Podcast

Leveraging Sponsorship – Jeffrey Diamond

Loyalty and hard work are what allowed Jeffrey Diamond to climb the ladder at LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group and after 14 years he’s now the SVP of Commercial Operations. During his tenure at LexisNexis Jeff has helped drive new market expansion and new capability offerings servicing the healthcare sector.

On today’s episode, Jeff outlines sponsorship and mentorship as the keys to his success and how to leverage those relationships as stepping stones in any sales career.

“Creating sponsorships and creating relationships and knowing how to leverage mentors and sponsors in an organization to not only benefit yourself but to benefit them was a huge part of my early success.”

Tune in today’s episode to learn about leveraging the relationships at your job to level up.

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Transcript:

Fri, 6/4 11:58AM • 1:02:00 

SUMMARY KEYWORDS 
sales, crm, organization, sponsor, salesperson, opportunities, people, business, success, sponsorship, career, managing, leadership, thought, benefit, mentor, division, sell, jeff, drive 

SPEAKERS 
Jeffrey Diamond, Christopher Smith 

Intro 
Welcome to the Sales Lead Dog Podcast hosted by CRM technology and sales process expert Christopher Smith, talking with sales leaders that have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Listen to find out how the best of the best achieve success with their team and CRM technology. And remember, unless you are the lead dog, the view never changes. 

Christopher Smith   
Welcome to Sales Lead Dog. Today, we have joining us Jeff Diamond. Jeff, welcome to Sales Lead Dog.  

Jeffrey Diamond   
Pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me. 

Christopher Smith   
I’m happy to have you here, Jeff. Jeff, tell us a bit about your current role and your company. 

Jeffrey Diamond   
Sure. So I work with LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group, the healthcare division of that group. My current occupation or my current role is as Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations. What that means more functionally is I have responsibilities within the sales organization, account management organization, our sales operations teams, our strategygGroup, and our marketing teams for the division. 

Christopher Smith   
That’s a pretty broad spectrum of responsibility.  

Jeffrey Diamond   
Yeah. Yeah it is. I’m fortunate enough to have had an opportunity to kind of float around the organization for the past 14 years, so I’ve picked up a little bit of every functional team, functional group along the way. As I’ve found myself in the healthcare group, I’ve been blessed to have some really strong mentorship that’s put me in a position to kind of lead a larger swath of this division. 

Christopher Smith   
So those of you listening, when Jeff and I did a call to talk about him coming on the show, he asked me like, “Chris, why do you want me on the podcast?” and I said, Jeff, you know, one of the things I saw, when you look at his LinkedIn profile, he’s been at the same place for a long time, and you just don’t see that anymore and you see that progression. So check out Jeff’s LinkedIn profile, and you’ll see that progression as he moves through the organization. It’s pretty wild. Jeff, tell me about the three things that have really contributed to your success for your career. 

Jeffrey Diamond   
Yeah, it’s a great question. You know, there are a lot of things I’d like to think have contributing to my success. The three that come to mind are probably quite cliche to some extent, but work ethic is a big one, sponsorship is another one, and I’ll explain that, and then the last is probably just a drive to want to win, right? There’s a difference between having a work ethic and wanting to win, right, some people are gifted naturally and want to win, others have to work at it. I think I’m probably the latter, I have to work pretty hard, but nothing, nothing short, there’s no shortage of drive when it comes to, to my own expectations. So, those are probably the top three things. You tell me where you want to jump into, do you want me to jump into all of those? 

Christopher Smith   
Yeah, let’s dive in. 

Jeffrey Diamond   
So, work ethic I’d say is, is innate, right? If you if you want to be successful, I truly believe this, if you really want to be successful, you need to outwork your competition for example, if that’s the way you view career progression or your ability to grow professionally. You just need to be willing to put in the time and the effort. And that’s something that I pride myself on. I come from a family of very hard workers. They instilled it in me at a very young age. I’ve been working since I was 14 years old, never stopped working from college through law school, I put myself through through school at night while working full time to pay for it. It’s just a part of who I am is just keep grinding, keep moving, keep moving, keep moving and I think that gets recognized pretty early on in your career, which leads to kind of a second thing. I think that really, really is, is core to my successes that identified me to other senior leaders in the business, as somebody who had potential. And those folks kind of gravitated over and sponsored my career. Specifically, there was one gentleman who was our VP of Sales at LexisNexis when I was just starting there as a sales executive about 14 years ago. He, he was a young VP of Sales, early 30s, and he just gravitated towards me, gravitated toward my work ethic and, and, and sponsored me through the early stage of my LexisNexis tenure and gave me opportunities to help provide me with opportunities or access to opportunities that then I had to grant roles in the next, you know. So you know, creating sponsorships and creating relationships and knowing how to leverage mentors and sponsors in an organization to not only benefit yourself but to benefit them was a huge part of my, I believe in my early success. And certainly, even to this day, it’s been proven useful for me. And then lastly, it’s just the will to win. I mean we joke around in my company, I hate losing. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing, doesn’t matter what the scenario, I am constantly, constantly trying to try to win and, you know, usually in a friendly type manner, but I’m betting other divisions on who’s gonna have the best net promoter scores and I’m driving hardest at who’s gonna have the greatest employee satisfaction scores for the groups across the business. I’m constantly trying to win. And, yeah, I think, I think all salespeople are like that, right? You’re not sales you don’t enjoy winning, if you don’t enjoy the game. And you don’t play the game unless you’re, you know you’re trying to win, so. Yeah, I think those three things, sponsorships, hard work ethic, and desire to win, probably what’s driven the majority of my success story. 

Christopher Smith   
You know I have a similar background to you in terms of I started working, I think, 13, saving money for college and put myself through college and and worked the whole time. Do you think people like us, you know, that we just approach things differently because we have that background of, you know, just being a self-starter and, and doing it? 

Jeffrey Diamond   
You know, I. It’s a good question. I’d like to say that there is something unique about people who recognize that hard work is a necessity to to success. You know, there is a strong thread of entitlement more now today than there has been ever I believe, and I’m not, you know, too advanced in years myself, but certainly I’ve seen it, right, just just through the hiring practices of the teams I manage. The more and more people we bring on, the more entitled they are as to what should be expected, versus what is earned. And I just never was raised that way, right, it was just you know if you wanted something, you work for it, period. I mean from, you my first real job was at 14 but since the age of five, right, we get we get paid in a nickel for every load of laundry we folded or, you know my sister got paid a quarter for every dress shirt she ironed for my grandfather, right? There’s just these types of things that just happened from the age of five and six on and all the way through till you know like I said till today, I feel like feel like I’ve been working for 30 years straight, so. 

Christopher Smith   
Oh yeah, we had the same rule that if you left a shirt like a dress shirt in the laundry, someone else could iron it for you, you had to pay them. So I would do that all the time, I would just wait for that laundry, I’d grab all my brother’s shirts, and I’d start ironing.  

Jeffrey Diamond   
That’s great.  

Christopher Smith   
Yeah, so you’d mentioned something earlier about your, your sponsor, that he provided you opportunities, but you had to grab hold of it. Can you talk about that a little bit? 

Jeffrey Diamond   
Yeah. You know, I’m blessed to have had a really strong sponsor in my career. He ended up going from VP of Sales to be the CEO of our business and recently left about a year ago. And, you know, he was a sponsor of mine, a mentor of mine. He’s close friend of mine, hell he even, even helped me propose to my wife for many, many moons ago, by, by sending an email saying that I won a sales trip, right, a sales, sales competition. But he was just a tremendously valuable sponsor for me and mentor. He, you know what he did and he made it very clear was I’m not going to hand you anything, right, that is not my role as a sponsor, and certainly I’d be failing you as a mentor if I did that. But what I will do is give you access, and by access, then you need to you need to kind of walk through it. So it’s more as there is the door. Now you know where the door is, you know how to open it, and it’s your job to turn the handle and walk through it. And and he did that, right, so he introduced me to the right people in the organization, he introduced me to the right projects in the organization like here’s something that’s important to the organization that might have been at the time, think of a project where we were, it was a margin improvement project made a look at kind of our labor costs associated with some remedial low level tasks and how we best optimize that group, not to downsize them, but to optimize to get more out of them long-term. This is a big project for us, it’s all about tuning, you know tuning the engine, how you squeeze the penny, how do we change processes to go faster, and I’m thinking I’m a sales guy at the time. He goes, “I think you’re capable of thinking through these types of things, the workflow. So why don’t you support that project?” And that’s what sponsors do, is they give you access, give you opportunity, provide you as an opportunity to try to showcase your, you know, showcase your abilities and/or flex muscles that you maybe have never flexed before and you didn’t even know you had. But he was, he was tremendously useful for me in that way and it’s probably one of the greatest benefits he’s given me is to coach me in how to do that. So now, now I get to pay forward. I do that a lot with the folks that I mentor and sponsor in the business is trying to pull them into products that are meaningful to our group, meaningful to the business as a whole, meaningful to individual teams and have them, chair them, or, or, you know, lead them if necessary. And it’s a great way to learn quick and test yourself in ways that maybe you’ve never previously been tested. 

Christopher Smith   
Oh that’s awesome, I love that. Thinking back to those days when you were getting started in sales, what do you wish you had been taught at that time that you now know really would have made a difference? 

Jeffrey Diamond   
Oh man, there’s so much. You know, I probably with more than anything it’s probably how to turn down a bad opportunity. I chased a lot of what I thought were great opportunities and only to come out, then realize later that they were just poor opportunities, they weren’t qualified appropriately, I didn’t have access to the right economic buyer, or I didn’t understand what their true needs were, you know, we weren’t the right solution match for what they needed, and I chased and chased and chased. But cycles and time and time is, you know, is the asset of the salesperson. And when you’re wasting those cycles and you’re wasting that time it’s just time not spent on meaningful, ripe opportunities. So, I’d like to think that if I had to do it over today, I would probably spend a lot less time chasing that, chasing the trash, and really trying to try to dig for gold. Did a lot of that early in my career, hell, I still find myself and folks on our teams, we still do. Everybody does it. We innately kind of kind of gravitate towards every opportunity could be the opportunity for us to pursue. That’s just not the case. So knowing how to say no sometimes, just turning down business and moving forward with the opportunities that have high probability of success. 

Christopher Smith   
Is that your best advice for someone who’s getting started in sales? 

Jeffrey Diamond   
You know, my best advice for somebody getting started in sales would be to self-educate. There’s a lot, you know they always say that, you always hear the term your natural, natural salesperson, and you know what, I think I want to hear that as somebody who’s got the gift of gab, that they’re convincing, they can be a strong orator, they’re eloquent verbally/non-verbally. But sales is different, right, sales is an art. I mean it really is. It’s an art, and there’s a lot that you can self-educate, you can learn, you can read books on negotiation, prospecting, discovery. There’s, there’s books on, you know, on customer success models and things along the lines that depending on what types of sales you’re in, whether it’s account management farming or hunting or variation of both, that you can start to understand the foundational elements of being a strong salesperson in that domain, and start to apply them. And that’s just test and retest and test and see what’s fixed, then rinse, wash, repeat, continue to hone that skill, continue to hone that skill. Before you know it, you just become more of an expert. So, so early on, I would say I you know, one of the first things I would probably do is self-educate up. One of the fundamental sales at my first job, kind of just got thrown into sales. It was graduated from school with a business degree, continuted to the most logical type of move for me to go into, there’s jobs out there, and I jumped right into this, the sales role, but I really never sold before. Done a lot of work, but I’d never sold before, and that was it was a learning curve for me. Lot of trial and error. 

Christopher Smith   
Do you have a crazy story from those days, those early days in sales? 

Jeffrey Diamond   
Yeah, I you know, I don’t know if it’s a crazy story, but it’s one that sticks with me. I had a, my first job in sales, I was working for a company, most people know Office Depot. They sold office goods supplies for Archer printer products, and I was selling to small to midsize businesses in the Miami Metro area. I was living down in Florida. And you can imagine how many businesses that qualify for small and midsize, thousands, and thousands upon thousands upon thousands, and I had a wide swath of Broward and Dade County and, and I remember getting with my sales manager at the time, who is still a very close friend of mine, she’s retired now, but just a tremendously strong sales, sales leader. And, you know, at the time this is pre-cellphone days, but I did have a PalmPilot, I had one of these things that I thought was so cool and it was, you know, is allowed me to upload at the time in Excel spreadsheet. And you know what I did was I uploaded my entire column list to this Excel spreadsheet, what I did was I sorted it by you know who purchased what for what reason, you know what volumes, and so on and so forth. And I remember her coming with me, she said, “Who are we gonna go see today?” I mean this was very much a knock on doors of people who have contracts with you to try to get them to move from A to B or from, you know, buy an X amount to Y amount, whatever they, whatever the sales motion was, that upsell or cross sell opportunity might, might exist. I remember sitting down and I said, “Before we get going, let’s sit down and like look at where we’re going today. Alright we’re gonna be in this zip code.” I like pull up all the accounts that are in the zip code, I’m thinking I’m all flashy and doing it. I remember her looking at me and she goes, “What are you doing?” you know, I said, “What is that thing?” You know it was just this enlightened moment where she, she kind of took a step back and she’s like, that’s pretty cool. She’s like, you know, I always did it this way she like pulled out this stack of papers and she’s like, and I just kind of printed it out but it was, it was a moment for me that where I realized that, you know, to work, kind of go back to what you asked are the three things that made me successful, there’s work ethic’s part of it but you can, again, tune in to the engine squeeze the penny if you work smarter, and harder. And one of the ways I worked smarter was I’m going to be out in the field and be in this area and prepare for what happens if that person doesn’t want to see me, who I can pivot to next that’s going to keep me in that sales mentality that I’m selling this product for this reason to this type of customer or cohort of customer, depending on industry or vertical. And you know I was able to map out my path on that travel day with my boss, and it was a rewarding opportunity for me to see her be delighted with that’s a unique way to think about being efficient in a sales, sales position. If only you can figure out how to sell, you’d be you’d be non-stop. And that was, you know, that was literally my first week of work, and I remember being very proud of the idea that I was efficient and very humbled by the idea that she told me I couldn’t sell, but for that I was still learning. 

Christopher Smith   
Yep, yeah there’s that other part of it, you’re efficient but you’ve still got to know how to sell.  

Jeffrey Diamond   
That’s right.  

Christopher Smith   
So, tell, tell, let’s talk about your transition into sales leadership, what was behind it or what motivated you to pursue a leadership role? 

Jeffrey Diamond   
You know, for me, it’s you know, you probably hear this quite often, your top individual contributors probably make more than your average sales leader. And that’s certainly the case. And as I, you know, grew my career I became top individual contributor at various different points in my selling career for different solutions, different parts of the business. What really drove me to want to get into leadership was the ability to help other people grow the same way that I felt I had the opportunity to. You know, I am, I’m a firm believer in talent development. I’m a firm believer in giving back to our employees, that you know it’s cyclical, or it is just circular as you can get. I shouldn’t say cyclicals, circular as you can get which is, is, a you know satisfied employee results in better outcomes or better outcomes driving satisfied employee. And it doesn’t really matter where you start, but the idea being that if you can impact one of them, it’s, you can kind of drive customer, employee satisfaction and employee satisfaction, the primary driver for that is development. It’s people feeling like you’re rewarding their top performance, that you’re managing poor performance, that you’re encouraging their, their skills and their traits. And you can’t necessarily do that as broadly as an individual contributor. You can mentor and you can support, you can’t be put in a position to really help somebody grow and achieve what their goals are. And that’s, that was important to me, and it’s something I look forward to taking on. 

Christopher Smith   
What was your biggest mistake or learning opportunity from those early days of leadership? 

Jeffrey Diamond   
Expectation setting. You know, I still find myself doing it from time to time, just setting poor expectations for the folks who work for me or even sometimes for myself, how relative to how I would be able to help and the time it might take and the amount of effort, it might take. And, you know that, I think that’s, that’s something you can’t get back, you know, setting expectation’s like a first impression. You get one chance at it. And, and you might have the opportunity to retune that a little bit, but you said of course mutation out of the gate, it’s really hard to claw back from that. And early on managing, managing my team and my first team was small, it was you know four people. It was just expectations at what they, you know, what I expected from them from, from a success perspective or what they can expect from me, you know, or, you know how we could expect to achieve X, Y, Z result for the business, and setting these expectations that are either too lofty or that were unattainable for reasons out of our control. And when you get into management, you realize not every decision is yours. You know, you are beholden to, you know, support from shared services and HR to move careers and talent development to put programs in place, and you know your product team to help develop the product they need to sell to be successful. And you set these expectations for yourself without thinking about the influences in it. If done, if done poorly it can, it can unfortunately result in the opposite effect of being motivating, inspirational, and supportive to your team. It can be pretty deflating. That’s probably number one. 

Christopher Smith   
So changing from, you know, a VP of Sales where you’re focused just on the sales team to now you’ve got this broad spectrum of responsibility, was that a difficult transition for you to, to shift that focus beyond just the sales team? 

Jeffrey Diamond   
You know, this is my second tour of duty leading the sales group for LexisNexis, the. I’ll answer that in a different way and say, the harder ship, I mean I grew up in sales right. so I mean, my first career, real true career outside of college was, or during college, was in sales and did that 12 years really, hung off, hiatus in between some consulting work. It was the transition out of sales and then back in that was more complicated for me. So I had, again I had this great sponsor who pushed me in ways of trying to lead different parts of the organization. He saw, he saw something in me that maybe I didn’t see myself at the time, and challenged me to go run the project and led analytics organization, run a global operations teams, or whatever, whatever the flavor of the year was at that point, where they needed help or where he thought I could provide value. And then several years after, five or six years passed that I hadn’t been in sales. We had a leadership gap as a head of sales, an unexpected gap and I was asked to step on an interim basis. And I remember feeling a little overwhelmed about you know can I still do this. Again, it’s, it’s, it’s not, you’re not born a salesperson. Right, you know it is a skill, it’s something you absolutely need to own, you need to practice regularly, or you know you, you lose that, that ability to be be an expert. So that was, that was pretty daunting for me, it was coming back into sales more so than making the transition to sales leadership. 

Christopher Smith   
What about being responsible for the other groups like marketing and, and the operations side? 

Jeffrey Diamond   
You know, I, the groups that I currently manage today are so, we work so closely as a team. I mean, my title as Commercial Operations really is just that, because you know, we cannot in sales, sales cannot be successful without a strong brand lead generation unit involved and our marketing’s the same, right. The marketing team doesn’t have much to go out and market, we don’t have the right thought leadership and the right forward thinking, three to five new strategies in place by the organization for which the product management team can execute on with engineering. So the teams that I have are so closely coordinated, right, they’re the thought leadership group, the marketing group, they’re the engines that feed leads to the sales organization. It is a very, very natural synergy amongst the three groups, I think much more so than, than we thought there would be when when they’ll all pulled it under, under my leadership. It was, it was not that big of a stretch to move into my, I will, marketing and real strategy, I’ve done the strategy role for years previously. So that was more natural, marketing that I have not. And to be completely honest, outside of the sales department, I have a tremendously strong senior leader who leads the sales organization, and a very strong marketing leader, exceptionally strong strategy, strategy lead as well. My role is not to lead those functions, it’s to support them in however they need to be supported to be successful as possible. A lot of times it’s clarity of mission, it’s making sure that we are all aligned to the same goals, it’s making sure that we understand what the tendencies of each other are, and working through those methodically so that we’re not tripping ourselves up. Because again, time, time wasted is equal sales not made. The better aligned you can be, the more successful. So, to answer your question in a very long-winded way, the transition to those functions weren’t nearly as complicated as a previous transition into product, which was completely foreign to me, or into operation that was completely foreign. It was actually much more, much more smooth than expected. 

Christopher Smith   
That’s, that’s interesting. So you talked a lot about sponsorship. If, if I’m listening to the podcast as a young salesperson and I want to go out and get a sponsor or mentor, how should I go about that process? 

Jeffrey Diamond   
Yeah, you know, it’s, it’s a great question. I know I can only speak from experience in our organization. I just recently picked up a young gentleman who I sponsored. And I mentor about four or five people across the organization today, and try to do so on a regular basis. And sometimes the mentees stay with me for six months, sometimes it’s three years. Meeting with one now, I met with one right before this call who I’ve been working with for two years. Sponsorship’s a little different, right, sponsorship is about access. Mentorship coaching and advice and certainly they can provide access and opportunity but, you know, there is, there is a different flavor there. And you know sponsorship I think is, I think I like, I’d like to say in our organization, I think more broadly outside of our organization, sponsorship is beholden on the employee and mentorship is a whole is nother leadership tool, right? And, and that’s how I think of it, meaning you know when you find a high performer in your organization, all organizations do employee ratings and they do, they identify the hypos, to help develop the plans in place. The mature organization will look at those hypos and say we need to pair the movement. But as we develop them, we want them to get the experiences of the best and brightest, we haven’t been so people have been in their shoes before, and that’s the hold on account development, the sales and the leadership teams to kind of reach in and let us help you develop. Sponsorship’s a little different. I think sponsorship again comes down to somebody standing up and saying, “I’m looking to grow my career,” right, “I’m looking to grow professionally,” that doesn’t career progression, but professional movement. “And one way I need to do that is to get access across the organization. Now I’m raising my hand and asking for it,” then it’s beholden on the leadership team to say, “Okay let’s talk about what that looks like, who’s the right type of sponsor to get you?” The gentleman that I’m sponsoring now frankly came about because he was a flight risk. He doesn’t work for me, doesn’t even work in my division. He happened to work for a colleague of mine that that I used to work with very closely, that ended up managing ways back and she called me up and said, “Rockstar of a young man is about to leave. He’s got an offer somewhere else and we can’t keep him.” And I remember call, I said well let me just give him a call, so I reached out to him and he didn’t know me, I’d never met him. And the conversation led to why he was leaving, and the reason he was leaving was because he felt like he was stagnant. He wasn’t getting the experience and exposure outside of his group, and I said, “Well let me talk to your manager about it.” And he said, “Really?” It’s kind of expected to happen, I mean that’s the entitlement aspect a little bit. “Well what if I commit to be your sponsor?” Let me talk about what sponsorship means,” and we kind of talked through that, you know, this is no feather in my cap, certainly it was a team effort, but the gentleman ended up staying certainly and he ended up staying which is great. It’s been about a month and a half now since I started working with him since we were able to retain this young man, and he’s just tremendously talented, and, you know, being able to work with him and giving him opportunities to do things that will challenge your progression and grow his career is exactly what he’s been aching for and exactly something that I love watching and supporting do it so. You know, we met yesterday, I feel like I have these meetings everyday, just, I just got off one, I had one yesterday, but I just met with him yesterday. His name is Andrew. Brilliant man, and he told me how he wants to sponsor kind of a best practices form across the entire organization with some 1000 employees, he works in this type of function, and there’s probably dozens, maybe hundreds I don’t know, we never really said that I think, people who do this type of work, because I feel like we’re doing it differently. I’d like to spot, you know, I’d like to start a forum, best practice collaboration, shared knowledge transfer. And you know that’s something to sponsor. Great, now let me help you kick that off. To do this effectively, now I can to help layer in the mentoring bit which is, you know, here’s how you build a charter for this, here’s how you garner support across the organization, here’s where I can help by pulling in my counterparts across the other divisions and identifying who the right people are to co-chair the program with you. And he left completely enthused, at least I think he did. I interpreted that he did. And we’re meeting in a month to kind of build that charter, and our goal is to help him develop himself and lead this change and, you know, in doing so, he’ll get exposure. In doing so, he’ll learn something new and in doing so, it’ll be, he’s building his brand at the business. And, and you know that’s really sponsorship, is providing them the opportunities to realize their own growth, but giving them the opportunities or at least providing access to opportunities that you can help accelerate, even though you’re not doing it.  

Christopher Smith   
Right. That’s why I love doing this podcast is hearing stories like that. That’s a great example of leadership, in my opinion, that I love that your company has formalized that and created structure around that. I wish more companies did that, because that, that, there are so many people, like I was reading a study a while back like the number one reason people leave an organization is they feel like they don’t have a voice or that path, you know. 

Jeffrey Diamond   
You know, it’s, it’s, it certainly is not uncommon, right? I mean, most, most organizations, large organizations will do employee engagement surveys and scores on a yearly basis. We, we do them, when we take super seriously and we employ learnings out of that we employ the following year and years forward to ensure that we’re proving the satisfaction of employees engagement, the optimism, and thus you know retention. And  so again, it’s that circular motion. Engaged employees, great results. And, you know, every single time we do that, there are always the same common themes, right? Well one of the common themes is you know, poor performance isn’t managed, you know, it’s always is a common theme because you people work in teams and you always get the person who comes in in a group project and shows up the last day and puts a name on the worksheet and hands it to the professor and says, “Yep, I was there.” Right?  

Christopher Smith   
Oh yeah.  

Jeffrey Diamond   
So you get a lot of that, and then you get the person who’s really busting their butt, and you put in the work and, you know, you’re doing 99% of the heavy lifting and not rewarded or recognized for for that effort. So, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s something I think every organization, every senior, senior leader needs to be acutely aware of is that there’s always going to be a concern that, you know, you’re, we’re not managing appropriately the underperformers, you know, at least the perception was, and we’re not recognizing top performers and the biggest risk of course as you know is, it’s not that those lower performers you’re not managing up, that’s a risk of your business’ structure, you’re management and upper management have hopefully never managed up, that’s a risk. A bigger risk is that your top performers are leaving. When your top 25 are going away because they don’t feel like they’re being recognized, then all you’re left with are the underperformers, and that’s not okay, so. 

Christopher Smith   
No, not at all. Not at all. No, I love that. 

Jeffrey Diamond   
So that’s super important to stay focused on. 

Christopher Smith   
It really is. Let’s transition a bit to talk about something I’m very passionate about. CRM: do you love it, or do you hate it? 

Jeffrey Diamond   
Yes. I guess the short answer to that would be I love it more than I hate it. And maybe it’s just a bunch of the systems I’ve used historically. You know, I love this, I love a CRM for from a leadership perspective for what it can provide me, right? So the insights it provides at miracle level, the reporting I get out of it, the top line kind of detail that gets aggregated up for me with a couple clicks of a button, or delivered to me by an operations analyst is hugely powerful, right? Being able to, to see that and visualize and interpret what is otherwise structured data in a large database in a very meaningful way is super helpful. As a sales executive, I love it and hate it. Our CRM and our system is integral to our processes. And I don’t just mean sales process, I mean it, it what kicks off the content, it was kicks off our fulfillment, it’s what kicks off implementation to design. It kicks up all these processes inside and touches multiple different systems outside. The CRM really is major, you know, if you think about hubbub type, type of workflow, plus several, one being the billing system and our CRM has regulars. It really does touch so many different important systems. So as a sales rep, I love it because I can get in there, I can be the work that I need one time and not have to go out to multiple system that kicks off all these workflows. As a sales rep, I hate it because it’s not really being at least, our CRM, historically, and we’re in the middle of a transition, wasn’t really a CRM. It was for the finance, the finance team. I mean the people who use it the most get the most value out of it, one of the sales words and that’s counterintuitive, it was the finance team and the senior leadership team, Glenn and Stephanie. And when, when that’s your primary benefit, something’s wrong with your CRM. 

Christopher Smith   
Oh yeah. I see that a lot that when I asked like, “Well, tell me about your CRM,” and they’ll start talking and I’m like, “Wait a minute, what CRM are you using?” And I found out it’s not, it’s really not a CRM, it’s some other tool that they co-opted and tried to make it a CRM. And so I imagine that’s a big part of why you guys are transitioning to a new CRM. What, what is your definition of success for your new CRM platform? 

Jeffrey Diamond   
Oh boy, um, you know, again, if you ask that question to me from, you know, where the marketing half or the strategy half or what the sales half, I’d probably give you a different answer. I’ll take it from the sales lens. Again, an operations team cut to the CRM from an implementation perspective, so a success can look vastly different, depending on who you’re asking. From, from my chair, if I’m wearing a sales hat, success looks like enabling the salesperson. Like really making her, you know, making them efficient, and going back to that efficiency point. The more time you can take out their administrative duties and put them into the field talking to customers, being present, you know, negotiating, just doing discovery, qualifying, prospecting, I mean that’s where I want as much time spent there. So success for me means optimizing the workflows that a CRM should be capable of performing in as little time with as little touch as possible for a salesperson, providing them the benefit that they need, which really is to operate as a CRM. A customer-relationship management tool should have everything from, you know, existing contracts, existing spend, contacts, you know, volume transactions-based and more transaction-based as well subscription-based business, so understanding the nuances between different product levels and suites of solutions that customers may use. You know, leads coming in through there and being able to nurture them or promote them to opportunities, being able to kind of manage just all interactions and start to load kind of artifacts from engagement with customers in a very easy way. Historically for us to load an artifact into CRM, you have to open up the CRM, drag it, drag it over, do X, Y and Z. In the new system, we’re going to keep it as simple as to email to yourself and load in your CRM with the, with the right the right kind of tags. And that’s, that’s efficiency, right? I mean if that saves you know, again, we’re not a huge, my division or business as a whole is probably greater than 1000, 1500 salespeople. My division’s not that big, it’s been kind of focused at best. The, you know, 100 sales folks. Yeah, but you can say 30 minutes of the week for 100 sales folks, that is meaningful, right?  

Christopher Smith   
It’s called ROI. Yeah. 

Jeffrey Diamond   
Yeah that’s right, it’s another FTE that you’re adding to the workforce. And by the way, coming full circle, you’re providing better clients, better customers, better employee satisfaction, right? And that’s, that’s a huge part. So success for me would be really enabling our salespeople to be as efficient as possible and get from a CRM what a CRM’s intended to do, not be an administrative reporting tool for management. And that’s unfortunately our current state and situation and things. It’s used as an administrative reporting tool. 

Christopher Smith   
I love that you guys are using your CRM across the organization, that’s something I preach all the time. For people that maybe aren’t structured that way that are listening to this, what advice do you have for them about why, the reasons why you want to extend CRM throughout the organization? 

Jeffrey Diamond   
Oh, boy. It’s kind of the same reasons you would employ a common salesman. So there’s, there’s benefit in being on a common vernacular accounting system just in terms of efficiency. People are in the same system, they get to know it, they get to use it, there’s subject matter across trading that happens, those are all the soft things. The, the hard benefits simply are to set a record. I mean, it is easy to go into a system, a single system of record, as you know as most companies are moving, digital transformation and moving, moving into the world of having data at their fingertips, siloed information doesn’t work, right? You need it in one central place. You need the structure, you need to have everything at your fingertips in one repository, or certainly you could have them in multiple, but it’s hard to connect multiple systems together and make them work seamlessly. When you have a single operating system that is built for a specific purpose and has modules and capabilities to expand out for purposes of project management or, you know operations or we do data audits and everything kind of runs through what could run through our CRM system, it becomes that system of record. Now it’s not the only system of record, but it is a primary system of record for business that is rooted in for a business route and data and analytics. So we understand the value of that kind of having everything central. And that’s, that’s probably the biggest benefit is as you start to think more broadly and really start to capture information or need the need to capture information, you don’t have to go pluck it from 15 different places and try stitch it together. 

Christopher Smith   
Oh yeah, no, and you’re also by creating that single source of truth or system, you know, record, that, that now the whole organization can leverage that. The people downstream from sales can see what’s coming, they can proactively plan and adjust and, as opposed to, you’re always fighting fires of oh hey, we have this high priority project, drop whatever else you’re doing, we need you to do this. That’s, you know, there’s so many benefits, we could go on and on and on talking about just that. We have come up on our time here on Sales Lead Dog, Jeff. I really appreciate you coming on the show, it’s been great listening to you. If people want to reach out and connect with you personally or if they want to learn more about LexisNexis and what you guys are doing, what’s the best way for them to connect with you? 

Jeffrey Diamond   
Yeah, you can, you can reach me on LinkedIn under Jeff Diamond, it will be a link somewhere associated with the podcast and then you know my direct, the direct way to contact me would be via email and reach me at [email protected]   

Christopher Smith   
Yeah, that’s awesome. Jeff, thanks again for coming on the show, it’s been great listening to you. 

Jeffrey Diamond   
My pleasure, thanks for having me. 

Christopher Smith   
Yeah, alright! 

Outro 
As we end this discussion on Sales Lead Dog, be sure to subscribe to catch all our episodes on social media. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Watch the videos on YouTube, and you can also find our episodes on our website at Empellorcrm.com/salesleaddog. Sales Lead Dog is supported by Empellor CRM, delivering objectively better CRM for business guaranteed. 

Quotes

  • “It’s just a part of who I am. I just keep grinding, keep moving, keep moving, keep moving and I think that gets recognized pretty early on in your career.” (11:51-11:59)
  • “Creating sponsorships and creating relationships and knowing how to leverage mentors and sponsors in an organization to not only benefit yourself but to benefit them was a huge part of my early success.” (12:49-13:02)
  • “He made it very clear- I’m not going to hand you anything; that is not my role as a sponsor and certainly I’d be failing you as a mentor if I did that. But what I will do is give you access.”(16:15-16:23)
  • “Knowing how to say no and turning down business and moving forward with the opportunities that have high probability of success.” (19:17-19:23)

Links

Jeffrey Diamond LinkedIn
LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group LinkedIn
LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group Website

Empellor CRM LinkedIn
Empellor CRM Website