Accelerate Podcast with Andy Paul
August 15, 2017

#541. How the Sales Process is Evolving. With David J.P. “DFish” Fisher.

David JP “DFish” Fisher, keynote speaker, and author of Hyper-Connected Selling: Winning More Business by Leveraging Digital Influence and Creating Human Connection, joins me for the second time on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[3:03] David says the single biggest challenge that sales professionals face today is that sales is fundamentally changing from what it was the last 30 years. Buyers are changing how they buy.

[4:37] David talks about the sales sherpa. Salespeople will find success in becoming a guide for the buyer (who is already on their own journey), to help them make better decisions.

[6:12] David discusses whether today’s buyer is overwhelmed by all the information available, or is enabled by it. It depends on the complexity of the product or service for sale.

[8:51] Buying an airplane ticket is easier for buyers to do, compared to pre-internet days. But having access to more data doesn’t always mean making better decisions. Reps can help the customer understand what the data means for them.

[11:02] In heavily transactional products there will be a greater role for machine learning and AI. In certain market segments, a person still has to talk to a person. There is a very human need to connect, trust, and empathize.

[12:16] Sales professionals cannot force buyers into a linear sales process. In some SaaS markets, the process is in service to the seller, and it attempts to limit the buyer. Technology should be a tool to help the seller engage with the buyer.

[15:43] Technology can help salespeople develop more, better, and stronger relationships with buyers. Social media helps develop a network of light connections. CRM can organize sales meeting notes for a better relationship.

[18:47] Technology increases the perception of complexity, but Andy cites the simplicity of online ordering, compared to the agrarian society. We created the complexity. It’s relative. Don’t make it harder.

[23:22] Life is hard, deciding what to stream at night! It’s no harder today to connect with buyers. It was always hard; it’s just different. We are in a time of evolution. Solutions from 20 years ago are not working as well, today.

[25:48] People were better at building relationships when Andy started. The ‘old-timers’ knew everything about the prospect and about the prospect’s business. It’s easy to be an industry expert, but it’s hard work to engage the buyer.

[27:43] David addresses the hybridization of sales. Linear sales will go to technology. Long-scale sales will continue to be in the realm of highly-skilled salespeople. In between there will be hybrid sales, such as selling a home. Sales reps will consult.

[31:22] More than ever, people in sales need to look at what’s coming, and keep developing themselves in all the fundamental sales habits. The future is coming. David cites a recent article he wrote on engaging and building trust.

August 14, 2017

#540. The Importance of Principles vs. Methods in Sales. With John Rossman.

John Rossman, author of The Amazon Way on IoT: 10 Principles for Every Leader from the World’s Leading Internet of Things Strategies, and The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind the World’s Most Disruptive Company, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:32] John says the single biggest challenge that sales professionals face today relates to increased buyer sophistication and awareness. The challenge is to understand how to set the case for implementing your product or tool.

[5:58] The Amazon Way books come from John’s experience at Amazon. John coached with stories from Amazon, and a friend urged him to write them. The first book was Amazon’s 14 principles. The second was on IoT strategies used by Amazon.

[8:34] The books are about principles. “The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.” — Harrington Emerson. Principles have durability.

[10:14] Sales is too obsessed with methodologies. Principles have vision, clarity, and adaptability. They are tactical. When people buy into the principles there is less debate on tactics.

[12:46] Amazon is obsessed with the customer. “We don’t make money when we sell things. We make money when we help the customer make a purchase decision.” — Jeff Bezos. ‘Search Inside the Book’ is an example of this obsession.

[15:58] “Leaders start with the customer and work backwards.”  — Jeff Bezos. Build true customer empathy and understand all about the customer, broader than just their need for your product. Design new products with this understanding.

[16:57] Danny Meyer, restaurateur, is completely obsessed with customers, and he won Andy’s return business. John recommends using detailed metrics to measure the customer experience, and driving to improve them.

[20:31] John shares an example of how metrics were built and applied in a B2B company over specific details on complex products. He explains the process they built to find issues, including the pre-sale experience, to prevent change orders.

[22:02] In the B2B example, they also work to define what the pre-sale experience should be, and how to improve it, including how to prevent the need for change orders.

[24:09] Jeff Bezos said he can’t imagine a world where customers want fewer selections, higher prices, and slower delivery. John discusses durable strategies for a business. Know your brand promise. John explains Amazon’s brand.

[27:23] Amazon has a cascade of metric reviews of the customer experience, where they shoot for perfection at each level. Observe the actual customer experience — not through surveys. Happy stories do not lead to improvements.

[29:38] Talking to a customer in the field shows you what is happening in their business, to build true customer empathy. Understand personal motivations and pressures involved. Thei means, build relationships, face-to-face.

August 8, 2017

#534. Closing Starts at the Beginning of a Deal. With Anthony Iannarino.

Anthony Iannarino, best-selling author of The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, and author of the new book, The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the Ten Commitments that Drive Sales, joins me for the fourth time on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[4:24] Anthony says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps is changing their mindset. Instead of a talking about how great the seller’s company is, start by sharing something of value the buyer hasn’t considered about the buyer’s company.

[6:28] Information parity offers no value for the buyer. The salesperson is in discovery mode, but they should concurrently help the buyer discover the value of a decision.

[7:17] Anthony speaks of the commitments needed of the buyer. The sales world has changed since the 1960’s, but not the close. Now, commitments along the way form the close.

[10:31] Closing is integral to the full sales process, as a series of commitments from the buyer, from the initial contact through the final decision. The final commitment is the clear result of earlier ones. The process is fluid.

[12:48] Exit criteria set by the seller, ignore the buyer. The buyer may not be ready to exit a stage when the seller thinks. Customer verifiable outcome conversations are awkward. Anthony explains of process maps and compasses.

[15:48] The buying process (if any) and the sales process run in parallel. Anthony covers how the salesperson can help the buyer discover their buying process, including stakeholders. The sales rep must learn how to serve them where they are.

[17:39] It’s always been hard to get in front of the people you need to contact. It is easier to find them today, from data available anywhere. Expectations on salespeople are higher.

[20:49] Col. John Boyd repeatedly said, “People, ideas, technology.” Now we say, “Technology, ideas, people.” We’re getting it backwards. The tech cannot cover up all the places where salespeople need to invest in their development.

[21:41] We create an environment full of excuses. Cold calling still works. Content creators are content marketers, not social sellers. Content you do share should help the buyer think what they should be doing differently.

[26:06] ABM is going back to ‘bell-bottoms.’ Fundamentally good ideas get recycled over time. Close rates don’t seem to get better.

[27:40] Shiny objects are not moving the needle. Develop people to be consultative, with a point of view, and understand how to help buyers create change within their company. Those reps, with ideas and tools, will be successful.

[29:04] AI does more repetitive tasks, that have nothing to do with creating value for the buyer. People in power have always had trusted advisors. Be the advisor. Don’t be a catalog. Learn to control the process to provide value for the buyer.

August 3, 2017

#529. Using Automation to Enhance the Human Element of Sales. With Kyle Porter.

Kyle Porter, CEO and Founder of SalesLoft, joins me for the second time on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:36] Kyle says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps is distraction. They are distracted from the mission and what’s important. Reps must protect their time and engage in things that add value, but not be swayed by new shiny objects.

[4:52] In an organization that doesn’t have a set process, reps need to find their own way immediately. In an organization too strictly tied to the process reps have no leeway to find their own way.

[5:42] AI in sales is happening. Great AI makes salespeople more human. In sales, the human-to-human interaction is always needed.

[7:20] Kyle distinguishes between machine learning and process automation. SalesLoft, for example, logs emails into CRM, to free the rep’s time for prospect engagement. It does not analyze the email content to make decisions from it.

[9:08] SalesLoft uses advancements in technology to accelerate what sales reps do, by removing barriers to managing large lists of accounts. The rep prescribes SalesLoft actions to be triggered by specific events, and is notified to act.

[10:46] The mechanization of process tasks permits following the strategy more closely. Then the process can be measured, and sales success measured more accurately. It allows tweaking over time, based on the outcomes.

[11:58] The human portion of the strategy — person talking to person — is still unique. No two salespeople perform exactly the same way. Kyle notes that reps using a mechanized process have more time to engage, so they improve.

[17:41] Kyle says SalesLoft SDRs spend more time engaging than the industry average, because that’s the product they sell, so they’d better be good at it.

[18:20] There are many things SalesLoft can do. But all you need is to programs in the process you want to use, without sacrificing the authenticity of communication.

[20:45] Kyle notes some of the more complex features of AI in sales, and how they empower the salesperson. AI is just getting started.

[27:51] Close rates are so low because qualification is so mis-applied. Everyone wants more leads, but the leads they get are not the right ones, and the reps are not following up with them properly.

[29:43] Follow up is still a problem. Kyle says, “Not our customers.” Reps must manage all the contact points necessary. That’s what SalesLoft does.

August 2, 2017

#528. How to Fix the Failing Sales Model. With Jacco vanderKooij.

Jacco vanderKooij,  Founder and CEO of Winning by Design, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[3:56] Jacco says the single biggest challenge facing sales professionals is that they are unable to execute a proper sales process consistently. The process depends mostly on artistry.

Sales organizations are failing, and they have weak processes.

[6:32] Jacco notes that a procedure is not necessarily a sales process. A process is doing something that is proven to work, and doing more of it, while stopping what doesn’t work.

[8:11] Jacco Prepared a Prezi on the new sales process, “The Art of Making Love,” or doing sales right over and over again. If you don’t have any customers that ‘love’ you, you have not been doing it right.

[10:28] Jacco recently showed the Prezi at an event, “Flying Upside-Down.” People from various disciplines presented for startup founders.

[12:08] Jacco says to think of SaaS sales as a technology that has had no innovation over the past decade. Nothing has changed in the predictable revenue model in 10 years. It persistently fails today. Now we need an innovation.

[14:07] New tools have not produced increased levels of performance. A two-touch sales organization doesn’t work. Jacco explains the reasons. He calls it the triangle of death.

[18:29] Jacco urges changing from sales-centric to customer-centric. SaaS will evolve. Revenue is made as the customer is successful. The sales mindset is outdated. Think Committing, not closing; Trading, not negotiating.

[23:07] The trade in the heart of sales is the customer’s time for the salesperson’s value. Most business should come in the customer success system. The salesperson should work to make the customer happy. That flips the current model.

[24:25] Sales is service. Jeff Bezos said, “We don’t make money when we sell things. We make money when we help customers make purchase decisions.” The methodology must become customer-centric: experiences, not stages.

[28:11] The experiences are emotional steps. Salespeople need to recognize what experience the customer is having to know how to educate them. Don’t go to a pitch. Guide and inform.

[32:10] Jacco uses TALKER as an acronym for Tone, Ask questions, Listen actively, Keeping notes, Elaborate on the conversation, Repeat what you’ve heard. Don’t let there be problems from miscommunication.

[34:33] Qualification today is based on an old process. The salesperson gets all the value from BANT. The customer gets nothing. This needs to change. When organizations treat how they sell, as important as what they sell, then sales will work.

June 22, 2017

#491. A Pattern of Note-taking Drives Sales Success. With Derek Draper.

Derek Draper, CEO of Pattern, an application that’s an enterprise notepad for sales teams, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[:59] Derek sees ‘overwhelm’ as the biggest single challenge sales professionals face today. Sales is increasingly complex, and sales reps are asked to manage a lot of relationships.

[4:14] Salespeople do not have the advantage today of controlling the buying process. Today the buyer controls it to a greater degree than ever before. They make price and value assumptions before they ever interact with a salesperson.

[6:11] The book Absolute Value asserts that the abundance of information online gives a buyer a much better idea of the experienced utility they can expect from a product.

[12:31] Hiring for Customer Success, Marketing, and Account Executives, and other non-technical roles from the SDR pool is better for company culture and success than hiring externally, in Derek’s experience.

[17:32] Pattern is in the form of a digital note, that puts information back into Salesforce. Instead of using an off-the-shelf took, use a tool that is fully interactive with Salesforce. This is a strong fit for account executives.

[20:31] Derek explains the Pattern process, compared to using Evernote or Apple Notes. Derek says users have reported a savings of five hours per week over other note apps they have used. They no longer block time to update pipeline.

[22:02] Making notes on site gives a more accurate account, and more data, than filling out call sheets at day’s end. Derek says some reps like to refer back to their notes; others get the value from recording them. Pattern helps with ‘overwhelm.’

[23:54] Pattern can help you recap a meeting for the customer. The best customers are those who are happy with the process. Your attention to their needs is a big part of their satisfaction.

[25:40] Derek’s vision for the future: at some point there will be a portal where the buyer and seller can communicate effectively, and work together; not against each other.

[28:23] Andy cites the Challenger Customer, about the buying process. Companies have a strong approval process, but a vague buying process. Derek recalls his sales trainer told him, “Buyers want to be led.”

[33:00] If you skip a step, you have to come back to it, and it’s hard to get a customer on a discovery call when you’ve already given them your proposal.

[33:24] The book Getting Things Done, offers a five-step process, but responding to an inbound lead takes 24 steps. It requires discipline and thought to organize them. The top salespeople do every step 1% better than anyone else.

June 9, 2017

#480. Cold Calling — What it Means for You. With Bridget Gleason.

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

KEY TAKEAWAYS
[1:17] Andy feels better now, but he tells about a recent unexpected severe illness that required hospitalization.
[4:52] People say cold calling is dead. That gives cover to those who don’t want to cold call. If you are above quota, then, maybe don’t cold call. Bridget wants outbound reps to be thoughtful. Cold call, only if the contact is a likely phone user.
[8:31] Field salespeople can use cold calling as a tool that works in some situations. People have never wanted to cold call. The ‘death of cold calling’ is confirmation bias at work.
[12:12] Andy notes that a recent event by sales thought leaders like Jeb Blount, Mike Weinberg, and Anthony Iannarino for proactive outbound, proves there is life in cold calling.
[12:47] Andy says salespeople reject cold calling without trying it, because they have stopped learning. Bridget says they are just stubborn about it, because it is so uncomfortably hard.
[14:44] You can learn to do something you don’t like, especially if it will help you. Andy never liked cold calling, but he does it. He fits it into his style. Bridget does not know very many sales managers who have eliminated cold calling from outbound.
[16:24] Some companies have stopped proactive outbound, but Andy sees them as a minority. The issue is, can you make cold calling work for you? Does your company give you the option to call or not to call? Bridget says reps in Tech must call.
[18:31] Andy tells of a 100-year-old company, the #1 market leader, with 60 field sales reps, will install their first CRM in 2017. That is the real world outside of tech. The vast majority of sales reps are not in tech, and have no sales tech or stack.
[20:32] The mission of Accelerate! is to share ideas, advances, tools, and technologies with people who are not in the tech bubble, to help them do a better job. Andy is a sales evangelist! Bridget is now even more enthusiastic!
[23:33] What is the penetration of CRM into SMBs across the U.S.? Andy suggests that could be the topic of an episode! There are companies that have homegrown CRM Systems integrated with their dialers, at best.
[24:55] There are companies that have no idea that email tracking is a capability. Tech is pioneering the way sales will be done for the next years, but it’s a thin leading edge. Andy invites Bridget to step out of the tech bubble sometime.

April 22, 2017

#439. How to Transform Your Processes for Sustained Growth. With Greg Head.

Greg Head, CEO of Greg Head Consulting, and former CMO of Infusionsoft, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[:40] Greg details his software sales career since 1987, starting at Egghead. He grew two companies to over $100 million, and then founded Greg Head Consulting in 2016. He likes helping grow companies that look crazy, before they look obvious.

[5:15] Helping companies grow is not easy, and there are treacherous obstacles. Greg discusses signs that show your growth strategy needs updating.

[7:13] The recipe for growth changes as a company grows. Rather than charting a smooth curve, it grows by steps, and each step is different.

[9:33] Greg explains the inflection points of growth from a sole proprietorship to a large company. He compares it to transitioning from ADD to OCD.

[12:04] When Greg was at Infusionsoft, they decided to stop being all things to all customers. When they focused on a particular customer need, and narrowed the product, they went from no growth to 50% growth in six years.

[15:01] To maintain growth in a high-growth company, you must reset the process about every 18 months. The first rule of the game is to know what game you’re playing, and the game is always changing.

[17:12] The sport of growth is like playing in the Pros. You will not play the same role in the same game for many years.

[19:14] A small company that starts off by “making stuff up” as they go, soon has to transition to a business plan. Things change in the maturing process. Amazon started by just selling books, and gradually shifted to a variety of merchandise.

[23:44] Greg talks about assessing past, present, and plans for the future, and suggests pulling your mind like taffy. Block the possibility of failure. Greg discusses a real estate growth firm.

[27:10] The big challenges still need addressing, and we need more entrepreneurs, companies, and people to aim high and go after them, like they cannot fail.

 

March 31, 2017

How to Optimize Your Sales Process. With Bridget Gleason. #420

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

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:15] A sales process is subject to iterative improvement. Is it scalable? Do your salespeople have, or need, the skills to handle inbound and outbound? Examine historic sales data, from lead to close. Identify where the process needs change.

[6:24] Bridget’s team receives inbound and makes outbound calls. Outbound is tasked to reach into various departments of the prospect. SDRs help supply the inbound leads.
[9:12] A Logz.io sale usually starts with the manager of the end user, and it is critical for the account executive to involve other buyer contacts with more authority, to align the sales process with the buying process, from the beginning.

[11:19] Bridget discusses exit criteria for each stage of the sales process. How does the salesperson shepherd the buyer along the buying process, by inviting legal, security, procurement, and budget contacts to buy in?

[13:35] Has Logz.io settled on one sales methodology? Bridget talks about her Xerox training and SPIN Selling methodology. She also invokes Sandler training as an example.

[16:38] What parameters influence the choice of sales methodology? Are there great differences between most sales methodologies?

[18:29] What about compensation? How do you balance the needs of the company with motivating individuals? How does personal growth opportunity balance direct compensation?

[21:46] Is compensation the ultimate determining factor of performance motivation? Bridget reveals her opinion.

March 29, 2017

Process and Execution Rule in B2B Selling. With Tibor Shanto. #418

Joining me once again on this episode of Accelerate! is my guest Tibor Shanto, author, speaker, trainer, and sales expert.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:00] Tibor offers training, speaking, and coaching, and he writes. He helps B2B companies get new business through process and execution. “Everything else is just talk.”

[3:56] Tibor comments on research about social media influence on B2B. Is the research relevant and reliable?

[6:11] Some buyers enter the market on their own. Some do not, unless approached; and they may not be on social media.

[10:23] When you start content marketing, what happens when you run out of content? Tibor shares his experiences. [12:46] Tibor does not seek pain points. What does he focus on, instead? How does he help prospects become buyers?

[16:24] ‘A’ players use tools to boost their success. ‘B’ and ‘C’ players hope tools will make them ‘A’ players. “‘C’ players should be seeking employment in the hospitality industry.”

[20:41] A robust sales process that is followed, serves as a platform for coaching, hiring, and individual success.

[23:29] Managers need to spend more time coaching their B players. 75% of their time should be coaching, but rarely is.

[29:02] Some sales behaviors and traits can be taught. Can passion be taught? How does process help sales?

[34:00] Statistics vary about buyers, regarding who initiates, and who is brought into the process. Embrace both types.

[38:25] Sales complexity increases from the technology and apps being thrown at the reps to ‘help them.’ They hinder more than help. Look for helpful tech, not just new tech.

[40:44] Tibor notes that tech doesn’t make the sale, but it does help reach the buyer. Learn to sell first, and tools can help.