Training-Led Growth Ep10: Marnie Breton, Founder & CEO, Xcelerate Performance

hi Joe Moriarty here thanks for joiningus on another training led growth podcast with Raven360 I'll be your hostJoe CEO Raven360 I'm joined today by a great guest that's in the Greater Bostonarea as am i in the Greater Boston area although will be joining each other withpower of Zoom with me today is Marnie Breton thanks for joining us Marniethank you so much for having me excited to be here my pleasure thanks forjoining it's great and it's funny here we are we're both located close toBoston probably five miles away from each other but zooming away.

Zooming away all day just like the rest of the world and thank goodnessthat we have Zoom and I'm happy to do it here so let's talk about your companyand the company is Xcelerate Performance and this is a really I thinkyou're doing some really great innovative stuff that people can learnsome things specifically in this economic and macro environment we're inwith with the virus and COVID so take us through what is Xcelerate Performancewhat do you do how'd you start it give us some background sure absolutely thankyou so Xcelerate Performance is at thispoint me and a network of experts that I call on as needed I am a sales coach andconsultant and I'm very focused on building high-functioning teams so I'vebeen in sales over 25 years went out on my own about eight and a half years agowith a passion to help salespeople be more effective be more productive andhave fun sometimes I think my work is to demystify sales for sales leaders andteams and and so on I focus a lot on both the art and science of sales I workwith companies to bring clarity and coaching and direction so that they canaccelerate their performance and it's a lot of fun I work withcompanies of all sizes everything from literally you know angel funded startupsall the way up to billion dollar plus companies and I customized my solutionsto meet their needs so that is what Xcelerate Performance does in anutshell very hands-on I'm not a trainer I don't consider myself a trainer I canliterally consider myself a coach and consultant and work with these teams todevelop expertise a lot of process-oriented work as well asbringing the art how do you ask questions how do you curate informationabout your prospects to be as effective and and standout with you know in themarket I forgot the rest of your question no that's great I love thebackground and I've been selling you know just about it same probably alittle longer than 25 years I don't like to admit it how many years now but youknow I think in the sales journey that we've seen we've seen it change quite abit I would say evolved from when probably you and I started to where weare kind of today so before we get into like the the recent time period whathave you seen just as in your career and then even since you started accelerateperformance what have you seen change in terms of the selling processes andtechniques so far yeah for sure so we all know that technology has evolved andhas really changed about change selling and even more importantly it's reallychanged buying so probably no need to go into depth there you google sales andeveryone will tell you that your buyers are smarter they're entering the salesprocess much later they pretty much want to get to pricing and service rolloutimplementation very quickly and that has been an interesting dynamic forsalespeople because I believe it it puts us on our heels a little bit you know itimmediately makes us a little powerless you know how much does it cost you knowwhat the impact and so unlike before when wewere the expert now our prospects are very well informed and bring greatexpertise to the conversation so for sales I think it needs a couple ofthings I think it means number one you really need to be smart you need to beable to navigate these calls and hold your own with these executives about whythey need to listen or you actually even more importantly why they need to sharewhat they're trying to do and what they're hoping to accomplish so that weas salespeople can guide them and I don't really think about a sales processin a vacuum I think about a buying process and as a sales well.

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somebody thatused to be a sales leader i guide a lot of people and I coach my clients toalign to the buyer to create maximum collaboration but to be able tocollaborate with these high-level executives you need to be really smartyou need to understand the market you need to understand their customers andas I've learned through Somersault Innovation you also need to understandtheir your customers customers customers you know what is the downstream need inthe market and what kind of customer experience is your potential clienttrying to create so number one to me smarts is really important I also thinkteam selling has become much more prevalent and as a seller now you needto also be a quarterback how do you bring the right resources together toclose big deals and you know when I was selling in the late 90s you know I wasa one-woman show you know I would ask questions here in the air butyou know I I went out and did my own thing and did the best I could with whatI had but now you've got sales engineers and product specialists and you know allsorts of resources that you know you need to know how to bring in to make themost use of it and then lastly I think what I see happening a lot is anabundance of email communication and I'm constantly telling you know mysales reps and the VP's that I work with you you cannot close a deal over emailmaybe you can if you're selling something very transactional but foranything over a 30 K really needs to be a human interaction I think in the latenineties early 2000 2010 we were still face to face but now you know we'relucky if you get a phone call that being said I do think and you know as wetalked about being on Zoom today you know Zoom has helped and so you know youcan start to negotiate some face face time over video but a lot of timespeople like nah nah! just call me and you know it's harder to build a relationshipand to create that positive energy and Trust over the phone that I I could echokind of everything you said and and we I also lived through that time period of Iwas coached on face to face I was coached on meeting people coached onrunning a meeting in in a conference room one of my earliest managers who'sone of my favorite and best managers used to coach me on specifically how todraw on a whiteboard you know how do you draw on a whiteboard to create value andthen well we saw I think we saw a lot of people get away from that because ofinside sales models the whole SDR BDR model was trying to sell over the phonethrough web conferences and webinars and and all that stuff so but then I then Iactually what I start to see come back in the recent years which you coulddifferentiate yourself by being in the field by visiting people by seeingcustomers by creating a more human interaction you actually started to be ableto differentiate from other people that wouldn't travel and I love to travellike I actually love seeing our customers I love to visit prospects Ilove to see people face-to-face I still love drawing on the whiteboardbecause I think it helps create a collaborative you know session wherepeople can share information and and get to know one another a little bit moreso I love to do that let me ask you this fast forward to today yeah the lastsix weeks I had nobody travel I can't travel I can't get on a plane Ican't go see my customers I got to do this so what do you how do we adapt whatdo we do now to try to you know do that you know make this make this connectionwith people that we're that we're trying to sell to yeah I know it's it's aquestion I think everybody's asking themselves you know I think or what I'velearned is looking back travel was a luxury and there was a you know it wasreally a privilege to get out into the field and meet people face to face andyou know build that rapport and build that trust you know again fast forwardto today I you know I think we have to start thinking about selling as how dowe get someone's attention you know most people don't love being sold to orcertainly don't love being cold called and so now more than ever and I'mspending a lot of time working with sales reps to figure out messaging andit can't be the message that all of our inboxes are flooded with which is likethis is how we're going to help you in this crisis you know it has to beactionable and it has to be prescriptive so to me right now what I'm focused onis helping sales reps figure out the right questions we have to learn howdifferent companies are facing this challenge and what I've seen so far is Ithink it's quite frankly very polarizing what I see is we've got companies whoyou know are kind of gearing up and they're like you know what I'm gonna usethis time to innovate be creative develop product train my salespeople youknow get out into the market and see if I can't come out of this crisis ahead ofthe game and then you have people that are quite I call it turtling you knowthey're they're hunkering down they're they're scared they're they'recoming from a place of fear and anxiety which is totally understandable but fromfrom that polarizing perspective anyone that's trying to get someone's attentionneeds to understand where that person thatcompany that department is and then and then from there you can navigate so ifsomebody's got money that they're gonna put towards innovation and advancingtheir business during this time then the question is like okay well what is yourvision and and what resources do you need and you know how are you gonna keepyour your people engaged and you know how are you gonna be ready for marketshifts and really being a facilitator to those people using whatever tools youbring to the table to help them reach their goals if you have somebody who'sturtling I think it's really important to help them understand that maybe theydon't have to turtle you know that's an opportunity for sellers to get reallycreative with their solutions with pricing with packaging to meet peoplewhere they are and and support them to to see the possibilities and to beat peace with where they're at and to carve out a path forward if money istight maybe you have to cut some places to innovate in others but but overall Ithink in this day and age we have to start with getting people's attentionand doing it in a very customized you know very sensitive but forward movingway yeah I love that you said there I think one of the things a common phraseyou know something you hear sometimes you have to slow down to speed up mm-hmand I think slowing down right now and trying to be more empathetic but youknow what we keep I get so many I get so many of these emails all day long thatare we can help you to earn the COVID-19 we can do this for you we can do thatyou're facing this you're facing that I'm like well first of all you don'tknow what I'm facing right and I get a lot of cold emails soit's like it's your point it's polarizing so I'm like you don't knowwhat I'm feeling or facing or doing like but if you said so I I totally agreethat you said but so if I find if reps would slow down and try to do a littlebit more research a little bit more and try to keep a tailored message tosomeone it could be really valuable and it could it could resonate with someoneand they could get it so I I think that was I think it was great and then oneother thing I heard you say was actionable and prescriptive what do youmean by prescriptive I can I get actionable right you want to dosomething that we can create some movement create some follow-up createthat stuff but prescriptive tell me talk to me more about thatyeah so the easiest way to explain how I think about prescriptive and I thinkabout this in my own business when I'm coaching anyone sales reps VP CEOs is alot of people focus on what somebody should do you know my favorite exampleis you get a VP of Sales it's the end of the quarter they're telling their rep goclose that deal and that y'all kind of like you know get a message out that VPthey would if they knew how so to me being prescriptive means sharing the howto do something and ideally that's done through collaboration but you knowtelling.

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telling a logistics company you know that they need to be moreeffective with their routes so that they can you know get more delivered becausethey're essential at this time you know yeah sounds great how the heck do I dothat and how do I do it when I'm so busy you need to tell a brand per se that youknow they need to support their retailers okay that sounds really goodbut my retailers are also in crisis how do I do thatso prescriptive to me is really being providing expertise but a roadmap on howto get something done I love that so can I can I make this about me for a minuteyeah let's do it no I'm serious cuz I love what you're saying and you knowRaven360 where we're an on-demand in virtual learning platform yeah we do alot of learning for sales reps but we also do a lot of learning for ourcustomers customer meaning you know a high tech company wants to train theircustomers on how to use technology that's what our platform does I don't want to be theperson that's going out there flooding an inbox with impersonalwith you know with an email that's just like a blast I'd like to bemore prescriptive and so I'm just as you're saying that I'm like boy whatcould I be doing better because we can help during this period we really canand but I don't want to be a bull in a china shop and I don't want to bepolarizing I want to say hey so what I'm asking is so what a better approach behere's how we would suggest migrating or executing online training if you'venever done it like try to give some value is that what you're saying I tryto help people understand I'm a there well there has to be a value exchange ahundred percent but like in your world and my world too quite frankly so you knowI pursue improve performance you know I'm a sales people moreeffective and I'm asking myself the same question but for me I think it's justreally important to understand where people are so you know first of allwe're a big country and people are you know going in to stay at home I thinkit's been you know not you know various right different regions are moving atdifferent rates and it's been a different timeline so you know for me Ithink an email needs to say you know what's important to you today because youknow people are spending the first two weeks of this crisis figuring out whichway is north and getting their people set up with whatever technology theyneed and making sure that people are engaged and are finding a way to be youknow a parent a wife a homemaker a salesperson yeah I mean there's a lot onpeople's plates so I think what I've seen is the early days the first two orthree weeks people have really been figuring out how to settle into this newnormal this week I have started to see and I expected it and I'm thrilled butI've started to see higher open rates of emails across the you know my differentteam that I work with higher response ratespeople are starting to take meetings this week which means they're like okayI got zoom working you know I got my kids set up on their home schooling oryou know online schooling now I need to figure out what to do with my businessand we need to understand what are your priorities at what in what areas of yourbusiness are you handling crisis management and in what areas of yourbusiness are you worried about engaging your employees and keeping them sharpand feeling invested in and where are you innovating and I think for you and IJoe we fall into that middle section of you know I want my employees to feelcared for I want them to know that we're investing in them and it's onlinelearning and it's you know coaching and guidance but our prospects need to beready and I think that that's key so the advice I've been giving to all of allthe sales reps I work with is it goes back to what I was saying before we haveto find out where they are and when you meet someone where they are withsensitivity and an honest curiosity and carrying there's only one place to goand that's up so to the extent that we think about emails LinkedIn messagesthat is like you know what are you ready to face this week and how can I help youto me that's that's the theme that we have to you know get the theme we haveto like log on to helpful I think is awesomeI think that you know trying to be as helpful as you can and I think that'sgreat advice I appreciate that and I think I definitely can use some of thatwith with Raven360 and what we're doing and I think you're right the timing iscritical because someone might and and I tend to agree with you that Ithink that you know what is today? April 9th I should have said that in thebeginning April 9th 2020 and here we are like I think people are kind of gettingto work getting to the new normal of Zoomyou know trying to figure out what do we do next and and so I think yeah if youcan have some thoughtful mindful engagement that could be helpful forpeople maybe that's you know I think people I think I agree i think maybestart people are starting to say like yeah we got a we gotta get we have toexecute business we all have to execute our business so no I agree and I thinkprospecting is the hardest thing right now and thinking about talking today oneof the one of the key points I want to make sure I also get a point across isthat sales leaders have a huge job to do right now you know I think now more thanever messaging needs to be orchestrated repsneed to understand what the company position is during this crisis how theycan help their customers and prospects what flexibility they have on paymentterms and packaging you know really really creating a unit you know takingthat that sales team and even if you're in a multi-billion dollar company youknow each team or department or business line or you know product sales team isits kind of its own entity obviously working in a much bigger ecosystem butyou know how do you take the company stance and then and then distill it downto a rep so they know this is this is what I need to be saying these are thequestions I should be asking and this is what the company is hoping to learn fromthe market and give to the market yeah super helpful I hope that everyonelistens to that can take that to heart because I think you're you are right onand that into me to me that actually and I talked about you brought upSomersault Innovation our friend in common here Ashley Welch who's also been onthe podcast you know leading with some empathy you know leading with someunderstanding of where people are I think that's super important right nowif you lead with empathy and say look what I understand where you are I understandthat you're trying to figure this out just like everybody elseis but here's how we could be helpful at least I think if you'reyou're starting from that putting yourself in their shoes you know tryingto try to understand from where someone is in their mindset which is franklyeveryone is fearful and a little bit anxious and not sure what the futureholds but we're here today we are all living here todaywe're all gonna have that you know mindset and so that a great reminder Ithink that that was a huge great piece of advice and a great reminder that Iwill certainly take away from this so what elseMarnie where can we get in touch with you I feel like some people may want totalk to you how do we how do we get in touch with Marnie and XceleratePerformance yeah I love that question so you can start by going to my websiteXcelerate Performance is X C E L E R A T E I actually just redid it and I'm prettyexcited about it so we'd love any feedback the contact information is onthe website it's on LinkedIn and I am here so I knock wood have been luckyenough to retain my clients for the last four weeks as we've entered into thiscrisis and I'm very hopeful that I can say that again in another four weeks butat that time I'm not commuting I'm not traveling so I encourage anyone whowants to pick my brain to reach out and love to chat well thank you so muchMarnie Xcelerated Performance is a friend of Raven360 I appreciate thefree advice that you just gave me and the advice that you gave our listenersand the folks that follow here on the podcast so really very much appreciateyour time and as we navigate as we continue to kind of navigate throughthis time period we we certainly have lots of talk to you again and you know Ithink this is a fluid as they say a fluid and changing environment and we'llall have to keep learning one day at a time and and hopefully we can all have alittle gratitude that we're all here still and and be have some some somehappiness our days so let's make the best of itMarnie thank you thank you again so much Xcelerate Performance thank you forjoining the Raven360 training led growth podcast we'll talk to you soongreat thank you thank you.

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