10/25/16 Interview with Membrain

Let’s Get Real.

Let's Get Real with Membrain
In this series, we interview sales tool providers and get real about the problems they’re solving and why you should care (or not).

This week I interview George Brontén, CEO of Membrain.

Nancy: I ask guests to answer the first question using what I call the “You know how…” format. Tell us, what does your solution do?

George: You know how a lot of sales departments waste time and money hiring and firing, trying to find those top performers who consistently crush their quotas? And how despite this, sales effectiveness continues to decline, forecasts are missed, and buyers don’t see value from engaging with sales people? How does Membrain address this problem?

I know that problem well, because I’ve experienced it. Early in my career as an entrepreneur, I hired and fired repeatedly, looking for those top performers to make the organization succeed. And we did okay, but not great, and one day I realized that the salespeople were not the problem — I was. I was not giving them the resources, training, support, and culture they needed to succeed.

Over time, I discovered that other sales departments were having the same problem, and I identified two mistakes that almost everyone was making. The first mistake is to assume that “salespeople” already know how to sell what you need to sell. The second mistake is to assume that a traditional CRM will help drive the right behaviors.

Once I saw these for what they are, I set about designing a software platform to address them. That’s Membrain.

Membrain provides the means for executives and sales leaders to build a consistent, professional sales process based on the winning activities and behaviors of top performers, and to propagate that process throughout the organization, thereby raising the performance of all salespeople. It also provides the visibility that managers need into where each salesperson struggles, so they can coach effectively.

Organizations using Membrain consistently experience performance improvements across the organization, improving ramp-up times, reducing turnover, and improving quota attainment. They also gain better forecast quality, and gain the ability to continuously improve to meet changing market conditions.

Nancy: That sounds like a problem worth solving (and a worthy solution). But let’s get real, sales and marketing organizations have a lot of challenges and they have to make choices about which to solve first. Why shouldn’t they continue with things the way they are if they’re getting by? What are the ramifications of not solving the problems you outlined?

George: Sales effectiveness globally is at frighteningly low levels. Quota attainment across the board is at about 50%, and it’s declining. This is despite all the technology we have at our disposal. Can you imagine any other department inside a business performing at 50%, and that being acceptable?

The sales department is the engine at the heart of the organization. There is a clear correlation between the sales department not making quota and the organization not making revenue goals. The solution to this problem is to get serious about the professionalism of the sales organization, and the way to do that is a top-down effort to build a reliable, consistent system that supports high performance.

Nancy: What types of questions should sales leaders ask to decide whether solving this problem should be a high priority?

George: It’s pretty simple, really. Are you missing forecasts? Losing deals to no decision? Experiencing low quota attainment, high turnover, or slow ramp-up times?

All of these problems are traceable to salespeople not having the skills and support to qualify effectively, to differentiate along the customer’s needs, and to move prospects through their buying process. Training and coaching is one part of the answer, but you have to have the right technology underpinning the system to make it work consistently and to achieve continuous improvement.

Nancy: This question is your choice. What do you want to answer that I didn’t ask?

George: One major challenge you haven’t talked about is globalization. Many sales teams are facing increasing competition from lower priced alternatives from around the world. so I would ask, “How can sales organizations combat this?”

The key here is to understand the problem from the customer’s point of view. In a global online world, every competitor’s product looks more or less the same to the customer. It becomes the sales team’s responsibility to communicate how you are different and create value, and how you sell becomes more important than what you sell.

To succeed, organizations have to take action to systematize and encapsulate the best possible ways of selling, and to propagate those behaviors across the organization. That’s what we built Membrain to do.

Nancy: What should people do next?

George: Obviously, we think sales organizations need our software as part of their solution. We’d love a chance to show them how we simplify the process and empower their organization. Readers can request a demo on our website. We look forward to hearing from them.