The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 2 months ago

Ep 155: The Executive Sales Process w/ Paul Abdool

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Ep 155: The Executive Sales Process w/ Paul Abdool 

Part of the TGIM (Thank God It's Monday!) series hosted by Tom Alaimo.

All right, welcome back to the Pavilionpodcast. This is the podcast where revenue leaders come to learn about thetips, the tricks, the tactics that can make them successful in their roles.I'm your host. Tom a lame O T. G. I? M thank God it's monday excited to getinto today's episode before we do that. Let's give a quick shout out to oursponsor sponsoring. Today's episode is Sandoz. So Sandoz so the leadingsending platform is the most effective way for revenue generating teams tostand out with new ways to engage at strategic points throughout thecustomer journey By connecting digital and physical strategies. Companies canengage, acquire and retain customers easier than ever before. So definitelyshow some love to our friends at Sandoz. So can also learn more. I post everysingle day on linked in my name is tom Elena, you can learn more about methere. All right, on today's show, I've got an interview with Paula. Abdulpause the Chief Revenue Officer over at Way Path, he's the author of the book.Forget it Felix. He runs the Pavilion channel around executive sales process.A great conversation all across the map. I think you're really going to enjoythis one. So without further ado, let's get straight into my conversation withpaul. All right, coming to us from the beautiful city of Toronto Canada. Wegot the C. R. O. Of Way Path. Paula Abdul paul, how are you? I am welltoday, how are you sir? I'm doing great for anyone that you know, if you couldsee paul's background. We were just commenting on, he's got maybe he's gota top five work from home setup that I've seen. We've got a fridge, we'vegot a water cooler, you know, dictionary back there, you know, nicepictures, just like you're you're ready to play. I appreciate that. It's allit's always game time. Yeah, yeah, I love it, I love it. Um there's a lot totalk about as it relates to know sales...

...and you know, being an executive inyour career path. I'd love to start on maybe a slightly lighter note of just Isaw some of your writing experience I saw you wrote you've written for forquite a long time including a book, forget It Felix a couple years ago,which I also see behind you. I'd love to hear about that for a minute. Sure,sure. So uh I love writing because in writing for me is really a reflectionof what I've seen. I haven't really been a super creative guy. I'm more ofa reporter when I write I think. And forget it Felix although it's afictitious book for kids to help them to remember things. It was somewhat ofa report on my son. So my my son inspired me. Uh he especially off tocollege but growing up he forgot a lot of stuff. And so every time you forgotsomething I started writing it down and then I said okay, I'm gonna turn thisthing into a book dr Seuss style. I always liked the rhyming stuff for kids,and then it finally came together as one of those New Year's resolutionsthat kept pushing for me for a couple of years, and a really, really goodwith New Year's resolutions, but this one was bugging me, so I thought I'dget that done, And it came to fruition just around Christmas time, 2020, Iguess now. So, um and the really exciting part for me is that I was ableto, you know, when I was thinking about the illustrations, I said, what shouldI do? And it was actually a friend of my son who wanted to go into that. So Isaid, what better way for him to add to his portfolio than to have a bookthat's published and have his name on the front cover. So I gave him equalbilling on it, and uh he's uh in university now, as we speak, doing thiskind of stuff, That's great. So his...

...name is Felix. No, no, my son, you knowwhat I wanted to go with an alliteration for forget, so that's whyI went with it and I and I know a lot of people and I didn't know a Felix, soI knew I wouldn't offend anybody. Yeah, there you go. That's awesome. Do wehave have any other creative projects in the books, or is that is that underwraps for it? You know what, It's one of those things where I'm not going tomake a lot of money for it. So when I get some more play money, I selfpublished the book. So it's, you know, it's not like somebody's paying me bigbucks to do it. So I think the next one though is gonna be something aroundFelix learns finances and so kids don't learn enough about that in school. So Ithink that's gonna be the next level is just to teach them a little bit aboutsaving money management, that kind of stuff. So that that might be the nextone, but it's it's a ways off. Yeah, that's a great idea. I saw a commercialthe other day. I I'm blanking on the company name, but has something to dowith, you know, if kids are saving their money, it teaches them about like,you know, setting goals for that example. It was like this, this littlekid was setting goals so he could buy, you know, airpods or shoes or somethinglike that was like $200 and kind of teaches them about that stuff whenthey're young at a small scale so that, you know, they kind of build thefundamentals. I thought that was pretty neat idea. Yeah, yeah, that's great. Sowe weren't really here to, to talk about Children's books, although that'sfascinating to me. I know that you run the or lead the executive sales processchannel for Pavilion on slack. So I'd love if you could, I'm not an executiveand I'm an associate members don't even know if I have access to the bigleagues like that. So maybe you could just educate me a little bit about whatgoes on and like what's the inspiration for for that specific channel. Sure,sure. So one of the things that people don't think about a lot in the salesprocess is all the little things that...

...need to take place. And I think peoplethink, okay, you, you have somebody who, you know, whether it's a product marketfit and they're, they're going after that and they're thinking, okay, thisis my ideal customer. I'll talk to them of course they want to buy my thing. Sothey do. But then there's steps that need to be followed. Whether it's foryour internal operation that needs to be aware, you know, via your crm that'sproviding this information or that's ingesting the information from the crmfor operations, whether it's turning on software, getting professional servicesor delivery team ready or customer success managers. And so really beingin sync with them and understanding the whole process start to finish with yoursales reps, especially as you're on board and new people or they're newerto your particular industry or product. So that's what it's about. And then weget into some intricate on, you know, in the weeds stuff as well. You know,little pieces of it, whether it's on the qualifying side, we spend a lot oftime with medic as a sales process medics got its own channel now? So plugfor the medic channel. But they, you know, there's that piece, there's alsothings that you don't think about in the sales process. So it's one thing tosell and the deal is done. But now what is that person going to be a referencefor you for your next deal? If you need one. So how do you manage yourreferences? And you know, you start looking out at the world and you say,okay, I'm gonna google that thing and you look at you look for it and youcan't find it. And so it's stuff that you can't find that creates the need, Ithink for the slack channel where we start to say, okay, why don't we do ourown research? So, you know, and I...

...picked that references one as anexample where last year gentlemen from Ireland actually he had reached out tome about a reference process. And I said, you know what? That's a greatquestion. Why don't we do some research. We surveyed the folks in what was thenrevenue collective Pavilion and still not rolling off the tongue for me. Andwe created a webinar out of it, a guru card and we have some data so that nowyou can manage your references. So if we stick with that example, I'm justcurious like what, what are, what are some ways that a sales leader? Right.If you're a rap, you know, that is relatively, if you're on top of it, Ithink you can make that part of your process. But if you have, you know, adozen reps or maybe even dozens or hundreds of reps that work under you,how do you how do you start with creating a system for building areferral channel? Great question. So, think about it today. If you, if youwant a reference, how do you get it? And typically it's somebody that knowswhat's going on at a bunch of your customers or has been around longenough to kind of just through the grapevine through experience has heardabout people. That would be a good reference. So how would you start? Ithink you start with that person and start to then document that and thenspread the tentacles from there. So for example, let's say that person had somewhat I'm going to call, go to references. So they're always askingthat same person to be a reference. But then you get reference burnout. Andthat was one of the things that I've experienced where that reference getsasked to be a reference six times a year and they're like, jeez, I don'thave time to be your reference. What am...

I part of your sales team and sounderstanding where to put them in the lineup and that rotation is importantand then aligning hit by vertical or horizontal, depending on your productsis important. So I think it needs to become part of the process itself afteryou sell. Is this person going to be reprehensible or the client going to bereference table? Or is that a metric that you're trying to add to youroverall system? How many of my close deals become a reference able account?So to me, it's really starting to think about it as a overall mission for yoursales team is to create a very large reference table. Mhm. And are you,would you suggest that there's some sort of like incentive for the customeron that end? Like I don't know if it's monetary or some other sort of like uh,you know, offer that you can give to them or are you just hoping that you'regoing to have enough like Diehard champions that that final can kind ofcreate? Uh I've seen it both ways and it's a slippery slope. Right? You don'twant to buy a reference. But is it nice to say, hey, what about if you are areference and I know that you're going to buy next, You know, whatever Xproduct we would be happy to offer you a discount if you're going to be areference for us so that I've seen work successfully. I also think depending onthe type of services or products you're selling, having that person participateas a part of executive business council. That that's nice. You can fly him infor some meetings now and again and and have them part of developing yourroadmap. Because typically if someone is a reference there are super usertype person or really into what you're...

...doing. But they're also concerned aboutmaking it better for the future for themselves. Or there's some shortcomingthat they've seen. So getting them involved I think is an important pieceto mm hmm. And when I think about executive sales process and where, youknow, I thought there might be some conversation and I'm curious on yourtake is like when do executives get involved in in certain sales processesto write? Because as the cr oh, I'm sure there are some deals this quarterthat are important enough for you to get and get your your sleeves and getinvolved in maybe make an executive connection But you can't get involvedin every deal or else you'll be working 24 hours a day. So, I'm curious is thata topic that comes up like when, you know, how far do you get into thatsales process versus you let your people do their thing. Uh you know, ithasn't come up. But I learned a long time ago that regardless of if, youknow, as a cr oh, you're involved or vice president sales or director ofsales depending on what level. And even your subject matter experts. It'simportant to be multi threaded at an account, especially as the dollarfigures go up. So you know if it's $1 million dollar account you should addmore people to that account to manage it and know what's going on becauseyour champion could leave something could go wrong at an I. T. Level atsome point in time you might get a call or you may need to make a call. It sayshey you know this isn't working out. You know you're killing me here. Youknow from a profit perspective or your demands are unreasonable or you knowwhat thank you for being an awesome customer too. So I think it's importantand I think as far as when you would get involved typically it's when thingsget really stuck. Maybe on the legal...

...side. Maybe if the customer is reallylooking for some major concessions on price or things like that or if they'retrying to take you left or right of center of what you're trying to reallysell and provide. So something a little different. But besides that I think youyou have to hire good people and trust your team. Yeah. At some of thedifferent or is that I've worked at. There's definitely a different level ofhow often the C. R. O. Or Ceo gets involved in deals and maybe that's justa personal preference. Something if I can ask a selfish question somethingI'm working on as a rep is you know trying to get more exact alignment. Youknow, earlier on in a deal cycle, right. You know, with a, with an earlycustomers say right before there's a deal on the table before we needsomething quote unquote. But I don't have a great process for it. I feellike similar to the referral, it's kind of like is the rep on top of it? Isthat something you're thinking about? Is that something that you've everautomated somehow or coached? Either your team or someone else had anotherorganization on. So just to be clear, are you saying that you would like forexample your manager or an executive above that manager to be involved inone of your deals and you're trying to figure out when to bring them in or howshould you, Is that what you're saying? Yeah, exactly. Like when do you bringthem in and how do you also just like create an environment where people arethinking they're not thinking, hey, it's the last week of the quarter,let's get following this deal. Now, hopefully you were already working withthem and offering value to them months ago so that it's not, you're not havingto clean up a mess. You know, you're that kind of get involved early. Okay.I'm with. So I think realistically speaking it should probably be sizerelated if it's something significant.

I think those conversations shouldhappen early. And often I also think that, you know, I'll tell you it wasn'tautomated the best way I could do it to automate it. I had this a company Iused to work with, I asked the Ceo how often are you going to go to a customermeeting with me or what, what can I expect for the same purposes thatyou're kind of asking? And he said, you know what, I would like to have sixreally good meetings a year with with clients. So what I did is I booked allof those times on his calendar at the beginning of the year. And I said tothe reps, There are six meetings to get with the Ceo. You have to earn thatmeeting. So you tell me why that Ceo should attend that meeting and we'vegot him locked in on this schedule and he will attend anywhere in the countrydoesn't matter. But he needs four weeks notice. I think at least I think that'swhat his parameters were. 4-6 weeks notice. And that was the time you lockin and he'd probably go see two or three in the neighborhood too if thatwas possible. So that's really what we did there is just lock it in early. Itwas, it was a cultural thing was as an ask and you know what often I'll tellyou the senior folks it's lonely at the top. And what I mean by that is theydon't get a lot of calls. Not a lot of people have the guts to reach out tothem. And so if as an organization, you set that up as something that whateverlevel wrap can speak with that person and have a process to earn their time.I think it's great and, and reality of...

...it is is when you get to those levels,they're not even thinking sometimes about the day to day, sales arethinking about raising money. They're thinking about an acquisition. They'rethinking about other elements that have nothing to do with your sail. Your sailis one piece that says, I need X amount of revenue to come across the lineevery quarter. But that's just a cog, right? And so by inviting them out andbringing them down to the street level once in a while keeps them honest tobecause every once in a while they'll get down there and say now I understandwhy you are asking for X or Y and I shouldn't back burner that anymore.Yeah, yeah, 100%. I love that. You almost kind of gamified that and uh,you know, made the reps try to hit that you no specific level that would, youknow, earn them that meeting. And Alice took away that it feels like whatyou're saying is that repsol sometimes don't even ask, you know, like youassume the answer is no. And maybe if they said, hey paul, you know, this isa great opportunity, here's why that is, would you mind helping out and joiningthis meeting in a couple weeks? You're probably more apt to say yes than no,but it's it's just that people are, aren't asking, I want to handle itthemselves. Maybe they're afraid to, you know, mess something up in front ofyou. Yeah. And I think, you know, part of it is the person, you know, some ofwhat I found is that everyone's pretty nice in general. The reason they comeacross as a bear is because they're so busy and being pulled in differentdirections so they're shorter, but they don't want to be, They're justforced to be, I've got 30 seconds to deal with you. What do you need? Right,walk with me. I don't even have time to stop. I'm going to get a coffee, tellme what you need. So I think what's important just to, to go further onwhat we were talking about is if we...

...give the people who want the meetingthe parameters to get the meeting. So fill in these 10 blanks Until you fillin those 10 blanks. They're not gonna listen. But if you bring that and youjust put it on their desk and say, here's the 10 things you asked for thatperson is gonna say, okay, they have what they need to make the decision.And so I think that's important to my dad taught me that as a kid. He's like,you know, paul you want? You know, you want to go out, you know, okay, how areyou getting home? How much does it cost? You know what is all this? So lay outthe facts and then it made it easy. Yeah, that's great. That's great forthe folks out there that are listening. Maybe they're they're new to say the VPof sales or maybe even the C. R. O. Role, you're obviously you know, wellexperienced, you're also chatting with a lot of other members in similar roles.What are are there any common mistakes that you see for first time V. P. R. Csuite folks in a sales capacity, wow, There's so many um let me start withthis. I think going back to the the top levels the C suite, the boards, allthat they have a number that's in their head for one reason or another. And itcame from something they want to make X amount of money or sales and reallyunderstanding your business and the numbers are so critical. I I just wentthrough Cros School of Pavilion which was fantastic and there was a piece onforecasting that was really important and it's not just about beingconservative, it's about being realistic. And if you can take the datato somebody above and show them how you came up with something, You're rightuntil they prove you wrong is whatever.

So all of a sudden just for to give yousome numbers. So let's say they want you to sell $20 million 15 And lastyear it was 12 And so you like your results were 12 You think OK 15 youknow that's that's an increase and but there's a why that they want 20 nowthey may stretch it And that's fine too. But you have to say most likely it'sgoing to be 15. Yeah. And When they say no you're number is 20 And then whenyou come in at 16 your credibility will rise. Now it depends on who you'redealing with. In some cases that's not good enough and you know Cros have alifespan short lifespan because of some of those things. But I think if you'rein really good sink with your whoever's above you. So let's say you're adirector of sales, the VP of sales cr oh whoever you're reporting to needs tobelieve and understand your data and you need to work on that together andget buy in if if it's just thrown at you and you inherit it. It makes lifedifficult. Mm. That's probably something to vet out in the interviewprocess. Right? Of of how well you know what the expectations are right and howthey feel about that. And if you think you can hit the skulls or or if you canhelp to adjust what the goals are so that they are more realistic. Yeah. Ioften say that my problem is I don't ask the right question. Sometimes youthink you are but then you have to reword it or ask it a couple ofdifferent ways. And so I was lucky in my current position, I actually was afractional VP of business development...

...prior to starting. So I saw somehappenings with the organization and I could see some things that weren'tquite right and then I went in eyes wide open. So that was nice. Oftentimesyou don't get that shot, especially if you are a rep or a new director ofsales and organization. But asking how they got two numbers and how they areexpecting you to get there and and the past is a little bit of a predictor ofthe future, but they may say what do you need to do that? So being educatedand knowing what you need to adjust to make those leaps are important as well. Yeah. So not only making sure that thenumber is accurate, but let's just say it's an aggressive number. Well, okay,what what are, what am I going to get to, you know, in terms of help to getthere if it's for marketing, extra hires, tech, whatever it might be yougot it. Yeah, yeah, I've got a few last questions for you here paul. So we'rebig learners on this podcast who love to learn. You got some great booksbehind you. I'm curious outside of forget it Felix if there's any booksthat have particularly helped shape you as a leader, a salesperson human, anytopic is fair game, but curious if any any books jump to mind. I can'tremember all the books that have helped shape me. You know, I have a coupleback up for your, you know, one of my early ones. Um, I think we, we forgetabout the people sometimes and we think about a process or a technique. But Ithink one of the ones I glanced back at here was one from Harvey Mackay. Notsure if you ever heard of Harvey Mackay? He had an envelope company and soyou're like, okay, what does this have to do with anything? So this guy builtthis empire selling envelopes, which as...

...we all know, we're slowly decreasingtheir usage over time as we've gone digital. But the reason I knew abouthim is because I actually sold envelopes. I was one of my first salesjobs. So you're, it's like, gosh, how do you sell envelopes? This guy, his,his book is uh called swim with the sharks without being eaten alive. AndI've heard of that book. Yeah, and he's, and he's out a bunch and I thinkthere's just some basic things about hustle. And I think that's a big onefor me. I read it cover to cover what my um, the owner of the envelopecompany gave me that book. So I keep it there. I'm a sentimental guy. He passedaway. So it reminds me of him. And so I think that's important. I think keepingup with the current technology. I've been reading a book uh by one of ourpavilion members, LaTanya who works at six cents and CMO over there. Who it'sjust talking about some cool ai type ways of understanding how you know,someone's buyer's intent. I think it's good to read about your industry andstay on that. You know what I like reading too is and I haven't done it asmuch lately, but some magazines, I'll find in an airport lounge on a topicthat's even outside of my space. So I was reading one article on sociologyand how some, how people evolve their thinking and you never know where somecreativity is gonna come from. And I work that into a presentation to talkabout change management. So it just gives, gives you different ideas. So I,I'm like read everything. I don't have a ton of books that I can really pointto. Yeah, those are all all great...

...examples. I'm curious. Do you have anyany, uh, I'm thinking envelopes right? And uh, you know, every salespersonloves to complain about, you know, the competition or a price too high or wedon't have enough leads when you're selling envelopes. I mean what's thedifferentiator, you know like they taste better when you when you liftthem and like, you know, so like how can you tell me just like any anyinsights or any stories around the days of selling envelopes. Absolutely. Thebiggest takeaway I can give you is have a diversified pipeline. So what doesthat mean? There are things that close fast andthings that are longer sales cycles. You need to have a blend of those kindof like your financial portfolio for me, a mix of types of stocks. So what Imeant, what I mean by that in the envelope days, You know the big nine by12 envelopes. Those were the juicy ones. They were big. They were custom made.The margins were great. But the number 10 envelopes that you get all the billsin or like some regulatory correspondence from those werecommodity and You'd make you know 2% margin on those versus 10% margin let'ssay or commission I should say. So I sold a bunch of those and a bunch ofthe other ones. And then what I also realized we're there are adjacentbusinesses. So when you think about envelopes, people that are not reallyfamiliar with the male business and stuff like that, they think theenvelope magically appears with your bill in it or whatever document. Butthere's a machine that stuffing that envelope. There is software thatcreates the document that goes into...

...that envelope. There is software thatdrives the printer that prints that document that goes in that envelope. Soanything you can understand upstream of you helps you to be better at sellingwhat you have. Mm I love that. And it goes, it doesn't matter if it's assimple as envelopes. I'm sure that that goes to software or hardware or, youknow, whatever else that your final check or whatever it is that you'regoing to be selling, you name it knowing that whole supply chain, if youwill in the process of how it got to you and where are you playing? It'simportant. We're just a little piece of this world. Right? So understanding itaround you is important. Yeah. And, and also the last, you know, the last thingthat, that really stood out was the diversity of, of pipeline, right? Youwant to be someone that can hit a lot of singles, so to speak in baseball,right? You've got the small deals coming in and like you've got a coupleof big bets that, you know, if one of these three come in like man, you're,you're in really, really good shape, but you do have enough supply otherwise,you know, maybe to still hit your numbers or whatever it might be, um, beable to to work both. So, paul, this was great. I appreciate you being sogenerous with your time with your experience. Any last thoughts that youhave that you'd like to share with the audience and then what's the best placeto find you and connect that's linked in or email or whatever you prefer.Yeah, yeah. You can reach out to me on linkedin anytime simply, Paula Abdul,you can find my book at Paula Abdul dot com, all that stuff. And and by the way,there's uh for the teachers out there, if there's anybody teaching um a friendof mine did a lesson plan around it too, so they can teach the kids how toremember, but that's great, you know, just final thoughts. I I just think uhone thing I, the audience, I'm not sure I want to know about you, but I lovereading a little bit about you on your...

...bio and all this stuff and beingpositive and humble and saying I want to learn all the time, you're ahead ofyour time, because typically it doesn't happen until you're in your fifties orsomething, you start thinking about the rest of the world and all these things,but to start thinking about that stuff now is great. So I just wanted to saythat, I thought that was pretty awesome when I looked you up, you know, priorto this whole bit. Yeah, thank you. I I appreciate it. I appreciate, I'mfortunate to meet great people like yourself on an ongoing basis doingthese podcasts and learn a hell of a lot along the way, so I appreciate it.No problem, thank you. Yeah, well thanks for coming on everyone,definitely go check out paul on his linked in order the book. Forget it,Felix, send 20 copies to your favorite teacher and uh definitely be sure toconnect them. So thanks again, paul, appreciate you coming on. Yeah, anytime. Thank you. Thanks so much for checking that episode out of thePavilion podcast again, You can hit me up on linkedin. My name's Tom Alamo.Otherwise, this episode was brought to you by Sandoz. So they deliver moderndirect mail, personalized gifts and other physical impressions that makeyour outreach more personal. Until next week, we'll see you on monday. Getafter it, piece by piece, say something. Mhm.

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