ELITE DEALERS: Misha Jessel-Kenyon

S1 | Ep3

In this episode, Pim chats with Misha Jessel-Kenyon about one of the toughest and most enjoyable deals of his career so far. 

Misha was one of the first reps on the ground at Salesloft in the UK and quickly became their #1 rep in EMEA. Before existing, he had closed nearly 20% of Salesloft EMEA revenue. He is now a Major Accounts Director at Zscaler, managing some of their biggest accounts in UK&I.

In the latest episode of Elite Dealers, MEDDICC CRO Pim Roelofsen was joined by Misha Jessel-Kenyon as the two chatted about one of the toughest and most enjoyable deals of his career so far.

Misha was one of the first reps on the ground at Salesloft in the UK and quickly became their #1 rep in EMEA. He is now a Major Accounts Director at Zscaler, managing some of their biggest accounts in UK&I. He now also runs an angel investment syndicate for go-to-market professionals who want to invest in European SaaS businesses.

Together, Pim and Misha walk through how Misha used MEDDIC to win a $1.1 million ARR deal, in the context of an organization where the average deal size had been around $50k ARR. You can watch the full episode here, or keep reading to uncover the key takeaways from this engaging conversation!

Let’s set the scene: it was a deal with over 60 stakeholders on the customer side, and around 30 internal stakeholders. It was the largest deal in EMEA in SalesLoft, with a nine-month sales cycle. There were many instances where Misha thought it wouldn’t happen, but luckily he had started to apply MEDDIC and support its roll out across the organization. MEDDIC acted like a guiding light for the deal, underpinning Misha’s methodological approach to the sales cycle.

Early on, Misha’s focus was on getting early executive engagement in order to find pain and a champion. The next step would be validating that pain with an executive who would then sponsor an evaluation. He was working with an existing account with a very small spend, and basically had to start from scratch.

Establishing a point of view for the customer is an essential first step. You need to find the most important initiatives in the organization that you can try and attach your solution to in order to implicate the pain. In this instance, renewal was a big problem for them, and they were also trying  to take out huge amounts of cost from the base. So Misha and his team’s hypothesis was they could move to a lower cost model of sales, moving to inside sales, which at the time didn’t exist for the organization.

They spoke with existing contacts at the organization and gathered metrics about their existing use of the solution. This way, they could obtained something that helped open up a conversation around the fact that it was proven their solution could already help generate more pipeline. 

Decision Criteria
In the beginning stages of the deal, Misha and his team sowed seeds for solution requirements that were specific to them, laying effective traps for any competition that might arise. This meant that later on, when a competitor did enter the mix, Misha and his team were able to avoid any tough position, because they had previously differentiated their solution.

Misha and his team were faced with competition in the form of other solutions, but the risk of inertia also posed a threat. It was a long sales cycle, with personnel changes that could have stopped the deal in its tracks. Luckily, Misha was able to push through and fend off this competition!

At first, Misha struggled with Champion building. They had an initial contact who was more of a Coach than a Champion as he lacked Power and Influence, and couldn’t get Misha and his team where they needed to be. As the deal progressed, they had a lot of Champions in VPs, but there was no one who could bring it all together. Until, one of these Champions was promoted, which gave him the influence necessary to act as a Champion for the overall deal. Misha and his colleagues were able to meet with this Champion in person and build the stronger level of trust needed to propel the deal forward.

When meeting with new stakeholders, Misha focused on the Value Pyramid of what the company was trying to achieve, as well as the value drivers that were associated with different stakeholders. He needed to speak with different VPs with the goal of tying them into one complete deal that could be taken to the board as something that addressed a bigger strategic initiative rather than just a VP level initiative. 

This was also quite a unique deal due to the numbers of stakeholders involved. Since it was so much bigger than normal, Misha had to bring the whole company around a shared vision of the deal. Truly, he was selling as much internally as externally. “The deal would not have been done without all the people who rallied behind it on our side,” he told Pim.

What were Misha’s key learnings from this deal?
Pain and Champion are the most important ingredients for any deal of any size. Without them, you have nothing.

When it comes to doing a transformational deal, it’s imperative to make sure that you're aligning to the most important board initiatives in order to warrant it being a big enough deal.

Be patient and trust the process - you will lose a deal many times before you win it. 

What would he say to Misha of ten years ago?
Remember that being in sales is a long game. Be patient, trust that if you build the right skills, a good reputation and strong relationships, it will pay off. 

Elite Dealers is a MEDDICC MEDIA production brought to you by our very own CRO, Pim Roelofsen, where he talks with leading sales professionals across the industry where they share their best deals and what made their deals so special.