Accelerate Podcast with Andy Paul
July 27, 2017

#522. How to Accelerate Sales with AI and Machine Learning. With Roy Raanani.

Roy Raanani, CEO and Co-Founder of Chorus.ai, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:43] Roy says the biggest challenge facing sales teams is how often things are changing, so, how fast they can learn, adapt and get that learning into the process.

[3:02] Many of the ideas for process change come from individuals up through management to the C-suite, and if there is buy-in, back down throughout the organization. This needs to happen quickly, to match changing circumstances.

[3:40] Chorus.ai came to be through the combination of the right technology and Roy’s experience in sales. Chorus focuses on reps’ conversations with prospects. The gap to fill was in knowing and documenting the content of conversations.

[6:31] Hearing the call gives clarity on what happens. This opens the way for analysis and next steps. Something to ask about competitors: “What other solutions are you looking at?” Most reps don’t ask this.

[8:24] Chorus.ai uses of machine learning. It gets smarter with more data. It gets better at identifying patterns and prediction. It identifies patterns in conversations to close deals effectively.

[12:47] Chorus.ai looks for the signal among the noise, to point out points of interest where a human follow-up would be needed. This supports managers who cannot listen to every call. The learning algorithms are evolving. The data is there.

[15:40] Roy shares key findings of research on discovery calls, from analysis of over 500K calls, measuring talk-to-listen ratio, number of questions, engaging questions, and so forth. There were some surprising insights about win rates.

[20:41] Asking too many questions, too quickly, tends to shut down the prospect. Open-ended questions work best early on. Factual questions that do not engage can be saved for another time, or the demo.

[22:32] Roy and Andy discuss the proper time for the demo, and why some reps rush it too early. They are just “checking the box,” in the playbook. Discovery is continual.

[29:12] Trish Bertuzzi writes about rep’s concern about sunk costs that prevents a rep from admitting a deal will not close. [30:33] There was something missed early on that indicates whether this customer is on track to make a decision. Roy notes that the data in the Chorus dashboards shows how effective the discovery stage has been.

[31:59] Discovery still focuses on pain points. This is not engaging to the customer. The customer is engaged by discussion on their goals, and plans. Focus discovery on aspirations.

July 17, 2017

#512. 10X Your Effectiveness with Engaged Leadership. With Stephen Moulton.

Stephen Moulton, President of Action Insight, and author of The CEO’s Advantage: 7 Keys for Hiring Extraordinary Leaders, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:25] Stephen says constant pressure from managers puts sales reps in a panic, which makes them ineffective.

Pressure has always been there, but a slump can put them under extreme pressure. Then they enter fight-or-flight mode.

[4:00] When people have a positive outlook at work, they are 31% more productive. If they interact positively with their team, they are 10X more effective than people who are neutral or disengaged. Leaders affect engagement.

[5:58] Individuals need a supportive environment to be more productive. Managers needs to know their people, build trust, and develop a team ethos to build up each member.

[8:50] Senior management focuses on numbers. Direct managers need to be leaders and put coaching, training, and leadership development of their staff first, before numbers.

[10:41] Managers manage things, leaders lead people. In reality, managers fill both roles. They need to spend more time inspiring and helping their people than working the numbers.

[11:25] Focusing on numbers and the mechanics does not produce the kinds of sales experiences that customers want, that will grow business. Managers need to coach their people.

[12:25] Onboarding should include leadership training. Many companies don’t want to invest the time. Stephen tells of a past manager who discouraged his successful behavior.

[15:02] Managers may get uncomfortable when their people perform in ways outside the process. Instead, they could support the individual skills and strengths people have, and leverage these strengths for achievement.

[16:29] Effective selling inspires customers to go on a buying journey with the rep. People want to be motivated. Reps want to be motivated to be leaders.

[17:19] Emotional intelligence can be learned, if the person has motivation. It is a set of competencies. Stephen gives an example of how he would teach a behavior within an area of EQ competency.

[22:11] Leaders need to lead by example, not by control, but by modeling the standard of expectations. Stephen asks his team to call him out if he falls below his standard. Leaders need to be open to feedback.

[26:49] Hiring is challenging. 95% of biases are unconscious. Have a structured process to measure specific required competencies and behaviors. Test to get information, then evaluate afterward. Stephen’s system has over 90% reliability.

 

July 15, 2017

#510. Coaching Digital Natives to Make Human Connections. With Dan Negroni.

Dan Negroni, Founder and CEO of Launchbox, and author of Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage, and Maximize Next Generation Leaders in the Workplace, joins me on this episode of #Acceler

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:28] Dan sees the single biggest challenge facing millennials, including millennial salespeople as being bombarded with too much opportunity. They need to find the path that works best at that moment for who they are.

[3:08] Dan suggests the process is to figure out who they are, and then to articulate it. The best behavior for them is to ask themselves questions to become more self-aware about their strengths and values.

[4:14] Andy cites Dan’s article on coaching Millennials. Challenge Millennials with great questions to help them think deeply about showing up, and being present, real, and authentic. How am I going to serve?

[5:33] Dan describes authenticity as Millennials see it —  Something real, with no other intended consequences other than helping them, connecting them, or delivering to them. Someone genuine, with real integrity — a mensch.

[7:14] Andy cites The Complacent Class, that says society and our economy are becoming less dynamic, blaming it on technology that keeps us in comfort zones, and not exploring. Dan sees more positives in future tech, connecting humanity.

[10:48] Human-to-human connections are the most important. Dan agrees tech is numbing Millennials to human connections, but when they are taught to focus on others, they are eager to connect. Schools are not teaching them to connect.

[12:29] The Launchbox Inside-out technique connects the dots, starting with the dot inside, using Strengthsfinder assessment; then teaches them about their skills, values, and passions, all focused on others, their brand, and connecting by stories.

[14:02] Employers of Millennials need to provide four things: the ability to learn and grow, authenticity, feedback and communication, and a purposeful, transparent workplace environment. Millennials need to articulate, this, and create it.

[16:54] Data is part of the comfort zone. It is not personal. Feedback involves goals, ambitions, and how to achieve them. Some VPs are removing one-on-ones from the equation. Dan notes statistics on employee disengagement, based on that.

[19:09] Andy cites The Boomerang Principle, about people coming back to the company, and referring customers. Millennials want to work for companies from which they would be customers.

[20:44] Many Millennials think they have the right skills to be a leader. The gap between their ideals and skills is where to coach. They need to be responsible to grow. They need self-awareness. Mixing generations is where magic occurs.

[24:47] Sales Technology enforces conformity. People need freedom to find their way. Sales managers need to coach to individuals’ strengths. Dan cites a Harvard 75-year study.

May 26, 2017

#468 Using Questions to Mentor Sales Reps. With Bridget Gleason.

Bridget Gleason is VP of Sales for Logz.io and my regular partner on Front Line Fridays.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:21] The President was on the way to NYC the day of this recording, so streets were closed, and cars were relocated.

[7:42] The topic is sales questions. Bridget asks how should sales reps go about getting more out of their managers — assuming the manager has something to offer? Reps can look for skills the manager has, that they want to learn.

[10:59] Top-performing reps may be self-sufficient, and not need much input from their managers. Their managers might ask how they can help top-performers achieve their goals. It’s important to have those conversations.

[11:31] Bridget talks about a potential manager interview, and how she ponders what her reps would learn from the manager. A person who has no apparent skills to teach will be eliminated.

[13:18] The biggest challenge of new sales managers is to determine how to add value to their reps. Andy tells of his first promotion to a manager. He studied sales books to improve!

[14:33] Bridget looks for inquisitiveness and self-directed learning in every person she hires. Her last manager hire was an aggressive, curious, and motivated learner.

[16:11] Andy looks for creative problem-solving. He recalls the pressure of his first management role. When he got past his initial tension, he looked outside the box to try new things. Bridget points out that creativity requires autonomy to design.

[19:54] Andy’s daughter sought advice from Andy on how to negotiate a better job offer. Then she did it her way instead, and the negotiation went as she wished.

[20:42] Bridget looks for people who will consider suggestions, but also use their own instinct, brains, and skills, to come up with better solutions, if they can. They may need to get  approval, but they shouldn’t ignore their own better ideas.

[22:31] Salespeople need to take risks. Andy’s career was built on risks he took with the sales system — because he was succeeding. Too much prescription may hold back success.

[23:38] Managers and repeatable processes sometimes make it difficult to experiment. Can reps color outside the lines, and still meet mutual objectives?

[25:16] Bridget talks about the one-on-ones she holds with her reps. Each one is different. She makes suggestions, and listens to their input, to come up with good expectations and meet the required numbers they all have.

May 18, 2017

#461. Improve Call Coaching with Intelligent Call Summaries. With Amit Bendov.

Amit Bendov, CEO and Co-Founder of Gong.io, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS
[2:30] Amit has a computer science degree, but concentrates on Sales, marketing, and leadership. Gong.io is the fourth company he has led with great success. He reveals what led to the beginning of Gong.io — looking for the key facts of a call.
[7:23] Gong.io works with phone calls. They plan to apply the same concepts to field sales calls in the future.
[8:01] Amit sees the amount of activities preventing managers from having the time to coach field salespeople, as the biggest problem in sales. Reps learn by trial and error. If they are lucky, they are successful. There is no information exchange.
[9:16] Gong.io makes it easy to provide coaching advice. All calls are automatically recorded, transcribed, and indexed, with the interesting parts highlighted, and then are shared with the right people.
[10:24] Any platform communication, phone, GoToMeeting, Zoom, etc, is recorded.
[12:32] Transcribing the call gives the AI better access for identification of parties and topics. The distilled information from the call is what is distributed to managers. Amit tells the factors that are counted in the distilled summary version.
[15:19] Amit discusses linguistic cues picked up by Gong.io. That is the “secret sauce” in it, from the science of linguistics.
[17:28] Within 5-10 minutes of the end of the call, the summary is sent to the rep and to the manager. If you use email, you can use Gong.io. The calls are indexed and can be searched for keywords, topics, specific questions, etc.
[20:53] Gong.io requires no process change, but it is a great trigger for playbook changes. A/B testing of topics is easy.
[24:09] Gong.io can provide clips of dialogs that had great success, and the manager can share these snippets with reps.
[25:05] Gong.io captures examples of how to ask the question, not just the gist of it. Also, the rep can review their own calls, and see where they could improve, and what they did well. Gong.io tracks filler words, as well, to help you eliminate them.
[29:46] Gong.io’s ideal client profile is tech companies with at least 10 salespeople in the U.S. VPs of sales are the buyer. Gong.io will expand to other industries.

May 17, 2017

#460. How to use Systems to Accelerate Sales. With Mike Kunkle

Mike Kunkle, widely recognized sales transformation strategist, practitioner, speaker, and writer, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[3:28] Mike defines the systems approach to sales, a logical way to set up an organizational environment that supports the sales function. Mike cites Kurt Lewen and Geary A. Rummler on behavior, environment, and process.

[5:24] Mike discusses the difficulty and complexity of sales, and focusing on the buyer journey and the problems to solve. Mike quotes Tony Robbins about the path to success. It helps to analyze the top achievers, and learn their behaviors.

[11:45] Mike talks about global studies made by Learning International (now Achieve Global) about behaviors of top sales performers, that Learning International then used to build their programs around those sales competencies.

[13:56] Mike says compensation is not what makes the most difference in sales. He lists his Fantastic Four systems that have the most effect on sales success. He also notes that the top 4% of sales reps are so good, they are above systems.

[16:41] The bell curve of sales still has not shifted in general, but the companies at the top end are not always the same companies. Mike tells how the top companies get to the top.

[18:00] Psychometric tests may not be widely used for hiring, or be used effectively. Mike suggests researching the tools and their application. Mike shares successes from when testing tools were used well, and thoughtfully.

[22:13] Management by anecdote does not match intelligent management backed by the scientific application of data. Tools and processes work to boost management success.

[23:14] Aligning the buying and selling processes assumes the buyer knows their best practices for buying. The seller may need to guide the buyer in learning their own process. The vendor must be flexible and agile to align to the buyer need.

[25:57] Individualized buyers, and company environments, make every buying process different. Mike refers to Aristotle as the first sales trainer. The key is to understand the individual and their goals.

[28:41] Mike is a trainer by being a subject matter expert, a seller, and a manager, not by the training profession. To be sure of his system, he verified it and measured results. He researches and plans in his work to drive up performance.

[32:30] Mike’s system includes a learning system, and a managing system, as two of the four system pillars, so the human element is counted into the methodology.

May 4, 2017

#449. Coaching for Positive Behavior Change. With Michael Bungay Stanier.

Michael Bungay Stanier, Senior Partner at Box of Crayons — a consulting company that helps organizations do less good work, and more great work — and author of several books, including the bestselling Do More Great Work, and his latest, The Coaching Habit, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:49] Michael states the specific focus of Box of Crayons: to provide practical tools so that busy managers can coach in 10 minutes or less. Michael breaks coaching and being curious into seven questions, to teach habit change.

[5:12] Michael notes that 77% of people being coached report it has little or no impact, and 10% of those report it had a negative impact. Michael gives answers why.

[7:53] Michael shares a disastrous experience from his law studies days when a witness went ‘off-script,’ and applies it to sales representatives who don’t listen to learn.

[11:48] Michael talks about the ‘feedback sandwich’ formula of saying something nice, followed by something terrible, topped with something nice. Don’t use formulas. Have principles and core behaviors to apply when appropriate.

[14:05] Like NBA coach Steve Kerr, coaching at Box of Crayons is principled: provoke impact, be generous, pursue elegance, have fun, and nurture adult-to-adult relationships.

[15:48] Coaching behavior is staying curious longer, and ‘rushing’ to action and advice slower. Good coaching gives new insight, which leads to behavior change, which leads to impact. Michael cites John Whitmore on unlocking potential.

[18:00] Make training engaging, practical, useful, and use the wisdom in the room. On-the-job training works if people know how to learn. Ask: What was most useful and most valuable about this for you? (This question also helps after sales calls.)

[22:44] For survival, the brain tries to save energy, and goes with the most efficient method, which is usually a habit.

[24:06] Duhigg and Kahneman have both discussed habits that are so powerful, that adopting one, such as rising at 5:00 a.m., can change your behaviors completely. Being responsive is a keystone habit. People want to decide quickly.

[26:09] Tim Ferriss talks about the lead domino, that, when mastered, other dominoes fall in behind. To become better at your job, change your behavior.

[30:51] Sales is preparation, not improvisation. Have a slate of questions prepared. Ask more questions than you give answers, and before you give answers.

[33:27] Michael’s job when he is a keynote speaker is to engage the audience. The normal introduction is off-putting. Provide your own simple, but intriguing, and humorous introduction, that will raise audience status, and engage.

April 19, 2017

#436. How to Improve Sales Productivity Through Coaching. With Keith Rosen.

Keith Rosen, CEO, executive sales coach, transformational expert, advisor to top sales leaders, and author of the number one sales coaching book, Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives, and his most recent book, Own Your Day: How Sales Leaders Master TIme Management, Minimize Distractions, and Create Their Ideal Lives, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:01] Keith has created his ideal life. He has coached sales leaders for the last 30 years around the globe in over 60 countries, for all aspects of the sales process.

[2:27] Keith started sales in college, door-to-door, selling mortgages, remodeling, and home security systems. Keith focused on making salespeople into great coaches, and started his business to address that objective.

[5:31] Keith compares trusted advisors to coaches. In selling, the same questions apply as in coaching.

[6:39] Keith discusses best practices in three areas: questions we ask; critical questions we fail to ask; and changing what we do and how we think. Then he offers a simple way to change our behaviors. One key desired behavior is to ask questions.

[11:43] If you have to close someone, you’re not doing your job.

[12:48] Coaching wasn’t always common. When Keith started coaching, people wanted to know the team. Keith says the coaching gap today is with sales managers.

[16:53] Keith insists that technology and data do not replace individual coaching. Coaching isn’t to gather data, but to help improve behaviors. Data doesn’t reveal why a seller excels. Why is observation necessary?

[23:54] Hiding behind technology makes it easier to avoid personal connections. LinkedIn is for connecting, and building relationships, not for spamming.

[26:01] Consumer retail isn’t dependent on relationships, but  complex B2B certainly is. In B2B, you want to like the person from whom you are buying.

[26:59] A to-do list is ineffective, and usually you put things off, because there is no accountability. Anything that cycles consistently, needs to go on a calendar, not a list. Only one-time items belong on a to-do list.

April 14, 2017

Build the Right Relationships with Your Buyers. With Bridget Gleason. #432

Bridget Gleason is VP of Sales for Logz.io and my regular guest on Front Line Fridays.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:43] The topic is relationships with buyers. The definition of relationship is key. Unless they buy online, and don’t interact with a person, there is a relationship, but is it a friendship?

[3:37] A relationship is a connection. There are fundamental parameters for a buyer-seller relationship that buyers want.

[6:24] The relationship is based on the seller’s performance in support of the buyer’s needs. Expectations of both parties must be met to maintain the relationship.

[9:39] Positive neutrality is the minimum relationship. A buyer who actively dislikes you will soon go to someone else. Should the buyer’s relationship be with the salesperson, or with the salesperson’s company?

[12:06] Doug Sandler’s Nice Guys Finish First, asserts that being nice is the key to attracting buyers. People buy from people — in particular, from people they enjoy.

[14:19] Gallup published a statement several years ago about a huge mismatch between buyers’ and sellers’ perceptions of the value of the relationship. Who values the emotional factor?

[14:55] Where do salespeople get the belief that they should be friends with the buyers? What do buyers want from the relationship? Techniques are easier to teach than likability.

[15:46] A bright person can learn the features of any product well enough to sell it, but can’t always learn to approach buyers on the right personal level. Interpersonal skills are not easy for everyone.

[17:14] Bridget does not hire “jerks.” In most instances, being nice carries you further.

[18:07] You need resilience in the relationship, if and when things go wrong during the purchase.

[19:41] Bridget recalls a sale with manufacturer production delays that were damaging to a buyer. Their past positive experiences helped them to see the purchase through.

[21:09] Difficult situations call for increased communications, not for hiding from the customer. Overcommunicate. Do not let the relationship fall apart from neglect.

March 23, 2017

Using Data to Drive Effective Coaching. With Duncan Lennox. #413

Joining me once again on this episode of Accelerate! is my guest Duncan Lennox, CEO of Qstream.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[:37] Duncan is Co-Founder and CEO of Qstream, an enterprise SaaS company. Qstream helps companies drive capabilities of their sales force. Accelerate Episode 106 explains more on Qstream.

[1:29] On average, how much time does a sales manager spend, coaching each rep?

[4:28] Managers would benefit from data on the most effective coaching they can give. Why don’t managers coach better?

[7:36] Inertia keeps organizations back. Two curves are crossing: the pain of the problem, and the ability to leverage data. There is a need to act, and data capture is one way.

[12:19] Sales managers don’t have the data to know how to increases sales, and help reps succeed.

[14:18] Qstream started with the goal of changing behaviors for good. From data they gathered, they saw a second use: data-driven coaching. This became The Coaching Hub.

[16:45] The data is gathered from 3-minute tests the reps take. Scenarios are given, and the reps reply how they would act. What sorts of data do the results generate?

[19:19] An average of 94% reps participate the day they receive a scenario. What else can participation reveal about a rep?

[21:10] How does the dashboard inform the sales manager on the individual needs of the sales reps?

[22:03] How did Qstream rule out the sales problem one company had assumed? How did they uncover the actual problem?

[26:43] How does The Coaching Hub integrate with Salesforce? What kinds of triggers are available?

[29:34] Duncan gives an example of Qstream and Salesforce integration to prompt an appropriate coaching response.