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Use A Talent Strategy to Hire ‘A’ Players, with Mike Drapeau [Episode 400]

In this episode, we hear from Mike Drapeau, Managing Partner at Sales Benchmark Index. He heads SBI’s internal talent development.

Key Takeaways

  • Revenue Growth Methodology is built around three pillars of growth: marketing, sales, and product. The equation is 50% talent and 50% performance conditions. What talent strategy can help underperforming companies?
  • Mike cites Elliott Jaques on talent potentiality, and Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn on the alliance between employer and employee. SBI looks not just for accomplishments, but also for potentiality. They measure Sacrifice Tolerance Level.
  • STL is measured specifically to each position, by asking what they were willing to sacrifice, and if they knew for what purpose they were sacrificing. Mike cites Clayton Christensen. Will what they give up now get them to where they want to be?
  • Mike looks for people who can do long-term and short-term thinking. Instead of a learning curve, SBI offers a learning cliff, and it’s not an easy climb. The job trial is role specific, but three weeks, 10 hours a week, of their A-game.
  • Mike explains the type of job trial they might offer to a candidate; in this example, a role-played virtual video presentation suited to the client scenario. Empathy is a core differentiator for working with clients, and they test for it.
  • Andy says companies write job specifications, but they don’t test to the specifications. Mike agrees it is necessary to create conditions that will test the candidate’s performance and suitability for a role.
  • Greg Alexander, SBI CEO, co-wrote Topgrading for Sales on how to hire the best salespeople. Calculate the cost of hiring a C player instead of an A player.
  • References should include the last three bosses, and a subordinate. Look at W2s for three years. Test candidates to analyze data. Use the “threat of reference check.” One killer question for past bosses: “How would you manage them?”
  • Onboarding best practices are addressed in articles Mike has written at SalesBenchmarkIndex.com, available for free. SBI uses a self-service tool called Asana. Put someone very senior over onboarding (sales manager or higher).
  • Onboarding is a four-month process, integrating content specific to a role, by stage of development, by month. A personal dossier merges personal goals with professional aspirations. A tour of duty plans out a three-year path.
  • Sales training is preparation for coaching. Without the coaching, the training degrades quickly. SBI teaches sales managers how to coach, not how to manage. Coaching is 20-25% of a manager’s time and effort.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul 0:56
Welcome to Sales Enablement Podcast. Hi, I’m your host, Andy Join me as I host conversations with the leading experts in sales, marketing, sales automation, sales process, leadership, management, training, coaching, any resource that I believe to help you Sales Enablement Podcast the growth of your sales, your business, and most importantly, you. Hello and welcome to the Sales Enablement Podcast. I’m excited to talk to my guest today. Joining us, Mike drapeau. He’s a partner at SBI. And my other responsibilities head of SBI is internal talent development, and maintains and leverages their library of emerging best practices. And we’re going to talk about some of that, Mike, welcome to the Sales Enablement Podcast. Thank you very much.

Andy Paul 1:39
Well, first one’s easy one just serve flesh out that bare bones introduction. I gave us a little bigger background. How’d you get into sales?

Mike Drapeau 1:47
Oh gosh, well, I have maybe something of an eclectic background. I spent 13 years in the United States Navy, doing all sorts of different crazy things. But finishing up my time up the Mediterranean with the seal teams And after that I was a consultant working in the re engineering world if you remember back that in early 90s, and then that led me to a.com which for the time I was there didn’t implode. But then after that afterwards was purchased and did a great swan dive but benefited from that experience. We all have those on our tail. I have a whole room on paper with that stock.

Andy Paul 2:24
Several of those are facts of our rooms.

Mike Drapeau 2:26
I only have one well thanks. So and from there went to EMC Corporation which was just reaching a sort of a cyst, its height as the GO GO sales force in there. I think I arrived we were something like 250 million give or take a penny and I left at 3 billion and wrote that rocket ship and frankly that was really where I learned I got kind of got my bonafides in high energy, high octane complex selling highly competitive market, big big ticket items, etc. And out of that, I then started my own company, which was an IT services company of all things because I had the technology Background In this. So I ran that and it was successful but not as successful as I wanted it to be. And then I had always stayed in contact with Greg Alexander. We met at EMC. And he had started a company Sales Benchmark Index. And about a couple months after it started, he and my partner and Bartels offered me Partnership, which at the time, the company was, you know, two people in the making three people in a garage with just a few clients, right, we say and that’s so over 11 years ago, and really riding the rocket ship since then has been the most profoundly enjoyable professional experience I’ve had.

Andy Paul 3:37
Alright, guess I mean, how often to get people to our site that was profoundly entertaining, and enjoying

Mike Drapeau 3:42
Everything every single year is totally different. And we’ve managed in 10 straight years to record 30% CAGR each and every year. We’ve always done it differently. That’s what’s fun about it. It’s not like it’s sort of a mandatory, same, same thing. It’s quite quite different each and every time. So that’s what keeps Fresh.

Andy Paul 4:01
All right. So you mentioned the SEAL team. So are you actually going through the SEAL training?

Mike Drapeau 4:06
I did not. I was not part of buds. My job was combat logistics. So I provided sort of, I’m the person that puts the beans, the guns in the bullets, places where they need to be so they can make use of them.

Andy Paul 4:16
So interesting, very interesting.

Mike Drapeau 4:18
So close enough to the fire, I feel the warmth, but not enough to be touched by the flame.

Andy Paul 4:23
Right. And close enough that you can’t talk about it. Indeed, and Okay, so we were gonna talk about hiring and onboarding sales because and maybe we’ll take a step back and think about you know, what they did at EMC maybe it’s you learn there about was good to help them. So there go go, but, but you talk, first of all about the fact that companies need to have a talent strategy in place. So what is a talent strategy? I rarely hear companies talk about, gosh, we have a talent strategy. They have a hiring strategy, but not a talent strategy.

Mike Drapeau 4:51
Absolutely. Well for us, and we see this, one of the things SBI has created our framework. It’s called the RG and the revenue growth methodology and that’s built on On The three pillars of growth, which is marketing, sales, and product, and what we realized a long time ago that the Performance Equation is 50% challenging 50% performance conditions for any company. And that applies across all the different business functions, especially the three growth functions. And we realized people didn’t have this, as you said, they didn’t have a talent strategy. And so they’re constantly underperforming, even with the best of expectations, the perfect process, the most well designed program with a great strategy and all the intentions and yet they would underperform. And they realized that was talent, and talent. As you said, it’s not just sort of let’s dump everything, hire the best recruiters and hire the best people and not have them walk in the door. You need to think about everything from onboarding, to talent development, coaching, apprenticeship, sort of all the piece parts that touch on talent, and it’s not something you want to dump off onto sort of the HR person, the mandatory person who dragged dragged kicking and screaming, doesn’t know the business of the people graduated from their HR program, whatever it might be, and they sort of get shoved to the floor. front plate and on their desk all of the nasty bits of talent. And what is forgotten is that so the HR person becomes the person who has to, has to fire, has to deal with all the difficult things but isn’t thought of as a strategic asset of the firm. And we realize both for ourselves and also for our clients that having that talent strategy recognizing at 50% equations that people but not just hiring them, but making sure they were successful, was the key to success. And so we created a whole stem to stern talent strategy to execute against that.

Andy Paul 6:31
Well, I like the word talent. So when people put their talent strategy in place, how much of it is, you know, I know there’s all these other components we’ll get to about onboarding and so on, but identifying inherent or latent talents, either one in prospective candidates. I mean, it’s, it seems like we don’t use that word very often.

Mike Drapeau 6:52
No, I mean, there’s actually some great books written about the whole concept of talent potential reality is a guy named Same here. I’ve got this book right in front of me, Eliot Jacques, who’s written a bunch about that. And we’ve taken some of his concepts embedded in ours. And also, the good folks, Reed Hoffman at LinkedIn, who wrote a book called The Alliance, right, we have embedded into our and we’re sort of a, we take, we try to do our very best to take some of the great ideas out there and embed them in our organization sort of put them through the SBI filter and embrace them. And we’ve done this with those ideas. And for us, it’s when we create a new role when we source an existing role. We’re looking not just for the person who’s who’s been there and done that. We’re looking for the combination. Yes, there’s a little bit of need to show that you’ve done it but also potentially, what is their willingness for us we have an attribute we call STL sacrifice tolerance level. And it’s a way we measure someone’s ability to truly integrate their personal professional life together, but do so with understanding that look, you’re gonna have to walk in the door humble, because we don’t have a talent curve. We have a talent cliff. And if you’re going to be able Climb that cliff, the first thing you have to do is recognize that you don’t know everything about everything. And we’re hiring you for your potential not for your actual not for what you’ve done before you could do. And it’s really kind of hard. It’s kind of a conundrum.

Andy Paul 8:12
Well, yeah, let’s go back to I love the term the sacrifice tolerance level. So how do you measure that?

Mike Drapeau 8:20
Well, different a little bit differently for each individual position. Sure. Right. And there’s a series of questions we asked to sort of tease out what they were willing to sacrifice did they know what they were sacrificing for? We mix in some elements of Clayton Christensen that he was really good at showing people, hey, you say you want to get to this particular thing in the future, but all the steps you’re taking now are not taking you there. So either you need to change your end state or you need to change what you’re doing in between, but you need to recognize fundamentally that you’re going to different directions and you say you want

Andy Paul 8:49
Okay, so you’re looking for congruence behind what they state they want to do and I was sure what they’re doing.

Mike Drapeau 8:53
Exactly. And even more than that, what they’re doing, but what did you do 10 years ago, what did you want to be, What was your objective? And how did you get there? And if they stumble and Bumble and fumble, we are what we recognize that they can’t simultaneously do long term and short term thinking. And we’re looking for somebody because we take so we want to hire somebody for a long time. We want to hire them, and know that they’re gonna be with us well, because it is tremendous, as I said, it’s a cliff to learn how to be a great employee. So infrared, and then for us, we’re climbing with them. So it isn’t just, hey, look, here’s a here’s a here’s a pic. And here’s a couple shoots. Have a nice day. I’m going right up the wall with them. Right. And so we want to make sure when they get to the top of the cliff, we enjoy that success that plateau before they tackle the next cliff

Andy Paul 9:38
A third party assessment tool or something to help you with that. I mean, it’s it’s, I mean, it’s an interesting term. And I like it because I think that you know, one of the things that seems to be missing so often and salespeople is the willingness to sacrifice. And I mean, we look at just self self self learning as an example, right, as is your interview a sales rep and you say, okay, what’s the last sales book you read in the last 30 days? Well, yeah, often is just a blank stare and let alone You say, Okay, last year. Yeah, so getting sales reps to make that investment sometimes on their own personal time is really difficult. So, to me, I really like that approach.

Mike Drapeau 10:14
Sure. So we do so , so one of the things we recognized a while back is that even as we’re approaching people that are sort of in a current job and are looking for a job, they get interested. One of the ways we test for this is the length and the depth of our pre-hire process, we have a lot of steps to go through and they’re each step is quite different in their value, and they’re all part of the mutual discernment process. So for example, we have an extraordinarily robust job trial. That’s role specific.

Andy Paul 10:40
So you have in your own company

Mike Drapeau 10:42
which we have for our own company, we actually do it for our clients as clients, so that’s what’s gonna get to you so you recommend that they do that. So try to buy it’s the single greatest determinant that separates because we eat what you typically do late in the interview process. And so what it does is it doesn’t it doesn’t separate your B from your C players. It separates that gaggle of B plus players from the eight players.

Andy Paul 11:03
Yeah, I’m sorry. Go ahead.

Mike Drapeau 11:04
Yeah. So a B player can pretty much well stick handle their way around and interview process, right? And get to that final three, the job travels, smoke them out.

Andy Paul 11:13
Okay, so much. And so when you’re talking about what the job trial is, and sort of tried to buy, explain what you mean. So how do you start? How do you construct that? Because sometimes it’s problematic if you’re, especially if you’re recruiting somebody for another job, they own a job. You know, they’re in a specific job right now is saying, Yeah, we want you to come spend 30 days to see if you’re the right candidate or not.

Mike Drapeau 11:35
Well, it’s not 30 days on site, if you will, but but you are right. And you have started a question asking how do we test for SDL? Well, okay, you’re in your job now, and you’re doing well at it. I’m sure you are. And here’s an extra 10 hours a week for the next three weeks. And, and by the way, even even if you’re not going to get a job offer from us, or even if you’re going to site, you’re not going to, you’re not going to want to come to us, it’s going to be time well spent, it’ll help you in job etc. But by the way, it’s going to take you Every bid in the 30 hours, and you better bring your A game. And they’ll say, You know what? I’m not interested. Okay, great. That’s a great STL comment right away. And we fall in love a lot. So if they want to stretch it out a little bit, that’s fine. You know,

Andy Paul 12:11
what type of things you have to do for that 10 hours a week, let’s say

Mike Drapeau 12:14
well, it’s, it’s, it’s role dependent, specific

Andy Paul 12:16
But let’s say for a sales rep, let’s say one of your clients, if you’re recommended they do that, what would you say they should do?

Mike Drapeau 12:23
So it’s a combination. So you might say, okay, there’s a scenario, you’re a sales rep for us. And here’s your scenario. And it’s a pretty robust scenario with a lot of detail in it. And you have to prepare for an event. Let’s say the event is some form of a presentation to a gaggle of people typically, it is a it’s a presentation to a multiple group of people, right at a client site, let’s say, Okay, and then, um, and then you give them what are the rubrics of the presentation? What are the expectations? They have? We got a set of questions they get to ask so you’re testing for their initial insight. Well, good at determining what was bogus information or unclean consequences or consequential, where were the gaps in the story that you gave them, then you test that you provide them the answers that they’re asking for, and you give them answers that are not perfect. Like the answers you typically get in a client scenario, right? imperfect answers, partial answers, right? And so then they then have to then develop in whatever they’re going to present to you in whatever scenario and then we test them with a multi person, everyone playing a different role as though they would be at a client site, let’s say,

Andy Paul 13:31
do a role play and do that remotely if need be, or

Mike Drapeau 13:36
if it was a virtual company. So we have people throughout the United States, and if there’s somebody close by Yes, if not, it’s entirely virtual with video as well. So you might as well want to see their expressions and how they play the crowd and so on. Right? And then everybody plays a role. So you’re looking for someone to approach you in your role? Are they treating everybody the same? Do they understand what the different perspectives are in those roles and how to address them in the context of Whatever you’re presenting? You punch him in the head as many times as possible, see how they respond? And

Andy Paul 14:07
exactly correct.

Andy Paul 14:08
Yeah, well, I think coachability, it’s key thing I think that companies too often overlook is they don’t actually test to see if the people they’re hiring accept coaching.

Mike Drapeau 14:17
exactly correct. And, that’s all part of it. So we subject him to the rigors of not just what the client will do, but what we will do as they prepare for and complete an evolution. And so, in that process, the potential future employee gets to see do I like this? Do I like these people? Do I like working with a client that’s going to punch me in the mouth? You know, did I enjoy that preparation and execution process?

Andy Paul 14:39
Very interesting.

Mike Drapeau 14:40
Oh yeah. And then we also if you’re going to be a consultant, we’ll send you through much more detailed analytical training to test those particular skills. And then we put a big emphasis on things like empathy. So for us empathy is a core differentiator in how we interact with our clients. And there are ways to test for that you know, and everything From what you might ask the waiter to spill the soup on your own to your potential employee in a restaurant to see how they react? No, I mean that sounds silly but it profoundly affects the SIR right exactly. how they deal with stressful situation with somebody so that’s a spontaneous planned accident is sometimes insightful

Andy Paul 15:21
right next time I go to lunch I gotta be careful

Mike Drapeau 15:24
If you’re looking for a job, be on your guard. Yeah. So well I like that. That’s very clever but I think that the thing in general that we’re talking about which is the part that so many companies don’t do and they need to think about is is they don’t test right they develop a set of specifications or a definition for a particular role, what their expectations are, and then they don’t put the candidate through the process to validate and verify they can actually do what, what they want done. It’s amazing and so often not so often, oftentimes, we run to the very same thing and the whole HR departments who are spun up that are supposed to be ensuring this and they don’t It just sort of going through the motions of I got this interview, I got that interview, and they don’t ever really create the conditions that determines. And it’s not just from, from the company’s perspective, it’s also from the employees perspective, because they need to know whether or not they’re going to enjoy this. And that’s a lot of times we have people that sour on a company or positions because, gosh, I never knew I was going to do this, that and the other. And exactly, that’s why you need a job, especially for anything that’s touching revenue. You know, that’s, that’s the key customer facing

Andy Paul 16:24
for sure. Basic, exactly. Correct. Yeah, I had one one client where we’re hiring a VP of sales. And we wanted them, they were gonna do some new market entry strategies for a couple of key markets and they wanted to see the sense of the candidates thinking about how they would go about this task. Yep. And so they narrowed down to four final candidates that they gave this to. And two of the four just said, You’re asking me for advice. Once you pay me for this work, as opposed to like, no, this is this is where you’re gonna show whether you can do the job

Mike Drapeau 17:01
Yeah, and they just sort of walked themselves out of the job, I’d make that comment. they’ve saved everybody all the time and effort necessary. They’re not the right person.

Andy Paul 17:09
Yeah. So what do you see is sort of the key reason why companies seem to settle for less than a player. So, first of all, there’s a limited number of players. I understand that, but, it seems like companies settle too often. This is one of my frustrations or work with clients or, you know, talk to groups, and they’re complaining about their sales team. It’s like, Well, you know, look at your process. Right?

Mike Drapeau 17:30
Exactly. Don’t be surprised. And well, our CEO has written a book called top grading for sales. And if you’ve heard about it, yeah. Dr. Brad smart, right. So, one of the great phrases he had there is the erroneous assumption that bad breath is better than no breath. And that is sort of because people feel that they put a gun to their heads and say you better hurry up to themselves. And, so they and when they do that, because what they have not done is calculate what’s called the cost of miss hire, and the cost of misfires just quantitative wage expense. What is it? What does it cost me when I have a CD player in the role?

Andy Paul 18:07
I mean, I’ve seen anywhere from four to seven times

Mike Drapeau 18:10
The salary for a sales rep. That’s exactly correct for their Oh t. So, right. So it’s the opposite. They’re thinking, Okay, I’ve got an O t of 250,000, he should sell 10 sets. So to quote two and a half million or whatever, in reality, what their thing is look about, they’re gonna cost you a million and a half, just by hiring the wrong person is the opposite. And so the spread between what you want to get, which is the two and a half million between what you might get, which is the last one and a half million dollars with a sale, that’s a set three and a half million dollar spread. So that’s the difference between a CD player and a player, take your time, and have the right process that will make sure that the end result is the person that’s going to be wildly successful.

Andy Paul 18:47
And so how do you get into that, and this is another thing that’s a big thing for me is what do you recommend for people in terms of verifying claims that are on a resume? Because Yeah, to me, this is Now obvious, it’s rampant that people use the truth on resumes, especially in sales jobs, because it’s hard to really go back and validate. How do you do that? I mean, what’s the advice you give people to do that effectively?

Mike Drapeau 19:11
Well, there’s some great tips in the top grading methodology, that smart occasion in which we have our sales variant of. And I’ll just give you a couple of for instance, References So we don’t ask for the uncle Dion and the best friend that come in the reference check. We actually asked them for two sets of references, the one set is their bosses, the last three bosses, and that’s the only personal self report. If they can’t reference their boss, that’s no play possible . Sometimes we ask for the lowest administrator that they can think of in their organization. Somebody who works was four levels down who worked for them. And then again, that’s testing how you treat others if you will, as well as how you can produce for your boss because there’s some people who get their boss to swear by them, but do so by trampling everybody under foot, right? It’s sort of vertical in both levels of verticality. That’s one way to do it. Another way is we have them present their W to see what you’ve earned the last few years, huh? You can cut right through the noise right then. And there are several other techniques like that where we’re looking for practical evidence. So if it’s a consultant, okay, well actually, literally watch them do an annual call, here’s the spreadsheet, I want to turn your video monitor around, I want to see you analyze the data in real time on a goto meeting. Okay, we’re gonna watch their thought process in action. We actually had somebody years ago, who outsourced the analysis of a data file we gave them and got 100% on all the scores that we had to them and we hired a board and then it was a disaster with what is it on? You that he came clear with what he did? And I’m thinking, why would you do that? I mean, why would you know that you had all these other attributes, knowing that the job you’re going into and you just know accounting for what it will do some of the time so knowing we’ll find out about which always happens.

Andy Paul 20:59
Yeah. But timing reference checks. Because this is a big thing for me is, is, I think that you need a reference check early in the process before we fall in love with candidates. And that’s, to me, it’s a qualifier, it’s not a final benediction, you’ll give a rep, you know, based on some soft reference you’re going to get this is I want to do reference checks, actually, before I bring them in for the first, you know, management interview.

Mike Drapeau 21:23
So we don’t do that. But we do that in a different way. Here’s how we do it. Sure. It’s called torque to RC it’s actually a trademark term of tract operating threat of reference check. And that occurs early in the process. And so um, so if you’re, if you’re part of if your candidate and you’re sort of you get past that initial screening interview, and you’re in the pipeline, if you will, when you’re talking, when I say oh, by the way, if you get through all these things that we’re doing, like the, the analysis, assessment, and then the job trial and an interview with and then we put them on on site with clients, many times if you get through all that stuff, we’re going to do a refresher Interview not a referral check. It’s an actual live interview. And it’s an interview with your bosses. So are you able to give us the last three bosses names and phone numbers? And will they be willing to have an hour long conversation that can you check now? So at that point, I’m a handful of them will pull themselves out of the process and say you saved them. So in a way, we don’t actually do the referral, then we do it at the end. Sorry, but we make sure that we let them know that if you can’t produce those bosses, then there’s no need to go any further.

Andy Paul 22:29
And so do you have someone sort of killer questions that you’re asking the bosses

Mike Drapeau 22:37
We have a series of questions. And there’s one question, I’ll give you this killer question. And this question is important, because oftentimes the boss even if they want to be Gary, listen, in a sort of very positive way about the person. Sometimes it’s constrained by what the company says you can say about a former employee, right doesn’t matter how they left and good terms or bad terms or any terms. And the question goes something Like this, if you were managing that person again,If you were in the position, how would you manage them? I don’t remember exactly. But something like that. So puts them in the saddle as though they were a manager and allows them to comment on the past. And it’s you’re not asking them to criticize the employee, whenever you’re saying, Okay, how would I manage that person? So you’re asking them about their activities. Puts, of course, are just an implicit extension of the gaps, indoor competencies of the individual that you’re talking about?

Andy Paul 23:29
Yeah, it’s interesting. You say that, because that’s, that’s a variant of the question that I use, which is, if you were to give advice to the person who’s going managing this individual

Mike Drapeau 23:39
oh, yeah, there you go. Right. What would you tell them? Exactly?

Andy Paul 23:42
Yeah, basically, same question. Yeah. So that’s an excellent question. All right. Let’s talk about onboarding. Because this is giving short shrift so often, Oh, my goodness. Yes. So what are best practices? I mean, what are you seeing that good companies do, let’s say EMC. Maybe hopefully they did a good job. But there are other things clients that you work with are easy to do an okay job.

Mike Drapeau 24:01
And I’ll tell you what I mean, this is something I’m passionate about. And if I can be so bold as to direct your listenership to our website salesbenchmarkindex.com. I’ve written three or four articles specifically on this issue, best practices and onboarding, sales and marketing people. Okay, so there’s chock full of it. So I’ll just rip off a couple, but there’s 10 times that I have available and there’s a couple articles all that you can get at a low price for free. Right for so yeah, exactly, indeed. So a couple things you should know there should be a tool that helps you. We use a tool called Asana that’s cloud based, it’s self service. It’s all self service. That’s number one. Number two, you should put somebody very senior in charge. So I’m a partner in the firm and I run onboarding every single employee that comes in the firm and spends four months having one hour a week, calling with me and having me oversee their onboarding process. Okay, that’s how much metal we put on. Now, many companies can’t afford that. So for them, we recommend that the sales manager should be held accountable for the success of the onboarding process, which oftentimes sales managers in their marketing managers, whatever say, Hey, you know, that person’s onto their own. Have a nice day sink or swim. I’m off to other things.

Andy Paul 25:11
Yeah. What’s HR doing? right?

Mike Drapeau 25:13
Exactly. It’s a charge. It’s a charge responsibility. So we totally look at that the opposite. We integrate the content of which we have a pretty massive learning management system with lots of very stylized and customized content, we integrate that in terms of the to the role specifically. So we have role specific learning paths as well as to their stage of development first, second, third and fourth month. So all these so it’s tightly interwoven and there’s a really a virtue loop between what are you learning? What are you coaching, what are you demonstrating? What are you getting good at? We take it seriously a lot, we have a thing called a personal dossier, which is a combination of everything from your ideal life we actually have. We asked employees to document what they want for the current and the industry. term future in their personal lives intensely personal questions and then we merge that with their professional aspirations at a longer term level again

Andy Paul 26:08
So more goal oriented

Mike Drapeau 26:10
yeah, but in an intimate detail, much more intimate than people are used to dealing with a company. And the reason is

Andy Paul 26:15
That is

Mike Drapeau 26:16
Everything from their friendships, their hobbies, things that are really because we recognize we believe in work life integration, we do not believe in work life balance, we think that sort of zero sum game approach to work life balance is fundamentally misleading and causes conflict, both from the business side and the personal side. And so by recognizing that life intrudes into work and work shoots into life, right, that we have them go through this exercise, and that personal dose includes that includes a tour of duty, which is an artifact that comes from the Alliance process. And then an individual belvin plan, which is like a quarterly set of action items that you have to execute against to kind of take one bite of the elephant at a time.

Andy Paul 26:54
And the tour of duty is what

Mike Drapeau 26:57
your duties are sir. Typically, most roles go for about three years. This is one of the breakthroughs that Reed Hoffman had, which is all right, a tour of duty says, What am I going to commit to you? And what are you gonna commit to over three years? Right? And then after that, we’re gonna pick our heads up and figure out what we’re gonna do. And the reality is most companies sort of figure that whoever they hire on day one is gonna stay in that job for the rest of their life. And that’s just not reality. Yeah, and so people leave voluntarily otherwise, Three, Four years later, because they say you where they’re there, you know, turn in. So we force it to this tour of duty to make sure everybody understands and that matches the whole military concept of a tour of duty.

Andy Paul 27:32
Yeah. And the ultimate period. Exactly. Correct. Yeah, exactly. That’s interesting.

Mike Drapeau 27:39
So that it becomes a development document.

Andy Paul 27:42
Yeah. No, I like that idea of the tour of duty. I hadn’t read that book. But I put that on to read that. That’s, that’s very clever. It is because yeah, there’s no guarantee as companies want to assume that people are going to still be fit for what they would need three years down the road or four years. down the road, whatever, right? Exactly I hear what you’re saying is that we’re gonna set the ground rules so that really the commitments are done at the end of three years. And we can both part ways and we’re happy.

Mike Drapeau 28:10
exactly correct. In fact, if that’s indeed what makes sense, or there’s another opportunity, or they commit to another three year tour in the same position, any of those things are option, but at a minimum, we we set the employee knows, hey, there’s you set a gun, your head, because you want to develop, you want to grow, you want to improve, you’re just not treading water, because our company is constantly moving one thing we are relentlessly innovative. So that if you just stay in place, you’re going to be behind,

Andy Paul 28:35
right? Well, it’s true. A lot of companies, right. So yeah, the assumption is if I do a good enough job in three years, let’s say my tour of duty in this position. Yeah, there’s no guarantee that we need that same three years doing this exact same thing. The exact same thing, excuse me, and three years from now, right?

Mike Drapeau 28:51
Yeah. And it happens sometimes somebody comes into perfectly happy, acceptable in a position as it isn’t. The position gets redefined because we’re chasing a different kettle of fish and Suddenly, they need to change or on Thursday an opportunity just because the company’s changed the buyers’ change.

Andy Paul 29:06
Right. I really like that. So the last part I want to get to just briefly is sales training. So we’ve on board people now we’re sort of managing through this tour of duty. And, again, seems to be a huge disconnect between perception of what sales training should do and what actually ends up doing love dissatisfaction at the CEO level about investments in sales training, you know, as you acknowledge that with your eyebrows there. So what’s the solution?

Mike Drapeau 29:39
Well, for the US sales, let’s keep it on the sales focus. The reality is when people complain about sales training more often than not what they’re complaining about with realizing it is they don’t have coaching. They think that and if you look at any even the best experts in l&d will tell you that hey, I can train you on a topic and you can be smart about it and I can pass the 100 question test, like a bomb. exam or whatever, and I can make a 50% failure rate. And emerging from that test, you’re gonna have a good category. People can be really smarter than the area and that intelligence will degrade over time if it’s not reinforced, right. And most people don’t connect the training with the coaching. They’re sort of on disparate paths. And that when you especially have an independent l&d department with independent trainers who are not even part of the business function like sales, that tendency to split is accentuated. And so there’s virtually no connection, some cases between the coaching function which is all about reinforcement, enablement, repetition, extension development and the actual training, which is typically about awareness. In some cases, you can get more advanced forms of training like role plays and scenarios. But even those require somebody with subject matter experts ignite expertise, which rolls back to the sales manager, or the sales operations or sales executive. And so when we go into companies, if we’re typically around a process initiative, we are going to reform some aspect of process territory design. It could be account planning, it could be a sales process, and it was Different things. And we say, okay, there’s going to be a training component, but it’s got to be twinned with ongoing coaching reinforcement, sometimes we have to coach the coaches, because sometimes they’ve developed bad habits or they don’t even have any habits. Right and we need to let them know here’s what a good coach looks like. Here’s how a sales manager coaches not how a sales manager manages, but how a sales manager coaches, the right core skill set and it has to be learned. And a lot of people think snap your you know, snap your fingers clicky hills and suddenly a great coach and that’s just not reality.

Andy Paul 31:27
No, that’s a different set of skills. one’s very directive, one is driven by empathy

Mike Drapeau 31:32
A lot of salespeople tend to be great sports fans and make them understand, look, the great players don’t make the great coaches and vice versa necessarily, like well, what makes a great coach, okay, here’s what makes a great coach. And then you tell them all the time it takes most people to think of coaching as an afterthought, the thing that I squeeze in for one and a half hours a week, it’s like no, no, no, coaches 20-25% of your managerial life. And if you don’t understand that, you’re always going to be super repping all the time, you’re going to be the senior rep on every deal, right? And, and so the new sometimes with many people, hopefully you have that breakthrough when they finally get it and they sort of may have that, that investment in themselves, which will then mean a series of 80 hour workweeks for a while and then suddenly life will get much easier for them. But they have to recognize that they have to do their day job and become a great coach so that they can get to the position of truly causing leverage across their team.

Andy Paul 32:28
Right. All right, great. So now Mike, we’re in the last segment of the show. I’ve got some standard questions I ask all my guests. And the first one is a hypothetical scenario: you might have just been hired as VP of sales at a company whose sales have stalled out and time to hit the reset button, or too anxious to do it so what two things could you do in your first week on the job that could have the biggest impact?

Mike Drapeau 32:51
Well, the first is to make sure that I’ve got a multimillion dollar consultancy budget to hire SBI Okay, That’s funny. That’s the first time I’ve gotten that answer. Well, that’s, you know, and honestly this is so this. So let me be honestly serious if I’m interviewing if and this is, we do this quite seriously if I’m a VP of Sales interviewing the CEO for a job. I’m going to ask one of the key questions we asked the CEO, what’s the budget for third party services and the reason is very simple. You can’t be expected to solve every problem yourself because why because you walk into that environment with only what you know only what you’ve been successful at, etc performance conditions, largely which were imposed upon you by your previous employer, employers, and now you walk into a new set of performance conditions.

Andy Paul 33:38
Well, I would say the interesting question and challenge that comes out of that because I think it’s a great comment is that you know, so often when they hire new sales VPs companies and situations like this, they look at them as the Savior right? They know all they know and so suddenly that person because I’ve run into these people all the time, but they also have a trigger. Hey, now’s the time to be spending money. It’s like, No, I can’t tell them, I don’t need help, because they hired me to be the expert.

Mike Drapeau 34:06
Right? And they did that. Because when they were in the process, they didn’t hit the CEO with the question. And this is why I said, Look, you’re not going to be happy. Because if you try to take what you did in the past and impose on this company, you’re going to be taking a square peg fit in a round hole and you some things will work, some things will kind of work and some things won’t work at all right. And that’s why third party is helpful because they come in with this vast broad exposure to all the different performance conditions, and all the different things at work and don’t work and they can give you an adjusted modified, they can take all the ideas that you have, and just take them in and tweak them when necessary, and they can give you what will most likely be successful.

Andy Paul 34:46
So you can say if a CEO or board was interested in that approach, should they spend that money before hiring this person?

Mike Drapeau 34:53
Yeah, that ‘s it. That is a fundamental question. The answer is it depends. And it depends because it means minimum, the person that should be hiring should be involved at a certain point in time. Typically, it’s that sort of late stages of design, because you don’t want to necessarily be forced to inherit the design conditions that are being imposed upon you. The best would be if the person is hired right at about the same time that the consultancy is hired, because they can learn together. And they can have this mutual fruitful interaction. Because if you if the person comes aboard and spends 90 days and then hires a consultant, oftentimes they’ve already sort of formed their opinions, right? And they’ve done so they’re only one person. And they again, they only form opinions based on what they know. And sometimes those opinions are well founded, sometimes not so much. And so sometimes when you bring the consultancy and they spend up some of their time trying to disabuse you of some of the conclusions you’ve reached that causes pain along the way. Yes. Oh, so the best would be to hire them roughly in conjunction and then have them sort of do the design and the validation, the hypothesis testing together, right and then reach sort of the solution. Or the set of changes or whatever it’s going to be together and then the implementation and then eventually, that consultancy should move on to other things in the company possibly move from sales to marketing, from marketing, to product, to product to customer service, whatever. But, um, you want to give the organization time to internalize some of those changes, especially if they’re really structurally strategic.

Andy Paul 36:20
Okay. All right. Well, that’s a good answer. Well, we’ll go with that one. So, our questions for it to sort of wrap things up. You can be one word answers. You can elaborate if you wish. So the first one is when you are selling your services. What’s your most powerful sales attributes?

Mike Drapeau 36:36
Like, first of all, I can’t close the barn door. So I’m not a salesman. I’m more of a sort of a best practices guy. And I guess my most powerful tool is my straightforwardness which sometimes can come off as just the abrasive, but for those who are willing to receive it, if they enjoy the truth telling then that can be a powerful asset because I tell them some things they don’t want to hear. And sometimes the people organization are afraid to do that. Right.

Andy Paul 37:05
Okay. What’s the role of a consultant after all? So, who is your sales role model?

Mike Drapeau 37:11
Or the CEO Greg Alexander. Okay, and just slightly below him and Matt shares two is the world’s greatest Rainmaker and a person I’m privileged to call a partner.

Andy Paul 37:20
Okay. What’s one book you’d recommend every salesperson read? Besides, is anyone written by SPS?

Mike Drapeau 37:26
Yeah, of course, we’ve written our own making the number as well as targeting for sales. And I think for those who are involved in complex b2b selling, which is just sort of in the I think the challenger sale, the I’m sorry, the challenger customer, not the challenger sale, the challenger customer has witnessed some very provocative concepts.

Andy Paul 37:44
I agree, I think it’s a better book than challenger sale much, much, much better book.

Mike Drapeau 37:47
And they sort of got it right on the second time around, so well done.

Andy Paul 37:51
Yeah, no, I agree and had Brent Adamson on the show a couple months ago and yeah, an excellent book really enjoyed it. Alright, so the last question for this tough one here is what music on your playlist right now.

Mike Drapeau 38:01
Oh gosh, I’m an 80s child. So everything from REM to Guadalcanal diary to coven. I mean, every progressive band that lived and died in the 80s is on my playlist and my children I am thoroughly musically ossified.

Andy Paul 38:15
Yeah, well sorry I hadn’t heard that name for 20 years. There you go.

Mike Drapeau 38:21
I saw a concert many times when I’m from the south. So yeah, it’s I’m in Georgia. So that’s where they’re from Athens.

Andy Paul 38:26
Yeah, well that is and of course you need to How are you? Okay. All right. Excellent. Well, good answer. I love that and so like Thank you. Thanks for being on the show. tell people how they can find out more about you or connect with you about SBI

Mike Drapeau 38:37
Sure. For those interested which I hope is everybody in the the the the enterprise selling space for b2b marketing b2b selling in b2b product management find us@salesbenchmarkindex.com I think you’ll find we’re about the largest provider of free sales, marketing product content in the world and we do so in four forms. We have podcasts which we do weekly, we have a printed magazine, which we ship for free with no commercials every other month. We have a daily blog, and we have a TV show. And we funnel all that content through an app that you can download on YouTube. I’m not sorry, YouTube on the apple, the Apple Store. And it is our value add. So you can take all of our emerging best practices and you can apply them yourselves if you want. And you don’t even have to tell us you’re doing it. And that’s sort of our give back to the industry.

Andy Paul 39:29
Excellent. Okay. Yeah, it’s good stuff. I’ve spent time there myself. So thank you, Mike. Appreciate you being on the show. And remember, friends make it part of your day every day to deliberately learn something new to help you Sales Enablement Podcast your success. An easy way to do that is make this podcast Sales Enablement Podcast part of your daily routine. That way, you won’t miss any of my conversations with top business experts like my guest Mike drapeau who shared his expertise with how to Sales Enablement Podcast the growth of your business. So thanks 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, and want to make sure you don’t know missing any upcoming episodes, please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher comm for more information about today’s guests, visit my website at AndyPaul.com


The Sales Enablement Podcast with Andy Paul was formerly Accelerate! with Andy Paul.