How Josh Schwartz of Bregal Sagemount helps organizations not just embrace change, but actually look forward to it.
Name: Josh Schwartz
What He Does: Josh is currently the Operating Principal and Head of Sales Acceleration Practices at Bregal Sagemount. He’s also an unabashed fan of St. Louis sports teams.
Company: Bregal Sagemount
How to Connect: Josh’s LinkedIn
A call for change is typically met with one of the following responses:
No doubt about it, change is a touchy subject. It implies that what you’re doing isn’t good enough or that you lack the knowledge to do it right – neither of which is good for the ego.
But change can be, dare we say, good? After all, without change, there is no growth.
And after talking with our guest, Josh Schwartz, we’re realizing that it’s not always the change itself that gives people pause. but how that change is brought about.
Josh dives into how he’s able to infiltrate a company as an outsider and make positive change (like tripling growth in three years). From small tasks like updating messaging to large initiatives like promoting widespread CRM adoption, Josh uses a very systematic and empathetic approach to earn the buy-in he needs to facilitate growth.
We talk about his approach to change management and the impact it can have on an organization.
And if he can do it as an outsider, you can certainly do it within your own organization.
What do you actually do? How are you helping the organizations that you invest in?
Looking specifically within the sales development space.
Let’s define private equity vs. venture capital funding. What do you do that’s different, and what remains similar?
No matter how you define it, you get brought in to make change. What are some of the biggest challenges you face when dealing with enacting that change? How do you overcome them?
What does your process look like? What are you bringing to the table for each of your engagements?
What levers are you typically pulling to help your investments grow?
What goals do you have?
What usually needs to change? Are there some top initiatives that always seem to crop up with the companies you invest in?
Aka, what are companies usually not doing well enough that might be a barrier to future growth?
How can someone listening use this to unlock growth within their own company?
Top 3 Takeaways
📈 “It’s about shared vision and goals.”
Josh’s approach to change management is one of the most empathetic and efficient methods we’ve seen. His (and Bregal Sagemount’s) goal is to triple their money in three years. To do that, he has to make operational tweaks across the organization. And to do that, he taps into the goals of the individuals responsible for those operations.
Once he and the individual operators are aligned (I want to triple our investment, you want to buy a house in 2 years), it becomes a lot easier to work with one another. Framing every change as a step toward that person’s desired outcome makes that change a lot more palatable.
This is how Josh often frames the concept of change:
“I’ll say, look, guys, I’m here today to help you get better, but I’m going to teach you things that you’re going to use not just here, but at every single company that you go to from now on, and you’re going to be successful and you’re going to make a ton of money. How does that sound?”
Sounds pretty good to us.
✨ The catalyst is usually a new hire – so adopt that mindset.
Change isn’t something that comes up organically all that often. People are usually so deep in their day-to-day that adopting a macro view takes a back seat. You know, the whole ‘forest for the trees’ saying.
Forcing yourself out of that mindset and into one where you’re able to recognize opportunity can make a huge impact. The story Josh told about auditing your inbound conversion rates is a great example – it’s something that an SDR manager deals with daily and has the data available to see where incremental change can be made.
Every month or quarter you should be asking yourself “what if we converted our inbound leads by 25% more? What’s the impact down the funnel?” Use that consistency to build momentum and elevate those small tweaks into larger-scale initiatives.
💡 “Choose what you want to work on really carefully”
A useful exercise when figuring out an order of operations for change is by leveraging an impact/effort matrix:
It’s nearly impossible to earn buy-in if you start with tasks that have long-term payoffs. It’s similarly difficult if you start with tasks that ask for a lot upfront.
That’s why Josh recommends that when enacting change, you look for high impact – low effort tasks – the low-hanging fruit.
And once you do that and earn buy-in, you can start to work on the high effort – high impact stuff.
It’s akin to the idea of taking a macro goal and breaking it down into more digestible micro goals. The momentum you build by accomplishing the micro goals makes accomplishing the macro goal more realistic. If you want to make widespread change, you have to build that momentum internally with some quick and easy wins first.
🎙️ “I’m going to interview like 50 or 60% of the people in your company.”
If you want to unlock growth, you have to look at the big picture. And the best way to get the big picture is by talking with as many people as possible – and not just the executives. Because they’ll have a biased opinion of what the day-to-day is like for their reps.
The ICs in the trenches every day have loads of obstacles, advice, and insight that prove invaluable during a time of change. Collect that data to make educated decisions about how you can unlock growth within the company. Josh has even brought that data back to the executive team and uncovered issues and insights that they were fully unaware of – all because someone took the time to ask a majority of the company what was holding them back and how they would grow the business.
“The best ideas come from the employees of the company. You work here every day, not me. What do you want your future to look like?”
🎓 “You’re going to have bad days but…I want to reduce the amount of bad days through good process and good teaching.”
Tech is great, but sales is a people business. And if you want to elevate your C and B players into A player territory, you’re better off doing it through coaching and development than trying some new piece of technology.
Sitting down and just talking with them (like the point above) can illuminate a lot of low–effort – high-impact change you can work on right away – without the need for new tech. And much like the momentum you build with general change management, the same applies here.
Are these low-hanging fruits consistent across all of your low performers? Can you help more than just 1 rep with the same training and skill refinement? What are your A-players doing that the rest of your reps aren’t, and how can you roll out coaching and development around those skills?
Doing that is a more hands-on way of leveling up your reps, and it buys you a ton of clout and loyalty. Put in the effort and your reps will respond in kind.
Hey listener – AJ here 👋
Josh had a TON of quotable moments in this episode, but my favorite was from pretty early on in the conversation.
“I think that’s a really big piece to the change management discussion is like, how do you bring people along? How do you get people to agree? And how do we all focus on the right stuff to make the business help progress to that next stage of the business?”
I think that really sums up some of the themes from this episode – alignment, buy-in, and empathy. Without those, change will not happen.
Another quote from Josh really illuminates the empathy side of things, and aligning your goals with those of your reps:
“If you’re a sales leader and someone tells you, like, I just want to make more money, I call BS on that all the time. Well, the money is for…what?”
Taking that step into the personal life of your rep can help you build incentive structures that meet both your goals and theirs.
Change doesn’t happen abruptly, nor does it happen in a vacuum. If you want to make real change within your organization, it has to be a slow and collaborative process.