EPISODE 255: Sales Leader Patti Dumas Says It’s An Opportune Time To Help Non-Customers and Here’s Why

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the SALES GAME CHANGERS LIVE Webinar hosted by Fred Diamond, Host of the Sales Game Changers Podcast, on July 22, 2020. It featured sales leader Patti Dumas.]

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EPISODE 255: Sales Leader Patti Dumas Says It’s An Opportune Time To Help Non-Customers and Here’s Why

PATTI’S TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Dive deep into successes and your losses from the past year. Think deeply about what got you the wins but also take a look at the losses and start thinking DIFFERENTLY about what could you do with those existing opportunities that you did not get. Maybe you need to move yourself up the totem pole, or you need to have a better value proposition BUT don’t say your business is lost because people are going to be looking for more help right now. You have an opportunity to take a deep look across your base to see how you can provide value to those you didn’t get as customers in the past.”

Fred Diamond: We’re excited today, we’re talking to Patti Dumas, she’s from MOSAIC. We’ve hit that hump, if you will, where we’ve done all the response, everyone’s figured out what it means to be a homeschool teacher or a camp counselor right now, we’re in the middle of the summer and we need to get back to growing business. Let’s get right to it, tell us a little bit about MOSAIC and tell us what you’re doing today to get your sales organization back up and running and getting the processes back into the flow.

Patti Dumas: MOSAIC interestingly enough, I love our name because it’s a great way to describe our company. The foundation being on the print side of the world but over many years we have morphed into a marketing division, communication support, graphic design, creative, fulfillment, direct mail and then we have our sister company called MOSAIC Learning. You put all of those components together and what you’ll see is any customer or person that’s listening to us today has needed some parts of those components so we really have a holistic approach to supporting our clients. It’s been very helpful, Fred, because if you look at what’s happened since March is many customers are still trying to figure out how to start communicating again, what is the messaging that they need to be doing. We’ve got some great lessons and stories that we’re sharing along the way, we like to call it listening tours and really listening to clients but also I think many are looking for ideas and ways to move forward.

Working for MOSAIC I feel very fortunate because there’s so many things we can bring to the table. If you looked at our business, we’re a great barometer for what’s going on in industry right now because if we help communications whether it’s digital, print, fulfillment and marketing, any of those things, website development, all of those have affected the businesses we work with. If we work with education, we work with tech, we work with financial, associations, unions, corporations, think of all the ways they’ve been struck so we’ve been struck in the same way. We’ve had business change dramatically over the last many months and our focus right now is figuring out ways to be more relevant to our clients and to be bringing the right solutions and ideas to them.

Fred Diamond: You’re going to tell us some stories of some ways that you’ve helped some of your clients pivot and we’re excited to hear about that. What are your top priorities right now? Again, you run sales and marketing, I remember when we did the interview with you, it was down at your headquarters in Cheverly, you’ve got that big beautiful plant where you do a lot of the printing back there and you do a lot of the marketing services as well. There was a lot of energy, it was pretty cool, I imagine it’s probably been closed down, maybe it’s back up and running, I don’t know.

Patti Dumas: We never closed down. We’re an essential business so we’re very fortunate and I can’t even tell you how proud we are. We’ve not had a day down, we’ve had work in that plant every day so we’re still supporting because think of member support, renewal, invoices, training programs, annual reports, you name it, clients still have work to do. Not a day have we missed a beat so we’re still producing work every day, fulfillment has grown gangbusters and I’ll share a few stories today but our plant has not closed. We’ve got so many heroes behind the scenes that have been supporting those efforts coming in with a mask and temperature checks and all the things we’re doing. We’ve been very fortunate to be an open business that’s still working hard for our clients.

Fred Diamond: Patti, people are very excited, we have dozens of people logging in today. I know I see some people here from the D.C. region but I see a couple people here from Europe, we have somebody from London, we have a couple people here from Australia so thank you to our friends down under for joining us today. You’re a sales leader, you’re also a marketing leader, what are your priorities right now? Again, we’re doing the interview July 22nd, it’s very hot, it’s about 98 degrees outside, it’s probably going to storm later on. Right now what are your priorities as a sales leader?

Patti Dumas: First one is staying cool. That’s an important one, Fred, because we all have work to do but I will tell you one of the most important priorities and you guys touched on it with the opening poll is business development. We are back in business development mode because to get to the other side of this there’s many things we have to be doing, all of us today. One is focusing on new prospects, looking at new market segments, are you in the right places for the future? Do you need to reposition yourself? We’re spending a lot of time focusing on that. Looking across the board strategically at the future of sales, how is our sales team aligned?

Do we have the right focus in place? Do we need to look at that differently? Because if we’re all going to do business differently that’s where obviously business development comes in a lot stronger and a lot more need for that. To get these Zoom calls or to get these team calls scheduled with prospects you have to really have a good story to tell so the priorities we have are very much focused on that and also focused on the company itself. We’ve had weekly management meetings and are figuring out ways to streamline the processes because the ultimate goal always is how do we improve the customer experience?

Our customers are reeling right now and they don’t want us to make their lives any harder, we need to make them simpler and we need to make them better. Our internal team, I’m so proud of our senior management team, our middle management team, we’re meeting weekly in calls and coming up with new ways of how to get invoices more clearly to clients, how to get information to them, how to make it more of an, as they talk about, the effortless experience which I think is key. We’ll be much more of a strategic partner by providing those. Those are just some of the things that are priorities but they’re all big picture things and we’re starting to stay focused on them in addition to the daily support to our clients and working as a team to provide all new levels of support that we weren’t doing six months ago.

Fred Diamond: I know you have a couple stories that you want to tell us, some things you’re doing with customers but before we get to your first one we do have some questions coming in. Let’s take our first question from the audience. Patti, the question comes in from Cynthia in New York City, thank you so much, Cynthia. “Have there been any positive surprises that have come out of this situation? Is there anything that’s come out really positive for you as a sales leader?”

Patti Dumas: It’s a great question, Cynthia, and one of the things I’m most positive and so proud of is watching how the sales team is getting to a higher level of support for our clients. They’re taking on the initiative themselves to be exploring new market segments, to be thinking about what I mentioned, all of the products and services we have, how do we come to the market better with those services? How do we articulate that message? The team itself is rising to the occasion and it’s really great to see. The other thing that I’m proud of is some of the solutions we’ve developed that we would not have thought of a year ago, those were not things that would have resonated, those aren’t things that the clients needed but we’ve been forced to think differently and strategically so we get smarter. What I would add to that is we’re doing a lot more research and really starting to understand market segments much deeper than we ever did before because now we have to look at it like what is it that are their problems? I think there’s a lot of positives that we’re always trying to find along the way and benefit our clients ultimately.

Fred Diamond: I know you have some customer stories and people are anxious to hear some of the things that you’ve been doing with customers. We have a whole bunch of sales professionals who come in to our webcasts every week and people want to know what you’re doing with customers so they can have some thoughts and inspiration on how they can also go back to their customers. Why don’t you tell us one of the stories that you’re excited to tell us about?

Patti Dumas: I love to tell stories because it helps us explain what it is we’re doing to bring benefits to our clients. Imagine this scenario: in March we have a client we’ve designed a new catalogue for, it’s their biggest revenue producer so it’s critical to the success of the organization. They print 300,000 of these four times a year that get shipped to their customer base and in the middle of getting ready to print this after we’ve designed and laid out a print portion they call us and say, “Stop the presses, we can’t mail it out because they’ve shut down every place we’re mailing it to.”

Now this client, their biggest revenue producer is stuck with, “What do we do now?” The fortunate part of MOSAIC is our marketing division was able to jump in and figure out how to develop and pivot to a digital strategy so immediately we transitioned the print magazine into a digital one with all the links and things we found, a great digital platform. We came up with ideas and strategy around how to market outside when you don’t have all the home addresses, think about this, all of us are facing that. How do we reach people from a direct mail or even email standpoint?

We worked with them on that. The outcome of that a few months later is this week we’re not only producing the magazine again digitally but we’re also printing a portion of it because now some of their audience has returned back to work. Then they just assured us the other day that we’d be getting ready to do their September one which is going to have a lot more print to it. You talk about being a trusted adviser, I think the key is that we were able to be part of that solution for them, we didn’t just say, “You don’t want to print it now? That’s a bummer.” It was like, “We’ve got to help these guys, they’ve got to drive in revenue, this is how they’re going to be sustainable.” That was a really important part of our customer success stories.

Another one which I love to talk about, if any of you know Paul Dunning from Capital Communicators, Paul puts on four great events a year. We’ve been an exhibitor and a sponsor at his events and I think highly of it, so many marketers come in, it’s great discussions that we have. Paul and I were just having a discussion a few months ago and Paul was faced with the task of he needs to go virtual, so here he is with his four amazing events towards communicators, towards PR people, towards marketers. As we’re talking I realized we have a sister company, MOSAIC Learning, what does MOSAIC Learning do? They provide custom LMS systems, they provide custom apps, they do virtual and augmented reality, amazing training programs, they have all these platforms. I said, “Paul, I think we need to have a discussion with our sister company” so we called the CEO of the company, we got on a number of calls and as a result, we were able to take that platform and easily begin to start to turn it into one that Paul’s going to be able to use in the fall now.

He’s going to launch his summits, and you’ll be seeing information on it, through our platform called Combobulate ENGAGE. I love the name Combobulate because if you’ve ever been discombobulated it’s better to be combobulated [laughs]. Combobulate is going to put all of that together and build the streaming and a virtual platform for him. That was a really fun project because I care so much about Paul and the success of what he’s doing so that’s personal and you get to feel good about those kinds of solutions.

Fred Diamond: Patti, we have a couple questions that are coming in about those two.

Patti Dumas: I start talking Rhode Island fast so excuse me.

Fred Diamond: [Laughs] no problem. A question comes in about the first one, “Did you have the digital capabilities already to help your customer shift from print to digital?” Was that something that MOSAIC was already able to do and then you were able to quickly go to the customer and say, “Have you thought about this instead of just doing print right now because you can’t mail it to people? Should you go digital?” or did you have to develop that technology? Give us a little bit about what capabilities you had to be able to go back to your customer to offer valuable things for them.

Patti Dumas: It’s a great question. The original conversations, how we even got the opportunity was the client knew that before we even designed the print part, they had brought us in the marketing team and especially the creative team to talk about if we could provide digital solutions and the answer was yes. We already had been helping some clients migrate to this kind of platform, they would be taking a big leap of faith to go from a complete print solution to a digital solution. We were going to do it in baby steps and they already knew they needed to do this, they knew that they needed to reach their audience in new ways. So we did have the internal capabilities, it’s just that we weren’t even thinking that way for this particular issue so that was a really fast pivot because we hadn’t even been from a marketing perspective thinking about providing that service this time.

Fred Diamond: At the Institute for Excellence in Sales we did 50 live events per year prior to March 12th and now we’re going to be doing five webcasts a week. We’ve been doing four since the middle of March for Women in Sales and sales leaders, and now we’re going to be doing these at least through the end of the calendar year and probably moving on. We were similar, I knew we should definitely do webinars but one day… The big story of course is the government which, “We’ll be on the cloud at some point.” March 12th, pretty much everyone had to get to the cloud.

I have a question back to customer conversations, you guys have tons of customers. Tell us more about the types of customer conversations you had and I want to put a little bit of a twist. One thing we’ve been talking about on the Sales Game Changers Live is empathetic conversations and you and I have had that conversation, we actually talked about it during your podcast. That’s been a big topic over the course of the four webcasts that we’re doing every week, empathy, how to be empathetic, when to be empathetic. That customer that you were talking about, the one where you shifted to digital, did you spend a lot of time on empathy or was it like, “We’ve got a big problem, let’s get right to the business.” Was there empathy or was it like, “Hey MOSAIC, we’ve got to get in action starting right away”? I’m just curious on how you and your team’s conversations are going from that angle. Also, I want to thank Cherine for that question, Cherine is in D.C.

Patti Dumas: Thank you, Cherine. You talk about empathy and I would tell anybody that’s in sales, if you didn’t have a level of empathy before this happened you’re not in the right business anyhow. When this happened for our client we all felt horrible for what they were facing because we’re a part of it. We’re now laying this out, we’re giving them a new look, a new direction, we’re all excited to take them forward, they’re all excited, we’re having these great meetings and then everything shuts down for them. There was that but I would tell you we all got into that, “We’ve got to help” mode so the empathy was combined because they needed something in days, this had to happen fast. We had that but our goal ultimately was to help them get through this to the other side so yes, there’s a lot of empathy involved in what we’re doing for any of our clients today.

I think, Fred, that brings up an interesting point that anybody you’re talking to or I’m talking to today, when we’re looking at them we don’t know when their door is shut like mine is now, if there’s 12 kids running around, if there’s a spouse out of work, if they’re faced with bills they can’t pay, all of those things. I think when we’re talking to people we want to be really careful in making sure we understand them, we’re providing them value, you’re going to have trusted adviser conversation tomorrow. If you get the opportunity today to talk to a prospect or a client, if you’re not providing a high level of value you have no right to be on that call because they don’t have time and it’s because whatever has happened behind that closed door, we don’t know what that is. If we do get those few minutes I think it’s critical that we’re providing something that gives them inspiration, ideas or support to help them move their own business forward.

Fred Diamond: Patti, we actually have a question here from Louisa in Belgium, thank you, Louisa for coming onto today’s webcast. The question is, “How have you changed as a sales leader in the past few months?” Again, we’re talking about empathy, one thing I remember from your podcast interview is that you’re a learner and you urge that people constantly learn and read and grow but it’s been an interesting time as we’ve talked about. How have you changed?

Patti Dumas: Thank you, Louisa. I would tell you that I have to get my hair colored a lot more now [laughs] that would be a physical change. It goes to that empathy question we were just talking about is that I really try to be much more thoughtful to people I’m talking to internally and externally. I talk fast at times, I’m thinking five steps ahead and I need to learn to sit back and really listen and look at people and hear what they’re saying and being much more thoughtful about that and helping others to try and do that as well. That would be one change that I would say that I’ve seen, the other thing is to really make sure that I am thinking strategically towards the future because so much has changed in our industry and in our client’s industries that I’ve got to be thinking ahead, just like I talked about. What’s the sales focus going to look like? What’s the product mix? Who are the market segments? How do we expand our footprint? All of those things weren’t necessarily immediate for me but they become much more important now as we look towards the future. Those are a couple of things that I would say.

Fred Diamond: Let’s talk about your people. Again, you’re a sales leader, you manage people, you’ve managed people for a long time, you introduced me to some of them when we introduced you on the Sales Game Changers podcast last year. How are you coaching your people right now? You just mentioned a few moments ago that we don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors at our customer’s side and as we’ve spoken many times on the webcast, everybody in the world has been affected by the pandemic. Some business-wise, some health-wise, some have kids who are in high school and having to deal with that, people are homeschooling now, they’re camp counseling, if you will. We don’t really know what’s going on in everyone’s life and not everybody wants to share everything as well but how are you coaching your people? I’m curious, I know you’re a very involved empathetic leader with your team and I know you like to know how your people are doing. How are you coaching them right now and how are you helping them move through today’s business world?

Patti Dumas: I think first and foremost I have a responsibility to make sure that I’m providing them the support and the resources and the shoulder they need to talk to whenever they need to because they’re dealing with all those same issues we’re talking about. Each one of them are such individuals that you really have to coach people individually, there’s no way to just manage a sales team, you’re not managing people, you’re coaching them so I’m trying to work very individually on helping them to get them motivated towards new opportunities, to inspire them to want to do research and find out new things. Here’s an example in one way we’re trying to get things moving, there’s a new market segment that we haven’t been very successful and COVID has brought it on so it was a great opportunity and they’re about to do a long term engagement with us.

What we realized quickly is we need to really do a deep dive in understanding that industry so we’re going to invite some of the salespeople that are interested in finding out about that market segment to meet with myself and creative and the marketing head weekly to start having strategy discussions, each of us doing individual research on the industry and sharing it with each other. How they talk, what they’re saying, where they are, what spaces they’re in, who their competitors are and much deeper dives. Those are the things that are going to make people more successful so from a coaching standpoint, my job is to make sure that we’re giving them the content, the resources, the lead opportunities, understanding what it is we do that they can bring to the table and being there for people.

Fred Diamond: What are you expecting from your people right now? I’m not sure how widespread your team is from an age and experience type of a perspective but I’m just curious. Let’s say you have people who are a little more senior in their sales career, what do you expect from them and what do you expect from some of the younger people in your sales team? If you don’t manage young people or seasoned people, what would you advise to the people watching today’s webcast if they’re more senior in their sales career or if they’re more junior?

Patti Dumas: One thing that I would say is what’s very hard for any of us if we are in sales, any of you today at the transactional level, you are selling to the end buyer of a product, service or whatever your solution is, one thing we all have to learn how to do is get up that totem pole really fast. The decisions being made today that are going to influence you and the ability to sell are being made in the C-suite so even if you’re at that level where it was a transactional level – which some of my reps are and they talk about it, we’ve got to coach them and work with them to help us move higher up in the organization and share our stories and talk to them about what their needs are.

That’s really important for anybody so when you look at your business base, if you looked at what you were working and focusing on 6 and 9 months ago, look back at it, take a deeper dive. What kind of research can you be doing? How can we reconnect with that client or their boss or their boss’s boss with a different kind of conversation that we had before? I’d say that transactional part is really important. The other thing is that you have to really make sure you’ve got a good plan and you’re working it, that you feel focused every day. I always talk about every sales rep that comes in on a Monday morning disorganized, your week goes to hell, honestly. You start shuffling paper and before you know it, the week is over and you didn’t move yourself forward where you wanted to be. Have that plan and I don’t have any particular plan that they have to follow, I expect them to do their own time-blocking and to figure out who they’re going to be calling but we work together on the prospects, we give them all the content that they need, email marketing, content drafts, anything that they need for touches.

We provide them all of those resources but you hire the kind of people that you hope have their own styles and how they like to reach out to people. Years ago I worked at Xerox and we all talked the same, we dressed the same, we looked the same and I don’t believe in that at all, I believe we’re all individuals and have our own styles. But you need to make sure that they’ve got the brand and the guidance of the company behind them to help them go out to the market space.

Fred Diamond: Patti, we have a question here from Darrel, it says Darrel’s in Maryland so he’s local. Thank you, Darrel. Darrel says, “My leadership doesn’t understand how hard it is right now, what do you suggest I tell them?” That’s interesting, that’s come up a couple of times and I’m going to ask that question a little bit differently. We have dozens of people on today’s webcast, some of them are senior, some of them are more junior. Give us a little bit of an understanding, Patti, on what someone on your level, someone who’s in sales leadership is going through right now. We talked about the door being shut and all those things and we talked about everybody’s at home, of course everyone’s dealing with COVID but you have people underneath you who are demanding things. You just mentioned you have a management team that you’re also a part of as well, give us a little bit of a peak for the people who are watching today’s webcast. As a sales leader, what are some of the challenges or pressures that you’re facing?

Patti Dumas: We all have a lot of them because like I said, there has been business that has been lost, there are industries that we were very big in that are not doing as well, there’s a lot of pressure around that, there’s pressures around supporting our internal staff and keeping them busy at all times. I live and breathe those kinds of things, I worry about people that work for us so there’s a lot of pressure to really want to make it all happen but I will tell you, I’m fortunate to work for leaders that have been very understanding. We’re going to have a weekly Zoom call but I bring the two CEO’s, the COO, all the VP’s in the entire sales force every week for a discussion. The CEO’s and COO get to be part of those discussions, get to be part of the strategy, we’re going to do a session this afternoon that’s talking about if we each had one thing we needed help on, help us, guide us, in the next week we can talk about it. I’m trying to make it very transparent throughout the organization of the struggles we’re having so that the CEO’s weekly and the COO can see these people and have the same conversation with them.

I think the more we share information up and down, the more everybody understands where we are and I think our CEO’s have had a great understanding of the difficulties we’re facing and I feel fortunate that they know that we’re trying to figure it out and they’re working with us to do that. I do think it’s important for leaders to understand the pain points we’re all in because it is difficult and we’re not smiling every day, we’ve got so many customers we’re worried about and people that have lost their jobs and all of those things. The more leaders understand that I think the better they’re going to be to support everybody in the organization.

Fred Diamond: Of course we’ve all been virtual since the middle of March and even people who have worked from home, it’s been an adjustment because we’re all on Zoom or GoToWebinar, Webex, so many more. People think that they’re so busy because they’re going from Zoom to Zoom but obviously we’ve all had to figure out virtual, I know your team has been virtual as well. Are there any best practices? We don’t have to talk about the last four months but we’re doing today’s interview, July 22nd, are there any best practices that you as a sales leader have enacted recently or have made rise about how to be more effective in a virtual world?

Patti Dumas: Great question. The thing that we have learned is by trial and error, we’ve all made mistakes, we’ve learned to put new buttons on when we’re on Zoom calls. You see my office that I’m sitting here, that I make it look more like a business setting. Advice was given to me many weeks ago to remind me that I should make my home office look like a business setting and I took that to heart and did that. I would ask any of you that are having client calls right now with what your clients are seeing behind you, do they think you’re ready for business? Are they taking you seriously? Are you dressed appropriately? Do you look ready to work or do you have your baseball cap and sweatshirt still on? Because it’s time to take those off, we’ve got to get back to business. We’re using teams all the time now and we’re getting better and better at it so I think some of it has just been trial and error but I think it’s just feeling professional, being ready, just like if you were on a sales call. Are you a trusted adviser? Does that person look at you and think that they’d like to continue a discussion with you, that you brought value? It’s not just about what you said but it’s about how you look and how you present yourself.

Fred Diamond: Patti, I want to ask you one last question, this came in through me, not from the field. Thank you so much, everybody for your questions for Patti today. Then, Patti, I’m going to ask you for an action item that people can do today to take their sales career to the next level. What do you think some of the upcoming challenges are? We thought by now that we were going to be back in the office and then there were spikes going on all over the place and people are hesitant, some of our members were thinking they’d be back by Memorial Day and now people are saying January is when they may get back into the office. In the next week or so, what do you think some of the challenges will be as we continue to figure out how we get better and make our way through this?

Patti Dumas: Fred, I think one of the challenges we all face is not knowing what the next challenges are. If we look at what’s going on in the world, what’s going on in the United States and all of the things we’ve been faced with, so many stressful things for us to be concerned and worried about so what’s next? It’s the unknown. I think that’s the biggest challenge, being able to know we’re not sure what’s going to happen but being ready to try and navigate whatever that is. If it is for the long term we’re going to be working from home, we’re going to be remote, I think we need to dig our heels in, figure it out, do it well and become experts at it so that we get good and so that when we’re presenting people feel confidence and like what we’re doing. I think the biggest challenge I see is being uncertain about what the immediate future and long term future look like, I think we just all have to be working hard and that’s where focus comes in.

Fred Diamond: Patti, I want to thank you so much, you gave us some great insights today. Patti, give us an action item, something that people can put into play today to be a better sales professional during this very interesting time.

Patti Dumas: Here’s what I would ask everybody to think about doing. Look at the last year of your successes and your losses, take a look at your business base, your year of business base that you went after. Take a look at those wins and think deeply about what got you over there but take a look at those losses and start thinking about as I was giving specific examples today of how we have to change, what could you do with those existing opportunities that you did not get to go back in at a different level? It could be that you need to move yourself up the totem pole, you need to have a better value proposition but don’t say your business is lost because people are going to be looking for more help. You have an opportunity across your base to take a look at existing in addition to prospects. I would say just really take a deep dive.

Fred Diamond: That’s a great point. Last Thursday on the Optimal Sales Mindset show we talked to Jose Palomino who wrote the book called Value Prop and you raised this up a number of times on today’s webcast, your customers need value. They need you if you’re going to bring them value for where they are right now and your customers are going through the same thing you’re going through for the most part. They’ve lost customers, they’re figuring out if their business model still makes sense, everybody on the planet has had to evaluate that. If you’re not bringing value right now and quickly showing it to your customer, you’re definitely going to struggle. Once again, Patti, thank you so much for all the great insight, we appreciate it. For everyone watching today’s webcast, thank you so much.

Patti Dumas: Thank you, Fred.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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