by CXOTalk

Sales innovation: Tiffani Bova, VP Distinguished Analyst, Gartner

Nov 04, 2015

Tiffani Bova, VP Distinguished Analyst, Gartner, is passionate about helping her clients grow and increase competitiveness through sales innovation. She discusses that and why she believes the most disruptive thing in the market today is not technology, it’s the customer.

Credit: Thinkstock

When the world’s largest technology companies need guidance on business transformation and sales innovation, they call Tiffani Bova, a VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner. Clients consider Tiffani one of the preeminent thought leaders in the industry. Her current emphasis is focused on improving sales methodologies, processes and performance. She is passionate about helping her clients grow and increase competitiveness through sales innovation. She is constantly on the lookout for transformative sales models with the potential for profound impact on the way products and services are brought to market.

Watch the video and read the complete transcript of the broadcast.

Michael:         (00:02) Hello, welcome to episode number 99 of CXOTalk. Your place in the hot sun on a cold day, with my gloriously warm co-host Vala Afshar. Vala how are you?

Vala:               (00:19) Michael I’m doing great. I’m not as warm as I would like to be but I’m doing wonderful thank you for asking.

Michael:         (00:28) And I saw you did a vine like a what like 12 foot snow banks outside of your window there.

Vala:               (00:33) Right outside of my house there’s about 10 to 12 feet of snow.

Michael:         (00:38) I was in Cincinnati yesterday doing a talk on something related to innovation and startups and they have like a couple in inches of snow, but it was colder than here. It was really cold.

Vala:               (00:50) Well the good news is our guest is going to heat things up for us in terms of sales and marketing and innovation, so maybe Michael you can help with introductions.

Michael:         (00:59) We are here today talking with Tiffani Bova, who is vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. Tiffani, how are you today?

Tiffani:            (01:11) Hi guys, well thankfully I am warm in southern California and I think it’s a balmy 68 degrees out and not a cloud in the sky. So I’m glad I’m not shoveling snow. I’m just watching the birds fly by and the clouds go by and the sun. This is the time where you really appreciate being in the west.

Michael:         (01:34) Vala…why are we doing the show here and not there?

Vala:               (01:39) Tiffani, thank you for rubbing it in and you’re right Michael we need to take CXOTalk on the road, but before we do that, maybe you can tell us briefly a little about your background.

Tiffani:            (01:49) Well I am a Gartner analyst and I have been here almost nine years and I focus exclusively on go to market strategies and sales and transformation, innovation for big technology companies. I work very closely with all of our other analyst on looking at the trends and what’s the implication to vendors on how they then take their products and services to market.

(02:12) So, I like to say that I’m a recovering seller that gets to live through my clients without actually having to carry a quota. It’s a good place to be I have to say.

Michael:         (02:25) So sales innovation, is that another way of phrasing it?

Tiffani:            (02:30) Absolutely I mean I think there’s always ways to improve, and I try to help my clients not to look backwards, and in the rearview mirror I really think about you know, how they should be considering new ways in which to engage and sell to their customers.

Vala:               (02:48) So you recently wrote this awesome article in the Harvard business review, and it was entitled, reinvent your sales process while still hitting the Numbers. And you talked about sales need to generate new revenue streams, learn how to sell the products to expand the channels and applications and customer segments. What is happening in the technology market that’s affecting sales today?

Tiffani:            (03:12) Well I think as any sales leader the biggest challenge and really the heart of that article is that we are responsible – and notice I still say we because once again I still buy (carelessly? 03:24) sell, but we are faced with the difficult challenge of hitting our numbers on a quarterly basis, especially if it is a publicly traded company. Right, so you have to start there.

(03:35) And even if you’re not publicly traded and you’re a smaller company or large and just not public, you know you have to keep the lights on right, and at the same time as a hitting quota and hitting your revenue numbers and keeping those lights on, you have to think about the transformation you have to make in the salesforce and it’s a very delicate dance, and I coined that ‘the seller’s dilemma’s a number of years ago and it has really taken hold. And I took advantage of the innovators dilemma and everything that that brought to the market and how people thought about it. And I said, you’ve got to think about it from how you actually sell.

(04:08) So if at the end of the quarter when you’re getting pulled to make your numbers, and you are really in the middle of a project trying to prepare your sales force for two to three quarters out. You will always default back to hitting your quarterly numbers. And it just consistently delays that effort of thinking out to the future in what kind of sales organization you need.

(04:31)It’s a really difficult place now – not only for sales leaders, right, you’ve got chief executives and chief marketing officers. And everybody is challenged with hitting and delivering their value and stock prices and revenue numbers, while they are in the middle of trying to respond to the needs of the customer today. It’s really tough.

Michael:         (04:51) So there’s all these changes going on – cloud, social, mobile, data, analytics, what are the impacts of these forces – I was going to say trends but they are actually forces. What’s the impact on sales?

Tiffani:            (05:09) Well I like to start by saying that there’s one thing that I think I know for sure. Having sold technology for about 15 years before I took this job, technology is significantly different than it was just five years ago.

(05:24) And within that, Gartner talks about the nexus of forces with things like social, mobile, cloud and information. And when you look at those they are really just driving completely different consumption models out to the market, and customers have different demands. And with that, CIO’s are extremely challenged on how they are going to maintain enterprises because of these forces in the market and how they are going to respond to their customers.

(05:52) But more importantly, you know manufacturers of technology are now having to think differently about what kinds of products and services that they take to market. And I think the pace of innovation has increased, but more importantly it’s just really complicating the way in which companies need to take their products to market.

Vala:               (06:13) Sure, so I have the privilege of talking to CIOs on a fairly regular basis – weekly at a minimum, and I find that what’s different today or perhaps a couple of years ago even, is if I had to rank the process in which they are going through, the buying process, especially early on is the number one independently researched in vendor and technology and trends. And maybe half the time in independent research, then it’s pure collaboration. They’re talking to other IT leaders and different line of business leaders.

(06:52) And then lastly it feels that they are talking to a partner or a vendor. Is this the power of social and hyper connective world that we live in, where independent research and pure collaboration is dominating who they decide on, and who they shortlist by vendor and begin their buying process.

Tiffani:            (07:10) Well there’s so much underneath that question right, We can spend all day on that. I’d start from a high level and I would say that if you look back in time it used to be that vendors were much more in control of the buyers journey. Right, as salespeople we would call 100 people and 10 people would take our call, and then we would set two meetings up and then we would show up. And we would open up our laptop and give the PowerPoint presentation about our business and this is what we do, and our technology and why it is better etc.

(07:43) And we were really in control of timing the information that the customer or prospect got from us. That is totally different now. Now I think one of the most disruptive things in the sales world is that the customer, to your point Vala absolutely has more control of their own journey.

(08:00) They are going out and looking for information first, they’re talking to their peers, they’re looking for expert opinion whether it’s Gartner or others. And the provider ends up being fourth or fifth actually on that list you know as they are looking for information. So by the time they show up to a salesperson, they’re 50% or so through their buying a journey already.

(08:25) Which means sales has to respond very differently. So that’s the first thing I would say. The second thing that I would say to what you just said is not only is the CIO going and doing their own information and search, but as you know from Gartner, we said that we think marketing officers are going to hold a larger budget in IT in the coming years.

(08:46) And behind that is how some of our research involves when you think about CIOs holding the budget end to end. So I’m looking for a solution and I’m going to find it and I’m going to buy it, and they do it alone. That only happens about 25% of the time now. What ends up happening is IT reaches out to the line of business owners and then they will solve the problem in tandem, driven by IT and supported by line of business.

(09:13) The opposite of that is line of business drives, IT support and then they go and sell, or line of businesses doing all on their own. Right, and so CIOs are faced now with the impact of this digitalization business, and social, mobile and cloud, opening up opportunities and not only challenge their infrastructure right, in the way that they can manage secure and keep their environment running the way that they want to.

(09:40) So I think there’s two things happening. They’re going to different places, but the complexity of the buying process because of line of business demands is really taxing the CIOs.

Michael:          (09:51) And that has given rise to as Gartner terms it, my mobile IT and I’ve seen other organizations and vendor’s call it to speed IT. So in a sense you got to types of IT departments coexisting together under one roof.

Tiffani:            (10:11) Yeah, you’re right on, and I think my mobile and the two speeds of IT we started talking about it a number of views ago. And I think that when you look at speed one it’s really focused renovating the core of the business. Keeping the lights on.

(10:28) And in best case scenario and best in class, about 65% of the budget sits there, that’s kind of project-based steady-state RFP, long delivery times, you know it’s very scope of work focused. It’s big renovating a data center, even standing up Infrastructure-as-a-Service. ERP deployment, it’s that big kind of heavy lift in the data center and in the infrastructure.

(10:54) Speed two is much quicker, you know you’ve got to think of a marathon runner in speed one and a kind of sprinter in speed two. And it doesn’t mean inside and outside of IT, it just means the speed at which the projects are being deployed. So speed two is much quicker, it’s about kind of innovate for new and once again in best in class that’s sort of around 35%. And everything that starts in speed two eventually ends up in maintaining and keeping the lights on right, so it’s this constant starts in one and ends up in the other.

(11:23) And it’s really about building a much more agile enterprise, and it isn’t that we think CIOs need to run necessarily two separate divisions until the end of time, you know a team at speed one and a team at speed two.

(11:34) But earlier on CIOs were really thinking about separating those groups to get some traction and understanding what’s needed in that speed to environment. Thinking of an IT-as-a-Service broker being much better about hybrid IT and delivering consumption in new ways and bringing that towards one consistent role. But we’ve got CIOs who are very comfortable in speed one, and we’ve got CIOs who are very comfortable in speed two, and so as a personality, being a CIO who can run at two speeds is proving much more challenging than I think people have initially expected.

Vala:               (12:15) Sure and I believe there is still a digital divide. The CIOs that I speak to I still classify under traditional CIOs and innovative CIOs and the ones that are more social and collaborative, you’d have other ones that are doing more independent research that are more innovative CIOs. And recently, in fact this week Gartner news, published a survey of 2,800 CIOs around the globe segmented of geography, China, North America, Europe and the majority of CIOs in the U.S. viewed themselves as more digital savvy than their peers around the globe. And there seems to be a perception gap as based on different lines of business view IT and it seems like there is still more work to be done. Can you actually talk about this gap again in your awesome Harvard business blog. I only call blogs awesome if I read it three times, and I read yours three times because there was so much cool content in it.

(13:16) You talked about compressed differentiation and you wrote that 80% of managers believed that their company had strong differentiated products, but fewer than 10% of those firms customers agreed, why the gap?

Tiffani:            (13:30) Oh yeah there is so much behind that one as well Vala and a great question and we can talk about this one all day to. But here’s what I would say. I’d say that Gartner started talking about this as well at its Symposium a couple of years ago. It’s our big event we kick off every year in Orlando and we said all companies are going to become digital companies right. And all companies are going to actually become IT companies. And what we mean by that is as CIO’s start to digitalize their own business, they start to behave like their own service provider and vendors, servicing their customers internally.

(14:03) So a lot of that comment as you know, they start to become, meaning the CIO starts to become more definitive on their strategy around digitalization and what products and services they’re actually launching and delivering to their customers. Sometimes they actually become appropriate to take out to market. You know you could say, is Coca-Cola a beverage company or a digital company? Is Disney now an amusement and entertainment company or are they a digital company, you know with their Disney bands and there’s examples everywhere right, of where many companies you would not have normally thought of being an IT company doing that.

(14:44) GE is I think the third largest software vendor in the world, not somebody you would have considered to be right. And you see a lot of CIO’s that are embracing the digitalization in a way to actually create even greater differentiated advantage.

(14:59) Now, I think the disconnect as I think about myself as a seller and marketer, right would be that they may have a view of what they’re actually delivering from a product perspective, yet the end user doesn’t feel that same thing. From the 10% to the 80%, that disconnect between the two. And I think that has a lot to do with messaging and positioning for that CIO or CMO’s marketing department to really understand what the product and service is and the value it brings to the business, and making sure that they are clearly communicating that to their customers.

(15:37) And if the CIO believes one thing and if the customer believes another, the truth is somewhere in the middle, right, it’s got to be somewhere more in the middle. So it means we’ve got to help educate the customer more and we’ve got to get more information out of the CIO’s mind to the marketer. So that bridge between the CIO and the CMO is becoming even more important.

Michael:         (15:58) Tiffani, as you’re talking about digitalization or sometimes you hear the term digital transformation. It seems that you are making the assumption that the CIO is the center of that world, which I assume because so much technology is driving it. But in reality, is the CIO the center of that world? Is the CIO the leader in a sense, or is the CIO the executer of the business strategy that is being formed in other parts of the company?

Tiffani:            (16:37) Great question, here’s what I’d say there. It absolutely depends on what vertical in industry you’re talking about. So if we pick supply chain, you know they’re developing some piece, it could be a washer or you know some kind of manufacturing part. And you might say and it’s probably safe to assume there’s no CMO there. Right, because it’s way down in the supply chain and developing a product and it’s being invented or deployed out into other peoples’ technology.

(17:13) But if you think about industries like retail where the Chief Marketing Officer is so important in the entire strategic direction of a company and around how are they going to use digital channels in order to communicate and engage and leverage customers, whether it’s social or mobile. You know so I would answer that by saying it depends on what industry, because in some cases the CIO is totally leading it. In other cases it’s the CMO driving the sort of the brand positioning and brand strategy and really how and where that’s happening.

(17:45) But I would say that, I like to think about looking at it in a connected model. We started talking about this last year or so, and we said, what’s the product, who’s the customer and how do they want to buy? And if you can connect that conversation, it’s the team that’s deciding on what’s the right strategic direction, right. It isn’t the product department saying, here’s a product and they toss it over the fence to marketing. And marketing goes and takes it to market to anybody and then tosses it over the fence to sales and say, here’s the price go, right and be free.

(18:19) Right, that connection between you know, what is the product and who is the customer and how do they want to buy, really becomes critical.

Michael:         (18:27) Okay, you mentioned customers, and okay, you’ve been talking about the impact of technology meeting business process changing the business, but what’s happening with the customers?

Tiffani:            (18:42) Yeah, I actually believe the most disruptive thing in the market today is not technology, it’s the customer. And why I say that is because as you mentioned earlier Michael, that if they knew more information, and Vala said they have more detail, they’re going out to their trusted advisers and peers etc. so the customer now, we are all consumers in our personal life.

(19:04) And we have this experience with technology when we’re at home, and with our smart phones, and with our televisions, and with our computers etc. we expect that same kind of relationship with our technology at work, and there is definitely a gap between those two things. So the customer has become far more disruptive, like they are more demanding in what they want, and they know what they want. Now, the trick with that is that they may have misperceptions of what technology can do. They may have their own perception of what they should be looking at and what they need.

(19:38) And so for me, I don’t think any decision should be made without talking to the customers, because that’s the reason we’re all in business right. We are in business to make sure we’re satisfying and delighting our customers, and really driving fantastic user experience and customer experiences every day. If we are not doing it for that, then what are we doing it for right. I know we are doing it for shareholders and value and revenue and all of that, but if you do not have a happy set of customers it just gets more difficult.

Vala:               (20:07) In a Gartner blog, you wrote a theoretical scenario where you are asked if you had $1 million to invest in marketing, where would you invest. And it was pretty cool how you answer that question. A very interesting, clever and insightful answer, would you mind giving us a little bit of an overview of how you answered that question.

Tiffani:            (20:28) Well now we are here amongst friends, here is how I would have spent. I would have spent it on a trip to Tahiti and went on research. That’s what I really would have done. But since you’re not really asking that question I would say this, I would say I wouldn’t do anything until I understood what’s working and what’s not working within the existing spend of marketing. That’s the first thing I would do.

(20:50) The second thing I’d say is you know, what’s going on with our customers. What do they need, what are they trying to solve, what kinds of business problems. And then I would say, if we don’t have an alignment with sales it doesn’t really matter right.

(21:08) We wrote that blog and it was a lot of fun. We did it with me as the recovering seller and two of the guys on my team, Hank Barvins and Todd Berkowitz came at it from a marketing angle, so it was two against one which I don’t know how that happened. But it was two against one and I came at it and said you know, the first thing I’d say with that million bucks is that maybe I would have to incent marketing to go on sales calls, because that’s probably the first thing I would do.

(21:33) Because I think that marketing really needs to not only think differently about how they bring the brand to market, but they’ve got to get close to customers beyond just data.

Vala:               (21:46) At the end you were saying with all that savings in marketing you would just hire more sales, but…

Tiffani:            (21:53) Yeah, I was kidding.

Michael:         (21:56) So actually I have a question for both of you, but first I just want to tell everybody, you’re watching CXOTalk and at the top of the screen there is a little button that says subscribe. Press it and subscribe to our newsletter please.

(22:15) So Tiffani, we can say that you represent sales, and Vala we can say as a CMO you represent marketing. Who’s more important?

Tiffani:            (22:35) I want a little jib-jab.

Michael:         (22:42) Which matters most and when and who’s got the easier job?

Vala:               (22:47) The hardest job in any business is sales.

Tiffani:            (22:51) Oh Vala, we have love.

Michael:         (22:53) That was easy so I guess our work here is done

Tiffani:            (22:56) Please Tweet that out from a CMO. Please Tweet that out!

Vala:               (23:00) I will do that. You know, I started my career as a software developer and just being naive, I thought folks that were working on building custom silicon basic and they had the toughest job in the company, but I grew up and no doubt, the hardest job in any company is sales.

Tiffani:            (23:25) Yes so I’d say this, you know in all fairness, I bleed sales blood and I also run marketing. And here’s what I’d say, I think one of the dangers I’m starting to feel is that we’ve always had a difficult time being close between marketing saying, look we are driving leads and sales doesn’t follow up. And then sales saying we’re getting leads, but they’re not good leads all the materials that are given with the content that’s produced isn’t effective for the customers. So I end up rewriting it all on my own.

(24:02) There’s always been this tit-for-tat between sales and marketing. And well we are not going to solve that in 15 minutes for sure. The one thing I would say is that I worry as more and more digital starts to take over, and marketing starts driving more digital, that it actually is creating a larger divide between sales and marketing.

(24:23) Because you see replication of duties in the marketing department, like marketing operations. Well you know, sales operations has always been there, so why don’t they just leverage sales operations? Well they don’t leveraged sales operations because there might not be a lot of trust and so building trust between the sales and marketing department is becoming you know something that I think just can’t continue to be ignored.

(24:46) We’ve got to find a way to bring it together vs. dividing it further by by saying marketing is going to have it more control over revenue, and buying, and the buying journey. And we don’t need sales to touch it at all, and it’s all going to just happen through digital means and through marketing means. And I think that is true.

(25:05)However, I also believe that if there’s a touch along the way, we’ve got to make sure that the two are working together, right. Because if you’ve got people pulling it in separate directions, the customer knows it right away. If the customer feels that the brand is talking out of two sides of their mouth, one for marketing content, and then than the sales rep shows up in front of them is almost a completely different conversation. That’s a terrible experience, right.

(25:30)So you know, while I joke that I’m the seller and you’re the marketer, I think at the end of the day we’ve got to find a way that the same kind of synergies we are trying to create between the CIO and the CMO. We absolutely have to create between the CMO and the chief sales officer or chief revenue officer.

(25:48)And once again I’m going to go back to I think it has to be the triangulation between all three. I think all three have got to come together to work more closely and it’s a United front, you know it isn’t one who owns it and the others are sort of executing right, one strategizing and you know one’s executing. It’s all strategizing, and then each play the part in the execution of it.

Michael:         (26:10) How many organizations have that. That’s a very difficult thing to make happen to align CIOs, CMO’s, sales marketing and IT. It’s very difficult to make happen.

Tiffani:            (26:24) Yeah and because I work here at Gartner, and where I am in the Gartner ecosystem of analysts, my clientele is 98% tech companies, so I can speak pretty specifically about them, and it is unfortunately common. When I went out and did some primary research a couple of years back and I asked this question, as a sales leader or as a channel sales leader, how often are you involved in product development, project management and product marketing meetings as solutions for products that are being developed and it was a sad response.

(27:06) I think I had two out of 15 that I talked to who said it was a regular occurrence and others were like it’s kind of spotty and that’s you know the product gets tossed over the fence marketing gets engaged, and figures out are we going to market it and start creating collateral. And then it gets tossed over the fence and then sales has to go sell it.

(27:24) And that disconnect between the strategy in the organization and the execution in the field, which I like to call the last mile, I think is getting broader and so a lot of that was brought up in the Harvard business review blog that I did with Frank. So good stuff there.

Vala:               (27:45) Yeah I think Michael the challenge is as companies go through their digital transformation, and there is an expectation for marketing to measure the impact of marketing, so there’s investment in CRM and marketing automation, community social listening platforms. Certainly a good majority of the program spend is shifting towards spend in marketing, so now the chief revenue officer expects you as a marketer to be able to measure the campaign impact and show how x dollar of spend in marketing will produce y dollar and pipeline and z dollar of close business. So there is a challenge for marketers to do that and in B2B the complexity of product may limit you from taking advantage of things like e-commerce and campaign drivers, where marketing can own a number. And not just talk about contribution and attribution and then sales influence. But then actually carry a quota like sales, and I think that’s when you see mature marketing organizations, the ones that actually own a number. I don’t know if you agree with that Tiffani.

Tiffani:            (28:58) Yeah, well I always joked that whenever I hear anybody in marketing saying, we’re going to own more of the buyers journey and more of the sales process, I’m always like, hey at the moment you own a quota and you’re sitting at the table at the end of the quarter and you’re getting spoken to on why you didn’t hit numbers I’m all for it.

(29:17) Right, but if I’m the only one in there having that conversation about why we didn’t hit numbers, that’s not very fair right and that comes back to that, it has to be that tri-effects of the right products, to the right customers, through the right sales model and all three need to be held accountable. But the problem is as you get higher in the organization, that becomes easier to do because the executives are boldest and comped and managed and measured differently, than someone who is lower in the organization who is really only responsible for a piece of the business.

(29:47) And they’re like, that’s all great, you know we’ve got the right products to the right customers but I as an individual seller is just trying to hit my numbers right, and I’m not interested in getting into this who is responsible. I’m just trying to sell, you know I’m just trying to service the customer, satisfy the customer, hit my quota, burned my commission check, that’s what I’m focused on as an individual contributor.

(30:10)And so the culture of the business has to start to embrace all the way down from the top down and that we got to start to look at this as a team effort, regardless of who carries the quota. And that goes back to that, well marketing isn’t responsible for the quota, so I’ve just got to do what I need to do you know and do I really think marketing is going to carry a quota – I don’t know. We’ve been selling e-commerce now for 15 years, and you could say that marketing could have carried it back then when it was banner ads driven to a website and a straight purchase.

(30:40) Right, you can tell cost per click, and so e-commerce driven sales has been around for a long time, and you could say when you know others showed up and it was now chat-based selling, which I was doing in 2000. I was one of the Locqus beta customers. You know, there was tough tracking for the sales rep that once they chatted and the customer went and bought online. I couldn’t tell that the sale happened because of the chat.

(31:07)So that’s been a problem for 15 years right. I think the trick now is technology has advanced so much more that the data analytics and the sales analytics, and the marketing analytics, if you use it appropriately can absolutely become much more number one, predictive, but number two much more valuable been better at winning in the eyes of the customer right. So I think that’s what it’s all about.

Michael:         (31:34) We have a question from Twitter from Arsolon Khan, who says, well isn’t the solution to this to have marketing and sales reporting to the same place?

Tiffani:            (31:45) Sure, I’d love to have marketing report to me; I am all in. Oh is that not what we meant

Michael:         (31:54) I think we were talking about the grand collaboration when marketing reports to you.

Tiffani:            (32:03) So sellers, it’s all about us. So I would say there are certain organizations that I know outside of technology I think it’s much more prevalent, where you have got sales and marketing much more tighter aligned you know because of just the organization structure. On the technology side, where it tends to fall is that it reports into the chief operating officer or into the CEO, and you’ve got to executives sitting at the table.

(32:32) I just really think that it has to come down to – that they have to understand that they can survive and be successful without the other, and so they have got to at the executive table figure out how to regardless of where they report, because that’s a way to fix a cultural problem right, by saying so he reports to me, so now he’s going to do what I tell him to do regardless of saying where they report. We’re doing it because this is the right way to do it for the organization, and more importantly once again, it’s the right thing to do for the customer.

Michael:         (33:04 You don’t mean to put personal agendas aside? That’s kind of crazy.

Tiffani:            (33:17) Yeah I’m going to take the fifth on that! How about that?

Vala:               (33:20) I think you wrote in your blog that you eluded to (Unclear due to feedback 33:24) you have to be aligned with your company strategy and I think it makes sense that corporate company strategy, product strategy, marketing strategy and sales strategy. So if you don’t have that alignment from the top to the bottom, it’s hard to as you said a differentiated message. Also you noted in your blog the C-suite changes around the seller’s dilemma. Executives reporting to the CEO have doubled in the past three decades. So you also have to find a way, so how do you build consensus when you are targeting an organization and you know that your buyer decision team is four, five, six, seven individuals.

Tiffani:            (34:09) Really the challenge is all about the personal side of it. It’s the soft skill and more than anything it’s trust. But I think that building trust takes time and if executives are coming in and out of the organization, it’s much more difficult to establish trust and then build upon that trust.

(34:31) You know, in my career I’ve worked with people that I would trust that they do the right thing, and if they did something I would never question it, because I would be like, they wouldn’t do this for any other reason and I don’t think there’s any hidden agenda or personal agenda that Michael eluded to.

(34:44) I know it was for the right reason, but it takes time to build that trust and create that kind of synergy between executives. As well as in the field, you know sales is going to trust marketing. They have got to constantly prove it day after day after day. And if marketing is going to trust sales, the same thing has to happen. So I think the turnover at the executive level makes that ability to establish trust even more difficult.

(35:07) And that’s the kind of thing that you can manage and you can’t measure. Do they really trust each other to come together in a way that is really important for the company, and more importantly for the best of the customer?

Michael:         (35:22) So Tiffani, your clients are IT organizations or IT sellers, so can you offer advice to enterprise buyers because that’s the flipside.

Tiffani:            (35:38) Yeah, absolutely I think that there’s some research that we put out that actually really hurt my soul as a seller, as customers now view the least valuable interaction during the buyers journey is with sales – the least valuable. And this is an opportunity for sales to step up, and part of the reason this is happening, as Vala eluded to, that customers have done a lot of research on their own, and then when they eventually reach out and call the provider, or the providers channel partner – you know their value added reseller or systems integrator.

(36:18) And they call them on the phone as sales rep the cause of the way that they are managed and it takes them backwards in the journey. Well wait a minute, I have to do all these things in order to enter it into my you know, CRM system, and PRM system and I have to make sure that I am crossing all of my T’s and dotting all my I’s before I put you in my system at 30% or 40% of where you are on the journey.

(36:40) And so customers are getting frustrated with the fact that sales isn’t understanding their pain points, doesn’t understand their vertical or industry very well. And they just come in being kind of general less and behaving the way that they do in front of all customers. So you know, as a buyer I think you’ve really got to make sure that you’re clear with the sales rep about what it is that you want them to come and bring to the table, right.

(37:07) Because sometimes if you’re a little unsure or ambiguous about what that is, the sales rep is going to try to hit all kinds of topics to make sure that they are satisfied with what they want. Versus the here are the three things that I need you to tell me right. I’m trying to find out with it technically work out with my environment. You know, have you used this or done this in other industries or verticals that look like me, feel like me, who have the same situation as me.

(37:29) And then more than anything, how will you support me through this entire project before and after the sale. And so I think customers have every right to expect their sales rep to be stepping up and to be a much greater resource for them for information and thought leadership, and to be competitive in differentiation, and all that information.

(37:53) And I think it’s less about speeds and feeds at this point. I really do think it’s about the value and outcome of the technology solution and what it will bring to that business.

Vala:                (38:02) Well is this really about social selling and the reason I call it social selling is because we had some of the top CIO’s in the industry from Intel, HP, Dell, Accenture, all these folks as guests on CXOTalk. When Michael and I asked them in terms of advice to sellers, and very often and in fact very universal they’re upset when the seller asked a question, you know what are your priorities, what are some of the challenges in your business. Because most of these extraordinary CIOs that we’ve had on our show, they blog, like Kim Stevenson from Intel has a video blog. She’s on Twitter, you know she blogs regularly. So she has the state of the union from Intel published every year.

(38:51) So if you just did a little bit of research you know exactly what Kim is trying to achieve at Intel, so opening up your sales engagement with some of the issues (unclear due to back feed 39:00) I think immediately shows that you didn’t do your due diligence.

(39:06) Would you think advice to sellers for you to stay relevant and speak the language of your customer, you need to realize that research and collaboration and (?) is really key for you to do precision selling.

Tiffani:            (39:20) It’s a great question and you know social selling is sort of the new buzz of what everybody is talking about on ways that sales is now engaging differently with customers etc. and I couldn’t agree more with you and that goes back to the comment I just made that customers are saying the least valuable is with sales because they come less prepared than they potentially could. You know I get a lot of reach out via LinkedIn and Twitter or even email, right where a sales rep for a particular company will reach out to me in my position here at Gartner and try to sell me something.

(39:53) Clearly if they did even five seconds of research you would realize I’m not buying anything. That’s kind of not what I do you know, so I looked at your profile and I think you would be perfect for this. And you know, if I have five minutes I feel really badly about it, but if I have five minutes I reply back and go, teaching moment. If you had really done your research you would have realized, I’m clearly not your target audience right.

(40:19) And so you are correct. I think there is a lot of work out there around best practices and solutions and social selling and all of that. And at the end of the day, it is really about sales reps stepping up, honing their craft and being better. And what got us here is not going to get us there. There are so many things that sales now have to personally take ownership. You know, they are responsible at the end of the day for hitting their quota, obviously.

(40:52) But the only thing that a sales rep really has control of at the end of the day, is their own behavior. That’s the only thing a sales rep has control of right. As a seller, I can’t control the price, I can’t control the product, I can’t control who I get to sell to – I mean I have very little control. The one thing I have control over is how I behave in front of the customer, my integrity, my ability to drive trust. My preparation before I sit in front of the CIO, my preparation around things that I do online, like blocking or tweeting or whatever it might be. Connecting out on LinkedIn or whatever, and that’s the only thing I can control.

(41:31)So there’s nobody you can blame except yourself right. And if it’s a canned message that comes from marketing and they’re saying to you, just send this out – canned message, that goes back to what I said right product, right customer, right message, right sales model. Then there’s a disconnect between the contents not right and you’re telling me what to do and as a sales rep I’m just doing it. So you have to get that control back yeah.

Michael:         (41:55) So Tiffani, we’ve just a few minutes left and you’ve given some advice to enterprise buyers. Now, what’s your advice to technology companies to the enterprise sellers?           

Tiffani:            (42:08) To their own sales reps?

Michael:         (42:11) To the sales reps or to the people who are developing the strategy. You’ve actually just given some advice to the sales reps, so how about to the sales management and even to the marketing department who are formulating the strategy. Just your advice and wisdom for those folks.

Tiffani:            (42:27) So I’d say this. I’d say that unfortunately sales management still manages the seller – their individual rep with the same metrics and tools that they’ve always measured. How many calls did you go on, and how many emails did you send, and how many phone calls did you make and how many proposals did you give. You know, what percentage is in the pipeline, why isn’t this deal moving, pipeline calls every Monday and Friday and have been the same for 10 years.

(42:56) Yet, we just spent 45 minutes talking about how technology has changed, how the buyers changed, and how the buyers journey has changed. So how is it possible that the metrics can stay exactly the same? So as a sales manager, you’ve got to start to look at the way which you manage your sales force. To accommodate the buyer is on a different journey.

(43:15) So I like to give this example all the time and I say, if I were your sales rep and you were my manager, and a customer calls me and they were 50% through the buyer journey already, and I had to enter that into my CRM system. Would I put that deal at 10% probability to close, or 50% probability to close?

(43:33) Unfortunately, today a sales rep would put it at 10%, because if they put it at 50% I like to say it’s like second grade soccer, it’s like the soccer ball. Everybody runs to the soccer ball, we’ve got to close this deal and my god, it’s 50% let’s get all the executives. And it’s not reality. So management has got to start to give some freedom and space to manage their sales reps differently and in the way that they measure them, with the pipeline meetings, with the way in which they have those calls, and in the way which they get trained. And I think it’s really important, because until that happens sales will as I like to say, sales will always manage up.

(44:11) Right, I want to manage to my manager, who manages to their manager and who manages to their manager, and the pipeline makes its way up. And if every sales rep puts a deal at 10% when they are really at 50%, how accurate is that pipeline? Is not accurate.

(44:29) Right, and it also isn’t helping marketing realize is what we are doing working – are we getting better quality leads, are we driving the customer further down the buyer journey. Well, it won’t appear so if you get the pipeline and everybody says 10%. So I think sales managers have got to start to figure out how they can balance that. Once again, until that seller’s dilemma get solved, if I’m a manager and trying to hit numbers, I’m not worried about trying to think about how do I re-imagine my sales funnel and pipeline right now. I’m just trying to hit numbers.

(44:59) And it’s really raw for them, you know especially the managers that have to manage up and manage down. Difficult.

Vala:               (45:06) Michael remember I told you before the show started that we were going to have the blogger’s dilemma of taking this wisdom and narrowing it down to only a 2,000 word blog. I have no idea on how I’m going to do this.

Michael:         (45:19) I know because writing these blogs is tough you know. We have guests like Tiffani who…

Vala:               (45:26) …is just crushing us and you drop so much science on us in 45 minutes.

Tiffani:            (45:31) I hope not. I don’t think I’ve ever been accused of dropping science on anybody, I hope that’s not the case.

Michael:         (45:40) How about if we call it scientific selling.

Vala:               (45:42) Scientific selling.

Tiffani:            (45:44) Alright I’ll take that.

Vala:               (45:45) It’s unbelievable, thank you so much Michael do we have time for another question or are we close to the end.

Michael:         (45:54) We’re pretty much done, but go ahead Vala, and Tiffani answer it quick.

Vala:               (46:01) What are your views on segmentation from account segmentation to buyer segmentation, so that you can not only understand the persona of your target buyer, but also to develop a buyer journey map. Is segmentation key to precision sales and marketing?

Tiffani:            (46:22) Yeah, I’d say this. You know I think every vendor in technology has a segmentation map that looks like a triangle. At the top of the triangle is big accounts that they sell direct and under that is the (global size? 46:33) and then below that is their value added reseller, and below that is just with value added resellers – that segmentation strategy I like to call it the Bermuda Triangle of segmentation because it’s adding no value.

(46:47) So, in the one minute we have left I think I’ll just leave it that marketers have got to go on sales calls with their sales team. And I want to stress that marketers need to stay quiet in that sales call and act like they are a new sales hirer and just there to listen. Because the moment they say they are from marketing, the conversation will totally change. And they can actually hear how well the content and segmentation and buyer journey mapping is doing live in this field whether it is via phone or face-to-face. I challenge marketers to go out on a sales call at least once a quarter and I don’t care which way, right over the phone or not.

(47:19) And then you can start to challenge and validate your segmentation strategy. But that triangle is doing good.

Michael:         (47:29 On that note is with the triangle of sales, I think our time together here today is done.

Tiffani:            (47:39) Well it’s been a pleasure. I so appreciate you guys giving me the opportunity to speak on your segment, and be part of a library of some really fantastic names and big hitting executive CIOs, I appreciate the opportunity.

Michael:         (47:54) Well thank you we’re grateful that you would take the time. Vala, I hope you stay warm.

Vala:               (47:59) I’m warm now.

Michael:         (48:03) And we’ve been talking on episode number 99 of CXOTalk, we have been speaking with Tiffani Bova, who is the vice president and distinguished and I have to say I like that word, distinguished analyst at Gartner. She is genuinely one of the top enterprise technology sales analysts in the world authorities on this topic, and Tiffani, I hope you will come back and join us another time.

Tiffani:            (48:30) Any time and I’m looking forward for the jib-jab marketing sales between Vala and I.

Michael:         (48:34) It sounds like too much of a like fest between you to.

Vala:               (48:39) I just didn’t want to be TKO’d by a world renowned expert, so next time maybe.

Tiffani:            (40:45) Thank you guys.

Michael:         (40:47 Thank you, and everybody subscribe to our newsletter, that’s the good deed for the day. See you next time for episode 100 of CXOTalk. Vala take care. Stay warm.

Vala:               (49:10) I will.

Michael:         See everybody, bye bye.