The Sales Engagement Podcast
The Sales Engagement Podcast

Episode 325 · 5 months ago

Motivating Your Team and Building Culture in a Changing World


The pandemic has altered practically every aspect of our lives, especially when it comes to face-to-face sales and the office culture.

A lifelong learner and coach, my guest is an innovative healthcare sales leader with extensive experience in Fortune 500 companies.

Tom Whalen is the Director of Inside Sales - Extended Care at healthcare giant McKesson, and he shares his insights and experiences in adapting to the new normal.

Join us as we discuss:

  • How the pandemic irrevocably changed traditional sales tactics
  • Shifting communication styles with both your workforce and customers
  • Staying engaged and motivated in the evolving sales environment  

More information about Tom Whalen and today’s topics:

For more engaging sales conversations, subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, our website, or anywhere you get podcasts.

Welcome to the sales engagement podcast. This podcast is brought to you by outreach, the leading sales engagement platform, and they just launched outreach on outreach, the place to learn how outreach. Well does outreach? Learn how the team follows up with every lead in record time after virtual events and turns them into revenue. You can also see how outreach one's account based plays, manages reps and so much more using their own sales engagement platform. Everything is backed by data pulled from outreach processes and customer base. When you're done, you'll be able to do it as good as they do. Head to outreach dot io slash on outreach to see what they have going on. Now let's get into today's episode. Hello and welcome back everyone. Through the sales engagement podcast. You're hanging with Scott Parker. I feel like I haven't recorded an episode in a little while, so excited for this. While certainly have a great guest with me today. I am joined by Tom Whalen. Tom, welcome to the PODCAST. Thanks. This is awesome. I'm psyched I'm to have you and so. Tom Whalen is director of inside sales at mckesson. Many of us have heard of mckesson, very large organization, but Tom Woul left to hear it from you and the quick and dirty version. I usually summarize it as or pose the question as what is the superheroes origin story? Out of Tom whalen. How did you get here? Sure, yeah, no, it's it's funny. I went to School for Broadcasting Communications and I lived right outside New York at the time and nobody would hire me except for the small radio station and they said, okay, we'll put you on the era at night if you sell ad time during the day. And I was like sure, but it was a very small station in Elizabeth, New Jersey. I don't even if it's still there, and they went off when the when it got dark, believe it or not, and so my nighttime ship it was from like six o'clock too, when it got dark, an hour or two in the summer, two hours of summer. So that's how I started and I end up making more money selling that I did working on the on the radio. And then one went to to another and early on I kind of figured that if I could learn about sales and learn what to say and how to say it and during different techniques and motivation, inspiration, that kind of stuff. I could do really well with it, and so I've always sort of been like a a learner and kind of a coach and that kind of stuff, share ideas and that kind of thing. So that's how I got started and I got Ab with compact. That became Pulett Packard and then uh American Express and now mckesson. So I spent a lot of time in the in the fortune, to say the least, most of my career to be honest. Yeah, there's just some some big brands, HP Amex, now mckesson, and I see that red thread. I'm starting out in broadcasting. Communication a large part of what we do as leaders and as as sellers,... well as just being able to effectively communicate ideas, problems waste, to motivate, and that's what I want to spend some time on. Is this idea of I think we explored it early on during the the pandemic. Obviously that we're all in, or maybe it's an pandemic now where you are hopefully something. It's it's changed you rapidly. I'm unfortunately stands. That's still it's still we're a little behind, but there seems to be this second wave of almost like burnout or people are are are just kind of getting sick of things and you need to find new ways to motivate teams, to engage teams, to build that that culture. So I want to spend a good portion of the podcast talking about that. But before we get there, at mckesson, huge organization. How many reps do you have under you and what's the portfolio roughly? You're talking the organization. We just about sixty reps now and our fiscal year starts in April, so we're right now getting overhead count requests and all that stuff planned and budget and stuff. So we're looking to grow next year, which is good, which is good. Go wait for that to get through. But I'm sixty folks and we call on a bunch of different segments. We are in extended care, so we are everything pretty much outside the hospital and out by groups outside of the physician office. Of course, mckesson does have sales teams in that in that segment. So my folks are calling on skilled nursing homes, retail pharmacy, hospice, home health agencies, as system living memory care, and then I do have a team that does capital equipment, only capital equipment within skilled nursing homes and facilities. So they're like they're like the big deal hunters. They're doing big time capital equipment. So the nursing home is adding a wing or they're adding a memory care or hey, we need to refresh all of our spot vitals, which is the you know, go to document with the often they're learning about that kind of stuff or furniture. It's a small group, but we have e commerce too. So I actually have five teams, five teams that roll into my organization so well, they all sell the rough of the same product, the same type of process. I should say they all the markets are all very different. They're all very different. I imagine that must keep you on your toes because you've got all these different deal cycles. I imagine the average length of the deal is the average size. BARRIES, who you're talking to? barries? That's interesting. My question there is so I know you're the director inside sales. It sounds like some of those motions traditionally like people would actually go on on site. So did you see did that all blow up in in Covid was there a natural transition? Were that coming or walking what that transition was like. Yeah, yeah, so, because it's always had a very large field sales organization, folks kind of going out and knocking on doors and...

...working, you know, with the customers on site and prospects on site, and that that didn't necessarily change from hey, we're gonna push it all inside. However, again, in the in the throes of the pandemic and some geography still there's a lot more rules as it relates to you know, for a while I couldn't see it like for several months. No, those lockdowns and quarantines. No customers are coming in, especially if you're if you think about a skilled nursing home, right, you know, the folks are there are high acuity and they're older, right, and so even a good flu can take out several people, unfortunately, in a nursing home. So at that point they didn't want anybody coming in. In some states that are still like that a little bit. What's interesting is, you know, our inside sales team that ended up doing out, my managers, end up doing a lot of trainings for our field reps who were working from home. How do you sell on the phone? How do you getting attention? You know, how do you get them to call you back? And because calling your customers that you've been working with for, you know, a bunches of years, that's not a problem now when you're going out and trying to find new business and then that sort of thing. That's that's what we talked about. So I even did a pull of myself about like caled cadence and following up and the stuff that you're probably very familiar with and that sort of thing. So H it was kind of like put the light bulb but again, especially comple like horrors. I mean that's sound. That's mckesson's probably claimed to fame is having a very large sales group to go out there and knock on doors. I think, showing a spotlight on our inside team saying wow, this is not so easy. Yeah, that's so easy. You know. That's why I've always said for years I said, you know, the guy in the fields that has the easy job, because you know, it's hard to pick somebody up and actually throw them out versus having the phone up. So you know, and if you get a schedule in an hour, you know you could usually could stay longer and that kind of stuff. But yeah, it's it was interesting and it really from my perspective. I think what worked well for us and all of our customers it forced all of our customers to utilize technologies like this, Zoom, Microsoft team, skype, because we were doing video meetings for Gosh, I don't know, five, six years and a lot of time before the pre pandemic. It was very common. We're a customers like, well, we don't use that or we don't do that, just doing the phone or that kind of thing. And so but now it's very common. I mean everybody does it, even our manufacturers when they call on us, they're using a video app tool and that sort of thing. So that's been a huge win for us. But I think where people that are stealing over the phone are remotely in general, and to be honest, I mean we still have folks that are obviously traveling, are traveling now, but I again, I've read something on Linkedin all the time about how customers are adopting, you know, more of this virtual selling for themselves and how they're how they are sold. So it's a it's kind of a revolution that the pandemic forced, which is good. It is. Yeah, it's like face timing. My nine year old grandma the other day. So every everyone's kind of adopting it, which is super, super cool. And you can obviously build a much faster relationship via video and you can share screen, you can walk them through things. So I think it's a great a great shift. One thing, as you were talking you know and these struggles of running... inside sales organization, because it's a little bit different in your case too. I imagine your buyer is not a CFO who's in his office all day, not ahead of HR, who's by the phone all day on their email, you know, and a lot of these folks are actually moving, they're doing things, you know, maybe they check their email once or twice a day. They're not living in their inbox and I imagine that is a whole other challenge. When you get that moment, you get that sequence or that cadence, you've got to have a dial that's got to be personalized and it's got to hit them at the right time. Now and indeed, you know, Uh yes, like if we're calling on a local DM me right someone who knows insurance and sends out product of via mail or ups or delivers themselves, we can catch the owner, and that's good, but we have big ends them all, I suppose, but a lot of our customers are probably, you know, small medium business a lot of pharmacies we have. We ever have to talk to a pharmacist? While we're talking to them, their film scripts. So they want to put us on hold all the time. Hold on, Oh wait, wait, all, right, back now, so tell what you hold on. That's the conversations goes over and over. As well as nurses. We talk to nurses all the time in our home health agencies. Those are they're traveling nurses, they're going out to see patients and so we're trying to explain our solutions and that kind of thing. So yeah, it's a it's a challenge in a lot of cases. So you have to have a good message, have to be able to deliver it quick enough to get the interest and then have a follow up call, which we end up scheduling and and doing, you know. And we have technologies to help us with our value problem. We're fortunate that with M guess and we have a good, good brand recognition. But that's just enough and I'm like, okay, now what you know and and then you get going and especially with all the different segments we have, because it would it's not uncommon where I may get a call because maybe they're managers talking to somebody else, and I would call said, okay, great, up telling the owner. Okay, cool, then it's selling a fary. This this nurse I'm talking to asking for this, and so myself and my managers to take all the credit. But if you switch that dial a little bit in your head to be like okay, now it's it's Oh, it's it's an owner of any commerce. So they're they're they're entrepreneur. Oh wait, this is a clinician, so they're not gonna care if I'm making money. Right, they're trying to help cure that patient as fast as they can. And what and what do we have that we can show them and o this one, this is a g Po. Right, they have a bunch of their group producing organization that you know they care about their members and what's something they can offer. So it's a it is quite dynamic, to say the least, and the pandemic has made it tougher in that aspect. We still would get these kind of calls and things, but it was frequent that we would have manufacturers in and spending time with the team, and we scheduled days where manufacturers come in and sit on the floor, you know, and meet with the reps and and help them with phone calls and we're like, Oh man, this customers looking at the you know, in our own nutrition and then the usual competitor, but they don't have what you have and can you help them out? and Oh yeah, it's on the phone. And we would do some of that stuff, which we can do now, but it's a lot more planned and scheduled and, quite frankly, slower. It's just it's it's the pandemic has slowed us down quite a bit, it really has. Yeah, that makes sense. One thing you said there, that's something I was thinking about quite a bit the other week, is how important in this modern world where there's so any distractions, how one of the greatest skills you can have right now... the ability to context which without losing focus, which I imagine your context switching like all day long. And then the second part of that is like compartmentalizing because, like, there're gonna be a fire going on over here, you've got to be like, okay, we can't deal with that now. I need to give this rep one focus. They don't necessarily care about the fire. I've got to give them the time, which is, I think, a natural transition to this idea of keeping folks engaged, keeping them motivated. What are the things that you're doing and how did that progressed through the last few years? Yeah, you know what's funny is my, I would say, in an in office environment, one of my I call it a secret weapon or whatever thing that I would do to help, is I, while I had an office and that sort of thing, my goal was to always spend a minimum and hour on the sales floor or basically as a little time in the office I possibly could, because on the floor I could hear what's happening and I could help. But Rep here, but us, I was doing something like not confidential. I was trying to be on the salesfore as much as I humanly possibly could. An hour would be my next movement. And if I'd a busy day or something and I can't do that anymore, and that kills me. It kills me because I feel like I'm not there when they need to help or or even sometimes just hearing a big win being like wow, awesome high five, cool which you came high five anymore right, or hearing someone struggling or maybe saying something that's maybe they could be saying better, and giving them some coaching. We don't have any of that anymore. So that, from my perspective, is tough. So what we're kind of doing now is we have to be a lot more deliberate about those kind of moments. It's not uncommon for you today to reach out to, you know, my co to my managers quite frequently, you know, via Microsoft teams what we use. But we scrape before that, using, you know, web tools to talk to them a lot, but also reach out to reps, you know, and just hey, how's it going? Good? do you want? I'm like frequent Bo a little bit, but that's not like that should all my attention just to talk to him. You know, as soon as that, you know, hey haws, it go and they start popping off like their their their pipeline, whatever. We're just don't want do you know? That kind of thing. And and sometimes we talk about deals and I ran into this. Do you have? You know, what do you think about that? Or sometimes it's like, Oh man, you know, my daughter just, you know, started gymnastic and it's really cool and we and my kids did gymnastics and dance. We talked about that a little bit and I think you have to do that because I can tell you even from my own personal experiences being in the in the home so much I feel sometimes like a prison, least to me. Now we do have a kind of a hybrid flexible model where we can't go in the office for what we need to. There's a reason to do if we have a meeting or we're doing in service or a training or something. But for the last I'll say since the holidays, we've scaled that back, only because it's been an uptick in cases and and and that sort of thing. Not that it was an official thing, but I had send the team. Hey, guys, unless there's a real reason, let's try to scale back. Now we are getting into the office a little more than we did but again, at the end of the day we're still home way more than we are in the office. Let's talk to one of the folks earlier this week and because I I've...

...dealt with it too. It's just like that man. Your House becomes your your office, and you don't you feel like something. You don't leave if you you go to the store, you go to the gym, or you go even go out with your friends, maybe you're coming back and you're like this office I don't even walk into on the weekends because it's just kind of ways on me. So even that instance, folks, you know, just talking to them and kind of talking them through it, and I've had resturant say hey, then, let's let's go in the office on the you know, to the aired bar or whatever, when you can make it, and let's just hang out and work, you know, and it made it and it's funnycent you're there, you're talking to people, you're interacting and it's still not as great as it once was with all the people around. The buzz and that kind of thing. Is I do definitely miss that, but that helps. We do. Also we do a lot of like contests and things, and we at any one time I may have seven or ten team chats going and that and that sort of thing. So we do a lot of contests. You kind of do the one on daily metrics and and things like that. You know, I also do a it's a roll call and because one of the things that I definitely miss and is seeing the people. You don't see them every day. So we do a role call and so instead of being like a hey, you know Jim, Jim's who? You know frank, Frank's here. You know, I just I do like every page in the calendar here it's like this factor craft Coun I basically just like trying to questions and true or false, and it takes maybe fifteen minutes, but at least during that time we laugh. You know, people put in the chat and make jokes and put memes in it and things, and it's a short time where we kind of laugh in the morning. We get to see each other and that sort of thing. From my perspective, I don't think people miss the office as a building. I think they missed the office from a camaraderie perspective and being with each other. And if we're not making an exert, you know, delivered effort to be together and share experiences and even, you know, laugh or whatever. He let's say it's a miserable and at least for me. I mean you know, and I think for salespeople in general, salespeople and at all that a lot of them are. You know, they're at there, gregarious, they're going, they want, they need that kind of touch and that sort of thing. And Yeah, you can call customers, but if you do as well as I do, that you're not getting greeted with the hey man, how you doing? Rex Talk every time you call someone, right, you know, that's that's that's why the opposite of what you're getting. Probably at least you know the time. Um, and so I think you need that. You know, and even if it's a Oh man, can you believe this? You know, because again, we're supply chains a big deal for us, I can tell you that, especially in healthcare. So even if it's a Oh man, I can't believe this, we don't have this product available here. Everybody wants stuff that we can't get them, even if it's said that. Just saying that kind of talking through a little bit, because my my wife knows more about this. You know what I do every day than probably anybody else is. She here's me all day. You know, but you don't want to talk about it. That's the language you want to talk about so that kind of thing. But you have to be delivered. That's a big piece of it. I hear that and there was a lot of a lot of good stuff in there, I feel like through this and technology is amazing, but I find technology particularly like slack or some of these direct messaging platforms. They can...

...they give me such quick access that sometimes you, and I'm guilty of this too, is because we're all moving so fast and things can be like transactional sometimes, right you're just like I need this, I need this, and you're and then you're like, oh, I didn't even ask how their day is going. Like you can get in that habit and so I think your point on being like hyper deliberate, that you know the small talk matters. You know. It's funny. There's a good tactical tip if you focus and and it works for me, if you just say like hello, hi, how you doing? Then their name to somebody at least then you're I mean, obviously you're being genuine about it, but it doesn't come up as or you're not being as transactional. But how many times do you like gonna get me this or I need that, or what's our price on this or can you gotta call something as simple as like a Jim? You know you have a minute. Let you go on the polio. It's simple and at least you're not like you like you're talking about that transaction. Will give me this. Can you get on a call me? You know, that kind of stuff which you just don't think about. You think about you know, I like it. I'll throw one more tip on top of that, just for the kind of like for slacking teams and stuff. This is from Mark Costobo, our VP of sales, that use it all the time. Now we have so many going that it sometimes hard to keep track of ones you need responses with. You'll like, send it note and then you'll go do a million other things. And so now what I do when I send a note and I'm waiting on a reply, I do a little dot dot dot so that it always shows as like an active conversation. So then at the end of the day, if those haven't been responded to, I can quickly. I know where I have to follow up and then nothing gets that's a good idea. As I wrote that one down. That's a good idea. Cool, thank you. That's a good one. I stole it it's a good one. Awesome. The time always applies. It's always crazy, thirty minutes goes, but a lot of great, great stuff here. Obviously you're an incredible leader. You know you're thinking a lot about this stuff. I always sort of wrap up with with this question and you can you can take it about things we talked about or you can just do it more broad about things that are important to you. So if people forget everything in that last thirty minutes, let's say they're at the gym, they're doing a deal and they've got it on in their headphones. What what three things would you want them to remember? What I would say is the first one is that, as a leader, you need to care a bunch of people first and then everything else will fall in line. I mean, I think that's important now and I said I know I didn't say that and as we were talking, but that kind of governs, you know, everything during the pandemic here, you know, and while you're working Rome and we're gonna work from home forever. I mean you know, we'll definitely be at home more than we will in the office. Communication is so important and you have to be deliberate about it. I mean that's that's critical. That's critical. If you're even if you're a rap, and maybe I haven't heard, you haven't talked to your your...

...leader, or maybe you know your colleagues on your team that week. Talk to him, talk to him. And you know, and, and I'll say this as well as the number three, you know a lot of times we think people are okay. Um, when do you know? I'm okay, I'm good. I try to air on the side that people are not okay now that they're not, that they're in trouble or depressed or something like that. But he was like, oh no, I'm doing good, things are fine. Engage, have some conversation, because at least to do the people you work with and if you're if they report to you, they're on your team, they were there, they're your responsibility. Ask Them, Hey, doing good, how cool? So what's going on with you up to this, that the other, and making sure they're cool. Make sure that at least they need help. No, I don't need help. Okay. Well, you know, we did that training on that thing last week. How'd you like it? Oh, good, any question? You know what, now that you mentioned it, and then you can start talking again, I'm not saying to true people's lives and that kind of stuff, but I think people want to talk and they want our relationship and if you're not talking to them reularly, you need to. And but I guess the overall thing is, would folks say down good? I don't know if they're good. Find out they're good, if they're okay, because I try to erraw the side like maybe they're not. Get Out of my life. Is In the story. But I'll deal with that when it comes. But usually whenever I have that conversation with folks, event you trust to a conversation, which is good. It was a five minute conversation. Yeah, that last piece is so incredibly important and a perfect litmus. Litmus test for that is just think of the last time you weren't okay and you asked that question. You probably said you were okay. You know so, and it just takes that one more like okay, how are you actually and then just pause and you'll be very shocked. If you pause, what can can come. So I think that's that's huge and your particularly now airing on the side of people are very complex lives. There's a lot going on diving in so I love those three people. First, deliberate communication wins and then air on the side that people might not be okay right now and be comfortable diving into that. Well, Tom, that was awesome, man. Thank you so much for thank you are sharing your wisdom with us. You have big growth plans. I here as well. Are you hiring right now? Yeah, we are. We are hiring. Um, we are. Yeah, so I'll be obviously we're always interviewing. So I do you want to visit me on Linkedin? We are folks need to be within the Richmond Virginia area. But the cast is always hiring too, but I probably sit in there. I'm doing or sitting in at least five six interviews a week. So we keep a constant pipeline because, you know, knock come would we've been fortunate enough to grow and we need folks, so I love to talk to some good ones. Awesome. Well, Tom whalen on Linkedin, reach out if you're in Richmond Virginia area. Beautiful. We'll thank you again. Appreciate you and I hope everyone has a great rest of their week and we'll see you next episode. This was another episode of the sales engagement podcast. To help this get in front of more eyes and ears. Please leave us a shining five star review. Join US AT SALE ENGAGEMENT DOT COM for new episodes. Resources in the book...

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