Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 240: Q & A with Brian Trautschold @BTrautschold
By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
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What the hell is that? What does it mean? What does it mean for your organization? Why do you need it?
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Matt Heinz: All right. Well, welcome everyone to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. We’ve got just a couple more of these left before the end of Q1. Can’t believe it, almost 25% of 2021 already in the books. Pretty crazy after the 29 month, 2020 that we faced last year. But thanks so much for joining us. As you see now, we have a new format for Sales Pipeline Radio. We are still live every Thursday at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. We are now doing this as a simulcast on LinkedIn Live as well as on YouTube, so allowing people to engage with us in real time. As we record this, if you are listening, live watching live, thank you so much for joining us in the middle of your workday. Throw a question in, we’re going to be talking about sales management intelligence today.
What the hell is that? What does it mean? What does it mean for your organization? Why do you need it? Any question you’ve got for myself or I guest Brian today, throw those in. If you’re listening on demand on the podcast, thanks so much for continuing to subscribe, continuing to download. We’re almost at 250 episodes all available on demand at salespipelineradio.com. We are every week featuring some of the best and brightest minds in sales and marketing, and B2B today is absolutely no exception. We are so excited to have the co-founder of Ambition, Brian Trautschold. Brian, thanks so much for joining us today.
Brian Trautschold: Yeah, thanks Matt. I had to unmute there, but yeah, I’m psyched to be here. I appreciate speaking with you again.
Matt Heinz: Well, so I have to correct an error I made earlier already in the broadcast. It was not a 29 month in 2020. It was only 12. It just felt like a million. And we were talking right before we went live, just not the easiest year to get through, but look, if you’re trying to manage a sales team remotely and looking for tools to help improve your ability to manage that, that had to be good conditions. Silver lining for Ambition. Talk a little bit about what 2020 was like for you guys.
Brian Trautschold: Well, I thought it was like a 36-month year, so I thought you understated it with 29 months. From a personal, from a dad with young kids’ standpoint, from having to close offices and figure out all of that, it certainly felt long. And you mentioned it being 25% of the way through 2021. It’s like, man, it’s flying right now. And it feels like things are completely changing even philosophically. I think how people are approaching their businesses now and trying to reinvest and grow, which is super exciting.
But you mentioned last year, people having to learn a whole new motion, I still think we’re at a part in this right now, which is remotely managing salespeople. We can figure out what the category of that is or what Gardner enforcer we’ll call that down the line, but you have a lot of the rituals, as we’ve been talking about, of how you used to manage a sales team, hold them accountable, create culture, get people to ramp and on board and ultimately meet objectives. A lot of that was in-person or semi in-person rituals, whether it was the weekly stand up or people in a large inside sales floor, or you meet up with a manager a “x” number of times per month for lunch or whatever. Whatever the industry, whatever the type of sales organization, a lot of those rituals broke some point in 2020, and a lot of them broke for most of the year and haven’t really come back yet. And I think we’ve seen this, to get into it, we’ve seen this fascinating change in the customer of, I would say early denial, then very rapid, can my people even do their job?
Do we even have the foundational elements to send an inside salesperson or a field seller home and do what they did before? And now I think that’s mostly been solved for people, but now it is back to this question of how do I manage them? How do I make sure people are on track and on target? How do I keep people engaged, encouraged? And ultimately, if this is the new normal, which, regardless of how people feel, it is like it’s going to be hybrid and remote friendly going forward, how am I going to hit my goals and how am I going to drive revenue for our organization? Because ultimately that’s what sales leaders care about. And so it’s been really fun, to answer your question, it’s been super interesting and it’s been fun to be high impact as far as the Ambition right now.
Matt Heinz: Well, I bet it’s been fun just as more people discover the need to have sort of remote, sort of, sales management tools. But also I remember a lot of explicit conversations from 12 months ago talking to go-to-market leaders, especially in some of our manufacturing industrial clients saying like, what am I going to do? I got reps that are used to going to someone’s office with a box of samples. Look, lazy selling in person would translate the lazy selling via Zoom if you just did some of the same stuff. And you’re right, we’re not going back to the way we were doing things before. I think not just because things have changed, but because in 12 months, a lot of companies and a lot of sales reps have realized this is better. You still benefit from having face to face, but you’re more efficient in many cases by doing that remotely.
And one of the early indicators we’re seeing of that are the hiring trends, both on the sales and the marketing side. Whereas it used to be, we want someone who can be in the office sort of an inside rep, now you’ve got to come to the office every day. Now you’re willing to hire the right people with the right attributes, the right values and the right economics almost anywhere, which makes having a platform to manage that more important. Talking today on sales pipeline radio with Brian Trautschold, who is one of the co-founders of Ambition, which is a, okay, I’m going to make sure I got this right, sales management intelligence platform. Okay. So everyone’s working on their own category. There’s a lot of different categories within sales. What does sales management intelligence mean? Unpack that a little bit for us and why that’s so important.
Brian Trautschold: I hope everyone could see me smiling. I don’t know how much of the radio audience you have, versus the live audience, but it’s a lot, right? There’s a number of factors when we talk about sales management platform or sales intelligence platform. We see broadly, revenue leaders and frontline managers that are dealing with a series of new paradigms in the market to manage people. And what I’ve been calling “up at night questions”, the questions that keep them up at night. Those challenge paradigms are, I don’t think they’re super complicated but everyone’s seeing them distribute the work by default, now everyone is going to have to support at some level, remote work, whether the role supported it or not before. Another is making data-driven decisions. So, we talk to managers every day who could have a dozen different tools giving them data, but can really get no insight from them unless they go live in these different tools and pull it out manually. People asking how do you effectively incentivize and hold teams accountable to quantitative metrics, like quantitative objectives and targets.
And then lastly, and this one I think is something that we started to hear a lot more in the tail end of 2020, once people were figuring out how they’re going to do their jobs. But the workforce is different, it’s gen Z and gen Y. A lot of the managers and leaders are now millennials, which were bemoaned a few years ago, and employee experience and employee expectations are really different. The type of technologies and tools that they expect are different. So, you’ve got these broad challenges that are meeting whatever type of sales org for the first time and then you have the common questions that leaders are asking, which is, especially now that we’re remote, are my salespeople working right now? Are they effective? Are we going to hit our goal? Is my team on target? Are my managers coaching my reps? Are we going to be able to keep our people? Are our people inspired?
The old way we used to do this, if I was asking those questions, I’m in our office right now. There’s no one else here. Our sales development team sits 18 feet that way, I would go walk over there and I could talk to a person in two seconds. And while I’m walking over, I hear like four different calls happen, right? Like I have no idea as a sales leader now, like is the 24 year old sales development rep on our team who’s working out of his apartment, is he productive? Is he effective? Do I have the means to not only measure, but then affect that behavior to drive revenue?
That’s why we need a platform today. And the more we see managers who are drowning week to week to week by having to pull, own, analyze dozens of reports, they just need a system that not only is telling them where do I need to be involved and how do I continually improve and develop someone, hold someone accountable, but also give that same level of visibility to the rep and let the rep hold himself accountable by saying, am I on target? Am I doing what I need to do? Where do I stand in terms of goals with my peers, and put a little bit more ownership back onto these people who I think are going to have more freedom in terms of working from home and being remote and being flexible going forward, but have a high level of accountability,
Matt Heinz: A high level of accountability, a high level of freedom, the ability to sort of feel like they don’t have someone breathing over their neck all the time watching them. And I think, it speaks to my next question around the difference between managing and coaching, right? I mean, it’s one thing to sort of look at the metric and say, you need to make more calls. I need more output from you. But for that 24 year old, who just by definition has not been selling that long, they got a lot out of listening to other people, sell in the office. They got a lot out of meetings in person, becoming better salespeople. Now from their apartment, your 24 year old, it’s a different story. Talk about the importance of coaching for salespeople in general and how do you do that effectively in a remote capacity?
Brian Trautschold: We’ve been investing so much time and effort into our coaching product because we hear it from every, especially at scale organizations, the bigger the organization, the more people they have in their sales team, which I’m talking to like hundreds or thousands of sellers, it’s just hard. And what they know is that it’s the biggest lever to improve their results. If they’re running an effective coaching program, if their managers are not just managing to, like you said, did you make 37 versus 40 calls today? But did you make the high-quality calls? When you converted a call to a conversation with someone, did it go the way you want it to, what was said, how did you say it, did you ask questions that led to the right outcome? And that’s more on the intelligence side that you mentioned before.
In our mission, in our product, we have a robust workflow that basically takes the fact that you want to do one-on-ones with the rep every week, it puts a format around that, sends it to your calendar, makes sure both people are accountable, the rep and the manager to showing up. It asks reps on the front end information that they need to come prepared with. Like, Matt, what was the conversation that went sideways on you this week? Let’s talk about it. What’s the opportunity you’re most excited about in the last “x” number of days?
But it also does some smart stuff, we call these metric snapshots. I think about it, it’s fixed what, 10 years ago, when I would go to a pipeline review with my manager and I was the rep I would show up and I would have to either have pulled all this data or the manager would. They’d be like, Oh, I see these 10 opportunities, Brian, you have that are closing this month and are in pipeline stage five for a million dollars. And then you’d go line by line and you’d try to suss out details and it’d be like this pop quiz, right? And then it’d be like, where’s this one, where’s this one, tell me when’s Matt going to buy on this one, and we do that all intelligently now. So we have the ability to automatically pull this data from the CRM, dynamically populate it into the coaching session so when you and I, on Zoom or Teams or whatever, weekly one-on-one, which is scheduled by Ambition, we show up it’s all there. Not only does it tell you, what’d you do to your KPIs this week, it’ll say, Matt, before the meeting, how do you feel about these 10 opportunities that fit this criteria that are supposed to close this month for this many dollars, and put some blurbs in. And we snapshot that and the powerful thing is that what we found is that so much time in the one-on-one is spent catching up on what was happening last time. Oh, what did we agree to last time? You told me you were going to do this thing with so-and-so company, you were going to call them, you were going to have a contract review. Now it’s all snapshot and we have action plans from the last call where we say, did you do that thing? Yes, no, okay, great. Did you not do it? Yes, no, great. And it’s all in line, in order, historically tracked so that the management session is about coaching. And you can talk tactically for the 30 minutes or whatever you have versus catching up and finding the data and figuring out did the things we agreed to actually happen.
Matt Heinz: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Time for just a couple more questions today with our guest on Sales Pipeline Radio, Brian Trautschold. He’s the co-founder of Ambition which is a sales management intelligence platform. From what you’re describing so far, sales managers, sales leaders, clear value prop for how they can help them manage the team. Why does a chief marketing officer need this platform as well? What can the marketing side of the team, of the company benefit from having these tools in place?
Brian Trautschold: I love that question. One thing that’s really interesting, and I’m sure your audience splits, I don’t know, 50/50, 60/40, but so often now we see the business development role, sales development role, reporting into marketing. It’s so tight with the lead generation and lead qualification motion, the pipeline is coming from that side to sales. That’s an incredibly hard job. I think in many ways COVID and kind of like changing workforce conditions have made it harder. It’s hard to get rejected 60 times making cold calls or answering inbound calls at home by yourself, not seeing your peers around you deal with some of the same thing. And so, you need a tool that helps lift those people up or recognize when people are doing great. That’s critical on one side.
The marketing team, and this is an example from Ambition, our sales development reps BDRs the front end of the sales funnel, its citizen sales, but we pass leads from marketing to that team. So, if someone hits our website right now, please do, Ambition.com, they’re going to hit a form, they’re going to receive a call from Joe, who’s great. Joe’s here at Ambition. He’s going to call, he’s going to ask a few questions. He’s going to try to make sure to qualify and best serve the prospect’s time. Well, what happens in Ambition world ,in a fully remote environment, after that call, he’s going to add some notes to the record in Salesforce. Matt was a great prospect, five out of five X, Y, and Z. And he’s going to save all that. And immediately it’s going to post to Slack. New qualified inbound lead, which was from marketing, this many dollars in pipeline, this kind of SQL data, which we then add in our sales qualified lead data. And so what happens is you have this great feedback cycle happening in Slack or Teams, or even an email, for example, where your marketing team is getting the pulse of how their programs are impacting the pipeline generation. That’s just one example, but that gives you such a vivid idea, the drum beat that marketing is putting out there resulting in what they want, which is in most cases for us, people in the market, raising their hand and saying I want to talk to this business, I want to learn more, and we show that directly.
Matt Heinz: I love that. I think what are some attributes of companies that become some of your best future success stories? And kind of what I’m looking for is, what are the things that for people listening, what are the attributes in their own businesses that if they exist, or maybe they don’t exist, you see some of the best before and after stories that would make people say, hey, listen, maybe I should go check this out.
Brian Trautschold: Yeah. That’s an interesting question. I think one of the things that we’ve seen, and has been even before COVID, before work from home happened, but companies who are making this philosophical shift, that I think there’s a little bit, call it generationally different, but that they want to drive really recurring, continual positive feedback to their organization. They want to create a constant stream of that accountability and encouragement. Are you on track? Are you doing the things you’re supposed to? When you are, I want to make sure we recognize you, support you, incentivize you to do it. And by creating that feedback cycle as tightly as possible, make that feedback loop as short as possible, they change behavior.
And I say that because, Matt you’ve noticed for three, four, or five years ago, if we were talking to an enterprise Fortune 500 sales leader, they would be like, why do I need to high-five these people? They get commission when they hit quota, they get paid. They’re cool. That philosophy has changed a lot. I think it’s changed for the better, because maybe quota is on a monthly basis for smaller companies, and a big company it’s on an annual basis, maybe biannual, maybe quarterly. So, the feedback loop was very long and so here, you’re trying to just continue a positive reinforcement of when people are doing something great. They see it, a manager sees it, a sales leader sees it they feel that recognition and that drives behavior, that sales enablement, the sales leader, marketing leader want and it just compounds.
And so, I think that organizations that are looking for a strong culture of accountability and encouragement, they want to make data-driven decisions looking forward. Are we on track? Are we trending in the right direction? Is there an area or a person or a team where we need to course correct? A lot of organizations look only in the rear view mirror. It’s like, if you’re driving your car and you’re only looking in the rear view mirror, you’re going to wreck soon enough. You need to be looking out in front.
And then lastly, the people who I think really value the most important asset, which is talent and how do we continually engage, develop, strengthen our talent, keep our talent? That employee experience piece is going to be more important going forward than ever because as remote work becomes ubiquitous, the talent, talent can go wherever. And if you’re not supporting, engaging, making sure your people feel recognized and valued, and develop, there’s a good chance they’ll leave to somewhere that does make them feel that way. And I think that that’s another thing that we look for philosophically in a customer who’s going to really excel with Ambition.
Matt Heinz: I love the way you just described that. Just to reiterate some of the things I think that are really important there. I think if you’ve got a younger sales team in particular, a younger generation that is fed not just on paying the bills, but on experiences, having a system of accountability and management is important, but I love the way you described accountability and encouragement. To have something that is encouraging your reps, rewarding them for the great work they’re doing, that is coaching them and providing them with tools to sort of feel like they’re part of a community and part of something bigger, especially when they’re remote. Super, super important. I mean, honestly, a tool like that is important, whether you have everybody’s sitting there sort of stage right to you right there in the office, hopefully eventually very soon, or continuing to work remotely.
All right. I have one final question for you and it’s a bit of an apology. So today, as we record this, a modified version of March madness starts, and I have filled out my bracket and just know, I’m a Pac-12 guy and we have not been good at basketball for a while, but Oregon State has had a surprisingly good year, and so I apologize, I’ve picked Oregon state to upset the number five seed in the Midwest, the Tennessee Volunteers. But it’s been a good year for SCC basketball. Alabama wins the [inaudible 00:20:50] they’re good at basketball now as well-
Brian Trautschold: They’re two seed, yeah.
Matt Heinz: Arkansas, LSU, Tennessee all had good seasons. Tell me why I’m wrong and where you’re [inaudible 00:20:59] to end up this year.
Brian Trautschold: Man. This is like on record. I have friends from college who were going to hear this, man. So I liked Tennessee in the first, round I respect the Pac-12. I think that USC is going to be really good in the tournament this year. Maybe that’s not a surprise to anyone. I’m worried about our second round game. Maybe I’m thinking too far ahead of Oregon State, but I’m a little worried about Oklahoma State, who I think we’ll run into in the second round. Between you and I, and now between everyone on LinkedIn listening, I watch a lot of SCC basketball games because I’m an alumni of Tennessee. I think that the SCC is a little over-hyped this year. I’m not as afraid of Alabama in the tournament or LSU. Obviously, Kentucky didn’t even make it. I think Tennessee could be fun, we’re sparky, but I’m a little worried about us getting past Cade Cunningham, I think, from Oklahoma State.
Matt Heinz: Yeah. Yeah. Well, you’ve got much deeper knowledge than I do. I’m a college football guy for the most part, but this is a weird year. Not only weird year because it’s all going to be played in one state, you don’t have those great sort of regional sort of games. No Duke, no Kentucky. As a Pac-12 fan. I mean, no UCLA, no Arizona. I need a whole other half an hour to talk about Husky basketball, which is a whole other issue, but in the grand scheme of, I’m just happy that they’re going to start playing games. I don’t watch a whole lot of college basketball during the regular season, but the tournament is fun so this should be fun/
Brian Trautschold: Tomorrow and Saturday, I think are maybe the best sports days of the year. It’s going to be super fun, tons of games. You got these small schools taking on these Goliath schools. It’s great. March Madness is the best.
Matt Heinz: It is super fun. Well, thank you so much, Brian Trautschold, he is the co-founder and COO of Ambition. Check them out at ambition.com. Thank you everyone for joining us for another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. Shout out John Flannery, thanks for checking us out from beautiful San Diego. We’ll be back next week, 11:30 Pacific 2:30 Eastern. Thanks very much for joining us. We’ll see you next week.