PODCAST 147: Fred Mather’s Top Advice for Rising Leaders: Have a Plan

Advice for rising leaders podcast image

If you missed episode 146, check it out here: Why Following Your Passion Is Bad Advice (& what the good advice is) w/ Callie Moriarty

What You’ll Learn

  • Fred’s insights on the differences in sales between the UK and US
  • His career path and the importance of networking
  • A many-time CRO on what makes a distinguished leader
  • Rising leaders need to have a plan
  • A plan doesn’t just mean revenue

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. Show Introduction [00:02]
  2. About Fred Mather and Revenue Collective [1:12]
  3. Sales in the UK vs. US [9:46]
  4. Fred on Leadership [21:08]
  5. Advice for rising leaders [27:14]
  6. You need a plan [31:02]
  7. Sam’s Corner [34:46]

Show Introduction [00:02]

Sam Jacobs: Hey, everybody. It’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the Sales Hacker Podcast. Today, we are lucky to have on the show Fred Mather, a 35-year veteran of sales and sales management. He’s worked across a variety of companies at high growth stages, helping companies grow from zero in revenue to well over $100 million. Currently, he is executive vice-chairman of Revenue Collective, which is the community that I work for during the daytime.

Before we get there, we want to thank our sponsor. The Sales Hacker podcast is powered by Outreach, the sales engagement platform for the modern sales organization. I’m not here to sell you anything, but I am here to share good ideas. And Outreach, it’s a great idea. It’s a fantastic idea for nearly any sales leader, not every sales leader, but 99.9% of all sales leaders. Want to see what the number-one sales engagement platform can do for your business? Head to Outreach.io/SalesHacker.

Now for some other great sales ideas in my conversation with Fred Mather.

About Fred Mather and Revenue Collective [1:12]

Sam Jacobs: We like to start off with your baseball card, essentially getting to know you a little bit and learning a little bit about your background. Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing right now, and then we’ll dive to your background and how you got here.

Fred Mather: I’m a somewhat semi-retired guy, I suppose, if further retirement fully happens for me and I’m mainly focused on consultancy and I work with a variety of different companies in early mid and late stage, primarily in the SaaS area, although a sprinkling of Adtech. And of course, with the whole goal based on who I am and what their main objective is, to drive revenue. So that’s a job one, or I suggest probably most of the time that I spent in the workplace, but of course RC [Revenue Collective], you mentioned I’m working a lot with them.

Sam Jacobs: So how’d you get here? Obviously, you grew up in the United Kingdom, but tell us a little bit about the journey from first getting into sales back at the beginning of your career.

Fred Mather: When I came out of high school, in the UK called the secondary school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t really have particularly good career advice at school. I actually went to the job center. I went to ground zero relative to how you find a job, Sam, and I picked up a job working in a company doing foreign language translation, design type work. And there, I found instinctively where I’ve ended up, which is what sales was all about. It was a super little company. And I really learned to understand the first greens or crumbs of what sales would be like and had a great time there.

All of our members know and all those that listen to these podcasts understand the value of networking. If I’ve learned one thing in OTB, networking is the number one thing that they have to focus on in order to find employment. That became the start of my career proper. It was absolutely eye-opening to me because I learned the differences in the selling style and craft of sales in the US versus the UK. I have to tell you, Sam, when you grew up in sales in the UK, it had a little bit of a negative stigma associated with it. What I found with an American business was that sales was front and center and had exactly the ingredients of value and importance that I was starved of working for this UK company.

Sales in the UK vs. the US [9:46]

Sam Jacobs: What did you notice about the differences between being in sales in the UK, and I suppose more broadly defined Europe or AMEA, and then the US in terms of selling style and tactics strategies that were more or less effective in different countries?

Fred Mather: It’s unfair to classify all of Europe as being the same. Of course, you’ve got localization and language issues. The primary difference was that really in Europe, the selling process was entirely reactionary. You didn’t really necessarily have the gumption to go forward and push and frankly ask for business, it was more by association or knowledge of the product or offerings. you may be afforded the opportunity to pitch on work. It was really nothing of the style that I found in the US where it was all about how to position a market and sell the offering. That’s the mainstay of how we look at our selling efforts and style practices today.

Sam Jacobs: Interesting. So sometimes you hear that the stigma of being an aggressive salesperson is even more pronounced in the UK relative to the United States.

Fred Mather: Some people have said to me over the years, Sam, that they see me as more of a US selling style. And there’s no question that accents, certainly massively here in the UK and the US, I should say, particularly when you get out of the East or West Coast, but yes, that’s how I tend to be classified. I’ve got a little bit of both in what I do in terms of how I practice the sales craft, if you will.

Fred on Leadership [21:08]

Sam Jacobs: You’ve been Chief Revenue Officer of a number of companies, and one of the things that I know is a point of passion for you is this concept of aligning the value of sales, leadership, and marketing with founders and investors. Talk a little bit about your experiences when, in your opinion, revenue, leadership is not valued appropriately and what you think we can do to get it to the right place.

Fred Mather: I feel that there isn’t enough of meeting us in the middle and we all have too many webinars or too many podcasts, and more that we’ve listened to where you talk or you hear about the dispensability of sales leadership. It has historically felt too much like the commodity that it’s judged entirely on their ability to hit numbers and not sufficiently enough else beyond. I don’t want to be overly general because it would be unfair. And of course, it manifests itself in a number of different ways.

I generally found that the investment community is not leaning in sufficiently and understanding all the elements that come together to make a sales leader and that sales team successful. It’s hard work. And so then when it doesn’t work, when the numbers aren’t there and they get frustrated, those people get moved out quickly. And of course, it represents itself also in comp, if we get to talk about that here today. So we’re making progress and progress, and I do admire what a lot of the investment community is doing to build operating teams internally to bridge that gap, if you will, between themselves and the portfolio companies. It’s a wonderful model and it shows itself in lots of different ways. That’s a really supportive way for that commercial leadership, marketing leadership to benefit from.

Sam Jacobs: It’s a commonly held belief that there are stage appropriate leaders and that as you move from five to 10 million in recurring revenue that the best way to do it is to be replacing your go-to-market team. What do you think about that idea?

Fred Mather: I have a mixed view on it. I don’t think there’s one approach that fits all. And it’s a way of me saying that I do understand that once you get to a significant scale, it probably is appropriate to bring in that more senior person. But it happens to unilaterally reticent, the decision-making. Here’s the thing, it needs to be assessed. So understood if you haven’t seen scale through those levels, what else do you bring that compensates for that? So if you’ve proven yourself, you probably have the respect of the company and leadership. You probably have a very good understanding of the target market and the industry that it sits in. All I would ask is this is the individual one is assessed by comparison between what somebody coming in has.

Advice for rising leaders [27:14]

Sam Jacobs: What advice do you have for people that are on their way up who want to make sure that they do things the right way?

Fred Mather: There’s obviously a lot of ways, and we touched on networking. It’s really important to maybe more specifically build up coaches, mentors, people who you view as best-in-class. Be super hungry for the learnings that can help you improve and grow. The most important thing for me that I had to learn — I’ve really had to learn my craft through the learnings of the work that I’ve done.

It’s just now at this point in my career, Sam, that I see those mistakes more clearly in front of me because I’ve seen them so often. But to your point about those that are early in their career, maybe they want to avoid those mistakes. It’s amazing how many companies we go into, Sam, they really don’t have a plan. For me, when a leader that’s looking to scale, if you have a plan, not just in terms of your career path, but you have a plan around how you’re organizing what the focus of your sales team should be. It helps to qualify and shine a light, if you will, on all the elements of what that plan should include. But I suppose in summary around the point, be a sponge.

You need a plan [31:02]

Sam Jacobs: If someone’s listening and they say, I want to have a plan. I’m just not sure where to start in terms of how to build a plan, any advice there?

Fred Mather: There’s a lot of templates within RC. I have one and others too, and they all take on a different look and variety, and here’s the important thing. When we talk about a plan and not just talking about numbers, that’s a critical input to it, right? We were crucially talking about the more qualitative initiatives, so plenty available within RC. I do calls with people on the topic. Perfect time of the year to be talking about it, Sam. Here we are on the 15th of January. I mean, you may have already done it going into the year, but I know a lot of people are in SKOs, and no better time to be able to articulate what that plan looks like. So there’s a lot of precedent there for how you do it and a lot of notes. There’s plenty of us that are available to show and represent ideas as to how you do it.

Sam Jacobs: Fantastic. Just so everybody knows, Fred regularly has one-on-one coaching conversations with people. He regularly advises them on how to negotiate more effectively for employment. And this podcast goes out to people that are well beyond the revenue collective. Fred, if folks want to get in touch with you, what’s the right way to get in touch?

Fred Mather: You can find me at matherfred@gmail.com. If you’re within the RC community, you’ll find me in pretty much all the channels there. I’m not as active as some on LinkedIn, but I’m also to be found there like everybody else.

Sam’s Corner [34:46]

Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody, it’s Sam’s Corner. Really enjoyed that conversation with Fred Mather. One of the things that just sticks out to me is the importance of having a plan. It’s just the act of having one, the act of discipline thinking in terms of figuring out what are your key priorities? What are your strategies? As Fred said, “A sales plan is not just the revenue numbers. It is the mechanisms and the PR and the tactics and the strategies that you’re going to employ in order to execute that plan.” The plan is not the revenue number. That is the outcome of the plan. The plan is how you’re going to do it. So let’s make sure we hold our managers and our leaders accountable to having a plan.

Don’t miss episode 148!

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If you want to get in touch with me, find me on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/In/SamFJacobs or find me on Clubhouse @SamFJacobs. Thanks for listening! Talk to you next time.

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