Meridith Elliott Powell: Welcome to Sales Logic. The show where we dive into the strategies, we discuss the techniques and we give you the tools exactly what you need to be more effective at sales and well to approach the sale logically. I’m Meridith Elliott Powell, and I am here with my cohost.
Mark Hunter: Mark Hunter and welcome Darryl Praill to today’s show.
Darryl Praill: Hello. Hello.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Well, Darryl, we are excited to have you here. Let me talk a moment about how the show works. We’ve got a topic that we are going to dive into. We close the show out with a with a lightning round, but we kick off every show with a question. A question from one of our listeners dealing live with the challenges that sales professionals are dealing with today.
So, Mark, if it’s good with you, I’m going to go ahead and jump right into the question. And the question today is from somebody that you know Mark. You ready?
Mark Hunter: Ready to go. The question comes from Bob.
What are the best ways to stick to the basics, the tried and true methods of what works in sales? And hey, you know what, before we answer it, we should say, how do you get your question in? You get your question by going to saleslogicpodcast.com, little piece there that you can send us your question, or just go out to social media, put your question with #saleslogic and we will see it.
And Hey, we may just answer it on next week’s show. So back to answering the question, I guess I’ll repeat it one more time here. The question here, the best way to stick to them the basics, the tried and true methods of what works in sales.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Well, I love this question because I think in everything that’s going on today and we’re all in, the moment you get into crisis, everybody starts to grab for the newest, latest, shiny object.
But this question really speaks to what’s true about sales. I mean, one of my favorite books on sales is, How to Win Friends and Influence People. One, because the book was written in the 1930s and two, because everything it says is still relevant today. At the end of the day, it is about the basics with sales.
And one of the things that I think you need to do to in order to stick to the basics is ask yourself, do you have a sales strategy? And do you track and measure that strategy. I mean, Mark, you were talking earlier about busy versus productive and the only way that I can measure whether I am busy versus productive is I know what I’ve got to do to hit my numbers, what sales calls I’ve got to make, what proposals I’ve got to write, how many proposals I’ve got to close.
And that day in day out of tracking those things and seeing what’s getting me results and what isn’t getting me results. But Darryl, would love to have you weigh in just basically your thoughts on the basics in general. And then what, if anything, are you doing to make sure you’re sticking to the basics?
Darryl Praill: So I may go off on a slightly different tangent. For me, it’s funny, I’m actually glad to you talked first Meridith, because it gave me time to ponder the question. My immediate reaction as I think about the basics is not necessarily the processes because I’m pretty confident you’ve got tools today. Would it be VanillaSoft or something else that you’ve probably got processes that worked for you. And I love that Meridith said, you’re looking at what’s working and what’s not. Productive versus busy. That’s incredibly powerful. But to me, the basics are, what do we do when we’re selling at its most basic level – we’re having a conversation, a relationship if you will, with our buyer.
So am I actually engaging them in a way that shows that I care that I add a little value, that I’m not necessarily pitching, that I’m not viewing them as a transaction and that I’m a resource for them to help them overcome their challenges?
So I’m looking at what’s my phone script? What’s my email script? What’s my social media script? And does it embody that? Or is it just pitch, pitch, pitch and I’m going to not personalize anything and I’m just going to crank through. I’m going to use sales engagement for bad cause with sales engagement, in the irony of sales engagement is, I can do massive amounts of activity.
So many people play the numbers game, or I’m just going to do bad crap in high volume. That’s not the basics. Then the other thing I would do is actually challenge your assertion around the relevance of the basics. Hear me out. I’m a big believe in the basics. You know our show Inside Sales podcast about being marginally better. The only way we can get marginally better is you take what’s working, which are the basics, and then you say, okay, I want to do an AB test. And I’m gonna do one little tweak and say, let’s monitor for a week or something. And am I better? And if you know, the traditional way, won. Great! Next week, I’ll do a different tweak against the traditional way, or if the tweaked way won next week, I’ll do another one against the tweaked way.
So I’m intervally getting better. The basics are good, but that doesn’t mean you stop. But what it does mean to me is you don’t get overwhelmed thinking that a new piece of technology or a new script or a new piece of content is going to change everything about your success. It’s not. And if you fall into that trap, then you’re going to lack success.
Mark Hunter: We just heard from Darryl Praill. You might say, wait a minute, when did he come on to Sales Logic Podcast? Well, when you’re the sponsor, he’s the Chief Marketing Officer at VanillaSoft. Hey, we are happy to have him on the show, but you know, what did you catch about his answer to that question?
He is incredibly insightful. So that’s again, why we enjoy having him on the show here today. I’m going to add one more piece to this question. Cause then we need to really get into the topic of today. That is, ask yourself this question when you get done talking to anybody, and talking is so key that the telephone is more relevant today than it’s ever been. The question is, what makes you believe that customer thinks there’s a reason why they should even buy from you? You see, what I find so many times happening is that salespeople are just throwing stuff out there. But you really have to stop and ask yourself what was the compelling piece that is going to move that customer to sit there and want to engage with you.
And what does that mean? The tried and true basic? Do you create a call to action? This is one of the big reasons why people are busy, but they’re not productive because they’re not creating that call to action to get that next step. All you do is wind up spinning your wheels over and over. But hey, we need to jump into the topic today.
The topic we’re talking about today is real discovery skills that are relevant in today’s marketplace. How do you tailor your value proposition? Now, if you think about this, it’s a key issue. Let’s go ahead and jump into it. Mere, I’m going to let you run with it first and share your thoughts.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, I love this topic and I really stole it from Anita Nielsen, a friend of ours, a real sales guru, but she had used it to answer a question that I had asked about sales on LinkedIn. And I’ve got to tell you that I’m really passionate about discovery because I think it’s one of the most underutilized and most understood parts of the sales process.
And the one thing that I think that people need to understand about discovery is it is not a stage in the sales process. You don’t do it at step three and you don’t do it again. It happens over and over and over again in the sales process. Every time that your customer is talking, every time you ask a question and they’re saying something, you need to be listening for ways to go deeper, discover more about what their pain points and their challenges are.
So often what I see salespeople do is they go through discovery, they hear a problem, they jump the problem. They sell a product. The customer account is closed. Move on to the next customer. Discovery when it needs to be done over and over and over again through the sales process.
But Darryl, what do you think?
Darryl Praill: No, I love that you said it needs to be done over and over and over again in the sales process, because it does. And the thing about discovery is you need, and this, if I’m candid, this is where I see most sales processes break down, is that you’re not A: you’re not doing discovery, right?
You’re trying to rush to a demo, for example, so you can do a feature dump. B: you’re not doing a discovery by stakeholder because a champion versus financial advocate versus a technical advocate, whatever, all have different requirements. And instead, once you find somebody that is taking up your calls, who will actually take your calls and listen to you, you just stick with them and you put all your money on them. Discovery is a process. It’s not just about their pain, but it’s also discovery around the opportunity. Who has influence on this buying process? Who will be affected? Who will be impacted? Can I talk to them? And if more people did that, you would actually have shorter sales cycles, you would actually have shorter demos, because you could only show what matters to them, and you would dramatically differentiate yourself from your competition. Most of you are scared to do that because you don’t want to upset anybody. And I think what you need to do is change your mindset. It’s not about upsetting anybody. It’s about making sure you’ve heard everybody and your champion will be the victor here because they will understand, if you tell them and educate them, that in fact, you’re helping make them a rock star, but getting all the stakeholders to have inclusion of input. When the recommendation is made for you, they’re going to support the decision as opposed to object because they weren’t heard.
Mark Hunter: What you said was so spot on and I’m glad you linked it to the demo, because this is one of the things that I vomit over – the race to the demo. I don’t think too many people wake up in the morning and say, “Oh, joy. I get to sit through a couple more demos from stupid salespeople”, because that’s what they are- they are featured dumps. If you are really concerned or if you’re really interested about creating incremental sales, then you need to run deeper into the discovery process and it occurs at every phase and I’ll argue the best discovery occurs just after the introduction at the early stages of when confidence is being built, because it’s at that point that they’re willing to share truth with you.
They’re willing to share with you ultimately what it is. It’s not about crafting a solution that does everything. It’s about crafting a solution that takes care of their deepest, most critical need. And you’re only going to find that out by going deep into the discovery process. And I’m going to pick up on two other pieces here.
This is where I can’t stand so many sales processes because they’re kind of built on this automated system. I go from point A, to point B, point C and it does not allow in there for the whole discovery phase to take place, because I don’t necessarily know where the discovery phase is going to take place.
I mean, I don’t know where it’s going to go because it can run in several different directions. But here’s the whole thing, I have to be prepared to let it go where the customer wants to go. Now I’ll bring it back in. I’ll bring it back in, but I must let the customer share. And the only way I’m able to do that is by sitting there, putting that question out on the table and letting them chew on it. And then me coming back with that next question that just keeps building and building and building.
But here’s why I think so many people are afraid to do discovery because they really don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know what they’re doing, and they just want to stick to this process. And they’re afraid.
I’ll argue the best salespeople out there, the best discovery process, you know you’re hitting a home run when you can ask the customer a question that they can’t answer and you can’t answer. Now think about that for a moment when both the customer and you can’t answer that question, what is that going to do?
It will force a dialogue. That’s going to create a conversation that is the ultimate in discovery. That’s how you really create incremental opportunities and not just be a stupid order taker. Okay, I’ll get off my soap box. Mere, I’ll let you put a close on this.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Well, I want to pick up on something you said. I think salespeople are afraid of discovery because they think they have to have the answers and you don’t have to have the answer as a salesperson. In fact, I used to say, when I hired salespeople that the first couple of days they were on the job, before they understood our products and services, they were the best salespeople I ever had. Because when they went out to talk with a customer, all they could do was stay in discovery mode because they could identify problems, they could identify opportunities, but they couldn’t solve them because they weren’t yet well-versed on the products and services.
You have lots of time to create solution. You can go back and work with your coworkers. As Mark said, you can create that dialogue. Discovery has always been important, but even more so now during the time of COVID when customers are more confused than they’ve ever been. They don’t know exactly what they need.
They don’t understand exactly know what their opportunities are and your value is staying in discovery mode and really digging deeper and helping them really uncover what would be most valuable for them. Mark, I do want to ask you and Darryl just two quick questions – the same question to each of you, but just because the second part of this was on tailoring your value prop.
And I think it’s important since we talked about discovery, helping our listeners understand that the value prop does need to change in today’s marketplace and what that means and what that looks like. And Darryl, I’ll kick it to you first.
Darryl Praill: So one of the things, so I’m going to answer the question, but for the audience, let me give you some context.
Mark introduced me as the Chief Marketing officer. What that means in this context is that I’m also the chief buying officer here at the company. I have the biggest disposable fund of dollars. At most companies, the marketing person does because we have programs spent, we don’t have staff necessarily. Therefore, I am probably the most targeted individual, maybe beyond the CEO, at our company to spend money.
So can relate to this. Your question is talking to me about tailoring the value prop. Let me tell you what you should do. Let me tell you what I want you to do. Alright? What you should do is when your value prop has got to adapt based on what you learn in discovery. I don’t want to hear your boilerplate, because I don’t care about what you do for others.
I mean, there’s going to come a point in time I’m taking you seriously. I want to know who else are your clients so I can do social proof and I do want to know that you understand my business, but I really care about my problem. And I care about how you address it. You need to tailor your response, which is why you need to do discovery.
So it’s contextual. Now, this is my biggest beef about you, as a buyer, is you’re throwing stuff against the wall hoping I pick up on something and I can actually take your value prop that you think is your unique selling proposition. And I can say that, “well, I have this pain over here. It sounds like maybe what they’re saying might help me over here”, when I have to work like that this is what happens- I go, “but I’m really busy right now”, so I’m going to get rid of them, hang up, gone. Whereas if you do the discovery so you can actually connect the dots and actually lead me like the pied piper. And I feel engaged and I feel listened to, and I feel like you gave me the exact answer I want to hear, even if your answer is “I can’t help you here, but I think I can help you there”. And this is why you’ve got my attention because I have real pain. That’s my long-winded answer.
Mark Hunter: I’ll give you a shorter winded answer. The best presentation ever given is the presentation never given. What do I mean by that?
You’ve done such a good job on the discovery. There’s no demo. It is purely a dialogue. It is a conversation right back to your specific needs where I think, and I’m going to echo and I’m going to mirror exactly what Darryl said, too many sales are lost because customer ghosts the sales person, because they’re tired of hearing them talk about all the generalities. Getting tight and specific brings the best. That’s all. I want this solution. And I’m only gonna know that if I’ve done the discovery call.
One final piece: this is why so many demos, I think 90% of all demos are a joke, are waste because they’re nothing but a featured dump.
Hey, we got to get the lightning round in and move fast. The clock is ticking. Mere’s going to announce the lightning round, but I’m going to drop the gauntlet right here. Lightening round means that our answers have to be 10 seconds or less. Go!
Darryl Praill: I don’t think I can do that.
Meridith Elliott Powell: You can, we have faith in you, Darryl. So this is the part of the podcast where our listeners need to be taking notes. Cause we are going to give them action items that they can walk away and implement immediately. So, the lightening round today are the best places to prospect to find prospects.
Mark, kick us off.
Mark Hunter: Know your ICP, your ideal customer profile. When you know who that is, those are the only people you want to be going after. Darryl jump in.
Darryl Praill: The best places to find my prospect, I will argue is social media. People are getting tired of the phone, it still works. They’re getting tired of email cause it’s overwhelming the volume, but real conversation happens on LinkedIn and you can find prospects in the comments.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Well, I think one of the best places to prospect is to make a list of customers you’ve had for the last couple years and ask them to send you a referral.
Darryl Praill: Oh, that’s good.
Mark Hunter: Mere, you stole that one right out of my, that was the one I was going to share. So, hey, here’s the next one. Know who your ICP is and go back to them and get them to give you more business because each one of them has got another division, another person, something or other, because again, you can expand from within. Darryl?
Darryl Praill: We’re still doing this? I thought I only had 10 seconds. You’re messing me up and this is not good. The next thing is any conversations you find on social media, you reach out to with a private one on one connection or an email. Give context around that conversation and ask to continue the conversation offline. If you do that, they will do it because you’re part of their tribe and you’re going to help them out.
Meridith Elliott Powell: You know, this one’s going to sound simple, but I just say brainstorm. I mean, one of the things that I always have my clients do is sit down and brainstorm everybody you want to do business with. And that’s your dream top 20 or top 30. And then start through social media, like Darryl’s connection, and finding the connections that you’ve got to them.
Mark Hunter: And I’m going to close it out by saying this one, and it’s going to rub some people the wrong way, but I’ll say it – stop networking. Network creates long-term – yeah, I’ve ruffled a few feathers with that one. Nothing wrong with networking. But when I’m prospecting, I’m about getting business today. That’s why you have to zero in on your ICP.
Okay. So now that I dropped the bomb on that one, we’ve got to kind of wrap up the show here. Thank you for listening to Sales Logic this week. If you like what you hear, subscribe, rate, and review the show on your favorite podcast app. If something we’ve said has earned you a single dollar, consider telling a friend about our show. It’s how we grow to help you grow. I’m Mark Hunter.
Meridith Elliott Powell: and I’m Meridith Elliott Powell. We need to thank our guest, Darryl. Thanks so much for coming on.
Darryl Praill: Thank you so much.
Mark Hunter: Remember when you sell with confidence and integrity,
Meridith Elliott Powell: You turn uncertainty to a competitive advantage
Mark Hunter: and the sale becomes logical. We’ll see you next week. On behalf of Meridith, Darryl Praill, special guest from VanillaSoft, I’m Mark Hunter. Thank you.
Copyright 2020, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.