Transcript of Efficiencies Expert Jason Helfenbaum On How To Increase Your ROI Through Training And Efficiencies
Sales Leader Steve Wittal On How To Build A Roadmap For Achieving High Revenue And Enterprise Value

[00:00:05] Jeffrey Feldberg: Welcome to the Sell My Business Podcast. I'm your host Jeffrey Feldberg.

[00:00:10] This podcast is brought to you by Deep Wealth and the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience.

[00:00:16] Your liquidity event is the largest and most important financial transaction of your life.

[00:00:22] But unfortunately, up to 90% of liquidity events fail. Think about all that time, money and effort wasted. Of the "successful" liquidity events, most business owners leave anywhere from 50% to over 100% of their deal value in the buyer's pocket and don't even know it.

[00:00:43] I should know. I said no to a seven-figure offer and yes, to mastering the art and science of a liquidity event. Two years later, I said yes to a different buyer with a nine-figure offer.

[00:00:56] Are you thinking about an exit or liquidity event?

[00:00:59] If you believe that you either don't have the time or you'll prepare closer to your liquidity event, think again.

[00:01:05] Don't become a statistic and make the fatal mistake of believing that the skills that built your business are the same ones for your liquidity event.

[00:01:13] After all, how can you master something you've never done before?

[00:01:17] Let the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience and our nine-step roadmap of preparation help you capture the maximum value for your liquidity event.

[00:01:26] At the end of this episode, take a moment to hear from business owners, just like you, who went through the Deep Wealth Experience.

[00:01:33] Welcome to Episode 88 of The Sell My Business Podcast.

[00:01:38] With over 25 years in Executive Sales Leadership roles in both private and public companies. Steve Wittal has deep sales leadership experience and is passionate about leading sales teams and working shoulder to shoulder with business owners and leaders to exceed their growth ambitions.

[00:01:58] Steve began his career in a family enterprise, leaving in 1995 to join the corporate world. Steve spent time in the agency space. In a sales and marketing consulting firm. And prior to leaving the corporate world in 2017 was the SVP of Sales for Data Communications Management.

[00:02:18] Steve now runs a sales consultancy, Launch Sales Advisory. As a fractional sales leader, Steve helps small and mid-size enterprises build their roadmap to achieve higher revenues.

[00:02:30] Launch Sales Advisory works with entrepreneurs and business leaders to build strategy, discipline, and accountability into the revenue teams to fuel their growth. Steve studied business at both the University of Regina and the Schulich School of Business at York University.

[00:02:47] In addition, Steve holds his Certified Sales Leader Designation from the Canadian Professional Sales Association and his Charter Director Designation from the DeGroot School of Business at McMaster University.

[00:03:00] Recently, Steve graduated from the Exit Planning Institute's Certified Exit Planning Advisor program. Steve lives in Kitchener with his wife, Lisa, and their two sons, Lucas and Noah. Steve is an avid live music fan and plays hockey and golf regularly. Although neither particularly well.

[00:03:18] Welcome to the Sell My Business Podcast. And for all our listeners out there, I have a question for you. Have you ever wondered how you can take your company to the next level through sales? Have you thought about what strategies you should be doing or shouldn't be doing or what you're doing too much of or not enough of?

[00:03:35] I have wonderful news. Today, we're going to share and reveal strategies that work with our guest, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

[00:03:43] Steve, welcome to The Sell My Business Podcast.

[00:03:45] I'm so, excited to have you here. And Steve, why don't we start things off with my favorite question to ask at the beginning, there's always a story behind the story.

[00:03:53] So, Steve, what got you to where you are today?

[00:03:56] Steve Wittal: Well, first of all, thank you for having me Jeffrey and it's amazing to be here. I'm very excited to spend the next few minutes with you. It's a great question too. And I appreciate you asking it. When I was a young lad my parents sent us over to a relations house, my Uncle Al, and we spent a week with them one summer, and Uncle Al really loved business.

[00:04:16] And one of the things that he did on weekends was he took books and items to the flea market and sold them at his little booth there. And so, of course, he took me along with them and it's amazing what a little encouragement will do because after spending that day in the booth and returning to his house he shared a little of the proceeds of the day with me and said, you're a great young salesman, Steve.

[00:04:36] And that was the beginning of everything. I was very fortunate in my early twenties. My parents bought a business and they encouraged my brother and I to come and work inside the business. And I think that also helped them defray some costs because you know, family has always inexpensive labor.

[00:04:54] And so, after working in the family business for half a decade, I joined a mid-sized organization at the time I joined as a sales rep and the company was just approaching about $200 million in revenue. And I was very fortunate again because that organization brought me in and brought me along if you will.

[00:05:14] And over the course of the next two and a half decades I experienced five different sets of ownership, different sets of leadership, and a lot of different opportunities and challenges over the course of 22 and a half years that I spent with that organization. I left in 2017 as the Senior Vice President of Sales.

[00:05:31] Jeffrey Feldberg: Wow. So, from selling books all the way through to a very large organization, and now you're out there helping other businesses as a fractional leader in sales, which I think is terrific. So, why don't we start with this, Steve? And I know in Deep Wealth and the Deep Wealth Experience when we go through our nine-step process and we talk about X-Factors. X-Factors are world-class things that a business stands out in. Most business owners tend to fall short when it comes to their sales process or their ability to grow and generate revenue as a strength.

[00:06:06] And I'm wondering from your experience and what you've seen in other businesses and just over the years, why is it as business owners that sales tend to be our Achilles heel?

[00:06:16] Steve Wittal: Well, I sort of live by the quote. I don't know if you're familiar with the book by James Clear, Atomic Habits. But there's a quote in the book that I truly believe separates good businesses from great businesses. And that is businesses don't rise to the level of their ambitions. They fall to the level of their systems.

[00:06:33] And sale which is one of the more interesting functions in a business, because a lot of people view things like human resources or finance as having processes attached to them. And yet that isn't the way a lot of organizations, especially on the smaller scale, tend to look at sales. I will often hear from my prospects and my clients that I'm not getting the most out of my assets.

[00:06:56] Or I keep asking those salespeople to go sell this stuff and they keep selling that stuff. And of course, the question that follows is to tell me about the compensation plan. And it turns out that it's not in sync with the system. The compensation plan rewards the salespeople or selling those things that the owner may not want them to be selling any longer.

[00:07:15] So, if I were, to sum up what I'm saying, I think it's the ability to understand that in all functions of a business, the routines and the systems that you put in place are what actually set you free.

[00:07:27] Jeffrey Feldberg: I really like that. And it actually makes a lot of sense. When you think about it, you're helping to keep. It's simple, but real. And so, what I'm hearing you say is, number one, how are you compensating people? In other words, where's the money because as a salesperson that's really, my goal is to generate money for myself, my lifestyle.

[00:07:43] And that's just a typical personality that you see with salespeople and it's not wrong. It's not right. It's just what it is. And so, that's a terrific place to start, but let's go back to your systems, which I think is intriguing. So, let's flip that question now and let me ask about best practices. So, as a business owner, I have my salespeople.

[00:08:02] I really want to maximize revenue growth, EBITDA. Perhaps I have a liquidity event I'm thinking about down the road and really want to hit it out of the park. What would be systems that I should either have in place, or I should be implementing if I don't have in place that really helped to move things forward and get the job done?

[00:08:20] Steve Wittal: Well, I suppose the starting point is the same. And so, often organizations and we as people have a hard time when we're thinking of strategy if you will of saying no to the things that we shouldn't focus on. And I think in sales, that's also true. In other words, to broaden your appeal first, you have to narrow your focus and the starting point is really to define and clarify and get very crystal clear on what is your ideal customer profile? What is that ICP? Who is that business or entity out in the marketplace that will pay a premium for the problem that you solve? And that really Jeffrey is the starting point. And if you think about a salesperson, the first thing they need to know from you as a business owner, or you as a business leader, is where do you want me to go?

[00:09:10] Jeffrey Feldberg: And really, as entrepreneurs, as business owners, as founders, Steve, you're taking us back to why we do what we do and that's solving problems.

[00:09:19] The more painful the problem and the better we are at solving it, the easier it is for us to really have a say in how we move the company forward.

[00:09:28] And as I like to say, when you solve a painful problem, really well, people are only too happy to pay you to make that pain go away. So, are you suggesting that most sales organizations perhaps don't have that clarity? Is it just too general or vague?

[00:09:42] Steve Wittal: Experience tells me the answer to that question is yes. In fact, I would say that one of the biggest challenges that separates great salespeople from less than great is the fact that that those less than great salespeople are talking to a high number of people who will actually never buy from them. And you know, time is the one resource that, of course, we can't get back and efficiency with our time and efficiency with our prospecting, efficiency with qualifying our opportunities is really where great salespeople are made.

[00:10:13] Jeffrey Feldberg: You're tying right into that old saying don't confuse activity with progress. You can be incredibly busy, but on the wrong things and you're not going to drive the results. And so, let me ask you this. As a business owner, myself. And having built sales organizations for me the challenge was where do I find these gifted, talented salespeople who are just going to get the job done? Because oftentimes, I found that the best sales job that they did was the interview. And then after that, it was all downhill. So, are there telltale signs or certain questions as business owners we should be asking or looking for when we're interviewing salespeople?

[00:10:50] Steve Wittal: Yeah, I really liked to, in an interview situation try to understand and get tangible examples of where individual salespeople have had success in the past. Demonstrate it. And what you're really looking for is that sort of critical thinking ability to be able to discern between again, what I said earlier, which is who is a prospect that is qualified and will buy from us and who is not.

[00:11:19] But I would also, again, I'll go back to the beginning and say the hiring process is indeed a process and needs to be designed in advance. Let me go back to where I was before when I said step one is to identify that ideal customer profile. Step two is to build that value proposition, because again, what salespeople need to know from the business owner is where to go.

[00:11:47] And then what to say when they get there. So, what I would be looking for in the interview and what I would do to ensure that the interview was going to generate success is, once I know the target and once I've defined the problem that I'm looking to solve. I understand the persona types that might be in those roles.

[00:12:05] I'm looking for the salesperson who is going to interact the best with those persona types. In other words, good salespeople I believe are also defined by the environment that you put them in. Certain people will thrive in certain situations in certain environments and certain people will not.

[00:12:25] Jeffrey Feldberg: So, it sounds like what you're saying and it makes perfect sense is don't have a ready, fire, aim. It's ready, aim, fire, and get things out there. So, most business owners may be thinking, Steve, that sounds terrific. What you've shared and yes, big picture-wise, I get it. I understand it. I'm just so, busy. I don't even know where to start or what I should be doing.

[00:12:47] So, Steve when you come into a company and you've agreed to help them, can you walk us through what your process is like in the sense of how you begin to set up these systems to give a little bit of a helping hand to our listeners of what they can be doing?

[00:13:01] Steve Wittal: Sure. I'm a very big believer in starting with the end in mind. So, strategically, what are we trying to accomplish? And let's use a real-life example, and let's say that we have a $10 million business that's trying to grow by 10% and become an $11 million business. So, if that's the growth ambition, it's that $1 million.

[00:13:21] The first question of course would be what happened last year? And because we need to design something, that's going to be different to generate a different result. So, I would first clarify that growth ambition, and then I would reverse engineer all the activities that we need to put in place down to the daily activities that the individual salespeople need to go through to achieve that goal.

[00:13:45] So, I'm going to bring that to life now and carry on with my example. So, if we're trying to achieve a million dollars in growth in an organization whose average sales size is $50,000. We need 20 wins in a year. And so, in order to get to 20 wins, we need to understand how many times do we have to present to a prospect in order to get a win. And let's say it's three times. So, we're going to need to do 60 presentations to get to those 20 wins. Well, how many times do we need to talk with a brand-new prospect in order to get to a place where we've got an opportunity to present? And so, that tells us how many times we need to book a discovery meeting that would kickstart the sales process.

[00:14:32] So, let's say that you know, again, that's a three to one ratio for every discovery meeting we have one leads to a qualified opportunity. Now we know we need 180 discovery meetings. How many qualified prospects in our ideal customer profile do we need to get to 180 discovery meetings? So, again, if I sum it up, I'd start with the end in mind and reverse engineer back to the daily activities.

[00:14:59] And then I would set those targets for those salespeople. And I would certainly hold them to account for the results. Of course. We're all looking for results, but what's critical to manage and is so, often missed is the activity that will lead to the results. That's what separates great sales leaders from average sales leaders, they understand how to define those KPIs and how to manage their team to them.

[00:15:24] Jeffrey Feldberg: Wow. Some terrific advice. I hope everyone was listening really carefully on that. And so, this is not a situation where, okay, Susie, welcome to the team. Go to it. Let me know how you do and I'll check in next quarter. See how you're doing. Steve, you've got this really down to a science of here's where we want to be and step by step.

[00:15:44] How do we get there? And so, this way, it's crystal clear for everybody, and that leads back to your KPIs or key performance indicators. And so, the question I have for you is, okay, as a leader in sales, I'm monitoring the KPIs. I presume you're probably looking at this on a weekly basis, or maybe daily. Why don't you walk us through, how do you deal with that in terms of what's the frequency you as a sales leader, we should be monitoring those KPIs? And then when it's a new sales team when do we begin to insert ourselves and say, okay, hey, what's going on here versus it's a little bit of a learning curve. I'm going to give them some slack. What's that balance?

[00:16:20] Steve Wittal: Sure. I think weekly is the right timing. I agree with the sentiment in the question, Jeffrey, for sure. And I would add another piece to this you know, again I said, I think systems and routines inside of businesses are what sets you free. And when we're talking about the different areas, you know, now I'm circling back to your area of expertise, the specific areas of value creation in a company we're talking about sort of a customer capital area here in terms of sales and selling.

[00:16:53] And so, what you're going to do is you're going to design a sales process that will mimic the buying journey. So, if I may I'm coming back to answer your question, but before I do that, I'm going to, illustrate the buying journey. So, what happens when someone is buying something in the marketplace?

[00:17:09] What tends to happen first is that they become aware of a solution to a problem. Or a product or an innovation or a service that is different from what they're currently doing. And that awareness leads to discontent. Discontent is what causes action. Discontent leads to research and research leads to comparison.

[00:17:34] That's the point at which the salesperson typically enters in the journey. I'll come back to that in a moment. So, awareness to discontent, to research, to comparison. And then the step before the commitment is actually fear. And that's where the salesperson does the vast majority of their work is helping the buyer overcome their objections to moving forward with the last stage, which is commitment.

[00:17:57] I'm answering your question that way is because I think the timing is certainly important and holding salespeople to account for the activity metrics and the KPIs as we've discussed. But what might be more important and the real panacea, I believe for sales leaders, it's not obtaining quota.

[00:18:14] Of course, you know, if you're the business owner, you want every one of your salespeople to hit quota because that's when you hit your number and that's when you hit your profit number and everything is right with the world. What we're really looking for are the opportunities in that system, in that sales process, where the salesperson might be struggling, and whether your KPIs are weekly or monthly, or annually.

[00:18:36] Quite frankly is less important than when you have a system. And when it's written down and when it's documented, you have the opportunity to improve. And when a salesperson is struggling in an area of your sales process, you can coach them through that. And that's when you actually create a team of great salespeople. KPIs are important. Timing is important, but if you really want to know the secret sauce, it's that coaching for skill development in each of the areas of the sales process that helps the buyer move through the buying journey.

[00:19:12] Jeffrey Feldberg: Steve, that sounds wonderful. And I just love how you paint the picture for us of how it should be, how it shouldn't be. I'm wondering though if we can do a little bit of a deep dive here, and perhaps you can think of a situation with either one of your existing clients or in the past where systems in place and activities being done, but maybe the activity and progress are being confused.

[00:19:35] So, what did that conversation look like and how were you handling that?

[00:19:38] Steve Wittal: Sure. I had a prospect in my consulting business early on that was saying to me that they were hoping that they could grow by 20%. And I asked them, what is your churn rate? And their response to me was what do you mean? And I knew in that moment, that this might not be the right opportunity for me.

[00:20:00] And I'll expand upon that. Of course, churn rate is the amount of repeat business that you don't expect to get in your upcoming year when you're doing your budgeting. And so, I think the first step in answering that question and drawing that real-life comparison for you is having a set of realistic objectives and a set of realistic goals. And if those are in place and then you have a salesperson or a group of salespeople that aren't hitting the objectives or the goals. Looking at first, the KPIs and second, wherein the sales process is there a breakdown and as I have alluded to earlier coaching through those opportunities, so, a real-life example of that.

[00:20:42] I have a client right now who generates the vast majority of their sales inbound on the phone, and they didn't have a defined sales process. And so, what they were doing, unconsciously competently is they were handling the objectives that they were getting based on the lore of the founders of the business and how they had done it.

[00:21:05] What you were seeing though, is each individual sales person's interpretation of that objection handling. And really sometimes there was a great customer experience, Jeffery and sometimes not so, much. What we did in that circumstance was fortunately for us, they recorded a lot of their sales conversations.

[00:21:25] So, we went through those recordings, 50 hours' worth. And we identified the top 10 objections that that sales team was getting from the marketplace. And we characterize those in a spreadsheet. We named them. We indicated what you should be listening for that tells you what was that objective.

[00:21:44] And then we wrote down the best way to handle that objective. What changed the outcome of putting that little bit of work into place was instead of one in five calls converting to a sale, it changed to one in four.

[00:21:59] Jeffrey Feldberg: Wow. That's tremendous. So, what I'm hearing you say is it may be that the system itself is flawed. And not the salespeople, because in this instance, there really wasn't the proper training, perhaps in this case, a script. Okay, when you get this question, here's a script of how to respond and yes, make it your own.

[00:22:17] And so, it sounds like it's coming from you, but here's the narrative that you really need to get out there in your own style. And so, what I'm hearing is because you took the time to listen to what the 10 objections were, and you obviously heard, hey, on this one, we just missed the boat on this altogether.

[00:22:33] And on this one, we were spot on. And I suppose that's where you began to see a trend that was happening, that you were able to increase things dramatically from that one small action.

[00:22:42] Steve Wittal: Yeah. And I build on that comment that you made. It's very difficult to evaluate your people unless they are all following the same process and only in that way, are they set up to succeed or quite obviously to fail and you clearly understand why.

[00:23:00] Jeffrey Feldberg: And I suspect it goes back to the 80 20 rule or Pareto's Law. And in this case that, 20% of the right questions are generating 80% of the right results that you want, or how do you ignore all the rest and really dial into the details of what you should be looking for.

[00:23:16] But Steve, let's take a step aside here for just a moment. So, even talking about wonderful systems to put in place that are filled with KPIs and your coaching to both the system and the people. But you put a term out there that some people might not be familiar with and you're a fractional sales leader or a fractional vice-president of sales or whatever title you'd like to put around that but it's fractional.

[00:23:39] So, what does that mean? Because I know for many business owners that thought process is wait a minute, you know, in the good old days, if someone just comes into a company, they're there full time and that's just what they do. How can it possibly work when someone's fractional and I'm going to take it a step further that fractional person may not even physically be onsite.

[00:23:59] That person may be offsite maybe all the time or the majority of the time. So, how does all that work? Can you put that together for us?

[00:24:06] Steve Wittal: Sure. Great question. Thank you so, much for asking it. Fractional leadership provides numerous benefits and I believe it enables access to experience and expertise that can really quickly simulate with your current structure and your culture and produce results very fast. My clients benefit from you know, my length of experience and time in the corporate world in larger organizations. And I bring that to bear now, instead of just for one company, I bring it to bear for numerous companies. In the consulting world, what I learned is there really isn't any typical, but typically my clients engage me for a day a week and potentially six months, nine months, twelve months at a time.

[00:24:47] And it's amazing what can be accomplished in that timeframe. In fact, when you think about it, when you have a full-time employee, maybe you have a full-time VP of Sales. You know, that person's in a series of meetings and you know, every once in a while, they've got to go to the dentist and the amount of time that they're actually spending working on the business, not in the business, on the business, leading the team, coaching for success, designing processes, building the infrastructure that drives the repeatable results isn't may be much more than a day or two a week. So, I think it's the combination of that experience and expertise, the ability to quickly assess and assimilate with the culture, and then all that know-how that gets brought to bear. Salespeople you know, most of the ones that I've met, they want to succeed. They want to do well. They have a burning desire to do well. And if they see someone, they believe can help them, they'll rally around that person. And that's the final piece in the puzzle, in my opinion, is being able to very quickly gain followership and to be the kind of leader that the salespeople respond to and will go to the wall for.

[00:25:54] Jeffrey Feldberg: And Steve, a very eloquent description of how it works when you have a fractional sales leader in your organization, you didn't quite say it this way, but I suspect that someone of your caliber, most businesses may not be in a position to have the budget for as full-time, but when it's fractional, you now become accessible.

[00:26:13] And what I'm also hearing you say because of your experience, because of your success. You can do it in a much shorter period of time and so, you create a win-win for everyone. And so, in the fractional model, at least how you work it with your clients, when you become engaged and you start working with that particular business in terms of looking at the metrics and having those discussions, how does that work? Is that happening to you? What does that look like?

[00:26:38] Steve Wittal: That's an interesting question. I don't know how well this story will play, but I'm going to give it a go.

[00:26:43] In late 2019, my wife experienced a couple of gastro events where she had some pain in her torso and chest that was borderline debilitating and it caused her to go to the doctor.

[00:26:55] And so, after consulting with the doctor, they ordered an ultrasound and that happened on December 24th in the morning of 2019 as I alluded to. And of course, that afternoon we were getting a whole bunch of company. My wife's family is all over North America. And so, a bunch of her family members were driving from Connecticut to our house and she was gone for two and a half hours you know, having that ultrasound, they don't take that long Jeffrey. And fast forward, long story short she was diagnosed with a tumor in her chest. And for a couple of weeks, of course, we were on pins and needles trying to figure out is this a terrible thing or a not so, terrible thing.

[00:27:38] It turns out thankfully happy ending to this story that the tumor was benign. My wife's name is Lisa Ann. When Lisa Ann went to visit the surgeon, she sat down in his office and he outlined for her the procedure that he was going to go through to remove that tumor from her chest. And I likened the interaction that I have with business owners to that interaction itself. In other words, I guess I could say if they knew what to fix, they would have done it already. And the reality is that I asked enough questions to get to a place where I know I can help them. And so, I will walk the prospect through a set of discovery questions that I have.

[00:28:23] And they're dynamic Jeffrey, you know, it's often situationally dependent and what will help one patient, if you will, won't necessarily translate to another. But I think the owner is looking for that surgeon who is going to go in, who knows what to do, who will fix the patient and do it in the most expeditious way possible. And in a way that leaves the smallest scar.

[00:28:46] Jeffrey Feldberg: So, it sounds like when you come in, it's like bringing in the seals, you know, you're going to be a surgical strike force, you know exactly what you're doing. You're looking for very specific things, telltale signs, you come in, diagnose the situation, come up with a solution, and then off the business goals. So, Steve, let me ask you this with that in mind because I know you've been involved with what we do here at the Deep Wealth and the Deep Wealth Experience.

[00:29:10] We're all about liquidity events and helping business owners prepare for a liquidity event with a nine-step roadmap. When you've been involved on your end with a company that's going through some kind of liquidity event. All eyes are on the company and it's always okay, how much can we grow?

[00:29:24] How can we increase our sales as quickly as possible? How do we increase our profits? The more that we have the better of a liquidity event that we're going to have. So, for the business owners that are in the situation where they know whether it's a year from now or five years from now, but at one point there is a liquidity event. From the sales side of things, what should I start doing today to help me grow the company as best and as quickly as I can?

[00:29:50] Steve Wittal: Sure, you know, so, often I am actually engaged with organizations that are unconsciously competent. They're doing a lot of things very well. But they may not know it for sure. And sometimes my job is to shine a light on the things that are going well which also illuminates the gaps.

[00:30:08] And I would like to answer your question by sharing a little bit about my philosophy and then zeroing in on how and why sales help. But I'll preface my comments by saying sales is the most important function leading up to a liquidity event because it pays twice. Because if the formula is EBITDA times multiple equals the value of the business, growth rises both of those opportunities.

[00:30:35] And you know, I guess I'm being biased here a little bit, but it's the place everybody needs to do the most work. So, my philosophy is that I'm not a valuation expert and I know what my lane is but that being said, I know that there are really two types of assets in an organization.

[00:30:50] There's the tangible and the intangible. And, you know, the accounting department or the accounting firm takes care of valuing the tangible assets. The intangible assets like customer capital and human capital, structural capital, and social capital, those ones are up for grabs if you will.

[00:31:06] And the owner has the ability to influence those. And so, the place of course, that I play the most is in the customer capital piece and the human capital piece. And so, the first thing to do is to think through, is there a concentration issue? Do we have some risk attached to how much revenue we may enjoy with our client base?

[00:31:26] Do we have a perennial problem, as you alluded to earlier where, you know, 80% of our revenue is coming from 20% of our clients, or is it worse than that? And so, what are we trying to fix? What are we trying to grow? Because growth can be expensive. So, if your timing and your liquidity event is tight, you might not be looking to invest in more sales resources because maybe those are impact EBITDA in the near term and that'll actually hurt your position.

[00:31:53] So, I think, again, the answer is, and I hate to sound like I'm dodging the question but it's situationally dependent. Here's what I do know. What I do know is a prospective owner is going to want to know what the size of the prize not only is but could be so, identifying again, that ideal customer profile, and then the addressable market of that ideal customer profile.

[00:32:15] In other words, do we have a great list? Do we know where all of those prospects live and are? And have we figured out what that represents in potential? And then do we know what our share is today? And do we have a goal for increasing our share and a system to get us there?

[00:32:34] Jeffrey Feldberg: Once again, it sounds very systematic. This isn't okay. Let's just go out there. Let's do it. Go, Go, Go. It's taking a step back and maybe even pausing for just a moment, getting the facts, analyzing them Where do we fit into this? What do we want? And then building really a solid foundation from the very first step, all the way through to the final completion.

[00:32:57] And what's nice about that, Steve, is it actually circles back to one of the things that you said at the very beginning before you even do your first sale, what does that look like in the organization? And how are you going to support that? And what kind of activities do you need to make all those things happen?

[00:33:14] Because on the flip side, there's no point in just hitting it out of the park with sales, but you can't support those sales and you have a high churn rate. That's just a waste of time and money.

[00:33:25] And so, I'm wondering, in your world has the pandemic changed how things are done on the business landscape in terms of sales?

[00:33:34] Steve Wittal: Well, of course, it has. So, at the macro level, I don't know that COVID and the pandemic has created any trends, but it sure has accelerated the trends that were already there. That's for sure. So, virtual selling being able to close, being able to be more conceptual, being able to take someone through that buyer's journey and build that relationship, develop that trust do all the discovery and learning that are all parts of the sales process is different now.

[00:34:04] But what's not different is the fundamental process, the skills that are required, there are different tactics to take for sure. But you know in some ways it's created a lot of opportunity for organizations, I'm a great example. I am delivering what I do via Zoom to companies all across North America now. So, I think that there are some things that business owners need to consider. In terms of what skill development now to think about what training to think about. Virtual selling, social selling, they're here to stay.

[00:34:35] Those trends have been accelerated. We are all living in a digital age. That being said, there are also opportunities that have been created as a result of the pandemic. And I think that our minds should be open to those opportunities. And the big opportunity, of course, is that anyone can be your customer anywhere now.

[00:34:55] Jeffrey Feldberg: So, true. And really what I'm hearing is there are always two sides to a coin. And so, yes, the pandemic has a very large negative impact on health and lives that have been lost or changed. And we really feel for those people and those families on the one hand. But on the other hand, what I'm hearing you say, it's really opened up the mindset of people of, oh, okay.

[00:35:16] I can really do business just about anywhere now and it's more accepted and it's okay that I don't meet with the salesperson in person. I can now do this virtually and all the things that go along with that. And so, it sounds really for a business owner, like so, many other things in life is all about moderation.

[00:35:32] It's not being just stuck in one way or in another way, but adapting to what's changing and making the best of that. And so, for business owners that have been doing things the traditional way, and they're trying to get their head wrapped around this whole new virtual world and how all that works. Any advice that you have for them?

[00:35:49] Steve Wittal: Yeah, I might start by saying that I think that the business owners know that they need to be using technology. And have a, you know, I'll use the term, a tech stack in their organization, but there's a lot of choice. There's a lot of sort of things to sort through and to figure out.

[00:36:08] So, my advice is you know, step one is to protect what you already have. And so, if you don't have a CRM system and I'm talking about a piece of software, a customer relationship management system, you should be investing in one. And to the degree that you are able to I believe that you should be thinking through what is our sales process now?

[00:36:32] Whether it's good or bad is less important, but let's get it on paper because again you can't improve a system that you first don't understand and that sort of structural capital piece. I'll use an analogy, baking a cake. If I went downstairs, you know, at my house here and got all the tools and the ingredients for baking a cake, there's a reasonable chance.

[00:36:53] I'm pretty good in the kitchen. There's a reasonable chance that a cake will come out the other end, but there's a reasonable chance that it'll be a droopy big mess too. So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to go get a recipe because it was somebody's job at some point to write down the ingredients, the tools, and the steps involved in baking that cake.

[00:37:14] if you want a good cake, follow a recipe, and if you want a great result from your sales investment, I would suggest you do the same thing. And then it becomes clear where the digital opportunities or the technology opportunities present themselves. I sound a bit like a broken record and I apologize for that, but I believe the answer to the question comes back to what I said before.

[00:37:39] You know a CRM system in this day and age is a must and there are so, many pieces of technology that can be integrated into that CRM system to tweak and improve what you have. But you've got to start with that recipe.

[00:37:52] Jeffrey Feldberg: And what I love about that, Steve, you didn't quite say it this way. So, my words here, but really as a fractional successful sales leader, you're really the master recipe maker for a business. If I can use that analogy.

[00:38:06] Steve Wittal: I haven't said that myself before. So, if I may, I'm going to borrow that one.

[00:38:10] Jeffrey Feldberg: Absolutely. You know I'll look from my royalty to check in the mail, but at the same time, so, you're walking into a business and you're taking an assessment of what's going on and you're making these recipes that need to be followed to the T. And back to what's going on with the pandemic, why I feel that's so, important nowadays, there's this thing called the Great Resignation that's happening right now, as we have this recording, and this is where the pandemic created a perfect storm.

[00:38:36] So, the pandemic gave people time off where they had a chance to think about their life. And also, they were working remotely from home, and surprise they were getting just as good results from home as they were in the office. So, you now unveiled the curtain and oh okay I don't need to be at the office to hit home these results.

[00:38:54] And wow, you know, life has its ups and downs. I really enjoy that time with the family. I don't like that commute. I don't like this. I don't like that. And so, depending on what research study you read anywhere from 40% to 60% of employees, we'll call them knowledge workers are thinking about quitting, even if they don't have another opportunity lined up.

[00:39:15] As the master recipe maker Steve, with your recipe, whether somebody's physically in the office or whether they're halfway across the country with technology and that system that you've put in place. It really doesn't matter at that point because you can now manage them and have insights into the pipeline and everything else that's going along, that it really expands a company's reach.

[00:39:34] What do you think about that?

[00:39:35] Steve Wittal: I think that's well said Jeffrey, I would add a couple of points. First of all my nature is to be a bit of a risk-taker. And sales is a vocation where a large percentage of your compensation will be at risk. And it's the only function I've ever worked in.

[00:39:48] You know, by definition, I'm a bit of a risk-taker, but I wouldn't advocate quitting a job without a backup plan. I just wanted to make that point before I moved on to address the broader context. I agree with the sentiment that when you have the system in place, when you have the KPIs in place when you've got the right tracking tools and you've got the right oversight, which CRM can give you, an Excel spreadsheet could give you if you needed to start there low tech to high tech. But I want to talk a little bit about the human capital piece, that second sort of value creation element in an organization.

[00:40:21] And the reason I bring it up is because of all the functions managing the performance of a sales organization is I'd like to argue it's more complex than some of the other functions and getting performance management is more complex in the sales organization. And I've always believed, you know, again, that if your desire as a leader is to help the people that work for you be the most successful versions of themselves that they can be, but you don't have anything to worry about.

[00:40:50] You don't have anything to worry about in this Great Resignation. You know I think that the pandemic has highlighted for us, that people want and deserve the autonomy to choose. And I think smart organizations, that's exactly where they're going to end up. The organizations that remain command and control.

[00:41:10] Life is short and I know, you know, some of the newer generations that are coming along, the Boomer Generation they're leaving the workforce, the Millennials have put a stake in the ground and they've said, hey, there are different things. We watched what our parents went through and we think differently about it.

[00:41:25] So, guess what I'm saying is I really like working with organizations that have cultures, that are people-centric. I liked it before the pandemic. I like it even more now. I think that the pandemic, again, didn't create the trend, but it surely has accelerated it. And you know, my leadership style and the one that I most associate with is the one where the leader is serving the team. And the best way to do that in sales is to know what to do and to show the way.

[00:41:54] Jeffrey Feldberg: Well said on so, many fronts there and just gems, not gems, buckets of gems, of wisdom that you're putting out there Steve for us. I thank you for that.

[00:42:03] So, Steve, as we begin to wrap up the interview, it comes time for my favorite closing question. And the question is this, if you remember the movie Back To The Future, you have the magical DeLorean car that can take you to any point in time.

[00:42:16] So, I want you to imagine Steve it's tomorrow morning, you wake up, you look out your window and there it is. The DeLorean car is sitting there. The door is open. It's waiting for you to come in and now you can go to any point in your life. Maybe it's Steve as a young child or an adolescent or whatever it would be, when you spoke to your younger self what would you be saying in terms of do this or don't do that, or here are some lessons learned as a life wisdom?

[00:42:44] Steve Wittal: What a great question. First of all, I'd like to say I'm a Porsche guy, but geez, Jeffrey you know what, there's a lot of talk about imposter syndrome out there in the workplace today. And you know, that doesn't present itself until someone is successful. And so, when I was working in the corporate world, I always kept a file in my desk. And I put in there milestones that I achieved, but also that my key direct reports achieved along the way. And whenever I had a sense that I, or they were feeling a little down, I would bring those out and remind them of the great things that they had accomplished over the course of time. And so, that's what I would say. I would say if I were to give you the philosophy of Steve that I've developed over from my working career it's that I value people first. I know that we learn by doing and people support what they help create and it's taken me a long time to come to those realizations.

[00:43:40] Boy, I wish I could have known those things when I was a lot younger. I probably would've been a much better leader earlier on. And then there's only one other thing I'd add coming back to the, you know, keeping the file about the accomplishments of the teams that I was fortunate enough to lead. The world we live in now, it's social media is ubiquitous that there's so, much coming at us. Stick to comparing yourself to the person you were, who you are now, and who you want to become.

[00:44:05] Jeffrey Feldberg: Love it. That is some terrific advice and putting people first and really choosing, because we always have a choice of choosing the positive narrative of you, as opposed to being our own worst critic where so, many people are. And just going back to the negative times. I will put this in the show notes, as we wrap up this episode, if somebody would like to find out more about what you do or reach you online, where's the best place for that?

[00:44:28] Steve Wittal: I do have a website it's And yeah, that would be the place. Of course, people can get email me and call me and, you know I do have a tin can on the fence. So, if someone's got one close to their place that may work too.

[00:44:41] Jeffrey Feldberg: A little bit of humor I love that. Well, Steve, listen, thank you so, much for taking part of your day and spending it with us and the community here on The Sell My Business Podcast. And as we close out this episode, a heartfelt thank you. And please continue to stay healthy and safe.

[00:44:56] Steve Wittal: Thank you so, much for having me, Jeffrey. It was a great experience.

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[00:45:24] Lyn M.: Compared to when we first began, today I feel better prepared, but in some respects, may be less prepared, not because of the course, but because the course brought to light so, many things that I thought we were on top of that we need to fix.

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[00:47:29] Jeffrey Feldberg: Are you leaving millions on the table?

[00:47:31] Please visit to learn more.

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[00:48:01] As we close out this episode, a heartfelt thank you for your time. And as always, please stay healthy and safe. 

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Sales Leader Steve Wittal On How To Build A Roadmap For Achieving High Revenue And Enterprise Value