don’t , pick my how to do a pipeline review, , , etc, etc, etc, right? But one thing I can control is my, my behavior in front of a client, whether that’s on the phone, in an email, or face to face. And so for me, it’s, , how can sales reps be a student of their profession and it’s a cover There’s a little bit in my sales optimization chapter that, , back to what you were saying. It’s like what can I do to help course correct personally, because all that other stuff I can’t control, I can make suggestions I can work with my my manager and try to change some things around to see if things will work. But at the end of the day, if I can do things personally and so maybe that means I need to know my vertical better so I can overcome objections better, does it mean I, , learn the tools how to maximize their usage, and especially around things like artificial intelligence, like, , can I make it work for me versus feeling like it’s working against me? Can I be smarter about who I’m talking to and what I’m what information I’m giving or how I’m leveraging social selling or social media or platforms, like those things you can control? And and if everybody did that as a sales rep versus saying I’ve always done it this way, I’m always going to continue to do it this way. Then I think there’s huge options. tunity for improvement.

Andy Paul 24:01
And I think, all on the same line. So is is, as long as their sales reps are just putting the heads down and saying, well, the company told me this is what I should be doing in front of customers. And this is the process we use this is the methodology instead of taking the bull by the horns and taking responsibility for the behavior in front of customers and and optimize it for whom they are, then they’re not going to grow either.

Tiffani Bova 24:25
Absolutely. And I’d say, , I think one of the hardest roles today and I’d love , I wish I could see people’s faces when I say this, right. But I think one of the hardest roles today is actually that middle sales management layer, because an individual quota bearing rep is, , saying up stream, right, this isn’t working like this the app, , the leads aren’t good, whatever they’re saying. So, sales manager has to manage down, meaning. I don’t mean that looking down, I mean managing down into their team, right? But also the manager has to manage up. Well. My manager is telling me, , your team should be hauling 1000 people a day and driving, , X amount of pipe per week and , y amount of so the manager is squeezed between the the, , the face to face customer facing at ease, who actually know what’s going on. Right? And, and they’re getting squeezed between the reality and the process from above. And so they’re squeezed between managing up and down. And then , that sales managers manager is doing the same thing, because, , they’re managing down and up depending how large of an organization you are. And so it’s this, you’re caught between the front line that, , is saying it’s just not working, and then management telling upper management, it’s just not working and upper management going well, we cannot disrupt the applecart because that’s where we are in our revenue. So if you’re going to do something that might impact sales and then it then it’s an issue

Andy Paul 25:54
well, here’s a question for this is the out of left field a little bit but , through driven Little bit by your chapter on optimizing sales and, and productivity is, , certain segments, especially more on the SAS post, and so on, there’s these ideas, and we have to have five x pipeline coverage to get our certain amount of revenue and so on. And I look at the way many companies are doing that I see that it’s really kind of wasteful, right, the quality of the prospects they’re putting on the top of the funnel, just in order to hit their pipeline coverages aren’t aren’t really very good. Is what if what if the challenge was to go to a SaaS company and say, Look, yeah, here’s your revenue targets the same, but I don’t want to see more than two x pipeline coverage. Meaning I want you to get better prospects, do a better job of qualifying them close, much higher fraction of them.

Tiffani Bova 26:45
Yeah, , I? Well, customer centricity is one of those things, that sales gets really uncomfortable and it’s specifically the sales managers because they’re like, okay, we’re going to become more customer centric of an organization. What does that mean to me? How do I have How do I like train that? How do I measure it? How do I manage it? Like? How do I hold people accountable for it? And that really seems to be one of the big challenges. The first chapter in the book is customer experience. And I’ve talked about this, then, , if you kept being customer centric is one thing a customer experience is the outcome of how customer centric you are. But in Salesforce research two years ago, customer experience was one of the number one metrics it was starting to bubble up for salespeople. And now, just one year later, it became customer satisfaction. And in my opinion, the reason that happened is because C sat is much easier to measure, because you can get a cset score, or customer experience is is one of those soft metrics. And so whether you’re you’re tracking Net Promoter Score, maybe you have an opportunity to do that, but then how do you tell an individual quota bearing rep, that they’re going to be held responsible for Net Promoter Score across the whole company, and that that may be a lever for them for an accelerator on , compensation. And they’re like, well, like I’m a little gnat, , on the whole grand scheme and net promoter score, right? versus saying like in my customer base, what’s the satisfaction that’s a little bit easier to measure. But I think this goes back to, , how sales reps can actually control but , someone much smarter than I have said, , that, that your customers will only be happy as your employees. And so making sure that sales, feels empowered to do what’s right for the customer, if you’re going to, as an executive lead out and say, we’re going to be more customer centric, and we’re leading with customer experience. But Mr. Sales Rep I want you to call 100 people today, it’s like, well, hold on, do you want me to call 10 people and have really meaningful, valuable conversations? Or do you want me to churn through 100 because those are two very different things. So going back to that squeeze layer, right of the manager in the middle who’s like, executives going, it’s all about customer experience. sales rep is going well if it’s about customer experience, and don’t tell an end right. It’s all about customer experience. 1000 people today,

Andy Paul 29:01
right? Yeah, well, that’s the thing is this is we got these contradictory impulses. And I think that there’s a level of it’s like a trivia it’s like a security blanket because yeah, a lot of companies are figured out the formula that we know, right? We know what our ratios are, we know for, , make 1000 calls will generate, , 100 prospects will close 20 of those. And, but it’s, I’m always amazed by talk to, yes, or middle tier and sometimes even, , CRM level, that smaller companies, this idea about well, okay, instead of being in love with the five x pipeline coverage, let’s let’s make it three x and just do a better job of qualifying and closing. It’s that makes them really nervous. Like, they don’t even think about it in that regard, most of the times because they’re just so they know, this is the this is predictable. Yeah, absolutely. But it’s not good. It’s predictable, but it’s not good.

Tiffani Bova 29:54
Correct. And, and this, , and going back to your original question, , I these

Ken, some of these questions you’re asking me and this conversation we’re having can almost paralyze people around, where do I even begin? Mm hmm. , so I feel like we’re starting to slow down and growth, what is it that I’m not doing? What should I be doing? Where do I start? We’re growing really well. I want to keep it going. Where do I start? What are the things we have been doing that have been working in the past that are not going to be working 12 to 24 months from now? How do I replace those things? Where do I start? And , I coined this term seller’s dilemma many years ago, which was a play on Clayton Christensen’s innovators dilemma and the reason I said it is because as a sales leader the dilemma is how do I change the tires on a car going around the track 100 miles an hour driving the car going around the track at 100 miles an hour is revenue and by no CEO is gonna go let’s do a three month pitstop earn no revenue and let’s go fix everything. That’s not gonna happen, right? And you you if you think of if any, , if you watch, , Formula racing like , your NASCAR, whatever that you pull over, and , you have a pit stop that’s like, , whatever, six seconds, and we’re gonna change all the tires and change the oil and get back on the track. And so think about that as a sales leader, like, how, how much time Can I take to pull over and think about what do I need to change? Number one, number two, how much time how much of my mental capacity Am I going to take out of my day, to give myself that pit stop to say, Hey, what’s the canary? what’s changing? Hmm, what doesn’t look the way and then let me test some things while at the same time cars going around the track. And so that’s why I coined that the dilemma, the sellers dilemma, because it is not an easy thing to overcome. So as a sales leader, you really have to think about carving time out of your days to set aside to say I’m just going to look at the business from the inside. Could we doing anything better? smarter? faster? what’s not working anymore? What can we what’s really working that we could double down on? , all of those things. And if you don’t have the time to do it, and you have a large enough organization, I suggest that you hire somebody who is your strategy arm, who’s constantly watching the data. And what is it telling you? And how can you consistently do those little pit stops to get everybody to go, Okay, that’s not working anymore, boom, we’re going to try this. And, but the whole team has to understand why they’re doing it. And so the other side of the innovators dilemma conversation for me was about if you’re going to do this, and you’re going to try some of the, , examples I just gave where you had a strategy person, you’re going to try new things. You also have to have a culture that’s willing and able and rewarded for innovating, even if it’s failing. So, , innovation cannot happen if a culture Does not reward. And I don’t mean, , catastrophic failure, obviously. But like that campaign didn’t work, let’s try another one, like, people don’t lose their job because the campaign didn’t work, or we tried something where we were only calling out the 10 people instead of 100 people, don’t do it with all your sales reps, grab a couple of them, try it, they’re, , so, , you have to have a culture where people are willing to bring ideas and bubble them up, as well as, , being rewarded for for the, , activities that in fact, actually work.

Andy Paul 33:32
You’re on I think that’s like, the level that the difference between a selling culture in a sales culture, selling culture is just heads down. , we’ve got this formula. It’s not terribly effective or efficient, but with predictable, we know it’s going to generate certain amount, but we’re just heads down or just doing it. Right. To me, that’s like a selling culture, but sales culture is just as you described, , how do we how do we keep our eyes open about how we can better constantly look at how we can I’m more productive for every hour of selling time we spend to generate more revenue.

Tiffani Bova 34:05
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And so, look, this is an easy, , for the sales managers listening, , this is a personal challenge to you as sales managers to say, How do I manage up and down, enable and empower my people to try things? How do I carve time out of my day to, , watch what’s happening internally and anticipate potentially something that’s around the corner? How do I, , manage them up the food chain, to share what I’m learning and showing that we’re trying things and what’s working, what’s not working. That’s that’s a challenge. And then for individual sales reps, , really taking the opportunity to share things you’re learning that you think may work better, and how do you actually present that in a way and this is really hard. Not from a place of an emotional like, I’m not going to hit my number because , the leads are junk and like, you have to come back and go look, over the last three months, I’ve really noticed that the quality of leads has gone down. And so I dug into it. And I noticed that from this particular source, the leads were always, always terrible. So maybe we can let Marketing know that those aren’t the great or should we ask other people on the team? are they seeing the same thing? Like, you need to come forward? , with not just the problem statement, but a potential solution and how you can, , find a way forward. And I think, , that’s where you have to really flex your confidence, if you will, to find a way forward.

Andy Paul 35:38
Yeah, and I think along with that, as is also because we, , you stated very, very well, this idea about what sellers can control is their behavior in front of prospects and buyers. Is that for me is is there a certain amount of courage involved with top producers to , , they they break the rules a little bit, right. I mean, there’s certain Process methods set out but but they’re saying what I can do things differently and better. And when I find too often now as a seller waiting to get permission to do that, as opposed to just begging for forgiveness, which I think is what you need to do.

Tiffani Bova 36:15
Yeah. And so, , this is not my research, but Mike Bosworth, who basically is the grandfather solution selling and Mike and I had a whole conversation had to be maybe eight years ago, and he, his most recent book talks about this as well, where you have this middle group of sales reps that are just very process driven, like, tell me where to go tell me what to do. Tell me what tools to use, and I’m just gonna follow the process because I know if I call 120, they’ll call me but , I mean, like, I’m just going to work the process. And that tends to be the 60 about 65%. According to his work. 65% of the sales force, two words fall in that category as a sales leader, Unfortunately, people tend to pivot towards the high performers like how do I replicate more of them? How do I train those, , the 65%, to behave more like the sick by by the 15% and the high performer. And it doesn’t have to do with quota attainment, it has everything to do with what you were just saying, like this internal understanding and personality of I’m just going to go for it and , where so it has somewhat to do with quota, but a lot to do with just the behavior of that particular kind of sales rep. And so for me, , if, if I were still running a sales team, I would never pilot things with my top performers. And I would also almost never ask them their opinion of what I think we should do because their perspective is so unique, and you really don’t want to disrupt them, right? Where you have your greatest leverage isn’t that 65% and if you can improve quota attainment, two to 5% in the middle It’s huge. And I don’t care if you have five people or 5000, ultimately moving that two to five. So now let’s go back to, , once again, I’m trying to optimize, I’m trying to improve performance. I’m trying to continue to grow, let the high performers hit hundred hundred 510% I, maybe I could get another percent out of them. But if I can focus on , according to CSO research, , you still are in the low 60% are achieving quota, that number has been flat or going down for the last five years, even though all these tools and advancements are coming along. And our research shows, , some 60% of a salespersons time is spent on non selling activities. So if you just focus on those two things, non selling activities, and how do I improve quota in that middle, you as a sales leader will be a hero. Now you just have to figure out how to do it and the answer to that goes back to the book. The one thing is it’s never one thing if you asked me the question I couldn’t answer. I would come back and say to you, what’s the context If your market, which is really the premise of my book, I can’t answer until I understand the context of your market, your customer set your offering, etc. What things do you have to do in combination? So it’s not just optimized sales, but it could be expanded to new markets or make partnerships. The second leg of the stool for growth IQ is combining multiple activities. And then the third thing is, in which order? Are you going to roll out to an entirely new market before you’ve even hired sales reps and train them? Probably not. But you’d be surprised how many people do that. So, , the the book was really a framework by which if you’re really trying to tackle some of these things that Andy and I are talking about, that regardless of whether you’re an individual contributor, first time manager, line manager executive, you will get something out of it, because there’s 30 case studies that walk you through all kinds of companies in different sizes and different industries, and points in time where they were at a critical Crossroads to make a decision about growth. What they what they decided was that They decided it and what the result is. And I guarantee you, you will learn something out of one of those case studies.

Andy Paul 40:07
Yeah, and I’ll back that up. As I it’s a great book. Everybody should should pick it up and read it. So, unfortunately, we’re out of time, but it’s been a blast as always so so tell folks how they can find out more about what you’re doing.

Tiffani Bova 40:20
Well, they can go to LinkedIn, they can follow me there. They can follow me on twitter at Tiffany underscore Bova. Or they can pick up the book growth IQ at retail establishments of Barnes and Nobles and independent bookstores around the country, as well as online and it’s going to be launching in the UK and Commonwealth here at the end of February. And then it continues its road trip around the globe, and launching in the middle in the end of 19th and Ford for other countries and then tornado coming out into but I speak often so if you you hear this and you I love to hear when people disagree because it helps shape how I say things the next time or it even changes the way I was thinking about things. So I love feedback other either way.

Andy Paul 41:06
Yeah, it’s I always wrote my books and someone asked me more for the first one. They said, What’s your book about? And I was like, I thought I knew, but then I published it. And I learned about something else. So that feedback from users and readers is very important.

Tiffani Bova 41:21
Absolutely, absolutely. I could I couldn’t agree more.

Andy Paul 41:24
All right, Tiffany. Thank you.

Tiffani Bova 41:26
Thank you.

Andy Paul 41:30
Okay, friends, that was accelerate for this week. First of all, as always, I want to thank you for joining me, especially on this special day with Episode 700 Next Episode 1001 thank my guest, Tiffani Bova. Join me again next week, my guest will be Paul cherry. We’re talking with Paul about his new book, the ultimate sales Pro with the best salespeople do differently. You’re gonna definitely enjoy that conversation. It’s a really interesting book. Be sure to join us then. Before you go, don’t forget to check out the sales house. One sales growth community for b2b sellers just like you visit the sales house.com forward slash join. We’ll see you there. Thanks again for joining me until next week. I’m your host Andy Paul. Good selling everyone.