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PODCAST 137: Team Selling: A Comeback Story for 2021 with Trish Bertuzzi

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If you missed episode 136, check it out here: From the Opera to the C-Suite: Taking the Leap and Founding a Company with Matt Klepac

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. Show Introduction [00:04]
  2. Who is Trish Bertuzzi and what is the Bridge Group? [3:00]
  3. Team selling and why it’s making a comeback [7:43]
  4. How to plan for 2021 [15:46]
  5. Managing Zoom fatigue while working from home [26:56]
  6. Who influenced Trish in her career development [31:34]
  7. Sam’s Corner [32:07]

Show Introduction [00:04]

Sam Jacobs: On today’s show, we’re talking to a friend, an insightful author and leader, and an expert on sales, Trish Bertuzzi. She’s going to be talking to us about team selling and how the concept of combined quotas with senior and junior account executives, converging on one territory, is coming back. She’s also going to talk about 2021 planning, how this year the planning process must be different. Finally, she’s going to discuss work fatigue and Zoom fatigue, how we deal with the ups and downs of morale when we’re all working from home.

We have a new sponsor, Six Sense. Have you heard of Six Sense? One of the great new companies that I’m familiar with. Salespeople are often wasting time fumbling around with junk leads, static lists, and haphazardly reaching out to accounts that aren’t ready to close. The Six Sense account engagement platform uncovers and analyzes buyer intent at scale, identifying prospects who are in the market for your solution, and providing salespeople like you with the insight to create highly relevant messaging. You can generate more opportunities, increase your deal size, and get into opportunities before your competition with Six Sense. Learn how modern sales teams win deals now at 6sense.com/saleshacker.

Of course, our second sponsor is Outreach, the number one sales engagement platform. Outreach revolutionizes customer engagement by moving away from siloed conversations to a streamlined and customer-centric journey. Leveraging the next generation of artificial intelligence, the platform allows sales reps to deliver consistent, relevant, responsible communications for each prospect every time, enabling personalization at scale. Never before possible. Check them out at www.outreach.io.

If you’re listening, and you haven’t heard about Revenue Collective or operations collective, our new community for finance legal and HR professionals, I encourage you to take a look. Go to revenuecollective.com. Our goal and our mission is to treat you like a human being and to help you put together a career over 10, 15, 20 years. Our stated objective is to help you. If you’re listening right now, it’s to help you unlock and achieve your professional potential. That word unlock is very specific. We can talk about it in person sometime. That’s what I needed. There was greatness inside of me. It needed to find a way to come out. That’s unlock. Then, once it came out, it needed a focus and a place of attention and energy. How? You’ve got this potential. How do you realize it? How do you make it real in the world?

Now, without further ado, let’s listen to this interview with Trish Bertuzzi.

Who is Trish Bertuzzi and what is the Bridge Group? [3:00]

Sam Jacobs: Hey, everybody. It’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the Sales Hacker podcast. Today, we’ve got one of the more well-known sales experts and thought leaders in the space. We’ve got Trish Bertuzzi, the CEO and founder of a sales consulting firm and sales training firm called the Bridge Group. She’s also the author of the Sales Development Playbook, which is one of the key tomes that people need on their bedside or in their office when they’re thinking about building an SDR team. It is really an exceptional piece of literature. We’re excited to have you on the show, Trish.

Trish Bertuzzi: Sam, happy to be here, and always happy to talk to you.

Sam Jacobs: That’s very kind of you to say. We like to start with a bit of a baseball card, which is really a way of understanding the Bridge Group a little bit better and understanding a little bit of context. I said what I said about the Bridge Group, but you tell us what is the Bridge Group? What do you all do?

Trish Bertuzzi: The Bridge Group has been around since 1998. Since then, we’ve been laser focused, primarily on the B2B tech space. We’ve worked with over 400 different tech companies. Where we focus our efforts is really in the area of virtual selling. Categories like sales development, inside sales, account management, and now, field sales, actually falls under that umbrella. We offer a variety of services that range from go-to-market strategies to tactical implementations, writing things like sequences and cadences. You name it, we’re here to make your virtual selling efforts more successful.

Sam Jacobs: What was the impetus for starting the Bridge Group? What were you doing beforehand?

Trish Bertuzzi: I was the VP of Sales, and an equity partner at an outsourcing company called Telesales, Inc. We were the inside sales teams for tech companies. I kept seeing a trend. The trend was that the VP of Sales was treating it extremely tactically. They’d be like, “Trish, we’re just going to hire some young, hungry reps and pound the phones.” They literally thought that was all there was to it, and revenue would just jettison out the other end. I was on a mission to educate them, that this isn’t as strategic as any other channel in play. It’s as strategic as your field, your partners, your distribution. It is strategic. You need to treat it that way for it to be successful, or you’re not going to be successful. I decided to start the Bridge Group. I figured, “What the heck? If it doesn’t work, I’ll get a job.” Here I am.

Sam Jacobs: It’s 22 years later. How big is the Bridge Group? How many people is it, besides you and your wonderful son, Matt?

Trish Bertuzzi: That’s a great question. I’m going to guess we’re around 10 people because we’re focused on tech. We’re very much heavy on the East Coast, heavy on the West Coast. We have a nice range of skill sets on our team. Matt’s very data-driven, does all our research reports and does great analytics for our clients. We have people that do nothing but go-to-market strategy. I have people that do nothing but write sequences and cadences. It’s a really well-rounded team, and we’ve all been hanging out together for a really long time. We like each other.

Sam Jacobs: That’s amazing. Are you based in Boston? You’re originally from the northeastern United States, are those your roots?

Trish Bertuzzi: They are. I am starting the phase of my life, when the sun shines in the Northeast, I’m here, and when it stops shining and this horrible thing called snow arrives, I move to my house in Florida.

Team selling and why it’s making a comeback [7:43]

Sam Jacobs: Let’s dive into, you have a unique vantage point because you are working with so many different clients. You’ve got a research team. You are in the market figuring out what sequences and cadences are working best, and are getting responded to. One of the things that you and I talked about earlier this week on our webinar is this concept of team selling making a comeback. First of all, it would be useful to define team selling and to contrast it with a traditional, or the status quo sales motion, and then would love to hear why you think it’s making a comeback.

Trish Bertuzzi: My definition of team selling is partnering sales resource with very specific goals and objectives that are shared. Traditionally, we see SDRs creating meetings, and giving them to AEs, or sometimes people are creating pods of talent, that there’s five or six different people with different responsibilities that are on a team, and they have shared goals and objectives. That’s really not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about taking it back to the old school. We used to do this in the 90s, where you partner a junior seller and a senior seller. We used to say inside sales and field sales, but now everyone is virtual. We’ll just say junior, senior, for lack of a better term. You partner them to go get a specific number, in a territory, and your territory structure can be whatever you want it to be. Their job is to penetrate, as effectively as possible, the accounts that are under their domain. It doesn’t matter which one of them works a deal, they can pass it back and forth, they can work together, they can work solo. The whole concept is to apply the right resource, to the right deal, at the right time, to drive the right revenue. That’s what I mean by team selling.

Sam Jacobs: First, just to define terms. This is one quota for two people, a shared quota. They don’t care where the deal comes from. If it’s two million dollars, they just need to make sure that from this list of accounts, however they get there, two million dollars comes out. Is that accurate?

Trish Bertuzzi: That is accurate, if you have a one-to-one scenario. What I’ve seen in the past is sometimes a one-to-two scenario. Your junior seller might be partnered with two senior sellers. The junior’s quota is the sum total of the two geographies minus a buffer.

Sam Jacobs: How does it work in practice? When you’ve seen it work as a really well-oiled machine? And also, why do you think it’s making a comeback?

Trish Bertuzzi: Let me start with the first part, which was actually your second question, which is why do I think it’s making a comeback? I think one of the blessings of COVID, if there are to be blessings, is that people have taken a step back, and not only spent some time looking at their businesses and how to pivot their businesses to focus on the right markets and the right buyers, but also all of the old sales models have fallen by the wayside. There really is no field selling anymore, or very limited field selling. Many of the organizations I talked to, to stay alive, say to me, “I’ve got to go upstream. I have got to close bigger deals. We’re only closing in the mid-market. We have to get to the enterprise.” From a coverage perspective, from enabling your senior sellers to spend the time getting into the enterprise deals that typically have longer sales cycles, while keeping the wheels on the revenue bus, these are just some of the reasons I think team selling is making a comeback.

Sam Jacobs: Fair enough. I can imagine that it takes some time for this team to feel coordinated, particularly, if there’s a junior AE that is being a shared resource, and figuring out how these field salespeople are going to be sharing that resource effectively.

Trish Bertuzzi: It does take a little bit of time. Two-to-one is not so bad, you get beyond that. Somebody always gets left out. That’s just the realities of the situation. You don’t leave it up to them to figure it out, you have very well thought out rules of engagement. Those rules of engagement are really what dictates behavior. That, and the fact that you start, typically, I would recommend starting with a pilot for team selling, not just picking up your whole sales model and moving it to that environment. Pick your most successful sellers. They’re the ones that are going to make this work. Create a pilot environment, show successes, build some best practices. Then, you can begin to iterate and roll out the strategy.

Sam Jacobs: One part of it is creating these new territories. Saying, “Okay, this person was calling on these mid-market accounts. This person was calling on these enterprise accounts. Your quotas are now combined. You need to be thinking about all of these accounts as, hopefully, with one common theme based on territory design.” Is that accurate?

Trish Bertuzzi: That’s accurate. You also have to be thinking of it and applying the right resources to the right deal. Let me give you another example. Let’s say mid-market is under 2000 employees, the enterprise is over 2000 employees. You have assumptions about what your average size deal would be in both of those markets. Sometimes, you can go into a mid-market company and close an enterprise-size deal. What team selling allows is for the junior seller to be able to identify those opportunities with no harm, no foul, no passing it over, no splitting commissions, none of that, bring in their selling partner and ensure that that enterprise deal is actually closed at the mid-market level. Flip side of the coin, a lot of times you’re selling to the enterprise, but the deal is not enterprise worthy, for lack of a better term. If the deal is smaller, but you still want to close it, rather than the senior seller spending a lot of time there, pass it to their selling partner, and they close the deal, and start the land and expand strategy. There’s a lot of different ways this can play out. It does require orchestration, coordination, and a well-defined corporate strategy to get it started.

Sam Jacobs: Do you think when, good Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise, that next summer maybe there’s a much more effective therapeutics and maybe a vaccine for COVID, does the model stay, because it has some natural benefits, even when field sales is back in the actual field?

Trish Bertuzzi: Absolutely, the model stays when face-to-face selling resumes, because my personal opinion is we’re never going to go all the way back to that. We have figured out how to generate revenue without planes, trains, and automobiles. That’s not going to go away. We have figured out that we don’t have to have the biggest line item in our budget be our commercial leases for real estate. I don’t think that’s going to go away. I think there’ll be some segue back to what used to be, but I think this has been an evolution and a revolution, and we’re going to stay where we are, from a sales model perspective, for a long time to come.

How to plan for 2021 [15:46]

Sam Jacobs: You’ve mentioned that planning for 2021 needs to be different. What do you think needs to be different about planning? How should the best organizations go about their planning process? What are your thoughts?

Trish Bertuzzi: I think management teams and executive leadership have to throw away the old planning models, and try something different. The old planning models where we grew 20% last year, we’re going to grow 40% next year. Let’s work the numbers backwards. That’s not going to work anymore. I think what companies have to do is say, “All right. What are we trying to, realistically, accomplish next year? What are the resources we need to accomplish those goals? Where do we need to pivot to what we’re doing, that supports that and gives it the right infrastructure for success? And, by the way, this isn’t a 2021 plan. This is a Q1 plan, and if we’re lucky it’ll take us into Q2. We’re going to iterate, iterate, iterate.” That’s the new planning.

Sam Jacobs: If we’re going to be doing this every quarter, then I can’t spend a week away from the day to day tactical work that I’m doing as a manager, as a leader, in order to engage in some deep planning process, if it’s really only a plan for the first three months of the year.

Trish Bertuzzi: It’s a plan for the first three months of the year, but hopefully what you’ve done is create a model that your operations team, or someone else, is continuing to add data to, and you’re looking at it on a monthly basis. You don’t just, “Oh, Q1 is over. Now, we have to plan for Q2.” As soon as you go into implementation mode, you go into analysis mode. The two things go hand-in-hand. Implementation, analysis, and iteration. By the time you’re midway, or a little bit later through Q1, you already have a vision for what needs to happen in Q2.

Sam Jacobs: In the new world, do you have a point of view on the optimal distribution of resources by job description? Do you think that we need fewer or more SDRs, fewer or more account executives, fewer or more account managers? Do you think it really depends? Is there some new model that needs to derive from this new planning process?

Trish Bertuzzi: I think the number one question that people need to ask themselves is, where do we want our revenue to come from? I mean, with great specificity. How much of your revenue, from what markets, from what buyers, from what verticals, from what products, from what channel? Really think it through. Don’t just come up with a growth number, and think you can number strategies together to get you there. That’s the first question we ask clients, and we probably ask it six times in 10 minutes. Where do you want your revenue to come from? You just keep peeling back the onion, peeling back the onion, until you know with, once again, great specificity, where those numbers have to come from, for you to make the goal.

Sam Jacobs: What if they don’t know?

Trish Bertuzzi: Some people don’t know. Hopefully, the only people that don’t know are startups. People who are trying to really figure that out, or people who are launching new products, or people who are going to new markets, but you still have to come up with the best guess estimate on where you want your revenue to come from. It’s so funny, but I say this all the time, those who focus are those who win. The more focused you are with everything you do in your execution model, the higher the likelihood that you’re going to win. It’s just the realities of modern selling.

Sam Jacobs: What are you seeing as the Bridge Group, obviously, you don’t need to share with us specific or confidential numbers, but what are you seeing in terms of both how your business has been impacted by COVID, and also your personal perspective on what 2021 is going to look like?

Trish Bertuzzi: We’re a services business, obviously. We were impacted by COVID. Back in the March and April timeframe, we really tapped the brakes. Just like the same advice we gave to our clients, we gave to ourselves. That was, how do we pivot here? What has to happen for us to pivot, to stay alive, and yet, at the same time, to better serve our customers? We actually created a service, the most simplistic service on the face of the planet, and it was us writing sequences or cadences for our clients. What they found was that the old ways of marketing and trying to get buyers to engage, weren’t working, and they were floundering. We said, “Okay. We’re going to help you. It’s a short-term project for short term dollars, but we’re going to get you on the path to engagement once again.” We pivoted, we helped them pivot, and it’s still something I continue to sell, even though we’ve turned the corner, from a pipeline perspective. I still see the value in it. I still see people struggling. I still see people using marketing gobbledygook to try to communicate using InMail and email. We gotta get back to humans.

Sam Jacobs: Your pipelines come back, does that mean you’re optimistic about 2021? You’re feeling good about it, you’re feeling cautiously optimistic? What’s your prognosis?

Trish Bertuzzi: That’s really a question I would ask Matt because he actually has the research and the data. I look at what Trish Bertuzzi thinks, doesn’t really mean anything. When we survey our clients, and we aggregate the data, I think it’s important. I do think that, based on what I remember of the data that Matt’s shared to date, people are cautiously optimistic, but they’re being cautious with their growth rates.

I hate this term, but let’s use it. Unprecedented times. Let’s just throw it out there.

Sam Jacobs: Are you using that heavily in your sequences and cadences?

Trish Bertuzzi: Absolutely, never. Absolutely, never. My personal sequences are very human.

Sam Jacobs: Give us one super specific insight from this business that you spun up, of writing sequences and cadence.

Trish Bertuzzi: First of all, we don’t have frameworks, or canned sequences, that we just roll over from client to client. It really does depend on a whole set of variables that we take into a place. We look at your brand, and your name recognition, what level of the organization you’re selling to, who is the buyer. We know sales likes video, and marketing likes email, where you fit in the technology adoption life cycle. Are you rip and replace, are you selling to innovators and early adopters? Once we understand all that, we can start to put together sequences or cadences that are appropriate for you. I’m a huge fan of using LinkedIn connection requests, judiciously. A lot of people throw them out right at the beginning of a sequence. I think that’s a mistake. I think that’s a throwaway activity. I like to see it used more in the middle of a sequence when you’ve already started to tell your story. By the way, if you’re not telling a story, what are you doing? You’re just spamming people. The LinkedIn connection request is so critical because, for three different reasons.

One, it gives you visibility to how that potential buyer is engaging socially, at least on the LinkedIn platform, and they have visibility into what you’re doing. Two, you can use LinkedIn voicemail. You can use it off the mobile app. It’s a pattern interrupt. It’s just something different. It’s crystal clear. It’s a thing of beauty. Three, you can send videos. I use Drift. You can send it right in the LinkedIn messaging platform. Once again, pattern interrupt. Pattern interrupt is a critical success factor when you’re doing outbound.

Sam Jacobs: You know what’s interesting? The LinkedIn connection requests I reject are the ones with messaging, most of the time. It takes too long, and it creates that little annoying sound when you accept it. It’s just easier for me to accept ones on mass, that don’t have any messaging at all. You can tell I’m not a very discriminating LinkedIn connector.

Trish Bertuzzi: That would be correct. God knows, the opportunities you’re probably missing, to connect with people that have really interesting things to tell you.

Managing Zoom fatigue while working from home [26:56]

Sam Jacobs: The last topic I wanted to chat about, and a lot of people are struggling with this. You can call it morale, you can call it work fatigue. Every day feels the same when you’re working from home everyday. We haven’t landed on the perfect formula for what is the right communication, cadence, internally with the team. How often should we be communicating, whether it’s over Zoom or over email. What have you seen, and do you agree that this concept of work fatigue, Zoom fatigue, that it’s a real thing that we need to be concerned about?

Trish Bertuzzi: As far as communication goes, I think it’s really dependent on your culture. Some companies have a culture where communication is just embedded in what they do, and always has been. Others are trying to patch things together on, “We’re going to communicate as a team. We don’t know how, or why, we’re just going to do it because we know we should.” No agenda, no value add, just, “Yep. We get together once a week and look at each other on Zoom.” I think you need a real strategy for it. I think you need an agenda on how you communicate. I think you have to schmeld professional and personal. These are times when people want to share what’s going on with them. We have become so much more human during this pandemic than ever before. Schmeld.

Sam Jacobs: Is that a word, by the way?

Trish Bertuzzi: I use it all the time. I’m going to use it on Words With Friends later, actually. I think you need to do that. The struggle is real. The struggle is real, and work fatigue is real.

Sam Jacobs: How do we address it? What do we do about it?

Trish Bertuzzi: It’s a little late but better late than never. If you didn’t give each and every employee who’s working remotely a stipend, so they could go out and invest in a second monitor, or a standup desk, a better chair, whatever the case may be, then what were you thinking? Work from home is hard. It’s vicious. When you don’t have the right environment, it just adds to your fatigue, both physically and mentally.

Sam Jacobs: Fair enough. Technology stipend. What else you got?

Trish Bertuzzi: Make people take time off. Pay attention to that. If you’re a manager, and you know you have a full-time SDR or AE, who’s working from home, got three kids that are doing home learning, let that person take some time off. It’ll pay off in spades, from a productivity perspective, from a morale perspective, from a retention perspective. Just understanding the realities of what people are dealing with on a personal level, and making sure that work fatigue doesn’t become, “I can’t work anymore.” If you have great employees, retention, retention, retention. Get creative with retention.

Sam Jacobs: Agree 100%. Have you let your teams take some vacation?

Trish Bertuzzi: They do whatever they want. They don’t listen to me. Yeah. Yeah. Nobody listens to me. It’s good. We’ve always had unlimited PTO.

Sam Jacobs: There’s a lot of debates about that.

Trish Bertuzzi: There are a lot of debates about that when you’re in sales. You can say you have it, but you still have to make your number.

Sam Jacobs: I guess one last comment on that is, I’m a big believer in a more flexible workday that helps people incorporate. There used to be a time, years ago, the good time to get to the gym was 11:45 AM, because if you got there right at noon, or 12:30, it would be totally packed. I’d always find myself sneaking off. I just think that we’ve got to be much more flexible. If people want to go walk the dog at a certain time, or they want to go for a run, it’s not that you’re sitting at your desk from 8:30 to 5:30, but that there’s flexibility, because you’ll probably be back at your desk at 7:30 or 10:30, or whatever. Agree with that?

Trish Bertuzzi: 100%

Who influenced Trish in her career development [31:34]

Sam Jacobs: Trish, the last part of the show is we like to pay it forward. That means that we want to know who’s influenced you? Who are the people that you think we should know about? What are the great books you’ve read, or mentors you’ve had? It doesn’t have to be all of the things, it can be some of the things. When you think about influences that you think we should know about, what comes to mind?

Trish Bertuzzi: Jill Konrath was a huge influence for me. I met Jill because I actually read her book, Selling to Big Companies. I was so impressed that I actually reached out to her, and she became my mentor and a great friend. If it wasn’t for her, I never would have written a book, because she just hounded me until I did so. If you haven’t read anything written by Jill Konrath, I highly recommend it. She’s a prolific sales author. She’s one. I actually, from a great book perspective, I just love Gap Selling by Keenan. I just love Keenan.

Sam Jacobs: He’s definitely a unique personality. You really liked the way that he articulated it in Gap Selling?

Trish Bertuzzi: It’s really different. I’m going to say, his isn’t a traditional methodology. The way he articulates selling to the gap, is very different. None of us do it, myself included. I’ve read the book twice.

Sam Jacobs: Well, he’s been on the show. He’s fantastic. I love that you like it. Your book, Sales Development Playbook, is on Amazon?

Trish Bertuzzi: It is.

Sam Jacobs: That book is on my bedside. I’ve read it two times, so far. I really encourage people to give it a read. It’s fantastic.

Sam’s Corner [34:20]

Sam Jacobs: Hey, everybody. Sam’s Corner. Always love talking to Trish. She’s got a way with words. She’s smart. She’s intelligent. She’s insightful. She’s been doing this a long time and knows what she’s talking about.

We talked about three things. Team selling, that’s concept number one. A combined quota with a senior sales executive, probably working from home, and a junior sales executive, probably working from home. If the junior sales executive uncovers a great enterprise deal in a mid-market opportunity, they don’t need to run with it on their own, come hell or high water, because they just want to make sure they get that money, because you still get that money in team selling. You can still bring in an experienced senior sales executive to help you close that deal. Same thing. Senior sales executive finds a little bit of money in a big enterprise company. Maybe it’s a pilot, maybe it’s just a deal that’s too small. They don’t have to give up on that money. They bring in the junior sales executive to help them tackle that challenge. It’s a concept that’s making its way back.

2021 planning, that was the other thing we talked about. You can’t be a full year plan working backwards from where we’re going to be December 31st, without any acknowledgment of the circumstances. It’s really about test, iterate, evolve. Test, iterate, revolve. And using, and I think she made this great comment where she said, “As soon as you’re in execution, you should be in analysis mode at the same time.” Thinking about quarter to quarter, putting that plan so that you’re always three to four steps ahead of yourself, but you’re never thinking that we’re going to lock down this plan in December, and that’s it. Next time, we revisit it will be in another 10 months or 12 months. That’s not how it’s going to work.

Then, work fatigue. What did she say? She said, “Your company should give you a technology budget so that you can upgrade your home situation.” We said a couple other things. Work-life integration. It’s not just sit down at your desk at 8:30 and crank through till five.

Don’t miss episode #138

Now, we want to thank our sponsors for this show.

The first sponsor is Six Sense. Their account engagement platform uncovers and analyzes buyer intent at scale. You can identify prospects who are in the market for your solution, and you can deliver to them the insight that you need to create highly relevant messaging. Go to 6sense.com/saleshacker to learn more.

Of course, our second sponsor is the leading sales engagement platform in the entire universe. There may be another sales engagement platform in a different galaxy far, far away, but Outreach is better than those folks. Check them out at www.outreach.io.

If you want to reach out to me, you can at Linkedin.com/n/samfjacobs. Talk to you next time.

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