Growing Sales Teams at High Growth Companies, with Olivier L’Abbe [Episode 836]

Olivier L’Abbe is the President of MetaData.io and in this episode we talk about the challenges of growing sales teams at high growth companies. We also dig into the challenges of recruiting, hiring and onboarding during this uncertain era. Plus, we go deep on how to improve sales manager performance.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul: Olivier. Welcome to the show.

Olivier L’Abbé: Thanks for having me.

Andy Paul: Pleasure to talk to you again. It’s been awhile. It seems like we run into each other at events and there are no longer events. So we don’t run into each other. Where have you been sheltering in place?

Olivier L’Abbé: I’ve been sheltering in place in my house in Lafayette, which is in the East Bay, in the Bay Area.

Andy Paul: Yeah, you’ve got three young kids at home so it has to be have been crazy.

Olivier L’Abbé: It’s been very interesting. I’m in school. It’s been out for a little while for them, so they have a lot more free time. And fortunately, I want to send them outside and play with their friends, but it’s been difficult. Luckily our seven year old has one of his good buddies living across the street.

So that’s good and my 12 year old has now becoming a master of video game player and he’s on the phone playing with his buddies all day.

So

Andy Paul: Yeah,

Olivier L’Abbé: is hard, but doing our best.

Andy Paul: yeah. I was going to ask that question, cause this is where my kids are, as they’re old and out of the house is so what are you doing relative for play dates or, just kids going out and playing as parents. are you thinking? they won’t go out and play with the friends on the street.

Olivier L’Abbé: Yeah. My 12 year old says he’s tried to connect with his buddies, but some of the parents are uncertain about engaging with new families and creating new bubbles. And they play online, videos on, so there’s a bunch of games that got their headsets on and they’re just chatting with each other, which is good.

So we just try to limit the video game act for half of the day. And then the other half is doing creative stuff. So just, playing outside, playing basketball, art, reading so forth.

Andy Paul: And is your wife working as well?

Olivier L’Abbé: Yeah, part-time, she’s working. So we’re trying to juggle both of the kids and the jobs, which is, it was challenging, but it’s fun. I haven’t spent this much time at home probably in the last 10 years. And so it’s been nice not to have to go on the road and go to trade shows and things like that. so I’m sorry about the noise.

Andy Paul: No, that’s the problem. I said, when I raised at home, these things happen. We’re not in studios. We joke as my wife and I are dueling zoom calls most of the time and when we’re in our New York apartment, if I was recording these interviews and she was teaching a class for her, she’s a med school professor, is she was teaching from the bathroom sometimes or vice versa. So our shower curtain became quite famous. So yeah, it’s just different times. So along those lines, so what do you think is the biggest lesson you’ve or thing you’ve learned about yourself during the shutdown period?

Olivier L’Abbé: There was a few, one of them is I’ve always been a big promoter of having building teams and having people work in the office. And I think I’ve changed my mind on, requiring employees to show up to the office and then only hiring employees that could be in one of the office locations.

When I was a G2 for four years, pretty much only hired people in Chicago or San Francisco. You want it to work in the company. We would, you’d have to move to either city. Otherwise we wouldn’t consider it. And that was just based on my experience earlier in my career at Glassdoor, where we are at a bunch of enterprise reps across the country and it didn’t work out. It was just because they couldn’t learn about, how to sell the product and so on. And I think from a technology standpoint, really improved where collaboration is much easier, but it’s hard to hire somebody, but we’ve done a pretty good job of onboarding and hiring people here over the last four months or so, and we haven’t noticed much difference than, people that get onboarded in the office. And so now I think that moving forward and we’re still pretty small, the thirties, some of the people that we have in the company, I’d say that, 20 of them are remote and I think that will probably remain that way. And so we’ll have our headquarters in San Francisco and we’ll probably in the Bay Area, we probably have 10 to 12 people, but it’s not required to go to the office. But we do try to do things where we have morning check-ins. So the sales team will have a morning check in the customer success and ad ops team will have a separate.

Good morning check-in and then we try to do happy hours, virtual happy hours on Fridays, two, three times a month. Which is just, and then we have a theme every, happy hour, and then somebody else in the company is hosting that happy hour. And so it makes it fun  and it gives an opportunity for everybody to connect, even though, you can’t really connect in person anymore.

Andy Paul: Yeah, so I want to dig into that a little bit. As you said before you, you wanted people who could work in the office. Cause obviously you felt there was a huge benefit from just sharing of information and experience and knowledge, among the sales team. But you have to be intentional, I guess now what you’re saying about how to make sure you replicate that experience. Cause that sharing is still hugely important.

Olivier L’Abbé: It is. So we do a couple of things. One is, we have slacks of people have questions it’s coming up pretty quickly. We’ve also purchased an LMS system, so we’re, we’re about to, we just closed the series a and so we’re growing really rapidly right now and we’re probably double head count. There were at least 50% increase in head count in the next six to 12 months. And so what we’re doing is really setting up the infrastructure with a LMS right learning management system. Sending up all the processes and everything so that even though people are not in the office, they still, can show up to their desk at their home and say, here’s my framework, right?

I’m going to spend X amount of time listening to prerecorded sales calls and then I’m going to go into the LMS and then I’m going to do some work there to record myself, practice my pitch. And and you still have the ability to see how somebody is developing based on the work that they’re doing and you can track a lot of it, right?

It’s like how many videos did they watch how many times a day did they record their pitch and so on. And so you can still get pretty good insights in to how effective the new hire is at developing and so I love the fact that nowadays we don’t necessarily need to be an office as, as we used to.

Andy Paul: Following on to that, then, as you said, you’re adding people to the team is how does that affect how you’re hiring in terms of the person, not just the process, but also the person that type of person you’re looking for, because if you’ll be less office centric, let’s say, and this.

This came up. I was reading something, I don’t know, yesterday or today about some webinars being put on or people talking about, hiring sellers and saying, Hey, this is a time where, they call it the death of the generalist. Is that really the case? So we won’t get into that, but in general, just how’s your hiring changing in terms of what you’re looking for.

Olivier L’Abbé: Yeah. I’m hiring a lot of people I’ve worked with in the past currently. So I’ve been doing startups for awhile now and so good network of people that have hired, over the years. And so a lot of those people reached out and said, Hey, I’m interested in it considering. So one of the things, so we had one sales person when I started now we’re up to five and we’re hiring a couple more, but most of them have come from my network and people I’ve worked with in the past, obviously, as we keep scaling, it’s not going to be doable, but right now, we’re still a very small, nimble team and everyone that’s already worked together on the sales side and even maybe on the customer side is that side as well. And so right now it’s pretty easy, but as we keep growing, it’ll be interesting to see, how to hire people that no one knows in the company. And how do you get them to be part of the culture? Cause it’s really easy when, everyone knows each other. and, but when you don’t and you come out and you’re, the only employee that’s new, that’s in a different town, don’t know anybody in the company, how do you get them to be part of the culture and feel confident about engaging with people and so on?

That’s something that I don’t know, I haven’t had to deal with yet. We haven’t had to deal with yet. It’ll be interesting to see how it works, but right now we have, we’re probably hiring another four people on I revenue teams in the next few weeks, this month. And most of them, the ones that are pretty far along in the interview process are people that we have worked with or know pretty well.

And so our thoughts is we’re going to keep doing that while we can still get really good quality based on our network. eventually, that will be something that we’ll have to, one of the things I’m thinking is we’re probably going to have to hire, we don’t have HR internally right now, but we’ll have to hire somebody from HR and part of the job description will be maintaining a remote culture and the ways that you need to involve that. So we do pulse surveys quite often when every employee in the company actually, where are you at? Let’s go. It’s like an NPS. I like, what could we do those pretty frequently. Every couple of weeks, I think. And we’ll keep doing that. And we’re talking about, doing remote performance reviews now and, we have our check-ins and I make sure that every time we have interactions as a team, like the happy hour or the morning, check-ins, the camera’s always on.

I’ve always been an early adopter with turning your camera on when you’re having a visitation with anybody. And that’s something that now there’s a lot of stats around how having your video, even if the prospect doesn’t have your video. If you have your video, your conversion rates are going to be much better. And I think people are now getting more accustomed to just being on camera for half the day.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. A hundred percent. I, even though ironically, we’re recording this audio only, but we did see each other with me out first, but I’m same thing is yeah even for the, even if the prospect doesn’t have their camera on, I’ll have mine on.

and. found that, don’t necessarily want to use the word shame, but it shames them into turning their camera on. And it was just a sense of unease and people think this isn’t in balance for some reason. So the alternate my camera, but I think. If anything was pandemic has served the purpose of people finding out that they don’t need to do their hair. They don’t need to dress up. They don’t need to, cause we all have our shower curtains, our bedrooms, that was our backdrops and know perfection in this regard is unexpected. And so it’s really just about seeing the person and not worried about what the background is.

Olivier L’Abbé: Totally. Totally agree with that.

Andy Paul: But I did want to follow up on one question though, is so for the you’re hiring people find larger stuff right now, out of your network, people you’ve known, but I was curious, cause I want to ask about this because this had triggered mine thinking about this. These people are advocating on this webinar that, this is the era of the death of the generalist in sales.

And yeah, I just want to what’s your thought is about that because I’ve sort of gone back and forth over the course of my career. I am the generalist in many respects. Even when I worked in tech until I started my own company, 20 years ago, worked in tech, complex technical fields, and I was a history major. What did I know about technology? But I was self-educated but I knew when I had to bring the specialist in to help me. I mean in your business, what would a specialist be?

Olivier L’Abbé: So we’re a MarTech. So what we do is we automate demand generation for B2B, essentially. We use machine learning and things like that. So that we can create marketing campaigns and then we tweak them based on the conversions that are happening clicks and so on and how it’s progressing through the marketing automation and the CRM. And is it, opportunities being created so on. So we have an entire platform that just builds demand generation and like the middleware to the tech stack. And so what we’re doing right now is I’m hiring people that know marketing. And so I am definitely not hiring generalists currently because we’re still very small and we’re growing.

And so I’m for individuals that have experience in marketing technology and not willing to look outside of that. In the future I definitely think that we’ll look outside of it, but right now I want people to have somewhat of a Rolodex of CMOs and VPs of Marketing. It’s a very competitive space. There’s I don’t know, like 8,000 MarTech companies, but no really does exactly what we do because we use AI to automate demand generation. And all of the other platforms are our workflow tools where you need a human to work the tool and that’s as you just let the machine do the work, which is really cool. This is one of the reasons I came on board with the company, cause I’ve been in the space for seven years and this is by far the best tool I’ve been able to see in creating demand for B2B companies. And so we are looking for people who have a background in it so they can explain it. Cause if you don’t understand MQL and SQL, and marketing funnels and double funnels and all of that, it’s going to take a look longer, specifically remote, right?

We have to train you about what is marketing and so on. And so I’m looking for exclusively right now, people who have sold half a million, million dollar deals historically to marketing leaders. And that’s really what we’re looking for. So I agree with the sentiment, like the generalist right now. It’s not something that we’re looking for.

Andy Paul: Yeah, that’s, I go back and forth. Cause I think there, I think it’s our situation specific, but yeah, I also think sometimes people don’t think deeply enough about the fact that there are some people who are. I consider sales specialists, right? There are people who are students of the profession.

I’ve, they’ve taken the classes, they’ve had deep experience, they buttress and support that with reading books and listening to the video or watching videos, listening to podcasts, getting certified in certain things. And it’s okay, yeah, these people, they may be generalist on the industry perspective, but they are sales specialists. And what are we asking people to be?

Olivier L’Abbé: Yeah. It depends on the role, right? But at the end of the day where we’re at, I think people have conversations with customers and prospects and try to solve their problems. Everybody has issues they’re trying to resolve. And our job is to try to make that as easy as possible.

Andy Paul: Yeah. And that’s why I was saying for sales specialists is I look at my strengths over the years when I was fish out of water, selling these complex technical products worth millions of dollars. Yeah my strength was at the beginning, it was the connecting with the prospect is building the trust. It was doing deep discovery. It was you know, as we got more and more technical. Yeah, I needed sales engineering and people to help. But, yeah, you still have to have people that can initiate those conversations.

Olivier L’Abbé: So for us, and another thing I talking about with specialization, I’m actually now hiring marketers, directors of marketing, in on doing presales. And so we have two sales roles available right now. It’s two roles that roll up to the sales org, but one of them given that we sell to marketers, we have a marketer on the sales team right now that does a really good at talking to other marketers and doing demos and things like that. And it’s working so well and we’ve decided to hire another person. So now we’re having people who have been directors of marketing at companies,  establishedDemanGensn workflows, and programs and that will come on board and then they will be essentially like a spokesman that creates thought leadership, but then also is there to do the demo with the salesperson so that a marketer can be talking to marketers. So instead of feeling like your salesperson is selling you as a marketer, the marketer is just having a conversation with you. The sales person is still on the phone and they do the qualifying and they’ll do the closing part I’m in the paperwork part, but we’re putting marketers in the middle part of our sales conversation because at the end of the day, our job is to help the marketer be more effective at their job and trying to convince marketers, get robots to do their job, that’s been done by humans in the past sometimes it can be difficult and so we figure let’s just have marketers explain why it makes sense to have AI and machine learning automate the workflows.

Andy Paul: And make you obsolete. I know, I’m just kidding this from the perspective of

Olivier L’Abbé: people listening.

Do. Yeah, you do have a lot more time now. And so we think that creating UTM tags and creating campaigns where you spend 20 minutes in LinkedIn to create one campaign can be done in a matter of minutes. And you can do X in the same amount of time. And so that’s where we try to do it. Machines can not, are not good at being creative, doing thought leaderships and webinars and content machines. so we’re what we’re saying is let’s stop doing all the manual work for creating marketing campaigns and just go do more thought leadership and content.

So that, you can experiment, what we’re trying to do is saying, let us enable you to do experimentation at scale, because we don’t necessarily know which ad is going to work better, but let’s try 10 ads instead of just doing one ad, as let’s get you to go build 10 ads and then let’s do multivariate experimentation. See what you ads are performing better. So that’s the way that we’re thinking about it.

Andy Paul: And to your point, that to us is, I think too often people thought, geez, my, as an employee, my part of my value, my differentiation is I know how to do these processes, these repetitive tasks that could be mechanized or automated. And to your point is, yeah, let’s have the humans focus on the things that humans do best and we can use AI machine learning to do the others. Perfect. And they should embrace that. Not be afraid of it, unless they’re afraid of the fact they don’t know anything else other than the process.

Question for you is what I’m gonna ask a lot of people recently, and you’ve been in sales for quite a while. Is how did you learn how to sell? Who taught you?

Olivier L’Abbé: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I haven’t thought about that in a while. So there’s two people. there’s really two areas where I learned a lot about sales. So my first one is, I came out of college, I studied economics. I said, I wanna, I want to be a financial advisor to wealth management and I got this job and, as an, as a, I was still my senior year college and I was introduced to somebody that was a broker at Smith Barney back then and he took me on as an intern. And he taught me and he from Boston, boiler room style is how he learned, and he brought, like he made that a reality for me.

And so I was pounding the phones. This is in 2001. So it’s people just lost all their money. And I’m there trying to call them and say, Hey, you want to talk about whoever management? And, I got pretty good at talking on the phone. It was short conversations, just getting people not to hang up the phone and open up, ask questions, it’s an, a follow up email, but that was the first one job I had in sales was just pounding the phones and trying to book meetings for some financial advisors at Smith Barney, which is now part of Morgan Stanley.

And I did that for about a good six to nine months, pretty effectively. And then I transitioned as a full time job at Smith Barney. And I think I worked there for a couple of years early in my career. And that taught me how to do prospecting, taught me how to get on the phone and just, activity base and so on. And so that was really good experience, really hard. But really good.

Andy Paul: So that guy was like a coach or a mentor for you and teaching you this.

Olivier L’Abbé: Yep. Yep. It was a financial advisor and he was taught in I don’t know, in the nineties, boiling room style and, in that in Chicago and New York. And but then you moved to the Bay Area. So he was still pretty young at that time. And so it was nice to have somebody that’s only 10, 12 years older than me at that point. Give me the ways. And then I, decided to get into sales outside sales. I worked for a company called Paychex and Paychex would turn out to be five years, which looking back and be like, I wish I would’ve for a couple, but, really happy and where my career is today. Things happen for a reason, but that said I was at Paychex for five years, outside sales and wearing a suit,  a lot of door to door, and I learned to become really good at selling face to face. And, during my time there, I would do, there’s it’s all about style that’s right. It’s how many calls did you have meetings? You had, everything was just like, you had a sheet and you would just check off, all your activities and things. And so I got really good at sitting down with people, understanding their needs and their pains and, offering solutions, around payroll, HR, outsourcing health insurance, workers’ comp tax credits and things like that. But that for five years, and I learned a ton. And then, and then I went into tech later in my life. So I was like, I don’t know, 31 or so when I went to my first tech job.

Andy Paul: But during that time, let’s say you were at Paychex again, were you just learning through experience? Did you have a coach or a mentor? Or are you observing what your peers are doing or, what were the major influences?

Olivier L’Abbé: I would always look at who’s at the top of the leader board and just observe what they do. And then I would ask for time with them every couple of weeks. Can I spend some time with you? Can I go in the car with you? Because this job is really much out in the field. And the day with them and I’m like, just see how they do their job and why they’re successful.

And that really got me to become really good, really quickly there. And, and I think that’s one of the things I, then I went to Glassdoor after that, which. I didn’t know anything about, inside sales or even selling websites or advertising or anything like that, job boards and so on.

And, within a few months at Glassdoor, I just sat down with all of the best reps and I just wanted so much so quickly. This is before ringDNA was around where recording your calls and all that. And you just had to do it live back then. And so I would just. spend like a third of my time listening to other people pitch. And some of the new people were like, why are you spending so much time evaluating other people’s pitches? And I’m like, that’s so I can get to their level and me, making mistakes by myself. I will not develop as quickly if I’m the one, talking all the time. So I wanted to learn and that really helped.

Andy Paul: Yeah. And the reason I asked this is driving toward this is yeah. I think people the sort of five categories of learning, I guess for sellers. I say, coach, you have coaches and mentors got you learned from your peers. You. Learn from your customers. you have your own self development things.

You do the books, read the podcast, listen to it. So on. And there’s companies supplied training and. And I’ll get in my own cases, I haven’t been in sales for four decades. if I stack rank those and say, geez, I, for me, probably the coaches, I look at them break down by percentages.

I’ve got a hundred percent while my influences are right. And assuming everybody learns from their experience. So we’ll say that’s the baseline, but yeah, probably 50% was coaches and mentors that were influential. Maybe 27% of my peers maybe 20% myself, 10% customers. And I had six weeks of training my first year, eight weeks of training my first year as in sales, my first year in sales, four decades ago. And I tried to forget that as fast as I could.

Olivier L’Abbé: Oh, really for me, Paychex training was amazing. Yeah, they’re there. They’re sorry for saying this paychecks, but from a software standpoint, they’re well behind, other HR softwares, but from a training perspective, Holy cow, that they shipped me off to two weeks. Rochester, New York. I got, I think I went four times or five times over two years.

And then I was like in advanced sales training and their training program was amazing. I learned ton about, sales and so that definitely made me much better sales person. And when I went to start ups later in my life, because most startups, especially like the kind of startups I joined, which are, around series a.

There is no infrastructure. It’s like figuring out as you go. And a lot of people struggle with that. And I had, I not had the, five years of paychecks, having a really amazing sales training organization. I don’t know that I would’ve been that effective, so quickly, my willpower and my work ethic is definitely there. But learning quickly, and wanting to learn from others. I think a big part of that was Paychex being able to offer really quality training programs for their employees.

Andy Paul: So if you had to stack rank yours and say, okay, between coaches, peers, customers, training, and. Learning on your own damn, sorry. Add up to a hundred percent. Where would it look like for you?

Olivier L’Abbé: I’m not sure, but I do think that, I had some good mentors along the years that I’ve learned from, and some were my peers, other, I still considered mentors. and so I would say, peers and mentors at the top followed by training too. thing I tried to do, I’ve tried to do at the last several companies I’ve been at is, and this is the first time I’ve implemented a learning management system so early, is that, a Glassdoor, I feel, G2, we lost a couple of years and that I didn’t get the LMS in place early.

And so me and my counterpart Clay, we built out the sales org there, we just had to repeat ourselves at retraining class cause we didn’t record everything. and so this time around, we’re like, we’re just going to do everything. Record everything. And then we can update the content, but at least everything is always going to be saved so that when we hire somebody, we don’t just have to keep repeating ourself every month. The content is already created. Yeah, we can refresh it, but I just want to make sure that as we scale, we don’t have to keep saying the same thing over and over to different people and, maximize our time, which is something we didn’t do effectively last time.

Andy Paul: So right now you said you have five people in sales, do they all report to you?

Olivier L’Abbé: No, so I moved down to sales as a, as my day to day function.

That’s right.

Yeah. So currently I oversee the, it’s several teams, customer success, which is the first time I’m overseeing customer success. And then we have ad operations as well, which is part of it. We also partnerships which I’m overseeing and then sales.

And Clay Bentley, who, he and I met the glass door 10 years ago, he spent four years at G2 and then he came on board here as well. And so he’s taken over sales. And so that’s his day to day functions. I’m currently overseeing the customer success team. So there’s eight people that team. So that’s the team overseeing directly right now. And, and then bringing a partnership as a team of one right now. but those three teams roll up to me right now.

Andy Paul: Okay. What I meant to lead into a question about in general, in terms of, we’re talking about how sellers learn is one thing that seems to be clear is that I believe is that really the biggest barrier, I think , I spent a lot of time thinking about, okay, how do we improve performance of individual sellers?

And yeah, I talk to tons of people about it on the show. I read a ton about it, talked to experts about it, I started coming down to this, the slot that, the biggest barrier to improving the performance of individual sellers are sales managers. That, we focus a lot on enabling sellers, but we don’t spend much time thinking about how do we enable sales managers.

And I’ve come with this idea that can sellers improve faster than the rate at which their sales manager improves. And meaning, are we really, if you look at, we spend $20 billion a year on sales training in the United States, it’s just a tiny fraction of that is spent on actually training sales managers. And I keep toying with this idea as well. What if we, let’s assume that about the 20 billion that 2 billion spent on training managers on 18 and spent on training sellers. What if we flip that? What would happen.

Olivier L’Abbé: Yeah, I’m not sure, but I think we’d have some better managers.

Andy Paul: I think we’d sell a lot more in general.

Olivier L’Abbé: Yeah. Yeah. And the interesting thing too is, who becomes a manager, and this is a conversation that I’ve had multiple times with people, you have your top reps, they’re like, I want to go into management and I’m like, all right, great. Why? And they started telling you reasons. I’m like, I don’t think that management’s for you because everything you’ve mentioned is about you.

And if you want to go into management, you’re, it’s not about you, it’s about your people, right? It’s about developing your people and getting them to that next level, wherever that is. And so that’s one of the things that I think many times people want management. And when I interview a ton of people and then we do performance reviews, I’m like, what do you want two to five years from now?

Oftentimes, they’re like, Oh, I want to go to management and you’re questioning them why? And you’re like, are you sure you want management? But it sounds like you, you want to be, own your own schedule. And so that’s one of the things that I think is important to have is before you, you talk about your training or the management team, what are you trying to get to? What are your goals and aspiration is management really the thing for you? No, I don’t think we do a good enough jobs and I haven’t seen it. The companies that I’ve been at, where they do a good enough job finding. Yeah. Like where do you want to be? And where should we put you for your future aspirations as an individual contributor in the company definitely going into management, because I don’t know about you, but oftentimes the best salespeople are not the best managers.

Andy Paul: Yeah, I think we’ve all experienced that. And often times there are great salespeople that are great managers as well. I mean it’s but it’s your point is. Are there managers, coaching them, helping them develop, understanding what they really want to achieve in order to make sure they take the right path.

And I see one thing I’m seeing companies do more, which I personally I’ve done a even years ago was. Rewarding individual contributors, sometimes it’s a title they want.  Some sign from the company. In addition to the compensation that there’s recognition for the contribution they’re making, that’s more substantive than just being a seller. I know people that have VP titles that are individual contributors, but they are bringing in you rknow, tons of revenue. They deal with the main strategic accounts or what have you. And I think companies aren’t creative enough in that regard to say, yeah, we can do these other things that have perceived value both to the person and the way they’re perceived by others that- cause sometimes I think people think that promotion is only way to really have status.

Olivier L’Abbé: Yeah. I think it was part of it. I think pay is a big part of it as well. But yeah, it’s recognition or praise, right? It’s usually the reason people are in sales is they want one or are both right? Praise or recognition.

Andy Paul: Or yeah, or both.

Olivier L’Abbé: Yeah.

Andy Paul: So last question for you is, again, reading something recently, I was talking about the, a lot of what we’re doing in sales in terms of training and some of the tools and technologies are putting out are really geared to dumb down sales. And I was struck by this phrase I read an ebook put up by a sales stack SaaS company, a sales tool that, said that, the goal of their product was to reduce the reliance on the judgment of the seller. And, you and I talked about earlier about having humans do the things that humans do best. And I thought, wow, that’s really a slap in the face of sellers. As the whole goal of this enablement product is to reduce our reliance on the judgment of that human, who is the seller.

I always feel like the goal of training and enablement should just be the opposite. are we dumbing down sales too much?

Olivier L’Abbé: I don’t agree with that sentiment. because if you’re going to remove that and limit the scope of what the sales person can do or say, and not trust them, Hire somebody, you have to enable them. I trust you. I hired you because you’re really good here as a job, your interest in the job, here’s like the training we’re going to give you. And then I want you to go out and do it yourself. And when you need help come to us, but we’ll talk about it and we’ll teach you how to I handle these situations as they come up, but you have to. Trust the people and enable them cause otherwise, it’s just a job, and it’s not your career and they won’t go, work really hard to be super successful for the company if they don’t feel that the company trusts them.

And so I think one of the, those crucial thing about management is that one is you have to understand what your employees want. All right. What are their goals and life goals, career goals, so forth. And then two is telling them like, I trust you, And I’m here to help you. they’ll walk through, they’ll break down walls for you. If they think that you always have their back and you trust them and removing that, I just, I don’t believe in it.

Andy Paul: Yeah. I feel like the goal of enabling sellers is to enable them to better exercise their judgment. To be able to ask better questions, have a deeper understanding of the content and what they’re trying to accomplish. And, being able to gather and synthesize what they’re learning into a proposal and an offer and have a vision that is compelling.

And yeah, I just don’t see any advantage in trying to remove that part of the equation away from sellers.

Olivier L’Abbé: Totally agree. you need trust and, I don’t think I wouldn’t want to work for somebody who, doesn’t trust me once to put guardrails on my day to day tasks and micromanagement. It’s probably one of the most effective ways to, de-motivate me is to tell me, you have to do it this way and you cannot go out of the limits the box that we’ve put you in. That would be extremely de-motivating.

Andy Paul: But isn’t that a lot of what happens though in SaaS? The companies I talked to has a large fraction, as we’ve got this process and the process tends to be more about from a management perspectives. They want above all else. They want compliance. And I don’t know about you and you, your early sales experience sounds like it’s fairly similar to mine out in the field, but talking to tons and tons of customers every day is yeah, we had a process, but the expectation was we were going to shape that process to fit our strengths as individuals

Olivier L’Abbé: Yes, everybody’s got secret sauce. sales is really hard and there’s different people. There’s people who are really good at relationships. There’s people that are really good at challenging. and so on. So everyone’s got their secret sauce. and I think that you need to empower that.

And let people figure it out and say this is what works for me and do it. But yeah, you do have a framework, right? You need to, if it’s a qualifying call, you need to figure out like, is there a budget and what’s, can they buy and who else would be involved? And what’s their timing and what are their pains you got to get back on the first call.

I don’t care how you go about it. Do you ask it on the beginning or do you pepper questions throughout, do you start more with report building and talking about the weather while other sales was like, never talk about the weather? I really don’t care how you go about it. I just need these five things and figure it out on the first call.

And then on the second call, these are the things you need to figure out, but you can do it however you want. Because a big part of sales, which is the thing I love the most is the interaction part. It’s the storyteller. This, the engagement, and now you’re doing it, on video.

It’s not nearly the same. Cause you don’t walk out of a Zoom call and even though you think you’ve crushed and you’re like, Oh my God, this was amazing. It’s not the same as if you were in person, you go in to see a huge customer or a prospect that’s and you’re there and you present and you’re going person and you have that connection and then you walk out, you’re like, Oh, you feel like a million bucks. It was so exciting. I don’t get the same room as zoom call it’s. Yeah, it’s okay. But I do miss the human interaction. You talked about trade shows. Like I miss trade shows one of them because I have tons of friends that work at other companies and that’s the one time a quarter or every couple of months that we hang out. Is that the trade show now, like there’s none of that, Yeah. We can text each other, but you don’t have the human interaction. I think that’s a big part of why love sell so much is that, and I don’t want to make my employees feel like they have to follow my framework as long as they do the couple of things that are required by the task. Do it however you want.

Andy Paul: I have to, first of all, I agree, a hundred percent. Secondly, is at least based on my experience with them 800 episodes of the show and more is yeah, that’s a minority opinion in certain areas, especially in the inside sales world is where you, I think that we have the situation where managers, oftentimes frontline managers don’t have enough experience to have confidence, to enable their people or allow their people to have that freedom. And so they feel like they have to be more controlling because they don’t know how to enable them to do it on their own.

Olivier L’Abbé: Yeah. And I do think it starts at the top. And I think usually that’s something that’s pushed down from, from down the org chart. And so I think it really depends on who and who is the leader of the, depending on how big your company is like, but who’s a leader of that group and how do they manage? Because everybody else below will emulate what is coming from the top.

Andy Paul: Cool. All right, Olivia, thank you. We’re running out of time. So if people want to learn more about metadata, how can they do that and how they can, how can they connect with you?

Olivier L’Abbé: Yeah, of course. So you can find me at LinkedIn. You can find me on Twitter and then you can also find metadata.io as a website.