Post: The Revenue Revolution Podcast – With Owen Richards

The Revenue Revolution + Owen Richards

The Sweeper Tactic, Leadership & Empathy


Welcome to another edition of the Revenue Revolution podcast from Jointflows. 

Jointflows is a revolutionary tool that streamlines the sales process and in particular the closing stages. Jointflows accelerates revenue processes with a collaborative platform enabling clients to take control of the sale process and prevent loss of revenue. 

Our hosts this week were Mick, CEO of Jointflows and Hitesh, CRO of Jointflows. Mick is an experienced entrepreneur in the sales and tech space. He is passionate about sales as well as helping clients to maximise their resources and succeed with closing even more deals. Hitesh is a leader in sales and has experience from companies including Yieldify and Publicis.

Our guest this week is Owen Richards who is the Founder and CEO of Air Marketing.  Owen is a very knowledgeable marketeer and has been building Air Marketing for the past 7 years using his extensive sales experience.  He started his sales career with Forrest Marketing Group in Sydney, Australia in 2007 and progressed over 8 years before becoming the Head of Sales and Operations. With the MD of Forrest, Richard Forrest they created Air Marketing.  

Air Marketing is a leading sales and marketing agency and outsources solutions to some of the most well known companies globally with the goal of driving results and revenue.

In this episode we talked about Owen’s perspective of the state of the sales and revenue landscape including some of the reasons why for example new stakeholders getting involved in the process in the final stages.   

Owen also shared his views on some of the important skills which he thinks that sales leaders should have but many don’t have. Owen shared his innovative and creative way he and Air stand out against the competition in a saturated market. Hitesh and Mick also asked about Owen’s view on whether artificial intelligence will revolutionise the landscape of sales.

Sales cycles are absolutely lengthening (00:02:04)

Use your empathy skills  (00:04:40)

Do something other people aren’t doing (00:05:20)

Hell of a lot of time is wasted on predictably bad deals (00:08:25)

Sales is a rejection based role (00:10:54)

Most leaders do not have the ability to understand emotions (00:14:23)

Leaders need to ask better questions to gauge emotional intelligence (00:15:20)

Ask for feedback when things go wrong (00:18:20)

Do not hide behind email (00:20:44)

AI replacing sales people will not happen in the next 10 years  (00:25:22)

Customer is not going to feel special with AI (00:27:00)

Leaders have a responsibility to make the best decision for the company (00:31:50)

Mick Gosset [00:00:02]

All right, let’s go. Owen, nice to meet you. Welcome to the podcast. We’ve got Hitesh here as well with us. Hitesh if you want to introduce yourself and then we’ll go around the table

Owen Richards [00:00:15]

Absolutely. Yeah. So I’m Hitesh, I am one of the co-founders of Jointflows. I’m the CRO.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Mick when we both were at a Martech company together. And, uh, and now here we are doing our own wonderful projects as well.

Mick Gosset [00:00:35]

Owen, do you want to give a little bit of information about yourself and Air Marketing?

Hitesh Kapadia [00:00:39]

Yeah, absolutely. Owen Richards, I am the founder and CEO of Air Marketing.

Best known for outsourced SDR to think about 100 people, but run an SDR academy, SDR recruitment and demand gen services as well. So a mixture of things to try and help organisations grow revenue pipeline, and their brand I suppose.

Mick Gosset [00:01:04]

Awesome. So let’s go straight in. 

What’s your take on the current sales and revenue landscape? There’s been a lot of things happening over the last few years. What is your opinion about it?

Owen Richards [00:01:16]

Oh, you’ve opened up a can of worms right at the beginning. 

We’re definitely. And I think we have a really interesting view because we sell for about 40 50 organisations so across different markets. So I think we’ve got quite a nice balanced view on what’s happening. 

Uh, the reality is that there are people out there that will say everything is doom and gloom at the moment. It’s not. 

And there are people out there that will pretend that nothing has changed and it has.

And the things that I see and I tend to look at this stuff and try to answer the question using data rather than some gut feel. 

The data across what we’re doing, which is really what I can go off of, is that sales cycles absolute lengthening. 

So it’s taking longer for people to make decisions. 

There are more people bailing out of deals in the latter stages and the primary or most common reason for that is that a new stakeholder gets involved. 

So what we’re seeing is just like, you know, we’ve had a narrative around this: finance get involved, CEOs coming into decisions that they otherwise wouldn’t have done 12 months ago, two years ago and vetoing it, blocking it, delaying it. 

Uh, and we’ve got more and more, uh, more and more scrutiny in the sales process. 

That doesn’t mean people aren’t buying they have to. They’re just buying with a more considered mindset, which takes longer, and you’ve got more hard work to do in sales to get that deal over the line.

You’ve got to be more commercially minded. You’ve got to be better dealing with finance, better dealing with procurement. You’ve got to have a bit of legal and you as well. 

You know there’s all that stuff. So the greatest salespeople are those that are carrying that commercial knowledge and able to have that more commercial conversation. But there’s still plenty of business out there. 

There’re still lots of deals being done. 

There’s still, you know, there’s money out there to be had and the companies that have run really good solid businesses ,and in the SaaS space in particularly, companies that have run revenue growth motion but not at all costs, are the companies that are succeeding now. 

So what we’ve seen is organisations who were flashing their card around for the last 3-5 years: “Look, we have got a headcount growth of 50 people and a revenue growth of X.” “Yeah, that’s great but how much did you spend to get it?” 

I can drive a company up £10 million a year here. If I spend 100 million. Anyone can do that. 

The real people who are successful in business sustainability, are people who can make money by spending less.

Um, and then they are the companies who are doing really well right now. So lots of change, um, loads of narrative around quality of sales, quality of salespeople who lots of stuff, if that’s of interest too. But that’s the landscape that I’m seeing right now.

Owen Richards [00:04:11]

I think what you said there resonates with a lot of people is that we’re seeing longer life cycles, we’re seeing other additional stakeholders becoming involved who we may not have seen a year or two years ago. 

What would you say as an AE or somebody within that new business team? What can you do proactively to ensure that you can make this process as seamless as possible?

Hitesh Kapadia [00:04:33]

Yeah, I think a couple of things that I advised to my team here. 

One is understand what it is like or what it means to be in procurement, to be in finance. 

Use your empathy skills because they don’t have to do it much as salespeople over the last 3 to 5 years until the last maybe 18 months. 

And I don’t think people really understand why a finance person to use it that way. Why a procurement person comes in. What it is to be a CEO in this market when you’ve got to lengthened to two years instead of one year, which means you can’t spend as much, but you’ve still got deliver a growth number. 

So I think educate yourself or find ways to educate yourself and very important the thing that I think is generic advice in any circumstances and the advice that gives the most to somebody managing a sales process, most likely an AE is: “differentiate, standout. Do something that other people aren’t doing.” 

So I’ll give you really tangible example. We’ve got a deal in process right now, early stages, but we know they’ve gone out to a lot of agencies. It’s a fairly big deal. We sent a proposal, yeah, and we’ve had a discovery. Sent the proposal. 

We’ve proactively tried to be fairly buyer-centric and say to them look: “what are the things that or what are the things that they’re going to want, what are the things that they’re not telling us now that are going to help them, and they might not be able to identify it yet.” 

So two things we’ve done at the back of that early stages we wouldn’t normally do at this stage. 

One is we’ve we’ve proactively gone to them and said: “We recommend that there are four people in the business that you should meet now”. 

You might have not buy from us it’s fine, but they will be the people that you’re likely to be working most closely with that in six months’ time, but would like you to meet them now. 

Selfishly were doing that because the test time is investment, because we know that will help the buy in to those people were doing that much earlier in the process. But we know that competitors won’t be doing that because it’s investment time to organise everybody, and it’s probably the wrong time historically to have done that. 

Secondly, we’ve got a number of our team to record short videos that we’ve bundled in, the marketing team bundled into a little show reel and talking about what we want to work with them. Relevant experience, things that we’ve done, some case-studies and results that’s unique to them.

It didn’t take a huge amount of time. We do it on our phone its raw and tie it together with the marketing team, and we’ve done that after the proposals. So we’re showing businesses that we want to work with you, that we are prepared to put the work in and were creative. We’re standing out and it’s that kind of stuff. A brilliant example. Maybe. I don’t know that they’re examples, but it’s that kind of stuff that will make buyers go: “You know what? I like these guys, they really want our business.” 

They where a company is demonstrated that they can give us a proposal, had an hourlong discovery. We’ve had two or three hours with them. Plus, they’ve given us all this goodness, all this creative content. It’s not boring slides. It’s not reams and reams of copy over email. It’s stuff that I can consume and enjoy consuming. I’m starting to get to know these people as People and I think that sort of stuff you need. Anything you can do to differentiate but not in a cheesy way, not as stupid. Let them see you in the business beyond the product. That’s the stuff that I’m seeing really work.

Mick Gosset [00:07:41]

Intentionally building those relationships is key. Do you see, maybe within your client base or within your own team, a pattern that separates the very good companies. You know, those that are staying on top of everything Vs those are actually very behind and struggling. 

Is there a specific approach or specific methodology or specific tactics they use in order to be better?

Owen Richards [00:08:10]


So I do think we’ve seen MEDDIC getting adopted more and more now, partially because MEDDIC is an organisation here in the UK that has done an amazing job of building a brand around it, but also because at the moment there is a hell of a lot of time that could be wasted on deals that are not going to go anywhere. 

And you can predict it. Not 100% you know… And I’m a big believer in flexibility in the sales process. 

So yes, MEDDIC, all these methodologies are great. But if you stick to it part wholeheartedly and never move outside of it, my take is you are way too rigid and the world doesn’t work like that. 

It’s just my personal opinion, but you could take bits from those methodologies. Absolutely apply them. 

So what I do see is salespeople are doing one or two things you know, companies that failing A) they’re not following up, they’re not working hard enough, they’re not resistant enough in the sales process, they are giving up because somebody doesn’t talk to them for two weeks and ghosts them and they assume they don’t want to buy. 

I can’t tell you how many deals are closed over the years that did that and then later brought for me because we didn’t give up because we just got creative in the way that we wanted to get in touch with or we were empathetic. 

It’s obviously not important for them right now. Doesn’t mean they don’t like this doesn’t mean they don’t want to buy from us. Just means that today there is something probably more important to them so that keep making sure that they see us that were in front of them. 

That we’re talking to them or the other way around is that they’re chasing stuff that’s just a waste of time. 

We’ve got so many people now that are making inquiries about things who don’t have budget decision making capability because that’s been pushed up. So it used to be that VPs of Sales can spend money now VPs of Sales need to convince Finance, the CEO. So they are. 

But we’ve still got the same volume of opportunities coming into the final, potentially more, with more organisations need help. 

So what we’re seeing is this sort of steady flow of people saying yes, that are not necessarily, can’t necessarily that pulled the trigger by themselves because the landscape has changed and salespeople just working so hard on this stuff and not being prepared to park it, walk away from it, qualifying out, you know, push it forward six months, whatever. 

So lots of inefficiency in the sales processes is what I’m seeing.

Hitesh Kapadia [00:10:26]

Yeah, I think you said a couple of interesting things there. 

So, you know, I am a firm believer that if the opportunity is not qualified, you should qualify it out as soon as possible because what you don’t want is your rep, so your AEs wasting times on deals that are definitely not going to be coming in. 

One of the things you said was that at times, you know an AE might give up. You go weeks on weeks without hearing from somebody, and that’s quite interesting because it can be very demoralising for AEs, right?

It’s a rejection based rolled and you know, that’s what we’ve signed up for and we should by the very nature of the role be used to this. 

What would you say are good re-engagement tactics that you’ve seen your your team deploy?

Owen Richards [00:11:07]

So I go back to these two things I would say in this moment. First in terms of tactics I go back to what I said before about creativity. 

So what I get? Because I do it right? I am a buyer. I do it. I go quiet. Is it because I’ve made the decision and I’m just not telling you? No, because if you ask me and I’ve got the time, it’s because I’ve got to do list of 20 things that I need to do today.

I’ve got 7 meetings back to back. I’ve got the same tomorrow. Staff that need me. I’ve got suppliers that need me to do something. I’ve got clients that I’m making noise and need support. 

And on my  priority list, you’re number 47. Right? So that doesn’t mean I hate you. Doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk to you. Doesn’t mean I’ve said no. But in terms of where I am as a business, there is a process, and I’m never going to prioritise you unnecessary priority to me. 

And I think the biggest thing that say to because if you want to get up my priority, that you have to be noisy, but in the right way. 

So that’s where the creativity tactics come in. 

So what do… I can… instead of and this is the worst bit? Are you ready yet? Are you ready yet? Are you ready yet? Via email which is what you get and have next, whatever their constantly asking but no value.

Be creative, send me a video, send me a voice note. Try different channels. 

Try Whatsapp. Do something that you haven’t done and the other salespeople aren’t doing as much. 

Put something together creative and work with Marketing and say that I’ve got this prospect I really want them to buy from us, if we get this deal over the line. 

I know on my discovery they gave all the right signs and they’ve gone Quiet. 

They weren’t lying. It’s just the life has changed since that conversation, and you’re not now in front of them. Find a way to earn the right to be in front of them. 

And I think that point 1. Point 2 two goes back to my point about empathy. So all that stuff I’ve just said most salespeople will say Oh they ghost me. Uh, of course they are not ghosts. They don’t wake up in the morning. Go, Do you know what? I’m gonna to ignore that Hitesh today. 

Uh, it’s the reality of 1000 things to think about. It probably got in my case, I’ve got three kids I’m trying to fit in around every day, I’m running a business. I’m trying to grow a business. I’ve got 95-96 staff that want something. You know, I’m trying to do all that stuff really well. 

So, me buying from you? Yeah, when we spoke, there’s a pain there and I know it’s there, and it hasn’t gone away necessarily, but it might take the time to get there. 

And I think the moment you start feeling a greed or that person owes you something is the moment you start to behave in a really desperate manner. And that’s when I do decide not to buy from you. 

So, yeah, get really pride, get really good, whatever it is arrogance and just have a bit of a empathy for people to understand that we live in the real world, not in Hubspot or Salesforce.

Hitesh Kapadia [00:13:42]

Yeah, I think that point around delivering value in between the lines is really important as well. 

You know, stay in front of mind being creative about it. I couldn’t agree more.

Mick Gosset [00:13:52]

You speak a little about being empathetic and understanding essentially emotions and where people are at.

Is there from your leadership experience viewpoint, is there a way you can detect that during the hiring process? 

When you hire your own stuff? Because that’s really hard to gauge during, you know, a few minutes conversation.

Owen Richards [00:14:16]

Yeah, You know, the biggest problem.

I’m going to answer the question, but I’m going to answer indirectly first, which is that most leaders don’t have it. 

So the chances of them being able to identify that they even need that a salesperson is pretty pretty that the state of sales leadership generally is very poor right now, in my opinion, poorer than it’s ever been, So most leaders won’t be out there going: “I need people with empathy.” 

B I think the answer is yes. And I think there’s a couple, the things that you can do around the interview process and questions that you can ask around previous experience. Typically, if you’re hiring people have sold before their previous experience where they had to sell to somebody who is not their ICP, where they had to sell to somebody who had to sell it internally for them, what did they do in that circumstance? 

Should try and get them into scenarios that they’ve been in and see how they approached that. So we just talked about: I need empathy in the situation where I’m having to deal with people different roles to the role that I do sell into sales, right? I know what it is, that’s my job. But if suddenly the decision maker becomes marketing or finance, do I take the time to go and work out what it’s like to be HR or finance person or a marketing person or whatever it might be? 

So I think you can. You can ask those questions around tell me about a time when you got ghosted. How did you deal with that? What did you do? How you know where the deal did not. It’s not about the outcome, actually, about the process.

Give me a time where somebody, somebody let me down at the last minute, where you thought it was coming and going to come over the line. They hadn’t told you there was a stakeholder involved or whatever. Something where a deal changed overnight. How did you feel? What did you do about it? How did you respond, you know? 

Let’s see, because if somebody says: It really puts me off and I have to go… Fine, you know. find there are, as I said, 

You know what? If the answer was taking the chin, That’s life. There are the things that I learned I could have done differently. And what I actually get this phone and ask for feedback. That’s what you want right now. Okay? Most people are not going to say that as well. But, you know, I think questions like that would dig into real experience. And you and I are smart enough in theory, to tell the difference between a lie in an interview and somebody is telling a genuine story. 

I think definitely you should be able to tell the difference. And they should be able to put on so many stories like that. If they can’t, you’ve got a question whether they’re in their experiencing up in the first place.

Hitesh Kapadia [00:16:31]

Yeah, You know, I like that point about asking for feedback as well. 

It’s very rare where, you know, I’ve been trying to buy a tool. So I have been evaluating a number of options and the people I didn’t choose actually asking for feedback as to why didn’t do it. How often do you see that happening as somebody who I assume purchases a lot of tools to run the companies that you do. 

How often do you see people asking for feedback in in the event that they’re not? Why do you think they’re not?

Owen Richards [00:17:01]

Um, not often enough? Definitely. 

It does happen. It does happen, I think. More and more. Um So there are two scenarios where I have had it. One is people making cold calls. Me and actually saying to me, I think probably because they identify that that’s a topic of passion. But create a lot of content on. They’ll say to the end of the call: How did I do? Or email me up, and that’s happening more and more now. 

And I do like that. And I’ve had it probably two or three times in the last a couple of years where a rep has done that. We’ve lost to deal with they specifically said, Please can I have some really valuable feedback. 

Where I see that strategy working really well is where you swap close lost deals with other reps. So called Sweeper tactic where Hitesh loses a deal. That’s fine. It happens. But what Hitesh is never going to say is, Yeah, stuck up or I didn’t do a great job. They didn’t buy because of me. But there is a chance let’s face it that Hitesh just didn’t connect with you, right? 

Not everybody connects with everybody the right way. Maybe he didn’t do a great job of communicating the value, but maybe you just missed a point, didn’t handle a couple objections as well as you would like so Mick gets on the phone. 

That deal goes to Mick, Mick gets on the phone, says, Look, understand we spoke to recently, understand you choose to go to somebody else. That’s brilliant, no problem. My call isn’t to move things forward whatsoever. I just wanted to get some back from feedback. We take our process really, really importantly, and I can’t experience really importantly whether it’s to of the funnel, whether you are buying from us, thinking of buying for us or you are a customer. 

Love if you just give us three bits of feedback. What could we have done better in the process? What can we learn from this? And you know what? It’s brilliant. 

A. It’s not the same person, so it’s not about Hitesh, so they’ll open up right? Rather than saying, Yeah, I know it just wasn’t right timing. They’re saying you know what? We are suspicion to actually just gives you a good answer to it, and it didn’t feel like he was as compelling as the other people were talking to it. But it might not be that, but you open the door to that possibility.

A percentage of those conversations will say: Well look, actually, we didn’t buy from somebody else. We just weren’t convince you guys were right. We’re still buying because the opportunity. Then reopen that deal. 

But you could get so valuable feedback from that process. So your worst case scenarios in its something and you get better your best case scenarios and I see this happen. It reopens the deal. It reopens the deal in a different way with a different salesperson. Actually, they respect you for having done it. 

So, yeah, there’s so much value to come from doing that. But I would always recommend that is not the person that managed to deal the1st time around and it’s somebody else on the team.

Hitesh Kapadia [00:19:36]

I’ve never thought about, that getting somebody else to do it. That amazing. Yeah.

Owen Richards [00:19:42]

So I can’t claim credit. I learnt that from Tim Johnson’s who runs Sales internally.

Um, so we’ve done bits of the feedback, absolutely. But I’d never considered how that opens doors if you do it with a different rep. So, as always, criticising my way through my career.

Hitesh Kapadia [00:19:58]

There you go. Now, I’ll claim that plagiarism from you as well so there you go the cycle continues.

Owen Richards [00:20:05]

Indeed, indeed, indeed, one of the best phrases is You start the call saying just “I’m not looking to move this forward”. 

It’s one of the best phrases because it just diffuses the pressure immediately and allows you to go and have a reopen conversation with the guard comes down.

Hitesh Kapadia [00:20:19]

Yeah, I’m actually writing that down.

Mick Gosset [00:20:23]

It’s part of our review process now. 

Owen there’re a lot of conversations around, you know, prospection versus conversion. What do you need to do today in order to win the prospecting game?

Owen Richards [00:20:41]

Um, yeah, Look, good question. 

So my first thing do not hide behind email. 

Um so the reps and organisations that are failing that most are the ones that are hiding behind digital in isolation so they’re hiding behind Emails because it’s comfortable.

Their reps aren’t being exposed to having human conversation early. So the negotiation skills and communication skills, their ability to have a conversation with somebody are just nowhere near where they should be and the culture becomes laziness, becomes arguing from things, becomes about accepting. 

So I’m a huge fan of the phone. Everybody, anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge fan of the phone. Not the phone in isolation. What I never will never say is the only thing to use the phone. What I’m saying is that it is your primary tool and the greatest thing about the phone is that if I get a no, I know why. I get feedback, I get the chance to do something about it. 

But if someone says no to an email, guess what they do. They delete it and you never know about it. You know nothing about why you know nothing about what you should do next. So we keep blindly sending emails. 

I’ve seen organisations who were running, prospecting, prospecting operations, SDR teams whose have got KPI of 30 emails a day and they’re doing this lovely stuff, they’re saying to their 21 year old SDRs: “be creative”. Come up with these really cheesy gifts and all this stuff that’s going to make people. It doesn’t, it doesn’t work, so every so often it does. 

But, you know, Sales hasn’t changed in the people still buy by having a conversation with somebody they like, they get along with, that they learn to trust in that conversation, that negotiates with them, that convinces them to some degree, and we just need to be doing that more so. 

I think we’ve moved from, You know, I’m not a believer and it’s a pure numbers game at all, but it is a numbers game, but it absolutely is. 

The more of something you do that doesn’t negate, the better you do it. But the more you do can do something at this level today, and you get five times all, you’re probably gonna get five times the outcome. You might not be able to do it five times more without reducing quality, and that’s a consideration.

But we definitely need to be to be pushing reps to get on the phone will have more conversations and to me to be considering the fact that activity creates things. 

So one of my favourite phrases is shake the tree and something will fall out. 

If you’re making calls, if we’re working harder for doing so that something will fall out and you get luck and that’s what you need is a salesperson. So I think it’s about good technology, but not over complicating it. 

So I’ve seen SDR orgs, they’ve got 12 pieces of technology in the Tech Stack. And they’re thinking: “Oh my God, the Reps aren’t ramping in three months”. Why do you think? They’ve got to learn so much.

And then these toxic cultures there just built around people hiding behind their own lies of creative emailing and that sort of stuff. You’ve got to be creative, you’ve got to email, but ultimately you need activity and you need human conversation. 

And then my final point is creativity is like do differentiation, do something different. If you receive a cold call and you say the same thing as everybody else. 

Years gone by it was: “How are you?”

Now it’s: “This is a cold call. Can I have 30 seconds of your time? Or do you want to put the phone down on me now?” 

Whatever this phrases and you know, I get it. It just makes me cringe not because it doesn’t work. A percentage of the time those things work, right. 

Everything works a percentage of the time, but it’s the same thing everyone else is doing now, and every new pattern interrupt becomes normal after a period of time.

You’ve got to do it your way. You’ve got to do it in a way that makes you stand out and makes you credible and again using those empathy skills. 

What would you want to hear if you were a CEO? What would you want to hear if you’re a finance director? Whoever it is that you’re selling to.

Hitesh Kapadia [00:24:27]

Yeah, that makes sense and while we’re speaking about SDRs. 

There’s obviously a lot of talk about the introduction of AI, um, in specific to this role as well. 

What are your views on that? You know, how much do you think it should be leveraged? 

How much should it be taking away from manpower essentially behind the work?

Owen Richards [00:24:44]

Yeah. So look, it’s a hot debate, isn’t it? 

And I will. I will confess I’m not an AI expert whatsoever. 

So my opinion is my opinion, and not more than that. 

My take on it is that the whole time the human beings are the people that make the decision to buy and the whole time that human beings by with emotion as part of that decision making blend which we do. It will take humans in the sales process to set up. 

Leveraging AI in that process makes a lot of sense if it can make us more efficient, more effective, absolutely. But using AI to do the job is not going to happen in the next 10 years in my opinion.

Now, it will in certain industries, right? So if you’re transactional sales process, if you know sales value, if your consumer based, if you want to automate themselves, absolutely. But if you’re selling any reasonable sales value and there’s any complexities in your product of service, I think it would be very, very difficult to do that.

And we have to remember is that we can all automate everything right and we can all spend 1000 emails a day. A 1000 LinkedIn messages and we’d win sales. 

We’d win sales, but buyers, if everybody did that, buyers would become numbed to it and we wouldn’t buy. We would stop buying and we just reverse cycle back to what I just want to talk someone, I don’t trust any of this stuff. 

So as with anything, it’s a blend. Should we be looking at AI, learning how it can help us in the sales process and learning how it can help us from a contents perspective and a brand absolutely. Is it? Is it something to ignore? No. Is it something to double down on and stop hiring great salespeople and stop investing in your people? No, we’re a million miles away from that.

Mick Gosset [00:26:34]

I agree. I think it is very much of a an enabler. It’s very convenient, but it can’t be your whole strategy.

Owen Richards [00:26:44]

Back to sales enablement. So it’s sales engagement 10 years ago didn’t exist, and nobody brought in a Salesloft, an Ourteach and thought: “Cool, I’m going to stop hiring salespeople because it can automate emails.”

It needed somebody to do the thinking behind that today. And it’s that empathy peace we can talk about. 

You can’t… AI is not going to be there anytime soon in a way that makes me feel special. And I’m going to spend 100 grand on something because if I’m gonna spend a 100 grand on something, guess what I want to feel special. I want to feel like it’s important. I want to feel like emotionally we’re connected. I want to feel like you care about that in the way that I do, because it’s important to me. I want to trust you. I’m sorry, but I don’t trust him over yet. 

I’m not going to be there for a long, long time.

Mick Gosset [00:27:26]

Yeah, I agree. I agree. I like it. 

Um, there is something you said during the conversation around, um, the state of the quality of sales leadership, which I completely agree with you. 

I feel like there are a lot of people doing the job they are doing without knowing anything about it. And often, one thing that are fine wrong is because you’re a top performer, and you’re gonna give them this person like team management responsibilities. And they’ve never managed before. They just good at what they were doing before. 

For some reason, they need to be also good at managing people. 

Um, why do you think that is? Why do you think there’s a poor quality at leadership level?

Owen Richards [00:28:09]

Um, a couple of reasons. 

I think you hit the nail on the head there, but I think that’s been in play forever. That’s not a new thing. 

What you’ve got to think about is that, particularly in the way that SaaS has changed and has become a thing that has changed the blend of organisations pre-technology era was think even a printing company or a manufacturing company? 

Here is the operation and here is the Sales team that just sits on the side. It’s a tiny Sales team, it’s four or five people in it. We go to sell, right?

Whereas a SaaS organisation, here is the product team. And here is the Sales team. The thing is because what happened is that the economy, we found a way to invest in a market that multiplied valuations of companies based on the future earning potential, based on recurring income, all these sort of stuff. So it changes the way that business is, uh, well structured. 

And as a result, sales teams became the biggest operation. So you see, people go back to my point earlier, I’ve seen I’ve listened to a talk with somebody of a company that when a Series A, Series B, Series C in the space of 11 months, and they started here and they go, we’ve got a higher 80 SDRs this year. 

That’s the headcount growth target because you know whatever and you think you can’t do that effectively. But it’s impossible to hire that many people and to get anywhere near right.

So you are absolutely accepting inefficiencies, poor standards, poor levels. And what has done is it just came the way that we think about sales. 

So more and more people have come into sales. They’ve done well because they are naturally good communicators. They can sell their empathetic whatever, probably without training. 

And then they become leaders. And if you look at the average age for sales leader there now probably 10 years, 20 years younger than they were a decade ago on average because they want to progress fast. 

And we’ve got a generation that wants to progress fast, and we’ve got a sector that needs to progress people fast because it’s growing so quickly and it causes all sorts of issues. 

So, yeah, look, I think what we’ve seen is people move into Sales leadership way before they should have done because the good thing before or because the organisation structure means they will need more leaders to lesser of two evils to meet. 

A generational expectation to move as quickly as possible, and these things just prevent with each other and cause a problem and then a lack of investment in people and people aren’t staying in the same organisation. It used to be that we could work for an organisation in our city where we live. But now we can work for an organisation anywhere in the world, which means we move more, which means that companies invest less in people because it’s expensive to invest. And we know that they are only likely to stay 14 months so that investment won’t benefit us. It will benefit somebody else. 

So there’s a lot of work, a lot of work to be done around the hell of a lot of work to be done. I don’t have the answers. I just want to whinge about it, I think.

Hitesh Kapadia [00:30:54]

Yeah, I think you’ve made some interesting points. 

You know, I’ve seen VPs of Sales and CROs move their top performers into management positions, and the logic behind it typically is look like if I put somebody else in above them and there the top performing they have been for this period of time, you know, they’re not going to be very happy about it, and they just going move on. 

So I mean, what advice would you give to a leader who is in this position?

You know, I’ve seen it many times before and it is, you know, I have seen it where you don’t give them the offer and you hire externally and you hire someone with experience. 

And what happens more often than not is that top performance then says: “Well, I’ve been looked over here with the company’s grants on any attempt to do so”. 

I mean, what would your advice be? Is it letting go? Is that you know, how do you approach that situation?

Owen Richards [00:31:44]

So I think like anything comes down to good communication, right? 

So you can manage that if you have a good relationship with that person, you can communicate to sell it to them. 

You’ve got to sell to them: why you’re making that decision. But ultimately, as a leader, you have the responsibility to make the best decision for a company. 

There won’t be a perfect decision. It’s impossible for there to be a perfect decision. So you’ve got to compromise either way.

I even hired somebody externally, who can show and demonstrate they’ve got experience, that there’s a risk to that. You don’t know them, do they fit culturally, all that kind of stuff. But in theory I should have a process is pretty good and do good due diligence. 

And in doing that, I risk upsetting that person or multiple people bear in mind is never once it always upsets that someone, whatever you do.

Or I hire this person who is not ready to lead us forward because it opens to lose them. 

Uh, even saying out loud there It seems a bit silly, isn’t it? It’s like almost as an obvious choice. 

But the key is the way you execute that. So for me, I would never. 

I think there’s two options, two options:

You take the one that feels like the lesser compromise. And it might be that person is only 10% off to plug that gap. How can I advanced their learning? It might be that there are a million miles away, but you don’t lose. That’s what you’ve got to manage it. And actually people will respect you. The business will do better, and people will respect you for making the right decision if you execute it well. So if I If I bring Mick in over your head Hitesh and say that this is why I’m doing yet I understand, empathy again. 

I understand what’s going to make you feel this way. And I understand the problem. You’re going to start looking for another job. Here is my plan for you. Here’s where I want to take you.

Here is why I think this is the right thing for you as well. Because if I put you into the seat and then you fail, it’s going be really hard. You’re going to leave anyway, so we end up with the same outcome. 

If I give you the seat next time you’ve got somebody brilliant to learn from, has been there, has done it. You get another 6-12 months to learn from. 

There are two opportunities coming up in the business in the future, I can see a viable for you. You take a stepping stone opportunity instead of a massive jump in one go. 

And in 3 years time, that would have been the right thing for you and I’m thinking long term, how do we get you to be the most successful you can be? 

None of those things may be spot on, this an example. But if I can explain that to somebody, he or she is going to go away and go: You know there’s logic to that argument. 

I might still feel a bit, but I’m just going to sit for a minute to see what this new person is like. And if that person is good and is hired well, they’re going to respond that and go: do you know what… something great to learn from this person is actually coaching me, developing me, I’m learning loads, getting better. 

They’re not going to leave, or they’re less likely to do so.

Like anything, no right or wrong business ever around this stuff and its technical stuff. But, um, yeah, there’s a way to execute. It gives you a better chance of a positive outcome.

Hitesh Kapadia [00:34:26]

Yeah, that’s good. That’s great answer to think. I agree with that as well. 

So I think we are a little bit overrunning on time. 

So I appreciate you staying on. 

I guess like one final question to wrap up would be: As someone who is vastly experienced, what would be your greatest memory as a leader or throughout your career, like what the greatest memory you have and why?

Owen Richards [00:34:48]

Oh, that’s a good question. 

Uh, so greatest individual memory. 

So I think the first million pound deals we signed was without a doubt. You can’t not celebrate that and think about those sorts of things. 

And I think probably that’s the traditional answer. The first time we signed a deal of that sort of size is, uh, is a pretty special feeling. 

However, the way that I’m wired as a human is that I tend to connect to the more interpersonal things. Signed contract is lovely. Money is lovely, but I’m not necessarily driven by that. I’m driven by connections with people, relationships, those sorts of things. 

So I think that the bit that I take the pride out obvious seeing people in our organisation who so, for example, a guy an organisation called Marco is our head of Sales. Started in the business is an SDR, 21 years old. 

He’s seven years later now, so you do the maths: head of sales, got a team, brings in multiple million pounds through his team of revenue every year, Um, seeing his career progressed, bought 2 houses, moving towards, no doubt marriage, kids, family with that kind of stuff. 

That’s the stuff that sits with you when you go home at night and have a beer or family whenever.

The stuff that actually, is not necessarily a memory, but think about starting a business and those people joining transitions during the company. Those are the things that sits most dear to me.

Hitesh Kapadia [00:36:14]

Amazing. Great answer. Look, this has been the Revenue Revolution Podcast.

We appreciate you being a guest. Thank you for your time.

Owen Richards [00:36:23]

Thanks for having me.

Mick Gosset [00:36:23]

Thank you, Owen.