Jeff has worked in sales for more than 20 years, with the last 12+ years in technology consulting services. He has worked within fast-paced startup environments and large publicly traded firms to build sales teams, start new territories and verticals, develop GTM strategies, implement sales methodologies and channel sales programs. He now leads sales for the Salesforce consulting practice within Huron, a $900M+ global consultancy. Under his leadership, the practice has grown more than 30%. Prior to this, Jeff held leadership roles at Persado and Appirio/Wipro, where he was GM and RVP of Sales for the company’s Manufacturing Business Unit. He believes the best sales people are naturally curious, life long learners – if they are truly interested in their customers’ business and have an eye to helping solve big problems for them, they will be successful.
Why are you passionate about professional services businesses?
Much of my career prior to services was spent selling technology products, and oftentimes product companies fall victim to the old adage “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” With professional services, you are starting from a blank sheet of paper to help clients solve a problem, so you’re able to bring more creativity to real business problems and collaborate on the options with the client.
You’ve spent more than a decade selling into the Salesforce ecosystem, and mastering the art of channel-focused sales. How have things changed in the last few years selling into this particular channel, and how do you see it evolving?
In 2010, another sales person and I were charged with developing the Southeast territory for Appirio. At the time, we could write the name of almost every AE at Salesforce on one side of an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper. We drew a line down the middle and said “I get these, you get those”, and off we went. It was also enough to say “we implement Salesforce”. Today, the Salesforce ecosystem is massive with more than 1800 consulting partners! It’s vital to know exactly what your strengths are (e.g. a certain cloud or a specific vertical) and how you can add value to their sales efforts. You have to know your strengths, your right to win and how you can help Salesforce make their own message more compelling. The hardest part of this is instilling the discipline to say “no” to projects that aren’t in your sweet spot.
Effective market positioning happens when sales and marketing are working together closely. How can CROs and CMOs become more tightly aligned to make a bigger market impact?
This really starts with communication between those two groups – does marketing understand how sales goes to market, and does sales understand what marketing’s objectives are? Both groups need to have a seat at the table when identifying what markets to go after, what problems they solve and who they help solve that problem for. When they start from the same ground rules, and have an appreciation for each other’s KPIs, they have opened the conduit of communication between those two groups. However, to keep that conduit open requires work, which is not in either group’s daily work flow.
One thing I’ve seen to be very successful is to include someone from marketing in sales’ weekly stand-up team calls and push each of the reps to come to the table with trends, insights and feedback they’re seeing and hearing in the marketplace. I want marketing to hear directly from the front line reps what our customers and prospects are saying, allowing us to pivot more quickly and get the support from marketing to emphasize a new message or approach.
Companies looking for that next phase of growth often decide to “go up market”, but it’s not always easy. What are the biggest challenges sales teams face when trying to break into and win business in the enterprise?
Many organizations struggle making the leap from mid-market to enterprise because they expect the same sales process to apply. Though many of the same steps do apply – qualification, understanding business challenges, budgeting, procurement, process, etc. – enterprise buying processes typically involve far more stakeholders, more intensive business case due diligence and a much more formal procurement process. Additionally, the sheer number of projects you’re competing against for budget dollars is huge.
The organizations that I’ve seen be successful in making the leap invest in an enterprise-caliber sales rep to prove out the model and identify their particular differences so they are prepared to scale an altered approach.