The Sales Engagement Podcast
The Sales Engagement Podcast

Episode · 11 months ago

A Buyer’s Journey of Infinite Paths: Trust-Based Sales Teams w/ Chris Geddes


Let’s get rid of golf and commit to soccer.

We don’t want a bunch of individual reps aiming for their own targets but a true sales team that wins or loses when the customer does.

I recently chatted with Chris Geddes, Director of Enterprise Sales Strategy at Microsoft, about trust-based selling on 3 horizons to create a true sales team.

What we talked about:

  • Designing a roadmap backwards
  • The 3 legs that trust stands on
  • Why trust-based selling is nonlinear
  • Revisiting sales compensation & making a true team

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

Welcome to the sales engagement podcast.This podcast is brought to you by outreach, the leading sales engagement platform helping companies, sellers and customer success engage with buyers and customers in the modern salesera. Check out sales engagementcom for new episodes, resources and the book onsales engagement, available on Amazon and Barnes and noble or wherever books are sold. Now let's get into today's episode. Hello and welcome to everyone to thesales engagement podcast. You're hanging out with Scott Parker and it's gonna be agreat thirty minutes. Very excited for this conversation. I enjoined by my goodfriend Chris Gutties, who is the director of enterprise sales strategy at small,a little company called Microsoft. Chris, welcome to the show. Thanks verymuch. Thanks. Pretty great to be them. Yeah, excited to tohave you on. There's a ton of things I want to I want toget through, but first, you know, for for the listeners, you knowright off the get go that's such a cool title. You know,at such a fast growing, incredibly prolific company, how did you get here? Man? What's the usually called the superhero origin story of Chris well.I wish it was a superhero story, but I can give you the backgroundin a not show. I started my career as a management consultant, accenturefirst, and then a small firm back in the UK called C Aci,followed by Ernst and Young, and it was from there that I got mylove of disruption, I think is a good way of putting it. Isort of discovered social media from a management consulting perspective for the UK extension practice. I wrote the white papers, posted them online, nobody paid any attentionand six week later I got a phone call saying, my God, we'vegot a client, we've got to come out here. So I flat Vancouverand work for BC Hydro on some things out there, which is great fun. Got A bit big for my boots and started asking for promotions and startingto be told no. I said, promote me or I'm off. Theysaid see you later, so I moved on. That was my my lessonand humility from earnston young. Then I got headhunted to joint Nokia where fora while I looked after their customer support function globally. That was a tonof fun. That was very challenging times for us and it required again,innovation, destructive thinking, doing things differently. Then there's the integration with Microsoft andI joined Microsoft customer support. My innovation moment there was was drying giveeconomy into how Microsoft does customer support. So a lot of the consumer customersupport now is done through the give economy and GIG workers, which is agreat way to give back to those those communities, and it's fantastic, fantasticsea sound that we see from that too. I joined xbox and thought that wouldbe fun. I became a product and I, which is like akind of product strategist, and enjoyed that for a couple of years and thenon looking for my kind of next role, I wanted the next role to bethe next role something that I really enjoyed and really super sank my teethinto. It's something new, and the sales role came along and I tookit on and I've been so shaping the role a little bit around myself.I mean, I have a deep passion for thinking in this destructive and differentway but also making that disruption stick, and a lot of that's around thestake hold the management and some of it's around thinking through the objection front.Why won't it work? And you you know you fail nine times for everytime you succeed, but then when you do succeed it's really fun. Sothat's what I'm doing at the moments. I'm looking at the long term enterprisecell strategy for Microsoft and trying to work out not what's next. Could there'slots of very clever people who work out what's next. I'm working out wherewe need to get to the ultimate end destination and then when I know whatthat is, I have to ask what do we need to be true forthat end destination for work? And Fine, say three or five things, andthen I had to ask the question again. What do I need forthose big things to be in place?...

And there's maybe a three things undereach one of them, and so on. So I worked my way back towhere we are today and then we have a road map on how togo forward. That's the work I'm doing. And then fascinating, fascinating work.And you can you can kind of see how you're your background in yourstart in and consulting would would help so much with you can even tell theway you kind of formulate ideas and look at look at the world, andI love this, you know, where it all seems to have the redthread of disruption. Okay, how can we disrupt the status quo and getto a better a better state? And I got to show some love forBC hydro on Vancouver. THANKOUVER is my hometown, so that's cool that yougot to come and spend some time here. All right, so let's talk quicklybefore we get into kind of the meat of the topic, which isreally going to be this idea of, you know, team selling that isbuilt around trust. Ultimately, you know, the the currency of the future islooking like it's going to be, you know, trust. We're seeingthings on Capitol Hill where, well, people are coming, you know,big tech companies are getting questioned all the time now, and so I wantto spend the meat of our time there. But you mentioned, you know,you're spending your time thinking about ultimately, where, where we want to end. It's a lofty thing to think about. What is spinning around yourhead these days. If you started to put together that, that state wherewhere you want to go? Yeah, I think we have. You know, we passed a big milestone this week where we got some exciting people togive us the thumbs up for this strategy going forward, and the place I'mspending a lot of my time and a lot of my kind of brain powerthinking is that we've done this cultural transformation. We've gone from this hard selling sand s organization where it was all about, you know, how muchcan we sell, how much money can we make, and so on,to a world under saty and Adela where, you know, he says things likewhen the world does well, when we help the world, we willdo well, and that's saying that there's something bigger and more impactful that wecan do. We have a place in this world to help and if wedo the right things consistently and we live those values, then revenue will bethe by product of that and it's the exhaust product of doing the right thingconsistently. So that has been hugely inspirational for trying to define where we needto get to. I absolutely buy into that vision for the future and inthinking about this future, this idea of trust, it's it was about customercentricity. It was all about, like, we're going to do the right thingfor the customer, we're going to put their success first. And youknow a success will come as a result of that. But there's actually threelegs to the stool. There's the customer, absolutely got to do the right thingfor them. There's also our partners. We've got to make sure that whateverwe do in this future state works for our partners as well. Wehave lots of partners. They're hugely important Microsoft, so we've got to makesure that we build something for them too. And then the third part is wecan't leave out our own salespeople and therefore it needs to be sell eccentric, customer centric and partner centric. At the word that brought those things togetherfor me was trust. Trust is about the relationship with the customer, withthe partner, with our own sellers within our own teams, within our salesteams. It's about the confidence that we can do what we say we cando. So you know we will keep your data safe, we will dothe right thing for you, we will come up with innovative new solutions foryou. We are the right partner for you. And then the the finalpart is assurance. We will catch you if you fall, if it goeswrong, we've got your back. And when we can do those three thingsin those with those three audiences, then...

...we've built this this genuine mechanism forbuilding up trust over time. So that is something that I spend a lotof time thinking about it. And the kind of second part to the answeris that we've adapted the three horizons model, you know, the McKinsey Fore HorizonsModel, to work better in this kind of strategic Microsoft Way. Horizonone for us is around operational effectiveness. So, you know, how dowe do that thing we do today more efficiently? And and that's not whereI spend a lot of my time. Horizon Toms around innovation. So howcan we use innovative new approaches or technologies in that thing we already do todayto make us do it better? And I spend a little bit of mytime now, but over a whelmingly I spent my time thinking about horizon freestuff, which is, you know, what is a market, defining newoffering that we should invest in so that we can capture that market now anddoing the right being the only company will being one of many companies. Actually, let's all do this. Who insists on a win, win, winwin for us, when for the customer, Win for the partner? Every time. Why would you not do business with that company? You know,it's we're putting everybody ahead so we can all win. It's not on USversus you. With desperately trying to think about how we can remove any conflictsof interest. So I'll give you an example. There we have a challengewith the how we compensate ourselves people and what the customers looking to achieve.So because the seller wants to sell as much as possible and that's how theyget the big bonus and so on, whereas the customer is looking to increaseproductivity, decrease cost, something like that. So now you have I want tosell as much as possible conflicting with I want want to reduce cost.There's no customer in the world whoever says, do you know what, I wantto spend as much as possible. But actually ultimate goal for me.So we've got to remove that. If and if we can align ourselves,the customer and the partner perfectly to deliver in the customers desired outcomes, we'vegot something really special. So that's where I'm spending most of my time thinkingit's incredible and it's it must be. You know, find them are exhaustingto wrestle with these because these are big you know, you said Horizon Three, which is market defining. This is, quite frankly, industry defining things.You know this. The things that you're thinking about are our potential shiftsin an entire industry of sales, if they're they're proven to work effectively,which is which is so interesting. One thing that was kind of going throughmy head as you were you were speaking, is this idea that you know,you you went through kind of this cultural revolution, right and and youyou've begun to see that, hey, if we do the right things overtime, you know, revenue and success will be a byproduct of that,if consistently doing the right things. And for me it's so interesting because ona micro level in our individual careers, we kind of know that now,right, like, if you're the most trusted one in the room, you'regoing to make a lot of money and you're going to make you're going tohave a very successful career. It's easy to see now on a personal levelthat's how most people want to carry themselves and and you reap the benefits ofbeing the most trusted in the room. Why wouldn't it work? At,you know, a level even the size of Microsoft. It's just taking thatroot idea and spreading it through the entire organization. Yeah, I'm totally withyou. The reason it works for the individual so so easily, though,is because there is no infrastructure to overcome. There is no legacy that was builtin the S S and s in this old mindset of that, youknow, will sell as much as we can at all costs and we willjust seep telling. That's the challenge, I think, for anyone who isinterested in thinking about trust and trust they selling. You've got to get ridof you know, linear, closed,...

...opaque, so those processes that aredone to the customer. You need to start thinking about, you know,the customers needs and the customers buying cycle and what their preferences are and,you know, maybe your process should grow and shrink based on what they need. Maybe it's non linear in the fact that the customer may start by sayinghey, how much for that product? They go straight in at the negotiationphase. We can't handle that today. It's no, we've need to startbeginning with prospecting. Sorry, can we get back to procting? Number workour way back up forward to the negotiation phase, you know, and onceyou get into you know, once you give them the price of the product, maybe they want to go to a cohenvisioning workshop and and brainstorm some stuffwith you, but we can't handle that because that's out of so anyway,you get one point that we need to remove the blockers that are they're justbecause they've been institutionalized and many companies that are born in the clouds, thathave been born more recently, have been able to set themselves up with theright values in mind, with the trust and integrity and so on in mind. I'm not saying that my marshal doesn't have it or never did have those. They absolutely did, but it was a different world back there and normallywasn't so prevalent. It was selling boxes of software, knocktown based solutions andso on. So we have some infrastructure that is in the way of doingthe right thing for the customer every time and partner and our own sales team. So that's that's the the challenge driver at the macro level, the changethat is so easy the micro level to just do the right thing. We'vegot to do the right thing in a safe, complient you know, riskof US way that doesn't bankrupt Microsoft. This isn't about giving everything away forfree, because then actually, in the long run we can't afford to supportcustomers anymore. We can't afford the RD that goes into creating great and safeand secure products for so we have to keep we have to keep the beastalive at the same time as addressing a lot of this infrastructure and and it'sa difficult powers to make. Yeah, I can imagine it almost, youknow, to kind of oversimplified it, I was like the Cultural Revolution happenedand now that the process and infrastructure has to catch up, and that's reallythe trickiest part. You know, you can win the hearts and minds,but then, yeah, these legacy systems and infrastructure now to to deal with. Okay, so let's chat a little bit about and we don't have togo into specifics, and others ongoing project potential solutions. You mentioned carp asbeing a big, a big driver, right, like making sure that you'reincentives are aligned with the outcomes that you want to drive, making sure towin for customers, make sure it's when for partners and the salespeople. Whatother potential solutions or, if you want to go deeper on on can't doyou see to to pull those legacy systems into this world of trust? GreatQuestion. So so many aspects to business like macdrop is huge. It's complex, as you can imagine. But what we were able to do is honeyin on a number of core inter related areas that we've tried to address manytimes. But we recognize that it's quite complicated to do business of Microsoft.That's one of these things. And we also recognize that. We have organizationalsales teams, sure, but they act like golf teams where everybody plays theirown rounds. Right, I've got my target, I'm going to try andhit my target. You hit your target. Do you mind that I'm missing mytarget? Not Really, because you're hitting your target, so you're okay, and that either. There's another example of something that we recognize. Wewant to move to a soccer team. I want to move to a trueteam where everybody succeeds or fails together, which means that if I'm faired,if I miss a tackle and the opposition have the ball, you are incentivisedto bust a gut and run the whole length of the pitch to make thatlast minute, you know, huge efforts to hope the ball out before itgoes in the back of them. That's the kind of behaviors that we wewant to see. But you won't do...

...that without changing a number of theseother elements right, because they undermine each other. For example, if youare compensated as an individual, but we keep telling you no, no,you must, you must be part of this team and lean into the team. Even so, on and you now find yourself with an opportunity to gotalk to a customer about some solution you want to sell them. You couldgo and tell the team about it, in which case one of your newcolleagues in the team might take that idea, go talk to the customer and gettheir name on that opportunity, which hurts your quote, it hurts yourhow easily hit the target. or You could just hide it away from nowuntil you've got a bit more bandwidth so you can do it later. Whathappens is the latter most of the time. We we assumed. So, withoutaddressing the compensation piece, you can't do the true teaming things. Youcan't have that soccer that soccer team if you don't address the process and makeit about the customers needs and the customers buying cycle and so forth, youcan't really live up to this vision of putting the customers success before your ownand driving trust, because it's something that we do to them. We doit according to stages that work for us and check box you know, notcheck boxes, apologies, checklist activities that you've got to do these seven oreight things in order to move to the next phase. Or many the customerdoesn't want to maybe we've done that phase and they want to get back.So there's another example. If you don't address the rolls to align to yournew customer centric process, you're going to have gaps and overlap, and thenthat's not the no either. So there are a number of these different elementsthat are all very interconnective with each other and they need to be addressed atthe same time and that produces a huge and normally unbearable level of risk foran organization. Change your culture, change your process, change your roles,change your teaming and change of compensation all at the same time and people justgo no, this is too big because it's two risking if it goes thewrong everything goes wrong. Where we got lucky, I think, and nowI've got a great team supporting me, and it is their kind of beliefand contribution to this that that has helped us scope this down, is thatwe minimize the risk of the change we're proposing, not by tackling one pieceat the time, because you know you can't do one piece because it's underminedby the others, it's by tackling the whole thing on a time scale.So instead of rolling this out overnight, we're thinking we'd like to do anexperiment with it. Just a very small, finite number of places to go testthis out and if it works fantastically, it doesn't work, we're going tooperate like a start up. Will Pivot, will move, will change, will think about things in a different way, will rip out that technology, put in another technology, and we can do it all in the spaceof a week. Kind of thing, as opposed to the lumbering nurse ofan organization. But is Microsoft size. So instead of launching a rocket tothe moon and just aiming really, really carefully in designing everything to the enddegree and then up it goes, which is what we normally do, isprojects what I've done my whole career. We're going to launch this rocket andwe've purposely built a navigation system on board, so if we see that we're goingto miss the moon, it's okay, we'll change something and we can changeto quickly and an Angele way, and that's pretty exciting too. SoI hope that was answered your question. It did, and I there wasan incredible amount of gold and those that last two minutes I would suggest everyonegoing back in and re listening to that. There was a lot, a lotthere. And you know, one thing I honed in on that Ithought was so important to kind of underscore because, you know, some ofour listeners maybe have gone to try and undertake a project similar to this atthey're at their own organization and some some fails, some succeed, and Ithink your point about how interconnected all these things are is really really important.Right. I feel like a lot of people do it one by one andthen they report back fail and it's because how much they affect one another.So I think it's it's a great way the way that you're doing it,acting like a startup within, you know,...

...a massive organization based complete sense Ithink we're going to see more big company start start operating that way.I like it well. Thank you, man. This was incredibly, incrediblyvaluable. The last thing I wanted to touch on there is, you know, this idea of the linear buyers journey. There's truly nothing more frustrating in theworld than being forced through a journey. I literally two days ago, wason a call my my girlfriend is thinking of getting a new broker andwe talked to him and basically we're like, she's such, she's like sold,like yeah, like, what what do we do next? And hehe pumped the brakes, all like you got to talk to to this teamand we'll do a deep dive and we'll do this and we'll do this,when truly, she was ready just to hand over the money, right,and it's it's so interesting that that that happens. How do you tackle thatpart? How do you tackle is it? Does that COME DOWN TO TRAINING?Does that come down to having a certain love of giving your sellers acertain level of autonomy? Getting rid of these check boxes like that is thatis a very hard thing to do, to map out of buyers journey thathas infinitely different paths. Yeah, so I mean it's it's a super question. You hit him all the right on swet it. We have to wehave to align our deck gives with the customers objective. So that's kind ofthe first thing, because when we do that, then any shortcut we mighttake a great thing because we are delivering value them even quicker. So mybelief is that the, you know, prescriptive process is put in place tominimize risk, minimize risk to our reputation, minimize the likelihood of overselling or missselling, because we would just want to hit that quota. But ifthat alignment is there, then I think we can we can lighten up onthe prescriptive process. Short there are some things that we have to do,to do for compliance reasons, to for financial risk. We have to havea contract. We just do. It's just too risky for us not havea contract. So there are a couple things that do need to get donethroughout the process, but it's not hundreds of things. It's maybe a dozenthings. And within those safety rails and in those guard rails, what ifwe empowered our sales people to do what they do best in the whole world, which is addressed tricking customer problems or opportunities with our products and services,and so that's that's what they do, that's their thing. So your nonlinearaspect of the process can can totally be handled when it's not so prescriptive andyou don't have to do ABC, then D do what's right for the customer. Now we will have people who are better out it, people who areworse at it, and our top people in our teams, if they aresoccer teams, won't enjoy carrying the bottom people in that team battle be tough. They'll really resent that. So they've got two options. One of themis to move on and I and maybe that will happen. Maybe we'll loseour thro the top people, but that's okay because a team will always outperforma group of individuals. Always. It's like a mathematical imagine sitting an examby yourself and you're doing your paper and imagine the school you get. Now, do think that school will go up or say, same on go down? If your whole class is allowed to help you, it's going to goup. It's a certain to right. So the second option for the teamwhere you have a scrap strong before when a week performers. The strong performerdoesn't want to carry the guy, so they lean over and they and theycoach them and they mentor them and help them improve them. It's the holygrail of training opportunities to move the whole curve, the whole performance curve,to the right and get everybody to be better. And then you do.It's not just the best teaching the weakest, it's also the best teaching the best. You have two really strong sales...

...people talking to each other, bouncingideas of each other, sparking in a way that today you hold your secretrecipe very close to your chest because you don't want the competition to get better. Right. So, so I think. I think we empower to handle thenonlinear nature of the process. I also think that I think that sells. People are already doing it and it's already a nonlinear process. In fact, I know it's a nominear process from the analysis that we've done. Theoverwhelming majority of opportunities do not follow the linear process. They just don't customon to go back, try something else, you know. Then they jump forwardtwo steps and because ourselves, folk and most cells fo generally globally wantto do the thing for the customer. The good people, they will followthat, even though it's awkward and and to navigate a process and a toolthat is then heah. So they're all tools that it can help with this, tools that allow for this nomine in nature. But you can also useexel. If you're a small company, you talking, you can jump fromone cell, you go back to the previous cell. It's going to it'sokay, but it is about the town good. Trust Yourself, pole todo the right thing. Town of way. Yeah, and the way we haveit now, it's almost like we're we're fosic forcing the best sellers tokind of go through really two paths. Right. It's like the path thatthe that my company wants this sell this prospect, to go down, andthis is what prospect actually wants. I kind of meet in the middle andplay both sides and it's incredibly taxing and and difficult. And also to goback to her. Your soccer analogy, and I think that's exactly how itwill work, is you know, I look at growing up, I playeda lot of soccer and there was there was three tiers. You know,we had the House Leagues, the Silver Leagues and the Gold Leagues, andyou know what would typically happen? Would you know, your playhouse one yearand you be the best one on the team. So you're kind of risingthat that whole team around you because, yeah, you're stuck with them,at least for the immediate future. So we might as well make the bestof this and then from there, you know, maybe the following year youwould go up to silver and all of a sudden, hey, maybe yourmiddle of the pack and now you're learning from from other people. And sothere is this idea that, you know, you could have almost like a tierlike graduation system as well, which is interesting. Anyway, while,Chris, I think that's probably our thirty minutes, I could sit here andchat with you all day something I'm I'm passionate about. You can tell howpassionate you are. This is really interesting and I'm going to be certainly watchingthis, this project that you're working on, unfold, because I think they'll beincredibly positive reprogressions for the entire sales industry at large once it it isa success. So, Chris, thank you so much for coming on andsharing your insights. It's called thanks a lot of having out fun and they'stime. Appreciate it and for all those listeners. Thank you so much forhanging out with us. We will see an next episode. This was anotherepisode of the sales engagement podcast. Join US at sales engagementcom for new episodes, resources and the book on sales engagement now available on Amazon, Barnes andnoble or wherever books are sold. To get the most out of your salesengagement strategy, make sure to check out outreach, the leading sales engagement platform. See you on the next episode.

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