EP 7 – The Importance of Having a Consistently Winning Sales Process – Wael Gara
Presentation of the episode
He explains to us how their teams are organized and how he approach his mission.
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All right. Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of the virtual selling podcast. I’m Gabriel Dabi-Schwebel founder of SalesDeck.io and the host of the show. I am excited to welcome today’s guest, Wael Gara, Global Sales Operations Analyst at Ivalua. I Wael, how are you doing?
Yes. Can you please tell us a little bit more about Ivalua and your position?
So Ivalua, one of the most exciting platforms, SAS solutions that work mainly in procurements, we empower our clients to have a complete control over their procurement function. Mainly it’s really mostly about we are one of the most comprehensive suites on the market.
We manage top clients with top spend portfolios and we help them have a complete understanding of their needs in terms of procurement. So if you want to buy something, you’ll come to us.
Great. And what do you do within Ivalua? What does that mean Global sales operations.
I joined as a global sales operations analyst. My main mission is to help assess, understand change, or build new processes within the extended sales team. So I work mainly with AEs, but it’s also the philosophy for it is not just to focus on what the sales team is doing when we do processes, but to look at everybody else. So everybody that empowers the sales team to have success. We look at them so we don’t work in silos. My job is to make sure that any change comes from the bottom and then there’s an interaction between both. And then I implement a process that works for everybody in the company.
Which type of silo do you have to break?
Mainly inter regional silos. So between markets and inter functional silos. So between value-creation function. So for example, we’ve got a, oh, I can go into detail, but one function might help produce a value for a sales executive, but we might have a friction into, and the need that would result in some issues with value implementation. So my job is when I implement something, I have to make it work for everybody. So there is no friction inside and we produce value as soon as possible. I would have done my job if Sales executives always feel empowered to be having conversations that are value driven that are not about price or anything else. And then they feel that they can produce that value without having any doubt about it. They trust their internal processes. If they do that. They can provide value to their clients. And a bit of that is the case. Then I have done my job.
Great. And in terms of silo, you say that there is silo between markets. Do you have the same size process for every market or is there is some adaptation about localization?
Of course that’s exactly what I mean. So sometimes of course, because each market has their own specificities in terms of the client portfolio and in terms of what their needs are. So we allow it, our company, certain degree of freedom. And of course we trust our sales people to make their own sales teams and their RSTs to make their decisions.
But sometimes that might, which is normal in any company of our size, which I forgot to say we are around 700 to 800 people. You get that. So we are trying to at least have good coordination, which already exists, but we want to make it as efficient as possible. That’s the kind of thing without getting into details.
Yes. For sure. And so how do you create this cooperation between markets? Do you have meetings where you share good practice from one market to the other? Is it going bottom up to you and you make it top down to the other markets? Or do you organize this collaborations between markets?
This is done two ways. So you have what I call the active coordination. So this is through weekly or bi-weekly meetings by the heads of each regional market, that’s the top. And you also have interactions between the sales that we get to meet and they talk, we have forums for discussions but also the not active one. So basically the basic one it’s through the CRM. So that’s what it’s meant to be like hopefully if you do it right, every account executive in any part of the planet can go and have information about what everybody else is doing. So that way they can also own a part of that coordination.
So in an essence, we use a combination of meetings and a platform where we have everything there that you get to see either on the extranet or other internal communication, where it is, can engage in that communication coordination.
And so what is the tools you use to create this collaboration? You talked about the extranet about the CRMs are there some other tools?
Yes, we have an internal one. But when it comes to other tools, we don’t have one that is harmonized. We don’t have, we don’t impose what they should use, but of course we use the things that are disposable, like Google speech for communication.
Of course, whenever we do meetings or shared, shared Excel sheets, like everybody else, so yeah. Whatever is there, but we don’t impose something from the top. They can use whatever they want.
And you told me before that you have some problems, pains for the sales to adopt the tools and to be consistent with the tools.
Okay. So yes, of course with freedom comes and with this problem of coordination comes a little sometimes comes too much. Let’s say isolated events that we might sometimes not have complete visibility of, this is the, I think the challenge that a lot of companies also face is they implement CRMs, but then they don’t really have a way to understand how this is being used in the best way possible.
So of course we can try to control it, but we have to find the sweet spot in both. And that’s what, that’s my role. That’s how, that’s what I do in my role. I try to go have conversations, insightful conversations with each AE to understand how they use what they use, how do they coordinate within the team.
And then I try to take into account every good measure they have found and to harmonize it. And in this case, as a sales operations analyst global sales ops, I a hundred percent need my enablement team. So they’re not my team, but they work with me and that’s how it goes. It comes from the bottom. We understand it. We look at it at a global level. Then we enroll in enablement sessions to help everybody share best practices. And in a way we have a base harmony of what tools are being used. And then we leave that freedom, but that’s of course theoritical, when we do these things of course, there are challenges that you have to deal with.
Yeah, but I think the main difficulties of a CRM is the fact that you don’t feel it during the meeting, but you feel it after. And therefore you have to find the time to do it later and not to forget and to have the discipline to do that. Which is…
Yeah. I mean, I’m pretty sure you’ve had other guests who’re also working sales ops jobs that they feel that their job is mainly the CRM ops, which is not, you see, like that’s the issue and that’s part of it. That’s also part of it that there is no real time. You know, like you cannot use it real time or you always have to go back, it feels like a chore for a lot of AEs that they also have to go and type in you know. And that’s what I meant. Like that’s when I think our approach is interesting is because when you go and listen and you tell them, okay, what you’re doing, even if it’s outside the CRM, it has value because it has value to you.
And we do see that in you. The good thing, the really the holy grail of my job would be to find a way to have them see that value. And I don’t know if it’s another tool that I know it’s value you can tell me. I don’t know if it’s a philosophy or that’s exactly what it is. Like you want them to be proactive. You want them to drive the success in this company. You also have to understand their needs. So yeah, that’s the issue.
Yeah, but if I could make some promotion of my product, I hope that Salesdeck will help teams adopt tools that have value for them and will make their life easier to fill the CRM just during the meeting and not after. But that’s the end of the promotion break. So when you, what do you do to make your sales team adopt the tools, see the value being in port is it a discussion? Is it a tool that you still explain before? How do you do it daily on a daily basis?
On a daily basis? I’ve always, since I’ve started, I’ve always had like a direct line of communication to me is always welcome. So the way that I hope to get by in and I always do it is to show it’s really like, for example, they come up to me, they have an issue and I solve it. It could be a really small issue with a CRM or something that you don’t understand or something that they don’t know who to speak to get something.
I solved that, but then I told them, are there any overarching issues that always repeats and they come to me and then that’s how you build the business case. And that’s how we build something. And that’s how I got it. Like you, when you show them that there is value to be used, like they come up with a problem.
I fix the problem without any assessment or anything I don’t, I’m not going to. And then when it happens, it would come from them. They would say, is there a better way to do this? And then that’s how, that’s how you tell them to you. If you use the tool this way, if you do this, this, this, this, then you won’t have this problem.
That’s what I mean, you know, like that’s how, in that case, we’re not cops, we are the people who will actually help them save time and not only save time, but that time will be saved. And that information that will help them get information that will help them drive value in their high priority conversation with their clients.
That’s how it goes, but when it comes from the top, okay. Do this, this, this, this, this. And we’re like, okay, it’s just the short. And they’re like, okay, I don’t want to do it. I just want to focus on. When it’s actually like, what’s actually going to help them. So that’s how I do it personally.
It takes time.
So you don’t want it to be bottom up?
Yeah. That’s my point of view, I would defend that, that’s my philosophy.
And how are you organized within the global sales operation analyst team? How many are you in this team? How do you share the sales together? It’s by market it’s by…
We have different functions. We are a team of four. I work on processes, others work on pipeline management. Others prepare reports. So yeah, we each have a specific role and we complement each other. So for example, for me to do my job, I need some certain information about the use. So I go to a colleague that helps me about that and vice versa, but we all have strategic initiatives. So we all are encouraged to make, to help in the go to market strategy and to be sort of the right arm of the teams. So, yeah, that’s also part of it.
So you’re in contact with all the sales. There’s no silos for that. It’s really the global analyst. It’s more by process and functions and by markets.
Yeah, exactly. Because that’s how we see it. Like we need to learn from each part and because each part would come with their own challenges, but have also come with their own opportunities.
Sales executives are amazing. They find solutions. They don’t just wait. And when you learn from each part and they only listen to other sales executives, you know, that’s the point. Like they don’t listen to internal or external consultants. And I understand that because their job is hard. Like, so you cannot get buying if you tell them, oh, I studied. You need to come with, okay, this is what your peers are doing. This is what other people in other companies do. And that’s how you get buying. So yes, of course we have to have it globally because that’s how we can really learn and drive value from.
Yeah. That’s really interesting. So within your organization, you are in charge of process. You tell me that someone else is in charge of pipeline. What are the two others doing?
They are mostly in strategic decision-making, and they also, we kind of all have the same roles, but one would be more inclined to do something that the other, but we, to be honest, we all do the same thing.
Like we all have the empowerment to do the same thing. We all should be able to draw analyses that understand the use. We all have technical knowledge to make, create the charts, the dashboards we support the RSDs, but we all also have to look at the process. But of course it depends on the need, so that’s how we manage it. Like sometimes one person will do something but we try to complement each other in this way, but we all have to have that same role, which is what I just said, like implementing processes, understanding them, but also driving go-to-market strategy a little bit.
And you are all based in Paris or…
No. Two are in Paris and two are in the US.
Okay. Great. Okay. So you are already global.
And it’s easy to work with the US?
Yeah. The only issue is of course the time difference because we have people like in Denver and San Francisco, and of course the other way on the planet, like in the Asian markets. So sometimes your days will start at 7:00 AM or 9:00 PM French time.
Yeah, I have the same problems. I’m trying to address both the French and US markets. My day have extended a lot since then.
To answer your question in terms of culture, of course there are challenges. There are other ways of doing things and you have to take those into account and they’re not straightforward.
We Europeans here have a way to do business. Us have a different way. But in terms of selling, I don’t think there are huge differences. There are just more original ones that we take into account. And that’s what I meant. I go back, always put himself. That’s where the sales are, the ones who were most valued. They will tell you because they know the markets because they have experience.
And can you precise some of the differences you see between both markets?
I mean, aside from the legal ones, which are obvious, I don’t need to say this. There are also, you know, different ways of expecting what a sales role should be and how a salesperson should approach and do their job in Europe as opposed to the us.
What do you mean by that?
I mean like, okay. Again it also depends on the market. It might be not just the cultural thing, but so the way that you, like, when we talk about how you behave in a discovery call, for example, like I noticed that in Europe, the expertise part is much more important to show the technical and also it could be industry specific for our procurement. So I don’t know what other, so it’s great to show that you have a really great technical understanding of their solution and their company. Like you need to show that you really really know, and this is, of course it’s important across everyone. I’ve just noticed.
And this is personal, based on no scientific evidence that yeah, they do really have this importance, but in the US, it’s more about relationships. It’s more about I’m available, I’m there. Call me day, night, the next week. I’m always there. And that’s how I saw. But again, these are really small factors and small factors can kill or ruin a deal, that’s how we work in the margins.
That’s our business. But again, when it comes to the philosophy and the mindset, I think it’s always the same, but you have to understand that these differences exist. That was just one example.
Ok, so the importance of relationships in the US and more on the expertise in Europe.
Thanks a lot. Wael, do you have something else you want to add before we finish this episode?
Yeah, just one thing. And this is also, again my opinion. It’s great that we live in a time where processes and solutions exist and we have technology and we have digitalization and that’s really great. But, and this is something I want to say to everybody and maybe they would share it. You really have to take into account that sales is both an art and a science.
And you really need to take care of the arts needed to take care of the human. And if you don’t, you can spend billions of dollars on tools and they won’t work. And if a tool managed to capture both art and science, then it’s *thumbs up*. I’m sorry, it’s a podcast so…
Yeah, there will be a video too, but I agree with you that sales could not be resumed as only technology, process. And there is still a human part. There is a relationship part, the way you connect to the buyer, the relationship that you create, the trust you build. And that’s an art and that’s also a real human bonding and ability to empathize, which is really important.
And that can’t be teached, that can’t be transmitted. You need to have it. And that’s really important. And it is a very nice conclusion Wael. Thanks a lot. This episode of the virtual selling podcast is over. Thanks for sticking around. We’ll meet twice a week for a new episode, with new stories and challenges of giants in the field.
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Thanks a lot Wael. It was a pleasure.
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