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084: Brian Sullivan: They all had their political agendas

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Brian Sullivan Show Notes

Brian Sullivan worked for an organization that would bring together an executive committee to make decisions on business they wanted to pursue. Because of all of their political agendas, the system wasn’t serving the company or customers very well. That’s when Brian pioneered a more customer-centric approach to sales that helped them to win better deals and avoid pursuing the bad deals.

Brian was born in Baltimore, Maryland with two older brothers and an older sister. He grew up playing lacrosse, tending bars, waiting tables and eventually he received his undergraduate degree and his MBA in Marketing from Loyola University Maryland.

He began his professional career with Xerox Corp., where he learned a great deal about needs-based selling and client focus in an energized, team selling environment. After moving on from Xerox, he began his 30-year career with Cap Gemini in a sales role but soon moved on to leadership and management positions serving clients and growing business with this Paris-based global consulting firm.

While at Cap Gemini, Brian became familiar with the Sandler Selling System and joined Sandler in 2012 to develop Sandler Enterprise Selling, the subject of the book he co-authored with CEO, Dave Mattson, Sandler Enterprise Selling – Winning, Growing and Retaining Major Accounts. Brian is currently the Vice-President of Sandler Enterprise Selling and responsible for the program’s operation worldwide.

Brian is a lifelong runner that lives in Phoenix, Maryland with his wife Cyndi. They are the parents of three daughters and the grandparents of Quinn and Max.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to Brian Sullivan and get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet 

“Selling is really about having a clear understanding of the needs of the people you deal with.” -Brian Sullivan Click to Tweet

“Clearly understand the needs of people you’re with so you know how to help them.” -Brian Sullivan Click to Tweet 

“Understand the needs of the people on your team so you can marshal them effectively.” -Brian Sullivan Click to Tweet 

“A decision to move forward or to stop moving forward; both are gifts.” -Brian Sullivan Click to Tweet 

“Make early exists or early acceleration.” -Brian Sullivan Click to Tweet 

“You don’t have unlimited resources to help you win a deal.” -Brian Sullivan Click to Tweet 

“Understanding the level of risk you’re facing will give you the gift of exiting the process.” -Brian Sullivan Click to Tweet 

“It’s really about having a solid process to help you make decisions.” -Brian Sullivan Click to Tweet 

“Go after business based on what’s best for the client.” -Brian Sullivan Click to Tweet 

“Don’t confuse sales and delivery.” -Brian Sullivan Click to Tweet 

“Bring the delivery folks into the decision early on.” -Brian Sullivan Click to Tweet 

“Do what you’ll say you’ll do.” -Brian Sullivan Click to Tweet 

“Have a mindset of responsiveness for the people that you serve.” -Brian Sullivan Click to Tweet 

“We all better be making mistakes.” -Brian Sullivan Click to Tweet 

“You win or you learn.” -Brian Sullivan Click to Tweet 

“Be flexible and willing to stray from the plan.” -Brian Sullivan Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Brian Sullivan worked for an organization that would bring together an executive committee to make decisions on business they wanted to pursue. Because of all of their political agendas, the system wasn’t serving the company or customers very well. That’s when Brian pioneered a more customer-centric approach to sales that helped them to win better deals and avoid pursuing the bad deals.

Advice for others

Make early exists or early acceleration using a system to help guide you.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

The challenge of keeping pace with technology and social media.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Do what you’ll say you’ll do.

Secret to Success

It’s having a service mentality and a mindset of responsiveness for the people that I serve.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

I have two of them; there’re my ears.

Recommended Reading

Sandler Enterprise Selling:  Winning, Growing, and Retaining Major Accounts

Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn from Their Mistakes–But Some Do

Contacting Brian

email: brian.sullivan [at] sandler.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brian-sullivan-8a33593

Resources

54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.


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Click to access edited transcript
084: Brian Sullivan: They all had their political agendas

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.
Need a powerful and entertaining way to ignite your next conference, retreat or team-building session? My keynotes don’t include magic but they do have the power to help your attendees take a leap forward by putting emotional intelligence into their employee- engagement, customer-engagement and customer-centric leadership practices. So bring the infotainment creativity the Fast Leader show to your next event and I’ll help your attendees get over the hump now. Go to beyondmorale.com/speaking to learn more.

Okay Fast Leader legion today we’re going to have a great show because our guest has insights to some of the skills that all of us needs today. Brian Sullivan was born in Baltimore, Maryland with two older brothers and an older sister. He grew up playing across tending bars, waiting tables and eventually he received his undergraduate degree and his MBA in marketing from Loyola University Maryland. He began his professional career with Xerox Corporation where he learned a great deal about needs-based selling and client focus and an energized team selling environment. After moving from Xerox, he began his 30 year career with Cap Gemini in a sales role but soon moved on to leadership and management position serving clients and growing businesses with this Paris-based global consulting firm. While at Cap Gemini, Brian became familiar with the Sandler selling system and join Sandler in 2012 to develop the Sandler Enterprise selling, the subject of the book he co-authored with CEO Dave Mattson, Sandler Enterprise Selling – Winning, Growing and Retaining Major Accounts.
Brian is currently the Vice-President of Sandler Enterprise Selling is responsible for the program’s operation worldwide. Brian is a lifelong runner that lives in Phoenix, Maryland with his wife Cindy and they are the proud parents of three daughters and the grandparents of Quinn and Max. Brian Sullivan are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Brian Sullivan: Ready to go Jim. Well done couldn’t have said that better myself.
Jim Rembach: Thanks I appreciate that. I’ve given listeners a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?
Brian Sullivan: Yeah. My passion is really involved with what I do from the Sandler Enterprise, Selling Standpoint, we rolled out this program eighteen months ago and my role is to support the Sandler network of franchisees all over the world and helping them deliver this program and delight their clients.
Jim Rembach: You and I had the opportunity to chat a little bit before and even though you’re talking about the work and what you’re doing it seemed to me like one of your major passion comes down to helping others. You talked about where your career was launched and you’d mentioned something about waiting tables and tending bar and doing all that and how that was just a major passion and really got you into enjoying what you’re doing today, how did you find your way so quickly?
Brian Sullivan: It’s a great question Jim. I believe strongly in the service mentality about what you do from a life standpoint and also from the selling standpoint. And if you think about it, selling is really about having a clear understanding of the needs of the people that you deal with so that you can earn the right to either help them or understand clearly that you can help them, that’s really what selling is all about. And if you think about it, it’s not a bad way to live your life clearly understanding the needs of people you’re with, so that you know how to help them one way or the other. That’s what I strongly believe in, the service mentality of selling. And as you know so many people have view of selling as being the giving, the pushing, the pitching, that’s really, really not what’s it’s all about.
Jim Rembach: One of the reasons I want to have you on the show is—first of all, myself I’ve been exposed to the Sandler Selling system for many years but looking at the six strategies and the 13 tools that are associated with enterprise process it started me down a path of thinking about how really today when you start looking at any initiative of significance is that people have to do a job two ways. First of all if I’m selling a solution for those initiatives, yes, the outside piece and doing all that’s important but also internally the selling has become more challenging with more stakeholders involved and it isn’t something that you could easily just go into have your business case and pitch for it, it requires much more than that.
Brian Sullivan: Yeah. You mentioned the internal piece—we tend to view enterprise selling as really working internally and externally. From an external standpoint clearly you’re selling into large complex organizations that bring unique challenges such extended sales cycles and really sophisticated competitors and wide, diversified networks but with that comes the challenge and the opportunity if you will of marshaling all of the resources in your organization to address those very challenges. Truthfully that can call on all your sales skills, all of your of abilities, as I’ve mentioned before, to understand the needs of the people on your team so that you can marshal them effectively to serve your clients.
Jim Rembach: Men that’s a really keyword that you’ve just laid out a couple of times and that’s that marshaling piece. And if you started looking at folks, put about inside and outside selling, when you start thinking about that marshaling process, what does that mean?
Brian Sullivan: If you think about it, if you’re ultimate objective in an organization—when business serve clients then you need to make certain that your aligning all of the assets within your organization, people typically figuring the physical assets but the human assets as well, aligning all of those assets can to map to the clients whose business you’re trying to win. I mentioned before that typically in selling into enterprise organizations you’re dealing with the wide diversified network as opposed to simple selling if you will where quite often you can be sitting across the desk from the owner of the company in selling into large complex organizations you’re dealing with a network of buyers that bring functions from legal, from accounting, from finance, it’s your responsibility and again to use that word to marshal the assets of your organization to align to those people in the buyer network, to map if you will docs with docs. If you think about it Jim—have you ever seen a situation where a sales rep is trying to deal with an attorney from a buying organization, they absolutely don’t speak the same language. But if you map it so that an attorney from your organization is dealing with someone from the buying team the conversation becomes so much more streamlined it’s no longer about clauses and semicolons quite often it’s about where you went to school or who you knew in law school.
Jim Rembach: That’s a great point, it goes back to that personal connection piece. Now I do know from myself throughout my professional career even when it came to the face-to-face retail sale to some of the complex selling that I have to do now, is that it requires a level of resilience and boldness. You have to be able to keep moving forward to do some of that marshaling and all of that and patience, oh my goodness, of all of those things come into play. And one of the things we look to on the show is quotes because a lot of times they help give us those reminders of those things to help us keep moving forward, is are quote or two that you can share with us?
Brian Sullivan: Yeah. That’s a great point. The concept in this enterprise world of moving forward as you say a decision to move forward or decision to stop moving forward both of those are guess. So what I like to talk about is you need to be able to make early exits or early acceleration. When you’re selling into major organizations, when you’re dealing with enterprise accounts the investment that you make is phenomenal. We talked earlier about the physical assets and human assets that you’re using in going after a major account, under any condition the asset are scarce, you don’t have unlimited resources to help you with the deal. The sooner you can determine whether or not this is a deal you should be pursuing that’s the most important decision you can make. Just as I’ve mentioned earlier an interpersonal communication understanding if you could help someone or you can that’s giving a gift to that person you’re giving a gift to yourself in pursuing enterprise organizations by being able to qualify as quickly as you can whether you should be there or not.
Jim Rembach: That’s a great point. Gosh, when I started thinking about those words and what you’re explaining is that—how does one get to the point to where they can build either the skills, and I have to say they’re really skills cause it’s a little bit more than just an intuition. How do they build the skills in order to be able to know when to accelerate or get out? Because we always run that risk, of especially in a sales environment, or even in that internal environment where it’s contingent on us making some impact, positive impact of course, and focusing where we can but we also have the fear of pulling out too soon it’s like the whole stock market thing people don’t buy on the high or sell on the high side they wait, “Hey, it’s going to go higher cause I don’t want to lose out on any potential return” and when it drops they don’t sell them either so it’s like they’re stuck with something that they can’t do anything with. How do you know when to go or when to try to grow it?
Brian Sullivan: Again that’s really significant point. As just often the case, it helps to have a process to follow, Jim. A little example we have Sandler trainer in Austin, Texas and he was meeting with the president of a firm in Austin and the president of the firm told him she said, Every time I make decision to go after a piece of business it cost me $40,000, win or lose if cost me $40,000.” She said, “If you can help me determine that the deals I go after are the ones I’m most likely to win and also to define in a pursuit I can understand whether I should exit or put my foot on the accelerator I’m really interested. And so what we shared with that client was a process that we use which evaluates a number of business issues tied to a deal so you can make a determination as to whether your stable or whether you have risk that you need to mitigate. And if you have risk you need to mitigate then you need to take actions to reduce those risks and when you’re finished doing that process with a number different business issues then you’ve got it staring you in the face. If you decide to move forward, when you do have significant risk that’s a calculated decision that you make and you may still make that decision but quite often understanding a level of risk you’re facing will give you the gift of being able to exit the process and then go find an opportunity that you should be applying all the scarce assets to pursue an opportunity that you much more likely to win. So it’s really that having a solid process Jim to help you make those decisions.
Jim Rembach: Gosh, you know as you were talking, thanks for sharing that, I started even thinking about an internal person whose an expert in their career. Because when I find oftentimes is there’s some people who are stuck in organizations that are highly skilled and nothing can move forward and probably because they don’t have that framework to be able to say, “You know what, it’s time for me to go because I need to be able to give value to some other organization that wants me to do that otherwise I’m going to get frustrated and burned out and then I get burned out in my spot instead going and trying to continue to grow, thanks for sharing that.
Okay, we chat a little bit about you working with Cap Gemini, with you moving with Sandler and even before that but we know in order for us to grow and get to the point of really solidifying our knowing that we are built to serve takes a bump we have to get over humps and many other humps in life, is there a time where you can remember where you’ve had to get over a hump and it really made a difference for you and your life and career?
Brian Sullivan: Let me take you in time if I may for just a minute Jim. As you mentioned I started Xerox when I got out of school and interestingly enough you also mentioned that I waited tables and wife is integrated throughout and just want to share that I actually got the job at Xerox from waiting tables. I was waiting tables down at the beach summer between my junior and senior year, waited on a guy from Xerox who asked me to send in my resume. When I got it together I did and that’s ultimately how I ended up getting a job at Xerox. The balls always in play as it were and that was really how I got started in selling. So, at Xerox it was an incredibly collaborative and communicative environment and we were schooled to use all of the assets of the organization to make decisions. And one way that we built that premise is—there was a story, there was a Xerox story that was based on the 914 copier. I don’t know if you know about the 914 copier, but Xerox 914 was the first plain paper copier ever developed and it was built by a bunch of brilliant engineers who took plain paper copying to the point where it could go to market. Before it was a very small company at that point, Xerox took the 914 to market, first machine ever to print on plain paper so it happened that potential to revolutionize an industry. But it sold for $30,000, which was a lot of money in 1959, and it weighed 650 pounds and it took up a footprint of over 20 ft.². So, it was groundbreaking as the technology was and is effective as Xerox selling team was, very few companies, very customers bought the 914.
So, Xerox undertook an internal cross functional brainstorming exercise and they brought people from throughout the organization, people from manufacturing, finance, accounting and legal in other words they didn’t just say this is a sales problem they marshal all of the elements of the organization together to come up with a new idea, and they did. They came up with the really bold and risky plan that rather than selling 914 they were going to lease them to customers and they were going to lease them at a really economical entry point of $99 per month. And with this economical entry plan they made a huge bet on human nature because they bet that customers were going to get away from copying on to chemically treated paper and dealing with messy inks and that having the opportunity to copy on plain paper would be huge for customers and it was a big, big bet and it worked out really well because for the $99 customers received 2000 copies and for every copy over 2000, Xerox charge an additional cost. After the first six months, after they got a ton of these 914 out in offices the average copies generated by a customer over 20,000 per month. Xerox’s corporate revenues double in one year and a few short years later they were a billion dollar company all based on internal communication and collaboration driving a really great team idea, so that stuck with me, that was something that stuck with me and I carried it with me when I left Xerox.
Jim Rembach: That’s a phenomenal story. When you start thinking about all of the people that came together, and also in Xerox I had to imagine this team of engineers that you had to convince as well that could be rather challenging.
Brian Sullivan: Oh, no, no question. As you know corporate human nature being what it is the decision typically is, hey, we’ve got a sales problem, let’s change the VP of sales or let’s get a bunch of new sales guys. The Xerox had the thinking, the foresight to be able to say, let’s get everybody together and come up with a really good idea. And who could ever imagined that a pricing shift would produce what actually Forbes magazine would later call the most successful product in the history of the United States regarding ROI all based on really collaborative thinking. And you know, that leads with me today Jim, I remember when I moved on the Cap we had a process where we would make decisions about huge deal that we went after by bringing together an executive committee, bunch of high-level people in the company who all have their political agendas and they would make decisions as to whether to go after a certain piece of business. But I really pioneered bringing the people from the trenches bringing our delivery folks together the folks really had a pragmatic handle on what we’re going to do for the client I marshaled them together to drive the decisions as to whether to go after a piece of business based not on political agendas but based on what was best for the client.
Jim Rembach: Now there’s no way that was an easy task. Who did you have the most difficulty with when trying to do that?
Well, that’s a great point. Really folks who had built the executive committee concept and regardless of the fact that virtually—I mean a lot of people were thinking it didn’t work any longer but for the folks who had built it they didn’t want to change. But after a few success stories, the first few success stories getting involved big wins for us but they involve big deal that we decided not to pursue because we got some really solid input from the delivery team as to what the issues might be in a deal. They often hear people talk about don’t confuse sales and delivery, right? And it’s kind of a really classic failure line because you go sell something and then you ask the delivery team to deliver something that can’t be solved next thing you know you got a deal that’s killing your year. So, by bringing the delivery folks into the decision early on we were able to do deals that were the right deals that would satisfy clients and in the end drive revenue and profitability at the same time.
Jim Rembach: Yeah, I know. Listening to you talk—for me it’s really one of the reasons why I’ve continued and became certified in emotional intelligence because when you start talking about serving, selling, rapport building, relationship building, its emotional intelligence it’s not the product it’s not your thingy, it’s not what you do, it’s how you engage and interact and how you project it’s all of those things associated with your emotional intelligence that are proven over and over. So, we talked about that you’re trying to grow the enterprise selling business and of course you’ve got a couple of grandkids, which is awesome, but if you start to look at all the things that you have going on, what are some your goals?
Brian Sullivan: From a Sandler standpoint my goal is to grow the business so that we can serve clients worldwide. At this point we’re not translated in all the languages we need to and that’s our plan but we’re 127 selling business operations in 12 countries in 18 months of existence which is really exciting but more than anything we’re doing great things in serving clients and arming them with some skills, like the skills I talked about before Jim, the ability to make educated go no go decisions about opportunities that you’re trying to pursue as an organization what we do is we arm our clients with those skills. So my charter, my challenge, my goal, is to be able to deliver that to Sandler clients all over the world, so that’s from a business standpoint.
From a personal standpoint, I’m a very, very headed guy and my focus is to serve my family, help our kids grow their families and do anything I can to be there for our kids and grandkids.
Jim Rembach: And the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on, let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.
The number one thing that contributes to customer loyalty is emotions. So move onward and upward faster by getting significantly deeper insight and understanding of your customer journey personas with emotional intelligence. With your empathy mapping workshop you learn how to evoke and influence the right customer emotions that generate improve customer loyalty and reduce your cost to operate. Get over your emotional hump now by going to the empathymapping.com to learn more.
Jim Rembach: Alright Fast Leader listeners it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Brian, the Hump Day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Brian Sullivan, are you ready to hoedown?
Brian Sullivan: Yes sir.
Jim Rembach: Alright. So, what do you think is holding you back from being even better leader today?
Brian Sullivan: Certainly the challenge to keep pace with technology, social media, data and all the rest. I do a relatively good job of it but truthfully I need to be better.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Brian Sullivan: There’s no question about that. We had a CEO at Cap named Jeff and his guidance always was—do what you say you’ll do.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Brian Sullivan: It’s a service mentality and within that it’s a mindset of responsiveness for the people that you serve.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Brian Sullivan: I have two of them, and they’re my ears.
Jim Rembach: What would be one book, and it could be from any genre, that you’d recommend to our listeners?
Brian Sullivan: I’m actually reading it right now and it’s awesome, Black box Thinking by Matthew Syed, the ability to learn from mistakes, we all make them we all better be making them but it’s the old you win or you learn, so it’s how to take a mistake and have it make you more effective in the future.
Okay, Fast Leader listeners you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/Brian Sullivan. Okay, Brian this is my last Hump Day question. Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you’ve been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything you could only choose one. So, what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
So I love this, this is the letter to me, right? It would be to be flexible, be willing to stray from the plan take a chance.
Jim Rembach: Brian it was an honor to spend time with you today, can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you?
Brian Sullivan: I’d be delighted to chat with anyone. I could be reached on email at brian.sullivan@sandler.com. Connect with me on LinkedIn, we have a Sandler Enterprise selling group on LinkedIn which we love to have everyone join, so I look forward to hearing from everyone.
Jim Rembach: Brian Sullivan, thank you for sharing and wisdom the Fast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!
Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
END OF AUDIO

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