Dave Vranicar | 4 Stages of Sales Systems

As a company grows, your approach to sales must change, says Dave Vranicar, founder of Redwell B2B. Even the type of sales leader you hire must change.

We explore the different sales systems and methodologies you must implement in order to spur continued growth as you go from startup to well-established market leader.

We talk about the role of data in all this, as well as…

  • What many VCs overlook when looking for acquisitions
  • The support team you need to crack multimillion-dollar sales
  • 20+ mistakes companies make with regards to their sales team
  • How marketing can change a product
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in This Episode: www.redwellb2b.com

Episode Transcript:

Michael Webb: Hello, this is Michael Webb, and you are listening to The Sales Process Excellence podcast. Many people focus on data, and evidence, and process improvement. Other people focus on reaching decision makers, better marketing, and better selling. In this podcast, we bring them together to make lives easier, and better for everyone.

Today, I’m excited because my guest is Dave Vranicar of Redwell B2B. Dave has a number of years, many years in selling high-end software, enterprise software. Dave, welcome here. I’d love it if you could just tell the audience about your background, and what you’re doing now.

Dave Vranicar: Sure. Thanks, Mike, it’s good to be here. I appreciate the invitation.

First, just with a quick introduction to what I do now. I, as you said, I work with high-end B2B, primarily software, but also some other technology companies. When I say high-end, I mean that they sell products and services that typically sell for more than $50,000. That’s to distinguish them from the SAS software products where you can go online and sign up, and pay for it with your credit card. So these are what people often call complex sales, because they involve multiple decision makers, and they have a decision process that’s considerably more complex than other companies.

What I do with these companies, is I help them prepare themselves for their next stage of growth, and we can come back to that in a few minutes if you like. But, how did I get here? Boy, it’s a long and winding path. I’m always fascinated when I hear people say that they always wanted to be something, and that’s what they still are. That was never the case for me.

I started out in sales and marketing by accident. I think that’s true of a lot of people. I don’t think many people’s kids say, “I want to grow up and be a salesperson, or a marketing person.”

Michael Webb: Right.

Dave Vranicar: What I wanted to be, by the time I was in high school, I wanted to be an artist. Or possibly a writer. I’ve always been sort of leaning more to the creative side. So, sales and marketing is a pretty weird place for me to wind up.

As far as how I got here? I started out actually as an art major in college, but quickly realized that that was probably going to be not the best way to spend my investment in a college education. So I decided I’d go liberal arts instead, majored in English. Probably a lot of people would also say, “That’s not the greatest way to spend a college education.”

Michael Webb: Come on, we use English every day.

Dave Vranicar: Exactly. Well, it worked out great for me, and I was happy I had made that choice. So, from there I went on to journalism, and from journalism, realized that was going to be a tough row to hoe. I had some little kids, and wound up in corporate PR instead of journalism that paid much better. I think you’ll see a thread here. I’m always going for where the money is, rather than where the satisfaction is.

Michael Webb: Good for you.

Dave Vranicar: Yeah, yeah. I think a lot of people these days are counseling young people to pursue their passion. My experience is that your passion’s often don’t pay for a comfortable lifestyle. Certainly not for a family.

Michael Webb: Well, ideally, the passion brings the money, right?

Dave Vranicar: Right.

Michael Webb: But that’s a whole other topic to talk about.

Dave Vranicar: Sure, anyway. I’m afraid this is a little long winded. So, I went to PR, worked at 3M for a number of years. Realized quickly that PR was a staffs job and everything I read and heard was that you need to be in a line position if you really want to have a bright future. Line position meaning one that’s linked to revenue generation, rather than one that’s look at as a cost center.

So, I decided to move into marketing. I spend about six years in marketing at 3M. Then I realized that in order to be a better marketer, I really needed to get some sales experience. To do that at 3M, I felt I needed to leave the company and leave the company headquarters. I moved down to Atlanta and took my first job in sales.

Michael Webb: Now, was that with 3M in sales?

Dave Vranicar: No, no, no. I left the company in order to do that.

Michael Webb: Okay.

Dave Vranicar: At 3M, all roads lead to St. Paul. There weren’t many roads leading away from St. Paul to the field. So, that’s what I did. Wound up in the software industry and spent a couple of years in marketing in software, but not terribly successfully, frankly. There weren’t a lot of software companies in Atlanta at the time.

So I switched to sales and then spent the next 20 years selling software. Gradually moved up from real narrowly focused applications to enterprises.

Michael Webb: Well, so that long and winding road there was probably very good for you in enabling you the perspective needed to sell enterprise systems. Wouldn’t it have been?

Dave Vranicar: Well, actually, yeah. As it turns out, it was. My dad always used to say that every experience you pick up in life is going to reap some kind of reward or a dividend further down the road. Even if you have no idea what’s it’s going to be in. I think you’re exactly right. That me having covered a lot of kind of diverse topics and even having been aimless at times throughout my life and my career. Ultimately proved to be not a bad plan, not a bad strategy for what I wound up doing.

Michael Webb: So, after you were in professional sales, and obviously had been successful at it. Because you kept doing it, and you were into more complex kinds of sales environments. What interested you in sales process?

Dave Vranicar: I think I had my dad to thank me for that. Not that he was so interested in sales process. He was in fact a salesperson. He was a manufacturer’s representative. But the thing about my dad, he was a very, very smart guy. Had only a high school education, as a lot of people did in the World War II generation.

He was a brilliant guy, a very scientifically and engineering related. In fact, he was a radar instructor in the Navy during World War II. Anyway, he was very process oriented. He kind of had a scientific mind. He always used to say, “You know, Dave, there are a few right ways to do things and a lot of wrong ways. It drives me crazy when I see you doing them the wrong ways.”

Michael Webb: Thanks, dad.

Dave Vranicar: So he would always lean in, and sort of redirect arm when I was installing a board, or you know, it didn’t matter. He was big on process, and I think I picked it up from him.

Michael Webb: So, then specifically within sales, what ideas or methods that came from a process perspective? How did it help you be successful?

Dave Vranicar: Oh my Gosh. I would have been dead in sales without process, or without methodologies. You know, as I said, I started out … I am, I am a creative. I started out trying to deny that I was a creative in sales. On top of that, I’m an introvert. So, I had no sales training. Didn’t really know much about business, because I majored in liberal arts.

The one ace I had up my sleeve is that I’m an avid reader, and I read like crazy. So, when I realized I was going to go into sales, I realized that I knew nothing whatsoever about sales and I had to educate myself. So, I read everything I could get my hands on. I just sort of learned it by route. Just by reading, and reading, and reading. A lot of the early stuff I read wasn’t very helpful, but eventually I stumbled on to stuff that was absolutely phenomenal and absolutely turned my career around. Almost all of that was related to process and methodology.

Michael Webb: All right. So, if you started out selling, if I understood you correctly, more product-oriented transactional kinds of things, and then you ended up selling more enterprise-like relationship kinds of sales. Am I correct in assuming that that was the progression? Tell us about your learning as you went through those more complex environments.

Dave Vranicar: No, I’m sorry, that’s not quite correct. I realize what I said was a little bit misleading. What I mean by … I’ve always worked only in complex sales. I’ve never sold anything that wasn’t fairly complicated. What I mean is, that I went from sales positions where average deal size was maybe $50,000 to sales where I think my biggest sale ever was $14 million. So, it’s always been technically a complex sale, but it went from fairly small sales to really, really big ones. Really complex ones with multi-billion-dollar companies.

Michael Webb: So, definition of a complex sale is that there are multiple buying influences, right?

Dave Vranicar: Correct, yep. That’s right.

Michael Webb: So, is it fair to say that in a multi-million-dollar deal, there’s a lot more buying influences than there are in the $50,000 deal?

Dave Vranicar: Oh, way more. The companies that I was calling on also shifted. So, initially, when I was selling $45,000 products, I was often selling on … excuse me. I was often calling on the owners or managers of family-run companies. They maybe did you know, somewhere between $3 million and $20 million. In a family company, often the decision-making process is not very formal. In some cases, it’s pretty dysfunctional. They don’t really have a well-established process for buying software.

You pull into a Fortune 50, or Fortune 100 company, you know, they’ve got a board of directors and that decision for a multi-million-dollar sale is certainly going to go the board of directors’ level, and it’s going to have to go through an elaborate economic justification and all kinds of scrutiny. Everybody in those companies is most concerned about risk. So, they pile on everybody they can to okay a deal before anybody wants to take full responsibility for saying, “Yes.” That’s the biggest difference I see.

Michael Webb: Okay. So, but these are still sales where the salesperson is the one sort of driving everything in the relationship until the business is one, is that correct?

Dave Vranicar: Yes, that is correct. Now, in all cases, I was … I would be the person who would find the opportunity in almost all cases. So I was considered a hunter-gatherer. So I would find and identify the opportunity. Then I would qualify it. Once I had found it, and qualified the opportunity, I would bring it to a team. Then from that point, it would be a team sale.

I was fortunate that I usually had really, really good teams. Because with these products that I sold, I could rarely have sold them all alone, without a great deal of terrific consulting support.

Michael Webb: So, you’re talking like engineering support and configuring the software demonstrations and helping to do return on investment analysis, and those sorts of things, right?

Dave Vranicar: Exactly. Although I got to say … I’m talking about the early 80s, nobody did return on investment analysis at that time. When I started selling, we didn’t even have computers, believe it or not. I think laptops were just coming into use in sales in the-

Michael Webb: 90s, right?

Dave Vranicar: Mid 80s, to late 80s, something like that. I remember my sales managers were always saying, “Get your nose out of that computer.”

Michael Webb: Go knock on some doors.

Dave Vranicar: Yeah, exactly. “Pick up the phone. I don’t want to see that blanking computer on your desk again.”

That was the mentality, and that’s what everybody did. So we didn’t do economic justification to answer your point, ROI analysis. But, definitely, we had technical pre salespeople who were experts in the prospect’s business. His or her business processes in particular, and in the software business, people don’t really want to buy software. What they really want to do is buy an improved business process. That’s what I’m selling.

Michael Webb: All right. So, I know something about that. Because in 1981 or 82, I took a job with a mini computer software company. Well, a mini computer company, and we sold our products because we had good software. We would have to find a small or medium-sized business, especially like wholesale distributors, or small manufacturers. And sell them an integrated accounting system. Integrated accounting, integrated order entry, inventory control, that sort of thing.

Dave Vranicar: Sure.

Michael Webb: When you improve the information processes inside the business, there’s lots and lots of ways to do return on investment. What you said puzzles me about well, they didn’t really do return on investment back then. Tell me more about why you say that.

Dave Vranicar: Well, it’s funny. Competition was so much less intense at the time. Again, in the 80s, the companies I was calling on were smaller companies. They typically didn’t have the kind of financial controls in place. They didn’t have a highly sophisticated chief financial officer who probably had an MBA from an Ivy League school or something of the kind. They were just kind of like, “Hey, do you think we need this? Do you think it would be good for the business? What will it allow us to do that we can’t do today?” Generally, all they had to do was sell a couple of family members.

Michael Webb: Really? What platform did your software run on? I’m sorry.

Dave Vranicar: It ran on AS-400.

Michael Webb: AS-400? Okay, well that explains part of it then. Because the AS-400 type of a market, there were lots of machines that IBM had placed. I was with a no-name computer company called Basic Four, MAI Basic Four.

Dave Vranicar: Yeah, I remember that.

Michael Webb: We would compete against them, and the hardest … you had to scratch and find any justification at all to get people to consider you, because they had not heard of you before. Most of the time, our software was way more flexible, and less expensive, and way better machines for small business. Easier to support and maintain, and all that. It was very difficult to find prospects and get them converted over to buy from us. So, we used ROI a lot.

Dave Vranicar: That makes perfect sense. I found ROI analysis really didn’t come into play until, at least for me, until the early 1990s.

Michael Webb: Okay.

Dave Vranicar: I eventually created a spreadsheet. I was selling inventory management and forecasting and replenishment systems. I eventually came up with a spreadsheet that showed what your inventory would be at your current growth rate, if you do nothing differently than you’re doing now, versus what it would be if you could achieve a 10% per year reduction of inventory. In other words, you could improve your inventory turns by enough to reduce your inventory.

Boy, once I created that spreadsheet, it really changed the business. Because people could see right then and there, “Oh my gosh, we’re nuts if we don’t buy this.” That was a huge step forward.

Michael Webb: Wow, that’s great. Well, so, is that the sort of thing that … the next question I was going to ask is, what’s unique about the sales processes that you work with? As you’re counseling clients and working with them now, is that the sort of thing that you’re encouraging them to do?

Dave Vranicar: Well, certainly I do, but oddly enough, ROI spreadsheets and economic analysis and all that kind of stuff. In a sense, is old. I mean, as I said, we were doing it back in the early 1990s. Most companies that sell relatively valuable software systems already have that. Oddly though, a lot of companies still don’t, and still don’t sell value. They sell features and functions. So it kind of varies from company to company.

What I typically do these days, Mike, is I help software companies, as I said earlier, prepare for their next stage of growth. By that I mean, often a software company gets to a stage in its life cycle where it needs to grow much faster than it has been. They’ve got a product, they’ve got a customer base, they’ve got a value proposition and other things. At the time that they go to bring in outside investors, let’s say private equity funding or a venture capital firm. Those investors want to be sure before they pile their money into this company. That it’s ready to go. That when they put their foot on the accelerator that the engine isn’t going to cough and sputter and die.

So, interestingly a lot of these private equity and venture capital companies have invested in companies that just didn’t take off as they were expected to. So, I and my team go in and evaluate companies before they make these kinds of investments to make sure they have all of the elements in place to grow at the rate that the investors expect them to.

It’s a really highly specialized thing. The interesting thing about it is that there are relatively few people who are doing it.

Michael Webb: I remember back in the 90s, and early 2000s, actually early 2000s, in the Chicago area. I attended a meeting of a bunch of venture capitalists were attending. You got to watch several small companies make their pitch to the venture capitalists. Kind of like Shark Tank, right?

Dave Vranicar: Shark Tank idea, yeah.

Michael Webb: Yeah, and so we got to watch. It was quite interesting to see the questions and the responses that those entrepreneurs got as they were seeking funding. Then at the end of the meeting, you got to go and stand in line and meet some of these people. I did that because I too at the time, and I still do, like you have a way of ensuring sort of assessing whether the sales process has the capacity to actually achieve the business plan.

A data and evidence kind of driven way of doing it. I thought, “Well, of course these venture capitalists will be very interested in such a thing.” Boy was I surprised to learn how little interest these venture capitalists had in something like this. I thought it would be like you can have your accounting system audited, right? That’s a very important thing. To know whether the data that the accounting system is producing actually fairly represents the financial condition of the company. What if you could have data and evidence to represent the sales capability? Can it really generate the revenues that you expect it to generate?

Boy, as soon as you use the word sales, it was like a magic wall came up in between you and the venture capitalists fellow. Oh yes, sales we have someone who helps us with that, thank you very much, goodbye. They did not understand what I was trying to get across to them at all. In recent interactions here in Atlanta, I’ve learned the venture capital community is still the same way for the most part.

Dave Vranicar: Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me terribly. Not just venture capital, but private equity is the same way. Here’s the way I look at it. Typically in private equity and venture capital, you have people who have really, really good educations. They are usually the smartest person in the room, or they often are, and they know it. They’re really, really proud of themselves. They have a staff of very quantitatively oriented, young MBA’s who get out their spreadsheets, and they do all of this kind of analysis, and they figure out do the companies metrics look okay? What about this? What about that?

They’re very confident that this will go well. They tend to be optimistic, that’s why they’re in a risky business like investing. So, they think they’ve got it all under control and a lot of them think that they’ll do fine by just hiring the right sales leader. You know, hiring the right VP of sales. The crazy thing is, they’re often right, but what they sometimes do is bring in a sales leader whose work they’re familiar with, because that sales leader helped them with another company.

Here’s the key. If you take a sales leader out of one company, at one stage of growth and transplant that same sales leader to another company that’s at a different stage of growth, that sales leader is much less likely to succeed as he or she did in the past. That’s because they’re dealing with a totally different circumstance.

Michael Webb: Right. The last thing a fish discovers is water.

Dave Vranicar: Exactly, exactly, because they live in it. It’s invisible to them, right?

Michael Webb: Right, right, right.

Dave Vranicar: So I think that’s a very interesting thing. I agree with you. It’s not always an easy sale, but when people see this. When they understand this idea of stages of growth and that the needs are very different. If you can ever get them to recognize that wow, having a fancy degree from an excellent school doesn’t give us any exposure to sales and marketing, and how to deal with customers. And how do we evaluate the power of let’s say a customer value message of anything of the kind. Then their minds open up a little bit, but as you said, that’s a tough thing to get people to recognize. They just don’t have any experience.

Michael Webb: I have to tell you a story. This week I was with a client, and we were with a sales team and their branch manager, and we’re designing an entirely new sales process for them to expand in a new market that they’re not good at selling into. So, we did as one of the exercises with this sales team, we did the spaghetti challenge. Have you ever heard of the spaghetti challenge?

Dave Vranicar: No, I haven’t.

Michael Webb: So, you get 20 pieces of spaghetti. You get three feet of masking tape, three feet of string, and a marshmallow. You break into teams of four people each. You have 18 minutes to build a free-standing structure with those elements, right? The spaghetti, the marshmallow, the string, and the tape. The one that holds the marshmallow the highest off the table, and it actually stands there, you can’t have it fall over. If it falls over, you lose. The one who has the highest marshmallow wins.

Look it up on YouTube. It’s absolutely a fantastic way to engage a team. Because there’s so much to learn. Most of the time the teams will talk for a long time and make a plan on how to do it. “Oh, wait a minute, we’ve only got five minutes left. We better get going.” So then they start trying to tape the spaghetti together and all this. Then at the very end before the 18-minute mark, they put the marshmallow on top and they thought they would be able to hold up the weight, but it doesn’t hold up the weight, it falls over.

So, they’ve done this with thousands of people. Interestingly the group of people who do the poorest in the spaghetti challenge are recently graduated MBAs. They have the structures that don’t stand up very well and the reason why is because they’re taught to think out very carefully to come up with the best plan. Some of them are jockeying. They want to be the CEO and they want to be the leader. So there’s a politic and interpersonal things going on there.

Interestingly, the group that normally does extremely well, much better than expected are recent graduates from kindergarten. The reason is because they don’t have these preconceived notions. None of them are trying to be the head of Spaghetti Inc., right? So they just stick the spaghetti together, and within the first five minutes, they’ve got a little prototype, right? It either worked, or it didn’t.

So, they end up doing three or four, or five experiments. They end up with a pretty darn good structure when it’s done.

Dave Vranicar: Well, there’s such a life lesson in that. In fact, it parallels all the work that’s been done over the past decade or so. Two decades I guess it is now with respect to the lean startup and all this new methodology that’s emerged. That focuses on learn fast, fail fast, iterate fast, and also I guess it’s consistent with the idea of agile development, and agile marketing and so on.

Michael Webb: Yeah. So two questions for you. In these stages of growth of the companies that you work with. What is the difference in the sales process? That’s the first question.

Dave Vranicar: Oh my gosh, there’s a huge difference not just in process, but also in organization. The kinds of people you would hire, and so on. When a company is in a relatively early startup phase, and they’re still trying to figure out if they have a product that they can sell. If they have a big enough market to sell it to, typically at that point the CEO is doing most of the selling work.

So, the CEO, him or herself goes out and calls on companies and it’s a very consultative sale. The CEO directs product development to create the kind of product that his early customers want and that sort of thing. Then when a company gets beyond the point where a CEO can handle those sales, let’s say they’ve proven that they have a product that more than a handful of clients will buy, and they want to start scaling it a little bit. They go out and hire their first salesperson. That salesperson has to be of a certain temperament, personality and has to have certain skills. They have to be able to get on the phone. they have to be able to network. They have to be very comfortable with ambiguity and vagueness with gray areas and so on. Because they don’t have a specific, well-defined process. They don’t have a specific well-defined industry that they can sell to. They have to be extremely flexible. They have to be really good at thinking on their feet.

Then when you start hiring additional salespeople. Let’s say the company now is to the point where they’re ready to expand. Well now you need a sales leader who is more oriented toward process, and who’s not the lone wolf, but is somebody who can organize a team. So somebody who can attract and hire the right kind of salespeople. Who can coordinate them. Who can put together inspirational talks. Good sales training. Good sales onboarding programs, and who’s a good coach. That’s a different animal. Again, very few people have all three of those different categories of strength.

Of course, when a company gets even bigger, let’s say they have a sales force of 20 people or 100 people. Then you’re really talking about a sales leader who is an administrator primarily. Somebody who is really good at spreadsheets and budgets and methodologies, and processes. Who’s good at making board room presentations, and so on. And is good at managing managers. So, each of those represents really quite a different sales circumstance. They require very different people. Very different processes and very different skills.

Incidentally, you could say the same about marketing being substantially different from one stage of growth to the next.

Michael Webb: That’s really pretty interesting. Let me ask you this question. From the point of view of the customer, the sales process, is it the same or different in a company of those different stages of growth?

Dave Vranicar: It’s different. Because typically, now I’m talking about software which is my main experience. But typically, the kinds of companies that will deal with a young company that has a not very well-defined product, has no market share, isn’t a well-known name or anything of the kind. The kind of customer or prospect at that tiny company’s going to be dealing with is an organization that is culturally open to risk. They’re innovative organizations. They’re comfortable being bleeding edge companies.

This kind of gets back to the idea of crossing the chasm. Jeffrey Moore’s idea of you know, just because you succeeded with innovative companies that are willing to take risks early in your company’s development doesn’t mean you’re going to succeed with the more conservative companies that don’t want to be bleeding edge with anything and then have a lot of processes in place, and they don’t want to take risks on a young company that doesn’t have an established product, established market, established market share and terrific support.

Michael Webb: Wow, that’s interesting. Because it almost sounds like at those different stages, you’d be selling something entirely different.

Dave Vranicar: Well, in fact you are selling something entirely different. You may think there’s some continuity of the product, but the way that you present it is entirely different. The messaging is different, the sales methodology is different. The sales process is different. I think a lot of founders who often come out of technology fields, or maybe finance, or who have MBA’s don’t realize the significance of all these huge changes that their company’s going to be going through under their tenure.

Michael Webb: Okay. So if I was to ask you what are the main mistakes that you see organizations make? These business leaders, when it comes to managing their sales organization? I guess through these stages of growth I guess. What would they be?

Dave Vranicar: Oh my gosh. That’s a long, long list. I’m not going … I promise you I’m not going to give you that long of an answer. But they make … I’ve seen company’s make mistakes at almost every stage. To put this into context. I work with, last count, 18 different software companies. Some, many, I guess most of those have been an employee and some of them have been clients of mine. In every case, every single case, I have seen these software companies both large and very small, I’ve seen them make classic mistakes.

They hire the wrong people. They don’t train their people properly. They don’t allocate their territories properly. They don’t give them the kind of support they need. They put together compensation plans that are all wrong. They don’t give them any training. Either in product or in selling skills, or selling methodologies. They don’t give them the kind of pre-sales, or engineering support that they need in order to gain credibility with the customer. They don’t listen to their salespeople. They think salespeople are kind of like pawns out there that they put in the field, and the pawns are fairly expendable. On some giant chess board.

They don’t realize that ssalespeoplehave their finger on the pulse of their marketplace. So, those are just some of the mistakes. There’s just a litany. I’ve never seen a company that doesn’t make many of those mistakes.

Michael Webb: Sales is a world full of opinions. It’s difficult for technically oriented people who want data, right? To know what changes to make. Which of the salespeople to listen to, right? So, I don’t know, you know me and my way of looking at the world. A root cause of all of those mistakes … I’ll ask you, is a root cause of all those mistakes the weakness or the inability of the sales team and the sales management to identify causes and effects with data?

Dave Vranicar: Wow, I know what answer you’d like me to give, Mike. I’m going to give you my honest answer which actually you and I have discussed before. That is it really depends I think on the size and the culture of the company. In the smaller companies that I’ve worked with, and I’ve worked with probably half a dozen startups. Management doesn’t want data. They just want results. They’re very, very pragmatic. They realize that they have a short runway before the plane has to take off. Before they can get revenue, before their investors start getting nervous, pull the plug on the company or the cash flow runs out. So they’re not looking for data. They’re looking for any evidence of what works, period.

As you get into a bigger company. Let’s say a company that’s moving into its fast growth stage, those companies probably don’t have enough infrastructure or process in place to be able to gather much data. They may be hungry for it, but they often don’t have the sophistication or the systems or anything in place to find the data. So they’re coming from behind and trying to put in place analytics and other things that can give them the data.

Then the larger companies typically have plenty of data, if anybody will pay attention to it. I think it’s probably the late growth stage, and the bigger companies where the growth is starting to level off. Where data is probably most valued in my experience.

Michael Webb: That’s interesting. Well, we may have to pick up on this discussion on what’s data, and does it take a lot of time and money to get it, and all that stuff at another time. I never had really considered, I mean, I’ve heard of the crossing the chasm, but I never thought about it in the light of sales process. I never thought about sales processes in the light of crossing the chasm. So it sounds to me like as the organization grows, there’s a completely different infrastructure inside the company that supports the process.

There’s a lot of struggle in how do you build that infrastructure. How do you know what investments to make? That sounds like that’s the place where you are playing. That’s the place where you have guidance and recommendations for people.

Dave Vranicar: That’s exactly right. The real danger is, Mike, that companies often don’t know that they’re not making the right investments until their growth starts to plateau, or coughs and sputters. You know? Investors are expecting hockey stick growth. They step on the accelerator the engine … it just doesn’t go anywhere. Cash flow sufferers investors start doubting the credibility of the CEO. Sales managers get fired. Salespeople get questioned and all this sort of thing. People don’t realize that it’s a system problem, typically, rather than a personal problem, or personnel problem.

The problem is, they don’t know it until they’re in the midst of it. Once they’re in the midst of their crisis, they can’t diagnose it, they can’t see it for what it is. That’s the risk.

Michael Webb: Well, this has been fascinating, Dave. If someone wants to get ahold of you, and learn more about what you do, how would they do that?

Dave Vranicar: Well, they can go to my website, which is Redwell B2B, that’s R-E-D as in David, W-E-L-L, and the letter B as in boy, the numeral two, and the letter B as in boy again. So redwellb2b.com. Or they can phone me at a toll free number. It’s 1-877-324-9500. If you don’t mind, I’ll say that again, Mike. 1-877-324-9500.

Michael Webb: Excellent, super. So if you don’t mind, I’d like to pick this up at another time and go more deeply into this issue of data, and the role it plays in decision making at these different stages. Would that be something you’d have some energy for?

Dave Vranicar: Sure, absolutely. I’d enjoy it. Mike, this is terrific. I might say, I just want to add that when I was interested in sales process maybe 10, 12 years ago, I came across you and your work, and bought your books, and started following you, and got your email messages and everything. I have found you always to be kind of a shining light in this area.

Michael Webb: Thank you.

Dave Vranicar: Seriously. Sometimes it was a tough sell within my own organization, which is why I never brought you in for a consulting gig. For somebody’s who’s process oriented, you were always there to feed my hunger and I really do appreciate it.

Michael Webb: Well, thank you for that. Thank you, I appreciate that, and we will pick up this conversation again. Because you’ve touched on a number of things I think that are rich opportunities. So thanks for your support over the years, and your interests. This was a great conversation, and we will do it again.

Dave Vranicar: Terrific. Thanks so much, Mike.


Michael Webb

Michael Webb founded Sales Performance Consultants to create a data-driven alternative to the slogans and shallow impact offered by typical sales training, sales consulting, and CRM companies. Michael helped organize and delivered the keynote speeches for the first conferences ever held on applying Six Sigma to marketing and sales. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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