Leadership Recruitment for Series A/B/C and PE Firms

The Free Agent Podcast

with Beau Billington

The Free Agent- Outsourced VP of Sales

Mindracer Consulting
Posted 3 years ago


Episode Summary

Dan and I collaborated on an article recently concerning his outsourced VP of sales. It’s one thing to do that in the written word, but another thing verbally, I want to get Dan in the room for a few moments and just do a lightning round with them in regards to Outsource VP of sales. What does that look like? How can a company leverage somebody like him, and really just kind of get into the details.


Beau  4:20 Hey guys, Beau Billington here sitting with Dan Morris. I appreciate you taking the time, Dan. Dan   4:31 Yeah. Great to see you. Great to be here. Beau  4:33 So Dan, and I collaborated on an article recently concerning his outsourced VP of sales. It’s one thing to do that in the written word, but another thing verbally, I want to get Dan in the room for a few moments and just do a lightning round with them in regards to Outsource VP of sales. What does that look like? How can a company leverage somebody like him, and really just kind of get into the details. Dan, thanks for joining. Dan  4:58 Pleasure to be here. Beau  5:00 So how long have you been doing this? Dan 5:02 About five years. The model has been evolving, and the fractional VP side of things has been dedicated for about 18 months now. Beau  5:10 Excellent. So, how does a company know when to leverage somebody with your expertise? Because, obviously, not all companies need an outsourced VP? Some do and some don’t even know that they do. How would a company know when it’s time to reach out to somebody yourself and get a dialog of compensation stars? Dan 5:27 So what we’ve seen is, in the change from being a sales consultant looking at strategy only, to the fractional VP which is an integrated part of a customer’s team. We realize that the people who are hiring need time, or they need experience, or they need both. Most CEOs (in fact most people) don’t have enough time, right? Mostly, you don’t have the time or experience to develop a repeatable sales process and run a successful sales organization. Quite often when they reach out to us have failed in some way. They’ll have brought in a sales team or a sales rep or a sales leader who’s fallen and failed. And that hurts. And they don’t want to let people down. They don’t want to not grow their business, they don’t want to waste money. But often they’ve had that experience before they realize, “Hey, this is not something I find straightforward, it’s not in my immediate focus.” So they reach out, and they need some help with doing that. Beau  6:33 Great point. That’s been my experience as well with the majority of companies where they think that they just hired a senior salesperson that carries a bag, sells sure all. And a lot of times, that’s not the case. There’s somebody else who may be broken within the organization that is not allowing the salesperson to achieve the goals they were hired to achieve. So what does that look like, from your perspective? What are some of those triggers or pitfalls, or issues that these companies really need to fix? And they can fix these by bringing in somebody with your background? Dan  7:05 Triggers that we really notice is that they’re trying to maximize the performance, but they don’t know how. They’re just thinking, if I add more salespeople, then I’m gonna get more sales. But they haven’t. They know, they haven’t maximized the performance of the team that they’ve got already. Or they tried a scattergun approach, had loads of different strategies, and some of them have worked and revenues increased. But they’re not really sure what they did, they just tried to add more. They want to try and be more efficient with the use of capital, they recognize that they’re out there that could use some help. And maybe they are out of their depth in terms of experience. When you’re growing a business, you need a lot of time to run the business and look at the rest of the teams. And bringing in somebody who’s got the time and the experience to help them think something through is helpful. What we recognize is: quite often they’re doing things quite well. And if they just do those things better, the revenues are going to accelerate and they may not need more people straightaway. Beau  8:12 I agree. You do the heavy lifting and allow the business leaders to get back to what they do fast and focus on the business and driving strategic direction, versus bogged down sales, which a lot of times may not even be in their wheelhouse. Dan 8:26 Right. Beau  8:27 So in regards to size does a solopreneur, or a company of five, could they benefit from an outsourced sales leader? Or would it be better? Or maybe they have some of the bits and bytes of a sales team, 2 3 4 or five sales people? Is there a perfect mix to bring in somebody like yourself? Can you share a little bit about what that may look like? Dan  8:50 So most of the businesses that hire us have got a salesperson at least, or a couple of salespeople, they are spending money on lead generation. And the CEO is currently running the team. We’ve definitely been into businesses that, “ do have a VP that used to be a salesperson.” They need more experience to be more strategic, step into that management structure and set that thing up so that we can then step back and they can rock and roll. So a couple of things is, “Are we helping the executive team to get something done?” “Are we helping the sales team to succeed in coaching, management and training?” Both of those things are very real. But we mentioned triggers before, sometimes they’re trying to go either up market to enterprise or down market to SMB and they’ve not got the experience. Or they found that they’ve got a flat spot [in sales], and they’re not sure why. They’ve tried everything that they can think of, and they know they want somebody to come in and help them rethink it. So  they are typically the triggers. And in those sizes of companies that are revenue wise, typically between Half a million and about 30 million is where we do most of our business. Beau  10:03 I think a lot of companies would benefit from an objective advisor, which at the end of the day, your job is to help them see their gaps. And a lot of times when you’re in the business, it gets myopic, and you don’t even realize the gaps that you’re encountering on a daily basis. Are there any industries that are primed for an outsourced leader, and furthermore, would a b2b or b2c? Is there a better focus on one organization that maybe could leverage somebody with your expertise? Dan  10:37 That’s a great question. So we’ve worked in 20 industries, so far. All of them are business to business. We work in service businesses, like agencies and consultancies, and businesses that are running with  service or agency models, and worked with software companies selling to enterprise or to SMB. Lots of marketing technology, to legal tech, to actually building software. Those are all b2b transactions, they’re often doing transactions that are $15,000 and north. We also work with the businesses that are doing smaller transactions that are at a higher velocity. So this is a good broad amount of business that we’ve worked with. I know there are many other use cases outside of SaaS or service  from those that have got perspective from those industries as well. But that’s really where we’re focused. Beau  11:29 There’s a lot of buzz these days around not only enforcing outsourcing and sales here. Your fractional leadership, can you speak a little bit about the difference between your fractional leader and a fully outsourced sales leader? Is this something that you would do indefinitely? Or  should you bring in a leader for 3 6 9 months, a little bit of light on from that perspective would be interesting? Dan  11:55 I actually see that there’s a very big difference in mindset between having an outsourced sales leader versus the fractional VP. The fractional VP is what we do, because it involves being involved in the team, by being part of that team for a period of time. And generally, we’ll go in and we’ll do a review in the first month. We’ll look at everything that they’re doing, we’ll look at their systems, their processes, their documents, and work with our team to understand what they’re actually doing. Then, we start making recommendations and rolling those out within the first couple of months. It’s quite common for us to be in an engagement with a client for well north of nine months. We’ve also done a lot shorter than that as well, if there’s just the consulting period that’s required. We’re really there to help the business get to that next stage. And quite often, it’s to the point where they feel confident to spend the money on a full time sales leader, because, remember, one of the value propositions in the fractional VP is that it’s a much lower cost than having a full time VP of sales. Also, a lot of VP of sales are much more successful when there’s a repeatable model in place that they can come in and run. One of the things that we’re particularly good at is setting those things up so adding that more expensive VP sees more of a return on investment, because they’ll get up to speed quicker. And of course, we can actually help with that selection process as well to make sure we get somebody who’s going to thrive at running that system. So there is no end time, if the company is doing well and we’re helping them to grow. It’s a great partnership. And that really is normally to get people to that next stage. Beau  13:35 So, your job really sounds like working yourself out of a job. And that could be work in three months, six months, could be a year. But ultimately, it’s you sitting down with the clients with the customer, and really determining when that has happened. Dan  13:50 Yeah. Mindracer’s mission is to help 1000 companies add the next million dollars to their revenue by the end of 2025. So we definitely want to get in, add value, handover, get a great endorsement, and move on to lots of other projects where we can help more people. And that’s what we’re focused on. We’re helping people and we’re getting them results quickly. We’re helping them understand and feel comfortable with that. And then moving on. And obviously we’re then an extended advisor to them whenever they need us to make sure that they get support whenever they need it. Beau  14:25 Excellent point. Give some examples of some of the actual work that a company would maybe expect from an outsourced VP of sales? Some of the blocking and tackling you mentioned, you’re helping them hire setting up a team. But, what are some of the actual life, actionable items that you actually take on a daily basis of some of your clients? Dan  14:46 So the first place is always to get a really good understanding of what they’ve actually done so far and what they’re doing right now. It’s looking back at all of the things that they’ve done for marketing campaigns. What’s worked, what hasn’t worked right into things like web analytics and email performance. Those sorts of things to see what’s generating leads for them and what works, being able to look at if there is something that we should be doing again,  what’s fallen off, or didn’t work. Then looking at other strategies that we’ve seen work across lots of different industries, bringing in ideas that can add a lot of value to that business at that time. This year has been a big pivot time for everybody. We have an SMB focused SaaS client, that was doing all of their sales from trade shows, and partner referrals. What we’ve done is we’ve helped them to make their virtual sales process massively efficient. And they’ll triple their revenue this year. They’re a seven year old company, an established business, that has been steadily trying to grow. Our engagement was to help with that. And even through COVID, we’ve helped them to double down on what they’re really good at. And that’s coaching the salespeople, helping them exact a plan for headcount that they’re going to need, making the systems run as efficiently as they can, provide things like agendas for sales meetings, and making sure that the CRM is set up in a way that actually mirrors the sales process that should work for that business. And then  making sure people are using it by having useful pipeline conversations that move deals along, rather than just the round robin. So strategy, support, brainstorming on what can happen next, and coaching the team and implementing. The thing I haven’t mentioned yet is the access to resources. Making sure that these lean teams can get the people that they need to get things done. From content creation to marketing strategies to finding people to do parts of their sales process that they’ve never done before. Commonly adding in effective SDRs. Beau  17:06 That’s a great point. Access to talent, access to resources that maybe you have that the company doesn’t. The way people were doing things before is no longer working in this COVID world, there’s so much noise. In my business in particular, I’ve had to learn how to resonate with companies differently. You bring up a good point that companies can really leverage somebody with your expertise. during these times. Sitting back and reflecting thinking, what we did, we have a process that worked COVID happened, and now we’re lost. And I think it’s a great catalyst for bringing somebody with your background to really help them look holistically at the business, what worked previously, what’s not working now, but maybe what can we do and pivot, so we can kind of change results in the future. Dan  17:57 Yeah. It’s something that we very much enjoy, where we’ve been lucky to partner with people who recognize they needed to pivot, and were open to doing so in a way that enabled the process. We certainly had an incredibly busy year with people bringing us in even closer than ever to be more because there’s been so much change going on. And the learnings around that have been really intense. And we’ve been proud to deliver a lot of value, and the company is really growing in this period when others were not. But something like that creates this opportunity. Businesses that are looking at partnerships and the channel can often have that reinvigorated by bringing in somebody who’s got outside eyes and looks at a lot of different businesses, and can recognize potential partnerships and synergies where they can actually work with each other’s clients and really add a lot of value. That’s something else that we sort of build into. And that’s a good button to execute as a lot of revenue. Beau  19:02 Absolutely. I think companies should look at bringing in somebody like yourself as an opportunity. And so they should get excited about it and not necessarily think about it because they’re bringing somebody in because there’s an issue. And I think there’s a paradigm shift, there’s a different way to look at it. Again I think somebody  thrives opportunity and that’s a great perspective to have. Dan  19:23 It is. Like you mentioned before that trigger is quite often, “hey, we recognize now that we need some outside help.” We recognize now that we don’t know this part, and we can use somebody who does. And then when we develop the relationship and we’re regularly in those weekly calls and brainstorming with the exact many more things come out because you begin to see how they think and you begin to see what they really want to do in the next couple of years. And then we can just keep adding in more things that make sense, while keeping it doable. It’s easy to come up with 50 ideas, difficult to execute them. It’s a case of making sure we prioritize the things that are going to work right now and keep on the “not now” list of the things that we’re going to do later. That is how the relationships progress and how we build roadmaps together to build value as the business grows. Beau  20:19 Awesome ways, Dan. I really appreciate you taking the time today. Hopefully for everybody listening. You’ve heard some great tips and tricks from Dan in regards to outsource VP of sales. How to leverage, when to leverage some of the warning signs that may help you understand that maybe you need somebody to delve in business to get from where you are to the next level. Thanks so much for taking the time. Yeah, it’s Dan  20:39 It’s a pleasure being here. I was hoping for everybody to be well.
Posted 3 years ago
Dan Morris

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About Beau


Beau spent over 14 years in enterprise-level software sales and was exposed to high-level talent by working alongside companies such as Apple, AT&T, Amazon, Coca-Cola, and more. 

In this podcast, Beau aims to interview high performing business leaders in the hope that their insights will bring about real positive change to the businesses of his listeners.

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