Moderated by Joseph Plubell
Senior Vice President, Global Strategic Programs
Black & Veatch

In this excerpt from the Sales Team Alpine Retreat Executive MindXchange Chronicles, Joseph Plubell shares primers on creating a winning organizational culture and managing sales talent, with the end goal of creating an effective, multi-channel sales organization.

Think of all the available sales channel opportunities available to you – direct, indirect, reps, inside sales, alliances, social, partnerships, and more. Research from a number of sales support organizations shows that customers vary in the way that they want to receive communications – phone, email, text, etc. Moreover, that same research indicates greater buying complexity with: more people involved in the process; more options available; and, more information accessible. How does one build a multichannel sales organization to meet the changing buying behaviors of your target customers?

• Best practices to align the sales processes to the buyer’s processes
• Insight on aligning the sales channels to accommodate your strategies
• Critical factors on why Sales Leadership and coaching are vital to the process and success

Joseph Plubell opened his session by stating, “I work for an engineering company that is 103 years old. It’s a plus and minus. Sometimes a lot of senior people can impede change management. I believe in KISS – keep it simple, stupid. You lose employees and customers when things get too complicated.” He then offered the following primers to get the discussion started:

To create a winning culture:
• Start with a winning product or service
• Determine where good sales reps want to be
• Impart a winning mentality

When developing an organization:
• Hire slowly; fire quickly
• A’s- Leave alone
• B’s- Develop
• C’s- Cut bait quickly
• Don’t hire someone based on their black book

• The A players create the engagement. I don’t necessarily believe in leaving them completely alone, though, because you want them to stay engaged, excited
• How you spend your time with the A players is different, you’re probably not going to get in the weeds with them
• In looking at how people are performing, do you look at scoreboard to give a grade or look at intangibles?
• We have a sliding scale in mind. If someone is not adding value anywhere else but is performing, I take that into consideration
• Someone who has bad behavior or who is hard to work with is dragging overall performance down, whereas even if a great person can’t sell, it’s easier to work with them
• With a bigger company, there are places to move people. When you’re in a place where you can be successful, you tend to be happier
• If you keep different scoreboards, then you may end up alienating a group by not making everyone play by the same rules
• The moment that you show a pattern of negative behavior, you’re out
• I have observed sales people where it’s all about them and their accounts and they struggle to communicate with others. They may be the type to hoard information too

• A lot of times we pay so much attention to business that we lose the human element; don’t forget it
• You must have some intuition to really connect with people
• Our best practice is sharing from rep to rep, it’s really important. Ask the questions, be prescriptive with what you want and then let them go
• Cross-pollinating, having reps shadow the A players, is a good idea
• Have an annual sales kickoff, talk about successes and failures, discuss what went well and what didn’t. When you get that aha moment, you can make connections


What is the culture at your organization?
I work for a company that’s not very well-known, but they have a winning product. I have the confidence to sell it, but what about organizations that don’t have people like that?

How do you have a winning culture in a losing environment?
In sports it’s an uncontrollable. What is controllable is your culture (Speaker represents the 49ers). We recruit people who want to do something special; the person with the gold jacket probably did something intangible. You have to tie it back to the time and individuals, focus on the bright spots. At the end of the day, I’m still showing up to a beautiful stadium, I saw amazing games.

We had a software product that was spun off from a company and there was no clear definition of what they were doing, we didn’t know what we were selling, so a lot of people left because it felt like a losing culture.

A lot of it has to do with your boss. You have to figure out what motivates that individual. In the banking business, you have to be structured because there’s too much risk. When bad things happen, you have to go to your customer-facing people that can help weather the storm of bad news.

You have the culture you create and the one you allow. We spend an inordinate amount of time on culture management. Every company has a culture, you either manage it or it manages you. Our culture has evolved, especially since we merged with a competitor, but it’s managed aggressively and it starts at the top.