Ed Porter is passionate about helping businesses like yours align their revenue systems – and avoid the mistakes of over-hiring in key positions.
The Chief Revenue Officer at Blue Chip CRO joins the show to share so much good stuff – from marketing and sales to customer success and right-sizing your leadership team. This conversation has something for everyone, including:
- The huge mistake sales reps make (and how to stop them from pushing prospects away)
- How to prevent silos by creating a unified customer experience
- The secret to getting on the same side of the table as your prospects
- How to deliver value for buyers at every touchpoint
- And much, much more
Aligning your revenue system is the single most important task to get your company on the fast track for growth and profitability, and Ed has the answers to all your questions. Don’t miss this episode. It’s your chance to get all the benefits of having your own expert CRO in under 30 minutes!
Mentioned in this episode:
Voiceover: You’re listening to the Conversational Selling podcast with Nancy Calabrese.
Nancy Calabrese: Hi everyone, it’s Nancy Calabrese. And yes, it is time for Conversational Selling the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today. And it always starts with the human conversation. Joining us today is Ed Porter CRO of Blue Chip. Blue Chip is a fractional chief revenue officer service that enables businesses to build revenue strategies and accelerate their growth. Their core focus is aligning revenue organization, marketing, sales, enablement, and customer success teams through design, process and technology to ensure they work together in harmony.
And once aligned, a revenue organization can deliver value and consistency for buyers, at every touch point from brand awareness, and prospecting, a prospect nurturing, I should say, to customer onboarding support management and retention. Ed has been the president of the Columbus Chapter of American Association of Inside Sales Professional since 2015. He’s a mentor for girls club, and multiple nonprofit boards, and an investor and advisor for seamless.ai, which One of a Kind Sales happens to love. So welcome to the show. Ed, we are looking forward to hearing your strategies to help companies become well oiled machines.
Ed Porter: Great, yeah, thank you. That’s a that’s a great hype intro. Nancy, love it. Thank you very much. Glad to be here.
Nancy: Oh, my goodness, I’m so happy to have you. So, you know, for starters, why don’t we pick up with what I mentioned earlier? Why is aligning revenue organization so important in business?
Ed: Well, the biggest thing is, it’s much like any other company is, you know, more minds are better than one. And when companies grow at time, silos start to occur. And when silos occur, that is that becomes very detrimental to harmonized growth. And when you look at the revenue organization, I think you have this advent of this new title of CRO, what does that mean? And what do they need to possess in order to be effective in that position? And it really starts looking at the top of the organization to say, are we ultimately building a product or service that’s solving a customer problem? And then how does that get transferred throughout all departments that will, in one way or another interface with with the buyer.
So when you look at alignment, and as much of a maybe corporate word as it sounds, is, there are so many things that are tied into alignment that when I look at it, from the buyer perspective, we need to really look at when our customer experience, customer success team is onboarding a customer servicing a customer. What are those interactions look like? Are we are we solving problems that we said in sales that we were going to solve? And how effective are those problems being solved? And how do we take that back into marketing to say, what buyer personas do we need to target? What problems can we talk about? And how do we market solutions? And then how do we hand that torch over to sales during that nurturing process, and it all needs to be centered.
And all three of those core customer facing departments need to be on the same wavelength in order to sing the same tune, deliver the same message. And then when you go to implement a customer, if they got attracted to us by marketing, and sales was working through this is the product or the service, this is how we solve these problems. The customer success needs to take that handoff and then go go implement to figure out how to solve that problem. So there’s a lot of these, these activities going on that if they’re not centered on the buyer, then it’s going to result in a very disjointed operation. So that’s where I’m very passionate about alignment. And how do you bring in these organizations, whether they’re individual contributors or leaders and make sure that they’re all singing the same tune?
Nancy: Yeah, so you know what I’m hearing you say it’s all communication, internal communication, and consistency in the messaging. Would you agree with that?
Ed: Yes. In fact, my, when I branded this website, the first blog article I wrote was about revenue, revenue alignment, and I talked about all of the problems that exists, that you have siloed departments, you have people not really talking to each other. And then I made somewhat of a joke, but it’s true is this the solve for that is easy, and it’s communication. And you look at how do you have meetings and meetings are like the foundation for how companies survive. So everyone’s attended meetings that are terrible, that are long and drawn out and, and, and boring and off topic. And the more you can minimize those, that’s the answer is communication is building the mechanism for who’s going to be in meeting what their part is, how long are they?
How effective are they run? And then how do you disseminate that throughout the whole organization. I mean, that really is a solve. And it sounds like an easy problem. You know, in practice, it’s a lot harder to do. But that becomes easy. And I’m very much attached to the Rockefeller habits and Mastering the Rockefeller Habits is a book from Verne Harnish. And the second book is Scaling Up. And a lot of startups I see, subscribe to that mentality, I was fortunate to be a part of a startup that did that, which is where I learned it. And that, you know, the meeting cadences, and the foundation is very important to aligning your whole organization. So that’s what started to really shape me as a leader, and then allowed me to do this on my own.
Nancy: You know, so an enlightened organization would want to be sure all of these components are in place. How does the company start? I mean, how do you get there?
Ed: Well, so if you go back to the initial founders, so the founders have to be, you know, the goal of a founder is to bring on team members that will continue executing on the mission or the vision that they have for the company. So it’s, you know, it’s building the, it’s building the team. So there’s, you know, another analogy from another great book called Good to Great where you got to get the right people on the bus first. And then you got to have the right people in the right seat. And sometimes that means shift. Sometimes that means, you know, the CEO or the founder, who’s the CEO, getting to 5 million isn’t the best person to be the CEO to get them to 20 million, or 50 million and but they you know, they need to be on the bus somewhere, they just need to find a seat.
So when you build out team members, it’s it’s been pretty clear on who’s going to do what, and a lot of the startups that I’ve worked with in the past, who were very much in the infancy stages is, you know, who I’m a founder, and I’m looking to make my first sales hire. Am I going to hire a good size six figure VP of sales to go roll up their sleeves and go hunt and peck and prospect? Or should I would I be better off hiring a couple, two or three different individual contributors? While I’m the founder, still involved in the sales process? And that’s a big mistake. A lot of people make Jason Lemkin of SaaStr, there talks a lot about hiring your first VP of Sales when what they’re going to do, how do you bring them up? And the challenge you face is the average tenure of a VP of sales is 18 months. And that’s horrible. And that’s just going down.
That was 20, 22, 23 months, a mere, maybe three, four years ago. And now we’re down to 18 months. And when you look at the turnover, that that type of position has, it should raise a lot of eyebrows that want to start up gets going to say, who do I need? I know that cash is important, where do I invest it? And the same thing is true and in marketing and in customer success, are you gonna invest in a high salaried CMO and expect them to be the ones plugging in the Google Analytics and the pay per click words and trying to mine? Which ones are the better words based on impressions and costs?
No, you don’t, we don’t want somebody at that level, doing that type of contributor work. And these are the these are unfortunately, the mistakes that get made a lot is over hiring. When you really need people are at the ground level, doing the ground level work and keep the founder engaged. And that’s really as a founder is you want to stay engaged in the sales process and the customer acquisition process as long as possible and get the people get the engine going. And then you bring on these leaders to go hand that baton over to.
Nancy: You just use the word that I love. engine. Sales engine. Companies have engines, right, and they are all fueled internally. You know, so much business is lost when things aren’t aligned. And you know, from my vantage point, I believe it starts with the outreach, the prospecting and marketing. What is a huge mistake sales reps make that in inadvertently pushes prospects away?
Ed: Well, the biggest thing is that I talked about this on a previous podcast is word vomit. And sales reps we gravitate towards, we’re conditioned one way or another to look for buying signals. And sometimes we get way too excited when a customer may or prospect makes a comment. And then we just go on the fence of me, me, me if they say, yeah, I have this problem, and then you go right into, well, here’s how I can help. And here’s how I can solve it. And here’s everything we do, here’s every feature and all the way down the list. And it’s, I think part of it is that excitement.
Because, you know, sales, being a sales rep isn’t a winning batting average game. I mean, if you if you’re successful 30% of time, you’re doing really well. So that means 70% of the time, that’s failure. So if you gravitate too much to those successes, you’re you’re pouncing on that. And you you wind up derailing the conversation. You know, being a sales rep is a very skilled position where you need to almost be a counselor, you need to ask the right questions that are guiding down the journey. You need to educate without, you know, being the one who’s giving statements. You know, I think we’re in many industries that the PowerPoint presentation is dead, which, thankfully, because nobody wants to be lectured, and how do you keep these conversations moving?
And how do you keep them related to the buyer, keep them engaged. And then even a product demo, a product demo can be scripted, to an extent, but a product demo should absolutely be focused on on the buyer. And instead of showing you the whole suite of things, I need to show you a little bit and get you engaged and and get an okay, and then let the prospect, pull it out. So kind of go in a different couple different directions. But it all stems from having a plan guiding the prospect with questions, making sure we’re having the patience to guide them down a buying journey, and not so much down a seller’s journey of what I want to sell you and what I want to present and needs to be taken from the buyer. And that’s, that’s a misstep that gets made frequently by by all sorts of people both experienced and inexperienced. So you know, everybody faces it.
Nancy: Yeah, I agree. Agree. So you talk about scripting, I know that you’re a huge fan of scripting. But I want you to, like just share a pointer to how to hook the prospect without chewing their ear off. What what are your secrets?
Ed: Yeah, the best. So this is where, where scripting comes into play. And I’ll define scripting to say not word for word, having a scripting and messaging is basically planning. So when you’re doing any kind of research, that’s, that’s prepping, and you’re basically trying to develop your own pitch or your own messaging. So you’re doing a little bit of research on the buyer on the company, maybe the persona, you’re maybe making some assumptions of, oh, you’re a CFO, maybe you have some challenges on, quote to cash and, you know, try to understand some of those financial metrics of day sale sales outstanding.
So you kind of go into that, say, you know, many of the CFOs we talk to have are seeing larger, larger day sales outstanding that can be done to a plethora of reasons. Are there, you know, is this an opportunity that you’re looking to invest in solving this problem today? Or is this not as important? So in some cases, you’re making some assumptions, but you got to build out those those pain points, like what pain points are the art, do your does your problem solve? What pain points are your buyers facing? And then how do you relate that to the product, that’s, that’s nothing more than scripting, it’s not word for word, but you’re planning your approach. And that’s all that’s all you’re doing.
And that mentality goes throughout every stage of the sales process, from a cold outreach to a discovery type of call to a product demo. A product demo should be nothing more than I know a little bit from our previous conversation. I’m going to ask some more questions that are going to guide me down a path where if I can get to a feature great, but I’m more, I’m more interested in making sure I show you that feature, if it helps you do something better different, or gives you some kind of value today. So it’s all planning that process and then preparing each of those different events, to to ultimately take the buyer down the buyers journey, but you need to be the one asking the question to understand what does that journey look like? How is that buying decision going to be made? And be on the same side of the table instead of on the other side of the table.
Nancy: Yeah, and you know what? It makes it more fun. When you plan ahead. You’re less stressed right? You’re really focused on them and having them tell you how to sell them by through the questions that you ask because they’ll let you know least that’s been our experience here. I read somewhere that you believe that a lot of people make the mistake. Startups regularly mislabeled VP of sales and CRO. I love it. Tell me what you mean by that. Nobody agrees with you on that? Or almost nobody?
Ed: No, I’ll be to be honest, I don’t really know what the consensus is. And in terms of my point, but what I look at is sales as an industry over many, many years, have we’ve overcomplicated titles, because there was a point in time where no one wanted to be a sales rep. So then this whole account executive title, I mean, I looked at that title and say, what does that even mean? And right, and then don’t want to diminish and say, you’re just a sales rep. But if you think about it is, it’s a fancy way of dressing up a title of, of sales person, whatever you want to call it. So we start down this advent of looking at job descriptions. And you could be called an account manager, an account executive, an account specialist, a lead development rep, a sales development, rep, a business development rep, all of these titles.
And there’s a little bit of difference between, you know, front end lead generation handling and owning the sales process, selling to existing customers versus new customers. So I think we’re starting to gain some clarity there. But there’s just so many titles that are just overhyped. What I feel like is trying to dress up an elephant. And now you take that into the executive role. VP of sales, I get somewhat disgusted. If there’s a VP of sales that has three sales reps reporting to them, you’re not a VP, you’re a manager, maybe you’re a director. But if you miss, you’re missing the hierarchy here. And I think that also goes into play of why the VP of Sales turnover is 18 months, and we’re looking at we’re hiring a VP, we’re paying them a pretty significant salary, and what are we really expecting them to do?
If they’re expected to manage a frontline team, then that expectation needs set with proper goals aligned, and to say, I need you to build this team. And that means skill development, that means coaching. And that’s what I need you to do. But then if you start to then give that VP a quota of their own, and they’re supposed to spend some time selling, that’s a huge distraction, to say, well, now you’re overpaying for a sales rep. And you’re not devote devoting enough time for that person to develop a team underneath them. So these part time VPs, I just, I think are, do a lot more harm to a business than help. And a lot of times, it’s a founder trying to offset a salary because a VP is a pretty expensive.
So oh, I can justify a $200,000 salary. If I give them a million dollar a year quota. So then it just becomes an execution nightmare, then now you’ve got this whole CRO thing. And I’ve seen CROs that have one or two sales reps that they manage, maybe a marketing person, and it’s why are you bringing in a CRO that’s even a higher title, higher expertise, higher salary, and it’s, it’s still small. I’ll make the claim that a company shouldn’t consider a CRO position until minimum $10 million. I was that CRO, in a company less than 10 million. And even I think I told the person, like, you’re too early for me, I don’t think you need this. And, you know, it happened and I was okay. And you know, they had aspirations to want to sell the company. And we did. So it was it was successful.
But, you know, when you look at a CRO, what do you want from that position, and it’s not a frontline manager, or else you’re just overpaying. So I do take a pretty opinionated stand on titling properly. And because there’s an alignment to the right person and the right caliber skill set. And, and there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors. And yeah, I think there’s there’s some opportunities to right size that better and, and to eliminate the misnomer. A CRO is not a head of sales. There’s a reason there’s a chief sales officer title and it is different from a chief revenue officer or chief revenue officer, my opinion doesn’t own the full buyer lifecycle from marketing, sales to operations and customer success.
And that’s not a revenue leader. That’s a functional leader. And they should be titled a VP or a chief sales officer and not a CRO. If you don’t own the whole buyer lifecycle, then you’re just you’re diminished. And it’s not through you part. But if you’re trying to align sales and marketing, and you’ve got your shop in order, then what happens on the other side, there’s got to be one throat to choke. There’s got to be one person who is responsible from the buyer from not knowing who you are to buying from you and being serviced by you. And there needs to be one person that at some point when the company is large enough, that’s not the CEO.
Nancy: Yeah, is there something in particular, you would like to spotlight and share with the audience?
Ed: I think that, you know, I talked a little bit about this in terms of keeping your eye on the buyer. And when we look at, I’m an advocate of customer service, customer experience, customer success, whatever you want to call it, there’s times different functions. But when you look at things like that, you know, I got my footing in my career in the outsource contact center. And what that really showed me was there, there’s an abundance of how do you handle a customer request. And that’s only one part of it, which is, customer has a problem, right? Nobody calls a company saying, hey, I just want to call and tell you doing a great job. Nobody does that.
So you got to know the people that pick up the phone or send an email or initiate a chat are generally either having a problem, or trying to prevent a problem. And that’s only one part of your customer base. What about the people who aren’t engaging with you? How does that, you know, are they is that a higher risk of churn? Or is it a lower risk, and a lot of people I’ve talked to say, don’t poke the bear. We don’t want to engage with customers that aren’t engaging with us. Because, you know, we don’t want them to leave us. And I’ve heard that from three different people over the past six months. And I’m just looking at that to say, this is this is part of the problem of a customer experience program.
And that’s kind of where I, I was fortunate to kind of have this instilled in me early on in my career. And it’s something that I’ve carried throughout my career, when you look at building marketing plans, well, the marketing plan should really be easy. You ask yourself some very clear questions, who is going to buy our product? Why are they going to buy our product? Are they facing problems that we’re going to solve? And we’re going down this path to say, does that problem get solved in different titles? Like could our product go to a finance team to an HR team, to a leadership development team, and if so, are though each of those buyers having different problems that I need to relate myself to?
And it’s building that message carrying that over into the sales process. And if you’re doing that, right, then every handoff is, hey, this prospect, raised their hand and wanted a demo because they saw read some blog article. And so that blog article, reiterated something, maybe it was a problem or a case study. So the sales team needs to know that. So when you’re taking the sales process to discovery call the the demo, whatever event happens, it’s taking that through and not you know, that’s aligning it to the buyer, instead of a seller’s process, it’s got to be the buyer process. And that same thing handing off the customer service. Is handing that baton to say, hey, they bought because they had these problems. We were able to solve these problems.
Customer success, go implement, go focus, the training, go focus, the outreach and engagement and making sure that this problem continues to be solved, and then start quantifying what that problem solution looks like. That helps get it off, get it away from price. So it’s this constant, that’s kind of the spotlight is I look at designing processes in departments, and we focus on the buyer and work our way back to us. And I think that’s the big thing that’s really shaped me of why I’m very passionate about alignment. And aligning not only teams but aligning the process to the buyer, and looking at the buying decision instead of the sales process or sales site.
Nancy: Boy I’m hearing your passion for sure.
Nancy: I cannot believe we’re at the end of our program. And, you know, how can my audience find you, you have some really great examples of why it’s so important to get aligned. So how do we reach you?
Ed: Yeah, I’m, I’m on LinkedIn. Ed Porter. My company is bluechipcro.com is the website. And that’s those are kind of where I’m at. I’m I’m open to connecting. I’m I’m very picky, per se about connections, I want to know where people found me how they saw me and people that connect with me that don’t have a note. If I don’t see that we have some connections, then I may not accept it. Or if we do, I will pay you back with a note. Hey, thanks for connecting. Where’d you find me? How did you hear about me? What interested you about connecting with me and I’m not an open connector. I’ve got maybe 1000 or 1100 connections and that’s intentional. But I also like to engage with people so hit me up on LinkedIn, I’m happy to but let me know you heard me from Nancy’s podcast Conversational Selling.
Nancy: Yeah, everybody. We’re gonna do that. And you know, a very, very big thank you Ed for being on the show. And thank everyone for listening in. You know, be sure to reach out to Ed when you really want to get things right for you and your team and your company. And so I leave you with I want everyone to make it a great sales day, today and Ed I hope you come back.
Ed: Yeah, thank you. I’d love to I, as you can tell, I love talking. I go on a lot of different tangents. I word vomit myself, I talked about it. I absolutely love talking about these topics and engaging in great debates.
Nancy: Thanks again.
Ed: Thank you.
Voiceover: The Conversational Selling Podcast is sponsored by One of a Kind Sales. If you’re frustrated that you don’t have enough leads or your sales team complains that they just don’t have enough time to prospect, we can help. To work with Nancy and her team one on one to help you manage your sales team, install her proven outbound sales process and create more bottom line results, email her now at Nancy@oneofakindsales.com. To learn more about Nancy and her outbound sales secrets, grab your free copy of her book, The Inside Sales Solution at oneofakindsales.com/book.