What is a supply chain defined as, and what makes up a supply chain?
A supply chain is a collection of businesses that participate in the production and sale of a thing, from raw materials to completed goods. Sub-components, energy and utilities, as well as indirect suppliers, are all included in everything that goes into producing and delivering a product. The supply chain is crucial for companies that manufacture goods because it can affect whether products are available during periods of strong demand or unanticipated dangers.
What are some typical supply chain hazards that firms need to be mindful of?
Short answer: To identify and manage their risk exposure and prevent interruption, as demonstrated by the pandemic, organizations should be aware of their whole supply chain, including sub-tiers and even small components.
How does Bradley Paster make sure that his company collaborates for big ticket sales?
Bradley is a firm believer in early expectation setting during the hiring and onboarding processes, ensuring the establishment of all functional areas involved in the sales process, praising those who make a difference, team-based selling, building relationships and trust, and persistently soliciting feedback from his team and encouraging open communication.
Marcus Cauchi: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome back to the Inquisitor Podcast with me, Marcus Cauchi. Today my guest is Bradley Paster. He is the VP of Sales for Risk Methods, which is a supply chain risk management company based in the US. Bradley, welcome.
Bradley Paster: Thank you, Marcus. Uh, very happy to be here.
60 seconds on your background
Marcus Cauchi: Excellent. Could you give the audience 60 seconds on your background please?
Bradley Paster: Absolutely. So, uh, as Mark has indicated, um, VP of Sales responsible for North America at a company by the name of Risk Methods, we're a Munich based supply chain risk management company, and we can get into a little bit about what that means. My background starts way back in, uh, actually technical support.
I've done pre-sales, I've done alliances. I've been an individual contributor. I've run pre-sales, sales teams, business development, and over the past 10 to 15 years, I've really been focusing on. Selling, building, developing teams [00:01:00] that focus into selling what I call solutions into cost centers. And maybe we can spend a little bit of time talking about that.
Marcus Cauchi: Absolutely. I'm excited by this. Bradley and I share some philosophies around sales, which is the the subject of the second podcast that we're gonna do.
What supply chain entails
Marcus Cauchi: But today we're gonna be talking about supply chain and risk. So first of all, many people who listen may not really be intimately familiar with what supply chain entails. Do you mind giving us a sort of two minute overview?
Bradley Paster: Sure. So when people think of supply chain, most people look and they say, oh, where's my item? Or Do Hickey from Amazon? And where is that and what they, and yes, that is part of the supply chain. However, what people don't realize is that there are an entire sub-industry, if you want to call it, of how do you support and build out the individual components that [00:02:00] ultimately make that product that gets to you.
So if you're manufacturing a car, what are the thousand of individual items that support the manufacturer of that car? And each of those individual components have their own suppliers, their own distribution, their own creation that ultimately supports that, and that represents the supply chain. So everything we touch, everything we work with is part of that massive chain from beginning to end on everything that we use, everything that we consume.
Marcus Cauchi: So that could be raw materials, components, elements have been manufactured to be brought together. Uh, could be energy and utilities, the whole shebang. Anything that gets you to the point where a product lands on your doorstep.
Bradley Paster: Absolutely. The, the area that a lot of people get a little, well get a little bit of confusion on is the distinction between what some people call indirect or direct, or suppliers versus vendors.
The way that I high level it [00:03:00] for people is the suppliers are the company and people that provide you the things that help you make the product that you sell to your customers. Vendors are the people and companies that supply the things that allow you to run your business. So the HVAC system that provides heating and cooling, that's a vendor to you. Yet the components and parts that make up that HVAC system are part of that company's supply chain.
And as you put it, Marcus, it's, it's everything, uh, it's everything that we touch, everything we interact with. And that could be, again, chemicals, it could be sub-components, and a lot of that really through the pandemic, became aware even with things like the vaccine, so great, you can develop a vaccine, but you can't get enough syringes.
And cuz there's one company that makes the syringes in the Western hemisphere, uh, I might be exaggerating, but I, I don't think I'm pretty far off. And then therefore, great, you manufacture the all of the [00:04:00] vaccines, yet you have no way of distributing them and that's a problem.
Marcus Cauchi: Understood. So in terms of the critical importance of the supply chain, your business, to a large extent, if you're producing anything in the form of a product, depends on that supply chain.
So we saw this in the first lockdown where lots of companies bought out the existing stock of computers, laptops, routers, and all that kind of stuff. And then the supply chain from China dried up. So then they had to find alternative sources and this then created a huge problem because there was a drop-off in supply whilst there was still growing demand.
And we see this periodically where you're not able to plan or where risks that were unplanned for have suddenly, um, struck home.
Common risk that people should be aware of within their supply chain
Marcus Cauchi: So talk to me about the common risk that [00:05:00] people should be aware of within their supply chain. And then we'll go into some of the more interesting and esoteric ones.
Bradley Paster: It might sound a little bit crazy, but most organizations don't even understand their supply chain.
There was, uh, a quote in Financial Times with the CEO of Apple where he made the comment that outside of Wuhan, they have no visibility into. The rest of their supply chain in China. So you think Apple, right? Massive. They know everything. Fantastic company, marquee organization. Yet Tim Cook doesn't know outside of the one or two places that they do manufacturing, what's their exposure inside China?
And what you wind up finding out is that from most companies, uh, and we have some customers that when they look at their entire supply chain, they may work upwards of 30, 40,000 companies at any given time.
Marcus Cauchi: Wow.
Bradley Paster: And then when you, and then when you look at what, so this is getting into a little bit into sort of esoteric part of supply chain, but there's [00:06:00] all these, these things called sub tier, which is, I manufacture something that I deliver to market.
So it might be, uh, a Logitech camera, but then Logitech has people underneath them that supply other components, and those people have it underneath their. So most companies, because this is really a human issue, right? They don't have enough people to do the measurement and do the analysis. They'll say, well, we'll look at the top 10% of our, of our supply chain, and we'll analyze them, and then we'll look at the top 10% of those, and that's all good and well.
However, what if the one thing that you need is the screw that holds the lid on a glove box in your car. So they're not a strategic supplier, right? They make a little screw, whatever. It's a little screw, but you can't ship the product unless you have the cover for the thing. So you've done all this great analysis, you've looked at your top 10%, yet you figure you forget that that little widget is what prevents you from [00:07:00] going to market.
So we've spent the last pick a number 20, 30 years in terms of trying to slice and dice the data to say, we'll do it based upon spend. Right? So we'll look at how much do we spend in terms of supply chain. We'll look at in terms of what are largest vendors. However, the companies that are risk aware. And I mean that by companies that look at what is their risk exposure across their supply chain.
Look at it holistically. They look across the board and they say, all right, what is that little widget that prevents us going to market? And then what are the companies that we spend the most with? And for those companies, whether they do it manually or they buy a solution like ours at risk methods, or they, you know, work with an outside consulting firm, those are the companies that survived and did well during the pandemic.
The other aspect that the pandemic exposed was for a lot of the things we buy and consume. Look here in the States there was a run on toilet paper.
Marcus Cauchi: Yeah.
Bradley Paster: And the issue with the toilet paper was, you know, there's like two companies that make [00:08:00] the wood pulp that go into the toilet paper. Right. So, you know, you can't go find another company that makes the wood pulp.
So everyone thinks why isn't, you know, why am I getting more continental? Why aren't I getting more Charmin? Why aren't I getting more this? Well still daily work with two companies. , right? So that's really where a lot of people got caught.
Marcus Cauchi: This is where it, I, I think it's the Caltech, uh, matrix. Forgive me for pronouncing it, uh, appallingly.
But on the left hand matrix, you have financial impact and across the top, uh, you have supplier risk. And if you don't understand where your suppliers fit, then you could very easily find your. In very bad hot water because it may be that there's only low financial impact, but if there's only one or two suppliers, toilet paper creates a national crisis.
Bradley Paster: Correct.
Marcus Cauchi: And people get shot outside of supermarkets cuz you let people carry guns. And uh, [00:09:00] you know, I, I remember seeing a, I think it was must have been a Facebook post and this couple were piling in two carton loads of toilet paper, pallet load, sorry, on the back of their pickup truck, and they ended up in this ruckus because people wanted toilet paper.
You really have to understand that we are actually in a quite a fragile position when things are going smoothly. We ignore the fact that there are these, uh, threats, but when the crisis hit, it exposed so much within the supply chain. It also made us realize just how dependent we were on things that we took for granted.
Cleaners, for example, you know, now they're guardians of public health and at the vanguard of getting us back into, uh, the office, back into the high street, back onto planes, uh, trains and automobiles.
Understanding risk is so crucial that very few people pay at any heed
Marcus Cauchi: I think understanding risk is so crucial that very few people [00:10:00] pay at any heed, and in fact, in my experience, most people would rather overlook risk because what they're really interested in is certainty. So talk to me about how you manage that balancing act in good times when everything appears to be running smoothly. And how do you sell risk and risk management into a cost center when they think everything is hunky dory?
Bradley Paster: I look at the flip side of managing risk as it, it is really fundamental just managing your business.
And if you understand what the risks are, then you can actually plan appropriately and grow and you can actually be more aggressive with your business. People hear risk and they view it as, we should take a pause and step back. And I would argue that by understanding your risk, you can actually be more aggressive as a business.
So one of our customers, Adco, they make, uh, a variety of things, but they make tractors is one of 'em. Because they had visibility into their supply chain, they were able to grow and expand their business during the pandemic and be [00:11:00] more aggressive with what they're doing. So when we talk about supply selling into a cost center, and my selling goes back to early days of document and content management.
Where you would sell to literally the librarian who'd open the book and, you know, you know, pick out the, uh, work order or, or any of those items and you'd say, we're gonna help you do what you do. And then went on to governance, risking compliance, again, selling in a cost centers. And one of the ways that we found to be most effective is there is an issue of scale.
So, you know, we started early on and I indicated that some organization supply chains could be in 10, 20, 30, 40,000. You can't solve that with people, and it's not a question about replacing people. That's not what we want to do. What it is you want to use the teams you have in the most effective way. So right now, if you're analyzing 500 companies, you can't hire enough people.
Talk about [00:12:00] supply and demand. You just can't hire enough talented people or even untalented people, to scale that human population, right, to go analyze and normalize data around 30,000 other companies. So what you do is you look at. How can what we do help provide certainty to the company and how can you scale that area of the business?
So for us, it's visibility to your supply chain in a way that then your business can meet their strategic objectives. So it, it's really critical, and this goes for any selling, that what you're selling in my point of view, solves a personal and professional pain. And what I mean by that is I run a sales team.
And also I'm also responsible for customer service and alliances and business development and all of that. If someone comes and says to me, Bradley, I can sell you widget for Salesforce, that'll automate, you know, putting data in into Salesforce, I've never met a salesperson that likes Salesforce. My response is, no.
Right. I'm not gonna put that spend in it [00:13:00] because my team should just be more diligent. However, if I can't get the reporting to my boss, who then needs the reporting to the board, that now becomes a company issue. So if you can link solving, getting data into Salesforce faster, quicker, more accurately into the pain of board visibility, okay, now we have a conversation.
So it's a personal pain that now becomes a professional one. And the same thing with supply chain. We'll talk to teams and they'll say, look, we don't want your solution because we don't wanna fire everyone. We go that that's absolutely, absolutely not what we're talking about. What we're talking about is your team is spending 8, 10, 15 hours a week generating reports.
Is that what you want them to do? Or do you really want them analyzing and helping growing the business and, and if you could scale that, what does that mean for your business? Right. And the people that we work with really like that. Because I don't know anyone who likes spending all that time building reports.
Right. So they can go back to being whatever they [00:14:00] are. Being an analyst, being a category manager. Be a partner in finance in terms of really running the business well or in terms of procurement and that's what they want to do and that's where we can help them with it. So I've never had the luxury markets of, you know, as we indicated, uh, we were talking earlier, selling umbrellas when it's raining.
But what I really like about what we do is for those companies that we drive and impact the value on, those become really trusted relationships. We transcend sort of the. Software slinger mentality, we're integrated heavily with their business processes and in the almost years I've been here, I've seen the people we work with also get promoted inside the organization.
So you talk again about personal and professional, they're tying themselves to initiatives that meaningfully help the company. Right. And that's awesome to be able to do.
Marcus Cauchi: To build on that, it's crucial to understand that your customers pay for outcomes. They do not pay for your product, your software, your service.
They [00:15:00] pay for outcomes and they rent the outcome for as long as it delivers the, uh, result that they need. So your job as a salesperson is to help your customer become wildly successful. You need to make them the hero.
Bradley Paster: Mm-hmm.
Marcus Cauchi: And if you do that, not only will they be loyal, for as long as you are still relevant to them and their business, but they will become your advocates.
They will become your R&D uh, function. They will become your marketing arm. And sellers who sell selfishly and they are focused on hitting their quota instead of making the customer the hero inevitably cannot get that kind of, uh, loyalty and support from their customer.
Is what passes for great in sales fit for purpose?
Marcus Cauchi: One of the questions I have at the moment, I'm gonna deviate slightly from our thread, is, is what passes for great in sales fit for purpose?
Bradley Paster: I don't think so. We [00:16:00] work really hard. We have a, a pretty, not rigid, but we have certainly a methodology around how we hire people and how we recruit and what we want. And I mentioned this before and I'm coming to people, it's really important from my perspective to sell empathetically. And if you do that, you're also focused on the outcomes.
And to your point, so people, and I've said it, You need to focus on. So, you know, solving the initiative and the people that sign the bills, sign the checks, sign the agreement, they don't care how the problem gets solved, right? And if you focus on the outcome and the way that we measure and the way that we look and the way that we push on terms of salespeople, it's, it's completely not aligned with any of that.
You can still run, if I understand your question correctly, you can still run a solid sales organization. You can still hold people accountable. You can still have measurement, you can still do all of that yet focus on developing and growing the relationship with the. And when I look at our data around what I call upsell, which is selling into our existing [00:17:00] customer base, yeah, our stats are off the chart, which indicates to me that we are.
Doing the right thing for the customers, right? And there's always gonna be someone where we don't align. And that happens. But really, you know, eight outta 10 times we're hitting, we're aligning where we are. And I want people in the organization that look at really the customer first perspective around how we sell.
If I, if I understand your question correctly.
Marcus Cauchi: You are hitting it right on the mark. I think what you're describing there is the customer is at the heart of what you do. You are delivering buyer safety because you are reliable, you're consistently relevant, and you're responsive. You are focused on the customer and their success, delivering the outcome that they need, and you're not focused on the transaction.
You're focused on sustained success over time. Chances are that you are teaching your people to be rigorously authentic so that customers can feel confident that they can open up and be authentic [00:18:00] instead of being closed and guarded. It doesn't mean that you don't end up in constructive conflict because sometimes they may want something and you have to challenge them.
If it will do them harm or if they're overstepping the mark. You need to be vulnerable and courageous enough to admit when you can't help and you're forming long-term partnerships, which are deeply collaborative and as a result, your co-developing solutions by, uh, otherwise they wouldn't be inviting you in to upsell.
Right. Would that be fair summary?
Bradley Paster: I think it's a very accurate summary. Yes.
Marcus Cauchi: Excellent. Okay. Well, the, the fantastic to hear. Because certainly within the modern software environment, that's rare. I can honestly say you're in the top 2 to 5% if you're actually doing that. So hats off to you.
Bradley Paster: Thank you. It's something that we certainly aspire to do.
I'd like to think more often than not, we hit the mark there and when you asked about selling into cost centers, there really isn't a [00:19:00] compelling event. There's nothing that we can force for lack of a better word in terms of getting a deal done. And I was talking with a friend of mine yesterday and he's like, what's your compelling event?
I go, there isn't, right? I mean, so if there isn't a compelling event, how do you drive the sale? How do you create predictability? How do you give visibility? Right? I mentioned my boss. How do we give visibility to the board forecasting all that? And the way that you do it is you develop those relationships with the people you're working with, and that is, it can be at times a long sales cycle.
We try not activate, our average sales cycle is roughly about six months, which I think considering all is not bad. And it's really working and building those relationships and solving those problems. And if you're able to do it and you understand the impact, then you drive the predictability. Then you drive the repeatability out of it, you drive the upsell out of it.
But if every conversation is, Hey Marcus, you gotta buy this. Um, today's the 28th. You got two more days and we're gonna pull the contract from you and you know, fol to you. That doesn't move it forward, right in your pr and you know, full and well that come May 2nd, [00:20:00] May 3rd, 4th, I'll probably sell it to you anyways for that price.
So why are we doing that? That, that BS dance back and forth, right?
Marcus Cauchi: It sickens me. It's repellent on so many levels. Uh, we exist because of, not in spite of the customer, we are a service profession, sales. And the problem is that service seems to have gone out the window whilst, um, we sacrifice service for, uh, selfish greed, for driving notional quotas that who cares if it comes in four days later?
Really? If you're a public company, yeah, I kind of get it. But if you're privately held, you have absolutely no reason to do it other than you are trying to satisfy the financiers, um, who are not, who don't really care about the customer. If they did, they would not drive this kind of terrible behavior. And the culture, the outlook, the attitude of the money behind you drives the behavior within [00:21:00] your sales operation.
Now, I'd like to come back to this whole element of understanding risk. Risk means that you are moving from lower to higher value with the possibility of losing some or all of what you've got. And you should be trying to maximize your risk. What people confuse risk with is sacrifice, which is moving from higher to lower value and there is no upside.
Bradley Paster: Right?
Marcus Cauchi: And as a result of that, they tend to shy away from risk in the same way that they shy away from things like regulation and compliance. Compliance and sustainability are both profit centers, if you understand. The problem is that most people don't bother to take the time to understand compliance, sustainability, or risk because it's difficult.
It requires actual fault and effort. And in my experience, a lot of management have been over promoted [00:22:00] to a point where they don't really understand the moving parts that are affected by the stuff that they sell. And the net result of that is that they take the easy option. And the easy option is throw the problem over the wall to the customer and, you know, put them under pressure or put your sales team under enormous pressure, create mental health problems and a revolving door, uh, and, uh, burn out your middle management.
Bluntly, that's fucking crazy. It's just b beyond belief. If you, if you ran your finance department in the half hour slipshod manner that you run your sales and marketing operation, you'd be in jail inside a quarter.
Bradley Paster: Absolutely.
Marcus Cauchi: Back to off my, off my, uh, soapbox and back out the ramp. So tell me this then.
what are the opportunities that businesses have and management leadership have to optimize the performance of their business, to drive efficiency, improve profitability if they really understand risk well?
Marcus Cauchi: When we look at managing risk effectively, what are the opportunities that businesses have and management leadership have to optimize the performance of their business, to drive efficiency, improve profitability [00:23:00] if they really understand risk well?
Bradley Paster: I would say understanding risk is, is absolutely a key component of it.
I use this term rationalizing risk, which means in my mind, not all risk is the same. So when a company talks about risk, there's the known risk, the unknown risk, and the unknown unknown risk, uh, inside of there. And what I mean by that is, If you do business in China, you know you have no visibility into China, right?
Full stop. You just don't know. Okay? That's a, that is a known unknown risk, meaning you know that you're not gonna know what's going on in there, but that doesn't mean that you can't plan for contingencies, that you can't start investigating, potentially bringing manufacturing back or maybe moving to Taiwan or a different country or something like that.
And by understanding. What, what is A risk versus a B risk, and how do you weight those and understand that they're not both the [00:24:00] same? I, I think, actually gives you massive freedom in your business to make those decisions, to make those investments and what we call risk aware companies are the ones that understand that and they can make the decision to your point where they want to invest and where they want to grow their business.
And if you don't understand that, then everything's scary, right? You're, you're like a kitten or a little kid where, where every, underneath, every bed, there's a boogeyman waiting for you. Right. But once you understand it's not, you get massive freedom in terms of your ability to execute. And I look at that in terms of.
Let's bring it back to selling. Doing due diligence as part of the sales cycle helps eliminate those unknowns and it gives your freedom in the deal. Gives your freedom to to stop the deal, right? Qualify out early. That's one things everyone learns. So if you know that you call out early, you move on, you help a positive relationship with your prospect cuz you say, Hey Marcus, we actually can't solve your problem.
This is what we do do, and maybe down the road we can connect and the person goes, thank you. You know, you've, I have not [00:25:00] wasted all this time. It's the same in terms of business dealings when you look at your supply chain. If you understand that there is only one company that provides that magic powder that you need for your ceramics, I view it as how do you develop the deeper, broader, more strategic relationship with that provider than viewing it as, oh, we have one provider and we're gonna stick the screws to 'em and we're gonna squeeze 'em for every margin out of it.
And then shock will be surprised when they get sold to our competitor. Right? So if they really are a strategic provi, and, and we hear this, we get inbound leads where someone goes, oh, there were two companies in the entire world that provided this thing that we needed that was critical for our number one product.
One of 'em went out of business and the other one was inquired from our competitor. How can you help us? And I'm like, It's too late.
Marcus Cauchi: Yeah.
Bradley Paster: What we could have done is helped you analyze that, hey, there was only two, maybe here's what you should do. We give you visibility into things, but if you're, if you are running your business in a mercenary sort of way, [00:26:00] I can't help you.
Marcus Cauchi: Right. Well, and again, this is really where as sellers, we need to be able to identify the difference between tactical, mercenary buying and strategic and collaborative buying. And so, uh, again, in terms of understanding who your customer is and understanding your ideal customer,
Bradley Paster: Mm-hmm.
Marcus Cauchi: It's really important as a sales operator to recognize the difference and to be able to position why they need to be collaborative and strategic because of the, the limited in supply and the risk that represents. And now if you are a commodity provider, there is still things that you can do to separate yourself. So I remember, uh, a while back, I had a managed service provider who's sold into the National Health Health Service in the uk.
They were going for [00:27:00] outsource managed service contracts. And one of the things that we talked about, and they really got smart about was understanding why the health trusts were making these strategic IT purchase decisions. And as we started to investigate, it became very clear that some of these trusts were merging and there was a very different level of performance between one and the other trust. So they wanted to make sure that the performance of the high performing trust didn't suffer as a result of the merger.
There were clinical outcomes that were critical, that were very public and would damage reputation would also potentially impact funding and their ability to attract talent. So they needed to look at things like average lifespan, causes of death in each of those regions. They needed to understand the pharmaceutical bill that they were going to be inheriting through the mergers, all this [00:28:00] kind of stuff.
And as a result, despite the fact there were 4,000 companies within easy delivery distance to manage the service, they were able to stand out by a country mile because they actually aligned themselves with the outcomes that the customers wanted, and they've proved themselves despite the fact they offered a commodity service to be a strategic partner.
How do you ensure that there is collaboration within your own organization cuz very often for complex and high ticket sales, the hardest sell is internally to drive discretionary effort and overcome the barriers that you get from politics and fiefdoms?
Marcus Cauchi: So tell me this, I, I'm really curious because I know that a lot of the work that you've done in the past has been around selling as, uh, a team. How do you ensure that there is collaboration within your own organization cuz very often for complex and high ticket sales, the hardest, uh, sell is internally to drive discretionary effort and overcome the barriers that you get from politics and fiefdoms?
So I'm really curious to get your take on that.
Bradley Paster: So [00:29:00] I'd like to say that it's really easy or there's some magic wand or, or but you'd be lying. Yeah. There, there's some magic worksheet that I'll share. You know, uh, for everyone that's listening, the short answer is, it's hard, but everyone knows that, right? If it wasn't hard, you wouldn't have asked, and if it wasn't hard, we would've all figured it out.
What I believe is it comes down to setting expectations immediately and early on, and so that's during the hiring process. So it's when you bring someone on board, what are the other functional areas that they're gonna be interacting with and making sure those people are part of the hiring process. So they establish those relationships.
It goes into the onboarding. So what are the functional areas that they're gonna be involved with? And it's not the functional areas that I feel are important. It's the functional areas that are important to that person executing their job. And a lot of times when you're in a management position you run the risk of viewing it through your optic.
What do I need to be successful versus what do the people on my team need to be successful? [00:30:00] They're two very, very different things. And then it's continues on to recognizing the people who are part of being successful. So our customer success team that's responsible for all the onboarding, it's really critical that they're engaged before we actually close a deal, right.
So they understand what, again, what are the expectations? So I, I'm diverge a little bit here. I, I, I'm married. I have three kids and friends of mine who either don't have kids or something will say, Well, you just tell your kids to do what you need them to do. And I laugh and I'm like, it's just completely not that way.
It's both right? You're laughing, right? So there's like, well just tell them, right? Tell my son to just clean up his room like magically again, it's gonna happen. But it's really both of it's, it's me setting my expectation and then it's him having clarity around what it is. So me asking my nine year old to do something is completely different than asking my 18 [00:31:00] year old to do something in how I interact with them and what the expectations are, and quite frankly, how they've trained me.
Right? People forget that you also need to do a good job training your boss. Like, I need to know what the people on my team need to be successful. I can ask, but if they don't articulate that to me, it becomes challenging. So to pull it all back together. Having team based selling or selling as a team and working with a customer, that becomes a thread of yarn that we use through your entire sales cycle, and it becomes something that also you engage with your customer slash prospect during that process.
So me, if I'm an individual contributor salesperson and I'm working with my champion and I ask if there's an IT security view and they say yes, then it's about introducing that person from the IT ops into my technical person who's gonna work with that. And then I expand the team. And what I also do is I expand relationships, I develop credibility, I develop trust, I pull people into my team [00:32:00] and I, I do traditional forecast calls with my team, but then I ask my pre-sales people, well, what do you think? And when I first came on board, they were like, oh, I don't, I don't wanna say anything bad about so-and-so, right? They're the route. And I said, well, you're not making a personal comment about them. You're not saying, oh, they look funny, or their shoes were scoffed.
I'm asking you, you did the demo. What's your gut on the deal? You do it one time, you do it two times, and usually by the seventh or eighth time, then they're giving you that information. And then I'm able to go back and, and not say, oh, Tom or Stephy, you know, my solution consultant said this. What I'm able to say is, did this come out during the the deal?
Did this come out during the demo? How are we gonna address this? Did we do that? And then that creates that open dialogue. And the other part of it is I asked my team continuously for feedback on. They don't always give it. I think they're reluctant at times to do it right. It's, it's a little bit challenging to do that, but I'm really try aggressively and if anyone wants them listening, hopefully [00:33:00] they agree with us on it.
I ask them, not what do they need from me, but how can I help? Same question posed differently, right? What you need from me? I don't need anything from you. How can I help? I need you to proofread the executive summary on the RFP. Awesome. I'll do it right. So I make sure I get that out of the team, and then I consistently ask them for feedback.
And I believe if you create that loop and you pull people in and you run your deal cycles that way, you might not solve that for the entire company, but I use the term a franchise all the time. So here in the States, you know, there's a Starbucks on every corner and you go into one Starbucks and it's efficient, it's clean.
The baristas actually can spell your name. You know, all of those things. They make your drink correctly and you go across the street and it's dirty and it's messy. And I tell my name's Bradley, and they're calling for Bob for coffee. Right? Like it's a mess. And you go, how's that possible? Right? It's the same exact place, but it, it comes from high setting expectations, how you engaging, how you [00:34:00] working with it, and I'm gonna go back to that place that's clean and efficient versus the other, even though they fundamentally sell the same crappy cup of coffee right between the two.
Marcus Cauchi: It, it's really interesting. Uh, I remember interviewing Tom Schodorf who took Splunk from 42 million to 1.2 billion in five years, and he ran his entire global sales operation off the back of a one page operating rhythm. And feedback was a critical part of that. The time he spent coaching and being coached was integral. And he understood how to protect his salespeople's time from non-productive activity.
So if the marketing VP wanted to talk to the Salesforce, um, he gave them a 15 minute slot at the sales kickoff. He wasn't gonna have them waste their time on something that was non-essential. If it was critical, I get it. Yeah, you'd, [00:35:00] you'd maybe do something special. But he was really protective over salespeople's time so that they were spending time on either generating pipeline, time in front of the customer, mo most importantly, time servicing the customer to make the customer the hero and continuously delivering those outcomes. And, um, he managed inclusively. And that's the really interesting thing that I see from the best sales leaders. They give their salespeople and all the people within the revenue operations, uh, a voice.
And that I think is really key to mitigating the risk within your own sales activity because selling is expensive. Absolutely when you consider the cost to just get the lead to the top of the funnel and then the time, uh, the cost of pursuit. I dunno what, uh, your average order value is, but in enterprise, you could easily be sinking 40 grand.
Win or lose. By the time you tie up, uh, marketing, SDRs, salespeople's time [00:36:00] management, reporting, reviews, team meetings, forecasting back and forth, demos, pre-sales, uh, easy rack up, 40K per pursuit,
Bradley Paster: Right and there's no guarantee, you know, we're not, we're not accountants, we're not lawyers. So there's no value in our billable hours.
So if you spend all that time and energy and you don't close anything, it's, it's the gap, right? Between the opportunity cost and, and all and everything else. And it's, it's monumental. Um, I, I believe that your customers do understand the way that an organization is run. And they respond to that. And if you want a transactional relationship with your customer, you engage in 'em in a transactional way.
And then when you lose them, you shouldn't be surprised. And if you work with your customers, I loved your point about a commodity item being strategic, and I totally believe that that's possible, right? So if you are able to [00:37:00] work with your customers, and everyone says like, solve their problems, whatever.
We're not solving problems. We're solving outcomes, right? They don't care how the problem's solved. They want the outcome. And so if you're able to do that and your team reflects that, it's reflected also in your customers, right? The customers you have are going to be better customers. They're gonna be longer customers of less subject to churn, greater opportunity for upsell, and they're gonna be when it's problematic.
And we get customers, look who went during Covid and we had to go and work with some of those customers and reduce contract value. I approved some of our customers not paying for a period of time while they figured it out, while there was turnover in it. And you know, I stand by those decisions and those customers have continued with us and they're referenceable.
And those are the relationships that you want because again, It's personal and professional, right? Someone at my customer is trying to hold onto their job, [00:38:00] and when she's freaking out and she's been told to cut costs and all these other things, I have the opportunity to be an asshole on the phone to her, or I have an opportunity to help her with what she's trying to do.
Right. And if you can find that middle road and if you can help them, I, I think it's, you're, you're a better person for it. Your company's gonna be better and it's gonna be more valuable. And that's where you're gonna develop those, those long-term relationships. There are large marquee companies out there that people hate working with.
But they have to because they sell the only database, so they sell the only this. But that's not a great way to build a business. It's not something that I would want to do. Right.
Marcus Cauchi: Again, I think one of the really important things that we need to be aware of is that businesses don't exist in isolation.
Most businesses have suppliers. If they don't treat them as partners, then when the shit hits the fan, you are the first one they're gonna drop. And we've seen this time and [00:39:00] time and time again. My 35 years in sales, I've seen so many organizations be fired because of the things that they did in the past or failed to do.
And when, uh, adversity struck, they were not there acting as partners. They saw the customer just as a, an organic ATM machine. And that's part of the culture that we have to break. And there were two studies that came out, tail end of 2021, one from Gartner saying that 33% of B2B buyers want a 100% seller free buying experience.
And there was another sales, uh, state of sales report that came out of LinkedIn that said that 67% of, but uh, B2B buyers were, uh, considered sales and salespeople to be morally bankrupt. Now, if that isn't an indictment of management because they are recruiting those people, they are encouraging that kind of behavior.
Enough is [00:40:00] enough. We have to make a stand and say, you know, no more. I'm really curious to, to dig back into your particular, uh, domain at the moment around the supply chain.
What are the factors that we should be paying attention to to mitigate risk and ensure against problems later?
Marcus Cauchi: Again, picking suppliers before you get into bed with a supplier and you decide to set up a, a supply chain relationship. What are the factors that we should be paying attention to to mitigate risk and ensure against problems later?
Bradley Paster: A lot of times we hear people reach out to us cuz they're one of vet suppliers. And the most common things that they look for are general disruptions with the business. So that could be, you mentioned earlier on about corporate social responsibility. There's also geopolitical risk, there's sanction monitoring that's available.
There's the financial health. So we do a lot of work around what we'll call predictive financial indicators. Which are a little bit different than pulling a financial worthiness record. We'll look at and say, [00:41:00] all right, have there been any plan strikes? Have there been any force majeures? Uh, did the CFO resign, for example?
And we will pull all that data together and we'll present it to customer, the prospect, et cetera, as a risk score. And then that risk score helps them validate in terms of what we can provide. Help them validate the worthiness of that supplier. Traditionally, you look at, uh, a variety of SLAs, service level agreements around the ability to deliver a certain number of goods within a certain number of timeframe.
We don't get into that level in terms of the relationship. However, we're seeing more and more requests around, you know, again, supplier onboarding and being able to say, all right, can you go and compare these two vendors? Can you look at commodity goods and pricing, for example? and that area is really well understood.
We provide that gray area where, like I indicated, you could pull a great financial rating. It's not gonna tell you that the [00:42:00] company operates in an area that potentially they shouldn't be or potentially has a lot of geopolitical risk or that they've had turnover at the executive level or all those other indicators, which you know, would give you pause around the business.
The reality is it might seem over the past few years that people are getting further and further apart and countries are getting further and further apart. One of the things that I think in a positive way demonstrate about the pandemic is really fundamentally how interconnected we all are. And none of these businesses operate in a vacuum and there might be the belief that we could go and find things at alternative sources. The reality is it's not right. Your TV might have a, a label of one company on it, but it's rolling off the same factory as everyone else. Yeah. And the more that we understand that, I think the better off we'll wind up being because you just, you're not gonna pick up, you know, your uh, you know, your large automobile manufacturer and then [00:43:00] just relocate that within a year to another country, right?
In developed countries, you ask the United Kingdom, you know, with our concerns around the environment, reducing carbon emissions, we're not going to go and approve a massive facility like, inside. So you, so that is part of the reason why developing countries actually have those facilities. I'm not arguing saying it's good or bad, it's just the reality.
It's much easier to go and build those manufacturing facilities in those regions of the world as well.
What was your best mistake, uh, as you've been evolving your career and that you learned the most from?
Marcus Cauchi: Understood. Okay, Bradley? Sadly, we are coming to the top of the hour, which is, uh, very depressing. Could we maybe spend a little bit of time on your best mistake? What was your best mistake, uh, as you've been evolving your career and that you learned the most from?
Bradley Paster: I, like you phrasing that as my best mistake, um, because my best mistake is my most painful mistake. I, I left a very lucrative job at a [00:44:00] company where I was very well respect. To go join another organization purely out of hubris. I don't know which of the seven deadly sins I fell into, but I was VP of sales and I had the opportunity to join an organization, be SVP of sales, sales and marketing, right?
So very sexy and it was really, really horrifically bad decision across the board. And um, I was gone after about four months. My family had some medical procedures coming up, so I just quickly took another job and went, went for that, and that job was fine. But what I realized during that process, and it took a couple years to, you know, work back out of it, was working with the right people.
People say it all the time. It is absolutely a truism, right? You have to work with the right people. It's hard to figure out who those are really on in your career, but working for the right people is critical. Working for the right reason is also critical. [00:45:00] You know, I jumped for title and all this other stuff and it was all bullshit at the end of the day, right?
It was just a horrific decision. And I look at now in terms of my career and what I do and where I am, and I look back in terms of what it was, and I laugh where it was like I left running a larger team with perception of lower title. I'll do the air quotes, to a bigger title with a smaller team and less responsibility.
But I didn't know that, right? And I didn't have that perspective at that time. So I'd say that was my best mistake, and it's something that now, 10 years later, honest to God, Marcus, I mean, I think, I wouldn't say I think about it all the time, but I definitely think about it enough and, and my wife, God love her.
You know, she went through me during that period of time and she's just like, that was a dumb ass decision. The flip side of that is I can weave every other decision from there to where I am now, so I wouldn't be where I am now had I not gone through that. And I probably would've been a bit [00:46:00] of a jerk and more difficult to deal with in all those negative things, had I not gone through that.
I think you have to suffer to come out the other side.
Marcus Cauchi: I think a little bit of humility taught the hard way
Bradley Paster: Yes.
Marcus Cauchi: Goes a very, very long way, and I, I've never learned anything meaningful or substantive from my victories, but from a damn good ass whipping. Um, yes, plenty.
If you could whisper in the ear of the idiot, Bradley aged 23, What one choice bit of advice would you give?
Marcus Cauchi: Okay, so tell me this, perhaps you've already answered this, but you've got a golden ticket and you could whisper in the ear of the idiot, Bradley aged 23. What one choice bit of advice would you give him? He'd probably ignore that of course.
Bradley Paster: Yeah, of course. That, that's the thing I'm thinking like if I probably did have that advice and I did ignore it, I would say you gotta see it through. I would say that that advice is even more salient for the younger generation now, where everything's immediate and everything's responsive and all that.
I would say you have to [00:47:00] stick with and you have to grind it. And the ability to work through and have that perseverance and to realize come out the other end, and ultimately you own your own outcome. Is hugely, hugely successful, right? It's successful as salespeople, right? You and I were, we're talking about stuff and you lose a deal.
You, there's another deal and you gotta keep going. And as people, I think we've lost a little bit of that level of resilience. And I know that there were times where I just said, it's not worth sticking out. And I'll go and I'll take a different path. It's worked out. But that's the bit of advice and advice, quite frankly.
I give my, my children, you, you gotta grind it out. And it doesn't mean you need to be suffer in silence. It doesn't mean that you push the rock up the hill all the time, right? You're not a crest with the sun, but you have to reach for greatness and you have to reach to the best that you can. And sometimes that's painful, but when you come out the other side, it's absolutely [00:48:00] awesome and that's what you need to do.
And that's what I would tell people, and that's the advice I give people when they, when I'm hiring them and people come on board, right? Like, that's, that's part of it. So, I don't know. I, I think I answered your question. I give you a long winded answer. Hopefully that,
What are you reading, watching, listening to that you rate very highly and you'd recommend others?
Marcus Cauchi: Definitely. What are you reading, watching, listening to that you would r you rate very highly and you'd recommend others?
Bradley Paster: Sure. So I don't watch a huge amount of television, though I am working my way through season three of The Crown. We're hopefully getting, uh, getting through all of that. But the book that I just got, which, um, apparently is very highly rated, I'm, I'm hoping to crack open, is the qualified sales leader from John McMahon.
Marcus Cauchi: Oh, right. Dunno that one.
Bradley Paster: Now he, uh, five times CRO, tons of great companies. He's led, built, worked, um, done all that. It just recently came out. He was C uh, CRO at Ariba in [00:49:00] BMC and HubSpot and AppDynamics and a lot of solid companies, and it came highly recommended to me. So Amazon delivered it last week, hoping to crack that open and, uh, take a look and hopefully learn something out.
Marcus Cauchi: Excellent. Okay. It's on my list and I should be getting it, um, in a minute. There's one really fabulous audio book that, um, I've thoroughly enjoyed that I'd recommend by Peter Block called The Right Use of Power, and I think every leader should pay heed to that. And the other one, Keith Cunningham's book, if you haven't read it yet, the Road Less Stupid, fabulous title and outstanding book.
It's the kinda book you'd want to have written. It's that good. Okay.
How can people get hold of you?
Marcus Cauchi: How can people get hold of you Bradley?
Bradley Paster: The real easy way is going to LinkedIn Bradley Paster, that is a, a great way to respond to me. If you reference the, the podcast, uh, it'll help a little bit in terms of me accepting it. If you don't want to go to LinkedIn route, you can reach out to me [00:50:00] on my personal email, which is bpaster P A S T E R @gmail.com
Marcus Cauchi: Bradley Pastor. thank you.
Bradley Paster: Absolutely. Thank you, Marcus.
Marcus Cauchi: So this is Marcus Cauchi signing off once again from the Inquisitor Podcast. If you've enjoyed this conversation, then please like, comment, share, and do subscribe. And if you feel the urge, then go to Apple or Google Podcast. Scroll down to where you can leave an honest review, one star, three stars, five stars, whatever.
As long as it's honest and heartfelt, I'd be grateful. Now if you are the owner or CEO of a tech company in the 10 to 50 million revenue range, and your goal is to grow your business and achieve real sustainable, and let me make this clear, profitable, hyper growth, and do so in a sustained manner with a highly engaged and highly productive team across your entire revenue operation, and you wanna keep clients who stick with you year after year, decade after decade.
[00:51:00] Then let's schedule time for a brief conversation. You can email me, firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message me on LinkedIn. And I've alluded to it already in the podcast, but we've recently set up a global community called Sales of Force for Good, and our mission is to remind us that we exist because of not in spite of the customer.
We are a service profession. Our objective is to raise the standards of selling across the globe and take back control from the shysters and the snake oil salespeople and the managers who drive that kind of behavior. And to make sales an aspirational career choice and to create the conditions for future salespeople and sales leaders to be proud of our profession.
So in the meantime, stay safe and happy selling. Bye-bye.