How to scale your go-to-market motion

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This is a podcast episode titled, How to scale your go-to-market motion. The summary for this episode is: <p>Spotify is a leading music and podcast streaming service. This might be obvious because well, where are you listening to this podcast from? This week, Brian Berner, Spotify's Head of North America's Advertising Sales, discusses cultivating talent through training and creating consistency at scale. You'll listen to him go over his five step framework, Spotifive, a personalized onboarding people to go to market. The teachings include insights into intention, informed discovery, and a few other steps Brian thoroughly explains in today's show.</p><p><br></p><p>Key Takeaways:</p><p>11:41 - What Consumers Want</p><p>14:32 - The Challenge of Hypergrowth</p><p>16:08 - Tracking Mistakes or Make Goods</p><p>17:30 - Metrics Can Help Predict Future Success</p><p>22:22 - Spotifive Framework</p><p>28:15 - Insights to Solutions</p><p>30:44 - All True Leaders</p><p>33:57 - Make-up of a Strong Leader</p><p>37:51 - Sales in One Word</p><p><br></p><p>Want to explore Revenue Intelligence for your org? It starts here: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Connect with Devin Reed: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Connect with Sheena Badani: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Connect with Brian Berner: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p>
What Consumers Want
00:55 MIN
The Challenge of Hypergrowth
00:53 MIN
Tracking Mistakes or Make Goods
00:30 MIN
Metrics Can Help Predict Future Success
00:17 MIN
Spotifive Framework
00:55 MIN
Insights to Solutions
00:21 MIN
All True Leaders
00:35 MIN
Make-up of a Strong Leader
00:16 MIN
Sales in One Word
00:18 MIN

Devin Reed: Welcome to Reveal: The Revenue Intelligence Podcast powered by Gong. We're your hosts Devin Reed.

Sheena Badani: And I'm Sheena Badani. Revenue Intelligence is a new way of operating based on customer reality instead of opinions. Making data- driven decisions based on facts instead of opinions or guesswork.

Devin Reed: And it's made up of three success pillars, people intelligence, deal intelligence and market intelligence, the things all revenue teams need and care about. Every week we interview senior revenue professionals and share their stories and insights on how they leverage revenue intelligence to drive success and win their market.

Sheena Badani: You'll hear how modern go- to- market teams win as a team, close revenue with critical deal insight and execute their strategic initiatives, plus all the challenges that come along with it.

Devin Reed: Sheena, let's play a quick game. Are you up for it?

Sheena Badani: Let's do it.

Devin Reed: I want you to answer as quickly as possible giving me your true gut response, okay?

Sheena Badani: Okay.

Devin Reed: Spotify or Apple Music?

Sheena Badani: Spotify.

Devin Reed: Paid or free?

Sheena Badani: Paid.

Devin Reed: Last song you listened to?

Sheena Badani: Oh, Blippi, which you may not even know what that is.

Devin Reed: I have not heard of it. I don't know if it's a song before my time or a kid's song. It's similar.

Sheena Badani: It is ancient song, my kids are using my same Spotify login. Everything is just totally messed up because it's all jumbled together. So that is one pain point that I have with it right now.

Devin Reed: Well, we agree on all fronts, Spotify for me, paid for me. Though, I will let anyone use my Netflix, my Hulu, if you want to go ruin that algorithm, I don't care. I'm going to go find what I want. No one touches my Spotify. That is curated over many years as I mentioned in this interview. So I respect that you prioritize your kids, I'd rather buy Rumi her own Spotify than to let her ruin mine.

Sheena Badani: No, it's too late for me now. I should've thought about that ahead of time.

Devin Reed: If you're listening to this on Spotify, shout out to you though we are impartial. Though I do enjoy Spotify as a user, but I'm excited because we got to hang out with Brian Berner, who's the head of North American advertising sales for Spotify. I mean, everyone we have on the show is great, that's why we have them on the show. And hearing him talk through how to cultivate talent through training and creating consistency at scale, especially given all the change that's gone on at Spotify internally, but also externally in their market, as like the, " streaming wars," which I consider Spotify to be a part of, has gone on. I had a really good time talking to Brian.

Sheena Badani: Yeah, I think his deep experience not only in sales, but in ad sales and in companies that have both the B2C and a B2B angle, was super interesting. So I really appreciated that lens that he brought.

Devin Reed: Absolutely. If you're interested in learning how to scale your go- to- market motion while growing rapidly and forgive the cliche term, " navigating change" very important but buzzy, this is for you, because he had a five step framework, well labeled the Spotifive framework, that goes over all these insights, it goes through step- by- step how he is approaching and scaling his go to market motion and even provided some examples. So I was really excited and I think the listeners will be too. All right, let's go hang out with Brian. Brian, welcome to Reveal, big thank you for hanging out with us.

Brian Berner: Thank you for having me as well. Excited to be here. I hope you're doing well.

Devin Reed: Thank you, thank you. We're doing good, we're doing good. Usually we start the interview with, tell us a little bit about your company. But you work at Spotify, so I'm going to assume most people listening know what Spotify is, and I'll take the leap of faith that half of them are probably listening on Spotify right now. So maybe a better question would be to tell us a little bit more about your role and what you're focused on right now.

Brian Berner: For sure. Well hopefully you're correct that everyone on the line does know what Spotify is and is equally listening on Spotify, hope that is the case, so thank you for that. But to answer your question, my role specifically is, I'm the head of advertising sales and partnership for North America which ultimately means I oversee all of the sales, sales managers and client services with respect to advertising revenue for Spotify. So even if a lot of our consumers or your listeners are tuning in via Spotify, what's interesting about our platform is our model in that we have the premium subscription, which you either pay$ 10 a month or 15 or five depending if you're on a student or family plan, and you don't receive ads. But then there's a good portion of our total audience that uses Spotify free, which in that instance when you are listening to music or podcasts for that matter, you will periodically get adverts and that's the team that I oversee.

Devin Reed: I am not just saying this because you're on my show. I have been a Spotify premium user for, I don't know, at least seven years, if it's been around for seven years, I've been using it for that long. So very interesting to have you on the show and you've got a big user here. And I understand too, Brian, before you got into sales, you initially planned to pursue a career in investment banking, but your experience selling advertisement in your college paper made you change your mind. So I have to ask, what about the advertising business had you hooked?

Brian Berner: So I went to school at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. I'm originally from Chicago, from the Midwest. Some know it as the Harvard of the Midwest and maybe that's a bad joke. While at that school, to your point, I was originally studying management information systems and I was going to either IB or consulting for that matter. But while at school, got a job selling printing ads for the school newspaper, which was The Daily Illini. And to answer your question, I looked out at a very young age where I just immediately fell in love with whatever Titan Sales consisted of and just knew from that moment on what I wanted to do with my life. And more specifically to answer your question, what I loved at the time was one, I would say just the day- to- day weekly interactions with actually selling to people, right? So I mean, maybe that couldn't sound clear but having the opportunity to go out prospect times and then actually pitch and communicate with customers was something I was very passionate about. I enjoyed the time spent problem solving with customers. And two, within advertising in particular, it's a very fun vertical that you can have a lot of creativity with, in that when you're creating solutions for customers, even if it's local advertising salesforce school newspaper, you're finding fun ways to work with these different local business owners to market themselves. And again, for me specifically, you can have a lot of fun with the whole creative concept, whether it's a print ad or an online ad and some of the unique collaboration and creativity you can have with the advertisement itself.

Devin Reed: Definitely seems to be a creative space and I'm going to guess maybe it takes a creative sales person to also be successful in that realm.

Brian Berner: Definitely helps, you don't lie. I would say you don't have to be creative to be successful in advertising and sales but it does help Devin, I would say that.

Sheena Badani: And even before Spotify, you were at MySpace, which may be some of the youngins that are listening are not as familiar with MySpace, Devin raised his hand.

Devin Reed: I am familiar. I had a MySpace proudly.

Sheena Badani: But I think that's interesting that that advertising experience has really woven through your career into very well known hypergrowth companies at their respective times, at MySpace and then now at Spotify. Tell us a little bit about some of that hypergrowth that you're experiencing at Spotify now. And then we can get into a little bit more around, how do you ensure that the team stays consistent through that growth?

Brian Berner: I see in advertising sales in particular, a lot of your growth with respect to your sales team or maybe most organizations for that matter is going to also be somewhat correlated to your audience size. So the growth that we've seen has been one great in that we've actually been in the US now, we'll be approaching 10 years in the US. So Devin thank you for your seven years, but a little few more years there. Which on one hand I think it's been so humbling but equally exciting to have been somewhere that now approaching a full decade, we are still adding users. So one of the things that's been great about our growth is that it's just continued to maintain, be steady and if anything is starting to accelerate, especially within these past couple of years. So that's been great to see and as the user base has grown so has, to the original question, my sales team, originally started in the Midwest and probably had a total staff of 10 and now 10 years later over the US and Canada, I have a total staff North of 250 people that is broken apart multiple clients segmentations, customer verticals. And we have a few different go- to- market strategies within the team. So inaudible very broad stroke answer to your question is just to see the team go from what was probably a total staff of 25 to now North of 275 and still growing, I think, exciting to be a part of.

Devin Reed: Yeah. I mean anytime you can 10X. It's a pretty cool story and I'm sure there's a lot we could talk about. I'd love to hear from you Brian, I feel like hypergrowth is what... I'll make a blanket statement, all SAS startups, all startups in general, I think when they get to hypergrowth. What has been the most surprising component of that for you? What was something that you came across that caught you off guard or was maybe just really interesting as you've been along this journey?

Brian Berner: Well, Devin, what I feel is like it really depends on how you're defining hypergrowth, right? Like we open up this conversation with, " MySpace days versus my Spotify days." And what I would say about MySpace is, MySpace, my gosh, that was hypergrowth. We went from zero to hundreds of millions of users globally in less than a two year timeframe. Even if you look at MySpace versus Facebook or Instagram, and even maybe nowadays a TikTok or a Snap, that was hypergrowth at its core, to the point where we couldn't even keep pace with that growth. So then pivoting to Spotify we're definitely seeing the same amount of growth, but what has been more of a nice moment rather than come out of the gates with reaching X amount of your total addressable market within the first year, I think being more thoughtful about what consumers want, what the users want and therefore seeing the actual core product continue to evolve and innovate every single year. So if you were to look at what the UI of what Spotify looked like seven years ago when you started versus what the UI looks like today along with even just the features, it has been just extraordinary to see that the reason why we continue to see our growth, an accelerated growth, is how much we are just listening to our consumers and what they want and we are innovating with them and for them. And I think that's been a big change in pace of just, for as maybe simplistic as it sounds, I think that's where a lot of companies might miss the mark, not listening to what their consumers want.

Sheena Badani: Yeah. I think there's this interesting dynamic, regardless of how quickly the organization is growing, hypergrowth could mean different things but growth overall is consistency across the organization, but change over time. Even for Spotify, you're continuously putting out new products, the market is changing, new competitors are coming in. But as an organization and as a sales org, you need to be unified while moving through that change. So I'm curious how you set your team up for success with kind of like that balance at hand.

Brian Berner: What I would say is, what we've seen in even, let's call the past three years versus decades for that matter, is growth has expanded beyond just music into podcast, into shows. We're testing video on the platform, video podcasting, there's been just a ton of innovation. So to that point, Sheena, the challenges that we've had is, what was once maybe a very straightforward value proposition of who we were, we were a music streaming platform, but now evolved into the world's largest audio platform. But even when you look at audio in particular, you have very different use cases as well as consumers and products for that matter that the organization is going to be selling whether it's in podcasts, like I said, or general music streaming or believe it or not we actually have video products on the platform as well, that might not be our largest suite of products, but they're there too. So to that point, it becomes a true challenge of as your tool kit of what you are able to sell grows, and then your salesforce, your actual headcount, is growing at the same time, that is definitely the challenge of hypergrowth where, how do you maintain a consistent go- to- market strategy, a consistent narrative for that matter when you are constantly in growth mode onboarding new employees, as well as you're onboarding new employees you're launching new products, right? So it's like you have so many moving pieces at once and that's equally another great exciting thing about the platform, but as a sales leader, it becomes incredibly challenging to just maintain that pace of change all happening at once. So I give you that larger backstory to answer the question where it's absolutely imperative on one hand that you adopted very clear KPIs at all levels, whether it's what is expected of client services with respect to customer service and everything from how long do we take to get an order through the system? How are we tracking mistakes or make goods, or how are we tracking on time delivery? So on and so forth, to then with the sales, actual sellers you are tracking, market level activity, market feedback and then so on and so forth, you go up to the managers and you're trying to manage that all at scale. So there's two ways we really done that and one, we're leveraging a CRM tool which is general dashboard that maybe it's not sexy as it sounds, it's absolutely vital to have those consistent KPIs and then having the tracking mechanisms in place that you're just keeping a pulse on what everyone's doing so that you're just looking at the overall health metrics of the business, obviously revenue being core, but activity is a good correlation as to making predictions as to whether revenue is going to go up down or stay flat. And then two, I will give a plug, I know this is a Gong podcast, but how we all met in this new virtual world, I think it really opened up my eyes to the next evolution of, well, what does consistency look like? I have a distributed workforce that has now been working from home for over a year with more to come. And in this new world, distributed workforces is going to continue to become the new norm. So that's where you just have to bring on tools that help you, I would say, implement these strategies at scale, but then without sounding like big brother. You want to also be able to track these at scale so that you can keep a pulse on the overall health metrics of the organization.

Devin Reed: Brian may come across like a doctor of revenue as he highlights the importance of keeping a pulse on everything going on in his sales organization. And while revenue is the heart of a business's health, other metrics can help predict future success. As your company's offerings grow and head count increases, it's important to listen to the voice of the customer, focus on their needs and strategize accordingly. Here's some interesting stats from the article Winning at Sales in a Buyer- Empowered World, from Harvard Business Review. Did you know that 72% of decision makers say that a sales rep's ability to help solve business objectives is a major influence on their buying decision? That means it's not just about how well you present your product itself, but rather adjusting your value proposition for each buyer's needs. So how do you do this? Well, just like Brian said about tracking metrics, other than revenue, 37% of businesses expect revenue increases when applying analytics best practices to sales. By using data to understand your sales process, you'll learn which customers are getting the most value from you and what they really care about. Meaning you can address their needs and earn more business.

Devin Reed: I'd like to ask a quick question Brian, you said some vital KPIs on that dashboard. What are the most vital ones in your eyes? Revenue aside, what are some of those things you're looking at as maybe success signals or predictors?

Brian Berner: So I think Devin, my answer is it's always changing. So we're always trying to get better and learn. But if you put revenue aside, we can both agree revenue is the end of the wall. But even not putting revenue aside but tracking booking spaces, what we're seeing happen is how our customers are actually making purchasing decisions and what the sales funnel looks like, and clients are looking for more agility in this new world specifically within advertising, it's not your traditional SAS sale where you're doing two to five- year contracts or more so during quarterly deals. One of the metrics that we're looking at then is just again overall, I would say, how at the different deal sizes are we seeing the dynamics of how quickly does it take to close a deal. The other thing I'd say you're looking at, from success metrics or KPIs is, a lot of times people try and understand, well, why did you lose a deal. And you can get a lot of learnings from that rather than pivot your strategy. But I feel like a lot of companies aren't looking at why are you winning? So a big thing of what we've been doing is analyzing the partners or the sales that we are closing, why is that? And are there consistent things that you can extrapolate that will all ultimately create your ideal client profile and therefore, then it can set forth the strategy of who you're going to begin maybe prioritizing from a prospecting standpoint. So those are just some additional metrics that we're looking at beyond revenue with just overall, let's say customer activity and then customer profiles.

Devin Reed: Yeah. That's fascinating, we're obviously self acclaimed data nerds we really appreciate putting that data lens to it. But I'm always interested, because like you said, it should change, right? What you're looking at now shouldn't probably be the same six months ago and the six months before that, especially given the growth and the dynamic nature of your business. I know also that part of consistency is getting the entire team around a common language or a framework. I know you have what might be the best named framework I've ever heard, which is the Spotifive framework that you launched. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Brian Berner: Yeah, so I have to say that I'll give a plug if she ever ends up listening, Meredith Ian, who is our head of global training. She came up with the witty name, Spotifive. But what Spotifive is, that's ultimately our framework of how we are training and onboarding people to go to market and that's everything from new sellers to quite frankly tenured sellers. And the framework itself, it's nothing, I would say, nothing revolutionary that you probably haven't picked up in any type of standard sales training books or you've seen at other orgs. But what is unique is the fact that rather than just regurgitating someone else's work, we've really been thoughtful about taking what we feel works best for us and then personalizing that. So the Spotifive framework, first and foremost, it's just teaching sellers about intention. So again, Spotifive framework, I'll walk you through it real quick, it's how we ultimately go to market with just general meetings. Whether they are virtual meetings, in- person meetings and all different phases of the sales cycle. So with respect to intention, it's simple as teaching our sales team consistency on, " Why are we having a meeting?" So first and foremost, I think a lot of salespeople will list out an agenda, but it's more about being thoughtful about" Well, what is the specific intentions and goals of this meeting?" Say that in the beginning and align with your customers so that you know what is the goal of meeting and that you're both leaning in and jointly agreeing on this. Too many sellers go to market and they just start talking right away or they just jump into the agenda without stating their intention. And then from there we pivot to the second pillar, which is informed discovery, and as the art of, you obviously want to be mindful of your client's time, they have a lot of people that are calling on them. So you'd have to ask yourself why did they take the time to meet with you? So that's where we're teaching our sellers to make sure that they are making informed discovery decisions to questions about what we know about our client's business without being too over assumptive. So that's a moment to just make sure you're aligning with your client on what their goals and objectives are that you are hitting it correctly without again wasting their time. But that's also a moment to be thoughtful depending on where you're at in the sales cycle, to use that to have discovery questions quite frankly. And then the third pillar is insights and diagnosis. So at this point, you've already told the client what the meeting's about. You've had the informed discovery to align on what we're solving for. So now in insights and diagnosis, you're really going to share your solutions, again, depending on where you're at in the sales cycle. And then the fourth is solutions and evidence which you're going to be showing that you actually can bring the ROI to whatever your diagnosis is. And then five, is going to be qualify and commit, which is again, making sure you're asking for the business or digging deeper as to why you might not be in consideration for that business, and then leaving that conversation making sure there's commitment on both ends as to what the very specific and actionable next steps will be. So the reason why we created that Spotifive framework, is back to the original point of this conversation is, " How do we create consistency at scale? How do we go to market consistently at scale while giving sellers the ability to still bring their own personality to that meeting, but making sure it stays on point with our brand and our brand value, to make it easy for our clients to work with, but it also then just help us make it easier for clients to understand why should they work with us and what is our value proposition we're bringing in and what solutions are we bringing in to the conversation."

Devin Reed: That's awesome. I love that. And it might have gone over listeners' heads, but you followed the framework in the way you just described the framework and that you told me what all the steps were and then you went right into why. So I love that. I love that you're living and breathing this thing. If I could dive into one component with you Brian, it would be the insights and diagnosis. The word insights is one of my favorite. I'd love to hear as much as you're able to share either maybe why insights or some of the things you bring to the table and maybe the outcome that has on the buyers in that meeting.

Brian Berner: Well, the insights in the world of advertising, it doesn't matter if you're selling streaming audio or out- of- home TV, et cetera. Advertising is rooted within audiences. So, there's various brands from all different walks of life, verticals, QSR, CPT, et cetera. So from an insights perspective, everything is rooted within who is that brand trying to reach. So what is their core audience, which obviously you should know before the meeting and align on if there's any changes in that meeting. But then more importantly, what brands care about is what is the unique insight as to what that brand's consumer is doing on our platform? And therefore, if we better understand who the brands consumer is on our platform, what they're doing, the diagnosis or the solution that ties back to the insight is, what is the thoughtful advertisement that ideally is authentic and unobtrusive to that user's experience. However, hopefully would capture their attention, they either want to leave whatever they're doing to learn more, or to at least like bookmark or check or just remember that this ad stood out, caught their attention, was served to the right person at the right time and the right moment and therefore creating an action. So again, maybe a long- winded way of answering your question about that insight, it's a very, very important aspect of understanding who the brand's consumers are on our platform. So again, in our world, we're not looking for brands to just take their radio ads and plug them on our platform, because it doesn't make sense in its different environment so you want to be thoughtful of that. You want to be thoughtful of being able to better align with consumers, the way you would advertise on an audio platform is different than how you would on a video platform. So then Devin, very long winded way of saying everything is rooted within the insights of who that consumer is, because those insights will ultimately correlate to what is the solution, and then depending on how hopefully right you got the solution, then that'll obviously increase the ROI.

Devin Reed: Well, I can tell you this, I have taken a call with one of your sales reps. And that was something that stood out because we were talking about ways we could expand the way we're currently advertising at Gong. And I had no idea what to expect, I'm not admittedly in the paid side of the content side of the org here, but she came to the meeting with, " I understand who your audience is. I understand this is what you're doing. And here's..." I think she had two or three recommendations of things that made sense specifically because of all the things you just outlined. And it was very educational, but it also built a lot of credibility, because I didn't feel like she gave me a pick list. Like, " Hey, we sell these five things, you tell me which one you want and we talked from there." So I have to say I applaud that rep, it's something you guys are actually doing. And as a buyer was something that really resonated.

Brian Berner: That's great, it's great how soon we'll have to talk offline and I love that story. Thank you for sharing that.

Devin Reed: Absolutely. I owe... It was a her, I forget her name. So I apologize, I can't her podcast famous right now, but I will happily relay that to you offline.

Brian Berner: inaudible, thank you.

Sheena Badani: So Brian, I suspect that in order to be successful with driving this consistency at scale, it's really critical to have strong leadership at the top. Because a lot of the why, the how, the objectives, that's coming from leadership. So could you talk a little bit more about what actually makes a good leader in this type of scenario?

Brian Berner: Let me say Sheena, I don't have all the right answers, so I'll give you my answer and hopefully it's spot on. But it's a great question and I also have to acknowledge that COVID in particular and the virtual sales that we've been thrusted into, has made me do a lot of soul searching and reflection on leadership as well. So when I think about what is a strong leader, I'm going to say some things that are repetitive and then hopefully things that stand out. But on one hand all true leaders, the difference between a leader or a manager or a boss, a leader is always going to be able to set forth that North star. But that North star should always be rooted in some type of mission- based leadership. So everyone should have a North star, and again, I don't want to get too philosophical here, but even if you're selling something as simple as ads, you can still always root your leadership into something larger beyond the day- to- day transaction. So if you even think about that on Spotify, Spotify is doing a lot of things but hopefully at the end of the day, we're helping millions of creators live off of their work. So every time we are generating revenue for the company, that revenue is going back to our creators. So to be able to set forth a mission that gives the team something larger to focus on beyond just transacting, I think, it's first and foremost, the most important to understand the gravity of that you are more than just a sales team, more than a sales person. You're a part of something larger and greater, which is the company overall mission. So I think that that's very important. And then two, after you set forth that mission, I think people gravitate towards leaders that one, are genuine, right? So you have to do what you say you're going to do. People want leaders that hold accountability to themselves as well as the team. So being a genuine person, I think, is incredibly important. And then I think along with being genuine, having empathy is equally as important. So when you're managing all different personality types, I think sales leaders need to be very mindful of the fact that not every single person on your team is the same person. And again, it might sound so simplistic when you hear me say it, but there's plenty of leaders that aren't leaders for that matter and just like our bosses or managers. And they're just like, " Here's the metrics we're following and check the box, check the box." And you have to understand that, in order to really bring the individuals great quality vows, you have to be a chameleon and have empathy and understand who that individual is, and your leadership style has to change with different personalities while having consistency. And then I think the last thing that ties into maybe everything we're talking about and what Gong does for us as well is, great leaders are also great educators. So at any point in time, when you are leading the team and showing them" Here's this new product," and you're positioning the product, you also want to be educating them on something beyond the day- to- day, and that could be industry trends or just understanding the why customers are doing what they may be doing. So in my opinion, to play that back, a strong leader has mission- based leadership, is genuine, has empathy and then last and even most important is an educator first and foremost.

Sheena Badani: Yeah. I think the why, in defining that North star and rallying the team around that, is the one that really stands out to me. We recently did an episode where we shared some data that the teams that were the most aligned around passion and the vision, that actually led to more outside of out sized results versus teams that had greater experience. So that alignment or the vision and the passion that the team is able to dedicate towards that, is what's going to ultimately lead to success versus just finding a bunch of reps that have done this or the same thing for a long time.

Brian Berner: I couldn't agree with you more, could not agree with you more. And that's what I say one of my reflections during COVID was, obviously, I hope I'm a great leader and I'm always continuing to find ways to evolve. But what I realized in COVID was, one of the things that has changed in my leadership style is a lot of times that I was hosting my All Hands, it was checking the box with, " What are the company metrics health revenue, how are we doing? Two, maybe here's general product insights you should be aware of at training. Three, maybe there are some other people within the department or other departments you should hear from." But the one thing that I wasn't spending enough time doing or lifting maybe two things was one, just being a little more vulnerable and speaking from the heart and just acknowledging the difficulty that I'm going through so that people understand like, " I get it. I know what you guys are going through. I'm at home with four kids, it's absolute insanity at the Berner household." So I think on one hand it's sometimes taking time away from, you don't need to talk about the metrics 24/7, and you do need to talk about the people. And then two, I think to that point, the educator piece has also... I've had sessions where we've been talking about, " What is a recession? What does it mean to go through a recession? Or what are we seeing in these verticals." And sometimes it's not a one- to- one correlation to advertising per se. But what you see is people will lean in more and you're creating a more, well- rounded, more thoughtful salesforce. And again, if it ties back into that mission, it helps the team feel a part of something larger versus if all you're doing is checking the box and the company metrics, you're going to lose people's passion, you're going to lose their attention.

Sheena Badani: So true. And I can't answer the question as to whether or not you're a great leader, as I don't report to you, but I can say that your willingness and interest in being a great leader, as you mentioned, and your ability to evolve and change your leadership style in this market that we're in is a great sign. So I'm sure your team appreciates all of that.

Brian Berner: Thank you. Thank you.

Devin Reed: And I will fact check that, Sheena, offline because the sales rep I could not name, I have since looked up and I will ask Clara Lasher, if in fact Brian is the real deal.

Brian Berner: All right. I'll send her this podcasts so you know you gave her a plug. That's awesome. I love that. Thank you. Love it.

Devin Reed: She was great. She was great. Well, Brian, I've been writing notes down over here and I'm sure our listeners have too. This has been fantastic. I would like to wrap up with the same question that we ask all of our guests, which is, how would you describe sales in one word?

Brian Berner: Give me a moment, I know, and how would I describe sales in one word? Very open- ended, but if someone just came and asked me what you did, how would you describe sales in one word? I would just simply say exciting. Maybe dynamic. I mean, let me change my answer to dynamic, that's what I would say. Sales is dynamic.

Devin Reed: I like it. And talking to you, I can understand that because that's like the world you're in right now. The B2C, the B2B play that Spotify is doing, how you are all evolving is great. And speaking of evolving, this is unprompted, Spotify did not sponsor this episode that you might think so the way that I love them so much. Whoever's idea was to come up with the end of year email or the campaign of your year- in- review for all the music I've listened to, that is fantastic. I just want to throw that out there. I don't know if you know that person, Brian, but it's worth mentioning. If anyone listening hasn't seen it, be on the lookout for December. It is the best marketing that I look forward to all year.

Sheena Badani: So true.

Brian Berner: Thank you for the plug, it's called rap, it is evolved into rap. It was a group of people, some very, very smart individuals. But objectively, not as an employee, couldn't agree with you more. It has been so amazing to see how your end of year rap, that Spotify started. Cultural has really bled into larger culture and you see so many different companies now having their variation. I'm like, " What is your year end listening, streaming or all of your purchasing decisions?" Again, it's such a fun, fun way to end the year and I think our consumer marketing team does just such a great unique, like tongue in cheek humorous campaign. So thank you for that part. I absolutely do agree with you. I love it. It's a great piece of our work that's been going on for a long time now at Spotify.

Devin Reed: And I have seen it be copied across, I think, Lyft and Digit, they tell me how much I spend and how many places I'm going. And I'm putting it out into the open. I will be doing my best to copy it for Gong, later this year. So when you see it Brian, give me your feedback as hopefully it'll make it onto your radar.

Brian Berner: Oh, I'd love that. That'd be great. I would absolutely, that'd be great.

Sheena Badani: Thanks so much Brian. It was a pleasure to have you on the show and great to get to know you through this.

Devin Reed: Absolutely.

Brian Berner: Likewise, thank you both, appreciate the time and you guys stay safe and have a great week.

Speaker 4: Every week, we bring you a micro action. It could be something as simple to think about or something you can put into play today. While your company expands and you increase product and feature options, think about which businesses they can best help. Take a look at what successful KPIs look like that drive revenue, and see if they are clear across your whole sales team. With teams working remotely, it's more important than ever to keep a pulse on what's driving business and how you can pitch your value proposition to customers who are constantly changing their needs.

Devin Reed: Did you like today's episode? Subscribe now so next week's episode will be waiting for you on Monday.

Sheena Badani: And if you really liked the podcast, please leave a review. Five star reviews go a long way to help get the word out there.

Devin Reed: And if you're not ready to give a five, check out another episode and see if we've won you over by then.

Sheena Badani: And if you have any feedback or you want us to interview one of your favorite revenue leaders, just email us at reveal @ gong. io.


Spotify is a leading music and podcast streaming service. This might be obvious because well, where are you listening to this podcast from? This week, Brian Berner, Spotify's Head of North America's Advertising Sales, discusses cultivating talent through training and creating consistency at scale. You'll listen to him go over his five step framework, Spotifive, a personalized onboarding people to go to market. The teachings include insights into intention, informed discovery, and a few other steps Brian thoroughly explains in today's show.

Today's Host

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Dana Feldman

|VP of Enterprise Sales at Gong

Today's Guests

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Brian Berner

|Head of North America Advertising Sales, Spotify