In June 2006 Brett Wallace was at Boston Red Sox game with his wife and some close friends when he bumped into former chairman-CEO of General Electric (and business swami) Jack Welch. Wallace, who had just been promoted to a new sales leadership role at Forrester Research, walked up to Welch, threw out his hand and asked: “Jack, Brett Wallace. Big fan! What are two words of advice you’d have for a new leader?” Welch shot back, “Be yourself!”
Ever since that serendipitous encounter, Wallace has used Welch’s words of wisdom as a guidepost in his career, particularly during his first 60 days as VP-sales at ZoomInfo. “When you step into a new [leadership] role, you are faced with pressures from all angles. It’s critical to remember that you were hired for a reason and your employees and customers want to see the real you,” said Wallace, who started his gig at ZoomInfo earlier this summer. “A leader has to be authentic and set expectations that drive results and accelerate their people.”
Wallace, who manages a staff of sales and client services, talked about some of the other ways recently appointed sales managers can plan for massive long-term results, while making the numbers short-term. With sales reps execs spending more time these days “filling the funnel,” Wallace said one of his first moves at ZoomInfo was to upgrade the sales arsenal with regard to prospecting.
“In many of the teams that I’ve joined in the past, there has been a considerable need for best-practice sharing and execution. The same was true at Zoom,” he said. “Everyone was working hard, but with mixed results. I knew in the first 60 days that I had to hold the mirror up to the team and myself.”
To revamp prospecting, Wallace looked back to the training he had earlier in his career from (sales management guru) Jeff Hoffman and the amount of downright dreadful sales pitches he’s received throughout the years. He collected the best and worst prospecting templates from his team, blinded the sender(s) and discussed them publicly. From there, the team rolled out a fresh template for prospecting called, “Purpose, Benefit, Request,” or PBR:
- Purpose: Do your homework to make a great first impression and set the stage for value, e.g. the prospect’s CEO’s recent quote on the 8/25 earnings call.
- Benefit: Based on the purpose, tie it back to how your product or service relates and describe one benefit you can help them with. Try something like, “We’re also focused on helping the top five banks with…”
- Request: Speak English and ask directly for your next step. Try, “When is a good 15 minutes to chat?” or “Who is the right person to speak with?”
In between sales antidotes such as PBR, Wallace is also focused on evangelizing the long term plan. To do so, he is leveraging key lessons from the Program for Leadership Development at Harvard Business School, a comprehensive program on the fundamentals of leadership.
“Program Chair and Professor Das Narayandas (the James J. Hill Professor of Business Administration) expected us to have an action plan, understand the risks and think through what can go wrong,” Wallace said. He added: “I continue to refer back to the HBS frameworks and case studies as I evangelize the long-term plan and build an organization of more productive employees driven by a commitment to results.”
We’ll be sure to check in with Brett later this year to see how he’s progressed with his sales team.
Have you recently started a new job as a sales leader? Care to share some of your best practices with other sales professionals? If so, please contact Matthew Schwartz at email@example.com