Episode: 541 |
Scott Ratliff:
Commercial Leadership Roles in Professional Services Firms:


Scott Ratliff

Commercial Leadership Roles in Professional Services Firms

Show Notes

In this episode of Unleashed, Will Bachman talks to Scott Ratliff,  who is a principal at the search firm Beecher Reagan. Beecher Reagan is a specialty retained executive search firm that works across three industries: professional services, digital and technology services, and private equity. As a principal at Beecher Reagan, Scott leads the commercial excellence sales and marketing practice, focusing on growth roles across these industries. Scott talks about commercial leaders within professional services, specifically in three forms: true Hunter BD people, who are responsible for going out into the market, setting meetings, driving revenue, and bringing in new logos; a hybrid, who owns client relationships, farming large accounts, finding new lines of business within those accounts; and a commercial operations type of role, who sets up and builds out a sales structure, identifying the right people to process technology to build or develop a sales culture within a firm. Depending on the size of the firm, its growth journey, and the talent available, firms may have specific roles specific to one of these verticals or firms looking for someone who can come in and play across. Scott explains that some types of professional services firms have people who are separate from the actual delivery teams brought in as commercial salespeople effect. The traditional model in consulting involves starting as an analyst and working your way up to the manager level, where you shift into being commercially wired and focused. However, there has been a spike in commercial leadership in several places, such as the lower middle market, high growth, emerging market, and larger firms looking to build out new functional capabilities or geography. In addition to selling services, commercial leaders should also understand how to sell services specific to that functional area. This helps firms continue to supercharge growth and drive revenue.


The Roles of Hunter/BD People in High Growth Firms

Scott discusses the roles of Hunter/BD people in high-growth firms. He explains that these roles can range from five to $10 million firms looking to grow organically to $25 million and potentially leverage M&A. The role involves understanding prospective clients, targeting companies, gathering data for an effective approach, outreach, scheduling meetings, and creating a lead generation engine. The Hunter BD person’s role is crucial in identifying potential clients and building relationships with them. They are responsible for taking initial calls, developing relationships, and deciding whether to bring in a partner or subject matter expert. Different firms have different compensation structures, with some expecting the sales leader to close business and the delivery team to execute or the role may be to generate meetings. There are two types of Hunter BD profiles: those who understand the business well enough to take the sales cycle from start to finish, build relationships, understand the selling proposition, and close deals. Another version of the role  involves supercharging what partners do well, pitching services, and understanding the problem statement of potential buyers. Scott suggests that the effectiveness of each role depends on the business’s needs at its current stage of growth and the resources available. It is important to consider the business’s staffing and talent requirements when choosing between meeting setters and sales leaders.


Sales Success Strategies

Scott emphasizes the need for a combination of strategies to achieve success in sales. First, a strong strategy is needed. Second, having the right technology in place to generate strong leads is crucial. He shares a few steps and mentions how important relationships are in selling services. People who have worked in the industry and built up a network can leverage their network to sell directly to potential buyers or introduce them to potential buyers. The best salespeople are not only doing one or the other, but also setting the engine, pursuing cold outreach, getting their story out there to the right people, and leveraging their own network and relationships. The typical background of successful salespeople is in the digital and technology services space, where they have exceptional sales training programs. However, when hiring commercial talent into professional services, it is important to see their experience in selling services and speaking to different types of customers. In conclusion, a combination of strategies, including cold calling and cold outreach, is necessary to achieve success in the sales world. It is essential to find individuals with a strong sales DNA and experience in both sales and professional services to ensure a successful transition into the industry.


Evaluation Process for Sales Candidates

Scott emphasizes the importance of communication skills and the ability to quickly connect with people within an organization. He also emphasizes the importance of talking in numbers and making things simple for clients. The typical compensation range for salespeople is typically between 150,000 and 250,000, depending on their experience level. However, at the high end, senior sales people typically earn between $350 and $400,000. Scott talks about attracting talent.  One of the most common questions asked by candidates is whether they are ready to walk away from their current position with existing relationships and recurring business. To help incentivize or help with the ramp period, firms should focus on having someone who can bring existing relationships with buyers who are fit for the role. This could include senior executives, civilian clients, or heads of business units at large companies. In summary, Scott emphasizes the importance of communication skills, numbers, and a strong understanding of the company’s business processes when evaluating candidates for sales roles.


Support Teams and Building a Commercial Team

Scott suggests that hiring someone at this level should build a commercial team around them. This could include someone handling marketing, leveraging LinkedIn, and generating leads through marketing. A research person is also crucial in this team. In a professional services firm, the number of people involved in lead sales is considered a team number. The first 30-60 days should be spent identifying the right setup of the team and finding ways to make the most out of their resources. The sales leader or Chief Commercial Officer would lead the team in lead generation, research, and building lists for target audiences. The research capabilities may include using tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator to build lists and target different businesses. The audience for the firm will impact the size of the research function, but it is essential to leverage existing technology for lead generation and segmenting for cold outreach. By targeting the right people and buyers, the team can create targeted messaging and drive sales growth. 


Compensation for Sales Leaders 

Scott discusses the compensation for sales leaders in a professional service firm, including the process metrics for hiring salespeople, such as meeting frequency and revenue generation. For a salesperson at a higher level, the goal is to generate millions of dollars in revenue. However, the number of meetings may vary depending on the size of the deal and the industry. For a sales leader at a 150,000 base, the typical number of meetings would be two meetings per week. The number of meetings depends on the size of the deal and volume expectation. If the salesperson is selling large deals or farming accounts, the number of meetings may decrease. However, the goal is to maintain double-digits of meetings once the business is up and running. When hiring a sales leader, professionals should consider their organization’s capability to handle downturns and be agile in their offerings. Scott believes that hiring a sales leader can help the company adapt to market changes and build new capabilities. By identifying different markets and products, the sales leader can help the company handle downturns and rapid changes. The best sales leaders are creative and can sell their product in various places, allowing the firm to hire against these expectations. This approach allows the sales leader to continue growing and function in challenging times.


Incentive Compensation for Commercial Leaders

Scott shares what a company should address before bringing in a sales leader. He discusses the normal rates of success expected in a sales leader and the incentive compensation for commercial leaders, and the different ways firms structure it. He talks about the various models for building a strategy,  how long the new logo belongs to the salesperson, and how much of that is shared with the partner who delivers the work, leading to recurring business. Some firms have a higher volume, a less consolidated sales model where the income is going elsewhere, while others focus on maintaining relationships and expanding on new accounts. Scott emphasizes the importance of paying attention to the core DNA of successful salespeople, which includes competitive spirit, motivation, commercial mode, and strong communication skills. The best salespeople are motivated, commercially awaited, and have a piano driver of their own success and fulfillment through their work. They also have strong interpersonal skills and a sense of people. By testing for these qualities and the experience of the sales leader, organizations can feel comfortable in the value they can bring to their organization. 



00:40 Recruiting commercial roles in professional services firms

01:49 Commercial leadership roles in professional services firms

06:14 Sales roles and responsibilities in consulting firms

12:04 Sales strategies for professional services

17:56 Evaluating sales candidates for consulting roles

20:38 Sales compensation and ramp time for high-potential salespeople

25:32 Building a commercial organization for a consulting or professional services firm

31:15 Hiring a sales leader for a professional service firm

36:25 Sales leadership and incentive compensation strategies



Website: https://beecherreagan.com/



LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scott-ratliff-0294362b/



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Will Bachman, Scott Ratliff


Will Bachman  00:01

Hello and welcome to Unleashed. I’m your host will Bachman. If you go right now to umbrex.com/unleashed you can sign up for a newsletter, we’ll let you know about the next episode give you the show notes and the transcript, and occasionally some bonus materials. I am now I’m excited to be here today with Scott Ratliff, who is a principal at the search firm. Beecher Regan. Scott, welcome to the show.


Scott Ratliff  00:29

Yeah, thanks for having me. Well,


Will Bachman  00:31

so, Scott, you have worked on? Why don’t you just start by giving us a little overview for people that aren’t familiar with it with with Beecher Regan?


Scott Ratliff  00:40

Yeah, sure. So BT Reagan is a specialty retained executive search firm. So what our specialty is, is it’s it’s across three industries, we work in professional services. So think consulting everything from Big Four, you know, the strategy houses down to, you know, some boutiques and some challenger firms, we also work within digital and technology services, as well as private equity. In PE our firm, generally, builds out boards will place operating partners, which are typically functional specialists that sit at the fund level, as well as you know, C suite or senior roles within portfolio companies across, you know, different really growth functions. So, broadly, that is who our firm is, as you mentioned, I’m a principal, I lead our commercial excellence sales and marketing practice. So across those three industries, roles that are really focused on on growth are kind of the ones that fall under my mandate.


Will Bachman  01:38

Perfect. And that’s what I wanted to speak with you about. So I’m very interested to hear about these commercial roles that you help recruit into professional services firms. So tell us just about that type of role.


Scott Ratliff  01:54

Yeah, so I think the, you know, the commercial leaders within professional services that we’ve been seeing in the market come in a couple of different forms. So the way I would kind of classify maybe three groups, there’s kind of your true, you know, Hunter BD people who are responsible for going out into the market, you know, setting meetings, and really driving revenue and bringing in new logos to their organization, you know, the second would be more of a hybrid, somebody who’s owning client relationships, you know, farming, large accounts, kind of, you know, finding new lines of business within those accounts. And then also, you know, going out and opening up new business as well. And then the third is really more of a commercial operations type of role. So somebody who comes into the organization and really sets up and builds out a sales structure, right, identifying kind of the right, you know, people process technology to build or develop a sales culture within a firm. So those are kind of the three buckets. And what we’re seeing is, depending on the size of the firm, depending where they are in their growth journey, or what they’re trying to accomplish, or maybe the talent that they already have in place, you’ll see roles that are specific to kind of one of those verticals, or sometimes you’ll have, you’ll have firms that are looking for somebody that can come in and play across. So you know, be a player, coach, go lead a sales team, carry a number yourself, or, you know, set up are more of a CCO type of position where you’re really setting up our commercial infrastructure and our operations, while at the same time, you know, being the tip of the spear and being out in market and driving revenue. So really, the specifics just depend on, you know, the different scenario that they’re stepping into.


Will Bachman  03:41

Now, I grew up at McKinsey, which doesn’t really follow this model, where the, you know, you come in as an associate, you get promoted, and partners are the ones who are doing the client development. It’s the same people who are responsible for, you know, kind of overseeing the project. It sounds like these roles could be different. So what types of professional services firms have people who are separate from the actual delivery teams that are brought in as commercial kind of salespeople effect?


Scott Ratliff  04:12

Yeah, it’s, it’s a great question, right? So the traditional model we see in consulting is, you know, you start, you start as an analyst, and you work your way up. And by the time you’re at that manager level, you know, you’re probably shadowing the partner in terms of sales, and you’re leading delivery on those engagements. And then that natural next step up to that partner level, is really where you shift into being, you know, commercially wired and commercially focused. And, you know, certainly that still exists. And you mentioned McKinsey, and, you know, most of the large strategy firms continue to operate that way. I think where we’ve seen, you know, a spike in commercial leadership is a few different places. You know, one is certainly in the like, lower middle market, you know, so a lot of consulting firms or business services firms that have grown organically You know, up to a certain point, and now maybe they’re, you know, taking on private equity investment, or maybe they’re looking to supercharge their growth. And part of that is to say, you know, we’ve kind of maxed out our call it like relational selling through our partner and our Managing Director group. And now we really want an infrastructure. And that doesn’t mean that you’re removing partners from the sales process, a lot of that a lot of times, what that means is, somebody’s coming in to set up a sales engine, and think of rolling up, you know, some marketing and lead generation and different things to say, you know, I’m gonna put our partner groups our subject matter experts in front of the right people, right, and I’m going to generate more leads, more meetings, more pitch opportunities for them. And then depending on, you know, the talent profile, walk into those meetings with them, you know, help to close the deal help to structure the deals. So that’s a really common place where we’ll see it is in those kind of high growth, emerging market, lower middle market, consulting firms, you know, other places is if we want to build out a new functional capability, if we want to build out a new geography, right, we’re looking to grow, and this is whether you’re a small firm or your larger one. And, you know, we need to bring somebody in who really has experience selling this sort of product. So for example, you know, maybe it’s digital transformation, maybe it’s channel partnerships with with big tech, maybe it’s AI or cyber, bringing in a sales leader or commercial leader who know, understand, one, most importantly, how to sell services. And then secondly, how to sell services specific to that kind of functional area. You know, it’s another way to just continue to supercharge growth, right, and walk in the door with kind of those delivery capabilities and tell the story and how they can you know, how they can help their clients ultimately to to achieve their goals.


Will Bachman  06:55

Interesting. So when we say lower mid market, for these high growth firms, just without naming names of any particular firm, can you characterize it? Like what what does it mean, in terms of number of proposals


Scott Ratliff  07:10

I’ll carry characterize it really broadly. So think anything from when I think you can go all the way down to, you know, a five to $10 million firm who you know, wants to go on organic growth journey to that $25 million dollar number, and then potentially, you know, leverage m&a and other things to continue to grow to there, or I think you can, you can look at a firm that’s, you know, 100 million to 400 million that’s, you know, looking to, again, really professionalize their commercial organization so that they can, you know, supercharge that growth towards a billion.


Will Bachman  07:41

All right. So let’s talk through some of these roles a little bit. Just, maybe we start with one, so the hunter slash BD people. So you listed the three types. Yep. Sorry, that. So my question is, and you can kind of take them in any order. I’m curious are. Okay, so what is that person actually going to do day to day? So what does that look like? Are they just generate? You know, what do they what’s their output? You know, is their output kind of meetings that then partners get pulled into? Are they taking the first meeting? How do these people do it? And also, what’s their background? So just talk me all around this Hunter BD kind of role at $100 million, you know, consulting firm, or a $25 million? Or a 10? million? Sure.


Scott Ratliff  08:28

Sure. Yeah. So I think it’s, you know, let’s say, your first 30 days, and in the role, it’s really going to be about understanding who our, you know, our prospective clients, who are we targeting? So it’s going to be a lot of lead generation, it’s understanding what are the companies that we should be going after, who is the right buyer within those companies, and it’s getting the data together, initially, so that you can have a, you know, an effective and targeted kind of approach, then from there, it’s certainly its outreach and scheduling meetings. And you’ll hopefully, if you’re successful, it very quickly turns into, you’ve created this kind of lead generation engine, you know, you know, who you’re calling on who the prospective clients are, who the right people are within those clients. So being able to kind of navigate and identify that is extremely important. And then it’s getting in front of those people. And if that’s taking an initial call, you know, I think a lot of times developing that relationship initially comes from that sales leader. When you know, if there’s business, it’s real, or if there’s an opportunity that’s real, it’s kind of up to that person on, you know, do I want to bring in the partner do I want to bring in this subject matter expert, and look, we see different firms do this differently, right, and how they kind of compensate that Hunter is dependent, right? Are they is the expectation to go out and to close business and then our delivery team comes in and executes and I think that’s one version of it. And that candidate profile is going to look really different in terms of, you know, how deep they need to go and subject matter expertise or is the, you know, is the role of this sales leader to generate meetings? And are they really going to be compensated and rewarded on kind of the number of at bats they’re getting for their partner group. So even within that Hunter, I think there’s two different types of profiles, I think the ones that we see that are really successful, or, you know, the ones who understand the business well enough to, you know, walk in the door, and, you know, take the sales cycle from start to finish to identify the prospect to build the relationship to understand, you know, what they’re selling in terms of the consulting services and to be able to close that deal, and then kind of pass it off and quarterback, that delivery team.


Will Bachman  10:36

Okay. As opposed to, that sounds like that’s more successful than the role of being a meeting setter.


Scott Ratliff  10:45

Yeah, and I should say, more successful. I mean, I think, again, I think this is specific to different businesses. And, you know, how many people do you have, you know, what is kind of your organizational structure in terms of, you know, if you’ve got the delivery capabilities, you have the bandwidth within your partner group, to be, you know, to be taking these meetings and closing these deals, then I think there’s the other version of this can be extremely successful as well, which is, you know, take what our partners do well, which is pitch our, you know, our services and understand the problem statement of our potential buyers, but supercharge it with what a commercial or a sales leader does really well, which is, you know, prospect and running an engine that’s constantly getting us out in front of the right people and setting more beating. So I would I would be hesitant, you know, and I know I said it, but be hesitant to say one is more effective than the other, I think it really just depends on what your business’s needs are at your current stage of growth. And again, what you have currently in place from, from a staffing perspective and a talent perspective to say, you know, do we have the bandwidth for, you know, for our partners to really be leading sales and every meeting? Or do we need somebody who can contribute in that way?


Will Bachman  11:59

Okay, so there was a part of that, that you kind of went through pretty quickly. And I’d love to hear a bit more about it. So the identifying who is the right buyer, and you know, for my listeners, a lot of our listeners, and I think can do that. So, depending on the person, oh, I want to talk to the VP of strategy at a fortune 500 firm in the healthcare industry, something like that. But the two that are a bit of a trick is how to do the outreach, and how to actually schedule meetings. Right? So talk to me about how one of these commercial leaders would actually do those things. And what does the firm have to have in place to enable that? I mean, that’s, a lot of people want to have a meeting with the VP of strategy at a fortune 500 firms. So how are they getting the contact info reaching out to the person, you know, just cold? Often would just go right to spam. So how are they doing that outreach? And, and how do they get these meetings set up for the frame?


Scott Ratliff  13:04

Yeah, well, look, that’s the that’s the magic sauce of of a great sales leader. Right? And it’s, there’s no one right answer, there’s a combination of ways you can do that. So what I would say is, first, you have to have strategy, right, you’re never going to want to solely rely on to your point, cold calling or cold outreach. With that being said, that works as well. So having the right technology in place to generate, you know, really strong leads, what I’ve learned well, you know, through working with these people is the success rate on cold outreach is surprisingly high, when you’re targeting the right person with the right service. So to say, you know, if you’re going to reach out to 10 people, and typically, you know, the conventional sales would say, one is a good response, you know, a really successful salesperson might tell you Look, I think getting a response from for is a good response, if the research is good. And if you know, what we’re bringing to the table is something that’s going to be helpful and useful. So I think having the right data, and there’s different ways you get the right data, right, it’s obviously, you know, looking at where you’ve been successful in the past, and being able in your cold outreach, to share that story on here’s what we’ve done for some of your competitors. And do that in a succinct way that’s going to break through, you know, I think that’s really important. There’s, there’s technology that you can leverage and use for lead generation so that you constantly have things going outbound, you constantly have marketing materials going out on on LinkedIn. Right, you’re going to the right industry events and getting in front of the right people to tell your story. You know, in terms of the cold outreach, that’s, you know, certainly that engine can be successful when it’s executed properly, right, and the folks who are the best at it, you know, that’s what they’re able to do. They come in and they, they know how to say this is the technology we’re gonna leverage. This is the CRM we’re going to use to manage it. This is the cadence that we’re going to, you know, reach out at and and here’s the story we’re gonna tell. So that’s kind of the magic behind, you know, the cold calling method. And then I think number two, and this goes back to, well, there’s not, there’s not 1000 people out there who are have been really, really successful selling services. And, you know, relationships are always going to be a crucial part of doing this. So, you know, having been in the industry, having worked, you know, at a consulting firm, and in that services environment, having built up a network, and being able to leverage that network to not only sell directly to them, but you know, maybe it’s the kind of one degree of separation, I know, so and so and so I’m gonna give him a call, we’re gonna catch up, we’re gonna have lunch, and, you know, hey, can you throw me a lead here or there, and now, when you’re reaching out, it’s, you know, we’ll mention you in passing, and that we shouldn’t be, you know, I’d love to find 30 minutes, grab a coffee or hop on a call, that’s always going to be a really successful way, also. So again, the folks that are best at it, that are stepping into this role are not doing one or the other, they’re doing both, right, you’re setting the engine, they’re pursuing cold outreach, they’re getting their story out there to the right people. And they are also, you know, leveraging their own network, their own relationships and other creative ways that they can get in front of folks that, you know, could be potential buyers, or could introduce them to potential buyers.


Will Bachman  16:24

Talk to me about kind of the background of these folks, you hinted at it a bit there with, but there it sounds like it’s not necessarily a former consultant. But, you know, I’ll just shut up actually, and ask questions like, What is the typical background for these folks? Yeah,


Scott Ratliff  16:41

so there’s a few things. I mean, I think you find more of the true sales DNA in the digital and technology services space, right. And there’s, you know, there’s certain businesses that you can look for that have exceptional sales training programs. So you look early career at somebody who kind of got their start at an IBM or at a Microsoft or even at a GE, or, you know, one of these kind of large companies who really train very well, in terms of that early career sales, DNA, you know, that’s always really attractive. But when you’re talking about hiring commercial talent into professional services, at some point in their journey, you have to see the experience, where do they know how to sell services, and really being able to, to speak to like, there’s they’re selling widgets, they’re selling products, and they’re selling services, and those are two very different sales. So where did they make that shift into selling into selling services, again, a lot of the, you know, talk about the large cloud service providers, the large tech services companies, you know, and of course, like big for the large consulting firms, and they have sales teams where maybe you’re going to market and it is a SaaS platform that you’re selling. But there’s some sort of consulting engagements that you’re selling on top of that, right. And so it’s, you know, it’s not often will, you’ll find somebody in professional services, somebody in consulting, whose whole careers like, I’ve just sold consulting, that’s kind of a little bit of a unicorn profile. But if you can find somebody who has that sales base, who learned, you know, how to sell the mechanics of it, the technology behind it, the process that I just spoke to, and then along the way, they got into a services organization of some sort, they really started to specialize in, you know, again, whatever it is this functional area, and they got reps in a consolidated sale. You know, that’s really I think that the profile you’re looking forward to, you know, to be successful stepping into these roles,


Will Bachman  18:41

as you are interviewing this type of candidate to vet them before you present them to your clients. How do you evaluate you, Scott, how do you evaluate candidates for a sales role? What what are the questions that you’re asking? What are you looking for?


Scott Ratliff  18:59

Yeah, you know, a lot of times it’s not rocket science, I think a great salesperson can make complicated things simple, right? And so that’s really the first kind of, you know, check the box that I’m looking at is when I when I talk through, hey, you know, what, what are you selling? Now? You know, what are you out there doing? Can they explain that to me in five minutes in a way that makes perfect sense. And to me, that’s always a great place to start when you’re when you’re thinking about sales talent, because it’s communication skills, it’s your ability to very quickly connect the dots for somebody and allow them to really understand what it is you do. So that’s always the first thing is just those innate communication skills, the ability to kind of get to the point and be able to, you know, very quickly allow me to understand exactly where they sit in their organization, exactly what they’re selling and what makes them good at it. The second thing is you know, you I want to hear you talk in numbers, right? If you’re, if you’re a salesperson, you know, it’s not it shouldn’t be a story. about, you know how I’m successful in this net, it should be Look, let me get to the bottom line, here’s what I’m, here’s what I’ve sold, here’s the revenue target, I hit, here’s the percentage over that target that I’ve been in the last year, here’s what my team is responsible for. And here’s how much of that we’ve done in the last couple years. So those are two things right off the bat, that I always look for is talking in numbers. And, you know, are they really? Are they making things simple? And are they able to help, you know, help me to understand their business and their process very quickly and easily? And I find that, that that generally, you know, leads me to, to the right people, if I kind of follow that model.


Will Bachman  20:38

What’s the typical compensation range for these folks? And how is it typically structured? Yeah,


Scott Ratliff  20:43

so different models, again, I think, you know, typically, you think of compensation range for, you know, let’s call them your kind of high potential, maybe earlier in the career. So I’m thinking, this is all very general, right. But maybe somebody in their late 20s, or early 30s, has that right experience isn’t going to come in at kind of a C suite, or executive level. But a step below, you’ll see compensation ranging from maybe 150,000 to 250,000, obviously dependent, and typically, you know, the bonus opportunity can go anywhere from you know, 30 to 50% Of that number, I think once you look at going north of 200,000, from a base perspective, for a salesperson, you’re starting to, to look at really senior sales, people probably capping out up in the 350 to 400,000, would be the really high end of kind of that base, right. And then generally, you know, there’s on target bonus, which could be 50%, for those senior folks, or, you know, it could be tied to the revenue, right. So it could be 5% of revenue sold, again, just depending on what the expectations are for that person.


Will Bachman  21:57

What do you see it take? How long does it take for people to be effective? And what are some things that firms can do to make sure that the person is set up for success?


Scott Ratliff  22:10

Yeah, so you know, it. Again, it varies, I think, the the way you can decrease the ramp time is to, you know, hire the right person, I think sometimes, right, you’re gonna, you’re gonna take a flyer on somebody who has the right DNA, maybe they haven’t sold exactly what you’re selling. And it isn’t to say that that’s not the right decision, because sometimes it is, but your expectation level for that person who’s stepping into the business, to basically go from cold leads, they haven’t, you know, none of the clients they’ve sold to in the past are going to be the right people are none of the services they’ve sold are going to exactly match what they’re selling now. And I think you should expect a quarter, you know, maybe two for them to really ramp and start to hit their numbers. And we see firms that we work with will do that, they’ll they’ll guarantee bonus for quarter one, and maybe it’s a slightly reduced number for quarter two. And then they’re going to hit the ground running by quarter three and quarter four of their first year. And I think that’s a really smart strategy in terms of attracting talent, because that’s one of the questions will, that I get the most from my candidates is, hey, I think this is an awesome opportunity, I see it, but what’s gonna convince me to walk away, you know, where I currently am, where I’ve got a bunch of recurring business, and I’ve got these existing relationships. And I know it’s going to take me time. So am I supposed to just take that hit financially for the first six months, while I kind of rebuild what I’ve already built here. So when firms look to incentivize or to help that ramp, period, you know, they can be really successful, I would say, in terms of having somebody that’s ready to walk in the door and hit those numbers right away, you’re really looking for someone who, you know, can bring existing relationships with buyers that are fit, right. So again, you’re talking about more of that senior profile, who has those C suite relationships, if it’s, you know, civilian clients, or heads of business units at the, at the large companies, where, you know, they’re gonna walk over and they’re gonna walk over with that black book of people and those people are the right buyers for what you’re selling. And those situations, I think you can generally expect very, very quick progress and ramp time to hit hit their numbers.


Will Bachman  24:25

If the firm is going to bring someone in at 150 to 250,000 base, it probably makes sense to take some more administrative pieces off that person’s plate. What do you recommend if you’re going to hire someone at that level? What do you recommend in terms of support team?


Scott Ratliff  24:44

Yeah, again, I think it depends on what the expectations are in terms of the numbers that they’re going to hit. But what I think I’ve typically would recommend or what you would see to be successful is certainly you need to build a commercial team around them and that could mean different and things that could mean you have, you know, probably somebody that does that handles the marketing piece, right, that getting us out at the right events, you know, leveraging LinkedIn, these different things to kind of generate leads through marketing, I think you generally have to have somebody on that team who’s responsible for research, right. So you know, making sure that the data is strong, making sure that you know, friendlies of the firms are getting hit with the, with the newsletter, and that the firm is staying out in front of prospective clients. And that way, making sure that new leads are clean and organized. So campaigns can go out. So having somebody that’s that’s, you know, a research person is is, I think, going to be important. And, you know, look, I think, again, a lot of these firms, they don’t, you’re not going to have a huge kind of commercial function. So I don’t think it’s also unreasonable to say when you’re a professional services firm, and you’re bringing somebody in to lead sales, that number is is a team number, right? And so if you’re an independent contributor, and your job is to just go out, be in meetings, have business close deals, yes, I think you need that team around you, if your job is to come in and really stand up the commercial organization. And this goes back to where we started well, which is there’s different definitions of these roles, then part of that Andre, a part of that first 30 days, 60 days should be to identify what is the right setup of this team? You know, who are the people we need? And, and I always, you know, there look for scrappiness, I mean, how can we make the most out of what we have, can we use, you know, marginal or, or a fraction of people’s time to help support in certain areas of the sales process. And I’m going to be the one who leads it, I’m going to be the tip of the spear, I’m going to make sure this engine runs. While I’m also, you know, filling my calendar with calls and getting out there and closing business.


Will Bachman  26:48

Let’s talk about the commercial organization. So let’s say a consulting firm or professional service firm have call it 100 million dollar revenue firm. What would you sketch out as kind of a typical commercial organization? What are the different roles? And how many people? What are the different roles? What’s?


Scott Ratliff  27:11

Yeah, so look, I think, you know, when you’re talking about $100 million in revenue, I think first and foremost, you’re talking about multiple sales leaders. So again, at different levels of seniority, but probably you have, you know, let’s call it five folks who are who are salespeople, right, who are, you know, sending outreach, scheduling meetings, and then taking those meetings along with, again, anybody that they want, or need to pull it in from the delivery side to them. So I think of that group as being, you know, really, really important there, I think, potentially, you have a CRM technician of some sort, right. So maybe you’re using Salesforce and you have somebody who’s really managing that and building the capabilities on Salesforce out in the right way, making sure that you know, everything there is being tracked, that we’re pulling the data from it and creating kind of the right dashboards to look at, hey, what is our, you know, what are we forecasting for this year? What do we expect coming in, where are our different opportunities, kind of in the pipeline, early stage moving to kind of the negotiating and Odyssey to the closing. So that’s probably one person who’s a Salesforce technician in that way. Again, I think there’s probably research capabilities, I’ve seen this augmented with like, again, you could potentially take analysts on the delivery team, and it’s a great way to, you know, take part of their time as, hey, lead generation, help, research and build lists that we’re going to reach, you know, that we can target. It’s a great way for younger talent to really learn the business and the industry, and who are the players, and who are the competitors, and who are the buyers. Now, they’re going to need to be led, obviously, by kind of your, your sales leader, your Chief Commercial Officer to give them some direction there. But I think having one or two folks who are using, you know, some percentage of their time on research is, is going to be really important. And then again, probably one person on marketing, right, somebody who’s, who’s kind of leading that events piece, a lot of times, you know, the website development, that sort of stuff is going to come from from the marketing group and the LinkedIn and, you know, all the different ways that that your brand is showing publicly.


Will Bachman  29:22

The research capabilities, say a little bit more about in a more detailed view, what are those people doing? Are they going on LinkedIn all day? And finding people are like, yeah, so.


Scott Ratliff  29:32

So there’s different, you know, there’s different versions of this. And I think, you know, again, some of your lower level, you know, maybe more I should say lower level, you’re more junior sales team members are also going to be a huge part of research. But yes, you’re you’re utilizing tools. Right. So there’s technology, there’s, you know, there’s Sales Navigator from LinkedIn. Right. So that’s a great tool that that somebody can use to build lists and, you know, different businesses have, you know, it’s some businesses there. There might be 300 500, you know, really good targets for them. So that’s going to be a different research capability than, you know another business who, you know, again, maybe is in the digital and tech space, who’s really can target anybody and everybody in terms of large enterprises down to lower middle market companies. So who is your audience will will impact how larger research function should be, but you’re exactly right. It’s leveraging the existing technology that gives you lead generation, whether that’s like Danner or other programs, and then combing through it and making sure, you know, we’re looking at the right people that we have the right buyers, that we’re segmenting and correctly for cold outreach, so that we can have really targeted messaging when we when we send it. And that takes, you know, that takes people to go through that data and to group it correctly, and to make sure we have the right story.


Will Bachman  30:51

So we talked a bit about compensation for this sales role, sales leader role, let’s talk a little bit about what a firm that’s gonna hire one of these people might expect in terms of output. And perhaps you could talk about some process metrics, like, let’s say you hire one of these folks at, you know, 200,000, base and some bonus. And obviously, they have to ramp up a bit, but once they’re kind of hitting steady state, how many meetings are they getting with new logos each week? How, you know, how much revenue might they add to affirm? Like, what would be will be a reasonable number, you get one salesperson, like, how much net new revenue are they adding? Yeah, and


Scott Ratliff  31:35

so again, to approach it, generally, but I think if you’re bringing in, you know, a salesperson at that, you know, at the at the higher more senior level, so at that 200 plus base, your hope is that they’re carrying a number that’s, you know, that’s in the millions, right? So it’s maybe if you’re coming in, and you’re on a, you know, you’re on a 200 or $225,000 base, and you’re, you know, your goal is to hit in on target earnings in the fours and, you know, hopefully above the fives, once you really get up and running, you’re thinking about carrying a number of 3 million or 4 million at that rate. And I think that’s kind of the reasonable expectation in terms of that breakdown. If, you know, you’re earning 225, and you’re earning 450, ote, you know, you should be you should be generating 3 million plus in revenue for the for the business.


Will Bachman  32:24

You’d have to to support, you know, to justify yourself, right? That’s right, you know, generate enough margin to support yourself. What about just meeting is like, let’s say some earlier process metrics before all that revenue starts coming through? Maybe I suppose it varies, depending on the size of the deal on the industry and stuff. But what would be kind of a typical number that you’d expect if someone is in that, you know, 150,000 base, like, you know, are hired as a commercial leader? Are they meeting? You know, they’re getting two new meetings per week, or they’re getting 20? Like, what, what would be a normal thing?


Scott Ratliff  33:01

Yeah. So again, this is it’s going to be unique to the business, it’s going to be unique to what you know, how large is the audience for what you’re selling? And I think so it’s going to vary, I would almost say greatly depending on that. And depending on deal size, and when you talk about a $3 million dollar number for that person, are they getting to 3 million by selling a bunch of $50,000 deals? And if that’s the case, I mean, yeah, I think you’re looking for, you know, you’re looking for 10 meetings a week, 10 or 15 conversations a week, once they’re really up and humming that they’re getting on knowing that, you know, when you’re talking deal size, and you’re talking about volume, that they’re not all good to hit, right. But if you’re going out and you’re selling the million dollar deals, the $2 million deals or your farming accounts and existing relationships, then you know, the number of meetings potentially decreases. I mean, I still think you’re, you’re hopefully in double digits, certainly, no matter what once you get once you’re really up and running, but then some of your time also is going to be segmented right back to the research side and making sure it’s set up. So yeah, I think 20 meetings, I think 10 meetings, and it really depends on you know, what is it you’re selling? What is the deal size? And what is the volume expectation to get to your number?


Will Bachman  34:15

What other questions should a professional service firm be asking with? They’re thinking about taking this step? Let’s say that they’ve grown. And maybe it’s more than just the founder, there’s a founder plus a couple of partners who are out there delivering work, but also selling work, and they’re thinking about taking the step. What questions should they ask themselves before they hire a sales leader?


Scott Ratliff  34:41

Do we have the capability and the capacity within our current organization to handle a downturn, to be agile in terms of our offerings and how we’re approaching the market and what I mean by that? And I think that part of the reason well that we’ve seen really a spike in these roles this A year is, you know, most of these consulting partner groups, you have your fastball, you have your relationship, you know, kind of what you’ve gone out and sold, and you have that recurring business that comes from where you from companies you’ve worked with, and been successful. But what happens when, you know, the market takes a turn, you know, when something changes inside of your organization, and we say, okay, you know, we need to be scrappy here, we need to either build out new capabilities, we need to serve a different market, you know, with our same product, are you prepared to go out and build your business in that way, and I think that’s where, when you bring in a sales leader, what you’re doing is you’re adding horsepower to, you know, what you guys do best, and continuing to go out and sell your fastball, but also to be thoughtful about identifying different markets, you know, different levers that we can pull or different products that we can take to the market, so that we’re not all in kind of one area and so that we could handle a downturn, or we could handle, you know, rapid change within our environment. And you know, if that’s something that is important, I think it’s, it’s not only can be a huge driver of growth, but I also think it can be really important to continue to function and continue to grow through really challenging and changing times. And that’s what the best sales leaders are gonna be able to bring, they’re gonna look creatively at your business and say, you know, on top of continuing to do what we’re great at, I think I can sell this in these different places as well. And then we can hire against that.


Will Bachman  36:29

In terms of the incentive compensation for this commercial leaders, what are the different ways that you see it structured? And do you have any point of view on, you know, like, how long of a tail do you give someone? So if they bring in a new logo, did they get kind of a percentage of that forever? Or just for the first year? And what if other partners helped, like expand it to different business units within that logo? So talk to me about how you think about, like, just how, how different firms have solved this? Yeah, it’s, it’s,


Scott Ratliff  37:03

again, I think this is something where there’s multiple different ways to do it and to be successful. So, you know, you’ve got some firms that, you know, once you’ve opened up that logo, you know, that logo belongs to you, I think, typically, the way you described it is probably the industry standard. And sort of in terms of, you know, if you’re not a delivery partner, and you’ve just passed out that relationship, at a certain point, you know, that income is going to go elsewhere, but you certainly can go into that business and continue to farm and continue to expand on that account. So there’s different models, right for how you can build, you know, build out that strategy of how long that new logo really belongs to the salesperson and how much of that gets shared with, then the partner who’s delivering the work, which is obviously leading to the, to the recurring business. And then there’s other models and that are at work. And again, I think, typically, you’re gonna see this in higher volume, you’re gonna see this and maybe slightly less consolidated sales, where you know, it’s going to be percentage of the revenue generated, and then you know, that’s it, and really, you’re going to move very quickly into, you know, into new accounts, and that account is going to become owned by, you know, the delivery partner that you pass it off to. So I would hesitate to say, there’s one right way I would, you know, I would encourage leaders to just look at, at their business and, you know, within their kind of, you know, Financial Group, what is going to make the most sense for us, and then, you know, what a firm like ours can do is can help you think through based on the model and the approach that you want to take for your business, what is the right talent profile, to go out and bring in, what’s the right background? What are the right kind of key motivators, because it’s going to be different, depending on, you know, your expectations are they bringing in these big relationships, and then continuing to own those relationships and farm those accounts. And maybe you have a salesperson who’s, you know, carrying the $30 million number off of two accounts. And most of what he or she is spending their time doing is, you know, maintaining those relationships, and then continuing to dig into those businesses and those large accounts and figure out different ways you can help. That’s very different than somebody who, hey, we need 1520 30 new logos that’s going to buy up our software. And you know, it’s not going to be as consolidated, it’s not going to be as long from a relationship it’s going to be a leave behind, and how you incentivize and structure that salesperson is going to look different.


Will Bachman  39:27

Any parting thoughts on questions I should have asked you about this topic?


Scott Ratliff  39:32

No, look, I appreciate the conversation and, and the questions. And you know, I think, again, probably the most poignant thing that I would say when you’re when you’re going out into the market for sales talent is to pay attention to that core DNA. You know, I think the best salespeople that I’ve come across, it really comes down to that competitive spirit it comes down to, you know, being motivated being commercially mode. awaited, right? And having that piano driver of, you know how they view their own success and how they get fulfillment through their work, and then having really strong communication skills and you know, really good interpersonal skills and a sense of people. And if you if you’re testing for those things, and they check those boxes and the experience of, hey, I’ve sold services, and I understand your guy’s product set, I think you can feel really comfortable about the value that bringing, you know, a sales leader into a professional services organization can bring


Will Bachman  40:34

amazing Scott, why don’t you share some links? Where can people find me to Reagan online? Where can people find you if they wanted to follow up?


Scott Ratliff  40:44

Yeah, of course. So, you know, Beecher Regan, just www dot beacher reagan.com can use the website and certainly reach out to us and know, I’m on LinkedIn and Scott Ratliff and always looking to connect and meet great people. So appreciate you will for for giving us this platform and and look forward to hopefully connecting again, going forward.


Will Bachman  41:03

Excellent. Okay. We will include those links in the show notes. Scott, thank you so much for joining today’s is a great discussion.


Scott Ratliff  41:11

Absolutely. Thank you.

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