Coaching. It’s a topic that has come up a lot across both our podcasts and in many talent conversations lately.
As many businesses hire more cautiously, focusing on adding critical hires their team, they’re doubling down on ensuring they retain their best talent, and fail fast when it comes to hiring.
And one company that excels at coaching their team is Cognism – a data and intelligence provider that helps sales and marketing teams drive predictable pipeline.
So when Cognism’s VP of UK & Ireland Johanthon Ilett agreed to be a guest on The Talent Intelligence Podcast, we knew coaching would be a big topic.
Listen as Jonathon sits down with host Nicki Paterson to discuss:
- How title inflation can be used as a positive tool with today’s workforce
- The importance of a playbook for your team’s success – especially as a business scales
- How to nurture talent to become the top 1% of sales people
- Why hard work beats talent every day
- And much more…
Listen to the podcast:
Watch the Podcast:
Nicki Paterson: Hi, everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Talent Intelligence Podcast. I’m your host today, Nikki Patterson, chief Growth Officer at solutions driven.
I’m also delighted to to welcome Jonathan Ilett, VP of UK and Ireland at COGNISM. Jonathan,
how are you today?
Jonathan Ilett: Thank you, Nicky. Thank you very much for having me on the podcast today.
Nicki Paterson: Listen to super excited to have you on as a guest. We have obviously some mutual friends at Cognism. It’s a company I’ve known a lot about over the years. It’s a company on an amazing trajectory and you’re an individual that’s been on a super journey over the last 5-6 years with Cognism. So really excited to to get into to your brain a little bit understand the you know the global machine that is Cognism and touch on some exciting points as well. So. So thanks very much for your time. Look forward to it.
Nicki Paterson: So some of the topics that we’re going to talk about today I guess you know first and foremost the fact that you’ve been at Cognism for five or six years. I think I’m the same at solutions driven and and quite rare and which is quite rare in Business Today right. And and I guess the sales side of things that go to market side of things, people are moving all over the place.
So really understand why you are still there and how things have been going for for you guys creating that you know high performance environment, talking about the steps that you’ve put in place and the foundations you’ve put in place to be successful and of course how do we tie that all back into to talent um. So ready to jump right in. Yep we’re good. Let’s crack on.
Nicki Paterson: Awesome. So 5-6 years at Cognism. Tell me why?
Jonathan Ilett: Yeah, so it’s quite an interesting journey. So I actually started my career. Not many people know this, but I’m like 2 years in recruitment initially and you kept that quiet.
The one thing that I loved I always wanted to go. So my back story was when I initially wanted to go into sales and I Googled what do the most successful people like actually do in their career. When I was in university I was just I was super curious about how you get to that top 1% and and it just most I’ve read multiple articles they just jumped out that sales was the foundation for success um to actually have control of your own destiny in terms of income.
Uh courage. And stuff like that. So when I graduated, I wanted to join an early stage startup. I knew that that was something that really once you had exposure of that you’re in university and and there was this like recruitmentcompany that pops up.
There was like a spin off and it was really, really exciting and I got there and I was just like this.
I didn’t really like what I signed up for it, but balancing the candidate and the client and I was like, this is completely out of my control. Like, I really, really struggled with that. Everyone thought I was mental. Like what? I just like I was a job hopper. Like my parents, like what you doing?
Like it’s insane. And then Cognism came along and it was solving one of the core issues that I had at the recruitment company that really, really bugged me, which was spending 5-/60/70%of my time, like trying to find the right people, try and find the right e-mail addresses for these people. And I was, I was kind of like a deer in the headlights.
I didn’t Have any direction in terms of where I was going. And then this UK company came around and it was just a really, really exciting proposition. It was like the second hire in the UK sales team as an SDR, like very, very gritty, like wearing many hats. And then ever since then we’ve really just.
I think one thing that was great and why the reason why I’ve really stuck around is like the strategic direction in terms of where we’re going and I think this is something that people really underestimate when they take new roles. Um, like what’s the leadership team like? What’s that end goal and vision. And
I’ve been entirely bought into that the whole way through over the five year term. And I think as we’ve grown as an organisation as well, like there’s been points where I’ve been limited or capped to an extent in terms of where I’m going at that current time and we’ve always bought in a more experienced leader that sits over the top. So for me it’s been like a learning curve as well as we’ve gone from nought to 5/5 to 10/10 to 20 and then 20 to 40.
Every time I’ve had like a new leader come in that I can look up to learn from them, take them foundations and then eventually like you said Nikki, like the average tenure is like 2 years.
So this is one thing that I’m always try and I don’t understand really with sales people. You get to that 100% efficiency at like the two year mark. That’s when you know the product, you know the market and that’s like the average span of like an AE or a Rep and for me it’s just baffling because that’s when you’re earning the most money, it becomes a little bit mundane and a little bit and yeah mundane is probably the correct word for that. But yeah, I think that that turnover of staff like every two to three years does present opportunities to people that stick around and that’s really kind of I’ve been at the forefront of that and.
A lot of my team as well, like my Enterprise account, executive team, average tenure, there’s like 3 1/2 years, yeah. And for quite an early stage company like we’ve only been around 5 1/2 and we really went to market four years ago. So and these guys now are signing 7 figure deals and that’s, that’s unheard of when you think about in a four year term straight out of university or college or school and now they’re sitting at enterprise, signing some of the biggest logos in the States.
Nicki Paterson: I mean less than. I think there will have been lots of challenges and lots of things you’ve been proud of along the way. But before I forget, I’m gonna jump on, on one piece here is.
You know having not been in sales forever having been out of school and in a totally
different profession and getting into sales and recruitment for me and and obviously my world is is is a lot more sales and client you know and and I have another team that focus on on that candidate side.
You know, I, recognised the workouts, right? And I think I’m very similar to you in the sense that mentorship and good leadership is the key to success. People always say hire people that are smarter than you, and I think you hear that all the time, but you don’t always see people going about it in the right way. You know, they want people to go and do things to make them look better rather than bringing people in to make them more successful or empower them to to be better and and grow. It takes a lot of I guess being extremely humble to say this is a gap of mine you know and and very rarely are people super excited with lots of people coming above them because they probably see it stinting their opportunity to to to progress.
So how to talk me through that right because you guys have got an amazing progression within Cognism.
You’ve got a team that seemed to be super hot and you know the tenure is excellent.
How have you created that environment? How have you continued to grow new people coming in who have their own ideas? But how have you managed to keep everyone’s eyes on the prize?
Jonathon Ilett: OK, so. I’ve been chatting to quite a few people on this recently and I think there’s like there’s very diverse views here in terms of building like an internal engine comparative to cause. I think there comes a point when you need to put fuel on the fire and you can’t physically promote everyone internally. So you do need to get some talent at that point.
But if I’m looking for my engine room, which is like our SDR AE team.
But my viewpoint is like the talent pool very, very early is exceptional.
Like for people going in at that SDR level, there’s a huge quantity of amazing, amazing candidates that if you give them the right coaching and nurturing, they’re going to be like the top 1% of of sales people and.
As people come more tenured, you lose the ability to kind of mould people as well, and I think what we’ve done at cognism is we bring someone in quite inexperienced. We train
them cognism way that we want them to to sell, understand the products, understand the market.
We get them to that optimal potential. Yeah, give them a rear path that’s very, very
tangible and we say based on X metrics or based on X deliverables like this is a career path that you can hit and that really excites people. And I think that gets people and they see as well like they see case studies of individuals probably like myself or like a Charlie Bill and I Enterprise, a
team who’ve been in the business for four years and that, well, yeah, I can do that, right.
There’s actually someone physically that I can, I can see myself exactly the same as when they came in as an SDR, exact same talent potential and that really inspires them I think to to stay in the organisation I think.
One thing that millennials or Gen Z love, then I think something I really liked was like, it’s kind of bad, but like title inflation to an extent, right? People always want constant gratification and they want to see themselves progressing up quite quickly.
And I think kind of the old school mentality is like people need to sit in the seat for two years. No title change anything like that. That’s not how today’s workforce operates. Like people
wanna see progression and it might be having different deerings of SDR like SDR one SD, SDR two, SDR 3 actually break but they want to know they’re going in the right direction.
It’s a kind of a that external pat on the back exactly right and it’s amongst their peers like knowing that they’re progressing like there’s there’s lots of benefits to it.
But yeah back to your point in terms of how do we retain the people that that is one of the core reasons is we we explicitly saying like our SDR manager and his ethos is like this should be the best place for you to start yourselves career and that’s what he says during the interviews and I think that kind of runs through when you look at our team today it’s it’s 85% internal and we’re at like nearly 40 million AR and we’ve take we’ve taken some hits right in terms of quota reductions and stuff.
When we moved up SDR, it was very, very shaky. But yeah like one of one of my mentors who I work with scaled it scaled companies to nearly a billion.
And he said that it was it was the best way to do it was internal, get the best talent in, build a career path and if you retain them people, that’s the domino effect and just trying to grow that revenue I think for you and I were both trying to grow and scale go to market teams, right. So there’s a lot of synergy there. You know obviously we support across all functions globally. So. So but I think the same thing applies, right, whether you’re in manufacturing or whether you’re an operations or finance, you’re always looking every year how do I get that little couple of percent better, how do I get that little bit more efficient?
How do I up target a little bit without the team saying that’s not doable.
Nicki Paterson: And I I relate this back, you know, this year I totally changed my kick off to not being generic, but I made it almost like a tee off rather than a kick off, right.
Because I was saying, you know, whether and I went to golf because one of the team members I have is a scratch golfer. So I thought, you know, get him bought in. Other people will be like we we did a golf event, etcetera. We played top golf and it was almost every year.
There is a number one in golf, but there are thousands of people trying to be that number one.
And that number one is trying to get that little bit better, #2 and three know they need to put the work in to get that little bit better and it doesn’t come from luck you know totally you know it comes from foundations. It comes from people around you, collaboration, hard work strategy and and and to me the more and more we spoke about this as a team the more I was like this is like so, so much synergy here and it definitely sounds like you guys have found that right balance.
The only flip side to that is I always say you know the most successful teams.
I need to stop using the football analogy, but it’s my life, right? But when Manchester United were at the top of the table, every year they would bring in another superstar striker and people would say they don’t need that. But they won the title again and they kept everybody on their toes.
And I think there’s that balance between having the homegrown talent versus top talent and and and making sure nobody stays stagnant.
So yeah, I think you guys have done an absolutely awesome job. But again, let’s, let’s talk about the current crop, right, the gen z, the millennials, the, you know, the hesitancy, the itchy feet, I guess is it, what is it about individuals nowadays that aren’t just content doing a good job for a good company making a lot of money? What is it about?
You see a lot of people right now that companies have had X,Y,Z drowned that have hit so much R and almost then very quickly you see people saying you have an amazing ride here for the last three years, but now I’m joining this other one. Is it just purely that extra money? What do you think it is that drives the most successful people forward?
Jonathon Ilett: So if I look at our sales team, money is a motivator for sure, but I don’t think it’s the core motivator like.
It’s a little things right at the we we do so for example we do like uh, we do a presence club every year. We do uh like company off sites, we do like team bonding, events.
Firstly, everyone needs to be hitting their targets. That’s like that’s really, really important. I think if a sales reps in an organisation where the quotas are just completely inflated and everyone’s hitting 50%, that creates a really, really toxic environment. So a Rep needs to understand how they can hit their number mathematically and be able to work it out. That’s like the foundation I think of like a successful self, same tenure in their role. And I think a lot of companies get that wrong. Like they who’s my best, my best person and that’s the target for everyone, exactly right, and the board putting pressure on to grow 200% and it’s just a number of blocks out the around what they need to.
That is not how you build a successful sales team that’s tenured and they need to, they need to understand that, but that’s the point about, what keeps people in the role?
I think it’s really people wanna come to work today with like a purpose and understand there’s a purpose behind it, what they’re actually doing, and also as well, it’s probably the fact that.
Yeah, they wanna. They want to grow and I think like the culture, the coaching culture of people like progressing and that doesn’t necessarily mean monetary progression. That means like developing in their, in their roles like a sales Rep, skill set, et cetera. I think that’s the reason why people stick around. I think when people have been in the role for 2-3 years, their manager to take their managers, take their foot off the gas, they’re like, this guy is absolutely fine, like this girl is absolutely fine.
They can just kind of coach a little bit. They’re always going to hit their number. That’s when you tend to get people at risk. So I think that continuous development of those individuals.
And if you don’t have the skill set and turn you like get the mentorship.
Nicki Paterson: I think that’s one thing that point, that’s the super important thing and that’s something’s been super useful for me as well is our CEO understands that he’s always been mentored. He’s always had a mentor at different stages and he’s always done that for Key leadership. He’s always given them the opportunity to anyone in leadership to get someone that’s the next phase above them that they can learn from.
We do try and bring that in House which is what we’re talking about earlier about bringing those exceptional superstars that have been at the next level. But if we if we don’t have the bandwidth capacity to bring them in house, get them external viewpoints and that’s been super successful, that’s helped our middle managers.
And it’s helping loads of different regards.
Nicki Paterson: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had personally as as a leader over the last couple of years? Just put you on the spot here…
Jonathon Ilett: I don’t know. I’m just trying to think back until there’s been loads of, it’s just been that successful. There’s not been any challenge. There’s been a lot.
You talk very appropriate for this. And which ones on now, I think like I think one of the key things is you don’t know what you don’t know. And I think that’s probably been the biggest challenge for me as we face some quite big obstacles like scaling up. I’ve made some big mistakes in terms of potential hires that I bought in.
Not not massively, drastically bad, but like I think you need to, there’s been instances where I probably should have talked to other people who have done stuff before before I actually pulled the trigger myself. Yeah, um, but there’s not really been anything drastic. I think the hardest challenge today is actually what we’re talking about in terms of like we’ve got some exceptional, exceptional sales reps, how do, how do we keep them motivated, how we keep them in the role and that that isn’t ever something that cannot stop.
And actually building career paths for people that have been in the business five years and are selling to the top one top FTSE 100 companies like, what is the next step for them, right. And making sure they’re developing because they are they are the cells of the engine room of an organisation. If you lose your top two three sellers, like that’s not the situation.
Nicki Paterson; Well, that’s right. I mean, I think I’m a big believer in, youknow, having realistic goals, realistic expectations.
But I also think if you set the bar too low, people will never ever achieve their true true potential. And it’s almost like I know people typically say like try and have your targets for whatever you’re doing in life and that median type level, you know, don’t have it all up here.
Jonathon Ilett: But I think it’s fair. You need to have that foundation, that structure and that belief that up there is possible and how do I get there, right, because a new Rep coming in looking at an old Rep that’s got all these key accounts that they can call upon et cetera. They’re almost like well, I can’t get to that. So I think having the metrics behind that to say, well, here’s how that person got there and here’s the graph that they put in and and and and obviously the learnings off the back of that I think is key.
Nicki Paterson: I think this is really a really, really difficult point for people, right. They can’t, you mentioned it earlier.
Two years is the tenure. 2 years is also the point where year one is half ramp get consistency. Year two is do well and grow and then the person leaves. You know, when we we just think of that, it’s so frustrating.
I’ve been approached five or six times in the last few years. Why are you still there 5-6 years and I’m thinking well. I’m being challenged every day. I’m excited about where we go.
There is a strategic element to my role. We are scaling ourselves. Why would you want to leave that and and I just can’t wrap my mind around people that chase the extra 10K sometimes. I understand that the environment we’re in, but I think if more people stuck at things more often it’d be a better world for everyone.
Jonathon Ilett: I think security as well, right Nikki? Like.
The curiosity, a huge one that the current climate today like my most tenured sales reps like they’re not going to be, we know that they’re going to deliver irrespective in a downturn like you move into a new role in today’s and and environment like
I don’t know actually you’re the first one on the chopping block, right. So I think there’s a lot
Of. There’s a lot of value from a monetary perspective, like when you’re in your rhythm, you’re in your flow, um, you get trust internally. People get to know your ability. Um, there’s so many, there’s so many benefits of staying in an organisation. If you’re getting the right support and you’re growing.
Nicki Paterson: Yeah, totally. And you’re right. It’s people second guessing you all the time saying why you been here 5-6 years later, it’s you need to back that off a little bit and focus on like are you happy? Are you happy to pay? You and I are seen as steel leaders at the moment.
You know, being in there that role for 5-6 years, yeah, you’ve got it easy over there etcetera. I’m like who doesn’t like having an impact? You know, I’m very fulfilled in my role, you know, I’m being rewarded for my role and I feel appreciated in my role, right. And I think it’s it can’t just be a top down leadership thing, right? You’ve got to really understand your team no matter the function and what it is that drives them and what is it’s important to them.
Like you say, it might be the Commission plan, it might be that trip to Ibiza that I think it was last year you guys went in that, right, CEO and everything.
That would motivate me, right? Not maybe not everyone, but that would motivate me. And guess it’s trying to find the the common ground across your team that motivates everyone, even if it’s intrinsic one-on-one team, etc. And you guys seem to have done that super well.
Jonathon Ilett: Cool. Yeah, yeah, I think it’s you’re absolutely right. It’s different faces, different people like some guys on our team are are so money focused, some of them are praise orientated like you need to understand that and make sure you got blend across your.
Nicki Paterson: So you’re also an investor and I nelieve other companies at different times are right now.
Talk. Talk me through that a little bit. I mean, obviously it’s not you just someone that’s clearly likes mentorship. I’m a huge fan of mentorship. I think nobody knows everything and you only know what you know and you don’t know what you don’t know.
Jonathon Ilett: Totally big big fan of a big fan of that statement. Why? Why they investment you know, taught me through that next phase of of your career. Yeah, sure. So I think there’s two things. I love startups and I love money. So Angel investing kind of tick the tick the box with both of them and I think.
Like one thing I like, I like, I like giving back and I think it’s really good to knowledge share. And I think the benefit of Angel investing if anyone who hasn’t done it before is um, if you’re in your space and you’re kind of specialist in your space.
People will make space for you and like very competitive fundraisers for very, very good companies. Um and firstly, it’s exposure.
If you want to build your own business, at some point you get such a good understanding of how how people should put their proposition across. Like how you go for different stages at seeds, pre seed, Series A um. But also as well it’s it’s very very good from a network effect as well. Like I met some exceptional people when the VC world and some really exciting startups.
And or me like being able to leave and I’m sure so quite doesn’t wanna good rate to a couple of
those as well. Exactly right exactly that works that excuse.
Yeah I think I think Angel investing is like such a good thing to do if you if you’re involved in like the SAAS ecosystem like there’s so much money that’s being pumped into some really exciting companies.
There’s some really good government tax breaks that you get on the back of it and and like so basically what we’ve done just to give you everyone a bit of context is we set up like an Angel syndicate for like VP Sales.
Anyone in like sales profession or go to market role and we collectively come together as a unit and we invest in companies that we think we can provide support to, but also we think have got a game changing proposition. Um. So we are sharing knowledge but we’re also as well investing money in companies that we think are gonna be really, really, really really successful.
Looking at, we absolutely share friends and the likes of Tranio and Reach desk and different companies like that, right.
Nicki Paterson: I mean it’s to me it was super exciting to see you launched it the syndicate but then also the companies that you’re already supporting, right. And I think you’ve clearly got that start up excited vibe. But I guess it’s very risky, very risky to just leave what you’re doing and go create a startup. I guess you get the best of both worlds, right, because you get to do what you’re doing.
The train and the journey that is cognism.
Jonathon Ilett: You get to work with other like minded you know entrepreneurs if you want to call it that or people that like money as well. And then you get to support early phase leaders or entrepreneurs with ideas that maybe don’t quite have the funds or or the the mentorship to go and make that successful.
Nicki Paterson: So I mean I think it’s I don’t know where you find the time to do it all personally but how do you do that right because your role is a role in itself and I think we’re both people that bite off more than we can do in some points.
So how do you make that all work?
Jonathon Ilett: Umm. I think when we built like the idea of like the syndicate when we built it was very, very low touch like it’s not a we do one deal a month, it’s there’s three of us that run it and it’s it’s kind of that that’s kind of the capacity that we can we can allocate to it. And I think that’s really important as well as like don’t take.
Don’t take too much responsibility on and don’t say yes to everything. I think I was guilty of that probably about two years ago. Like like hundreds of podcasts like advice when companies came around, like you need to be very careful with your time. So I think.
From a scene, from the syndicate perspective. It’s like evenings and it’s a long game right like we’re not making any money on the syndicate like at the moment it’s it’s really we we built a community of over 400 people where we make our money on the carry. So when companies exit we get a percentage of that like it’s not a we’re not really doing it for short term gain. It’s really to, it’s that snowball effect, like we can get to a certain point then we start monetizing is.
That’s something that I was taught is like build a community first and then start monetizing that community later. And that’s really kind of the ethos that we’re trying to build.
Nicki Paterson: Look, I think it’s again an awesome idea. I think in today’s world everybody is the expert. Everybody wants to shout about what they’re doing. You know, there are so many things like this, you know, podcast, webinars, you know, networks, etcetera. It’s it’s which ones truly provide value, which data points which post the people out.
The the ones, how do you cut through the noise and get you know the the stuff that really matters and and I’ve always found for you and again not to blow smoke here but your posts are.
Your post on LinkedIn very well followed, very well connected but you’re almost giving away unbelievable content week after week after week. You know you share things about the journey that you’re on that cognism are on and and sometimes people could say well we could just copy that right. But it neve really seems to seems to happen.
Again, you guys have been on a super journey, right. And one thing you mentioned to me in the past is you need incremental steps to being successful. Um talk me through what what you mean by that and how cognism are doing just that?
Jonathon Ilett: Sorry, I don’t know what you’re referring to. Apologies.
Nicki Paterson: In a conversation, you previously mentioned having incremental steps for success. You know having a foundation for success is super important. You’ve got that start up phase where it’s about everybody does everything. But as you scale, how do you put the right foundations in place so you don’t limit people, but you’re almost enabling them to be super, super successful.
Jonathon Ilett: I think one thing that I noticed because I joined Cognizant when we were like 4 employees, right, and the exposure you get at that level.
To every single light department head or like you’re you’re so involved. Like it’s like the CEO’s sitting next to you and you can hear conversations that are taking place. You’ve got products sitting next to you like that knowledge that you’re getting is like so so unique at that early stage in the business.
And that is not scalable like having that exposure to everyone and.
Being able to tap someone on the shoulder who’s like the CEO and be like, OK, help me here, what can I do? Like that’s not this, that’s not the same when you get to a company that’s like what we are today. So I think.
As you scale up and it kind of was like the series, a point that we really started.
Like documenting everything because we had all of it in our head and we like for example, I was managing the A-Team, but I didn’t really have anything written down. It was just I had a team of six. I could very easily sit down and regurgitate the same thing again and again and again. How did we collaborate? Go exactly right. And that was fine to a certain phase and that worked right. But The thing is like I can couldn’t repeat myself if we started building a new team.
Like I can just duplicate me and have two managers managing separate teams. And that’s where, yeah, at that point, that’s when you need to start really getting the stuff out of your head and getting it down on paper. And once you get it down on paper, that’s when you do that kind of enablement piece.
And I think for me, I think enablement is going to be the biggest.
Like in the next 2-3 years like companies are really going to start focusing on labour because they’re gonna see the value that it does, it does bring for scalability and that that ramp time everything is, it’s such a such a value add, but um.
Yeah, that’s, that’s really how we done it was with very numbers based like everything’s built based on data like when we built the team, we know we need X number of SDRS to hit X revenue.
But that’s that’s always the foundation of how we’ve done it.
But you can’t do that if you don’t have that central knowledge book and that’s easily accessible and that’s trained down to the team. I mean I think data has become even more important, whether it’s sales, whether it’s business, whether it’s supply chain, whether it’s you know, delivery that that doesn’t matter.
Nicki Paterson: You know, data is becoming super, super important. I’m amazed at just how big a part of data plays and talent. Now you mentioned it yourself earlier, I might have made slightly that wrong hire where you set up for success. First and foremost going into that process based on what you have internally or what you don’t have internally at the moment, what is out there? It’s easy to say loads of people of SDR’s, but what makes that 1%, how do you be sure it’s that 1% you know and and and be really, really confident then that is the right person that I’m bringing into to the team and and I, you know, I can’t believe just how many CFOs are involved in us bringing on new companies or working on a specific deal anymore and they are super keen on how are you going to go about filling this role if we don’t have data there on our experience or process the the current talent pool, we are not winning that you know and I think I guess it’s the same for you guys. It’s great to have a case study and good people but the more data that you can provide that business case to any client the the better.
Gonna finish with one point because I appreciate your time is super valuable.
And and I think right now in the marketplace there are lots of companies that are, you know, reducing headcount, people leaving nervousness, et cetera.
What I’ve loved about this conversation is you like us are in that growth phase, you know, so for every, you know, I think it all comes back down to mass media, right. But we always hear about bad news travels faster than good news, always. You guys are a good news story and you have to be very proud of your approach, your belief in the product.
You’ve got the experience. It’s probably a little easier for you guys to not to not discount but you mentioned it’s a win win. I’ve always been a big fan of that win win with a client. I like the word fair. What’s fair for you and I taught me through how cognism and you um make sure it’s a one one for client and cognism link back to a store.
Nicki Paterson: I went out for dinner the other day and I went to a restaurant and they brought over like a free dessert at the end of the meal.
And I was like, whoa. Like, this is abnormal. Like what’s best for your birthday? No, it’s no, it wasn’t. It was just, like, not even your birthday.
Just like, wow, that creates such an impression. It’s really made me want to go back to that restaurant, right. And I keep telling everyone about this restaurant, like I know like it’s great, it’s great. And I think the same could be applied and like B2B Saas, right. And this is kind of that kind of win win that you were talking about.
Jonathon Ilett: Like it’s a little concessions at the end of the cell cycle that creates such a buzz for the person that’s buying it that you can do. And I’m not. This is separate to discounting, right.
I’m talking about discounting by saying like making that buyer experience like super, super good. It’s like a really, really good experience. And I think when it comes to like discounting.
The thing that really annoyed me about some of the comments on the post is like people saying ohh, you hold value 100% like all the time, all the time, all the time. Like absolutely.
That’s what we do, right. Like we try and sell Atlas Price with the value that we in today’s climate. Like there there has to be concessions, there’s concessions on payment terms, there’s concessions on multiple things, right, whether it’s increased head count over they might sign today on a pilot and ramp up over six months, right like, but it has to be something that they are conceding on if you’re giving them something and I think that’s really what I was trying to do with the discount.
The discount post was like what’s important to us as a business, what’s important to us as a business is a multi year contract. It’s getting our payments up front, it’s getting a confirmed date for signature.
So we can forecast accurately if they are really, really restricted and we know because we’re in that procurement phase, we know that we’re talking to the right stakeholders, we want that stuff if we’re going to concede and get used to that point that you that you want to silence and I think a lot of organisations, they don’t ask for the stuff that’s really important for them.
And that’s that’s really a negotiation that should be two way. It shouldn’t be one way, it’s almost here’s what we want, here’s what we want, that’s not how the world works, that’s not how the world works unfortunately.
Right and that’s important right. Like when we said like we scaled from like 20 to 41 of the biggest things actually really helped as well is like pay your sales people on what you want them to actually do. Like I didn’t I didn’t understand the impact of this like we we were doing single so when we first started and we’re saying three month contracts.
And then they’re just knocking out three month contracts, knocking out and they were happy, continuously doing that. And then we changed the Commission plan to start doing annual terms and we’ll give an extra 2%.
Then multi year and then we had another like 1% on top, right, so.
To get the right outcome is like make sure you’ve built a process that your sales team sales teams they follow the like book to a tee like generally if you pay them on something they’re gonna do it. So make sure that that’s aligned to what you want. I think that’s part of it. You don’t need to necessarily reinvent the wheel here like they’re going to do all the same things but at the end of it say this is what we do and here’s what you can get for that. You know you start with a multi year and you finish on a year still better than three months right.
So it’s, it’s it’s it’s like you say it’s those concessions but it’s getting them to where you want them to be. Yeah. Anyway, and that discount and people you spoke about.
Nicki Paterson: yeah like that multi year discounting. The reason why they’re doing that is because they’re paid on that, right.
Jonathon Ilett: So like when it comes to negotiation, we made it very clear what they negotiate on.
It’s all linked to their pay. Yeah, that was really the point I was trying to link them to.
Nicki Paterson: Makes absolute sense. Look, I think there is absolutely loads of wisdom in here for the sales person, for the SDR, for the EA, for the sales leader, for somebody want to invest, for other businesses that are struggling right now to see their business grow. So thank you so much, Jonathan. It’s been an absolute pleasure today.
Jonathon Ilett: That’s great, nick. I really appreciate it. Thanks having me on.
Nicki Paterson: OK. So just quickly before we go, I’m going to ask you 3 quick questions one minute and then and then we’re out. So appreciate we’re just tight on time here, right.
Nicki Paterson: Jonathan top tip for scaling a business?
Jonathon Ilett: It should all be numbers based 100% based on the four numbers like don’t.
If something doesn’t sit right, there’s two elements, right numbers is number one. And then also as well like don’t don’t hire people, don’t hire just to hit the headcount. Plan to hire for the right people. As you scale B players start becoming managers. They hire C players like.
Kick back a little bit. If you haven’t got the talent at the right time. Relax, find the right person, OK?
Nicki Paterson: OK, next top tip to manage millennials, Gen Z.
Jonathon Ilett: And I think in today’s like hybrid world, like over communicate like it’s it’s very it’s very difficult to with everyone dispersed. Like make sure you over communicate on stuff and that’s probably one thing that I struggle with when we went remote.
I actually think that’s not only a good tip for managing your own team, but taking that with your clients as well. Communicate early and often, because typically the ones where they’re C for C problems, if you let it linger, that client’s gone. You deal with it, you become really close.
Nicki Paterson: Last one then, right. You had this ambition when younger to be super successful, you Googled it, right? I love that.
What is the top trait of a successful person?
Jonathon Ilett: Hard work trumps everything. Hard work trumps intellect for sure. But he needs to have some intellect.
But actually getting your hands dirty, like that’s I’m putting the work in and that’s that is the undercurrent of success.
Nicki Paterson: Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. I’ve always heard. So, so, yeah, absolutely agree. Jonathan, thank you so much. Cheers.