What you need to know about sales innovation: Tiffani Bova, Gartner distinguished analyst

Tiffani Bova, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner, is passionate about helping her clients grow and increase competitiveness through sales innovation. She discusses that and why she believes the most disruptive thing in the market today is not technology, it’s the customer.

1 2 3 4 Page 3
Page 3 of 4

(27:24) And that disconnect between the strategy in the organization and the execution in the field, which I like to call the last mile, I think is getting broader and so a lot of that was brought up in the Harvard business review blog that I did with Frank. So good stuff there.

Vala:               (27:45) Yeah I think Michael the challenge is as companies go through their digital transformation, and there is an expectation for marketing to measure the impact of marketing, so there’s investment in CRM and marketing automation, community social listening platforms. Certainly a good majority of the program spend is shifting towards spend in marketing, so now the chief revenue officer expects you as a marketer to be able to measure the campaign impact and show how x dollar of spend in marketing will produce y dollar and pipeline and z dollar of close business. So there is a challenge for marketers to do that and in B2B the complexity of product may limit you from taking advantage of things like e-commerce and campaign drivers, where marketing can own a number. And not just talk about contribution and attribution and then sales influence. But then actually carry a quota like sales, and I think that’s when you see mature marketing organizations, the ones that actually own a number. I don’t know if you agree with that Tiffani.

Tiffani:            (28:58) Yeah, well I always joked that whenever I hear anybody in marketing saying, we’re going to own more of the buyers journey and more of the sales process, I’m always like, hey at the moment you own a quota and you’re sitting at the table at the end of the quarter and you’re getting spoken to on why you didn’t hit numbers I’m all for it.

(29:17) Right, but if I’m the only one in there having that conversation about why we didn’t hit numbers, that’s not very fair right and that comes back to that, it has to be that tri-effects of the right products, to the right customers, through the right sales model and all three need to be held accountable. But the problem is as you get higher in the organization, that becomes easier to do because the executives are boldest and comped and managed and measured differently, than someone who is lower in the organization who is really only responsible for a piece of the business.

(29:47) And they’re like, that’s all great, you know we’ve got the right products to the right customers but I as an individual seller is just trying to hit my numbers right, and I’m not interested in getting into this who is responsible. I’m just trying to sell, you know I’m just trying to service the customer, satisfy the customer, hit my quota, burned my commission check, that’s what I’m focused on as an individual contributor.

(30:10)And so the culture of the business has to start to embrace all the way down from the top down and that we got to start to look at this as a team effort, regardless of who carries the quota. And that goes back to that, well marketing isn’t responsible for the quota, so I’ve just got to do what I need to do you know and do I really think marketing is going to carry a quota – I don’t know. We’ve been selling e-commerce now for 15 years, and you could say that marketing could have carried it back then when it was banner ads driven to a website and a straight purchase.

(30:40) Right, you can tell cost per click, and so e-commerce driven sales has been around for a long time, and you could say when you know others showed up and it was now chat-based selling, which I was doing in 2000. I was one of the Locqus beta customers. You know, there was tough tracking for the sales rep that once they chatted and the customer went and bought online. I couldn’t tell that the sale happened because of the chat.

(31:07)So that’s been a problem for 15 years right. I think the trick now is technology has advanced so much more that the data analytics and the sales analytics, and the marketing analytics, if you use it appropriately can absolutely become much more number one, predictive, but number two much more valuable been better at winning in the eyes of the customer right. So I think that’s what it’s all about.

Michael:         (31:34) We have a question from Twitter from Arsolon Khan, who says, well isn’t the solution to this to have marketing and sales reporting to the same place?

Tiffani:            (31:45) Sure, I’d love to have marketing report to me; I am all in. Oh is that not what we meant

Michael:         (31:54) I think we were talking about the grand collaboration when marketing reports to you.

Tiffani:            (32:03) So sellers, it’s all about us. So I would say there are certain organizations that I know outside of technology I think it’s much more prevalent, where you have got sales and marketing much more tighter aligned you know because of just the organization structure. On the technology side, where it tends to fall is that it reports into the chief operating officer or into the CEO, and you’ve got to executives sitting at the table.

(32:32) I just really think that it has to come down to – that they have to understand that they can survive and be successful without the other, and so they have got to at the executive table figure out how to regardless of where they report, because that’s a way to fix a cultural problem right, by saying so he reports to me, so now he’s going to do what I tell him to do regardless of saying where they report. We’re doing it because this is the right way to do it for the organization, and more importantly once again, it’s the right thing to do for the customer.

Michael:         (33:04 You don’t mean to put personal agendas aside? That’s kind of crazy.

Tiffani:            (33:17) Yeah I’m going to take the fifth on that! How about that?

Vala:               (33:20) I think you wrote in your blog that you eluded to (Unclear due to feedback 33:24) you have to be aligned with your company strategy and I think it makes sense that corporate company strategy, product strategy, marketing strategy and sales strategy. So if you don’t have that alignment from the top to the bottom, it’s hard to as you said a differentiated message. Also you noted in your blog the C-suite changes around the seller’s dilemma. Executives reporting to the CEO have doubled in the past three decades. So you also have to find a way, so how do you build consensus when you are targeting an organization and you know that your buyer decision team is four, five, six, seven individuals.

Tiffani:            (34:09) Really the challenge is all about the personal side of it. It’s the soft skill and more than anything it’s trust. But I think that building trust takes time and if executives are coming in and out of the organization, it’s much more difficult to establish trust and then build upon that trust.

(34:31) You know, in my career I’ve worked with people that I would trust that they do the right thing, and if they did something I would never question it, because I would be like, they wouldn’t do this for any other reason and I don’t think there’s any hidden agenda or personal agenda that Michael eluded to.

(34:44) I know it was for the right reason, but it takes time to build that trust and create that kind of synergy between executives. As well as in the field, you know sales is going to trust marketing. They have got to constantly prove it day after day after day. And if marketing is going to trust sales, the same thing has to happen. So I think the turnover at the executive level makes that ability to establish trust even more difficult.

(35:07) And that’s the kind of thing that you can manage and you can’t measure. Do they really trust each other to come together in a way that is really important for the company, and more importantly for the best of the customer?

Michael:         (35:22) So Tiffani, your clients are IT organizations or IT sellers, so can you offer advice to enterprise buyers because that’s the flipside.

Tiffani:            (35:38) Yeah, absolutely I think that there’s some research that we put out that actually really hurt my soul as a seller, as customers now view the least valuable interaction during the buyers journey is with sales – the least valuable. And this is an opportunity for sales to step up, and part of the reason this is happening, as Vala eluded to, that customers have done a lot of research on their own, and then when they eventually reach out and call the provider, or the providers channel partner – you know their value added reseller or systems integrator.

(36:18) And they call them on the phone as sales rep the cause of the way that they are managed and it takes them backwards in the journey. Well wait a minute, I have to do all these things in order to enter it into my you know, CRM system, and PRM system and I have to make sure that I am crossing all of my T’s and dotting all my I’s before I put you in my system at 30% or 40% of where you are on the journey.

(36:40) And so customers are getting frustrated with the fact that sales isn’t understanding their pain points, doesn’t understand their vertical or industry very well. And they just come in being kind of general less and behaving the way that they do in front of all customers. So you know, as a buyer I think you’ve really got to make sure that you’re clear with the sales rep about what it is that you want them to come and bring to the table, right.

(37:07) Because sometimes if you’re a little unsure or ambiguous about what that is, the sales rep is going to try to hit all kinds of topics to make sure that they are satisfied with what they want. Versus the here are the three things that I need you to tell me right. I’m trying to find out with it technically work out with my environment. You know, have you used this or done this in other industries or verticals that look like me, feel like me, who have the same situation as me.

(37:29) And then more than anything, how will you support me through this entire project before and after the sale. And so I think customers have every right to expect their sales rep to be stepping up and to be a much greater resource for them for information and thought leadership, and to be competitive in differentiation, and all that information.

(37:53) And I think it’s less about speeds and feeds at this point. I really do think it’s about the value and outcome of the technology solution and what it will bring to that business.

Vala:                (38:02) Well is this really about social selling and the reason I call it social selling is because we had some of the top CIO’s in the industry from Intel, HP, Dell, Accenture, all these folks as guests on CXOTalk. When Michael and I asked them in terms of advice to sellers, and very often and in fact very universal they’re upset when the seller asked a question, you know what are your priorities, what are some of the challenges in your business. Because most of these extraordinary CIOs that we’ve had on our show, they blog, like Kim Stevenson from Intel has a video blog. She’s on Twitter, you know she blogs regularly. So she has the state of the union from Intel published every year.

(38:51) So if you just did a little bit of research you know exactly what Kim is trying to achieve at Intel, so opening up your sales engagement with some of the issues (unclear due to back feed 39:00) I think immediately shows that you didn’t do your due diligence.

(39:06) Would you think advice to sellers for you to stay relevant and speak the language of your customer, you need to realize that research and collaboration and (?) is really key for you to do precision selling.

Tiffani:            (39:20) It’s a great question and you know social selling is sort of the new buzz of what everybody is talking about on ways that sales is now engaging differently with customers etc. and I couldn’t agree more with you and that goes back to the comment I just made that customers are saying the least valuable is with sales because they come less prepared than they potentially could. You know I get a lot of reach out via LinkedIn and Twitter or even email, right where a sales rep for a particular company will reach out to me in my position here at Gartner and try to sell me something.

(39:53) Clearly if they did even five seconds of research you would realize I’m not buying anything. That’s kind of not what I do you know, so I looked at your profile and I think you would be perfect for this. And you know, if I have five minutes I feel really badly about it, but if I have five minutes I reply back and go, teaching moment. If you had really done your research you would have realized, I’m clearly not your target audience right.

(40:19) And so you are correct. I think there is a lot of work out there around best practices and solutions and social selling and all of that. And at the end of the day, it is really about sales reps stepping up, honing their craft and being better. And what got us here is not going to get us there. There are so many things that sales now have to personally take ownership. You know, they are responsible at the end of the day for hitting their quota, obviously.

(40:52) But the only thing that a sales rep really has control of at the end of the day, is their own behavior. That’s the only thing a sales rep has control of right. As a seller, I can’t control the price, I can’t control the product, I can’t control who I get to sell to – I mean I have very little control. The one thing I have control over is how I behave in front of the customer, my integrity, my ability to drive trust. My preparation before I sit in front of the CIO, my preparation around things that I do online, like blocking or tweeting or whatever it might be. Connecting out on LinkedIn or whatever, and that’s the only thing I can control.

1 2 3 4 Page 3
Page 3 of 4
It’s time to break the ChatGPT habit
Shop Tech Products at Amazon