Wednesday Sep 28, 2022
Ep149: 17 Conversations That Matter
In this scary new world of employment, where top sales talent has the power to stay with your team or leave you in the lurch, how do you hold onto that top talent? Helen Fanucci, Transformational Sales Leader at Microsoft and our guest on Market Dominance Guys, knows the answer to this question — and that answer has 17 parts. Helen has taken her 25 years of experience managing remote teams and turned that knowledge into a ground-breaking book titled, Love Your Team: A Survival Guide for Sales Managers in a Hybrid World (available on Amazon Nov. 1, 2022). In it, Helen details the 17 conversations that sales leaders must master with their team to successfully attract and retain top talent. Our podcast host, Chris Beall, questions Helen about her tried-and-true theories on why putting your sales team members first will get you the results you’re expecting. Get ready to take notes about this brave new approach to managing sales teams in today’s Market Dominance Guys’ episode, “17 Conversations That Matter.”
About Our Guest
Helen Fanucci is a Transformational Sales Leader at Microsoft and the author of Love Your Team: A Survival Guide for Sales Managers in a Hybrid World, available November 1, 2022.
Full episode transcript below:
In this scary new world of employment where top sales talent has the power to stay with your team, or leave you in the lurch, how do you hold onto that top talent? Helen Fanucci, transformational sales leader at Microsoft and our guest on Market Dominance Guys knows the answer to this question and that answer is 17 parts. Helen has taken her 25 years of experience managing remote teams and turned that knowledge into a groundbreaking book titled Love Your Team: A Survival Guide for Sales Managers in a Hybrid World. In it, Helen details is 17 conversations that sales leaders must master with their team in order for the company to successfully attract and retain top talent. Our podcast host, Chris Beall, questions Helen about her tried and true theories on way putting your sales team members first will get you the results you're expecting. Get ready to take notes about this brave new approach to managing sales teams in today's Market Dominance Guys episode, 17 Conversations That Matter.
Chris Beall (01:24):
Hey, everybody, Chris Beall. I am sitting in right now for Corey Frank, who I know on Market Dominance Guys, we're all used to hearing. His intros are fantastic. I have a little advantage in this intro because today I would like to introduce the audience again to Helen Fanucci. Helen has been a guest on the podcast before, but since the last time she was on Market Dominance Guys, Helen has been through a couple of, I would say, transitions. You never say transformation, she still looks a lot the same to me, although she has a certain glow. She got married and maybe she'll tell us a little bit about that and then also Helen has written a book and her book is I'll give you the title and then she can tell you about it. The book is called Love Your Team: A Survival Guide for Sales Managers in a Hybrid World. It's coming out on November 1st everywhere that you buy books. It'll be out in Kindle and you can buy hardbacks and paperbacks.
What we'd like to do today is first welcome Helen to the show, and then secondly, we're going to talk a little bit about this book and how it relates to market dominance, so Helen, welcome to Market Dominance Guys.
Helen Fanucci (02:37):
Thank you. Thanks, Chris. It is great to be back.
Chris Beall (02:41):
Well, it's great to have you back. Just briefly, you do have that certain glow, rumor has it that you actually got married in July of this year of 2022. Anything you want to share with the audience that does not have much to do with market dominance?
Helen Fanucci (02:56):
Oh, you are so funny, so yes indeed, I did get married, and you know what? It was so great to have you at my wedding. That was amazing, too, and to have you play the piano as I walked down the aisle was truly, truly amazing. Okay, and for the listeners who don't know, Chris and I got married in July. Well, does it have anything to do with market dominance? I don't know. I realized when we started dating or seeing each other that I was in trouble because you're probably the best sales guy on the planet, but the product is really great, so I have no regrets.
Chris Beall (03:39):
Fantastic. Well, I love being the product, and for those who wonder about the piano playing, I'm here all week, and tell jokes, too, so we'll do fun. Yes, I'm the lucky guy and Helen and I went off on a nine-week honeymoon and during the honeymoon one of the things that we paid some attention to, I would say a lot of attention to was the, I'll say, putting the final touches on Helen's new book. Her book, as I said is called Love Your Team. I'll tell you, audience, when Helen says a survival guide for sales managers in a hybrid world, this is not like some soft side or hype or whatever, this is literal, she means it, a survival guide.
Helen, first of all, why did you write a book? I mean, this podcast is supposed to be a book, and it turned into a podcast, which was definitely the path of least resistance, just doing 140-something episodes of a podcast. You went down the book route and the book is how to lift. There is no doubt about it. I mean you got to get yourself some leverage and some balloons and strong shoulders in all manner of things. Why did you take on the awesome task? It's not like you have nothing else to do. You do carry a couple billion of quota for Microsoft, so why'd you add a book to the list?
Helen Fanucci (05:04):
Well, it's an interesting question, for sure, so about a year and a half ago, July of 2021, I was at a conference doing a keynote talking about sales leadership in a hybrid world and what it means for sales leaders, and with the talent shortage and the great reshuffle or the great resignation, it was top of mind, how do we retain talent? When I was putting together the presentation and I got to the slide about retaining talent, I kind of struggled with what to put: care for your team, support your team, appreciate your team?
As I reflected, what was really true to me was love your team. That was a sentiment that sales leaders must have in order to retain their talent, and so I put it on the slide and then when I got to the conference, I was nervous using the L word, "love," in a business setting, and so I explained to the audience what that meant, and why loving their team was so important to retaining talent.
I got to tell you, it was such an amazing response I got from the audience, and I got a lot of people coming up to me afterwards and asking me, Well what do you really do to retain your talent and how does that work? And as I reflected on it, thought I've got to put this into a book. And I don't know, maybe naively, but I decided to put it into a book and write it down because I thought I had something unique to say, and also the time was right for this kind of a book because the tables have shifted, and now, top talent has the power, and so every company and every manager is struggling with retaining talent, attracting talent, and so I felt like it was timely, and so that's how I came about writing the book.
Chris Beall (07:20):
Fascinating. Essentially, there was an audience reaction to something that you said in a talk that you were a little bit scared of saying, you weren't sure about, and that audience reaction and a nudged you in the direction of taking on this awesome responsibility, so a little bit of an aside, because obviously I have not written a book as we all know, right? This whole podcast Market Dominance Guys started as Corey Frank trying to basically see if he could drag a book out of me by interviewing me every morning and every Thursday morning for an hour and a half, and so far, Corey has failed.
As you know, Helen, I'm a pretty frisky writer. I like to write words, come out of my fingers, but still no book, so here, you took it on. But my experience of it as an observer is you didn't just go, "Oh, I'm going to write a book," and then you started typing every morning at whatever, or well into the night when you were finally working on the book and we were in Edinboro, it was 1:30 in the morning and we were going to leave at 4:00 in the morning, and you're still working the book. You weren't doing that. You broke it down into some pieces and said to yourself, "Hey, I'm going to need some help with some stuff." How did you do it? Just in case anybody in the audience going, "I want to write a book." Well, here's Helen, she's written a book. How did you do this thing?
Helen Fanucci (08:45):
Yeah, it's a really good question. I hired a book coach. I hired a company that specializes in helping authors write books and the company is called Scribe Media and that was super helpful. They have different kinds of support system, so if you want to write a book and you want to get trained, or learn coached how to write the book, you can do that, take classes, and then go off and write the book. But I wanted more of an interactive experience, and so I worked with a book coach who asked me great questions, we talked through my ideas and concepts and she really helped me crystallize and formulate the content of the book, and in fact, when I first started writing the book, she helped me get clear on, "Okay, who's the audience for this book?"
But when I first started writing the book, I thought it was the book with a bunch of chapters that people would read, but actually, what the book is, it's about the conversations, in fact, the 17 conversations that sales leaders must master with their team in order to be successful, and so that's the bulk of the book. The book is 21 chapters, so there's some context-setting in the first part of the book, and then there's the conversation chapters, and then there's a summary and conclusion and some of the skills that are relevant to having those conversations.
But I started to also reflect on what do I actually do as a sales manager and what are the conversations I'm having with my team? I think I came up with 25 conversations initially and I realized that there was redundancy and I was looking to consolidate and really pursue or talk about the vital few, which are 17 conversations, so the book coach helped keep me on track and then the publishing manager that was assigned to me also helped keep me on track. They both gave me the confidence that I could complete the project. They walked me through every step along the way.
One of the reasons I was up to 1:30 in the morning in Edinboro was I wanted to make sure that I got the edits back to the publisher so that they could do their next revision of edits to keep the train moving forward, so to speak, because I'm committed, and they're committed with me to a November 1st launch date, and so there were definite milestones along the way that had to be met.
Chris Beall (11:43):
It's fascinating. You were doing all this while doing your job at Microsoft, while changing the job from one to another different group, you were planning a wedding. I'd love to say that I planned a lot of the wedding, but I was the piano player, so we sat me over to the side, and a honeymoon that went on, so clearly, there was a lot to be done. There was a lot to be learned along the way, too, I assume on the books.
This is a hard question, and if you don't have a great answer to it, just blow it off, but what did you learn from the process of writing the book that surprised you, but it's kind of like, "Oh, I didn't know that, I didn't realize that," and now, maybe as a result you'll either write another book or you'll never write another book or you'll make sure that your grandchildren never write books because that would be, or whatever it is. What did you learn that was kind of like, "Huh, that's really interesting. I didn't expect that to be part of this whole book-writing thing"?
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Helen Fanucci (13:36):
Well, I would say that what I learned is it's possible, and I can do it, and it really helped crystallize conversations or ideas I had into a whole what I think is a coherent work product, if you will. Sometimes I think, "Oh, well, I just do this. Isn't this obvious? Everyone does it." What I realized in working with a book coach and reflecting and also frankly talking with you is that not everybody sees the world the same way I do and that it does...
My trajectory of my career over the past 25 years had certain themes and consistencies in them and I actually developed some of the ideas that are in the book through my 25-year career managing people, so I started years ago managing remote teams, and I know for some managers, that's kind of a big deal, like, "Oh, my gosh. If I can't see my team. How do I know that they're working?", and so I started reflecting on what I do to manage remote teams and deliver results, and so I would say the coherency of the book from how the world is changing and why talent matters to how I actually manage teams remotely and deliver results and have teams that stay with me and people who used to work for me that want to come back and work for me.
I thought, "The time is right," so in a certain sense, too, I feel validated that the approach that I've been using is successful and it's now absolutely necessary in the world. I am absolutely convicted that if you don't put your people first, your team first, you can't deliver the results expected, and so I guess I hadn't really thought about it so clearly until I wrote the book, and went through the process, but I think I have something unique to say and I think it could really help people who might be struggling on how to retain talent, and attract talent, and think differently about how they manage their team.
Chris Beall (16:13):
Well, I tell you, it's already made a difference for me. I don't manage the sales team, literally, I have a CEO and I have a VP who manages a sales team, but I do interact with sellers a lot, and you going through the book-writing process, and then me participating as a reader, and I read and provided some feedback, and some editing, what struck me as I thought about it in a market dominance context is you and I come after market dominance, in a sense, in exactly opposite directions. We both believe that conversations matter and we apply that in what we do. I've got this podcast with Corey and everything that I've been doing for the last 11 years or so has been focused around the human voice and the impact the human voice can have in opening up people's minds, so to speak, involuntarily, by going from stranger to trusted partner using the voice, but then going on from there. I'll call that the "outbound voice," the voice that's going out.
What you've done is taking the conversations matter part to scale and saying, "But the voice needs to be used also, and the heart, and the mind, and discipline, and process, and structure in another set of conversations." It's impressive to me that here on Market Dominance Guys, we have probably laid down in voice, I don't know, a million words, right, some big number of words, and not one of those sentences before this episode has been about the conversations that you as a sales manager, and I have a feeling we have a lot of sales managers in the audience, those conversations that you need to master mostly one-on-one, so we focus on the conversations that somebody might have with a prospect, or with a customer, or all of this kind of stuff.
Your point is, "Look, that's nice and all." I mean, I'm going to caricature it a little bit, but that's nice and all, but the real leverage is in your top talent who if you do the thought experiment, and say, "Well, one, if they perform, you're going to do well as a manager because they're top talent, and they're proven, two, if they leave, you're kind of toast." If your top performer, your top seller walks out on the first day of the fiscal year, you have this in the book, it's like the least of the bad things that happen is how much money you're going to have to make up, and most of the bad things that happen are way worse than that.
It's interesting to me that Corey and I totally missed along with all of our guests for all of this time, this other set of key conversations, which are so understandable, and you can break them down. You're an engineer by training that you can break them down into 17 detailed categories with a handbook, so to speak, for recipe book for each category. You don't have to say, "Yeah, you're a bunch of idiots," but do you find that? I mean, I find it kind of odd that here we both believe conversations matter. We both have long careers. I've focused almost entirely on external conversations, and your claim, which I now believe more than my own claim, is that internal conversations one-on-one with your team members, your sellers, is actually where both the leverage is and the action is. I think it's quite fascinating. When we first met and you saw what I was doing, did you just think, "Nice guy, but misdirected," or what?
Helen Fanucci (19:53):
No, I didn't think that. You're too compelling and convincing and convicted about what you do that I thought it was interesting for sure, and I wish you all the success in the world, but I wouldn't want your job, frankly.
Anyway, getting back to me and what your point is, it's not baffling to me how it gets missed. A lot of the sales managers focus on the business and quota and pipeline and the customer and external things, and where I believe the action is, as you put it, is with the sales team because they amplify impact and success. I'm one person, they're 10 people, 30 people, a hundred people, whatever they are, they amplify success, and so I focus my time on helping them be successful on terms that matter to them, and this, I think, is maybe a new idea for many people who have been in sales a long time.
What I do in each of the conversation chapters is I talk about, I start each chapter with, "This is how traditional sales managers will do it, this is how love your team sales managers will do what the chapter topic is, and then each chapter has six different sections. It has its purpose, the purpose of the conversation that I'm talking about, the intended outcome. How do you know if this conversation is needed? How to do the conversation and how do you know if it's effective? Then things to consider, so considerations.
The 17 chapters are broken into five sections. The first section is called Conversations of Connection because if you don't make a strong connection and build trust in a relationship with your team members, you're also toast, and so typically when I take on a new team, I don't know any of them, I didn't hire any of them, so the first chapter of the Conversations of Connection section is introducing yourself to your team, "Why do you do that? How do you do that? Here's what I do," and that might not even be something that some sales managers might think about it. That's important.
Being on the receiving end of having new sales leaders, I can tell you it's foundationally important because you make an assessment right away about that leader, and if they're all about themselves, if they care about the team, where their orientation is, and you make an assessment, and I would submit that my team makes an ASEs an assessment of me, can they thrive under my leadership? Do I care about them? Will I support them? Will I help remove roadblocks? Those kinds of things matter to them. In a large enterprise company like Microsoft, there also are a lot of time in spent and conversations getting internal alignment across the organization, so my focus is with my team to help amplify their success, and support them.
The book is not about sales techniques, it's not about how to close deals, or communication skills, or what have you. It's literally about the conversations you have with your team, and most of those conversations are one-on-one. I've also heard managers say, "Gosh, I don't have enough time to have conversations one-on-one," so I've broken down the math. If you have a team of 10 people, how much of your time in a month is spent talking to your team, reviewing pipeline, all that? I've broken down the math, so it's very doable, but I would wonder, what are other sales managers spending their time on, if not the team?
Chris Beall (24:15):
That's so interesting that you bring up that the constraint, which is your time, right? You're one person, you only have so many hours of the day, and so many days in the week, and so forth. When I was at the OutBound Conference last week, this question, first of all, this topic was probably 60% of the mastermind session, and I'd never heard the topic spoken of before at OutBound, so it was quite surprising that this question of, how do we work with teams? In particular, how do we get the top talent to stay? How do we get new talent that we train not to immediately take the training and leverage that up to get a job somewhere else, stuff like that?
When the question was asked about time, literally none of the experts had an answer other than, "Yeah, it's tough. Figure it out," and you break it down, "You have a team this big, you're going to have this much time spent in these one-on-ones, this much in these are the ones that have a fixed agenda. These are the ones that are event-driven, but they're probably going to flow at about this rate. Here's blah, blah." It's on and on. I mean, it's like an engineering breakdown.
Folks, by the way, when you read this book, what you're going to get is love as both an emotional concept but also as an engineering concept. This is like love your team is something you do, not something you just feel. It's mostly something you do through these one-on-one conversations.
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