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PODCAST 55: How to Ensure 500 Pieces of Sales Advice Get Executed by Your Sales Team w/ Travis Huff
This week on the Sales Hacker podcast, we speak with Travis Huff, Director of B2B Sales at Wayfair. He discusses how Wayfair transforms spaces to mimic company culture. He dives into how he effectively trains sales coaches and how his sales team is able to take a piece of advice (sometimes 500 pieces of advice) and execute it. Tune in for this week’s episode.
If you missed episode 54, check it out here: PODCAST 54: How to Pick Your Next Company to Build a Great Career w/Nick Worswick from WeWork
What You’ll Learn
- The power of pricing
- The importance of three tactical sessions per month w/your sales reps
- Training effective sales coaches
- How to effectively close a sales deal
Subscribe to the Sales Hacker Podcast
Show Agenda and Timestamps
- Show Introduction [00:09]
- About Travis Huff: An Introduction [02:00]
- Sales Coaching Basics [10:48]
- Retraining Broken Behavior [23:09]
- Tenacity Counts for a Lot [25:50]
- Speak Your Audience’s Language [28:56]
- Influences [39:34]
- Sam’s Corner [44:45]
Sam Jacobs: Hey, everybody. It’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the Sales Hacker Podcast. We’ve got a great show for you this week. We’ve got Travis Huff who runs B2B sales for Wayfair. He’s managing over a billion dollars in revenue through his team, and he’s an incredible sales leader with a lot of great insights about how to coach people so that anybody can compete with the top performing rep.
Before we get to that interview, we want to thank our sponsors. The first is Showpad. Showpad is the leading sales enablement platform for the modern seller. Showpad’s all-in-one platform empowers sales and marketing teams to engage buyers through industry leading training and coaching software and innovative content and engagement solutions. Using the most comprehensive data on successful sales interactions, Showpad fuels AI to discover, replicate, and automate what works for top performers.
Our second sponsor is Outreach.io. They are the leading sales engagement platform. Outreach supports sales reps by enabling them to humanize communication at scale and by automating the manual work.
About Travis Huff: An Introduction
Sam Jacobs: Travis Huff has been leading sales teams and working in sales across financial services and technology for over 20 years. He’s currently the sales director for B2B sales at Wayfair. He is a well-respected leader, speaker, coach, and trainer across the sales community. Travis, welcome to the show.
Travis Huff: Thanks for having me.
Sam Jacobs: For those five people out there in the universe that don’t know what Wayfair is, tell us what the company does.
Travis Huff: Wayfair is a company where we help make good spaces great. We come into companies and give you a visual representation of your culture that inspires your customers and inspires your employees. When they’re building a new office or rehabbing an office, we cover them floor to ceiling with furniture, decor, lighting, fixtures, we do it all.
Sam Jacobs: Tell us rough revenue range, growth rates, things like that.
Travis Huff: In 2018, we did over $6 billion as a company as a whole. B2B is almost a startup inside of a larger company, and it did $1 billion last year. That’s up from $300 million two years ago. So in the B2B side of the business, we’ve been growing at over a hundred percent year over year. And we’re not stopping.
Sam Jacobs: You run the B2B sales effort. What does that entail?
Travis Huff: Over the last two years we’ve grown from about 70 salespeople to over 500, so we’ve re-structured the company. We’ve got SDRs who are working with all of the inbound leads. Our marketing team does an unbelievable job. They drive about 80,000 to 100,000 leads a month into the business and gets them into what we call our onboarding teams.
Those onboarding teams are responsible for curating the customer experience and helping them understand the value we provide. During that 90 days we’re determining if they want a one-to-one relationship with an account executive. If so, we will move them into our mid-market teams or indoor enterprise teams, depending on the size of the company and the scope of the projects that they work on. So a lot of different layers designed around the experience the customer wants.
Sam Jacobs: Are they purchasing office equipment and furniture and everything on the walls? Or is there a subscription element to it?
Travis Huff: It’s not a subscription. On the B2B side of the business, customers think of Wayfair and they think of furniture, not knowing the services that we provide from a design and curation aspect, all the way to the delivery and the installation. Most companies find we’re giving them an employee they don’t pay for. Somebody who can do the design function, curation, sourcing, delivery, installation. It’s a full cycle that we provide to the customer and they love that.
Sam Jacobs: Tell us a little bit about your background and some of the highlights.
Travis Huff: The first sales experience I can remember was when I was a kid and the teacher gave us a box of chocolates and told us to go out and sell them. I remember thinking, if I sell them for a dollar, for every one that I sell, I can eat one. I came back with chocolate all over my hands and my dad said, “You’re eating your profits.” I said, “No, I’m selling for a dollar instead of 50 cents.” And he said, “Ah, I love the motivation, but you’re going to have to be true to the price structure of the company.”
The thing I loved most about sales was that you could give yourself a raise any time you wanted. Right out of college, I started working for a company selling computer training. That went really well and I loved it. I found I was really good at helping other salespeople get better.
I was invited to an event where Stephen Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was speaking. I fell in love with what they were talking about and had a conversation with one of the executives there, and they invited me to build sales coaching environments and set up sales teams. But ultimately I wanted to be in the tech industry, and landed at a startup company. I fell in love with the industry, how fast things move, making mistakes and learning from that, and moving forward. And that led me into Wayfair.
Sales Coaching Basics
Sam Jacobs: Tell us about sales coaching.
Travis Huff: When we looked at setting up a sales system inside of Wayfair, we said let’s have at least two strategic coaching sessions every month. This has to be centered around where the rep currently is. What do we need to do to get there? And then we needed to have three skill sessions for each strategic session.
The second thing was we needed to make sure we were coaching to what we call the lowest form of broken behavior. And this is probably the biggest key to sales coaching. When you sit down with a sales rep, it’s easy to identify 10 or 15 things that are broken in the sales process, but it’s incredibly frustrating for that sales rep to try to change 10 things. So, find the lowest form of broken behavior. When you look at our sales model, we align each stage with a specific activity metric, and then we dive into the ratios between those metrics. So for example, attempts to connections, connections to presentations, presentations to closed opportunities. And we identify the lowest form of broken behavior. If their sales process is broken, don’t spend time teaching them how to close better. Get them more opportunities moving deeper into the sales funnel. If behavior doesn’t change, nothing changes.
From a coaching perspective, you’ve got to become really good at changing behavior. At some point you’re going to coach this person up or out of that role because that chair has a specific revenue associated with it. We’re trying to build correct and accurate sales behaviors. That’s our number one focus in coaching.
Our goal is to have our managers spend 60% of their time in a coaching interaction. It becomes a huge responsibility of sales leaders to remove certain responsibilities from frontline sales managers so they can do their job more effectively. I find that when you sit down with these managers, they’re creating reports that don’t need to be created. Technology’s awesome and data’s awesome, but if your salespeople can’t create a great customer experience when they’re on the phone, then everything else is bullshit. We have to create great salespeople who can create a great customer experience.
Retraining Broken Behavior
Sam Jacobs: Across your team of 500 people, what are the forms of broken behavior that you see time and time again?
Travis Huff: The lowest form of broken behavior is somebody who doesn’t want to pick up the phone. You find that more with people coming into the sales industry that have never been in sales before. They need to wrap their heads around the number of connections they need to make per day and the number of times they’ve got to stand at the plate and take a swing.
Once you get into the call, the number one form of broken behavior is being very transactional. One of the things we noticed early on is somebody would call in and say, “I’d like to buy five chairs.” And this may be a lead that wanted to be a part of the business program. We reached out and the customer says, “Yeah, I’ve been looking at five chairs.” And our reps would say, “Great, let me get that taken care of for you. They would punch in an order for the five chairs and get off the phone. Obviously those five chairs were going into a space and we weren’t doing a good job of needs analysis and understanding the client. We weren’t asking what space is that going into and are there other areas of the office that you’re building or rehabbing and finding the greater opportunity in the initial project.
I get excited when I hear the customer wants to buy something. And we’ve worked on slowing our sales teams down and saying, just take a couple of minutes, start asking the right questions, understand the client, understand what’s going on in the business and really find out where their pain points are. And what we’ve found is that generally there’s a much bigger project and opportunity associated with what they were looking at us for.
Tenacity Counts for a Lot
Sam Jacobs: When you look at how things have changed over the last 20 years in sales, salesmanship, and sales effectiveness, what are the key themes or trends that have emerged?
Travis Huff: For a long time everyone was focused on revenue. Every goal was centered around doing whatever it takes to get to revenue. And there weren’t a whole lot of conversations around the behaviors associated with getting to the revenue. One of my reps said, I’m hitting quota but I’m not hitting the minimum number of required connections per day and I just want you to leave me alone and let me do what I’m good at. And so we had a real good conversation around that. Revenue is not something that you can control. Revenue is a result of all the behaviors leading up to that.
There are two conversations you have in the sales world. One is the people who are not hitting quota, they’re not doing the required behaviors. On the other side of it, and we tend to leave these people alone because they hit quota, but the reality is sometimes they’re just not working as hard as they can and it’s a conversation about the cost of complacency. So great, you’re hitting quota, but how much money are you leaving on the table, not just for the company but for yourself?
We are focused on having conversations on both sides of that. But that’s one thing that you’ve seen over the years as people become more focused on the science of sales and understanding individually what those numbers tell you. If you and I are on a sales team together, it may take you 10 quality connections per day to achieve that quota, and it may take me 15 quality connections per day, but the beautiful thing is I can compete with you at the highest level and not be as skilled as you.
Speak Your Audience’s Language
Sam Jacobs: What are some of the things you’re teaching people in terms of how to have a conversation that leads to a closed deal?
Travis Huff: I’m surprised by how few companies dive into this behavioral aspect. We focus on behavior types. When you look at the four main behavior types in an individual, you’ve got controllers, performers, analyzers, and empathizers. They all buy and interact and talk in different ways. So we choose to look at behaviors because behaviors can change in a sales interaction.
In phone sales we get people to identify the behavior style of that customer over the phone. We’re able to do that generally within the first 30 seconds of a phone call. When we do that and change our behaviors, we drive a much better customer experience.
Picture a four quadrant chart in your head. At the top of the quadrant, on the left hand side you have controllers and on the on the right side you have performers. On the bottom left you have analyzers, on the bottom right you have empathizers. People who are on the right side of the quadrant, performers and empathizers, are real rapport-oriented. They like people. And on the left hand side of the quadrant, are controllers and analyzers who are much more data-oriented. If the performer understands that he has an analyzer on the phone, they need to soften the tone, slow the approach, this individual is going to want facts and proof. And vice versa, with an analyzer salesperson and a performer buyer, they’re going to bore the buyer to death. You’ve got to be able to identify the pace. Do I need to move faster or slower? Do I need to be more people-oriented or do any more data-oriented? It has an impact along the way if you understand the languages and how to move forward with those behaviors.
Sam Jacobs: You’ve taken a business from $300 million to a billion dollars in revenue. What are your key lessons from that growth trajectory? And then I’d love to hear about your influences, the books that are most important.
Travis Huff: In a smaller environment, things can be much more hands on, more manual in some cases, and we were able to make some shifts pretty quickly. I think the larger you grow, scalability becomes a huge question because everything that you’re building at that scale has to live in that environment. And there’s so much on the technology side of things, building into other systems in the organization. So make sure that any of the changes you make, any of the processes you create have been vetted through a pilot process or an A/B testing process. We love making mistakes and we make a lot of them, but we recover really well and we recover quickly. And that’s been a key to our growth as well.
I read one or two books a week about sales. Anthony Iannarino put a book out called The Lost Art of Closing. It’s relevant to the way the industry has changed and the way customers are looking at the buying process. Don Miller wrote a book called [Building a] StoryBrand, that is relevant today because with all the technology, people are forgetting how to tell a story. You have to be really good at telling the story of your company and sharing the value of that company through story.
Steven Kotler wrote a book called The Rise of Superman. I love extreme sports. He talks about the extreme athlete and their growth over the last decade. If you compare them to relevant businesses in the market today, extreme athletes have made the greatest gains across any industry.
Sam Jacobs: Hey folks it’s Sam Jacobs and you’re listening to Sam’s Corner on the Sales Hacker Podcast. Another great interview, this time with Travis Huff, who has built a billion dollar business over the last couple of years at Wayfair.
What We Learned
- The power of pricing
- The importance of three tactical sessions per month w/ your sales reps
- Training effective sales coaches
- How to effectively close a sales deal
Don’t Miss Episode 56
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Thanks so much to our sponsors. The first is Showpad. Showpad is the leading sales enablement platform for the modern seller. As well as Outreach.io. Outreach is the leading sales engagement platform. I’ll talk to you next time.
This is a sponsored guest post from a Sales Hacker partner.