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Sales Training, with Richard Harris [Episode 795]

Richard Harris (Founder of The Harris Consulting Group and Director of Sales Training for Sales Hacker) joins me today for a conversation about sales training. It’s one of my favorite topics because I believe it’s the areas of sales where there is the biggest room for improvement. Richard and I talk about how, as the world around us has changed, at least temporarily, if not forever, what impact that will have on how we train sellers. This is important because for many sellers, what they do on a day to day basis has changed, in ways that were unexpected. So how do we enable them to succeed? Plus, so much more.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul: Richard, welcome back to the show.

Richard Harris: Thank you so much, Andy. And it’s good to be back

Andy Paul: Yeah, it’s been too long. I think that’s fair to say.

Richard Harris: Oh, I appreciate it. I’m also very grateful that you came on Scott and I’s Surf and Sales podcast, so we appreciate you coming on and even just giving us some podcasting advice, we appreciate it.

Andy Paul: You guys do a great job.

Richard Harris: Thank you. Thank you. And congratulations on your business endeavor, with Revenue.io.

Andy Paul: Well, thank you. Thank you.

Richard Harris: That’s pretty, that’s pretty sweet. I’m trying to get there.

Andy Paul: Well, it’s nice to be a role model for once. Yeah, yeah, no, it’s, it’s been great. It’s been absolutely great. So where have you been, sort of sheltering in place?

Richard Harris: So I shelter in place in Moraga, California, outside San Francisco. East Bay, for people who are listening. Sorta near Berkley, between Berkeley and Walnut Creek, if you know the area.

Andy Paul: I lived in Moraga.

Richard Harris: Oh, you did. Did I not know that?

Andy Paul: I’m not sure I remember talking about before, but yeah, sort of 1980. That was a long, long time ago, but yeah.

Richard Harris:   That’s really great. Where are you now?

Andy Paul: So I’ve spent the first, you know, close to 90 days of shutdown in New York City, Manhattan. And, just yesterday, my wife and I Escaped from New York. If you remember that film and, and we’re back in San Diego.

Richard Harris: Wow. How was, I mean, I know this is completely off topic, I don’t know what we’re going to talk about, but how was New York? I mean, like that just must have been crazy. Nutty.

Andy Paul: Okay. Well, you know, I think I tell people, unless you’re in the hospitals, you didn’t really see all the drama and the hospitals were jammed and overflowing, especially in, we live in Manhattan there. And, but especially in the other boroughs, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, things are much more dire there than in Manhattan.

Richard Harris: How did you just go down the elevator 30 floors? If you lived in a high rise like that was like, “Oh, I’ll wait for the next one.” Or you just sort-

Andy Paul: Oh, no, exactly, exactly. Exactly. So the same thing is true here in the high rise in San Diego where we live. So we live in two high rises. The rule is you leave your apartment, you have your mask on and you ride one family per elevator. So it takes a little longer to get down to the lobby or to come up sometimes. But people are very good about it. Hand sanitizer stations all over. And so, yeah, as a community, people do a pretty good job. And that was true in New York. I mean, for the most part, people were wearing the masks and, you know, staying off public transit and, you know, now that we’ve moved into May and people see the, the opening coming man, people starting to be a little less careful. It’s a little bit of concerning, but, by and large people do a pretty good job and that’s, that’s true here in San Diego as well.

Richard Harris: Well cool, what are we really going to talk about?

Andy Paul: What are we really gonna talk about? Well, you know, I thought we talk about what you see as the role of sales training. And the role of sales trainings are in the next normal, because it seems like have an opportunity to sort of reset to some degree, right?

Or an evolution, not necessarily what I call a reset but an evolution because yeah, we started this year with the mission saying, “Look, for our purposes, we define sales enablement as enabling sellers with the knowledge, the skills, the tools, the content, so basically anything and everything that they need in order to have knowledge-based conversations with buyers that the buyers feel are valuable.” Not that the seller thinks valuable, the buyer thinks are valuable. And so training certainly plays a role there, but as we’ll see, perhaps sales evolving and we’ve seen it evolve pretty consistently over the last 15 years or so, but yeah, there’s always been the sort of undercurrent, which is okay, the last seven, eight years sales performance, seemingly is falling, you know, based on sort of various data points we get from, you know, CSO insights and other people. They’re data points so let’s take them for what they are. I mean, it’s not necessarily that they’re gospel, but an indicator. You know, that’s somewhat mirrors the fact that  productivity in our economy has slowed, productivity growth has slowed down pretty substantially over the last 10 years, even though we’ve been introducing all this new technology, I presume sales serve mirrors that, there’s no reason to believe sales, productivity growth, hasn’t also slowed over this time. It’s like-

Richard Harris: So I that. what’s happening. So I’ll go back to the first thing, I think. One, I think the goals have been outrageous. We’ve had a great booming economy, right? Which is good. That’s been robust and it’s been fantastic, but as usual, particularly in the startup world and even in other worlds, you know, the greedy get greedier. Like they don’t become less greedy. And so goals get jacked and everybody thinks it should be 200% growth year over year in a Saas startup world know, and so people are not hitting goal because the goal is outrageous. The goals are being dealt from the board down, not from the pipeline up.

Right. It’s like, “Hey, Oh, that’s what your pipeline is great. What do we need to get this done? Go do it.” And then there’s this assumption that everybody hits. And then there’s this assumption that I think people miss is that 100% of your sales team should not hit goal, right? Like if you’re building your business and your goals around everybody hitting a hundred percent, that’s just not realistic at the numbers they’re using right now.

You know, the company should be statistically, significantly profitable when 70% of your team is hitting gold, right? If you’re not statistically and significantly profitable, then the goals are out of whack. And some of it could be personnel. Some of it could be product market fit, but it’s not this, “Oh, we need to fire this, the VP of sales.” So that’s part of it-

Andy Paul: Well, we’re going to get to that because yeah, the expectations for our VPs are insane, but they’ve always been insane. I’ll stop there, but we’ll get back to that. Go ahead.

Richard Harris: Yeah. Yeah. so anyway, so that’s where I see us, you know, sort of coming from, is that, look, look, pigs get slaughtered, right. You know, this everybody’s being a little piggy and it’s, and it’s taken COVID to get us there. So in some ways, that’s a little bit nicer, but it’s also a very convenient excuse, right? And, and I, you know, I’m old enough and you’re old enough to say, look, I remember what happened in 2008. I remember what it was like in 2001, you know, I’ve lived through two of these things and I know that that this stuff happens. But you know, 2008, the excuse was the banks. 2001 was, you know, 9/11. And that’s just the way it sort of works, right? Like that’s what we know about economies.

So I think that that’s the challenge we’re in right now. What I think people are forgotten. I’m not sure when you’re going to release this, but you know, we’ve survived Q2, decently as we come out of COVID and we’re starting to see people do stuff, but the economy lags about six months behind reality.

Andy Paul: Oh, yeah. Yeah, no, unemployment’s going up.

Richard Harris: Yeah. you know, July is going to be a very tough month, I think for a lot of businesses, unfortunately. You know, we’re not out of the woods yet, so to speak. So it’ll be an interesting play on where this goes the next six months, you know,

Andy Paul: Well, I think one of the things, I guess I was, yeah, I guess one of things I was driving at is, do we really understand yet, you know, the levers that we can manipulate to move the needle on individual sales performance.

Richard Harris: We’re getting way better.

Andy Paul: Well, but I mean, one of the things that I look at is, based from experience over the years is that yeah, we are in a performance based profession. And who do you know? That’s been trained on how to coach performance. Not how to just coach, but how to coach performance. You know, you go into professional sports or people that they’ve been trained, how to coach performance out of athletes. Well, we’ve got business athletes, who knows how to do that. This gets back to your point before about the VPs of sales is, you know, my belief is that we fund at a fundamental level. We’re still managing sales the same way we did a hundred years ago. we’ve got this, we got this VP CRO, whatever you want to call them. And the assumption is, well, they’re in that position, they know all that stuff, right. They know how to coach performance. They know, you know how to do the things that’ll move the needle. They are an expert in training. They’re an expert in personal development, you know, go down the list and it’s incredibly unfair cause they’re not experts in probably any of them. And

Richard Harris: yet-

Yeah, no, I completely agree. And it’s interesting cause, your new CEO, Howard, and I have talked about this a little bit and I’m even doing something with the ring DNA, event that’s coming up on the Peter Principle, very specifically to this, which is the short version is the Peter principle. Is that the reason people fail is because they’re promoted into positions where they don’t have any skillset.

Andy Paul: Right now, this is for people listening. This was, was published in the seventies, may sixties or seventies, and it was very popular, but people don’t talk much about it, but basically people rise to the level of their incompetence is the theory behind it.

Richard Harris: Yep. And so. And then there are the people who excel because then they recognize they’re self aware and they try to go get the knowledge. Right. Great organizations, and you know, this is sort of that old school, IBM, Xerox kind of place, where they had leadership programs built in and they taught you those things. And that’s the stuff that gets shortcutted. Or shortcut in the startup world. Right. We don’t have time for that.

Andy Paul: Well, every world these days, that’s all

Richard Harris: I agree. So, so, so this is the part where I think people are getting better, because we do have, first of all, we have coaching is now a good word. It used to be sort of a weird word for my generation. You know, when, when you said coaching to a gen X or it, it felt like micromanaging cause nobody knew how to be a coach. To your point, these professional sales athletes. And now, you know, with things like Revenue.io, those tools are giving us the ability to actually coach and that’s really important.

And it’s opened our eyes to the ability to coach. And now we’re going to figure out how to coach. Now we know what to coach. Now we’ve gotta talk about how do we teach someone to be a good coach, right? How do we coach the coach? And so I’m starting to see that stuff come out more and more. And then, you know, in my sales training stuff that I do in my management stuff that I do for training, it’s the principles are all the same.

Right. It’s understood. You know, I still ask, I still know how to use open and closed ended questions if I’m managing a person versus navigating a deal. I still know how to use mirroring if I’m having a conversation, right. I still know how to use labeling and all these other techniques, you know, multiple choice questions.

We just never really been taught how to use it and sales people, in fact, we’re taught to ignore our emotions. Don’t worry about it, right? Don’t take it personal. Well, wait a minute. I actually want to take a personal for a minute.

Andy Paul: Well, yeah,

Richard Harris: Right. So, so we kind of have to sort of, you know, hopefully I don’t date us too much. You have to sort of, you know,

yeah. You keeping saying us.

George Castanza. I know, .I know I do that to Scott too, even though he’s 10 years younger than me. I, you know, but you have to George Castanza it and sort of do everything the opposite, right? I’ll be opposite George.

Andy Paul: Opposite day. Yeah.

Richard Harris: Yeah. So, remember the I’ll stop there and I’m sure you got another question somewhere.

Andy Paul: Well, but it speaks to several questions I wanted to dive into is so, this idea about, you know, we’re still managing sales fundamentally, the way we have, which is not, not very efficiently. And, you know, we have sort of this hero complex we imbue the sales leader with. But then yeah, we’ve got these, these managers that given the lack of training that exists basically across the board, except for some of these legacy big companies-

You know. I was interviewing an author who had written about first time management jobs and he cited research that showed- Well I’ll ask you a question, at what age does a manager typically receive their first leadership training?

Richard Harris: I would guess, I would guess late thirties, early forties.

Andy Paul: Yeah, 42. And I think, I think the number was on average they’d been in management like 10 years before they get their first training. And then you, you know, it’s, you know-

they were

Richard Harris: Was there any answer to why that existed? Like that’s fascinating to me.

Andy Paul: Well, I think that there’s just this assumption that if we promote people into these positions, they know this stuff and they don’t. I mean, I look at, I look at what’s changed and again, people who listen to the show have heard me say this more than once is that, and I may say we talked to you guys on your show is, was, you know, I love looking at what they’re doin in professional sports. You look at the coaching staffs they can pro are comprised of specialists. Yeah. I’ve got a, I’ve got a mental performance specialist. I’ve got a physical fitness specialist. I’ve got a, you know, all these coaches that have these specialized training and various aspects of the job to improve the performance of these well-compensated athletes. And yet at sales we’ve, we’ve specialized aspects of the selling role, which makes a ton of sense. And yet we get the management, we expect this frontline manager and a sales director and sales VP to have all the specialized knowledge, which they don’t have. And we wonder why salespeople aren’t getting better. And managers quick to point the finger at salespeople and say, well, you know, they’re lazy or they’re not learning, or, you know, why do salespeople have a bad reputation? And I look at that and I say, well, the reason they have a bad reputation is because, well, I’ll give an example. It’s-

Richard Harris: Because of the bad reputation of the leaders.

Andy Paul: Well, because, because of the leaders. When I was growing up, not to date you or me unnecessarily, is if there was a kid you were playing with and your parents said, yeah, we don’t want you to play with John anymore cause you know, he’s, he’ll badly behaved. The next sentence is always, yes, parents are bad, right? Bad parenting. Wasn’t that what we have a huge case of in sales, it’s just bad parenting on the part of managers?

Richard Harris: Oh god yes. that.

Andy Paul: love that.

I mean, I  think that’s what we’re what we’re really dealing with here. So I mainly throw it to you as, as a professional sales trainer.

It’s just increasingly sort of occurs to me is, is, you know, I’ve seen this number, we spent $20 billion a year on sales training in the United States of which I think roughly 5% or something is spent on training managers. What if we flip that on its head? What would happen to sales if we flipped it, is that on its head and spent $19 billion training the managers and a billion training the sellers.

Richard Harris: Yup. It’d be interesting to see what happens there.

Andy Paul: I mean, my, my belief is things would get better.

Richard Harris: I agree. It would be, cause there’s two parts that too, right? There’s the, there’s the aspect of teaching the managers, how to manage humans right. In a humane way. And then there’s the tactical sales training. Right. Like, how do we actually, you know, what do we need to teach them to say and how to say it? So, which is all management is right now, management is teach them what to say, go do what Johnny did. Right?

Andy Paul: Yeah. And that’s sort of, sort of what the coaching turns out to be is, you know, the tools are great, but if we just use them to tell people to be like somebody else, as opposed to let’s use the tools to coach you to be the best version of you, then we’re not using the tools the way they could be used optimally.

Richard Harris: Totally agree. Totally, totally agree.


Andy Paul: But, you think the managers, you know, they’ve sort of taken the fact, we have these metrics and access to data and greater transparency in our processes and sort of defaulted to try and manipulate those as opposed to doing just the really hard work of coaching and mentoring and being a role model, modeling the behavior they want people to exhibit with their sellers.

Richard Harris: I mean, the greatest thing that, you know, the greatest management tool I know is what do you think you should do? It’s pretty simple, right? And then that, then that’s the kickoff to the conversation. That doesn’t mean that the managers don’t, but now you can be, you can meet that rep in their space, in their own mindset. And then you can help work there, help them work their way out of the paper bag.

Andy Paul: Exactly. Don’t show them how to get out, help, help them learn how to get out of the paper bag.

Richard Harris: Yup. Totally. So, so that that’s, and I think it’s hard too, because traditionally speaking does the sales person who becomes a sales managers, aggressive and not in a negative way, but you know, they’re inpatient for success. Let’s define aggressive that way. They’re impatient for success. they don’t like to take time on anything.

Much less talking to somebody, right. Human, you know, in, in sort of a coaching and mentoring way. And so they don’t know how to navigate their own emotions, much less anybody else’s which is, again, is one of the things I love about Howard over at Revenue.io is he, he gets it. So,

Andy Paul: He’s a clinical psychologist.

Richard Harris: Exactly right. Like, so you know, that’s the whole piece of it. So, got, go ahead.

Andy Paul: brings me to another point though, is, is, is if we look at this, this whole idea of specializing management functions, why don’t we just have coaches? Why does a manager have to coach?

Richard Harris: Because nobody. Oh, that’s easy.

Andy Paul: Why not now? Why not hire people who are professional coaches?

Richard Harris: That’s an easy, easy thing. The answer to that.

Andy Paul: Okay. Give it to me.

Richard Harris: Yes, it’s. I blame it on the executive suite never carrying a bag for real

Andy Paul: Yeah, well that, I agree. That’s that’s one, that’s one of two parts. I agree one hundred percent.

Richard Harris: So that’s, that’s a big piece of it is that they don’t, and here’s what that really means is that particularly for founders/CEOs and in the startup world, is they completely forget that you’re early stage deals, firsthand customers, maybe their friends and family, maybe not, but those first 10 customers were buying you, the CEO and your dream and your vision and your emotion and passion. Right. It’s, you know, it’s just like Shark Tank. You’ve seen episodes where they’re like, I don’t know if that’s the right product, but I’ll buy you.

How about you? Cause I trust that, you know what you’re doing and we just got to find you the right product. And CEO’s, and CFO’s forget that. And they think it’s transferable and they think it’s a commodity. And, you know, they think, and to a certain extent, the salespeople have allowed themselves else to get beaten up over this. I did for a very long time too. So, so that, that’s it, the huge pieces. They don’t really know what sales is like, and it’s seen as a cost center. Right. And, and you can measure the tenure of every other department versus sales and if you said, what, if we have that same turnover in marketing, what would happen if we had that same percentage of turnover in engineering, what would happen?

And that’s the challenge that I think people don’t get and they know. I would, I would love for any CFO or CEO who’s listening to this to call me. My cell phone is (415) 596-9149. Call me and I will gladly debate you and win on this time. So there you go. That’s how passionate I am.

Andy Paul: Well, I am too, so I I’ve, I have this blog piece I’ve been working on for a long time, but, and I’ve got one of two titles for it. I can’t remember or I haven’t chosen one. So the first one is CEOs Don’t Know Shit About Sales Performance. And the second round, the second version was CEOs Don’t Give a Shit About Sales Performance because they don’t. I mean, here, we have this revolution taking place in the business of sports and how these billion dollar organizations, enterprises are doing serious about performance of the people that they’re paying that are making the difference in their product. And yet, yeah, we don’t do any of that. And to your point, it’s looked at as  a cost center

Richard Harris: I agree, I would suggest you go with the, they don’t know anything about sales. I would, because I think you’ll offend more people and get them to pay attention, because I don’t know that CEOs don’t care about sales. I think they do care. I think they care about the revenue number, but they don’t care about how you get there. Right.

Andy Paul: That’s what I mean, performance.

Richard Harris: They don’t want to know about the sausage. Right. You know, you could certainly change it to something, you know, you can’t like sales, unless you can’t understand sales, unless you understand how the sausage is made. That’s too long, but it’s the same process. It’s the same piece.

Andy Paul: Yeah.

Richard Harris: Yeah.

Andy Paul: I think that’s, as you look at really the, the barriers, and this is really, this is a big one, right? It’s it’s until I don’t think we can really fundamentally transform individual sales performance until we first transform. Sales managers. And for that to happen, we have to transform higher-level sales leadership.

Richard Harris: yup. Completely agree.

Andy Paul: And until such time, it just feels like we’re sort of trying to push a wet noodle up a Hill with our nose.

Richard Harris: So, yeah. So what do you think the answer is then? So what, what does let’s let’s flip it. what do we think? What would that performance coach look like? Right. What would that, that man or woman be? What would we want them to coaching on?

Andy Paul: Yeah, so let’s, let’s, let’s go back to, let me ask you a question because this will relate to a directly take us to it is, cause I asked this increasingly now of guests on the show is who taught you how to sell.

Richard Harris: So I’m different, right? I I’m, I’m a special snowflake. both my parents were in sales growing up, so it was so to a certain extent, some of it just came through osmosis.

Andy Paul: but when you’re on the job

Richard Harris: S o my first sales job was at a company called well, any company called was that the gap and their sales process that I still know was called GAPKAC: greed, approach, product, knowledge, add on and closing. And so that was my first attempt at sales. Now that’s, that’s retail, it’s inbound, but they taught us to understand, well, what are you looking for? What kind of ideas we had to memorize all the color names, you know, we had to, you know, know what matched with what so that we could, you know, add on and upsell, right? All those kinds of things. So for me, that is the first place I learned. I don’t think I got good at it until I was 10 or 15 years later. I was not the student of sales that I see people being now. And, and I think that was probably my own ego more than anything there, you know, the books were there, you know, I just didn’t know to go look for them or didn’t want to go look for them.

Andy Paul: Yeah. In my case, it was really two people, my first boss, but you know, what he did is we talked a lot about the deals I was working on it, but not in a detail, do this, do that, but just to your question before, so what are you thinking about this deal? Right. And we went out on a lot of calls together and, and it was just that being their role modeling, modeling the behavior. Yeah. Sometimes we’d go on calls and yeah. People say, Oh, don’t let the boss do it. It’s like, or take the lead. But yeah, sometimes they just, it was great to do that because I learned so much from watching them, give the pitch, answer objections, you know, do the things that, that is like, “Oh, I won’t do it that way, but I could, I understand what I’m missing now and what I’m doing.”

and I think that just modeling the behavior seems to be missing so much these days, because, well, because partly it’s the nature of the way we sell, but we need to, it seems like we need to bring more of that back in. Cause like people, people learn by observing other people, you know, for me as an order of hierarchy is learned from my boss and mentor top, second was peers,  third was I learned from my customers. I learned a ton from my customers about how to sell and fourth was training.

Richard Harris: Yep. So it’s interesting. Cause I see it a little bit differently. I don’t know that we, I think we’re racing too hard to the go listen to this call. Here’s a perfect call. I think that’s good, but I still think there’s, you know, you still have to take your swings and at bats, right? You still, you know, in that sports analogy, you still have to, you know, Serena’s still got to get on the court and

Andy Paul: Repetition,

Richard Harris: I mean, look, let’s face it. She’s, she’s, she’s Serena Williams and, you know, greatest female athlete, if not all athletes, with what she’s been able to do in her career, but she still has to get back to the practice.

Andy Paul: And she has a coach on the court, on the court though. In her practice. She has a coach on the court every day.

Richard Harris: Entirely. Yup. Yup. 100%.

Andy Paul: Why it gets like this idea of is when this, our popular whole idea about, you know, 10,000 hours mastery of anything with 10,000 hours of practice. I think people miss serve the, the critical point was it wasn’t really the 10,000 hours. It was that you practiced with. Active direct feedback. So that, you know, as you were practicing, as you’re learning, you were, had the involvement of someone that was giving you the feedback about, Hey, have you tried this?

Have you thought about this? And so on. That’s what drove people to learn. It wasn’t the 10,000 hours without the coaching, without the deliberate direct coaching, they could’ve gone 20,000 hours not mastered it. So it wasn’t about the level of effort. It was about the effort with feedback.

Richard Harris: Yup. So I, I completely agree. And I think that’s the part that’s missing, but I think we’re to what we were saying a few minutes ago. That’s the part where we’re getting back to, right. We’re now recognizing that because of, you know, the Revenue.io tools, right. Where you can record the call and go back and coach to the call, what’s now lacking and what’s, what’s become apparent is we don’t know how to teach the coach to coach the rep. Right. We don’t teach, we don’t need to teach them that kind of stuff. So that’s where I think it’s really got to come in. I’m not, I would, I would. I would say, you know, have you talked to Matt Cameron before on the show?

Andy Paul: No, I know Matt, but I’ve not, no, we’ve not had him on the show.

Richard Harris: I would, I would encourage you to have him because, you know, he runs a management program, very different than mine but, but he has his fingers on the pulse of this stuff and at a very intimate level. And I think he’d be a great conversation. I’m more than happy to make an introduction .

Andy Paul: Oh no, I know. Matt.

Richard Harris: Yeah. So, because I think that’s no we’ve been talking about what sales going to be like, what’s training going to be like, what’s coaching going to be like, well, what about sales management? Because can you define what sales is going to be like if you haven’t defined what sales management is to your point of flipping everything on its head, stop spending the money on just the training, spending more on coaching, right. That’s a really important piece. Right?

Andy Paul: Yeah. I mean,  I’ll  think about a sales organization. I mean, I love this example is people that watch the show, Billions, about a hedge fund, you know, who’s the key, who’s the key employee.

Richard Harris: Right.

Andy Paul: Wendy, the shrink.

Richard Harris: Oh, I loved her. Yes,

Andy Paul: Right, but for a large sales organization, why wouldn’t you have somebody like that? This is your mindset specialist, coach, right? You can’t expect a sales manager to be that person. Yet we do. Without any training, we expect you to be, you know, he read a couple of articles, listen to a podcast, and you’re an expert on mindset. Well, that’s, that’s BS doesn’t work that way. Same thing with performance coaching that people that train performance coaches.

Why can’t we just change the way we staff sales other than the roadblock, but CEOs it’s like, yeah, you’ve got a frontline manager, they take care of certain aspects of right. That could be personnel management could be forecasting. It could be yeah. Budgeting. It could be hiring, but when it comes to personal development.

Yeah, we’ve got one or two specialized coaches on staff and that’s all they do. And so there’s none of this, you know, we published a podcast episode today with, talking to Pat Rogers from Loupe about a sales management survey. They had done that. Yeah. It was the 85% of sales managers say coaching’s top priority, 28% of sales reps that they get any coaching at all.

Richard Harris: yeah, I’ve seen that report.

Andy Paul: Right. So, so we got this huge gap. Well, screw the gap. Let’s make, I can go make it go away tomorrow by hiring people on staff, but that’s all they’re supposed to do.

Richard Harris: yep.

Andy Paul: So none of us, excuse about all the bosses named me and put together reports and I kind of pay them so much attention to the KPIs and make sure I’m hitting our metrics.

It’s like, yeah, yeah, go do that. You’re the manager. We’ll get some coaches they’ll take care of the sellers.

Richard Harris: Yeah. It’s interesting. I think, you know, if you think about the operations function, I think. My belief that my hypothesis is the operations function is meant to do that. But then what that also does is it exposes the weakness of the actual sales leader, because they still don’t know how to coach, they’re still sitting behind being a dashboard manager,

Andy Paul: Right? And that’s why they resist changes like this. And you’ve, I’m sure you’ve seen this as a consultant. I certainly have seen it as a consultant is. Yeah, I, I, my clients are always just CEOs, not VPs of sales or CRS, because as soon as I set foot in the door, they go into defense mode.

Well, the fact that bringing Andy and it must mean that I’m deficient somehow and it’s like, it’s not that you’re deficient bad. The bringing me to help you.

Richard Harris: Yeah, I’ve seen that shift. So I’ve seen that shift a lot in the last couple of years. At least in my world. Right. Cause once they come to me, it’s, it’s, they’re usually on board. Right. And that the story I’m hearing is, Hey, this is great. I’ve never seen it or taught it that way. Or, you know, Hey, we just need a different voice.

Right. We need to hear something different. you know, told him yeah, in a different way that connects with people generally across generations. and so the VPs of sales, at least for what I do. Typically don’t feel threatened. They often feel relieved or I’m getting happy years. Right. I should go. I should go and look at all my clients in the last two years and see how many of them still have the same sales leader. And then, you know, if it’s a really good percent with 90% of my VPs of sale are still there. 18 months later, that’s

Andy Paul: part of your marketing pitch. That’s your marketing pitch. Well, I I’ve had that conversation with, with VPs have said, yeah, I’m here to make sure you don’t get fired.

Richard Harris: I say that a lot. I say to people a lot is like, I know this is eyes are on you. I know it’s a big decision and I promise I won’t do anything to make you look bad. Right. And I can hear their exhale of like, okay, thanks. Particularly if it’s a new VP, right. Someone who’s trying to, they’re either a new VP in the role, or they’re at new, at the job.

Right. Like they they’ve been a VP, but now they’re new and you know, they’ve got the weight to throw around and to prove themselves. So it’s important for that. I think that’s, I think. I think that’s what people like about what I do is they feel like I really have their back and that’s what my G2 stuff says.

Andy Paul: Well, yeah, you got a bunch of those stars on G2.

Richard Harris: Yeah but I think that’s what people need. So I think it’s that humanity. I think Tim Clark at Salesforce, an Uncrushed who I’ve done stuff with is, you know, he did, we did an episode with him and his whole thing is like, how do we bring humanity back into sales? And when you stop and think about it, a lot of people race to how do I be more human with my prospect and, and you know, Tim and I are like, well, yeah, but how do we be more human with our employees? How do we make sure we’re not just making it about the number? Right. I don’t know who said it, but somebody has said it that, you know, you know, made it to president’s club does not go on your tombstone. Right. Like that’s not what it’s like, that’s, it’s not that important, right?

Andy Paul: Yeah, it’s a big, a big task. But I think that one of the things on the human element that that’s just our sighing about is that, you know, we talk about that, but by the same token, we look at the expectations for like onboarding programs. And, and I remember reading this quote from, a soccer coach and in the UK, a premier league coach. And he’s saying we, before we train the soccer player, we train the human. And I thought, Oh, that’s brilliant. Right before we train the soccer player, we train the human. And again, to your point, we don’t do that at all. In sales, you won’t get people that support at all about, you know, a perfect example of our onboarding programs.

You know, 90 days you gotta be up to speed and this coach went on to say, he says, you want things are really sensitive to, is everybody matures at different rates? And so, he said, there’s almost always a moment with the top players where suddenly they get it, but the moment they get, it could be month one for one player. It could be month 18 for another player. And yet for us, if someone is past 90 days and they don’t really get it yeah. There not going to be around very long

Richard Harris: No,

Andy Paul: don’t this whole point of being human is we don’t account for any human differences and people. This is for me, the part that’s gotten worse.

Richard Harris: yeah, I completely agree. And, and I think we’re about to see it now. Like I think it’s, it’s with what’s happening in COVID and, and where it’s going to take us is the mediocrities being weeded out to a certain degree. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of mediocre people in positions of influence and they’re protecting themselves and they might be reading out the wrong mediocrity,

Andy Paul: Sure. Everybody’s got an excuse now.

Richard Harris: Right. So, and that, you know, I’ve talked to a couple of people and they’ve shown me their leaderboard and they’re number one or number two. And they’re the ones who are getting, let go from COVID and I’m like, wait a minute. Like, I I’m like, I’m really sorry, but be glad you’re not working for that leader anymore.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Why? So? Why were they being, let go. That’s amazing.

Richard Harris: Yeah. I have no idea. I have no clue. Like they were, you know, the, Oh, well the excuse was we have to downsize. Like we have to cope with it. Like, it’s the COVID thing. I’m like, okay, but who are they keep it? Do they keep people or do they let go of the whole team? No, they kept people. So now there’s favoritism.

Andy Paul: That’s a whole nother book. Somebody needs to write. I mean, it’s like, if salespeople think they’re playing on a level playing field, it’s just not the case. And this is another thing. Yeah. When we talk about performance and sales as an aggregate, it’s, you know what account for a lot of the individual variations.

Yeah. People getting fed, fed the better leads, better territories, better accounts. We can just go down the list, but that’s another day we’ll have to solve that

Richard Harris: Yup. Totally agree.

Andy Paul: All right. Well, Richard running out of time as always been a pleasure. We won’t wait so long the next time to do it. And people want to connect with you. What’s the best way to do that?

Richard Harris: Well, easiest is LinkedIn, right? Like Richard Harris. I’m the guy who, you know, hacked and trademarked his name, even though you can’t legally do it. That’s how you’ll find me. And, you know, I gave out my cell phone, but here just again, 415-596-6914. Nobody ever calls me. That’s why I love giving it out.

Andy Paul: All right. So audience let’s let’s prove them wrong. Somebody pick up the phone and call Richard

Richard Harris: And text me. Yeah, I’ll take that.

Andy Paul: Or text. Yeah,

Richard Harris: Yeah.

Andy Paul: Be modern. Perfect. Alright, Richard,

Richard Harris: Fun, Andy. I really appreciate the time. It’s always good to catch up with you.

Andy Paul: always look forward to again soon.

Richard Harris: Alright. Talk to you later.