Accelerate Podcast with Andy Paul
August 18, 2017

#544. Books to Elevate Your Attitude and Change Your Behavior. With Bridget Gleason.

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

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:45] This is a book episode! Bridget read What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars, by Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan. There are lessons in failure. The book asks why someone stays in a losing position. Don’t tie your self-worth to external things.

[5:37] Research shows that specific direct goals are less attainable. Put some space between your personality and the ultimate achievement. This book was about a trader on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He learned to be resilient.

[7:23] Resilience is a trait of a sales professional who will endure and move on. Bridget looks for examples of resiliency in her interviews. It’s not indifference, but self-acceptance.

[9:16] Andy recommends Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will, by
Geoff Colvin. It speaks directly to sales. The research on technology shows there will be changes, so provide value.

[11:11] Geoff Colvin states, “Look into someone’s eyes. That turns out to be metaphorically, and quite often, literally, the key to high-value work in the coming economy.” What is often missing in sales is face-to-face contact. Go visit your customer.

[13:12] Sales visits have to be used wisely, to contain cost. Andy used to visit overseas customers about once a quarter. Use travel strategically to make something happen. Consider the lifetime contract value. Group multiple calls in as trip.

[14:48] Bridget read The Halo Effect: . . . and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers, by Phil Rosenzweig. His premise is business thinking is shaped by delusion, such as assuming all aspects of a great company are equally great.

[16:58] Studies on successful companies like Google show we tend to underestimate the impact of luck, market conditions, and things outside the control of the company. The book notes the delusion of the single explanation.

[17:53] There are humans at the helm, executing plans and relying on chance. Avoid the hero cult. See past the halo effect.

[19:27] Increasingly our information is informed by Big Data. Andy refers to Everydata: The Misinformation Hidden in the Little Data You Consume Every Day, by John H. Johnson and
Mike Gluck. We err by shaping data to fit our world view.

[21:34] Pablo Mastroeni of the Colorado Rapids said, “Pundits … will look at possession … and … metrics that have very little to do with heart, and courage, and the commitment … The stats will lose to the human spirit, every day of the week.”

[25:11] Andy’s last book is The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the Ten Commitments That Drive Sales, by Anthony Iannarino. It’s about gaining customer commitments that each lead to the next step, all the way to the buying decision.

August 17, 2017

#543. Does Sales & Marketing Intelligence Democratize Sales Growth? With Katie Bullard.

Katie Bullard, Chief Growth Officer at DiscoverOrg, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:35] Katie says one of the single biggest challenges that sales reps face today is figuring out how to prioritize. We have an overabundance of information, signals, and noise.

[3:57] There is extraneous noise, as well. Katie suggests gathering personal insights about buyers. Spending too much time gathering, limits time left available for engagement.

[4:58] Pre-internet days, reps still needed to find background information on prospects. Are we using the tools we have today to elevate our productivity? Having the data is just the beginning of the story.

[8:18] Andy asks listeners: If we were to normalize individual sales rep productivity over the last 20 years, has the productive capacity of a rep changed at all, during this time? Katie believes we know better, by priority, whom to engage.

[10:53] Given the data points, are we selling more or less than we did 20 years ago? Katie reports on one very successful startup that disrupted an industry. It is harder for older companies to hold on to market leadership against startups.

[13:10] Does a higher fraction of startups succeed today than 20 years ago? Katie says the behavior of startups has changed. The traits of the individual salesperson haven’t changed. The tech available, and the channels to connect are different.

[15:34] Andy has an acronym for the BALD truth about sales: Be present, Ask great questions, Listen without judgment, and Deliver value at every touch. Katie says to focus on fundamentals while leveraging tech advancements.

[16:57] DiscoverOrg has a new ebook on sales and marketing intelligence. Katie explains how the proliferation of intelligence democratizes growth, leading to industry disruption. The new data tools give a great head start.

[20:43] Startups fail due to premature scaling, according to a study by Berkeley and Stanford researchers. Companies go to market with a great product, not knowing their value in the market. You have one chance to make a good first impression.

[23:52] Many companies claim they lack account data intelligence. There is no shortage of companies that provide data, but some of it is bad. That was Henry Schuck’s the motivation to start DiscoverOrg.

[27:50] ‘A players’ are making the best use of the available data that they can. All reps can model how the ‘A players’ use the data on leads. Katie explains what DiscoverOrg found on the use of data ‘A players.’

[30:04] ‘A players’ get it, and use it well, but the vast majority of reps do not apply the data intelligence in a way to move the needle. Katie sees a consistent upward trajectory in a team when supplied with better data.

August 16, 2017

#542. How to Make Content Marketing Work for You. With Drew Neisser

Drew Neisser, Founder and CEO of Renegade, a leading marketing agency, joins me for the second time on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:49] Drew says the single biggest challenge that sales reps face today is the convergence of content, social, purpose branding, and storytelling, and the varying theories of how they work. Reps are overwhelmed, and forget the basics.

[3:34] Pick up the phone and call someone. Drew answers his own phone, and it doesn’t ring that often. It is easier to contact executives today than when they had administrative assistants that tore up messages.

[5:10] Andy also answers his phone. Drew will not talk to callers who do not prepare with knowledge about him and his needs. Andy gets emails from people wanting to be on his podcast, with no evidence that they had ever listened it.

[8:01] Don’t flood inboxes. Do your homework. Emails are still generally poor, despite the tools available. Drew talks about a webinar he hosted, where the attendees just didn’t get it. He shares a personal example of a nurturing connection.

[11:44] Andy read in a manuscript that content marketing doesn’t reach decision-makers. Drew disagrees. Executives read a lot, but they may not read your content. They read for value. You and your content must be credible sources.

[14:23] Drew talks about storytelling. He lists the key elements of a memorable story. He contrasts a memorable story with bad brand storytelling about product, and how so many get it wrong. Drew gives tips for incorporating stories in marketing.

[17:24] There are simple frameworks for storytelling; if they are too complex, the rep usually has trouble with it, and the prospect usually doesn’t relate. Drew says to add emotional hooks that entice the prospect to meet with you again.

[21:30] Andy cites a Content Marketing Institute report saying less than 40% of marketing companies find success with content. Drew lists reasons for underperformance. Quality and a unifying story are lacking, and the writing is poor.

[23:19] Quantity matters. A post does not stand alone, no matter how great its content. It needs to be promoted. It takes work. Drew cites Jon Ferrara of Nimble, as the rare case of solo success. Most will need a campaign.

[26:11] Organic social marketing will not grow your company. You need strategic paid ads on social platforms, timed with email newsletters, and cold calling.

[27:26] The first goal of any content marketing program is to capture new names. Drew tells the story of his own experience testing newsletters with Social Media Explorer blogsite. More choices led to fewer clickthroughs!

[30:14] Drew talks about how he expanded the group, and then opened a Facebook group for them with unique content.

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 13, 2017

What Should You Be Doing, But Aren’t? Overcoming The Sales Fears That Are Holding You Back With Townsend Wardlaw.

Townsend Wardlaw is a sales transformation architect. In this episode, he talks in depth about the fears that paralyze many sales reps and provides effective strategies they can use to overcome them to transform their sales results. Townsend describes the common rationalizations that sales reps use to justify inaction in the face of their fears; whether it is fear of prospecting, fear of presenting or fear of asking for the order. He talks about the lessons he learned overcoming his own paralyzing anxieties of public speaking, and how you can use them in your own selling. Everyone in sales has fears about some aspect of selling. But they don’t have to hold you back! You definitely want to listen to this episode.

August 10, 2017

#536. Use AI on Sales Calls to Increase Rep Productivity. With Sabrina Atienza.

Sabrina Atienza, Founder and CEO of Qurious.io, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:27] Sabrina says the single biggest challenge sales reps are facing is an increased pressure in ramping quickly, combined with leaving companies faster than ever. Onboarding is increasingly difficult, as people switch companies all the time.

[5:10] Qurious is an AI platform that provides real-time feedback during sales calls. Questions, objections, or competitor references can be detected live, and useful bullet points are supplied for the rep to use in response.

[6:42] Qurious builds playbooks out of analysis of calls by ‘A players.’ Qurious gives accurate objective analysis of responses to triggers, better than the rep would remember them, if they had to report the conversation as it occurred.

[8:18] The Qurious playbooks are used in coaching to teach what questions to ask to get the most informative responses. Questions, trial closes, and transitioning are in the playbook.

[9:45] Qurious provides real-time suggestions on the rep’s screen, while they are engaging with the prospect on the phone, based on interpreting what the prospect says.

[10:07] Sabrina talks about the issue of focus. Some reps like to see a block of text. Others want bullet points. Each rep can personalize the appearance on the screen for optimal reading.

[12:04] One of the nudges is for the rep to stop talking. It is a customizable length of time, such as 60 seconds, up to five minutes. A rambling warning comes up. Qurious measures the ratio of rep to prospect talking, also, and tallies it at the end.

[14:17] It is difficult to determine what ‘A players’ do, that make them ‘A players,’ but Qurious’s analysis shows they already have a repeatable playbook. The variation in what reps say increases as they become lower performers.

[16:09] Qurious focuses the real-time feedback on reps that are new, onboarding, or struggling. ‘B players’ are enabled with data they can act upon, that comes from successful calls.

[19:20] The tools will help reps, if they are curious. If the rep doesn’t accept the proven input, that may need addressing by a manager.

[23:39] With AI you can A/B test messages across a range of reps. It is important for reps to come up with a playbook that works repeatedly for them, so ‘B players’ become ‘A players.’

[25:20] SDR churn is an industry problem. Getting a rep to success faster by reducing onboarding time is a great morale booster. Companies can take action on this today.

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 7, 2017

#533. Why a Greater Focus on the Buyer is Essential. With Robert Koehler.

Robert Koehler, Director of Consulting at TOPO, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:25] Robert says one of the biggest challenges facing sales reps is trying to accelerate the sales cycle given the growth of buying committees and consensus buying. Robert suggests some tactics.

[2:26] The buying process depends on the buyer, and they don’t usually formalize it. It is impossible for the salesperson to control it. Building credibility early on, and educating the buyer, will help the salesperson guide the buying process.

[3:51] The salesperson needs to understand the commitments the customer has to make to get to the decision. Know the exit criteria of each stage of the process. Have a tailored customized sales process. A sequence is not the process.

[8:37] Salespeople need to know what information the customer needs in order to make a decision. Robert shares an anecdote about missing information.

[10:02] Instead of following a checklist, learn where the customer wants to be, and the gap to cross to get there. Understand the buyer and their business, and what challenges the buyer faces day-to-day.

[13:13] Onboarding should be about understanding the customer. This will not be solely acquired through experience. Training is required. Examine your onboarding program. What percent of the information is in the buyer’s voice?

[15:36] Surveys will not tell you about the customer. Talk to them in person. Personal meetings give the best opportunity for deep understanding, especially for milestone meetings.

[22:35] Question what the data shows. Robert looks forward to AI for personalization of coaching and training.

[24:25] AI can adopt repetitive tasks, to free time for reps to engage. People have uniquely human qualities, where a personal touch is becoming more important, as technologies come into play.

[25:54] Be mindful and present with the customer. (Put your phone away!) Understand the business. Ask the right questions. Tie your solution to the buyer’s challenges. Put together a proposal that speaks to their business challenges.

[29:53] There seems to be little or no correlation between the sales stack, and the productivity of the individual contributor. Close rates are dropping. The tech is not customer-focused. Robert says the solution is not seen on the horizon.

[32:39] Andy cites Geoffrey Colvin: “The ability of a company to make a good decision with the least investment of time and effort possible, is viewed by the buyer as a strategic process.” Robert considers the importance of customer success in SaaS.

August 1, 2017

#527. The Mindset to Sell like a Mad Genius. With Randy Gage.

Randy Gage, bestselling author and leading speaker on success and prosperity, and President of the Prosperity Factory, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:13] Randy says the single biggest challenge facing sales professionals is the mind game. 80% is mental — having the right mindset, in spite of resistance and rejection, knowing the value they offer, and finding their opportunities.

[3:33] If you ask 100 people what is the opposite of success, 99 will answer “failure.” Randy gives his interesting answer.

[5:24] Companies that do not set expectations for growth, or prioritize employee development, are rewarding mediocrity. People think it’s safer not to get noticed. But they lose. Look forward as your prospects change, and solve their problems.

[8:24] Know ‘where you live.’ Are you mediocre, good, great, or a mad genius? Know the path to becoming a mad genius. FInd two or three people who will be brutally honest with you.

[10:09] The ‘good’ is the area where people are self-satisfied. Keep building on success. Don’t stay in a comfort zone. Randy tells of his 20-70-10 formula. The 10% are the ones who strive to grow. The 20% do not. The 70% can be guided to develop.

[14:12] It’s all about creating culture. People know what is expected, and how the company operates. Create a customer-centric culture of innovation, and initiative. Create a culture where people are allowed to fail on the way to success.

[18:14] Processes that are too strict restrain sales reps from finding what works for them to meet their potential. There needs to be a safe space for creative people to be brilliant.

[19:23] Business is art. Data should support the sales process, not govern it. Randy uses a game/players analogy. Know the players and their abilities. Innovation and creativity come from within. The next decade will be the most cataclysmic in history.

[24:22] Uber plans for autonomous cars. That will change everything about car sales. Google changes everything about buyer knowledge. What trends and challenges are coming? When we know, we can help solve them and add value.

[26:37] The salesperson’s job is to know what the customer needs before the customer knows. Henry Ford knew that people needed cars when they just thought they wanted faster horses. Ask the right questions.

[27:27] Break out of habitual thinking patterns. Find questions that answer tomorrow’s issues, to help the customer accomplish what they want to achieve. Asking the wrong questions yields no value.

[30:09] Think about your own future. Mad Genius is worth the read. Solving problems and adding value are the underlying themes for salespeople.

 

July 31, 2017

#526. Rethinking Sales for the 21st Century. With Chris Ortolano.

Chris Ortolano, Sales Productivity Partner at Outbound Edge, and Chapter President of the AA-ISP in Portland, Oregon, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:52] Chris thinks the biggest challenge facing sales reps is being overwhelmed with information, with no opportunity to classify it into knowledge. Chris suggests contexts for learning and memorizing.

[2:51] Chris describes a sales rep today: one part politician, one part tango dancer, and one part air traffic controller.

[4:23] Chris started Sales Stack, a free forum for practitioners and leaders to create a learning community. Topics are sales technology, metrics, and outcomes.

[6:51] Many threads in sales forums are on technology and technique more than the buyer. Chris has interviewed customers to collect stories about the digital buyer journey.

[9:25] Chris discusses trends of building relationships and discovery skills in SaaS, with examples of companies creating academy models of training.

[11:14] Sales requires a person talking to another person. Technology should make that moment as effective as possible. Chris introduces a five-part framework for thinking about how to talk to buyers. Sales is a craft to practice.

[16:24] Middle performers have potential to improve, and it would help for management to invest in their development. Chris calls the current ‘hire-to-fire’ model archaic.

[17:33] Many VPs moved up the ranks that way, and they make the decisions. A few companies realize that knowledge is a powerful fulcrum, and they can ‘train to retain.’

[19:13] Chris details his beliefs about sales productivity. There is still no scientific metric for it. Balance sheets ignore talent. Salespeople are knowledge workers.

[26:24] Data always has a story. If we allow cognitive bias to interpret it, we miss the point. Silos limit the modern organization. Knowledge needs to be shared in companies.

[27:28] Chris explores how sales could be reimagined within the company. Onboarding needs to include business knowledge from all departments, on top of domain expertise.

[31:08] Chris’ five-part framework for rethinking sales is: Curiosity, Collaboration, Commitment, Communication skills, and Change.