Understanding Your Customer Comes First, with Pat Morrissey [Episode 747]

Pat Morrissey, SVP and GM at Upland Software, joins me on this episode.

Key Takeaways

  • Pat Morrissey explains customer revenue optimization in the complex B2B selling world at Altify (Upland Software). Their value proposition is about the intersection of strategy, methodology, and technology.
  • Upland acquired Altify to change from a sales enablement perspective to a strategic value proposition for the head of sales, with capabilities to help activate the revenue team and generate customer outcomes.
  • Rethink your go-to-market model and your methodology. The renewal is at least as important as the first sale. Do we understand what problems the customer wants to solve? Can we articulate how we will solve them?
  • Selling conditions are changing quickly. Instead of working out your strategy to get a customer, consider the customer’s strategy and how you will help them fulfill it. Pat shares a case study of working with Workday.
  • Andy recalls being part of a large team selling mainframe computing. Sales methodology is headed back in the direction of team selling.
  • Do you understand the prospect? What is your customer’s personal win? If you understand the person, you sell from a genuine place for a meaningful win. What’s in it for the customer? Selling is a business of human connections.
  • Have the humility to know what you don’t know. Falsely assuming you know everything destroys your credibility. Act in a way that the customer perceives as persistently relevant. That’s how to become their trusted advisor.
  • In each interaction, get the customer closer to making a decision. In a pipeline review, ask the seller what value their prospect needs next to help them make a decision. Is the seller defensive about the question?
  • Customer revenue optimization is grounded in methodology. What outcome do we expect and what value do we deliver at each step? Do we understand the numbers? Pat shares a customer case.
  • No matter what sales methodology you use, you have to look at the underlying behaviors that are captured and decode which behaviors go with sales results and impact.
  • Coaching helps to develop skills over time. Everyone deserves to be coached. The top performers tend to be those who are most comfortable with the human elements of sales. Better humans are better salespeople.
  • Communication is one of the most important sales attributes. Do your sellers receive coaching on human-to-human communication? Would counseling improve sales numbers? How long is their onboarding?

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul  

Hey friends, this is Andy. Welcome to Episode 747. I have another excellent episode lined up here today. Joining me as my guest is Pat Morrissey, the Senior VP, and general manager upland software’s all defined CRM solution suite and say where are we getting into the details about the emerging customer revenue optimization space in the whole world of complex b2b selling. And also touch about how to maintain sales momentum in your pipeline, your closing deals while you’re being acquired and integrated into a new organization. So among the topics, Pat, and I’ll be talking about today is why sales need to change its perspective. You know, instead of working out your strategy to get a customer to close the customer, consider the customer strategy first and how you help them fulfill it. We’ll talk about why it’s important to understand what’s your customer’s wind, I mean, if you understand the person you’re selling to, you suffer a genuine place for a meaningful win, so you have to understand what’s in it for them. Because after all, anybody listening to the show knows, I firmly believe selling is a business of human connection. Also about why no matter what sales methodology you use, you have to look at the underlying behaviors that are captured. In your data, and decode which behaviors truly correlate with improved sales results and impact, it requires much more than the superficial analysis. We see sweet people out with their products. And it requires more rigorous analysis than most managers are applying today. So we’ll get into that. So let’s jump right into it. Pat Morsi Welcome to accelerate.

 

Pat Morrissey  

Thank you so much, Annie. A pleasure to be here. I appreciate it.

 

Andy Paul  

Well, a pleasure to talk to you again. Last time we spoke I was on your podcast.

 

Pat Morrissey  

Yes, you were and we had a multifaceted, great conversation, all different directions. So I appreciate the opportunity to show up on your home court and be subjected to your side of this discussion.

 

Andy Paul  

Well, yeah, we will probably have a multifaceted discussion here today as well. So give us your background cuz you’ve sort of shifted. You were formerly with Alpha Phi since you and I spoke and were acquired by uplands. software so give us a little background on what ossified did and why upland was interested in acquiring them.

 

Pat Morrissey  

Yeah, it’s a good question all defy we traditionally thought about ourselves in the space of what we’ve called customer revenue optimization which is engaging with large b2b organizations who are you are in the complex selling world you know, complex products, sales cycles in months and years not in days, weeks selling to very sophisticated large customers. So think workday, Honeywell sales force, you know, GE, etc. And our value proposition around customer revenue optimization is all about the intersection of a strategy, methodology, and technology. So how do we help organizations align their go to market strategy and organize not just the sales but the entire revenue team around an account plan to go deep with the customer number one, number two, from a methodology perspective, how do we help them either instantiate the methodology that they have Or bring the methodology to the party, which is really about getting everybody speaking the same language or the same thing, in the same way, every day? And then the part of the AHA and our differentiation as technology is we’ve got a set of Salesforce native applications for sales process management for opportunity management and account planning so that the idea of training and best practice and methodologies and it’s something that’s theory and in people’s heads, it’s something that’s reinforced day today in technology. And we have had, you know, successful companies doing that. And when we were approached by upland, upland has been focused on how they build out the best in class, you know, sales and marketing portfolio with a set of technologies that are really about enabling, you know, sales and marketing, but ultimately, the whole revenue team and part of our value add to what they already had because those capabilities around and what some of your listeners would know is you know Covidien for proposal management or aro innovation in the reference management space, or kapos for really content operations, content or castration, how do you have to facilitate the buyer journey? And so,

 

Andy Paul  

so part of the sales enablement space as people say, Yeah,

 

Pat Morrissey  

absolutely. And that’s where the conversation started. But sales enablement and sometimes some of those things are nice to have our exhilarate versus our value proposition is all about what is the CRM and head of sales need? And how do we help her and her entire team? So the thesis behind the acquisition is really not just to enable growth, but to really start and change the frame from sales enablement to a strategic value proposition for the head of sales, and then a series of capabilities to help activate the entire revenue team and generate the outcomes for customers.

 

Andy Paul  

Okay, so let’s dive into that because just because this is sort of, I mean, addition to you guys, more people are talking with this customer revenue optimization. So it’s if you’re at sorrow, and you’re getting involved as Yeah, how’s life-changing for you? You guys still decide you have the software, but you’re also delivering a consulting service with the summit. How does this change take place within this organization?

 

Pat Morrissey  

Yeah. And I think it starts from generally what we would tend to see is a couple of problem statements around either pipeline development or more strategic prosecution of opportunities. But if you zoom out for a second to the market context that I think informs your question, Andy, the reality is that the entire world has moved to a subscription economy. Hmm. And you and I were talking about before we started, you know, being at the sales kickoffs and doing keynotes and I was at Honeywell, the connected enterprise group of Honeywell doing a keynote for the last week. So this is the IoT and the connected area of Honeywell. The reality for Honeywell, which lots of people know is an old-line manufacturing company, is there in the software business, right? Every single company, regardless of the business you’re in, is in the software business. And so that means you’ve got to rethink the entirety of your go-to-market more Your process, your methodology, your approach. And what that comes down to, to the heart of your question about how does this change for the head of sales or the team is a couple of things? You know, number one is, I think that the high ground in sales is not just sales anymore, it is, in fact, the entirety of revenue because then that that whole end to end lifecycle, because we tend to think in the old world of there’s heroic work done by sales, and you pop out the end of the funnel, and then you’re a customer. In a subscription-based business, the renewal is at least as important as the new logo sailor. And so you gotta be thinking about not just the sales team, but the entire revenue team. How do you activate everybody? How do you deliver value in every interaction? And how do you focus on not what’s your strategy for the customer, but what’s your customer strategy and what unique value are you providing to help them execute and drive outcomes?

 

Andy Paul  

Well, that’s a great point. So how has that helped or hindered because we’ve certainly seen the trend toward more specialized roles and sales? And I think one of the problems that are, at least in some instances I’ve seen is the sort of disconnect between that relationship that you build up to get the initial order. And then you sort of lose momentum as you move into the customer success, and maybe the customer success. People, quite frankly, just aren’t trained in the same way to be able to spot business opportunities and develop the account. And so, so how do you, how do you help that?

 

Pat Morrissey  

Yeah, it’s a good question. And I think your observation is spot on. And we tend to talk about that around here is the Lost in Translation problem. I think, the big rush that everybody has made over the last decade to, to being data-driven, there’s no organization that doesn’t claim to be data-driven, right. But when you put that into context of the day to day operating roles we all have, you have a problem because from a customer perspective, if I’m talking to the business development team who’s trying to get in touch with me, you know, I end up being a lead score or propensity By metric, hmm, that informs my canes in my outbound, if I’m engaged in a sales conversation, then I’m somewhere in the funnel, and I’m a forecast probability and a deal size. And then I get to finance or DSO and you get out to customer success, and I’m an NPS score, right? a big problem with that is none of those numbers talk to each other. And none of those numbers give any real fidelity to Who am I? What do I in my organization need? And how are you going to help me do that? Hmm. And so I think it comes down to what we would say that, hey, all these things decompose very simply into people in problems? Do we understand what problems the customer is trying to solve? And can we articulate them both inside the building across functions, and outside the building back when we sit down with the customer to say, here’s what we understand about you, your goals, your pressures, where what are the strategic inputs that you have and the initiatives you’re taking and what problems you’re trying to solve that prevent you from doing the right thing for your customer? And how do we also map the people involved? Because to your point, one of the things that I think There’s a disconnect in this conversation is, I’m a CSM and I’m looking at NPS, or I’m looking at support, but I may even be responsible, or at least input on the renewals team. I don’t know who I’m talking to, I don’t know what problem we’re solving. I don’t know what the scorecard is on the customer side to say, did we hit the mark? And so what you’ve got to be able to do is visualize that in your CRM and your system of record. Well, who are the people? Do we have an influence strategy? Do we know who we’re talking to? But do we understand who’s who in the zoo? And what influence do we have and what behaviors and who are they and what do they need? And also very concretely in a one-pager kind of a view, what, who cares? What problem do we have? What problem are we solving and how are we moving the needle for them?

 

Andy Paul  

So how are you seeing this sort of borne out in terms of how customers are perhaps changing your customers or changing their sales processes? Their sales structure is unserved and interested in seeing if Yeah since we’ve gone On this path, he said for the last 10 years about this hyper-specialization. Yeah. And certainly, I talked to companies who are saying, Well, yeah, in some aspects, this just isn’t serving, especially those selling more complex systems. What are you seeing in terms of how CRMs reps are envisioning what their organization looks like, in terms of capturing and optimizing what they get out of these large accounts?

 

Pat Morrissey  

Yeah, it’s a great question. I think there are a couple of different things going on. And I was thinking about that in the context of this conversation, because I was listening to your podcast a couple of weeks ago, and you asked a similar question. You were having a dialogue with Sherry Levitan and the question comes down to the assertion that she was making that I disagree with a little bit so we can just get controversial right away. But companies, companies are having to fundamentally rethink their process. Because the reality of data and the reality of the subscription economy in this dynamic change is what got you to the party doesn’t keep you at the party. Number one The larger the organization you’re in, the bigger and more acute this problem is, and the more moving pieces you have. And in the third piece that I think informs the question you asked is changing the frame, which starts from a change in mindset, getting out of the old world mindset of what’s our strategy for the customer? Because what’s our strategy for the customer in plain English means what are we selling today? Right, and, and what it needs to move to is, what’s the customer strategy? And how do we help? How do we help them solve their problem? If we can work back from that we have a whole different dialogue. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. Sure. So we were part of and I was part of our team, helping workday orchestrate their sales kickoff last year. And when you talk to Doug Robinson, who runs North America for the workday, what he says is, what we’re trying to drive in what we think the differentiation is, is changing the mindset in the organization from inside Thinking outside into thinking, not what we are? Why are we good? How are we going to win? But do we deeply understand our customers and their markets and their needs, and that we can uniquely understand the art of the possible with them and that we’re speaking their language on their terms that we are the solution provider? Because when it comes to the finish line, particularly selling big, you know, multi and hundreds of million dollars, CRP deals, it’s not about feature function, right? It’s about relationships. It’s about trust, it’s about expertise and it’s about our commitment to those customers and if we don’t go outside in and start from where they’re at, we don’t win but let me ask a question on that

 

Andy Paul  

is because this is nothing new right? I mean, we’ve had customers customer-centric selling out for a couple of decades if not more now and so on. I’m always curious like the SIR seems to be like, you know, newfound religion for people. That’s like a no is always how it should have been done. So. So when you’re dealing with these big organizations, and they’re sort of saying, Oh, well, you know, we’re going from inside out outside, it’s like, what have you been doing?

 

Pat Morrissey  

Yeah. And I think the thing that’s interesting going back to a question you asked a second ago about what’s the difference and kind of the Why is this happening, which changes the behavior if you step back and use workday as an example, but that’s just an illustrative point, right? workday became, you know, a leader in cloud computing by having best in class HR capabilities, right? That was, you know, the early phase, the new phase so that you know, the future for them is they want to own er p for the global 2000. And the reality of that from a day to day set of you know, behavior skills and capabilities in sales and across the revenue team, is the fact that they were best in class and compelling in selling to HR. You know, HR systems are not the same discipline as selling to the CFO or the CEO around ERCP. In a full suite of the back office, right? And so what that means is if I’m going to make the team capable of this, and part of the change that they’re going through in that example, but Honeywell going from selling power plants to selling, you know, contracts to, to run plants over, you know, decades, is I’ve got to rethink everything. But I’ve got to restart. I’ve got to start from where the customer is not from a product service and a drive-by. And the other challenge, you know, kind of what they’ve been doing is the old world selling that was transactional, and drive by and perpetual is now much more about usage and consumption and relationships and outcomes. And so the wall I think the best in class sellers have always been focused on, you know, the high ground of the people in problems organizationally, that’s not how everyone behaved.

 

Andy Paul  

Well, it’s interesting to hear you talk about that, because when you’re referring to Old World Yeah, to me that smacks of Well, yeah, that’s sort of what we’ve been doing the last 1015 years. And what we’re doing is in some respects are going

 

Pat Morrissey  

back

 

Andy Paul  

to what we were doing before that. So for many people, they talk about old worlds like 3040 years ago, it’s like no, no, this is and this I think, is relevant because I think that, you know, there’s been the sort of Bible around how we sell subscription services that have been tried to be applied across all types of industries, all types of sales, and what may be appropriate for a more transactional for more complex. Yeah, I’ve always had my doubts, and I’ve talked to plenty of companies that also had their doubts that yeah, it started to look more like what we’re doing in the past. From a mission standpoint, some of the execution elements may be different. But what we’re trying to achieve, because I remember, early in my career selling mainframe computers to big companies is that Yeah, as part of a team working with somebody that managed the whole account. Yeah, yeah, we have. Yeah, a complete integrated team of support. putting them on all levels, sales, sales, revenue optimization, blah, blah, blah. That sounds like we’re sort of heading back that way, which I think in some cases is good.

 

Pat Morrissey  

You know, I think it is good. And it’s, you know, you talk to the best in class and sales leaders and salespeople. And you’ve talked about this a lot on your show as well that, hey, there’s this notion of empathy. Right? And it starts from coming from a genuine place of Tell me what’s going on, and how can I help. And I had a great learning tutorial about that from a sales leader at GE last year, I guess, two years ago, and he was talking about being the global account lead on a big account. So this team, the universe of people touching the customer, was north of 70 people, right? And he finally came around the corner of Hey, more is not more and they’re not going to buy us because of, you know, the feature function and the new innovative tech and maybe I need to rethink my role because I don’t understand them well enough, right. So he said, I went back and I sat down with the senior person at the customer and I said Tell me what’s going on. And help me understand a little bit better so I can figure out how I can help. And he said, they kind of looked at me like I had three heads. And it took about 10 minutes for you to know the customer to finally understand he was coming from a genuine place. He didn’t realm with an agenda or new sales sheet or whatever. He was trying to step back and get in their head and find out what’s going on. And he said I had one of the most humbling experiences of my career because the customer sat back and kind of cocked his head and looked at me and said, I’ve been waiting to have this conversation with you for almost 10 years, right? And he said it just like it hit me like a ton of bricks. So it forced him and it was part of the organization rethinking you know, around account planning to say, Hey, we’re not. We got great technology, and it’s 10 miles wide, 10 miles deep. That’s not what matters. What matters is to the point you’re talking about a second ago and Is this a little bit Back to the Future. Do we understand the people and the problems? Do we understand the guy on the other side of the desk? And have we walked in, in his or her shoes? And are we coming from a place of genuine empathy and trying to solve a problem? If the answer is yes, we’re going to win. And all the other AI in the world doesn’t matter.

 

Andy Paul  

Well, it’s Yeah, interesting. Yeah. To talk about empathy, because I think that that this is one of these areas where we do such a poor job of training salespeople is that every sir familiar with sort of the emotional empathy that this is the common terms, right, I’ve Yeah, I can feel your pain type thing, which doesn’t help you in sales. What helps you in sales to say I, I understand why you feel the way you do, and not just how you feel, but why you feel the way you do. And that cognitive empathy puts you in a position to problem solve with people. Yep. But that is the part that’s so often missing is that it’s Yeah, we think just because we, yeah, what we often talk about is empathy, I think it was real sympathy, right? And people don’t want your sympathy, they want your understanding. And I, how do we cross that bridge? Right? Because I think this is a huge gap for many sellers, and it’s one that prevents them from really optimizing their performance.

 

Pat Morrissey  

Yeah, I think my observation would be a couple of things on that track. One is trying to get to know the next level in terms of the So what? So it’s one thing to say I’m trying to solve this problem. Well, first is getting clear on what exactly is the problem? What does it mean in actual practice, both in terms what are the business impacts, but getting into the next level questions have helped me understand why it’s not working today or what you mean when you said x move decoding the term because I think we sometimes and I’m certainly guilty of this, you get the headline and skip to the end, right? Because you think you already know you’ve already got the trigger that oh, this is how I’m going to sell this thing and solve that problem. When you don’t deeply understand why it’s important, what the alternatives are, what are the business impacts? And also the personal impacts? We’re sorry? Yeah, totally. And I might have one of my observations, one of my towels, particularly when I’m listening to opportunity reviews and account plan reviews. Can the person articulate not just the problem we’re solving and who it matters to? But can they also articulate what’s important to these people? And what’s the personal win? Yes. And if you understand the people and some of the personal wins, even if it’s like, I just didn’t seem too stressed out, that helps inform what’s going on, then you can be much more artful and you can come from a much more genuine place that allows some of those breakthroughs that that translate into meaningful relationships and meaningful wins.

 

Andy Paul  

Yeah, I mean, I, everybody likes to think that people are purely self-interested in you. We always use what’s in it for me. But yeah, I agree. I turn that on its head with questions saying we shouldn’t be asking what’s in it for your questions because that’s ultimately when you’re talking to someone else you want to bring it down to what it means to you personally, if you make this change, what is the impact on you? Is that opportunity? Or is that a negative? I mean, then it’s, it’s, you’re gonna try to put yourself in a position of influence with that person. You gotta understand that. Yep, that’s right. Well, it’s interesting to be listening to you talk because so much rage referring to is and this speaks to my sweet spot, which is all the technology and process and so on notwithstanding, is this a stolen human business that we’re in? And, yes, even an account where you said you may have 70 points of contact with the buyer. Yeah, maybe wanna skinny that down a little bit. But it’s still about the human aspect of human connection, the human to human as part of it, that we just seem to want to glom over right. We think that technology will take the place of that or to your point earlier, as you know, somebody has read a persona about a specific buyer and they think about exactly what this person is all about. And I read a term recently without being interesting as a professor I think from Pepperdine University used it as intellectual humility. Hmm Yes. And I think it’s a great term for sir what’s missing so often in sales and certainly gonna focus like functional the way that we train and onboard people is, you know, do you have the ability to understand what you don’t know? Right rather than think that you’re gonna look better by me and thank you for establishing your credibility by assuming that we’re presuming that you know everything.

 

Pat Morrissey  

Yeah, I think that that’s right and the other thing and I were talking to an analyst from ovum yesterday and he used the phrase that stuck with me as soon as he said it, which I think maps is the resulting impact on if you can practice that intellectual humility and empathy and go deep with the customer is, you know, being able to sense and react and respond in such a way that You’re perceived by the customer as being persistently relevant. And I thought, aha, like that, that whole notion of like, Okay, if then if the default setting from the customer perspective is I’m trying to figure this out, and I know somebody or a set of somebody who can help me, like have you become part of that extended, you know, brainpower, and that it’s reading and decision, you know, criteria. That’s the high ground about your trusted advisor that everybody’s trying to get to. You got to be persistently relevant. I got to be when, when in doubt, or when the moves get tough. I know exactly who I’m calling. And somebody’s going to help work through the problem and do it from a genuine place where it doesn’t all necessarily decode to what am I selling you?

 

Andy Paul  

Yes. It was that the slot sprung to mind when you talk about that, as I’m reading this article, in the last couple of years, and I think of the New Yorker magazine about this philosopher-scientist who’s saying that look we need to rethink what we consider the brain to be and he’s saying, you know, the brain is no longer just this Oregon inside our skulls, but given our access to, you know, all the information in the world, on our phones and so on is that our brains been extended. Right? It includes all this knowledge that exists somewhere else that we can easily tap. And it just occurred to me as you’re sleeping speaking, but, you know, if you’re in that trusted advisor role, you become an extension of that person’s brain know that you are informed that they know they can access, which is what the brains doing, what’s retrieving thoughts that they know how to access it. And that’s what a valuable place to be.

 

Pat Morrissey  

Yeah, and that’s the network effect in actual practice in sales. And that’s the difference between the great ones and everybody else is that you’re part of, you’ve got a multi-modal multiset of networks that you’re connected to, and you’re part of facilitating something that you know, at scale becomes powerful.

 

Andy Paul  

When this idea of persistence, relevance, I like persistent relevance. I like it because you didn’t earlier mention that you know how you can be a value in every call. And for me, that’s such a simple sales thought that that so many sellers don’t have so many sales managers don’t have which is, and I’ve written about this extensively is that I believe in every time you interact with a buyer, they have to finish that interaction closer to deciding than they were when they started. Otherwise, what was the point? Yep. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s an email, a phone, call a video call like we’re doing here, whatever an in-person call if they don’t finish that interaction if they haven’t made progress, and this comes from you know, Gartner talks about this in the study they did two years ago about buyer enablement and so on is that you know, the metrics that their buyers that they survey were using for the value of their sales interactions progressed. Right? Yes. It seems pretty amorphous, but people not when it happens. And so you know, I advocate for sales. So if you’re going through doing a pipeline review, you should be able to ask every seller about every qualified opportunity in their pipeline. What’s the next step? What’s the value the customer expects from us in the next step to help them move closer to making a decision? If the seller doesn’t know the answer, well, then they’re not doing their job, right. They need to be coached about the questions they should be asking the discovery they’re doing because they shouldn’t be able to leave that previous meeting without knowing the answer to that next question.

 

Pat Morrissey  

Yeah, that’s true. And I think that’s also one of the cultural dynamics I see shifting on on a couple of different fronts in terms of the little bit of this Back to the Future with sales that right, the old disciplines become more critical than ever is, you know, one, you need to be able to answer that question, did we deliver value and did we deliver it as according to the customer’s perspective or not, but also making it an opportunity to have some simple coaching regularly because what I consistently see when you do That either in context of a one on one, which lets you do an opportunity review or deal review what we would call a test and improve here at Alpha Phi. It where it’s a more structured process is also making it a safe space for the rep or for the team member to say, I don’t know. Hmm. Because one of the tells is always Well, I think, right? So as soon as the ref gets in that I think we know where we’re disconnected here, like in timeout, full stop, I’ve got an even better one.

 

Andy Paul  

So yeah, the seller’s knowledge of what they need to do next is in inverse proportion to how defensive they get when you ask the question. Yes. And so the more defensiveness you get, the more you know that Okay, yeah, let’s just stop here. We’re not gonna go down this path. Let’s deconstruct this and see what’s going on.

 

Pat Morrissey  

Yeah, that’s right. What I constantly hear and observe from sales leaders that I talked to is, particularly in those review sorts of situations, not necessarily the full-blown qbr but even in an account review or a deal review is right away. You can Class them ended up in one of three buckets, because the ones that right away get into the story of the deal or the story of the account, and there’s a lot of this that they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Yeah, that means they haven’t, they haven’t done the homework. They’re not prepared. They don’t have a conversation. So they’d have, a lot of times they have it. They’re sort of the mid-level, which is, again, there are some data, there’s some structure and but there’s a lot of I think, or our theory is or we suspect instead of, you know, here’s the evidence. Here’s, here’s what we heard, here’s how you triangulated and validated, here’s the evidence that directs us. And then there are the masterclass folks who go directly into the plan and start walking through people’s problems, outcomes, metrics, and a lot of precision about who’s doing what and how it’s being evaluated.

 

Andy Paul  

Yeah. Well, you brought up the term metrics. I didn’t get back to a topic we’ve talked about before we start touching on data in sales. And to me, this is such a problematic area, right? We have all this potential because we can collect so much data And yet we seem to still struggle with making sense out of it in a way that’s relevant to, to make us more effective. And it’s compounded by people online writing articles based on data that are making assumptions or conclusions about data that are just mind-bogglingly wrong. And so interested in your opinion about how we’re going to come through that because we just don’t know how to use it right now.

 

Pat Morrissey  

Well, I would assert to you that part of the answer to the question gets back to this idea of customer revenue optimization, which is grounded in methodology, which, you know, the same language and to the point, you’re raising a second ago, and it’s the what outcome do we expect and what value did we deliver at each step? Right, and when you start to think about what great selling looks like, and more often than not, the problem statement that we encounter starts in one of two places. As either, I need to improve my sales velocity, which is some combo platter of win rates or deal sizes, or I just need to drive more they’re there through the funnel, or the account planning side of the equation, which is I need more pipeline, right? When you get underneath the numbers, particularly on the opportunity level, what it’s not just the numbers, it’s the underlying behavior. And do we understand the same thing, in the same way, every day? Right? So an example would be I’ll give you one of our customer examples. Autodesk. So Autodesk uses a derivative, you know, fundamentally the Taz methodology, the one to 20 as part of their standard operating procedure around opportunity management. And so that’s, you know, the base case of that for anybody who’s been asleep and hasn’t or didn’t get subjected to this 20 years ago, you know, starts from, you know, the four key pillars of that is, is, you know, one is that opportunity, and then works its way into, you know, can we compete can we win and can win Is it worth winning from each of those doesn’t have five questions beneath it. We did a data analysis with them and looked at two years worth of transaction data both for smaller deals as well as the enterprise deals. And what came out of that is because they’re instrumenting it in Salesforce are capturing these criteria and capturing Yes, no maybes to the one to 20. But in smaller deals, it’s really what they call the critical six or six questions that matter. What they found is if they had a yes to the critical six, you know, whether you’re talking about a mid-market deal, say 50 K, right, where you’re talking about an enterprise deal in the millions of dollars, their win rate went up by 84% when they could answer yes to those six questions. So I’d argue for all the high flying data and all the depth of things we can get into and all the complex models. There’s a base element of this again, Back to the Future here of the growth of enterprise selling, which is it doesn’t matter what sales methodology To use, and large, long-standing companies have their hybrids of turf, what that looks like borrowing the best of right sales leaders like over time, you got to instrument it. And you have to get into not just what are the headlines around win rates, but you have to look at the underlying behaviors that are captured, to decompose. Are we talking about the same thing? In the same way? Can we identify things like, you know, sponsorship, or mentorship or, you know, economic buyer, whatever you call it? How many of those do we have? And how do we know? Is there, you know, formal criteria, informal criteria, is there a compelling event, you got to be able to decode those signals across the b2b landscape? That is the insight that I think moves the needle on sales results and impact?

 

Andy Paul  

Yeah, I’ve been fascinated by the whole topic of data in sales and the way we use it, and people who follow me know I’m a big soccer fan. And you want to think that’s sort of fascinating as I look at how they started structure, their management teams, and management staff for soccer teams. And they become very specialized in the roles that they have. And I wonder how this is sort of a model we should be following and sales because they oftentimes will have you know, two or three coaches directly responsible for the performance of some sort, you know, one could be nutrition and fitness one could be, you know, on-field performance and so on. And they have to collect huge amounts of data on every player wearing them full-time monitor when during their training and during the game. So they, they know, every step that they have the Sprint’s they did, the longer runs, I mean, all this stuff, they can break it down. And they look at and say, How can we then work with you as an individual taking the data to say, yeah, here are the areas and this is not a, you know, it’s not the manager of this doing that, you know, it’s these specialized coaches. Yeah. And I just wonder whether we’re missing it because right now we’re sort of requiring sales leaders to be so these Jack’s of all trades rather than saying, look, we can bring in some specialists, instead of just saying sales enablement saying no, here’s never met a sales team that has a director of performance on staff.

 

Pat Morrissey  

Yeah, it’s interesting that you bring that up in a couple of different things. One is back to the Autodesk for a second, they have a series of performance coaches, and they’re putting them in sales hubs. And they, they talk about it in terms of blackhat thinking and coaching. And what they’re doing is bringing seasoned sales leaders in from the outside and making them coaches in their sales hubs around the world. It’s seen as a sign of, of respect and investment and importance when the teams get a coach to sign because you get somebody with, you know, you know, 2030 years of sales experience, dropped into your patch or dropped into working on accounts and stuff with you, who doesn’t have a quota who doesn’t have an agenda, and write all about Trying to help you coach, right? I think there’s an emerging element. And we tried to bake some of this into the software capability that we have. It’s all about how you get those signals? And how do you enable more high fidelity coaching? And how do you build skills over time, and it goes back to the topic we were hitting on with the Back to the Future theme here is this idea that you know, in the old world of selling, there was, you know, sort of the three buckets right, you got the top, you know, 10 or 15%, that move the needle and, and break your comp model and broad middle that you’re trying to turn Season Two B’s and then you’ve got that lower two that you’re going to slip away. The implication of what you’re suggesting, and I think where the world is moving, and the application of data is not just a personalization element, but it starts from the idea. Everyone deserves to be coached. Right? And in the example you’re using with, you know, the top tier, the Premiership, teams on the pitch are over-analyzing everything, trying to figure out a forever rule for every individual, how do we help them perform a little bit better? And that that same mindset needs to be translated to best in class revenue teams. Because the best of the best are getting coaching and all those different dimensions, right, and data and feedback. And that’s got to be the application of that data to help everybody get a little better every day, every week, every month is where the opportunity is to fundamentally change the game.

 

Andy Paul  

Yeah, I think it brings up a couple of interesting points, too, because I think that one of the things that they emphasize in these top professional sports leagues and snail soccer, in particular, is that there are two aspects to a person, there’s the person and there’s the athlete. And I think, as more and more time spent in sales, which has been decades at this point, but more time spent analyzing this, I think that that the top performers tend to be those people that are more comfortable with sort of the basic human elements of sales, right, the connection with somebody else to being a good person having to be trustworthy. Now we can go through this list of attributes. And I was reading this interesting article. I fell about a year or so ago about every soccer game I’ve been to Liverpool, my team that I obsessed about. And they said yeah, when they first get them into the team, whether it’s the first team or the Academy, their lower-level team, he says, Yeah, we train them how to be a person first before players. Hmm, yeah, teach them how to take responsibility for their lives, how to discipline to train them, eat right off the field. And that stuff’s obsessively monitored too. But, I thought that was such an interesting description because we don’t do any of this in sales. We don’t train people how to be human, how to be better people, we assume they come into the job knowing how this is to be. And that’s not the case. And so it’s like, we have to say, Okay, how do we do this another area of performance coaching, how do we train people to be better humans to help them be better salespeople?

 

Pat Morrissey  

Well, yeah, that’s, that’s probably a whole series of podcasts and discussions about, you know, how to do that. And, you know, you know how to be simultaneous, you know, the best version of yourself that your mom would be most proud of, and be the highest, you know, sales performer that, you know, taking on big hardware and the big checks at Club and going to club. But I think there’s a couple of foundational elements that you’re kind of pointing to particularly when you think about the discipline of sales, and the revenue team, which starts with communication. I saw a statistic. I think it was a state of sales report from Salesforce, where they talked about the fact that 80% when you look at the top required skills or requested skills when you’re going looking for, you know, sales leadership is communication. Hmm. Which begs the question, how many sales leaders have ever had communications training? Yeah, including, you know, listening or even just knowing how to wear the high-value questions. And how do you have the dialogue? Right? Answers are far fewer and far less than we’d like. And then you point that you look at any given organization and say, you know, talk to me about your, your center of excellence, your center of revenue performance. So your, your go-to-market team or your sales enablement team, like whatever it’s called, right? How many of those teams have that people’s first kind of look, let’s double click on you as a human and some core skills and simple and, and attributes and traits that we expect you to exhibit as a foundation to here’s what good looks like in selling in this organization.

 

Andy Paul  

Right. And this gets back to the points made before about the specialized skills. We need a management team that doesn’t exist to somebody you’ll call communications. I’d call it relationships, right? And I know this term drives people crazy, but it’s truly what it is. Yeah. How do we enable you to connect with another human being and form this utilitarian functional relationship that is the sales relationship? Yep. And I and I give people the example oftentimes, I don’t know you’ve ever watched the show on HBO billions? You watch billions.

 

Pat Morrissey  

And see if I’m not an advocate

 

Andy Paul  

of, but there’s this character, Wendy, who’s Sue’s staff psychologist or psychiatrist. And yeah plays a very vital role for keeping people’s mind focused and, you know, making them more human in this, you know, a trading environment that’s exaggerated, but as you know, sort of the worst, you know, brings out the worst behaviors and people know, but think about how many sales teams would benefit from having, you know, a therapist on staff one, one or one or two days, one or two days a week, and we laugh at it. But if your sales jumped 510 percent, why the hell wouldn’t you do it? We’re so afraid, as a profession, to explore any of this stuff that could have just to me. It could transform how we help people become better at their jobs. To your point about these middle class, I call sales middle class, right? The B’s wanted to be C’s. Yeah, oftentimes it’s not. It’s not their ability to necessarily quote unquoted sales or product knowledge or customer knowledge. It’s these other, you know, more intangible qualities that prevent them from achieving at the level that they could. And yet we don’t give them any training on that.

 

Pat Morrissey  

Well, we don’t and I think we also don’t, we don’t give them a vision of why it’s important. Not just functionally, why it’s important, it’s gonna help you make your quota. But you know, what this dialogue brings me to is I used to work with a guy who had an outsized impact on me for the time that I knew him Glen Davis, who ran you know, sales excellence and commercial excellence in at UnitedHealthcare and optimum. So he used to talk all the time about you know, deal fluency and client intimacy, right, but it came from a place that was very very much in the mindset of what you were talking about earlier with, you know, Liverpool and you know, the top tier teams are trying to instrument and think about the best in class revenue, you know, the team as really elite athletes that you needed to you need to take apart all the different behaviors and help in a variety of different aspects to help them be the best versions of themselves. But his point of view was sales is not just a profession. And it’s not just a discipline Glenn’s argument was sales is a vocation, it’s a higher calling. So if you come from a place that this is not you know, we all you know can stereotype the used car salesman bro, careful, you know, kind of crappy experiences. His point of view is this is a discipline that you want to get to be world-class about. It is a higher calling and when you are expert in this when you can fundamentally change. You know, the customers live in the behaviors then amazing things happen. And then that is your mindset. that informs all these other behaviors, then what you’re talking about here is right on point. And I think it starts right at the beginning.

 

Andy Paul  

And so this is another one of my big bugaboos is that we try to say, look, onboarding takes this long. And if you’re not gonna, you know, come up to speed and this period, then suddenly, you’re, you’re shifted down. They don’t get rid of you a year. Yeah, you’re suddenly a B player. And then we know all sorts of behaviors kick in, oh, sales managers, uneven lead distribution data, there’s just sort of to reinforce that. And again, back from reading about soccer and soccer management, because I think they do a fabulous job of what they call man management and male teams. What person management is, as they say, look, within the subheading, Sir, this athletic endeavor is you can’t predict that aha moment where it all starts making sense. And teams will invest in the development of players and some guys, maybe at 18 years old. They get kicks at other times it might be 22 years old that it kicks in. And yet we apply increasingly, especially in the more transactional, you know, SAS business, we apply this broad brush in 90 days, 30 days up to speed, we’re more individual about it is that hey, what’s the deal with 90 days or you’ve invested all this money in this person, maybe they need 180 days, maybe they need a year. And yet, you’d benefit so much from checking that person rather than trying to find another person to replace them after six months. It still beats your benefit to keep them for a year to see if it’s if it kicks in and helps them in a way that it kicks in. And yet we seem this intolerance for you know, diversity in terms of how long it takes people to come up to speed.

 

Pat Morrissey  

Yeah, and I think that’s part of the tyranny of the short term quarterly thinking is everything deca, we take the wrong notes out of the data and decompose into what are where are you on the sales ladder and where are you in the ramp and if you those two numbers, Don’t look, you know, decent pretty quickly, then suddenly you’re a second class citizen a worse? Yeah. As opposed to playing the long game. And I’m sure you’ve had countless conversations of, you know, people who had to spend 234 or five years in an account before they got in before they cracked the code, that there’s the people element. There’s also the environmental element. There’s the client situation, there’s a whole bunch of other things that get into what is, how do we get to success? And how do we develop relationships that turn into meaningful commercial value over time? Yeah.

 

Andy Paul  

All right. Fortunately, I need to cut this off. We didn’t answer any of the questions I had lined up but this is a fantastic conversation on the last

 

Pat Morrissey  

one, I think we should take it on the road like we’re talking about, you should come down to Austin, we can hang out and have some barbecue and try to do some field testing on some of these higher-order issues. Or alternately, we can just go see a Liverpool game. I’d say both. So you’re a

 

Andy Paul  

you’re a soccer fan as well.

 

Pat Morrissey  

I am an aspirational fan. I like that and the thing I love the most is going around watching soccer with true soccer fans. Yeah, because of the songs, the backstories, the religion, and all the other stuff. It’s just fun to be a part of where I don’t have to know the details of the players. I just want to be part of the experience.

 

Andy Paul  

Yeah, well, I’ve been fortunate to go to one Premier League game in person and it was a lot of fun. It wasn’t a great match, but just the environment was fantastic. But yeah, I still haven’t been to Anfield to see Liverpool. So that’s on my list. But yeah, we’ll do both Anfield Anfield and Austin.

 

Pat Morrissey  

I mean, and also

 

Andy Paul  

Austin FC coming online in 2021. So right on All right, so all right, Pat. Hey, tell people how they can get in touch with you before we take off?

 

Pat Morrissey  

Sure you can I’m you know, Patrick Morrissey on LinkedIn here at upland software. You can find me on the revenue optimization, you know, podcast online in Spotify or Apple or all your favorite podcast places and you can find us at alpha calm and upland software calm. Perfect.

 

Andy Paul  

All right, Pat, look forward to talking again soon.

 

Pat Morrissey  

Thanks much, Andy. Have a great day, you too.