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Peter Strohkorb

Episode 22: Using the OneTEAM Method for Sales & Marketing Collaboration, with Peter Strohkorb

Peter is the CEO of Peter Strohkorb Consulting International, a business consulting firm that specializes is customer experience and sales & marketing team alignment with offices in Australia and the USA.

Peter has over 15 years of business experience in both Sales and Marketing Executive roles with some of the biggest brands on the planet. He is a respected business Speaker, conference Chair, Facilitator and a sought after Executive Mentor. Peter is an international authority on Smarketing® i.e. on Sales & Marketing alignment and collaboration. He has appeared on three continents at conferences, corporate events and on promotional occasions. His vision is a world where business teams collaborate seamlessly to the benefit of all stakeholders.

Peter is also a guest lecturer in the Executive MBA Program at the internationally acclaimed Sydney Business School and at the University of Wollongong, Australia. He is a published author of the Amazon 5-Star rated book The OneTEAM Method, which describes his holistic Sales and Marketing collaboration framework to lift sales results, enhance customer experience and boost staff engagement.

Peter holds qualifications in Marketing and Management from the prestigious Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Peter’s book “The OneTEAM Method: How Sales+Marketing Collaboration boosts big business”
  • The 5 steps of the method and how Peter delivers that to clients
  • Examples of companies of varying sizes (6 and 60 people) that Peter has used this system with
  • The new deal that has allowed Peter to bring this system to the US
  • How companies are becoming more risk-averse has changed how Peter has had to sell his system
  • Peter’s efforts to bring the Smarketing system worldwide

Ways to contact Peter:


Welcome to System Execution the strategy and system behind today’s successful companies. Systems can make or break your company. We’re here we’ll solve your physical, technological and psychological systems issues by connecting you with experts that have succeeded in overcoming those challenges in their own business and providing you the guidelines and tools you need to implement those same strategies for immediate results. Now here’s your host Vera Fischer.

Vera: Today’s episode is sponsored by 97 Degree West, an Austin Texas advertising agency build on the belief that when you combine creative talent and humanity you can help companies make their products, services and brands relevant to the life of their customers. 97 Degrees West specializes in finance, healthcare, manufacturing and energy. For more information go to www.97dwest.com. Welcome to System Execution a podcast devoted to using processes and systems to drive to a better outcome for your business. I am Vera Fischer your host.

All businesses no matter the size relies on systems. Some of these are physical systems such as a factory, some are technological like project management software, while others are psychological systems such as checklists and organizational charts. Many of these systems will overlap in your business. Today’s guest Peter Strohkorb is the author and mastermind behind the book The OneTEAM Method. This method is for sales and marketing collaboration that results in a lift in sales results, enhancing customer experience and boosting staff engagement.

I’m going to give you a little bit more information about Peter, he’s the CEO of Peter Strohkorb Consulting International. This firm specializes in customer experience and sales and marketing team alignment with offices in Australia and the US. Peter has more than 15 years of business experience in both sales and marketing executive roles with some of the largest brands on the planet. He’s a respected business speaker, conference chair, facilitator, sought after executive mentor.

Peter is also a guest lecturer in the executive MBA program at the internationally acclaimed Sydney Business School. Talk us through some high level thinking and steps of this process. I’ve got the book, your book The OneTEAM Method in front of me. It finally arrived in the mail, I was very excited. It’s not a thin book, it’s got some good depth to it and I was hoping you could give us a 30,000 ft. view of what these steps are and this method.

Peter: The book has quite substantial, it’s 54,000 words, nearly 300 pages and the reason that is the case is that I really wanted to substantiate where the problem comes from, how ubiquitous it is and that there’s no need to deny that we even have the problem, which happens in a lot of organizations particularly from the marketing side. When I wrote the book about two and half, three years ago now there was still this conception that it is what it is, we can’t do anything about this problem. I really wanted to highlight that the problem exists, it’s real and it’s solvable.

If I had to write the book again now I probably could make it a lot thinner because the awareness of the problem existing is quite … Is out there and I don’t need to start with, “The earth cooled and there was a problem and now I solved it.” In terms of the five steps, we always had five steps but what I used to do is to try to sell to organizations the five steps in one go and I just found that they weren’t ready for that. What I’ve done now is I’ve broken it down into selling the five steps individually as a system.

The concept is sold to the client as five steps but they only pay for step one and then they decide whether they want to go to step two and three and four and five and so on. That does two things, one is it mitigates the risk for the client. They only spend a little bit of money, get a good a result. Then they spend a bit more money get a better result and so on and so on. The five steps are that we go and do something very light, very short, very quick, very inexpensive and non-disruptive to the business as the first step. That is we run a very short survey for the sales and marketing people and all we do then is we compare their responses.

One of the questions, for example, in the survey is, “Do you have a central repository for marketing collateral that makes it easy for the sales people to find things, collateral that they can use with their clients and prospects?” Invariably we get the marketing team saying, “Yeah, yeah we’ve got that and it’s really easy for the sales people to find stuff,” and invariably the sales people saying, “Well, where is it?” We tease out differences in perception between the sales people and the marketing people and then all we do is talk about why is there a differences not whose fault is it or what could be done about it.

We’re just starting with a dialog between the two saying, “Why is here a difference in this perception and what would happen if we actually closed the gap?” That is really what we call a discussion starter. It puts everybody on the same page, it tells you that there’s a difference and we’re actually, one thing is that even within the sales team or even within the marketing team we get a broad spread of opinions of whether these things exist and what people perceive them. The first step is fairly subjective because all we want to do is overcome the finger pointing and blame shifting and all we want to do is start a dialog between the teams.

The first step is just very light, very quick, very inexpensive and just allows an organization to put their finger on the parts of the business to see where they’re at and we also give you what we call this marketing score. This is the sales and marketing collaboration score. It’s a point score out of zero to 100 points and just the fact that the score between sales and marketing is different it will tell you that there’s something to talk about.

Just the fact that there’s a difference even within sales or even within marketing gives you a reason to talk about why is that so and what we could be doing to enumerate it, that’s step one. Two is then to go on and to conduct individual interviews one on one with some of the respondents, not all of them but just a subset of the respondents. The reason we do that is two-fold. The interview is fairly high-level because we want it to be quick. Sorry, the survey is high-level because we want it to be quick.

In the interviews you can really drill down on what people have said and the amazing thing is that we find that you know already as a CEO as a leader in the organization. You know already what vocal people are thinking, but it’s often the more quitter people that have the best ideas and have the best perceptions, right? They say, “Well, why don’t we just do that?” You say, “Well, that’s amazing have you ever told anyone?” “No, nobody has ever asked me.”

We actually find these nuggets of gold within the organizations and the reason they tell us is that firstly we ask and secondly we anonymize all the responses. That means we only what to know what the ideas are, what the complaints are, what the barriers are, what the opportunities are but it’s not necessary for anybody else to know who said what. The employees can speak out completely freely and openly and frankly and without the fear of reprisal or that anything is going to come back to them and that’s why they’re open with us.

We then in the third step do the same thing but we do it with customers. If sales talks to the customers and marketing talks to customers through different channels but they both talk to the customers, we want to see how those messages are perceived. The point where it really matters normally at the customer end. We don’t survey them because we find that we don’t get a good response from that. We go on to conduct one on one interviews with them.

Vera: Peter let me, I want to ask you a question right there. When you’re out on the customer’s side asking or interviewing them are you talking to them about specific experiences with marketing and with sales, what are you asking them?

Peter: We have a proprietary set of questions that we ask them but essentially it comes down to what do you like, what don’t you like, what do other organizations do that you like but this organization doesn’t or what could be … To hear that from you. They’re completely open-ended questions because we want to tease out from the customers their own impressions and their own ideas and their own complaints if you like.

Again everything is being anonymized so they can really be open and frank with us and because we come in as a neutral entity. I joke we come in as Switzerland, they don’t have to have an ongoing relationship with us, their responses are going to be anonymized, they’re not going to put their name to it but they just can say whatever they want to and, Vera, something very funny happens.

At first, it’s all very formal, “Yes, Mr. Strohkorb, and on and on and on,” but five minutes into the conversation they go, “Right, tell them this,” and they really give us their free and frank opinion positive or negative but it’s all good feedback for our client because they have never told these things to them directly. They still want to maintain the relationship and they don’t want to ruin anything and they don’t want to put themselves out there and be confrontational but or if they have ideas and they say, “Look these other guys they really do this fantastic work with us in this area and it would be good if you could do that too.”

That’s all information we can bring back to our client and say, “Look this is what your customers are saying to you.” Again, we tease out these nuggets of gold from the customer conversation and then that’s steps one two and three. We’ve now got the voice of the teams, we’ve got the voice of the customer and we’ve got all the information we need to make an informed decision on what to do going forward.

Now we come to step four and step four is my favorite because this is really where the rubber hits the road and you can make a difference in an organization and that is that we take all the information that we have and we have a proprietary way of teasing out of our customers what they think is going to be our priority giving the feedback. We distill the feedback down into a number of key areas and usually it’s in the range of four to six key areas. We have a proprietary way for our customers to decide for themselves, “What is the highest priority for us and what’s the second highest and what’s the third highest priority.”

The key to step four is to run a workshop where we don’t tell them what to do. As consultants, I don’t want us to come down from the mountain with the stone tablets and the ten commandment and say, “This is how you’re going to lead your life from now on.” I want them to develop their own solution, I want them to be part of the solution, I want them to become their own solution because then they’re bought in much harder into this solution and they will own it and then it will actually last.

It will extend beyond the walls of just head office, it will go into the regional areas, into the branches, into the international offices. I’m really proud of the way that we’ve implemented this in the sense that we guide our customers to come up with their own solution because then they will believe in it and that’s step four. Then step five is to help our customers implement the solution that they have themselves developed with our guidance.

Vera: Are those new processes or recommendations on how the two departments and teams can work together?

Peter: Absolutely, what we do is we run through this process of letting them choose what’s their highest priority and then we break them up into blended teams, sales and marketing teams. Let them workshop each problem area themselves and we’re just facilitating a decision that they make themselves. It’s very important that it’s their decisions, there’s nothing imposed on them, nothing forced on them. The idea is that we guide them to come up with the best plan that they can implement themselves and we just help them do that.

Vera: What is your size of group that you’re working with typically, could you give us a sense of that?

Peter: Yes, the smallest one was six people in an advanced startup company. I can talk to you about the outcomes of that exercise. The largest was 60 people in the executive team of a half-billion-dollar energy company here in Australia.

Vera: Okay, let’s hear it.

Peter: The smaller company, they had a problem that they were … They had 16 people and distributed over two cities and the marketing team was sitting in one city and the sales team was obviously distributed into both but they didn’t talk to teach other. That caused problems in so far as the sales team in one city was still running promotions that the marketing team had long given up on and the new promotions weren’t being brought to their clients by the sales force.

When a client asked for this latest promotion the sales force didn’t know anything about it, it was a terrible situation. We ran them through the five steps of The OneTEAM Method over a six-week period and within the next two months after the six-week period, the organization sold more services to their clients than in the previous six months.

Vera: That’s pretty astounding and it was …

Peter: After six weeks of The OneTEAM Method within the next two months they sold more than in the previous six months. This is a professional services firm, they do advisory in terms of electricity use and energy saving in the corporate sector. They work with Strata buildings and professional corporate buildings.

Their team just gelled to such a degree that they were much more highly effective at actually offering their services, talking to the right customers in the right way and bringing them through to the pointy end of transaction much more quickly. That accelerated their sales phenomenally. We worked it out this was actually a 433% improvement in revenue.

Vera: That’s very impressive and the largest company, the one that you referenced?

Peter: The large company is an electricity utility and they are half a billion-dollar business annually with about 60 people in the sales and marketing teams and the initial discussion was with the CEO, who had only joined the organization from a very large telco just recently. He could sense that something was not right but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it in terms of the sales people and the marketing people working together and really being effective at that.

We had a conversation and I recommended that he actually appoints a unified sales and marketing head, which he then did. He appointed a lady to head up sales and marketing combined, that both team would report into. We then made it her initiative to bring in The OneTEAM Method. It was a new beginning for the organization with a new leader and she brought in The OneTEAM Method as her initiative. That was the key message to the staff.

We’re now in December, we started in February of this year with step one and what we found when we did the interviews was that the organization was highly disenfranchised. There were people doing their own thing, they weren’t talking to each other, the silo culture was alive and well. In particular, the organization had a direct sales force, outside sales, inside sales and a call center. Two call centers one inbound, one outbound.

The outbound call center was in a different state away from head office and they felt they were being treated like mushrooms, kept in the dark. They felt that they had no say in the method, they were just told what to do and their moral was terrible. We used their feedback to remedy this situation and give them a voice. Let them make some suggestions, discuss some ideas and actually just be involved in the decision making. You can imagine the original situation was that the scripts for the call center came from legal. They were very safe but you can imagine how entertaining they were, right?

Vera: Probably very.

Peter: They weren’t allowed to deviate from the script, which was terrible for them and didn’t really give them the good results and they said to me, “Look, we know who we’re talking to on the phone. Whether it’s a blue-collar worker who likes the football or it’s a white-collar worker who likes playing the stock market. We can tell and if we can only moderate our messages and our tone to suit the people that we’re talking to, we can actually do a better job but the script that comes from legal doesn’t allow us to do that.”

There were quite simple things that you’d say, “Da that makes complete sense to me,” that just weren’t followed and nobody thought there was anything wrong with that until we pointed it out. Let me tell you that I said we started in February. In the last year of our financial year, in Australia the financial ends on the 30th of June. The last year of the financial year our telco network dropped out just disappeared altogether. They had a technical, never happened before, it was the first time but what’s the worst thing that can happen in a call center on the last day of the financial year?

Vera: It drops out, oh my gosh.

Peter: Ordinarily had this happened back in February the people would have said and it was in the late afternoon as well when it dropped out. Ordinarily, if this had happened back in February the people in the call center would have gone, “Well, there’s nothing we can do here let’s just home,” right? Instead, we changed the culture around to a degree where they said, “No, we don’t want to stop, we want to hit our targets and we’re going to keep going and we’re going to use our personal mobile phones, our cellphones to keep bringing clients and prospects and making those sales.”

The culture had moved from, “I don’t care, I just work here and nobody cares for me,” to, “I’m highly engaged and I want to make a difference at a personal level.” Then in September of this year this organization had their best salesman ever. We started in February then we go March, April, May, June, July, August, September. Within seven moths we had turned the organization around from being a basket case to being a highly performing team that gets results.

Vera: Is this system only available in Australia?

Peter: I’m so glad you asked this because I’m very glad to announce to you and your audience that we have just recently struck a licensing agreement with a US based consulting firm, who are rolling out The OneTEAM Method and is marketing locally. They have affiliates that can actually represent it nationally. I’d also like to say that this arrangement is non-exclusive.

We’re actually for other organizations in the US and in Canada to represent the method and to license it from us as well. It’s already proven that it works, the organization came to us and they said, “We want to put something else on the shelf that we can just sell from day one, we don’t need to develop anything.” They’re a specialist cultural change management organization consultancy.

They just wanted another thing on their shelf that they could sell very quickly and easily and The OneTEAM Method was just ideal because as I said earlier there’s no such constructive and structured methodology around to address this very, very common problem.

Vera: It’s also very dependent on human interaction. This isn’t something that you can go off and do from a technology perspective, correct?

Peter: Exactly, we come at it from a people perspective, from a cultural perspective and we don’t actually tell you what technology to use and whether you need to use something different or not. We just say, “From a people perspective it’s important that whatever technology you have supports the way that the people want to work.” There’s a lot of organizations that dare I say bamboozled by technology and they think that if they just buy a CRM license or a marketing automation license then automatically a miracle will occur overnight and everything will be fine.

What they’re overlooking is that there are people using the application or the software and if you don’t adjust those people’s mindsets then the technology will not get you anywhere. In my book I actually use this line that I repeat several times, which is, “You can have the latest technology and the most sophisticated business processes but if your people are not onboard with you it will come to nothing.”

Vera: Absolutely, I agree with it 100%. There’s some generations that are behind us that may disagree with you on that but we might win out on that one.

Peter: I can cite some stats Accenture and CSI Insights brought out a study a couple of years ago now that said that 85% of business technology implementations do not live up to their original business case. For every major capital expenditure there’s a business case in most organization and 85% of the business technology, business cases do not come to fruition once the technology is installed.

That’s because it just gets handed over to IT, it becomes a technology project not a people project, not business enhancement project and IT is only gold on, “Bring it in on time and on budget.” It’s seen as a cost center. What happens? Well, IT will bring it in on time and on budget but leave the people behind. Then they turn it on and of course the people go, “Well, I don’t really want this, nobody asked me.”

Then the matter is, “The people are not using it, we need to give them more training.” As if it’s a capability skills problems, it’s usually a mindset problem where they resist anything new that they weren’t privy to, being part of the decision making. I don’t know how many salespeople do you know that love filling in their CRM forms?

Vera: None.

Peter: Why are we surprised that the technology alone doesn’t deliver a miracle?

Vera: Exactly and we were promised that in the beginning.

Peter: Of course because if I were the vendor I’d say, “Just buy my license and everything will be fine.” Then I walk away with my cheque in my pocket and go off to the next customer but the organization is left a hole in the bucket and it’s not getting the promised business benefit. We’ve got to address it from the people side first.

Vera: Absolutely, Peter I wanted to circle back with you on some of the steps that you had outlined in your OneTEAM Method. During that explanation you had mentioned that at the beginning selling all five steps at once was something that proves to be a little bit overwhelming for your clients. What was that about?

Peter: Once I developed the method I thought this, the method has five steps, I’ll sell a program that has five steps and we’ll charge $50, $100,000 for the program and we’ll roll it out within six to 12 months. Since 2008 times have shifted and organization are now much more risk averse. They’re very careful with their spending and quite frankly the spending authorization has changed. There’s nobody really allowed to spend 50k just like that. It’s got to go to a panel and it’s got to be discussed and there’s an approval process and so on.

I just found that it was too hard to sell a big bang approach and particularly for something new, something that people haven’t heard of and weren’t use to and wasn’t really mainstream. The perceived risk overwhelmed the benefits of the methodology and I had to learn the lesson very quickly that to actually sell the concept of the five steps but make the sale based on step one just alone. With the understanding that if step one works then you agree to go to step two and if step two works then you agree to go to step three and so on.

It does two things actually, it doesn’t only mitigate the risk for the client and so far as they’re just doing one step, they know what their expense is and they know what to expect as an outcome. Then they can see whether they’re getting it before they approve the next step. They stay in control and they control their risk but the other thing is that it forces us to deliver value to the client at every step, right? If we don’t they will just not go to the next step. It’s actually quite a win-win scenario too.

Vera: As you said step four is the most fun, you’ve got to get to step four.

Peter: If we give them good information in step three, this is information they didn’t have themselves because they say we do surveys every year but the survey doesn’t give you the depth of the interview process and if it’s not conducted by a third party people just won’t tell you the truth.

If it’s not Switzerland coming in and shielding you from any repercussions of what you’re saying, then people will just not be open and frank and honest with you. Step four is the most fun because we have distilled down all this information and we have now enough facts to make an informed decision on.

Vera: Interesting, well I love this system and there’s a lot of commonsense built into it and I always think that those are the best systems especially with the many interviews that I’ve done. It’s something that’s not filled with buzzwords, it’s just a common sense approach and a people based approach as well.

Peter: Absolutely and I’ll go back to what Neil Rackham because I sent him a copy of the book afterwards and he said, “You seem to have developed a method that’s simple without being simplistic and goes way beyond the usual mantra of the CEO saying, Guys just work it out.” The method is simple and in retrospect there’s probably a lot of people saying, “Da that makes sense,” but it’s surprisingly difficult to replicate if you don’t know the exact steps and the proprietary methodologies behind them.

You could say, “Anybody could run interviews,” but it’s the how you run interviews and what makes you, gets the people to speak out openly and makes them feel comfortable to do so. That’s the trick there and anybody can run a workshop but the idea is that you get the people to prioritize themselves, what they think is important and then they develop their own solution. While the method is simple just like Neil Rackham said, “It’s simple, but it’s not simplistic.”

Vera: There’s a little bit of psychology involved for sure.

Peter: There’s a lot of psychology involved and that’s what to me makes it really interesting and quite different to anything else because there’s a lot of tech talk now where people think an app will just deliver a miracle and it’s just not the case it’s our experience.

Vera: Peter what’s next for Peter Strohkorb?

Peter: The next thing for us is to breakout more internally. Ever since the announcement of the US deal we’ve had now inquiries from Europe and from Asia as well. I am actually thinking of opening a range of smarketing institutes around the world and that just teach the method to licensees and then let the licensees do most of the work and reap most of the financial gain and I can retire rich in a very short period of time of course.

Vera: That’s awesome and I know you will be very, very successful at that.

Peter: Thank you Vera, I love your optimism.

Vera: Peter your OneTEAM Method is really fascinating and you’ve definitely provided our listeners with some nuances of that system. Before we close out today’s discussion, do you have any final advice you’d like to share and then tell us the best way to connect with you.

Peter: I would say the best advice I can give you is grab the bull by the horse and just get started. Don’t procrastinate anymore, don’t say it is what it is and there’s nothing you can do about it. We are era of the bias journey but people go online and do their research first before they contact the vendors. If your sales and marketing teams don’t work totally closely and completely together, then they’re not going to get that nice buying experience that makes them want to buy from you and not from your competitors.

Just grab the bull by the horns and have a look at The OneTEAM Method and consider doing step one. It’s a very quick, very short and it’s very inexpensive. The way to get in touch with me is either at www.peterstrohkorbconsulting.com I’m on Facebook, I’m on Twitter, I’m on LinkedIn. There’s a number of ways you can get in touch with us and I’m very happy to introduce you to our US licensees to get you to have a direct conversation with them as well. Just be in touch and let’s talk.

Vera: System Execution fans you heard it here, no matter how many notes you too or how often you re-listen to this episode the key is every successful business uses systems to drive to a better outcome. Peter thank you so much for sharing your OneTEAM Method expertise with us today.

Peter: Thank you Vera for having me, delightful speaking with you, thank you very much.

Vera: Attention System Execution fans. Do you have a system that would be valuable for our listeners? We want to know about your system, go to www.systemexecution.com fill up the contact form with your information. Don’t be shy, systems are cool.

We hope you found this episode of System Execution enlightening. For free examples, case studies, eBooks and more be sure to visit systemexecution.com/resources contribute to the conversation by reaching out to Vera directly on email at vera@systemexecution.com Until our next episode thank you for the privilege of your time.




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