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Ep 15: Developing Teams with Servant-Based Leadership feat Chris Neenan
Episode · 1 year ago
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Episode · 1 year ago
Ep 15: Developing Teams with Servant-Based Leadership feat Chris Neenan
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
Ep 15: Developing Teams with Servant-Based Leadership feat Chris Neenan
Book. What is going on everyone? Welcome to the revenue collective podcast. I am your launch host, JustinWelsh, member of the Los Angeles Chapter of revenue collective, and inside ofthese episodes we're going to feature ideas and conversations that are inspired by ongoing discussionswithin the revenue collective community across the globe. In one of the revenue collective memberswas talking about a really critical topic inside of our slack channel, andthat topic was frontline sales management, the future leaders of our sales organizations.This episode we're going to discuss the development of those folks and ask out loud, are we investing enough? We're going to do that with our guests,founder at relentless growth, Chris Meanan. Before we dive in with Chris,a few quick notes. If you're out there listening and you want to joinrevenue collective, visit Revenue Collectivecom and click apply now. I also want tothank our amazing podcast sponsor, outreach, the number one sales engagement platform.Outreach revolutionizes customer engagement by moving away from silod conversations to a streamlined, incustomer centric journey, leveraging the next generation of artificial intelligence the platform allows salesreps to deliver consistent, relevant and responsible communication for each prospect every time,enabling personalization at scale that was previously unthinkable. Okay, let's get the show startedwith Chris Needen. Our guests today is Chris Needen. Chris is thefounder of relentless growth. Prior to founding relentless growth, Chris spent twenty yearsin enterprise sales across a wide range of responsibilities. As a family man,spirituality nerd and endurance athlete, Chris Enjoys the daily challenge of keeping everything inbalance while striving to be at his best in service to others. Chris,so glad to have you on the show. Man. Welcome. Thank you verymuch. It's great to be here, honored to be a part of thisand excited to do this with you. Same here, man, and youknow I want to kind of kick it off. You know you havethis really interesting story to becoming the founder at relentless growth. Tell the audiencea bit about your journey to this, this point in your life. Sureso. Well, as you mentioned, I'd spent last twenty years in enterprisesales. So it kind of mention where it began and ended and a lotof a lot of steps in between. It began and me in the veryglamorous industry of signage, literally selling neon lit signs for the sides of buildings, was commission. Only my prospecting was driving around with a little tape recorderin my hand. I'm not old enough to I was a leads. Itwas at least digital, but that was that was an I have another kidat the time, so it's very stressful. But I had to learn a lotof things pretty quick to find success and then are prior to doing whatI'm doing now. That the kind of journey ended as the had of salesfor Europe for a what was once publicly now private software company, overseeing basicallyall of our our go to market for roll for Europe. And so itwas a was a big journey. I think the things that were the mostexciting for me is every kind of couple of years I was given a chanceto take another step forward and each time had an opportunity to figure out whatwas needed, how I could be successful, put in place a new kind ofa new playbook and execute it and then get another chance to do it. So it is a lot of steps along the way, probably a lotmore than listen to the podcast probably want to listen to. Yeah, that'sone thing that was really interesting to me is I read through your background,like one thing became really clear, like you're selling signs, you jump intoa couple, you know, individual contributor roles and then you're sort of rocketingup this leadership path and along that path you must have started to recognize thatyou were passing some folks by, and I'm curious, did you edge executelike a really intentional plan in doing that, or resort of flying by the seedyour pants? How did that come to be? It's probably probably ona stensor's probably somewhere in between those two.
I think I've got a I wasjust one of the natural strengths that I have is is kind of seeing, you know, process in just about everything and breaking things down. Ido it in everything and it drives my wife nuts, drives myself nut sometimes, and I think every role that I had, that was always an approachthat I would take is just be very methodical about what do I need todo to succeed in this role? And so, regardless of the role,you know, I would observe who did it well. I would look atwhat they did, I would look at what I could do and and thenI would find a way to go execute that. So it wasn't necessarily arigid playbook or anything like that. It was more of an approach that Iused each time. And then I think the other part of it, andthis kind of speaks, you know, to say that they say sales isan art and science is probably more on the art side. I was,you know, raised Christian. For me, like like a life of service andbeing a man for others is always something that was drilled into me fromvery early on. It's kind of part of just my makeup now, andI think that I think that was a big part of why in sales Iwas able to do well. I was trusted by my customers because I wasI was there for them, and internally, people trust to me because I wasthere to help them. And so I think the the way I behavedand just kind of the the nature of how I treated people and how otherslooked at me in the trust that I would build, combined with the,you know kind of methodical approach I would take to doing everything necessary to,you know, to be successful I think that that kept giving me that thatchance to take a step forward. So service to others, you know.I think that that comes, as you mentioned, from your Christian backgrounds,that comes from your upbringing. You also mentioned being very methodical, being veryrigid in structured. I'm the same way, but I wasn't always like that andwhat I found is when I talked with most folks who remind me ofmyself in the way that they approach you know, rigid a struck. Sureit comes from some point in their career. As you think back in your career, was there a turning point that led you to be rigid or structured, or did that come from your upbringing? Where did that come from? Probablytwo points. It definitely didn't come from the upbringing. I think someof the more natural styles of what to look for, you know, wherethere, but the I think it became more to the forefront two different points. So one was I was a sales rep still in the UK and wehad brought in a whole leadership team that came from the kind of PTC BMC, the the kind of the medic Mafia. So they this whole coaching tree thatfinds this way back to John McMahon, a few other people, and sowe were all very much brought into medic and first meeting excellence and allof the rigid around sales process and just how to execute and and I thinkthat really got the juice is flowing for me, because here was a playbook, a written playbook and a clear one that I was able to basically putall of what I've been doing subconsciously into and see it all connect and allof a sudden it was like it it just everything clicked. So that wasprobably the first moment that and which was really cool and you know, sincethen that's it's something I've coached people on finding that same kind of that sameclick. And the second one was, as I was a leader, startingto get involved in more off sites and more, you know, just kindof working with people, of how to facilitate a team. So this isactually when I was a second line sales leader, so I had a teamof managers underneath me and needing to work with them in a way of howdo we, how do we basically how I work through them so that theycan work through their team to achieve what we needed to and it really forcedme to think in terms of objectives, measures and being very clear of whatthat is, so that it would translate several layers, you know, downand so having to take that approach and thinking, you know, working backwardsfrom what's the behavior we want to see and how do we how do weget that so clear that this will translate to consistency? That was where,you know, the next kind of playbook clift or the next way of working, of being methodical, to where, you know, I realized how importantclarity was to execution and needing to do that through other people. You know, you use a word playbook a lot, right, and especially when you're talkingabout leadership and growth and you talk...
...about sort of finding a playbook whenyou get in with the the quote Unquote Medic Mafia, and I've heard alittle bit about yours. You've touched on it slightly, but can you tellme a bit more about the pillars of your specific leadership playbook that you standby? Yeah, so the main ones. In the majority of that is peoplebased. So from a sales leadership point of view, no degree ofthings that you look at in terms of metrics or Kpis or territory carving orbeing the executive sponsor like all of that does not matter at all if youdon't have the right people on the team and if they and a secondarily,if they don't want to work for you. So the majority of the kind ofleadership playbook that that you know I kind of developed and Co created andhave adapted it's so much of the centers around people. So it begins withknowing yourself best, knowing your own strengths, your own weaknesses, knowing you knowwho you are, what you're there for, because if you're not,if you're not in touch with that, it's going to come out. Youmight as well know what it is before it comes out and you know itgets misinterpreted. But the second part to that it would be who do youbring in? So the how do you know who you're hiring? How?Why is that the the type of person to get? How do you goabout getting them to make sure that you're actually getting in the right talent onyour team? But also from war, from a DNA point of view,you can train lots of things, you can't train certain attributes and you needto know what it is you're looking for, and so a lot goes into howdo you do that very methodically. And then from there, how doyou develop people so that they want to stay? You know, they needto execute. There's a lot of things that they need to be able toperform, you know, beyond just having those natural attributes, and so there'sa lot that goes into how do you develop and essentially, how do youserve your people so that they can succeed in a consistent, predictable manner?Only after that does all of the things that you would do as a leaderin terms of what are you monitoring? You know, how are you gagingthe hell? How are you forecasting? Those are those are necessary. Thebusiness needs that, but it is only possible when you've done those first two, furse three parts really well. You know, it's interesting. I hadan episode with Colin Cadmus the other day and he and I were discussing andone of his sort of controversial perspectives on leadership is that he doesn't really believethat you can. I don't want to miss quote him, but he basicallysaid, you know, hirings a crapshoot and the only strategy that he likesto fire follow is to hire fast and fire faster. I'm hearing something differentfrom you. Is that right? Yes, definitely, yeah, would say that. So. So how do you do that though? Right, Ithink there's this like if you read through all these studies, if you lookat all the different Harvard business reviews, like a lot of these these studieswill come to the conclusion that hiring is a crapshoot. They really will,that it's really difficult to make a great higher. You seem to have crackedthe code. Tell me more about that. Well, it's a big same tosay of cracked the code. I think it's possible to do well.I don't think it's a something that you just throw the towel and and say, all right, well, let's just bring a bunch of people in andsee who swims. Now, this that may, actually, that might.I've always been in the enterprise business and so I've never had to build orhire teams in S and B or and you know, our a sale cycleis quicker, where you might have a quicker turnover of opportunities, and sohaving a turnover of people isn't detrimental. So for me, with with longersale cycles and a you know, wanting to have a consistent team who neededto build pipeline that was going to deliver not three, four or five monthsdown the road. You know, attrition was a was a killer of performance. So you know, whether you're firing people, it's still attrition, andso for me it was I didn't that. I was not something I was okaywith just saying all right, let's let's just accept it. So Ithink I was always a believer in a hiring for aw talent, meaning itexperience based. So it was less important for me how much sales experience theyhad, how what their track record of success in terms of sales achievements was. I was looking for things like are they coachable? Are they driven?Do they have very high Equ are they smart? Does it seem like theycan pick things up quickly? Did they show good character or they interesting totalk to? Like those are things you can't teach, you can't train that, and those are things that matter when...
...they're in front of prospects. AndI knew, and I was willing to invest the time in them, monthseven, of developing them on. Okay, well, how to do a proposalor how to had a negotiate a deal or how to run a salesprocess where you know, some people hiring would want that knowledge already there,that experience there, but I knew I couldn't teach drive, but I couldteach how to negotiate, I couldn't teach coachability, but I could teach howto run a sales process, and so that was the approach that I alwaystook and looking back at those that I hired in the teams that I ranwhen it was direct sales, you know, when I was first line, hadseveral great teams, not just from a performance point of view, butgreat teams in that these were people that love being part of that team andhad a great time being part of that team and there was a very strongkind of inner team culture, and I think that comes from looking for thosethings that that you can't inject and you can't develop. So when you're lookingat sort of your frontline managers or some of the people that are reporting toyou, you know, how do you use your playbook or your system toinvest the right type of time into some folks? Because what I always struggledwith, or challenge that I have was, you know, trying to navigate thedifferent type of people in my organization. Some folks need coaching on something likeyou mentioned a proposal. Other people need coaching in simply professionalism, forexample. If you're coaching some younger folks, how do you use your system tomake sure that you get consistent results from these frontline managers with these repsthat you're bringing onto your team? Did you have sort of a formula fordiscovery when you were doing one on ones? I'd love to learn a little bitmore about how you how you figured out how to best use your valuabletime with each year people. Let's start with the Persona of a sales managercoaching reps, because they it's a different dynamic for in a manager to coachand met another manager. So in coaching reps like one of the big,huge foundational elements that needs to be in place is a very clear process,clear messaging and you know what the main indicators of success need to be,so you know from activity levels to what quality levels you can look at.That would gage are they doing enough and a good enough quality of the rightthings at an activity level, so that's prospecting or or conducting first meetings withprospects. All of that needs to be clear so that you know an onboardingand and through your coaching of them, they know exactly what's expected of them. If you can't do that, it's really hard to coach any further.It's just going to be kind of random. But if you have that, andthat's where I remove, all of the initial investment of my time wentinto of making sure that that was in place. So it is very objective, it was very consistent and within that you've got your diagnostic now you canlook at at their own numbers, you can look at their own metrics,you could look at any deal in that process and you can very quickly seewhere things are inconsistent with where someone else might be or what it should looklike, and it's just the place to start that you can ask them,you know, from a coaching point of view. Okay, why do youthink you're what you others are doing well at say this stage, but you'reseem to be dropping off there. Or usually it takes, you know,only about a month to get from this point of the sale cycle to thatpoint, but for you you just seem to have a lot that are stallingthere. Why do we think that is? And it's just that you find thosedatabased ways to as entry points to dig into what the issue is andin most cases the reps know, like they know something's not working right orthey're not comfortable, but but they're able. You're given them the lead in ofwhere to start. If you just go cold saying, Hey, whatdo you think you need to work on, you're probably going to get the wrongthing. Even if they think that's the top thing, it's probably notwhat's actually resulting in. You know why their performance may be lower. Sothat that would be the place to start. But I still would look at thewhole thing and and some of the best reps, especially the coachable ones, they're they're actually doing that themselves and they're bringing to me the things thatthey that they think need to be worked on or why, and so youkind of start building in that muscle memory of them taking that ownership and thenyou're just there to help them through it. You might look at it and redirectthem if you see that something is off, but put over time,you know it's kind of clock worry, they start doing it themselves and theytake that ownership on. Yeah, I of that and I think one ofthe things I'm IM hearing, you know...
...from you. I heard in thebeginning when we were chatting, is this idea of service to others and itfeels like you are just really invested in the people that you bring on board. And I have this challenge with with servant leadership, and it feels liketoday sales leaders are in this rut where they are trying to either please theirboss or, you know, you're an svp of sales or a cro andyou're simply trying to please the CEO or you're trying to please the investors,and it puts this tremendous amount of pressure on the sales leader and they startthinking about themselves. How did they get out of that Rut and how dothey start transitioning into something like servant based leadership? It's really hard, honestly, it's really hard because the way that most organizations today work is the higherlevel expects the level below them to serve them. And when you're when you'recoming in as a sales leader and if you might have the best of intentionsgetting promoted to that role and say I'm going to serve my people, I'mgoing to serve my team, I'm going to help them each be that theirvery best and by doing that they're going to perform, want to stay,we're going to be great. Your boss probably expects you to serve them too, and so now all of a sudden you're kind of serving in both directions, and which one takes precedence becomes a tough one. It's not easy andI don't think it should be that way. But that's a bigger, more systemicissue to solve. If you know, from the top, very dead downto the bottom of that perspective. I think for a sales that you'regoing into it the part I would just look at and challenge and say,okay, well, if you only chose one, which one's going to havea bigger, you know, bigger difference? Which one's going to make, youknow, bigger gain or loss? If you stop serving your team.It might, short term be okay, or you might feel better by whatyou're able to say to your boss or feel about okay, I'm doing whatmy boss told me to do, but you're going to lose your people there. It's not going to take very long for them to feel like you don'tsupport them, your you don't have their back, that you're only passing onthings you were told to do. And that lack of trust pretty quickly turnsinto them looking elsewhere and taking a better, better job or just not performing itto their best. They're just not inspired, and so I think thatthat's a if you make that choice there, it's hard to not have that follow. Take it in reverse, if you were say, you know whatI'm going to I'm not going to forego serving my team. That's always goingto be the higher priority, even if it means I need to push backon on my boss, that you can work with your team and work on, you know, with the performance that they have and with them know it. You being transparent. This is where I'm getting pressure. This is whatwe need to be able to deliver. Let's work on this together. Howdo we do this? You can find ways or get insights from them andfrom the field that you can take back to your boss and say this iswhat we're going to go do. And this is why I think it's necessaryand why it's important for me to not let up on some of these things. That will result in attrition or will result in reduced engagement or bringing onbad deals. You know, there's lots of things that can follow if youdon't do those things. You might have a boss it's not okay with that, in which case I would say, you know, maybe that's never goingto be working out in the first place. But I think most of them willlook at that and see the reason for it and at least give youa degree of trust to see how it plays out. But then it's goingto come back to is your team executing? So if at best you can buyyourself some time to get that execution through by developing and working with yourpeople, and if you're not doing that, then you know that's the that's thething to develop somewhere else. Yeah, I'm with you. I think ifyou were to talk to the folks that have worked for me over thelong period of my career, they wouldn't I don't know if they'd call mea servant leader. I don't know if that matches maybe my personality or mycareer, but they would say that I have their best interest in mind andI think that to me, that was always the expectation that I set withwhomever was hiring me, was that, you know, I worked for thefolks below me and when I see leaders who do that, what naturally happensis it does alleviate some of the pressure, in my opinion, above them right, because the team below you start to perform, they start to feelconfident, they're they're invested in both themselves and you in naturally, up thechain the results get better. So I...
...couldn't agree with you, you know, any more on that one. So that's that's really great to hear that, that you feel that way as well, Chris. Well, listen, man, this is this has been really interesting. We are nearing the endof our time together and I love to do one thing at the end andit's called our quick fire or five segment, and it's just five questions where wejust get real top of mine answers from revenue leaders like yourself. You'reready. Yeah, awesome. You don't strike me as incredibly controversial, Chris, and are in our twenty minutes, and I might be misreading you alittle bit, but I'm sure you have a controversial perspective on business today.What would be your most controversial perspective? Well, probably, I mean too. I think one is the this idea of servant leadership. I do thinkis controversial. It does run contrary to true and most organizations and it's itsays, especially in sales organizations. I think you'll see it a little bitmore commonly accepted in other cases. So I'd say that's one. I thinkthe second is virtue. In the business world, I think virtue is somethingthat quickly gets kind of shelled or said okay, we'll not really hear weneed some separation with that. But if you were to ask somebody, wouldyou rather work for somebody that was selfish or selfless, or would you ratherwork with someone that was patient or impatient or was completely chaotic versus had selfcontrol, everyone's always going to prefer the person that demonstrates virtue. But yetwe hear very little about virtue in terms of things to develop or things toevaluate people on or things to a plaud I think that that needs to changebecause we'll make a difference in the degree of trust people have and in thesuccessive teams agreed. What is a book that you revisit on a regular basis? One that I love is it's called awareness. It's by a guy namedAnthony de Mellow. He was a Jesuit priest. He died, who waslived in India, so is his view was a fusion of Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, lots of things. But it's one of those eye opening bookswhere it's just put so simply and yet it you just you can't help butjust feel like the scales are falling from your eyes. So things like howyou view yourself or why you feel guilty about certain things or why? Whydo you care about what other people think of you? Mean so many thingsthat so many of less in kind of western cultures get hung up on.It just exposes all of it. It easy to fall back into those youknow what you be away from it. So it's it's a book I goback to pretty frequently. Awesome. That actually sounds really interesting. Can yourepeat the title from me one more time? Yep, it's called awareness and theauthors were Anthony De Mellow. Anthony de Mellow. That sounds like somethingthat I would enjoy. So thank you. Who is who is someone inside ofthe revenue collective that you follow closely? Well, two people, and inthe London side, Tom Gleson, just because he's he's the man inLondon. He he started the the chapter over here. He was the one, obviously, because that when I joined, he screened, but he's been reallyhelpful for me in kind of branching off in the direction that I'm going, you know, from joining as the senior revenue leader in a big companyto coaching and supporting revenue leaders, but really helpful and connecting me with theright people always, you know, helpful of advising. Okay, try thiswork, talk to these guys. And then a second one is a mereKlaus. He's been doing the role that I'm kind of doing now for years, slightly different angle in the world, and he's just was very generous withhis time on just at helping with how to handle certain situations, how tohow he's gone about, you know, his own start. You know,it's a scary thing, especially with covid here. Has Been a scary thingkind of going off on my own and back to the commission only world withfour kids and a wife who's a mother. So that having the help of bothof those guys to both get confidence that it's doable. It's doable now, but also just some tips on getting started, but a really big differencemaker for me. What do you think the biggest misconception about going out onyour own like you've done is, I think the biggest misconception is that youdon't have a team. In reality,...
...what I've discovered is your team growsphenomenally. The number of people that are willing to help you or that youcan work with on things and just the exposure to problems that you get tothink about and work on and go solve is just exponentially more. I wasnervous about that part of it, of missing the kind of the Camaraderie ofa team, but I've found that's pretty quickly forming between people that are doingsomething similar, maybe with a different discipline or specialty, but even across clientslike you basically joined parts of teams for periods of time and and the thrillof that doesn't it's no, no different. It's just you have more of itbecause you're doing that across many teams all at once. Isn't that interesting? You know, I went on on my own almost exactly twelve months agoand I really worried about missing that team base structure, and what I've foundis that people really come out of the woodwork and they want to be helpful. There's folks who don't want to be helpful to all and they disappear andyou've got this incredible support system of other folks who just come out and sayI want to I want to support Your Business, I want to support yourjourney. I feel like I'm a part of the largest team that I've everbeen a part of. So I feel that that's such a that's it's soneat that that's your answer. So I I can really appreciate that. Lastly, give the audience like a life motto or a guiding principle, something fromyou that they can take home with them today. So mine, and thisis where the name of the company came from, mine is rouleteless forward progress. It was as the name of a book that I read when I wastraining to run an ultra marathon when I I decided to get into that afew years ago. So I was doing a training out for a hundred milerunning race and it I think one like that. That event was a goodkind of just example for me in life of just a huge challenge that youcould only take on one step at a time and just the idea of thebook and the idea of that tackling that challenge was just about look, aslong as you're making forward progress, you will get to that end and Ikind of an approach that I now take to just about anything, whatever thechallenge is, however big or near difficult, as long as you're making progress towardsit and your your relentless about that, you will see your way not onlythrough that but on too many of more afterwards. And so yeah,that that is absolutely the One. I love how you just decided to runan ultra marathon. Crazy. I love the process side of it, butyeah, yeah, I can't really that one, but I love it.Yeah, it was a cool thing to do. That's cool, man.Well, listen, this has been a lot of fun. You know,tell everyone how they can get in contact with you and how can they learna little bit more about relentless growth. So I've got a website. It'srelentless growth dot ioh to. You've got just some basic details on the mainoffering of what I do, which is around bringing that playbook to people wantingto be a sales leader or or already are but needing a bit more clarity. Follow me on Linkedin. I'm always you know, I love to write. I'd love to read and I love to write. So that's an areachannel that I'm continually putting stuff up, so following me, they're just getin touch with me there. That's probably the best two places. Cool ifyou're a leader and you want more of a rigid playbook, you want tolearn a little bit more about servant leadership, and maybe you want to figure outwhat makes to the mind tick of a guy who runs one hundred mileraces, you can go to relentless growth, relentless growth dot ioh and learn alittle bit more about Chris and his offering. Chris, thanks for beingon the show man. Really enjoyed having you on and look forward to communicatingwith you in the RC slack room. Thank you very much for having me. Really appreciate it.
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