Accelerate Podcast with Andy Paul
August 21, 2017

#547. How to Build Your Authority with Effective PR. With Josh Elledge.

Josh Elledge, Founder of upendPR and Chief Executive of SavingsAngel, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:20] Josh says the single biggest challenge that salespeople face today is getting out of our own way. It’s so important to adhere to a script or a system based scientifically on what works, with authenticity, for the customer.

[3:14] It’s an open question how much sales has improved from the “old school.” Customer-centric selling has long been a topic. Business selling has to be about the prospect. We may not be evolving fast enough in that direction.

[6:06] SavingsAngel was launched 10 years ago to cut the family’s grocery bill by coupons and sales. It is an automated data site, building membership through PR. Josh used PR firms to promote it, but they all failed him.

[10:27] Because Josh felt traditional PR methods were ineffective, he started upendPR as an anti-PR type of firm, to use current marketing methods. They have a great success rate for their clients.

[11:31] Andy hired a reputable PR firm for the release of one of his books, and paid big money for no results. Facebook can calculate the predicted return on an advertising investment. But a PR campaign isn’t an advertising campaign.

[12:45] The number one job of a business is to grow.  Network with influencers and serve large audiences. The more you give, the more they will want to reciprocate, and the more they will look to you for value, and engage for a deeper dive.

[18:26] Josh contrasts PR with social sharing. The best way to get the respect of influencers is to be an influencer. Build yourself into the position of being an authority. An unknown running ads on Facebook will not be noticed. PR is the path.

[20:18] Radio, blogs, print all may reach your targeted client. Traditional media sources are hungry. Approach writers in industry publications. Josh discusses PR placement (instances where you get quoted). People want to be part of a movement.

[26:17] There is a playbook for startups to build their brand, and it usually neglects PR. Effective PR builds your authority.

August 20, 2017

#546 Keep Your Sales as Simple as Possible. With Bridget Gleason.

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

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[:53] Wake up each day telling yourself it’s a fantastic day! Start your day with a smile.

[2:27] Do you prefer treadmills or running outdoors? Does the weather make the choice for you?

[3:58] The topic is whether we are over complicating sales. The human connection is the key in any methodology. As in soccer, the fundamentals win the game, or the deal.

[6:03] Process may obscure the buying journey. When Andy reads a sales book, as he does for every author guest he interviews, the “gold” he finds is in the small stuff, not in big concepts. It’s all about human interactions.

[8:30] Bridget may not find a new concept in a book, but often finds timely reminders that relate to her current situations.

[9:20] The sales process is necessary, like “table stakes.” The differentiators are more nuanced, and are personal to the sales professional. They are independent from the process. [10:43] Many guests on Accelerate market the importance of the process. To compare sales to golf, you can learn all you want about the swing; the action takes place where the clubface squarely meets the ball. That will not change.

[12:06] Lessons in the fundamentals are more relevant than tools and trends. «Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.» (The more things change, the more they stay the same.) Humans are fundamentally unchanged since sales began.

[15:02] In episode #432 the topic was relationships. It goes back to that. People buy from people. Bridget is in the majority of buyers, in optimizing buying around trust.

[16:27] There is no sale without a connection. Andy created a mnemonic acronym for the fundamentals: BALD — Be present, Ask great questions, Listen without judgment, and Delivervalue.

[19:00] Being present means not being distracted. Listening without judgment means letting the buyer disclose who they are. Don’t categorize them without knowing them. Don’t allow your confirmation bias to fool you. People are unique.

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 11, 2017

#537. Empathy: In Shorter Supply as Demand Increases. With Bridget Gleason.

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

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[3:24] Andy recently interviewed Geoff Colvin about his latest book, Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will, a deep dive into the impact of industry and tech on employment, so far, and to come.

[4:57] Colvin covers the job changes through industrialization, electrification, technology, and the fourth phase, where the largest profession, drivers, are about to be replaced, and legal discovery will be done by machines, better than attorneys.

[8:01] Colvin claims the skills that will be more valuable are the human skills: relationship building, collaboration, and co-creation, where machines are ineffective. These skills are in the province of sales. Salespeople are not going away.

[9:17] Andy notes that sales management discussion groups online are filled with threads on technology and process, but free of questions on the customer. The interaction between two humans is what will continue to drive sales.

[11:04] Geoff Colvin quotes an Oracle exec: “Empathy is the critical 21st Century skill.” — Meg Bear, Group VP, Social Cloud, Oracle. However, yearly college research shows the amount of empathy is declining in students, since 1980.

[12:11] The population of people coming into the workforce has less of the highly valued skill of empathy. That may give an edge to women, and may help attract women into sales leadership roles.

[14:51] Oxford Economics research lists near-term needed skills: empathy, relationship building, teamwork, co-creation, collaboration, and cultural sensitivity. Women may be strong in these skills. Bridget sees one female to 19 male applicants.

[16:29] Does your job description call for empathizing, collaborating, co-creating, and building relationships? Andy has never seen a sales posting for those needed skills. Bridget recalls a former ad that moved her, based around empathy.

[19:44] Bridget first had a female boss at Engineyard, in 2012. More often she was one of a few females on a team. Females are underrepresented in sales — especially in sales leadership.

[20:52] As technology moves more into human jobs, it is still limited in the space of human interaction, and will be limited for some time. Human characteristics differentiate yourself in how you sell through engagement.

[22:33] Machines are getting better, but we are not. Moore’s law is still on track, or accelerating. So the way to be better is to be more human. Will SDR roles become automated? That may come sooner, as the role is more automatic.

[26:08] Co-collaboration will not become easily replicated through machine intelligence. If your role is one that does not add value to customers, they might as well be talking to a machine. Add customer value to your role.

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 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 4, 2017

#530. Do Buyers Benefit from Sales Automation? With Bridget Gleason.

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

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:07] Bridget, a.k.a., Captain Fantastic (for her fantastic attitude), is waiting for her staff to bring up her new name after last week’s episode airs. Andy has his own ‘superpower,’ which helps him in the NY summers.

[5:33] The topic is the future of selling. Salespeople are not going away. Our species has a poor record of forecasting, but we know AI tech, machine learning, and bots are inevitably moving into sales. They are improving. There will be impact.

[7:04] The tech is currently about the sellers. The customer derives no direct value. The tech tools should help the customer accomplish their goal to make a good decision ASAP.

[8:12] Presently, the process is missing opportunities to assist the customer. The interaction with the customer is still strictly up to the salesperson. The future of selling is about becoming more human, with more free time for the customer.

[11:01] Information is given to the salesperson. What they do with it determines their success. The customer expects an engagement, not a process. A well-run sales process should be in service to the salesperson/customer interaction.

[12:38] Logz.io just won a major enterprise customer, who actually makes a competing product. They cited a reason: the relationship. They needed a vendor who was extremely customer-focused, to act as a partner. They trust Logz.io.

[15:18] Andy shares a similar story of when he sold a product to a competing huge enterprise customer. They trusted Andy and his company, because they delivered excellence.

[18:10] Given Bridget’s example, would AI enhance the experience three years down the road? It is hoped that better information will deliver better qualification, and guidance to respond to customer signals.

[20:52] All will have access to AI tech. So all will have the same edge. The quality of the human interaction will make the difference. Logz.io trains with a leaning toward the personal. The large deal was won with a ‘Proof of Relationship.’

[22:47] The relationship is more important than the concept. The buyer can go to review sites to get the concept. They can only see the relationship in the rep. A sales relationship is about trust and positive neutrality, not about friendship.

[25:34] The trust is based on performing within that relationship. There is no deal without trust. Logz.io was very glad to get this deal, and they worked hard to get it.

[27:45] If, one day, you are not there for the customer, they will look for someone else.

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 29, 2017

#524. How to be resilient when life sucks. With Allison Graham.

Allison Graham, consultant, and author of Married My Mom Birthed A Dog: How to be Resilient When Life Sucks, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:07] Allison thinks the biggest challenge facing sales reps is the noise in the marketplace. Allison started writing a column in 2003. It took her five months to get the job. Today, anybody can publish anything, with little or no merit.

[5:10] Allison suggests a remedy. Salespeople need to flip their script. Talking about their company and product is of no interest to the prospect. Talk about the specific problem you are going to solve for the client, and how you will solve it.

[6:39] Then, get eye-to-eye with the right buyers, make an impression, and talk their language about problems they are having. Let them know you’re the solution provider, and make it irresistible. Tie your product to their problem.

[9:34] Allison has written about resilience. She based a book on her work/life experiences of the first ten years of her sales career. Her sales were good, but her health was miserable. [11:36] You can become a victim, or you can become the Resiliency Ninja. Step into your full potential, your full success, no matter what challenges come. If you can’t bounce back from a low quota, that will influence your ability to sell.

[13:31] A 50% close ratio means 50% “No.” SDRs hear “No,” maybe 90% of the time. Not hitting your numbers twice, makes it tough to bounce back. Getting a “No,” is better than a “Maybe.” Buyers need to decline, until you earn their “Yes.”

[16:30] Resiliency is a skill that applies to both big and little issues. Too many little hurts can become a big hurt, if you are not prepared with resilience. Process issues as they come.

[18:47] Big issues like loss, disease, and divorce, impact performance. Allison created the Resiliency Ninja Formula for the book. It combines self-awareness, strength of heart, body and mind. She developed tools to build strength.

[21:21] These tools fight our internal messenger of BS that always says the worst. Allison describes a writing exercise to enable seeing self-judgments objectively. Flipping the internal script is key to becoming resilient.

[24:00] Allison claims positive thinking will make you miserable. She explains how. Positive thinking without basis leads to despair when there is a problem. Optimism is hopeful, and seeing the best. This is good.

[27:41] Acknowledge problems, and share them thoughtfully with trusted people. Share by giving hope and tools, not sorrow. Share successes with prospects. Allison describes the Continuum of Challenges: stress, obstacles, and adversity.

[36:19] We tend to minimize big things, and overstress day-to-day stresses. We are taught this from youth. We need to acknowledge big hurts, and give less power to little pains. We must learn to process adversity.