The New Power of Inside Sales, with Anneke Seley and Britton Manasco [Episode 325]

Among the many topics that Anneke, Britton, and I discuss are how they came to write their book, the external trends that are forcing sales organizations to change, what established companies can learn from agile startups, and the new melding of inside and field sales teams.

Joining me on this episode are my guests Anneke Seley and Britton Manasco, coauthors of the new book, Next Era Selling: 5 Strategies to Make Your Business Unstoppable. Anneke is the CEO and Founder of Reality Works Group, and coauthor of a previous book, Sales 2.0: Improve Business Results Using Innovative Sales Practices and Technology. Britton is the CEO and Founder of Visible Impact.

Key Takeaways

  • Anneke was an early employee at Oracle, where she saw that the company rewarded coders and salespeople. She learned to sell, started the inside sales organization, and wrote Sales 2.0 about her experiences.
  • Britton started as a business journalist, then moved to Peppers & Rogers Group. He shifted into marketing consulting, and then he launched a firm to elevate companies as thought leaders and trust authorities. He watched trends in selling.
  • How fast-growth VC-backed companies have grabbed the idea of selling digitally, socially, and virtually, with energy.
  • Why networked and remote sales are increasing, while face-to-face meetings are decreasing. And what it means for you.
  • Field sales is looking more like inside sales. They don’t go on site, and they use the technology of inside sales.
  • How sales teams need to shift the ways they sell in response to changes in how buyers buy.
  • Inside sales has been elevated from a tactical function of generating leads for the field, to a strategic, C-level initiative.
  • How companies like Oracle are breaking the ceilings for inside sales, for account size and volume.
  • Why building a virtual relationship is more difficult than building a face-to-face relationship, but is just as important.
  • The bigger the account is, the less predictable it is. To be effective with large accounts, your sales team should have both transactional and key account based experience.

More About Anneke Seley and Britton Manasco

Anneke, what’s your most powerful sales attribute?

Curiosity.

Britton, what’s your most powerful sales attribute?

Good communication.

Anneke, who is your sales role model?

Steve Jobs.

Britton, who is your sales role model?

Marc Benioff.

Anneke, what’s one book that every salesperson should read?

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, by Adam Grant.

Britton, what’s one book that every salesperson should read?

To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, by Daniel H. Pink.

Anneke, what music is on your playlist right now?

Whatever Britton tells me.

Britton, what music is on your playlist right now?

My son’s band, The Wayfarers’ Club, soon to appear on Spotify.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul: It’s time to accelerate! Hi, I’m your host, Andy Paul. Join me as I host conversations with the leading experts in sales, marketing, sales automation, sales process, leadership, management, training, coaching, any resource that I believe to help you accelerate the growth of your sales, your business and most importantly, you.

Hello, and welcome to Accelerate. I am excited to talk to my guests on the show today. Joining me are Anneke Seley and Britton Manasco. They are the co-authors of a new book titled Next Era Selling: Five Strategies to Make Your Business Unstoppable. Anneke is CEO and founder of Reality Works Group and co-author of a previous book called Sales 2.0. And Britton is the CEO and founder of Visible Impact. Anneke and Britton, welcome to Accelerate.

Anneke Seley: Thank you, Andy.

Britton Manasco: Yes. It’s good to be with you, Andy.

Andy Paul: All right. So one at a time. We’ll start with Anneke, we’ll go in alphabetical order. Just take a minute, introduce yourselves. Maybe tell us how you got your start in sales and marketing, if you will.

Anneke Seley: Absolutely. I was an early employee at Oracle. And I noticed that the company really recognized and rewarded people who coded and people who sold. And given I was not a programmer, I decided that there had to be a way for me to learn how to sell and get involved with customers.

And I was given the amazing opportunity to start up the inside sales organization after having many other entry level jobs at the company. And that was at a time when the company was shifting from having very large deal size sales to then having a lower end of products that could be sold in a different way. So that’s how I got started in sales.

Andy Paul: Excellent. And then you wrote a book about your experiences, Sales 2.0, which was a good book. I guess people will have to blame you for coining that term, sales 2.0. But yeah, so that’s right. That’s been applied to lots of different things. So Britton, how about yourself?

Britton Manasco: Yeah, I started out originally as a business journalist and moved from there to work with the company Peppers and Rogers Group. And the people behind that, Don Peppers, Martha Rogers coined the term one to one marketing. So I made the shift into marketing as a consultant. And then I went on to launch my own firm in which I focused on really elevating companies as thought leaders, as trusted authorities in their field and so forth. 

And over the years, I have not only been the rainmaker for my own firm, but I’ve gotten increasingly involved and interested in some of the trends taking place in selling. And that’s where Anneke and I met and decided to collaborate on this project of writing what’s gonna turn out to be a series of books, but one that’s coming out shortly, as you said, Next Era Selling.

Andy Paul: Alright, so what was the impetus to write this particular book?

Britton Manasco: We got together at an event, American Association of Inside Sales Professionals. It’s the major association for sellers in the inside teams. And I’d written an article about it. And we sat down over drinks during the show and just started to talk about what was happening. And we found we had a lot of shared interests and saw some contrarian perspectives that we thought needed to be stated and brought forward, things that weren’t necessarily being brought to the fore at that point. And just having a sense of there’s a big opportunity here that in some ways shouldn’t be confined to inside sales or confined in the way people think about it. There’s some big structural shifts going on that we can address in this discussion.

Andy Paul: Sure. So let’s start with what are the contrarians’ points of view that you guys had that you wanted to write about?

Britton Manasco: Anneke, you want to start?

Anneke Seley: Yeah. Just to add on to what Britton just said, there has also been a shift in the way companies are thinking about sales forces. And with changes in buyer preferences, and new technologies and new communications preferences, we’re really seeing that companies, whether they’re calling it digital transfer formation, cloud transformation or the virtual selling imperative, which is Britton’s term, there is a strategic shift going on in organizational design in sales forces. 

And so perhaps the most disruptive way to think about it is– When we first started our consulting business 25 years ago, people looked at what we did at Oracle and said, can you just build me an inside sales organization that looks like what you did Oracle with a sales development organization, and a quota carrying organization, and an inside sales team that’s partnered with the field sales organization that maybe gets into strategic accounts more easily. And that was considered a tactical and off to the side initiative. 

Nowadays, CEOs and their VPs of Strategy, VPs of Sales and Marketing are looking at a competitive advantage of reorganizing their sales force to meet the demands of today’s buyers. And that’s why we researched and interviewed for two years straight on top of our corporate experiences and our consulting experiences. The recurring themes that we then summarized into the five strategies that we wrote about, and we wrote about them specifically for an executive audience to match what’s happening in our consulting practices, which are C level lead, strategic transformation projects around sales, marketing and customer success. 

Andy Paul: Okay, so I’m always interested in a contrarian point of view. What did you guys see that you thought others weren’t seeing in terms of what was developing, how this was evolving?

Anneke Seley: Well, what we saw was the combination of five different strategies, some of which are well understood especially by smaller, faster moving companies, the so called digital disruptors, many of the SaaS companies that we see with amazing financial metrics coming out of Silicon Valley and New York and other places. I should say Austin, right, Britton, to give credit to your homeland. 

But they’re not well understood necessarily by larger companies. They could be legacy companies in technology. Or they could be completely outside of technology. But because technology is becoming such an important part of every business, most companies, regardless of their business, want to understand how these small, fast growth SaaS companies are growing so quickly and becoming market leaders. And that, I think, is one of the things a-ha’s. But I want to hear Britton’s add on to that comment.

Britton Manasco: Yeah, I think these fast growth venture backed companies have taken on this idea of selling digitally, socially, virtually with great energy. It’s a strong point for them, because what you find is that there’s an accelerated path to learning. And when I say learning, learning as a business, learning what new market opportunities might pay off, which ones may not work, what skills are critical, who’s performing, who isn’t. There’s just this accelerated nature to having your teams colocated. If that’s how they structure it, they tend to have a very colocated digital inside sales team. And then the outside team is more peripheral. 

But they start with a very heavy emphasis on the inside team. And that’s enabled them to penetrate new markets and test hypotheses at a rapid rate and learn as an organization. Now what’s interesting when you get into the more established companies is you find that they’ve been around for a long time. 

And they have a structure that’s very different, maybe heavily reliant on field teams. And their inside teams often tend to get short shrift, less attention. There’s less of a sense that the inside team can do much more than, really, field leads and qualify opportunities for the field. That’s the inside team.

Andy Paul: Yeah, I sensed when I was reading the book, because this is why you were still evangelizing for inside sales. So the people outside the tech sector, the tech enabled world understand what the opportunity is.

Britton Manasco: Yes. So you have incumbents and you have these insurgents. And everybody’s confronting this virtual selling imperative, which is really that we’re selling virtually, we’re selling remotely, we’re selling digitally and socially. There’s much more taking place in the networked environment. And there’s far less meeting that’s happening, face to face meeting as a percentage of overall communication and interaction. 

And there’s lots of reasons for that. One reason is that buyers want this. Buyers would prefer to meet remotely, at least until the deal starts to develop when we’re talking about a B2B complex sale typically. They want to meet virtually. And maybe members of their buying team might be distributed. So it’s not like you can go meet everybody in one place in lots of cases. 

The second thing is that sellers want it. And there’s a reason. They want to drive down the cost of sales. That’s one side of it. And if they can do more in a digital, virtual sense, then their cost of sales plummets relative to their overall revenue. So the ratios become much more attractive, much more profitable. And that’s certainly why the Silicon Valley and the venture capitalists are demanding it for their companies. 

But then finally, the profession has developed, and the technology has developed, and so that enables it. So buyers want it. Sellers want it. And the technology and the profession advancing enables this virtual selling capability to advance and be embraced by incumbents and insurgents. It’s just that the insurgents and the incumbents have different concerns with regard to this.

Andy Paul: Yeah. I find it ironic, reading the book and certainly seeing what else has happened, as you were talking about in terms of all the SaaS companies. I’ve had a lot of founders and CEOs on the show talking about the sales model. Ten years ago in the valley, I was out raising money for a company. And there were more than a few VCs that said, basically, they would never invest in a firm that had to have a sales force. Here we are five years later, this is the new model where the sales force is driving the innovation and pushing the edge of the envelope in terms of revenue production.

Anneke Seley: Yeah, we just need to rethink the sales force. And by the way, we believe there is an enormous upside for the field sales organization – we call it the outside upside – that field sales people are looking more and more like inside sales people. Because they certainly don’t go on site. They don’t have to. Every time they’re meeting somebody, they’re dealing with global teams, where would you even meet? So there’s a lot to be learned from the technology enabled, data driven nature of what inside sales has always been in other channels.

Andy Paul: You’ve been around for a while. Gosh, I spent years selling large complex enterprise systems with multi-million dollar price tags. I certainly didn’t travel a lot. Well, I went and traveled. I did travel a lot, but not like I could have. Most of my selling was done over the phone even then. So when you make that point, some people may look at this and say, well, what’s really new?

Anneke Seley: What’s new is the technology and the acceptance of buyers to buy in different ways, thanks to a lot of the consumer apps. We’re just shifting in our behavior. And therefore, we have to shift the way we sell based on the buyer’s preferences and what’s possible in the speed and the cost effectiveness that the virtual selling imperative enables.

Britton Manasco: There’s a level of scope and sophistication that’s changing, too. It’s not like the phone is anything new. But there’s a far greater emphasis placed on getting this right and involving people who are out in the field in your networked environment. They can’t just be left alone to go make or not make their quota. They’ve got to be on the grid, as we say in the book, whereas so many of them right now are off the grid. 

And those companies are vulnerable. I think that’s another key thing is that this is accelerating at a pace that leaves companies who are very conventional in their approach vulnerable. And so the shift in where resources are going, where the money is moving, and the restructuring and redesign of sales organizations, particularly the incumbents and the established companies, they’ve got to go through some sometimes wrenching changes in that regard. And the insurgents, these dynamic younger companies, have to grow up. And so they’re trying to figure out how to be more sophisticated in their account strategies. And that will maybe explain why we hear so much about account based this and account based that.

Andy Paul: Which, again, is to some degree a repackaging. But it’s also, given the use of technology, completely different.

Anneke Seley: Yeah, and I think we have to remember that we didn’t always have the visibility at the C level. I think you have in your profile, Andy, that you weren’t really thought of as salesy when you first started in sales, that you were introverted and analytical. These are the skills of sales 2.0 leaders. They’re both artists and scientists. And the C suite appreciates the measurability, the predictability, the metrics of the kind of selling we’re talking about.

So we’ve been elevated from some tactical function that sells low end stuff or generates leads for the field sales organization to a strategic C level initiative in more and more projects that we see today. On top of that, the stuff that we grew up with in Silicon Valley, in New York and Austin and other places that are advanced technologically have not made it to all of financial services, manufacturing, health care. These are really new concepts.

Andy Paul: Oh, yeah. So how do we get these other sectors to start embracing this?

Britton Manasco: I think what happens is that they see success stories in peripheral fields. That’s one thing. But then some of the more conservative sectors also have companies that embrace new strategies. I know Granger, for instance, in the supply field, which has been around forever, is going through a pretty far reaching transformation on this front right now. Where it’s shifting from a reliance on conventional field salespeople to much more investment and inside digitally enabled salespeople. 

And this kind of thing, even in a more old line industry, gets noticed and starts to influence how things are done. It just takes one successful player that’s driving out the cost of sales and getting superior returns and superior valuations in the eyes of Wall Street, for instance, and everyone starts to take notice. So this will be something that we should be looking for in the next few years. Are Wall Street analysts starting to ask questions about this? Starting to say, tell us about your sales structure and your sales design. It’s not something they typically asked about in the past. It was sort of a black box to them. But this is going to become more important. 

And I’ll say there’s one other factor, which is these private equity firms are taking companies private and restructuring them and redesigning them. And they’re using these capabilities to give their companies a lift, to make them more valuable, to do things they couldn’t do in the glare of Wall Street in the past. So there’s some factors that are driving this structural shift. And if you’re winning and you’re applying them, then the others, the laggards will follow or die.

Andy Paul: Well, so one of the questions I guess becomes how do you guys, with your research and what you know, how do you see the SaaS sales model? We’ll call it that for now, this inside sales model or the inside upside that you talk about? Or even the hybrid? How do you see that evolving?I was at the SASTRA conference in February. And some guy sat down next to me. We introduced each other, and he was a VP of Sales at a pretty successful SaaS business. 

And he turns to me and says, this is just sustainable, this business model,. We’re burning through prospect pools. It’s a focus on quantity versus quality, the usual litany of things. So where do you see this evolving to?

Anneke Seley: What you mentioned is definitely one issue. And having almost an account based marketing approach in a high volume environment is the Holy Grail. And hopefully things like predictive analytics plus good messaging will help address that. From a structural standpoint or a strategy standpoint, we talk about walls and ceilings in the inside upside chapter. 

Andy Paul: Legacy restrictions on inside sales, right. 

Anneke Seley : Exactly. Why are we saying that you can only sell something 50K and under from an inside sales model? It’s just proven that we can do much more than that. And companies like Oracle are breaking those ceilings down. We restrict territories. We cap compensation. We, even, are opening up the office door to let people travel to their customers now and again. And we’re seeing this hybrid model emerge where there really is a blending of inside and field Sales. 

It’s just you do what’s necessary for the deal and that customer and what works financially, and do the right thing. And typically salespeople who have grown up in the digital or virtual or inside sales model know how much more productive they can be by not traveling. So they restrict their travel unless they really have to travel to close a deal. Or they have a closer partner or they have a reseller partner. And these are the models that we’re seeing emerging. There’s a lot of creativity and experimentation around how you blend the inside and the outside.

Britton Manasco: And I’d like to come back to this wall that the SaaS companies are hitting. And I think that’s what you’re describing there, Andy. It seems that they’ve recognized that their current approaches are not, as you said, sustainable, because you lose people over time. As much as you focus on retention in a superior fashion to traditional software companies, you just can’t retain enough to keep that engine going. And so they’re struggling with it. 

And we talk about this in the book, the concept of expansion revenue. That was coined by David Skok, who’s a great thinker in that arena. But it’s just the recognition that if you’re going to be sustainable, profitably sustainable, then you’re going to have to pursue larger accounts. You’re going to have to go deep and wide within existing accounts. And to some extent, this whole fascination with account based marketing, I think, could be seen as an indicator that the SaaS model as we previously conceived it was not enough. 

That in fact, these companies have to grow up and pursue more sophisticated accounts, bigger accounts if they’re going to survive. And that’s why they’re making these investments in sales and marketing working together to pursue key accounts. And I think that might be interesting coming from some of these innovative companies to see what they do differently than what traditional companies have done around strategic account management, which has been around for quite a long time, right?

Andy Paul: Oh, yeah. I think you take an example like Cloudera and Lars Nilsson. Their account based sales development model is night and day different from what most SaaS companies are using for their new business development model. And for the complex sale, it’s extremely sophisticated, incredible feedback loop, great analytics, and seems to be very effective. And it could be something, to me, that seems very transferable outside of tech and as you talked about, financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, any of the other major verticals that are out there. 

But on the other hand, the bulk of the SaaS market, at least to my way of viewing, is still just polluting the inboxes with these undifferentiated messages. And I’m thinking, okay, well, what’s the future of that? On the enterprise side, you see it. But what’s the future of that? Because they’re a danger of turning off customers. I deliberately sign up for mailing lists, because I’m in the business, just to see what I get. I get in somebody’s cadence, and it’s like ok.

Britton Manasco: Well, they’re gonna have to get far more focused on who they’re serving. And I think that’s gonna be one shift is that they’re either gonna have to pick verticals or just get far more focused and figure out what is the large account opportunity for them. What does the mix look like. But this crazy cadence behavior right now, like you say, send out a whole bunch of messages and then follow up with lots of calls and voicemails. Hit them over the head 7, 8, 9 times without any particularly differentiated messaging. I think we’re starting to see a problem with that. I think the zone is being flooded.

Andy Paul: Yeah, and I think on the high end with the virtual selling imperative, I just was speaking to Brent Adamson last week on the show. It melds very well with what they’re talking about, the challenger customer. You’ve got these increasingly large– they just announced that 5.4  stakeholder’s decision. Their latest research says it’s 6.8 and growing, right? So these people are located at geographically diverse locations. You can’t travel to see all of them. The methodology you describe in the book is right on for that type of complex sale.

Britton Manasco: And when you make choices about who you will serve and who you won’t, you can get much deeper into their world. You can bring insights and perspectives. And you can deploy senior level thought leaders really. And we talked about this in the book, and one of the strategies that we talk about is called networked specialization. And this is just part of being a networked company that deploys its experts at the right time. 

And one of those experts might be the person who is the subject matter expert or the thought leader, somebody who’s publishing, who’s speaking, who brings a certain gravitas. And if I’m a salesperson, and I want to grow the account, and I want to get to more senior level people, I’m going to bring in my thought leader to represent my company and challenge the status quo that that prospect is engaged in. But to do that well, you’ve got to have acumen. You’ve got to have insight. You’ve got to have perspective on those particular kinds of accounts. You can’t just be just wildly hitting the market in a mass sense. You’ve got to be very specific to bring insights and challenge effectively.

Andy Pau: And so what you talk about in the book is fundamentally, to use the catchphrase that John Miller at Engagio talks about, it’s the account based everything.

Anneke Seley: Yes, precisely.

Britton Manasco: Well, that’ll be interesting to see how these parties come together. I think that’s what’s interesting about this colocation that you have. In the book, we call that front office fusion. So there’s this interplay between sales marketing, customer success teams, account teams. And there’s some advantage to them just being colocated and having managers walking around, encouraging this interaction, collaboration and alignment. 

Andy Paul: Well, it’s really redesigning the functions, right? I mean, to me, I think what you’re talking about in a lot of ways is a substantial sales process reengineering taking place across these functions, not just sales. But as you said, the colocation of functions, marketing, customer success and so on.

Britton Manasco: Yeah, you’re redesigning to try and eliminate the silo effect that might have otherwise a growing company would have gravitated to silo. Or a larger established company might be stuck in them. And that’s a great deal of what’s going on here with this restructuring and redesign is to figure out how are we going to collaborate more effectively. How are we going to align more effectively on behalf of the customer? When do I deploy different experts? 

Because I can’t train my salesperson to be everything. In fact, we’re loading them up with more and more asks in terms of what they’re supposed to do. And that’s a danger as opposed to figuring out how are we going to deploy specialists at the right time in the right way so that we can guide the buyer in a way that’s truly successful and satisfying from their perspective. And keep in mind, the buyer has 5.3 or whatever members of a decision team, and they all have different perspectives. So this is becoming a very increasingly complex process that can’t be managed by a single salesperson.

Anneke Seley: And this also speaks to the elevation of this type of work. We can’t fix front office fusion by reorganizing the sales organization alone. This is a C level or Chief Customer Officer or Chief Strategy Officer level functional project to make sure that the organizations are aligned in terms of metrics and goals and compensation and processes and handoffs, and all the things that make the strategy work in implementation mode. 

And communication is a big part of that. Sometimes there just isn’t time or isn’t the inclination. And it’s what we bump up against in almost every consulting project, that there’s almost always, especially in a large complex organization, opportunity for improvement to get these functions working together so that the customer has the best experience with your business.

Andy Paul: And I think one of the keys to that that you really bring out in the book as you read through it is that the way to do that is to have each group, really, do less, right? Be more focused and do less. At least, that’s the interpretation I have of it. You have to make their responsibilities more focused and completely unambiguous,

Anneke Seley: Quality, not quantity. And we’ve gone way over on the cadence and activities and metrics and science side since the publishing of Sales 2.0. And now it’s time to move the needle back towards art and personalization and really intimate connections that we’re not experiencing right now with a lot of inside sales implementations in particular.

Andy Paul: Yeah, the personalization is– we hear vendor after vendor talk about, we can support personalization in a way no one else does. But it’s still basically a mail merge functionality with putting the first name in the email if you’re trying to do it at scale. I think that one thing I really liked about your book with what you guys wrote is just the point you just made that the intimacy of the relationship that you have with the buyer– Even if you have all this technology, even though it’s virtual, the importance of that is not diminished in any way. In fact, in some respects, it’s actually heightened because it is virtual. And how you build that relationship, how you establish credibility and trust and so on is arguably more difficult when you’re doing it virtual.

Anneke Seley: Yeah. How do you make somebody feel important when you’re sending the same message to 50,000 people?

Andy Paul: Yeah. Even in a complex world where you’re having a good opening initial sales conversation, all of your initial sales conversations with various stakeholders– and maybe in some cases you do it through video, maybe in some cases just on a phone. How do you establish that relationship? Now that the body language isn’t there, you’re relying more on, as you said, the virtual ways of doing things. There is an art there that perhaps is even more difficult to master than it is if you can be face to face.

Anneke Seley: Have you experienced somebody doing it well, Andy?

Andy Paul: Yeah, I think it’s hard. But I think, yeah. I go back to my own experience. I spent years doing that where you had to build relationships with people. We wouldn’t get on a plane to fly to Asia after one phone call with a prospect. We would have to work that. And I hate to say this, this was in some cases before email. You would have to work that relationship in a way that was virtual before you invested the money to get on a plane to go see them. 

So I think it’s been around. I think we go through a cycle where we tend to get excited about the fact that technology can take care of that. And I like to say technology will take you, to use the old telecom term, it doesn’t handle the last mile. Technology is great to get us to that last mile. But that last mile, we still got to do some selling. And that’s where the art really comes in.

Anneke Seley: And a sales force is still important, right? 

Andy Paul: Of course. 

Anneke Seley: For many products. Not for every, but for many.

Andy Paul: Yeah, there’s obviously a lot of different opinions about what’s going to happen with the sales force. But more and more, especially on the enterprise side, you’re not hearing people say, we’re gonna replace all these sales folks. is no, they’re gonna maybe have to be really skilled as you talked about. They may have to be much more of a specialist. And this is what I have. I think if you’re a generalist, your future is in peril. But I think to the degree that you can develop yourself to have more specialized knowledge to add value to your customers, then you’re saving your spot.

Britton Manasco: I think even one kind of specialization, it’s ironic, but I think just to be greater at packaging up the expertise within your firm to draw on the experts, this networked experts that you have at the right time, in the right way and recognize. That is your expertise, to essentially pull those things together on behalf of the client and deploy the right expert at the right time and make sure that goes well.

Andy Paul: Yeah. And I think that there’s always been a skill to that actually. But I think part of that is what happened is that, again, just my point of view is that we’ve become so infatuated with the process. In a large complex environment, as Barbara Weaver Smith writes about in her new book, the longer the sales cycle, the harder it is to have any forecastable, predictable steps beyond a certain point. Because you just don’t know. 

And you’re dealing with these large buying groups that could be diversified geographically all around the world. That eliminates some of the predictability. So some of the skill, some of the experience comes to bear, just as you said, in that environment, when’s the right time to bring these experts to bear?

Anneke Seley: You bet.

Britton Manasco: It’s an interesting trade off in a way. It’s like the bigger the account gets, in some ways, the less predictable it gets relative to the transactional type of work. But the transactional type of work in a B2B environment as we were talking about with these SaaS companies is not enough. You’ve got to find a portfolio. There’s a portfolio of activity. Some of it’s transactional, and some of it’s not. Some of it is key account based. And that’s gonna be less predictable. 

But just by nature, you try and make it as predictable as you can. You try and get as aligned as you can. You try and ensure people commit and communicate effectively. I think that’s part of how this will evolve is seeking still greater alignment and commitment and communication so that these deals which are inherently less predictable become more predictable than they otherwise would have been.

Andy Paul: Well, I think what you do is you still focus on the predictability on the top of the funnel. They’re the methodology in terms of discovery and so on. But as you said, as the deal progresses, longer, bigger deals, more complex, longer sales cycle, then the predictability quotient goes down. But you should still be able to have more predictability at top of funnel with your new business development functions. 

So all right, now we’re gonna go to the last segment of the show where I’ve got some standard questions I ask all my guests. And you guys can decide who’s going to answer this question, or you can jointly answer it. So it’s a hypothetical scenario. And in this scenario, you’ve just been hired as VP of Sales at a company whose sales have stalled out. And the CEO and the Board are anxious for things to turn around. So what two things could you do your first week on the job that could have the biggest impact?

Anneke Seley: I’ll jump in there, Britton, and you can add on. Talk to my sales team and talk to my customers would be the two things.

Andy Paul: Love it, very concise. Britton, anything to add?

Britton Manasco: Well, I think that’s absolutely right. And your job when you’re in there first is to go on a fact finding mission. It’s to gain insight into what’s happening in your market and what’s happening in the enterprise. And as you do that, you’re asking the right questions. You’re putting together a plan. And you’re involving other parties, whether it’s your marketing leaders, your customer success leaders, care leaders, of course your CEO, CFO. You’re involving these parties in your decision making, in your planning and so forth. You’re involving them in the plan. And that enables you to go forward with confidence. 

It’s when a sales leader just goes off on their own and doesn’t really forge these critical relationships and just thinks of themselves as a specialist or a hired gun that things go awry. This is the opportunity that you have to span boundaries and get everyone focused on a shared plan. And you’ve got a honeymoon period in which to do that. Eventually very soon, you’re going to have to be out there executing. But this is the first thing you do. There’s no question.

Anneke Seley: Followed closely by looking at the sales cycle metrics and dashboards.

Andy Paul: You only get two things, though.

Anneke Seley: Can I combine? Can I concatenate?

Andy Paul:Sure. You can concatenate, yeah. 

Anneke Seley: I should have said and not talk to. So that was a bad choice of words. 

Andy Paul: No, we’ve already noted that by the way. So here’s some rapid fire questions. You can give me one word answers if you want. So I’ll ask Anneke first. So Anneke, when you are out selling, what’s your most powerful sales attribute?

Anneke Seley: Curiosity.

Andy Paul: Okay, Britton, how about you? When you’re out selling, what’s your most powerful sales attribute?

Britton Manasco: Good communicator, the ability to lock on to what people are saying and play off of that or offer some perspective on that, ask an insightful question or make an insightful comment. So I’m having a lot of fun in working in LinkedIn in that regard. It’s a great medium for it.

Andy Paul: It is. Next question, and I’ll ask Anneke first. Who is your sales role model?

Anneke Seley: My sales role model is Steve Jobs.

Andy Paul: Britton, how about you?

Britton Manasco

I guess I’ve got to say Benioff, Marc Benioff. And Anneke can add to that. You’ve got a connection to Marc Benioff, right?

Anneke Seley: Yep. Marc used to work for me. I was his first sales manager right out of college.

Andy Paul: Right out of college. Very excellent. Next question, so besides your own, what’s one book every salesperson should read? Anneke, I’ll start with you.

Anneke Seley: I’d say Originals by Adam Grant.

Andy Paul: I haven’t heard of that one. Adam Grant.

Anneke Seley: It’s a great book, especially if you want people to think outside of the box.

Andy Paul: Excellent. Okay, that’s going on my list. And Britton?

Britton Manasco: Well, I really liked Daniel Pink’s To Sell Is Human. He’s not a sales expert per se, but it was interesting to have him take a look at the field.

Andy Paul: Yeah, I thought it was fairly interesting. All right. Last question for both of you, then, is what music’s on your playlist these days? Anneke?

Anneke Seley: Whatever Britton tells me to listen to.

Andy Paul: All right, she’s punting to you, Britton. What’s music’s on your playlist?

Britton Manasco: Well soon to appear on Spotify, my sons have a band called The Wayfarers Club. And so I’m really enjoying them. Because here I am in Austin, which is a great music city. So I love their music.

Andy Paul: Alright, The Wayfarers Club. Well, is it available online anywhere at all?

Britton Manasco: It’ll be up soon.

Andy Paul: All right, we’ll have to stay in touch and get that. That sounds very interesting. Alright guys, I want to thank you for being on the show, my guests Anneke Seley and Britton Manasco, authors of the new book, New Era Selling. Tell folks how they can find out more about you and connect with you.

Britton Manasco: Yeah, Andy, that’s Next Era.

Andy Paul: I’m sorry, Next Era Selling.

Anneke Seley: All right. I am aseley@realityworksgroup.com or @AnnekeSeley on Twitter. And I’m on LinkedIn as well.

Britton Manasco: Yeah, that’s a good place to find me, as well. Britton, B-R-I-T-T-O-N. Manasco, M-A-N-A-S-C-O. LinkedIn is probably the best place to find me. And I want to encourage all of your listeners to go get a special excerpt from the book which you will find at NextEraSelling.com.

Andy Paul: All right, excellent, good. And I urge people to go out and get that and read it as well. So again, thank you for being on the show. And friends, thanks for listening today. And remember, make it a part of your day every day to deliberately learn something new to help you accelerate your success. An easy way to do that is take a minute and subscribe to this podcast, Accelerate.

That way you won’t miss any of my conversations with top business experts like my guests today, Anneke Seley and Britton Manasco, who shared their expertise about how to accelerate the growth of your business. So thanks for joining me. Until next time, this is Andy Paul. Good selling, everyone. 

Thanks for listening to the show. If you like what you heard, and want to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming episodes, please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or stitcher.com. For more information about today’s guest, visit my website at AndyPaul.com.