December 20, 2023

Proven Strategies for Team Excellence with John Hammond

In this episode of Sales Therapy, Alper and John dive into how to help companies maximize and drive their revenue growth.

Table of contents

Meet our guest

John Hammond, Fractional CRO, Advisor, Coach, and Mentor. 

Starting from his early days of being a Sales Director at IBM to then being the Chief Commercial and Chief Revenue Officer of brands like Railsbank, Fuse Universal, and The Currency Cloud, John has had an impressive career in sales. 

Now, he shares his wisdom on sales processes, closing complex deals, and sales leadership as an advisor and a fractional CRO running his own consultancy company JHKL. John also shares his experience and learnings in his blog The NOT so secret CRO

Prefer an audio format? Listen on Spotify.

Key takeaways

If you’re a first-time leader:

  1. Make sure that you build relationships with the people that you're going to lead and understand what they're about. Without that, nothing you do is possible, or nothing you want to do is possible. 
  2. Don't assume that you know everything. That is the height of arrogance as far as I'm concerned. Assume you know some stuff, you might know some of the best stuff, but ensure that you're out from everybody else and increasing it. 
  3. Assume that you're going to get things wrong, but think of it as experimentation. So if you go into something with this view that says, I'm not sure I know the answer to this, but we've collaborated and we're going to try this and see what happens. And then we're going to measure it. And then we're going to retune based on what we find. You've got a much better chance of success because you're not personally tied to any out.
"I think winning deals is about helping customers. If you have figured out how you're going to improve that customer, you'll win more deals than you lose. Which is all we can hope for as salespeople."

Or skim through the summary of the conversation below 👇

The road to sales leadership

Early in his career, John pursued sales management in a way that he pursued sales — was pretty aggressive, very direct, and results-driven. And what he has learned over time is that a more measured, more considered approach can give you not just better results, but significantly better results. 

Because often what you're doing is opening up the relationship by making people feel relaxed and calm. You should adopt the position that you are helping them. 

"It's too easy to think that I'm selling you something. Actually, where I've got to with all this is I'm a business person, the other person's a business person. I've got something that helps you. We're trying to work out how we do it together. I think if you take that approach rather than this kind of I've got to hit my target, then you kind of get there."

John believes it's really important to remember the impact that you as an individual have on anyone who works in the company you're in. For example, if you're slacking people late at night, you’re normalizing this behavior, you’re showing that it’s what you expect from everyone. And this will ultimately lead to burnout for people.

There's a great quote by Peter Drucker that John loves: “Management is about getting things done. Leadership is about doing the right things.” For him, that's about behavior, setting the right standards, showing people what good looks like, and making sure it's safe. All those things are really powerful but often hugely underestimated.

"In a really objective business-like way, human beings are the number one resource. But if you flip that model and say, we're a team and we're building a great culture, that, I think, is really what it's about."

Challenges of a first-time leader

Once John got into a leadership position, his main challenge at the time was really about how to get all this stuff that was in his head, that he had been bottling up, out and how to get everyone into it. 

John confesses that he’s made so many mistakes he knows roughly what good looks like. But his main mistake at the time was this idea that he made so much sense and everything he thought was so logical. 

"I knew what to do. And I was very clear about what needed to happen and the processes. And I was right. But actually, my challenge at the time was helping people understand how it would help them and motivating them into it."

Then, during his time at IBM, John did an 18-month course with 12 weeks off-site and a two-week assessment center. It was a really serious thing. And he developed this incredible set of skills, this infrastructure in his brain of techniques that he could fall back on when times are difficult. 

But it’s a lot different for the newer generation of salespeople in tech.

For John, it’s part of the beauty of the tech industry — it's so vibrant because there are so many young people with fresh ideas and fresh technology and all this kind of great stuff, lots of different communities. But the fundamentals remain the same. And if you're not clear about those, then you're going to struggle

"There's no AI that's going to solve the fact that your proposition is rubbish. You know, if you can't qualify well, you're not clear what you're qualifying for, it doesn't matter what tools you've got. If your people can't ask the right questions in the right way, if you can't build rapport, this is where the challenge is."

Building processes and setting targets

When getting started as a first-time leader, all the skills that got you there are totally inadequate for the thing you're about to do. The challenge that you face now is that you know what works because you did it and that's why you got promoted. Now what you’ve got to do is bring a load of people with you. And that's a very difficult thing to do because you’re now putting your future in their hands. You’ve got to teach them how to do it, but they've got to bring their skills to the fore as well.

John suggests finding a way to connect with these other people, so you enhance the pool of knowledge and create that collaborative experience that becomes what drives the next stage.

In his career, he ran a lot of good teams and what was common across those teams was a sense of shared purpose for whatever reason. They always had this genuine sense of common purpose which helped John identify the direction he wanted to go in. And people then started to work it all out.

At the same time, John mentioned that the most common mistake he ever made was telling people they had to do something because he needed it. That was actually the number one reason not to do it. 

John mentioned a study by Ebsta analyzing the difference between top performers and average performers around things like the use of MEDDIC, updating deals, etc. which is mind-blowing (hundreds of percent). This is the kind of information that he would use to help people understand the value of these things. 

"If I can inspire you to connect the thing that you want to achieve with the thing that we're doing at work, it kind of connects like that. And I've given you a method by which you can improve. That's the win. That's how you get processes implemented."

Understanding sales velocity and the “golden period”

Talking about the qualification (or rather disqualification) in sales, John mentions the concept of a “golden period” — the period that the median or the mean period that your deals close. It might be 60 days for some companies, or 180 days, or 360 days, or whatever it is. But there always is a timespan in which your deals close. 

If you are one month outside the golden period (according to the Ebsta stats), you have a 60% lower conversion rate. If you're two months outside the golden period, you're at a 90% lower conversion rate. But conversions are 165% better inside the golden period.

So rather than hoping a deal would close by the end of the month, John believes in working with people on how they are going to get this deal closed and understanding the average velocity “golden period.”

"So this golden period for me, this kind of velocity pace, is super, super important. I think it's really underestimated in sales because we often think opportunities created x average deal size x conversion rate is the kind of magic formula. For me, there's a little line underneath, it is velocity. Because if I can squeeze the velocity down I give myself more sales cycles in a year that's a really simple way of getting more sales done."

However, John suggests being mindful so you don’t over-compress your deal velocity. Just try to find that magical spot.

Resources

Full episode transcript

Alper Yurder: So my guest today is John Hammond. John's career is impressive, starting from his early days of being a Sales Director at IBM to then being the Chief Commercial and Chief Revenue Officer of brands like RailsBank, Fuse Universal, and the Currency Cloud. He nowadays shares his wisdom on sales processes, closing complex deals and sales leadership as an advisor and a fractional CRO. Obviously, we'll discover very quickly that John is extremely structured with his thoughts, the experience I guess helps. And he's very generous to share his tips. So take your virtual pen and paper because today we'll be sharing some gold. Welcome to Sales Therapy John. How are you feeling today?

John Hammond: Very good, thank you, very kind words. Feeling really good, a bit cold, but pretty good.

Alper Yurder: Yes, talking about the cold, I've got the flu. So people listening and not seeing me because I can pretend when I'm what I'm what I look like, but I cannot pretend what I sound like. And I'll catch that I have a bit of a flu. Um, good, but I'm feeling really good about this today because John, I think you're very generous. Absolutely. And you're like… what you give is really gold and speaking to a lot of like maybe more, um, junior VPs of Revenue or Heads of Sales who are maybe like new into the gig and I hear a lot of questions from them around their sales processes, closing complex deals. You know, they appreciate any help they get really when we have conversations. So today, I think this will be a great kind of learning opportunity for them. But anyway, let's start. So any good therapy starts with a childhood. I want to understand a little bit like who is John. So where did you grow up and where are you these days, John?

John Hammond: So I grew up predominantly between London and Hampshire. I went to boarding school there and then I went to boarding school elsewhere. And a lot of sports, a lot of competitive sports, that's what I did. I now live just outside London, southwest in a place near Kingston, a place called Serberton, where my children grew up, where I live now. Very, I'm perfect to kind of balance. Behind me is the nature reserve and I'm about five minutes walk from Surbiton station and I'm in London in 19 minutes. So I'm right on the cusp of civilization as I like to call it.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, I think you're on the golden spot there between you have the best of the two worlds. And so sports and boarding school. Wow, that tells me something about what kind of a man you grew up to be. No, I think it can only help. But I'm wondering how it was how it felt to be a rep working for you in your early days. Maybe you were a bit disciplined and strict.

John Hammond: Thanks. Don't hold it against me! Well, I think what's interesting as I've gone through my career and as interesting, you sort of reflected on, um, some younger VPs of sales and CIOs, I was actually at an event last night and there's a lot of talk about how difficult the last couple of years have been and it struck me that they've never been, this group of people have never been through a downturn, right? And, uh, you know, I've seen a few, and I think that's part of the challenge. I think when I, earlier in my career, I was very… I pursued sales management in the way that I pursued sales. It's pretty aggressive, very direct, results-driven, but immediate results. And what I've learned over time is that a more measured approach, more considered approach can actually give you not just better results, but significantly better results, because often what you're doing is opening up the relationship by making people feel relaxed and calm as if you actually are. You know, and you should adopt the position that you are helping them. I guess that is what you're doing. It's too easy to think that I'm selling you something. Actually, where I've got to with all this is I'm a business person, the other person's a business person. I've got something that help you. We're trying to work out how we do it together. I think if you take that approach rather than this kind of I've got to hit my target, then you kind of get there. So yeah, it probably wasn't a lot of fun working for me in the early days. Maybe people say it's not so much fun working for me now, but fortunately for everyone, those days are over.

Alper Yurder: No, I think it is so important what you say. And yesterday at 2 a.m. I was working and I was, I caught myself slacking someone in my team about something. And then I deleted it because I actually saw a WhatsApp message from a group of go-to-market leaders and it was like a little video shared by somebody. And it was about like taking breaks and the impact of pressure and all that. And it sounds like fluff, but it's not fluff. It is our real life. So, but it's hard to, you know, when we're so focused on results, success and we're driven by it, it's sometimes hard to think that fluff is the real deal. I don't know if I'm making any sense to you.

John Hammond: No, you are, but I think, and, uh, but I'm going to challenge you on the word fluff. It's about people, right? All of this stuff is about people. I know it's a bit of a hackneyed phrase, but it's really important to remember the impact that you as an individual have on anyone that works in the company you're in, isn't it? They don't even have to work for you because you're a senior executive or, you know, senior leader. If you say, if you're slacking people, what you're saying is this is I'm standardizing this behavior. I've normalized late-night slacking. And that's what I expect from everyone. And I think what that leads to is ultimately burnout for people. And I think I saw the same video actually, and I couldn't have agreed with it that actually people are working quite hard. And I'm sure we can find examples of people that weren't working hard, but that's… you have to deal with that in a different way. Broadly speaking, people are working quite hard. Our role as leaders is to make it easier for them to be effective, not to work more hours, but to be more effective to get what they want. And that's a big part, I think, of leadership. And there's a great quote that I absolutely love. And it's this idea that it is, it's Peter Drucker, who I think is the kind of godfather of modern business theory. And he says, management is about getting things done. Leadership is about doing the right things. And I love that and I probably butchered it, but I love that because what that's about is, it's about behavior, right? Setting the right standards, showing people what good looks like, making sure it's safe. All those kinds of things are really, really powerful. And I think they are hugely underestimated and not particularly by younger people. I just think in general, I've worked for a lot of mature people who have not got that right.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, yeah. I think that general estimation leads me to saying “fluff.” And I think I, when I remember university and we had courses like ethics or human behavior, and we used to think, well, I mean, what is this? I want to go and do some graphs on the economics, macroeconomics and algebra. And what am I reading about ethics and human behavior? Like, yeah, we're all decent humans and whatever. And then you start realizing the importance of soft skills. And especially like one of the reasons why I'll call this podcast sales therapy is that we often can forget the human side of things. And that's actually what makes or break things. We'll dive into that.

John Hammond: Yeah, I mean, it's our number one resource. As a, you know, in a really objective business-like way, human beings are the number one resource. But if you flip that model and say, we're a team and we're building a great culture, that, that I think is really what it's about.

Alper Yurder: Absolutely, very powerful. All right, so we learned about the younger you. What are you doing these days? What's top of mind for you? What are you working on? What are you hearing from people?

John Hammond: So there's a lot of, I think the, so I'm doing a little bit of non-exec, I'm doing a little bit of advisory. I'm in the background, I'm sort of building out a business plan to found my own business, which is in a completely different field, which we won't talk about today. But the things that I care about are, as I get a little bit older, my kids are gone, I got a bit more time. Actually, what I care about is our local community. And so, you know, I participate in making sure the right things are happening. So for example, I'm chairman of the local cricket club. I participate in local politics, not particularly aggressively, but try and get the right people to the right places, support the right people as it were. But the other thing I'm seeing is, and I think it's correlated to this, is that it's no secret that people in the UK are having a tough time. And that is not just as individuals that have got big bills or the cost of living and whatever that is. But that, you know, that goes all the way through to people's day-to-day lives. Work is hard. It's difficult and, um, it's much harder to win a deal. It's much harder to be successful. It's much harder to grow. Capital is less available, you know? And I think that's what I'm starting to see. And I'm seeing people kind of figuring out like, what do I do? What do I do? And certainly in every company I'm working with or any individual that I'm coaching, it's really about who are you? What matters to you? And are you putting your resources into those things? Because the economy will go up and down, right? Sometimes you'll have more money, sometimes you'll have less money. What is constant is you. And if you are clear about what that is and you're authentic to it, then you can kind of weather any storm. And that might be a bit blasé because I think some people really do struggle with money. It's not that straightforward, but in broad terms for people in the commercial part of the tech industry, it's making sure that they remember what that's about and go and do that. Because look, if I win that deal, it doesn't make me a better or worse person than before I won the deal, right? And if I lose that deal, it doesn't make me a better or worse person. It's trying to give people that sense of perspective because what did you learn from losing that deal? What did you learn from winning that deal? All those things matter. But again, it has to go back to this kind of foundation of like authenticity. Because I think for me, the more authentic you are, the better business person you are, and the more you can relate, not just to the people that you're working with but the people in your company as well, because all of this stuff, and you and I know this, all of this stuff is team sport.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, it all sounds too real and it all. I definitely empathize really, really easily with that. Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. Now is a fractional CRO and it's actually funny like it makes me think, okay, after you are a multiple times C-suite CRO, CCO, whatever, this is kind of where you reach you in your life. And these are the things that you start reflecting on. I think it will be a nice example for a lot of people listening.

John Hammond: I know. It's tough talks.

Alper Yurder: Going back maybe to your earlier days and let's learn from your experience a little bit because I know, you know, when we speak, I learned a lot from you. Should we start with that point of being a young first-time or second-time head of something, leader of revenue, head of revenue, maybe chief revenue officer? If you reflect back to those times, what were your challenges then? What do you feel like are the challenges today? Are they similar? Are they different?

John Hammond: So my challenge at the time were really about how do I get all this stuff that's in my head that I've been like bottling up, desperate to show everyone how brilliant I am, how do I get it out and how do I get everyone into it. And the mistake I made, and my kind of joke, and I've said it to you a few times, it's like I've made so many mistakes I know roughly what good looks like, right? But my mistake at the time was this idea that I make so much sense. It's so logical. Why don't you get it? Right. And my challenge at the time was really about I knew what to do. And I was very clear about what needs to happen and the processes. And I was right. You know, there's no two ways about it because I haven't changed that bit. That bit hasn't changed really. I've developed it and you get more skills and we'll talk a bit about some of that technique later. But actually what my challenge at the time was helping people understand how it would help them and motivating them into it. And that is very, very difficult to do in an economic downturn, which is what I'm seeing today is, and what I have the advantage of, and I just don't see it. And I was at an event last night and I asked a few people the same, this question. How do you get trained? Like who is training you? When I was at IBM, I did an 18-month course. I had like 12 weeks off-site. I had a two-week assessment center. It was a really, really serious thing. Right. And I've got this incredible set of skills as a result of it, but not even IBM does that anymore. Like who is training all these people? And so what I have is this infrastructure in my brain of techniques that I could fall back on when times are difficult to remember how to improve myself. It's like having a golf swing and tuning it. If you know what you're doing, you can kind of tune it. Well, we've got a whole generation of people, probably two generations of people who are really, really enthusiastic, driven, good commercial people, but they have no kind of formal training, right? And I think this is the challenge that people are facing today is that how do you become successful in a downturn? And there's some really brilliant insights yesterday from this event, but I've been doing this stuff for three decades. It was almost like they just discovered it. And I think that is the challenge for a lot of people is that part of the beauty of the tech industry is it's so vibrant because there's so many young people with fresh ideas and fresh technology and all this kind of great stuff.

Alper Yurder: That's right.

John Hammond: I mean, lots of different communities. What's your favorite tech stack for this? And what's your favorite? All that stuff's there. It's brilliant. But the fundamentals remain the same. And if you're not clear about those, then you're going to struggle because there's no machine, there's no AI that's going to solve the fact that your proposition is rubbish. There's no AI that's rubbish. You know, if you can't qualify well, you're not clear what you're qualifying for. Doesn't matter what tools you've got. If your people can't ask the right questions in the right way, if you can't build rapport, this is where the challenge is like. And that was all the stuff that was imbued into me in my early 20s that I took with me.

Alper Yurder: I'm going to follow up with something very specific on that. The fundamentals, let's talk about the fundamentals and let me make it very like, for example, yesterday I was speaking with a VP of revenue who is new to the role, has been in sales for a bit, but for a B2B SaaS startup. And he's now facing the situation typical in our series A. There used to be three people start at AE. Now he needs to bring more. He needs to start a process. He needs to coach people. Where does he start? What does he do? He has a very, very tough job to do, in my opinion.

John Hammond: Yeah, and this is what I, and this is, I'm going to tell you what I tell every person that I've ever promoted or has ever come to me after a promotion. All the skills that got you here are totally inadequate for the thing you're about to do. All right. Just to get that out there, let's just get it out there and that's about it. You know, the things that being focused, working hard, all those things are not, are not appropriate for leadership in the purest sense. They are of course appropriate for leadership, but actually it's a whole bunch of other skills that you've got to develop or unravel. The challenge that he faces is that he knows what works, right, because he did it. 

Alper Yurder: Sounds like the younger John who knew what needed to happen. Yeah.

John Hammond: Yeah, yeah, you know, he knows the answers because he did it and that's why he got promoted. Now what he's got to do is bring a load of people with him. And that's a very difficult thing to do because he has to then he's now putting his future in their hands, right? He can't then go and do all the deals and they just stand around, right? He's got to teach them how to do it, but they've got to bring their skills to the fore as well. So the way to look at it, in my opinion, is to think, I know all this stuff. If I find a way of connecting with these other people, we enhance the pool of knowledge and therefore we can be better. And actually what he's got is a group of people that can now gather more data, right? Okay, is this working? Is this working? Is that working? Why don't you try this, you try this, and then you can kind of really tune it. And so that collaborative experience becomes what drives the next stage. And that's why I say the things that you, being an individual contributor, it's okay to be a little bit selfish about it because you typically got 50% of your salary at risk. So you've got to go and do what you need to do. It's a different vibe when you get into the leadership position. But someone asked me recently, how do you get people to buy into processes? And my point was, you don't. The only way you can get people to buy into processes is that you collaborate with them on the creation of processes so they believe it is their process. Every large company struggles with this because you're nowhere near where the collaboration is to create the process. And so you either you're in it and you kind of follow it, but it's admin. Whereas essentially that's why I choose to work with smaller companies is that, you know, the walls are always moving. Therefore you have to constantly innovate around processes and ideas and people really buy that because they were empowered to participate in it. And I think my advice to your friend is participation is the key because as soon as that participation happens it's not your idea, it's the idea, it's our idea.

Alper Yurder: I love that. I love that. I've experienced that so many times in my life. For example, a very simple place to start for anybody listening can be setting targets for the team. Like, how are you setting your targets? Are they completely top-down? You know, the board asks us for this much growth. Therefore, I'm going to divide this between the team into equal shares. And this is your target and goal. Or do you do something bottom-up? Do you come together in a room and say, OK, ladies and gentlemen, what are we doing? What's our activity? Is this feasible? What are you seeing in the market? How should we divide and conquer? Blah, blah, like all of that means participation and you have something that you can create hopefully.

John Hammond: Yeah, and you know, what do we need to do this? Because look, the bottom line is everyone's got a boss, right? Everyone's got a boss. Even the even the venture capital firm that's forcing the CEO to do something has a boss. Everyone's got a boss. And here's what I know about targets. They only go up. They only ever go up. Right? So you sort of have to accept that as part of this world. But you're right, that approach, which says how we're going to do this. And also your role as a leader is to resource that pursuit. All right, so what do we need to be successful? You know, there's a chat that I'm coaching at the moment and he's got a very large target increase next year. And so my question to is, well, what do you need to hit that target? Not just what you need, what do you need from other departments? Are you clear about that? Can you ask for it? Could you measure it? Do you understand the investment? What's the return? And all of those things, they're all participation, they're all collaboration. The idea that sales are over there and sell, I mean, that sort of breaks my heart a little bit because everyone jokes about it. Sales sell something and then hand it over to onboarding and everyone goes, what the hell did they sell you? I just think that's just the worst thing. If that is where you're at, something is so horribly wrong that you might as well burn it all down and start again.

Alper Yurder: Yeah. I mean, I don't, I can't remember how many times I was grilled by especially CS leadership or, especially as an IC, like what the hell did you sell? Why didn't you involve my people? I was always seeing CS as like Rob Lucker's or any other department is that they're trying to kill my deal. You know, I have to just exactly, exactly. And then once I started actually managing CS teams and it was a completely different story.

John Hammond: Yeah. Definitely prevention.

Alper Yurder: Shameless plug, that's kind of why we're building Flowla for like that one vision of what everyone is doing in the team. So let's talk about maybe some specific examples, if we can. I think you've given some really broad advice about knowing thyself and asking the right things from others and participation. Are there any examples where you're really proud you did those things really well and not so much, like where you flopped maybe earlier in your career?

John Hammond: Oh yeah, look, I've probably, like I've run a lot of good teams and I've broadly been successful. You know, we all get it wrong sometimes. Yeah, you get it wrong sometimes, Slife. But honestly, hand on heart, I think I've built four great teams in all those. I'm sorry for anyone that wasn't in one of those teams. But I tried my best, but I think I've built four great teams. And what is common across those teams was all the stuff we talked about before, but this sense of shared purpose for whatever reason, and it was different in each circumstance, we had this genuine sense of common purpose. And as a result, I was able to just broadly identify the direction I wanted to go in. And people then started to work it all out. And the example I give is, if we were running a cruise ship, what would be my role? And most people say, oh, you're the captain of the ship. And my answer is no, I'm not even gonna step on the ship. And I'm sure that doesn't sound too arrogant, but I finance the ship and I look at the routes, you run the ship. Right? That's, this is like, I am, I'm setting the framework, but you are doing it. And all of those teams have had that in common. So, and the most recent one, I think, was during lockdown. I was working with a company and obviously the lockdown hits. Everyone's panicking. I feel unless you're making a ventilator, we're all gonna go out of business. I'm sure you were there. It was horrendous, but we had something that people needed, right? It was a platform that shared knowledge and it shared learning and stuff like that. And we were selling and we were still selling. And so what I said to that team is we have an opportunity to do something interesting here. We can, instead of cutting our target down in line with what the board want and saying, we're not, we're just going to take less number, but then we have to lose colleagues. We have an opportunity to help people stay in their jobs and keep this company going. And the response I got from that team, because I think partly because they're really terrific individuals was extraordinary. I mean, genuinely extraordinary. It was super innovative. People came up with great ideas. They collaborated really well. There was no, people went fighting for a resource. They were figuring out who needed it based on the priorities we'd set. It was an extraordinary experience, extraordinary experience.

Alper Yurder: Love it. Yeah, I think those were very interesting times for all of us. And a lot of the measures that you've taken resonate with me a lot. It was a very hard time, but for some people, I think they were definitely opportunities. I mean, that crisis.

John Hammond: Yeah. And we did all the same things. We did all the quizzes and all that kind of stuff. But what we also had was like really, it was like coffee morning and just like 11 o'clock every day. We weren't even talking about work. And in the evening, sometimes we just have drinks. Just everyone just put their Zoom on, just have a few drinks. But it was extraordinary. It was a relatively small team, maybe 15, 20 people, sales and marketing. But this was a group of people that really stuck together for this common purpose, which was, if we hit our target, we save a lot of jobs.

Alper Yurder: Yeah. No, I love that. I love the purpose. I mean, the purpose is great. And I think a lot of people feel very excited about it, but what people feel less excited generally is around processes like sales processes, which they have to establish, right? Like think about this, this guy or this, this lady who is now in the brink of growing their team from three to 10 and then from like 10 to a hundred and whatever, there's always some processes involved. So my question to you. What do you feel like are the main challenges in building those processes? And rather than, you know, onboarding people, and I get that, but what common mistakes do you see with leaders building processes other than not being so great about onboarding others to their ideas?

John Hammond: Well, I think the most common mistake I've made is telling people they have to do it, because I need it. That's the number one reason not to do it. As much as you might like me, or you might think I'm a good leader, whatever, that's a really rubbish reason to tell someone. What I try and focus on is, here is what we have discovered. As a result, this is why I think this works. I would like to be able to do something like this. How do we do it? Right. This is what I think is my straw man. Let's figure out how we go about it. And a perfect example for me, and I know we've talked about this in the past is MEDDICC, right? And, um, Ebsta did a brilliant study of this huge pipeline that they can see through their, through their tool and actually did a blog about it. And it was absolutely fascinating. The difference between top-performers and average performance around things like use of MEDDICC, updating deals, all this kind of stuff. The difference was mind-blowing. I mean, we're talking hundreds of percent. And so it's that kind of information that I would use to help people understand that if you do these things and you throw yourself into it, not just do it as admin or homework, as the worst of all worlds. If I can inspire you to connect the thing that you want to achieve with the thing that we're doing at work. So it kind of connects like that. And I've given you a method by which you can improve. That's the win. That's how you get processes implemented.

Alper Yurder: Well, I think that was a perfect summary. First, take the feelings out and make it about facts. Okay, here are the facts that I see and you see. Let's talk about the facts rather than how we feel about things. Let's look at the same picture. And then after that, I think the difficult bit is a lot of people, of course, see these methodologies and tools and et cetera as kind of things I have to do for leadership, for reporting purposes. Add the…

John Hammond: Admin. Homework and admin.

Alper Yurder: Homework and admin exactly. And does it really help to put a study in front of people and say, you know what? There is actually a playbook. There is actually good methods. If you do them, actually you'll win. I'll win. We'll all win. Do you think that is enough? What?

John Hammond: Yeah, I don't think the study is the right way to go about it, but actually to help people understand the difference. And let me give you, I want to give you a couple of really interesting things, right?

Alper Yurder: Perfect.

John Hammond: Top reps are 100% more likely to use Medic if it's implemented. 100% more likely, right, they're 407% more likely to update their deals. Top performers, they have 31% less deal slippage, top performers. All right, yeah. 61% of companies in the Abster world have implemented it. Only 15% of deals are fully qualified, okay? But here is where it gets interesting. High executors of qualification using MEDDICC or MEDDPICC…

Alper Yurder: Wow, that's strong.

John Hammond: …have a 311% higher conversion rate. That is absolutely mind-blowing. I don't know anything else that's 311% better. If what you're telling me is your gift of the gab or your kind of free-moving, flowing, stylish charisma is better than that, like man, you are a special individual because I'm gonna take a lot of convincing that you're better than that, right?

Alper Yurder: Yeah. Thank you.

John Hammond: I got a couple more before I put it down, right? Top performers are 430% more likely to update qualification, to complete qualification, right? So if you complete qualification and you're a top performer, you're way more likely to do it. It's a really, really important moment, I think, in selling qualification. Really super, super important, right? But check this out. If you do the metric, the decision criteria, and the paper process, which is med pic stuff, your win rate, if you just do those three, your win rate increases by 206%. I mean, that is, I think that's the stuff that I would pull out. And then what I would do, and what I have done, is then explain what I think that's about. This is why, it's not just, I'm just gonna tell you the facts, you could go work it out. They're still having to work too hard to think about it. I would then say, and this is why, because if you're not clear what the metric is, that the customer is improving their business by, how can you really be helping them? How can you really sell to them if you don't know how they're gonna measure improvement in their own business? If you're not clear what the decision criteria is, what are you selling against? All right, and you have an opportunity to influence the decision criteria if you understand it. And the final one is this paper process. Well, if you don't know how to get this deal done, and they might not know how to get this deal done, a really interesting thing last night I learned was buyers aren't very good at buying. They don't know how to do it. They've just been told to go and buy something. And so, yeah, and so I think once you help people understand, not just that these look, here's a fact, it's a very compelling fact for someone, but I already understand the context. I have to take the time to help people understand that context. And once they do, then you can train them into kind of, okay, so how are you gonna do it? Let's work on how we do it together. And I've had some really good results, that's an average result, if I'm honest. But I've had some really, really good results with that. If you've got the right people and you've done the work properly and you're really connected with them, taking them through this process saying, here's some facts. Here's what I think that means. What are we, what are we going to do to implement that to see if it works for us?

Alper Yurder: Yeah, absolutely. One specific thing that I remember from our previous conversation, speaking of medic and med pic and other methodologies, I think qualifying out is as much as important, if not more, as qualifying in. And it's very difficult when you're early in your career because, you know, like you want to turn every opportunity into a closed one. It's very difficult. But something that you explained to me about one of your really cool tricks was…

John Hammond: Oh yeah. Happy years.

Alper Yurder: …this concept of golden period. I want everybody to hear about that, which is very practical. Can you tell us about that? Yeah, yeah, of course, of course. Yeah.

John Hammond: It's not mine, just so we're all clear, it's not mine. It's a, I really focus on it. Okay, so the golden period is the mad, is the period that the median or the mean period that your deals close, right? So in some cases, in some companies, it's 60 days and some companies it's 180 days or 360 days or whatever it is, right? But there is a zone in which your deals close, okay? And what I found, again, this is a bit more episode studies. I'm gonna give you some facts first. Let's go through the entire process that I would normally do, right? If you are one month outside the golden period, this is Ebsta stats, right? You're 60% lower conversion rate. If you're two months outside the golden period, you're a 90% lower conversion rate, right? Conversions are 165% better inside the golden period, which is mind-blowing, right? And six, then where's it? What's really interesting to me is most in this, in this, in their invite, in this kind of their tool, 68% of deals are set below the golden period and 89% of deals are set to the end of the month. And that tells me there is an absolute paucity in the sales world or currently around people understanding that there is a, there is, there is a pace to deals. There is a rhythm to deals for your company. Whenever I see a deal that closes at the end of the month. I'm like, no, it's not. We all know if all of your deals, if 89% of deals close at the end of the month, like it's not real, is it? You just don't know. You just think it's gonna be this month. Whereas I think working with people to say, how are you gonna get this deal closed? Do you know that our average velocity golden period is 60 days? All of your deals are 90 days, right? And your conversion rate correlates with the lower…

Alper Yurder: Yeah. Well, I should know about it. Yeah.

John Hammond: …conversion as a result of that. What... let's talk about what the difference is between you and Sarah, because Sarah is getting really high levels of conversion and you're not. And let's try and understand what that looks like. So this golden period for me, this kind of velocity piece is super, super important. I think it's really underestimated in sales because we often think, you know, opportunities created times average deal size times conversion rate. That's the kind of magic formula. For me there's a little line underneath it is velocity right because actually if you go away just from the golden period concept itself if I can squeeze the velocity down I give myself more sales cycles in a year right that's a really simple way of getting more sales done right how can I compress this sales cycle to get more done. But if you over compress it, you're outside your golden period, right? So you just gotta find that meet magical spot. Hope that tunes us back into where you wanna.

Alper Yurder: Thanks. Yeah, I think that was a very good summary of everything people are supposed to be careful about it in when they're building that sales process. As we're coming to the end of the conversation, there's a little section I like to call like fire rapid questions. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to ask you two questions. I'm going to give you one minute for each. It's kind of going to be a summary of actually what we discussed. So the first one is as someone who is taking a revenue leadership role for the first time, for someone, let's say, for someone who's taking that role for the first time, what would be your top three tips?

John Hammond: Okay, well the very first tip is: Make sure that you build the relationships with the people that you're going to lead and understand what they're about. Without that, nothing you do is possible, or nothing you want to do is possible. That's the first thing. The second thing is don't assume that you know everything. That is the height of arrogance as far as I'm concerned. Assume you know some stuff, you might know some of the best stuff, but ensure that you're out from everybody else and increasing it. Okay. And the third thing is, assume that you're going to get things wrong, but think of it as experimentation. Right. So if you go into something with this view that says, I'm not sure I know the answer to this, but we've collaborated and we're going to try this and see what happens. And then we're going to, we're going to measure it. And then we're going to retune based on what we find. You've got much better chance of success because you're not personally tied to any out.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. And we discuss this in detail in the rest of the podcast. If anyone's looking at the teaser videos, there's a lot about this in the conversation. The second one, second question would be this, maybe a little summary of, we talked about this as well, but clearly you need to like some, or at least be comforted with some level of process as a closer. I'm gonna ask you, what are those top three things that separate a mid-performer from a top performer? If somebody is in that kind of sweet spot where they're trying to up their game in terms of being better at sales closing, what should they do?

John Hammond: That's a really, really good question. I think winning deals is about helping customers. If you have figured out how you're going to improve that customer, you'll win more deals than you lose, right? Which is all we can hope for as salespeople, right? So that's the very, very first thing. And let me give you some details behind that. What's the metric they measure it by? Can you articulate how this helps them meet their overall business goal, right? And have you built the relationships that will get you there? If you are thinking like that, then you're in a good place. The worst thing that I hear at the end of month or at the end of quarter is, I'm going to phone my contact. You've only got one contact. What's going on? Like you need, you should be able to phone anyone and talk about it. So it's, you know, get the right relationships in place. Be clear how you're helping improve their business and be clear what the measurement is that, that you can say I've helped improve your business.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, I was going to finish it too, but because you threw in that, I'm going to throw in an extra question. So what are some of those really sweet, beautiful signals that show this deal is likely to close? You're likely to win it.

John Hammond: This going to sound counterintuitive? I like it in an initial meeting when I'm talking about the industry and what's going on and what I think, you know, businesses like theirs are trying to do. As you can see people sort of thinking, I need to leave this room because I need to start doing something about what this guy's saying. So if everyone's nodding and agreeing, I'm like, I'm not really interested in that. Right. I'm actually interested in making you feel like you need to act. Right. And when you see that, that's important. So that's kind of my favorite little kind of thing. But the things I like is that, you know, it's really obvious stuff. We've all felt it. People reply. You've given them value. They want to talk to you, right? You're helping them do something. They believe in you helping them. And authentically, if you're doing that, it's really easy for people to understand. They want to contact you. They want to talk to you. They phone you for advice, right? I'm thinking of doing this. What do you think? Although no one picks up a receiver anymore. But you know, you know.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, absolutely. Now, John, as much as I like the conversation, any good therapist knows when to cut the session. And unfortunately, sometimes I'm not a great therapist because these conversations go longer than what I should have cut you. And I will and I will make that known from now on because I used to say like any good therapist, I'm going to cut you on time. But I think we all know that we're over time because this has been an amazing conversation. Thank you so much.

John Hammond: Thank you.

Alper Yurder: If people want to find you, where's the best place for them to reach out? Is it LinkedIn somewhere else?

John Hammond: Yeah, LinkedIn is great, but if you want more of this homespun wisdom, I have a blog called the Not So Secret CRO and all this kind of stuff is there. I'm constantly updating it. So you can find me there or you can find me on...

Alper Yurder: Fantastic. Not so secret CRO. Everybody go follow. All right. So that's a wrap on this. Sorry. That's a wrap on the episode of Sales Therapy. If you enjoyed the show, subscribe to us on YouTube and your favorite podcast platform. I'm your host, Alper Yerder, and thank you for listening. See you next time. Bye-bye.

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