#223 Georgia Watson - IBM's Sales Secrets Revealed!

Welcome to #223 of the How To Sell podcast. In this episode, Luigi Prestinenzi, and Dave Fastuca sit down with Georgia Watson from IBM, a leader in Sales Enablement, Growth, and Innovation. Diving deep into the world of enterprise sales, Georgia offers a unique lens into the complexities, strategies, and nuances of selling to giants like IBM, drawing from her vast experience across four continents.

If you've ever been curious about the intricacies of global sales strategies and the nuances of selling in diverse regions, this episode is for you.

Key Highlights

  1. The Global Sales Landscape

Dive deep with Georgia as she elaborates on her career journey that spans across multiple continents. Discover the unique selling techniques of Australians compared to other global counterparts, and how storytelling and culture intertwine in the sales process. If you've wondered how to adjust your pitch according to different cultural narratives, this section is gold.

  1. IBM’s Approach to Sales Enablement

Georgia sheds light on the vast ecosystem of decision-making structures within IBM and her pivotal role in sales enablement. Learn how IBM's global presence is strengthened by its three-pronged approach: skills, behaviours, and culture; tools and processes; and content creation. It’s a masterclass in harmonising product knowledge with soft skills.

  1. Purchasing Decisions & The Buyer's Perspective

Ever wondered what convinces a top executive to take a sales meeting? Get insights straight from the horse's mouth! Georgia shares her perspective on what persuades her to entertain a sales pitch, emphasising the significance of active listening and understanding the buyer's context. An essential section for those looking to enhance their sales tactics.

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Georgia Watson: 0:00

And this buying experience is more important than ever, and it's even more important than the product. Obviously, I work in IT, but having incumbent technology from a sales perspective is often hard to overcome. In B2C, 79% of people said the actual buying experience was more important than the product, but in B2B, 85% of people said the experience was more important than the product itself.

Luigi Prestinenzi: 0:25

Welcome back to another episode of the how to Sell podcast. I'm your host, Luigi Preston-Andy, and as always, I'm joined by another gentleman, dave. Welcome to the How to Sell podcast.

Dave Fastuca: 0:38

Thank you, Louis, you should be well used to it. Now we're like 10 episodes in almost and you still shrug.

Luigi Prestinenzi: 0:45

I don't think I'll ever get over the fact that I have a co-host, Dave, so you're just going to have to deal with the banter of me of you being the second fiddle on our show. But if you're joining us for the first time, welcome to the how to Sell podcast. We hope you take away some value that's going to help you improve your conversions, help you improve your sales process and if you're a long-time listener, thank you for coming back. We value your support. We create this podcast to help you be the best salesperson you can be. But the how to Sell podcast is designed. It's got a bit of a different flavour to it, where we interview buyers so we can give you the perspective of the buyer and so that you can change the way that you sell, in the way that people buy. And this week we've had a great guest who's worked all over the world in an enablement role to continue on the path that we've been doing the journey around how to sell to enablement. But before we let you introduce the guest, I just want to say, Dave, it's been another week in sales. I'm actually, as you can see, I'm not in my trusty studio, I'm in my Geharahajab house that I'm renovating. And one thing that I've realised is I've realised why I love selling so much because I'm renovating a house and I am terrible at using my hands in a trade world, so I'm very fortunate that I can sell.

Dave Fastuca: 2:10

He's had the booking twice to get his manicure done. So Look at these hands.

Luigi Prestinenzi: 2:16

Yeah, and for our guests, for our audience. Dave actually leaves not too far from Geharah and he has promised to come and help me, and every time he comes he comes at the end of the day, five o'clock, to say I'm here to help when we're finishing and packing up, so you're great, that's when the work that's when the work should begin. You're a great co-host, Dave, so thank you. It's almost as bad as the football team that you support, but let's bring this week's guest. So this week's guest is a fellow fellow Melbourneian and we're really, really excited. I've had the privilege of knowing Georgia for a number of years, who's doing amazing things and has done amazing things in the sales and that woman community. So welcome to the How to Sell podcast, georgia.

Georgia Watson: 2:57

Thank you very much, Luigi. Really great to be on. Thanks for the invite.

Luigi Prestinenzi: 3:01

Yeah Well, I know we've been trying to get this for a long time, so it's great to have that we're finally here. But for our listeners, I mean, I know a bit about your background, but can you just give us just a short intro? Obviously where you're currently working, the regions that you've worked in. I think that's pretty important. You've had the opportunity to work across multiple regions and then we can get into the podcast.

Georgia Watson: 3:25

Yeah, sure, happy to Luigi. So I have had quite a winding career journey and it started off in marketing. I wanted to be a CMO. That was the goal and that kind of changed along the way, and I've spent some time working in consulting as well as marketing, digital transformation, change management, and then moved into this skill area and, as you mentioned, luigi, I've done that in many different parts of the world now, which has been really cool. So I'm a Melbourneian, I'm Australian, I grew up here. When I had the opportunity to travel, I went as far away from home as possible, so I ended up working in Africa for eight years and then spent some time working across the Middle East as well and then took on some roles covering Europe, Middle East and Africa. But now I'm back home in APAC and covering this part of the world. So it's amazing how interesting and diverse those kinds of places can be, even when you're doing the same kind of role.

Luigi Prestinenzi: 4:22

I'd love to know. I mean, given that you and you work for a huge organisation, probably the most well-known, one of the most well-known brands in any industry IBM I'd love to know. One of the questions I wanted to ask you sort of getting into today was around what are the differences between selling, say, in the Dubai region, because obviously you lived there for a number of years in Australia?

Georgia Watson: 4:51

Yeah, look, and thanks for mentioning IBM. I didn't actually say my role, but right now I need sales enablement for IBM in a market we call ASEAN ZK, which is a subset within APEC. But, luigi, it is hugely different right in different parts of the world, all these cultural nuances that come into play. I think that the basics, like the basics of any strong sales approach, remains the same, but how you approach someone is very different. So Australians, for example, we are really direct and blunt and to the point. In some parts of Africa, responding to things really directly is not kind of the style that's used, right, it's kind of a storytelling approach where you go around it before you kind of get to your point. And it's the same in the Middle East. There's just all these different nuances that come into play, particularly when you think about how you're building that rapport and relationships with people at that front end of the sales cycle, particularly.

Dave Fastuca: 5:54

Did you find that longer like that storytelling approach? Did that elongate the deal buying cycle or the selling process, or was it roughly the same?

Georgia Watson: 6:05

From my experience I didn't see much difference in the change in sales cycle, but it may have changed your length of meetings, for example. So maybe the time that was put in to get it to certain stages took longer because there was more conversation around different points, whereas maybe in Australia perhaps we're more direct and really cut to the chase.

Dave Fastuca: 6:27

Walk us through though. How, in IBM, such a big company, how are decisions made and who gets involved?

Georgia Watson: 6:35

Now, before everyone starts messaging me saying they have something to sell, one thing I want to make really clear right, this is a huge multinational company, and I say that because I have people hit me up in DM saying we can optimise your website and I say which website? Your company website, which company website? The OneGuy company is coming to me saying they're going to fix it. It's a huge company. A lot of things are established and there's a lot of different people doing different things. So, within a sales enablement role, there are some areas that are in my remit to take decisions around, there are some that I influence around and there are some things that I don't touch at all right. There are some things that are managed at a global level for the entire organisation around the globe and this is a lot of. Our things are quite standard, particularly when we think about sales processes. The supporting tools and the structures and methodologies that we're using are all pretty standard across the board, and then there's some tweaking and additions, kind of, between them.

Luigi Prestinenzi: 7:36

So this is interesting, right? Because I think we've interviewed Tim from Luscia recently who doesn't have a huge enablement team like you do, right, or especially part of a global team. So I think it's really interesting that you bring this up right, Because I think this is where a lot of sellers can get it wrong. They use the same strategy across both small to medium and enterprise based accounts, when it's actually very different, right? So can we actually, can we take a backer step? So you mentioned your remit From a. In your particular remit, what are some of the things that you control, the areas of focus and KPIs that are fundamentally critical to achieving your job outcomes?

Georgia Watson: 8:24

Sure. So sales enablement is. It's about increasing revenue, right, that's kind of where it started from and it's now expanded quite dramatically to include everything in anyone that is in the customer journey, anything that can influence that buying experience. So I kind of like to think about it in terms of a few different areas. So it's about skills, behaviours and culture. It's kind of the first set that falls within enablement and my remit and we have goals and targets around. The next one is really about tools and processes, what tools we have, what processes need to be optimised and getting them working efficiently to make sure our team is as effective and productive as possible. And then the other piece which is quite common in sales enablement is around content and creating content for the team, but also culture. The culture a company has, the culture a team has, has such a big impact on performance and how people work and in your you mentioned that your responsibility is helping drive revenue From a focused perspective.

Luigi Prestinenzi: 9:32

Are you focused on helping the soft skill development that enables sellers to improve that sales conversation, or do you focus more on the product side of things and enabling them to understand how the product works and how it works? Helps your customers.

Georgia Watson: 9:49

Yeah, right now my focus is on a bit of both of those. So basic soft skills. Some of it is product knowledge and how to use the tools that are available to help them as they go through the sales process. So that's a focus at the moment in my previous role. But this is where market differences come into play, right? So before I moved to this part of the region, what I was focusing on was pretty different. It was more around looking at sales cycles, identifying where there were trends, identifying where deals can be accelerated and what support is needed there. So quite different market to market, but right now it is very much focused on skills.

Dave Fastuca: 10:27

All right. So next up, I think it was a good idea to talk about. In your world, Georgia, you're probably getting sold to quite a lot. Can you walk us through what a business case looks like when you're looking to make a purchase to help your team Walk us through that process and how to sign off? Gained internally.

Georgia Watson: 10:50

Yeah, I'll tell you about it. High level, I think it's not really that different in IBM than anywhere else. Right, it comes down to the value. It comes down to the impact, long and short term, and these are the key considerations that are made with any investment. Right, there are certain times of the year when maybe there's more opportunity to put forward investment cases, when we're going through our planning cycles, and other times of the year when it's not even possible. So for me and enablement, I don't hold any budget. So if I want to get a budget, it's then to go through the processes to secure that budget going up the line. If it's tech related, if it's about our tech stack, then of course the CTO needs to be involved as well as the CFO. Is there anything that sales use? Of course our sales leaders need to be involved as well. So, going through all that process to secure the funds, if there is something that you want to do, if it's out of cycle and of course there are other sales enablement roles that are different. So we were talking about how big IBM is. So somebody is sitting in a global team. There are a couple of people and it's actually their role just to go through and find and ensure we have the best tools that are out there available to our sellers. That's their job and they go through and they are reviewing our tools and our processes to make sure that we have great stuff and we have a heap of really smart people working at IBM and it's kind of funny. Sometimes these tools land like, oh okay, that sounds good, and it's maybe two or three years later because, oh okay, now we all understand why this tool is really needed, which is so cool, because when there are, people really focused in on something they can really identify what is the need, perhaps even before the team's in market or in the geography realise.

Dave Fastuca: 12:42

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Luigi Prestinenzi: 13:08

And what involvement do you have in that process when they're looking for additional pieces of technology to bring into the org?

Georgia Watson: 13:19

Yeah, it depends on the tool. There's always opportunity to give input and feedback and I'm always the first person to stick my hand up to pilot something, and that's often an approach that we would take is pilot something on a small scale first, before you go, you know, around the globe with it. So it depends on what it is, depends on how it's going to be used and who it influences and hopefully it reaches. In terms of how I can influence it.

Luigi Prestinenzi: 13:45

Yeah, because that's really interesting. And I'm really glad you're touching on this right, because I think for a lot of a lot of sellers, the objective is to get a decision maker. But in a lot of cases especially and I've, you know, having sold an enterprise for over a decade, you know it wasn't always as easy as just going to the decision maker. You needed the key influencers and the key champions, and I would consider your role in the buying process would be more of the champion right, when you would have to be the internal sponsor to find a problem. And do you mind maybe just walking us through an experience that you've been a part of, where you wanted to bring something in? You don't have to talk about what exactly it was, but you saw a need or a gap. You wanted to bring something in. Can you just maybe walk us through what did that look like and how did you get consensus from above to get approval? Yeah, if you didn't get approval, you know what happened.

Georgia Watson: 14:45

Yeah, sure, I'll tell you about a slightly different example first. So this is one that happened earlier this year. So there was a global agreement that was made for a service around coaching and this was signed up globally and kind of divided out across the GEOs. And this was something that I'd been trying to get in place for quite a while in a different way, and so once we had this agreement in place, I saw the value. I went to my stakeholders within the geography and said, hey, this great thing is coming. Here's the impact that it can make on our business and our people. Should we scale up? And here's how much maybe we could do it? And that decision was made then at a geography level by my market leader. It then went through finance and back up to global and we were able to dramatically scale that service within the market because it had already been agreed. So we now have kind of four times what any other market has of this offering, which is having a huge impact. So that's one example. In another example that was less successful. So when I was in one of my previous roles I found a great tool that I wanted to use and put forward the business case. I took that to my local leader in the country and that then went up through a geography level and there was support from the business side. Then it went over to the technology team. So anything new goes through the CTO team and because we already have an established tech stack, if there's anything we're sort of overlapping needs, at some point it becomes, if we get this, that other thing has to go, even if it's, you know, different features and functions and all that sort of thing. So that in that instance, even though we had the local state stakeholder supporting, we had some support from finance, it didn't go ahead because of the CTO team dub, where we have something that we are using globally already that we don't want to rip out and replace because you in one geography want to do something different. So there is this need to kind of standardise, but also opportunity to customise and particularly scale as well.

Dave Fastuca: 17:01

So that's really interesting. I never thought about it in that way, where you know what you are replacing, who's using it, and the effort to rip that out and then bring something else in. There's quite a lot of, quite a lot of work just in that project alone. Then comes the retention of your new product or service. Over the top of that.

Georgia Watson: 17:18

Yeah, and this is the typical tech challenge, right? Obviously, I work in IT, but having incumbent technology from a sales perspective is often hard to overcome, and even from an enablement perspective. Take like our CRM system. You know sales enablement. There's heaps of content being created and shared, and so we have an existing system that we're using that to get off that it will be so much effort to pull that data, migrate it, retag it and put it into something else. And I actually even had an interesting conversation with well, I had. So I accepted a sales call from someone who was offering a competitive product. I'd been in touch with the rep for quite a while. He was doing an amazing job with all his social selling and he'd been going for a long time. I kind of said, look, you know, we have competitive products in stores. Like, yeah, I know, but let's just have a chat. And he wanted me to come and speak at an event too. So I'm like, all right, let's jump on the phone. And so I accepted this call and I stayed up late to have a chat with these guys in the US. And just before the call started he sent me a message and he said, oh, my manager's going to join, okay. So we jumped on the call and what happened? His manager came on the call as well and I was kind of open to hearing about it. But she came in and she took over the call, you know, within a few seconds. And she's like right, you know, we know you're using this product at the moment for your, your approach. What are the issues with it? I'm like, well, you know, there aren't really any major issues with it, we're pretty happy with that. And there are a few things that are, you know, little things that just from a user perspective I'm like, oh, that's not great, right, but what else? What else is wrong with them? Well, nothing. And she kind of continued on this kind of lion of trying to understand what I was not happy with this kind of product about and it really was off-footing and turning off like the whole brand. And just from this super aggressive trying to attack what's wrong with the competitive products when you know I have that installed, is you kind of miss an opportunity to write, to build that rapport and have that relationship. If, in the future, the tech we're using, you know, no longer serves our needs, I could say, hey, you know, let's have a chat. But now I'll be really hesitant to kind of go down that path. And along the way, as the drilling kind of continued, I said, look, I don't have, I'm not making the decision here, I don't hold a budget around that. And that was then book, the call was done. I thought, oh, it was just really poor, right, she didn't even ask. Okay, so who makes that decision? How can you know, like you know, even thinking if she wants to take that approach with someone else. She didn't even ask. Okay, so who is that person? Who makes the decision? Can you introduce me to them? I probably wouldn't have done it, but kind of lost the opportunity. So I left the call for that guy who did probably six months of groundwork to get there.

Luigi Prestinenzi: 20:16

Can I look? And I appreciate you sharing this and something I want to do. I do jump on the right because I think, from what I'm hearing, it's not just about there being an opportunity within IBM, but in the airfare, the event that you would leave and take a role, like our friend Tim from. He went from Oracle, which was again probably the same kind of matrix style, enabling so many different people into a business where he's totally responsible and implements it right. I think in that scenario they were so short term focused in that meeting that they've actually missed a great opportunity, right. But what I'd love to know, what part of you said six months, but what part of a message finally triggered you to say you know what, I'm going to take this meeting, even though there might not be an opportunity for us, I'm going to take it. What did he do that triggered you to take that meeting?

Georgia Watson: 21:14

So I think a key part was around the personalization of all the communication. Like he had done the research, he knew the competitive product, he knew my role. He gave the impression that he really understood what my priorities were and what I needed to achieve. So he'd done that groundwork. But all of that kind of came in much later. Right, this is someone who just reached out on LinkedIn. We were connected, he was sharing interesting content, so I was learning from what he was posting and engaging with mine. So there was this kind of basic rapport already before he kind of then got into a bit more of the sales mode. And this is the value of social selling, right, it's kind of like you feel like you know someone a little bit. You know, and this is the opposite of you just connecting with someone and they hit you with the pitch and you just really quickly then go and hit remove connection as fast as you can. So it was just like, so he wasn't in a rush, so it was the exact opposite of when he got his boss on the call with him. Unfortunately, I think about something else. I was just reflecting on that experience. Now it can be really easy to lose sight of this experience piece. I think, as salespeople and this is something that where I'm focused on at the moment you know there's still sometimes a tendency to talk about like the products and features and how that compares to the competition, but in the example of that call, it's so negatively impacted the experience and this buying experience is more important than ever and it's even more important than the product. So Salesforce actually did some research around this and in B2C, 79% of people said the actual buying experience was more important than the product. Yeah, Now, crazy thing, you kind of expect that in consumer buying but in B2B, 85% of people said the experience was more important than the product itself. So it really just reiterates how much we need to focus on the experience and that starts with those initial cold outreach all the way along the buyer journey and it's a great sort of follow on from there.

Dave Fastuca: 23:25

So, like when dealing with salespeople, you know what triggers you to take a meeting. Is it that you know consultative letter approach or you know what's your, what sparks your interest to say, yep, let's jump on a call?

Georgia Watson: 23:39

I will take a problem. I will. I will take a call if they have a solution to a problem that I have. See, the problems are always on our minds, right? If anyone has a problem, it's sitting there and if I think, okay, this is something that could help me address that problem or this is something that can add value to the work that I'm doing, then I will jump on a call.

Luigi Prestinenzi: 24:01

And I'd like to just go back right, because you made a really powerful statement right that the buying experience 70 or 9% is heavily led or heavily experienced by that experience. Do you mind maybe thinking about a scenario where you were part of that buying process, where the experience was incredibly memorable and what did the seller or what did the organisation do that made it so memorable for you?

Georgia Watson: 24:29

I bought a car about a year ago. Everybody loves to buy, right, but we hate being sold too. When I went to this dealership, they did one of the best sales jobs I have ever kind of seen, and it was this ultimate positioning of I'm not here to sell you anything, I just want to advise you so you understand the options. I didn't use that word correctly. You're coming in as your partner in the buying journey, coming in as your advisor. You know when they went through. You know, comparing different options and different details, but continually listening to every kind of comment. I was saying the right thing and then going in a different direction because of it. So, luigi, I know you're brilliant at this, but this you know like really listening to what people say and taking that on board and adjusting your conversation accordingly. Not all salespeople do this right, because it's very. I'm so focused on getting this deal to close. Let me focus on progressing this from A to B, and I'm in such a rush to do that. Maybe I miss that cue that there's something else that I need to consider. Maybe it's not an outright objection, but it's something else that I need to kind of factor in. She only wants black or grey and we can't get the others, you know, in the country for another six months, right, and that could be a passing comment, right. And I saw her car in the ad and I'm like, oh, that black looks great, doesn't it? And then he kind of shifted everything like, oh, these are the, you know. So it was just really really smartly, um, smartly done.

Dave Fastuca: 26:01

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Luigi Prestinenzi: 26:57

So he was listening to really understand versus listening to respond.

Georgia Watson: 27:01

Exactly, exactly yeah.

Luigi Prestinenzi: 27:04

It's funny, right, because often, um and I've given this a lot of thought because at the moment, um, as I mentioned at the start, um, and as you know, we've spoken about this offline um, you've recently renovated a place and I'm on that same process and it's amazing how Wow. So here's um, the launchers, business artists, haha. Crowdfunding Um, yeah, we could etna, uh think it's a sense to say yeah, cause, uh, we uh wheel with it. Uh, tom, after storyBoy and I, we did mình. Decision fatigue can actually kick in, right, because you're overwhelmed with the amount of decisions that you have to make. And I often refer to the fact that we, as consumers, we buy in a certain way and we kind of even buy in a certain way, buying business related products. It's just a little bit different because, obviously, the emotional connection, it's our personal money that we're using to buy, say, for a house. It might not be our personal money, but there are other nuances that connect to that buying journey, right, and so it's so interesting that you bring this up about the pivot that they're not sort of trying to get you and back to that other scenario where it was let me find out what's not working with the other provider. They were so focused on filling their need because they thought, if we can define a problem, even if the problem is really insignificant and it's not even there, but it gives us a reason to continue, they've actually missed a great opportunity, and so I love the way that you've explained your buying experience with the car was somebody was attentive, they came across as your advisor, they heard what you were saying, they pivoted the conversation and they were able to help you achieve an outcome. So I think that's a kind of perfect representation of what great selling looks like.

Georgia Watson: 28:41

Yeah, it is right, and it is that experience too. And I know in one of your previous podcasts you spoke to Tim Stansky, who you mentioned earlier, and he was talking about a decision that he had to make and he was making that decision based on the fabulous service and support that he was getting. I think you mentioned he had a CSM who was amazing, and so he was kind of basically basing his decision on the kind of level and support and this feeling of partnership that he had on what product he was going to buy next. And if I had other guests who've also kind of said so was Reagan Barker. She was deciding between two different products and there was one that was giving this amazing kind of experience and doing, you know, a really great job on their sales, but their price was significantly higher than the other guys, and even the price wasn't really a factor in her decision. It was about that experience and that personalization that she was getting. And you mentioned emotion to Luigi, and buying stuff as a consumer with our own money is 100% emotional. Yeah, I would even say, if you're buying something as a business, there's still heaps of emotion in that decision, like it's not your money that you're spending, but the impact is so high, right, do you want to be the one associated with the purchase? That really didn't meet the needs. It didn't deliver what it was meant to. In some places that kind of stuff can be career limiting.

Luigi Prestinenzi: 30:10

Correct. And it's also that emotion with the work spent. Or you know, if you're working spending somebody else's money, you're actually not just spending somebody else's money, you're also impacting people's time. Like what if you bring in something that doesn't work? But then you've got all these salespeople from your role that have to go through a process or use a new tech and it completely disrupts their day, and then they start, you know, complaining to their managers and all of a sudden I got that fear of yeah, and, as we know, like emotion drives decisions, and that's what often people lose confidence in. I think that's one of the things that Jen Allen constantly talks about is that no decision is the biggest killer to deal with in your pipeline, and often it's because people just lack confidence in what you're saying and the capability that it can actually help them achieve that outcome. So, Georgia, I could talk about this stuff with you for pretty much forever, but I just wanted to say I think this has been a great episode for our audience. There's a lot of key takeaways which we will have at the end of this episode. So, for our audience, stay on, because we will do a bit of a deep dive and we'll actually come up with a bit of a scenario on how to sell. If we were selling to Georgia, how would we sell? But just a bit of a tip for you if you do reach out to Georgia, please, please, please, take on board what she says, personalise your message and just blast through a note and try to sell to a personalised, try to build that rapport. And, George, I just want to say thank you so much for coming on our podcast. We value the contribution that you're making, not just to enablement, but to the sales community.

Georgia Watson: 31:48

My pleasure. Thanks so much for the invite, Luigi. Great to talk with you both. Thank you.

Dave Fastuca: 31:52

Georgia hey. Dave, what an awesome chat that was amazing Look, we've both sold into enterprise and she brought up some amazing things there that I was like huh, some light bulb moments that made me reflect back when I was selling into that space on things that I didn't take into consideration, I think you know the big takeaway, right?

Luigi Prestinenzi: 32:14

I think a lot. When you think of enterprise or enterprise, when you think of the big accounts, as a salesperson, you kind of go right, right or consult whatever role. You look at these big accounts and you think maybe five win one. That's my whole year's budget, right? Or I can know I won a couple of these and I've made President's Club, are making all these commissions. But what Georgia really, really highlighted, which was for me just something that we should be discussing, the complexities around selling into enterprise. Yeah, like I mean talking IBM, there's not just the geographic layout, but you've got the country leader, you'll have a regional leader, you'll have a global leader, then you've got other departments and other leaders in different regions that are influencing the cycle right, and the buying cycle and the buying process. So there's all these decision makers, influencers, champions, anti sponsors that are surrounding that, that, that journey. Yeah, and I think this is where, from a sales perspective, if you are going to pick that enterprise account, grab a few drinks, you've really got to give consideration and not put all your weight, all your energy of your pipeline into just one or two opportunities, because they a will take a while to close and b the risk associated with them. Not closing or not pushing forward in the time that you want is actually really high Right. So you have to have a bit of a balance in managing your pipeline when you've got key strategic accounts in there 100% because you don't control it.

Dave Fastuca: 33:54

You don't control their internal meetings when they're having what's their priority. It can blow out by 12 months plus if you're not careful.

Luigi Prestinenzi: 34:03

Absolutely, and I think, if I go back to the early days when I was selling into enterprise, I had a lot of deals that were just stored right Because I was selling into the local market. Decision makers were overseas and I would very rarely get the opportunity to go there and I didn't actually factor that into my strategy. If I fast forward to the point where I was, really, I was winning these global accounts. It was part of my strategy that at some point they would be part of that conversation, whether we do it via Zoom or I would literally fly to the US, fly to Dublin wherever it was, to go and meet that, that one of the key decision makers yeah, so it become part of the action plan that we had developed with our champion. It was, you know, at some point we need to bring the wider committee into the process, but that was a strategic action plan that we were thinking about at the start of the process and again, if I look back early in my career, it was stuff that I didn't do and often deals would get, would just get to a point of nowhere go, no man's. Yeah, because they didn't know how to progress the conversation. I didn't know and therefore it just got stuck right, so let's dive into it. Let's talk a bit about how we sell. I want you to tackle it.

Dave Fastuca: 35:22

You know first, you know out, doing your initial outreach to Georgia. You've locked in the meeting, but I want, I want you to take this, this one, a little bit further. I want you to. How would you, how would you address the first meeting to then get your follow on? Because you know that you know during that course she's not going to have that. The phone will say so. I want you to tackle that part too, because then a prize, like we've said, goes deeper.

Luigi Prestinenzi: 35:47

Yeah, well, I think the first things first. Right, you could tell a lot by the way that Georgia was engaging with us and she made, she gave us you know, there's a key tip the sales professional that she met with, even though the meeting didn't go well, the six months prior went really well. It was six months of social selling content, engaging with her posts. So that tells you that George is really, really relation-like, very relationship focused. Yeah, so, first things first. The first meeting it's not about selling and she also mentioned that, right, the first meeting because of the fact of the role that she plays, the fact that she doesn't hold budget, the fact that there are budget cycles, that if there is a need, they have to go to a process to get it into the budget cycle. The first meeting is all about understanding, just leveraging some insight around problems that you think are important to her, to get validation that she's suffering those problems and then using that opportunity to just form a relationship. Yeah, and start the conversation and get the conversation going about what are the things that are important to her, what are some of the gaps that she's contending within her role? Yeah, because she's very tactical, very much about regional execution versus global strategy. So there would be things that are impacting her and her team, local team, right. So that first meeting it's all about understanding what is impacting her, what are the things that are impacting her market, and then, once you determine that, then it's about putting out a bit of a plan of how can I nurture, how can I educate and seek guidance and coaching from her on what does their internal process look like, so that if the opportunity arose to say, hey, let's actually define this problem further. She spoke about impact. Yeah, she spoke about the importance of impact and she also mentioned a key result area for her was revenue. So enablements about revenue. So if we were able to help her with some value creation we could share or some content that we could provide her that would help her in her journey to increasing revenue in the local market, that would go a long way. For her to then start to sponsor us in Because that's the only way you would be able to sell into that organisation through Georgia. She'd need to sponsor us in, help really articulate the problem statement. Then get her leader, her local leader, into the conversation, because he would have to be he or she would have to be part of that equation and, as part of that process, get validation that that's important on their agenda because it might be important for Georgia. But the local country leader might be saying, hey, that's not even remotely something that's on my top three priorities.

Dave Fastuca: 38:53

How do you derive that? Is this through Georgia, or are you trying to attend another meeting with someone else there?

Luigi Prestinenzi: 39:03

Yeah, so you would fundamentally use Georgia as your internal coach, as your guide, right? And then say and try to come up with, okay, the country leader, this is potentially what's happening. If we are to meet. These are some of the things that we should discuss around the problem so that he or she can say, yeah, actually this could be something that is a priority for us. Let's explore this further. And then, once we get the country leader on board, it's about saying, okay, well, what does the process look like? To seek approval in the business, as she said, if there is already an existing software in place that's doing, if you're selling software that's doing parts of and they don't like overlap, actually try to understand this is where it's okay to get a no, right. Actually, try to understand early in the process. Is this an opportunity that is simply never gonna progress, right? Is the CTO committee that she said assesses this stuff? Are they so locked in, Like, say they're with sales force, right, and just say they're using sale, they're using a particular serum, Say they're so invested that unlocking any of that is just gonna cause so much complications that potentially that's not gonna happen, right, and I'm not saying you put your flag up and retreat. But as a salesperson you've got to kind of also pick the opportunities that you can influence to a point of decision. And it's actually okay to sometimes say, you know what? This is one that no matter what we do, there is gonna be an internal blocker that potentially won't enable us to progress. Now, on the flip side, you know, if the business case for change, if the problem is so significant that we think the CTO team will do an assessment and go, you know what there's actual value in transforming from one tool to another, then great. But it's also about understanding what that would mean for them. The only way you can do that in an organisation like IBM is with your internal champions, and there's gonna be multiple, such as Georgia, the country leader, possibly the regional leader, and then you'd have to migrate that conversation to somebody in HQ, in the office that has a sale on this. And, as you can see, this is why those enterprise deals have so many people involved in that buying process. Right, Because then you've got the CTO's office, then you've got finance, then you'll have legal rights, Then you'll have risk. Yeah, Then you've got the internal people that this decision will impact. That could possibly be a negative influence if they get wind that they're gonna have to change the way that they do think. There's so many nuances here.

Dave Fastuca: 41:59

But, in order to sell to Georgia. Is there any way to deal with that? Yeah, like the negative, the detractors that you're gonna come up against, that you may not have in the meeting, like is it something that you've often had prepared for, and say, hey, if this does come up, here's something for you, georgia or ex to leverage.

Luigi Prestinenzi: 42:21

Well, that's the buyer enablement piece, dave. So that's the buyer enablement about. This is why she mentioned a term that's really important: you're an advisor, right? This is why you're not selling to her at this point. You're actually helping them consider things they might not have considered. So helping them consider, you know, consider the impact of putting this to the CTO board and them saying, abc, how would that impact this process? Get them to think about things that they haven't considered, because that's true value creation. Yeah, so an enterprise, there are a lot of things that they might not have considered. And if you've sold into the space before, you know what those barriers and those challenges are gonna be. So help them to find what they are first, because then you can talk about how you solve, right? So you know. Just to summarise, you know, selling to Georgia this one that's coming from having a relationship, knowing that she's not the decision-maker, she's a key influence, understanding that, just because you know there are certain decisions that go right to the top, there could be some local things, like you know that, like she said, she actually accelerated a part of her program when she got wind of a bigger project. So that's why that relationship's fundamental and having that open dialogue right, and then also going in with a value creation mindset. First, and knowing that this is not a short-term process. If you're looking for short-term wins in your pipeline, an account like IBM and Georgia is not your answer right. It's gonna take time, you're gonna have to invest in it and there is a good chance that the investment you make won't yield a return in the immediate future.

Dave Fastuca: 44:05

You know a lot of insights in this episode. It's, you know, some major takeaways for me. Obviously, you know enterprise, it's a long game. So while it's great to have it in your account, don't rely on it because you know one thing that happens as well. A big risk during that whole process is that you know Georgia could change jobs during that time because it's such a lengthy process. It could be a two-year deal. But, Louis, thanks again for another great insight in the episodes and we'll see you all next week.