7 Powerful Sales Strategies Your Competitors Don't Know
Chris Orlob: Welcome, everybody to the event today. You are going to learn by the end of this webinar, seven powerful sales strategies that your competitors will wish you didn't know about. The beauty of this webinar is you're going to learn these sales strategies from two very time- tested, proven sales leaders and I am going to introduce them in just a second here. So once I get my deck work in here, the first one is John Barrows. So John and I have gotten to know each other over the last couple of years or so, and the guy is one of the most successful sales trainers in the world. He was voted as the number one most influential voice on LinkedIn in sales last year. He works with just companies that are in hyper competitive markets. Not all of them are in hyper competitive markets, but a lot of them are, and he knows how to go into these markets and really just win the lion's share of the wealth. So, John, thanks so much for joining us today. Tell us a little bit about yourself, stuff that I didn't cover here, and maybe tell everybody a little bit about your basement. I know you've got some interesting stories there.
John Barrows: I'll try to keep this as clean, as brief as possible. But yeah, no I've been selling for now twenty- something years, been in pretty much every role in sales, started a company sold it off and just made a lot of mistakes along the way. So, one of my whole driving goals is to share those mistakes to hopefully help a few reps, skip a few steps. Still got to go through the pain. I've got to learn by fire, but it's nice to get a little bit of a guidance along the way, so that's my goal. As far as you all know, basically, we throw this party every year. It's called spank queen. It's not an S and M or anything like that, it's my wife. That's how my wife met her. She smacked me in the ass and said" Let's go." So she calls us and it's a chance for us 43- year- olds to pretend like we're 25 again. So I go in my basement, I paint the entire thing floor to ceiling. It's like the devil's scene or whatever, with clowns and phases all over the place. We got a couple of DJs from winter music festival that come in and we throw a bender for about 80 to 100 people. And like I said, keep it fun.
Chris Orlob: Amazing. Thanks for joining us, John.
John Barrows: Thanks for having me.
Chris Orlob: All right. The next speaker we have is Marco Roberge. I think he was and Mark I'll let you correct me just a second here. I think the first actual employee at HubSpot, like third employee counting the co- founders or something crazy like that. He spent a long time at HubSpot. He grew their sales organization first as SVP of global sales and then eventually, chief revenue officer. And he helped to grow the company all the way from zero to$ 100 million dollars in annual recurring revenue, a successful IPO, which happened just a few years ago, and over 10, 000 customers. So Mark, tell us a little bit about yourself and what are you up to today?
Mark Roberge: Sure. I think you're breaking one of your rules on over spelling here, Chris. These are crazy introductions crosstalk-
Chris Orlob: inaudible one of my rules.
Mark Roberge: ... but we'llhave a great chat. I'm excited to see everyone today. Since leaving HubSpot, I was blessed with an amazing experience. I now teach at Harvard Business School. It's just exciting to be able to try to bring all the stuff that we talk about as practitioners to the academic setting. It's kind of weird that we don't learn more about sales and in business schools, so that's been a big part of my mission lately. The other cool thing about it is it allows me to ton of time to spend with startups still. I probably engage with like 15 to 20 a year on a very intimate level to just pattern recognize and see what they can do to unblock their revenue growth. And then I last year raised a VC fund that's backed and run by sales execs. So we had 100 sales execs throw into it from Oracle, SAP, Salesforce, Yelp, LinkedIn, Asana Dropbox, all the big brands to try to bring a little bit of a stronger voice to the table and the investment community on helping build, go to market. So that's, what's going on. The only theme I think I have to share with John is the invention of holidays. I really liked the Spanco Ween thing. I actually invented one called Father's Day Eve nine years ago that has a very similar theme. It's the night before father's day, all the guys have a ticket to do whatever they want, and they come out. We actually rent a casino that comes to my house and we have 100 guys that pay a big tournament. Half the money goes to a charity. I think last year raised like$ 5, 000 for Boston Children's Hospital and we had a ton of fun. It sounds like John's party is as well. So I think that's the theme for our webinar here in the early minutes.
John Barrows: No. Obviously, I'm going to convince-
Mark Roberge: It's father's eve.
John Barrows: All right, I'm going to take you up on that. I think there should be a mother's day eve, too. inaudible a lot of hard- working moms. My wife has the hardest job in the world. I've got two crazy little kids she has to take care of, but we won't get into that. So let's get into the story. But before we do, I want everybody to stay tuned to the end of this because Mark has written a book on sales management. It's called the Sales Acceleration Formula. And we are going to give away 100 totally free copies, no shipping and handling charge, nothing like that, 100 free copies at the end of this webinar. So stay tuned through the whole thing because I'm going to teach you how you can win a free copy of Mark's book. And I've personally read the book. I can just attach even the first couple of factors on the sales hiring formula, totally worth their weight in gold, very good books. So stay tuned through the end here.
Mark Roberge: crosstalk Chris. Thank you for supporting that, and just so everyone knows the 100% of the proceeds go to a nonprofit called bill. org that many of you probably know about. It is an organization that supports the worst performing high schools in the country and introduces these students who haven't had deck that we've been dealt to entrepreneurship to get them to graduate high school and they're super successful. So thank you for the support on that and thank you to bill. org.
Chris Orlob: Uplevel your sales management game and give to a good cause at the same time. 100 free copies. Okay. So here's the deal. We've noticed this trend in the market at Gong and there's a lot of similarities to the foreword that was written for your book by Neil Rackham. So I'm going to ask you about that in a second. But what we've seen is that product differentiation is effectively dead, as a competitive strategy. Maybe that's a little bit of a harsh way to say it the right way might be product differentiation is nothing more than just a ticket to play the game today, but it's not going to give you a competitive advantage. Today, how you sell has actually become more important than what you sell. And Mark, I would imagine you've probably seen a slide like this before with this MarTech landscape, but just to substantiate that claim, every category is totally exploding in competition and MarTech is my personal favorite example. So over here on the left, what we're looking at is the marketing technology space back in 2011. The number of marketing vendors back in 2011 was 150. Today, I've heard a lot of different numbers. Mark, John, do you guys know what that number is up to today? Any guesses that you don't know?
Mark Roberge: I do know. Okay, I have no idea. That's crazy.
Chris Orlob: You can't count that. This thing on the right it's inaudible. The number is 7, 000.
Mark Roberge: Oh my gosh.
Chris Orlob: What I'm trying to make here is a unique product is not going to cut through that clutter. You differentiate today with what you say, do, and right during the sales process. In other words, the sales strategies that we're going to be covering here today. So I know Neil wrote this forward. He said sales is now in the strategic spotlight. Innovation isn't sustainable as a way to keep leapfrogging your competitors, is just a way to stay in the game. Mark, John, let's start with you Mark, since it was written about in your book. What's your take on this trend?
Mark Roberge: Honestly, it's like... I hinge it on two major things, which is today's buyers very empowered by the internet. They used to have to go to a trade show and talk to a salesperson to figure out what to buy and they don't have to anymore. We've talked a lot about that, but I don't think we've really implemented and explored the implication it has on selling. And the other thing is, we've gone from how do I capture the data to what do I do with all this data? Thanks to all this technology, we're swimming in data. And because sales has moved inside, CRM adoption and technology adoption is higher and so we've just got a ton of data. And I don't think we've completely understood how to leverage those two things. So I think those are the big drivers and Neil talked about that. What's ironic about it is a lot of the solutions about how not to feature, dump, and show up, and throw and really think about educating buyers and the stuff we're going to talk about in today's discussion, we're actually cracked by Neil in spin selling, 40 years ago. It's just, you have to do it to survive now. I think salespeople, not so good salespeople were hitting numbers 10 or 20 years ago and almost abusing customers because they were all reliant on them and that's all gone. And so a lot of these practices of consultative selling that Neil and the challenger sale, and a lot of different people have talked about, are just necessary to succeed today. And I think we'll talk a lot about that.
Chris Orlob: And John, I want to get your take on that in just a second, but Mark, you said a word that stood out out to me, which is feature dumping. And what I've experienced and what I've seen is if reps feature dump in an attempt to rely on this unique product that product management and engineering has built. They end up in this situation that I'm sure everybody in the audience is familiar with, where the buyer puts you into this spec war, where you went up to your competitor on feature A, they match you and one up you on feature B and this cycle continues until the buyer just grinds you, pull it down on price and chooses whoever is cheapest. So John, what's been your take on this entire trend. What have you seen with your clients and in your own experiences?
John Barrows: I think like you said, product gets you to see to the table because if you're not there, if you're not at least reasonable from a delivery standpoint, then you're not even going to get a chance because it was too much reviews out there, G2 Crowd and stuff like that. But I've always believed just in general, even early in my career that you can differentiate purely based on how you sell. And the engagement and how professional you are, how much preparation you do, the structure you walk them through, that type of thing. I've gotten to people who spend twice as much money with me in the past compared to a similar offering. And sometimes that offering might even been better, but purely based on the way that I sold the client, they were like, " You know what? We want to go with you because you just helped us understand this. You walked us through this process." I've actually even heard it was effortless to go through the sales process with you where the other sales reps forced me through their process. And a quick little anecdote on this one, I got actually, I don't want to name the vendor, but there was two vendors going after somebody I knew and we talked about the sophisticated buyer versus the unsophisticated buyer. And this guy was a sophisticated buyer. He knew what he wanted. He had already evaluated the other products. And he called up this one company because he actually wanted to do business with them because of what he had heard out in the marketplace. And he called up in a rep and he was like, " Look, I've already gone through all this stuff, just show me how you do this function. Just this one function and I'm probably... And then tell me how much it's going to cost and go from there. And the rep just forced him through this piece of shit. Well and started the discovery process from the beginning and he was just like, " Please just show it to me." And then he was like, " Well." Then at the end of a half an hour after he placated him for a little bit, the guy brought in still his SE and his manager and then that demo was horrible. He flat out said, " I'm not going to go with you guys purely based on that experience." And thankfully the CEO from that company called me and says, "Hey, do you know this guy? Could you give us a good word for it?" And I called him and he told me what had happened. He's like" John, I was going to go with them, but the sales experience was so bad that I just inaudible them completely." And so to me feature function, speed feed type of thing, okay. But that's table stakes at this point. It's how you sell that's going to matter.
Chris Orlob: Today, how you sell is just as important or if not more important than what you sell. And what that comes down to is deploying the right sales strategies. And we're going to talk about seven of those strategies today that if you implement and figure out how to deploy throughout your entire sales organization, you'll be able to win the unfair share of the market. Okay, I put an emphasis on unfair, ethical, but unfair share of the market.
John Barrows: inaudible.
Chris Orlob: So let's start talking about that strategy. Number one is separate yourself with a nexus, a nexus. So what the hell does that mean? What does a nexus? A nexus is a term where you're giving the buyer a polarizing insight that changes the way that buyer thinks about the problem you solve or the opportunity that you help them explain. It should be polarizing. 80% of people you pitch your nexus to should agree with it wholeheartedly and love you even more for it. 20% of the people that you pitched this to will disagree with it, and even a portion of them might hate you for it. It's polarizing. You want to make sure you have that ratio right where it's 80% of the people that love you and 20% hate you and not the other way around, but there's a lot of power in polarity when it comes to sales. So one of my favorite examples of a great nexus is the book, The Power of Full Engagement. If anybody's ever heard of that book, it's about productivity, getting more things done. And their entire nexus in the book, the thesis of the book is about how productivity is not about time management. It's about energy management. It's about managing your energy and expanding energy throughout the day and renewing it and expanding it and renewing it to optimize your effectiveness. So that's a great example of a nexus. HubSpot also has a perfect nexus and it seems like they're still sticking with this nexus. This was back in 2007, but Mark, can you tell us a little bit about this, this reframe from outbound marketing, inbound marketing, and how that helped you?
Mark Roberge: Yeah, it was a pretty accidental classic example. The wholesale was whether not someone wanted to do inbound marketing versus outbound. That was all that was. Once we got them on inbound, they were going to buy HubSpot. So it was just an extreme version of the features and functionality didn't matter. It was their perspective on their marketing strategy. And so at the time, most investment was going into paid ads, it was cold calling, it was going to purchasing emails and sending emails that were getting more and more people caught in spam. And it was simply educating folks on, that's not what the buyers are responding today. Buyers are empowered, they're going to Google, they're going into social, and they're looking for solutions and how much of your spend and your strategy is aligned with where the buyers are actually spending their time. So that was the wholesale and-
Chris Orlob: My favorite-
Mark Roberge: Go ahead. Go ahead, Chris.
Chris Orlob: Okay, go a head and finish.
Mark Roberge: That was the wholesale was just reframing them and it came in two flavors. For the small business owner, they didn't have much tech. They were really just focused on a website design. And so a lot of our deals got hung up in website designs until we realized to just dig in with a small business owner and say, okay, great, you're going to buy in three months, once you're done redesign your site. Can you tell me what the goal of the website redesign is? And it was very much like upgrade our branding and our color scheme and getting the content structured with our message, et cetera. And we would just do a little negative selling and say, " It doesn't really sound like you're a good fit for HubSpot because you're focused on making your website look good and we're focused on making your website generate business and leads." And in fact, most website redesigns lead to a decrease in traffic and leads. And that was just earth shadowing of suddenly, they hey had to buy our software before the redesign and completely turned our biggest reason for lost deals to our biggest win. Reps were suddenly like, " Give me the website redesign leads because now we know how to sell them."
Chris Orlob: One of the points I want to make about this nexus is you are competing with marketing automation vendors that at least at the surface level have a lot of the same features HubSpot did. Marketo, Eloqua, they all had the landing page features and the email marketing and all that kind of stuff, but HubSpot got out of this comparison trap with these other vendors by changing the conversation to this is the inbound marketing solution. If you believe in what we believe, which is inbound marketing that's what we do here. So a couple points I want to make about what makes for an effective nexus is first of all, like we covered, it changes how your buyer thinks and it shakes their confidence. You want to pull them out of complacency. You want them to think, " I've never really thought about it before like that." The third one, like we've already covered is it's polarizing. It should get a few people to really strongly disagree with you in some cases. And the fourth is it's a clear binary statement, statement. So you'll see that the first statement we led with in this webinar is product differentiation is dead. Today, it's about how you sell, not what you sell. That's crystal clear. If I would have softened that and said, " Well, product differentiation just doesn't work as well as it used to." That's a soft statement and it doesn't really polarize your market. So, John, I know you have some interesting experience and insights and thoughts with using a nexus. Can you share those with us?
John Barrows: Yeah. This one actually your blog posts on someone of the C- suite got my brain all twisted on this because I do agree that you have to have something that's going to differentiate you. So it was funny, I was doing this training with a client and we were talking about the nexus, what is your nexus? After I read your post, I was guiding them through your four- step process. And the CEO was there and I had known him. He had been on my podcast, so I brought him in. I was like, " Hey, who better to define the nexus than the CEO? CEO should just know it, right?" And I said to the guy, and I'm not going to say the company, but they did like a managed service offering. All right. And I said, " So what's your next is?" And I explained it polarizing statement. And he goes" Well, we help you do a... We take care of the small things, so your engineers can focus on the higher level, more strategic initiatives." And I was just like, " I'm calling on bullshit on that right now." I'm like, " I don't mean to embarrass you in front of your entire team here, but that's a terrible... That's not a nexus." And because I used to sell outsource IT services back in the day, like literally 15 years ago. And I go, " Dude, that was my pitch." We take care all the small things, so you're more strategic. Are we combining the best of what people in technology have to offer them? Let me guess, that's another one of yours. And you could see his face just kind of going, " Holy shit." And I said to him, I go, look, " I want you to picture yourself doing a keynote in front of a whole bunch of potential customers where there's a whole bunch of other managed service providers up there and you're standing up there and why should they work with you over any of the other ones? And what's your keynote? You could see his brain just twist and go, " Shit." If you can't figure that out, that's a huge reason why your reps are having a hard time differentiating themselves in the sales process. Because one of the main reasons I was there was, and we're going to talk about this later is to impact questions and get people to move from no decision. And a ton of his pipeline was sitting right in the middle of no decision. And I backed it out. There was a lot of reasons for it, but I was like, " Look, one of the reasons is, I don't think you have a very clear value proposition to your right audience, to your right audience. And you had said earlier 80/ 20, polarize 80/ 20 and maybe flip that. So it's 80. I actually disagree. I think you should flip it to the, just the 20. Screw the 80, because the 80, like 80% of that 80 is going to be the no decision people. Right? Anyways, like you're really only going to truly with somebody that is like, yes, you know what I mean? And that's where it starts. We've talked about this a lot, is our number one goal is to get people to commit to the fact that I need to make a change. That status quo is not okay. Before I sell you anything. I got to get you to know that you have to move. And in order to do that, I got to get that polarizing statement, so you and I agree. And I'll give you one, Chris and I saved this from when our prep because I've been trying to figure out what's my nexus. And I wanted to test this out on you and I didn't want to prep you for it because I want to get your honest crosstalk-
Chris Orlob: Oh.
John Barrows: No, dead seriously on this one. So one of my nexus is so I do sales training, whatever and one of my nexus that I've been playing around with is I think the methodology sale is dead. No, the methodology sale is bullshit. Because if you are not in Agile sales today, if you are not constantly iterating and coming up with new ways and if you're stuck with one methodology, I think you're a dinosaur. So that's a nexus of mine and I want to get your feedback, but the reason is because there are people that are methodology people. And these are great methodologies by the way, so I'm not dogging any of them. But I'm a Miller Heiman guy. I'm a Sandler guy. I'm a challenger sale person. You know what I mean? Which is all well and good, but if you subscribe to that entire methodology and block out anything else, I personally think you're a dinosaur. So let me ask you, is that a good nexus for somebody like me?
Chris Orlob: I think it's a good single side of the coin of what could be a great nexus. So you've got one side of the coin, which is sales methodologies are bullshit. You need the other side of the coin, so you've pointed out the enemy. What's the positive side of it that you're advocating and you need to name it well. So it might be Agile selling. Well, I know there's a book written that, but it might be something like that. But as soon as you figure out that other side, I think you'll get a lot of sales leaders nodding their heads and you'll probably get a lot of sales leaders shaking their heads too.
John Barrows: Okay, cool.
Chris Orlob: Which is what makes a good nexus.
John Barrows: There you go. And that's actually-
Chris Orlob: inaudible.
John Barrows: ... interesting because that wasthe Chris Voss thing. I just did my podcast with Chris Voss which blew my fucking mind and not again, my brain scrolling all over the place, but the key is getting-
Chris Orlob: inaudible back.
John Barrows: Oh, it's incredible. But the key is to get that that's right, instead of your right statement. I know, I think we're going to get to a couple of those, but the whole key is you have to frame the situation to the point where you and I agree and you say, that's right. And then when I get you to say, that's right, that's what I can start to tell you how we're going to solve that problem. But that key of yup, I agree with you. For instance, somebody doesn't believe in my methodology thing like that methodology, if somebody is nope on a methodology guy, then let's end this conversation right now. It's not worth us continuing because we fundamentally disagree on the direction that, and so I tell people qualify out more than you qualify in. You should be looking for all the reasons why you shouldn't be doing, why they shouldn't be doing business with you because those things are going to come up throughout the sales process, anyways.
Chris Orlob: I love it. That's a great one. Great one. Strategy number two, sell the micro problem. This one is so simple that we probably should have started with this. And I think all of us do this at a macro scale really well, but we don't do it on a micro scale. So here's what I'm talking about. We've all heard in sales, you should sell the problem before you sell the solution. But we only do that at the broad scale where we're selling the business problem, our entire product solves and then we're selling the solution to that business problem. But when it comes to differentiation and explaining to a potential buyer how we're unique, we go ahead and just describe how our product is unique without selling the problem that uniqueness is designed to solve first. I call that the micro problem. So I want to give everybody a quick sense of how we do this at Gong, sell the problem your differentiation solves before you sell the uniqueness of your product. And what we do is we position this bell curve problem. We say, everybody in sales is familiar with this where you have a few high performers doing 150% of quota and that's great, but there are only 10 of them in your 100 person sales organization. And their overachievement is canceled out by everybody else who's doing maybe 80% of quota. So now that we've solved the problem and it goes a little deeper than that, now we sell the solution with our feature called Whisper. And we say, " Gong is the only solution in this space that can tell you exactly what separates your best reps from everybody else, according to hard data." So I want to get both of your takes on this. Mark, do you have any reaction to this concept and what I just walked everybody through here?
Mark Roberge: No, I think it's wonderful. I think it's an example, if we referenced John's observation of people responded and said that they felt like they were aligned the whole time. They didn't feel like they were fighting the process. And I think what you're talking to is like such a better alignment of where the buyer's head is at. When you jump to your pitch, they're just not ready for that. When they first engage with them, they're just thinking about, how do I even get my head around this problem? Am I even focusing on the right problem? And we need to understand what that is. And once we have them in our problem box, then we started having conversations about how are you thinking about solving it? How are you scoping the problem? And you want to basically assess, there's multiple ways to solve the problem. You're uniquely differentiated on only one or two of those. And you want to see where their head's at and educate them on what is the best unique way to educate to solve the problem and hopefully it's aligned with you. I think it's spot on. I use a buyer journey home template of awareness, consideration decision to walk them through that where awareness is the big problem. And I'm trying to get them into... The consideration part is more of like it's more toward the micro, is like, " Okay, we agreed on what problem's top priority for you. Now, what are some categories in which you're thinking of solving it? Are you going to hire people or are you going to hire a consultant? Are you going to buy some software? And I want to see what box they're in. Because if you're in the software box, so I want to convince them of the advantage of software, but let me just see where their head's at. And once they're in the software box, I want to convince them on Gong because there's multiple competitors. And just because they're in the software box, doesn't mean they're aligned with your unique value prop. So it's like we came to the same conclusion through two different ways and I like where you're headed.
Chris Orlob: I see it so often where a potential customer asks a sales person, how are you different than competitor X? And they just randomly explain. They just describe how their product is like blandly different, but they haven't set the fertile landing spot for that description of their uniqueness to land by understanding what is that micro problem that we can address? How can we make somebody actually value our uniqueness before we deliver to them what the uniqueness is? So before we move forward onto the next strategy here, John, do you have any takes on this?
John Barrows: Yeah. Just along the line, a lot similar, but I wrote a post a little while ago called Silver, the 20%, which is my fundamental belief. If you pick any product or service that you own, I almost guarantee you only use about 10 to 20% of the functionality, whatever that product or service is. I mean your iPhone, your car, or whatever it is, Excel, you really only... Anybody who's listening right now, I almost guarantee if somebody downloads a demo, so Chris backing me up on this one. Somebody downloads a demo of Gong, and do they use the full suite of functionality of Gong when they're going through that trial or demo?
Chris Orlob: Of course not.
John Barrows: Right. They just record the call and go, " Oh, look at this. I can actually search for pricing and there pops up yay." But there's like a million other pieces of functionality. So, because most people only use 10 to 20% of the functionality, whatever they buy, that's how I genuinely believe people buy. They only buy 10 to 20% of what we're selling them. They don't give a shit about the entire slide that they only care about the components that are relevant to them. And I think the frame here is it's not just your, what's unique about Gong. It's actually, what's unique about their situation. What is their situation? And does my, whatever component of my solution. I have 15 different components of my solution. One of those might not be unique, but if I highlight that to your unique problem, now we can have some fun here. But if I just, and this goes back to that example of that kid running through the entire slide deck to that sophisticated buyer. He wanted to see this thing. And if that thing worked, he was going to buy it without even trying, you know what I mean? So I think it's our job when we get pushed to say, " Well, tell me why you're different." It's like, " Well, I don't know. There's a lot of ways we're different." Let me ask you some questions first here to understand what your unique problem is because our uniqueness is really only relevant to your unique problem. If you have a general problem, it's going to be hard for me to tell you why we're unique, but if you have a specific problem, I can absolutely share with you why we're going to be better than everybody else. So let's try to focus on that. And I think if we spent more time doing that, that people it would be a breath of fresh air because I go through demos all the time and demos suck. I'm sorry, every fucking demo is exactly the same. It's hey, is this still a good time? All right, we're looking at about a 30 minute demo here that I'd like to go through it. And if I have any questions, just let me know, okay? And you're just inaudible and then pausing and then and then they go, " Does that make sense? Does that make sense? Does that make sense?" And then when we go through a bullshit demo like that, you get... And by the way, if anybody ever hears this word at the end of one of their demos, they've done it. You know you've done a miserable job is the word digest.
Chris Orlob: Yeah. That's a-
John Barrows: inaudible
John Barrows: You know what, Chris, I'm a
John Barrows: little time to digest what you just told them right there. If you ever hear that stop and apologize to the person that you just wasted their time because it is our job to help them digest. So going back to that unique differentiator, it's about them, their unique problem, not our new uniqueness as a business and it marries up to that.
Chris Orlob: This is worth writing down for everybody listening. Your buyers contexts will dictate how you differentiate.
John Barrows: 100%
Chris Orlob: Okay, strategy number three, decrease your time to value. Decrease your time to value. This is a term that John coined that I'm jealous that he coined, because it's so perfectly-
John Barrows: Oh my God.
Chris Orlob: ...encapsulate something I've been talking about a lot. And before I let him take the torch on defining what the hell time to value means and how do you decrease it, the first point I want to make is if you do decrease your time to value, you can be selling an identical product to your competitors. But if you do it right, your buyer will perceive the products completely differently. So we'll come back to that. I'll close the loop on that statement. John, what is time to value?
John Barrows: I didn't call you by the way, I Googled this because it was something that I wanted. I thought time to value. There's plenty on the people that have written time to value, way before me. I wrote a blog post on it, but the whole idea is get to the fucking point. And I'm sorry, but get to the point as fast as possible. If we agree, the time is the most valuable asset any of us have. Any of us, okay. It's the one thing I can't get back. If it's the most valuable, then you better respect it and especially when it comes to executives. I love your stat about how many questions you ask in a qualification called the best reps ask was something like 11 to 14, except for when it comes to executives. You can ask an executive four questions before the close rates dropped through the floor. And I totally understand that because if you feel like you're being interrogated, eventually, it's like when am I going to get mine? When am I going to get the value out of this so that I can show that this is worth it. And I mean this across the board. I mean cold calls, you know what I mean? So, hey, how you're doing today? You know that type of crap and like fluffing up and trying to build rapport in the beginning of a cold call when you interrupted somebody. No, no, no, no, no. Hey, real quick, the reason for my call today is and get to the point. And if you get to the point fast enough, I might actually listen to you. But if you start hi, I'm the leading provider of blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, I'm already checked out because there's no value in this to me and it sounds like a pitch presentations. Same thing I love again, what you talk about is most companies, what they do is they build to the crescendo. So it's like they start with, okay, here's our background and this is what's going on. And then they set the stage of the problem and then boom, look at how great our solution is. By then, you've already lost somebody. You've already lost them. I do this in training all the time, the typical trainer like when I stand up and do a full day training. Typical trainers, little icebreaker, and then they start droning through their PowerPoint and they really don't get the value until like an hour, hour and a half, two hours in. And by then, I'm already checking my iPhone. I'm already sitting in the back, looking at my emails. So what I do with training is we start off with, hey, why are we going around quick little intros? Who are you and what do you want to get out of today? And that's not just an exercise for me, write down what the people are looking at. I actually dive right in upfront. So if you're like, " You know what, John, one of the things I'm having a challenge with is getting people, booking qualified meetings, and the phone is just something." Oh, okay, well, have you tried this? The reason for my call today is, and I dive right into giving content so that my goal there is in the first five minutes of my presentation. People are going, " Holy shit, I got value out of just that one nugget there. Maybe I should pay attention to the rest of this training." Because we've all been through sales training before where it's just like, Oh God, you know what I mean? I have got to sit here for an entire day listening to this idiot. And there might be value in there, but I've already checked out completely because it's taken three hours to get there. So I try to punch people square in the mouth, up front about value. I've tried it on every cold call. On every meeting, I try to share a tip or a nugget of one of my training pieces, even if they don't do business with us. For instance, like touching base and checking in. I'm on a crusade to get touching base and checking in out of the vocabulary sales professionals. And so I'll even ask a VP of sales, they'll say, " Hey, just out of curiosity, your giraffes touch base and check in all day long?" Oh yeah, it's brutal. Hey, even if we don't do business together, do me a favor, tell him to start every conversation off with the reason for my call is and finish that sentence because that'll remove touching base and checking in. And you can literally hear them go, " Shit, that's a good one. All right, cool. Thanks for that." All right. I use the Gong blog all the time. Hey, if you read that Gong blog recently, when they're bringing up certain things about their sales process. I'll be like, " Ooh, actually, did you read that Gong post about the 55 tips? There's actually one in there that talks about your nexus and how to sell to the C- suite. You might want to check that out." And they're like, " thank you. I really appreciate that." And that just sets the stage for the rest of the conversation. And then I don't want to say it's easy, but once you get somebody bought into, wow, I'm getting value out of this cold call? Somebody said the last point I'll make here is early on my career. Some kid that I was working with said that he wants to get out of every conversation and at the end of the conversation, he wants to be able to ask the prospect, would you have paid for this? And he wants them to think about it. And not necessarily would you have paid a million dollars, but the idea here is, was this conversation valuable enough that you would've paid a few dollars just for the conversation. And if I can get you to think about that and not just roll your eyes, right, yeah, no, then I'm moving in the right direction.
Chris Orlob: One of the ways to apply this in a competitive context, this time to value principle is in your product demos. And so the way most sales reps demo creates a poor perception of their product, even if you're selling the same product. And here's an example, if you're doing a product demo. Here's what most people do. Let's say we're selling a politician on the idea of building a new city somewhere in Nebraska. A poor sales rep would go, they would start from the ground up and saved the last thing for the end or the best thing for end. They'd say we have this gorgeous plot of land in Nebraska. In a few years, under this project, we're going to have streets, we're going to have sidewalks, and even a few residences. Five years later, we're going to have our first businesses. We might even have a local tavern who knows, maybe we'll have a convenience store. And at the end of this 10- year plan, we're going to have a thriving, beautiful city. The problem is that politician is really busy and first impressions matter. And the thing you led with was an plot of land, which is not valuable to the politician, at least in this context. What a superstar rep would do in this situation is they would flip the demo upside down. They would start with the end result that the politician wants, which is, we have plans for building this gorgeous city. Here's what it looks like. I'm happy to unpack how we plan on getting there to whatever detail you want. You could be selling the exact same product that your competitor is, but if you flip it upside down, so the valuable things at the front and your competitors saving the valuable thing at the end, the buyer will have a totally different perception of the value of those products. It's totally different. Mark, before we move forward, do you have any insights to add drawing from your experience? crosstalk-
Mark Roberge: Yeah, just real quick. There's that and also you're basically like quoting great neurological research that's been done on the difference between executive pitches and non- executive. Because your guidance doesn't hold true for say a jury lawyer, who has the jury for two days and they want to move to the crescendo. But when you are dealing with busy people, which all of us are doing the salespeople, the research shows that you just start with the end pitch and then the rest of the time is just filling in the backend and why that makes sense. So for me, I don't know what I call it. When I look at demo decks and processes, usually the missing piece is they do discovery and then they go on a demo and the demo doesn't match the discovery findings. And it's very boring, for the first slide is always like, here's about our company. Here's how many employees we have, here's how many customers have, here's how many revenue, I was like, " Yeah, who cares?" The first slide is, let me recap what we learned on our last call. You guys are trying to double your revenue by 2X this year, and you don't have the lead flow to get there. You have lead flow to get to roughly 70%. You're thinking about doing trade shows to fill the gap, but there aren't enough trade shows to do it. So you're really scratching head on how to do it. So what we've agreed is that if I can show you a proven marketing channel that fits in your industry and your size of business, that will fill the rest of the 30% gap for less than$50, 000 in revenue, then we're going to do business together. That's a great start. It's like, no, okay, you got my ear. And that's a very easy first slide-
Chris Orlob: crosstalk.
Mark Roberge: ...to codify for everybody. It's just like, don't tell them about employees, revenue, how many customers you have. Tell them what their problem is as you understand it and what they're looking for, and then ask them if that's right, because that's... The rest of the 45 minutes is about that, is showing you that I'm going to do that. So then anyway, a quick way to codify. The only other point I'll say is huge upsides these days and extending these points to the onboarding as well. We talked about this in our prep call is so many businesses are focused on customer attention insurer now because our movement to subscription economy and every customer has a big megaphone called social media to tell people about that experiences. So we're really focused on NPS and customer success. And these same conversations we're having about that generic demo, apply to generic onboarding. And so it's groundbreaking when you think about, what do you want to measure 30 days, no customer onboarding process, to know that that customer is set up for life with your product. Figure out what that is and evolve your onboarding process around that as well. It was game changing for us at HubSpot. We went through this beautiful consultative sales process and got them to sit by for a particular reason, and then they went to a generic six week training. Are you kidding me? You bought for email and we're not getting that till week five? That's ludicrous. So to be able to extend the same processes, we just want this person using these three features within the first two weeks. And our CSMs customizing the onboarding process to the needs of the customer was just groundbreaking and their long- term retention. So these principles we're talking about, I don't think are limited to the demo. They're actually applicable to the entire pre and post sales expense.
Chris Orlob: Right. We are going to slip or skip over strategy number five or strategy number four. And I'm going to tell everybody how they can learn it on their own. We're going to be sending this deck out shortly after the webinar. I figured we might have to skip one of these and I chose this one in advance, simply because the slides are very self- explanatory. So just keep your eyes peeled for when we send out the webinar deck. It's very straightforward. You'll learn a lot from it. But we're going to go over to strategy number five here, which is capture the problem better than your competitors do. And this actually goes similar to what we talked about in strategy number two, which is to sell the micro problem. And your goal here is to tell a familiar, painful story. It should be both familiar to the customer and it should feel painful. And this screen here is worth screenshotting or writing on a sticky note, and returning to every three months or six months throughout your entire go- to- market career, whether you're in sales, leadership, marketing, product marketing. If your story describes your customer's problem better than they can describe it themselves, they will automatically assume you have the best solution that processes automatic. And one of the examples I want to give before I pass the torch here is Alcoholics Anonymous. So they do this exceptionally well. They are dealing with a clientele for lack of a better word that has one thing in common, and it's that they're in denial. They haven't yet admitted to having a drinking problem. And so what you won't see on Alcoholics Anonymous website, as far as like a customer testimonial quote is somebody saying my life is back on track. My career is back on track. My relationship with my family is great again. AA really changed my life. That's not going to resonate with somebody who has a drinking problem because they haven't admitted to having that problem yet. What you will see is a story where somebody with a drinking problem can come to their own self- discovery about the problem. And you'll see quotes like this. It started out with just a couple of drinks on Saturday and Friday nights and that led to a couple of drinks every night. Before I knew it, I couldn't even wind it down every night without four or five drinks every single night and my marriage started to form a crack in the foundation. That is going to make somebody who has a drinking problem, somebody who drinks a little bit too much, their heart's going to sink a little bit, but in a good way. And if you can get that same effect with your potential customers, if you can tell the story of the problem that you solve better than they can themselves in a painful, familiar way, they will automatically assume that you have the best solution and they'll gravitate toward you. So I want to pass the torch over to you guys. We'll start with you, John, what's your take on this?
John Barrows: I actually think this ties into your previous point that you skipped over, which was the case studies, and the stories, and how the relevance of the matters. I use Salesforce, LinkedIn box. I can drop those names and they sound impressive, but if they don't resonate with who I'm talking to, they actually hurt. And it's the same thing with the story. If your story, if you can't frame it in a way that is relatable to the person, it doesn't matter what the outcome is going to be. Because if they don't see themselves in that situation, then you're going to be trying to convince them all the time that they're in that situation when they haven't connected with you yet, and then your sales it's going to be near impossible. So I'm going to go back to that, Chris Voss quote where... And this is strategic very neuroscience type stuff when it comes to hostage negotiations. He says, " There's a nuance between it's right and that's right." I'm sorry. " That's right and you're right."
Chris Orlob: Yes.
John Barrows: Huge difference. Because if I can get you to say that's right, now, I'm relating to that scenario. Yes, you got it. You get me and now let's talk about. But if I say you're right, that's me basically trying to end this conversation. It's like, yeah, yeah, Oh, you're right, Chris. No, that's fantastic. So that's the fake, that's actually a huge danger sign when dealing with negotiations when somebody says you're right. But he says in his book, when you get somebody to say, that's right, you got them. And you know that you're going to get what you want out of that negotiation. So I think framing their problem and rephrasing it in a way... Who does this? Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie. He says this is objection handling, which is a cushioning statement where if somebody says, " Hey, your price is too expensive." He rephrases it to the say, " Look, I understand that your investment in something like this as a high priority for you." And it's a similar concept there where you kind of reframe it in a way that makes them say, " Yeah, you know what, that's what I meant." You know what I mean? And now you can take it from there, so I'm all for that.
Chris Orlob: Now there, Mark has a brilliant strategy for answering the question we have on the screen here, which is how do you get your salespeople to be able to do this? And like I said, he explained this in his book, which is your salespeople really have to understand the audience that they're selling to. And what Mark did and I'll let him explain this a little bit more in his thinking behind it is they were selling to marketers. And so they would essentially turn a new hire salespeople into marketers during onboarding for their first several weeks so that they felt the pain themselves. So, Mark, maybe want to unpack that with a little more detail and just explain some of your thinking there?
Mark Roberge: Yeah, sure. Light bulbs go off when I speak to these VPs of sales who are agreeing with everything we're saying. My reps are feature dumping too much. They're showing up and throwing up. My reps don't lead with good discovery. They don't understand the problems that our buyers are trying to solve first and foremost. And then you suddenly ask, can you tell me about your sales training? Tell me about the first 30 days of a sales rep to life at your company. What percent of that time is spent learning your product and what percent of that time is learning about your buyer's problems? And it's like, " Oh, shit." You know what I mean? It's like most of the sales training, it's all about how the product works. You're wiring them. To feature jump and show up and throw up. And so, how about we teach them what it's like to be your buyer? How about we teach them what it's like a day in a life? So that's really what we set them out is 70 to 80% of our training in the first 30 days was, you're going to be a small business that you're going to create your own website and blog. You're going to write 10 articles. You're going to rank in Google. You're going to post a bunch of social media messages. You're going to get people to your site and get them to fill out landing pages. You're going to nurture them with email. You're going to do everything we're trying to get our buyers to do, and when you get on the phone with that first landscape, it was like, does this really work? You're going to show them the site you built and show him what you did. And you're going to be able to empathize with everything that you're going through right now is like you're scared. What do I write about? this is freaky, is it really going to work? And be able to really connect with that buyer at the stage at their problem's at. So just high level, we all want to pursue this. So think about what is your sales training. How much of it is about product and how much of it is getting your sellers to walk in your buyer's shoes?
Chris Orlob: Beautiful. Yeah, I love that you actually put your sellers in your buyer's shoes instead of just teaching them about your buyer shoes. Strategy number six is find a weakness within your competitor's strength. You read that right. It's not find a competitor's weakness, it is find a weakness within their strength. And the example I like to lean on is McDonald's versus Burger King back in the'80s. So McDonald's was winning the lion's share of the market and Burger King had this formidable task of how do we take market share away from McDonald's? And what they found is that McDonald's strength is they were heavily positioned around kids. They had Ronald McDonald, they had Happy Meals, the playplace. It was a place kids love to go and love to take their parents to go and have loads of fun. And Burger King thought to themselves, that's a strength that we could turn into judo. We can find a weakness within that strength and the weakness there is we can position Burger King as a place for adults. And the beauty of that is number one, the adults gravitate toward Burger King a little bit more now, but there's also a lot of four or five- year olds. I can attest because I have one of these four and five- year- olds who think they are adults deep down or they want to aspire to being adults. And so what Burger King said is come to Burger King if you want an adult burger, a grown- up hearty meal. And so what they didn't do is they didn't attack McDonald's weaknesses. They found their strength and they found a weakness that resided within that strength, because now McDonald's is stuck between a rock and a hard place. So this is the only example I had of this. There are a lot of other examples you can find in books like Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout, and then Differentiate or Die by the same authors. John, did you have any color you wanted to add to the strategy?
John Barrows: Yeah, I think it goes to that the uniqueness on your end there. So I think we're tying a lot of these tips together here, but it's like when somebody... And this was also about knowing your competition and we all have the war sheet, if you will, on our competition. Don't be afraid of giving them kudos. They're in this space for a reason. They're good at what they do in these areas. And I'll give you an example with me, for instance, with sales training. Every sales trainer, every sales rep who sells sales training is going to tell you that they do everything fantastic, from prospecting all the way through to closing, because they're getting comped and their monthly quotas and all that other stuff. But every real sales trainer knows that their stuff is really good in certain areas and okay in others, mine included. So one of our strengths is prospecting. So when I come across going back to the methodology, I think methodologies are dead. You know bullshit that type of thing. Next is when I come across somebody who's like, " Hey, we're a Sandler shop." I'm like, " Awesome." They're like, " No, no, no, we're a Sandler shop." Hey, that's great. As a matter of fact, I took Sandler when I was first in sales. It probably had the biggest impact in my career. The whole pain funnel, reverse questioning, upfront contract, that sounds fantastic for discovery. It's really good when it comes to getting somebody on the phone and discovering what their problem is, and really getting that third level of pain. And they're like, " Yeah, that's exactly why we love Sandler." I say, " Cool. Let me ask you, how does Sandler help you get those meetings?" And it's usually crickets because I just know, Sandler was going to tell you that their stuff is great, and again, I'm not dogging on Sandler. Sandler, I did a podcast with their CEO, recently and him and I had this. They're okay at prospecting, they have a solution for prospecting, but it's not their strength by any way, shape or form. So what I say is, look, why don't I come in and show your reps how to get the meeting, with prospecting techniques and email, and phone, and social, and all that other stuff so that you can apply all those fantastic Sandler things too. I know a lot of us are in direct competitive where we're trying to just beat the other one altogether, but there's also complimentary stuff that you can do. And if you come to the table to a client of helping them understand how to work with how to compliment the different solutions and all that other stuff together, now you're in a totally different level than somebody who's just trying to sell their product. So I think it's imperative for us to really, again, go back, find that 20% in our products, unique value proposition, the clients need what that is and then the competitors. Because if you find the 20% that's in the competitors and if you try to say that your competitors scrapping, we've all been taught, don't talk about your competition, but a lot of us do. Instead of talking shit about everything about them, highlights something that's great. And then kind of downplay the areas that you're great at and then highlight those.
Chris Orlob: Beautiful. Now this last one is for leaders and managers only, and it's really how you find competitive advantage in the way that you build and scale your sales organization. This is not a tip or a tactic, this is an approach to how you lead your organization. And the question you're wanting to answer is what really separates your star reps from the rest? And it turns out the answer to that is a little bit of everything. Most sales reps will have some sort of super power, but the absolute best reps have that super power, but they are also well- rounded in all of their sales skills. And the way I like to think about sales skills, prospecting discovery, presenting, objection, handling, et cetera, is selling skills are like a chain link system. If you have a weak chain, then you've just disrupted the strength of that or if you have a weak link, you've disrupted the strength of that entire chain. It's like a military convoy. The convoy will only move as fast as its slowest piece. And so you, as a sales leader, you have to take it upon your shoulders or enablement shoulders or the training department's shoulders to just focus on getting everybody 1% better in each one of these areas, because what that does is it has a compounding effect. So like I said, the greatest salespeople don't do one thing extremely better than everybody. They do everything a little bit better than everybody, and you can take your B players and have them do that as well. So a couple of examples here are star reps do discovery just a little bit better. They listen a little more than they talk, which is what we're looking at here. They establish a value just a little bit better than everybody else by reserving pricing discussions for the end and establishing value first. And finally they handle objections just a little bit better and differently than everybody else by responding to those questions with pauses and clarifying questions, where everybody else is kind of jumping in. So all of this has a compounding effect. If you can get all of your reps to master or just get 1% better at each one of those areas, instead of having somebody have secret sauce in one area, but they're painfully lagging behind in others, you'll build a formidable sales organization. And I know Mark has some. I'll let him give the high level thoughts here. For those of you interested get the book. There are some chapters he has on building your sales training program and metrics- driven sales coaching. But Mark, you had one specific technique in there that I'd like you to just touch on which was peeling back the onion. And you can even talk about metrics- driven sales coaching a little bit. Can you just give us the high level of what those are?
Mark Roberge: To capstone it, take a hard look at what your sales managers do, what they do with their time. Most managers I see are, number one, spending a lot of time getting forecast accurate. And number two, spend a lot of time doing the job for their reps. Both of those are a waste. Like forecasting can be handled by technology, doing the job for your reps is not going to scale. It's going to hide people who shouldn't be at your company. Managers should hire and coach hire and coach. Coaching has evolved to be a lot more data- driven as you're pointing out here, Chris, that we have an opportunity. We started this call with, we're in a much more data- driven world. We've gone from, how do I get the data to what do I do with all this data? And one of the opportunities is we can benchmark the idea of blueprint, unlike rep by rep. I have eight reps on my team, what's their average connect rate? What's the average connect to opportunity conversion, opportunity to pipeline, pipeline to close? What's the sales cycle through that? Who are my best at those stages and who am I at worst? And so that allows me to customize my coaching, not just like, they need to make more calls because I think they do. But like literally this person is averaging 17% from opportunity to close where my average on my team is 25 of my top performers 32. And so let me take a deep look in that area and find out what is going on, why are they below the benchmark, and how they can get up to the benchmark? And let me hold myself as the manager and the rep accountable from a 17 to a 32% opportunity to close rate, in the next 60 days. And so that's the opportunities we have. Often we can peel back the onion in more data or more qualitative discovery to find out exactly what's going on, so we can customize our coaching to not only how that rep learns, but what specific point in the sales process there they need to be working on.
Chris Orlob: Okay, we're getting close to giving away the prize. We're definitely coming up on time here, so I want to thank everybody in the audience for sticking it through this full hour. I hope it's been really rich with tips and tactics and strategies that you can go back and use today to win that unfair share of your market. But the first question you have to think about before we give away the prize, 100 free copies of Mark's book, not to one person, but we'll give away 100 free copies, is how do you make sure your reps are doing all of these things? How do you make sure they're executing during frontline conversations? And the one word that will help your reps or help you make sure your reps are doing the right things in their customer, facing conversations is visibility. Knowing what your reps are saying and doing during their customer conversations. Right now your conversations are probably pretty filtered. Your reps speak about 6, 000 words per conversation, and about 30 of them make their way to the CRM. And you don't really know if your reps are pitching your nexus, or if your messaging as Chris, or if they're responding to objections the way you want them to, or you don't really know what separates your top reps from everybody else. So I'll skip through a lot of this here, but to cut to the point here is checkout Gong. It's going to help your reps increase their selling skills. We have a lot of highly successful companies that are using that, and it's going to help you make sure all your reps are doing all of the right things during their customer conversations. Now, here's how you can win a free copy of Mark's book. And again, I just want to emphasize 100% of the proceeds go to a charitable organization. Mark, I totally forgot the name of that organization. Can you tell us that one more time?
Mark Roberge: Yeah, It's bill.org-
Chris Orlob: Though, I think Mark probably you skipped up.
Mark Roberge: ...crosstalk bill. org and how they help out high school students with entrepreneurship. Yep, thank you.
Chris Orlob: Great. Yep. So here's how you can win your free copy. Go to Gong. io/ book, and I'll put up the summary of these steps in just a second. But right now, go over to Gong. io/ book, schedule a demo for yourself of Gong. You can judge it for yourself. There's no obligation to buy, but the first 100 people to do this will get a free copy of Mark's book, whether or not you buy Gong, just schedule a demo. This is the screen that you see. Go to Gong. io/ book, schedule that, and once you do, you'll be put in our queue for the free book. There's no shipping costs. It's totally free. We'll send the first 100 people to do this, or we'll send the first 100 people to do this a free copy of Mark's book. I really wish we had more time here. We're totally at the end. I wish we had time for some Q and A. So here's my offer to everybody listening. If you do have some burning questions, tag me with your question on LinkedIn and I will do my best to get to answering it. And if I think either John or Mark is more qualified to answer it, I can't promise that they will because they're really busy guys, but I'll try to harangue them about getting an answer. So I'll do my best to assert myself. So go to Gong.io/ book, get your free copy of Mark's book here. And if you have any questions, tag me on social media. And I just, Mark and John, I want to thank you so much for investing such a long portion of your life, which was this hour and all of the prep work we've put into this webinar, and helping us get a positive message out to the sales community.
John Barrows: Thanks for having me.
Mark Roberge: Thanks Chris.
Chris Orlob: Hey, thanks guys.
John Barrows: Bye, everybody. inaudible.
This webinar is packed with step-by-step, examples of how you can apply new, breakthrough tactics to wow senior executives with a proven “narrative structure." An all star lineup of guests, including former Hubspot CRO Mark Roberge, CEO and founder of JBarrows Sales Training John Barrows, and Gong's Senior Director of Product Marketing, Chris Orlob share advanced sales tactics that will give you an edge over your competitors.