Ben Harris is the Director of Sales Performance at databricks.  In this session with The Collaborator, Ben focused on deal coaching.

How does deal coaching work in Ben’s world today:

1️⃣Deal coaching is different from deal reviews.  Deal coaching, which they call deal clinics, is focused on early stage opportunities whereas deal reviews are generally focused on later stages.

2️⃣As new hires start to take on deals, as they reach a certain stage in the process, the CRM sends out alerts to do a deal clinic with them.  Curious what questions they run through?  See this list of deal coaching questions that Ben shared with the community.

3️⃣The deal clinics provide the sellers with the approach for the next meetings, and then, over time, these clinics follow up throughout the deal through the win or loss. 

The goal, of course, is to win, or lose, faster, to ensure sellers are helping the customers with need and budget versus those that are just kicking the tires..

Audio Transcript

The Collaborator
I agreed our virtual reality homes are so nice.

Ben Harris
Much better

The Collaborator
than much better than the real life homes. But hey, Ben,

Unknown Speaker
do me a favor,

The Collaborator
introduce yourself and tell everybody what,

Ben Harris
what you do. Sure. So Ben Harris, right now my role as director of sales performance at data bricks. So I’ve been been with data bricks approaching a year now.

The Collaborator
I love sales performance as the name it. I’ve always felt personally enablement, a little bit of a confusing term performance, I think I have a better sense of what you’re actually responsible for. But what tell tell us what you are responsible for in that role? Sure, yeah. So,

Ben Harris
you know, full kudos to my boss, Chris Taylor, for that title, that role. It is, you know, so much more than than enablement. I think, enablement. The term is kind of thrown around, right? Like, we need to enable this, we need to enable that. And it’s everything needs to be enabled. But it has a connotation of, we create content, and we do training. And that is part of my team’s role. But the bigger part of our role is to really help the sales reps to succeed in lots of different ways. And enablement is only one facet of that.

The Collaborator
I love that. I love that. What does your team look like in terms of size structure? And how many people you’re supporting? and all of that kind of stuff? Before we dive into it?

Ben Harris
Yeah, sure. So we’ve got some we’re supporting, we support a sales field engineering, and at least for onboarding, customer success. So we, you know, holistically, there’s, there’s, I can’t get into the numbers. We’re not public yet. But there’s quite a few sales reps at this point. From a team structure, though, we’ve got kind of a unique partner model. So we have a couple folks focused on partner enablement. And then we’ve got, you know, my arm of the team, which is focused on the sales performance and internal enablement. And then we also have a strategy arm who’s focused on, you know, tools, processes, overall strategy. Oh, nice.

The Collaborator
So very, very smart. Strategic structure is what it sounds like to me.

Ben Harris
Yeah, absolutely.

The Collaborator
Yeah, no, nice. Now we’re gonna talk about deal coaching. Because I know, that’s where you said, hey, you’re super excited about that. What got you into deal coaching is in terms of something you got excited about.

Ben Harris
I mean, as a former salesperson sales manager, deal coaching was was part of my deal in DNA, right? That was something that we all we do it, it’s just part of who we are. But I’ll say that it’s become, you know, switching the title from enablement to sales performance. It’s an integral part of what I’m doing in a day to day structure, right? Um, it’s something that, you know, Chris, my boss is super passionate about the whole team is super passionate about. And by having people on the team who have that, that experience as salespeople, we can help others who are just joining the company, we can help others. And Coach through deals holistically. So I think it’s just it’s a passion for all of us is, again, not just the enablement piece, which is incredibly important. Yeah. bigger piece to help help Ace get to deals faster.

The Collaborator
Well, and research shows time and again, that coaching has the biggest impact. I mean, it really does it cut, and it’s not specific types of coaching, there’s all kinds, but coaching overall, is such a powerful thing for us to do. Hey,

Unknown Speaker
could you help?

The Collaborator
Because what I’d love to do if it’s okay with you, Ben is maybe walk through an example. And it doesn’t have to be a real life example with real names and people in places. Sure, put up those shadows. But what does your coaching look like in terms of how you apply it?

Ben Harris
Absolutely. So I think a lot of times when people think of deal coaching, they think deal reviews, right? Yeah. Which is, right. And so in our minds, it really comes back to at the point of deal review, with the purpose of a deal review, is to help a deal cross the finish line. At that point, you have missed all the first stages of the opportunity, you’ve missed all of the things that you need in place, right? But sales methodology, the medic, the all of these pieces, right? And so our, our stance on it is the deal reviews are important, and that’s where the sales manager really has a lot of emphasis, but our team is focused on what we call opportunity clinics or deal clinics, right.

The Collaborator
Oh, interesting.

Ben Harris
Okay, that’s that’s a tournament Chris put into play. And it’s very much. We, we look at early stage opportunities, we don’t focus on the later stage stuff, but it’s part of their 90 day or 120 day onboarding, right. We start by when a rep joins the organization, they go through the first couple rounds of training. And then when they have a deal that moves to a certain sales stage that triggers us to do an opportunity clinic with them. And our focus of that is not it’s not moving the deal to closing it’s are all of the pieces getting lined up so that when you get to closing, it’s, it’s practically a non event, right? It’s like, everything’s in place.

The Collaborator
Are you preparing them to have great discovery? Or are you reviewing sort of what’s happened for discovery? Yeah, so

Ben Harris
we, we literally just have, you know, there’s no prep for these, we literally just get on get on a call like this. And we literally walk through ask them some questions about the deal. So tell me about your champion. Why is that person a champion? What? How have you tested them? How do you know that they’re a champion for you? Tell me about the pains. Tell me about any metrics you’ve uncovered? Why do you think that’s relevant? And we just all the early stage type stuff that you would want to know in a deal before you could really move it to the finish line? Just talk about it? And the goal of it,

The Collaborator
not rocket science? No, it’s

Ben Harris
not. I think anyone who’s who’s watching today, or just anyone could do this, but it gets the reps, it gets the haze thinking about the opportunity and doing these things earlier. And earlier.

The Collaborator
I heard you mentioned medic. So I’m assuming you’ve medic, we use we do we use med pick? Which is we I was gonna say we use med pick as well, we use a variation of it. but close enough is is that are you really just asking questions to make sure those pieces are there? Or doesn’t go deeper than that in terms of peeling back the onion? Like Who’s your champion? Why do you believe they’re your champion? I heard you say that, then?

Ben Harris
It does, it covers med pick. But remember, I mean, as you know, med pick is is a mnemonic device. It’s not like the order that things happen. Right? Yeah. And so. So we do cover some of the beginning stages of med pick. But we also, we also dig into, you know, our sales methodology, some pieces around pain and, and urgency and things like that. And so it’s kind of both. But we are trying to your point, I like the phrase you use, we are trying to peel back the onion, that’s literally a phrase that Christie uses all the time, we are trying to peel back the onion and go a little bit deeper. And it’s not just have you found the pain, but why is it a pain? And who’s it hurting? And let’s let’s go a little bit deeper with the pain. How does that pain impact the business initiatives or the strategy, and just tying it all together? So that when the A’s go back to the customer, it’s a really good conversation between the customer and the AP, and they’ve got a really clear path for future discovery.

The Collaborator
See, that’s so cool. So I mean, in a sense, when you’ve had that conversation with them, you’ve given them the roadmap for the next conversation, or two or three, it sounds like, go get these answers. You know, don’t be mechanical about it, be it you know, but this information do you have is it almost is a is an iterative process. And by that I mean, do you have the coaching session, they go out, they come back again, hey, we’ve had a couple more meetings. It’s now here.

Ben Harris
Yeah. And in fact, we’ve just started doing this. It’s funny you asset. So we’re, we’re now taking the first few opportunities that in a house and we’re following them through either won or lost. And obviously, the goal is to win, and to get that, you know, first net new logo as you know, as quickly as possible. But we’re also reviewing, like, based on doing this, are we also losing faster, because we’re not wasting time on, you know, opportunities that just won’t go anywhere and people kicking the tires, right? And so we consider losing faster, or winning faster, both to be good things, but we are we’re taking three or four opportunities, and we’re following them through the process as closely as possible, we refer to it as white glove onboarding.

The Collaborator
That’s really, really cool. What kind of impact Are you seeing from it so far?

Ben Harris
Oh, that’s a good question. I

The Collaborator
know you I don’t mean exact numbers, but Yeah, I know.

Ben Harris
I know. It’s it’s always tough to not be able to share numbers, but I’ll tell you that I mean, we are seeing improvements in time, you know, overall progress. performance per rep, or seeing improvements in overall time to first deal and things like that we are seeing improvements and a lot of the areas that we mentioned,

The Collaborator
if somebody wanted to start a program like these clinics. Now, I know I mean, at a high level, conceptually, it feels very straightforward. But how, how would you recommend another enablement, productivity, whatever we want to call ourselves, person or team started to do this?

Ben Harris
I would say as much as you can automate in terms of we’re calling them triggers. But as much as you can bet off me around you mean, yeah. So it’s, it’s a lot of work to manually go try to figure out who Paul is this, their first deal is, you know, the first time it’s crossed this threshold, or that sort of thing. So as much as you can automate the triggers that let your team know, I need to go talk to this person, that’s super helpful. And we’re just starting to automate that process right now. So it’s been manual up to this point. Um, so that that would be the big one. And I would also say, um, just make it you know, sometimes you get pushed back on deal coaching from people because they’re very experienced, right? And they’ve been doing this a long time.

The Collaborator
You’re an enablement, whatever. How can you tell me? Yeah,

Ben Harris
you don’t know what you’re talking about? Yeah, we all know, we all have heard that. Right. Exactly. So I would say, just making it very much part of the cadence, right? It’s explained to them that this is part of what happens, it doesn’t matter where you come from, who you are, it’s just part of the cadence and just building into your program from the very beginning. It just puts everyone at ease, because it’s like everyone’s doing and it’s not just you, it’s not just, Bob, is everyone,

The Collaborator
right? Yeah. Are you? And I know this? Is? This? is a work in progress as every bit of enablement? Or is, are you for seeing a future where this is something that maybe nobody panic, but maybe down the road, even experienced sellers, every once in a while. It’s like, Oh, well, let’s check out this together and talk about it, or is this really just something that you think will be new sellers? We’re going to start there?

Ben Harris
Yeah, it’s a great question. I had my first really cool experience about six weeks ago, where, instead of me, scheduling them and my team scheduling them, we had some of the ease book time on our calendars to do it themselves who have been here a while. And to me, that meant that means that we’ve crossed that threshold where now people are seeing the value in it, you’re credible. Right, exactly. That’s a great word for it.

The Collaborator
That’s so cool. How do you I know there’s some stuff you can talk about some stuff, you can’t, so please feel free to say I can’t go here. I can’t go there. What are the sorts of things? I mean, we talked about med pick briefly? Are there other sorts of things that you’re trying to uncover as part of that standard approach that you take? And if it’s too if that’s too internally facing Feel free to say, I can’t say more, but no, not I can share a couple of things?

Ben Harris
I certainly think the biggest thing that I’ve seen throughout my sales career not not not even talking databricks now, but in general, is that we we really, I I’m sure you know the term happy years, right, we get happier. And so what we really like to dig in on is, is the urgency, like, Okay, this pain hurts, and maybe it hurts that person a lot. But is it urgent enough to the business to do something about it? And throughout my whole career and not even focused on data, bricks? That’s been always the gap that we find, and I’m sure you’ve seen that job. Industry stats,

The Collaborator
what I’m making this up, but it’s close to 50% lost no decision, because there’s no urgency,

Ben Harris
right? So we really try to double click triple click on on that, that sense of urgency. Is this truly a pain that’s worth doing something about? Or is it just a pain that they’re, you know, they’re willing to live with the cut on the finger, it hurts, but it’s alright.

The Collaborator
I laugh because a it’s, it really feels appropriate in so many ways. But I was gonna close that $2 million deal. But it was really just a little Nick on the finger. They’re not they’re not going to sign a and again, some I don’t want to be specific to databricks because I don’t want to touch anything private or private. But if you have any tips for people in terms of how to start to uncover that urgency, because what I love that you said that not enough people do, in my opinion, is lose quickly.

Unknown Speaker
Right? Right.

The Collaborator
I’ll phrase it more broadly. How are you helping your team moves faster? And it sounds so funny to ask it that way. Yeah, is it?

Ben Harris
I mean, you ask those questions together, because for the same reason that I stated them together, it’s because we know that there’s a direct tie between urgency and the ability to move the deal forward. And without that urgency, they’re just kicking the tires, right? Without that urgency, you might have an individual contributor in an organization who is simply kicking the tires and trying to just to see what’s out there, but they don’t have the support from above to do something. And so the urgency helps us to figure out I think, if we truly have the support of the organization or not

The Collaborator
love it. Now. You’re a former seller. I mean, but sometimes I bet and it doesn’t sound like this is the case. But I got to believe once in a while you’ll sit down with somebody. And they’ll be like, you’re an enablement. I don’t care what your opinion is. It sounds like you’ve moved past that hurdle. Someone with people coming to you. But long way of asking, Are you pulling in any of your senior sellers? to support you in these reviews?

Ben Harris
That’s an interesting question. We we have talked about that at a high level. We haven’t done it primarily because we want to let our sellers self right.

Unknown Speaker
They don’t give them time

Ben Harris
as it is. Yeah, right. We are pulling in our senior sellers already for mentoring programs and different things, though, we haven’t officially or formally made that part of the mentoring program, but we have bounced around. It’s an interesting idea.

The Collaborator
Yeah. Oh, I love that you have the mentoring program. That’s okay. So that makes sense. Let me ask you, is there an equivalent

The Collaborator
to what you’re doing? Because I heard you say you onboard customer success as well. Right? Is there an equivalent level of deal coaching that you do with your customer success team?

Ben Harris
I would say I wouldn’t call it deal coaching, but I would call it definitely mentoring. There’s a lot of mentoring, as you’re aware in customer success, because it’s so nuanced. Um, you know, doing customer success at databricks is very different from doing it somewhere else. So there’s a lot of mentoring and one on one mentoring specifically for that, but I wouldn’t call it deal coaching.

The Collaborator
Okay, I’m with you. And the reason I was asking it, to be honest with you, Ben was I was thinking upsells, cross sells, and all that kind of stuff. And I don’t know your business well enough. And that’s okay. But generically, I wasn’t sure if you know, hey, CSX should be on the lookout for these opportunities and educate the sales, the ease that they work with. So I wasn’t sure if you were doing this,

Ben Harris
there’s definitely a tight collaboration between all our team’s nice.

The Collaborator
Let me ask you this, this has been a really great conversation. Sure. And I don’t want to beat on a dead horse, though. What happened we explored around this white glove deal coaching approach that you’ve taken, that your team has taken, that’s really important for other people to keep in to take into account if they want to do something similar.

Ben Harris
Ah, I don’t have anything new to share, john. But I think what I would reinforce, is, you know, for all of my enablement, peers out there, I’ve met a lot of folks throughout the years, don’t just get bogged down and you know, allow your your team to get bogged down and just enablement, traditional stuff. We are so much more than enablers, right? And most of us have so much experience. So look beyond that to see what you can do to help the organization.

The Collaborator
Ben, that is brain wisdom. Now normally I go about 30 minutes, but I said, I think I said to you 20 to 30 to 40 minutes, in 20 minutes, you have given us a clinic in terms of how to set up to coaching and I mean that sincerely and I’m grateful for that. With that. I’m gonna let you go have a fantastic weekend or move on to cleaning that huge house you have behind these fake books on the library on my side.

Ben Harris
Yeah, I’ve got a lot of mopping to do on the wood floors here.

The Collaborator
Nearly grad as your gratitude though, this was wonderful. Thank you.

Ben Harris
Thank you

The Collaborator
for listening.