Matt Widdoes
Welcome to Growth@Scale. I’m your host, Matt Widdoes. This is a podcast for leaders who want to bring sustainable, predictable, scalable growth to their businesses. Every episode I sit down with world -class growth experts across product, marketing, finance, operations, you name it. The hope is that these conversations will give you real, actionable advice for building and sustaining company growth.

Matt Widdoes
Welcome to another episode of Growth@Scale. I’m your host, Matt Widdoes, and I’m excited to introduce our guest for today. He’s got extensive experience and knowledge in the sales and customer success realm. Kevin Kinnison, welcome.

Kevin Kinnison
Thank you. Wonderful to join you, Matt.

Matt Widdoes
Great. Yeah, always happy to chat with you. And for people who don’t know you, tell us, who are you? Where have you been? What do you do?

Kevin Kinnison
Yeah, as you can tell, I’m an Australian. I was born there. But some background, I actually did my university career starting in chemistry. And then at a random juncture, I realized I hate working in labs. And I did a lot of businesses when I was younger and ended up kind of like getting into sales career through that. So I actually started off an enterprise sales with a company called Lexus Nexus, which is absolutely massive globally. And then I ended up in more marketing and advertising. And that’s where I got to meet Matt and a whole bunch of others. And I definitely feel like I grew my career at a great time when the mobile industry was growing and got to meet a lot of people when everybody was starting out and become friends with some of these people. So it’s been nice. And along the way, I’ve gotten to lead teams. I’ve gotten to be pure hardcore sales. I’ve also got to do customer success, which is taking care of the customers afterwards. So I feel like I’ve had the ability to see the whole of the sales cycle and see both really high level enterprise level clients, as well as kind of like more sales that I would say that is applying more and marketing, even to kind of like smaller companies as well along the way.

Matt Widdoes
Yeah, it’s funny how much one how, yeah, I guess in many ways you and I were kind of on that first wave, maybe second wave of early mobile people in mobile. But how much the principles of mobile and, you know, all of the kind of core fundamentals apply to things outside of mobile and even things outside of consumer. sI also didn’t know, I think I did know, but I forgot about your experience in chemistry and I started off funny enough, my college in biology and then switched whenever I hit organic chem. I was like screw Chem. Chem was awful. I don’t have the mind for organic chemistry.

Kevin Kinnison
I loved it. It was like little puzzles and everything by that. But when you realize when you get into a lab, you end up with a situation where you’re just working on the same experiments over. And unfortunately, the reality is like teaching science doesn’t really pay for the most part, unless you’re the really that person who has the PhD with a lot of good research behind you. And that’s a lot of work as well.

Matt Widdoes
Well, what’s funny is like, I was the same. And on the math side, it’s like, I almost feel like biology, this is probably not a great example. But for me, at least, I gravitated towards biology and like algebra versus geometry. Like I also struggled with geometry. And so for me, chemistry was like similar to geometry in that way, and that it’s not necessarily that it’s spatial, but there is some spatial element of it. But it was like less, it was more, I don’t know, it’s almost like an extra dimension to it. That was just hard to, hard to carry over. So we share that. And I’m curious, you know, from seeing, you know, you’ve seen a lot on the mobile side across everything, largely, you know, a good chunk of that on the media side. But, you know, curious, you know, for a lot of our listeners, and you’ve worked at early stage, you’ve worked at late stage. You know, a lot of our listeners are early stage founders who are maybe not experts in, you know, every function of growth, part of why we have these conversations with people like yourself. But, you know, curious to kind of jump in on the sales side and just discuss some of the considerations that need to be made, you know, early. I think a lot of companies start off founder led, but most of the people that we’re talking to, you know, are likely beyond that. But they are still in that really early stage of transitioning from founder led to building out these sales teams. And we’d just love to hear some thoughts on like fundamentals and some of the high level stuff that people should be considering as they’re making that transition.

Kevin Kinnison
Yeah. I mean, I think the first thing is, and I think especially as a founder, I mean, I did was part of founding of one company and we didn’t go anywhere. And I got to do some of the sales for it. And I have obviously joined companies that are about seven or eight people and kind of like led sales there. It’s really as a founder, the ideal scenario is that you can lead sales. And there’s a few reasons for that, I feel like. Number one, you are going to know the product. so much better than anyone else. You will know it in and out, you’re really passionate about it, and you’ll be able to kind of like work between product and engineering and everything like that, or you’re a little small self, and decide how you can make that a product market fit.

Matt Widdoes
Yeah, I think another piece of that that I’m hearing or maybe pulling from is having that connectivity to the client too, because if you’re hearing real time feedback on why people aren’t interested in what it is that you’re offering super important and plays into the broader business, and yeah, I think it would be poor choice to be too far removed from that, even as a founder, if you’re not comfortable, or you have somebody else in the business who is more capable at sales or more interested in sales, maybe a co -founder, the CEO for sure should be very close to those conversations and really understanding what is or isn’t resonating, because I can’t count the times where CEOs think they have one thing and the market thinks they have something else, because there’s just not as many.

Kevin Kinnison
Yeah, I think you’re also gonna be missing out on massive pivots, because I mean, let’s face it, how many of the companies that you’ve seen out there? haven’t pivoted at least once or twice, especially in their starting things. It’s pretty rare for, I mean, there’s definitely an element of companies that get a straight ride out of the gate, but I think most people have to reiterate several times. And if that is part of the benefit of a founder really being part of the sales process from the start is that they get that knowledge. I also feel like even if it isn’t your sweet spot, getting a co -founder and being part of those sales goals, that team, particularly if you’re doing enterprise sales, that team element of really having two parts to the two or three or even more parts that people involved in the sales process really helps you to get better results from it.

Matt Widdoes
Yeah, makes sense. And then what about thoughts on sales cycle? Obviously, that varies based on the product generally. The process will vary based on the product, but what are some considerations there, at a really high level?

Kevin Kinnison
I mean, you’ve really got to know your product and what you’re, if you’re doing, obviously, if you’re doing B2C, it could be even marketing and stuff like this, but if you’re doing something like, I worked for Rebel Systems, which was a point of, iPad point of connoisseur, point of sale business. And they, I mean, that’s directly selling to massive restaurants and everything and going door to door or kind of like having kind of like cheap sales people who can almost do kind of like a Yelp type model where you’re like contacting everybody continuously every 10 minutes to try and get people in is a fantastic model. If you’re kind of like going to be doing enterprise or if you’re going to do big level companies, then potentially having one or two sales people or even less can mean not less, but just one or two sales people can really do the trick and less being kind of like you can just do it yourself in some situations.

Matt Widdoes
Yeah. And like from an early kind of architecture on that side, how do you think about it? So you’ve got, let’s say you take a founder who’s been leading all the sales, they’re doing outbound, they’re dealing with inbound, they are putting together sales materials or working with other people within the org to do that. Where should somebody typically start? We’ve heard lots of different options here where sometimes it’s starting with somebody who does research and outbound SDR, we’ve heard of people bringing in kind of more senior people to start to build out a team… But you know if you think about that first hire for most companies that are early stage, where would you put that initial, you know, kind of resourcing?

Kevin Kinnison
It’s so situational. You’ve gotten to a point where I feel like as a founder, you’ve got limited time. When your time is not profitably spent doing sales and you’re starting to do SDR things and you’re starting to just run starting to run a sales organization, I guess you need to understand where kind of like, ‘Am I spending a ton of time doing just cold outreach and research and everything like that’? Is that where I’m spending all my time? Or am I spending a whole bunch of time talking to enterprise level customers? When you decide that part of it that will probably determine your first person. So if you’re spending tons just talking to these two big customers, you’re probably gonna be looking at that enterprise level sales person. And the idea, at that point, is what kind of person can you bring in that’ll help you to really take that process to the next level? And, or ideally, with contacts who already work within the industry that you’re interested in. On the other hand, if you’re kind of like looking like, hey, I am just doing like I’m getting wrapped up in getting research and then getting all these flows sorted out to and getting SDRs and everything like that, which means you’re probably more direct to smaller businesses than you’re probably looking at somebody almost to manage a sales team or just getting a few an external company to just get you a few SDRs or something like that. But more likely, it sounds like you’re probably going to be looking at somebody to lead a sales team or your first salesperson who will be able to really scale up a team from there.

Matt Widdoes
Yeah, it’s tricky because as with pretty much everything in growth, there’s like 10 specializations that are needed within a sales team from comp structure and planning and targets more data driven. A lot of the sales ops stuff, process-wise, tools, and optimizing that research initial calls SDRs people who are closing people who are putting together events and you know all of the content. And so, it’s really difficult to kind of skip some of that fundamental framework, you know, too quickly and still be setting yourself up for scale six months from then, whether you start with an SDR or somebody who’s kind of more enterprise, or somebody who’s more focused on process. How do you think about process kind of early and you know, just fundamentals of stuff that people would want to be keeping tabs on even if it’s in a spreadsheet or on paper, but how do they, you know, what are some of the core things from an infrastructure standpoint or tracking that would be, you know, worth kind of putting on the table?

Kevin Kinnison
I mean, I think the first thing is, and this is just even from the start… Always record all your calls. That is a fundamental that is going to be I know that that sounds kind of like how you set up in structure and everything like that. But that is going to be a massive part of it as even as a founder level, people are going to. You need to understand how to sell this product. It always is nice to come in and be like, oh, I heard our founders had this company that had this problem and needed this solution, and this is how we help them. And having that historical context and having that, I would say, knowledge is just unbelievable. If you come in and you’re like, hey, we’ve got this product, and hey, I think it might solve for these problems, and it’s going to be a very different conversation. So what I’m saying is have that body of material and have that kind of like try to record everything as a founder, and that will help you to really start the fundamentals of what you need to train. Not only the worst thing is coming in as a salesperson and just be like, here’s a pen, as everybody gives it, we need to make this sound special. And you’re like, well, how’s this pen special? Well, If I’ve got a training guide that tells you all about this pen, then that’s fantastic. I know every single bit about it. You’ve told me exactly where I’ve sold it to before, how many kind of like the best people who made the best utilizations. So I feel like having that body of knowledge and starting that process beforehand. The next thing is kind of like, really like, CRM is going to be everything to you. As a founder, you’re going to want to know like what point or all the deals are at. What are the holdups? What do we need as a product to make these deals convert? What are the ones that we should be focusing on? And this should be a conversation that is it’s just more method of organization. You’ve got your own to -do list. Well, what is the priorities and what should we prioritize in terms of our sales funnel? And without that CRM, even if you’re just using a Google Sheets, I mean, eventually you’ll want to move past that. But at least there’s some documentation and some idea of where you’re going in the future. I feel like there’s a lot of different ones. I think Pipe Drive, I think there’s a whole bunch of others that have free plans pretty much for founders or at least very cheap ones to start with. So I would encourage everybody as much as they can to start with. I think those two fundamentals.

Matt Widdoes
Yeah, I think recording is a great call out because my knee jerk reaction is that when people have, if they’re going to record a call, there is a sense of somebody’s going to listen to that. And then you as the person doing it are like, I’m not going to listen to my own calls, although that probably would be worth doing. What you’re talking about though is having that, the value of somebody walking in, maybe you’re a year out from hiring somebody, but the value of just having some bank of calls that even they could listen to a year from now and hear every single, like I want to listen to the deals that closed. I want to listen to big deals that didn’t close, et cetera. I think that’s a great piece of advice and it is essentially zero effort on whoever selling side because you’re just kind of courting a call. It’s pretty common place and they can go live somewhere and you can go hunt them down later. later when somebody else wants to listen to them, even if you’re not going to listen to them, which again, probably a good idea. I think something I would add to on the element of tracking and really understanding, the funnel is thinking through where you need your revenue and growth goals to be and starting there from a growth perspective and then backing that all the way up the funnel to say, well, this is how many outbound attempts we’re going to need to make to hit this many sales, to hit this much revenue, to hit that growth. If you’re not tracking that, and you don’t have any historic that say, for every 40 people we talk to, we have 10 second calls and two sales, well, our average sale is this and our average margin is this and our average retention is this. Therefore, if we’re going to double our revenue next year or grow by 15% quarter over quarter, we’ll need this many deals, which means we’ll need this much upper funnel, which means we’ll need these many outbound attempts, this many SDRs, this many whatever. And if you don’t have any of that tracked. then you’re probably super early. But if you don’t have that tracked with a good amount of, the more historic you have there, the better you’ll be. So even to that same point, if you’re just keeping it in a spreadsheet somewhere, you have to have it to be able to measure it later because you’re probably not very good at remembering every single call you over had and really understanding the drop off at various points in that sales funnel.

Kevin Kinnison
Yeah. No, 100% agree. And I kind of like that body of knowledge is irreplaceable once you get to a certain point, I think.

Matt Widdoes
How do you think, like from a team building standpoint, it’s tricky to find really good salespeople. So really good salespeople are compensated well because they produce revenue, right? It’s like probably one of the highest paying jobs, just generally because a good salesperson pays for themselves, you know, 10 fold probably in most cases. But when you’re looking for a seller, there’s this weird, one you need the person that like ideally somebody who understands your stage and is used to doing the certain things that you need to cover at that exact moment, regardless of the position that they’re in. But generally speaking, the best salespeople have a really big book. They have, you know, anytime they’re switching from one role to another, they’re walking away from some long tail of revenue that they’re due because they’ve been presumably selling a bunch. Versus ones who can kind of move at the drop of a hat because they’re like, well, whatever, I don’t have like a book of business that I’m carrying commission on right now are not the types of people that you want to hire probably, or like at least that doesn’t mean that they’re not hireable within your org, but it means that they haven’t been successful in their existing role. So there’s a number of interesting kind of dynamics that exist, same thing on like sales managers. Usually your sales managers are not your best sellers and you don’t want to promote somebody who’s a really killer seller into a sales management role when they’re really good at selling. And oftentimes they will be unfulfilled in a management role because they’re used to carrying a number and they like that. And so how do you kind of think through that? And, you know, are there any, I’m sure there’s no shortcuts, but are there any, you know, thoughts or tips on how to find these diamonds in the rough? Are you growing really good salespeople? Are you?

Kevin Kinnison
I mean, it’s really hard. I like to think of it as kind of like, a little bit like dating in some ways. You can imagine that there’s tons of different girls and the guys, if you’re whatever, in the world. And everybody knows that you’ve always got one friend who’s like, this is an awesome girl, an awesome guy. Why aren’t they with somebody? There’s always going to be a situation where there is a good person who doesn’t necessarily have like is a diamond and might not have a job. Or there’s also going to be a ton of people who are obviously diamonds who are already in relationships. What do you say? Yeah. But my point is when even there’s been sometimes with some of the jobs that I’ve had that we’ve always had a continuously opened job rec or a good sales person. Because if you meet the right person who has all these connections, it’s all about timing. Sometimes you’ll get them at the right time. Sometimes you won’t. And I’ve seen like some of the people who we’ve interviewed previously have gone on to do amazing things. They just happen to be. They didn’t necessarily choose us or maybe some of them did, but it’s kind of like finding the right person at the right time. And I think you just have to be continuously looking for that right person. But when you are kind of like searching for that salesperson, really try, especially if you’re in the enterprise space, try and find that somebody who you know will just open doors for you. And we’re just like, oh, this, like if I was to, I would say, work within kind of like the mobile slash marketing industry, I could basically be like, hey, I know 20, 30 different people. We can, I mean, that’s how I know you. Yeah. And a whole bunch of people. But it’s kind of like that’s a value that you can’t, like if I was to go into insurance now, it would just be like, well, I know nobody, I have to play learn a whole new thing. So I guess this is a very long way of saying try be open minded. However, what you’re kind of like, I would say getting back to it, like there’s diamonds. Realize that try and find that person who is that diamond. Realize that there’s always going to be people out there who are diamonds who you just might not know. They might not be in jobs, but you’ve just got to keep an eye out. I would say though, understanding the fundamentals of what you are looking for in a salesperson is very important, though, and really kind of like doing your due diligence. There’s no rush in finding a good salesperson. They are probably going to be one of the most expensive hires you can. They can pay for themselves. But if you do get ones that aren’t kind of like up to what you need or up to standard, then you can also pay a lot and get nothing.

Matt Widdoes
Yeah, for sure.

Kevin Kinnison
I would say one thing though, salespeople, if they get to a point, I’ve been in one situation where there was a salesperson, they tried it for two weeks and was like, nah, I’m not going to make any money. Most of the time, if you’ve got a really good salesperson and they know that they’re not going to do very well, they’ll get themselves out pretty quickly as well.

Matt Widdoes
That’s for sure. Well, I think those are usually the better sellers because they’re typically highly money -motivated. One of the main reasons people are in sales often is they’re like, I can get paid a ton because I’m a good seller. And they can see the same thing, which gets into a whole ton of other considerations like comp plan and structuring things to where you’re trying to balance both sides of trying to balance for upside. The company doesn’t want to overpay for somebody who takes nine months to bring in the deal. Salesperson doesn’t want to take on too much of the risk for a product that maybe they don’t feel is up to snuff or whatever. So I think so much of that, and you mentioned diligence and doing that in advance is really thinking through, one, is this person really good and do they like to do the… specific area of sales that we’re currently in, right? So you might have somebody who’s a little bit more senior who doesn’t want to hit the phones or do some of the early research. They’ve graduated beyond that or they’ve never done it or it was so long ago, they’re just not good at it. And then too, you mentioned essentially Rolodex or their book of people. A question I’ve liked to ask people in the past is like, who do you know in this space that we could talk to now? Like that could be a reference for you that would be a potential client for us. We can create structures by which you can get paid for those intros now on the side. And that gets into this whole other premise that I feel like the world should probably ultimately end up in, which is a really good seller in my experience would be best served by actually selling like three or four different things at a time because it’s similar to creative in that you pay a lot of creative people time to like to inspiration will hit them when it hits them, right? And similar to a sales like opportunities present themselves when they present, you can’t just be like, Hey, go sell like to spend a couple hours extra today to sell. And that’ll mean that we’ll get more sales. It’s not a simply lined thing. And even separating that sales people also go through these motions of like they need a break, they need to like regroup, they can be really overwhelmed when they’re putting in a lot of effort, and they’re not getting a lot of sales. So there’s this whole other emotional element that I think ties in to this like ebb and flow of a seller and even even great sellers. But I do think that if somebody had the ability from a fractional standpoint to say, Okay, I openly sell these four things. I have a team of SDRs that I work with in each group where I get brought in for my process for, you know, second calls or whatever that is. And when I’m out in my day to day life at a restaurant or something else, I have like four or five things I could sell to somebody any given moment. And when that inspiration hits or somebody says this one thing that’s like, Oh, you might need this thing. I do think that one businesses would do better because they’re not caring, they can be more performance based sellers are better because they’re like, if I’m a great seller, I want to sell like everything I ever come across if I can, right? And so I do predict that over as we see more and more, this is part and parcel of our business broadly, but as we see more and more fractional stuff.

Kevin Kinnison
Are you trying to purposely sell fractional sales people here? I’ve never heard of any fractional specialists for Maven, and that sort of business model.

Matt Widdoes
That’s right. Well, to be honest, I’d like to hire them more than I’d like to offer them up. But I do think that as a seller, there’s only so many calls you can have in a day at a certain level. And so this wouldn’t apply to an SDR, it might, I guess it could, but that would be more like a shop.

Kevin Kinnison
I feel like this is more kind of like a, with kind of like enterprise level salespeople, there’s a certain… it depends really a lot on your product. If there’s, you can have like, I mean, adjust, there’s quite a few net different products that we have within the adjust offering, I would say. So there’s kind of like a very consultative sales process around several different products that are part of a larger – just being where I work at obviously, currently – however, for some kind of like, I feel like if you’ve got one product and you’re selling let’s say your pen, then maybe it’s also be a good thing to also be able to sell pencils at the same time, because not everybody’s gonna want a pen, there might want a pencil as well, and maybe there are two different separate companies. After saying that, I feel like if you’re selling adjust and then I’m also selling pens. They’re not complimentary. You’re kind of losing some of that special Like going back to, way back to where the start of the conversation was, where we’re kind of like, ‘Hey We’re building that fundamental groundwork of knowledge as the founder’. That is kind of like all the calls that you’ve had, all the deals, all the interactions, you lose that kind of interaction well, and I think though for like an SDR, if you’re like ‘Hey We’re wanting to just talk broad -sector and like, what are you guys doing around marketing concepts?’ and somebody’s like ‘Hey, I am interested in UA or SEO or all these different things, I feel like that that is something that could be kind of like a fractional specialist could almost be like, ‘Well Actually, I’ve got this and this and this and this I can point to’, maybe.

Matt Widdoes
Yeah So the parallel I would have from the marketing world would be and it’s it’s a blend of marketing and sales is affiliates, right? So affiliates were huge 15 years ago. There’s still a huge piece for many companies But you know as an affiliate manager, let’s say I’ve got a website I know my audience to your point, you know, they’re buying pencils and pens and other things So they’re all within this one demographic and I can put an ad on my site that sells travel I can put an ad on my site that sells acai berries or whatever the hell, and I’m just measuring, you know, and I can put it all at different times and I’m just gonna optimize towards what is best for me and my audience. And When this is doing better than this, then I’ll stop running that other thing obviously, and maybe we’re getting too high in the kind of theory here of that, But I could see a world where you know, as a company you want some dedication, You want some – it’s not to say that somebody would have to walk away from all of the expertise they would need to be, it would all need to apply to their audience. So like in your example from earlier, you’re probably not going to be selling, with your background, you’re probably not going to be selling insurance anytime soon and being like, oh, wait, do you need insurance? Like, you know, you want to buy a house?

Kevin Kinnison
Sure, Matt. Let me introduce you. I’m from Farmer’s.

Matt Widdoes
Yeah, exactly. Have you thought about life insurance.? It’s one of the number one ways to build wealth. But yeah, I do think that there are, you know, oftentimes there are not, um, because of all of the different functions, so when you look at sales ops, you look at SDR, you look at all these things, like they’re, and I haven’t seen like, I don’t know of anybody who’s really crushing. And there’s probably an opportunity for somebody to build that, but maybe the reason nobody has it is because it’s too hard. But for somebody to say, Hey, look, we have a holistic, if you were to take actually like Mavan’s model on some level, but just do it in sales and say, we have SDRs, we have researchers, we have sales ops, we have sales managers, we have people who build really complex financial, like forward looking revenue and commission structures. And no matter what you need, at any one of those points, you can kind of plug in directly to your point, you need to have like that perfect overlap. So there is, there would be some, because some, because you can have people who are really good sellers that just aren’t great at selling your product. But I do think that there probably is an opportunity there because now you have, if you just took all the diamonds, let’s say, and again, maybe I’m too high in theory right now, but you would have that interchangeability, right? To where it’s like, okay, that’s fine. This person’s not good on that. We’re just going to move them over here and move them into this. And I think sales is a very like, what have you done for me lately role? And so you have this kind of natural attrition in sales anyways on some level because changes, people, even good sellers, they’re not making as much as they used to. You’ve got some other company that’s a little bit earlier that’s willing to pay more because they’re at a different stage. So you already have this kind of like insular interchangeable. What have you done for me lately on both sides from an attitude perspective, right? Both the sellers looking at their leadership and the leadership is looking at them and everybody’s focused on all these numbers. So I do think that there probably is something there, but it’s so difficult. And there are so many people that maybe this is actually a good way, a place to pivot the commercial. right now, is there so many bad sellers, right? Where you can just look, I think we’ve all had an experience with a bad salesperson or whatever we want to qualify that as. I’m curious, maybe as just like a high level, when looking at a seller who’s going, especially someone who’s going to need to take early stage, going to need a little bit more leadership, they’re going to need to be a little bit more of a self starter. They may have to find their leads and close their leads and update the system and maybe fight for a new commission plan or any number of other things they’re starting to kind of build. What are some kind of common traits that you’ve seen with the best sellers? Maybe we reframe that as like what makes a really good seller. Some of these may be obvious, but some of them might not be. And if you want to contrast that with what makes a really bad seller, if it’s easier to kind of frame it that way and feel free to interchange, but just curious to hear some high level observations you’ve had over the years on what makes somebody really great or not so great in sales.

Kevin Kinnison
Yeah, I think first thing is kind of like somebody who really spends the time planning. And this kind of goes back to kind of like, I think one of the fundamentals of a lot of different sales methodologies that you can go through is kind of like planning out your calls. What do you want to ask customers? What problems are they likely to have? What are the objections are they having? And this is kind of like going back to that body of knowledge. If you have that kind of planning and somebody is also a really good seller and is kind of asking those questions rather than just being like, I mean, everybody thinks of that salesperson who sticks the typical salesperson who sticks their foot in the door. I mean, however, I think that is never the best salesperson, unless you’re doing one single product that maybe you need to barge down a few doors. But realistically, if you get somebody calling, I don’t know if you take it in cold calls in a long time, but if you ever have the first thing they ask you is a question. And they’re trying to ask, they’re kind of like, these have all been planned out. They’re like, how are you doing? And there’s actually better questions to ask and less better questions to ask, but they’re trying to open you up, trying to get a conversation going. And similarly, going back to kind of like, a good salesperson should actually listen more than they actually talk, which is something I think is surprising to a lot of people. But I think that planning and also that ability to kind of ask questions, to get the person talking. And I mean, I think that is a fundamental nature of a human being is kind of like, how many human beings actually like listening to other people do boring podcasts like we’re doing right now. I’m joking, but you know what I mean, it’s a lot better kind of like, human experience. If you feel like you can talk and feel comfortable about something that is ultimately what you want your sellers to be able to do is set up a person who is a founder or somebody else who it were or another Whatever company that you’re selling into be able to say oh, I’ve got this problem. I’ve got this. I don’t know what to do here Oh, well, have you considered Mavan? They’ve got some pretty cool fractional specialists. Maybe they can help you.

Matt Widdoes
Yeah, I think like the big the big piece there is that kind of relentless Optimization which requires foresight, it requires you to look back at what you’ve done and and have some like self reflection, It benefits from things like data, but having that and you know sales is such a challenge in that respect when you compare it to Things like digital marketing particularly like paid acquisition that has so much real -time data, you know in a given You know more traditional sales function Maybe you have ten calls a day and you have this pipeline forward -looking pipeline of 90 deals Who knows and one you having to keep up with the pipeline and have new calls each day So you have other stuff that’s on your plate to you’re doing follow -up and all sort of stuff But there’s all this activity that usually isn’t getting perfectly measured And then even when you have a call that goes really well and you’re like 100% that’s going to close and then it doesn’t. And you’ve had some other call that you were like, that went terrible. There’s no way they don’t have enough money. It’s not the right time, not the right person, whatever. And then six months later, they call you and they say, hey, we want to do the biggest deal that you have to offer. That can be frustrating because you lack as much control and sense of what’s going on and what is or isn’t working versus just like, I do the same thing every single time. And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t versus in like digital marketing, you have that feedback within hours and minutes in some cases, depending on your scale, where you’re like, oh, that’s not working. Shut that off. Let’s make some assumptions based on this. Try again. Oh, that’s working better. Let’s turn that off. Let’s just test again. There are less frequent signal and the strength of that signal is a little bit more diluted because you’re like, well, was it a bad day? Was it the wrong person? Was it the wrong message? Was I not listening enough? Was I not moving to close? Like, did I just miss it and they wanted to buy? And I oversold or did something else. So I think that looking at that self -reflection and the planning and that kind of relentless optimization, the best sellers I know do record their calls and listen to them on the way home. They’re just like massively obsessed with it and they don’t treat it as some random thing. They’re like frantically looking, almost obsessively looking for like anything and everything that they can do to improve their process and their pitch, even having calls that they think went well and bringing them to a colleague or somebody else and say, can you listen to this and tell me if I’m doing something wrong? But there is this innate kind of desire to constantly be improving that and you don’t see that. That’s like 10% of sellers maybe. I think maybe it’s more like five when you really look out because so many people are just like whatever or they had a really good quarter and they’re just kind of like, yeah, whatever, it’s not that hard. And so I don’t know. I don’t know if there are any stuff you’d add.

Kevin Kinnison
I mean, sales is just numbers, to be honest. I mean, maybe at the super enterprise level stuff, it’s less about how many contacts and everything, but especially more at the kind of like global levels. It is when we were… when I did tele-sales, it was literally you do this many calls, you will generate this many prospects, you generate this much money. And for the most part, they knew the metrics. It was just like bang, bang, bang. And also just in terms of like, there’s so much data out there like gong, which is for recording calls is a great resource. But there’s a lot of data like using the phrase, how have you been 6 .6 times success rate for a call? It’s just like starting with the purpose of the call leads to a 2 .2 X conversion rate. There’s just numbers out there for every single scenario that and yeah, having that kind of like doing by going back to the planning, that’s why planning this all out to try and do these best practices and have that understanding is I feel like a really solid basis. And also having that listening ability to listen and really be a consultative seller. But yeah, what fundamentally once you get to the super enterprise level, you’re not going to be paying 300k for a salesperson and be like, right, you have to do free calls a day. It’s just, it’s all going to be a little bit with an asterisk. But I think that hopefully that gives you the fundamentals on what you kind of like are looking for is the planning and also just really consultative sales process. Of course, there’s always going to be something like, hey, you’re going to have to follow up and good salespeople are very, I would also say the half of being a good salesperson is falling up with prospects, but also more importantly, really being able to champion stuff internally because getting internal buy-in can be the hardest. It’s almost selling internally as much as external.

Matt Widdoes
What are some examples of that? Like internal selling that sometimes required to set you up for success?

Kevin Kinnison
If you’re talking a big enterprise level customer, the chances of you having an out of box product that is going to work 100% for them is almost zero. Unless you’re really lucky. There’s probably going to be something that they’re like, hey, we need this or we need that. So you basically got to come and be like, hey, product department, hey, technical department, can we do this or product department, can we build this? CEO: “I need this to be pushed”, at the same time, You probably may have competitors at the same time who may be promising similar type stuff and be like, ‘Hey, marketing, can you show kind of like get me some success stuff on this’ and there’s just good team selling is really important, not only as internally, but kind of like to sort out these things. But also when you’re taking it back to the client, the more that you have other people involved in the sale actually really helps to increase your odds of actually converting the sale. If there’s like, I think, and I’m trying to find there’s some good going stuff on that as well. But I think, yeah, if you’ve got, I think a better way to do it is to get the customer to know that you’re not selling. 15% success rate on solo sales and this goes up to 50% with three more people. 

Matt Widdoes
What was that number again?

Kevin Kinnison
15%. If you’re doing a solo sales kind of like an enterprise.

Matt Widdoes
You have one seller.

Kevin Kinnison
Let’s just say I go out and I want to talk to- let’s say Doordash. I’m talking to Doordash. I’m just making stuff up. I have, as a solo sales person, I probably have a 15% success rate. This is gong numbers… if I have three or more people involved is that you’re saying three or three or four people involved on that Singular account in the sales process that one externally to the client So if you’ve got a product person if you’ve got a specialist, it seems more of a kind of like a So I think that also goes to show you that even if you get your best salesperson ever It’s not just them you come in and as a team and sales once again to your point with a CRM and everything You need everybody to be involved in kind of like these decisions on where to really help sales to get the best, not only out of the company, but also to get the best results for you as well.

Matt Widdoes
Yeah, that makes sense that it’s like a, you know, from a hunting perspective, it’s like pack hunting, right? Because it’s like as an individual, you can only do so much. And especially if you’re going after bigger sales and stuff like that, it just requires more insight. It requires more, you know, leverage and discovery. It requires more trust and confidence building. You may be talking to the wrong person. And somebody else, so it’s like, it really gets back into that kind of interconnectivity. And that’s within the sales function, essentially, not even counting for things like account -based marketing or, you know, white papers or billboards or other things that go into influence at another level that are maybe less direct and more tangential or in support of sales, but not sales direct. 

Kevin Kinnison
I think also going to your point off on a tangent slightly, the best, I mean, when I was one of the companies that they pretty much had four or five people just getting inbound because they had their marketing so well set up and they had so much content and so much SEO that they just, the product wasn’t even that good compared to the competitors. But going back a step, sometimes if you can do good marketing, you can get even better results than buying expensive salespeople because you can just get so, but you’ve got to have that content. You’ve got to have that strategy. But once again, fundamentally, that comes down to where when you’re building this out, sometimes some of these things might not be marked with so much sales problems as marketing problems.

Matt Widdoes
Well, I see this a ton too. I don’t have a great name for it, but it’s almost like this death triangle where you’ve got, if you take a really high level stereotypical org, you’ve got product sales and marketing, right? And oftentimes that’s kind of like the core of the growth function for most companies at a really high level. Obviously, marketing has a ton of different people in it. Product has a ton of different people. You could include engineering there, et cetera. But ultimately, you know, One really common theme is the sales people are pointing at product and saying, we don’t have future parity. We don’t have a good, our pricing isn’t competitive, all these other things. Everyone looks at product and then product says, well, marketing’s not bringing in the right people. We actually have really good things, but marketing is doing a poor job of driving leads and actually sales would do better if marketing was providing better leads or sometimes even sales is pointing at marketing saying these leads suck and then marketing’s pointing back at product and saying, well, the leads suck because our product sucks if we had better future parity or whatever. And what you want from an organizational level, if you’re there, you have to fix that because what you really want is everybody working together to say, okay, well, this just, the baby needs help and it’s all of these things and it’s none of these things. It’s us working together to make sure that we’re supporting each other. And so many orgs don’t have that fundamentally sorted where everybody’s actually just worried about like so for example, the opposite of that would be somebody from product to say, okay, marketing team, can we work on a campaign? We’re just going to do a test campaign, but we want to test these new features that we don’t even have yet. And we want to see if that increases our conversion rate in-market when we send people to this landing page that we just made up. It’s a different brand. It’s similar to us, but something, but we want to test your assumptions there and actually see if that’s the case because if so, we’ll go make the case to finance. Or sales is like, hey, marketing, I’ve got some idea that I really like to test. Could you guys get me some new material or reshape this and marketing’s going to product or sales and say, hey, we have a new idea that we want to run. We think, you know, do we have your alignment on this? Would that be helpful for you? Do you have anything you’d want to add? And they’re taking this collective approach where they’re hunting together and it’s all about the business, the underlying business. And it’s less about their kingdoms that they’re building or their piece of it. And there’s less, there’s like way more of a collaborative approach versus a blame approach. And I think so many people fall into that trap. So many organizations end up falling into this trap where everybody’s pointing at everybody else. And the reality is, that it is a holistic approach. Like it’s going to take lots of things working well together and that it can’t just be one thing. And I think sales oftentimes in that triangle takes the brunt of that. And anytime sales says, well, hey, reasons, even if they’re being collaborative, it’s very easy for everybody to like dump on sales and be like, you’re just saying that because you’re not a great seller and we just need better salespeople. And we see it all the time on the marketing side where people are like, well, we just need better marketers or somebody who knows the mad to do a better magic trick. And it’s like, no problem actually was on product because your load time on Android was really slow and you didn’t realize that you’re on your third user acquisition agency because nobody took the time to look at the load speed on Android and you thought it was a performance problem or you thought it was a sales problem. And it turns out that seller to your point earlier went on and did amazing things that the next company because they were working. So I think that’s another piece I would add. And it’s just piggybacking on your comment. Is that importance of really? thinking about everything holistically, using data. None of this is new. I mean, we talk about this a lot, particularly on the podcast, but just how important that hunting together is versus even within just the sales org, right? Not even bringing in all these other elements, but how important it is to really think about, especially in larger consideration sales, that multi -pronged approach to try to get something over the finish line.

Kevin Kinnison
Now, going back to an earlier comment that you had that is like, you want salespeople to be motivated by money? Yes, you do. But at the same time, you also want them to be motivated to a certain extent, just to also be kind of like willing to take that extra step to work with teams outside of just, they’re caring about their own pocketbook, because if you have somebody who oversells and just worries, I mean, one of the classic things that is every organization’s nightmare is when somebody oversells something that sells people or overselling things that just aren’t possible.

Matt Widdoes
Yeah, they’re just lying basically.

Kevin Kinnison
Yeah.

Matt Widdoes
Well, that’s a yeah. So please finish the thought. Yeah.

Kevin Kinnison
No, I think that that is a fundamental is that you’re kind of looking also for somebody who is just not going to be like, Hey, I’m just going to sell this everything. And I’m just going to try and make a ton of money. And this there you’re going to be wanting somebody who’s like, No, I actually really want to kind of like work with all these other teams, make sure that I can do this consultative sales process, take all of our kind of like, really give feedback and take the fundamentals to a number level and also make a shitload of money.

Matt Widdoes
Yeah. And I think a lot of that comes back down into the culture and having the right incentivization structure. Right. So if you’re only incentivizing people on my wife had a job early in her career where they would get a dollar for every business card they collected. So you could just in your day to day, I get a business card, I get a business card. And ever since I heard that, I always just assume people are trying to get a dollar when they ask for my card, especially when I was a buyer, but it’s like, Okay, well, like that’s a guaranteed way to get a bunch of business cards, but is that is that going to help the business? Or, if you’re incentivizing them on that first sale or whatever, and there’s no connectivity to retention, there’s no connectivity to client satisfaction, there’s no connectivity to, for example, like, if you don’t make your commission until let’s use software as an example, until the software has been installed, and that the client says that they’re happy, and or until the first X thousands of events have been tracked or any number of other things, you’re going to care a lot more about the specifics in the upper funnel. And if you just get paid the second you get a business card, you’re like, whatever, I’m like, I’m printing this, I found out I could print business cards for 25 cents. So now I have now I’m like scamming the system, essentially, you see this a ton in going back to affiliate where if you have the wrong incentive structure, you can create, you know, I worked a long time ago in daily fantasy, but real money fantasy sports. And the cost acquisition $150, $200 for a person to make a $10 deposit. Right? So if you’re willing to pay $200 to get somebody to deposit $10, and you make that known to affiliate marketers, it doesn’t take a lot of mental math to be like, okay, well, how hard is it for me to get a credit card? And like, okay. And then so now you create this dynamic and incentive for fraud because not everybody’s going to be a good actor. And now you a seller can’t be purely self -centered in that respect. But I think the people who I picture when I think about the people who are really motivated by the money side of it are thinking about it holistically because they’re so motivated by it that they’re like, I want to do this for the next 10 years here. And if I’m lying to the client, if I’m dumping a bunch of bad stuff onto the service team and committing to all this stuff that we can’t possibly deliver and essentially passing off the headache, all these other things, I’m going to be out of a job and I’m not going to be able to kind of maximize my ability to capitalize on this. So I think that comes back to, and this is true probably across every seat. Well, for sure across every seat in the org is finding people who are thinking about the relationship with their coworkers, the relationship with the company, the relationship with the clients in really long -term perspectives versus being narrowly focused on whatever is best for themself or the company or whoever or the client for that matter with a really short -term focus because that’s how you get these really well -established, long -running, highly profitable companies is when people are putting that relationship, the long -term relationship and mutual success of everybody involved kind of at the forefront.

Kevin Kinnison
Yeah, sales is, I mean, fundamentally is realistically the best outcome that you want is to try and find something that both parties win from.

Matt Widdoes
Well, as we kind of wrap up on our side, I’m curious, like, you know, when thinking about a founder who’s maybe, you know, about to be handing over the reins, the sales reins, or maybe they’ve handed over a little bit, maybe they brought in somebody to help do research, or they brought in somebody to kind of take initial calls and then they’re still doing secondary calls, or maybe they brought in a sales office person or something, but, you know, somebody who’s still kind of in that early days, even if they have a couple people on the team, any really like high -level advice or things to look out for, and if we’ve already talked about it, feel free to kind of recap it, but just kind of if you put yourself in front of somebody you just met at a bar who’s got a growing company and they’re like, I’m trying to build out sales for the first time, any high -level advice you would give there?

Kevin Kinnison
Talk within the industry and NETWORK. That is the fundamental start of it. I know probably as a salesperson, 10 other salespeople within my industry who probably know me as well. If you go to like, let’s just say I randomly get into I’m a founder and I’m trying to sell stuff into insurance, I go to a whole bunch of, I would say go to a whole bunch of insurance conferences, talk to a few of the salespeople after probably two or three conferences, you will know a lot of the different salespeople and they will be able to recommend you potentially good people or say, yes or no on some of these people. So, I would say, when you’re fundamentally fit, get to know your industry a little bit, spend that time. And I think actually you will have that success. That’ll make you have that ability to have that success and find that time as well as anything. It’s always gonna be hard. There’s always gonna be people who you don’t know, but I feel like that’s a good fundamental place to when you’re building out your sales team to a start.

Matt Widdoes
Cool, well, Kevin, thank you so much again for joining us today. As always, really enjoyed speaking with you and look forward to doing it again sometime soon.

Kevin Kinnison
Hell yeah.Good to talk to you, Matt.

Matt Widdoes
Yeah, take care.
Matt Widdoes
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