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An AV and integration-focused podcast broadcast live weekly
Join Ron Callis, Owner & CEO of One Firefly and industry veteran, as he talks business development, technology trends, and more with leading personalities in the tech industry. Automation Unplugged (AU) is produced and broadcast live every week.
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Home Automation Unplugged Episode #234: An Industry Q&A with Morné Smit and Oliver Tuffney

In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, Morné Smit, Founder & CEO at Emerse and Oliver Tuffney, Engagement Director at Emerse share the importance of creating a winning sales culture and building sales processes.

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Morné Smit and Oliver Tuffney. Recorded live on Friday, January 13th, 2022, at 11:30 am. EST.

About Morné Smit and Oliver Tuffney

Morné has spent his life elevating respect for sales professionals in dozens of companies across 28+ industries on 3 continents. Early in his career, Morné left South Africa for the center of European finances, London, England, where he immediately excelled as an A-player salesperson. During this time, Morné racked up consistent sales management and entrepreneurial successes in technology, telecommunications, and real estate until founding Emerse in 2017.

Oliver studied Entrepreneurship and Marketing in Manchester, UK. After graduating he worked on various international Sales & Marketing programmes in countries such as China and Kenya before returning to the UK on a prestigious Commercial Graduate scheme in the world of CPG. He later joined Emerse Sales as the first employee and helped build the company from the ground up, with a specialism in building Products which solve common problems in the world of sales such as sales hiring, sales process and proposition.

Interview Recap

  • The importance of creating a winning sales culture and building sales processes that get results
  • Why B2B companies need a playbook to scale
  • The types of companies that are likely a good fit for Emerse Consulting

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #233 An Industry Q&A with Nick DeClemente

Transcript

Ron:  See, gentlemen, we find a way. How are you both?

Oliver: Very well, thank you, very, very well. How are you?

Morné: It's good to see you, Ron.

Ron:  I am good. So I'll kind of direct traffic here a little bit. Mornè, if you could introduce yourself and if you could introduce your company Emerse.

Morné: Absolutely. Ron, thanks, first of all, for the opportunity. It's a pleasure to be here, I've been sneakily following your podcast on LinkedIn for a while. I´m really excited to be on this side of the camera as well. So as you mentioned, my name is Mornè Smit. It's an unusual name. It's a very South African name, although London, England was home for 21 years. Then most recently, I actually relocated to Miami. So Emerse now has offices in London and Miami. I founded the company 6 years ago, having spent 20 years in the sales and marketing space, and during that time, probably like many of your listeners, I had to learn sales by trial and error, bold companies, I made all of the mistakes embarrassingly probably some more than once. But somewhere along the way, everything started clicking into place, and I had a couple of businesses that I successfully exited. Then finally, before I founded Emerse, I was CRO of a business where we did a 10X. We grew from 18 to a $180 million in about 5 years with no external funding. That was a really intense and fun experience. It also taught me a few things about how to grow scales fast, profitably, and predictably, which those three things don't always go together as we know. So I founded Emerse 6 years ago on the basis that I have this passion about bringing excellence back to the profession of sales. It irks me when people talk about, oh, salespeople, or I'm not in sales. Even though they're responsible for any lead generation, they go, I'm not a salesperson. And I'm like, look, being a salesperson actually you've done right. You should take pride in that. It's a profession. People should be trained. We should certify them. I'm probably one in a hundred that actually enjoys getting sales calls because I'm always thinking, how is this going to go? I'm rooting for the sales person to do a good job. So Ollie and myself over the last few years have built a suite of products and services that does exactly that. That elevates salespeople and that helps companies to grow their sales fast, profitability, and predictably.

Ron:  Awesome. Lots to dig into there. But Oliver, over to you, if you could introduce yourself and maybe describe the role that you have within the organization.

Oliver: Sure.

Ron:  And we, just for disclosure, we here at One Firefly work very closely with you, Oliver. So I know you provide that level of coaching and consulting for lots of organizations.

Oliver: Sure, let me take it away. So my name is Oliver Tuffney. I'm the engagement director at Emerse. I was the first employee at Emerse working with Mornè from when it was just Mornè and a backpack sort of running around London. Ultimately what we've done together is built it into where there was a lot of problems that were commonly being sold for clients within a sales capacity. Ultimately, my role was to take those ad hoc scenarios, those problems that were currently being solved and then condense them into solutions that can then be sold and deployed by other coaches. So over the course of the last couple of years, what we've been doing is bringing in coaches within our repertoire, and then ultimately working with different clients and solving unique sales problems. So my ultimate role within Emerse, if you like, is to bring in the coaches to upskill the coaches to develop the products that ultimately help solve problems for clients. But then also, of course, I do have a number of clients such as yourselves. But that is on a much smaller capacity now.

Ron:  We're one of the lucky ones, right?

Oliver: Yeah, I think you were actually the last client that I took on, then we had to draw the hard line somewhere.

Ron:  I'm not sure if that's what I was saying good things about us or bad. No more. No more. I can't deal with them.

Oliver: I'm not doing that again.

Ron:  Yeah, I'm not doing that again. What's your background, Ollie? What were you doing before this?

Oliver: Okay, so I've always had a passion and interest in all things business and commercial. So my university degree was in entrepreneurship and marketing. After that, I was working internationally for a while. I was working in China on a business based program. I was then working in Kenya for a little while. Again, working with different organizations on their sales, marketing, fundraising, so on and so forth. But then after that, and I did a very brief stint in recruitment, but then where I really cut my teeth was in fast moving consumer goods. I think the consumer package goods, CPG over in the U.S.. And whilst I was there, I did a series of rotations. This is in a company pretty much the equivalent to PepsiCo, but in the UK, a series of rotations initially within marketing, then within sales, and then after that, within research and insights and analytics, which is where I get my love of numbers from. But from each of those different areas, it was always sales that took me the most and so that's where I ended up doubling down. And then through, maybe we'll get into it for almost a freak of care through a very random scenario whilst I was over in New York at my aunt's wedding. I got to introduce someone, but chatting to them about their business. And then whilst I was talking to them, they were like, oh, do you know what? I actually know someone who knows someone who I think you would actually get along with really, really well. Give me your number. And that person ended up being Mornè, and it's been a great match ever since.

Ron:  Holy cow, that's amazing.

Oliver: That's wild.

Ron:  It's wild how those, by the way, I have a pretty neat business relationship and ultimately someone that's on my executive team that was introduced to me as a friend of a friend of someone and that was at a wedding. And that's how that happened. So yeah, we'll have to talk after the show about that story. Mornè, we One Firefly, for example, we're a B2B company, right? So our customers are, you know, we call them custom integrators. They are generally, they can focus residentially or they can focus commercially. And they are, on the residential side, they are selling to consumers typically, but they'll often often liaise with architects, designers, or builders, different influencers, or stakeholders, or referral sources. Then on the commercial side, that is almost all B2B, right? They are either working with consultants or with developers or with hospitals or universities or different entities. But it's not the emotional sale that could be, you know, the B2C sale. Can you just at a high level talk about maybe the differences between a sales process when you're B2C versus a sales process when you're B2B? And where I want to transition from there is I'm going to go higher level even and just how do you ultimately interact with the businesses to evaluate where their needs might be. But if you could just answer maybe that I don't even know it's a simple question. But just at a high level, what's that difference?

Morné: Of course. So in Emerse, we probably have a bias towards B2B probably, I would say 70, 75% of our clients could B2B and then it's about 25 or so percent, B2C. And the first thing that I would say is that actually there is a there is a degree of commonality that you wouldn't expect. One of the observations that we often get just to maybe slightly go to a tangent is people will say to us, you know what I really like what I'm hearing from you. I like what I see, but my industry is special. My industry is different. My industry is technical. And I normally say, you know, the kind of global way; Great, let's give it a go. I think Ollie probably knows the stat better than me, but we're up to about 29 different industries now in 7 different countries across three different continents. And yet what we find is that there is a common language of sales. And that common language of cells exists within B2B and B2C. And what I mean by that is, B2B might be a slightly more complex sale. And oftentimes, it's a more of a consultative sale. So what that means is that B2B sales typically have more sales processes. So you might have direct net new, direct account growth, channel sales net new, channel sales account growth. You have multiple sales processes, and there are going to be nuances in terms of how you optimize the sales process, depending on that route to market. So what are the high payoff activities in each stage of that sales process depending on what it is that I'm trying to achieve. Whereas with B2C, we often find that the sale might be a little bit more transactional because you're dealing directly with somebody that's buying for their own purposes and especially if it's a high ticket item, there's not necessarily an expectation of a high frequency or high recurrence of them buying it again. So in the world of your customers might deal with high-end automation, somebody might invest in that once every three to 5 to 7 years, whereas if you have a B2B client, that B2B client because they're a channel partner or a conduit or a route to market might be buying from you multiple times to themselves serve their end user. So when we're designing sales processes for B2B, there is a bigger focus on relationship creation and the consultative sellers really about not just how can I serve you, but how can I help you serve your end customer? So the buying psychology is different, the sales process is a little bit more complex. And then there is also a bias towards the back end of the sales process, which is, how do we now do repeat business and account growth? How can we empower you to get a larger share of wallet? Whereas if I'm dealing with an end user consumer, it's a question of how do I solve your problem better than everybody else's trying to quote to you? How do I make you a raving fan customer, but really the best scenario is you're happy and you give me a testimonial and it's done. But in B2B, there's the possibility of repeat sales and a lifetime of business coming back. So when we're designing sales processes for companies, depending on whether the transaction stops with them or it continues on, this is some of the things that we have to keep in consideration.

Ron:  When you guys are engaging with a new prospect and I'll go you know at one point we were one of those prospects. We here at One Firefly. I think I met you because you were speaking at an EOS event down in Miami.

Morné: That's right.

Ron:  You know, for our listeners, they probably are tired of me hearing about EOS traction and the dramatic change that it's helped. You know, influence and really the solidification of our foundation as a business. We feel like we can continue to grow and serve our industries because we're a better company because of EOS, but you are a featured speaker at one of those events. And Taylor, my CFO, and I, we immediately perked up because we knew that we were growing and selling like stuff, but me, number one, as an owner and founder of the company, the company in an overly weighted percentage was relying on me as a producer in when I'm wearing that sales hat. You know that is a challenge for a lot of our listeners in that that particularly in the CI channel is that a lot of the production of revenue or sales for the business is happening because that owner or founder is selling. So just at a high level, how when you interact with a prospect, a business that might engage you guys, how do you determine where are their needs? What is just that evaluation process like? And then what are the different avenues that you guys could potentially assist them with?

Morné: So philosophically, my belief is that part of what makes good sales is really, really simple. It's actually the shortest course that I could teach you on sales, which is ask great questions and listen. That sounds almost ridiculously easy, but it's amazing to me how few salespeople master the art and the science of asking great questions. So our sales process, as you and Taylor experienced this, our discovery call normally lost about 45 minutes. I have a very, very clear view of what I want to know in those 45 minutes. And actually, this is a process that many of your customers can adopt because it's three things. First I ask you questions to describe to me what is the current situation in your business? Tell me everything about your business. Tell me about the revenue that you have, the profitability, tell me about what the challenges might be that you're experiencing. What are you observing in your business? And what I find is that people will describe things that are symptomatic and that are observable, but they might not necessarily know the root cause of that. But I let them do a free flow discussion around what is the current situation in the business. Then the skill for myself and my team is asking better quality questions to get better answers about that current situation. Then we shift gears and I say, Ron, I want you to imagine a year from now. Two years from now. Everything is going exactly according to plan in sales. Like everything that you imagine you wanted has happened. Describe to me now what the business looks like. What I'm looking for is not just; Well my revenue is growing by 30% and profitability is up. I want to know the details. I want to know where did those deals come from? How many salespeople do you have? Did the marketing fly will spin or not? Were you on stage speaking? Did you have any centers of influence of referring you leads? Like, let's really go there and figure out what that looks like to the best of your guesstimation. Then we take a breath and then we say, okay, if this is where you are, and this is what great looks like, what is this bit in the middle here? Why is it that you don't have what you want right now today? Then we talk about the things that are holding you back. Well, you know what, in your case, Ron, if you don't make me say it was, we have a playbook, but it's not being used. It's not tested. It's not what we would call a top quartile. You guys said to me, well, you know, Taylor and I are really the revenue generators, but that's not a scalable repeatable model. We want to bring in other resources, but whenever we look at bringing another resources, they don't sell like us. How do we overcome that? And we talked about the things that you were very well aware of that was stopping you from going from here to here. Then we end that call because I think that's enough for anybody to talk about in 45 minutes. We all take a breath, and then we come back a few days later, and then myself or somebody in the team will come and say, right, if this is where you are and this is where you want to be, here's the bridge that we're going to help you build in order to get there. So one of the things that I would encourage anybody that listens to this podcast to do is; Stop making it about you. Nobody cares how good you are at what you do. The fact that you got the call means that you're good enough, make it about your client. Make it about how they're going to get from where they are, to where they want to be. Figure out what those needs, wants, opportunities, problems, pain points are, and just help them to buy by solving those problems. Nothing that I'm saying to you now is new, right?

Ron:  I think everybody listening is nodding their head as they're watching.

Morné: Everybody's going, yeah, but I knew that already. Okay, then do it. And then it's about, you know, can we provide you with, you know, with tools, with products, with systems and processes that makes that breach easier. I think that's where Ollie really has changed my business for the better. You know, Ollie's the guy where I'll come to him with some idea that I had an idea that popped into my head while I was running and go, Olie, this is a problem that I'm hearing about all the time. I think we could do it like this, and then Oli goes, leave it with me. And then a week later, he's designed this program where you can eat the elephant in bite sized chunks and all the clients go, why didn't I think of that? So that's really the process and how it works.

Ron:  Oli, when we started, we One Firefly started working with you one on one. I want to say it was back in the late spring, early summer of 20 last year, 2022.

Oliver: It was around May June.

Ron:  The first thing that you took us through was, what do you call it? Boot camp?

Oliver: Boot camp indeed.

Ron:  Can you describe what that is? And the stakeholders that are involved and what you try to, because that is a, I mean, your service could end there, right? That is a valuable service of discovery and definition. But you know fill the audience in kind of what that thing is. And then where you go from there?

Oliver: Sure. So what we do with just about every client that we now work with. And this didn't used to be the case. But what we now do with just about every client that we work with, the first phase of the engagement is what we call a boot camp. Within a boot camp, it's typically three days and what we're looking to do is take everything to pieces within the sales function and then rebuild it again. So the structure of the three days, and I'll just give it relatively high level and I'll call out a couple of key pieces. So within day one, what we're really focused in on is what we call proposition. So within proposition, we're looking at, okay, so if you were to have 20,000 prospects that were listed on an excel sheet, how would you get that down to the top 20? What would be the measurement on an excel sheet? What would be the different column headings and what would be the filtering criteria? The reason why that's so important is because one of the worst things that a salesperson can do is waste time. Time is the most valuable resource to a salesperson. And so what we want to ensure that everyone's doing is optimizing their time for the right prospects. Not only that, but once we're clear as to who the optimal prospect is, we can then build everything around that. So each of the boot camp days stack on top of one another. So once we're really, really clear about that particular prospect, it's then a case of asking the question, well, for that particular prospect, what is really important to them? What would they be willing to pay more for? Why would they choose one supplier over another? We're not just talking about price hit. Once we've got that, and the interesting thing here, and this is a common pitfall, is for clients when running that session to say, oh, what's really important to them is this service that we offer. This service that we offer this service that we offer. But no, no, no, no, no, no. We're talking about them. It's the most common pitfall. I always see it. This is not about you, completely forget that you even exist. What is important to that client? And then from there, we can then reverse engineer, okay, well, if that's what's really, really important to them, then what is it that we can do in order to solve that particular need better than anyone else in the market? There's going to be some stuff that's true. We've already got it in our arsenal of infantry. We're all good. It's going to be other stuff that you know what? We don't really have a solution for this right now, but if we were to, then, wow, that would be dynamite. Okay, cool. That's a project. That's something that we need to work on. And the last piece is, how do we wrap that up in messaging? So if you're able to solve the problems, how do you actually communicate that? So that's day one in terms of the proposition.

Day two, this is actually my favorite day and it's the one that clients usually find most frustrating. And I always tell them this because we're not solving anything. We're not solving anything. All we're doing is finding problems. So what does that look like? Well, I want to take to pieces your sales process. Clients will often say, well, we don't have a sales process. So then I'll say, are you selling? Yes. Well, there is a process that's taking place. It's just not formalized. Talk to me. How is it that you find prospects? Whereabouts are they? Okay, cool. Let's deconstruct all of that. How is it that you reach out to those prospects? So how is it that they reach out to you? How does that work? Why does it work like that? Okay, let's break it all down. The first call that you have with them, what does that look like? Is there a script? What kind of questions? How are you opening? How are you getting next steps? Is everyone getting next steps? Taking it all to pieces through to closing through to continuation. So on and so forth. As well as general SWOT analysis of the function, looking at the people, the hierarchies, the levels of accountability, the tracking of the numbers, everything. And all we're doing is just spotlighting. Whereabouts is it that we should be focusing? What are the differences that are really going to make the difference? Because what we equally don't want to do is spend a lot of time focusing on something that if we move the needle on it, it doesn't actually generate any results. That's just spinning tires and wasting resource.

So then once we get to day three, and the best scenario here is we've now found some really good juicy problems that we can all unanimously look at and say, yeah, do you know what? If we were to solve these things, we're going to crush it. And that's when we then moved to day three, and we go, okay, well, for the three key categories, which we commonly refer to as proposition people and process sales process, what are the things that need to be solved within here? So by the end of that, what you have is the play by play or the foundational play by play within the sales process, as well as a runway of actions and priorities to take place in the hundred days that follow after. Then from that point, it's up to clients as to whether or not they've got it, they've got it covered, they're going to run independently, or if they want to flex the resource of immersed and get there with greater speed in certainty, then that's when we move into phase two. Then within that, there's a whole bunch of different services that it could be, but it entirely depends on what is the difference that's going to make the difference. Is it hiring? Okay, cool. Let's help you there. Is it coaching of the team? Is it accountability? What is it? Is it in the technology? Whatever it is. And okay, cool. That's where we're going to help. That's where we're going to make the difference. And so that's the way that those days are constructed. And it was funny. Sometimes you stumble upon innovations and that's very much what happened with our boot camp. It was an odd curveball request from a client once, hey, would you mind just helping out on our sales process for a day? It was outside of our core suite and services. Well, not really, but okay.

Ron:  We'll give it a shot.

Oliver: Yeah. I'll club something together. Yeah, don't worry about it. And then we did it. And we got an amazing result. I was like, oh wow, okay. Well, we've got a seed of something really quite cool here. Let's grow that thing. What else can we do? And that's how one day turned into two turned into three, and then that's how we got into playbooks, so on and so forth, but it all germinated from just one really high intense day, which solves lots of problems. Then what a great foundation that is for all of the subsequent relationship or the foundation for that client. And ultimately getting what everyone wants, which is growth.

Ron:  What I enjoyed about that process was that all of our stakeholders joined that meeting. So our sales team, our sales support, our CFO, even another senior member of our team that had, you know, we'll call it legacy knowledge of the business and what's worked and what hasn't worked. All of those people were contributing in that dialog. And versus for me, Ron, the owner, the guy that has been selling in this industry for 20 years, like it's overwhelming. The honest answer is to think about how to take what's in my head and put it down in some sort of trainable format. But use solicited and facilitated dialog where I think maybe talked the least in the room. And it allowed us to put that on the board. Can you kind of talk about why that's important or is that common when you guys are working with businesses? Is that the normal way it works?

Oliver: Really interesting question and multifaceted answer. So in terms of having everyone engaged, absolutely yes. In terms of having those people within the room, not commonly. The reason for that is because every business has different types of hierarchies, different relationships within the teams. And ultimately, our criteria that I try and set forward is really no more than 5 or 6 people in the room. Because otherwise, it ends up becoming too many voices, your facilitating training rather than deconstruction reconstruction. But ultimately, what I really, really care about as to who those 5 or 6 people are, it doesn't have to be senior, I just want people that can have a valuable voice in the room. And that was very much what we had within One Firefly. And the really beautiful thing about that particular engagement was people's willingness and openness. I mean, of course, it was in part extracted by me, but they've still got the CEO and the owner and the CFO in the room. So how comfortable are people articulating their opinions about what's not working when those people are in the room? And the answer to that question was very, very open. There were more than happy to challenge. And that's ultimately what we want. We don't want what sounds good. We want the truth. Because what are we trying to get to? We're trying to solve problems and we won't solve problems if there isn't people feeling comfortable to share their thoughts. So it's always the case that whoever is on the call or in the meeting, I will proactively solicit the opinions from everyone because it's often the case the person that's quiet that will have the best insights, but they don't necessarily feel comfortable to raise their hand. And if that's not the case, I call on someone a number of times, and there isn't really anything to contribute, then quite frankly, this is a lot of time out of that person's day. It probably doesn't serve anyone for them to be in the room. So in advance of those sessions, there's always a question as to, okay, well, who are the 5 to 6 people that we want to have in the room? We want to have healthy debate. We want to have different vantage points. We want to have people contributing, and that's how we then really make it happen. And equally, to that point, what's worked really well with the One Firefly engagement is when you come to the subsequent phases and we're talking about the likes of building a playbook, we've got the same set of people and everyone's engaged because everyone's been a part of that process right from the very beginning. So it's not like we have to do a big hearts and minds campaign to get buy in. They already own it. They're in it just as much as you're in it as Taylor's in it. I'm in it. Anyone's in it.

Ron:  No, I agree. I want to come back to that playbook and really the idea of the playbook or documenting methods and process and training materials for your current team, coachability of the current team, but also future team members and how to expedite those future team members being productive members of the team contributing members of the team you know. I always say selling is a verb. You do it. Which means you have to know how to do it and it's helpful. And I know in my industry, I don't want to pick on my industry, but what I've observed often is people are brought on the team and told to go do it, but they're not actually trained on how to do it. Or they're not trained on how to do it, the company way. Because often, there's no company weighed defined or written down anywhere. It's in the owner's head or in, you know, the top salesperson's head. So codifying that is important. Mornè, I want to jump to you and just ask you from your observation, maybe all the different engagements you guys have had or your experience. I would imagine it's very common and I'm going to tell you at least in the smaller, I'm going to say small is maybe 10 million in revenue or less. Businesses in our industry, it's quite common that the business owner or founder is the principal breadwinner for the business. How common is that across the 27 industries or so you said that you serve? And I'm imagining many of them were like me, the skeptic as to what's in my head, it's going to be hard to extract that and actually make that trainable for others. And so just kind of need to speak to that you know in terms of what's normal, maybe to appease our listeners that belief that they are one of a kind, maybe in this way, maybe they're not.

Morné: Absolutely. I think first and foremost, if you've managed to build your business into any kind of 7 figure revenue and you are the only manager entrepreneur and you've done that pretty much as the sole sales person, first and foremost, I want to say; Good for you, congratulations. That is not something that most people can do. And if we take the statistics that are available from the entrepreneurs organization, this is an incredible stat, by the way. 27,000 companies surveyed across the United States, 4% of businesses make it past $1 million in revenue. 4%, that's it.

Ron:  What?

Morné: So if you have a 7 figure business, first of all, good for you. Now let's talk about what happens next. I would say about 20%, 25% of the clients that come to us are exactly what you guys were when we met you, which is successful business, but owner found a manager entrepreneur is still the primary generator of revenue. The challenge, the pain point that they're trying to solve, one of many, maybe, is how do I release myself from that sales leadership seat? Maybe not immediately, but over a period of time, how do I build that repeatable selling system where I have highly competent enthusiastic salespeople who can sell at any level of an organization? How do I get there? This is where I am, how do I get there? And what I want to say to companies that are in that position right now is that it's absolutely possible. But there's a few little caveats to that. Number one, we can't want it more than you. What I mean by that is, you know, there's that old saying nothing changes if nothing changes. Unfortunately, in the hundreds of clients that we've served, we come across the odd company where they'll meet us, they'll talk to us, they'll get excited, and they'll be fantastic. This is Emerse is what I've been looking for. And they sign up and then we start engagement, and then when it comes to doing the boot camp, we're building the playbook, their reaction is, hold on a second, you actually expect me to be involved.

Ron:  I think writing you a check was my only job.

Morné: Exactly. I thought you were going to build it. And we're like, hold on a second. Who knows your business best? And I think oftentimes it is, as you said, Ron, it's because we don't know what we don't know. So you were a little bit of a skeptic, but you were actually pretty good because you put your faith in us and say, fine. I'll go on this boot camp journey with you as a phase one. Then we'll reevaluate whether we want to do anything else. And I think thankfully, Olie and the team were skillful enough to illustrate to you that we could extract from your head, all the stuff that you've been doing for 15 years. Even the things that you now do intuitively, it's almost muscle memory because you built this business, you do things every day. You're learning by trial and error, but because it's not all documented down, you just do it. The problem with getting to a repeatable selling system is, we've got to get it out of your head, we have to codify it, and we've got to create a way that it can be coached to someone else. Your stories are no longer your stories. Your best habits are no longer your best habits. Your bad habits shouldn't be anybody's habits. So when Olie and the team are really great at is asking these questions where you're just doing free flow conversation. In fact, Emerse and One Firefly share and implementer in EOS, that's what we have in common.

Ron:  We do.

Morné: And we had our vision building that yesterday and our implementer asked me a question. And I all of a sudden went on a rant for about 5 minutes, and he went pause. I just want to play back what you just said. And I said, what did I say? And he played it back to me and I was like, how did you get that out of me? So it even works on us, right? If you have the right person asking you the right questions, stuff will come out of you, which my coaches, they're listening for it, because we've built hundreds of these. Then at the end of the process, we show you the playbook and you go, where did that come from? It came from you. But you have to be enthusiastic and energetic and open to the process. Then what we're really good at is figuring out how to get it from you, how to codify it, and then how to create that system in process and that playbook, which Olie's team can then coach to other salespeople. So then when you bring salespeople in, imagine a day when you have salespeople showing up to your business, A players. On day one you sit them down and say, ladies and gentlemen, this is who we sell to. Here is the high value prospects that we go after. To the exclusion of everything else. These are they high value needs. This is what they will pay for in any economy. These are the objections you're going to get, this is the questions you're going to ask to discover. This is what you're going to say when they ask you about value proposition, unique selling proposition. This is your elevator pitch. By the way, this is the competitive landscape that you're selling in. These are your routes to market. This is exactly what the customer journey looks like so that you can imagine from their perspective what they're experiencing. Oh, and by the way, here's the entire sales process completely mapped out, and all you have to do is follow the bouncing ball. Now, are we trying to create a robot army? Not at all. We're trying to capture best practice so that sells people can come in and say, I feel like you've given me a crystal ball here. I feel like I'm cheating. Because I've taken the 15 years of good stuff that Taylor and Ron have done, and I'm applying that. And I'm not practicing on live prospects. I'm practicing internally so that I can go out and do a great job. And that's what gets us excited as Emerse, right? Seeing that transformation, seeing companies that go, you know what we're doing well, but I'm exhausted all the time and I don't have time for my kids and my quality of life is suffering and it feels like my business is all consuming to fast forward one year, 18 months later, two years later and they're like, well, you know what? My sales team has smashed the sales quota. And I was basically a key person of influence. I went out on a few sales calls. I did some coaching and mentoring internally, but my sales team is absolutely smashing it. Thank you guys so much. That's what really lights us up.

Ron:  I think you're describing a religious experience to many entrepreneurs.

Morné: And you know what, it's one that I've been through myself because we built this business, Oli and I because we were the two guys plus a virtual assistant in the beginning that was we were muscling our way through everything. And then one day, Oli and I were having a meeting and we just looked at each other and went, why isn't Emerse, Emerse's own based client? Why are we telling people how to do things and we're not applying it on ourselves? And that's when the penny dropped in all of a sudden it changed. So sometimes you've got to be your own best client.

Ron:  What you just said there are super resonates with me at the moment, we are over the last, this is not sales related, but it's marketing related. So we're an agency. And we serve many hundreds of businesses. And when we evaluated our own marketing, we determined we are not our best client and what if we were our best client and it resulted in a shift and we brought in executive, we put people in place, we put process in place. I'm excited to say we're designing our new corporate website. It's been 6 months plus in development. And it was all because of nothing more than a mental shift, which is why are we not treating ourselves the way we treat our clients? And I'm super excited about what's resulting from that, which is really elevating marketing. But if you're going to elevate marketing, you also are doing yourself, I believe, an injustice if you're not also elevating sales, which is, all right, let's say your marketing is effective. And we do marketing for our industry. So if we're helping them be more effective as marketers for their business, but we're not pointing them in the right direction for sales support, which is frankly why I was excited to get you guys on here and just expose you to our industry and to our customer base because I think that for many businesses you know, they rely on that owner operator or they rely on that star salesperson and God forbid that star salesperson walks out the door and walks down the street to the competitor. For many people in our industry, their whole book of business or a large chunk of their business walks down the street, whereas the methods, the process that procedures for your team, you know, I believed that there had to be a way. I just didn't know how to do it. But it seemed reasonable. My belief system is if I can say it and I can think it, it means it's probably possible. I just now need to figure out how to make that happen. It seemed logical or possible that we could define and document the One Firefly way to take care of our customers, consult with them, make recommendations. Be there long-term partner for growth as it relates to marketing. You guys have certainly helped us see that that's possible. So for that, I appreciate you guys, and I thank you for that. Oli, I want to jump back to you and we've said this term playbook. You've mentioned it. I've mentioned it. What is a sales playbook?

Oliver: So when we're talking about sales playbook, a term that we commonly use is a repeatable selling system. So that's the headline, if you like. As to actually what it is, think of it as a hub of information, a hub of everything as it relates to sales. And that gets deployed as a tool in multiple scenarios. I'll give you a couple of scenarios, and then our dive slightly deeper into the practicalities of it.

Oliver: So one scenario would be from a sales management perspective, and that management generally. And that would be for coaching. Once you have developed these best practices and these how to's, if you like, and they are stored within a document, be that online or be that otherwise. Once they're stored in their reference down, that can then be used as a basis for training. One of the most common reasons that sales managers don't frequently train is because of ambiguity. What am I supposed to train on? I don't know. I'm not a trainer. No idea what I'm supposed to be doing. So having that down as a baseline, the gold standard, that's what then gets trained. Now the other side of that same coin and another use case, if you like, is then accountability. So once the best practice has been documented and it's then being coached, you can then hold salespeople accountable to that gold standard. But what commonly happens as an alternative is people are being held to a standard that doesn't exist. We want our salespeople to do X, where does it say X? Where does it show them how to do X? It's just a wish and a nice to have. Maybe something that the founder has inherently, but there's no place if you like that standard to be held accountable to. And then the third thing is independence. And that's from the sales person's perspective. Salespeople, if you've got a good one, they're hungry. They want to grow. They want to earn commission. How is it that I do that? Where is it that my numbers are down and how is it I can improve? It's within the discovery. Okay, cool. Let me go to the area of the discovery. What questions is it that I'm not asking? What is it that I'm not finding out, which is tripping me up when I get to the closing stage. So those are a couple of the common use cases if you like. But as to what it is that commonly goes into a playbook, what you're really looking at, there's oftentimes three key chapters and you'll see this in your playbook too. The first one is what we call proposition. The second one sales process, and the third one foundations. When we're talking about proposition, this is basically what are the products that we're selling? What is the market that we're operating in? And what are the best ways of communicating each of these products? What we're really looking for here is a snapshot. A snapshot, almost like a dashboard, if you like, for each of the different services, what are the common needs for this product? What is the elevator pitch for this product? What a good question to ask to uncover needs for this product. So the basis, if you like. Now, within the sales process stage, what we're really looking for here, and this is where the majority of time gets spent within a playbook, this is the how to's for every step in stage within a sales within a sales process. So let's say that starts off right at the beginning, where is it that I find my prospects? We commonly refer to that as lead pools. Where is it you're going to find them? Okay, now once you've got that prospecting, how is it you're actually going to reach out to these prospects? And it could be a whole bunch of different ways. There could be a best practice way as it relates to LinkedIn as it relates to cooling as it relates to emailing, exposing conferences, networking, whatever it might be, there are going to be best ways for each of those different things. We want to know them. So put them into the playbook there. And that cycles all the way through to closing and then continuation. Then the final chapter on foundations, this is all of the really important things that are required within a healthy sales function that aren't directly related to sales. So these would be things like optimal use of the CRM, how to read the dashboards and what they mean. Commission calculators. So all of the key important running of the machine type pieces of content that commonly get overlooked. But if you ask a sales person, what's most important to them, they're probably going to say their commission. So if they don't have a really easy way of being able to calculate that and it will blow your mind, how many companies don't have an easy way of calculating it, then that's going to impact performance. It's going to impact discretionary effort. I'm not going to go with a couple of extra yards. If I don't know exactly what it is that I'm going to be getting on the other side of that. So that's the overarching view, if you like, with as to what a sales playbook is, then I think just one thing that our comments on as to what is it that makes a great playbook, great. And that is not so much just the content that goes into it. The words, but it's really, and you'll, of course, note this from our engagement, is how that content is put in. So for example, the use of videos, the use of images, the use of linking out to other documents. And the reason for that is because salespeople commonly have a pretty short attention span. And so if all you've got there is a whole bunch of words, the core purpose of that playbook isn't going to get actualized, the adoption rate isn't going to be there. So you need to have the different types. You want to have cool recordings, zoom recordings. All of those things built in to make it as easy as possible for each salesperson to be as successful as possible. That's ultimately what we're trying to do. And so for that, it's not just the content itself, but it's really thinking about the user experience of how they're going to be going through and using each of those pages in order to do great at their job.

Ron:  I find that when I talk about sales, I can immerse myself not pardon the pun there. I can immerse myself. I can enjoy a good sales sales process conversation and I can blink in hours can go by. But I am mindful of time. For our guests and for you guys, I know you have other engagements. Mornè, who what type of listener, what type of business owner operator should make contact with you guys and how would they do that?

Morné: So we play in, I would say four different sandboxes. So about 15 to 20% of our clients are companies between one and $5 million in revenue. And we have what we call quick start versions of our products for smaller companies to help them get to that next level. Those companies typically are the ones that you mentioned before, where you have an owner, operator, entrepreneur, who's very much in the trenches, maybe they've got one salesperson, maybe no service people at all. And what they're looking to do is say, you know what? I'm exhausted. How do I do this? I've tried to hire a salesperson. It hasn't worked or the one that I have isn't good. Just show me the way. Take away some of the trial and error because I'm still a small business and I don't have cash in time to burn. The second sandbox that we play and I would say is mid market is 5 to 25 million. So now, depending on which part of that scale you're on, you've probably already figured a few things out. Maybe you've got one or two seal salespeople running around, but what you're looking to do is build that scalable, repeatable selling system, while maintaining margin. So now, as I said at the beginning of this conversation, is when you get into that, that kind of conflict between, well, I've grown fast, but then profitability suffered or I've managed to build profitable sales, but my forecasting wasn't accurate. So it was kind of feast and famine. So if you're in that space, or if you have inconsistent performance in your sales team, those are typically the people that come to us in that bracket. The third one is slightly larger businesses. So now we're in two like 25 million to maybe 250 million. Now you've kind of figured it out. You've got a sales team, you probably have a dedicated sales manager, but you're observing specific things where there's cracks are starting to show. So oftentimes, those businesses come to us because they have a core team of salespeople that are working, but they're struggling to get a players to join the team. And when they do, they don't work out culturally, or the playbook hasn't really been touched for a while, and it's kind of this antiquated thing and it's sitting on a digital shelf, and nobody's using it. So how do we now take that playbook and bake it into our CRM? Or they just want to run a diagnostic on the team because they're observing some challenges, but nobody really knows what the root cause is. So they want us to give them measurable data on really what is not working versus what they think is not working. Then the fourth sandbox that we plan, which may or may not be relevant to your audience is when we get companies referred to us through private equity or venture capital. So maybe you've got some business owners in your community who are thinking, you know what? I've been doing this a long time. My business is great, but I want to exit in 5 years. Or we get companies coming to us all the time saying, I need you to help me build the value of my business. I want a higher multiplier on my EBITDA, what can you help me with in sales that's going to increase my margins or help me to land grab? Or if somebody in your community has just grown by acquisition, if you've spent a ton of money buying a business and you're thinking, man, I really need to get a return on this investment over the next three to four years, maybe those Emerse guys can help me to really ramp up the sales so I can get my cash back, that would be the full sandbox that we're playing in. Best way to find us is probably through our website. It's emersesales.com. Or your listeners can send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. That goes to the whole team. Somebody will reach out, book a discovery call, and we can have a chat to see whether or not we're a good fit for you.

Ron:  In terms of that fourth sandbox, you were mentioning Mornè. I would say on the residential side, top of mind, but I'm also seeing this commercially, there is maturity, the industry is maturing in one demonstration of that is consolidation. There are businesses selling and in many cases, I would imagine you could maybe correct me that if they had a better or more defined sales operation function of their business, that would probably make their business worth more to that acquirer? Is that accurate?

Morné: Yeah, and I think what makes us uniquely and almost like quote unquote unfairly valuable is that because we actually work for private equity, for venture capital and for companies, we can kind of pull back the magician's code into you a little bit. We can tell you before you get that valuation before you engage an investor, you know what we know what they're going to ask you for. They're going to ask you for these four things. So tell you what, why don't we just tick those off you and then that way your enterprise value is just going to be higher. So that is something that we tend to do. But please don't tell our private equity clients that we do that because they're not going to like having to pay.

Ron:  I don't know that they'll listen to this podcast. We won't authorize them to listen. Olie, a quick question. I'm curious, do you find companies able to effectively work on the sales side of their business if they do not have a CRM in place or how often do they come to you already have that or is that normally one of the things that gets implemented?

Oliver: Yeah, good question. So short answer would be it depends on the industry in as much as if you are working in a business where there is relatively high volume. If you don't have a CRM, I will be pushing for that very, very quickly because you're starting to get into a numbers game and if you can't easily keep on top of the numbers and the tracking, then you're getting yourself into murky water. And quite often, to be honest, when I see that, I just see that as an easy quick fix. If it's slightly slower, deal cycle, and slightly larger deals, then quite often you'll see people using the likes of excel as a basic version. But even when that is the case, I would still strongly be recommending very early on. Okay, we need to migrate this over into a CRM. And the primary reason for that is trackability as much as anything else. And that's not just trackability of the numbers, but also trackability of the activities. When was this prospect last touched? Why is it the case that this is a big opportunity, but no one has reached out to them for the last three weeks? Is this opportunity hot? Is it warm? Is it cold? What are the reasons for that? Whereabouts is it in the sales process? So all of these things are the benefits that you get from having a CRM in place. And it's particularly important when A, you've got volume, or B, you've got a sales team, or at least one salesperson, because then as a manager, it then becomes far easy to then track as to whereabouts it is that they are and how it is that they're coming on. Then for the salesperson themselves, it's far easier to keep on top of the multiple prospects. You will find very, very quickly that the limitations of excel. I've seen some monstrous excel sheets when people are trying to keep on top of so many different opportunities and loads of different tabs, what on earth is going on. So yeah, people can hobble by, but after you get to a certain point, you need to transition.

Ron:  Got it. Makes sense. Any of our listeners that want to get in touch with you directly, Ollie, where would you send them?

Oliver: For me, it would probably be through the same direction as to what Morne put out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Ron:  Awesome. Gentlemen, I want to say thank you to both of you for joining me here on episode 234 of Automation Unplugged. Appreciate you guys.

Oliver: Excellent.

Morné: Thank you very much. That was a pleasure.

Ron:  All right. Bye guys. Take care.

SHOW NOTES:

Morné has spent his life elevating respect for sales professionals in dozens of companies across 28+ industries on 3 continents. Early in his career, Morné left South Africa for the center of European finances, London, England, where he immediately excelled as an A-player salesperson. During this time, Morné racked up consistent sales management and entrepreneurial successes in technology, telecommunications, and real estate until founding Emerse in 2017.

Oliver studied Entrepreneurship and Marketing in Manchester, UK. After graduating he worked on various international Sales & Marketing programmes in countries such as China and Kenya before returning to the UK on a prestigious Commercial Graduate scheme in the world of CPG. He later joined Emerse Sales as the first employee and helped build the company from the ground up, with a specialism in building Products which solve common problems in the world of sales such as sales hiring, sales process and proposition.

Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly became the leading marketing firm specializing in the integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.

Resources and links from the interview:

Morné and Oliver can be reached directly by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.