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SCOTT’S TIP: “Don’t forget about the math. A really good salesperson must understand the math of their client. If you’re just reasonably good at math, you end up being a better salesperson. Understanding the business content, understanding how their budgeting process works, understanding how they evaluate a decision to invest or not invest. Understanding the business context of is this solution going to help you with your top line story or is it going to help you with your bottom line story?
JEANETTE’S TIP: “Have great mentors. I have had amazing mentors, both men and women. Right now, Michele Bettencourt, the chair of our board meets with me every other week. It’s a huge investment of her time. A mentor goes a long way in helping you to progress your career. But also just someone that you can discuss things with, and throw ideas against and get feedback on. It doesn’t always have to be, “How do I get from step A, to step B, to step C?” It’s like, “Hey, I’m thinking this. What do you think?” Surround yourself with great mentors.”
THE PODCAST BEGINS HERE
Fred Diamond: We have two leaders from WalkMe. We’ve got a lot to talk about. We’re doing today’s show on March 8th, 2023. It’s International Women’s Day. Jeanette, I just want to get you started here. You’re a woman in sales obviously, you’re an RVP at WalkMe. How is it like to be a woman in sales right now in B2B sales?
Jeanette Groustra: I have no complaints. I think it’s wonderful. I’m passionate about selling. I’m passionate about solution selling. I’m passionate about solution selling a product and a platform that I believe in and a product where we can provide value and enable our customers to achieve their business objectives and their KPIs. For me right now, it’s exciting. I’m excited to be here at WalkMe. I’m excited to be solution selling our digital adoption platform called WalkMe.
Fred Diamond: Scott, why don’t you tell us a little bit about WalkMe, what they do, and then let’s start talking about some of the sale challenges. It’s three years after the pandemic had kicked in. Every company is struggling with something. Let’s talk about what the state of sales is. But first of all, give us a little bit of intro into what WalkMe does, and then let’s start talking about some of the challenges your company or salespeople are facing right now.
Scott Little: WalkMe as a company, we’re a SaaS player in the enterprise software space, and our capability is focused on what Jeanette talked about, we call it digital adoption. If you’ve got a SaaS based application, we help you get more value, the value that you expected to achieve from solution sets that you bought from big vendors like Salesforce, and Workday, and SuccessFactors. We work to take the digital friction out of all the applications that are being thrown at people today to try to give them in the enterprise software space an experience that’s very similar and feels like the experience they have when they deal with consumer applications on their iPhone or on their Android. At least that’s the way we position what we do.
Fred Diamond: Before I ask you about the sales challenges, I know I teed up that question, how are things going for your customers right now? How has that impacted some of the sales processes that you’re focused on?
Scott Little: Well, in general, the things that are affecting our customers, they turn into sales challenges for us right now. We started to see some economic headwinds related to enterprise software in the second half of 2022. They really haven’t abated in ‘23. I wouldn’t necessarily say they’ve gotten worse, but there’s such a focus right now in the business market about getting value for the money that they’ve spent on the solutions that they’ve chosen. All of my peers, and I talk to a lot of my friends in the industry, we’re all facing the headwind of having to, in many cases with long-term happy clients, go back and defend the decision they took to choose our software platform and spend the money they spend on our software platform. If you can’t quickly draw a line to the value that your solution builds and provides for the end user right now, it’s a tough market. That’s the number one challenge I think the market’s dealing with. As a result, it’s the number one challenge my sales team is dealing with right now.
Fred Diamond: Jeanette, what do you think? Same thing are you seeing out there as well in the places where you’re selling into?
Jeanette Groustra: Yes, most definitely. We started seeing it probably this time last year it started, but yeah, tight budget constraints. Business cases have to be rock solid. But with my team, we really focus on understanding the customer, understanding their business issues, their priorities, and then we really look to align the WalkMe solution to what they’re trying to solve, and at the end align on that expected value return for them. We’re having to do that with every single, not even current customer, but every sales cycle that we’re involved with today.
Fred Diamond: Scott, how are you training your people? How are you training your sales team? How are they being supported to be able to make this shift?
Scott Little: Well, part of it is helping them with the economic story. Not every salesperson is a financial wizard or accounting, so helping them understand the way people budget, helping them to understand the way people do fiscal accounting of the solutions they have in place, because we can be very clever about how we generate value for our clients. Part of it is the financial piece, of course part of it is technical as well. Part of it is the business conversation we’re helping them to have. Then just inherently in what we do, we use our own tools internally with our teams to try to give them tips and advice and drive them and their behavior in a positive way with automation and things like that to make it easier for them to interact with their clients. Part of it’s a training, really business focused, and part of it is using our own technology internally to make it easier for our sellers.
Fred Diamond: I want to talk about technology for a little bit. There’s more tech than ever to help the sellers sell, of course. It’s more powerful than ever. Even small tools are extremely, extremely powerful. But after years of spending and implementing, there’s been an unprecedented level of digital friction. You actually mentioned digital friction before in one of your comments. The very tools that were purchased to help sellers do their jobs have almost become jobs themselves. It’s interesting too is prior to the pandemic, people used to talk about the marketing tools. Tech had 10,000 items and the sales tech had maybe 800. Now the sales tech stack is in the thousands as well.
Scott Little: Well, I think you said it really well. Market was a concept in and of itself, and now we’ve got this concept of sales tech. If you look at any of the point solutions on their own merits, listen, there’s a reason that someone jumped into the space, is because there is a problem to solve. In many instances, the big players like the Salesforces and the Oracles and those kinds of guys don’t provide a particular capability or their capabilities, not first in class. It’s a very easy thing as a sales leader to recognize that you have an issue, go looking for an opportunity in the market to solve it with someone’s product. But then what happens is you pile up a bunch of them over time, and the weight of the technology itself becomes burdensome for the user, and in the end, my sellers. That is an absolutely real issue. I have it in my own business. I have it in the conversations that I have with my CRO peers, and I know Jeanette sees it even closer to the ground every day. I’d love to hear Jeanette’s view on it.
Jeanette Groustra: Most definitely. At the end of the day, personal lives, there’s an app for everything. You come to work, there’s an app for everything, there’s a new process, and then the process changes. At the end of the day, salespeople, they just want to sell. They love to sell. But there’s a lot of digital friction that occurs through our processes and through processes of the customers that we’re working with. It’s with WalkMe’s digital adoption platform that we’re able to remove that friction so sellers can go ahead and do what they do best. I like to think of it like a GPS. You jump into the car to go to a new restaurant. You think you know where you’re going, but along the way, there’s a traffic accident, or something else occurs. That’s where WalkMe comes in and lets you know, “Hey, there’s a new route to take. Hey, this is a new step in the sales process. Hey, there’s a new competitor. Hey, you need to be aware of this from a compliance standpoint.”
But then also from a GPS standpoint, like the GPS, you don’t want to be told that you have to take a left-hand turn into a parking lot at the restaurant before you get to the restaurant. So if you think of a sales process that goes from six or nine months to 18 months, we can’t be telling our sales team what they need to be doing 18 months down the road. They need to have that information in the flow at that time. Again, we use our own technology internally here at WalkMe in order to help our sellers to sell and to remove that digital friction.
Fred Diamond: Let’s talk about sellers for a little bit here. Like you said, sellers want to sell. People in your sales organization, that’s their profession. We’ve spent a lot of time over the last three years talking about the sales profession, and if you’re a professional, what do professionals do? But things have changed in the world, obviously, we’re not being naive here. Matter of fact, we just posted a show on not just mental health, but on dealing with trauma. How sales professionals need to deal with life issue trauma in order to be successful. Let’s talk a little bit about how things have changed, not necessarily the history of the change over the last three years, but where we are right now.
Scott, you gave a great answer about where our customers are, and you have to get quicker to the value and quicker to the vision message, et cetera. But, Jeanette, as someone who manages sales professionals, sellers every day, how have they changed and how have you changed to make everybody more successful, knowing what we’re still coming out of and how there’s still so much that we need to deal with? Jeanette, since you’re managing people on the ground, why don’t you go first? Then, Scott, I’m interested in how you look at that from a global perspective with hundreds of sales professionals in your organization.
Jeanette Groustra: The last previous years have just challenged us quite a bit. All of us as humans, it’s like we’ve had personal challenges that we’re overcoming. There’s different challenges in work. We’re not meeting people in person like we used to, and we’re not forming those bonds. We’re now virtual. But every sales cycle now has additional stakeholders. We’re able to meet with more people, we’re able to collaborate. There’s more group census decision making. A lot of that has changed. But it also means that our sales folks and our salespeople need to change too. Change isn’t always easy.
I think for me being a leader, it’s about being empathetic. It’s about really understanding each of my team players and understanding what intrinsically motivates them. Because at the end of the day, if I can get to that, I can help them through any change. Whether that means, “Hey, we need to have a sales strategy. You need to be the quarterback of your team,” because now instead of meeting one-on-one for dinner or lunch with your prospect, you’re now meeting with 50 or 100 people on a Zoom call. It changes the game.
I think for me, it’s about having empathy. It’s about really understanding the team players that I have on my team. Then just being very clear in terms of expectations. I think from a WalkMe perspective, our culture, one of our four key pillars is focused on empathy. Going back to, and tying it back to, this is talking about women and sales and the profession, that’s a strong skillset for women. It’s our moment to shine when we talk about empathy.
Fred Diamond: Scott, how about you globally? Looking at the entire global organization, how are some things coming into play that Jeanette’s talking about? By the way, Jeanette, when we were writing our book Insights for Sales Game Changers, we basically took some highlights of the first 450 some odd episodes, and we searched on the words that were most uttered. Empathy was in the top three of words that was uttered. I agree with you, it’s something that we all need to be conscious of.
Scott Little: I’ve been selling for a long time, and I carried a bag for a long time. Anytime that you ask someone to do things differently than they’ve traditionally done it, as Jeanette points out, there’s a challenge. But part of it comes down to inspection for us. In many ways, salespeople rely on their charisma and the relationships they build. It’s just so much easier to build relationships when you can be in front of a person and you can use your personal charisma in order to drive that relationship building. It’s just incrementally, you could argue, exponentially harder to use that personal charisma when you’ve got to do it in this fashion, as we’re having today, electronically, and especially, as Jeanette pointed out, when the number of stakeholders that are involved now in taking a decision is so much larger.
It’s making sure my team is aware of that and they’re adjusting their style. In some cases we’ve helped them with training and with classes to help them improve their polish in a video environment. Not everyone does well in a video environment. They do better in person. Now you’ve got to have that skillset where you can come across professional and polish both in person and in video, and use some of those same charismatic techniques that would’ve worked for you and are natural for you in person, using those in a positive way in a video space. That’s an important skillset that many of us didn’t have, including me, coming into the pandemic. Now coming out of it, it’s almost an emphatic requirement.
We’re looking at folks, when we take them through the interview process, we do all the normal interview techniques, and the last thing we do is we make them get on Zoom interview with us and take us through an example sales call. How would you approach this issue? Then help me see your style in a video way. You’d be surprised how many folks do so well in person and then struggle when they get in a video environment. We’re trying to teach that. Then obviously there’s just some natural things that come as a result of trying to manage through efficiency in this environment. I have less money to spend on travel and entertainment. I’ve decided to take that money and move it to other techniques to help us move the sale forward, because there’s just fewer clients who either want to, or in many cases, have the ability to meet you in person as they might have just a few years ago.
Fred Diamond: I want to talk about some specific sales processes that we really haven’t spoken about too much recently on the Sales Game Changers Podcast. One is sales forecasting. How can companies improve sales forecasting and the data integrity required without getting bogged down in complicated processes?
Scott Little: The first thing a good sales leader does, and you don’t earn the right to be a good sales leader until you can accurately forecast how your business is going to progress in the quarter and the half of year, depending on how you’re managed. There’s all kinds of great tools, and I use a number of them that are very focused on AI techniques and call confirmation techniques to make sure that the conversation that your rep or your manager is having with the client, or they’re having on themselves is one, on target and on message, but two, taking place in the way that you’d like to have it. Those technologies are great, but as we talked about earlier in this call, they just add to the list of things that a salesperson has to deal with from a digital friction standpoint. We try to make them as light as possible, and I’ll give you an example.
We’ve made a couple of changes since I joined to the way in which we handle our sales staging. Some things that were hurting us on the transition between actually closing a sale and then transitioning it to our professional services team and our CS team. But if we were just a little smarter on our side with capturing the information and being good in the way in which we set expectations with the client, it would’ve made the transition to post-sales so much easier. We all knew it coming into the business, and I’ll let Jeanette comment on it, but we weren’t doing the rigor, I call it the professionalism of our job, to make sure we were capturing that. It was also, speaking back to forecasting, a really good indicator if you had a well-qualified client who was going to end up closing with you. If you can answer these questions in the middle of that sales process that we used actually at the tail end of the process to make sure that we a had good handoff, it was a really good indicator in our sales cycle of whether or not you were going to close a deal.
I got a twofer out of it. I got an improved process that ended up making my post-sales team, my CS team and my professional services team, much happier with us as salespeople. I got a better, more accurate view of the pipeline and pipeline progression within quarter by making that small change. What was interesting is we made that change and implemented it using that digital adoption platform because we were concerned internally about making such a big change to sales stage and all the enablement that was going to be required to do that. We took a conscious decision to say, “Listen, we can improve our process, but how can we do it in a light-touch way and still get a good outcome?” That was the mantra and so far we’ve been pretty happy with how it came together. But I would be curious to have Jeanette comment on that, because she was in the middle of it. She’s a thought leader for us and actually helped us with this process.
Jeanette Groustra: I’ll state the first, which is for a salesperson who loves to sell, there’s often a lot of noise that happens. Here they are focused on their customer, what the customer needs, the solution, everything else coming at them from usually the organization is just noise in their world. I think for myself as a leader, it’s really about trying to eliminate as much of that noise as possible, really focus on what’s going to move the needle for that salesperson, and in this essence, circling back to WalkMe, but it’s providing what they need to do and know just in time. If we’re talking forecasting and we’re talking about data integrity of that forecast, it’s me giving them that information at that moment in time when they need it. At any other point in time, it’s noise, and it just gets lost. Because again, they’re focused on their customer. Again, going back to Scott’s example, there was quite a few changes that occurred after he joined WalkMe, and our focus was, it’s all great stuff, we’re going to do it, but how do I reduce all of that noise and just keep my sales folks focusing on working with their customers? That’s where using that just in flow type concept and eliminating the extra noise ends up yielding more effective salespeople.
Fred Diamond: I appreciate that because we work with a lot of companies at the Institute for Excellence in Sales, and transition, and change, and things like that. Speaking of change, and, Scott, you could take this one first, what do you think the future of change management looks like for sales organizations, especially as we’re still unfolding where we’re moving from because of the last couple of years? Like you said before, customers don’t necessarily want us to fly to see them right now, because they’re still figuring out, how do they want to deal with their customers, and their customers are still trying to figure out how do they deal with their customers. But give us some of your insights into what do you think change management’s going to move to.
Scott Little: Well, it’s an important concept for us to keep on top of. One of the things that we chase in our own business is customers who have, or prospects who have process optimization, digital transformation kinds of projects, because we fit well in that toolkit that supports that bag, but we see it our own sales organization all the time. The number one thing that we see coming up is an intense desire to make those process changes. That includes managing that sales tech stack we talked about, but doing it with as little context change as possible. It’s a bigger issue for sales rep, is not whether or not they have to go make a quick edit to the notes for their Salesforce entry in support of the opportunity. But if they’re in the middle of that, as well as making a change to the quote, as well as making an update to their forecast, that may or may not reside in the same set of systems, depending on how it’s implemented. In fact, often it doesn’t reside in the same set of systems. Yet for a sales rep, that’s just a normal flow at the end of the day or at the end of a call.
Trying to reduce that context switching I think is one of the big mantras that we’re seeing coming into this year, and hopefully even broader the second half of this year. Part of that is a function of what you can do with automation. That’s certainly the way we try to focus on it. If you know that it’s going to flow in a particular way, and you can ask a sales rep a couple of questions that address the concerns that you’ve got about contact switching, and then just go do it for them. Go put it into the forecasting system, go update Salesforce for them, go tie that new quote that they just built in the support of that opportunity into Salesforce for them as opposed to them having to jump out to DealHub, or Clarity, or all these great solutions that support the end result. But making it easy for them to do it and doing it in such a way that avoids context switching, that’s the change management piece that we see, at least in the sales game, as a needle mover in ‘23.
Fred Diamond: I could definitely see why it would do that. Jeanette, once again, as I mentioned in the beginning of today’s show, it’s International Women’s Day 2023. It’s such a delight to have a male sales leader and a female sales leader on the Sales Game Changers Podcast. We’ve done over 600 episodes, about 150 have featured women in sales leaders. I need to ask you the question, if someone were to ask you, a young woman who is junior level in sales, what would be your three bits of advice that you would give her to progress in her career and achieve the level and success that you have?
Jeanette Groustra: Thank you, that’s a great question. I would say, first off, for those women out there in sales, looking to get into sales, follow your gut. Follow your instincts. We have good instincts. I think that’s important within the sales process itself. Secondly, I would say mentorship. I have had amazing mentors, both men and women. Right now I have a lady, her name is Michele Bettencourt, she is the chair of our board. She meets with me every other week. It’s a huge investment of her time. She not only meets with myself, but others, but again, I think a mentor goes a long way in helping you to progress your career. But also just someone that you can discuss things with, and throw ideas against and get feedback on. It doesn’t always have to be, “How do I get from step A, to step B, to step C?” It’s like, “Hey, I’m thinking this. What do you think?” My advice would be, one, follow your gut and your instincts. Then number two, make sure you surround yourself by great mentors. That’s where I’d leave it.
Fred Diamond: The topic of mentorship comes up often, as you can imagine. The advice from the senior women, like the woman who’s helping you, is when you come to me, come with something specific. Don’t just say, “Hey, what are your suggestions?” I like the way you said, “How would you handle this particular situation?” Or, “Here’s something I’m trying to bring to my company. What would be your advice? Or, “This is a relationship I’m looking to grow.” Very, very specifics.
I want to thank Scott Little and Jeanette Groustra for being on today’s Sales Game Changers Podcast. You both have given us so many great ideas. Give us one thing specific that people should do right now after listening to the podcast or reading the transcription to take their sales career to the next level.
Jeanette Groustra: Come to WalkMe [laughs]. I’m biased, I’m absolutely biased, but I think the sales culture we have here is second to none. It is one of the few SaaS companies, if not the one, where if you could sell the WalkMe digital adoption platform, it is like getting an MBA. We are selling to every persona within a corporation. I would say come to WalkMe.
Fred Diamond: A lot of our listeners know that the Institute for Excellence in Sales, we have a number of designations. One that we just announced was our Premier Women in Sales Employer designation. We also have a designation called the Premier Sales Employer. We give that out at our award event, which happens in June. I would encourage WalkMe to apply for that. Just before I hand it over to Scott, you said you have a great sales culture. Give us a reason, something evident of why you have a great sales culture.
Jeanette Groustra: I’ll circle back to empathy. Again, instilled at the highest levels from our founders, through our board, through our ELT team. It’s all about empathy. At the end of the day, sales culture is about people and it’s about relationships, both internal within our working across departments, but then also with our customers. We also have a strong culture here of work smart and play hard. Again, for sales, it’s a fun place to be. Again, when you’re within a SaaS company, and not only are you creating new markets, but you’re leading the market and you’re innovating, it becomes a very exciting place to be. Not only that, but I just think the people overall contribute to our sales culture.
Fred Diamond: Top salespeople always like to work hard, play hard. Scott, bring us home, something specific people should do right now to take their sales career to the next level.
Scott Little: We get myopic sometimes as technology salespeople about what is cool about the thing that we do. It’s really easy to over-rotate to what our widget does, regardless of the value it brings to the client, the technology cool factor, and it’s really easy to do that, especially if you’re a younger seller and you’re enamored by technology. I have a lot of those that work for me. The advice I give them is don’t forget about the math. A really good salesperson must understand the math of their client. If you’re just reasonably good at math, you end up being a better salesperson. I would tell you my best salespeople, obviously they could demo the product, they could do a good job talking about the technical value of the product, but my best salespeople, and I’ll put Jeanette in this list, are really good at the math of why it matters to that client. Understanding the business content, understanding how their budgeting process works, understanding how they evaluate a decision to invest or not invest. Understanding the business context of is this solution going to help you with your top line story or is it going to help you with your bottom line story?
So many times we over-rotate as salespeople to, “Hey, we’re going to be able to save you money.” There’s lots of solutions out there that can save people money. I have competitors that are good competitors that will tell a similar story to me about saving money. Anytime you can get into the math of the business and in particular drive that client to top line improvement with the solution that you’ve got, a dollar top line is so much more valuable to a customer than a dollar of bottom line savings. My advice is don’t get too enamored with the tech, focus in on the math, and in particular the math of your client, and you’ll be a better salesperson tomorrow.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo