What are the responsibilities of sales managers, and what difficulties do they encounter?
The roles of managers in sales include hiring, onboarding, enabling people around the product, reporting, positioning, and teaching people how to do the job. However, this is a challenging and nearly impossible job due to the unrealistic to-do list, target on their back, and the need to teach people how to do the job in addition to managing the team. Many revenue leaders also have knowledge gaps that make it difficult for them to teach the team effectively. The difficulty lies in the possibility that the new CRO may need to take a step back and slow down, yet doing so requires bravery, especially when investors are clamoring for pipeline, fresh branding, and new revenue.
What are the major causes of the "skilled scarcity" in sales, and how can it be resolved?
Lack of appropriate training, knowledge, and comprehension of the function of sales in a business are the key causes of the skilled labor shortage in sales. Investing in top-notch education and training programs that can assist salespeople in acquiring the abilities they require for their positions is the answer to this issue. Addressing the underlying reasons of the issue, such as poor product-market fit, ineffective internal procedures, and subpar leadership culture, is also crucial.
What are the principal causes of the "skilled shortage" in sales, and what is the remedy?
The main causes of the skilled labor shortage in sales include a lack of appropriate instruction, training, and comprehension of the function of sales in a business. The solution to this issue is to make investments in top-notch education and training programs that can assist salespeople in acquiring the abilities they require to succeed in their positions. The core reasons of the issue, such as inadequate product-market fit, ineffective internal procedures, and subpar leadership culture, must also be addressed.
Marcus Cauchi: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome back once again to the Inquisitor podcast with me, Marcus Cauchi. Today, my guest is Paul Fifield. Paul is CEO of the Sales Impact Academy. Paul, welcome.
Paul Fifield: Thank you very much. Uh, yeah. Welcome. Uh, hi, in fact.
Marcus Cauchi: That's alright. I don't mind you can interview me if you like.
Paul Fifield: Welcome, welcome to your
60 seconds history
Marcus Cauchi: Excellent. Very good. So tell me this. Um, can you give us about 60 seconds on your history and what got you to the point where you were angry enough to come on this show?
Paul Fifield: 60 seconds. Okay. I'll be really quick. So I've been sort of building and, and running companies for the last 20 years. I was scratching around in a very different industry for the first 10. I was kind of in like in the agency world, which doesn't really scale and it's pretty demoralizing industry to work in.
And then I pivoted out of that and co-founded a SaaS company in New York, raised a bunch of capital, built a company called [00:01:00] Ceros and, uh, happily today that's now, uh, probably worth north of 600 million and doing, doing very well private equity fund bought half of it last year. I then after building the foundations of that company came back to the UK and I joined a company called UNiDAYS.
And I should say when I was at Ceros, I was kind of focused on the revenue function, right. So I was building the revenue function.
Marcus Cauchi: Yeah.
Paul Fifield: I was a co-founder there, but I was, I was, I was the CRO. I then had a CRO gig at UNiDAYS and we took revenue there from two to 40 million in three years, I built like a hundred plus person commercial team in four countries.
And, uh, that was a great success too. We actually scaled that without any, even any external, external capital. Left there and then started just randomly just doing teaching. I kind of love teaching and helping people out. I did stuff for the London mayor's international business program. I did stuff for PWC and I was really doing classes around
how you build predictable, the basics of how you build predictable, scalable revenue functions. And that's when I realized that [00:02:00] no one had a clue much in the same way that I really didn't have much of a clue through my career. I was learning as I went along and I was like, wow, this, this, this, this, this, this kind of like sick, scared feeling that I had as a, sort of, as a revenue leader thinking I don't, I don't even know what, I don't know.
It's really stressful. I wish I, I wish I had some kind of formal learning or something. I realized through my teaching that this was a massive, like massive industrywide problem. And, uh, and so I've set about trying to solve that through building, you know, a fit for purpose education company to really up skill, go to market teams, the world over,
You are then developing managers in managing those teams as well?
Marcus Cauchi: and you are then developing, um, managers in managing those teams as well?
Paul Fifield: Yeah, absolutely. We're building out an education solution. It's it's live instruction. Everything we teach is, is, is live, but we record it as well. We don't teach too much in, in a week. It's just two hours of learning. But what we're building out is a complete curriculum of learning for every single [00:03:00] persona within a kind of B2B go market operation.
So that's sales and customer success and sales engineering, and revenue operations, and managers and frontline. You literally SDRs right up to CRA CMAs and, and chief chief customer officers.
Adult education and why training doesn't work.
Marcus Cauchi: Okay. So that's really interesting. You probably have some fairly strong views on adult education and why training doesn't work.
Paul Fifield: I do. Yes.
Marcus Cauchi: Okay.
Paul Fifield: One or two.
Marcus Cauchi: Go ahead. The floor is yours.
Paul Fifield: Okay. Well, I think my first gripe that I have is with the education system. Now, the, the biggest irony of what I'm doing and not with the biggest irony, but, but a small irony is that I don't have a degree. You know, I'm now building. You know, we, you know, we grew 900% year on year in the last 12 months.
It's going, you know, absolutely kind of bonkers. It's probably up there with one of the fastest growing subscription companies, SaaS companies in, in Europe, which is obviously incredibly exciting, but what's kind of, what's kind of funny is I don't have a degree, but I did. [00:04:00] I did actually start two degrees.
I just didn't finish either of them. The second, the last one I did two years was doing pretty well. And then I, you could do a year in industry, but I decided to go and set up a company cuz apparently you're allowed to do that. And I, I sort of never looked back, but my major first gripe is with the global education system, which surely is one of its principle tasks is to ensure that the, the, the world has enough
of the right kind of talent, right? Surely that's one of its most principal tasks, so that people then go into the, into the kind of like economy and contribute very positively in jobs like law, like finance, et cetera, etcetera, et cetera. Why then why did the entire global education system totally overlooks sales as a profession?
It's literally. And I I've I've I've, you know, often quoted with this. I think it's the greatest educational travesty of the last 50 years. I literally wanna shake people. like, what have you done? Right? There are [00:05:00] according to LinkedIn, 60 million people just in sales, right. And, and for so long, I think the industry, the education industry is like scoffed, laughed at, and kind of like mi- minimized sales as a profession.
It's the kind of thing you do if you're a bit stupid and you haven't got a degree slowly changing. But what it's meant is there's no curriculum anywhere for, to, for, for sales people and go to marketing. And what's compounded the problem is that the complexity of running a modern go to market function is now absolutely easily as complex as medicine's easily as complex as, as law easily as complex as finance.
And so you've got this nightmare scenario where you've got this highly complex profession without any, without any kind of educational infrastructure around it. And it, I think it's absolutely shocking and it's absolutely appalling and it's having a macro impact on, on economies.
Marcus Cauchi: It's being seen in the results.
Part of the problem with results may well be, uh, unrealistic expectations, but if they actually operated [00:06:00] effectively, then those stretch goals wouldn't even be, uh, be considered to be difficult.
Paul Fifield: Mm-hmm .
Marcus Cauchi: The skills that you're talking about are life skills, listening, questioning, empathy, learning how to find the common ground reaching agreement.
These are skills that anyone would benefit from, but they don't appear anywhere in the curriculum. So I think there's a tendency where accountants run things to look at, um, it as line items. And I think part of the challenge that we've got, is that government is often run through the balance fee.
Companies are frequently run or always run through the balance fee. And if you look at the motivation behind the money behind a company, that will permeate into the culture and into the behavior of the people on the ground, but facing customers. And I [00:07:00] certainly over the last 35 years, since I've been in sales, I've seen the customer become less and less important.
And more and more divorced from the actual development of products. Sales is more transactional than ever. And part of this comes down to the technology spaghetti that people have, um, spent their money on hoping that it would be, you know, the, the great hope that logging some cash at the problem would make it go away. And it hasn't.
Paul Fifield: No, because the most important to, to run a successful revenue function in a, in a, in a, in a B2B company, selling a relatively complex product, the absolutely most important thing. It's not your tech stack. It's not like how much stuff you have in there. It's- does your team know what they're doing?
So they have the core skills. As an SDR, as an AE, as a CS rep, right? Do they, do they have the core skills to literally do the job day to day and be effective? And if they don't, you're screwed and if they do then great, you've [00:08:00] done a, you've done, you've done a great job, but building a team with all the right core skills is the challenge.
What are the functions of managers in sales?
Marcus Cauchi: And so this then brings us to very neatly the function of managers. Um, before we then look at the kind of training and support, they're giving. So in your mind, what are the functions of managers in sales?
Paul Fifield: Well, I mean, it's a, it's a pretty, it's a pretty tough, it's a pretty tough job, right. And you could almost argue it's like an impossible job.
And I, I, I, you know, I remember as a C CRO in my two stints, I used to have a to-do list. It was like, you know, it was just an unrealistic todo list. No human being could possibly get through, get through everything. And it was really case of like which fires kind of just keep, keep allowing to burn and burn and burn and burn and burn
and burn. Because the problem is like, as a revenue leader, you've got so much to be thinking about. I mean, you, you've gotta, you've gotta target on your back. Obviously. You've gotta be thinking about hiring. You've gotta be thinking [00:09:00] about onboarding. You've gotta be thinking about, you know, all the stuff around the kind of like the product itself and just enabling people around, around the product you've got reporting.
You've got, I mean, it's just the, just, just the list kind of goes, goes on and on positioning. And that just goes on and on, on, and then on top of all that, you've gotta then- because of this education problem, you've now gotta teach people how to do the job as well. So if you think like, if you, if you go into a different profession for a second and, and say like law, imagine if you're a manager of lawyers and not only you said you have manager whole team and all the stuff that goes along with that, you had to teach the lawyers how to do law.
That would just be like what that's preposterous. That's exactly what happens in sales management, sales leadership, but here's the other problem. And this is that I'll be, I'll be very honest with you. So I didn't spend much time as an, as an AE. So I, I actually, I was actually a pretty bad AE manager because I didn't even really know how to support and develop the AEs [00:10:00] themselves.
But even that every revenue leader, because again, we've all had to learn on the job, has these massive gaps in their knowledge, really most revenue leaders or managers aren't very good teachers because they have themselves, all these kind of gaps in their knowledge. So it's a, it's a, it's a kind of, a bit of a, the whole thing are just really a kind of, a bit of a mess.
Marcus Cauchi: It begs the obvious question, which is as a new incoming CRO. Slow down and make it clear before you accept the role that you need to step back. But I think that takes a lot of courage, especially where you've got investors yelling for, uh, pipeline, new logos and new revenue.
Paul Fifield: Yeah. I mean that good, good luck.
good luck. Good luck with that one.
Marcus Cauchi: But the, the economics of doing it the way most VC and private equity back companies do it. [00:11:00]
Paul Fifield: Mm-hmm
Marcus Cauchi: Holds water when money is cheap to borrow
Paul Fifield: mm-hmm .
Race against when interest rates start to correct
Marcus Cauchi: So it's really a race against when interest rates start to correct. Isn't it?
Paul Fifield: To, I guess, to an extent, but like, look, I think as long as the core, as long as the core fundamentals as a fundamentals of the company is strong.
Then you'll, you'll you'll raise money in, in, in any market. No, no matter what the kinda like, you know, interest rate is, I think you make an interesting point about slowing down, right. But which is a different topical together, which is how do you know how fast you should be going? Or if you're going too fast, right?
Like how do you, how do you instrument your business and your revenue function to, to know which speed you should go at? And I think it's a really kind of interesting question. Thankfully, we've got, um, investment from stage two capital, um, out of Boston. Uh, Mark Roberge is one of the co-founders there. He was obviously CRO, uh, HubSpot wrote probably one of the best books on sales called Sales Acceleration Formula.
And he's got a brilliant model [00:12:00] and we are working literally right with him right now. It's part of their value adds on how do you instrument this? And there's two key aspects to this. One is leading indicators of customer success. Which is what are those metrics that you need to establish to know that you are winning the right kind of customers and they're getting, and they're getting very quickly to, to, to value, right?
Their time to value is, is short. I think at Slack, it was something like they've sent 2000 messages. I think in the early, early days of HubSpot, that when they had 20 product features, it was using five of those 20 product features within, within 60 days leading indicators to customer success critical because what, what the challenge with a subscription businesses.
Come the renewal in 12 months time. That's the point at which you really truly know if you have like a product market fit or if you have product customer fit, if you like, right. Yeah. But 12 months to wait, 12 months to know if you've got the right customer is a scary amount of time. So building out your leading indicators and tracking them and making sure enough of your new wins are hitting that [00:13:00] leading in customer success metric, as you know, as possible, that's critical.
If that metric starts going too red, like it drops below, let's say 60% put the brakes on. Why are suddenly we winning customers that aren't getting time to value. Aren't hitting these indicators leading in cases, customer success quickly enough, like stop. Cause we're baking up a massive term problem for next year.
Or we potentially are. And then the second one, uh, is like your, your, your product market fits right. Your, your, um, your, your go to market fits, sorry, your leading indicators on the commercial side, are they still working right? Are your conversions working? Are you creating enough top of funnel? Are there conversions to, to, to, from, from sales, qualified opportunities to closed one, are they all still true?
And if they're true, those leading indicators of, uh, of, of, of, uh, of go to market. And you're leading indicators, customer success are whole holding true. And you, you monitor this month in, month out, then go, go, keep [00:14:00] going and go faster and faster and faster and faster and faster. Just keep, keep, keep a very close line.
Those, those 2, 2, 2 core aspects. It's like a speedometer basically, of, of growth, but then the, the problem comes right back to what we talked about originally is like. Then you need to be finding great people with the right skills because you need to be going at like I'm higher. I need to hire two reps every single month cuz cause all of my metrics are, are holding true.
And that's the hard bit because that talent doesn't really kind of exist. And in this, in this world where we have this vast, vast sums of capital now entering the market. The demand on this talent pool is, is, has never been seen before. And, and, and that, and that's, that's where that's where your problems are gonna lie.
If we are suffering from a skilled shortage, is there a way that we can do more with what we've got?
Marcus Cauchi: Well, this then raises the next obvious question, which is if we are suffering from a skilled shortage, is there a way that we can do more with what we've got?
Paul Fifield: Well, that's the only station, right? How do we do that? How do we, [00:15:00] you know, I was talking to you a bit earlier on, before we came on on the podcast about talking to
someone from an accelerator. Recently, and she was talking about her own experiences working in companies. And she said, you know, oh, one of the mistakes that we made is we didn't get rid of useless sales people quick enough.
Marcus Cauchi: Yeah.
Paul Fifield: And it made me really tense up and it wound me up that la- even that language wound me up.
I challenged her. And I said like, I think this is one of the problems in the industry is that everyone blames, these useless sales people who you've hired. What was your actual product market fit like? What were your processes like internally? Did you provide good enablement? Did you provide good training in internally?
Maybe it wasn't the useless sales people. It could have been useless. You , it could have been useless CEO product people. It could be the, a useless company. My firm belief is that and there's this wonderful quote that our precede investor centers, that education is the root solution to all problems. I just think it's a wonderful, wonderful concept and a wonderful, wonderful statement.
Right. And we all understand the importance of [00:16:00] education, right. We, we do. And my, my firm belief is, is, is that an individual has got like the right motivation and I've got the right intellectual capacity. You just need to teach them how to do stuff and they'll be, and they'll be, and they'll be good at their job.
They might not be great at their job, but you know what? Good's probably gonna be fine. And we just need to, to, to skill people up through high quality education. That's the solution to this, to this kind of like talent crisis that we face in go to market.
Marcus Cauchi: It's definitely, uh, a major contributing factor, but you've touched on a couple of other factors which also need to be built in, which is the culture of the management and leadership.
Typically, in order to double your sales, you double your head count, you double your family. You double your dials, you double your demos, double your number of proposals, and that compounds the brute force mentality. And you've suggested that people ask better questions. I [00:17:00] absolutely agree. And I'll go further. In that you have to look at how sales affects other parts of the business and is affected by it.
You need to understand as a salesperson, what the moving parts are that are indirectly affected by the decision to bring you in as well as directly. What I'm concerned about is I think a lot of the entry level sales jobs will disappear over the next 10 years. Then there won't be a way for people to learn unless there is an apprenticeship or something like sales impact academy out there to support them because the managers don't really know how to coach what they
Paul Fifield: know, as we said before, because what they know is, is already flawed.
Marcus Cauchi: Yeah.
Paul Fifield: That's your fundamental problem there.
Marcus Cauchi: Yeah, we have to tackle these, these parallel problems together and what, what I see time, and again, is. People [00:18:00] wait until the lagging indicators tell them that they've fucked up. Then they adjust massively and, you know, put the bike into a wobble and they pillage next quarters pipeline and add tens of thousands of additional cold calls to the SDLs, um, tariff.
So they then get burnt out and you end up with this downward spiral. because you become well known for being a higher and fire organization, then that becomes harder and harder to recruit
Paul Fifield: mm-hmm.
Marcus Cauchi: So I think there are so many different stakeholders, all of whom need to be involved in this conversation.
Paul Fifield: Mm-hmm
Marcus Cauchi: but I don't think there's anybody really championing it within most organizations.
Paul Fifield: Well, I think a lot of people, whether they're consciously or unconsciously aware of the problem are aware of the problem, which kind of maybe neatly, um, brings us to [00:19:00] my second massive gripe. If you're ready for it.
Marcus Cauchi: Ready when you are.
Insane capital and insane growth that's happening in the industry. We've got a very compromised talent
Paul Fifield: I have my, I know, I know you, like, I know you like your gripes. So, like I say, like the problem is being exacerbated by the, the insane capital and insane growth that's happening in, in the industry. We've got a very compromised talent. It's it's lacking in, in, in standards and consistency and all that kind of all that kind of stuff, everything we just talked about.
So then you go like, okay, this has been a problem. Even, even before this, this exponential kind of like this insane exponential growth in the tech industry, this problem has always existed. And then you go, okay, well, how, how has a problem been solved before? And then you look at that and go, wow. and we've all been here before, like generally speaking, it's been solved by, uh, in person, expensive, uh, often dated old fashioned sales training, consultancies and companies that, that, that come in.
And this is my major gripe with [00:20:00] sales training, and we never ever talk about sales training at sales and bat academy, cuz the, the connotation's a bit so bad, but this will resonate with most people in the industry, which is, and, and I can't even believe some companies do this, but they'll, they'll choose a week in the year.
They'll fly all of their teams to some random crappy hotel somewhere. And they'll spend a week with this very expensive self training company, like being trained right through endless PowerPoint presentations and, and it's, and you know, for, for a week now, the reasons that is just a terrible experience and some people do it for a day and you, you have the same problem.
Is the core pedagogy is, is, is disastrous. And, and then I didn't know what pedagogy meant before I started thousand bucks academy. Now I do. It's basically the what, what, what the word means is, is your method of teaching. Now eight hours of PowerPoint is a terrible, terrible way. You will not learn anything.
You'll hardly learn. Your retention will be close to zero. Compound that with the fact that you are [00:21:00] there with your buddies, getting shit faced in the evenings. So you're gonna be hungover for most days, compound that again, with the fact that you are out the office and you're just gonna be looking at your phone.
You're getting stressed cuz you, you you're slipping on your deals, not getting back to people. So your mind's not even there anyway. So what you , you've got this absurd situation where you've got all these people there, vast expense and nobody is acquiring any knowledge whatsoever. So my belief is that you like, I haven't got any data to back this up, but probably 90% of every penny that's been spent on sales training in the last 50 years.
Was completely useless, purely down to the learning experience, the content, by the way, Marcus could have been fantastic, but the delivery of it from a learning design perspective from an instructional design perspective was just shocking. And it didn't go in and here's the, the final piece on this, which makes it even more laughable.
We don't [00:22:00] learn in intense hits of knowledge transfer. That's not how human beings learn. There's a reason at university that you have eight to 10 hours of lectures a week. I remember arriving thinking, why is it so like, there's just not enough. Like I can learn cooking this. The truth is you can't human brains
don't acquire and embed knowledge that fast, you can't hack that speed, right. It needs to be done over over time. So like, Even if you do acquire some of the knowledge you, you, you're not, you're not reinforcing it. You're not talking about it any anymore. And very, very soon after that, after that intense week, you'll, you'll forget most of it.
There's no reinforcing going on. There's no checking. If you've require knowledge, there's no exams. There's no nothing. So yeah, it's a complete waste of time. So it doesn't actually help. In fact, it actually hinders and it's cost companies, billions and billions and billions and billions, tens of billions hundreds, probably.
Marcus Cauchi: I always joked that their money would be better spent on lottery tickets.
Paul Fifield: Yep. Or scratch cards.
Marcus Cauchi: Yep. So the grim reality is that [00:23:00] that I think has broken down for several reasons. You've got multiple stakeholders. So you have the commissioning general who might be the VP of sales or the CRA you have the managers who have to go out and sift and or procurement.
And the experience is generally excruciating.
Paul Fifield: Mm.
Marcus Cauchi: Then you get to speak to a salesperson who starts asking the wrong questions prematurely and it's information better volunteered than, uh, fingernail. And there's just so much waste in the whole process because they're spending a lot of time talking to people at that, the wrong time in their cycle.
So if you look at what training needs to do. It's got to take into account the users and all the beneficiaries. It's gotta take into account the customer. Who's almost never part of the whole process. You've got [00:24:00] HR L and D you might have finance and all of these should be putting something into the process, but by and large, it's just, well, we tried them last year.
Let's try these guys.
Paul Fifield: And everyone's got a slight different way of doing it, but I'd go back to my point, mark, which is you just need to absolutely start from the fundamentals, right? This is when you are training, you are becoming an educator. Now this is the other big problem, but most companies aren't natural educators, a lot of individuals aren't natural educators either, um, is another problem.
And, uh, I actually kinda like almost this is all.. Analogous to what we are doing at sales and impact academy in terms of almost what happened with the CRM industry, right? So you remember back in like early 2000s?
Marcus Cauchi: Yeah.
Paul Fifield: Lots, lots of companies would just get farm maker pro and they'd start building their own CRMs,
right. And then suddenly get divert some of their dev resource to building internal CRM. And then suddenly everyone was like, hang a minute. We can just use this thing called Salesforce. We're not cool. Like [00:25:00] building CRMs is not core skill to our company. That's crazy. We'll just get a subscription sales to Salesforce.
They're experts. That's what we are trying to, you know, there's a parallel with what we're trying to do is like, look, you're not natural educators. Don't try and become educators. Don't try and design your own pedagogy or all that kind of stuff. We got you covered there. Just need a subscription to us and, and your way we're the, we we're the education kind kinda experts.
So like it comes down to like, and like I said, an absolute metal level, you've got to have strong, good learning design.
Marcus Cauchi: Again, I think people start on the learning design before they've often identified who their true ideal customers are and they have only mapped the customer journey from their own side.
So that's where you turn up to the score box, place your order drive up the next window, pay your cash, drive up the [00:26:00] next window and you drive away happy with your feed. Whereas the actual customer journey is wildly different.
Paul Fifield: Yeah, well, we actually have, um, obviously we love our acronyms, our industry. We have one internally called the ILP, which is the Ideal Learner Profile.
So yeah, you have to, there's a lot, you need to be thinking about as an educator about who you're teaching and there's another level of complexity, right. Which is that we all learn in slightly different ways, right? Some people are maybe more visual. Some people are more, you know, audio. Some people are like, perhaps learn more through, through reading and all that kind of stuff.
So there's another level of complexity as well around learning. But at it, like I say, at, at its fundamentals, you have to crack that.
How do we get people to see collaboration as a good thing?
Marcus Cauchi: Okay, another big question. How do we get people to see collaboration as a good thing? Not something we should be scared of.
Paul Fifield: Who thinks it's a scary thing, do you think?
Marcus Cauchi: Sales people generally do in terms of being very protective over territory and accounts and so [00:27:00] on?
Marketing, too, because they feel like they're undervalued and they're piling lots of great MQLs, but maybe they're measuring the wrong thing for an MQL. And they don't know cuz they don't talk to sales.
Paul Fifield: We actually did some, some little bit of research on this and the, the, the, the revenue loss. Can't remember the source of this, but it's a, it's a, it's a true number.
Apparently the revenue loss globally in the industry through the lack of sales, marketing alignment is $1 trillion. Sales and marketing alignment is absolutely key. And I mean, I could go off on a hold. We could do a whole an hour on sales and marketing alignment.
Marcus Cauchi: At least we've got plenty of time
Paul Fifield: and making sure that you have, you have that in place.
And there, there are various ways that you do this, make sure that there are at a minimum, you've got one to ones with your, with your peace of sales and marketing. Absolutely make sure that you've got clarity on, on definitions within the business. Make sure you've got [00:28:00] clear SLAs between sales and marketing on things like what qualifies an MQL.
What's the time to response when it, when it goes over to sales, you know, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, like there are just some absolutely fundamentals. Do QBR together, get your teams to be talking together, like make sure that there are kinda like one to ones between the teams around sales and marketing.
Make sure they've, everyone's got empathy and understanding for each other's kinda like roles. All, all of that kinda good stuff.
Marcus Cauchi: Okay.
Paul Fifield: You make a good point. Sorry, go
Marcus Cauchi: Go one step further that the CS people, customer success need to be involved integrally, uh, to that and early. I think in future, given how much more like retail customers, B2B buyers are behaving.
It's increasingly important that there's that regular feedback loop from the three main revenue operation departments. And [00:29:00] it also feeds into product development. And into leadership so they can make better judgements in terms of their cranky decisions. Cause the experience of previously loyal customers can be tested quite quickly
Paul Fifield: and you make a very good point.
And then there needs to be very strong sales and customer success alignment, uh, that Dan Simon he's one of our coaches he's, I mean he wrote probably one of the first sort of seminal books on customer success called customer success. You know, he's the chief evangelist over at gain site, very deep thinker in, in the space.
Lovely guy. He's a very strong, um, strong, uh, advocator for having a very separate customer, you know, chief customer officer. So you don't put customer success under the CRO. You have them very much as a peer, as a CEO. For me, like on a, on a, just a very basic level. I don't wanna be two steps away from my customers.[00:30:00]
I wanna be able to talk to my customer success, my VP of customer success, or my chief customer customer officer, and, and be very, very close to the customers. Cause it's like critical your churn metrics, your NDR metrics, all of that kind of stuff. You have such a massive impact on valuation. You have to be,
as a CEO, close to your customers, talking to your customers and having them two steps away from you from in, in a reporting line perspective is less, less than ideal, but here's the other thing, going back to the alignment between sales customer success. You know, if, uh, if customer success reports into the, into the CRO and you know, a few things are going a bit wonky or you're starting to win customers that aren't ICP, the expectations of onboarding or product expectations are being set incorrectly.
You know, if you've got a peer relationship, you can have that kind of like positive friction. The CCO can go down to the CROs office and say, or on a zoom call and say, look, we need to talk about this. This is becoming (unintelligible) problem. We're [00:31:00] winning the wrong customers. Expectations are being set incorrectly needs to get it needs to get fixed.
Cause it's really affecting our, our kind of like core core metrics and it's affecting team and efficiencies and everything else. If that CS person is reporting into this CRO, it's a much less effective conversation because that person's reporting into the CRO. It wouldn't, it wouldn't be treated as, as, as, as seriously.
Marcus Cauchi: And there's the other factor that they become part of the revenue function? Yeah. Whereas I think we, we need that internal friction to find the best common areas of common ground, and I can see why that would be an incredibly healthy setup. Okay. Very interesting. Worth the price of admission for that. Thank you. Perfect.
Paul Fifield: Pleasure.
Marcus Cauchi: So
Paul Fifield: you can't well, what often happens or can happen is you. And again, this is, this is again, going back to lack of standards in the industry, splitting out customer success and account management and having your account management function focused on, you know, cross sell upsell. [00:32:00] And in some cases, renewals and separating that from customer success is a very, very, very smart thing to do.
Customer success should be really focused on time to value continuous value from the product, you know, strong relationship, building, finding opportunities for growth, but slinging it back to the account management fun team. And now I probably, when that goes to some scale that can sit potentially under the, under the CRO that the customer success functions got to be separate from the revenue.
Marcus Cauchi: If anyone's listened before, you'll be used to my usual ramp that the customer's been forgotten and we need to instill this concept of buyer safety in everything we do. And it's starting to get a little bit of traction, but there are so many vested interests stacked against it. And I I'm curious, is there a, a particular psychographic or persona that you [00:33:00] would target, uh, to have these more risky, scary, uncertain conversations with
Paul Fifield: the customers? I mean, what, as in the commercial conversations?
Marcus Cauchi: Yeah. I mean, I'm curious who you're targeting because, you know, I always maintain 3% of my total addressable market can tolerate my vasty behavior and my vile personality.
So it's them that I write for anyone else who gets some value that is. Um, but I, I know only a fraction of the market can tolerate working with me.
just fess up.
Paul Fifield: Are you asking what's the persona of an account manager?
Marcus Cauchi: No, I'm asking what's the persona of prospect. What are their qualities? What are their characteristics?
Paul Fifield: What that you're selling into?
Marcus Cauchi: That you are selling into?
Paul Fifield: Oh, us as a business.
Is there a particular psychographic or persona that you would target? What are their qualities? What are their characteristics?
Marcus Cauchi: Yeah. Cause you you'll have ones who are [00:34:00] fossilized and have no desire or inclination to change.
And then there's another group and I'm just curious who you're aiming at.
Paul Fifield: Oh. As a business in Sales Impact Academy, we're focused at the moment very much on venture backed companies they've, they've got, they've got, they have to grow. Um, they've signed the contract essentially with the VC to say, we're gonna grow fast when we're gonna scale.
Um, so there's the imperative is there and we're sort of series A to series C is like the absolute sweet spot, but we've actually just started winning some, some pretty significant enterprise customers as well. But. It's BCP tech. And I mean, for us is, is, is the, is the absolute, is the absolute focus where there's an imperative to grow because that's, that's where things start to get wonky in, in fast growth.
What are the blind spots that you have to be aware of in the hyper growth set?
Marcus Cauchi: Okay. And what are the blind spots that you have to be aware of in the hyper growth set?
Paul Fifield: I think that you need to know the stages that you are in as a company. From [00:35:00] seed through to like your first time customers through to, through, to a million in ARR, through to scaling to 10 through scaling to a hundred like, you need to be aware and have a deep understanding of what the structure of the teams and what your expenditure almost as well should look like at each of those kind of key, key, key stages. And that's fundamental. I don't think there's enough. Unlike accepted, understood standardized knowledge around, around, around that. And it causes chaos. People are hiring VPs of sales before they've got any customers.
They're not bringing in marketing soon enough. They're certainly not bringing customer success in soon enough. And you've suddenly got 50 customers that haven't been talked to for nine months. So. That's a huge one. What's the, what's the optimum team structure and makeup. As you go through those kinda like phases of phases of scaling and they're dramatically different.
And the role of the CEO in all those phases dramatically changes.
Where could one find out about those different stages?
Marcus Cauchi: Where could [00:36:00] one find out about those, uh, different stages?
Paul Fifield: We teach some of that Sales Impact Academy, but I think, uh, David Skok um, has got some great stuff on, on his site for entrepreneurs.
Marcus Cauchi: How do you spell Skok?,
Paul Fifield: Skok. S K O K, just David Skok, just go there, go to forentrepreneurs.com.
I think it is. He's got a lot around these different, these different stages and he's a, he's a, the matrix partners. He was an early investor in HubSpot. Um, he's a really, really nice guy. He came on and did an event for, I was in Sales Impact Academy, um, earlier on this year or sort of late, late last year, but he does a lot around these, these different stages of, of scaling.
What are the blind spots that they need to be aware of?
Marcus Cauchi: Okay. Back to the question about blind spots though. I'm, I'm curious for a company that's managed to get their first, you know, reasonable chunk of money. In that phase, what are the blind spots that they need to be aware of? Because they're useful leading indicators, too.
Paul Fifield: I think almost the absolute most important one is [00:37:00] the one we've already covered,
right. Which is how fast should you go. And what often happens. And this is, this is driven a lot by VCs as well. And this is something that Mark Roberge talks about a lot. Which is great. You're just go and raise, you know, your massive series, a of 30 million or a series B of 50 million, whatever it might be.
And the temptation now is to your point like, oh, I've got this spreadsheet, I've got 10 reps. If I have 30 reps, then I'll, you know, I'll triple my revenues simples, right. And you go off and you basically hire 20 reps in the, in the space of a month. And it, it, it, it's often an absolute disaster and you're not instrumenting the business properly.
And what happens is you start to like the discipline goes, the culture goes, you start winning the wrong customers. Customer success gets pissed off. You start to develop a big churn problem. Your net dollar attention metric dips below a hundred. And suddenly, even though you've raised a lot of capital, you are burning like crazy, [00:38:00] but then you can't raise capital because everyone's going, oh, your NDR is like 80%.
So basically you are ba- you're shrinking . So we're not, we're not, we're not gonna back you. And then the company runs up cash. So it's absolutely critical to, to know how fast you should grow or slow. And it goes down to those two things. What are your leading indicators of customer success? And what are those leading indicators of unit economics.
And that's your speedometer, right? Are your, you know, on the leading indicators of unit, unit economics, are your, are those metrics holding true? Are you hitting your SQL targets? Are you hitting your top of funnel metrics? Are you getting enough MQLs? Are the conversions through the funnel working great if they are that's good, but it's only half the story.
What are your leading indicators customer success (unintelligible)? Are those, have you got enough green? A 60, 70, 80 odd percent, whatever it is. And it ranges with different different, like markets you're going after. Is there enough? Is there enough green? [00:39:00] Are customers getting good time to value? They're getting value out the product quickly enough based on those leading indicators of customer success.
If they are go keep going faster and faster and faster. That's the core blind spot.
Marcus Cauchi: Understood. Okay. So what you said suggests that you need to spend a good lead proportion of your time as the leader, and as part of the leadership team in planning, you need to be designing the business. You're going to become, you need to understand the triggers and so,
what's really key is making sure that you are prepared for the change
Paul Fifield: mm-hmm
Marcus Cauchi: and, that in doing that you are recruiting ahead of where you need to be.
Paul Fifield: There's also the other key key aspect to this is making sure you've got a really good, strong revenue operations function.
Marcus Cauchi: OK.
Paul Fifield: And that's the other big, big mistake I see all the time, which is you don't have good enough rev op support.
That's that's, that's [00:40:00] giving you the, the infrastructure and the analytics and the data and the measurement to be making sure that you've got all this right.
Marcus Cauchi: Okay.
Paul Fifield: That's another huge pothole. I see all the time. People just not investing enough in rev ops.
How can people get hold of you?
Marcus Cauchi: Paul, thank you. We've come to time. How can people get hold of you?
Paul Fifield: I guess that LinkedIn is, is a good one. So just search for Paul Fifield Sales Impact Academy, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and, uh, yeah, those two are probably the best, best ways of getting in contact.
Advice that you'd whisper in your 23 year old
Marcus Cauchi: Excellent. And one final bit of advice that you'd whisper in your 23 year old idiot self here.
Paul Fifield: I would say two things, I'd say only working scalable business models, ideally with purpose again, I've, I've worked in non-scalable business models and it's really hard work. And your multiples on the, on the, on the business are just, are just terrible. And I think the other thing I'd say is that culture is absolutely everything and there's a famous phrase, like the "culture eats strategy for breakfast", Peter Drucker.
My 23 year old self [00:41:00] would've just scoffed at that. Um, my 45 year old self would say it's absolutely key. It's fundamental.
Marcus Cauchi: Excellent, Paul Fifield, thank you.
Paul Fifield: Thank you very much, Marcus.
Marcus Cauchi: This is Marcus Cauchi signing off once again from the Inquisitor podcast. If you wanna get hold of me, email@example.com. In the meantime, stay safe and happy selling.