Sales Enablement with Craig Potts
Sales Strategies for Consulting Businesses
For those who come from the corporate world, the term sales enablement might sound familiar. However, for small business owners, it has been a methodology out of reach for years. Why? It was simply not affordable for many in the past.
But what is sales enablement, and what does it do for your business? Craig Potts from Orchid Black is here to answer these and more questions around this topic. He shares six steps to transform sales, six elements around messaging, and sales enablement platforms that you can now use in your consulting business.
Welcome to the Accelerate Sales Podcast. If it's your first time and you love the experience, please subscribe. If you're a regular, I always love reviews. An iTunes review would be absolutely wonderful, and obviously send this podcast to others that you think can benefit from it. By all means take notes, but it is fully transcribed, and we've got all the links that are mentioned by our guest in the show notes as well.
You're going to learn three key things from this podcast. The first one is the six steps to transform sales. The second is the six elements around messaging, and messaging is so important and you'll understand why. And lastly, some of the sales enablement technology that once was for the big guys, but now you can use it in your consulting business.
Our guest has 35 years of technology experience, mainly in revenue growth. Part of the executive team that took a business from 300 million to a billion dollars and a successful exit, and have also had other roles where they went from a $23 million business to a $300 million business and a successful exit. A lot, a lot of experience and practical experience on this show. What I'm going to do now is hand you over to Craig Potts from Orchid Black.
Welcome Craig Potts from Orchid Black to the Accelerate Sales Podcast. Great to have you here, Craig.
Great to be here, Paul. Thank you.
I always love to start off with who are the clients that you love to work with?
Thanks for asking. At Orchid Black, the market and client base that we focus on are early growth stage companies. They're typically founder lab owners and CEOs. Don't have seed capital, it's mostly their own money. From time to time they may have some angel money or other family money. No other institutional investment venture capital money or private equity base money.
They're tech focused and they focus on typically targeted industries and they're typically between about two and 40, 50 million in revenue. That's our ideal client profile. The CEO founder has also basically said that he's looking for help. He's looking for help to grow the revenue of his company. He or she, they're looking to potentially exit the business as well, and they need the business to be operationalized. We're a collection of operators and boutique consulting expertise that can help people do that. They're willing to listen and learn from a bunch of experienced operators. That's our ideal client profile.
Great. When you talk tech, I know that's a very broad sector, but are there any particular verticals that you look at?
Yeah. Not any particular verticals, but consulting services companies, SaaS, software-as-a-service technology industry companies, but pretty much across the spectrum of industries and solutions that those organisations sell to.
Great. What are some of the biggest problems that you help them solve? I know you've mentioned a couple of them, but just go into that a little deeper.
We start out in our conversations in discovery with them, and talk about in terms of value creation fundamentals, and with the end result of trying to work with them in a few week period to do a value creation assessment. In that, the problems that we typically look for, and solutions to those, are making sure that there's a product market fit, whether it be for a product or services as well. Are they positioned the correct way in the marketplace that they're going after? The services they're trying to sell, the products they're trying to sell. They have a standard revenue history. They want to figure out how to enhance their revenue.
We have some patented practises that help to determine that. They may want to optimise capital, look at trying to grow through potentially raising capital. We have folks that help out with that as well. They might need to be a bit more efficient operationally. We work on cost improvement, and that's a measure that we have there. Then we also teach them how to, if they're interested in exiting in a 12 to 36 month period, how to maximise their exit potential. We have specific proprietary methods that our growth services offer that helps to evaluate that in our conversations.
Great. We'll definitely dig into the revenue component of the moment as per the name of the podcast, but I'm just interested, I've got a couple of clients that are gearing up for, maybe not a full exit, but certainly an equity entry, if that's the right way to put it. Often people say, what are the best drivers to look at prior to getting your EBITDAR, or what line on the P&L they're going to use, but what are some of the best things that they should do to prepare for that equity event? What are some thoughts you've got on that?
They have to operationally be run such as if they were a larger company, because when someone is exiting, they're going to be acquired or partnered with typically someone that sees the run rate being much more significant. That's where they're going to get their multiples from. We work with clients, we teach them and suggest to them that they need a strategic operational plan. One client that we're currently working with here in my area, and I'm involved with, we are working on their three to four years strategic operational plan. All the values, obstacles, and methods that they'll go through to get there. This is the first planning they've ever done, and they've already reached 5 million in revenue, for example. It's a new concept to them.
Most of it is also around optimising revenue. For example, in this particular client, I won't name them, because we're in the middle of the engagement, I'm a fractional leader. I take a position as a fractional revenue leader in the company to teach them best practises, help them to manage the business until they can get it on their own, using the different playbooks that will help them succeed.
Great. Excellent. I know that you've got six components of sales transformation, which obviously gets those turnaround and that results from a revenue perspective. What are the six elements?
I'd love to talk to you about that. I know we can dive in deeply on every one of them, but there's probably not enough time in this podcast, so you let me know which ones you want to dive into. In my 35 years in the technology industry, I've come across that every organisation I've been in has some sort of sales transformation that it has to go through.
There's six key elements in the sales performance ecosystem, as I call it. Those are sales force effectiveness, marketing alignment, sales talent management, which is the people side of the business, the operational sales, which is the operational side of the business, the strategic side and the sales force strategy side of the business. Then in the area of sales enablement, that's a key, very highly coined phrase. Over the past 10 years, it didn't really exist until about 10 years ago.
Yeah. I remember my days at Coca-Cola, we used it, but most companies that I went and consulted to after Coca-Cola, I was, "Ah, okay. Coke is light years ahead of many companies." I'm used to it from 20 years out, but that has become more relevant. I'd like to dive down on the last one, that sales enablement piece. Make sure we give everyone value in the time we've got, but I heard a podcast yesterday about the discussion that there should be a head of revenue now that sits across all the revenue streams, not just looking from a sales or marketing point of view. You still might have your functional leads, but you've got someone that's looking at total revenue across the business. Have you guys got that in your playbook? What's your view on having a role like that?
Yes, and we see that role, and that role is typically called a chief revenue officer. That role was not even a position, so to speak, until probably three years ago at the most. I personally have been a chief revenue officer a couple of times at high growth type companies. What you basically own there is, it's certainly a C level, not just a sales type of role, but you've got marketing lead generation, which sometimes falls in sales, sometimes marketing. You've got customer success, and it takes into the entire revenue stream of the business. Maintenance, renewals and things like that as well.
It's funny when I heard the term, I actually thought, "Well, that's what most heads of consulting businesses are. They are looking at that across the line. These days, I know that I split my time 50/50 between marketing and sales, but it has been a lot more intertwined, and definitely in the consulting businesses, but why don't we dive into sales enablement? What are the key things that you focus on when you go to drive revenue in a consulting business or a tech or a SaaS business? What are the key things you look at under sales enablement?
I would say, really in the area of messaging and tool usage, anything to help to automate your outreach to clients, how you communicate your value proposition and things like that. First I might start with, for the viewers, sales enablement is now such a critical role in organisations of all sizes. You have different groups that follow this. Everybody probably knows about Gartner, Forrester, SiriusDecisions, CSO Insights, all of these groups have critical matrix's for the sales enablement function that didn't even exist 10 years ago. I would encourage people to Google that, sales enablement and sales engagement platforms, and you'll learn a lot about good tidbits of information, and also the vendors that are out there.
But what really is sales enablement? If you walk into a room and ask 10 people, you'll come up with 10 or maybe 20 different answers, but essentially what sales enablement is to me, is the strategy and the goal of improving sales productivity and getting sales for your organisation and helping those that are responsible for sales to sell better, sell faster and sell smarter. There are four different definitions that Gartner, CSO Insights and SiriusDecisions and Forrester all have about that. I encourage everybody to Google sales enablement for each of those. There's probably something that will come up for that, but I will say what Gartner talks about sales enablement, they're more prominent out there, they say, quote, unquote, "Sales enablement is the activities, systems, processes, and information that support and promote knowledge based sales interactions with clients and prospects."
That's a mouthful and there are shorter definitions of it, but that's what sales enablement is. It is also about all of the content that you use, and that marketing comes up with, whoever does marketing in your organisation, whether it be small or large, typically sales and marketing around alignment in small companies and large companies, because they're not singing out the same hymnal, if you will. If you're truly sales enabled, if you look at one of the most prominent vendors out there, which is owned by a private equity firm, whom I know very well JMI Private Equity, google this firm, and a great report out there by a company called Seismic, they're one of the top 10 leading sales enablement platforms out there, that are affordable for small organisations or larger as well.
They say with all the content that marketing provides, for example, if you have a mechanism in place that helps you be sales enabled versus not having a mechanism, your organisation can have a 350% increase in content usage that you produce. There's so much content, and history shows that 95% of the content that marketing produces never gets used.
With the sales enablement methodology and platform you will use that content, because it'll force you to use that content. Your conversion rate on winning business can go up by 275% with one of these effective platforms, which then translates to about a 60, 65% increase in revenue also generated. There are also statistics and metrics that show the average deal size, because you're effectively using content that your marketing people and really smart people... Your average deal size can go up by 14%. You put all those numbers together, this concept of automating content and just following a methodology, well prescribed, can significantly help you grow your business.
When you talk content, Craig, so for example, I use LinkedIn now as a great vehicle to have organic content. How would sales enablement link into generating content on LinkedIn as an example?
Content. That's a good point. That's another broad term. Content is everything now. Content is a blog. Content is this podcast you're doing, that your clients and the viewers here can actually help to grow their business as well. Content can be Instagram, can be Facebook, LinkedIn. In fact, one of the CEOs I've worked with in a company where they're doing quite a bit of work with, believes, and they're in this content marketing brand management space, he believes some day web pages will go away and all the content delivered on your value proposition, your solution is going to be through these different mediums like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Google My Business. These are all forms of content.
Yeah, I think you're right. I do think though, it's so critical having your own list, your email list, because I don't think that will ever go away. So many people I see weight so highly to a platform, that if the algorithm or something changes, they're caught. I definitely think if you're a consultant at the moment, and you don't have... You might have a contact list, but you don't have a list where people are opening 20 to 30% open rates on your email. I think that's super critical, which is another great way of getting content through. Great explanation of sales enablement. We'll have all the links so you can dive deeper, but I know around messaging, Craig, if you can just give us a little bit more meat on the bone around messaging, and then we'll go into the rapid fire section.
Okay. Sure. I use sixes and a lot of things, either three points or six elements, and there are six elements or components, let's call them, I believe that every sales messaging framework should have, and that translates to a sales enablement type of methodology and solution. What are the six components? I'll give these to the viewers here. Number one, the sales messaging framework that your organisation needs to have is, you got to have a value driver. Purchasing decisions aren't just being made on product features alone. Do they meet the needs of my organisation? Am I understood? Does the person selling to me understand what I'm doing? What's the valid business reason for company XYZ to do business with me?
I have to come up with that and be able to articulate it, but I understand their business. Second thing is, differentiation. You have to know how to differentiate yourself. In your sales messaging framework and engagement methods, you got to be able to differentiate yourself, because there's always a lot of competitors out there. You need to understand, and have anybody associated with helping you drive revenue, and it's always the CEO, always the founder and maybe other people if you've got a sales organisation, it's not whoever's helping to drive revenue.
The whole company needs to know the SWOT. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that you versus competitors have so that you can differentiate yourself from the market, because it's a very competitive market out there. The third thing is you got to be able to quantify the business pain, and just not do feature function, we provide this service and this service and that's the benefit. Or if you have a product, the product has this feature in this buzz to it and all that. If you just are selling on that alone, then that'll backfire because they'll believe your products are too expensive or it's more than they need, or a buyer may feel that you don't care enough about them, because you're only talking about your solution. Quantify what their pain is, get to know them and really, truly understand them. And then fourth-
Sorry, just on that, Craig. What's number three for you? You gave me a one-
Oh yes. The ability to quantify the business pain, that's the third. The fourth is, outcomes of doing business with you, help your client understand what those outcomes are, and that is simply just proof points. You got to be able to show effective proof points from different perspectives to that client. The fifth and sixth are, five, ability to leverage the entire organisation consistently across their... How do you drive the message through your entire organisation so that everybody's lined up with the same message that you are, whether you're the CEO selling, the salesperson selling, the customer order entry person selling, everybody needs to be lined up, and lined up with that customer's organisation as well. The last, and probably most important is, the owner of the business or executive or CEO or founder of your business has got to be able to manage this messaging, inspect it, and make sure that it's effectively used throughout the organisation.
We had an organisation where I was chief revenue officer and went through a pretty significant sales transformation. This was a larger one, but it applies to smaller organisations as well. We actually created for every employee, a certification process as if they were all salespeople, executives, every level of the organisation, they had to be able to demonstrably go through a discussion and even a brief demonstration on the services and product that we provided, where it would be provided and the capabilities of those, and we loaded that up on an inexpensive learning management system platform. Everyone had to do these Zoom type videos. Back then I thought it was Webex, and as if they were talking to a prospective client. That's a real task that when you teach something, you really learn it, but you have to know it.
Yeah, I think that's brilliant. Definitely for me, I think video is super important these days to get into your mix. I'll give you a quick example. We've all been hit by LinkedIn messages continually. I actually say to someone, "Look, this is why I want to talk to you, but to help you make that decision, why don't you hear a little bit about me?" and I just put in a three minute video of my story. I had a laugh yesterday, a guy came back to me and said, "You know what? I normally never respond to messages, but yours was so compelling that I wanted to reply you, and I'm not ready for your services now, but please put me on your list and I'll be back when I am." I think using videos as a touch point to get that message clear is very helpful through the process.
That was brilliant. We went through the six steps. All of this will be in the show notes. It will be transcribed, but obviously we'll leave some contact details if you want to find out more through Craig as well. Just before we go into the rapid fire section, I'd love to talk to you to see if you have the sales system to increase your revenue through referrals. You might say, "Paul, what does that really mean?" What I've got is the nine critical questions that you've got to ask yourself if you've got the sales system.
A lot of the things that Craig talked about apply to large and small businesses, as he said, and I've got my version of the specific things you need. You can answer it in three minutes, but the most important thing then is I'll jump on a call and have a plan with you. Not a sales call, but a plan on letting you know exactly what the gaps are and my recommendations of how to close those. You go to Paulhigginsmentoring.com/pulse to get that. Now we've got the rapid fire questions, Craig. Are you ready for that?
All right. Excellent. The first one is, what are some of the sales habits that help you be successful?
I won't go into all the details and how I was raised, but wasn't raised with a lot of money. If I wanted things I had to earn money to pay for them, but my father and mother, great people, did teach me intense focus, incredible discipline through sports activities, things like that. Always go the extra mile in whatever you do. That applies through sales, through running a business. I would say this probably drove people crazy throughout the early part of my career where I was just sales [inaudible 00:24:26], but they respected a lot, is this follow up and follow through mentality. You've got to follow up and follow through. That is where people really believe that you care. Do what you say you're going to do and follow up and follow through.
Excellent. So you've mentioned Seismic and we will have links to that, but what's another piece of technology that is essential for you to accelerate sales?
The multiple organisations I've been in, I wish Salesforce.com existed even for a startup that I was with was a million dollars in revenue to going public back in the '90s. It didn't, but you can use that, Salesforce.com. It's actually a sales enablement platform with the different inexpensive plugins, to be able to use that. We have built upon that at companies I've worked with, companies I've consulted with. There are other, even less expensive, but very effective than a smaller owner founder company. HubSpot, is another one that also has different plugins for sales force tracking, sales force enablement and sales force engagement.
I would say Google sales engagement and sales enablement software. You will find a hundred plus solutions out there. One of the very best is Silicon Valley and then Silicon Valley of the South, Atlanta, Georgia. Now live in Florida, but Atlanta birth a lot of these sales enablement type companies and platforms. One that didn't exist, that's worth a couple of billion dollars now, it's called SalesLoft. Probably the best sales engagement products out there that a five person company can use.
Brilliant. Let's quickly get through the next couple. What's the best source, you've mentioned google a lot of the resources, but what's the best source for you personally, getting more information on how to improve sales?
For me, I go to multiple different organisations and people that require help as an operator to help to increase their sales. There are playbooks and things that you can quickly find organisations that can help you find those that are step by step play books that can help you increase sales. They do for me, I've got a collection of many of those that I share with the owners and founders of companies for those that can't afford. McKinsey and Bain type consultants come in and spend a million or more to help them to increase their sales.
Right. How do you give back?
How do I give back personally? Charitable organisations, I'm part of. I'm a very strong man of faith. I give a lot to that organisation that goes around the world to help many other people. Time and money, I've been very blessed to do well through the technology industry, and genuinely just being an empathetic person. To care about others.
Brilliant. The last question is, you've given lots of great tips today, but if someone is listening, could take away one action to 10 times their sales, what would it be?
Hire the right people. People are the key. Hire the right people, preferably those that come from the right background, but make sure they have the right attitude, aptitude and desire that fits your business. They don't always have to have the experience in what you're actually selling, but the right people with the right attitude, aptitude and desire.
Yeah. Brilliant. Excellent. You can find out more about Craig and Orchid Black. You can go to www.orchid.black. Once again, we'll have the links in the show notes, and you can sign up to the newsletter to get a lot more information around sales enablement, but that sales transformation. If you're a smaller business, you're thinking, "Well, how can I benefit from that?" Remember to have that game plan of where you're going. Sometimes it's much easier to find out where people already are at that level, and then you can set your plan up. I think that's an excellent example of what Craig and Orchid Black provide. Craig, it's been wonderful having you on today and thanks for sharing your experience.
Thank you, Paul. Very nice to join you. I appreciate it.
I really enjoyed that interview with Craig, and I was amazed that the sales enablement, which was the term that we used at Coca-Cola years ago, now is accessible for all of us running consulting businesses, so that's very exciting. What I want you to do is move your learnings today into action. Why don't you share it with somebody and most importantly, share it with Craig. Tell him what you took out of this show. Just do that on the preferred social platforms, which for most of us let's face it, is LinkedIn.
Also, as I said, there's a transcription, and also all the links that Craig mentioned, especially to a lot of those sales enablement tools. You may have one, 10 or even a hundred of your friends or people in your network that could benefit from this. Why not be a sales hero to them and share it with them. They would love you for it. Also, if you want to know that you've got a sales system to grow revenue through referrals, just go to Paulhigginsmentoring.com/pulse. Please check out solo shows as well, where I deep dive into a topic for around 10 minutes. Please take action to accelerate your sales.
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About Craig Potts
Craig Potts is a Dynamic accomplished Business Executive with over 30 years success in sales, sales management, and as CEO in Private Equity funded companies in addition to Public Companies and pre-IPO to successful IPO companies creating multiple successful liquidity events for shareholders.
Experience in both large and small company environments. Recognized for keen ability to generate high growth and solid, long-term relationships with executives and decision makers across multiple industries.
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