How to Double Your Close Rates with a "Game Over" Narrative
Chris Orlob: Welcome to the event everybody. This is going to be a fun one. You are going to come out of this webinar with a good grab bag of sales messaging techniques and principles and frameworks that are going to help you inject a tremendous amount of urgency into your deals, and I couldn't be more excited about who I'm talking about with this. We've got Kyle Bastien. I'm going to see if I can orient myself around this deck first of all. There we go. Kyle Bastien, so I'm going to say a bunch of stuff about Kyle that I know he wouldn't say about himself.
Kyle Bastien: Oh jeez.
Chris Orlob: So I've gotten to know Kyle I think over the last year and a half, maybe even two years, back when he was director of sales training and enablement over at a company called Copper. And he has proven himself to be just a tremendous sales enablement leader, sales leader, and I would argue... I don't know if he would say this, but I would argue product marketing leader as well. He is very good at coming up with just crisp, punchy messaging that really gets through to buyers and helps them come across the finish line here. And he has a long track record of a lot of different sales leadership roles to bring just a rich perspective to the conversation we're going to be having today about sales messaging. And then of course we've got myself here. I won't spend a lot of time introducing me. I would assume a lot of the people on this webinar know who I am because you guys probably registered through our email list. But just the short story. I'm senior director of product marking over at Gong. I've been here for about three years and really, really loving it. And we're going to talk about our perspective on rolling out messaging both from my perspective as a product marketing leader and previous sales person and sales leader and Kyle's perspective as a sales enablement leader, a sales trainer and the other roles that he's held throughout his career. So, really quick. Stay tuned for the very tippy- top end of the webinar. We've got an awesome giveaway that we're giving away totally for free for anybody who registers for the signup. It's going to be a version of our sales deck that we use at Gong that's based on pretty much all of the principles that we're going to be talking about today. Because what you're going to learn during this webinar is a lot of powerful principles, but a lot of them need to be pulled down to earth. Okay? You need to understand what does this actually look like as far as examples go. And of course we're going to give you a lot of examples throughout this entire webinar, but at the end we're going to give away our deck so that you can see how all of these principles come together and materialize like as a sales deck. Okay, so let's get started. I am excited to have this conversation. The best message today wins. This has not always been the case. Today in business the best message or the best story is what wins markets. And a big reason for that is because there are so many products in every category today. So if you look at MarTech just as one example, which is something Kyle's going to talk about a little bit later, there are between five and 7, 000 MarTech vendors, marketing technology software vendors. There used to be much fewer, and when there were fewer in each category, you could rely on just a really good product to win. But now because there's so much competition and choice and noise in pretty much every category, it's really the messages and the story that cut through the clutter and win markets over the longterm. One example of that is Zuora. So Zuora is not the only subscription billing company out there. There are plenty of other competitors, but they have won the unfair share of the market, the lion's share of the wealth. They're the market leader because of the story that they have told to the market over a period of like five or seven years. It's the subscription economy. Okay? Their entire company has really rallied around that instead of talking about product features like billing and that kind of stuff. Drift is another example, and Kyle I would love to hear your perspective on Drift and your story and your messaging here.
Kyle Bastien: Yeah, for sure. Chris, also, thank you for the extremely warm introduction and maybe undeserved, but I appreciate it anyway. And I'm also not letting you get off that easy. I mean, you guys all know Chris. This guy goes by The Professor. And on the topic, Chris... We met a few years ago, and I had reached out to you because I read one of your first Gong Labs articles when you guys were breaking down the company story itself. And you were talking about how if it's longer than... If it's like the trophy case company story of like the funding you've received and the amount of years you've been in business and the clients that you've won, that people like check out after two minutes.
Chris Orlob: Yep.
Kyle Bastien: And I remember I read that. I reached out to you to ask how you were coming up with this stuff because it was gold.
Chris Orlob: Lots of wine.
Kyle Bastien: And then I started training the team on that years ago. We actually met over a conversation around this very topic a few years ago, so I'm glad to be back here talking about it with you guys again.
Chris Orlob: Yeah, and Drift seems to be winning the unfair share of their market with this story that you guys are going to market with.
Kyle Bastien: So that's a great point. The thing about this. We're going to about how to create this narrative and these stories. Basically what we're going to talk about is the company story, only it's going to replace the first 10 slides of your enterprise pitch deck and that kind of stuff, which I would argue customers don't care about. It doesn't do anything for them. The far more compelling and foundational idea of kind of like raising stakes and how to kind of... and where you fit in that, right? You talked about Zuora kind of creating this stuff. I'll talk about Drift in a minute. I think this whole thing though is just so foundational because this isn't just how to pitch better. It's actually like how your company is going to succeed. Like the story that you tell the market needs to be the same story that your founders tell your investors, that you tell your employees when you're hiring them. This is rooted in a lot of crazy research that's talked about in Sapiens, right? And they talk about Dunbar's number of 150, over which that's the amount of people that you can have like personal relationships with and have ties of community. And anything over that, societies tend to like splinter and breakdown. And then maybe this has happened at companies before. Chris, how many employees were at the company you worked at before Gong?
Chris Orlob: The company I worked at before Gong?
Kyle Bastien: Mm- hmm( affirmative).
Chris Orlob: So that was a couple companies ago because before that was a startup that I was running, but it was InsideSales.com, and I think we were at probably six or 700 employees when we left. And just a quick anecdote about Dunbar's principle before I pass the torch back over to you. As we were approaching 150 employees at Gong, this was maybe nine months ago or so, our CEO got all of us executives in a room over the course of weeks. We didn't just get this done in one meeting. And we defined our company operating principles. And the reason we decided to define those company operating principles then instead of any other point in our history is because we were approaching that 150 number, and if we didn't define that stuff before we got to 150, things would start breakdown, and people wouldn't have guidelines for decision making. So, not really the topic we're talking about now. But since you talked about Dunbar's principle, I've been burning to talk about that ever since.
Kyle Bastien: I know, man. And here's the thing. I've been at a couple of companies. I've been at a company that got purchased by Intuit, and I stayed there for a few years, so like a 20 billion dollar public company. I've been through three companies now while they crossed over that 150 number. And I bring it up because I think it relates so much to this topic because the success with which those companies made that transition directly related to the consistency and the credibility with which they told this story or this narrative of the business. So we're going to talk about how to build this story in a way that helps you in a sales context, but I want you to keep in mind what this helps, how it applies to your company as a whole because I think this is foundational, and I've come to believe that this is literally the difference between companies that make it through that transition smoothly or relatively smoothly and those that don't. So this is critical stuff.
Chris Orlob: You're right.
Kyle Bastien: So as it relates to Drift, we've got a pretty interesting story. We look at a few things. So we point out forums, and this is... We look at forums, and forums frankly aren't the enemy, they're just like the most obvious symptom of what's happening. And what we see happening is that there's kind of three different consumer behaviors that are taking place right now that are combining to really change the dynamic in B2B sales. And those are things like G2 Crowd and Gartner and basically this prevalence of information that customers can get and research on their own. Now, that's not new. That's been around for a long time. We have this explosion of competition that you mentioned like that MarTech slide that Chieftain puts out that has 7, 000 MarTech businesses on there in which we compete. And the last one is our favorite consumer apps like Netflix and Uber, Spotify, even Amazon that have created this expectation of now and getting what you want immediately amongst consumers. And consumers don't act any differently when they go to work. They're starting to expect that more and more now. But if you look at what our B2B sales and business processes look like, there's inbound SDRs that qualify leads to prevent people who wanted to talk to sales from talking to sales, which is crazy, right? Like we put friction in these processes all over the place. Because we're trying to sell more, we're trying to protect our own business interest, and we're not making it easy to buy. And it's that disconnect that I think explains some of the numbers that you see in B2B sales right now, where we're spending 5.1 billion dollars a year on paid advertisements, and it's only converting on landing pages at 2. 3% of the time, right? Now, that's objectively terrible, but it's something that we as an industry have accepted because we're benchmarking our peer groups and other companies, and that's what everybody's dealing with, so it's something that we've come to accept, right? We've realized that the way to make it... If we're going to use as the top design cue, " How do I make it easy for people to buy from us?" then we have to have more conversations with them and remove the friction to those conversations, and so it's that idea that Drift has been founded on, and forums just represent like crosstalk to make the point in this case.
Chris Orlob: Yeah. Now, you in the audience, I want you to notice a few things that Kyle said as he was talking about how Drift approaches messaging. He was talking about trends that are out there in the marketplace. They have nothing to do with Drift or drift's products. They're trends out in the marketplace about how buyer's worlds are changing and their buyer habits are changing, and they're becoming more powerful. And those types of trends threaten Drift's potential customer status quo. We're going to come back to that toward the middle of this webinar and talk about how you can come up with your own version of that. A couple other examples of narratives that win markets are Gong's three pillars of revenue success, up- leveling the perception of what Gong is, which people used to think it was just this call recording tool with a few bells and whistles. This is another example of a company narrative. And one more before we actually get down to the brass tax of actually how do you do this stuff and how do you come up with your own is the iPod. So, iPod was not the first MP3 player on the market, and I know this is an older example. This is 15 or 20 years back at this point, but there were tons of MP3 players. They were all competing on features and storage, and I don't even know. It's been a while, 15 or 20 years. And then Steve Jobs comes out with this just single, not single, but small story. It's like five words, "1, 000 songs in your pocket," and that just stole the market. They repeated that message over time, and they won the market, even though there were plenty of other competitors out there. So if you come up with your own narrative like this that can be used both in the brass tax of the sales trenches and as high level as an investor pitch or what your product marketing people say to analysts, it's going to be game over as long as you repeat that message over a very long period of time. So a couple quick stats to kind of just frame up the current state of messaging in most companies is this is how executive level sales leaders feel about sales messaging today. So 10% of them feel that sales calls, or 10% of sales calls are not valuable enough, or only 10% of sales calls are valuable enough to warrant the time they spend on them, and only 7% of executives would agree to a followup meeting based on the content of that sales call. In other words, uncompelling messaging tends to happen in most sales calls. And Kyle, I know you can speak a little bit more to this stat than I can, so I'll pass the torch back to you.
Kyle Bastien: Yeah. I've run these numbers at a couple places. The stat is that like 68% of your deals aren't even being lost. Like if you don't win a deal, and you look at the loss reasons, almost two thirds of them are going to be lost to either like no decision or went dark. And then when you followup with those went- darks like three to six months later, you find out they actually didn't go with the competitive solution.
Chris Orlob: Yeah. They did nothing.
Kyle Bastien: So I interpret this as like... Yeah, you're not losing deals. You're not winning them either. We'll talk more about this later, the dynamic at play, especially the not now, right? Like when people continuously punt close dates month over month over month, you show this stat to any of the sales dudes out there, to any of the people on the floor, and you're going to get like, " Oh my god, yes." It's literally probably the worst part of their job. And I think what's not shown here is that these deals unfortunately are often the ones that people spend the most amount of time on. And I'll try not to like bro out and bring in too many sports or poker analogies here, but there's this idea in poker that the person who finished second was the one who folded first. And so the idea with this game over strategy is that you'd rather take a bold stance at the beginning of the processes and have them be like, " Look, I don't see it that way," or, " I completely disagree with your take on the market," and like end the process right there than spend months and hours and tons of time and investment on a deal where somebody's just like fundamentally not going to agree with the story or the premise on what you're doing. So you'd rather lose the deal quickly than lose it slowly.
Chris Orlob: Yeah. Another thing I want the audience just to keep in mind as you've been talking is notice... You didn't use the word polarizing, but the description of your messaging implies that it should be polarizing. And we're going to talk about why that is and how to come up with your own, which is part of one of the first techniques here, which we can get into, which is called start with a nexus. Okay? Start your messaging with a nexus. This is your first grab bag of messaging techniques and principles that you can put to use hopefully pretty soon here. And before we define what a nexus is, we're going to define why you need a nexus. And Kyle, I know you have some thoughts about what we're looking at here on this slide. Do you want to maybe voiceover this one?
Kyle Bastien: A lot of these ideas are in like prospective selling methodologies and challenger being the most prominent one, but this is a concept from force management actually, which is that you get relegated to the level of the person that you sound like. So I'll use Drift as an example. We've been guilty of this, of like calling people and being like, " Hey, how can I... I want to tell you about how Drift could improve your lead conversion rates." So if you send that kind of message to a CMO, they're going to be like, " Oh yeah. Here, talk to our junior demand gen person. They're the one who own that KPI." Right?
Chris Orlob: Yep.
Kyle Bastien: But if you're talking about something different. If you want to talk about benchmarking, trends on where the market's going, that kind of stuff tends to be more like C- level click bait. They're going to take calls if we're going to talk about that, right? if we're going to talk about that level that's appropriate to the person you're talking to. So think about what your messaging is. If it's about a KPI, or it's about a number, you're going to talk to the person who owns that number. And if it's about something bigger like the future, like the existential threat to a business, that's something that a CMO or a C- level executive in your deal is going to perk their ears to.
Chris Orlob: Yeah. And I would also argue the opposite is true. If you go to somebody who's kind of like mid- level. You've been trying to get to the senior executive but just haven't heard back, and you go to somebody mid- level, and you come to them with this really C- level, senior- executive- sounding message, in some cases they're going to punt you upward because maybe they're going to look good to their boss, not every time. But the principle that we're looking at here on the screen actually applies both ways.
Kyle Bastien: It does.
Chris Orlob: You'll get punted down, and you'll get punted up, depending on who you sound like and who you're talking to. And I know you guys had some interesting stats specific at Drift. I won't steal your thunder, but if you want to talk about those- crosstalk
Kyle Bastien: Yeah. No, you're absolutely right. We've looked at this in our business. So if the previous point is about how to talk to get the C- level in the room, this is the financial case for that. We've even witnessed in our business that our ASP in our ideal customer profile segments is 2X when the CMO is involved, and the deals close 30 days faster when we're having this conversation. When we're talking about the game over strategy, the financial impacts are huge for our business and I would argue for anyone else's.
Chris Orlob: All right. So now that we've framed up the problem that a nexus solves, which is getting you squared away with the C- level executive, let's talk about exactly what a nexus is. And I have a quick call to action for everybody in the audience. I would suggest you screenshot this screen that you're looking at here, so you have this on hand. Of course, we're going to send this out after the webinar is over, and you'll have it, but I would recommend screenshotting it so it's on your desktop. So a nexus is the beginning of your narrative. It's the beginning of your message, and it is a polarizing insight that changes how your customer thinks or feels about either the problem you solve or the opportunity that you help them exploit. It's not quite the same thing as like a challenger sale reframe. A challenger sale reframe is a type of nexus. A nexus can be a little bit broader than that. So I'm going to walk you through a few examples of some nexuses, if that's the plural form the word. Maybe it's nexi... that really worked. And the first one that I'm going to talk about, the product is a book. Okay? The book is called The Power of Full Engagement. And this is a book on productivity. And the nexus the authors came up with to sell this book is they said... It was an insight. They said, " Productivity," like professional productivity, " is not about time management," which is what everybody thinks it is. It's not about time management. It's about energy management. And in the book, they talk about managing your energy and your circadian rhythms and working in 90 minute blocks and taking 30 minute breaks and repeating that throughout the entire day. And the point isn't that you should... I'm not trying to give a lesson on productivity here. The point is this book when it came out, which was 15 years ago or so, cut through the clutter of productivity books by saying, " Everybody's talking about how time management is the key to productivity, and we're here to say that it's only a tiny part of the pie. The bigger piece to the puzzle is energy management." So that was the nexus. It reframed how people were thinking about the problem, which was productivity, and the reframe is from time management to energy management, which is what we're looking at here, going from managing time to managing energy. Life as a marathon versus life as a series of short sprints where you exert and recover and exert and recover. Now, Drift has their own nexus. We're going to give you a few examples of what a good nexus sounds like. I've given you one. We've got a couple more to cover. Kyle, do you want to talk about Drift's nexus?
Kyle Bastien: Yeah. So this is on our website right now. We've been talking about this for a few years here at Drift. And the way I think of a nexus... I'll tell a quick story, if you'll indulge me. Chris, when I was a kid, I didn't... I need glasses. I'm wearing contacts right now, and I'm near- sighted. I didn't know that until I was 20 years old when I got my first set of glasses. And until then, I thought that's just how everybody saw. I couldn't see through other people's eyes, so I didn't realize my vision was poor. And then I finally was diagnosed as near- sighted. I got my first set of contacts. I put the glasses on, and I was like, " You're kidding me. This is how you guys all see? Everybody sees like this?" I was like, " Oh my god." I was like, " Well, you guys are screwed now because I've been doing all right with blurry vision. And now that I've got this on, it's game over," right? So I remember having that hilarious feeling. So I think of a nexus as having that same effect for your prospect. Like I literally envision putting fresh glasses on somebody, and it doesn't change their problem. It just changes the way they view it to where everything comes into focus. And this is also a strategy that was talked about years before challenger in a book called Blue Ocean Strategy. It's the same idea of like shifting evaluation criteria to places that are going to be more favorable for you to compete. And so in Drift's, you see on the left hand side kind of like a traditional inbound marketing made popular in like 2007, 2007 around how to drive traffic to your websites and things like that. And then the new way is kind of like skipping a lot of these steps and actually removing certain tranches of your entire funnel. And like if you have a form, and then you have an MQL, and then you have a meeting, and then you have an opportunity, we might be able to skip a good two of those and just have somebody go from website visitor to opportunity in realtime in a matter of minutes. The note on this though is a lot of websites have these. A lot of companies have kind of an old way/ new way graphic like what you see here. A lot of people are going to get that the new way's cool. I think what we'll talk about in a little bit here is a lot of companies make the mistake of not focusing enough on the problems with the old way. Like not then really spending the majority of your time... You've got to tear down the old way before anyone's receptive to the new way. And I think that's a key part of this entire idea here.
Chris Orlob: Yep. Absolutely. Okay. So the goal of the nexus is to shake their confidence. Once they put these new lenses that Kyles been talking about, it should shake them a little bit in a good way. And I want to expand on that thought and talk about a few attributes of a good nexus. And if you have been compelled by this idea of a nexus. If you're really kind of leaning into your seat right now, everybody listening, this is another slide that I would take a screenshot of because it's going to help you come up with your own nexus. So the first one, we covered. It changes how your buyer thinks about the problem you solve or the opportunity you help them exploit. It shakes their confidence, meaning they're not as certain about how to achieve their goals because they thought one path would get there, and now you're introducing a totally counter... a new path that is counterintuitive to them. It's polarizing. Kyle talked about this without using the word polarizing a little bit earlier, where you come in bold, and you take a stance. What I would say is that if you have your nexus right, roughly speaking, 80% of the people in your market are going to emphatically agree with that nexus, and they're going to love you for it. And 20% of the people, not only it's not going to resonate with them, but they might disagree and even hate you for it. Okay? It's got to be a polarizing communication. Now, you've got to make sure you have that ratio right. You don't want 50% of the people hating you. But if you can get around 80/20, where 80% of the people totally agree, and 20% of the people are kind of like no, " You're full of shit, and here's why," you might be onto something. Okay? Not for sure, but it might be a sign that you're onto something. And then the fourth attribute of an effective nexus is it's a clear binary statement. I'll give you an example. When we at Gong are selling to companies in highly competitive markets, the nexus we talk about is product differentiation is dead. Today you win with how you sell, not what you sell. Now that is clear black and white binary. Here's a bad example of how to deliver that. Product differentiation doesn't quite work as well as it used to. Maybe in some cases, it works, but not as well as it used to. And today sales conversations are a little more effective than product differentiation. The meaning behind both of those two statements, the first one I did and then the one I just delivered, is identical. But the second one is fluffy. It's not binary. It's not clear. The first one was clear. Okay? It's product differentiation is dead. Today you win with how you sell, not what you sell. Now Kyle's going to take us through a quick exercise, just kind of a thinking exercise of how to come up with your own nexus. So, Kyle, over to you.
Kyle Bastien: Yeah. There's an analogy here with... Like there's common expressions that people use all the time, and I don't know if you ever geek out. I do this sometimes, if I can admit this. We're in the trust tree of the branches.
Chris Orlob: inaudible
Kyle Bastien: I sometimes look up the origin of just like common expressions that I have no idea what they mean or where they came from. And what you find when you do that is that often times those expressions are used today in a 180 degree different usage than how they were initially coined. So ill give you an example. You guys have all heard the expression like, " Jack of all trades, master of none." It's used usually derisively to talk about someone being a generalist. I mean, I've used that in competitive positioning to say like, " Hey, we're best in breed. And they're a one- stop- shop," right? And it's a good turn of a phrase.
Chris Orlob: Yep.
Kyle Bastien: That phrase initially, the full sentence is, " Jack of all trades, master of none, but better than a master of one." And it's meant to praise people who have well rounded skillsets in a variety of different areas than somebody who only knows a lot about one thing. So the initial usage of that phrase was actually 180 degree different than how it's used today.
Chris Orlob: Interesting. I didn't know that.
Kyle Bastien: Fascinating, right? I had to stop using it once I learned what it meant because I was using it completely wrong and just basically bastardizing the quote. So the analogy is to study the origin of prevailing wisdom. So if you want to look at... Your first step to coming up with your own nexus, if you look at something that doesn't make sense in an industry, look at the history of that prevailing wisdom, and you can usually trace it back to probably a book that popularized a business concept around something, and read that book. And then research the business context in which it was written and think about what has changed about those conditions. What was happening at the time that is no longer happening now? And that's a very clean way to come up with your own nexus. And I did this when I started at Drift, right? Because the old way is something that we still do at Drift. We do all the things. We do content marketing. We do think of our website as like a hub. And some of the foundational ideas of SEO and driving traffic to the site and inbound marketing was popularized by HubSpot. They built a business out of it, and then they wrote a book on it called Inbound Marketing. And we wrote a book called Conversational Marketing. So I read Inbound Marketing first to better understand. Like if we're saying, " This is the old way, and this is the new way," I better understand the old way intimately. And what I learned there is that we're not even really tearing down the old way so much as building on it to reflect the change in consumer behavior, if that makes sense, right? So if you can find the origin of the old way and understand that thoroughly, then you'll be able to then think about what's different, and you can build your nexus around that set of circumstances.
Chris Orlob: Amazing. Again, audience, please take a screenshot of this one. Go back, think through these questions on your own, and come up with some answers. I'll leave that for another three, two, one, and now we are moving on. So the nexus, that is clearly a messaging technique that we could talk about for an entire webinar, but we've got to move on because we promised you guys a bunch of messaging techniques. So now let's get into technique number two, which is introduce a threat to their status quo. So, Kyle, do you want to voiceover loss aversion real quick?
Kyle Bastien: Yeah. This is an irrational bias. This was discovered by a guy named Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. They wrote a book called Thinking Fast and Slow, which is the best marketing book I've ever read. It's a tomb. It's about decades of psychological research, but you learn more about human biases and how to market and how people act how people behave than any book I've ever read, so a huge plug for that book. And they were the first ones to identify this idea of loss aversion, which is people will act more or they will feel deeply losses more than they will feel wins of the same magnitude. So if you have$ 100, and you lose it, you will be far more upset than if you had$ 100 and got another$ 100, or if you had$ 0 and made$ 100. So that's the idea here. I think the implication in marketing is... Well, I think there's obvious implications in your messaging, right? And I thought about this before. We sold this webinar even as like, " Come talk to Kyle and Chris. We'll tell you how to double your conversion rates." If we had titled this webinar like, " Hey, we'll show you how to create a story that will keep you relevant," or something like that like, " That will keep you from losing relevancy in your market," right? I don't know. Maybe we would have had more attendees or something, right? But any message that you can craft as like what you're going to get out of it on the positive side, think about how you can craft it as preventing you from losing something. Or FOMO is a popular technique you can use around this. Like, "You are going to miss something," you know what I mean? Which plays on loss aversion, " if you don't do this act or participate in this thing."
Chris Orlob: Right. There's a story that illustrates loss aversion really nicely, which was the CEO of a financial services company was giving a speech to his army of financial advisors, and it was the story of how to call a millionaire at 5: 00 AM and have her thank you for it. The story goes like this. If you call a millionaire at 5: 00 AM, and you tell her, " I can help you make... I can help you gain$ 20,000 today, but you have to act right now," she is going to curse you out and hang up the phone. However, if you call that same millionaire at 5: 00 AM, and you say, " I can prevent you from losing$20, 000, but you have to act right now, she's going to graciously thank you. Same amount of money framed in a different perspective. One's about gaining, and she doesn't care about that. And one is about not losing, and she desperately cares about that. Now, Kyle, when we prepared for this webinar, you had a story about... I can't remember what words you used. It was something about interpreting the status quo or a different sequence of events. Do you want to share your thinking on that?
Kyle Bastien: Yeah.
Chris Orlob: Okay. Yeah. I reminded you effectively?
Kyle Bastien: Yeah. There's inaudible ideas here, right? So this is basically what sales is. It's like you're taking somebody from an A state to a B state. That's what we're doing when you're introducing a new product, especially if it's disruptive. So everybody wants to talk about their point B, which is what life is like with your product, and customers are like super down to agree. They are all about it. And the easiest bridge to cross in any sales cycle is people that think your product's cool or that it does what you say it's going to do. That's not why you're winning or losing deals. If I go back to that 68% number on deals that they can't agree on what to do, this is what we're talking about. And what it is is you did not spend enough time tearing down point A, right? And the thing about it is in every business there's a certainly level of dysfunction internally, frankly, which is just people who can't agree on what they should be working on. And people who own different parts of the business have different perspectives on what the priorities ought to be. So if you want to get your deals done faster, this is what happens. You have to tear down that A point for every single person and point them at the same B point, right? Whenever I talk about this with folks, especially salespeople that are earlier in their career, they're like, " That sounds great, Kyle. I'd love to tell everybody I talk to that they're doing it wrong, but I'm 27 years old, and I've been doing this for two years, and I'm talking to somebody who is a VP, C- level, has been in the role for 20 years and has vastly more experience at this than I do, so what right do I have to even stake this claim?" And are they even right? So my answer to that is I think about this study that was talked about in Mark Manson's book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, which is fantastic. And he talks about this study of folks who were put in a room, and there's a light and a keyboard. And they're told to figure out the sequence of events that makes the light go on. And so they start typing away, and the light goes on. They try to replicate it. Eventually people start like messing around in their chairs. Some people stand up. Some people sit down. After a certain period of time, everybody leaves believing that they've figured out the sequence of events that makes the light turn on. What they don't know is that the light goes on and off randomly throughout the experiment. So this illustrates that humans are basically little meaning- making machines, right? Like we go through our lives creating narratives that are not true to explain things that don't even really happen to us, and this happens in business. Things happen, and people create false positives and false negatives all the time because something else unrelated was happening at the same time that they attributed to this business event or this outcome. So my point is that a lot of people are going to be having assumptions around their business works. Point A is just a mental model for how things operate that are not necessarily informed by objective data. So if you pick at that, and you bring the heat on this, then you're going to have more success than you think in changing people's point of views around the narrative of how their business or how their role in it works.
Chris Orlob: Now here's a quick example of a pitch that really does tear apart point A before introducing point B. And this example comes from Corporate Visions and my friend, Tim Riesterer, who wrote a book called Conversations that Win the Complex Sale, a really solid book. He's talking about an example of a salesperson selling formaldehyde- free furniture. Okay? The first salesperson just pitches its benefits. It's greener. It's safer for the environment, yada, yada. Nobody buys. The great salesperson introduces a threat to the status quo. It's like an external trend that's threatening the retailer status quo before introducing the formaldehyde- free furniture. He says, " American citizens are becoming more health- conscious and wary of dangerous chemicals," so that's trend number one. " In fact, Google search volume for formaldehyde- free furniture is up 600% in two years." Okay? Now we're attaching numbers to this trend that's threatening the status quo. " We help retailers make good on this opportunity by supplying formaldehyde- free furniture." This is a very simplistic example of the pitch, massively more compelling than spewing off a bunch of benefits about formaldehyde- free furniture and how it's safer or greener or whatever the benefits are. Okay. Technique number three is invoke self- discovery. Invoke self-discovery is about telling a familiar painful story that your buyer can see him or herself in as you tell that story. So Kyle, I know you have some thoughts about this one. I also have some thoughts about this one as far as sobriety groups being really, really good at this and helping their quote unquote potential market come to their own self- discovery. I would love to add my thoughts after you first give yours.
Kyle Bastien: Yeah, for sure. So this is the idea of like you've got to make this real, right? Because to this point, we've introduced a shocking nexus. We've dropped some knowledge around, some facts around it. We've made the case, but now you've got to make it real, right? And so I've got... You know me, Chris. I have a lot of history with drug and alcohol abuse. I'm sober, and I spend a lot of time hanging out with people that are also keen to stay sober. And my experience with that was that if you had told me... This a perfect example of this. If you had told me what I needed to do or what I should do or tried to sell me any kind of solution around that when I was active in the disease, I didn't want to hear that. I mean, it's not even theoretical. People did that, right? like my wife, people, my family, friends. I had a lot of people talk to me about the consequences of my actions in that experience.
Chris Orlob: I just want to interject real quick. The reason you were resistant to that is because you had a state of mind that starts with a D. Do you know that word I'm looking for?
Kyle Bastien: No, what are you getting at?
Chris Orlob: Denial.
Kyle Bastien: Denial? Oh yeah... Well, not even. Yeah, I don't even know if it was that. I would like, " Yeah, you're right," but I just didn't want to. It's kind of like, " Screw you. Don't tell me what to do." It was more that. I was like, " Yeah, you're probably right, but I don't want to hear it."
Chris Orlob: crosstalk. Yeah. This is like the... Sorry, I keep interrupting you.
Kyle Bastien: Whenever people share their experience around this, it's always like, " Look man, this is what I was like." And what finally helped me get sober was just having one person tell me like, " Look, this is what it was like for me," and they told my story. And it was like, " I did this. I did that." It was like, " I felt this way, and I thought this way." And it was stuff that you might otherwise be embarrassed to say out loud. But if you're brave enough to say the things that everybody thinks but are embarrassed to think or judge themselves for thinking, then you almost always find people who say, " Dude. Yeah, I actually feel exactly that way." And now it's like, " Okay, you've got my attention. That is how I'm thinking about it." And then they share. It's like, " This is what I was like. This is what happened. This was like the crisis point how I found the willingness to get help around this." And then, " This is what it's like now." And it's like, " If you want that, then I can show you what I did to get it." And that's it. That's the entire deal. And there's so many... I feel like I could talk about this subject for a long time because I find there's so many parallels between the most effective way to sell and this kind of messaging. It's like, " Look man, this is just the way the world works. This is how I thought about it before I started doing things differently. Once we started doing things differently, these are what the results are." Which could be like, " This is the nexus. This is the strategy that wins, and here are my customer success stories," in a business context, right? But this, it's almost like non prescriptive, " But if you want what we have, then I can show you the playbooks to get that," and particularly that messaging around what it feels like to be in the problem. That is extremely compelling on an emotional level to people, and it does more than anything to inspire change and action.
Chris Orlob: One of the examples of messages you will not see from sobriety groups when they're trying to attract people to join is you won't see them just pitching the point B, like we talked earlier. You won't see them saying... Like a testimonial quote, you won't see it saying, " Alcoholics Anonymous changed my life. My wife came back to me. My career's back on track. My kids are talking to me again." And it's because the group of people that that group is relevant for isn't at that psychological state yet. What you'll see is a story that invokes self- discovery, just like you've been talking about, which is more along the lines of, " It started with just a drink every weekend. That led to a drink every night. Before I knew it, I couldn't even relax at night without three to five scotches, and the foundation of my relationship with my significant other started to crumble." Now, somebody who has not yet joined a sobriety group but should might read that part, that second testimonial quote, and it will make their heart sink but in a good way, and it's because you've told a compelling before story, the point A, that they can see themselves in. So really the principle behind this technique is can you buyer see themselves in the story that you're telling them. And if they can't, it's probably going over their heads. And this is just another way of saying that principle. We've said this a lot here at Gong both internally and kind of externally out to the world. This is worth screenshotting. If you're going to be in a go- to- market career for years or your entire career, it's worth coming back to this quote every three months or so and just kind of meditating on it. If your story describes their problem better than they can describe it themselves, they will automatically assume you have the best solution, so the process is automatic.
Kyle Bastien: Yeah. And the thing I can't emphasize enough, this pitch is more around how people feel about it. It's not even like what they're doing. And I get so many prospecting emails. It's like, " Kyle as the head of enablement at Drift, you must be concerned about getting ramps to quota quickly during onboarding," and stuff like that. It's like, " Yes. Of course." That's like what my job is. And yes, that's a part of it. But if somebody were to hit me with a message that's like, " Hey, Kyle. Your team is going to double over the course of the next two years, and I'm guessing you're afraid about how you're going to keep up with the pace of the business." You know what I mean?
Chris Orlob: Yeah.
Kyle Bastien: If it's that kind of messaging, I'd get that, right? There's all kinds of stuff in sales and in management that people feel, and they don't talk about. The key to this bringing up the stuff that no one wants to talk about on an emotional level. I can't emphasize enough. That's what makes this resonate, and that's how you have like one incisive sentence that gets people's attention more than anything else, any full email, any hour conversation. That's the key to this.
Chris Orlob: Okay. That leads us to number four. You've walked your buyer through a few different steps. You've introduced a nexus, which is a new way of looking at the world. You've introduced some threats or some trends that threaten their status quo, which spring from nexus, and now you've told a story. So now your buyer is at a heightened peak to want to solve this. And it's really tempted to immediately jump into a product demo or a sales presentation and just spew off how you can solve it. A better way, before you get to that point, is to tell a before and after customer story and then use that to pivot into your product demo or your sales presentation. And the key here is you want both before and after. Because if all you do is tell an after customer story, it's probably not going to resonate quite as much because after results or outcomes or these measurable results that are so common in customer stories do not resonate unless they land on the context you've built with the before part. And it doesn't even have to be complicated, especially if you've executed these first few steps to your narrative really well. It's as simple as the slide we're looking at here, which is just an example of a Gong customer story. But Kyle, do you have any additional thoughts to add about telling a customer story before you pivot into actually selling?
Kyle Bastien: No, I think it's great. I think the key to this is just noticing that the numbers have to come after the emotional appeal.
Chris Orlob: Yes.
Kyle Bastien: And that's just how people's brains work, right? Everybody makes decisions with like their inner brain, their emotional part, and then their ask their outer brain or their neocortex for permission. So it's like, " Hey, I want to do this, rational brain, is it cool? Can I go ahead and do this?" And so if you don't have the buy- in on the emotional stamp. This is basically giving permission to go do something. They're going to want to see the demo, but it's like no one wants to go to their boss and ask for budget just based on a gut feeling. That's not how business people work. That's not going to fly in any company. So it's like, " Look, I want this for an emotion reason. Give me some air cover to go ask for this without feeling like I'm feeble- minded." You know what I mean?
Chris Orlob: Yes. It's a justification. Yep.
Kyle Bastien: So numbers have to come after the emotional appeal, but I think this is awesome.
Chris Orlob: Yep. And once you wrap it up, it is so natural to be able to finally pivot into your product.
Kyle Bastien: Right.
Chris Orlob: All right. So we are running close on time here. We've got about 11 minutes. My guess is that we're not going to be able to do any Q& A at the end of this, unless we totally skip the next technique, which is super social proof. I don't know. Kyle, what do you think? Should we open it up to Q&A and kind of buzz through, or should we-
Kyle Bastien: Let's just quick hit this and then get some questions because I'd love to hear from the crowd here.
Chris Orlob: Okay. All right. So super social proof is bombarding the customer with relevant resonant social proof. So I'm going to give you a quick example. We'll do some quick Q& A at the end. Hopefully we'll have a few minutes. But let's pretend we're selling to a MarTech company. Here's how weak social proof would come across. You namedrop these three logos. Only one of those is even semi- relevant, which is Oracle. They don't care about Walmart or Fidelity. Because it's not another MarTech company, it almost has a counter- effect. They say you're serving different customers. Here's what decent social proof looks like. You do this like at the end of your demo ideally. We work with Marqeta, Oracle and HubSpot. Good, but not great. Okay? You're talking about relevant logos that match your buyer, but it's only three of them. Here's what a superstar salesperson would do. They would bring up the MarTech landscape that we've kind of referenced a couple times. They would circle all of the MarTech companies that are current customers, and they would say, " These are all the companies in your space that we currently work with. There's 17 of them. That number is up from just four a couple years ago. In other words, people in your tribe are bandwagoning onto our solution." And that sort of bandwagoning effect is what you want to go for here. Talking about three customer logos that match their situation is good. Talking about a bandwagon or a trend in their marketplace is much better.
Kyle Bastien: Yeah.
Chris Orlob: So, that's the end of that technique. Kyle, do you have any quick insight or color to add to that one?
Kyle Bastien: Yeah. It makes me think of loss aversion again. That's just such, such heavy FOMO. Like you're about to get dusted by everybody you compete with. Like, " Hey, if you don't inaudible the time, you don't have the time." But if everyone else seems to have it, I'm like, " Okay, fine. I'll take the demo." The other thing I think about this when I think about social proof is that I feel like there's this old marketing technique where if you want a certain target group to buy your product, show the people they aspire to be using it, right? And I always think of... Look at like Axe body spray commercials, and it's always like college kids getting girls, which is why only 16 year olds buy Axe body spray. So it's like kids in high school think that's what it's going to be like in college, so they start wearing Axe now, right?
Chris Orlob: Hilarious.
Kyle Bastien: So, use companies that are like just in front of the company you're pitching to, not so far in front that they're like, " Well, I don't care if you work with them. They are nothing like me. They are way out there, and I'm here." Show them who they want to be in the next year. You know what I mean? And tell that story is going to resonate more than like your biggest name that everyone's going to recognize but no one's going to relate to.
Chris Orlob: Yep. Well, I think we're ready for that prize I promised at the end. I'm going to skip through a lot of the buildup slides to get there, which pains me a little bit as a product marketer. But to the get the slide deck we're talking about, the deck that we use at Gong that incorporates all of these principles... You'll get a free copy if you go to Gong. io/ deck, so go there right now, Gong. io./ deck, and you schedule a demo. Once you schedule that demo, on the other side you'll see a page like this. It's a members- only private access page where you can click that purple button and download the deck, and you'll be able to see how we at Gong incorporate all of those principles into our sales narratives. That's just one example that we use. Access to that closes after the 100th person signs up... person. God, I'm tripping over my words today. That's not the first time. So, before we take Q& A, go over to Gong. io/ deck. Do that now. Schedule your demo. You'll have access. And I think we've got like three... We've got like four or five minutes for some Q&A. We made some good time on those last few slides. That was pungent.
Kyle Bastien: Yeah, banged it out.
Chris Orlob: All right. So I am going to go through these questions. We have a ton of them, so let's try to tackle some of these. All right. If we're already a Gong customer, do we still need to fill out the demo form? Do it anyway. We'll just direct our sales development team to not book the demo, but you'll get the... You'll schedule it. You can... We'll get you hooked up. Go through the process though. Let's see. Oh man, these are hard to sort through. There's so many. What was the name of the book that Kyle mentioned right at the beginning? Kyle, do you remember that one?
Kyle Bastien: It was Sapiens, I think was the first one I mentioned. That's the one about... There's a lot of things in there, but at the beginning they talk about Dunbar's number and how humans believe in things that aren't true for cooperation beyond 150 members. I think that was it. Yeah.
Chris Orlob: Yeah. There's another one, which was Thinking Fast and Slow, that you mentioned too.
Kyle Bastien: inaudible yeah.
Chris Orlob: Okay. So here's a question. We were always told to never sell on fear and scare tactics, and it seems like that's what you guys are suggesting. So I want to make a point that we kind of glossed over. The way you do this is you introduce a threat to their status quo. It's an external trend though. And when it's an external trend, now your buyer can quote unquote blame that external trend, and they don't have to blame themselves that the status quo is no longer viable, which could be a really delicate message to do. So you actually should sell on fear, but you should do it in the right way. Okay? There's right in theory, and then there's wrong execution, which comes across as scare tactics. But if you're educating the buyer about what the future could look like if they're not taking advantage of XYZ right now, that's a little bit different. I would argue you're not selling on fear. You are selling on loss aversion, but it's an educational approach.
Kyle Bastien: Yeah. I think the key is the thing you're using to inspire that concern or fear needs to be like external and independently verifiable and not created by your company.
Chris Orlob: Yes.
Kyle Bastien: It's something that is just happening independent of you and me and everything else, and I didn't make it. You know what I mean? It's like you're surfing on a tidal wave of change that you literally have nothing to do with, and it's like we can either ride it or get blown over by it. And we're riding it, and this is what it's like. It's a great ride. So that's how I would differentiate that from stuff like, " Hey, you guys got to sign up right now, or you're not going to get into onboarding by the end of the month," or whatever weird things we do to drive urgency over a month or a quarter.
Chris Orlob: Yep. All right. I think that is all we have time for, so I want to say thank you to two different groups of people. First of all, Kyle, thank you so much for taking a full hour out of your day, and not just the hour that we did today but the several hours that you and I spent together to prepare this presentation. And the second group of people I would like to thank is, of course, everybody who joined the webinar. I really hope you got value out of it. If you have additional questions, I don't know, Kyle, if you're up for it, but feel free to tag us on LinkedIn.
Kyle Bastien: Yeah. Please just message me on LinkedIn if you guys have questions that you didn't get answered or want to talk about cool books or how to create narratives. I love it, so hit me up please.
Chris Orlob: Yeah. One final message that I would like to say is that there seems to be a little bit of confusion in the deck that I suggested you go fill out a demo request form to download. A few people have asked... They're confused that it's not the same deck we talked about today, like the webinar deck that you and I just ran through. That's not what I'm promising. This deck will be sent out via email either later today or tomorrow. The deck that I'm talking about, if you go to Gong. io/ deck, is an actual sales deck we use at Gong that incorporates all of these techniques. So it's not the deck we're talking about here. I think it's an eight or nine slide deck that starts with a nexus, introduces a threat to the status quo, and goes through most of the principles we taught here. So go do that right now. Thank you so much for joining everyone, from Kyle to everybody in the audience. And hopefully we will see you in our next webinar, which will probably be in a month or two.
Kyle Bastien: Thank you guys. And thank you, Chris. This has been Awesome.
Gong's Webinar Series heats up, as Chris Orlob sits down with Drift's Kyle Bastien to outline some advanced sales techniques that will help you double your close rates. These two sales experts discuss why "benefits" fail, how to drive urgency, and a breakthrough messaging framework that helps prospects convince themselves that they need your product. This webinar is packed with step-by-step examples of how YOU can apply each and every tactic.
Disclaimer: This webinar is made for experienced sales, revenue, or go-to-market professionals. These concepts are advanced and may be a bit much for inexperienced folks.