Ep5 Andrew Stewart. Knowing your People as a Sales Leader

Ep5: Andrew Stewart. Knowing your People as a Sales Leader

Join Pete Evans as he speaks to Andrew Stewart about the importance of sales leadership and the ability to coach the sales team in your business.

Talking about getting to know your sales team and utilising coaching. Andrew talks about the link between sports and sales teams and looks into how even the best sports people have coaching to get that extra 1% out of their productivity. The podcast finishes with sales book recommendations to read if you are new or upcoming into the industry. 

 

About our Guest

Andrew Stewart is a business to business sales professional with more than 30 years experience in technology, sales and marketing. Andrew spent most of his career in the semiconductor industry, working both in small, medium size and large companies and helping customers in industries such as automotive, industrial, automation and consumer goods.

Andrew had the pleasure of living and working in the UK, US and Germany. His sole physical semiconductor chips, as well as intellectual property designs for microprocessors that customers can incorporate into their own chips. He’s worked with customers across the globe, throughout Europe, North America and Asia. 

Now, Andrew lives on the shores of Morecambe Bay in the Northwest of England with his wife and two dogs. And when he’s not working, he loves climbing the local hills, Fells on foot and on his bicycle. 

About our Host

Pete Evans has over 20 years sales experience with a successful corporate sales career. If you’re involved in B2B selling, cold calling, sales recruitment, sales training, sales coaching, sales transformation or have a desire to grow your business then this podcast is for you.

Pete is currently MD and Practice Partner of SalesStar UK. SalesStar combines sales training with sales coaching to deliver long term results in line with your sales strategy so you can smash your targets and grow top line revenue. SalesStar works with growth minded CEOs and sales leaders who are frustrated with their sales results and are looking for a proven system to grow sales.

Episode Transcript

Oliver Eaton | Pete Evans | Andrew Stewart

Welcome to the Creating SalesStars Podcast. Each week, our host, Pete Evans, will be joined by some of the big and upcoming names within the sales industry. This is brought to you by SalesStar UK.

[MUSIC]

So welcome to this edition of Creating SalesStars hosted by SalesStar. I’m delighted to welcome today a personal friend of mine and somebody I’ve coached for a few years, Andrew Stewart. Andrew Stewart is a business to business sales professional with more than 30 years experience in technology, sales and marketing. Andrew spent most of his career in the semiconductor industry, working both in small, medium size and large companies and helping customers in industries such as automotive, industrial, automation and consumer goods. Andrews had the pleasure of living and working in the UK, US and Germany. His sole physical semiconductor chips, as well as intellectual property designs for microprocessors that customers can incorporate into their own chips. He’s worked with customers across the globe, throughout Europe, North America and Asia. Now, Andrew lives on the shores of Morecambe Bay in the Northwest of England with his wife and two dogs. And when he’s not working, he loves climbing the local hills, Fells on foot and on his bicycle. So welcome to the Creating SalesStar Podcast, Andrew. 

Thank you, Pete. Good to talk to you. 

Yeah, it’s great. So great to talk to you as well. And I want to really focus on, you know, sales leaders and sales managers during this podcast. And I think what I’d like the first question is what are the things you in your, you know, your vast experience of selling and leadership that sales leaders have managed to really be focusing on when creating high performing sales teams? 

I guess the first thing Pete, is you’ve actually kind of got to concentrate on yourself because the level of the team rarely, if ever, exceeds level the leader. So you’ve got to be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be the best, the best example you lead by example, you’ve got to have the best attitude so that you can encourage that in your team. So there are several things which I think you need to do in that firstly attitude. You’ve got to have a top class attitude and you’ve got to encourage that in your team. The second thing is all about time and time management and blocking out time, and it’s not your usual sales. Your time management productivity story here, it’s about actually blocking at least 50% of your time to spend with your team. In the old days before pandemic, that would be windshield time getting in a car with your team members on a plane, going to joint meet to customer meetings with them. It’s been a bit more difficult over the last couple of years, but spend 50% of your time with your team, that’s most important. And then let them get on with it. Protect them from managing upwards so you protect them from the shower of corporate initiatives to a certain extent. But make sure that in that 50% of your time that you spend with the team, you are with them, you’re getting a pulse on how they are and how the customers are, how the business are is. The next thing is coaching and coaching is your job, and not a lot of sales leaders in my experience actually really understand that. So in terms of coaching, you’ve got to coach your team members, you’ve got to teach, coach their skills. You’ve got to address any behavioural or attitudinal issues and help them to think how to think through problems. It’s obviously a big part of being a sales manager, a sales leader is managing upwards and managing the pipeline, so make sure you create a proper cadence for reviews with your team one to one and and as a team, keep your eyes on the CRM and the numbers. And then finally, I just say your job is figuring out stuff and, yes, figuring out who each person is on your team, what are the good points and the bad points? What motivates them? So how can I motivate John in a better way from or a different way rather than sarah? Everybody has a different motivation. How do you inspire them? And then how do you put in place or figure out what the right systems, the right tools, the right processes are to make it all happen? Does that make sense? 

Yeah, I mean, you’ve already started with some real nuggets, though. And I’d just like to take a deeper dive in some of these under if that’s OK with you…

… of course,

I mean, you talked about, you know, as a leader, being the best version, you know, it’s about self-awareness and leading by leading by example. And I know from my own personal experience of, you know, coaching you and obviously knowing you as a friend, as well, you, I think somebody wants to use the expression. Andrew is a bit of a course-junkie. I do mean that in a very positive light, Andrew. But you you’re an avid reader, an avid listener, you know, in terms of, you know, not just sales, but personal development. How important is it as a leader? Do you think that you should be constantly working on yourself and developing your own skills as a sales leader? 

I think it’s really, really important because the old adage you need a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. You’ve got to encourage that, that self-development. And you know, I guess in my experience, then yes, you get some training offered by the company, some coaching, but you is even more important in today’s market, today’s economy that you’re constantly upping your skills and developing business acumen. The developing the insights to discuss with and challenge your customers. I think you’ve always got to be can’t you can’t afford to stand still. You’ve got to be moving forward all the time. 

Yeah and I would agree with that, I mean, I mean, it’s interesting in the last week, I’ve heard two very contrasting comments, and I’ll be interested in your opinion on this. So one is from a sales leader, managing director who. The feedback was, well, I don’t need to change. I know I know how to hire great salespeople, know how to develop them. Yet that and he says, I’ve got an experience of running a business that turns over $100 million. And my question back was, well, why are you going backwards? And then at the other end of the extreme, I heard a quote from an ex Great Britain rugby league player who said, what brought you success in 2021? Won’t make you successful in 2022? Two, so very two very opposing mindsets? What’s your opinion on those two different mindsets? 

I tend to agree with the latter. I think it was Zig Ziglar who said, if you always did do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. And yeah, you might have a successful business 100 million. But are you going to grow as fast as you could by not changing the way you do business? And regardless of what you do, your workforce is changing. As a younger people come in the marketplace, more millennials, more Gen ys, you need to handle them and manage them and inspire them differently from the baby boomers that you and I are part of. So you’ve constantly got to be developing and improving. 

Yeah, no, I would agree with that. And I think it probably brings on to another topic is the, you know, the there are lots of people out there in the sales function. You have quite a fixed mindset and not a growth mindset. I mean, in your opinion and probably your own experience, you’ve probably worked with people have had a fixed mindset and what sort of challenges did presented to you when you come across people that you work with who’ve got a fixed mindset? 

Oh, lots of challenges. I guess, firstly, it’s a personal thing, you know, the frustration of, well, why would this person change their thought? But I think, you know, focusing on if you’ve got a growth mindset, you can. You can change, you can adapt. You can think of different ways to win the business, to do the deals. You can adapt with the times if you’re. Fixed, you run the risk of becoming irrelevant. 

Yeah, I love what you just said, though, is that if you got a fixed mindset, you run that risk of not, you know, not being relevant. And I just want to take it. But you talked about tight time management, but not traditional challenges. It’s all about productivity and the start that you quoted, you know, 50% of your job as a sales leader. Our sales manager is actually, you know, being going with a team and coaching the coaching the team, you know, and actually that’s backed up by stat from objective management group, which which again, say, you know, a sales manager should be investing a minimum of 50% coach the team in, you know, what you’ve observed in your career? Has that actually been a reality under that you’ve seen sales leaders and managers actually investing that amount of time in working with the team? 

Rarely and if I suppose if I just think about the amount of time that sales managers have spent with me, OK, I had bigger teams, but no, I don’t think they do. I think people fall in. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of focusing inwards and managing the internal stakeholders within the company instead of focusing on the customers and your team who are in touch with the customers. 

Yeah I mean, this is really interesting, and I’d like to explore this a bit more detail as well, because your next point was about a boat in coaching. And I know that you’re a massive sport, you know, sports fan as well. And you know you’ve studied what makes people successful in sports and in all that you’re an extremely keen cyclist. And you have some real achievements in, you know, the cycling cycling challenges. You know, a sports team can’t look inwardly, they’ve got to look outwardly. And you know, the coaches focus in a sports team is focusing on the people. You know, you mentioned about understanding your people. Everybody’s got different personalities. What are the lessons? Do you think sales leaders and sales managers can learn from sporting, you know, elite sports teams from a coaching perspective? 

I think there are many, many lessons. There was a fabulous book whose name I forget now it’s all about the All Blacks – The New Zealand All Blacks rugby team and the lessons that they have that they can give us. And it’s all about being your best. The team comes first, you know? No, no idiots allowed a bit more fruity the language in that book. And I think there are similar things. If you look at Dave Brailsford, work with Team Sky and British Cycling that focus on incremental improvements, you know, just getting the next 1% out of the team and making everything better. Clive Woodward, his book on / his autobiography, is on my audible list, just again taking a bunch of people and. And take him to be world champions. You know, talent can win you the battle. But championships are won by teamwork. 

Yeah, and I once heard somebody saying I can’t read the actual two things about sales. One is it’s a contact sport and I’m going to come back, I’m going to come back to that, but it’s also a team sport. And do you think do you think salespeople forget that actually, you know, behind them, you know, they might be the front man, you know, they might be, you know, in footballing terms, they might be the striker all of a sudden to find who puts the ball in the back of the net and behind them to be able to put the ball in the back of the net. You need a defence and midfield and an attack. And do you think sometimes the salesperson who thinks is the striker who gets all the glory for scoring the goals during the season forgets there’s got a whole team behind him. 

Yes, yes, that is a risk. And I know that bringing somebody different into a meeting with a customer can. Totally change the conversation, whether it’s a product manager, a field applications engineer, a senior executive, you get a different conversation by bringing different people in and that teamwork in a meeting with a customer. You know, I can hear a different, different side of the conversation from my colleagues that are in there. So it’s very often very useful as part of that team debrief to just get everybody to list down what they heard in that meeting, what they observed. You can have team roles and negotiation. Sales negotiations are a classic one where a team approach can be very, very useful. To have somebody have a good cop and a bad cop, you can have someone who takes the notes. Very, very important to use that team. And even if it’s just part of the team of back in the office as it were, of talking through role playing, simulating what might happen, somebody else just. Yeah, somebody else’s viewpoint of that customer can be very, very useful when you’re, you know, you can be very, very focused on the customer and you don’t because you’re so familiar with them, you don’t necessarily. Think outside the box or is more difficult to think of a different perspective or something that’s new coming in or exposed daily can ask what they might think of a dumb questions, but actually very, very valuable questions. 

Yeah, no, that’s fantastic insight. So I want to come on to the importance of coaching, which we’ve touched on. So I know you yourself, Andrew, that you’ve, you know, not you talked about, you know, companies can provide training, but I know for quite a long time you’ve personally invested in, you know, in external coaches, including myself at one stage, you know what? What drove you to have a coach yourself because you’re a highly experienced and talented, you know, sales professional. What prompted you to seek an external coach to help you? 

Before I answer that, I think it was Mike Lindberg who said that training focuses on simulations, whereas coaching lives in the real world with real world situations. And training is great in. Bringing you skills in. And if you have a group training within the company, it can give you a common language, some common templates as it were to use. But with coaching, you can a one to one coaching or maybe a one to a few coaching. The manager can, uncover the good and bad points, they can talk through specific situations and help identify a path to close a deal to solve a situation with a customer. They can uncover what motivates their team members, which you just don’t get through training. And then to answer your question about why did I do it? Well, it goes back to that sporting analogy that every good sports person, whether it be Americano or the England football team or Manchester City football team with Pep Guardiola, they call them world class coaches. And I’m hearing about more and more professional footballers who also employ their own specialised fitness coaches. To get that extra 1% to 2% to 5% out of their own bodies to achieve more. And so I think coaching is very valuable and coach gets you to see different possibilities. Different ideas brings you in different perspectives to try and help push you out of your comfort zone. 

Again, some fantastic insights. And I think it’s interesting. Two things you mentioned at the end there. One is getting the extra 1% and obviously the compound effect of those 1% of a weeks, months or even years can give you the point of differentiation in your role. You know, whether you’re whether you’re a sales professional salesperson or sales manager or sales leader. That’s where the difference comes from. And your last comment about pushing you outside your comfort zone? So do you think if an organisation is going to adopt a sort of sales coaching culture, they’ve got to be they’ve got to the leader has got to encourage their people to get outside their own comfort zone. 

Yes, I think so, because that is all about the process of growth. And you know, you and I have talked about champagne goals and stretch goals and. Again, you know, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got, so pushing yourself out of a comfort zone, whether it’s to make an extra call or to say something different in a meeting to give her a different proposal. It can be, you know, you can just break the logjam. 

And, Andrew, you know, when we were sort of discussing coming on the podcast, you know, one of the questions I sort of sent through was, you know, there are things that get in the way of high performing sales teams. What do you see both from your previous experience and perhaps what you are experiencing currently gets in the way of a sales team being high performing? 

Well, firstly, the lack of what we’ve been talking about already, the coaching and training, it’s the lack of spending quality time with the sales team to understand what’s good, what’s bad, what’s working, what isn’t working, what we should change. I think there’s the c-r-a-p, which comes down from other parts of the organisation. You can be. As an individual salesperson or a sales leader, you can be derailed by well-intentioned requests from marketing, from customer service, from whoever to do this survey or, you know, whatever stuff it is, the other requests which aren’t really related, they’re not going to help to. To add value to the customers, the drive, engagement with the customers and then too much of an inward focus and then the final thing I think is do get the cases where an outstanding salesperson has promoted to be the sales manager, but they don’t have. They’re not given the leadership skills. Maybe they don’t have the leadership skills and you’ve got to lead by example and a fish rots from its head. So if the leadership is no good, then the team is no good. 

Yeah, I’ve heard that expression, the fish rots from his head many times, like you say, if the Sales Lead or the leadership team in general in the business isn’t good, that’ll cascade down to the sales. If you’ve raised a very interesting point there, but about standing salesperson, becoming a sales manager or sales leader, you know, do you think it’s always the case that organisations should promote the most capable or outstanding salesperson into that leadership role? I mean, if you look at sport, some of the more successful coaches you know, particularly in, you know, rugby and football haven’t been the most successful, Uh, stars of the team players. 

Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right there, and sometimes you’ve got to suck it and see. But I think you know, well, if your star A player salesperson, you’re thinking of promoting them, then. What what tools and skills do they need to get to the next step? And how do they need to change? How do they need to drop their existing activity and how to coach? And you know, the big difference is that as an individual salesperson, you’ve been responsible for your own results. And as a sales manager. The results come from your team. They don’t come from you. So it’s a big change, so does that person have the right leadership attributes? Would they be happy doing it? Could you just keep them where they are and pay them a bit more, give them some more responsibility? But are they happier doing the field sales role.

Yeah, do you think some people who are great salespeople want to go into maybe sales management or sales leadership because the perception is it’s an easier role. 

I don’t know, Pete. I suppose you. Is it an easier role? Erm, I think managing people can be both. One of the most frustrating and difficult things, as well as one of the most satisfying and. yeah, maybe you have a different workload in the sales manager, but I wouldn’t have thought it’s easier. 

You know, personally, I don’t think it’s easy. I think it’s a different challenge. I think when you’re a salesperson on your own, you’re responsible if you’re for yourself and your results, whereas when you’re a leader or manager, you’ve got to empower others to deliver. So you’re winning through others and you know, you exactly. You’ve got to take on that responsibility. You’ve got to make time for people. You’ve you’ve really got to. You’ve really got to understand people. Andrew, I know that you are a keen lover of technology and you will have used various pieces of technology and software in your sales career. Do you think technology is getting in the way of some of the basics of sales? I mean, technology is an enabler, or do you think it’s preventing people from doing some of the basics that you and I had to learn early on in our sales careers? 

I think if you hide behind the technology, it’s probably a mistake. I think the bots that send out emails, unsolicited emails and LinkedIn messages, they probably get in the way of results and they get sales a bad name. But there are other technologies like CRM, like the communications tools, I mean, if we had this pandemic even 10 years ago. It we would have had a depression, because how would we have kept in touch with our customers and our teams? 

Yeah,

Without I mean, yes, we have we’ve had we’ve had Zoom fatigue. But it’s allowed us to keep close to our customers and win deals and. And go and sell them. And so that’s very important that technology. But if you – the CRM, it helps you to understand what’s going on in the marketplace. Yes, it can be. If when you put in a CRM system, it’s important to redesign some of your operations. So that you’re not automating rubbish processes. But if it’s well designed, it can dramatically improve the flow of information, the sharing of information with people that need to know it. You can get a much better view in real time what the pipeline is and probably improved productivity because if you’ve got a decent Salesforce or SAP or whatever, you can have real time dashboards and reports so you can see instantly what is going on and not having to create custom Excel sheets. But it’s very important that you, if you put garbage into the CRM, you’ll get garbage out. So make sure that the data is real. And then what are the key metrics? Keep it simple. What are the leading metrics which are telling you as a sales manager, whether the business is going the right way? Are we going to be in trouble this quarter, next quarter in a year’s time because we’ve got a lower pipeline, whatever? I think it can be a very useful tool to use in pipeline reviews through your people with your team. And it encourages some discipline. Documenting and. Documenting what’s behind the sale, why does the customer want to buy? What’s their motivation? Share what the desired outcome is. 

Somebody once said to me, Andrew, they were talking to me last year about marketing, and they said, do you know what the best tool we’ve got for marketing Pete? And I said, no, what is it? And they said, it’s actually the phone. You said it’s remarkable. You know, that the phone actually does something. It allows you to speak to people. Do you think do you think we’ve lost the art of actually just picking the phone up to customers and prospects? And we hide behind email and LinkedIn messages and other types of messaging rather than just having a, you know, a conversation which obviously can take place on Teams or Zoom. You know, do you think we’ve lost the art of conversation because of all the different softwares that we’ve got, we can use some. 

Some of us have, Yes. And I think, you know, yes, yes, people do hide behind that. Yes, there is a school of thought by, you know, a sizable minority of people. That cold calling is dead. 

Yeah…

And it depends on your industry, but absolutely, if you pick if you want to know something, it’s pick up the phone and call the customer, or you can send a meeting request and say, hey, can we talk about this and set an appointment to speak to them? What at the start of the pandemic, it was much more difficult because, you know, you had my phone was full of desk numbers for people, of course, weren’t sitting at their desk. But I think people then rapidly moved on to accepting, you know, 15 minute call to sync up on whatever it is. 

Yeah, fantastic. So…-

…you know, the face to face belly to belly talking to somebody, you get so much more information out than with an email. 

Yeah, no, I agree. So, Andrew, we’re coming towards the close of the podcast. What’s the one piece of advice you would give to, you know, a person who’s about to go into a sales leadership role or the new into sales leadership, you know, based on your vast experience and your knowledge of culture? And what’s the one Nugget of advice you would give it to somebody? 

Leadership is the ability to get extraordinary results from ordinary people. I think it was Brian Tracy who said that. So the one piece of advice is get to know your people. Find out what motivates them, what development needs they have. Where they’re good. Where they’re bad. And take it from there. 

OK fantastic. And my final question is what one book would you recommend to a sales manager, our sales leader? I mean, you’re are an avid reader, as I mentioned before. So what one book would you recommend to people? 

Oh, good question. One book I’d say Anthony Iannarino is ‘The lost art of closing’. But seriously, I would read and devour anything by Mike Weinberg, Jed Blount, Mark Hunter. If you’re doing prospecting, then Mark Hunter and Jed Blount are fantastic. Their books, if you’re closing deals, then probably Anthony Iannarino is my go to person. And then if you’re on the sales management side, sales management simplified by Mike Weinberg or the sales manager survival guide by David Brock. And then the last book I’d recommend is gap selling by Keenan. 

Yeah, some fantastic recommendations there, Andrew. So thank you very much for making the time today to join us on the Creating SalesStar podcast. It’s been a pleasure chatting to you this morning, and if you’re available in the future, we very much welcome you back onto the podcast, which some more of you your fantastic insights, Andrew. So thank you very much. 

Pete, It’s been my pleasure. Great to talk to you and great to have a chat about effective sales. 

Fantastic!

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Thanks for listening. This podcast was brought to you by SalesStar and hosted by Pete Evans. For more information about what we can offer you head to our website at salesstar.com/UK. You can also find us on all social media platforms just by searching for SalesStar UK.

Credits

Presenter and Producer: Pete Evans
Special Guest: Andrew Stewart
Producer and Intro/Outro Voiceover: Oliver Eaton
Podcast Editor: Alex Mullen

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