Avner Baruch is an expert in the sales enablement space, and recently started his own consulting business titled as “Project Moneyball” where he offers his unique and non-traditional sales methodology and approach to sales leaders and trainers.

In this conversation with The Collaborator we dove into Project Moneyball, how it all started and what inspired Avner to think out of the box and re-engineer an enablement system.

Amongst other things, Avner explored how he is using data, playbooks, conversational intelligence, and more to identify the appropriate behaviors that lead to sales success.

Give a listen and remain curious.

Audio Transcript

The Collaborator
you’re good man, you’re good man do me a favor tell us all a little bit about who you are and what you have to these days?

Avner Baruch
Um, well, first of all, let me say this, john, I’m very happy to be here, because I’ve been following you and your, you know, podcasts and interviews and meetings for quite some time. So I’m really, really excited to be here. I’m honored to, you know, to be to be invited, and to be able to speak up and share my you know, whatever it is experience expert expertise in size, whatever it is. So, yeah, thanks again for inviting me over. So a little bit of, you know, short introduction about myself. And then what got me into the sales and sales enablement space. So, first of all, I know, I’m married, but I got married a bit late, that allowed me to accomplish quite a lot. Um, based on the

The Collaborator
other hand, got married very early, so I did the opposite, I guess.

Avner Baruch
I can’t say, you know, it’s easy to bear to be where I am today, but I’m enjoying every minute. The kids, you know, around.

Unknown Speaker
Nice.

Avner Baruch
I’m based in Tel Aviv, Israel. And I’ve decided to settle down after traveling to 65 different countries, I’ve relocated to Venezuela, France, and the US, Pittsburgh, got me, you know, to become a strong fan of the US football. Um, and, you know, actually, I started my career in the cell space as an electrical engineer. But you know, my career has been around training and learning and development. You know, as long as I remember myself,

The Collaborator
Well, let me let me say this, I mean, a rookie after I started my career as an electrical engineer, as well as what’s your favorite American football team?

Avner Baruch
I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this every time I

Unknown Speaker
go wrong. Well,

The Collaborator
there’s no right answer, either. I know. But what is your favorite? I assumed it had to be since you were in Pittsburgh.

Unknown Speaker
You know, my

The Collaborator
team is the New England Patriots. But that’s because I live in New England. And that’s what I’ve grown up with. But I think the Steelers have a great franchise. So it’s a great team, too.

Avner Baruch
I know. Yeah. I was there when actually Myron Kopp retired. Yeah, I was there in the stadium. Oh, yeah. And actually, you know, I lived in an apartment in modern Washington overlooking the stadium. So it didn’t actually matter if I was there, you know, on the turf, or watching the game from my balcony. I could enjoy every minute of it. Oh,

The Collaborator
that’s awesome. That’s so cool, man. Sorry, I took you off track. But that’s so cool.

Avner Baruch
I’m always happy to talk about the citizen.

The Collaborator
Yeah, I think we’re all always happy to talk about our favorite sports as well. So that’s good. So I’m sorry to interrupt but but go ahead and tell us what else is going on.

Avner Baruch
So um, you know, I was working as a as a trainer, as a training manager for my entire career till I got a call from my friend who happened to be a VP sales for a startup company. And then I got my first opportunity to, you know, officially started sales enablement from scratch, I was given a very simple task, I want you to help me to, you know, to build up my staff. And I want you to help me to hire the right people and want you to help me to onboard or basically reduce the onboarding cycle. So that happened 10 years ago, whenever it seems like you know, it was able to gain more and more experience in that area, sales enablement space. I created everything from scratch, you know, content, marketing, enablement, processes, infrastructure, the whole tech stack for the enablement and sells space or business unit. And at some point, you know, I realized that, you know, basically what I’m doing, I’m developing my own system and methodology, you know, from scratch. And over the years, that’s exactly what I was doing. I was polishing crystallizing my methodologies and formulas. And, you know, the most important that’s basically the most important part of my, you know, experience so far know that they do have the ability to come up with a system with a methodology, and then to refine that methodology. Because there is no one size fits all, you know, I’ve gained some experience with some other startup companies since I entered into that self enabling space. And every time I build a new sales enablement business, from the ground up, I sort of refined that version, those formulas and methodologies and systems to the point where I can say, you know, it’s working, it’s field proven. And I you know, the bottom line is, I enjoy it. minute of it, you know, to be able to say that I’ve got my own methodology and, you know, a system that works. That just makes me you know, wake up in the morning with a smile a big, that’s my,

The Collaborator
that’s awesome. That’s awesome. We’re all you know, we’re all living in any profession that is both as old as sales, you know, it’s an old profession, but it’s also a very new profession at the same time. We’re all a bit of a pioneer in terms of this path. Now, your methodology, I think, is what you call project Moneyball. Where did tell us a little bit about where project Moneyball the concept came from? And I and I think I know it came from the movie Moneyball, but talk to us a little bit about what that means, and and how you’ve been using it in recent couple of years. Of course, with pleasures, so

Avner Baruch
you know, I’ve been doing revenue intelligence, and I’ve been doing that I was enabling everyone on whatever it takes in order to you know, to become successful, etc. But at some point, actually, two years ago, as I was watching Brad Pitt’s movie Moneyball, yeah, then it actually struck me. You know, I was asking myself, why are we relying mainly on CRM reports, and BI dashboards to measure sales performance? Probably, there’s more to it, maybe there are other techniques, maybe there’s another way to find out, you know, what are some gaps, or maybe there is another reason why some are successful, and some are lagging behind. And the more I thought about it, the more it makes, it didn’t make sense to me to rely mainly on CRM on all whatever data you’re able to extract from, you know, Salesforce or any other CRM that you’re using. I’m gonna, I’m gonna share one very simple example. Let’s say that you know, that everyone has the GTM strategy, go to market strategy. Yep. Let’s say you’re supposed to go after a number of verticals, whatever. Okay, a few verticals. Going back to those CRM reports, you realize, at some point that some reps are doing very well selling into every one of those verticals. But some individuals, or maybe teams are struggling, you know, to sell to a specific vertical. Now, you know, the numbers, you know, the flat numbers, you know, the outcome, but you have no idea what happens during that journey, when someone starts to, you know, catch up on a new playbook understand, you know, what it takes to sell into a certain vertical, you have no idea what what is happening in that journey, you know, the outcome, you’re looking at the CRM reports, dashboards, you’ve seen the numbers, you know, who is, you know, leading the pack, and who is lagging behind, but you have no idea what is going on, in the journey of learning, catching up, brushing up training, ramping up, ramping up whatever it takes in order to be able to catch up with others and succeed or right, that’s right,

Unknown Speaker
that’s right, you

The Collaborator
have the 50,000 foot view of what’s happening at the team level, the organization level and even at the individual level, but you don’t know the why. And that’s, that’s so important to dead on after So, what do you what do you do?

Avner Baruch
So, at that point, when I was watching Moneyball, you know, I paused the movie and then I started to take notes and you know, draw a few you know, sketch sketches and screen schemes, ideas. And you know, the following morning, I came back to the office and I started you know, extracting data from you know, social media, you know, activities. And I started to look more into you know, the way calls are being managed by reps, you know, what hat what is happening actually on a call, you know, from from time management point of view from playbook execution point of view, how do reps execute on playbooks? Instead of looking just on the focusing just on the outcome what is happening next? Whether we are able to reach next If not, I actually try to investigate what is happening within a call mainly during early stages of the sales cycle.

The Collaborator
Are we using like the like, like a gong or chorus or one of these call listening tools

Avner Baruch
that help you Okay, got it exactly. I was mainly using Gong but you can use chorus you can use any, any other conversational analysis tool that allows you to actually dig in and cross reference verticals, playbooks and calls Okay, yeah, basically the idea was aiming for it was to move away from a flat one dimension data into a Rubik’s Cube presentation of once you know ability to perform or not

The Collaborator
picturing you on the couch, Abner with your Rubik’s Cube going, I’ve got it. Perfect salesperson.

Avner Baruch
That’s exactly that’s exactly.

The Collaborator
So how do you so what do you what are you analyzing what were you looking at to start to figure out what made people successful versus less successful?

Avner Baruch
So there’s no there is no one one correct answer because you know, depending on the on the structure of the organization, Depending on the go to market, for example, you know, there’s some some small companies that have one very simple go to market where you know, reps are supposed to go off to one specific vertical, they’ve got one selling system. So that makes the job very easy. All you need to do is just, you know, find a few calls randomly or pick specific people see how they act on or execute on their playbooks based on those scores. And that’s the mean job is done after a few hours, a few minutes of work. Yeah, but when you have a very complex go to market when you’re supposed to go after X number of verticals, and you’ve got different segments, you know, focusing on different that’s my cat By the way,

The Collaborator
my cat half the time she’s, she’s Meow, and in my year, so don’t worry about it.

Avner Baruch
That’s supposed to make any noise? Well,

The Collaborator
it’s a it’s real life, man enablement messy, and all of it The world is messy, too. Don’t worry about that.

Avner Baruch
So going back to the, you know, Rubik’s Cube analogy, yeah, what I did is I looked into, you know, specific goals, picking themes picking on individuals are trying to, you know, to paint or to identify our secret sauce from different angles. And what I was able to find that is basically that some have a very specific call structure, or a way or a methodology to, you know, to execute on their playbooks and some just, you know, improvise. Some, for example, you know, they don’t mind giving away a sales demonstration on the first stage with a prospect and some actually, you know, play harder to get, and they actually, which is, that’s the way it should be in some in most cases,

The Collaborator
without ever giving dating advice for the modern salesperson. No, no, I’m with you, though. So you were finding just the repeatable structures that were working?

Avner Baruch
Exactly. I was actually looking, yeah, I was looking for behavioral patterns, the way your reps execute on playbooks, time management, you know, the whole sells selling system or sales methodology, the way to execute on our methodology. So for example, if you decide to go with Sandler, or value selling, or challenger, okay, you invest tons of dollars training everyone on those methodologies? Yes, yeah. What’s more important is adoption. How do reps adapt to your investment? If that’s not part of your strategy, you’re just wasting your money. It was crazy,

The Collaborator
ya know, it’s crazy after New dead on so many of us invest 1000s, if not many 1000s of dollars, training our teams. And then we just sort of hoped they use it. And then a year later, we’re like, Well, that didn’t work. And we invest in a new model. And and we fail to deliver on the execution. So what were you finding? When you start to go through this? Were you finding people were the best sellers? were following the model? Perfectly? No, the established approach perfectly? or What were you finding?

Avner Baruch
So the the findings were amazing, actually shocking. I found and I’m talking about not one specific, you know, business I’m talking about? I mean, I’m talking about many, many businesses that I’ve worked in and investigated and etc. So altogether, you know, in some cases, I found that some some teams are executing very well, on the playbook. And they have a very strict playbook. They have, you know, some they’ve got a very strict manager who keeps track of everyone’s performance, etc. And some at some point, I realized that that actually I mean, excuse me, North we if if, if you follow if you if you stick to the to the playgroup to the playbook. And excuse me just a second.

The Collaborator
No, no happens to me all the time, Abner. Don’t worry about him bad. But it’s, it’s interesting. So you were finding though, if they follow the playbook if if the manager was, was coaching and making sure they were following the playbook, what were you saying?

Avner Baruch
Exactly. So while I was able to find that, let me just repeat that for you know, just for those who happen to lose track of, you know, what we were, we were saying a few minutes ago, altogether, I found out that we’re, you know, multiple versions of executing execution. Okay, so some were executing on the playbook. So we’re not someone’s just improvising. Okay. Some work, you know, very eager to move very fast through the sales cycle. And you know, that we’re just giving away either free consulting or free demos, whatever it took in order to move to the next step, and that didn’t work. And I also find out that at some point, you know, if reps invested time and efforts in order to understand the space, the vertical that we’re selling to into, okay, that actually Got them into situation or they that position them as domain experts. They were actually they were able to talk the talk and walk the walk. Yeah, really API’s, they knew the challenges, they actually knew why the prospect was about, you know, to ask them, they sort of like, you know, engineered possible push backs, so they can’t more prepared for those intervals or first starch calls with a prospect. And that that basically worked, you know, the best way that if I could, you know, big the, you know, in a nutshell, what works best across the board, you know, preparations, acting as domain experts come in prepared for every meeting. And that allows you to, you know, establish the touch base, establishing, you know, eye to eye conversation, communication with the prospect. And simile, some, some reps might push back and say, I’ve got back to back meetings, especially. And of course, I don’t think I can manage that. I don’t think I can actually, you know, manage the time to prepare for meetings. We can talk in mind, we can dedicate another session, just you know, about that,

Unknown Speaker
yeah.

Avner Baruch
How do you manage your time? Through the sales cycle? Or through, you know, how do you manage your pipeline in time, if you don’t have any time to prepare for meetings? something’s not working? Well. In my opinion,

The Collaborator
I agree. It’s not worth having 20 meetings in a day, if they’re back to back and you’re not prepared for them. You’re wasting your time, 20 times, if that’s all you’re doing, how did you take these insights, and I know, you’ve what I love, Abner, is you’ve taken these, you’ve gathered these insights. You’ve done this across multiple businesses, you’ve taken this approach, and you understand how to do it over and over again. And I’m excited that it’s led you to go off and create your own business to do this. But before we talk about that, how do you take those lessons and what you’re learning? By analyzing these conversations and more, and convert them into actions to improve performance? What did they What do you typically do? or what have you seen be successful? Once you learn, hey, people are not preparing take enough time to prepare, people aren’t taking time to learn about the industry and other things that you discover? How do you how do you help fix it?

Avner Baruch
How do I help to fix that? So yeah, well, depending again, on the size of the company, you know, I’m working with, if it’s a small company, so it makes my job very easy. You know, I don’t have to, you know, reach out to 200 individuals at the same time. So it’s easy, I can actually, you know, I can manage the time to you know, provide either feedback, coaching enablement on an individual level. So it’s, that’s, that’s easy. Okay, once you have the system, once you have the methodology, all you have to do is just execute on your playbook, your own playbook, your own enablement playbook. And that’s easy. Okay, and we can talk about, you know, what, what is my methodology consisting of, etc. When you have a very, you know, mid size, large scaled business, I’m talking about 200, and even higher number of employees or, you know, sales people, you can’t do that alone, okay, there is no one man show, okay, you have to find a system or a mechanism to scale up and to scale out. And that mechanism has to be tier one managers. So, when you start, you know, in the beginning, when you start from scratch, you build, you know, whatever it takes content, infrastructure, processes, the whole system, and then you train everyone on the system. From that moment, it might take you six months, might take you less than more, again, given the size of the company, but you know, let’s say six months, for the sake of this exercise, at that point, you need to start focusing on coaching tier one managers. So they basically act as multipliers. They’re, they’re your extension. Yes.

The Collaborator
Exactly. And I love how you said that, because I think, and I see a time and again, if you’re going to scale enablement, beyond, you know, the small startup or even the smaller mid sized businesses, once you get to the enterprise level, or any amount of geographically dispersed and large numbers, your sales managers have to play a critical role. So so great advice there, Abner, I

Avner Baruch
agree with you definitely know, you know, when it comes to the how the know how and the skill or the the mechanism and the processes, you know, in a nutshell, the whole system that I’ve built, or the folder that I’ve composed is built on top of three pillars the layers, okay. So once you you know, you accomplish the whole cultural enablement, you know, the principles, what does it take in order to work together with enablement or you establish a very, you know, strong foundations of communication between everyone on the sell side and your side. Once you have accomplished that, then you move on to establish the three other layers, which starts in my opinion, it works best, it starts with the market enablement. Before we talk about the product. What is it that you do? You know, the bits and bytes features and benefits? Yeah, no, put that aside. Let’s talk about the market. So for example, if I’m if I’m selling a security, or something that has to do with cyber security, okay, before we talk about sales enablement and methodologies, Sandler value setting Whatever, let’s suppose for a minute, and let’s talk about what does it mean cyber? What are the which are the strong, we know what the competitive landscape look like? What does it mean security and cyber? You know, terminology KPI, challenges, trends. Well, that was big.

The Collaborator
Yeah, level set there. Yeah, exactly, exactly.

Avner Baruch
Once you accomplish that, you move on to the second layer, which is product enablement. And I’m not talking about features and benefits. Yeah, I’m talking about value realization through services or features, whatever you sell. So if I’m selling a nice button, the doll that all it does is just x, y, and Zed. What’s in it for me? For the prospect? Yes, for each each one of our ideal personas, so we need to cross reference, personas, and values. Okay? Once you accomplish that, you move on to the last layer, sales enablement, or sales skills or the whole selling system. Yes. Let’s talk about you know, the selling system that we have today. If you don’t, if you don’t have one, let’s establish one. Okay, qualification methodology. Again, Sandler value selling challenger, math big whatever it is. Okay, let’s enable everyone. And let’s focus on the tier one managers because we’ll need them to act as multipliers, which then will give us time back to repolish. Our playbooks come up with new ideas to reach out to more individuals or focus on new hires that are you know, are going to join us really smart

The Collaborator
Yeah, really smart Abner love that. Love that a lot. Um, if somebody you know, I know, you you’re having your business, it’s the month project Moneyball right is the name of the business. So clearable.com Project moneyball.com. So clearly, people can reach out there and follow up with you and ask questions. But let me ask you this. There was a lot of great insight there. If I if I’m a if I’m a person in a midsize company and I can’t necessarily afford Abner, not that Abner’s not that I’m saying Gavin is not affordable. I’m sure you are. But let’s say I just want to get started down this path in a good direction. Without without necessarily partnering to do. How do I start down that path to take advantage of some of this wisdom that you’re sharing here?

Avner Baruch
So some great news to share with everyone who happens to listen? Yeah, I started writing my book, titled as project Moneyball, nice, nice, um, page 11 just started, maybe in other ways, it takes some time, maybe by the time that person will decide to reach out to me, you know, might be able to share or send over that book. Till that happens, you know, I’m sharing my, I don’t know, nuggets of information or my words of wisdom on my website. I’m Mike side, a podcast systems soon as well. But either way, everyone who listens and finds fine finds interest in Moneyball, and thinks that this can help his business. We don’t have to go through you know, you know, 10 sessions, a sequence of 10 sessions, whatever it takes, I’ll be more than happy to meet with everyone who you know, wants to learn more about project Moneyball, non traditional approach to sales enablement, hands on approach, you know, fast and boring whatever it takes in order to build a training system for hypergrowth business efficiently, effectively and very fast. I’d be more than happy to spend time with anyone who listens to and needs a need some advice.

The Collaborator
I love that my friend let me let me ask you this. So I mean, we’re getting we’re getting close to wrapping up. I want to be sensitive to your time and those of our listeners what happened we spoken about Abner, they you want to make sure people understand about it, but anything here that we’re talking about.

Avner Baruch
I love this question.

The Collaborator
Me too, because it means if I screwed up and didn’t ask all the right questions, you can save the day.

Avner Baruch
But the reason I you know I love this question or the reason I you know, I’m happy that you asked this question because you know, let’s pull this side project monoball Yeah, let’s talk about the whole sales enablement community. When I started 10 years ago, my basically didn’t what everyone else you know, did or still doing, which is facilitating meetings or bringing stack you know, stakeholders subject matter. experts in meetings, inviting product managers to talk about the product, whatever. And I felt like you know, I’m not contributing, you know, good enough or, you know, effectively, and I felt like I can do better. And through the years, I get more and more experienced, and I realized that I can really do better, I can do more, and I can expand my role and my responsibility beyond what people expect me to do, which is just, you know, touch, a very narrow minded, you know, idea of, you know, sales, training, whatever it is, okay. Yeah, I so my position, I envisioned my role as more strategic and that’s basically what I want to share with everyone listens now to this, you know, great interview, just great conversation. I, you know, I want everyone in the sales enablement space or community to think big, because our job is not tactical, our job is strategic, our job is to help the executives and leadership to make strategic decisions. We’ve got the knowledge, the data, and the power to enable to empower the executives to make those decisions based on 3d data, behavioral, and, and, and conversational, you know, statistics, we can actually drive the business, our job is not just focused on whatever happens during the sales cycle. Our job is to help the entire journeys, yes, lead to cash to renewal, everyone marketing, sales, and either professional services, customer, success managers, anyone it takes place in that no journey. We knew in the count, we’re converting the report the opportunity into an account. So basically, what I’m saying here is, you know, I think that we need to consider yourself as a strategic role helping executives, and beyond just whatever, whatever happens with sales, think about, you know, whatever happens before and after.

The Collaborator
Brilliant advice, my friend, and seriously, because if we allow ourselves to be thinking about our roles, as simply the trainer, or simply the content creator, or whatever your role is, the the executive team and our leaders will think of as much the same way, if we’re bold enough to execute flawlessly on what they expect. But then to think broader, more strategically in what I call revenue enablement. But who cares what we call it, across the entire buyer journey across the entire customer journey, and more strategically, we’re going to give ourselves the opportunity to be more strategic. And we’re going to give our executives and our leaders to see ourselves a chance to see us that way. Exactly. Bold, execute flawlessly on your job, but be bold and daring. And I love that thought, Abner. And I embrace it. And I applaud you for raising it.

Unknown Speaker
Thank you.

The Collaborator
Thank you so much. Thank you so much for coming on today. Seriously, I feel like I learned a lot I think everybody listening will listening today and listening in the follow up when it goes up to the podcast as well. And and follow up with Abner, take a look at his website. Reach out to you on LinkedIn. I’m sure you don’t mind that either. And learn more. So we all owe it to ourselves to our businesses and to our profession. Thank you, Abner, you have a great rest of your day. And thank you everybody for listening as well.

Avner Baruch
Thank you, john, for having me here. I really enjoyed this conversation.

The Collaborator
Oh amazing, my friend. Take care of all