EP 24 – How to Hire the Right Sales Talent – Bryan Whittington

Presentation of the episode

On the 24th episode of the Virtual Selling podcast, our guest is Bryan Whittington, founder of EBS Growth and host of the Talent Sales & Scales Podcast.

He tells us how he bridge the gab between low and high performers and his technique to make sure you hire the right sales.

About Bryan Whittington

To learn more about Bryan Whittington and EBS Growth click on the links below :



With the pandemic that came upon us, the rise of video conferencing tools like Microsoft teams and zoom has led to more aspects of the sales conversation to occur virtually. And what began as a crisis reaction has evolved into the new normal, but how normal is the new normal? We’re talking about how the strong shift from in-person to virtual selling has transformed B2B sales experience, virtual sales enablement, new organization’s KPIs. Everything is evolving. In the virtual selling podcast we address these issues in depth twice a week with the experts and leaders of these transformations, heads of sales, sales ops, and sales enablements of the most innovative companies in the field. This podcast is sponsored by sales, the new SAS platform to make your customer meetings more engaging and better prepared.
Find out how you can shorten sales cycles, convert more leads and increase customer engagement. Virtual selling is here to stay. And so is
Hi, everybody. I’m happy to be with Bryan Whittington today, founder of EBS growth. How are you doing Bryan?
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I’m outstanding. Thanks so much for having me on here today.

Yeah. And you also are the host of the talent sales and scale shows.

That’s true. We just dropped an episode yesterday and I’m very excited to bring some enterprise and talk about how to hire sales, talent, how to scale the business and how to really sell in this crazy environment.

Great. Could you tell us a little bit about EBS?

Sure. So EBS growth. Our mission is to help communities thrive through entrepreneurship. And one of the key things that you need to do in order to help communities to grow and thrive from entrepreneurship is, oddly enough, be able to sell what you do.
And most people, unfortunately, they don’t know how to sell and the way that people sell has changed over the years. So we do a couple of things. We help hire really good salespeople. We help organizations to be more effective, to be able to talk to more people than they do today. And then lastly is to be able to lay out their whole entire sales motion. So whether that’s a sales strategy or methodology or sales structure, we do those types of things.

Great. So if I understand well, it could be a solution for Salesdeck also to find its market in the US?

That would be a fun thing to work with you, yes.

So you walk with those kinds of startups that are at an early stage until which stage?

Yeah. So we break it up in a couple of different areas, right? Gabriel, one is call it the build-out where you don’t even know if you’re on the right track, maybe you don’t have a sales team. So it’s working with a founder to make sure that we have product market fit, that we have sales methodology supportive and our go to market strategy. So it could be that whole entire build-out phase. So messaging, identifying that ideal customer profile and then really understanding those personas of why they would take action to change behaviors. So that would be at that build-out phase. Once you move past that, and you know that you have good product market fit, maybe you’re looking to hire, that’s a second phase where we’d help you identify instead of that ICP, that ideal customer profile, it’s that ICP, the ideal candidate profile. And what’s the risk factor that your buyer is going to go through. Are they entrepreneurial? Are they a lagging group? Are they somewhere in between? So how do you identify that and build out your sales methodology to be able to scale up? And then the last phase would be now that you have that down, how do you put it into a rev ops? How do you identify the sales process? Automation? How do you scale this up to where you can make your sales team even more effective leveraging automation? So those are the three parts and we tend to play as a fractional sales leader at that first and second part at that third level, you now probably have a really robust VP of sales, full time or a CRO full time and likely even a rev ops team behind you to support.

So you interview less in those phases, but more in the two last phases.

Yeah, on the last phase is more advisement consulting, ensuring that that sales team is effective. So we have some tools that we can leverage. So we call it the sales effectiveness and improvement analysis. So we can identify how much of your sales team is good, which by the way, Gabriel, do you have any sense as if you asked a sales leader or if you ask a founder and say they have a team of four, if you ask them, Hey, how many of your people would you rehire today knowing what you know now? Any sense of how many of those four or five people would be hired?

Not at all.

Yeah, it’s typically one, if you’re lucky two. So it’s that bad out there. And then if you have teams of 20, 30, or more, that same ratio tends to apply. You’re only going to rehire about 20 to 25% of those people. So whenever they get to that larger phase, it’s really identifying okay.
Of those 75 to 80% that you would say that you wouldn’t rehire today, knowing what you know now. How many of those are, can you save, can you coach, mentor and train up to the next step? So whenever they get to those larger phases, Gabriel, that’s where we start to work with them more on that training, coaching, mentoring of that sales team.

And what is your saving ratio?

Our saving ratio. So if they, so if we do an assessment on them and if they show at a recommended level. We’re 92% likely to be able to save those, unless if there’s outstanding personal issues or something along those lines. However, if they come up with a non recommend 75% of the time, they’re gone within 6 months.

Yeah. Okay. And this is really what you explained that is variability of performance within the sales team with top performers on one side and low performers on the other side. How do you explain those kinds of differences in terms of performance? Because it’s really an issue that we help to solve with Salesdeck but for you and the analysis you have. Sometimes it could be one to six. I have seen already customer with one to six differences being the top performer, doing 40% conversion and the low performers only 6%.

Yeah. What we don’t want to have is a parade of principle within our sales team, right?
We don’t want 20% of our sales team to sell 80% of the revenue. And that’s not an ideal. So if you look at a salesperson, the way that there’s really three overall competencies that we’re looking for, or overall three traits that we’re looking for. One, do they have the will to sell. Two, what’s their sales DNA. And three, how are they in terms of their selling confidences? And then each one of those three has some sub-steps, would it be helpful to maybe share those competencies within those sub-steps?

Yeah, sure. And also, could you explain what is the sales DNA in your mind?

Yeah, sure. So sales DNA is how are they built? Just like each of us humans have a certain DNA. That’s going to give us our makeup as to whether or not we can be engineers or whether we could be salespeople. There’s that certain DNA. Are you going to be a long distance runner or a sprinter? And that’s what we’d look at the sales DNA. So the deals, sales DNA, we’re looking for these couple of things. One, they don’t have a high need for approval. Now it’s crazy. So many people would rather be light and they say things like, oh, it’s all about the relationship. Yes. You need a relationship. However, it’s not about relationships. It’s about building trust. And unfortunately, too many salespeople try to build relationships so they have a bunch of best friends, a really fat pipeline. They don’t sell anything because sometimes to do well in sales, you need to challenge the current status quo to get a person to get off of that status quo and into making change, that change of behavior for them to do better. And they won’t do that if they have that high need for approval.
The second thing that they need to do is be able to stay in the moment. And I don’t know if this has ever happened to you and Gabriel, but oftentimes. You’re talking and you’re thinking ahead of how to overcome an objection or what to say next, instead of staying in the moment and really paying attention and listening intently to the person that you’re talking to. So that’s the ability to stay in the moment. So that’s the other part of the sales DNA. The third piece is do they have supportive beliefs? Meaning do they expect a win? Even whenever something is a challenge, do they have that confidence of I’m going to win. So it’s not a supportive belief of, Hey, today’s great. Tomorrow is even better, right. Those people are likely on drugs or need drugs. But it’s really that positive expectation of winning. And then also believe it or not a supportive bicycle. How people purchase large ticket items will be a direct determinant of how they sell. So for example, what’s high ticket in your world. If you’re selling a 10,000, $50,002 million ERP. A hundred bucks is expensive to them. They’re likely not going to be very comfortable and talking about those larger ticket values or larger ticket items. And also if they’re doing a ton of research and it takes them six months to buy a candy bar being facetious there, but if it takes them a long time to buy a low value product, they’re likely not going to push back terribly hard whenever somebody says. You know what, let me think this over. And so we really need to make sure that they have a supportive bicycle, which lends to, are they also comfortable with discussing money? And if when they get rejected, do they recover quickly? So all of those things make up that sales DNA.

And how do you challenge them on the subject, how do you test that, how do you make the assessment?

Yeah, so part of the assessment is to test for that, but let’s say for example, because here’s what I hate whenever somebody says, oh, do the assessment or buy this or buy that. Let’s pretend you don’t want to. Let’s give you some help to be able to do that. If you don’t use the assessment, which you should, by the way. But if you don’t use the assessment, then a couple of ways that you can do that is so for example, a comfortable talking money, ask them, I’m kind of curious when you were growing up and your out to a picnic when you were talking to your uncle or your aunt about the car that they purchased, how comfortable were you and asking them, how much did it cost was that, you know, out of social norms or were you allowed to do that and finding out their comfort level with talking about money or supportive bicycle as something along the lines of, Hey, can you share with me your last big ticket item, your back last week? One, what do you think is expensive to purchase? And then two, can you walk me through from the second you thought about buying it to the second you bought it, it was in your house and you’re using it. How long did it take and walk me through that process? So you can use behavioral interview questions, Gabriel, to be able to ask those type of questions, but ideally you are going to assess them for it. So you can save the time whenever you are interviewing them to make sure they’re a good culture, fit their mission aligns, their passion aligns with your mission and that their skills will align with what you need for them.

And so you have a tool dedicated to making the assessment, how do you ask questions? It’s a questionary, it’s a form?

Yes, it’s a pretty in-depth assessment to be candid with you. It would take, if you’re a slow reader like me, it would take you about 40 to 50 minutes to go through the whole entire thing. But here’s the interesting part of it. It’s the only assessment out there, it’s just for salespeople and sales leadership. So that’s all they do. If you’re an engineering or anything else, I can’t help you. But if you’re looking to hire a salespeople, it’s been proven, validated, and it’s the only one that’s been validated. If we give you a recommend and you go through the whole entire process, they’re 92% likely to be in the top half of your sales team within 12 months.
Now, flip side of that, if you’ve hired somebody, whenever we said we don’t recommend them. 75% of the time that hire, which was a non-recommended, is gone within six months. So it’s a pretty robust, fairly predictive tool to be able to leverage. So instead of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars on a bad sales hire, because I mean, even bad salespeople tend to look good on paper and interview. And when you hire them, it’s really expensive. Avoid that, take that x-ray MRI. Make sure that whenever you do get a new hire, it’s going to be a good hire, especially if you’re a smaller team. You can’t get it wrong because that wipes out your cashflow. It’s six months to eight months, nine months for an op for an on-ramp for that new sales hire anyway. Make sure they’re good, please, please, please.

And have you created a tool to make the assessment or it’s only through EBS that you could do it?

Yeah, I wish I was smart enough to invent this, but it’s a tool that we have in our team. So it’s called the objective management group or OMG, and I’m a licensee to be able to leverage this so certified in how to use it. And we can also train your internal team on how to leverage this tool and how to do the right interview questions. It’s called star hiring tactics, and that’s what we can help companies with.

Okay. Great. Okay, great. So this is for the first stage of type of companies and also for the second stage and for the first stage, it’s more about marketing than about sales team if I understood well.

Yeah, I would agree with that. Right. Because at that first initial stage, whenever you’re building this out, it’s really incumbent upon that sales or excuse me of that, that founder co-founder the owner to build this out, to test that ideal customer profile, to make sure that they can differentiate what’s that process. And so we really work with that founder to create that list so they could reach out to people. I know Ryan Reisert was on your podcast a couple of weeks back. And he and I worked together. I’m also licensed to be able to sell what he calls, phone ready leads.
So whenever you’re doing your outreach. You can talk to seven to 12 people, every 50 dials, as opposed to one to two. So that’s incumbent upon that founder owner to have those conversations, to test those things out. That way when you get to stage two, you can hand the process, hand the onboarding process to that new hire to make sure they’re set up for success.
So I think that’s a really good distinction.

Yeah. Great. And when we were preparing the interview, you told me about the four M. Could you precise us what are the four M which are the keys for a startup to build the market and the marketing?

Yeah. So these four M’s, you can not only use whenever you’re starting up, but throughout the whole entire life cycle of your company. So the forums are this. When you’re doing your outreach and I’m going to suggest it’s cold outreach. But you can also use this for content creation, but let’s just focus on outbound right now. So if you’re doing cold outreach, outbound, there’s only four levers that you can pull on to be able to be more effective in that outreach.
And those, I call it the four M’s. Number one is your market. So identifying that ideal customer profile, and that’s going to be geographic, firmographics meaning how big of the company, how many employees, revenue size, so that geographics, where are they at. Firmographics? What’s that company makeup look like. And then from there you also look at psychographics and that gets into the psychology and the personas to it. So as part of that ICP, who are the firm of assuming, what are the psychographics of those involved? So that’s going to get into buyer titles, their roles that they have to follow and roles that they have to perform.
And what’s the emotional, compelling reason of why they would change their behaviors? So that goes all into personas and that’s under the market identification. So that’s the first M. The second M gets into what is your message to that market. So how are you going to deliver in a pithy precise way, something that’s going to engage them into a conversation. So whether that’s cold outreach by telephone or email, how are you going to engage them? And that’s going to be the message. And then the third M is the medium through which you send that message to the market and that medium is going to be telephone. So that’s where those phone ready leads. So I can only call the people that are going to pick up the phone and go from a two to 5% connect rate to a 15 to 30% connect rate. Or is it email? What’s that 25 to 50 word email that I can send to engage that person to reply back. So it’s a call to engagement, a CTE than a call to action, setting up a CTA. What we all know about us setting something in a meeting or whatever the case may be. So that gets into the medium that we send that message to that market.
And then lastly, it goes to your messenger and that’s a sales person. What’s that messengers ability to convey that message through the right medium to the market? And those are really the four levers that you have whenever you’re engaging your marketplace.

Great. We are arriving at the end of the podcast and we can see that you are very structured in your analysis. If it’s a market analysis, if it’s a sales people analysis, if you are going to hire, you also shared with me your motion evaluator, which is very structured too. What would you recommend to someone like me, to a startup founder to launch a product with all your analysis you have done?

All right. So that’s the easiest question that I could have been asked. The biggest thing that you can do is to identify that market. And I got that wrong. I used to think that your messenger, your sales person was the most important, and I was wrong on that. And then I thought it was a message and I got that one wrong too. And then I went to the medium, right? If I can do quantity over quality that would make up for it. And that was an expensive lesson as well. So the biggest thing that I can suggest to anyone is your market, your list is everything. Can I get to those people, the right people and understand why they’re going to act that market is everything.
So if you can only focus on one thing, focus on your market.

Great. Thanks a lot. It’s a very good tip. This is episode of the virtual selling podcast is over. Thanks for sticking around. Join us twice a week for a new episode, with new stories and challenges of giants in the field. If you enjoyed today’s episode, we are always listening for your feedback. Share the show and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform so you don’t miss any episode. This episode was brought to you by, the Saas virtual selling platform that improves your sales team efficiency and sales readiness, enable remote management and vamps sales operational excellence. Book your demo today to discover how you can close more deals with engaging and better prep customer meetings.

Thanks a lot, Bryan. It was very interesting. And we could do a second podcast in some few weeks because I’m sure that you have plenty more things to share with us. Thanks.

I appreciate you having me on and best of success.


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