Coaching Culture with Kevin Dorsey

In episode 10 of The Sales Topics Podcast, Ryan talks to Kevin Dorsey, VP of Inside Sales at PatientPop, to discuss revenue intelligence and coaching culture in sales.

Discover more episodes from The Sales Topics Podcast here.


Ryan:  Hello. This is Ryan Reisert, your host. This is going to be a very different podcast series than anything you’ve experienced on the market. What I’m trying to do is change things up a little bit – rather than having a special guest and one topic with great conversation that goes away, we’re going to host a series of experts and others who have perspective on different topics over a period of time, gather that in a series of episodes and roll that out until we’ve really exhausted a topic. So hopefully you enjoy this podcast. And thanks again for listening.

All right, I’m really excited for our next guest on this topic. KD, do you want to introduce yourself?

Kevin:  What up, my man. KD, Kevin Dorsey, VP of Inside Sales at PatientPop. We are a practice growth platform and start-up in Santa Monica. Run the inside squad there about 70 some people right now and looking to grow this year as well, but I love sales, I love psychology, I love my sales people. Ready for this talk.

Ryan:  Oh, fantastic. Well, I’m really excited to jump in with you because I know you bring a plethora of experience, but also based on the other guests we’ve had on the show I’m just curious to hear your perspective. So when we get into this coaching culture, revenue intelligence, what do you think about this?

Kevin:  I think it’s interesting to see it now become popular or now become like a thing people are talking about, because I think they’re two different things – there’s revenue intelligence and there’s a coaching culture. And I think a lot of people are falling down is because they’re trying to leverage revenue intelligence and they don’t have a coaching culture. Because also too for the most part revenue intelligence is more so behavioral intelligence, it’s what’s happening that’s causing the revenue. And then coach is how you try to get the behaviors, but most people don’t have a coaching culture so the revenue intelligence doesn’t really matter.

Ryan:  That’s a really good point. So you’re getting right into the definitions of revenue intelligence, like what’s happening within say the funnel and what does that mean and then the coaching culture. And so I think you’re spot on, this is where I’m really excited to hear your thoughts, like companies are buying coaching or buying revenue intelligence platforms because of a buzzword and now they’re saying they have a coaching culture. So why do you think this movement is starting to catch fire? You said it’s interesting, but what do you think it might be taking especially in tech?

Kevin:  Oh, man, I don’t know how PC I want to be here.

Ryan:  Be raw, man.

Kevin:  It’s because there’s nothing left to point at. It’s like people are finally figuring it out that it comes down to how good the sales person is. The sales industry has outpaced itself with tools, right? Like, I wouldn’t go to a little league baseball team and hand them a professional baseball player’s bat and go, “Now they’re a professional,” right? Like, but that’s what sales has been doing. “Oh, you can’t send bad emails fast enough, here’s a tool that’ll let you send bad emails faster. And you can’t get in touch with people, here’s a tool that you get in touch with more people. And you can’t close deals, well, here’s a tool that tells you why you’re not closing deals.” Well, why you’re not closing deals? Because the salesperson sucks. Oh, we have to be good.

So honestly we’ve run out of things to point fingers at. It’s no longer the tool’s fault. It’s the person’s fault. And now people are trying to say, “Well, how do we make the salesperson better?” And unfortunately it’s taken this long, that’s why the industry is in the state that it is right now.

Ryan:  Well, it’s a really, really interesting perspective. I love the tool, right? Like a fool with a tool is still a fool, right?

Kevin:  Still a fool.

Ryan:  That old … is still a fool. And so how much of that is on the company though versus the rep, right? So I hear this a lot, the salesperson sucks, the rep sucks, right? Is that the reps fault or is that the manager or the company’s fault? How do you see that?

Kevin:  I put most of the blame on the company if they hired the right person, right? So I’m not going to dismiss salespeople being lazy, I’m not going to dismiss salespeople not taking their career seriously. Like, you need to take your career seriously, right? Like I do invest a ton into culture, into coaching, into training, not everyone takes to it, not everyone is willing to be coached and willing to do those things. But I believe it comes down to the company and the manager. No other industry or team would operate under this premise, right? No orchestra would be like, “Hey, you’re part of the orchestra. You figure out how to play this and then we’ll grade you on how you did.” The army doesn’t hire people and say, “Okay, you figure out how to storm a building and we’ll tell you how you did.” A nurse goes to school for six years, a doctor goes to school for 10 years, a lawyer goes … like everyone else is taught how to do their job by someone else – sales people aren’t, but they should be. The company should be teaching them how to sell the right way. You can’t be mad at them if you didn’t teach …

A question I ask my managers all the time, if something’s not going right, first question I ask is, “Did we coach them how to do this?” Not tell them – coach them. Like, have we coached them? This just happened last week, a big thing we did, like someone opens the emails, we call them, right? And so something we say often is like, “Hey, pull up the people that have opened your emails, give them a ring.” And we’ve been doing that for a long time, but it still hasn’t been happening. And I sat down and said, “Did I ever actually teach them how to do that?” And the answer was no, like we actually hadn’t taught them how to do it.

Ryan:  Right.

Kevin:  We teach them and magically it happens.

Ryan:  Or maybe you’ve shown them, you showed them, right? They went through on-boarding. We have a playbook; we’ve done this … that’s so at home for me right now because at the sales developers we grew really quickly, we had all the systems and process, all this stuff so well documented. And I had that same talk like, “What’s going on?” Like, it’s all right there. And that hits home because it was on our leadership team, and me in particular because I’m at the top, to sit back and say, “Hey, look, we’re not reinforcing, we’re not coaching, we don’t have a culture to get behind this and ensure that we’re still all rowing in the same direction,” right? That North Star, that’s so big.

So that transitions really nicely into what does that look like at your company today? So obviously you’ve got the right perspective here, it sounds like you’re doing some of this stuff. Here’s an example of maybe where something’s missing, but what does this all look like to you? Revenue intelligence, coaching culture, do you guys have this going?

Kevin:  Yeah, so I mean, it starts on … well, it starts in hiring, right? Like, we screen heavily for people that have an aptitude for learning, for people that learn things quickly, for people that seek out knowledge, that are like really coachable. So that starts in hiring. We have a four to six week boot camp that people go through when they start at Patient Pop – closer or SDR, it doesn’t matter, you’re getting coached for four weeks. And when I say coached, I mean, coached. You’re not shadowing people for two hours a day and trying to figure it out. You are in a room practicing the scripting, practicing the emails, going through sales loft, right? You have to write and send an email to either me or the instructor so we can grade how well you wrote that email down. You’re scoring calls, using like our call scoring … I don’t even know revenue intelligence, like I know Gong’s doing revenue intelligence, things like that, but like we use Gong for that, like they’re scoring calls using our score cards – good calls and bad calls.

By the time they’ve got out of the boot camp they have done hundreds of repetitions on what they’re supposed to do. That’s what coaching is. And then it never stops, so once you’re out of the boot camp what the managers report to me or to their directors are the coaching plans for the reps, not the metrics. I know the metrics. I got a dashboard. So on our one-on-one  doc it says number one metric for rep, coaching plan to impact it, right? The reps are responsible for submitting two calls per week called and scored. The managers are responsible for reviewing calls and then doing one-on-one s and coaching, right? So those are separate to us. We do a one-on-one  to talk about what needs to be coached and then we do coaching on the flip side of it.

And that never stops. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been on my squad, top to bottom, that coaching is built in across the board.

Ryan:  I love that. That’s a super robust system. You said that they have to submit calls and you’re mentioning calls, calls, calls, why are you emphasizing calls so much?

Kevin:  Over what?

Ryan:  Well, everything else we do, right? You’re talking a lot about the calls, are there any other things that come up?

Kevin:  So I mean, emails, videos that they’re submitting, like we coach them on how to write a good video message, how to do the emails. The reason why I’m hounding on the calls is that’s where most things go wrong. At the end of the day no matter what channel, we’re probably going to talk, whether you got me through email.

Ryan:  We’re definitely going to talk if we’re going to sell, right?

Kevin:  Right. You sent me something, even if you prospected me through social or email or direct mail, eventually you’re going to get on the phone. The other reason why is I’m able to control the other messaging better. I can control the emails going out better. I can control the direct mail, the videos. Like, that’s easier to control. Once you … if you’re an AE on the phone with me it’s go time.

Ryan:  That’s right, yeah.

Kevin:  So that’s why it’s also to me the hardest to teach, getting people to really get strong on the phone, a strong demo, a strong follow-up. It’s the hardest skill to teach I think in the sales process. So that’s why we focus a lot there. I’ve yet to have a rep who’s great at cold calling, great at demoing, great at follow-up fail because they couldn’t write a good email.

Ryan:  That’s music to my ears. And it’s one of the things that I think so many organizations today, you hit at the top of this, struggle with because they’ve thrown all these tools and automations into the ring for their new reps who’ve never done any of this before, they give them all of it but you control the messaging and then they expect them to be good. But they’re afraid of the phone, well, no shit, they’ve never had any experience using the phone, you haven’t you haven’t actually given them an opportunity. It’s almost like teaching someone math and saying, “Here’s your TI 89 calculator,” from the very beginning before they even know how to add and subtract. Like, you’ve got to walk them through the fundamentals before they know how to use a high power calculator, because otherwise when they go back to the fundamentals they’d be like, “Why wouldn’t I just use the calculator? One plus one is two,” right?

Kevin:  Fair, right? Like, I hate these terms like call reluctance. If you haven’t taught them it’s not called reluctance, it’s they don’t know what to do so they actually should be afraid. Any SDR that’s trying to call me that has not been specifically trained on how to speak to like a VP of sales should be afraid. You get me on the phone and you mumble and stumble over your words, you killed the opportunity, right? Like, this is also where in my teams that people go through on-boarding with me, this is very common, is like I keep pulling them back, like, “KD, I’m ready.” “No, no, no. Show me again.” “Oh, I’m ready to do it.” “No, no, no.”

By the end of it they want to make the cold call, they’re excited, “Let me go. Like let me off the leash.” That’s how people should be coming out of on-boarding, not they spent three days with HR, sit down next to the top rep for two hours, hear three conversations and they go, “Okay, there’s your territory, go.” Like, they should be afraid. If they’re not afraid, they’re probably a psychopath. Like, that is important.

Ryan:  Yeah, no, it’s … I love that. So you have a lot that’s happening within your system that’s super tight, what’s working in that system? I mean, we hit on a couple things here, but what do think you working the best and why? Why might that be the case?

Kevin:  So one of the things that … so I mentioned some things like the on-boarding program works well, like the call reviews and one-on-ones and coaching plans work well. One thing that I think we do well that not a lot of people do too is called tribal training. So reps are also responsible for coaching reps.

Ryan:  Yeah, huge.

Kevin:  It’s a big, big thing. But coaching-coaching them, they are taught how to be coaches. Another thing that gets skipped all the time. How about coaching coaches? Who’s coaching the coaches?

Ryan:  That’s right, yeah.

Kevin:  Right? Like, everyone wants to talk about coaching the reps. Who’s coaching the coach on how do we give feedback, what to look for, how to deliver it, how to follow up, right? So we coach the coaches. And then because we have frameworks on messaging and frameworks on what should be done we can keep true to the message, because that’s where tribal training can go wrong is you get 10 reps saying different things.

Ryan:  Oh, but I say it this way, I mean, I know the playbooks but I don’t … this doesn’t feel right, like that …

Kevin:  [Unclear/cross talking 13:48] AE sitting there like, “Ugh, shit, like what do I do?” So in order to be a tribal trainer on my team like you get certified on it but you have to stick to the messaging. And we’ll know if you’re not because the person going through on-boarding is certified each week so if they’re doing something different we’ll know and we’ll know very early on. And I love the tribal training, because (1) it takes pressure off of the trainer or the coach, right? I can empathize with where you were, if you were the head of it and the manager of it and you got 10, 12 people under you, even your time ability properly is not there. So when you’re straight across the team now you can actually do more coaching with less call it like on the shoulders of the coach and you get more done. So tribal training’s been working very well for us too.

Ryan:  I love that. And then it also provides a little bit of ownership. On that note some other folks have mentioned that when they’re done with their boot camp then those folks coming out can then provide some feedback and like one thing they may have changed, and it kind of continuously improves the process too. And that’s huge, so massive. That peer-to-peer learning also gives you different perspective, because it’s not your boss telling you, it’s like, “Oh, it’s somebody who’s in there with me,” right? And so it’s really powerful. Even in later stage. So what’s not working and maybe why?

Kevin:  We don’t come back to things enough, right? So like we’ll coach on something and we’ll give it a good run, and then we move to something else and we just forget that it takes more than one question, you know? Like, that’s something; I fall into that all the time, right? It’s like, “All right, we got to focus on this thing,” and coach to it. And man, it’s getting better. And then we move to the next thing and then three months later I’m like, “God, damn it. When’s the last time we talked about how to like close with the proper pricing justification?” So I don’t feel like we have a good ongoing coaching calendar. I still feel like our coaching sometimes can be a little bit reactive. “Okay, this is going wrong. Okay, let’s coach to it and fix it,” versus being ahead of it, right? Like, topic by topic. So still getting better at that I’d say.

Ryan:  Well, I mean, you just had a post, I think it was just today, where you talk about that idea of compound interest and like compound activities and all those things. And so what’s the whole hypothesis of that? It’s that very first deposit is continuing to build on itself, and so you can’t forget about those initial things. And again, I’ll go back to my, which I love that post by the way, I’ll go back to my math example, right? If you continue to build on the fundamentals and you’re going through a semester, by the time you get to the end if you’re not doing those like midterm assessments and making people go back through and reinforce ideas, when you get to that next topic it’s completely … it’s grabbing something else, right? And you got to be able to insert that in there.

And so that’s challenging because in sales we’re always so reactive, we’re always reacting to what’s in front of us unless we’re really being proactive in those fundamentals, right? And that goes all the way up to prospecting daily, reading books and staying on top of this stuff. So I mean, I love that. That’s huge. So I know we’re getting tight on some time here, this is really good, KD, I could go deep with you for a long time.

Kevin:  Come on, Ryan, we have time too, whatever, like it’s … I don’t care.

Ryan:  So what tools are necessary to adopt a coaching culture, right? What tools, if any?

Kevin:  None.

Ryan:  Why? Why do you say?

Kevin:  Because there’s different things, like I strongly recommend not implementing some of those tools until you have a coaching culture. If you’re not coaching your reps now, the tool won’t make you do it.

Ryan:  That’s right.

Kevin:  Plain and simple. And like I’ve been advocates of like the exec visions and the Gongs and I hop on reference calls and people like … the first question I say, “Are you coaching your reps now?” Like, well, no, like that’s why we’re looking into this. You’re not ready. You’re not ready. You haven’t proven that you even have that culture yet. The tool isn’t going to do it. The tool makes a coaching culture better.

Ryan:  That’s right.

Kevin:  Long before I had Gong or exec vision I was listening to and scoring calls, long before I had sales lot I had cadences mapped out in Excel docs, right? You would take that set from day one, move it today, long before … like the culture was there then the tools allow you to do more of it, right?

Ryan:  That’s right.

Kevin:  That’s how I look at it. And the tools are great, you use them the right way like, holy shit, are they good? But if you don’t have a coaching culture, now you just got an expensive tool, right? And it’s not worth it.

Ryan:  Yeah, well, and more data than ever, right? If you go from zero to everything then you’re just going to be overwhelmed. And I think that’s so huge. We talk about that all the time, for me the formula of like people, process, technology I say, “Look, it’s process first.” And this is the same thing, right? What is your coaching process? What’s your culture? How are you doing it today? Then it’s technology, how do you amplify some of the manual, tedious, annoying, whatever, it’s taking too much of my time that’s not value – that’s where the technology can come in. Or how can it add to it? Where can I get additional insights? And then finally the people, the people that are part of it which goes back to your very first point, like do we have the right people? Because if you have a great process, if you have a great process, you have that culture, the technology’s only going to amplify it. So technology and people come after you’ve nailed the systems, the processes.

Kevin:  The tool, like some tools are getting close, they’re getting close, but hardly. The tools can’t tell you what to coach. Like, it’s a coaching tool, like it doesn’t come back and say, “You know what? You know how you’ve taught them how to justify the price? They didn’t do it on this call,” right? The tools aren’t there yet. And so it’s still … it’s a coaching tool, right? Even the term revenue intelligence is kind of funny to me because it’s like it’s not revenue intelligence, revenue is revenue, that’s out here, revenue’s already in, it’s what’s happening leading up to that revenue. But the tools aren’t to a place yet to tell you, “Oh, talk time was too high or too low. Oh, they brought up pricing too early compared to the norm.” Like, it’s cool but they can’t tell you why someone did or didn’t close the deal, right?

Ryan:  Right.

Kevin:  It still comes down to either us listing or even reading, right? Like, I’ll read transcripts sometimes and know what, right? You have to start to do it that way. So culture before tool, you got to. If you’re not coaching your reps right, now start coaching your reps. And actually before we wrap, hopefully wherever we keep going, there’s a difference between teaching and coaching.

Ryan:  Absolutely, yeah.

Kevin:  People get this jacked up all the time, like just as I told you, “Hey, do this.” That’s not coaching, but that’s what managers think is coaching. “Hey, I listened to their call and I told them, ‘You need to start doing X.’” And the rep goes, “Oh, yeah, you’re right.” And the manager goes, “I’m such a good coach. See, that’s coaching right there.” And the rep doesn’t go do it. Coaching is doing it with them, giving them feedback, they do it again, they apply the feedback, you give them more … like you have to do it with them, right? But coaching includes feedback of them doing it with you, right? Not of you doing it after the fact on the call – that is not coaching. They’ve already done the bad thing, right?

Imagine the sports team only looking at game tape, like we’re just going to look at the tape, we’re not going to do anything, we’re just going to watch it and then go play the next game. So that’s my mini rant there.

Ryan:  I love it. So we’re going to finish up here. This is really, really solid. I really appreciate all your perspective on some of this. Great conversation so far, KD. Outside of coaching and developing teams, your team here, what do you see as, now we have the Covid thing going on so that’s a whole another thing, but what do you see as the biggest challenge for you as a sales leader in the next couple years, the next new thing?

Kevin:  Actually it’s not something new, it’s the same challenge that if people really think about it has always been there in sales and leadership – it’s behavior change. It’s behavior change. How are you able to change the behaviors of your team to align with what success looks like, right? If you really think about it as a leader, when you were leading teams, do you still lead a team? I’m not even totally sure.

Ryan:  No, no, not now, no.

Kevin:  If we were leading a team, how much of what you were teaching or coaching them on was new things or things they should already be doing and you’re trying to make it stick?

Ryan:  It’s always the fundamentals, man. Always the fundamentals.

Kevin:  That isn’t going to change because people are always going to be the main denominator in this, right? So getting behavior change is the number one challenge and always will be, right? I’m going to strive for it. I’ll probably never have that perfect sales team, I’m going to strive for it though, like I’m going to figure out how close I can get there. So that’s one part.

But what no one’s really talking about and they need to is how much the buyer is going to change in the next couple years, right? And adapting our behavior changes to that. Like, all these debates on whether AI will replace sales people, and this could be a whole other topic that we might get into. Yes, is the answer because AI is going to replace buyers. So as the buyers change, sales people have to adapt. And not enough people are talking about how much the buyers are going to change over the next two years – the demographic that’s coming into them, the tools that the buyers now have, the access to information the buyers now have, the level of awareness and education the buyers have. That’s going to require salespeople’s behaviors to be even better over the next two years, full circle back, that’s why it’s my number one challenge is behavioral change – always is, probably always will be.

Ryan:  I love it. So it’s funny because one of our guests, Noah Goldman, talked about the buy button, right? And you got to beat the buy button, so it’s spot on right there. And to piggyback on that too, it’s like our job is to help with selection, right? Selection, find the right thing, and then implementation, make you successful with that choice. That’s it, that’s our job as salespeople. And if you can’t beat the buy button on those two things you’re going to be replaced. And that’s, I mean, that’s happening, you see it in the commerce side with Amazon, all those things. It’s going to happen more and more and more.

So I love it, man. Hey, if folks want to get in touch with you what’s the best way for them to reach out?

Kevin:  Find me on LinkedIn, Kevin Dorsey. I don’t have Snap or Twitter the Gram, anything like that. So find me on LinkedIn. I try to be as responsive as I can there. And hit me up, I’m happy to help.

Ryan:  Awesome. Well, thanks again for joining us, man.

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