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Ep15 Simplify the Sales Eco-System: A Story of PIP to Performance
Episode 1519th August 2019 • Inside: Sales Enablement • Scott Santucci, Brian Lambert, Erich Starrett
00:00:00 00:48:04

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Welcome to the Inside Sales Enablement Podcast, Episode 15

Brian and Scott bring key issues to life, through the lens of a seller:

  • The burden on Salespeople
  • Customer buying journey and buyer enablement
  • What sellers must do to sell more

Scott shares real-life situations of his journey (very openly and honestly — you likely will not hear this kind of stuff from your sellers unless you have deep personal relationships with them). He talks about his journey from selling products to selling solutions to executives. 

The story starts off with a lot of excitement and thrill about doing something new but, by doing what he was told and taught - Scott found himself on a PIP (performance improvement plan).

Join us at to collaborate with peers, join Insider Nation, participate in the conversation and be part of the continued elevation of the profession.


Nick Merinkers 00:02

Welcome to the inside sales enablement podcast. Where has the profession been? Where is it now? And where is it heading? What does it mean to you, your company, other functions? The market? Find out here. Join the founding father of the sales enablement profession Scott Santucci and Trailblazer Brian Lambert as they take you behind the scenes of the birth of an industry, the inside sales enablement podcast starts now.

Scott Santucci 00:34

I'm Scott Santucci.

Brian Lambert 00:35

I'm Brian Lambert and we are the sales enablement insiders. Our podcast is for sales enablement, leaders looking to elevate their function, expand their sphere of influence, and increase the span of control within their companies.

Scott Santucci 00:50

Together, Brian and I've worked on over 100 different kinds of sales enablement initiatives, as analysts, consultants or practitioners, we've learned the hard way, what works? And maybe more importantly, what doesn't.

Brian Lambert 01:06

Our podcast is different. We use a conversational format to help share the experiences that only people have been there done that can provide, as we have been pushing the envelope on the profession for over a decade. And today, in this show, we will discuss what does the seller's experience really look like? Is your system set up to help sellers be successful? And what does an integrated enabling program look like? As usual, we start with a centering story to give our episode a theme. So, Scott, take it away from here.

Scott Santucci 01:41

Thank you, Brian. And Hello, everybody. One of the things that we get the opportunity to do and as more and more of you users, we're calling you inside our nation, keep listening. We get more and more feedback and I had had the opportunity to have a conversation with one of our If one of our listeners, I'm going to try not to out too much about her, because I'm sure this is embarrassing. And we were talking and one of the things that she was saying is that sometimes some of the things that I say, you know, make her feel stupid. And you know, are you an academic person? And Brian, you know, full well, boy, I hate being called academic, but maybe sometimes the way that I think about things and talk about them in that way. Yeah, you deserve it. Thanks. Thanks. I appreciate solidarity there, Brian. Just kidding.

Brian Lambert 02:35

It's an interesting thing.

Scott Santucci 02:37

One of the things is, uh, this topic is such a hard thing. It's it's both simple and easy as as we like to talk about sales. It's both fit sales is simple, but simple and easy. And one of the things that I'd like to share this time is to talk about what makes me so passionate about sales enablement. And actually, one of the things that I'd like to share is a story from when I was in the field. So, we're going to go back in the way, way way back machine, the company at the time I was working at at Mehta group. And in our third episode, we actually talked about how I built a sales enablement function there. But this is before even that, and I'm

Brian Lambert 03:20

actually, because you you actually came out of the field you were a seller before that. That's right, that's created in that episode. So, this is actually is that going to be the story when you were a seller?

Scott Santucci 03:30

Exactly. It's pretty cool. So the this story isn't, isn't really that great. It doesn't put me in the in the greatest light, but as a seller, we've just gone through sales training, and specifically it was solution selling training. And if you've seen the movie, Jerry Maguire, where Jerry wrote that letter, that memo out, everybody was really really excited. I was really, really excited at the time. We were selling the subscription services. So meta group is been acquired by Gartner group. So, if you could imagine buying reports, and we would sit there and be trying to talk about what the deliverables are, here's our service. Here's our ssms service or GNS service, here are the five things that you do here, deliverables about it, you get these deliverables, and you get this teleconferencing. You get these conference tickets, and blah, blah, blah. So, if that's what we were talking about, who do you think that I was selling to? I was selling people up like a guy named Mark fleischman, who actually was at bellcore. And his job was more or less a librarian. He would meet me in the cafeteria with me. He wouldn't even bring me in I would even get the code to get in. Right. That's That's how low level and we debate about how many license fees and what the what the the usage was, and we would haggle between $15,000 For $16,000 about what the renewal was for that particular service. That was a rough and it sure as heck wasn't what I thought was was selling. I walked out of this solution selling training, and I'm excited. I'm gonna go and learn to go talk to executives. That's, that's what I was gonna do. So, my primary focus was, I'm gonna go talk to executives. So, think about it going all in how you drank the Kool Aid, you're excited. I really drank the Kool Aid. I, I was a process zealot. At the time. I thought the solution selling thing was fantastic. I drank the Kool Aid, I went all in. That's good. Yes, it is good. So, the first thing that I did, at the time, my territory was the state of New Jersey. And the very first opportunity that I got, I decided you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to go call on the CIO at Merck. And literally This is no joke the the CIO at Merck's name was Dr. Popper.

Brian Lambert 06:02

So, you're gonna go from the library and eating a salad with a librarian to calling Dr. popper, the CIO at Merck.

Scott Santucci 06:10

Well, yeah, of course, right. That's what they wanted us to do in the training, right.

Brian Lambert 06:14

That's a transformative experience right there.

Scott Santucci 06:16

Well, we'll talk about that. So, I called up and I left a voicemail message. I can't remember exactly what it was. I went to lunch. I'm feeling pretty good. I come back, I see that I have a couple voicemails on my machine. I'm excited. Because Dr. popper is obviously gonna invite me back in so I can give him my pitch and all the solution selling stuff is great. Well, actually, on my voicemail, there were three voicemails, all of them were from Merck. None of them were from Dr. popper. And they were progressively more agitated, threatening, almost. And this is no lie, saying that I'm just a vendor. I'm not to talk to you. Good call on Dr. Dr. popper. I was gonna say Dr. Pepper doctor. And if you ever do this again, we're going to make sure that you don't sell anything to Merck ever again.

Brian Lambert 07:12

Dang. So that when only did you get one call? You got three calls back there just a little threatening.

Scott Santucci 07:18

That's right. So, I'd love to be able to tell you what awesome heroic thing that I did to be able to recover from that situation. But that wouldn't be the truth. The truth is, I said, screw it. I'm packed up my things. I went home. I shut the shades of my apartment at the time.

Brian Lambert 07:39

getting weird

Scott Santucci 07:41

I put on Free Willy and I just watched Free Will because I wanted to feel happy because I felt so small. I didn't call on a on a CIO again for a while. I went back to the RA Fleischmanns again, Michael fleischman again until finally, I Got my courage up again. So, my next time was, I said, all right, dust that off, you know, shake it off scotch shake it off, Scott, you still believe in that solution selling stuff. So, the next bat the next time I went after this was before Campbell soups moved their headquarters and their headquarters was in was in New Jersey. So, I called on the CIO of, of, of Campbell's soups and honest I can't even remember his name. And Brian had he did you see the movie Wall Street? Uh,

Brian Lambert 08:30

yeah, a long time ago, though, ya know, so, the Wayback Machine.

Scott Santucci 08:34

All my references are so David, I'm clearly not a millennial. But in Wall Street, there's this scene where bud Fox, the main character, Charlie Sheen, gets his meeting with Gordon Gekko. And how did he get his meeting with Gordon Gekko? Do you remember?

Brian Lambert 08:53

No, I don't tell us.

Scott Santucci 08:54

He called Gordon Gekko every day for like 80 days. in a row and showed up it is showed up the day of Gordon Gekko his birthday with a box of cigars. Oh, that's right. Gordon Gekko finally let him in. Well, you know, I'd seen that movie and I swear to God, I literally called this guy for 60 days straight till finally I got him on the phone. And every single time I left a voicemail so he you know, he kind of knew me. I would highlight research where I thought our research was better than Gartner's because I knew he was a big Gartner shop. And I just call kept calling kept calling. And lo and behold, one of those days he actually answered the phone. What did I do? What happened?

Brian Lambert 09:43

You froze up

Scott Santucci 09:44

That Yeah, exactly. I would love to tell you an awesome story about I had this great rap and I you know, got a meeting with them. Nope. I kind of went uhh and he was nice about it. Scott, you've been pretty persistent. Can you Please tell me how you're different than gardener? And then I fumbled through some words. You know, it was sort of like a word salad of a bunch of things that I had heard or that we've been talking about. And he said, Well, I gave you my ear time. Will you please stop calling me now? And I went yep. So, opportunity number two. I do, I went back down to sell into the sound of the cubicle people.

Brian Lambert 10:31

All right. No, Free Willy. No Free Willy tune.

Scott Santucci 10:34

Okay, so fast forward now. Now, you know, maybe two, two months later, I had worked on an opportunity and I built a I was able to get access to this guy named Keith Kebel. Keith Kebel, at the time, was the VP of shared services at Bristol Myers Squibb. I knew that he had he had responsibility for a budget It was $50 million. So good access right, access to adult money. And at the time they were, they were implementing SAP. And they had the Cooper's the Cooper's team in there, and we were talking about how now I'm getting more into a rap about what our products do, and our products are you should be thinking about our products like an insurance policy because who knows what the risk of a bad decision could be? And I had told them about like, what would happen if Hershey if you know you've heard about the Hershey incident where they had an SAP challenge, and they weren't able to ship candy? What would happen to you if you did that? So, all you have to do is buy our you know, our particular service or X number of dollars is like a decision-making insurance policies that all sounded great, invited us in. And really what what the goal was, I didn't really know what the goal was. And I didn't ask I said, Oh, yeah, awesome, like as excited. Sure. So, I brought my brought my subject matter expert, Barry wildermann and with me, and the two of us show up and there were 20 of them. Because this is such a big deal. And they started using a lot of language that I had no idea what these people were talking about, honestly, there was like words like, release and instance and things like that. I had no idea what they were. And I just wrote the keywords down when we were leaving in the parking lot to get back in the car. So, what happened in that meeting? Barry, how did it go? He said it went great. And he listed off three or four problems that they they were going to have. So, I was like, super great. So, I called Keith back the next day. Hey, Keith Baba had a great relationship. How did it go? He's like, it was great. You know, that was a great meeting. Thank you very much. And I said, see you're ready to do business with us. I'm getting ready to close on my solution sale. Brian. How did that go? He said, Well, Scott, you kind of confirm that we're on the right track. Well, Barry says you're gonna have problems. What are they?

Brian Lambert 13:08

Barry says you got problems.

Scott Santucci 13:13

And I said, Uh, I don't know, you want to get them back on the phone. And at that point in time, I lost all my credibility. Yeah, you're never able to get Keith Kebel on the phone ever again. So here I'm here I'm at six months into my solution selling experience. How do you think I was performing? What would my overall numbers like?

Brian Lambert 13:40


Scott Santucci 13:41

Yeah. Dude, I was on a pip. Yeah, so.

Brian Lambert 13:48

So, you had these at bats. You're trying to do what the company says. And your manager puts you on a pip.

Scott Santucci 13:55

Yeah, yeah, I was gonna talk about that later. So, I was on a pip, and we could talk about what our plan was. I was on a pip. So now I'm like, oh my goodness, I'm worried about losing my job. I certainly wasn't, you know, killing it. As a rep I was about at Target about it plan, maybe 80% when I was selling to the selling products to the Fleischmanns, but my, my, my cubicle pipeline was all gone because as you know, it takes a lot of energy and a lot of effort to try to build relationships with with the executives. But thank goodness. And I sort of had this come to Jesus moment with myself saying what the heck just just be you. So, thank goodness I've been building a relationship with with one of the CIOs. So, the way j&j is organized was is around these sectors, and I built a relationship with one of the with one of the CIOs and one of the sectors and I've been talking with him about the idea of an insurance policy but About one product, but across all of our all of our products. I talked a lot about decision making. I said why don't we facilitate a meeting of your direct reports and one thing led to another and suddenly, things started clicking in and with a with a company, so large and so many different, so many different IT leaders. I, at the end of the year, I had done $3 million, a business with with Johnson and Johnson. So, I'd done basically, three x what what my quota was, and that's one of the reasons that I became one of the top reps. Let's try it from writing all the business of the story that we talked about in the second part.

Brian Lambert 15:44

So, solution selling did work.

Scott Santucci 15:46

Well see, I don't know whether it did or didn't because I didn't really follow the solution selling script. I use some of the elements of it. Yeah, basically what I did was just get back to, you know, what problems do you have? Mr. CIO, well, we're worried about making the wrong decisions. There's a lot of choices with technology. Well, we have a lot of experts. Would you like to have experts on hand? That sounds great. How does that work? Well, let's simulate how that works. Let's let's put it to use. And you know, because I kept working on helping them use it, they actually gave me a desk there. I actually had a badge that I will go in and my desk and when you're there and you hear all the challenges, it's kind of easy, right to sell, but it took building that relationship. It took forgetting a lot of the stuff that I that I learned in solution selling and focus more on the people. And that's a that's, that's my story.

Brian Lambert 16:47

Cool. So, it started out with Dr. popper, then Free Willy, then Charlie Sheen and cigars. Then Bristol Myers Squibb with the insurance policy pitch. And then six months in you're on a pip on a pip.

Scott Santucci 17:06

Yep, on a pip about ready to get fired.

Brian Lambert 17:09

Then you had your soul-searching moment you're like screw it, I'm just going to be myself if I'm gonna get fired, I might as well go down just being true to myself. I can relate and then you know j&j conference meetings. And then that's that's how we ended up at that other podcast can't remember the exact number but

Scott Santucci 17:27

Number three right yeah

Brian Lambert 17:29

yeah. So, they I mean and the cool thing about that is, um, it sounds like one you figured out how to get access to executives right?

Scott Santucci 17:40

Well, the hard way. Yeah. I mean, let's let's let's, let's be honest it would we want other people to learn that way?

Brian Lambert 17:49

No. Well, I mean, kudos to you a lot of people probably wouldn't have been as committed. I mean, that's what's cool about that story is you were all in you know, you came out of that experience you hit the outlaw you know the I believe button.

Scott Santucci 18:04

Oh, you have no idea how many of my friends told me to not they would say that stuff is BS, you know look at look at that and look at our pipelines you know at least you know we're not killing it either, but you know, at least money right like dude in my friends were what they thought they were watching out for me. So, I had that I had the internal talk track of not doing well. I had the my managers but my but and of course, when you're on a pip, it's not just your manager, right? You have a review with the VP of sales to

Brian Lambert 18:38

Because that's when that's when the help starts

Scott Santucci 18:40

The quote unquote, help.

Brian Lambert 18:43

Yeah. And you know, remember, remember in Episode 10, I'm looking at the list here. We talked about the five sales objectives. Let's use that for our listeners here to structure this out a little bit. You know, in the first objective If you have to have, you know, a perspective, you have to bring a perspective to the buyer. Right. And you've got different...