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The Revenue Operations Blog

Strategic Selling, Eddie Baron

January 11, 2022

The Interview

Kluster's Take

Theo spoke with Eddie Baron, Director of Global Account Development at Zoomin. He explains his thoughtful approach to Sales Leadership.

Eddie has been selling for 16 years, spending half of this time as an Account Executive. He moved into SaaS 8 years ago, scaling sales development teams. 

Selling is in Eddie’s genes. Whilst at school, he sold key-chains his brother picked up at conferences. 

Eddie stresses that his role is strategic, rather than tactical. Trust is one of the most important traits. There needs to be mutual trust between rep and leader.


I look at my team as my partner, because without them, you're not going to get to the moon.

Uh, first, uh, I want to say thank you for inviting me. Um, it's an honor. Um, so what's my sales story. So I've been, uh, professionally selling for, um, uh, 16 years, uh, half the time. It wasn't a E um, and then, um, A little bit more than eight years ago, I got into SAS, um, and then started building and scaling, uh, um, business development teams.

So 16 years doing professionally. Uh, but realistically speaking, I've been selling. Um, all kinds of crap too. When I was a kid to, to my, uh, to my fears. Um, my brother is a, is an optician and, uh, he used to go to conferences, um, and get all these chotchkies from the conferences, um, and like key chains. And I would just take them and sell them and make a couple, uh, can make a couple of bucks on them.

So since then, uh, I guess I'm, I'm a third generation seller, so I guess it's in my genes. That's awesome. So one part I picked up out there is kind of quite from closing your own deals to helping others close their deals. And what was kind of the driving factor behind that? Do you think getting, um, well, I'll tell you why business development, uh, specifically, um, w when I was a seller, it was, it was full cycle sales.

Right. And, um, You know, if you're spending your time and closing deals, you're not spending your time on building your pipe. Now, if you're spending a time in building your pipe, you're not spending your time closing deals. Uh it's, it's very, it's, it's, it's, you know, it's a time management skill that you have to develop within and time.

Some people over the years still don't have it. Right. Um, only the few only the best really could, could manage that. Um, and then when that was introduced to, uh, you know, to, to account development, a sales development business, whatever we want to call it, This is the pump. This is the, but because I look at it as more of a strategic role, rather than a tactical role, a lot of organizations, they look at SDRs, very tactical, very entry level, and they're treated as such, not, not that, not our teams.

Um, so anyway, when I was first introduced to business development, I was like, my mind was just blown, right? Um, I'm like, wow, this, you know, this, this team is, is a, um, is a heavy. Has a very strategic heavy foundation to the, to the go-to market, uh, funnel. Perfect. So imagining that it's, um, you know, some, some great reps and some not so great reps, but if we, if we start with, you know, what, what defines an A-player player is two, two sides.

There's the metrics that make that, but make that up. So it needs to be kind of like bringing in X amount of deals. There's also the characteristics. So if we begin with the characteristics, maybe we go on to the metrics then in your eyes, what makes new player. Hey, Claire are unique. Um, there, there someone harder to manage because one day they think there are no at all, uh, because they over exceed and, you know, they, they do less with more, um, Meaning, they, you know, you see their outputs a little bit less direct.

Their daily activities are less, but then you see them producing all these numbers, right? So that's not the part that's hard to manage, but when you come to them and ask them, what's going on, they're like, I got this, I got this. And it's, it's not, it's not the first time or the second time I've, I've accounted this where, you know, you kind of have to build trust.

Right. If they say they got this, then you have to know, okay, John DOE Jane DOE. They, they got it. Right. Um, and, but they are somewhat a little bit, uh, harder to manage because again, like I mentioned earlier, they, they, they, they, they come off the bat. Like there are no at all. So would you say that, I guess with

leadership super important, Brian, So as, as you you're a leader of an API, how does that, that approach differ? Like, do you have to have more of a backseat role? Is what you're saying? Or can you be as hands-on as you would be with the.

I mean with the, with the, with the B players and the C players. It's, it's not about taking it's about trust. I was once, um, I was once told by one of my leaders, uh, you know, you want to, you want to gain so much trust and this goes back to the, to the, um, to Vince Lombardi quote, right. That you have to have a love and, uh, for, for your associates, right.

And you and your players. 'cause that's, that's what builds trust at the end of the day. Right. And you have to have trust in them. No, yes. In the, A-players also the B player and the C players and you have to gain so much trust that, you know, as a leader, that, and again, this goes up all the way. It trickles from the top.

Right. Also my leader, right. My CEO, they have to know that they can. Close their eyes fall backwards, you know, with their hands tied behind their backs and knowing that we'll catch them in the same thing, uh, for, for my team, both the A-players and to be players in a C players, and you have to gain so much trust in them that you also want to show that, you know, you want that you're picking their brains, that you want to get some information from them.

Um, first of all, they're the voice of. They'll tell you the data could tell you, you know, if you beat data hard enough, I'll tell you exactly what you want it to tell you. Right. Uh, but the voice of truth will tell you to what's actually happening on the ground there, the troops. Um, but you know, and that's how you get the C players, the B players and the B players to A-players as when you give them enough empowerment, um, and show that you do trust them to like, I, I, you know, he thinks, he thinks that I got this let's show him.

Let's prove it that's at the end of the day. I mean, as cliche as it, as it sounds, but the numbers don't lie. Yes. Yeah, for sure. I liked that idea surrounding trust. Is it one that I've come across too much? So if a rapids is your organization, let's say fresh out of college or whatever, um, do they immediately have your trust or is trust something that.

It's gained through consistently performing for the company. Nah, I don't think you, you, you, you can't eat. Let me rephrase that. You can not trust the person off the bat. You know, you have to have some sort of trust. This is why for instance, countries that you'll never thought, you know, you'll never think in your lifetime that we'll actually do business together, but everything is built on trust at the end of the day, right.

Countries that have relations to go to one another. They don't have to like one them. All right. But they do have to have some sort of a trust and it's this, and it takes time to build.

Right. If the, if that, if that makes sense. So like when someone starts, you somewhat trust them. Yes. Right. But it takes time to build and this and vice versa, by the way. Right. When, when you're, when you're a team, they, they, uh, They know who, you know, who you are as a leader, but it takes trust, takes time and they have to start building, you know, you have to build their trust as well.

Both at the same time it works. It's vice versa. So how do you ensure that you, they build trust in you in that sense? If they, if there's a kind of based off performance, they can consistently perform, is it the exact same way wrong or was there something else that well, you know, to show that you're there for them to listen.

I think listening, it's only all about listening. It's it's um, I think Theodore Roosevelt is a, um, um, set of facets. It's not only about listening. It's also about caring, right? And to show that you care and not everyone can show, it's actually caring. That's, that's a. That's what actually actually counts.

It's the caring part. Um, so you have to show that you're there for the show that you care for them and about them and things that are happening and they're alive and it's okay to talk to them about what's also happening in their personal lives, because at the end of the day, we're all human and we all go through a ups and downs.

Right. And, and you have to listen sometimes and just, you know, be, be that shoulder that, oh, that person did it be. That's the trust. Yeah. I think I speak to, you know, a lot of sales leaders and they kind of always say the same thing. It's it's then to the best kind of leaders look at their reps as, as people and not ways of reaching quotes and performance.

I want to phrase that I would rephrase that. Uh, I will look at, uh, I look at my, uh, um, as this team, as my partners. Yeah. Okay. I like that. Why partners?

And you rely on one another. Yeah, sure, sure. That's great. If, if we look at closing the gap, you look at what's more of a different substance, your rises and lead and closing the gap between getting a C player to a B or a B player in Atlanta. Honestly, I think they're both equally. I don't want to say hard.

It's not a hard and it's not challenged, but, uh,

It's it's difficult to answer that because it's, it's based on individuals. So, you know, it's, it's a, it's a two way street, so both, both parties have to, uh, have to tango here. Right. Um, so if, you know, if, if let's say the leader is willing to do whatever it takes, but then the, um, um, The other person, um, on the other end is like, Hmm, no, I'm good with this then, you know, they're not going to progress.

It, it can't be just one, uh, one side at the, um, approach. Okay, perfect. So in, in your kind of experience, have you ever known anybody to go from a seats when they, and if so, kind of, how did they do that? Um,

it, you know, I have a few examples. I remember that. Um, I hope this person doesn't kill me. Uh, um, you know, I had someone on my team who was a walking cliche, uh, from the moment, uh, he started and he was like, I, you know, I'll eat my, uh, I get my quota for lunch without salt. Uh, like, okay. You know, I've, uh, you know, I've been around the block.

I heard that one before. And this person was just amazing, amazing. He, and he took it to places that I couldn't even imagine. Um, and today he is just, he's one of the top, uh, sales up in a well-known global company. And. Knowing he took it, did whatever it takes to get there, but he was also a good listener.

Um, he, he took the criticism as constructive criticism, um, and he knew where the boundaries, uh, were right between, uh, um, a manager and an appear in a friend rather. Um, but he listened and he was open to everything. Wasn't like my way or the highway. Um, he was always looking to like, to, if it's not broken, right.

You know, white break it. So he kind of like, if it's, if it's working, let me break it. And, and, uh, and we build it again, take a step back and look at that and look at that board. And I'm like, okay, maybe I could make different plays to get, uh, because there's a million new routes to Rome. Right. Um, and you just have to kind of build away.

Asking questions, a ton of questions. It doesn't matter if he was hitting his quarter. We're not even if let's say was overthink, we still ask questions is always hungry, always open. And on top of that, always willing to help his beers that are not, not there yet. Yeah. That sounds like a pretty good rep sends on someone who's got the best sort of base humbly confident.

Right? I think confidence is important in sales, always being humble enough to know that. I know, I've never, I've never read the whole book I need to, I need to keep on learning and there's always something to do then. Um, so, so when he started, he, was he an SDR BDO? Was he, was he, uh, an a at the time? Uh, no.

It was a BTR today. He's yeah, today's a, uh, a strategic. Fantastic. Great story. So come a couple of mites. Two last questions here. How do you distinguish between an individual's weakness and the sales team's weakness? You kind of find that this out it's, you know, you could find it out, um, doing the hiring process.

Yes. But then you're like, okay, this is salvageable. I could fix here and there. Uh, Or you, you can find this out throughout the onboarding process when you're doing, uh, like simulations, uh, you're doing not the email simulations, but you could, but I'm talking about more like the phone simulations, you know, even with all the technology and the tools that we have today.

I still, I take it old school where I have the individuals in front of me and there's. Calling me, right. I like an outbound call and how I would, I would, uh, you know, and again, other people on this team, they know this they're, uh, we go through this, uh, uh, constantly even we do this sometimes on, on, uh, on, um, on our workshops.

Right. Uh, but we still do this and it's uncomfortable. People hate it, but it's. You know, and we really take them through the worst case scenario. Um, and you figure, you kind of figure it out throughout the, throughout the whole onboarding process of where their weaknesses are, like what you thought yesterday.

Not necessarily as the same, same thought today. That makes any sense.

Almost every rep will have weaknesses in some areas. Like it's not, it's not an easy job as it, especially when my first week, like picking up a phone, it's quite a, quite a difficult task and something that you haven't, you just need to do a lot. Right.

There's something that I read. Um, I read online a while ago. Um, they took this poll, I forget where, uh, where this Paul was. There was one of the balls on LinkedIn. Um, and that's all we see today on LinkedIn is Paul's. Um, I just, I can't find it. Let me see if I could find out my phone number. And it was very, very, uh, it was very interesting thing.

Um, they asked a bunch of sellers, um, Yeah. What is the hardest part of a cell cycle? Right. And I think they asked around like 5,000, uh, sellers and, uh, the response was, it was 16%, uh, said the hardest part of closing of the sale cycle is closing the deal. Uh, 4% present, uh, presenting a solution, 11% said, qualifying the opportunity.

You know what the, uh, what 68%. Getting getting the first conversation. Yeah. Um, yeah. Which is absolutely the heart.