Be the Leader That Executes Now More Than Ever - Nicole Brooky at SaaSGrowthLive

So as James mentioned, I am dialing in from New Zealand, so for once the kiwi accent actually matches my place. So thank you very much for one obviously tuning into this talk, but hopefully the morning has been really beneficial for you, and hopefully this talk will be equally as beneficial. So as James said I was previously in London for the last five years working at Receipt Bank as the general manager for the UK. So that was the biggest revenue market for Receipt Bank, and through that time throughout five years I saw a series A, series B, series C. When I joined, we were 70 people globally and when I left we were just over 450 edging on 500, so it was one hell of a ride. And actually last year for sales confidence awards, I did a talk about building a diverse sales team to be able to accelerate your learning and deliver results, and so I thought it was only fitting considering I talked about the sales culture in the the building a diverse team last time, to actually focus on the delivering of results this time. So as you may be aware this talk is all about execution, which is something that I'm very passionate about and i think really makes a difference of a good sales leader.

So obviously our roles as sales and revenue leaders are incredibly pressurised. So we are you know at the front line we have a direct line to the investors, we have a direct line to the board, the senior management team, we have ambitious year-on-year growth, we have you know goals to be a unicorn or a rocket ship status, and we also have the pressure of actually driving the team on the front line. So we are the ones you know their everyday coaching developing our people and actually driving the sales on the front line. So this means that we have to be incredibly good at both driving action, and actually delivering those results. So the now more than ever part of this talk obviously comes from the current climate, so I've been speaking to quite a lot of sales leaders over the past couple of months and no doubt that a lot of you you know on here today are dealing with one of the following; so it could be you know a reduced budget, it could be reduced head count, you could be dealing with a depleted team due to potentially redundancies and furloughs, or you could just be dealing with the challenges of actually selling to businesses that are facing that same challenge. So hopefully this talk is going to give you some practical tools to actually you know work on the execution side because I do think now more than ever it is incredibly crucial if you are a sales leader on the front line to be able to focus on the execution piece and actually deliver those results.

All right so in I'm just going to if we were in person I was going to ask you to put your hands up um but right now i'm just going to ask you to have a think, have a think about a time that you've been in a meeting where you have probably been with someone who is incredibly good at strategy. So most leaders you know they bring a lot of great ideas to the table, they can communicate their ideas, they're innovative, they think about ambitious long-term goals. Think about someone who's great at that, but when they leave the meeting absolutely nothing. What comes from this is their team probably don't feel informed or empowered, they don't have a clear goal, they don't have clear milestones, they don't know the priority. What it often means is that team is obviously not delivering results but also there's confusion you know there's stagnation and there's also a lot of frustration. So have a think about the flip side of that and either someone that you've worked with before, or potentially you know the best person to work, with have a think about someone who would be in that meeting delivering this amazing strategy, you know thinking about these long-term objectives, these ambitious goals, and then leaving and executing. What does that look like? So that team looks like an empowered, ambitious, you know inspired team. They have accountability they feel like they're contributing, they're invested in the end goal, and everyone knows where they're going and what they're being measured on. And that's really one of where I want to get to today. I’m going to leave the strategy piece out of it and as I say, I'm only going to talk about the execution. I’m going to cover two things: I'm going to cover one some practical tools that I personally think that you need to be able to do if you are looking at executing and delivering on a strategy and delivering results, and then I'm also going to cover five of the things that I've personally found incredibly beneficial when it comes to impacting and being a leader and driving results outside of your team. So actually helping deliver business objectives, and actually helping you deliver during pressurised times because I have absolutely no doubt that right now is probably one of the the highest pressurised times that you're probably facing in your role.

So I'm going to jump into a presentation so bear with me because here we go perfect. So I’m going to start with this so people don't execute because it's hard, and I truly do think that this is the case. Strategy is one thing and I do think it takes the talent to be you know very strategic but executing is a talent in itself and it takes a lot of effort and it takes a lot of hard work. So what are the main differences between the two people that I explained and what can you actually take from that to implement in your day-to-day life to make sure that you get delivering those results. The first thing is a clear goal you know you have to be aligned on a goal this does come from the strategic side of things, but also that goal has to be very clearly communicated within your business and within your function and that is really going to make sure that you are starting off on the right page. Timelines, milestones, and metrics, so this is when you as a leader is going to break down that high level goal and you're going to start thinking about what are some of the milestones, the timelines, and what are the core metrics that I think that we need to track in order to achieve our goal but also what are the influencing metrics that are going to get us there. And this is really when you start to speak the same language, you know you have a you have a goal you have the milestones you have the metrics. You probably want to build some form of dashboard so you've got everyone looking at the same figures, but you're all starting to speak the same language and you're all starting to move in the right direction. 

Accountability, so accountability is one of those frustrating things that I think when done really well probably is the best thing that can happen, and most frustratingly when not done well can probably cause the most issues. So accountability is really important so making sure that you have the right people involved, making sure that those people feel empowered to make decisions. This is so crucial; if you want to be able to deliver high growth results in a pressurised, you know high growth pace, you need to be able to enable your team to feel empowered and accountable to make decisions. Ambiguity and lack of accountability is always going to lead to confusion and stagnation, so accountability is a really key thing to get right and to keep working on. The tools to succeed; so this is a big one when it comes this is where the coaching comes into play so making sure that your team feel supported and making sure that they feel like they've got the skill sets and the software and the systems in order to actually deliver those key results, deliver the business goals, and actually succeed and this is when you as a leader have to really work on the kind of coaching aspect and making sure that you've got the processes and systems in place where the team feel like they are set up to succeed. 

And review; review is one of the most important things and this has to be on a constant you know cycle, so I talked about this in my last talk around retrospectives, and actually looking, constantly being able to be able to look at what worked, what didn’t. It's exactly the same here, I highly recommend scheduling whether it's a weekly progress call or meeting, or whether it's a monthly retrospective depending on how long the goal is or the business objective is, and really set time to re-evaluate the progress. So this is going to be where you help raise issues, red flags might come up here, you might identify opportunities to over succeed. But this is really when one, your team is going to feel heard they have a place where they can go and they can you know be listened to and you can identify potential challenges or opportunities. And second of all this is going to enable you to really be able to adapt the process to be able to meet your overall goals. So these steps really are just quite a basic kind of foundation into taking a strategy and taking a goal or a business objective and being able to as a leader break it down, take it through your team, build the accountability build the empowerment and make sure that you're constantly reviewing and analysing what's working and what's not. And this is really where you're going to have the best opportunity to succeed on your business objectives, but hopefully through this process you actually have an opportunity to over succeed which would be amazing.

So as I said, these are the foundations to succeed, but one of the things that you want to do over the top of that is that's when you want to layer on you. So you want to layer on your experience your knowledge and your sales intuition. And this is really important because your experience and your knowledge is what's going to bring the process to life, so you can go in there and you should be able to you know identify challenges or or identify potential risks and all of these things are going to help you to better execute on your business objectives because you're not going to be blindsided all the time. And sales and tuition I thought was a really interesting one because i'm sure you've all been there where you have a gut feeling and you know you know you've seen something before you've seen it not work, and you can see the same signs again and this is really when you want to use your sales intuition and bring your experience and actually enhance the process and make sure that you are succeeding. Cool so I think that is for me is the core of the process around as I say being an effective executor, but when I think about my time at Receipt Bank, or being in a you know fast-paced you know high growth business there are a lot more that you that is expected of you being a leader. You know one of those key things is not just delivering on your day-to-day deliverables, but actually being able to influence and impact the wider business objectives. 

So one of the key things as I mentioned is influencing other areas of the business. This is really where you're going to take your team to the next level because what you want to do is obviously be able to indirectly impact your frontline team by directly impacting other areas of the business. So for example what I would think about doing is spending some of your time outside of your team, you know work with other departments, help benefit the growth of the business, and try and create a little bit of an ecosystem within the firm focused on a combined goal and a shared vision because what that means is you're just not you know, you’re driving your team to execute on their business goals, but you're also aligning with the rest of the business. You know that could be things like are you can you give better insight and feedback to product, are marketing you know up to date with the customer needs, are there some objections that have come out of nowhere that you can actually relate back to the business. All of these things are going to be crucial in order to help deliver the wider business goals and obviously directly impact your team as well.

Breaking down barriers; so this is a big thing again that I think is not directly related to an execution of a strategy, but should be an ongoing thing, so thinking about how do I continuously break down the barriers that my team or the company might be facing, and this is a really solution-led mindset, so is there you know that that sales rep that's been moaning you know on and on about that repetitive task, can we automate it? You know, what are some of the things that you can do that when it does come to overachieving your business objectives that you can actually break down some of the barriers that are on the day-to-day which means that when we do come to executing, we will no doubt exceed.

Understanding your non-negotiables; so this is a big one for me, and this really helps when I think when you're in a sales or revenue leadership position, it's very easy to get overwhelmed, or it's very easy to think about all of the things that you could be doing or you should be doing. Understanding on non-negotiables is really about what are the two or three main things that trump everything. You know have those written down, and make sure every time you feel overwhelmed or any time you might be feeling you know like you've got too much to do or things are slipping out of your hands, go back to your non-negotiables. You know really good examples of this could be quite literally your sales team being able to do their job. If the sales team can't call, everything else stops. You know if deals can't be made we need to look at that first, another good example could be developing and inspiring your people. So you know if you're caught up with all of these other things and you don't have time to develop your people you know that you can't retain good talent and you also can't get the benefit benefit from accelerated learning. Therefore understanding your non-negotiables and having that as a key driver and grounding every single time that you potentially feel overwhelmed is going to make sure that you're constantly delivering on what you need to deliver and again those are the key drivers that really trample in my opinion.

Knowing your levers; so very similar to the idea of control your controllables, as we all know again being a sales leader, you may be relying on a product release or a marketing event to happen. You need to always have a backup plan the biggest thing is sales targets don't change, and I'm sure all of you know this you know things don't go to plan but sales targets do not change so you need to be able to know your levers. You know being prepared, and being aware of all of the different things that you can pull. Having something in your back pocket, you know knowing that if the goal and the objective is for example your new sales or your new partner growth you know know your leaders if you need to then pull some of your team off doing something else to drive new sales because that's going to be, you know it's going to make up the fact between that and the marketing plan you're going to have to do it.

And last thing so I know I’m going to be kicked off is lead by example so this is a crucial one and again it's something that i think gains you all the respect within a company. Leading by example and actually being able to you know show that you're in there you get in the trenches, you can roll your sleeves up. You know being able to actually be there side by side with your team is absolutely you know the number one thing that is going to set you apart from other leaders. Out of all of this, you know the most important thing about being a leader they execute is what it gives you right, it gives you the respect from your team and the other leaders in the business, it builds up your credibility; again there's nothing worse than being that person who's incredibly good at strategy but leave the room and nothing happens. So build up your credibility, be that person that actually can deliver. You know the third thing results, they speak for themselves being able to deliver results is an you know crucial thing for a sales leader in a SaaS growth company. And learnings I think is the the big thing here as well. It's you know being able to constantly learn and think you're learning on a quarter on a year on your basis and constantly improve and develop to continue driving those results.