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What is Revenue Operations? with Jordan Henderson [Episode 881]

Jordan Henderson is the Director of Revenue Operations (aka RevOps) here at ringDNA. If you’ve heard talk of RevOps and you’re just not sure what it is then this is the episode for you. Before we get to that, however, Jordan tells us how and why a LAWYER (like himself) ends up in Revenue Operations. Then we dive into why RevOps is such a critical function for sales organizations in today’s digital selling world, what it means for your GTM strategy, and how RevOps will continue to evolve and grow.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul: Welcome to the show.

Jordan Henderson: Thanks for having me.

Andy Paul: It’s my pleasure. We’re going to hanging out during the pandemic.

Jordan Henderson: Right now, I’m actually hanging out in a running Springs, California. I’ve been traveling around the West coast, but I actually have a cabin up here up by big bear. And I’ve spent the last a month year in the foreseeable future which is nice to get out of the city a little bit.

How about yourself?

Andy Paul: San Diego, but big bear. So do you have kids?

Jordan Henderson: No, nothing that elaborate. I just have a tiny cabin up here has pretty good internet. So it’s been a nice place to relax.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Fewer people.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah, definitely. And less noise. It’s a nice and quiet.

Andy Paul: Yeah. I imagine, yeah, up in here in the mountains, people don’t know, there’s very tall mountains just to the East of Los Angeles and you’re served up in those.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah, it takes a 90 minute drive from my house in West Hollywood to get up here. And it goes from a hundred feet in elevation to 6,000.

Andy Paul: There.

Jordan Henderson: In those 90 feet and the 90 minutes.

Andy Paul: Yeah, it was always like those days in the winter where these cloudless smokeless days where the mountains just appear right there suddenly it’s huh, I’ve been here a dozen times and I’ve seen those mountains before and suddenly they’re there.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah, you forget they’re in your backyard.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. It’s much better now air quality than it was 20, 30 years ago.

So you see them more frequently

Jordan Henderson: Yeah. I imagine that’s true. And you’re down in San Diego.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. So not a bad day down here.

Jordan Henderson: Best weather.

Andy Paul: So your namesake is one of my favorites. Football players.

Jordan Henderson: Knew you were going to bring this up.

Andy Paul: It might, yeah, the audience knows that I’m a big soccer fan football, the real football, not the game that no one actually touches the ball with their feet. And yeah, one of the star players for Liverpool, my team is named Jordan Henderson.

So have you ever been confused, like gotten messages for him?

Jordan Henderson: Have I ever told you that story about when he was playing in the world cup?

Andy Paul: No. This was in 2018, the restaurant world cup?

Jordan Henderson: No, it was 28, 2014. I believe it was much earlier in his career. Yeah. In Brazil. And ironically, and you’re a fancy you’ll know he’s roughly the same height as I am same kind of look similar haircut.

And actually about a year apart in age. So we look strangely similar and have the same name. And so I had an edit Twitter account at Jordan Henderson. Which I no longer have.

Andy Paul: I think, for reasons we’re about to hear.

Jordan Henderson: For reasons you’re about to hear which he, in 2014, he had a bit of a rough world cup. Th pretty, pretty big disappointment.

And I don’t watch football at all. I watch American football. I don’t watch a lot of soccer. And yeah so one day I go to log into Twitter and I have 80 90 messages and confused. Cause I have about that many followers at the time. And it turns out he botched a game and around 90 people decided that they were going to find him on Twitter and let him know how he felt about that.

And so I logged into Twitter one day and I had 90 threats and angry messages targeted at Jordan Henderson. And I was like, Oh no, what have I done? And I had to. I had to, it took me talking to somebody before I realized that this person existed and they were all intended for some soccer player from Liverpool, which was crazy.

Andy Paul: Yeah.

You’ll be glad to know. Maybe you follow this, but yeah, he’s totally redeemed himself. He does now consider this icon of English football and the leader of the English side. Yeah he’s a star, the S this Paragon.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah, I’ve since then followed his career a little bit and he seemed like he was really young at the time and just had a rough first world cup.

Andy Paul: Big stage too.

Jordan Henderson: I haven’t gotten any threats since then, so I assume that he’s doing a lot better.

Andy Paul: When I used to start trading on it, that’d be the thing to

Jordan Henderson: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, there’s been a, there’s been a handful of instances where that’s happened or people have mentioned it.

There’s even a group of. There’s a Facebook group for people who have the same name as famous soccer players. And I’ve been invited to that a handful of times. Yeah. It’s so such a weird organization.

Andy Paul: There’s something for everyone on Facebook.

Jordan Henderson: It really is.

Andy Paul: All right. I’ll have to check that one out. That’s a little scary. Not scary, some other stuff there, but it’s scary. You an unusual route you’ve taken to revenue operations.  Do you, did you grow up in, in North Dakota or as in Minnesota?

Jordan Henderson: North Dakota.

Andy Paul: Dakota.

So we went to a small Catholic school there.

Jordan Henderson: I actually went to a one room schoolhouse for most of my childhood. One of the last people in the U S to do it grew up on a six generation family farm.

Andy Paul: Now where they fought, whether you what’d, you farm?

Jordan Henderson: Cattle, mostly cattle. So we were about 800 head of Charlotte cattle.

Andy Paul: Wow.

Jordan Henderson: Not exactly. But but yeah, we, our family has been up there for a hundred and 125 years now, I think, or so my brother is actually back taken over the the ranch now as we speak.

Andy Paul: So no, no crops now where we’re in North Dakota?

Jordan Henderson: Heading or North Dakota is where I’m from originally about 15 miles outside of heading or in, in rural Dakotas.

Andy Paul: Now heading her. I don’t really know.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah, I have to that’s 600.

Andy Paul: Between, between Bismarck and mine at somewhere.

Jordan Henderson: Oh, actually about four hours from mine at three hours from Bismarck. We’re about halfway. Yeah. About halfway between Bismark and rapid city.

If you were to drive up. Yeah.

Andy Paul: Wow. Wow. Okay. So a lot of winter up there.

Jordan Henderson: A lot of winter and went to grew up in heading her in on the farm and then went to a Catholic school in Bismarck, actually. And then law school out in Minnesota before and ended up in, in Los Angeles about six, seven years ago now.

Andy Paul: Yeah. So that’s sorry. Interesting journey. You’re a football player and a wrestler. You said law school in Minnesota even went and passed the bar. So you didn’t plan on practicing law.

Jordan Henderson: I, I actually

Andy Paul: Burning desire to be in sales.

Jordan Henderson: All I ever wanted was revenue operations. No yeah. I wish

Andy Paul: A law degree to be able to do that.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah, I wish that were true. No, I did practice actually briefly. I am still a licensed attorney. I’ve maintained my license, which is surprising to people. I think I practiced for a couple of years out of law school,

Andy Paul: Type of law?

Jordan Henderson: Corporate, mostly MNA work.

And then I actually to be totally honest prac yeah. It’s just interesting. I I didn’t, I probably practiced less than I sold as a, as a. An attorney, to be honest. Most of what

Andy Paul: First-year associate they’re having you’re out developing business.

Jordan Henderson: I did a lot of client acquisition in my first couple of years. Yep. Yep. A lot of in-person meetings didn’t do a lot of practicing.

I don’t, I still never really know if it was because I was a really bad attorney and they thought that was the way that they should use me or if I was really good at customer or at client acquisition. So I’m going to chalk it up to the ladder, but know that it probably could have been the former as well.

Andy Paul: Wow. Interesting. Yeah, because I’m usually at least in big firms. Cause I’ve done some training for law firms actually did a day-long thing for a group of people for DLA Piper and yeah. Talking to their several hundred of their first year associates at brought together. It’s Yeah, they don’t really let us go out that

Jordan Henderson: Yeah. Not until years, six, seven and eight really is typically where that, that kicks in. I did a little bit of government affairs work at the firm. I was with Dorsey and Whitney. And there was a very small department there for GA work. And so that was, I became a lot more customer facing, I think, than a lot of my peers, because they were in 300 attorney, divisions and I was in a six attorney division.

Andy Paul: All right. So you decided to shuck the law firm a career and go to LA. Why?

Jordan Henderson: Good question. I actually moved to LA was still, it was still actually practicing out here for about a year when I first got to LA. It was mostly just to get out of the cold winters.

Andy Paul: And you said, so you took the California bar as well?

Jordan Henderson: I didn’t actually, I was practicing a, in a manner that I didn’t really need to have the California bar.

Also, like at that point I was mostly doing client acquisition about 95% of my time. And I was out here for about a year. I met some people at a software company that was in downtown LA, which is where I lived and worked as well. They convinced me to. Leave law and take the lowest entry level tech job that I can ever imagine.

Just to try to make the shift and get into tech, which I was really interested in doing at the time quickly entered a company as a CSM. Shifted into CS ops and then sales ops, and then ultimately revenue ops. And so did that all within a couple of years, actually. And within that time I did some STR work managed SDRs, ran a sales pipeline.

I’ve worn all the hats. And I’ve been doing sort of director of revenue, operations, and sales leadership stuff ever since.

Andy Paul: Yeah. So for people who aren’t really tied into these discussions online, the echo chamber, LinkedIn. So what, tell them what the differences between sales ops and revenue ops.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah. Yeah. There’s a huge difference. I think it’s actually one of my bigger pet peeves right now is that yeah. Yeah. Let’s dive into the pet peeve.

Andy Paul: Push your button.

Jordan Henderson: Every time. Every time we come up with something like revenue, operations in tech, a whole bunch of people will give people that time, but not actually do what it means, right?

That you see it. A lot of people with revenue operations in their title right now that are actually just sales ops people. And there’s one key difference there, which is sales ops. People do ops and enablement for your sales team. They’re working with companies that are being driven by sales specifically and they’re really running an old go to market strategy where sales is the engine behind everything revenue operations is taking a look cross departmentally.

So I’m not just showing up and doing sales ops work. It’s a piece of it for sure. It’s a big piece of it. Marketing ops is huge. CS ops is huge. I work with finance on ops. I do a lot of legal ops stuff. It’s. The entire customer facing journey of your company or your entire GTM strategies ops. And it’s not being driven by one specific division.

It’s being driven ultimately by the buyer for being, totally candid. But but yeah, it’s I would say half the people that call themselves rev ops right now, or have rev ops are actually just doing sales ops.

Andy Paul: And so again, just to summarize, so sales ops, the traditional sales driven go to market strategies? No, probably some interaction with marketing, but not as aligned, which was really the difference with revenue

Jordan Henderson: It’s down funnel interaction with marketing, right? Like marketing creates a bunch of leads and then kicks them to sales. And the sales ops piece of that is making sure that sales gets what it needs from marketing to actually attack those leads. And that’s pretty much their interaction with marketing.

There’s no upstream feedback. There’s no helping with the marketing ops in general, that there’s none of that.

Andy Paul: So it becomes the focal point for all that revenue operations. Does do companies have both rev ops and sales ops?

Jordan Henderson: Yeah, we do here obviously at ring DNA. It’s it’s super important. You still need people whose sole focus is the sales operation. There needs to be somebody managing Salesforce and doing those sorts of things and just helping out with their day-to-day operations. But there needs to be somebody with that more holistic view as well.

Andy Paul: And from a sort of reporting structure standpoint,  how does that work? Sales ops report to revenue ops, or does who reports to revenue ops anybody? Or are you just more of a. A global facilitator.

Jordan Henderson: I think it can be one or the other. And it depends a bit on your structure here at Rindy and AR sales ops analyst roles into me directly. And that’s super helpful because we’re super well aligned. Our marketing ops person, doesn’t they roll into marketing and that still works really well.

We’re very closely aligned on a lot of things and same with CS and finance on that piece as well. I think it really comes down to whether or not you have the authority and mandate to still align everything regardless of the reporting structure.

Andy Paul: Yeah. It doesn’t, isn’t that somewhat problematic if, cause I know that. I believe it was the ultimate goal is as rev ops gets rolled out more broadly, is that almost like a return to the past where there was one person responsible or both revenue or for both, excuse me, from a revenue standpoint, from both sales and marketing.

Isn’t it isn’t that the ultimate goal of alignment is you just have one final point of responsibility for revenue.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah, I think that’s exactly the goal is cross marketing sales and NCS. I think CS is a huge piece.

Andy Paul: CSI.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah no. But yeah, I think that is certainly the ultimate goal. I actually don’t know that I view it as problematic for like our marketing ops team to roll into the marketing umbrella and I think that’s.

Maybe a bit unique to ring DNA. I think at most companies that would be problematic, but at ring DNA, we have, Howard, our CEO Williams CMO Cameron, our CSO, who are all so oriented around revenue operations as our GTM strategy, that it really doesn’t seem to matter. I think if you were at a company where that wasn’t necessarily the case, you didn’t have that level of executive mandate that it would potentially be problematic, but I haven’t run into that issue here.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Interesting. Yeah, I think, yeah. And personally, I see them on the long run, if you really want this concept to work, which seems to make total sense is I said, I think it. At some point, it needs to be unified because the silos are always going to exist. It’s, they’re there. Whether people feel they’re working together smoothly or not, and they may very well be, as you said, it’s, at some point there’s gotta be a single vision, a single source of truth.

Jordan Henderson: I, yeah, I think you’re right. And I think the biggest thing is the only way to eliminate the silos is to create upstream feedback loops. So every, everything needs to be cross-functional and it’s just definitely going to be a lot easier to do that. If it all rolls into one function,

Andy Paul: Yeah. So let’s talk about you alluded to this earlier. Let’s talk about the difference revenue operations will make, let’s say, in the buyer experience. So what are you seeing in that regard? Because personally, I think the sales process and the buyer journey are. Really completely unaligned at this point.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah, I think that’s probably fair. It feels like a really big question. The. I think it’s going to be buyer-driven and I think we’ve talked about, meeting the buyer where they are having it be a buyer-driven process for so long in sales specifically, and even in even marketing. But what that’s meant has been like when you cold call them, help them identify a problem and then steer that conversation, meet them where they are on the cold call.

And  I don’t think that’s where this is ultimately going. I think we’re letting. We’re getting to a point where we’re using data intent data in a, in an entire omni-channel presence, across sales and marketing to where buyers are actually signaling to you. When they’re ready to have conversations, signaling to you, what problems they have.

And that’s when you’re bringing in the specific people to feel that. And so in that regard, you’re not actually, digging in with them to help uncover that you’re letting them uncover their pain points and then you’re helping them solve them. And so it really is. Buyer-driven.

Andy Paul: Yeah though. I think there’s a, so I’ll defer a little bit on that because I think that one of the roles that sellers really have to play, which is not the, one of the areas where it’s really not aligned is buyers need the sellers help to really define the problem they’re trying to solve. When you think about No, it takes something like the challenger sale.

Really what’s the challenge, right? The challenge is it’s most commonly defined as well. How do I help you rethink this idea of what it is you think you need to accomplish? Which is really, sir, how do I help you look assuming to her acquire different paradigm, perhaps about what your problem is and what the scope of it is, what the impact will be of solving it.

And. And like when you go through a this is where I think the misalignment exists is, when you go through a typical sales process, go through the stages of the sales process companies have, and then you go through the stages of the buyer’s journey. A of the terminology is not the same at all.

They’re not aligned at all. And I, and this is not. Bye. No problem. This goes back a hundred years. But we haven’t solved it. And we thought by thought, that’s why I always get amused. Don’t hear people use this term, modern sales. It’s like fine. You’ve applied technology to this old process.

It was still the old process, right? It’s when the buyers are going through their journey, the first step is they have to define what the problem is. I think what the intent data does. It says look, I’ve identified a problem, but there’s a big difference between identifying it and defining it. if sellers, you can go through, I did this through Italy a couple weeks ago. I Googled sales process, B2B sales processes, and, looked at all the graphical representations of it. None of them aligned to what the buyer had going through.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah, I think that’s true. I think part of the problem we’re talking about though, is that you’re right. You do have to help, but you’re always going to have to help a buyer define the problem they’re seeing or frame the problem they’re seeing. And I think right now, when we have this very much sales driven process, marketing creates a bunch of leads and then.

Kicks them to sales. And then at that point, sales is great. So let’s dig in and find your problem, identify it so on and so forth. I think part of this whole journey is to take it to the point where marketing is helping frame that problem or define that problem. By the time they get to sales, by the time they have the level of intent that sales is now involved, they at least have most of that problem identified in their head.

And that conversation becomes much easier. We’re not selling them on the problem because they’re already partially sold on it. So now we’re just affirming that is the problem. And then going into the solution mode much, much more rapidly.

Andy Paul: I think there’s a gap there. And so this is where I think because yeah, it would be great, the way you’re describing it, if when rates were. Not so abysmally low as they are at most SAS companies. And then you’d say wow, that this is working. But the fact is it’s not. The fact is one of the big gaps is one of the reasons I believe that close rates not win rates, but even close rates are bad.

Is that we’re not executing that middle part of the funnel where the sales actually takes place. Yeah, we’re getting really good at top of funnel stuff. And with intent data that helps further targeting the helps further. But then when you first engage with a customer, I think what happens? No, I think I know what happens is that a seller goes in and does some level of discovery and says, Oh, okay.

I know what the problem is. But what they do is they know what the problem is, but they don’t understand what the problem is. And there’s a huge gap there. And that lack of that gap and chasm between knowing and understanding suddenly off on the wrong foot. And this is, I think we’re. Where sellers are more consistently successful.

Understand? Is that, yeah, it’s not about, I said knowing it’s about rally. It’s about understanding because when I understand and I can make the buyer feel understood, I’ve differentiated myself from my rails.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah, I agree.

Andy Paul: But then you look back to the sales process and sales process as well. Let’s do a needs analysis and dadadadada.

It’s none that tracks to what the buyer’s doing. And I think until we, we get that really aligned were our stage as a seller, as defined with the same exit criteria as the buyers exiting their stage. I think we’re always going to have this mismatch and I think that’s to me is a core problem.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah. Not just identifying the problem, but understanding it and actually understanding the implications that it has for the customer. So not just, Hey, like this is a big problem, cause we’re not making enough phone calls, but it’s a big problem. Cause we’re not making enough phone calls because the fewer phone calls you make, the less pipeline.

Andy Paul: And what’s the impact on that?

Jordan Henderson: Less revenue we bring in and so on.

Andy Paul: Yeah. And I think. In the majority of cases, what happens is sellers are trained. There, have some experience that ask a service set group of questions that they get familiar with, or whether it’s heavily scripted or not. Eventually everybody has their own personal script, but you got to be willing and able to go off that script because everybody’s gonna be unique in some respect.

And so I just the bigger point is I think that until we were at a point where. You look at a sales process and the stages of a sales process and the exit criteria for that, those stages are equivalent to the buyers, exit criteria for them exiting that stage. I said, we’re always going to have this mismatch, and it’s going to have an impact on people’s ability to close business, because yeah, if I can do a pipeline review or not, let’s say I had one last deal review.

Yeah, I can almost always find the cause happening during discovery and qualification, almost universally. And yet, part of the problem is that we treat discovery as this discrete experience. We do discovery upfront and it’s step three in our process. It’s yeah, but it’s not a one and done thing.

Yeah, you have to discover every time you interact with the prospect, because what’s happening with them. As they’re going through their buying process, they’re talking to your competitors, they’re doing all this work. They’re educating themselves, they’re getting smarter. They’re getting a new perspective on the problem they’re trying to solve.

And so the discovery you may have done two weeks ago may not be valid anymore. And once you won wouldn’t you want to know that?

Jordan Henderson: Yeah. As they continue to flush out the problem, they’re going to think of the upstream downstream impacts the entire actual impact of the problem they’ve identified.

Andy Paul: But we’ve got discovery as a checkbox.

Jordan Henderson: And we’re done with it and then we’re done.

Andy Paul: And we don’t revisit it. And the customer evolves. Yeah. Same thing as truth qualification. Yeah. Somebody could look like a good, have a good product market fit early in the process. But as they get become more sophisticated about the problem, they’re trying to solve a more educated, maybe not, or maybe they’re really open to you.

Coming in with yeah. A unique insight and question to help them rethink what they’re trying to accomplish, presents an opportunity. But if you put checkbox by and move on, it’s a problem. So this is where not to get on my soapbox about this, which I just did, but it’s my show. I can do that.

Is that we’ve got this sellers marching down a path that just doesn’t for the most part, relate to what the buyer is going through.

Jordan Henderson: It’s interesting because there’s a way I see that rolling into revenue operations. Actually that, specifically, there’s sort of two things. There’s one, one at ring DNA. We sell software that helps you revenue, operation. So I’m for most purposes, an example of our target buyer.

And so when you, when somebody talks to me, like with our seller talks to me and I, and we identify a problem and define it together, I’m thinking of it, not just as a sales ops person. I’m not thinking of, Hey, we’re not making enough calls is, Hey, we’re not. Self-generating enough pipeline. I’m thinking of, we’re not making enough calls, which means we’re not self-generating enough pipeline.

We’re also not making enough calls against the leads that marketing is spending a bunch of money to generate. We’re not leveraging these three softwares properly that we’ve purchased. So we’re not getting our ROI on those. Like here’s the four problems that this is causing and it’s actually across four different teams.

And understanding that at the outset helps our sellers much more rapidly help a customer evolve their discovery. So we can identify more of those pain points. I’m also thinking now, as we’re talking about it, companies with revenue, operations, people that are truly doing this are going to have a better understanding of these implications.

It’s going to be less like forming out the problem through a nine call, discovery process than just. Somebody that actually understands the implications across three different teams, instead of just one, which I think is missing. And so to your point, like when we call, a head of sales and they’d tell a problem to us, they’re thinking of it, how this problem, associates to sales.

And then when they talked to two other companies, they might identify this problem also impacts CS. This problem also impacts marketing, but it might take six conversations to get there. And we’re not getting there sooner because they don’t have revenue operations.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s, it’s valuable. I think that one of the. The key things that conclusions after 40 plus years doing this, that I’ve drawn is that. And I look at the fact that, we’re trying to, it’s like ground, like the movie Groundhog day, right? Every day you wake up, sales is trying to solve the same problems I’ve been trying to solve for a hundred years.

And I was like okay, why is that the case? What needs to change right. When you read sales books, it’s all about the same issues about prospecting and yeah I could write a book just about my categories of books that are written that people are just repeating. And yeah. How do you connect? How do you build rapport? How to do discovery, how to ask why I can go down through the list, right? So it’s like, what needs to change? In order to say, we’re just, yeah, we’re not getting better at sales. I know this. I’m not this, not to insult more current generations, you would think that with all the impact of all the technology we’ve invested in, and that’s been developed over the past certain last 20 years and for B2B sales, that the productivity of the individual seller as defined by it, I used the definition, my definition, which is.

Dollars of revenue. They generate per hour of selling time, which is the measure of productivity, not activity, what’s productive as revenue. When you measure that productivity, it has the needle hasn’t moved in the past several decades. There’s no data that shows that it’s moving.

In fact, there’s anecdotal this days, maybe. Maybe it’s gotten a little worse but just assuming it’s the same as like, how can that be?

Jordan Henderson: I it’s a great question that I don’t know that I have a clear answer to.

Andy Paul: Yeah.

Jordan Henderson: The rhetorical

question.

Yeah. Yeah.

Andy Paul: And you don’t have the answer for that.

Jordan Henderson: The person who can solve that one is going to.

Andy Paul: But I think it’s, it gets back to this sort of thing. I think the opportunity for revenue operations in this alignment across departments to say let’s, Rutz, let’s, re-look at what it is.

Sales is really trying to accomplish. If and I just, I think the start with, when you align your sales process with the buying process, you’re saying is. Yeah, I’m not really here. My mission is not to get an order for my product. My mission is to help the customer solve a problem.

Jordan Henderson: Isn’t just the demo because that’s the next step in my pipeline. My next call is my next call is a demo because that’s where we’re at. We’ve identified all the discovery, things that we need to identify, and we’re ready to do a demo and dive into how we can solve this.

Andy Paul: Exactly because right now, when you look at stages of a sales process, we, we have our XR criteria and we’ve, that’s how we define progress, but it’s not at all how the buyer defines progress. Gartner in their study of buyer enablement two years ago said that actually buyers.

Measure value. They receive from sellers by progress, towards making a decision. And it’s, that’s know ill defined what that is, but buyers know and they feel it right. And so it’s yeah we check boxes on things and we said, we’ve done that, that don’t get us actually closer to actually winning the business.

Jordan Henderson: Well and it’s just a bad buyer experience at the end of the day. If you’re just checking boxes for the sake of checking boxes in your stage, the buyers can feel that they absolutely know.

Andy Paul: Oh sure.

Jordan Henderson: And in it.

Andy Paul: What happens?

Jordan Henderson: Absolutely it is. And it’s not because most companies aren’t aligning their sales process to where buyers are at.

It’s a sales back to, we haven’t improved in 40 years, 50 years it’s we haven’t really changed from being sales driven in the past 40.

Andy Paul: No, that’s absolutely right. That’s exactly.

Jordan Henderson: We are still a sales driven world.

Andy Paul: Every well within sales, right? And yeah, there’s been all sorts of lip service given to being, service oriented buyer centric and so on, but it’s never it’s if, unless it’s reflected in the process, you implement the work with the buyer, it’s never going to change.

And I think that’s the big thing is this, we’ve got a perspective change that needs to happen if we want to get serious about. Really improving what sellers do and becoming of more value to the buyers. Otherwise we’re on these parallel paths and I think, yeah, I’ll give you another example of one that’s.

This one is something I learned about pretty early in my career, but it drives me nuts still that really not enough people pay attention to this as so early in my career has. Small, a large chunk of my career selling really expensive communication system, gel, multimillion dollar things to big enterprises, all around the world.

And at Dawn, we start early as one of the earlier deals I was selling as hit me as like I was sir, at a certain point in the stage of the selling process, my selling process. And at is that a point after conversation, the buyer that I knew I was going to win the business. Now it took me another in that case, but another 60 days actually went in the order.

But from that point forward, I knew I was growing the business. And what happened was, is basically the buyer had made that decision and they base their business case. And so on, on our solution, right? Largely our solution. It’s like one of those things where if you’ve got an RFP and you looked at it and said, Oh gosh, Andy was all over this.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah, there’s this line.

Andy Paul: And but this is every single decision people make about anything. And this has been researched very well. Research is there’s two stages. They go through just to simplify it. The first stage is I’m going to create options my mind about how I’m going to solve this problem.

And then I’m gonna choose one of those options and then go to somebody to help me solve it. And And this is what I was experiencing while I was selling a site. And it started repeating itself time and time again on the deals I won. I knew well before, because I knew that the buyers vision of success was largely based on what I was selling. And so this idea is that buyers, before they make a decision, they make a choice about how they’re going to solve their problem. It’s not necessarily completely buyer specific, but it’s largely based on. On a vendor in Forrester did some research about this number of years ago. And they said in the B2B world, they were serving it buyers.

But if you were the seller that was able to get formulate the vision of success for the buyer first that they bought into your eye, your chances of winning were like a, two-thirds like, Oh, sixties, 65% basically. And it’s that was, to me, it was like, Oh yeah, of course. Cause that’s what I’ve been experiencing throughout my career. So I consciously and I’ve written about this in my books is as you want to, as a seller, I always want to aim at that first point, because if I don’t win that first point, if I don’t get chosen by them as the solution, their preferred solution, then I’ve no choice, no chance of winning the business, or my chances are very slim, but again, you’ll get a sales process.

It’s all based on getting the order, and yeah, I use the analogy like if you were representing a chip company or trying to get your chip designed into a larger product, and when you have no chance of winning the business, so you don’t get designed in, that’s basically what this is you got to get yourself designed in and to their vision of success.

You have, it doesn’t exist in sales process, and I think it’s  a huge issue. So it’s another one of those things where we’re just not thinking about the right way.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah. And it’s really interesting. And I actually have a question about this when you think of it like that first it’s two decisions, right? It’s the first decision. And then the second decision.

Andy Paul: I called a choice, then a decision,

Jordan Henderson: Yeah, choice and then a decision. So we’re not orienting around winning the choice.

Andy Paul: All companies,

Jordan Henderson: Are not most, it’s probably –

Andy Paul: Individuals are

orienting themselves.

Jordan Henderson: Great sellers are absolutely. I it also, and this is maybe more of an opinion than any data. It seems to me that you can’t force the choice as in, I can’t push you through four stages of a pipeline in order to get you. Yeah. I can’t get you to make your choice by X date. You need to identify all the problems, feel confident in the solutions that you’ve come up with your head and then only then on your own time, are you going to actually be able to make that choice? And I will find out if I’ve won the choice in order to know if I have a real shot at winning the decision.

Does that sound about right?

Andy Paul: It’s about right.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah. And nobody’s been orienting on that.

Andy Paul: No, but this is how buyers are going through it. And, Gartner again, their buyer Naval and studied did their survey of all these buyers. It’s basically what they found out is this is the jobs that buyers have to accomplish. They put slightly different names to it than I do.

But again, there was no, that was a moment. So when you see that and he’s No nodding my head. Cause of course this is what I’ve known for years and good sellers, other good sellers I’ve known for years is this how people go through their process of making decisions. So to the point it’s yeah, we can’t.

That’s why I think that, and this is a whole, another conversation is I think one of the most unhelpful perspectives we give our sellers is that our job is all about persuasion.

Jordan Henderson: Is about helping people.

Andy Paul: Helping people. And I posted out the some LinkedIn last weekend and it was, I said, it’s just the optics, right?

Buyers go on a journey. We have a process, a sellers buyers go on a journey with, without an end destination, necessarily in mind, without a defined destination in mind, let’s say, and we’re going to follow a process. So the predetermined destination and it’s. There’s a mismatch right there.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah. Especially, every buyer’s journey is going to be different.

Andy Paul: And you get the gold star for saying that because there’s many people that don’t believe that they think that they’re all and they treat them all the same.

Jordan Henderson: If you can account for 60% of them being the same, you would be in a pretty consistently happy boat. But even that feels like a bit of a stretch.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. It’s almost like sellers have to have this mindset that they’re not selling a standard product, but they’re selling a custom solution every time. There with standard elements to it, but, and I get some of that because I spent was that chunk of my career doing just that selling.

Products that didn’t exist. I had a mandate to go out and sell big systems that didn’t exist. They weren’t, they didn’t exist on paper, but to get the customer to do sell the customer vision, have them pay us to develop that for them. And you can just acquire a different outlook at that point about even standard product sales.

It’s yeah, if you treat them as if they’re unique, They really feel like you’re trying to help.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah, it’s interesting. Cause when you’re selling a, like cell ring DNA, we have a product, we know what the product can do. We’re selling it. We’re selling that product. When you’re talking about selling, a system that doesn’t exist and, basically. You’re selling that choice.

Cause that’s their vision. Like you said, they’re forming the vision of how to solve this problem in their head and then you’re earning their trust to the point of they’re saying, I think this vision is right. I need you to build it for me, which is a whole other sales process, right?

Andy Paul: But they’re very similar in many respects though. Even with standard products via, that’s my point, if you’d take this approach from the beginning that, yeah. I, on one hand I serve, no, because I know what my product does and we’ve got certain limitations, but yeah, there’s lots of ways to create a vision around what the product does and what it will do for you.

And that has to be a unique story. And I always get in trouble with people that are storytelling experts. When I say this is that, I think there’s only one story you need to learn how to tell as a seller, that’s the buyer story, right? You need to help them create the story of what success is going to look like.

And if you can tell that story, then you’re going to dramatically increase your odds of winning the business.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah. And especially if you can tell them early.

Andy Paul: Exactly.

Jordan Henderson: Right? The earlier, that story, the better it’s going to be.

Andy Paul: And that’s right. And that’s why this idea of having several one and done discovery drives me crazy because it does such a disservice to sellers when we position it that way and train it that way is because again, it’s not, it’s the gap between knowing and understanding, right? Understanding it takes a lot more questions, takes a lot more involvement, but when you understand, then you have that credibility.

You have that trust to accelerate things that you didn’t have. If you didn’t have it, it’s, everybody thinks lost dollars to have this idea that buyers go through a process and they go through it at the same rate at the same time with every seller they’re talking to them.

It doesn’t work that way. Yeah.

Jordan Henderson: And it’s interesting because when you start to look at. What you’ve just talked about from like my perspective from a revenue operations perspective, if you can, actually, I don’t, I it’d be really hard to ever truly allow on all to all buyers journeys. But if you can train a sales team to do that at the best possible version of it, you would improve your forecasting at an incredible rate because identifying early on in discovery, am I going to win the choice?

Or not, if you’re not like somebody comes to you with the pipeline problem, they say we have a pipeline problem. There’s 4,000 ways they can try to fix the pipeline problem. Bring binary ring is certainly on the list of ways to try to fix the pipeline problem, but there are a thousand other options and they might not be leaning towards you.

And if I can identify early that I’m not going to be the choice, that’s not real pipeline. And therefore that I can forecast more accurately. My, our team can forecast more accurately, which now has downstream impacts for my CS team. Am I hiring CSMs to handle all this upcoming deal? My hiring implementation managers, this affects my marketing budget.

Where are we at on growth opportunities are willing to expand my whole model changes because I’m forecasting differently.

Andy Paul: But take the inverse of that though, which is that because you’ve reached this level more quickly understanding with the buyer and qualifying and requalifying as they go through the buying process, I always. Took guilty pleasure of that. Cause I knew my competitors were spending cycles trying to sell that customer and they were never going to win because they didn’t have that understanding.

Jordan Henderson: You’re sending them back.

Andy Paul: I want to, I wanted to occupy as much of my competitor’s time as possible because then they can’t go out and work on their opportunities.

So. Yeah, to me, this was a huge competitive advantage because your work on deal that you have high degree of confidence based on what you know, and how you’re influencing the choices, the buyers making along the way that, yeah, it’s hard to quantify it because all forecasts, but you have a much higher probability of winning that deal at that point.

Jordan Henderson: point, To your point if your competitors aren’t breaking up with that customer, like they should be. Cause they’ve lost that deal. That is a lot of wasted revenue on their part. Not pursuing something they’re not going to win. Yeah.

Andy Paul: Yeah. The opportunity cost is huge and that, but you think about it. When we’re in a business, the SAS business where most companies are operating, so that 20% win rate, you’re saying, Holy cow, that 80%, what are we doing there? How do we get to this point where that’s acceptable?

Jordan Henderson: Yeah, one in five.

Andy Paul: Yeah, because it was like tell audiences that I speak. And I spoke to groups about this as okay what are we training our sellers to do We’re training them to lose. Cause that’s the thing that got the most experience doing

Jordan Henderson: It’s not even, we’re not even matching major league baseball for a good hitting percentage at this point, Baton 200 and thinking that’s great. Yeah.

Andy Paul: And yeah, I think this, again, gets back to the point about when your line processes with the buyers, you get to certain points to your point before is yeah. You have the opportunity to disqualify people out and, part of this comes from other. Issues outside of this poor incentives around pipeline coverage.

And so on that, that encourage bad behavior of this with bloated pipelines. But again, I think if you get the processes moral line between buyer and seller, you’d start addressing some of that problem.

Jordan Henderson: Yeah. And it’s tough to what we’re talking about is a bit of an earth shattering thing for a lot of companies. And it requires a lot more, we talk about aligning the buying process, but it actually requires stuff from like fundamental shifts for marketing. For example, if we talk about disqualifying, somebody earlier on in the process, I probably would want to talk about shifting my definition of what is a qualified opportunity to some time after that choice is made, right?

If they haven’t made the choice that sales enablement software is the way to solve this problem, then they’re probably not a qualified opportunity, but that has upstream impacts from marketing who has goals around qualified opportunities. I need to then have them. To help me format this new definition of what is a qualified opportunity to make sure their goals aligned to that and that they’re marketing towards that goal and that sort of stuff.

So it requires a pretty big shift, which to toot my own horn is why you need somebody in revenue operations to go do those things, and then focus on those conversations. But it’s super, super important, obviously.

Andy Paul: Yeah, no, I agree that I think this unification is, again, it’s not a thing it’s well past due and. Actually used to be pretty common, but 40 years ago, when I started my career, it was very common to have a VP that was responsible for sales and marketing, but we didn’t have the technology.

At that point. It was much different. It was much harder to align at that point. Yeah, because yeah, there weren’t the tools. You didn’t have attribution for leads coming, all those things, but. Now there’s no excuse. Now it makes perfect sense. All right, Jordan, we’re running out of time, but yeah, I’ll definitely have you back continue a conversation.

That’s been great. And if people want to connect with you, how can they do that?

Jordan Henderson: Yeah, no, they can certainly obviously connect with me on LinkedIn. Otherwise I’m available Jordan.Henderson@ringdna.com. And it’s been great, Andy. Thank you for having me.

Andy Paul: Yeah. And yeah. Do follow Jordan. He’s very active on LinkedIn these days, all right, we’ll talk to you soon.

Jordan Henderson: Thanks Andy.