Sales superpower: discovery skills
Do you find it a challenge to get all of the information you need from prospects up front?
Just about every sales book preaches the importance of uncovering pain points and challenges during discovery, but how does quickly understanding where you can add value affect how opportunities progress and the speed that they reach a sale?
Discovery - and how to master it is a key skill to have in your arsenal.
Webinar topic detail
Do you find it a challenge to get all of the information you need from prospects up front?
Just about every sales book preaches the importance of uncovering pain points and challenges during discovery, but how does quickly understanding where you can add value affect how opportunities progress and the speed that they reach a sale?
Discovery – and how to master it is a key skill to have in your arsenal.
Joe: Hello and welcome to this B2B Essential Skills Week webinar. I am your host Brand Awareness Manager, Joe Ducarreaux and today we will be discussing Sales Superpower: Discovery Skills. Do you find it a challenge to get all the information you need from prospects upfront? Just about every sales book preaches the importance of uncovering pain points and challenges during discovery but how does quickly understanding where you can add value affect how opportunities progress and the speed that they reach a sale. Discovery and how to master it is a key skill to have in your arsenal. Joining me to discuss discovery techniques and more is a panel of sales superheroes. We have Alison Edgar, MBE author of Smash It, the Art of Getting What You Want and Chief Smasher at Smash It Training….Hello Alison.
Alison: Hi Joe, thanks for having me back.
Joe: It’s an absolute pleasure, I do hope that you’ve got some more songs for us on this webinar.
Alison: Always the songs Joe, always the songs.
Joe: Excellent stuff. We have Harpal Chima who is Channel Account Director at Redstor. Hello Harpal.
Harpal: Hello Joe, how are you? Are you well? Thanks for having me on the webinar today.
Joe: It’s my absolute pleasure, all the better for speaking today to all you guys. And finally, last but not least, we have Mason Mowle who is Head of Mid-Market SDR for Lead Forensics. Hello Mason.
Mason: Hello, good afternoon, good morning wherever you are. Lovely to be here.
Joe: We’re on different time zones aren’t we Mason. So for our audience who is watching we’ll be using the chat function throughout the webinar so if you come up with a question that you want to ask the panel, please feel free to pop it in there and we’ll answer it if we have time. So let’s jump straight in shall we. Most prospects will have a variety of general pain points that your product or service can help to solve but finding out which is their priority is the key to a positive conversation. So what tactics do you employ when you are exploring with a prospect, where you can add the most value? Mason, shall we start with you on this one?
Mason: Absolutely, I guess it’s worth touching on my history and experiences. I’ve always really coached and trained and led SDR teams and more recently now, those we call Own Business at Lead Forensics. Those 360 Salespeople who are charged with not only front end prospecting but also that back end 180 selling of their own opportunities as well. Kind of approaching it from that front end point of view, discovery is so important and when you first make normally cold contact with someone, you don’t actually know what pain points that prospect has because its the first point of contact. What I’ve found that holds most reps back from deriving a lot of value or getting the outcome that they actually intend from that initial conversation, is they’re not asking the right type of questions or they are asking those right questions but they’re just not direct and concise enough. Because of that they never quite get the outcome that they want and I find that’s one pretty obvious problem they get. You also get the very ‘keen bean’ reps also who are so set on leading someone down one certain path in conversation, they pigeonhole them. Because of that they are so desperate to lead it to some kind of end goal or crescendo, they normally neglect the actual pain points, what the challenges are, what the goals are of that person they are speaking to. So if we are looking at tactics, it’s going to sound really general but just having a normal, down to earth conversation. Joe, as if you and I were at the pub for example on a Friday night, better not say Thursday night there. Having that general conversation with somebody and letting it naturally flesh itself out . I don’t think we need to enforce any kind of underhand 1980’s style tactics here, it’s just having really open conversations and being very forthcoming in what you’d like to get from that. Setting an agenda and normally someone is going to interrupt you there, especially with my SDR teams, and reveal an objection or a pain point or a challenge. So that’s one thing right there, is not pigeonholing the conversation, not being too desperate. Another tactic we can employ along with that open direct questioning, is just being prepared. The amount of reps I’ve spoken to over the years and they are not prepared, they are not organised. Ultimately as sales professionals we’re having very similar conversations everyday and if we are not reviewing and reflecting on those and using those as a future proofing plan for the future, it doesn’t matter what tactics you deploy, in my opinion, you’ve never going to squeeze the most out of that conversation. So I apologise, that’s a very general answer but it’s all about asking for what you want in a very direct and open way and being prepared to have those conversations initially as well……from my experience.
Joe: Please don’t apologise for that answer, it was extremely comprehensive. So basically do your homework and use these (ears), make sure you are listening.
Mason: You can say to a lot of people, use what’s in the middle of your head, I think and they would just stare at you blankly. It’s all about using your ears, listening, being in that moment rather than on that moment, as well.
Joe: Alison, let’s come to you. What tactics do you employ when you are exploring with a prospect, where you can add value?
Alison: I think it’s really interesting listening to what Mason was saying because you’ve obviously got your SDRs who are outbound calling and to really understand what the pain points are in that literally 30 or 45 seconds that you get, that’s nigh on impossible, I would say. But if we look at us as humans, it all comes back to Maslow’s Hierarchy and Needs. So it’s Safety and Security and that’s situational. Although there are many issues that our prospect will have, ultimately it’s time and money because that comes back to…..even when it comes to people, so we look at ‘oh I’m really struggling to recruit’ ‘I’m really struggling with the right people’. A lot of that comes back to that fear situation, it’s our brain. Ultimately, it’s interesting because a lot of people get sucked into the B2C, B2B, B2Human situation and I am old school. I have been selling for 30 years but I believe the tactics are slightly different for a B2C situation because I think that’s marketing now. Literally, when it comes to that, that’s not really a sales function. That’s marketing, having great marketing gets those leads in. Whereas in B2B, we do still have to have that outbound situation and you know Lead Forensics is a great example of how to do that. Because it’s like, would you like to know who has been looking at your website so you can increase conversions and make more money. So ultimately, that’s the pain points there, it’s money and save time to be able to trawl. Also, feeding back into what Mason was saying, it does come back to literally the oldies are the goodies because it comes to the psychology. So if we look at how you engage, a lot of people focus solely on the sales process and I’ve written a book on it. They are using my book as a framework for apprenticeships but the other bit is the other side, it’s the customer journey so its interest is gained. If you look at the SDR role when they are going outbound, you’ve only got 30 seconds to get that interest and I know we are going to be talking about questioning techniques but you’re not going to get that chance to answer the questions, if you haven’t done a great hook to be able to continue that conversation. So I honestly don’t think it’s changed since the 80’s. I don’t think the boiler room and the Wolf of Wall Street are as prevalent and I think that people have become more switched on. If we look at a lot of the younger generation, they don’t like sales, they are scared to be sold to because of that kick back from, dare I say, spin selling……that whole situation, problem, implication, needs. But ultimately, it’s not changed. It’s more of the human side and understanding the psychology behind it that really helps to gain that interest at the start of the call. That’s my opinion, Joe.
Joe: It’s something that increasingly is becoming a theme of these webinars and the conversations that we have, is that whether it’s B2B, B2C, whatever ……….people buy from people. So if you can demonstrate that you have empathy for them absolutely, I think it’s key. Harpal, your thoughts on that one. What tactics do you employ when you are exploring with a prospect, where you can add value?
Harpal: I wouldn’t say I’ve got any secret or special formula, so to say. I think I definitely resonate with what Mason was saying. For me, my methodology is all about really understanding by questioning. Questions can vary of course, they are relevant to the service that’s being proposed but I think the key is all around just being open. Open questions, listening more than I am talking, asking follow up questions based on the answers and really leading the conversation down a path that I’m in control of. We’ve got a saying in our office, it’s called Leading the Dance and our job is really just to make sure that we are asking the questions that are relevant and going down the path we’re in control of. Something we always emphasise is that the biggest cost for us as individuals is our time, so the importance of being direct as possible to understand if the customer has a problem. How much time, how much money is that problem costing, who’s that impacting, how’s that impacting them, their team, their business…… and if it is a problem, how long has it been a problem because if someone is telling me its been a problem for 2 years, then it’s not a problem anymore,, it’s not a problem that requires an immediate resolution. I’m a big believer in listening more than talking. I did say that to my 7 year old son, you’ve got two ears and one mouth but he came back and said but my mouth is bigger than my ear Daddy and I didn’t have anything to say back to that! So he stumped me on that one! For me the importance is having questions, having been prepared with your questions and being open and having open questions rather than yes or no all the time and to ensure that those questions are leading towards your next action.
Joe: To give the open-ended question gives them the opportunity to expand and more on exactly your solution can help them, I suppose. If we go to our next question then. High impact questions demonstrate your industry knowledge and understanding of a prospect’s needs, positioning you as an expert in the field. So could you share any fail-safe examples that you always have lined up during your discovery phase? We’ll go back to Alison for this one.
Alison: So for me, I’ve mainly moved across into speaking so at the moment I’m getting quite a few inbound. So again it comes back to whether is this an outbound, is this an inbound because for example if its a speaker booker for…. my clients are Adobe, Amazon, MetLife…. if I’m going to be contacting them I wouldn’t be asking them ‘have you ever booked a speaker or how much do you know about booking speakers’. Whereas actually for an inbound enquiry that’s a vital part of information for me. Because if they haven’t ever booked a speaker and it’s an inbound, they don’t know the different genres of speakers, they don’t know the different costs of speakers, they don’t know what the outputs are. So again I think there is a variety between an outbound and inbound situation and I think if we look at how do you direct that conversation and I would say….. I’ve got a sales training company as well, so when I’m sitting with my clients coaching the calls or listening in, I would say the biggest mistake that I see or I hear is …..Mason called it an agenda, I call it setting the table, this is what I see goes wrong. I’ll give you an example, Joe. We’re going out for dinner, hypothetically or maybe we could all go out for dinner. We’re not singing this time, we’re going out for dinner. We sit down at the table, we’re sitting there and we’re all having the same food, we’re all having the same meal. There’s a little fork and a big fork, a little knife and big knife and there’s a fork and spoon at the top. How many course dinner are we having Joe?
Joe: I would estimate, roughly 3.
Alison: I would say definitely 3 because you’ve got there. This comes back that if you know you’re having a 3 course meal, you’re not “are we having a buffet, what’s going on?”. We all know we’re going to have a dinner…… and that’s the problem, I see so many people that fire into great open questions but the customer has no idea what the hell is going on. You can’t direct, you can’t lead the dance if they don’t even want to dance, they’re not even on the dancefloor and you’re trying to get them to dance and they’re like I don’t do dancing. So I would say that before….again oldies but goodies…..the killer question, how much do you know about booking a speaker, then its going to go like a flow chart. To me is always think like the flow chart, either I know nothing, I know loads or I know a little bit and that’s when you can only direct. If they know loads, you’re not really educating them in that. You’re finding out ……what prompted you to contact me, you’re finding out what speakers have you used before, which ones did you think were amazing, which ones were not so great, what were the things that made them amazing, what were the things that made them not so great, what level of energy of a speaker are you looking for? And again, you’re not going to sell to everyone, but its all those qualifying questions and only when you get to that part can you really start to build that information. What sort of budget do you deal with for your speakers? and if they say £200 and I’m charging six grand! What’s you budget, what’s your flexibility to bring that up? Nothing, its signed off on a PO…. you know you don’t sell to everyone, don’t undervalue what you do. So that to me is, you know……… the oldies are the goodies, Joe! Its not changed. It might be we’re a bit younger as sales people are the techniques are exactly the same and honestly, when I wrote the second book Smash It….its not just sales, its life! The key to life is brilliant open questions because ultimately having those relationships and how you smash it and how your happiness level, it all ties in together, its that people side of things.
Joe: Again, we’re coming back to the human side of things. I will insist on our 3 courses, Alison and I will have an after dinner cocktail.
Alison: Would that be a special martini Joe? That was a closed question but I was going for the sale there, going for the close.
Joe: Harpal, let’s come back to you. Any fail-safe examples that you always have lined up during the discovery phase?
Harpal: So the organisation that I work for offers a data backup, a data recovery service but for me my fail-safe question is ….when was the last time you did a restore test? People could say they’ve got an amazing solution and again I’ll liken this to analogies, if someone has got the best car, top of the range, etc on their driveway but they haven’t driven it in 6 months, how do they know it’s still working? That’s why it’s just asking those direct, straightforward questions and just understanding…look you’ve got a solution, you think it meets your requirements but when was the last time you tested it? I always emphasise it’s not what’s being said, it’s sometimes what’s not being said. If someone can reply and they’ve got confidence in their reply ……yeah I did a restore test, it took me 3 hours, its was straightforward/I encountered troubles/I was able to contact support to assist…. you can clearly see they’ve got confidence in what they are using. But if they can’t answer the questions, if they are unable to articulate their answers there is potential opportunity to ask more open questions there and understand their challenges in more detail. Just to pick up on what Alison said, I think is a natural human trait, people don’t like being sold to so it’s important not to go in with a pitch. It’s also important to be as direct as possible and to save your time. At least you’ve got a route to go down, you know the questions that you want to ask but saying that you want to demonstrate a level of empathy….I understand your position, I want to get to know you and your challenges a bit more and asking questions that are relevant to them and their challenges.
Joe: Yes, that’s fantastic Harpal, thank you very much for your input on that one. Mason, we’ll finish up this question coming to you. Fail-safe examples you always have lined up during your discovery phase?
Mason: I would absolutely echo what Harpal and Alison have said there and also it sounds like you’ve got a good Friday night plan….we’re going to the pub, you’re going for a banquet with Alison and we’re all going dancing together!
Joe: Harpal’s leading the dancing!
Mason: That’s good because I can’t dance. I think in terms of high impact questions it’s worth noting the most effective high impact questions occur when there is already a level of interest gained from the prospect in what you’re speaking about. There has to be a level of buy-in to really hit home. so of course in those early discovery processes within the sales cycle that can be a little bit daunting for any representative understandably. So it’s all about acting familiar with expertise, acting knowledgeable. If I was to frame acting as an industry expert in terms of what I do here, we look at the industry of manufacturing. Within manufacturing there are 100,000 different subsections of manufacturing. For me to act like an expert in textile manufacturing when I’m not could make me easily appear a bit of a fraud and illegitimate. So what we can do there is…. especially in those prospecting roles and SDR roles, I’m going to refer back to them quite a bit…..is always put forward several common challenges that we’ve found others in their industry are facing. So what we’re doing by that is we are covering a broad array of different challenges and as a SDR I would get them to follow up those 3 different challenges with “you’d probably say none of those apply to yourself” and almost seem a little bit humble by that. With regards to Lead Forensics though, a fail-safe question for us especially when we are speaking to marketing type roles and decision makers is “what are you doing to drive traffic to your website” “what are you doing to gauge interest in brand to create awareness”. What we’re doing by asking that question is 1) we’re giving ourselves a lot of thinking time because naturally who you are asking it to, if the are going to give you a coherent articulate, response it’s not going to come within the first couple of seconds, they are going to think about it and it’s going to be a more thought provoking two-way conversation. Also, with that whatever answer you get reality is you are going to be creating brand interest, you are going to be driving traffic to your website, you are going to doing something in some capacity to grow your business and if you’re not arguably your stealing a living somewhat without being too crude. So what that allows my team to do is then build a great deal of value on that and actually have quite a deep understanding of what they’ve said in return. Fail-safe questions I suppose going more of a sales front we just take a spin of that “what are you doing to drive traffic?” We ask “where are you getting you leads from right now”. I think it’s a very exhaustive question “what are you doing to generate new business?” It’s a very exhaustive question that’s been asked for all the time. Alison, I’m not saying oldies aren’t goodies there. They absolutely are. Its putting a different twist on that so in terms of cold calling you stand out from the other 10 people who have cold called that prospect in a day and have probably been hung up on and got the same objection, over and over again. So what can we do to stand out there? Of course, it’s hard to ask those really FU type questions early on in that discovery process but what I have seen is those reps who can execute that with a great deal of precision, with a great deal of confidence …..it’s like we are taught from a very young age if we’re asked a question, we should answer that question and they do get a very good answer and return from that.
Joe: Thank you very much Mason, that was again a fully comprehensive answer. So are there any shortcuts then? What have you found to be the most efficient ways to understand whether or not there is a fit with a prospect? We’ll go to Harpal, we’ll start with you on that one.
Harpal: I was thinking about this question, I was thinking to myself are there any shortcuts? I don’t believe in shortcuts but I suppose for me it’s how quickly they are saying yes. The more yeses I’m getting, the more likely there’s going to be a fit. “Have you got 30 minutes to jump on a demo next week?” “From what you’ve seen from the demo, would you like me to provide investments?”…. providing investments are in the budget. Is there an appetite to explore a trial? It’s not rocket science but sometimes I think you have to ask for the sale when you go for the close. “You’ve seen the service in action, you’ve got the figures, you’ve trialled it. What do you need from me with regards to signing off and commence billing from the service?” Another shortcut, I wouldn’t say its a shortcut, its qualifying out really and that to me is so important because it just saves you so much time. One of my favourite questions is “Is doing nothing an option?” “Can you afford to do nothing” because if they turn around and actually say “you know what it is an option on the table”, sometimes people don’t recognise there is a cost associated with doing nothing. Because you either going to continue spending what you are spending or wasting time in doing what you’re doing. So what is the cost associated with doing nothing and how long can you carry on doing it. Being direct as possible “We’re going to cost X, how does that fit within your budget? What is your budget?” It’s not rocket science, I wouldn’t say they are shortcuts but its being just as direct as possible, its making sure you save your time and qualifying them out nice and early because ….I was speaking to this opportunity who was Head of a Trust and he said look we’re going to he hiring a new IT manager soon and as part of that remit he’ll have his ideas and I said right he’ll have his experiences, I’m sure he’ll want to put in what his experiences have taught him. And the Head of Trust said no we’re going to be going for your solution and that’s it, I will be dictating and mandating we’ll be going for your solution. Our concern was there was going to be someone new involved and was going to come in and put his ideas in. You want to make sure you address that as soon as possible and look to qualify it out because if Mr new IT manager has got his ideas, he’ll want to put in something that he’s comfortable with but if his boss is saying no this is what you’re going to do because he’s mandating it….that’s great, that’s the buy in we want.
Joe: Yes, fantastic and to touch on something you said earlier, pointing out “can you afford to do this”. I imagine that’s a really powerful motivator “can you afford not to be going with us”. Thank you very much Harpal. Alison, come back to you on this one. Are there any shortcuts?
Alison: Of course there’s not. Sales is a process, so to me it’s like manufacturing. You get your components, they go through the process and voila!……they’ll come out as the finished product. That’s the same as sales. If you’re not following the process, there’s one thing for sure it will break so there’s not but I’ve got a theory on this …..I do think it comes back to the SDR and the 180s and 360s. People are scared to qualify because they’re targeted on KPIs and a lot of that is when you are targeted on KPIs, you would rather have KPIs that look like you’re hitting your target, looks like you’ve got an amazing pipeline and “oh damn it, that just fell apart at the end”. And it’s not, it comes back to exactly what Harpal was saying regarding the qualifying questions. I’ll give you an example, we use Active Campaign. I don’t do much because a lot of the stuff is a low volume of customers but with a really high monetary value is what I’m doing now. But we still have our CRM, so this really well known CRM goes in and speaks to Rebecca who works for me, so again hadn’t been qualified as a decision maker, they wanted to do the demo with her. So I thought this will be fun, let’s play this game just for fun, let’s see how bad it goes. So I’m listening in, in the background, they didn’t ask any open questions, they hadn’t qualified it, they did ask us how much we were paying Active Campaign. They ran out of time because they talked at us, “look at our CRM, isn’t it amazing, it does all this’ but from a talk time perspective, woohoo! They are ticking a KPI. They got a call, they weren’t to know it wasn’t a decision maker but it was ticking a KPI. Then we have another one, so they go away and come back and say “we’ve put all this thing together” and then, are you ready, we are 2 hours in ……and again I’m playing this for fun because it was during lockdown, I’ve got some time here, lets just play along…….and right at the end they go for the close, they say “look it does all this and it’s only £5,000 a month” or whatever it was. I said “that’s great, one fundamental you didn’t ask how much I’m actually paying for Active and I’m paying $17 a month”. Literally, we’re all laughing but honestly somebody somewhere in that training and coaching team for this massive CRM, that we all know who they are, should have picked that up but they’re not they are putting KPI targets in place and when you’re struggling to hit target….again it comes back to Maslow’s. If you are worrying about rent, you’re worried about your job, you’re concerned. You are taking anything that you can get and you are not qualifying people out and I think that is a fundamental. It does come back to great open questions but the shortcut is in that qualifying conversation, when you’ve set the table we all know we’re having a 3 course meal and do you know what Joe, I’m going to be asking you questions around how much you’re investing currently, what your budget is for the next 12-18 months and how that can work maybe for us or maybe it doesn’t work. But that knowledge will really help us come up with a solution for you. So when it comes to the money bit, which they don’t like talking about, they’ve already set the table and told them in advance we are going to be talking about cash. That then really helps to disqualify, if you are at the wrong level. If you’re at influencer level, they’re not going to know those statistics and those numbers. To me there’s no shortcut, follow the process and you’re not going to sell to everybody anyway but you can keep it warm. Whereas that CRM company ain’t knocking on my time door ever again.
Harpal: I often find with newer sales people that they’re scared to talk about monetary figures. I think it’s so important and upfront to be this is the investment that’s involved and not devalue yourself . I remember my old sales manager changed the word and said don’t talk about pricing, call it investments. You completely shift that number on its head, you’re investing in something.
Alison: I think as well, can I jump in on that one. A lot of that is their perspective of cost as well, so say it is £5,000 and they’re living on £50 a week. Then they do the “gasp” as if it’s a big figure but actually to anybody investing that situation that could be pennies, its assumption isn’t it.
Joe: Absolutely. Changing the definition of one word, changes the idea of what that thing is…… so Alison, thank you for that. A couple of points on that one, there’s not much more that excites me as when Alison Edgar goes “I have a theory”. Hopefully a very valuable lesson learned on the other end of the phone with you there. Mason, your thoughts then, any shortcuts or are we completely in agreement with these two?
Mason: Yes, I think we are all of the consensus that there are no shortcuts. Unless you can call having good habits, of which there is tons of reading material if anyone doesn’t have good habits already. Although I think you’ve got to, to survive in this line of work. Being very well organised and prepared. Now, just on that I’m not a believer that initial research before reaching out to someone to disqualify them is make or break. It’s only after that conversation because I am sure if you go on to business’ Linkedin profile, there’s a few uncertainties, a few mistakes and inaccuracies on there as well. We can’t make the presumption right there. Generally speaking, if you’ve got a gut feeling that’s driven by emotion that something isn’t quite right and they’re not a fit, there’s probably a rational reason behind that and it’s down to that individual to probe and disqualify. I guess as like the CRM conversation with Alison, it all comes down to money, authority, need doesn’t it. Money is there a budget available for this, does the person you’re speaking to have the authority to make a decision on this or do they have the influence on the spheres that do and is there a need. That last one is down to the sales and marketing individual to create, quite frankly. That’s never down to the prospect having an innate need, that’s for you to spark that interest. So, no controversial opinion from myself on that one unfortunately. I’m completely in agreement there. There’s no such thing as a shortcut just following a very well thought out and rational structure.
Joe: I did have a feeling that while I was asking that, I’m not sure there’s anything you can do other than doing your homework and making sure you’re doing the best again, absolutely. Amplifying the prospect’s issue, shows that you understand what their pain point is and gives you the momentum to come up with your solution. Do you have any examples of where this has worked really well for you or has it really backfired? We’ve touched on a couple of things, you know “can you afford not to do this” or anything like that. Do you have any examples where it’s gone exceedingly well or really backfired? We’ll start with Alison for this question.
Alison: Of course it hasn’t backfired…..only joking! I’m selling all the time but I think when you know your stuff and I think sometimes when you own the business and run the business I think it’s a bit easier because you’re so embedded in it. I think if you look at, specifically from a speaking perspective and Harpal was saying this, I follow them down the path. I call it following the crumbs to Hansel and Gretel’s house because that’s like the ultimate isn’t it. So you are asking those little questions and I think with those I’m trying to get them to tell me, it’s that reverse psychology isn’t it. If you are asking great questions ….. I’ll give you an example. So there’s 3 genres of speaker; you’ve got the Ted-x speaker, really thought provoking but really low on energy and I think pre-Covid I think that’s what people wanted. They were quite happy, they would sit in their room. Reverse engineering the questions back regarding what type of energy level do you want. I know for a fact they’re going to say they don’t really want that because it’s quite dull, unless they’re accountants ….sorry to any accountants in the room. But if you look at a lot of that stuff it’s in there. The other one which is my biggest competitor because we’ve all got competition………is the celebrity speaker and the sports person. So again without telling them I know that the pitfall, because I’ve been in a room listening to these people for years, is that they make a big impact on the day…… “look here’s me with my medal, here’s me on video of me winning my medal, here’s me up a mountain, woohoo!” But nobody can really relate to that so the actionable takeaways are nothing. So they get their selfie, it goes on Instagram, they go back to the office and they’ve forgotten what was said apart from there was this man or woman winning this medal. Then the third one is where I fit in to, so a wee bit of a profile but with more interactive and actionable takeaways. So I’ll reverse back and say how important is audience engagement, yes it’s really important. How important is it that the takeaways last more than the day, excellent. Then that’s fine, I just reverse engineer it back and then I go “oh look at me, I’d be perfect for your event. When do you want ……..press hard, 5 copies”. You’ve already sold the benefits into questions by getting them to come up with that solution themselves. I’m joking! We don’t win every single one of them but a lot of them are fixed on, they do want an Olympian or they do want Tedx. The other thing I think all salespeople face, you do get sometimes stuck at influencer. So the influencer is taking it to panel and then it’s really out of your control, you just have to hope that everything that you’ve done has given you to make the influencer your salesperson. It just comes back to that sales process. Joe, it has not changed. It’s really funny because when I do sales training Mason, I bring up “MAN” and I’m like “for all you women there it’s not about a man because we all know that women are better at sales” and that brings up a bit of a laugh. Money, Authority, Needs that has been around for donkey’s years, it hasn’t changed.
Joe: Mason, we’ll swing around back to you on that one then.
Mason: I think Alison is totally right there. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, the result isn’t always guaranteed. I know that sounds a little bit cheesy but it is absolutely true. It’s about making that prospect or the person you are speaking to take ownership of things. The type of skills that we would deploy is appearing as familiar as possible. It harkens back to social proofing and keeping up with the echo, keeping up with the Jones. Joe, you’ve got a brand new TV and I can look through the window of your house and you’ve got a loving family because you’ve got that brand new TV. If I get that TV as well, my wife is going to love me just as much as yours. It’s all about that social proofing, it’s all about making sure that that person recognises that other people have had this situation before. They’ve had the same restraints, challenges, goals. We are very much aligned with them and we can be aligned with you. It’s about making people feel very, very comfortable. Now has this backfired? Of course it has, more so than I would wish to admit. You run the risk of being over empathetic with people and say I totally understand you’ve got this reservation or this problem and they turn around and say you’re right I do and hang up the phone. Well I’ve just put that objection in their hands! That’s where that education piece comes in and is so vital. It’s all well and good empathising with peoples’ problems and recognising others have felt this way but if we don’t actually imprint on them that we can rectify those problems, nothing is forever, we can change and you don’t educate them, we are going to lose all control of that sale. I suppose that’s referencing books like The Challenger Sale for example, where you are tailoring what you say in your communication, you’re educating people and because of that the outcome is that you take control of that conversation. That doesn’t mean being confrontational or aggressive, it’s all about …….going back to the previous question as well….. appearing as an expert, appearing knowledgeable, this isn’t your first rodeo. I say rodeo because I’m currently in the Southwest of America, so that’s quite applicable, right there. You’ve got to make people feel comfortable but just as much so, you’ve got to educate people and show them that light at the end of the tunnel as well.
Joe: Absolutely and to be completely fair since I got my 4K telly, my marriage has taken off so…….Harpal, finally, come back to you for that one then. Anytimes that it’s gone really well, anytimes it’s backfired for you?
Harpal: Picking up on what Alison said about reverse engineering, I always try and get them to sell back to me. We had a call yesterday where the customer said “I’m trialling two other solutions’ ‘ and all I was doing was just asking him questions. “What is it about our solution that you like, what about us that makes it better, what is about the other solutions you don’t like, why would you choose them over us?” Really it goes back to that it just shows that they get it so to say. Once someone’s trialled it, they’ve tested it, they’ve got unrestricted use of a service and they can see from my point of view I back myself to be able to give it to them and statistically we shown as a business 9 out of 10 trials close. Our process is to get them to trial as quickly as possible. In addition to that I often found, in my career, that people tend to buy in and listen, people tend to remember more on stories. Especially if it relates to them, relates to their challenge. I think something like, by listening you forget 90% of everything you hear but by hearing a story that relates to them and relates to their challenges, a similar situation of what they’re doing at the moment, it really helps them to visualise….”wait a second this can really help me, this is how it’s going to help me because it’s helped xyz in the past.” You win some, you lose some! You’re not going to win them all completely. Hands up in the air, I try to forget the ones that I’ve lost very quickly! I always think that sometimes things get in the way, time gets in the way. I’m very persistent, too over persistent sometimes my Sales Managers have told me…. I keep going until I get a hard ‘no’. I find if you take notes during the qualification process and you go back to Mr Prospect and say “wait a second you told me X, you told me you have a problem Y and Z, are those still problems? Well, why are you not addressing them again? You told me your problems were X, Y & Z three or four months ago, you haven’t addressed them, are they not problems anymore?” That tends to really work well because number one it shows I was listening to them and two it does address “look you told me there were problems, why are they not problems anymore” and going back to it’s not what they are saying, it’s what they’re not saying. “Well look I’m the influencer, I took it to the decision maker and unfortunately this isn’t something we’ve got the budget for…..XYZ ” I’ll take a ‘no’ any day….. for me it’s about getting that ‘no’ as quick as possible.
Joe: It comes down to as we said right at the start of the webinar, is just listen more. Thank you very much for your input on that one. So just a reminder that today’s webinar is brought to you by Lead Forensics, which is software that in essence tells you who has been visiting your website and can even track specific journeys through your website, along with providing you with valuable contact information so that you can close those deals.
Okay guys, one absolute takeaway. Mason, if we can start with you.
Mason: I’ll probably echo back to the first point that I made at the beginning of this. Just ask questions, be direct, be forthcoming, transparent, honest with what you’re looking to achieve and make sure that you do that in a very humanistic and natural conversational way.
Joe: Perfect. Mason, thank you so much for joining us for this webinar.
Mason: Thank you for having me.
Joe: Our pleasure! Harpal, one key takeaway, the most important thing.
Harpal: I don’t work for Lead Forensics but my key takeaway is I’ve made and closed deals because of Lead Forensics. I can point to, on my commission sheet, that deal was closed because I saw that company hit via Lead Forensics and I went on to Linkedin, contacted the IT Manager and one thing led to another and we closed the deal. I don’t work for Lead Forensics! (laughter)
Joe: Just to make that very clear, disclaimer (laughter). Thanks very much Harpal, thanks for joining us for this webinar. To round off then, Alison hit us with it.
Alison: I’ve just learnt, everywhere you go take a walking testimonial with you (laughter). One of the things fits in really well with what Mason was saying and I think there are loads of different industry types, manufacturing, retail, whatever but ultimately know about business! Know about how the business makes money, know about the things that are coming up in the world……..energy crisis, how does that affect the business. If you know about business actually you can then place your product or service into that organisation. You don’t sound like a salesperson, you actually sound like someone who’s really interested in their business or what’s going on in their organisation. Everybody wants to be listened to, everybody wants to be heard so ….and take your testimonial, woohoo!
Joe: Alison, thank you so much. This has been really lovely, it’s been a great chat with lots of valuable takeaways that our audience can go away and apply to their businesses. Thank you very much for joining us. We’re doing another Lead Forensics webinar tomorrow, at the same time please do come and join us. Thanks so much guys.
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