CRO Spotlight

What's Different About Selling A Service, With Greg Lewis

October 18, 2022

CRO Spotlight

A B2B podcast for current and aspiring CROs, CEOs and other leaders. In each episode revenue experts Warren Zenna and Lupe Feld are joined by a guest as they set out to explore every last area of a business that you can leverage to generate revenue and drive meaningful change. Warren and Lupe speak your language - join their revenue crew.

What's fundamentally different about selling a service vs selling a product? Let's find out.

In this episode, Warren and Lupe are joined by Greg Lewis, Chief Growth Officer - Communications at Syneos Health Communications. They take a deep dive on what's different about selling a service vs a product, from go-to-market strategy to the sales cycle. They also cover the value of relationship building, and how to insulate your sales function from staff turnover.


Connect with Greg on LinkedIn.

You'll find Warren and Lupe on LinkedIn too.

Be CRO-ready from day 1 with Warren's CRO Accelerator course here.

Warren Zenna
Co-Host @ CRO Spotlight Podcast + CEO @ CRO Collective
Lupe Feld
Co-Host, CRO Spotlight Podcast
Greg Lewis
Chief Growth Officer - Communications @ Syneos Health Communications

[00:00:00] Warren Zenna: Hi and welcome to the CRO Spotlight podcast. I'm Warren Zenna from the CRO collective and I'm here with my co-host Lupe Feld. Hey Lupe.

[00:00:15] Lupe Feld: Hey Warren. This is Lupe Feld, and I'm glad to be here with you.

[00:00:19] Warren Zenna: So this podcast is really for aspiring CROs and CEOs and current CROs whom are interested in learning from not only us, but the great guests that we're going to have.

[00:00:28] Lupe Feld: We're here to tell you that there is other areas of the business that can drive revenue and we're going to look and inspect and come up with some great ideas for us to bring in as much revenue as we can, and drive some meaningful change for the business.

[00:00:41] Warren Zenna: So tune in, we have some exciting opportunities coming up for a really amazing conversations and any B2B leaders I think you're really going to enjoy it. So thanks for tuning in and we look forward to seeing you.
Okay. Welcome to today's episode of the CRO Spotlight Podcast. Hi, Lupe. How you doing?

[00:01:03] Lupe Feld: Hi, Warren. I'm doing great. I'm doing great in October already. Hard to believe.

[00:01:09] Warren Zenna: I'm curious now in Arizona, do you guys have leaves? Like, do you rake leaves and have pumpkins and stuff like that? Like what's it like in in October?

[00:01:17] Lupe Feld: Well, interestingly enough yes, we do have leaves and it's quite nice. So for the. Little trick or treaters, it's absolutely phenomenal because they get to wear whatever costume they want. They don't have to put a coat or a, you know, or a hat or gloves. So you know, when you're a little princess, you don't have to cover it up.

You get to show up and be in your costume, cuz usually the weather's pretty, pretty nice. We do have. Some wind at times, and we do have, you know, what we consider cooler temperatures. But having lived elsewhere, I can tell you what we think is cold or what I think is cold now is not what I used to think. It was cold when I lived in Canada, so I know cold and this is not cold.

[00:01:59] Warren Zenna: Yep. So I was thinking about that. You know, I, it's in Florida for Halloween and it was a really weird experience, which didn't feel right. Anyway, I just wanted, one other thing I wanted to share. It's interesting that's going on is I had a really cool conversation with the guy from the UK last week, actually.

It was early this week, and he was asking me about the fact that his company wanted to promote him to be the chief commercial officer. and he asked me what the difference was between a chief commercial officer and a chief revenue officer. So I said, I don't know. I said, You tell me you like, what's the description of a chief commercial officer?

And he began to describe the exact. Definition of a Chief revenue officer and I said, did the same thing. And it turns out that this Chief commercial officer is a very popular role in the uk. And so, you know, what we were able to kind of ascertain, and I actually did a little post about it, is, you know, in the UK if you're looking to be promoted to a Chief commercial officer, it's the same role.

And as I said to him too, I, I'm not interested so much in the role being called Achieve Revenue Officer. I'm more interested in making sure it's being implemented the right. You can call the person the chief business officer, which I've heard before. Right? Yep. It is an important distinction because even though it's the CRO Collective in the us, that is the typical like revenue, operational leadership role.

I've seen chief commercial officer, chief business officers, they just need to have that cross-functional oversight. I thought it was interesting. Because I think it's just like confusing people over there across the pond.

[00:03:23] Lupe Feld: Yeah, and that's, and even to a, a, a neighbor in Canada, you see chief commercial officer quite a bit. And so that's a term that you see over there. But again, the, you know, the, the scope of the role is revenue. Yep. And it has a component of marketing and customer success kind of wrapped up under that. So it it's the same job, just a slightly different, you know, nomenclature.

[00:03:47] Warren Zenna: Yeah, I agree. Anyway, I kind of agree.

I wanna introduce our guests, so I'm real excited. Right. So Greg Lewis is with us, and I've known Greg. I mean, I think it's 12, 13 years. I, I think it's, You know, I tend to do that a lot cause I don't wanna like reveal like how old I am. But Greg and I worked together pretty closely. I was at PUIs group many, many years ago and I, I had a lot of big partnership with, with the publicist health team and Greg was their head business develop development guy.

And Greg and I have been talking a lot lately because of some shifts that have been going on and I've always had a great deal of respect for him. And as I. To him, and I'll say it again, he's probably the best salesperson I ever met in my life. He's really amazing. And he is just got a breadth of experience.

So Greg, welcome. I'm really, really happy you're, have you here.

[00:04:31] Greg Lewis: Thank you. To have, Thank you for having me. And I do think that tumbleweeds can be considered leaves .

[00:04:37] Lupe Feld: Absolutely. Absolutely. With a good little gust of guest of air. Anything's a leaf. Yes. Yes. Yep. Great to have you.

[00:04:46] Warren Zenna: Yeah, Greg, so like, if you don't mind, we love a little bit in your background, like what you're doing now. I know that you've recently left the publicist organization after, I dunno, how long, how many years were you there?

[00:04:55] Greg Lewis: 14 years there. In the early days of the internet. And a place that, you know, was very good to me and helped me really understand the nuances of, of selling services, of selling capabilities, of selling people, of selling things that don't exist.

Of selling a vision. You know, it was really a magical time at a magical place for, for a long time for me. So what you're doing these days, so now I work for Sanos Health. Sanos Health is actually comprised of a number of former publicists, execs, including execs that came from, you know, brands like Sachi and Sachi and brands like digitize, people that really know what they're doing focused solely in the pharmaceutical space, whereas Publius Health, Would do things that I would consider in the drug store, which include pharma.

They also might include some CPG things and the like. Syoc really focuses. On big pharma. On all pharma, not just big pharma, but you know, from lab, from when a compound is developed all the way through from when a compound is commercialized and shows up in a pill bottle in somebody's medicine chip cabinet, we handle all of those things, including the marketing of those products.

[00:06:07] Warren Zenna: So when you say you handle them, what's the services that you provide?

[00:06:10] Greg Lewis: So Syneos broadly on the commercial side. So when a compound actually gets through FDA and gets approved, What can do everything that a pharmaceutical company does without the development of the compound, they can develop and own a sales team.

They can train the sales team. They have sales training capabilities, they have call center capabilities. They have all of the marketing capabilities that you could outsource the marketing to advertising agencies, pr, medical communications, and the like. They have a payer team, which can handle. The drug shows up with the insurance company and how it's reimbursed and on which formulary is it, and all of those magical things.

It, you know, the contract sales part of our business is pretty big, where a pharma company can rent sales reps and can deploy them with their own logo on the business card. But we own them. We buy the cars, you know, we buy their briefcase, we pay their salaries and their bonuses and their. But they're owned by a Pfizer, for example, or a j and j.

Mm-hmm. . My team specifically focuses on pr, advertising, medical communications, and payer

[00:07:25] Warren Zenna: marketing. Wow. Amazing. So it's a commercial outsourcing in a way. Wow.

[00:07:29] Greg Lewis: That's right. Cool. And what's your role there? So I'm the Chief Growth Officer, So I run all of, I'm in charge of all top line revenue for all of our advertising, pr, medcoms, and payer marketing teams.

It's a, that's a 500 million slice of our business. And for us, our revenue turnover probably is between 10 and 20% a year. You know, people change agencies, people, you know, drugs go off patent drugs get turned down by the fda. Things happen. So we have to be selling and winning about 10 to 20% of our top line revenue to stay at zero.

[00:08:07] Warren Zenna: Got it.

[00:08:08] Greg Lewis: And then whatever the corporate goals are, go on top of that.

[00:08:11] Lupe Feld: Interesting. A lot of behind the scenes, if you think about, you know, by the time it's, you know, above the line advertising and you're seeing it on tv, so much has happened. In order to get it there. And it's interesting, the the number of different steps that you mentioned are phenomenal.

[00:08:28] Greg Lewis: And I forgot to mention, you know, naming and branding as one of the things that we do too. All of these strange farmer brands that Yeah. You know, you wonder like who came up with those? One of our agencies who also. Came up with the name Amazon. Hmm. Works on farmer brands. Right. So there is some, there is a method to the madness when it comes to that.

And uh, they're very well skilled. They work inside a farmer. They have a few clients outside too. Mm-hmm. . But some of the things they've done include brands like that. This is great.

[00:08:59] Warren Zenna: So well congrats on that. It's amazing. It sounds an amazing opportu. and I, I think the interesting thing to talk about first would be like you and I in particular have a history of selling services.

And, you know, consulting services and, you know, thinking Right. And processes and, you know, that has a lot of people and time. Right. And most of the people whom are listening to this are selling products mostly, Right. They're subscription based products where there's a, you know, recurring revenue models and, you know, renewals and.

But you know this at the same time and I, I had a conversation with somebody this week who also is in the health and beauty business, and they have a, a B2B business in that line. And we are talking a lot more now about a chief revenue officer or a commercial leader role in all traditional businesses, not just SAS based businesses, where it's really attractive.

Right. So I let look at your thoughts. What it's like, how you would talk to a, a group of people who are accustomed to selling products, software products, et cetera, and the distinctions between selling those products and selling services and consultancies.

[00:10:12] Greg Lewis: Well, I think first and foremost, companies that, that are, have a sales culture.

You know, McKenzie talks about this. Sales culture win in the marketplace. They promote that competitive advantage. But when they think about everybody being in sales, the longer that you're in the career, the your career, the more that you're in sales. It doesn't matter what your role is. When you progress beyond a convi, an individual contributor, you're in fact in sales, whether you're.

Selling internally to your team or you're, whether you're trying to recruit the best people, whether you're writing a piece for an ad, whether you're trying to create a, a unique value and connect with people to persuade them you're in sales. So everyone is in sales when it comes to the differences between selling features and functionality of a product and selling services.

When you're selling services, you're selling things that people can't see. They can't touch, they can't smell, they can't taste. You're selling the idea that that service is going to have value in and above either what they already have or what they believe they need. And that is, there's magic in that.

And that actually works in product sales too, because even with a product, There's still services that go with it. There's still customer service. There's still follow up. They're still billing and collecting. All of the things that surround that product are those services. So you can sell the product, but you still, the services are the value add that can make all the difference, especially when there's not much differentiation.

With the product. So I think there is magic to understanding the aspect of service selling.

[00:11:58] Warren Zenna: I certainly know what you mean. I've been selling services most of my career. I think one of the interesting things though, is what you just said, which is you're sort of, you are, you're right. You're selling sort of magic in a way, right?

Because there's this desired future state that people want. And, you know, thinking has to go to work to bring out to that new state of being. Right? Those are recommendations and analyses and ideas and thoughts and, you know, insights in your case. Clearly, you know, you're in a very niche space, so you know, you have a, an expertise and a vertical that's very complex and highly regulated.

So that brings a lot of leadership. What. You know, someone who's just selling general business consulting, Like when you think about that, right, where there's not that much differentiation, right? You're just sort of selling people on just growth or business process, you know? What are your thoughts on how a company would go to market to create a value proposition that separates them from substitutes?

[00:12:55] Greg Lewis: Well, I mean, there's two. There's two foundations to it. There's brand building that is the long term. Idea that your brand is in the market and stands for something. And then there's short term, which is sales activation. So when a customer has a need, when a customer needs consulting, when a customer needs a lawyer, when a customer needs an advertising agency, and those sales cycles tend to be long the brand will have, will have created a foundation for a sales activation.

Piece to be successful. The reality is, is that you know, you would never buy a car from a company that sells house paint. You would never buy a bottle of wine from a company that sells motor oil. Those things, the brands don't line up. But when the brand stands for something that matters, you would buy a lawnmower from Honda Cuz Honda stands.

Building the highest quality combustion engines that run and work forever. That brand stands for something that work in motorcycles, in cars, in lawnmowers, in snow blowers, in airplanes, right? Why is Honda in the airplane business? Cuz they make things that work, right? They are better designed things. So the two pieces are brand building again, long term play, building the foundation, and then sales activation.

Once you have the brand. some. And again, sometimes sales activation is brand building too, because when you make a phone call for the first time and the client doesn't know you, you're building the brand, you're building the foundation for a brand conversation, you might not have success. But that being said, the brand building has to be there.

[00:14:42] Lupe Feld: Yeah. It's about building trust too, right, Greg? And, And then once you've built that trust and that confidence in your brand is leveraging, that credibility thread across different verticals. As you mentioned Honda, you know, I, I would never think of Honda for a plane, but it makes sense cuz, you know, Honda's run forever and so that's, that, That's definitely leveraging and maximizing their brand so well,

[00:15:06] Greg Lewis: and, and think about buyers are willing to pay premium prices for strong grant.

That's why luxury marketers never run activation marketing on tv. Like it's never on QVC to buy a Louis Vuitton bag. They would never, cuz they don't have to. Their brand stands for something that, you know, that's a hundred years of foundational brand building. If you were launching something, you might run it on.

On one of the, you know, popup websites or on a dtc, not pharma, dtc, but direct to consumer, you know, advertising on Instagram or on Snapchat. That's different, I think for brands that are willing to make the investment. They do demand premium, you know, premium consideration.

[00:15:57] Warren Zenna: I'm curious then, because is a really good point, is would you say then that a service business or consulting business is more sales heavy or marketing.

like which function is more? Cause clearly in the product business it's, it's, it's all, I mean, a lot of it is, I mean, these, these companies that Lupe and I talked to, they just, they just toss sales people at the world, you know, and they have the big SDR model. They just throw a bunch of people just trying to qualify people and, and unfortunately, really good product marketing is really effective, but a lot of times it's not really done very well because at an early stage of the business, trying to get new customers is so important that salespeople become the.

You know, kind of investment. What, what's the difference in terms of a go to market strategy for a consulting business in that mix? I'm curious what your thoughts are on that.

[00:16:43] Greg Lewis: Well, I think there's, there's a couple of ways to look at this. I think the sales cycle certainly matters. So in, in advertising, the people don't change agencies very often.

You know, Tide has worked with Sachi and Sachi for 70 years. So that sales cycle is long and my business tends to be between five and seven years is the sales cycle. So it's pretty hard to time a phone call or to time an email and get a brand manager on a brand like, you know Lipitor or Viagra or Tylenol to say, Yeah, I'm ready right now.

So that, that is tricky, but I, what I will say is, is that it's a 50 50 split. I think the optimal balance between brand building and sales activation is 50 50. The shorter the sales cycle, the heavier you can go on sales activation cuz there is a bigger chance that somebody will consider a change. The longer the sales cycle, I think the more investment needs to go into brand building.

But don't be fooled. Selling sales activation is also a brand building endeavor. So every interaction that a customer has, a client has with your brand, with your people, with your story, that is brand building, converting them into a customer is sales activation. So it often starts with a brand building discussion.

Once you can understand the challenges, the brand or the client has that. Product or consulting firm can solve for, then you can get into a sales activation discussion. But I think it's about a 50 50 split. Again, depending on the sales cycle is gonna drive, drive that investment level. But I do think your point is a good one.

People throw sales people at the problem and you can't sell your way out of a revenue problem. In services, but you can do both. You can build the foundation and you can sell at the same time.

[00:18:42] Lupe Feld: Yeah, and I think also understanding your sales cycle can help inform. How you attack the problem, if you will, if you have a long sales cycle.

If you're trying to sell a customer that the sales cycle is seven years, you're gonna have to be pretty creative because you can't sustain a salesperson on a seven year sales cycle. So they're gonna have to have significant amount of targets. There's gonna have to be different ways of touching that customer and engaging them, providing value throughout.

A period of time. So when they're at a point of decisioning, you're on their radar and That's right. Yeah. And so it takes it takes understanding your industry and your customers and understanding what it is, is that you solve too. I believe. You have to know what problem you fix, whether it's a product or a service.

You have to know your strength and you have to know the pain points and then focus on the ones that you can. You know, hit right on. And, and, and then there's peripheral things that you can do as, as well. But I think it's really knowing your strengths too, right?

[00:19:51] Greg Lewis: Well, I give the example of a realtor, right?

So in my business I say advertising is never bought or is never sold. It's bought. It's like the same in real estate. I can't sell you a house until you're ready to buy a house, until you're ready to move, until you're ready to change. If you were in the, A house you loved and you just put a kitchen edition on and you're in street you love with neighbors you love and your kids love it and you love the schools, I can't sell you a house in a town next door.

You're not, you wouldn't take that phone call. You wouldn't even consider it. And it's the same thing in advertising. You know, we can't get people to change agencies if they love their agency, nor should they, frankly, they should. As much as we think we're better than everybody else. We're smarter and more strategic and more creative.

Everybody says that, you know, the reality though is, is that when there is dissatisfaction, when there is some activation energy to change, whatever that activation energy is, service, they customer's revenue decline and they need to do something quickly or they're in trouble. That's when it can, That's when it, you can engage and building the brand so that at that moment in time you are consider.

You have, you have the right to have a relevant conversation. Then you have something then you have something that's hard work. But the folks that can do it in consulting, the folks that can do it in advertising, the folks that can do it in the legal business, the folks that can do it in any. Software business, when you're ready to change software, you know, you might know a couple of the companies, but you're buying a set of consulting implementation services that go with it.

That's a long sales cycle and you need to be considered at that point.

[00:21:34] Warren Zenna: So what are some of those things? Like if you're looking at, on the buy side, what are the, I mean, look, you know, you get trained. You and I have been through this too many times. You start to get trained. To start to understand or maybe do some degree of predictability around what those sort of signals are in the marketplace, that a brand is ready to make a change or have a different perspective.

Right? I mean, you and I both know there's always the two year agency review and all that sort of stuff, but you know, that's not an easy one. What are some things on the buy side that usually. Companies make a decision to start exploring a different perspective in the marketplace.

[00:22:08] Greg Lewis: I mean, listen, I think they all have revenue goals to meet and they all just like us.

They, you know, their bosses push down goals to them. And you know, right now, if you look at the market if you look at the contraction in, in, in the spend at the comp, the political pressures of around reducing health costs, for me, those things impact pharma companies impact what they can charge, what their profitability is.

So when there's a. When there's a dip or a a, a brand that has not met expectations, they need to do something that's activation energy. They've been, they're getting pressure to do something differently, to do something better, to change what they're doing. And what we hear quite often. You know, are things like competitive pressures or pricing pressures or budgets are being cut because they're not meeting the number, right?

So when somebody says their budgets are being cut, that's actually not a thing to run from. That's a thing to run to. That's where a customer is having some challenges and understanding those challenges and outsmarting the, the incumbent and outsmarting their plan and coming up with new ideas might be the way.

To get a toehold. And I always believe if you get a little toehold, we don't try to hit home runs. I'm not Aaron Judge. I'm not 6, 7, 2 80, whatever, however big he is. You know when when I'm trying to get a toehold, I'll take a little piece and I will nibble like crazy. And I think some of the most successful sales people and successful selling organizations aren't afraid to start small and prove it.

[00:23:42] Lupe Feld: Yeah. And that goes back to like the champion challenger model. You know, where you. Are opportunistic and you're willing to kind of prove your medal, if you will against an incumbent. Yeah. And that could be through like a new product or a new launch or something that's different. That might be out of, slightly out of the wheelhouse of expertise of the incumbent.

And so being creative, but that all comes from knowledge and engagement, right? You don't learn about these things. You have to uncover those things.

[00:24:15] Greg Lewis: You know, and it's interesting, we, we call some of those change the game initiatives, whereas I don't want to get involved in a formal review where there's three or four competitors all being asked to submit a proposal.

I wanna listen for those triggers where they're operationally struggling, where their current partners are falling short, whatev what for whatever those reasons are. And then I wanna offer something for free. I want to be generous. I wanna offer thinking, I wanna offer a little bit of a small strategic workshop that we've systemized that can be done without a whole lot of effort.

But that has an interesting output that then that customer has an idea of what it's like to work with us. It's not just a promise, but it's a, it's a real, it's a real thing. And that way they've, first of all, they've gotten to know us then through that initiative, and if they still decide to RFP it, then they've, we've met them, We know the decision makers already.

They've already showed us a little bit about what their challenges are. We've already done some thinking and some brainstorming around it. And about half of the time that we try to change the game with them by offering something, we get the work no bid. Right. So it, it, it, and sometimes we don't, sometimes we still have to pitch it, but when we have to pitch it, we have a huge advantage because we already know the challenge.

We already have an idea of how, how severe the problems are, and we can go right at it from a solution standpoint.

[00:25:48] Warren Zenna: Yeah. You know, I found. In the industry, Greg, so much of this is based on a couple things. I mean, certainly clearly brand is Creek key, right? You have to kinda like get permission to be brought into a certain sphere of influence that people kind of put you into a consideration set like a group of agencies that I'd probably say, All right, you know, I'd pick one of these guys if I had to.

The other part of it is two important things. One is relationship, right? And it's also it's about timing, right? So. You know, I, I think that there's something to be said for, like I tell you a story I was. You know, really wisely these guys made a decision to take me to the Masters . I mean, I, I couldn't say no.

I mean, of course I went Right, of course. And you know, it was a ridiculous trip. I mean, it was just incredible. Like they. Flew us down there and they had this van and they, I, we went there for a couple days and it was really like just, you know, magical. I'll never forget that trip. And I was, remember I was on my way back from Augusta to Atlanta on this bus with everybody to go back to the airport.

And it occurred to me right there in the moment, You know what, I'm gonna work with these guys. I mean, how could I not now? Like this was such a great thing that, that there's a sort of, Okay. I mean, they've already entered into the sphere of organizations that I'd consider from, cuz like you said, they reached that brand equity portion.

So they've kind of, you know, entered into that part of my brain. I knew some of the guys obviously, and then they took me to the masters. You know, I sort of like, they gave me very little reason why I wouldn't give them a high level of consideration, and frankly, probably planted something in my brain that even in the course of a pitch, I'd probably, without realizing it, biased myself towards wanting to hire them because of this.

So, You know, the experience that they gave me was I important. And I think that goes to like a relationship sort of thing and an experiential sort of thing. I would say it's sort of a marketing relationship sort of thing. But it's also has to do with the fact that at the time this was obviously pre covid, you know, they could do that.

you know, I mean, these sort of things were def just the way the business was done. What, what are you seeing now? I mean, are you seeing, like that sort of thing, How much of a role does that play anymore? Or is it really, you gotta earn it, really earn it? Or can you just take people to just a preposterous meal and win a, like what's, what's happening now around that side of things?

[00:28:24] Greg Lewis: Yeah, I, it is, it is. The, the game has changed. It is very difficult to get people out. It's almost impossible to see people in an office cuz they might be going in one or two days a week. And when they're in, they're doing coaching with their staff. They're doing staff meetings with their team. They're doing executive meetings with their boss so they don't have an hour cuz they're in two days a week instead of five.

They don't have an hour to see. You know, a partner to come in. So, but I am seeing people going to events mm-hmm. , so going to South by Southwest and going to, So they're getting out in that context. Now, here's the thing is that if going to those doesn't matter. If you don't have a system and a plan on how you're gonna avoid the trap, Showing up and expecting to run into.

You're not gonna run into anybody. Hmm. You are not gonna bump into anybody. But I've had a lot of success scheduling 15 minute cups of coffee and bless you. . And to your point, Warren, even in those situations, people will say, What are you doing for dinner tonight? Mm-hmm. , what do you think? Let's grab a drink tonight.

Oh, you know what's, What are your plans? And then it turns into those magical moments where you're telling stories about something that happened in college or something that happened when you were at a trade show and was amazing. So I think those events are the way to go. It does tend to be a little bit pricier.

But I do think that the, the relationships and the connections are deep. Mm-hmm. And, and they're really to, to, at this moment, I haven't seen a better way to go.

[00:30:01] Warren Zenna: Makes sense.

[00:30:02] Lupe Feld: Yeah. I often see a lot of people attend events without any kind of a strategy or even a goal just to, you know, like you said, magically run into somebody.

But I think it, it goes back to like specific account strategy. That is so key and so important in understanding your customer. What's important, What events do they attend, Planning ahead, kind of managing to carve out time in their calendar while they're there. Maybe offering up things at that conference that might be important to them or interesting to them ahead of them getting kind of the, the menu of things that they can do.

But I also find sometimes, Building enough of a relationship and building enough trust to be helpful and deliver value in the sense of helping them build the RFP and helping them create that process. And lending a hand in expertise that basically makes you the trusted person, but it also gives you an insight on what will be in the rfp, cuz maybe you've kind of.

Help to design it and over index it so you can have maybe a little bit of an advantage, but that takes trust. Again, it's, it's building that trust in that relationship, right?

[00:31:25] Greg Lewis: It's trust, but it's also in as much as trust, it's being completely generous with your. With your time and effort, so you don't get trust without generosity, without, and whether it's an RFP that you help them write.

And I don't love that, frankly. But I do love helping somebody build their deck and using our PowerPoint designers and our agency to make it look better for their boss. I like offering to help them with data for a trade show presentation where they're the headline. And they get together with our strategist and get all kinds of ideas and insights to make them look better and help them build their brand, right?

So if you help your, their, your clients build their brand externally and internally, you can't lose. I mean, I think Warren started that by engaging with clients in a very intimate setting and the brands were forged of who you are and what you stand for and what you believe in. And they shared an you know, a magical.

Experience that can happen at the business level, but it takes generosity. And it takes the expectation of no return, none. Cause if you expect something in return, then they will know you are a fraud and that you're just doing it to sell them things. And we are doing it to sell them things and they know it.

They know why we're there. Mm-hmm. . But you can't do it that way. You have to really care about their brand. And if you do, I think, man, I think you just absolutely destroy it and and you have a lot more fun, frankly, because people want to invite you to the masters because you're there to have a good time and to help and to help their brand and, and they know their helping your brand.

Yep. For, for sure.

[00:33:15] Warren Zenna: You know, Greg, if something I wanted to talk to you about, we talked about prior was you know, the reason why I launched the CRO collect. For many reasons, but one of the main ones was as, as an agency lead and having a p and l and I had budget and I had to build a product for the agency, I had to engage with like hundreds of B2B companies that wanted to sell their services to me.

And so in the process of like, imagine you, right? I mean, you and I are in the same ill, right? I mean, I'm the worst person to try and sell shit to, you know, and. I was like in these rooms with these people and they'd bring in all these sales people and I'd be observing their processes and the way that they delivered stuff.

And it was fascinating to watch how each one of these organizations constructed their sales and marketing strategies and the things I observed led me to a lot of the things that drew to create this company in the first place. So I'd be interested in your perspective on that. So from the framework of this way, I'd.

Okay. You're ostensibly a buyer, right? Cuz your agency, the one you work at right now, needs services from other people to help you execute the things you're working on. Right? What's your thoughts on the way that companies need to be thinking about how to position themselves in a B2B space when they go to an agency to try and sell, you know, their software solution or their whatever solution to someone?

You, what's the way that you're observing companies where they do this and some things that they need to be thinking about when they're engaging companies like yours?

[00:34:34] Greg Lewis: Man, I love this question. For, for all the re for all the reasons I think, you know, I think at my core, I believe that that chief revenue officers, chief growth officers need to be creating a systems approach.

Of the things that need to happen to have revenue, growth, success, not the people that we need to hire. Not their Rolodex, not the territories, but what's the system? What are all the components? And that is a fluid map that never stops evolving because the market never stops evolving. The customers never stop evolving, and your team never stops evolving.

So being the owner, Of that and articulate, being able to capture it and articulate it and refine it and report it and optimize it and hire to it and make and admit that you screwed up half of it and that you are wrong. That is input into your system and ultimately when the system is driving demand and you're sitting back and you're saying, And now I have time to go to the masters with.

The CMO at p and g, you can't do that when you're pushing a sales boulder up a hill, and it's a transactional sell every second. Every call is the pipeline, but the system can be built in a way that drives demand and can be refined and over time, yeah, make it look easy or easier. So my first pieces of advice are to align your demand generation approach with the needs and the strategy of the business.

And I often look back to the things in the McKinsey Blueprint for growth, right? They just, they have a thing published, and I don't, You may have put it on your LinkedIn profile, I think I saw it out there, but it talks about conf competitive advantage. It talks about trends. It talks about being a laggard and turbo charging your core and.

Grow where you know, and win at, you know, in your own backyard. And if you can't do that, then go global. Right? And it, but it also talks about where you're good at multiple multiple pieces of that McKinsey map is where you have excess returns. Mm-hmm. . So what we're trying to do is to create a map, execute against that map, and then drive excess returns.

In a way that's repeatable. Mm-hmm. . So when your best sales guys leave, who cares?

[00:37:10] Warren Zenna: So other words, you're like your sales, you know, salesperson proof.

[00:37:13] Greg Lewis: Well, that, that's Well, and it's the system, right? It's Nick Saban, it's Alabama. It's, you know, you see it's Bill Belichick. Bill Belichick. Has a bunch of guys on his team I've never heard of.

Yep. And they win. Mm-hmm. . So the best coaches can build those systems and the, the others have to win in the weight room. The others have to win, you know, with one individual contributor. And man, there's a lot of risk in that. And there is, I think Warren, I've been lucky enough over the years to understand how to create systems.

And the team in those systems were outstanding and it actually made my life very easy. But they needed organization. Mm-hmm. , and I'm not sure I'm answering the question exactly how you,

[00:38:02] Warren Zenna: You're talking to a chief revenue officer now. Cause that's their job is to build that system. Right. And I, I like, I love what you're saying and it's so true.

We call this a revenue. Which runs on its own right. It has parts that when they're run and oiled properly, they work a certain way. And, you know, you just find people whom are the best at being able to kind of operate that engine. And it, it makes it easier to swap out, you know, people cuz you know, look.

Finding good people is the key, but you're not always gonna be able to keep good people or maintain good people. You gotta train people, you gotta onboard people. But when you put people into the type of system that you're describing, you have a much, much better model than just hoping that your people figure things out every time.

That's, that's dangerous. And I think that's what I saw, right? So what I was watching in my experience as a buyer, I mean it was mostly ad tech and MarTech companies were selling to me, and I saw what it was. Really very sales driven organizations that had very little marketing support. Certainly not good customer success backend, right?

That transition over to that experience was not good. And what was, what was apparent to me was these companies were all operating at a out of a state of somewhat like, almost like sales pipeline desperation, where they just needed to get the deal closed all the time as opposed to just finding out what it was.

I need it to solve and how their organization was set up to deliver on that. And I think that's the part of the pervasive problem that's going on in the marketplace right now. There's just too much desperation. It's either driven by market conditions, which is just we need sales, but it's also driven by, we have financing.

and the financing is demanding that we get these returns in this period of time. You know, and that's a condition that our customers could care less about. But that's the reason why we're annoying you so much all the time, is cuz my investors kind of want me to, you know, And it's a fascinating kind of a thing.

And again, I think your perspective on this is good because you've been in a position where you're watching this and you've designed it and it's so pertinent to what we're talking about right now. Because look, let's face it, you know, right now for a lot of ways, you know, you're, you're a buyer. You have influence over the decisions that are gonna be made for your company right now in the role that you have.

So, you know, we have like, like four minutes or so here, and I just want maybe some last thoughts on some things you'd say to a chief revenue officer of a company that's selling to you right now. What are the ways that you're looking for that would indicate that a CROs got their act together and that their company's working in a way that you're gonna buy for?

[00:40:27] Greg Lewis: Well, the first thing I wanted to say is, is don't fall into the trap where everybody at your company's an expert in revenue generation. If you don't have a system, then you allow everybody to comment and everybody to weigh in on something that they may not be an expert in. So be the expert is the first thing.

The second thing is, is that when it comes. To selling to us. Don't fixate on being the best, fixate on being better. And that's a mindset of continual improvement. That everything that you're doing tomorrow is gonna be better than it was yesterday. So if you have the mindset that what, and, and bring that to me too, that what you're doing right now is fine, but what you're doing tomorrow could be better.

But it's not proving that you're the best, cuz I don't really believe that anybody's the best. But I improve, I, I believe that people that have the heart of doing better and continual improvement are the people I wanna be hanging around with. Not people who think they're the best. Improvement is a different thing, I think.

And finally, you know, we need people that line up against our, our business strategy. In, in the right places. So people will call me and try to sell me IT services, and I don't, they don't even ask if I have purview over it. They just wanna skip, send me a calendarly invite for a 20 minute call. So, knowing, asking a few questions asking for help and listen, I'm a very generous person when a salesperson asks me for help in the right way.

I'm also the, the biggest jerk on the planet when somebody who has no context, who doesn't ask any questions, comes at me and, and is intending to waste my time which is my most valuable resource. So in, in, hopefully that didn't burn all four minutes, but I think context matters, asking for help and generosity.

You know, I'm a generous guy when people. Are thoughtful and consider it. And man, I'm happy to help. Mm-hmm. , I'm also happy to, to, to put a hand up and say, Forget it. Don't ever call me again and put you on my spam filter forever.

[00:42:37] Warren Zenna: 100%. Great. Well we, we gotta close out here in a minute or so. Lupe, do you have any last thoughts you wanna ask Greg before we close out?

[00:42:45] Lupe Feld: Just anything exciting that you're working on right now that you wanna share or how do people reach you?

[00:42:50] Greg Lewis: Well, certainly anybody can hit me up on LinkedIn. I think it's Louis G is my LinkedIn. I. We'll make sure that we have it.

Mm-hmm. You know, I do think that the integration of sales and marketing matters. I am emphasizing over indexing right now on events, speaking at events, being at events, helping my customers be successful at events. Having events at events, right? So renting. Bowling alley next door to the Philadelphia Convention Center during Digital Pharma.

That matters. And getting out in front of that, getting customers together. And the last thing is, is our, just like us, our customers don't talk to each other. Our customers don't interact with each other. Creating networking groups within your customer set and inviting different customers from different companies to have breakfast together is a huge benefit that you can provide them because it helps them network.

With each other, but you have to be generous with it and resist the urge to sell them anything. But again, the more senior the people, the harder it is to do, but also the more benefit it is to them.

[00:44:01] Lupe Feld: I love it. All right.

[00:44:02] Warren Zenna: That's great. Thank you Greg. Thank you. This is great. I know we'd probably go on for another hour here, but thanks for the giving us the time and

[00:44:08] Greg Lewis: Thank you for having me. I loved it.

[00:44:10] Warren Zenna: Used him in your perspective. That's great. Well look, this is our, we're looking forward to our next episode. Lupe, always great to spend time with you. Bye everybody.

This episode was digitally transcribed.

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