November 30, 20175 min read
Over my 22 years in sales, I’ve joined around 200 quarterly business reviews (QBR) at the local, regional, national, and global level. I’ve learned the hard way – as an individual contributor, then global sales VP, and now chief revenue officer (CRO) – not to confuse a proper forecast with a “hope-cast,” not to conflate a coach with a champion, and not to equate my will to close a deal with a customer’s desire to sign one.
I have the benefit of experience, but given all I’ve learned, I still can’t help but wonder why salespeople – even great ones – fall into the trap of inaccurately forecasting some deals, and losing others they had every opportunity to close.
One factor is clear: without enough pipeline, salespeople tend to cut corners and focus all their attention on a single deal. To avoid this fate, they need to focus on addressing a few fundamental questions – what I call the three WHYs.
The first question salespeople need to ask themselves: “Have I identified a specific pain point, need, or initiative that a company needs help with?” It has to be a defined issue with an assigned owner, and accompanying metrics to track progress toward a positive business outcome. To identify the “something,” ask a lot of questions and understand your target’s needs. It’s critical that your customers connect the dots between their problems and the solutions you propose.
When forecasting a deal at a company that uses quarterly financial metrics, timing can be everything. As such, when identifying an issue, it’s crucial to illustrate that it’s something that must be resolved NOW. We need to show them that the problem is so severe, that they cannot hesitate to address it – that it’s something that makes their leaders’ lives harder each day. To do this, understand the target’s business, have visibility into executive-level priorities, and become relevant to the company at large.
Why US? (Why Our Solution?)
Salespeople must be able to validate and demo the solution better than the competition, and reach an agreement with the customer on decision criteria. This is where it’s so important to have an aligned effort between sales, pre-sales, and post-sales, as well as a clear implementation plan. With these elements, you’ll be able to see the entire customer journey and understand a target’s most pressing needs. (This is also where your champion will help drive the final step).
Applying the 3 WHYs to My Decision to Join Sprinklr
I met Sprinklr’s founder and CEO, Ragy Thomas, back in 2013 through John McMahon, a Sprinklr board member and a legend in enterprise sales. (Fun fact: I worked for John for eight consecutive years without being fired – a world record!)
I also met Neeraj Agrawal, another board member and a phenomenal venture capitalist at Battery Ventures. Though John and Neeraj were infectious in their excitement about Sprinklr, the timing wasn’t right and I couldn’t join the company at the time.
Last spring, I got back in touch with Ragy, who invited me to join Sprinklr as an advisor. I embraced the opportunity with enthusiasm, and since then, the role has evolved with me becoming Sprinklr’s first CRO.
As I mentioned before, every salesperson needs to be able to identify the three WHYs within every opportunity. So let me tell you my three WHYs for joining Sprinklr.
I’ve worked in sales leadership for a long time. It’s something I love, and I admit that I missed it while serving as an advisor. Although I had a bit more time for my family (and golf), I craved the chance to coach and grow a team, which is what I enjoy doing most.
I love to get better every day, and to live out the values in the book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck. Ragy and the Sprinklr board understand my motivations, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to lead a team every morning when I wake up.
Sprinklr is a very different company than the one I met nearly five years ago. It’s now 1,500 employees strong with 1,200 customers worldwide, including 50% of the Fortune 50. It’s recognized as a top performer around the world, and has been named a “Leader” – the highest possible designation – in three recent Forrester Wave reports.
All that is exciting, but the beautiful, life-changing opportunity is that we’re just getting started. I can see opportunity in every customer we have: our upsell and whitespace opportunities are 10x, especially with social becoming so important at the executive level.
B2C companies aren’t the only ones harnessing social; traditional B2B companies are beginning to understand the importance of social when it comes to listening, engaging, prospecting, and crisis management. They’re embracing digital transformation, and as a result, they have a clear need for the solutions that only Sprinklr can provide.
During a recent recruiting pitch, I heard someone say, “It’s better to work for an operational CEO than a founder CEO.” I don’t believe this at all. People tend to confuse operational excellence with teams that rely solely on metrics – while lacking the vision, purpose, and courage to grow a company into the future.
When Ragy founded Sprinklr eight years ago, he foresaw what is happening today. Thanks to his vision, I understand what the landscape will be in five years. He has immense will and confidence to succeed, matched with the bravery that’s necessary to lead a company in today’s world. He also has a great team in place, including Cisco Executive Chairman John Chambers, who also understands Sprinklr’s vision and recognizes the business’s potential.
I’ve been lucky enough to have the luxury of choosing where I work. I’m proud to say that I’ve chosen Sprinklr, and that I’ve enjoyed every day since. I also can’t convey how excited I am about the days to come.
Buongiorno Sprinklr. We have a great journey ahead of us.