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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 August 26, 2020. It featured Veeam Public Sector leader Mike Miller and VMWare Public Sector leader Bill Rowan.]
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EPISODE 265: VMWare’s Bill Rowan and Veeam’s Mike Miller Offer This Sage Advice for Sales Professionals Serving Public Sector Customers
BILL’S TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “You need to figure out a way to celebrate about your successes and your accomplishments in this new world. It used to be again, going back several quarters we were in an office, we would pull everybody together and you’d recognize someone. We still try to do a little bit of that online but I’ve encouraged people, “Listen, you had a great week, you got a big order in, share a bottle of wine with your loved one or significant other. Go make yourself a big dinner, turn stuff off, turn the computer off, put the phone down and use it as a way to celebrate the successes that you’re having along the way.”
MIKE’S TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Empathy is the most important quality that anybody can have whether it’s in sales or in life. I think that the most important thing that we can do as sales professionals as we leave this, as we go into the rest of the week, as we go into next week and as we continue in our career is to bear that in mind. Also, have an athletic approach to how we manage our business. We have to make sure that we’re maximizing the time that we put towards this, that we maximize the amount that we’re able to interact with our customers, the amount of information that we’re able to convey, the amount of information we’re able to get from those customers so we can be respectful of their time and that we can get back to them much more rapidly and quickly with good key answers to help them solve mission problems.”
Fred Diamond: What are the big priorities that you’re working on right now? Again, we’re about six months into the pandemic and everything related to that and you guys both focus on public sector, federal specifically today and the end of the federal fiscal year is coming up in about 30 days so it’s a busy time usually for you, your team and your resellers.
Mike Miller: It is. We’ve got five weeks left till the end of the government fiscal year so we are extraordinarily busy. There’s obviously a balance, all the reps are busy focusing on closing up the pipelines, they’ve been working in some cases multiple years but certainly all year long to build up a pipeline. Those that have done a really good job and have been working really hard are able to reap the rewards and earn the process of doing that. They’re also having to balance that with what is always a key requirement which is making sure that they’re continuing to grow the pipeline. It’s a delicate balance this time of year.
Fred Diamond: We had Mike Durso on your commercial side back on the Sales Game Changers Live, back in early April when things were beginning to get a little bit interesting, I encourage people to go back and watch that.
Bill Rowan, it’s great to have you hear, VMWare. How about you? What are some of the big things that you’re working on right now?
Bill Rowan: Fred, first off, thank you very much for having me, Mike, great to be with you. I will tell you, along the same lines as Mike referenced, it’s been an extraordinarily busy time inside of the sales organization. I think by note we saw one of the largest reprogrammings ever by DoD in getting up here to the end of the government fiscal year. There are still dollars available in some of the agencies so it’s really been a multi-pronged approach not just to try to ensure that you’re satisfying those current requirements, but also we’ve seen a fairly significant shift in the way government is doing business. Much like all of us are working from home, many of them are working from home or if you’re intelligence community you’re working on a colored schedule. You’re not only adapting to what the mission requirements and how those are changed, you have to completely adapt to the way you communicate with your clients on a regular basis. Hats off to the folks in the organization and the industry in general because I think we’ve probably adapted as well as any industry could have possibly adapted. I give credit to maybe one of my competitors from time to time, Microsoft, commented in their earnings release that we’ve seen basically two years’ worth of digital transformation in about two months. I think that’s showing itself in the market right now.
Fred Diamond: What is it like and how has it been to physically work with the government customer? You mentioned a lot of them have gone home as well but talk about some of the interactions and what that’s been like as a sales leader and a sales team.
Bill Rowan: It’s funny, I remember a number of years ago in a major snow storm that we had here in the DC area, and basically it shut everything down in terms of the interaction with the client for a number of days. I probably went into this with the thinking of, “This is going to really be a complex challenge” and for many customers, it was. Many customers are not only trying to do their day job but their kids are at home so they’re trying to do homeschooling, they’re trying to do before and after care and much like us, the days can be very long especially when you’re in front of a screen.
I give a tremendous amount of credit to our public servants who have adapted not just here in the DC area but to be very fair, across the country and across the world. It’s interesting to pivot, I think that the government customer was one of those customers that really enjoyed and thrived on the face-to-face meetings and going through the detailed discussions about how something was going to work. In some cases had not maybe adapted a lot of the technical or the webcast or what have you type interactions, they liked that face-to-face, they liked to understand who they’re working with. That option really wasn’t available in terms of face-to-face so they pivoted very quickly and in many respects, probably were teaching us things and willing to do things maybe a little bit earlier, sometimes later in the day being able to schedule multiple sessions throughout the day.
I think as an industry, again, I only get a chance to hear from my counterparts about what they’re doing in the state and local markets, the healthcare markets and others. I think they’ve done an extraordinary bit of work. The other part too I give them a huge amount of credit, the government is known for a very paper intensive business or industry still, and their adoption to being able to get electronical authorizations and the moving of funds, clearly their internal communication has picked up greatly. If it’s something we’ve learned positive out of the pandemic, it’s that our government, as big as they are and as challenging as they can be from time to time, has really adapted almost a war-type footing in terms of they way they responded to the citizens of the country.
Fred Diamond: Mike, how about you? How have you seen those interactions going as well?
Mike Miller: I think Bill summed it up really well. I think all of the reputational mindset that is sometimes out there about the government being slow and not being as nimble as you would expect, did an extraordinary job in pivoting to be able to manage the pandemic certainly with regard to their mission support whether it’s supporting the war fighter, whether it’s citizens. From a business interaction standpoint we’ve definitely had to have some unusual shifts because some parts of the government are still whether it’s paper intensive as Bill points out, which is exactly right or having to be in the same room or having to be together intensive. But some of the processes with regards to moving some assistance along and being able to do mission support have been a little bit more complicated and a little bit slower.
We’ve had to be doing a much better job as salespeople and as business consultants being able to help the government to shorten some of their own processes. I’ll give you an example, a person might ask for a quote and they’ve got an environment where they’re used to having half a dozen people that they need to be running things by nearby. For us, if they’re working remotely we have to sometimes think in advance to some of the questions they might need to be thinking about like do they have to have a J&A done? Do they have to be speaking to existing customers? Have they identified small business? We’ve got to be doing a better job from a sales process standpoint of thinking on behalf of some of the things that they might have to do to help them be as efficient as they can be. That’s something that we’re doing better at and it’s something that we’ve had to do a little pivoting ourselves on.
Bill Rowan: I think Mike hits on a great point. That thinking about what are their next steps, the more I think that our professionals have looked at that, they’ve pivoted, it’s making them better, they’re asking those questions up earlier, they’re lining those pieces up which is allowing us to compress the sale cycle over what we might have otherwise expected. So as much as we’re having to think about, the more we can include some of those things in our DNA in terms of the way we manage our opportunities going forth, I think that’s going to lead to a real positive on the back end when all this hopefully calms down a little bit here.
Fred Diamond: Mike, you make a really good point there. We’re doing a webcast every single day with sales leaders such as yourself and sales thought leaders and one of the messages and lessons that’s come through is that for sales professionals to be successful moving forward, you need to be ahead of where the customer is so that you can bring them the solutions before they ask. Questions now like, “Tell me the pain”, you can’t ask those questions anymore because we should know what they’re going through because everyone on the planet is going through the pandemic and things related to that. We have a question that’s come in here, this question comes from another Mike and he’s also in Virginia. I don’t see you texting here.
The question is, “How personal have you been with your customer being that we’re all going through the pandemic and things related to it?” That’s an interesting question. Talk a little bit about maybe empathy and knowing that everybody, like Bill mentioned before, is now a homeschool teacher or they’ve been a counselor for the last two months. Your marketplace is a very structured marketplace in a lot of ways, there are literally laws that your companies have to follow to be able to sell to this marketplace, how they purchase and how they procure and things like that. But at the same time, we’ve all just gone through this human challenge that we’re still going through in so many ways. Bill Rowan, why don’t you talk about that first? Have your people been able to engage on a more personal level knowing that we’re all going through the COVID and things related to that?
Bill Rowan: I think they have. What may have frustrated somebody 5-6 months ago because maybe there was somebody in the background, a dog or whatever the case might be, people are a lot more accepting of that. In fact, probably can relate in many respects to exactly what a client or business partner is going through. One of the changes that we made inside VMWare was we’ve been using technologies like Zoom and Teams for a while prior to the pandemic. We really asked our folks to try to make an effort whenever possible, go on video with your customers and your business partners, create that personal connection because otherwise we’re just a bunch of voices that are going back and forth over a conference call and you don’t really get a chance to understand some of the issues. I’ll tell a funny story that I told to my team, I was doing a call with the CIO of one of the intelligence communities and I had actually forgotten that the call was the next day and it popped up on my calendar and I only had about 10 minutes before the start. I really wasn’t dressed the way I would want to have been dressed so I apologized when I got on the call, I went on video and I said, “I apologize, I meant to get a little bit more prepared but the call was important and I’ve just been busy throughout the day.”
Then that person said, “Well, then I’m going to go on video also” and there they were wearing a baseball cap and T-shirt and said, “I’m in the exact same boat you’re in.” So, I think that if you’re willing to put yourself out there a little bit with your client, you’ll find that they’re in the exact same boat. I think that while we can’t be in person and share a cup of coffee or something as a result of the meeting, we actually can make almost a different level of a connection and those will ultimately pay us benefits. The listeners who are listening to this podcast, that’s going to pay you benefits over the long haul with your client base.
Fred Diamond: Mike, how about you? How have you directed your team to go above and have those types of less formal? Are you encouraging your people to break through and talking about, “How are you doing?”? Those kinds of things that as human beings we’re doing.
Mike Miller: Absolutely. In fact, as you may recall although you do an awful lot of Game Changers podcast, so you may not remember mine precisely, one of the things that we talked about, one of the things I think is most important from a skill standpoint in any sales rep is their sense of empathy. It’s actually caring about the mission, it’s caring about the people and it’s not just being empathetic towards the institutions but it’s the people that are part of the institutions. I think Bill is exactly right, I think it’s extremely important and we find ourselves doing much more of this where we’re actually on calls and we go to video. By the way, I look much better on a 4-inch screen than I do face-to-face, just for the record. It’s extremely important to try to have some level of eye contact and it also gives you a chance to have some of the more human moments that Bill’s talking about – the dog barking in the background or my son coming in to give me a high-five when I’m in the middle of a meeting, or their children doing the same thing.
I think that’s great. It also translates a little bit into what we talked about before, being empathetic especially with our government customers who are slammed, they are still doing an extraordinary job meeting some really difficult challenges and they’ve got was always the busy time of the year for them anyway. You compound that with COVID-19, it’s really us doing a better job as sales reps and people, frankly it’s being more respectful of them and their time, that’s being empathetic. If we can knock out, for example, a whole series of questions that we’ve got and understand what customers need better in one phone call, then we have a chance to save them half an hour or 45 minutes or two other phone calls, or trying to pull multiple people together. We do a better job for ourselves, we do a better job for each other and we do a better job for our customers.
Fred Diamond: I want to follow up on something you said a few moments ago, Mike, and Bill, I want to ask this question to you. You talked about how as good and even average salespeople now, you need to be ahead of the curve. You need to bring the customer solutions before they ask you, before they even know that they need it and one of the other key words that comes up not infrequently is preparation. Could you both talk a little bit about how you came up, Mike, for example, with the notion that you needed to get those forms to the customer before they even knew that they needed them way ahead of the curve? Because that’s where we’re seeing a lot of the distinction and value coming from right now, it’s not just bringing value anymore, that’s like hardly worth it, it’s the added value that you’re bringing by being like 2-3 steps ahead of where the customer is so that they could do their job more effectively. And of course as a sales professional, that will tie you deeper. Bill, if you could talk about preparation a little bit and maybe some of the things that you changed or some of your observations on how the sales professionals watching today’s webcast or listening to the podcast can be much more proactive? Where they’ll need to be, to be successful moving forward.
Bill Rowan: If I replay back to my time in January, February and before this, it wasn’t uncommon that if one of my reps or one of my managers was going to be involved in a briefing with a client or had an important meeting. Maybe we were working on helping a customer shape an RFI before it came out, we would a lot of times sit around the table and say, “Let’s figure out how we’re going to run this, what are we going to say? If we say this, how is this going to play out?” That opportunity really doesn’t present itself anymore, so how do you take those same type of interactions and apply them to this new format that we deal with on webcasts or videocasts – it’s amazing some of the skill sets, by the way. I don’t know of a single person inside of my organization who’s ever taken a class in whether it’s GoToMeeting to Zoom to Teams, but they have figured out how to use these tools and do different things with these tools that quite frankly, I’m blown away with that there are skills they developed.
A lot of it is just playing around but they shifted and started to say, “Okay, let’s make sure we’re really prepped” because the client, much like us, is probably going back to back with a bunch of these meetings. You’ve limited the time that you’re in the car or in the subway going down to visit the account, getting through security to get into the building, sit down, go through your discussion and then again that same process exit. In many cases, all of us have probably picked up at least 30 minutes on the front end and the back end of every single meeting so how are we using that productively? Not just to plan how we’re going to go about the discussion, what we want to be the outcomes but also the debrief afterwards to make certain that we have captured things we did well or things we didn’t do well and feed those back into the process so we’re going to be that much more effective on the next sales call or the follow-up activities that revolve around the opportunity we may be working on.
Fred Diamond: Mike, how about you? You do a lot of sales training in your career, you’ve taught a lot of people, again you’ve worked in some great companies like Juniper and CA for a long time, you’ve worked with thousands of sales professionals to make them better. What are some of your bits of advice on how to be more prepared to again, not just to show up well but to be 2-3 steps ahead of the curve?
Mike Miller: That’s a great question. Preparation from where I sit comes in a couple different varieties, the first is about sales process, it’s making sure that we have got really good habits and that they are consistently being executed by us on a regular basis. That’s good qualifying, it’s having empathy so that we can have a good rapport with our customers and prospects and our partners. It’s making sure that we understand that piece so that that’s second nature to us going through the discovery process, the qualifying process. If we’ve been doing this for any amount of time in government sales, it’s hard as you said, there are laws you have to follow and as Bill and I know painfully well, it’s the sort of thing that can take a long time to get good at.
But once you do get good at it, once you have done that then you have the ability to start doing the other bits of preparation, the other bits of preparation are understanding our customer’s mission. It’s understanding if we’re working with a systems integrator, what sort of things are important to them? How do we increase their probability of winning for a major program? The same thing with our partners, it’s being able to put ourselves in the place – being empathetic – of our customers and our partners and making sure that we’re prepared so that when we go in there it’s not to talk about what we do, it’s to be out there relentlessly looking for the kinds of problems that we can solve. And when we find those, making sure that our customers understand that and knowing where to look for it is a key piece of it.
Fred Diamond: We have a question here that comes in from Judy and Judy is in New York City, Judy wants to know, “How have you both changed as a sales leader over the past five months?” Again, both of you have worked for great companies, Bill, you were at EMC before you moved over to VMWare with an acquisition, you both are well-known in the public sector space leading great teams, leading great companies. How have you changed? Mike, why don’t you go first? Tell us one or two ways that you’ve changed.
Mike Miller: As a person who’s been selling for my entire career, the last job I had before I was in sales I also was waiting tables so it’s been a long time that I’ve been in sales. My happy place has always been in front of customers, it’s with my team in front of clients whether it’s at events, whether it’s in an AFCEA event, whether it’s in MeriTalk Cyber Smoke, whether it’s at the Pentagon, I like that for multiple reasons. #1, I like the motion of being out solving problems, that’s what gives me a thrill of being in sales in the first place, it’s finding a problem that you can solve. I also like coaching them, one of the things I like about being a sales leader is that you get to teach people how to change their life. I think that’s a pretty amazing job to be able to have and the best way for me to be able to do that I’ve always viewed as being out on the field with them.
Now this is out in the field with them, at least for now so I’ve had to adapt everything and do the same thing that we’re doing with our customers, it’s all online. That doesn’t change how we’re preparing, we still do role plays, as Bill correctly said, we don’t have time to do a pre-call meeting outside and a post-call debrief when you get outside, “What did I do right? What did I do wrong? What did you do right? What did you do wrong and how are we going to follow up?” and doing all those other things. But we have more time to do it in this kind of environment so whether it’s on GoToMeeting or whether it’s on Zoom or whether it’s on Teams, making sure that we’re spending that time and doing the debrief, doing the calls and doing the call prep. I’ve been doing a lot more of that online. I’ve also been doing what I never used to do before, we would have weekly calls from a Webex standpoint, weekly one-on-one’s, I never turned on my video prior to six months ago. In the last six months, my poor team has been suffering with this just like I have.
Fred Diamond: Bill, how about you? How have you changed as a sales leader in the last couple of months?
Bill Rowan: Fred, it’s interesting, much like Mike, if you gave me a choice I would take out in the field with a rep making sales calls every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Being in the office from time to time, the paperwork, some of the meeting stuff, I understand it’s a necessary evil but it’s not really the reason I got into the role and it’s not really what I enjoy. One of the things I really missed a lot was I have a very geographically separated sales organization. They’re in just about every state of the country except I think the Dakotas and Arkansas we don’t have anybody but we’ve got people pretty much all over the place.
One of the things that I really miss was if I was out in San Diego, go out and have dinner with the rep the night before or sometimes with a rep and his significant other or have lunch after the sales call and just talk about them and what’s going on and it not be about a deal. It not be about their forecast, it not be about pipeline, it’s how do you strengthen those relationships with those people that you don’t get a chance to see every day that might be in our home office either corporate or in Reston where the government office is. I miss that, so one of the things that I’ve tried to change is schedule just brief one-on-one’s with those folks and make it clear I don’t want to talk about numbers, I don’t want to talk about what the pipeline looks like, I want to talk about what’s going on with you, your family, I want to understand are there issues that I can help with? One of the things the company has done very well is the CEO has had a couple of days off, September 4th, this upcoming is going to be a company-wide holiday and I make it very clear to my reps. “I don’t want to see you on email, I want you to set stuff down, I want you to disconnect, there’s no excuse, we’re all working plenty of hours.” That’s a difficult thing for me to adapt, I’m one of those guys that if I look down on my phone and I see emails in the inbox, I want to get on and I want to see what’s going on, I want to respond. So I’ve had to adapt myself as well to say, “It’s the end of the day, these people need a break, they’ve been going all day long.” To be fair, it’s been a little bit of a tougher muscle memory for me to do that as well.
Fred Diamond: We have a related question that comes in here from Ken, and Ken is in Kensington, Maryland. Thank you so much, Ken, good to see you again.
Bill Rowan: Represent.
Fred Diamond: [Laughs] Bill Rowan just gave you thumbs up, Ken, if you’re listening to the podcast. The question he asks is not just about your team but Mike, you eluded to this before that there are a lot of trade shows and industry type of events where there’s one every day. For people who are watching today’s webcast, listening to the podcast, outside of DC you can pretty much go to an event almost every day and see people in the industry and that’s probably one of the reasons how the two of you have reached the ranks that you did, by participating in a lot of those entities or organizations. I’m not going to ask what you’re doing but what are you encouraging your team to do? The salespeople on your team that aren’t able to go to an AFCEA or a DoDIIS event or any of the other events that are happening all the time around the DC area, Institute for Excellence in Sales programs. How are you coaching your team now?
They’ve missed five months of being in a hotel or a conference center with customers and peers, a lot of the success in the federal space is the co-petition or cooperation, if you will. How are you encouraging them? What are some things you’re telling them to do to build their networks when it’s a challenge and you can’t go meet people now? Nobody’s having events, there’s probably not going to be any in-person events at least through the end of 2020. Mike, how about you? What are you telling your people to do or what are your people telling you that they want to do to build those networks?
Mike Miller: As far as building the networks, there are more events online than you might imagine, probably a few too many. It doesn’t drive as much customer intimacy as we’re used to but there are certainly some that are better than others. All the events that have normally been happening whether it’s AFCEA Augusta or any of the other events that are happening and should have happened all summer long, many of those have had online components. I’ve been going myself and encouraging my team to go as well, I’ve also been setting up adjacent things. One of the advantages, for example, of going to an AFCEA and building those is because it has a much bigger marketing budget so they can afford to sponsor some of these happy hours. But to do something adjacent to that which is a little bit more private and a little bit smaller and you can actually have more realistic conversations. We’ve done several of these that have been adjacent to some of these other events and it’s invitation-only.
We had one that we did in partnership with some folks that you’ve spoken to, Bill Rucker from Trustwave, for example and Sanjay Sardar. We had an event after one of the recent civilian events and we did a private invitation-only cocktail reception and we had a lot of government CIO’s show up, it was really interesting. A lot is a relative term because we only had a dozen total but it was great and it was much more interactive and interesting. I’d encourage being creative, trying to find ways to do that so if there’s something going on and you have a handful of people that you know, reach out to those folks, sponsor an online Zoom thing and then have each commit to bringing three customers or three partners there.
Fred Diamond: Bill, we have a related question and the question comes from Erin in the DC region, I’m going to read out her question. “I work in public sector as well and today I ran into a situation where a customer wanted to meet in person, their whole staff is back at the office, I was very surprised. What are your organizations’ philosophies on in-person meetings right now? My company is saying no in-person meetings through the spring.” How are you handling things like this and what are some of your recommendations?
Bill Rowan: It’s a great question, Erin, and obviously some of this gets down to beyond company policy, there’s obviously an aspect that’s a personal choice. We have a broad blanket approach that says no large gatherings, gatherings of 20 or more do we want employees to attend. However, we have a couple situations where customers have asked us, it’s been only probably the intelligence community where they want us to come on site so we can discuss some matters that are relatively speaking, sensitive. I’ve left it up to the reps and the engineers and asked them if they feel comfortable with this, I’ve made it clear to them I do not want them hanging out in the cafeteria or something like that afterwards. Even though they may see that as a good bonding opportunity, I think that you’re showing your commitment both to the client and the mission as well as the company by doing the meeting in the first place.
I do think at some juncture you have to also appreciate the customer’s asking you specifically, they have a certain amount of trust they’re putting in you as much as you are putting trust in them and that can be something that obviously you’ve worked hard to build that trust level. Do what you feel comfortable, say, “Listen, we can meet in person, maybe we can meet someplace outdoors by your office” if that makes you feel more comfortable than maybe in a confined space. It’s a little bit what Mike spoke about, customers are really missing the interaction they get to have with us on a regular basis. We are in many cases their educational tool where they learn about what’s going on, they get trends not just to what’s going on within their organization but what are other organizations doing? Maybe it’s in logistics, it’s financial services, other areas, they may hear what their competitors are doing, what their competitors are working on so we’re in some cases a source of intelligence in the market industry as much as we are the product piece and they miss that interaction. Hats off to Erin because you have to look at this as you’ve built a certain amount of trust with that client that they’re asking specifically for you to come in and sit down. As with anything, it becomes a personal choice and what you’re comfortable with, at what point you say, “I’m comfortable here but I’m just not comfortable in this particular spot.”
Fred Diamond: We have a question here that comes in from Louisa and Louisa is in Illinois right outside of Chicago. Thank you, Louisa. Her question is, “What are your expectations for your sales professionals right now?” We’ll take that in two chunks: what are your expectations for your more senior sales professionals? I’m not going to put an age there, you can define it yourself, probably where we all are – at least you two [laughs] – and then secondly, what would be your expectations for maybe your more junior salespeople? This has been a really interesting time, we’ve had a nice run for about 10 years in sales especially enterprise and B to B sales and you’re absolutely right, Bill. You just mentioned we’re not with them every day so they’re having to figure things out, there’s a lot to be said by sitting in a conference room and just doing a one-on-one. When you’re looking at the Zoom or GoToWebinar, GoToMeeting, there’s a different type of interaction no matter how honest you try to be. Before we get to your final action steps for the day, what are your expectations for your more seasoned people and what are your expectations for your more junior people? Mike, why don’t you go first?
Mike Miller: That’s a really interesting way to look at it and it’s a smart way to look at it. I think one of the challenges across the board is to balance work with burnout. I think what Bill’s company is doing as far as having people take a day off and forcing themselves to unplug is a great idea. I think to take it down to the more granular level of our team, what I would like our more seasoned people to do – again, obviously we have to balance all this with having to do our jobs – I’d like them to make sure that they are doing a really good job of reaching out and encouraging the rest of the team, keeping in touch with the rest of the team. Not just from a ‘how are they doing’ standpoint but making sure that they’re not feeling alone out there, there’s a lot of that where people are feeling isolated and you can get detached from the team.
One of the things with our corporate culture is we really want to be very focused on the team, that’s something both from a federal perspective and from a Veeam at large perspective. It’s really helpful when the more senior sales reps and more senior partner managers and people that have been here for a while do that and reach out and they’re inclusive and they’re part of the team. I think for everybody, especially if you’re new, it’s really important because we can’t work together, we’re not sitting across the desk from each other, it’s important for them to feel comfortable asking for help. Whether it’s help getting up to speed because they’re running into challenges with pipeline growth, whether they’re uncomfortable with some of the mandates that are put in place which is being vigorous with regards to pipeline and making sure that also when they need a break that they’re comfortable saying it.
Fred Diamond: Mike, I’m going to ask you for your final thought in a second, you have a second to think about it. Bill, how about you? What are your expectations for the people on your team right now? Again, it’s August 26th, you’ve got about 35 days left of the federal season and we’re 5 months into this pandemic.
Bill Rowan: Interestingly, I think some of my more senior people are probably more cautious about how this is going to work. We were going to ask them to go back to maybe where they were earlier in their career and become a rep who works the phone or a Zoom session, Teams, whatever the case might be and I think some of them maybe had some self-doubt about that. “That’s never been my skill, my skill has been in front of the client articulating the message.” What I’ve tried to encourage both my most junior people and my more seasoned folks is ask questions, ask your counterparts, we have leadership folks not just on the sales side but the technical side, the partner side. Don’t be afraid to reach out, run by a scenario, watch on the video pieces, watch your client’s body language, they’re giving the same tips often in video they might give you in person. I also think that customers are willing to share sometimes a little bit more insight, they’re a little bit more confused, “I don’t know this.”
I have a rep the other day who said, “We’ve articulated the issue three or four separate times of how they could solve a specific problem” and finally the rep did something I’ve never done, “I sent them a couple YouTube links and said ‘here, there’s a couple YouTubes that describe exactly what you’re trying to do with the technology'” and the customer said, “It was fantastic, it was two minutes, it was visual, I got the message.” People are utilizing different skills than maybe they otherwise realized they could have used or other tools that are out there. So my expectation is probably sometimes lower, a lot of your more senior reps put the bar very high for themselves so they’re trying to come up with new creative ways to continue to move the bar up, that’s what’s always made them A players. I’m sure Mike has got a group of the same sort of things so at some level it’s probably more bringing them in a little bit and going, “We’re going to be in this for the long haul, let’s continue to pace ourselves here.” At the end of the day, we’re always learning, we’re all learning new things so ask questions whenever you can ask questions.”
Fred Diamond: I want to thank Mike Miller from Veeam and Bill Rowan from VMWare. You can go back and you could learn more about Mike and Bill, their careers, go to salesgamechangerspodcast.com/mikemiller to hear Mike’s original interview or salesgamechangerspodcast.com/billrowan to hear bill’s original interview. Gentlemen, give us an action step, give us something that the audience can take away with to be more successful today. We’re beginning to get a lot of nice thoughts, Michael says, “Thank you”, Nick says, “Thank you”, Pam says, “Thank you so much for this.” Give us an action step, something nice, crisp and succinct that our audience can take home to be more successful today. Mike, why don’t you go first? Then Bill, you can bring us home.
Mike Miller: Fred, it seems like the word of the day is empathy and I’m just going to close with that because I think the most important quality that anybody can have whether it’s in sales or in life is to be empathetic. I think that the most important thing that we can do as sales professionals as we leave this, as we go into the rest of the week, as we go into next week and as we continue in our career is to bear that in mind. Also, have an athletic approach to how we manage our business. We have to make sure that we’re maximizing the time that we put towards this, that we maximize the amount that we’re able to interact with our customers, the amount of information that we’re able to convey, the amount of information we’re able to get from those customers so we can be respectful of their time and that we can get back to them much more rapidly and quickly with good key answers to help them solve mission problems. I think the key to remember is that we all own our successes and we all own our failures.
Fred Diamond: Erin says, “Thank you so much, great episode.” Sandy says, “Great episode”, thank you all so much for watching. Bill, give us something to take us home.
Bill Rowan: I couldn’t agree more with Mike on the empathy piece. I think there’s another component to this and this goes back to the actual people themselves. You need to figure out a way to celebrate about your successes and your accomplishments in this new world. It used to be again, going back several quarters we were in an office, we would pull everybody together and you’d recognize someone. We still try to do a little bit of that online but I’ve encouraged people, “Listen, you had a great week, you got a big order in, share a bottle of wine with your loved one or significant other.
Go make yourself a big dinner, turn stuff off, turn the computer off, put the phone down, make yourself a really nice dinner at home and use it as a way to celebrate the successes that you’re having along the way.” This is a stressful time on all of us and I think it’s just as important if not more important to recognize the accomplishments. We’re all using a lot of different muscles that we haven’t had to use before or haven’t had to use in a long time and that’s something to be celebrated that we may not have realized. We have the skills that we’re utilizing day in and day out, we can’t let that opportunity pass without taking the time to recognize those.
Fred Diamond: Once again, Bill Rowan from VMWare, Mike Miller from Veeam, thank you both for the great insights. Thank you both, be well and stay safe.
Bill Rowan: Thank you guys, appreciate it.
Mike Miller: Thanks, Fred. Thanks, Bill.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo