Accelerate Podcast with Andy Paul
November 24, 2017

#601. How to Relieve the Seller’s Burden. With Bridget Gleason. And special guest, David Kerr.

Bridget Gleason is VP of Sales for Logz.io and my regular partner on Front Line Fridays. We’re joined on this episode by David Kerr, CEO of Octiv.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Bridget and Andy welcome special guest, David Kerr. They discuss liberal arts schools. Andy studied History. Bridget studied English, Business, and Math. David studied Politics. David says critical thinking is now a missing skill.
  • There is more pressure these days to get the best grades and go to the best schools and choose your degree before you start.
  • Octiv focuses on the sales enablement and productivity space. They look at solving the problem of seller’s burden through automated document generation for all sales documents to drive the efficiency across sales teams.
  • Seller’s burden includes internal complexity (approvals, pricing), product complexity (SKUs, configurations), and external complexity (a number of decision makers and influencers in the client space). Sales was always complex.
  • Part of today’s complexity is the volume of investigation and discovery to be managed. Back to the school dialog, people used to apply to three schools; now they apply to 15-20 because of the automation and common apps.
  • Customers do the same, getting multiple free demos. There are greater volume and demand for detail. Bridget sees the number of SaaS deals a team manages increasing with increased onboarding from rep turnover.
  • Octiv used to be called TinderBox, but Tinder became a popular product and it was distracting, so they renamed to Octiv. Andy says distraction is a fourth burden on the seller. David talks about Millennials distracted by Slack.
  • With the large stacks, it is difficult to untangle the knot of what is effective. David suggests that automation can streamline the distractions. Technology, applied correctly, gives the reps more time to focus on selling.
  • Unattended automation does not bring the rep closer to the customer. Personalized social selling, augmented by AI can make connections — until it looks automated. We need humanization at scale (not mail-merge).
  • Person-to-person communications are most relevant. Prospects don’t want phone calls all the time. Bridget encourages reps to look for connections in common, a person, place, or thing, and include it in a contact.
  • It doesn’t take an archeological dig to find a connection. Five minutes of searching can often find something of interest to the contact that connects the rep to them. In a high-value deal, it may be worth doing more research.
  • David gravitates toward enterprise sales because of the human connection. People buy from people they know like and trust. David talks about a very relevant and pleasant gift he received from a vendor.
July 1, 2017

#499. Sales Behaviors That Make It Easier To Engage with Buyers. With Nancy Bleeke.

Nancy Bleeke, President and Chief Sales Officer of Sales Pro Insider, and author of a great book called, Conversations That Sell, joins me for the second time on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[:58] Sales Pro Insider now has a completely virtual group facilitated offering, that is doing fantastically. 12 people and a facilitator meet by webcam, with breakout groups, for two days, with no travel cost.

[3:38] Nancy explains how to ‘ditch the pitch.’ Get over wanting to tell people everything that you can do without it being important to the prospect. Have conversations where the prospect speaks the most.

[4:38] The default sales behavior is to pitch. Have one or two sentences ready to give context to what you do. “We help companies to grow their sales. To find out if that’s something we can help you with, I have some questions for you.”

[7:19] Tim Wackel suggests asking, “Do you think we’re ready for a proposal?” This helps you when you know what their need is and they are willing to meet. Nancy had a client double their conversion by selecting the right time to give a proposal.

[11:36] An important commitment is to meet for the proposal and go over it. Don’t send it. Take them through it. Every conversation throughout the sales process needs to connect to what’s important to them, or it’s a pitch.

[13:54] A good story to tell is about a previous customer. The story answers four questions, within 30 seconds. The prospect gets involved in the story, and self-persuades. John Steinbeck said people only want to hear stories about them. Help them relate.

[16:17] Behaviors have a trigger, a process, and a reward. Even bad habits have a ‘reward.’ The reward for telling a story isn’t how good you feel about what you said, but the value the customer received from it, to continue the conversation.

[17:53] People you are selling with, don’t want to be handled or overcome. They want a solution, so they talk to you. You want a sale, so you talk to them. Collaborate with them, don’t handle them. Help them work through the decision process.

[20:03] An objection is just a question. It means, I don’t understand. It’s important to understand the question they are asking, which means that will take some questions in return. Both parties may need more information. It is not an adversarial situation.

[22:36] Michael Bungay Stanier says, listen without judgment. Don’t raise your defenses. Stop and listen to what they are saying. Don’t cut them off. Don’t interrupt.

[25:36] Pattern recognition leads us to jump to conclusions. Fight your bias. Ask questions before assuming. Train yourself to bypass the amygdala hijack. Prepare and practice asking for more information. Respect what they need to say.

[29:39] Don’t think about shutting the customer up. Collaborate. Find out what they’re asking, before discounting or changing scope. Take a breath and ask deliberate questions.

June 27, 2017

#495. Learn How to Create a Killer Presentation by Asking the Right Questions. With Tim Wackel.

Tim Wackel, top sales trainer and leading expert on making better sales presentations, joins me for the second time on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:17] Tim sees too much activity without accomplishment, as the single biggest challenge facing sales reps. This is driven from the top. Tim stresses working on the fundamentals first.

[4:13] Your sales process needs to be set up to make the human interactions within the buying process as value-laden and impactful as possible. Tim cites the art of conversation.

[4:55] Metrics are set by management. Reps need coaching on basics more than on metrics. Tim says executives often don’t know what’s going on in sales, but they want more of it. The real metric is, how much business are you producing?

[6:02] They must put their own stamp on the process. Don’t work robotically. Top performers have unique ways of doing things. Have the confidence to shine.

[7:40] Sometimes the manager doesn’t have the right process for you. Tim tells an anecdote about following up, and a rep who lost a prospect, and why he lost them.

[9:15] Every interaction needs to provide value. Tim’s first manager asked him if his clients valued him so much, would they be willing to pay for a sales call?

[13:06] Tim talks about the two opportunities you may have to make a presentation. At either time, a poor presentation will prevent a sale. Don’t deliver everyone else’s presentation.

[16:44] A presentation is not always necessary. You engage in relevant conversation, tell your story, and the laptop stays closed (even though you had a presentation ready). Tim says, design it in analog, deliver it in digital.

[18:00] Presentation clumsiness is a failure. People leave their practice until they have a presentation. Practice all the time. Don’t rely on the deck. Rehearse it in an environment similar to the client’s boardroom. Make it about the client, not you.

[23:52] Delete the corporate capabilities of your company. The client has already researched you. Focus on three things, what, how, and why. What is the concern? How can we fix it? Why are you the right vendor? This is the last, and easy part.

[28:30] Tim says, remember, it is Powerpoint, not Powerparagraph. It is a visual aid to support your story. Make the story more important than the slides, and use the slides with images to keep people engaged in your story.

[34:15] Presentation, like sales, requires methodical deliberation. How will this presentation engage the customer and move the sale forward? Sell on purpose. There is a pattern of success.

June 27, 2016

Win More Deals by Writing Exquisite Proposals. With Jason Swenk. #186

Jason Swenk is a self-proclaimed defender of truth, justice, and effective business practices. Jason helps small business owners develop the right systems to create winning proposals that drive the growth of their businesses. In this episode, Jason shares his key steps to writing a winning proposal. Among the topic we discuss are:

  • Eight steps to writing an exceptional proposal.
  • The difference between a cover letter and an executive summary.
  • The common mistakes most people make when writing a proposal.
  • Why you need to stop emailing proposals and present them instead.
  • How to increase the closing percentage of your proposals.