How Pure Storage Structures Sales Manager Enablement to Accelerate Growth
Founded in 2009, Pure Storage is a leader in the enterprise data storage industry. Pure Storage provides companies with an end-to-end data platform powered by innovative software that is cloud-connected to mobile devices. The company’s all-flash based technology, combined with its customer-friendly business model, drives business and IT transformation with solutions that are effortless, efficient and evergreen.
Pure Storage has experienced massive growth since its inception, but with that comes growing pains. Pure Storage works very hard to hire, retain, promote, and train top talent in a dynamic business environment. As the sales team grew to meet demand, sales leaders hired or promoted sales managers with little formality to the sales management process. While most growing sales organizations focus on training their salespeople, frontline sales managers in need of training are often overlooked.
Dan FitzSimons, U.S. Vice President of Sales at Pure Storage, is a rare breed of sales leader who believes in the multiplicative effect that great coaching and development can have on a team. As business boomed, he quickly recognized that the traditional sales modus operandi of riding star sellers, only focusing on late-stage pipeline, and ad hoc management processes simply was not tenable.
“It’s not that my managers did not know how to manage their teams. They’re all experienced and highly capable sales managers,” explains FitzSimons. “We wanted to focus on how we could help our frontline managers become more effective through consistency and formalized management processes.”
“We wanted to focus on how we could help our frontline managers become more effective through consistency and formalized management processes.”
~ Dan FitzSimons, U.S. VP of Sales
Sales managers in every company and industry are incentivized to hit their number each quarter. This short-term pressure can make it difficult for managers to invest in long-term team development and pipeline management. As a result, rather than building pipeline and getting involved early in the cycle when there is a better chance of improving outcomes, managers focus on late-stage deals. The problem with this mindset is that, when there isn’t adequate early-stage pipeline continuously built, eventually the well runs dry.
Soo Masson, Director of Sales Enablement at Pure Storage, understands this issue all too well. In her years of experience in sales operations and enablement, she has personally experienced the havoc that ad hoc sales management processes can cause in an organization.
“We were running on all cylinders and business was great,” recalls Masson. “But Dan and I both knew that we needed to build more structure around the frontline manager role to really set our team up for success in the long-run.”
Emblematic of a truly progressive sales organization, FitzSimons and Masson partnered up to tackle this issue by aligning sales and enablement strategies. In the short run, they wanted to create a method through which frontline managers resist the tendency to solely focus on late-stage deals and short-term outcomes, without dramatically affecting compensation or incentive structures. In the long run, they envisioned investing in a system to help frontline sales managers develop their teams and create a sustainable pipeline and, in doing so, secure the future of the sales team—and Pure Storage.
Every company has a sales process, and most have a sales management process. But very few have a structured sales management methodology that develops frontline managers into effective coaches and mentors. FitzSimons and Masson knew they needed to develop a formal, consistent sales management methodology that would enrich the pipeline, develop the sales team, and equip FitzSimons’ ten sales managers to be effective coaches. To accomplish this, they wanted a two-tiered approach that would give frontline managers a methodology to manage performance, while creating a mechanism ensuring continual improvement in that effort.
After doing their research, Masson and FitzSimons brought in Jay Tyler Consulting and CommercialTribe to provide an integrated solution that met their needs. Jay Tyler’s Leading Sales Excellence instructor-led training is an in-person workshop focusing specifically on teaching frontline sales managers a prescriptive Field Management Process and calendar cadence, enabling them to become more effective leaders. Leading Sales Excellence teaches leadership skills resulting in a sales-driven culture and establishes frontline management priorities. Ultimately, the goal of the workshop is to embed the Field Management Process in the field with specific cadences around pipeline reviews, forecast reviews, quarterly business planning, and field travel.
In alignment with the Leading Sales Excellence methodology, the CommercialTribe platform serves as the vehicle for Pure Storage to evaluate how well their frontline managers apply the training in the field and continue to improve. CommercialTribe enables visibility into the sales force’s calendared activities and provides an unbiased assessment of behavior improvement of over time. To begin measuring how well sales managers were applying their training, FitzSimons focused on assessing his managers’ ability to conduct pipeline reviews.
“The pipeline review is such a critical part of keeping both managers’ and sellers’ focus on sustainable pipeline development, and yet it’s commonly a misunderstood interaction” explains FitzSimons. “As a result, pipeline reviews often lack consistency and devolve into a deal review where late-stage deals are the focus, rather than focusing on the health and activity of the full pipeline, particularly in the earlier stages.”
Working with FitzSimons and Masson to execute on the critical characteristics of a Pure Storage pipeline review, Jay Tyler Consulting and CommercialTribe partnered to create the assessment criteria of an effective pipeline review. This assessment maps the critical points in a successful 60-minute pipeline meeting. It includes meeting agenda guidelines, action items, and detailed observable attributes that measure a manager’s coaching skills.
The partnership then established a baseline for applying the skills taught in the Leading Sales Excellence workshop in the field. Each sales manager recorded and submitted one of their pipeline review calls using the CommercialTribe platform. CommercialTribe used the assessment criteria to produce a “heat map” report on each individual manager’s performance and the management team’s overall performance. This report established a performance baseline for FitzSimons and his managers with specific, actionable feedback to inform coaching and development to improve pipeline review meetings.
Frontline sales managers were given their individual scorecards and one month to practice and improve their pipeline review meetings. Because of the baseline gap analysis, FitzSimons also knew exactly what areas needed improvement, which informed his coaching of his sales managers.
“Our enablement team invests in instructor-led training of all types, but it is extremely difficult to track participants’ progress after training and measure the results. With Jay Tyler’s Field Management Process and CommercialTribe, we created a system that has a visible, measurable impact on the performance of our managers.”
~ Soo Masson, Director of Sales Enablement
One month later, FitzSimons’ sales managers submitted a second pipeline review call for CommercialTribe to assess. Using the same assessment criteria from the baseline assessment, CommercialTribe provided FitzSimons and his team with structured, measurable results and insights into the performance of the management team.
Overall, the progression assessment found that 60% of managers improved. Even more impressive, 100% of participating managers had measurably mastered key attributes of an effective pipeline review, such as providing specific feedback, building professional rapport, and mentorship. The largest measurable improvement showed that 90% had now mastered active listening, pressure testing, providing specificity in recommendations and establishing action items.
“Our enablement team invests in instructor-led training of all types, but it is extremely difficult to track participants’ progress after training and measure the results,” explains Masson. “With Jay Tyler’s Field Management Process and CommercialTribe, we created a system that has a visible, measurable impact on the performance of our managers.”
Perhaps most importantly, FitzSimons has effectively been able to make 1 + 1 = 3. By aligning a field management methodology with technology that supports, measures, and evaluates the results, he has the system in place to develop his team’s sales management skills that will lead to long-term pipeline health. The investment Pure Storage made in the development of their sales managers will pay dividends for the growing organization for years to come.
About Pure Storage
Pure Storage provides companies with an end-to-end data platform powered by innovative software that is cloud-connected to mobile devices. With Pure’s industry-leading Satmetrix-certified NPS score of 83.7, Pure customers, which include organizations of all sizes, across an ever-expanding range of industries, are some of the most satisfied customers in the world.
About Jay Tyler Consulting
Jay Tyler Consulting has designed seven leadership development programs, each specifically targeted to different levels of an organization to inform world-class leadership and maximize business results. Jay Tyler’s proven methodology for unlocking the potential of frontline sales management is delivered through interactive workshops, one-on-one executive coaching, and mentoring.
CommercialTribe is the standard SaaS platform for developing and coaching sales teams to improve performance. The platform enables observation of selling and management behaviors at scale, makes it easy to assess with consistency, quality, and timelines and provides insight and direction to activate coaching.