Why doesn't training work? This is the main question.
One-sentence summary: The problem with training is that traditional face-to-face training content isn't always turned into online, bite-size chunks that keep the learner interested. Also, the focus is often on retaining knowledge rather than using it in the field.
How does the fact that 70% of learning happens on the job affect employee performance, and how can this be fixed in the case of distributed teams?
Most learning happens on the job, and for employees to do their best, they need ongoing, personalized, user-driven interventions that happen when it's convenient for them and are directly related to their job. This is especially true for distributed teams, where it's harder to practice by watching and talking to each other.
What are some signs that managers are not coaching well even though they think they are, and what can be done to improve coaching?
Managers who say they don't have time to coach or who spend most of their time on firefighting and reporting instead of practicing with their teams are not doing a good job of coaching. Companies can make sure that managers spend 80% of their time coaching and measure and pay them based on that, which has shown to have amazing results in some companies.
Marcus Cauchi: Hello, and welcome back once again to the Inquisitor Podcast with me, Marcus Cauchi. Today I have as my guest, Ben Eddy, who is CEO and co-founder of Mobile Practice. Ben, welcome.
Ben Eddy: Thank you, Marcus. Delighted to be here.
60 seconds on your background and what led you to set up mobile practice?
Marcus Cauchi: Excellent. So would you mind giving the audience 60 seconds on your background and what led you to set up mobile practice?
Ben Eddy: Sure. I come from a background of, uh, working in large organizations, predominantly automobile IT hardware services and software solutions sector, working predominantly in sales marketing and then laterally I was head of, um, sales and management training at Lexmark International for AMEA. It was here that I really encountered the issue of what happens after training.
We were bringing in new starters, giving them the, the sheet dip of products and services and skills training and then releasing them back out into the world, so to speak. Yeah. Hopi hoping that they [00:01:00] would then, uh, apply the magic that we'd sprinkle upon them in our, in our, in our excellent training courses.
And the reality is, is that we just didn't know, uh, so heavily dependent on the skills and the culture that within those teams out, out in the field to, to go and apply that. So when I met my co-founder, Arthur Choukroun in, um, I think it was 2018, we both had that same question. He, from the supplier side, he, uh, owned a, uh, a sales training organization and, and me from the, the customer side.
So over a beer, when we met each other, it was, so what do you do? Oh yeah, we are both in the same field. And this quick, this qu question quickly percolated up to the top and we went, there's gotta be a better way of doing. So long story short is, um, I left Lexmark, uh, the comfort of a very large organization to go and join ranks with Arthur, and found mobile practice.
Marcus Cauchi: So Ben, you and I have both been [00:02:00] around the block a few times and one of the things that's always frustrated me is the fact that training is often feels like. From the delegates perspective, an unwelcome interruption, and very few in my experience actually take it up. I mean the, I interviewed Tom Matson and he said the gold standard for people to complete online training is 3% of delegates actually get to the end of the program.
Why is it that training doesn't actually work?
Marcus Cauchi: If you're throwing them into a classroom, they'll complete it, but they won't necessarily have their attention fully on. So why is it that training doesn't actually work?
Ben Eddy: There's two answers to that. So if we're talking about the, the face-to-face training, I do believe that at least the, uh, often the participants enjoy a bit of time out of their busy working day, and they enjoy specifically the time at the bar in the evening with, with one another to exchange, [00:03:00] actually back in the classroom aspect, they find that a, um, a distraction from their, their daily work.
And obviously as we saw the advent of smartphone devices, they were constantly being dis distracted by what was going on in the classroom by messages from what's going on in the field. So there's a constant distraction there. Now, if we now move that forward into what we call the, you know, the blended learning environment where there's even more learning going on in online, the challenge there is, is a lot of organizations have really struggled to convert the traditional face-to-face training content into a content that is online in bite-size chunks that really keeps the the learner engaged.
But beyond all of that, here we are really focusing on knowledge retention. And 99% of the focus today is on that. So, you know, what do I remember? So we do the self-learning. We might do a virtual workshop, and then we might do an online evaluation afterwards. Here we're measuring what do we remember, but that's not necessarily what we [00:04:00] remember is what we were actually gonna go and apply back at in the field.
So here, that's where the challenge is, is is it relevant to me in my job, I need to learn what I need to learn, when I want it. When I need it.
Marcus Cauchi: Interesting. Okay. If I've got this right, what you're saying is that in order to deliver any visible, measurable improvement, each intervention needs to bring with it a clear return on investment of both time and money, and that the improvement needs to be incremental because I, I've heard you talk in the past.
70% of the actual learning happens on the job in the field
Marcus Cauchi: And, uh, how do you say that 70% of the actual learning happens on the job in the field? So, in all probability, whilst the intent may be good, the chances of employees achieving peak performance are relatively low, unless there is ongoing personalized [00:05:00] user-driven interventions that happen when they're convenient to them. and relate directly to their job. Is that a fair summary?
Ben Eddy: Yeah, but this is nothing new, you know, from, from the Greek philosophers of, you've talked about this, right? Throughs and neuroscience and experiential learning theorists. The fact of the matter is, is that we need to be placed into a context that is relevant and and interesting to us in order for which, just to play around with the knowledge that we've learned, the skills that we've learned, and actually test them.
There's nothing new in, in, in any of this that's under the sun. It's just that the, the focus has always been on, on the knowledge piece. Why? Because it's easy to measure. It is important, but it's, it's the first level of the learning. It's really split into knowledge, skills, and attitude. It's not because I know that I know how.
And even beyond that, it's not because I know how that I'm gonna change the way that I do things. I have to make room for whatever I've learned [00:06:00] within my experience and value system. And the only way that you can do that is by practicing out at, in the job in a situation that's relevant to you. And the challenge that we're faced with that nowadays is that we now live with more and more distributed teams where that observation in exchange with one another to practice has become more and more difficult.
Marcus Cauchi: And also there is a significant trend towards the channel. And if you've got distributed teams, whether they are on payroll or within some form of strategic alliance, then you don't necessarily have the same level of control that you. Where everybody is operating off a sales floor and you, you know where everyone is.
What are the questions that you see management fail to ask that they probably should?
Marcus Cauchi: So what are the questions that you see management fail to ask that they probably should?
Ben Eddy: One of the key questions that they are beginning to ask is, is that question that we ask ourselves. What happens after training? But [00:07:00] that thought process stops kind of there.
It's, it's the, the, the challenge that we find is, is that, is how do we ensure that practice, post learning intervention, where, how do we, how do we s how do we make sure that the managers are skilled, equipped to actually. Follow and accompany their, their teams and actually help them coach specific moments or, or, uh, within their customer meetings.
We're not asking them to, to pitch 10 to 12 minutes of a presentation. No, it is how can, how do you answer those difficult moments, those crucial crux moments of, of engagement with a customer that really make the difference of when you are, when you, when you meet somebody. Now the challenge to see is, is that
a lot of managers are, are, are not focused on it, and the top management are think that there is a coaching culture within organizations because they may be having coaches themselves, but often that's not being filtered down [00:08:00] to the first level management where the greatest impact is and where the most support is needed today.
How do we get past this?
Marcus Cauchi: Well, I think also a lot of managers confuse coaching with telling training, beating their chest and saying, look how a real man does. I think a lot of coaching, when you speak to salespeople, they just see a derf of it, whereas their managers are under the delusion that they're doing a great job. So how, how, how do we get past this?
Ben Eddy: So, just to take up on your point, you know, the, the studies show that, uh, only 17% of of team members believe that they're being coached by their managers
Marcus Cauchi: One seven or 7-0?
Ben Eddy: 1 - 7.
Marcus Cauchi: Shit.
Ben Eddy: So , so the, the challenge is, is that a lot of managers believe that they are providing coaching and there's this sort of mis mistaken apprehension that CRMs are coaching tools.
So when we ask customers, you know, you know, [00:09:00] what do you do of post learning intervention? How do you ensure? Well, it's obviously, it's to, it's for the managers to pick up. And yes, they do that. They do that through their monthly reviews. There's six monthly reviews. And I said, well, that's all well and good, but that's not coaching, that's managing, that's managing.
And typically managing backwards. You know, what did you do last week? And it's quantitative. And again, back to the, the learning. Why do they do this? Well, it's important and it's measurable. So coaching at the end of the day, is observing you coach what you see. And that's the challenge that a lot of managers have is, is how do you find the time to go out with your team, uh, spend time observing them and providing them on the job performance feedback.
Not every six months, but you know, whilst they're executing that, whether that's in practice or actually, uh, with their customer.
What are the indicators that you're not coaching despite the fact you might believe you are?
Marcus Cauchi: Okay, so we've got a bunch of managers who are largely under the illusion that [00:10:00] they're delivering coaching. What are the questions that, in fact, what are the indicators that you're not coaching despite the fact you might believe you are?
Ben Eddy: Well, the first one is a, is um, it's a sort of, it's a simple one in terms of when you engage with the question is, is, is that when they say, oh, they just don't have time to coach. It's not, it's not so much an indicator, but as a, as a flat out response to it, uh, it's when you ask them, you know, what is it that you spend your time doing in a week?
And it's when you hear the answers, like firefighting, escalating KPIs, reporting. And then when you ask them how much time do you, how many hours do you spend actually out, you know, practicing with your, with your teams, and they start scratching their head. You know, those are the clear indicators. It, you know, hours in a week.
I have come across certain companies that have managed to turn, to turn that, uh, pyramid upside down, where they absolutely [00:11:00] enforce 80% of their time is on coaching their, their teams, and they are measured on that and they are remunerated for that.
Marcus Cauchi: And the results.
Ben Eddy: Well, yeah, they speak for themselves without mentioning the, the, the customer.
It's, it's in a pharmaceutical customer. And their, their results over the last three years have been astonishing.
Not coaching but firefighting
Marcus Cauchi: So there is a really simple correlation here. The reason you don't have time for coaching is you're not coaching, which means that you're spending most of your time firefighting, producing reports for the audit function and otherwise getting in the way of your salespeople.
Having them fill out useless reports on the CRM. If someone from the audit function in finance or otherwise wants a report, have them bloody, well produce a report. Don't waste a salesperson's time doing it. Spend time out in the field with them. Nowadays, it might be on a virtual call, but [00:12:00] again, the problem here is very clear.
The SRC did a study in 2020, and what they found was, that managers who coached their people, an average of three to three and a half hours a month, had an average quota attainment of 105%. Those who didn't and uh, coached less, had an average quota attainment of 40 to 60%. So you're talking two to two and a half, three times the result just by putting in your time in proper coaching.
And that means observing, asking questions if you're doing a ride along, always make sure that the manager is the person who drives and the salesperson, can focus solely on the questions the manager is asking and take notes along the way. Again, we, we see so little of that.
Ben Eddy: I totally agree, Marcus, but I, I kind of have to step in here and defend the first line managers [00:13:00] here.
You know, having been one myself and having seen, worked with a lot of first line managers, you know, they're kind of the. They're pushed from below and above, you know, and this culture has to come from above them. You know, they're constantly being pressured to close the quarter to get the KPIs in, to get the training out.
There's million and one different things that they're being asked to do other than coach their teams and the performance of their teams. So,
Marcus Cauchi: Okay.
Ben Eddy: To me, to me it, it, you know, it's, it's, there's a cultural aspect that is, is wrong here. In fact, when we meet with learning and development and often senior sales, uh, uh, executives, and we talk about what we do, they say, we get what you do, Ben, that's not a problem.
The challenges is our managers, they just don't have the skills and experience to provide observational be performance based coaching. Can you do that for us? And that's also another clear indicator of a, of a, of a challenge that's within an organization.
Marcus Cauchi: And I'll support [00:14:00] you in that a hundred percent. Again, another piece of research from SRC was that only 6% that single digit six are fit for purpose and the problem there
is that managers do not have that runway. They don't learn how to do management. They're often senior and quite successful salespeople who get tacked on the shoulder and told, we fired your idiot boss. You're now the idiot boss. But it also raises the question why people with this level of experience, and I, I see this with salespeople as well, take a
job without actually understanding the ramifications of what's expected, their compensation scheme, how they will be measured. And the part of the problem here, and I think one fabulous application for what mobile practice does, is in teaching managers how to recruit properly and preparing people for their career [00:15:00] progression so that they understand the ins and outs, the, you know, the actual function of their role.
The number of times I speak to salespeople who are six months into their job and they still don't understand the compensation plan. A number of times I speak to managers who tell me that recruitment is an unwelcome interruption to their day when it is the single most important function they have, is to recruit well.
And then their second most important function is to not only hire the best people, get, but get the best outta them. And if you're not coaching, there is no way you can possibly be doing that.
Ben Eddy: Yeah, I, I, I totally agree with you. I can think of several anecdotes that I remember where recruitment has been done in haste because they know that a, uh, a headcount freeze is going ahead.
So let's just get them in, get them in the organization, you know, irrespective of the quality of the candidate. It, it's just get them in. We just need the [00:16:00] headcount. Then there's very little coaching that goes on in that first stage, and that's where we're, I've seen in good coaching, uh, coaching organizations where they're, you know, that onboarding of a, of a new employee is so vital to get them up and going, feel part of a team and actually get productive as opposed to being left in the corner in them by themselves.
To get on with whatever they need to get on with, because they're, they've been hired in because they're an experienced salesperson. And I think those are mistakes. You know, I have been guilty of that myself. It's, you know, again, it's a, the time pressure. They're an experienced person. They'll work it out.
We need to take responsibility for when we, how we hire and what we do post hiring.
Marcus Cauchi: Well, there was a really interesting article that I read over the weekend. That came from Gallup and it said that aside from slightly faster ramp up experience has zero [00:17:00] impact on long-term performance. Now, how often have we seen organizations knock out a job description that says five, five years experience is essential.
Values, beliefs, and attitudes and their ability to adapt
Marcus Cauchi: The reality is that I, I mean, I've worked in 500 different segments of the market. Six meetings is pretty much all I need to be able to sound like I belong because it's about the language and some of the ins and outs. But the reality is experience is of zero value. What does matter are the behaviors which have been turned into skills and then turned into habits.
Overall motivation, which is made up of values, beliefs, and attitudes and their ability to adapt. But almost no manager is ever taught to look for those things. They might have a bit around attitude, but that's pretty much it.
Ben Eddy: A again, [00:18:00] I I can't, I have to vividly agree with you. We're often blinded by, you know, the, what we call the, um, the Frank Sinatra effect, you know.
We've done it here, we can do it anywhere. You know, I've come from, you know, this large organization, I'm sure I can do it here, but the challenge is then we come in with this curse of knowledge that we think we know it all. The beauty is, is of of having, um, less experienced ignorant ignorance, not of a, uh, kind word, but you know, less experience is that you aren't burdened by this cursive knowledge.
So actual fact it forces you to stay in the customer. Which is a very interesting place to be because you don't have all the knowledge to answer and rush to the solution. Now, we often talk about, you know, the very experienced people, if they, there's, they go through that journey of ramping up their knowledge and then sudden suddenly, for all the best reasons in the world, they, they hear a customer pain point and they rush to a solution.
You know, what we call, you know, premature elaboration as opposed to staying in the customer space that just [00:19:00] a little bit longer. So having all that experience and knowledge doesn't necessarily make you the best candidate. As you said, it depends on your attitude. For me, it's attitude is, is so, so important and, and adaptability as you said.
Marcus Cauchi: I remember years ago I, uh, took over a territory and probably five or six of the salespeople had tried to sell to this chap and I turned up and he bought and they called it beginner's luck and they thought, oh, there's a little bit of talent here. So then they trained me in the product and my sales plummeted because I started relying on talking about features and functionality.
And I've seen that a lot. Uh, I think the world's best salesperson is Colombo, the seventies TV detective. If you look at his approach, he always struggles. He's never the cleverest person in the room. Everyone underestimates him [00:20:00] and I, I think a lot of salespeople need that beginner's mind, even if they are incredibly experienced and very knowledgeable.
I think they spend so much of their time racing to the bit that they can be good at, which is doing the presentation cuz they practice that to death.
Ben Eddy: Mm-hmm.
Marcus Cauchi: And they're polished. But I've spoken to chief purchasing officers and CXOs of every huge shape and color in small, medium, large businesses. They hate it when the salesperson brings out the PowerPoint. That is not selling. And so I think one of the really interesting aspects of being able to do this micro coaching and give very, very clear instruction in an intervention around the behavior, the intended outcome, but also what is expected of the salesperson.
It may be a 15 to 22nd snippet allows them to develop that competency within that [00:21:00] moment that they can apply in the real world. And I, I think that is something that is sadly lacking. A lot of training is done on broadcast, you know, the front of all knowledge at the front, broadcasting their version of events, then expecting people to take it away.
That doesn't even work on a retention level unless people get to practice. Then put it into the context of their real world, then probably 90% of it will have been lost within the week.
Practicing the moment of exchange
Ben Eddy: Again. That's, I totally agree. We spend so much time focusing on us, you know, our product and, and getting that right as rather than practicing the moment of exchange with the customer.
Those key moments, those key questions, those the moments of truth. And we know we're not trying to ever replicate the real performance. What we're trying to do is, is, is, you know, as the Army say, it's, it's planning, it's about the planning, it's about creating [00:22:00] behavior so that when that moment does come up, it may be slightly different, but you've, you've had that, you've behaved that way before.
You've created an, an automated behavior reaction to it, and you can rely on that. And so many sales training people then go off afterwards and they practice on customers instead of, you know, as one of your previous guests on the podcast said, the best practice on purpose, the rest practice on prospects.
Now, this is the, this is the challenges, is how do you move away from just practicing on customers? You know, we know the amount of effort it takes nowadays to get in front of customer. You've spoken about it, Marcus. You know, the, the effort in terms of marketing and then getting to a sales qualified lead to then turn up and not actually prepare yourself the best that you can be at that moment.
For those, that key moment, that key introduction, those key questions, let alone the product, just focus on, on the customer questions.
Marcus Cauchi: [00:23:00] Personally, I think that's an act of gross misconduct. Um, it, it should be a sackable offense. And when you consider that on average, seven out of eight first meetings do not result in a second meeting, and you think about the amount of time, money, blood, sweat, tears, resource that has gone to get you in front of a customer.
And lack of preparation. And thi this is one of the most important things that managers can build into their team's culture now is, uh, planning and rehearsal. I fundamentally believe that if you've just blown thousands of pounds to get in front of a customer, which you will have, if you look at the hidden cost of marketing and the hidden cost of sale, cuz it's not just the cost of making that one dial that gets you through, it's the 33 dials that get you through to 14, um, that get you through to one effective and the 14 effectives you have to make in order to get through, uh, get a meeting. And when you [00:24:00] consider that, that's one effective every two to three hours on average, unless you're calling senior executives in IT, it's, uh, not goes from one in 33 to one in 46.
Now, when you consider that. That's 14 times two, that's 28 hours. So that, that could easily be three to four billable days when you should be generating income that it's cost you just to get in front of them. And then you blow seven out of eight of those. And so that's, uh, 21 full working days. That's a month that the salesperson has squandered through lack of preparation.
Gross incompetence by leadership
Marcus Cauchi: Now if that doesn't get your blood boiling as a manager, a sales leader, an owner of a business or an investor, I dunno what will, because when that's multiplied out across your entire sales operation, that is gross incompetence by leadership. [00:25:00]
Ben Eddy: I, I agree. But again, there's nothing new in all of this. And if we actually, if we spin the clock back, organizations teams used to spend more time with themselves out in the field, used to spend more time with themselves practicing.
And people say, well, it wasn't like that in my day. But the reality is, is that teams are more and more remote. And we, we rely in this virtual world, so we are not f spending that ti that quality time together. So the challenge is, is how do you enable that practice and coaching? What we found is, is that, you know, there are, face-to-face is a fantastic, you know, you really get to see, uh, the performance and you can provide immediate observational based performance feedback.
There are other opportunities around, you know, creating, uh, virtual sessions, but our experiences in my own personal experiences that, that so many times that important practice doesn't happen. Why? Well, because there's something more important, [00:26:00] more urgent. That needs to be, you know, HR issue, a pricing issue, whatever it was, a service issue.
So it gets brushed to the side. So, so little by little, this practice has been eroded. Now you wouldn't imagine, uh, you know, a, a new doctor just being sent out there post, uh, without being coached. So why was that any different to any in, in the, in the sales environment?
Far too few salespeople really treat sales as a profession
Marcus Cauchi: I think it's because. Sales isn't really perceived by many as being a profession.
Certainly in the UK it's not. And it should be. It's the oldest profession. The other one's just a subset. Um, and the reality is, I think what this type of. coaching allows them to do is self-evaluate, and part of the, I think one of the most powerful questions that any coach can ask is, well, what do you believe happened?[00:27:00]
Why do you feel that the customer didn't buy? Why do you believe the conversation went south from that point? And by being able to do this on their phone, on video, and put as many attempts as they like in before they actually send it to the own, uh, to the coach. It allows them to really dig and see the cold, hard, ugly truth of what they're doing.
And that ugly mirror is incredibly powerful for developing ownership.
Ben Eddy: Mm-hmm.
Marcus Cauchi: And I think it will also build confidence significantly. If they are able to see their progression and then implement it and see it in the results.
Ben Eddy: So what we see with actual customers, um, implementing the solution today is this, you see a marked difference from the first time that they, they log on and video themselves and feedback from customer testimonies says that, Ooh, team's not [00:28:00] very comfortable with this, and yet they do it in their personal.
But certainly this new, the new later generation, um, the millennials very comfortable with creating online content about themselves in their personal life, but still, even they, them felt that sometimes there's a, there's a hesitancy to, to practice their professional skills and record themselves and review it.
But we see a, a remarkable difference in their attitude and in their confidence and in the level of performance once they've done 3, 4, 5 exercises. It takes two or three for them to get into it. But once they do that, then they really see the benefit for themselves because they're self-evaluating their performance and the the manager coach, they can really see the level of confidence evolving through those different practices.
Marcus Cauchi: And it's really key, as in my experience, that as people become more self-aware, they become hungrier to learn because they're seeing those little incremental improvements and it becomes [00:29:00] habit forming and it's also uh, one of the things I've always enjoyed about golf, um, is that it's not me playing someone else.
It's me playing me, and it's me playing me in this shot. If I'm worrying about the next shot of the last shot, then chances are this shot's gonna go horribly awry, uh, which it does very often. But with the ability to self-evaluate and raise my level of self-awareness and go through the routine and the process of setting myself up for the shot, making sure my stance is right, making sure my grip is right, um, making sure that I'm keeping my head down, all that. It allows me to deliver slightly more consistency.
Again, golf is not my talent. So I'm much better at learning how to sell better. But I, I think far too few salespeople really treat sales as a profession. I think too many have drifted into it [00:30:00] by accident, and it's a job, and we forget that our job as sellers is to be our customers partners. It's to create a, an environment of safety for them.
Where they feel that what we are doing is in their best interests, and you can't possibly do that if you're turning up and just vomiting up another PowerPoint and vomiting up, uh, featuring product information.
Ben Eddy: Agree with you to go back to your spotting analogy. Seve Ballesteros was my, uh, my golf, my sports hero.
He's the only person I would ever in the world go up and ask for his autograph. Sadly, I can no longer do that. But if you can, just imagine for a moment, so many people use channels like YouTube to see how the best perform, best presenters, best tennis players, best golfers, you know, and they watch and they go, okay, what can I learn?[00:31:00]
But what do we actually learn from watching Roger Federer hit a golf ball? Or Tiger, sorry, Roger Federer hit a, a tennis ball, or, or Tiger Woods hit a golf ball. We learned that they're amazing, but what would, wouldn't it be better if
Marcus Cauchi: Pretty track.
Ben Eddy: Exactly. And it's the same when we watch these business presenters that are are amazing, you know, Ted Talkers, sometimes it can be discouraging.
What if they could watch you hitting the golf ball? What if they could watch you hitting a tennis ball? What if they could watch you pitching for 30 seconds and what if they could give you some tips and hints and tips? That's where the value is and that's what we're trying to do here is is not only create.
Awareness for the, the team member, the salesperson around, so that they can practice their skills and review it themselves. But they can also share with their peers and with their managers and their coaches who can give them honest feedback as if they were customers, not necessarily even as experts in that skill [00:32:00] domain, but as the customer.
How would they have received that and provide feedback. So as you said, we're holding a mirror up to them and we're asking them to, you know, to practice and to review and identify those, those moments of incremental performance where they can improve so that when they have those, you know, two in 10 opportunities in front of a customer, that they can maximize those opportunities for their, for their own gain.
Marcus Cauchi: I think one of the other aspects, which is very undervalued is the peer-to-peer observation and certainly in all of the teams that I'm building, uh, with my clients, we spend a lot of time on role play and swapping roles. One of my favorite examples of this is, uh, Buddhist monks who for 10 minutes take a opposing perspectives and one of them argues for the existence of God.
And the other one, argu argues against it and then they [00:33:00] swap. And I think I, in terms of really developing your thinking, understanding the nuanced, uh, understanding, uh, the different moving parts within your customer's business. Very, very little is as powerful as working with your peers and having those peers critique.
So one critical area that I love to involve my, uh, sales teams in is in the pre-mortem. So we have a red team whose job is to pick the deal to pieces and the white team is to defend it. And what's fascinating about that is not only the amount of output, but the acceleration of the sales cycle that occurs, and the quality of the qualification that occurs because they've done that pre-mortem and that rehearsal.
And I, if you're not doing that, then what you tend to do is you tend to see people [00:34:00] evolve in isolation and they don't form as strong a bond as a team. I think the other great advantage of doing this is that you can always have a backup. So if your, uh, lead salesperson gets clicked by the number 73 bus, then someone else can step in and they've lived it all before.
And there's this, uh, particularly now, there's all this video library of what good looks like, uh, in this specific situation and bringing. People who have a similar job function, who are friendly is another key aspect. Uh, you know, one of the things I love seeing in Splunk, for example, is they recruit people from industry to act as strategic advisors to the sales teams.
Advising the salespeople on how not to butcher their sales when they're speaking to people
Marcus Cauchi: So you've got people like Juliana Vida, who was the associate, uh, sorry, assistant CTO to the Navy [00:35:00] at the Pentagon, and she's now there advising the salespeople on how not to butcher their sales when they're speaking to people, uh, in a CTO role. You know, it's very, very smart and you can document all this stuff nowadays, uh, which previously you couldn't.
Ben Eddy: Again, uh, I think it's really interesting when you've got, uh, heterogeneous teams with, with various experiences, skills and industry background. You know, for example, if imagine I'm, tomorrow, I'm going to pitch to an insurance agent and to us our IT services and skills, I don't understand necessarily, uh, the, all the challenges I may have looked them up.
But what if I could ask one of my, my colleague who's based in Northampton, how would you answer this question? How would you present this to this? Because I know you've, you've come with 15 years of working in the insurance industry game. Could you, could you just gimme feedback on my, um, on, does this sound like I've aligned myself with the key [00:36:00] issues that these people would face?
Do I sound credible? The power of that we have a customer who does that all the time. They share that within, within team members who've got differing come from differing background of industries, and that's really powerful.
Having range and diversity within your team
Marcus Cauchi: This also speaks to another really important factor, which is having range and diversity within your team.
Ben Eddy: Hmm.
Marcus Cauchi: Because there is a book called Range, and I, the author's name escapes me, but what is very clear from that research is that organizations that have a broad range of experience, massively outperform very specialized teams because they come at the problem from multiple different perspectives. And so having people from different socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, international backgrounds, different industry experiences will enrich the team.
And when you start to collect that [00:37:00] library of best practices, they will help you to see the world through a different lens. And part of the problem, I think is far. Often sales organizations tend to get very blinked and they don't see the world through a kalei scape of perspectives, and the net result of that is then they're only selling to people just like them, and that's where they're successful as opposed to being successful whomever they sell to. Your thoughts?
Ben Eddy: So we've got, um, uh, a customer who's in the military aviation industry, and obviously they typically recruit military backgrounds into their organizations. So you've taken somebody who has very disciplined, very good at executing orders, and then placing them into a very unstructured, where they have to align with stakeholders and get them to understand who they're talking to.
And sometimes they need to provide them [00:38:00] training and re so that they can practice those skills. It's not just about, you know, giving them information about the, the different types of stakeholders that they're gonna be meeting. They haven't met necessarily those type of stakeholders before and that, so they need to be able to reprogram themselves to a certain degree. Now, these are intelligent people, so they're very capable of doing it, but they need to have opportunities to practice before actually meeting these, these stakeholders who are in very large, often governmental organizations where you know your first impact, you know, your first impressions make an enormous impact on, on the customer.
So stakeholder alignment is crucial at that stage.
10 figure 11 figure deals
Marcus Cauchi: Well, there is also another really important factor in environments like that, that the people that you are selling to typically change role every two to three years. And very often if you're talking about these 10 figure 11 figure deals, I mean, they're [00:39:00] huge.
Then you really better be in a position to accelerate that whole process. And if you haven't practiced, if you don't understand, if you don't have access, uh, to people who understand the environment and you are not engaging quickly enough, you might find yourself on a five or six year sales cycle because you haven't got all the moving parts.
Aligned quickly enough, and so you have to start again. So it's really very, very important, particularly when you're dealing with enterprise.
Ben Eddy: Yeah, very much so. Uh, that I, I've lived that and breathed that myself in work selling into global retail organizations. Multimillion deal projects where we have on our side, we were six to eight people on their side.
There were tens of, dozens of them in different countries, you know, and it's, it, it's, you know, and there's a huge amount of realignment inside the team. And communication as well as insightment and realignment with the [00:40:00] customer. You know, vitally important and obviously, you know, you, you need to get momentum in these, in those type of situations.
Otherwise, as you said, someone changes job, suddenly the priorities changed and all that planning and work that you've put in for the last 18 months can disappear in smoke. And that's so disheartening for the team and com, you know, and is not necessarily understood or appreciated by the senior management. And so
Marcus Cauchi: The cost huge.
Ben Eddy: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Marcus Cauchi: Sorry. The cost of pursuit if you have to start all over again is massive. And with these big outsourcing deals, seven figures, eight figures is not unheard of when you are looking at 10 year deal or a five year deal for hundreds of millions of pounds.
Ben Eddy: Yes.
Marcus Cauchi: So you really had better pull your finger out and, um, you know, um, look at the, actual hidden cost behind your, uh, approach to selling.
Uh, I'm just in the throes of writing an article on Sales [00:41:00] Proctology, um, because we're going into a deep probe as to where sales management goes wrong, and I suspect there will be an awful lot of pushback for people who will be offended. But the reality is, if you don't understand that and you don't understand your customer, their culture, um, the, the changeover of personnel, the timeframes, their outcomes, then you will really, really struggle and it will hurt your top and your bottom line.
So, Ben, we're coming to the top of the hour, Seth.
Ben Eddy: Mm-hmm.
What are you struggling with at the moment? What are you wrestling with?
Marcus Cauchi: This has been really fascinating. Tell me this, what, what are you struggling with at the moment? What are you wrestling with?
Ben Eddy: I think the, the biggest challenge is the growing pains of, um, of an ed, of an EdTech startup. I've made the, um, the mistakes like many have and, uh, where onboarding customers, r rushing that process and then rushing onto the next sale and, um, uh, and to my own uh, peril. Um, uh, I have learned the hard way. [00:42:00] And really I begin to, you know, go slow is to go fast. So there are, you know, there are, there are compromises to be made. So I'm now focusing more on making sure the excellent onboarding and making sure that I've got a customer that's very happy to be a customer's testimonial, which means going faster in the long run, but slowing down in, in, in the short term, which means, you know, tr how do I find focus to get the new conversations, get the new into the pipe.
So that's a real, I'm really thinking around how do I leverage partners at this stage? How do we get that exponential effect using partners as opposed to just depending on the internal resources that we have within the organization?
Have to look at strategic alliances and partnerships
Marcus Cauchi: That's a really good point. I, I think if you want to 10 x instead of 10, Grow, then you really do have to look at strategic alliances and partnerships.
You can spend a lot of time developing your partners [00:43:00] and one partner can be worth a dozen or 50 end customers if you've picked the right partners. So again, the the one thing I would advise with respect to that is take your time when it comes to selecting partners and before you put a ring on their finger, make sure.
Both sides are compatible. Culturally, your business model is a good fit that they will allow you to train their people and it will massively increase your growth, but it requires, one of the interesting things that a lot of people struggle with is it requires you to give up control. Because your partners are in business for their reasons, not your reasons.
And where many go wrong is they spend their marketing budget on trying to promote their product instead of helping their partners promote their business. And that's a really interesting dilemma [00:44:00] because your CFO F at some point will say, why the hell are we spending all this money marketing someone else's business?
Well, the reason for. Is your job as a vendor is to help your partners be wildly successful and training them is not a shot in the foot, even though they may well end up selling someone else's products using your training. But again, it's really, really important that founders in the early stage CEOs understand that that investment will pay back in spades later.
Ben Eddy: Yeah. Yeah. I, I, I couldn't agree more. I couldn't agree more. The, the other challenge is, you know, is recruiting the right people internally as well. That's, that's a, a key challenge. Again, I have, I have made mistakes there. Uh, as the French would say, I've, I've miscast people and I take full responsibility for that.
I think it's such a, an important thing to do, you know, recruit the right person, get the right skills, and we've already spoken [00:45:00] about. But again, it's something that I'm, I'm constantly evolving and constantly learning and around good recruitment practice.
Marcus Cauchi: Where most people go wrong is they see recruitment as an interruption to their day job as a manager or a leader.
Whereas in fact it is their number one job. And the problem is that if you are reactive in your recruitment, you tend to make the compromise higher of the best available at that time. Whereas if you make recruitment a daily activity and you build your bench, then you're picking the best from the entire market and you are planning ahead.
And this is really key. If you don't understand. The resources and the positions that you're going to need in six months, a year, three years from now, then chances are that time will fly by.
Ben Eddy: Hmm.
Marcus Cauchi: And you'll find yourself reacting. Whereas if you set budget, Aside, you've [00:46:00] identified what the trigger point will be for making that next hire for that key position, and you understand why you're doing it, uh, why you're hiring and you spent 12 to 18 months building the bench.
Then odds are you'll make a good hire. And we touched on it earlier where so many organizations hire 10 salespeople in the hope that three might work out over the course of a year. And he'd be left with one after two years. That is massively expensive. It, it's a drain on resource. It's bad for morale when nine out of 10 ha don't stick around after two years.
And the, uh, research that Dr. Phil McGowan has done is really interesting. It indicates very clearly that salespeople really hit their full stride after three years in. Now if you're turning over salespeople every 6, 12, 18 months, that means that they never hit their full potential. Yes, [00:47:00] they might be up to quota, but that's nowhere near what they're capable of.
And this then feeds right back into this whole discussion around coaching a critical importance of that.
Ben Eddy: Yeah.
Marcus Cauchi: If they, if they've been getting 150 to 180 hours of coaching per year, Over three years, they will stand so far apart from other salespeople who get none or ti a tiny amount, uh, of training, dressed up as coaching and normally just berating.
Ben Eddy: Absolutely. Again, yeah, I couldn't agree more, but it's, uh, it's a, every day's a school day and, uh, you know, recruitment is a, is a, is a key challenge.
Marcus Cauchi: Absolutely. Okay. We can talk about that another time. What are you reading, watching, listening to at the moment that you really rate? So,
Ben Eddy: whilst I love to, uh, uh, you know, I read, I really love to listen to audio books and podcasts while I walk.
So, you know, I, I love [00:48:00] historical political comedy podcasts, so things from Americas with John Sopel. To Al Murray, he's got a, a very interesting historical podcast to Andy Saltzman on the, on the comedy side. And then, um, on terms of business podcast, well, here, I'm gonna have to embarrass you because I've really enjoyed listening to many of your contributions, and I've even quoted some of them in a, in this, in this interview.
In terms of reading, I, I , there's no problem. I, I like reading around the topic of learning and, and how the brain works. So, and how I, like, I've, I, I like works from things like, uh, made a Stick by Chip and Dan Heath there. I love the anecdotal aspects of those books. Very applied to the Brain Rules by John Medina or the par, uh, Chimp Paradox.
You know, I really like playing around with these principles of how neuroscience, experiential learning, advertising, they're sort of the crossroads of, and how it all, you know, how it can all be applied in everyday life and obviously in, uh, in sales and coaching.
Marcus Cauchi: [00:49:00] Fantastic. I've tried to look up a fantastic history podcast that I have occasionally listened to, but it, it looks at everything from so many, uh, different aspects and the, I'm gutted that I can't tell you, uh, what it's called, but I, I will do offline. Um, but I, I think history is definitely an area that salespeople should pay he to. Uh, if you don't understand how history has a tendency to repeat, if you don't understand how history has a tendency to offer fabulous lessons that we too often forget, then you'll tend to repeat the same mistakes time and time again. Yeah. And that is incredibly dangerous. Well, I think one of the things that I've learned, and I, I don't journal because I find it quite a tedious excise, but what I do is I produce lots of content and I journal my ideas through my content. [00:50:00] And what I've found is people who do keep a journal, have a reference point into their history.
And they can see incremental improvement in their own performance. And the clients that I've worked with when I had my training business, who kept a journal, would regularly grow their sales by 300 to 1200%. Those who didn't would grow by 10 to 30%. So it, it is well worthwhile, and again, don't do what I do, do what I say on this occasion, but it, you know, the, the production of, uh, flurry.
Or a steady stream of quality content based on scar tissue is a very useful payoff in this day and age where you need to build your personal brand. So follow one or other of those approaches or both if uh, you have the discipline. Excellent.
What choice bit of advice would you give him that he would've probably ignored?
Marcus Cauchi: So Ben, you've got a golden ticket and you can go back and advise the idiot Ben aged 23. What choice [00:51:00] bit of advice would you give him that he would've probably ignored?
Ben Eddy: Well, other than to tell myself, you really do need to buy that flat in Fulham in London, uh, even though it's too expensive and not spend it on beer. That would be my number one thing. Uh, but other than that, I would advise myself to spend more time with, with people that could really help find my passion.
It was always there. I just found it difficult to verbalize those thoughts and create an actionable, plan which kind of finishes and comes back to your point about journaling, in fact. And sometimes you need to, you need to have that conversation with somebody else and then go back and do your journal. Cuz it's when you, when you verbalize those thoughts that it starts to, to formulate and become just abstract thoughts in, you have to formalize them into sentences.
And I would've highly encouraged myself to spend time with people who could have really helped me develop those thoughts.
Marcus Cauchi: I definitely wish I'd, um, managed to get my ego outta the [00:52:00] way and ask for help sooner. And if there is one regret that I'll have on my deathbed, that will be it. It was such a waste. And, you know, learning, uh, going to the person who is the expert in that field or who has the experience in that field is a massive shortcut.
And there is no shame in asking for help.
Ben Eddy: No, no, no, no. But learn it forward. Don't look back.
Marcus Cauchi: Very good. I, yeah, I should steal that.
How can people get hold of you?
Marcus Cauchi: So Ben, how can people get hold of you?
Ben Eddy: Very easily, you can find me on LinkedIn, um, or you can just simply email me at email@example.com.
Marcus Cauchi: Excellent, Ben Eddy. Thank you.
Ben Eddy: Thank you.
Marcus Cauchi: So if you are the owner or CEO of a tech company and it's in the 10 to 50 million range, and your goal is to grow your business and achieve real, sustainable, profitable hyper growth with highly engaged and highly productive employees to act in your entire revenue [00:53:00] operation and clients who stick with you year after year, decade after decade, let's schedule time for a brief conversation.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can direct message me on LinkedIn. Now, Ben and I are both founding members of Sales of Force for Good, and our mission is to remind us that we exist because of, not in spite of the customer. We're in this service profession. And we're trying to raise the selling profession and make it an aspirational career choice. And provide the conditions, the tools, the resources for the next generation of salespeople and sales managers and sales leaders so that they can really deliver buyer safety and be very much pro customer.
So if you're interested in that, check out the hashtag S A F F G hashtag pro. And hashtag Bias Safety. We have videos and we have articles, and we're [00:54:00] capturing all these lessons and we're making them freely available forever for any of the members of the community. So if you're interested in getting involved, we meet every couple of weeks on a Thursday afternoon, UK time, and very much look forward to speaking to you soon.
In the meantime, stay safe and happy selling. Bye-bye.