SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Bryan Reynolds, Senior Director of Sales Operations at TBI

Bryan Reynolds, Senior Director of Sales Operations at TBI chats more on the evolution of sales operations and what sales leaders need to do to better understand who their customer is and what can drive better outcomes in business-to-business sales:

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Welcome to this chat Bryan, tell us more about your journey in sales…we’d love to hear more about your role at TBI…

Sales was never a field that I saw myself going into. I took the job with TBI Inc. never actually thinking I would stay very long, and that it was just a stopover while I figured out the direction I wanted to go in.

My first job here at TBI was a cold-calling role, and I sucked at it. I was almost let go actually because I wasn’t meeting the required metrics. But, leadership at the company saw potential in me and asked that I apply for an onboarding role – which was still customer-facing but in a different capacity.

I did very well in that role, helping to refine CX and optimize some sales processes. This allowed me to be more visible in the company and I was later put into a management role. I then worked my way up from there. After 7 years at TBI, I’m now the Sr. Director of Sales Operations, overseeing an organization of 75+ individuals who provide TBI’s partner community with unparalleled back-office support. This ranges from quoting and solution design to implementation advocacy and project management. I also play a pivotal role by ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of the company’s initiatives by identifying ways to improve, optimize and simplify processes all from the perspective of an exemplary customer, provider and employee experience.

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What according to you makes for a great sales operation team and process (in terms of skills across the team/best practices, technologies used to drive SalesOps, etc).

A good sales operations team is experienced first and acutely knows who the customer is – not just the numbers or processes behind the sale. They understand that procedures and that they are custodians – which can have a profound effect on continued success.

Because of this, in my opinion, the number one thing you can instill in your sales operations organization (or any organization really) is a collective emotional intelligence (EQ), as it relates to your customers’ needs, fears and beliefs. This will then give you a deeper understanding of who your customer is and how your product/service enhances their business, their lives and society as a whole.

Those who tend to fit best in this culture are problem solvers who thrive in an ambiguous environment. This collective EQ is the base from which strategy, process and tools can be built from in order to augment and streamline communication, retain good employees and ensure sticky customers, as well as heighten internal alignment with sales teams. To help drive this, be sure to provide regular training to your team on profiles of who your customers are and the problems you are solving for them.

Can you talk more about the evolution of sales operations and how do you feel this will transform further as sales technologies change the way sales strategies are applied and built out?

As we see in many industries (especially technology), sales operations is giving way to revenue operations. Granted this is only really a title or a cosmetic change, but the evolution of the philosophy behind the change is sound.

We will start to see the lines blurred between sales enablement, marketing, vendor relations and all other silos that appear behind the sales organization. Revenue operations will act as the overlay to ensure that all the various initiatives are aligned and serving the customer. The benefit of this philosophy is that leads will be converted faster, allowing sales teams to be more well equipped in ensuring a successful outcome with the customer. This would then result in a more efficient and effective internal operation, producing cost savings (hard and soft dollars) for you.

Seeing how B2B sales trends are evolving rapidly with there now being more onus on salespeople to hone technical skills as well as strong virtual selling attributes, what are some best practices that can help salespeople develop this balance?  

Treat your continued education as a goal or quota that you need to hit. This could be in the form of aiming to read a certain number of articles per week or even physically scheduling one hour a day to dedicate towards learning. This could be setting up a cadence with your teammates to talk about what is working and what isn’t – using case studies from each other to learn how to get better and grow.

Better yet, ride along from time to time and provide feedback to each other. This is easy to do during virtual calls. With this being an environment that we often find ourselves in now, it’s important to be prepared. This means making sure that your presentations are executive-level summaries and that you don’t read the presentation to them.

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Use the “road sign” rule: only put enough information that someone can read from 10 ft away and understand the gist of what you are talking about. When the font gets too small, you’ve put too much information in. You may even want to deliver the materials ahead of time, so your customer has time to look things over. Make sure your meeting works as well as any content that you are going to share and when something goes wrong, be prepared to pivot.   

What according to you can sales reps do differently to get their prospects’ attention faster?

The general rule of thumb is to get to the decision-maker, but depending on the product that you are selling, you may need to broaden your scope a bit more. The decision-maker tends to look more like a panel than an individual and sometimes mid-manager, or even entry-level employees, are being brought into the decision-making processes.

If you wrongfully ignore that fact, you may be losing out on business. Sometimes it’s easier to get the ear of a manager or director level employee than a C-level employee, and those mid-managers can then get the ear of the C-levels.

We’d love to dive into your recent Crain Chicago Business award win, tell us more!

This was very cool to be included in. Every year, Crain’s publishes a list of notable executives that make a difference. They have various categories, but I was chosen to be a part of Crain’s Chicago Business Notable LGBTQ Executives. Out of all the nominations from the Chicago area, only 50 were chosen.

To qualify for the list, nominees must be based in the Chicago area, serve in a senior role (within three levels of their CEO), hold a leadership position in their industry outside their own organization, have made a significant contribution to advancing workplace equality at their own workplace or beyond and act as a role model or mentor. I truly believe in creating a safe space for people to bring their whole selves with them, and this recognition helped validate my efforts and impact.

A few sales fundamentals that you’d share like to share with sales teams/sales leaders? 

It’s important to have inclusive practices built into your approach. A wrong assumption (such as marital status, gender, etc.) can lead to customers ending your opportunity dead in the water. There have been sales representatives at companies that I’ve placed business through over the years that make wrong assumptions about me, causing me to question why I work with them. I ask myself, “if they aren’t going to take the effort to know or understand me, why do I place my trust in them?” Your customers want to buy from someone they can relate to and feel comfortable with. You should never assume anything about them.

Also, it’s not only important to know the product you’re selling and the problems it solves, but you also need to know how it gets implemented and the processes behind it. I’ve seen many situations where something might have gone wrong (after the sale) and the customer immediately goes to their sales representative (that familiar face). Without even a basic understanding of how this could have happened, the sales rep can get into an awkward situation and may answer a question incorrectly or otherwise over-promise something. This could then lead to a poor experience with the chance of lost current and future business. Not to mention, customers are prioritizing the post-sales process over price in some markets. Understand the customer and the product/services you are selling, not just the “what,” but the “why” and “how” as well.

Some last thoughts for sales leaders in tech before we wrap up!

The best approach comes from an experience-first philosophy. Focus on creating a good experience for your customer but also for your employees. Arm them both with the tools and knowledge to solve problems and create a collaborative atmosphere. Good experience leads to trust, which leads to sustained success for your customers and your business.

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 TBI

TBI delivers enterprise technology that drives successful business outcomes for IT selling partners

Bryan Reynolds is the Director of Sales Operations for TBI Inc.  

As Director of Sales Operations for TBI, Bryan Reynolds leads an organization of 75+ individuals who provide TBI’s Partner community with unparalleled back office support ranging from quoting and solution design to implementation advocacy and project management. His ultimate drivers incorporate breaking tradition and pushing the boundaries of service by implementing ways to continuously add value for TBI partners. Reynolds is an avid writer and speaker within the industry and serves as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Channel Partners as well as a member of the Associate Board of Meals on Wheels Chicago.

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