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Driving B2B Sales Revenue

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Tom Tonkin


#61 Sales Enablement Like You’ve Never Known It (But Should)


David Masover


September 13, 2021


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“A fundamental piece of advice: people buy from people they like.” -Tonkin

“The problem is when the salesperson is more concerned about selling something than solving a problem.” -Tonkin

“If you’re a good salesperson, you have the mindset that you’re here to help solve a problem… that’s where you distinguish the  successful from the not successful.” -Tonkin

“Leading indicators of success exist in different shapes and organizations” -Tonkin

I’m a sort of  behavioral anthropologist, I just take a look at what’s going on.” -Tonkin

“Change your approach, get that goal.” -Tonkin

“In this industry, the magic key is a salesperson that is self-directed” -Tonkin

“We aren’t good at everything  But that’s okay! If you know that, work on your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses.” -Tonkin

“People say, ‘Hey, Tom, tell me what you know.’  Sure, I’ll tell you what I know, but is that what you need to know?” -Tonkin

Article Summary 📝

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#61 Sales Enablement Like You’ve Never Known It (But Should)

Tom Tonkin “nerds out” about B2B and Sales Enablement with David Masover on “Driving B2B Sales Revenue.” 

In this episode, Tom goes over various wisdom about training an effective salesperson. Tom incorporates his holistic approach from the inefficacy of a standard model to the necessity to remove safeness from learning. His keys to successful sales preparation are an eclectic mix of cognitive psychology in roleplay modules, having social awareness about synthetic truths, and maintaining self-reflection on one’s strengths and weaknesses. To Tonkin, the first step towards making a successful business is always rooted in what it is to be human.


In this episode, you will learn:

  • The best sales advice Tom ever received (and the worst)
  • How standardizing indicators for success leads to failure
  • “Cracking open the limbic system”- cognitive approaches to industry preparedness
  • Finding the suitable model for direction
  •  Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and using them to your advantage


David Masover: This question that I asked you on the other podcast was a brutally simple question to a complex topic: does sales training work? One of the ideas that you threw into the mix was the idea of “why bad sales training is perceived to be effective,” and you captured it with this phrase, synthetic measures? Can you unpack that idea a bit for us here?

Tonkin: Imagine a situation where there is no training. And people are trying to figure out how to get better. So chaos ensues. People try to buy content from other people. Then somebody shows up with arguably bad training -let’s categorize it for this conversation. It’s bad training it, but it’s structured. There’s a course outline and the curriculum and a rubric- and boy, that feels right. The next thing you know, people start elevating themselves and performing at a higher level than before. So people would say, “Well, this is good training,” but the problem is that you’re comparing it to what was happening versus what could happen. This brings me to the topic of “synthetic measures.” There are two definitions of synthetic, and I fused both of them. The first one is this idea of “manmade chemical compound,” right? Like synthetic oils. So, take the manmade is part of that and equate it to the second and lesser-known one, which is this idea of having “truth or falsity that is determined by your experience.” So it’s an assertion or an idea that could be true, or it could be false, but it’s really, depending on your experience. Brett Weinstein has this term called the “metaphorical truth”- truth, but it’s based on falseness, and he gives a great example: There’s this tribe in Indonesia that believes that tsunamis are this huge sea monster that comes up and kills people. They can feel the sea monster getting ready because they read the winds and the temperature, and the ground shakes. So what they do is they head for the hills. So here comes a tsunami. This tribe goes around and warns everyone they love, “Here comes the big monster!” and they’re like, “come on, there’s no monster,” and sure enough, here comes a tsunami wipes everybody out. And then people come and go, what happened? and they’re like, “we told them the monster was coming, they wouldn’t move.” A metaphorical truth. We have metaphorical truths in sales. You create synthetic measures that are manmade and have this determined by experience to measure that thing you already want to measure, to begin with.


Masover: What are the leading indicators that we should be looking at and sales? Do they exist?

Tonkin: Well, absolutely. But I will say this, they exist in different shapes and different organizations, because they do connect to operational models. what’s happening now with car sales, have you seen that, where there’s a chip shortage. And now, because of that chip shortage, you can buy a used car for the same price as you can buy a new car, because there are no new cars to buy. So had I measured building cars as my leading indicator, I would have not been able to predict my lack of sales, because I didn’t encompass the fact that I can’t get chips for those cars. There’s a picture on the internet, I think it’s Ford, that has just rows and rows of F 150s. All just sitting there already built ready to go- waiting for the chip. All I know is I’m not getting a dime each day that goes by because I can’t sell those cars. So had I used last year’s measure of, “Am I building enough cars for demand?” as a leading indicator for me to sell, in this case, it’s not my leading indicator. It needs to be “When am I going to get chips to put in the car?” So I think not only does it change by organization, but it also changes by whatever the external factors are at any given company.


Additional topics discussed:

  • Tom’s role in “Sales Enablement” at Oracle and how he got to that place
  • Hard and soft skills 
  • “Soft-throw” approaches
  • What has helped Tom along the way


Host / Podcast Bio: David Masover provides executive coaching, consulting and leadership development training to corporate industries. He is an author and hosts the “CEO Sales Insight Podcast” as well as the “Driving B2B Sales Revenue Podcast” and also writes a blog on similar subject matter. 


Guest Bio: Tom is an executive in Professional Services and the Software Sales area with over 25 years of business and technology experience. Tom was the CEO and Co-Founder of the Sales Conservatory, which helped sales leaders increase revenue through sales enablement, efficient, and effective sales processes. He holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership, a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, has received multiple business certifications and is a leadership expert. Tom is an award-winning researcher and author.

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