#AIForSalesCoaching With Matthew McDarby
While it may not be the most popular use of AI in sales teams, sales coaching benefits greatly with the supplemental use of artificial intelligence. Even when the sales leader isn't around physically, the use of AI can still allow the learning process to continue organically and effectively. Chad Burmeister is joined by Matthew McDarby, the Head of Sales at Fidelus Technologies. Matthew shares his thoughts about where the sales coaching industry is headed, powered by artificial intelligence. Learn more about this new, unique use of AI for sales with the help of Chad and Matthew.
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#AIForSalesCoaching With Matthew McDarby
As Former VP Of Enterprise Sales For Huthwaite (Spin Selling Model), Matthew McDarby Knows A Thing Or Two About Sales Coaching. In This Episode, Matt McDarby Shares His Thoughts About Where The Sales Coaching Industry Is Headed, Powered By Artificial Intelligence!
I've got Matt McDarby here with me. He is on the board of advisors of ScaleX. He is amazing and has a lot of experience with sales coaching and with leading sales teams. We're going to be talking about the topic, AI for sales coaching. He practices what he preaches and we're going to dig in on how is AI used in sales coaching. Matt, welcome. Thanks for joining.
It’s great to be with you, Chad. Thank you so much for the intro. I appreciate it.
If you haven't been to The Sales Expert Channel before, there are some resources so you can go ahead, click and download the attachments. It's a free channel. There are hundreds of presentations per year. Seventy-two sales experts is the total. Deb Calvert put this amazing channel on. Check it out. It plays on BrightTALK. I think you'll love it. If you're not familiar with AI For Sales, we wrote the book on the topic. We interviewed 21 CEOs, heads of companies, heads of data science, big data analytic, all those people from places like Chorus, ZoomInfo and more to get at the heart of what is AI for sales. Matt, what's the company that you work for? Just so people can get to know you as a person, where were you born?
I am working as the Head of Sales for Fidelus Technologies based out of New York. I was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey which is a stone's throw away from where my company is based. I now live down in the Washington, DC area.
That's pretty cool, growing up and then getting back to your roots. Rewind the tape a little bit. How did you get the passion for what you do now? Where did you go to college? What did you study there?
I went to Pace University in Manhattan and seeking a Marketing degree. I took Managerial Accounting and Calculus and decided that perhaps a study in English Literature would be a better path for me. I changed majors and transferred to the University of Delaware, which was where I graduated. My degree is in English and finished up at the University of Delaware where I met my wife. I have a lot of great friends. My daughter also is a student at the University of Delaware.
Did the English major get you the skills that you needed to be successful in sales and sales coaching? How did that transfer happen?
The way that transfer happened was by accident because when I graduated college with my English degree wanting to get into public relations and writing, I graduated in a time of recession. There were no writing jobs, at least not paid ones. I have no choice but to open up the aperture a bit and look for other opportunities. I had student loan bills. I landed my first sales job after working essentially as a volunteer doing PR writing and realized that's not going to work. I needed to make a living. Over time, if you'd asked me 3 or 4 years into my selling career, “How is that English degree? How's that helping you?” I would've said, “It's not.” Looking back, there were a few obvious ways for me.
My second book is about to be published. I'm a published author and soon to be a two-time author. Writing effective proposals and being able to communicate complex ideas simply, those are absolutely skills that I learned way back when, and then storytelling. Knowing how to layout a story that comprises three simple elements: goal, obstacle and resolution. If you think about any great proposal or presentation, it has those three elements. Where do you learn that? You learn that in school when you're doing loads of writing. I'm glad to say I'm now probably applying my degree a little bit more than I was in the early days of my selling career.
The message for entry-level sellers is that you can be super successful in sales no matter what your background. I've found the number one most important thing is you have to have the desire to be successful in sales. That's it. Everything else falls in place.
A little bit of intellectual curiosity and a process that you trust, that helps too.
Let’s go back now even further, just so everyone gets to know the real Matt McDarby, M and M is the initials there. You ended up in English as a sales coach and a VP of sales. What did you do when you were younger that lit your eyes up and made you passionate about what you do?
Football was my passion and it still is. I grew up in the New York area. I live and die with the New York Giants. I picked that up from my father. That was our thing. No matter what was going on in our lives, we're like any other family. We had our ups and downs, but when the Giants were on, we were always together. Early on I had a real passion for the game. I played youth football and in high school. I was a high school quarterback. My son also plays. I've been a youth football coach, head coach and an assistant for years. I love the game because it has that combination of raw energy. It's a physical game but it's a thinking man's game too and I love it. I learned a ton about teaming, coaching, rhythm and cadence. All the things that I preach in the practice of leading a sales team and developing others, they are lessons I learned back when I was seventeen on a football field that I apply now.
While we're there, let's peel that onion back. I'm assuming you watched the Super Bowl. Nine minutes to go and San Francisco looks like they've got it and then it changed. What are some takeaways that you could share? Do you have any thoughts on perspectives on what happened? It usually starts at the top.
I don't know what was going on in Andy Reid's mind, the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, but I can guess. He didn't panic. They stuck with what they do well. They didn't go off-script. They're very clear as a football team. The Kansas City Chiefs know exactly who they are on offense. If you're looking at the tape, you could see small adjustments that they made, but they didn't throw the playbook out and try to do something desperate because the Super Bowl is on the line. They've only got nine minutes. What did they do? They stuck to what they are most effective at. They run and pass the ball well, but they didn't do anything. There were no trick plays. There was nothing wacky about their approach. If you didn't know that there were nine minutes left in the Super Bowl, you could have thought it was a weak gate. The second quarter was six minutes ago. It would have been the same offense.I think that's the message. If you know what you're good at and you know why you win, stick with it even in times when you're desperate and you're not going to hit your number. Let's relate this back to selling. There's a month or two left in the sales year or in the quarter, “Should I do something desperate or something unnatural to try to get to my number?” My recommendation almost every time is going to be, “No, you shouldn't do that. Do what you know is right and stick with the fundamentals.” The only time I might suggest doing something that's a little out of the box is when the client's outcome is at stake and you need to do something that's a little bit more creative or different. Don't do it just to hit a number.
That's fabulous because back to March of 2019, I had a month of maybe $27,000 in bookings off of usual months of $150,000 to $200,000. All of a sudden, I could have panicked. What did I do? I called Matt McDarby and Alice Heiman. We had a three-way huddle and Matt said exactly what he's saying in this conversation, which is stick to your knitting. Call some customers that maybe didn't renew with you. Call some new customers, ask for some referrals, and play the game that you know how to play. As a result, the next month we did about $180,000 and the rest was history. Let's take into the topic, AI for sales coaching. This relates because traditionally you had to do all this manual one-on-one. If you look at the Kansas City Chiefs and the 49ers, I'll bet they've got a lot of AI on their sidelines in nowadays world. How do you define AI for sales coaching? What do you think of that when we talk about it?
What I think about sales coaching specifically is that AI can extend our ability to observe. One of the hardest parts about developing the talent of your people as a sales leader is knowing how they're doing the work when you're not there. Having the ability and a little bit of insight into how they're having common conversations, early discovery and need development conversations or conversations with customers about why we're competitively different. If I don't hear or see that live, it's difficult for me to give feedback to a salesperson that's going to help him or her get any better. If you think about the best tools that relate to sales coaching that you could say fit in that AI because they incorporate natural language processing, there's a little bit of machine learning in there because you can tune them to listen for certain phrases and keywords, would be tools like Refract, exacqVision, Chorus and Gong.They're in this conversation intelligence category. We're just scratching the surface on how those tools can help extend our ability to observe. Probably the next frontier is being able to give real-time feedback to people so that they can get feedback on their performance right then and there even if I'm not there. It will never be a substitute for that conversation that I can have where I can help a salesperson come to conclusions that she or he wouldn't have come to on their own. Sometimes it's helpful to have that mirror right in front of you that says, “I don't know if you noticed, but you did these things in that last call.” The most effective salespeople I know would take some of that and be able to process it and come to their own conclusions. Put in the hands of a coach, that observation and recorded evidence is gold. That's what sales coaching is when we're talking about AI enabling the process.
What's your favorite sales tech that most people might not have heard about?
There are a few things and I'm rubbing my chin because I'm thinking about my situation, but also knowing what in general is the thing that everybody in the marketplace seems to be focused on.
I talked to Ben Simms. He's the VP of Client Services at MarketSource. They track what the red and green sales behaviors and tasks are. Something like 34% are green, where you're talking to a prospect. That means 65% is not green. How do you use artificial intelligence and automation to turn more of the red into green, to enable salespeople to have more green? We were joking around a little bit about imagine, “Alexa, can you build a prospect list of 1,000 CEOs and then execute an email, social and phone campaign to those 1,000 by the end of February?” I think virtual assistance to me is how you attack the red problem of salespeople.
I think about the life of a salesperson in 2020, particularly not the super simple sales, but the ones that are a little bit more complex. They've got to invest and add value with clients. They've got to find a way to plan and execute conversations effectively while also managing the day-to-day shoot. “I've got to set those 6 or 8 appointments for next week or the 3 or 10,” however many. The real advantage that tech can provide is it helps that individual salesperson but also can help a whole sales team to strike the right balance between efficiency, activity and effectiveness. The human part of this is I've got to plan that call because this giant deal hinges on an effective conversation. I also have to make sure I'm having a bunch of effective conversation. If my virtual assistant or my system can make it so that it is just a click of a button or it's easy.Any tools, virtual assistants and I know that there are several that you've recommended to clients, those are the things that would be able to help me as an individual contributor strike that right balance. I'm not saying it's a 50/50 balance, but there's a right balance for every sales rep in every sales team. If I had a virtual assistant that could help me achieve the right amount of activity in the coming week or in the coming few months, that takes some of that worry, the burden of thinking about, “Do I have enough time on the calendar to even set those appointments?” If I don't, I'm going to err on the side of setting the appointments. Maybe I have to skip some of the planning so that those conversations are effective. I'm saying, “I don't want to do either of those things. I want to have both. I want to have efficiency and effectiveness.” Use those virtual assistant tools to get bookings and meetings. Use human intelligence, brainpower and creativity to make sure the calls are effective.
I attended Flip The Script. Becc Holland from Chorus puts this on. She brought in Josh Braun to Denver, Colorado and Lori Richardson, one of the top guys from Outreach. They talked about a system and process of going out and researching who the person is, what's a trigger, not where they go to college together. Maybe the most important trigger is if you wrote something, you wrote that blog or that book for a reason so people read it. If I go in and I say, “Matt, I read your second book. It's amazing. On page four, you said something. That's exactly our fundamental beliefs at ScaleX. Let's talk.” If you can start to automate those going into Matt's book, figuring out what's a relevant topic that pulls back to my services as a company and then serving that up. Companies are starting to use offshore talent to do that. They're starting to get more efficient. I see exactly that's where the AI goes. It serves up those smart sentences so that the rep can just click a button and say, “This looks great. Let's use it.” Matt, this has been amazing. Stick to the plan and use AI to help you stick to the plan. That's what I took away from this conversation. Matt, thank you for your input as always.
Thank you, Chad. It was a great talk. I appreciate it.
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About Matt McDarby
I'm Matt McDarby, a professional sales leader, currently the head of sales at Fidelus Technologies, and author of "The Cadence of Excellence: Key Habits of Effective Sales Managers."I built a business back in January 2010 when I noticed an under-served need -- training, coaching, and developing sales managers. Sales managers serve in the pivotal role in any business, and I attacked the opportunity to serve and develop them by starting my sales leadership coaching and advisory services company, United Sales Resources (later known as Specialized Sales Systems). For ten years, I coached and developed sales management teams in middle market to large B2B sales organizations. I also took on interim sales leadership roles when the right opportunities arose. How can you coach if you don't know how to do the work yourself?As of January 2020, I am back in the field as a head of sales, and I am absolutely thrilled to be doing the toughest and most important job of all.My mission in business is to help people see opportunities they would not have otherwise recognized, to acknowledge and address problems that are keeping them from growing, and to help them arrive at new or different ways to achieve their most important objectives.While writing my first book in 2017, I learned about the value of story telling. With all the dry statistics and jargon-heavy talk we see about professional sales and leadership, I’ve found that people gravitate to stories about how others succeeded and overcame common obstacles. My second book, "The Ultimate Differentiator: Sales Manager's Guide to Talent Development" will be released in early 2020.