March 31

Ashley Garrison on Getting Sales Development and Sales Operations To Play Well Together


Ashley Garrison is the Director of Sales Operations and Sales Development for Baker Hill.  Founded in 1984 by a dynamic husband and wife team, Baker Hill’s ultimate goal is to “make lending easy”---for banks, credit unions, and their customers.  

The Baker Hill NextGen® platform allows financial institutions to originate commercial, small business and consumer loans and manage risk on a single platform. Using the latest technology, Baker Hill helps banks and credit unions address regulatory and competitive pressures while delivering the very best digital customer experience. 

Throughout Ashley’s time at Baker Hill, she has streamlined sales operations, grown sales development revenue by 300%, and empowered new organizational talent.  Throughout her career at Osram Sylvania, Standard Locknut, and now Baker Hill, Ashley has always been a self-proclaimed “sales nerd,” diving into new technology to support innovation and drive efficiency.  As a daughter of career educators, she would tell you her greatest accomplishment is when one of her employees is promoted and finds a path to leadership thanks to her guidance.  While she wears multiple hats at Baker Hill, Ashley’s most important and treasured role is being “mom” to her two daughters, Lilly and Gwen.

[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:01
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone! My name is Umar Hameed, I'm your host on the No Limits Selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how you can become better, stronger, faster. Just before we get started, I've got a question for you, do you have a negative voice inside your head? We all do, right? I'm gonna help you remove that voice and under 30 days guaranteed, not only remove it, but transform it. So instead of the voice that sabotages you, there's one that propels you to much higher levels of performance and success. There's a link in the show notes, click on it to find out more. All right! Let's get started.

Umar Hameed 0:41
Hello, everyone to another episode of The No Limits Selling Podcast where we chat with industry leaders to get insights on how we can help our salespeople grow and how we can grow our revenues. And before we get started, we've got an amazing guest. Today, I want to tell you about a new product coming out. It's called Mindset Boosters. It's an app that allows your salespeople to get the mindset they need to get the job at hand. We all have days where we're feeling fantastic, and nothing can stop us, and they are great sales days. Then we have days where we're average, which is not too bad. And then we have those days where we're like [facial expression]. So this app allows you to just listen to the track you need. So if you're feeling like the energy is low, you can switch on awesomeness in like four minutes. So it's called Mindset Boosters. I'll put a link in the show notes and go check it out. It's going to give you your salespeople operating at 10 out of 10 every single day. And today we have Ashley Garrison with us today, she is the director of sales ops, and sales development. Ashley, welcome to the program.

Ashley Garrison 1:40
Glad to be here. Umar, I really am excited for this chat. Sales is my favorite thing to talk about. I'm definitely a sales nerd. So looking forward to our discussion.

Umar Hameed 1:50
So how long ago did you join Baker Hill.

Ashley Garrison 1:53
So believe it or not, I actually took this opportunity in May of 2020. So I've been here a little over two years, or almost two years. And I will say joining a team during you know, rapid change and the pandemic was interesting. A lot of my training was done virtually and having to connect with people through this lens of, you know, a screen is very different than seeing them in person but I have really enjoyed it. I started with just the sales development teams. So really working on the front, top of the funnel, bringing in new leads to our organization. And then as I was here, a role offers opened up for sales operations team and I had that background. So kind of living in two worlds today from a sales ops and a sales development perspective.

Umar Hameed 2:44
And it probably helps everybody out because there's like a seamless kind of connection between the two.

Ashley Garrison 2:48
Absolutely. You know, I would say connecting is what one of my strengths says, and I think a lot of people are really strong at one thing or another, I feel like I'm kind of really average, but in a good way at a lot of different things. And in some ways that allows me to bring those really smart people together to make the best, best and most successful teams for sure.

Umar Hameed 3:11
You know, that could be your superpower because you know, when you have expertise in one area, you tend to focus on that a lot. And the other stuff...

Ashley Garrison 3:17

Umar Hameed 3:18
...stuff first, but when you're a generalist, you can bring everything in, and it's all about how to get the sales rep to perform at their highest level. Because ultimately at the end of the day, is how can we get them to see themselves as we see them, because oftentimes, we can see more opportunity in them than they can see in themselves. And if they can leverage the trust through you in themselves. That's the job of a sales leader.

Ashley Garrison 3:41
Absolutely. And, you know, so my parents are both educators, they retired after 43 years in education. And one of the philosophies that my dad really live by was with kids, you have to coach their strengths. So it's about finding, what is that person really good at, and instead of focusing on their deficits, you know, focusing on what their strengths is, and their superhuman abilities, so for me, it's connection. For some of my team members, it might be, you know, building great, great rapport on the phone, it might be really articulating a value prop well and an email. So trying to find what it is that they're best at and then leveraging that superpower to make them successful and continuing to encourage growth in those areas, I think is is the real test of my leadership for sure.

Umar Hameed 4:30
So how do you cross-pollinate? Because you could have a rep that's, you know, got a great gift with emails that their emails get more responses than others. So how do you capture that and coax cajole, entice other sales reps to follow that model?

Ashley Garrison 4:45
Sure. So I would say individual sales reps don't have to be good at everything, but if they leverage their teammates, you know, so I'm a huge fan in team selling, which is, if one person is really good on the phone, then maybe that person that's struggling a little bit on the phone can have some opportunity to listen to the best of the best and take pointers and structure their calls similarly. And with emails, it's very similar. If somebody has a really strong email, borrow it, you know, find a way to put it in your voice. The one thing that I subscribe to as really being authentic in your delivery, so be the person on the phone, that you are in your email but that doesn't mean you can't take from somebody else who's doing it really well and make yourself better. So, so leveraging that strengths throughout the organization, I think is the way to go.

Umar Hameed 5:36
I think Pablo Picasso would disagree with you. He's he doesn't have been borrowing, he believes in stealing, and he thinks that's the highest praise is when you steal somebody else's concept. Of course, make it your ownbut, it's the same thing, it's like, why reinvent the wheel? Why not take something someone's done. So talk to me about ego versus accomplishment, because oftentimes, salespeople especially get stuck in their way is like, you know, "I know what I'm doing, this the best way," and being a good sales coach, sometimes we have to get them to, "You can't tell them what's wrong, but you have to get them to see the ligh," to see the reflection in the mirror. How do you do that?

Ashley Garrison 6:09
So for me, one of the best ways is really to ask them what they could improve, you know, I think as a coach, it's really easy to come in and point out the flaws. But the better approach is to really allow that person to come with to you with, "I could have done this better," or, "You know what, I didn't close that call the way I wanted to." And I think when you empower people to be transparent with their flaws, is that ego comes down. Most people are really hard on themselves, you know, so throughout my years of coaching, they don't necessarily need you to point them to the direction of where they're struggling, but they, once they pointed out themselves, then you can start having a dialogue around, "What do you think you could have done differently?" And then, you know, if they hit a wall, that's when you might pull in that best practice from one of their colleagues and, and show them a different way or a better approach for sure.

Umar Hameed 7:00
So would you say that because oftentimes, we are hard on ourselves? Would you say that women salespeople are more harder on themselves than the male counterparts or not so much?

Ashley Garrison 7:02
You know, that's a great observation, I would say being a female in sales can be challenging, because if you see that a salesperson must look like, must behave like, must talk like this. And you try to replicate that for a lot of women, it doesn't work. I think one of you know, and I'll say this, kind of in a general state, but leading with empathy can be a real factor in female selling, like, because there is, I guess, that ability to lean into, "Yes, I understand you, and I want to connect with you on that human level," I think for females not being afraid of that not being afraid of being too soft, not being afraid of not always being the challenger. I'm also a huge believer in transparency on sales. You know, I love that salesperson that's honest with me, that tells me where their product is strong, and where you know, their product struggles. And so I think when you take that sort of mindset and approach, there's trust that's built and trust is a main factor in successful sales. And I've seen that throughout my career, you know, both in manufacturing when I worked at Sylvania lighting, and then also here in the tech space to like Baker Hill, for sure.

Umar Hameed 8:24
So I think the strongest version of ourselves is the authentic version. So if we can be ourselves and be comfortable in our skins, because sales literally is all about building trust with the person you're chatting with, you're talking with. And soon as you build that trust, then you can have a real conversation. And people tend to not hold their cards close to their vest, they're like, "Oh my god, this is what, this is what's going on in our company. This is where we need help," or...

Ashley Garrison 8:45

Umar Hameed 8:46
...we kind of covered you know, we don't want to use you. Whereas sometimes people just being polite, especially today, I happen to be in Toronto, Canada. And these guys are super polite, and it'd be nice if they said, "I don't want to buy it," rather than, "Very interesting."

Ashley Garrison 9:00
Sure. And I think you're spot on, I think transparency and sales and being able to build that trust. Ultimately, that's when you discover pain too.

Umar Hameed 9:11

Ashley Garrison 9:11
You know it when you first call someone and they say, you know, we're not really interested. It's probably because you're pushing a product and not asking enough questions about, "Tell me, tell me about your process and tell me what you don't like tell me about, you know, how, I guess challenged you on these areas." When you listen in sales, it's really powerful. And then suddenly you have that opportunity to build a relationship which I I think again, is the cornerstone to any long sales partnership.

Umar Hameed 9:41
And I think there's a difference between pretending to listen and listening because the other person can feel it. And if you trust yourself, you can allow those silent spaces and actually pay attention to the person and attending someone is such a huge trust builder that allows them to open up because most people don't get that at work or at home, because people are busy thinking about all the gazillion other things. So Ashley, we're about to go deep inside your brain and figure out some cool stuff. So the first one is, how do you hire new talent? Like how do you search for it? How do you filter against people that are posers? Like, "Look at me, I'm pretty," and find the authentic people. And then...

Ashley Garrison 10:22

Umar Hameed 10:23
...how do you actually get them to sign up and become an employee?

Ashley Garrison 10:28
Great question. I specially really relevant with the great resignation, everyone's talking about, you know, great people are leaving, and how do we retain our top talent? For me, especially on a, in a sales development role? So you're bringing somebody who's maybe a little greener in the industry and trying to figure out, you know, are they going to be successful in sales? I look for curiosity, believe it or not, that's one of the top traits. I want someone who whose desire to learn is in their DNA. So you know, they can be curious about just about anything, but you want to, you want to hear passion in their voice, you want to hear that, it really intrigued me when type of observations in, in how they're speaking about the different experience. I would say, the other thing is that hunger and drive to be successful. You know, success happens through repetition and patterns. And I think it was Angela Duckworth who talks about grit, right.?

Umar Hameed 11:24

Ashley Garrison 11:24
And so grit is perseverance and doing the same things over and over to achieve greatness. And, and I think in that conversation with a potential employee, it really is about, "Tell me about a time that you had to overcome something or overcome a challenge and and how did you, how did you overcome it? And then, you know, what were your feelings about it?" I think mindset is really important, right?

Umar Hameed 11:48

Ashley Garrison 11:49
You're gonna have days that are troubling, or you're struggling a technology as an example. But at the end of the day, you want someone who sees the light at the end of the tunnel, and is willing to keep pursuing that passion.

Umar Hameed 12:03
Brilliant. And I think they were really good things to sort for. I was at this, doing an interview with the CEO. And he said, You know, when he's hiring, lead programmers that will be leading a team, all of that sorting out credentials gets done way before they come see him. And then he basically gets them to code in front of him, and then explain why they're doing, what they're doing. And then the last part of the interview is a talking about past accomplishments. And he's got a piece of paper, and a checkmark. And each time the person says, "I did this, and I did that, and I did the other thing," he puts a checkmark. And each time he says, "We did this, and we did," and then the we have to double the eyes minimum. If there's more eyes than we use, he won't hire them because it's all about ego and not about the team.

Ashley Garrison 12:45

Umar Hameed 12:45
That was a really simple little trick, we versus I.

Ashley Garrison 12:50
And I believe in that 100%. I think that that is one of those qualities that's intrinsic to a person and you know, finding people that are team players, it again, it helps your whole culture.

Umar Hameed 13:03
I would have really been impressed instead of saying I believe in that would have been we believe in that, but that's okay.

Ashley Garrison 13:08

Umar Hameed 13:09
Bad english.

Ashley Garrison 13:10
I will tell you that Baker Hill, the culture here of we is so powerful. And it was one of the things that attracted me to our company, simply because there's a lot of really exceptional people in the world. But to work in a company that has a lot of organizational humility in terms of the we,

Umar Hameed 13:28

Ashley Garrison 13:28
wasn't attracting, attracting feature.

Umar Hameed 13:31
You almost invented a new word, which I love.

Ashley Garrison 13:33
I know. [laugh]

Umar Hameed 13:36
[Garbled] It could be.

Ashley Garrison 13:36
I will. For sure. Let's go viral.

Umar Hameed 13:39
That's why I love language. It's forever morphing and shrinking, morphing? New words come in old words go out and it's like fascinating.

Ashley Garrison 13:48
For sure.

Umar Hameed 13:49
So now, when we found salespeople to join our organization? How do you get them to deliver their best effort? Like what do you do..

Ashley Garrison 13:56

Umar Hameed 13:56
...to smart people to really step up?

Ashley Garrison 13:59
I do think it's about living in the small moments, you know, don't wait for the big sale, look for hey, the great reply, the great email, the engaged customer, the happy customer. Take time to celebrate the small victories and then I would also say align that person with a mentor or somebody successful in the organization so that they see a path to follow. A doesn't mean that it's going to be their exact path. But seeing success, I think breeds success. And if you're part of a winning team, everyone wants to join right? You know, it's why if you go to, you know, any major city after their team wins the Super Bowl, there's an excitement, there's an energy, they talked about the growth of that city's like, overall GDP just for being a winning city, and I think there's something to be said about that.

Umar Hameed 14:50
Absolutely. So what do you do with salespeople? You know, we all have ups and downs. Think about a specific salesperson don't name names, but you can use a pseudonym to Tom Jones or whatever and say,

Ashley Garrison 15:02

Umar Hameed 15:02
"He's doing really well, all of a sudden, this person fell into a rut. And this is how I helped them get out of it." Without you [garbled]

Ashley Garrison 15:08
No, for sure. Um, I think the hardest thing is it thinking about this individual, she was in a bit of a rut, and a lot of it was confidence, right? It was, I can't seem to land the deal at everything that I'm doing, I feel like I'm doing the right stuff, but I'm not landing the deal. So really, it was focusing on what is your sales process, you know, because if you believe truly in your process, if you take the time to make sure that that process is well thought out and defined, you know, in sales, you don't always control the outcomes, there are so many factors that result in this is going to be a winning sale, this one is going to fall through. But I think really honing in and defining that process helped for her. And it was, "Hey, I know it's not working this month, but last month, remember how your sales process to deliver these results? Let's take a look at your last month and see, you know, have you changed anything? Is there any anything we need to tweak? is the environment different?" And then kind of leveraging that sort of talk track because I think once once you let go of outcomes, once you let go of the results, and you're in the moment with people and you're really engaged with their pain and delivering and, and if you're passionate about the product that you sell, eventually it's going to work out and the right customer and the right fit is going to come along to help you learn that success. And I think that that mindset really worked for her because the very next month, she had like very high quota and was very successful. So yeah.

Umar Hameed 16:38
So a few things come out of what you just said. So the first thing that comes out of what you said was, "As sales leaders, we need to be scientists. And as scientists, there is no attachment to what the result is going to be is like let's take a look at the results. And let's take a look at the process. When did you add this chemical in. And I think that is essential." The second thing that's essential is the trust between the sales leader and the sales reps. Because if the trust is there, and it's like, look, let's diagnose what's going on. This is not about blame. And I think that's the second element. And the third element is successful people keep on going till they get to the other end. And the process isn't always the perfect process. But unless you keep on using it for a while you can't figure out what's broken in it if you keep on changing things. So I think those three things allow sales leaders and sales reps to achieve greatness, thoughts?

Ashley Garrison 17:30
Sure. Absolutely. And I think we always laugh at it sales, an art or a science, I think it's both. That's why I love my role as sales ops and sales development, because I get to use both sides all day long. I think if you are only relational and only report driven, you know, customers today want more from you. I think that if you are only data-driven and don't see the dynamics on the personal side, then you miss out on forming those long relationships that make for a good partner ship. So at the end of the day, I really love everything you said because the to me it is replicating that process, and then tweaking it with small changes, and seeing if that delivers more positive results or if they are if they stay the same, or if they get a little worse, and then trying something new. And not being afraid to experiment, you know, half of sales. You know, philosophy in my mind is it's it's a big experiment, we're all trying...

Umar Hameed 18:27
Oh, yeah.

Ashley Garrison 18:28
...something and if you've ever heard of the the marshmallow challenge I went viral a few years ago, but essentially the point of it is to get all of the smart people in the world, you know, scientists and mathematicians and CEOs and CFOs to pause and think like a kindergartener. Because...

Umar Hameed 18:46

Ashley Garrison 18:46
...kindergarteners aren't afraid to try new things and get their hands, you know, into the process. I think that as adults, sometimes we get so mired down in the result that we focus on, you know, getting the marshmallow on the tower built to hold the marshmallow and we don't spend time in that. It's okay to fail. Because failures, that step that you need to succeed.

Umar Hameed 19:11
Absolutely. And I think one of the nice things if you've got many reps that are doing the same process, in certain parts of the process, this rep is going to do better at it, then we can take, I wonder what they're doing differently. They're supposedly doing the same thing. And then we can tweak the whole process and get everybody trained around it. And I think that's if we have a culture of better, and it just gets everybody to improve as they go. So the last area I want to explore with you was, so we've hired the right people, we've inspired people to do really, really well. Now how do we bring the team together so that they support each other at the lowest level, morally, oh, motivation and connection, but it can also inspire people to go above and beyond their quotas. So how do you bring the team together to be one team supporting each other to do great things?

Ashley Garrison 19:59
You know, that one's pretty easy for me, believe it or not, it's empowerment. You know, it's not limiting a person based on their role of the organization. It's not limiting their ideas. It's not locking them down to a process. You know, we talked a little bit about experimentation.

Umar Hameed 20:14

Ashley Garrison 20:15
And I think when your team feels empowered to try new things, when they see that things aren't working, and they don't wait for you, as a sales leader say, "Hey, try that something new." I think that's where success comes. So when you did your analogy of the five team members of one's doing better at, you know, this stage of the sales cycle, it for me, it's analyzing and asking the question of what are you doing differently and how can we leverage that. So when you when you have an empowered culture, and empowerment is not just words, it's it's action, it's, you know, taking the spotlight and shining a light on...

Umar Hameed 20:52

Ashley Garrison 20:52
...those individuals that are really excelling or doing something magical, you know, in sales. I think it's important, for sure.

Umar Hameed 21:00
Absolutely. And then oftentimes, there's a divide between salespeople and the rest of the company.

Ashley Garrison 21:05

Umar Hameed 21:05
And a lot of companies, I was working with this catering company, they're very successful, but there's some friction in the company, and they could be doing a lot better. And so we did a two day retreat, got the chef's, the salespeople, all the divisions in one room for two days at a fancy resort. And on day two, I went to the head of sales, and I said, "Okay, walk me through the sales process. What's the first step?" Somebody on the internet clicks. and then what happens? And then after that, how do you know then what happens? And it was like a 52 step process, to ask for a referral after a successful event. And so we get everybody to figure out what's going on, they get all these new processes. And about two months later on walking through the kitchen, and one of the kitchen staff is like goes, "Freaking salespeople, all they do is like play golf, they're a bunch of lazy man." [Laugh]. "No, you have no idea what they have to do." So for them and actually connected sales with the rest of the organization. So everyone's got a tough job. We just from the outside, it looks like you guys are just goofing off. So how do you connect to your team with the entire Baker Hill? So they understand what they're doing? How they can support them? And how the salespeople can support them? How do you connect, integrate with the rest of the company?

Ashley Garrison 22:20
Wow, that is, you know, it's that is a challenge that I've seen throughout every company I've worked for, you know, you've got the classic Sales and Operations...

Umar Hameed 22:27

Ashley Garrison 22:28
...[garbled]. What I would say, a lot of it starts with listening, a lot of it is how much are you listening to the pain points in other parts of your organization, and then figuring out how what you do impacts a pain point, I think if you start to uncover, you know, hey, if we were more upfront about this protec, killer product, you know, issue that we're having with our customer, then when our delivery team goes to implement, the process would be smoother, and it would make their jobs easier. So I think sometimes it is about uncovering pain, listening to pain and other areas of the organization, and understanding where you play a role in potentially making that pain worse,

Umar Hameed 23:13

Ashley Garrison 23:14
or making it better, right? But I think the other thing is also being humble to the fact that you said this earlier, most people intend to do a really good job.

Umar Hameed 23:27

Ashley Garrison 23:27
So you know, if you think about intention, and you think about, you know, no one is purposely trying to anger a customer or upset a customer and from a sales perspective, you know, you know, no one is purposely trying to not share enough with the rest of the organization about a new customer. So if you go in with a mindset of, I believe people intend to do a good job, I believe people at our organization want to serve our customers. Then almost fate's, you know, you've got that sense of intention and, and it's, we're all in this room together, we all intend to deliver a really great product to our customers and our clients. And at the end of the day, how do we figure out a way to work together. It's easier said than done, you know, I, you know, I'm talking kind of in an...

Umar Hameed 24:13

Ashley Garrison 24:13
...idealistic fashion. But I would say, listening to those other areas of the organization, figuring out how you can impact those pain points, either positively or negatively. And then ultimately, looking at everything through a lens of intention. And when you when you're rowing that boat together, then it's, you know, you're gonna hit some rocks, you're gonna hit some turbulence, but I think at the end of the day, you're going to be moving in the same direction. And that's what sets apart successful companies, from companies that really struggle with culture.

Umar Hameed 24:44
Brilliant. So Ashley, before we part company, is there a mind hack that you can share something you do to make you more effective, happier, what would you like to share with the listeners and viewers?

Ashley Garrison 24:54
Great question. I would say my mind hack actually comes from my dad. So again, was our teacher for 43 years. And one of the signs that he had outside of his classroom was a stop. And it was a big stop sign. And it says you have the right to remain silent, but the responsibility to speak out. So for me, when I get frustrated, either organizationally, or with how I'm performing the day, I take a big pause, I stop. And then I think about what my purpose is. And I think about, you know, ultimately, I'm totally an educators kid, I want to bring out the best in my teammates, I want to bring out the best to my colleagues. And so it's really about, you know, I could sit here I just do my job in my own silo, or I could choose to influence and find purpose by helping others grow. And that gives me a lot of joy. So for me, you know, it's that pause, practicing and taking a little bit of a breath, and then realizing what my purpose is, and helping others.

Umar Hameed 25:54
Brilliant. You said a couple of things during our interview. One of them is purpose, I think every single human being on earth has a purpose. Most of us don't know what it is. And one of the ways we empower salespeople is help them uncover their purpose, then they can focus their selling along that purpose. And all of a sudden, it opens up a lot of power and certainty. And the other thing we talked about was intention. Your intent is so important when you go to do something, that it's the difference between success and failure. Because it's the difference between trust and no trust when you're dealing with other people, whether it's customers, or our leaders or other people in our company. So fundamentally, sales is a human trait. And the more we can touch with our humanity, the more stronger we are, and the better we do.

Ashley Garrison 26:34

Umar Hameed 26:34
Can I hear an amen?

Ashley Garrison 26:36
Amen! I love it.

Umar Hameed 26:38
Ashley, thank you so much for being on the program really enjoyed this. I took some notes on different points in our interview that we're going to highlight because I think there was clips there that people want to hear. Dear listeners, listen to the whole interview, but we're going to highlight some pieces that are going to actually make you better, stronger, faster. Ashley, thanks so much for being on the show.

Ashley Garrison 26:57
Thank you so much.

Umar Hameed 27:03
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there, that's going to teach you some insights from the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.


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