Theo spoke with Craig Creuziger, VP of Sales Ops at Mersive Technologies. He explains his unique approach to the process change.
Craig joined a tech sales firm straight out of college as a direct contributor. He realised that he made the biggest impact through strategy. Identifying improvements is Craig's favourite part of the job.
When developing a process, having an A player champion is key. Craig gets an A player involved in information gathering and process planning. He views processes through the lens of the end-user.
Craig believes “steady little wins” are what achieve success. You don’t need to change the world in one go.
I think the A-player in my mind is always somebody who understands the why just as much as they do the, how.
My name's Craig got into sales, uh, joined as a direct contributor, right out of college, uh, little, uh, tech startup. We ended up growing that over seven years. And he kind of, at the end of that, I realized that my interests are more on the business side of thing and driving scales in my, in my ability to help reps out was more through strategy and process, you know?
And so I felt like I was getting a bigger contribution and driving those things for the business and just made the leap into sales ops, ran a few BDR teams, then have a, you know, now and running a sales operations department for, uh, Fantastic. Fantastic. And what would you say you enjoy the most about this?
Yeah, for me, it's the strategy. I think, you know, there's a bit of a kind of magic behind the curtain. You know, I can listen to reps, um, kind of see how they're performing listened to. What's frustrating them, uh, you know, in sales ops, you're kind of the hub between all departments, whether it's marketing product finance and say, you can easily identify pitch points and put a new process in place to kind of make their lives easier.
So, you know, I get to be the, uh, The helping hand to make their days easier. Sometimes it's, you know, death by a thousand paper cuts, but, uh, I think it's, it's a, it's a good time. Okay, awesome. So on that, if we get into the, kind of the questions that we discussed previously, uh, what's the groundwork required to guarantee the successful adoption of new processes.
Yeah. You know, I'm not sure there are any guarantees in this space, but, uh, you know, The the most success I've had in designing processes is coming from the point of view of the end user versus, you know, like system architecture. So I think it's important to understand the business requirements, you know, what the business is looking to get out of it.
Sales, operations touches a lot of data. Um, so, you know, it's important that we make sure that those requirements are realistic and there's a path to success. And then, you know, I want to start with how that end user is going to interact with the process to drive. You know, you know, success of those business requirements and, um, you know, take that approach over, you know, the great admins out there that kind of lead with the system architecture, uh, first and, you know, kind of build a process the way it was intended by the CRM.
Um, I think you run into a point of diminishing returns if you're too heavy on the system side and kind of sticking to the best practices versus drawing that reality from the field and, you know, adjusting it to fit the way that the business works at the end users. Awesome. Awesome knows. That was very insightful.
And kind of another question would be, how do we get key influences or champions involved in process change? And what does that look like for you? That's a great, great question. I mean, obviously you want your air, A-players involved in it. Um, you know, I kind of look at it. I want to involve them in the requirements gathering and the process planning kind of take the, you know, here's, what's coming down the pipe, this is what the executive team or the board is expecting.
This is why this is being put in place. And this is now your time to kind of influence you to the output or, or the process itself. Um, you know, get their feedback, make them feel heard, um, and actually leverage that feedback to develop a system or a process that they're going to use. And then, you know, in some cases I want to take a look and trim the fat elsewhere.
Maybe it's, you know, do a little bartering and kill them, antiquated process or metric that, you know, may no longer be. Top priority and kind of do a give and take. So it's less of sales ops or the business just forcing more stuff down, you know, upon them and more of a give and take and just to kind of get them involved.
I think you get the most genuine results going down that path. Yeah. I guess there's kind of like this, you know, it's a, it's a kind of good question, but the same time it's like, if reps can see that this will help them and ultimately help the company. Like that, that hopefully drives good adoption. Right.
Then rep reps can kind of see that and be like, okay, this is going to help me. I'm the company. Yeah. And there's, you know, you've always got your pocket of reps that care about that and your reps that don't give a shit. Right? Like they just want to go there and make their paycheck. So zeroing in on the people that, you know, do care about the business and leveraging that feedback, I think gives you.
Awesome. So onto adoption, what's the key enablement considerations for successful long-term adoption? Like is there a cadence or. Yeah, I think it's important to do, you know, a launch. And then back at with training, you know, jumping right into a training kind of feels forced, you know, not everybody loves force training and you had limited participation.
So I like to do a launch again. Here's what we're doing. Here's why we're doing it. Here's why it's important. And I just let it sit. You know, most people three days after a launch, we're only going to retain 20 to 30% of what you told them. So I let it sit, go back in with the first train. Uh, and anything you can do just to give them cycles with the new process in between a trading, cadence is going to help you out.
So if it's a process that they're going to interact with on a, on a daily basis, you probably only need a couple of tradings and you keep them kind of close together. If it's something they do once a month, that's a hard process to get anybody to adopt. Right. So you're going to want to go to those trainings out over time and then, you know, document the process.
So all the expectations are there in a document that you can forward out or point people to, as they come in with questions. And then, you know, you kind of need this visibility layer for adoption. So reports, dashboards that show people interacting with that process, create a scoreboard. You know, if your team likes that kind of stuff and is motivated by that, uh, and just have some, just have some fun with it.
And, you know, I think it's also important to manage kind of the process and the expectations as well. So if the process isn't being adopted. That bad news needs to travel upstream faster than any good news that you've got related to it. And so you can take that time to reevaluate, you know, the ask or take a look at the process, talk about why it's failing, you know, that kind of stuff.
Yeah. So, so that that's interesting instead of school board. So if you could elaborate on that, have you ever kind of used that sort of way to get, get reps on board or. Yeah, I haven't gone too heavy into it. It's usually just a subscribed report. That's got some level of, you know, management or executive, you know, visibility cause you know, reps don't ever want to be last when it comes to being put against their peers.
And you know, I usually put it out there and have fun with it. It's not supposed to be a discipline type of deal. Um, but yeah, you get, you get a little pickup if people know. Yeah, it's a good way. I mean, wraps is super competitive ride, so it's a good way of doing it. Um, so it's kind of tech. What, what part does tech play in successful process change and the dog.
Yeah, I think it depends by process obviously, but we pay a lot for these systems. So it should always be driving some level of efficiency or removing pinch points from a process and removing a manual process. If you just think about predictive analytics, right? You want to get to a point where the algorithms are crunching numbers behind the scenes and delivering.
Um, insights while you're sleeping versus the old exercise of exporting everything, new Excel and trying to use formulas to manipulate, right? The system should be doing that level of work for you. Um, and I think the danger here is that these systems actually, you know, are designed to deliver at scale, which means that they're also going to deliver.
And just function at scale, right? So if you watch the process or deliver something, that's, half-baked, you're going to do more damage than good. And you're also going to lose some street grid on future process adoption. So it kind of goes right back into that requirements gathering, making sure you're asking for the right stuff involving the right people and, and testing, you know, tested before you launch it, to make sure you're going to get the result.
But when it comes to. Awesome. Awesome. And how does data capture come incidents? What evidence do you surface to convince people? Adoption will help. Yeah, I think for me, it's always been, keep it simple, you know, you can over-engineer these things as much as you want, you're just going to lose your audience.
Um, so you've got, and I think you do have two audiences, right? You've got the, the metrics sort, the information that the end users are going to care about. Like how does it help them sell more? How does it make their life easier? And then you've got the upstream metrics that executives, the board they're going to care about.
And, you know, oftentimes nobody cares about the sausage or how it's made, just give them their specific plate of sausage and, and carry on and don't be pedantic. Right. Like keep it simple. Yeah. Okay. Perfect. Yeah. I think simplicity is key in all walks of life and especially in there. So that's, that's a good point.
Um, What would be one thing that you could share is really important to a successful process change that might not be so obvious. Yeah, I live with the most, uh, interesting question out of the lot of them. Right. And I think, uh, certainly the one that I thought most about and the answer I came to is, you know, these, these changes, they can be subtle, they can be minor tweaks, it can produce a directionally correct answer or metric versus an exact metric.
You know, it's not always a showstopper or a game-changer. Right. You know, shavings makes the pile with this type of stuff. And sometimes it's the quiet little ninja moves behind the scenes that really make the big difference. And, you know, I think we're always looking for those silver bullets, but, you know, I steady pace on small little wins can hit just as hard.
So, you know, don't get lost and trying to change the world, look for little bits and pieces. And I think you'll find that the sum of those is going to, you know, really creates all this. Awesome. Yeah, I totally agree with you then. Um, I'm pretty big on learning from failure, I think is pretty important and there's a lot of the chameleon, right.
Um, so what was the worst rollout you had or what did you learn from this? Yeah, this one, uh, this is what haunts me every day. So it takes me no effort to answer this down. It was a process to deliver and measure a pipeline generation quota. So, you know, the executive team thought, oh, well, the answer to having more sales is to make sure that we're putting enough new pipelines into the opportunity.
So let's give them a pipeline generation quota, and we'll manage attainment against that quota. Just like we do. With a sales quota. So, you know, we're all in the room and go, yeah, that'd be a great idea. It's so easy. Let's just get more, you know, pipeline in there. And you know, the issue with it obviously is that pipeline creation is such an easy metric to manage too.
And if you yell at somebody long enough to create more pipeline, they're going to create more pipeline. And, uh, what you'll see is there's going to be a dip in their win ratio, right? So these things are all, all related to. Um, and you know, I think what's important. And what I learned from it is that, you know, if it's a shit initiative, just kill it.
Like don't, don't try to like appease people, get in there and say like, Hey, here's kind of what we're seeing. I think we should pull the plug on this and, uh, and just move on and, you know, lick your wounds and get out of the. Yeah, super important to know when something kind of notes, something is isn't working and it's not likely to work, you know, so that's important.
And on upscaling reps is actually one. My personal favorite themes are quite enjoying this one. So firstly, what the finds an A-player, uh, what primary map primary metric is chosen and what's the sub metrics they used creates a template for an April. Yeah, I think, uh, the A-player in my mind is always somebody.
Who understands the why just as much as they do the, how so, how, how am I as a rep impacting the business? Why does that matter to investors? What contributions am I making towards product improvements and marketing messaging? You know, I think quota attainment is always going to be the primary metric because it's the one that jumps out on you on a, on a spreadsheet.
The, the sub metrics are the levers. Uh, you know, in sales, operations and enablement that we can pull to help make reps better. So how do we increase deal size closing ratio, uh, their ability to work more opportunities. And then how do you decrease, you know, time to close? If you focus on those four things as the sub metrics, I think you're going to get a pretty good view into, you know, converting the players to A-players or even just defining your benchmark.
Interesting. So would you kind of say that there's a big thing in, in kind of SaaS world and sacral moment is like, there's so many metrics out there right. Every day being developed and things like that. And I've spoken to lots of sales leaders. Who've just said that. We only do like a ho we only look at harmful of metrics and value metrics because there's metrics for everything.
But quite a lot of them create issues that aren't solvable. Yeah. So D are you kind of like that in this kind of a simplistic way? You, you look at the, when, when you're looking at your reps, now you went to ones or whatever you were looking at these metrics and you kind of value these far more than, than, than other metrics.
Yeah, and that's exactly right. And I think I take that approach because ultimately all these have to turn into coaching conversations, if you want to drive improvements. Right. And, you know, I could go get 300 metrics and maybe they're going to understand 30 of them. I'm not going to bore them with the rest.
Right. And you're going to have again though, that kind of messaging to the field to drive improvement. And then that messaging upstream that they're going to take, you know, to the board, to, to talk about future investment and whatnot. So any kind of have two sets that you measure measure, but for the reps, I like to keep it simple on the stuff that, you know, we can control and develop process for.
Awesome. So it kind of goes as far as what other question again? So how do you then compare a B player to an A-player? How do you spot where one is stronger or weaker? Is it just on these five metrics or is there another way as well? No, I think it goes back to that. Why and how, right. So I'm going to look at the why factors do they get it and do they care?
You know, apply some gentle coaching to see if they have a genuine interest in learning more about the business. I'll give them, you know, a peek behind the curtain as to here's why it matters. Um, but you know, some reps just don't care and that's not necessarily bad. So, you know, it's just more likely that they're coin operated and I'm going to stop the business coaching and, and try and I grow them on that front.
And I'm going to start concentrating on competence, sensitives, territory, talk tracks, finding. Different opportunities. That's going to help them sell more so they can make more commission. Fantastic. Um, yeah, I mean, it's, it's, it's interesting. Um, cause I thought you would've gone down a data led approach that, um, but it's kind of like a human approach as well as it, right.
Even though you're in the kind of sales ops, there's a human side to it. And the why and the how is just as important. I take it right back to coaching, you know, it's, you're going to have to coach these guys if you want them to get better. And I think, you know, coaching comes down to stories and demonstrated success and you can do analysis or paralysis by analysis, but you know, you've got to speak their language and talk about what matters.
Awesome. So how do we turn this process in something that's tangible and coachable, uh, when we're kind of turn and be places A-players. Yeah, I've been fortunate enough to work with smaller teams. You know, my largest team is 25 reps and had gone down to, you know, teams as small as five. So I like to manage it.
One-on-one because as I mentioned before, each rep is going to care about things, you know, slightly different from the next rep. And so, you know, you'll have the core functions, obviously that have to be messaged across the entire team. Now here's our sales process and the expectations related to. But, you know, if you're looking at minor improvements, um, to help, you know, move the needle, it has to be tailor-made by rep and be specific.
So let me think that comes by it, or it comes across as like forced or unwanted, you know, is generally going to be a waste of time to do it in math. So I just take the time and I go one-on-one, you know, and, and find the little specific markers and measures that I can tweak to drive individual. So, so how often do you do once a once?
Like I hear some people do and then weekly fortnightly. Um, or do you kind of have a process go right? Is this B, B Ratko needs weekly one-to-one to get up to an a rep for any rap on any sport, not nightly ones, I can rely on him or her to, to be consistent. Yeah, I like to, uh, I like to keep it the same for everybody so I can define a program.
Typically I lean on weekly one-on-ones, uh, sometimes I'll increase the, or I'll mess with the frequency for, you know, new hires or ramping reps. Um, you know, there's always special considerations there. Or, you know, if you get in from a. If your team is in more of a maintenance mode than it is a development mode, you know, that you can go out to every other week.
Um, but for one-on-ones I like to split it. It's, you know, I always position it as they're meeting. Uh, we just all have some topics to bring to your meeting. Um, but you know, I want those sort of self-improvement in Korea. Goal and growth opportunities to be brought to the table by them. So it's not me forcing on.
Here's what I think, you know, it can make you better. And again, you're sorting out, you know, you'll, you'll have the reps who bring two or three things and questions and examples. Then you'll have the reps that when you know what you want to talk about today, we just met two weeks ago. Right. And so my team, my time is just as valuable as your time.
We'll book it for a half hour. We'll use what we need. And if it's a five minute meeting and I don't have anything to tell you, then it's a five minute meeting. Yeah, exactly. Then, like you said, it's a good opportunity to see a reps and B reps. Right? You can see people who really want to get better and, uh, kind of aware of where they've gone wrong and people who were there just to kind of go with the flow and take it easy.
So, in those, in those one to ones, you kind of looking at reporting, or do you use a tool for that? So you can't like when I say reporting, I mean, do you go on like Salesforce, create your report and then bring it to the, to the meeting or. No, it's their meeting. They have dashboards, they know where they are for quota attainment.
You know, it's their responsibility to hit target. We're all adults here. So, you know, they're, they're bringing that to the table. You know, for me, it's more about how can I help you, uh, if there are specific issues, you know, what happened with this deal? Or last time we talked about you wanted to do more role-playing how can I help you with that?
Or how did it go? You know, I try to just stick to. You know, whatever the recurring theme is from meeting to meeting rep to rep versus here's a whole bunch of stuff I'm going to shove down your throat that you may or may not care about. Um, and onto how do you distinguish between an individual's weaknesses and a sales teams?
We can say. Yeah, this is a fun one too. So, you know, for me, it's about picking KPIs to measure across the team and measure everybody the same way. Uh, and then when you're looking at that data, obviously once you have enough data to, to consider a true dataset, you know, the outliers or the outlying data points should be more individual strengths and weaknesses.
Now you've got to pick them apart to validate them a bit. You know, solve for territory or market factors, but then the trends across the data should be your team indicators. So if everybody is 50% behind on quota for the new product, then I have to look at me, you know, did we set the quota too high? Did we not train enough?
Is the product working, you know, is going on in there. So it's kind of, you know, individual outliers versus team trends against a common data set that you're measuring equally measuring equally across every. How difficult is that to do? Like, can you, can you kind of find that out pretty quickly that it's an individual issue or, or, or does it take some time?
Um, I mean, it it'll take, I like to give myself three months, so, you know, I'll do it like. I'll do a requirements, gathering exercise, typically with, you know, the executive team. How do we want to measure the team? We'll keep things are we looking for? And then we'll all agree. Hey, these are the five metrics that we think are contributors to that.
Uh, and then you start, are you watching them and making sure the playing field is, is even, um, you know, one or two data points is never a trend. So you just have to give. The wrong, no, the run time to have it play out. So, you know, call it three months, whatever it is, depending on how often you're picking up a data point and then start fishing from there.
And it's usually out of the gate, it's here are the three or four interesting insights that I see. Here's what I think they could mean. And it's a floor discussion, you know, do we agree? Yes or no? Do we need to adjust? Uh, and you just kind of build it organically on the fly or at least. Awesome. Awesome.
And my final question, Craig is what's the most effective ways of cross pollinated skills on the sales floor that you've seen. Um, you know, for me, since I do come from the role of a direct contributor, you know, seven. Seven years. I think of direct selling. It's always lead by example, get in the trenches with them.
You know, if I can do one on top of my day job, you can do it as part of your job role play, have fun with it. You know, the more uncomfortable, the better, because I think it preps you to kind of get punched in the face and you take it live with prospects and clients. Right. So, yeah. I personally believe we never max out in our potential and there's always room to learn new skills.
There's always room for improvement. Not everybody thinks that way. And I think we have to appreciate that. And if they've made quota three years in a row, they don't see need to learn new things or. Yeah, I agree with you on areas for improvement. You know, the company is going to like them just fine. If they make quota fourth year in a row.
Right. So go, go spend your time where it's going to matter. And the people that want you to give them coaching or share their time or use you as a sounding board. You know, just give everybody the opportunity, thank them for their involvement. I think that's, that's a big one. Cause I think, you know, oftentimes people come across it, you know, you're getting a paycheck, you gotta do this, you gotta do this.
You know, commission covers you on sales. Your paycheck is this and this, you know, just take time, take time to say thanks. That's a good one. Um, and then yeah, I think, you know where the level of effort and performance don't match the company goals. You got to make a change there and get it the right person in the chair that can contribute to the team.