5 Counterintuitive Sales Mistakes Preventing You From Closing Revenue

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This is a podcast episode titled, 5 Counterintuitive Sales Mistakes Preventing You From Closing Revenue. The summary for this episode is: <p>Is your sales approach based in perception or reality? Gong analyzed over 10 million sales calls and uncovered a&nbsp;massive gap&nbsp;between what sales professionals&nbsp;believe&nbsp;they’re doing and what they’re&nbsp;actually&nbsp;doing when it comes to their sales approach. This week, James Springhetti of Seismic, and Jon Dyer of Xant, discuss the 5 sales “best practices” that are actually wreaking havoc on your success rates, and <em>why</em> these misconceptions are detrimental to your success, according to data.&nbsp;Hosted by Gong's own Devin Reed.</p>
Mistake #5: Focusing on quantity when asking discovery sales questions
02:08 MIN
How many questions should you be asking?
02:21 MIN
Mistake #4: Thinking your outbound cadence has enough touch points
02:56 MIN
The importance of mixing up your touch points
00:36 MIN
How top performers handle objections
01:01 MIN
Mistake #3: Handling objections immediately and thoroughly
01:02 MIN
Mistake #2: Building anticipation on the product demo
01:55 MIN
How should you address your discovery topics?
01:53 MIN
Mistake #1: Listing your enterprise clients for social proof
00:54 MIN
How to use social proofs correctly
03:24 MIN

Devin Reed: Let's go and dive into it. You guys already know why we're here, we're going to talk about the five counterintuitive mistakes that are preventing you from closing revenue. If you don't know that that's what we're covering today, surprise, now you do. What we're going to cover, the fastest intros you've ever seen and we're going to dive right into the five sales mistakes and the tips to correct them, and then we're going to have a giveaway at the 45 minute mark. Make sure you stick around for that, it's really cool, I'm really excited about it. I'm going to go backtrack real quick so you can get to the last slide, we'll do a quick round of introductions. John, why don't you kick us off?

John Dyer: Yeah. I'm John Dyer, I'm over here at XANT, formerly known as insidesales. com. I had the sales development team both on the outbound and the inbound team. It's been a good ride.

Devin Reed: Awesome. What's a fun fact people might not know about you?

John Dyer: Fun fact that I don't know how many people know me at all listening to this webinar, but I love to snowboard. I'm an avid snowboarder, I always had a season pass. It's a great, great time of the year for me.

Devin Reed: Awesome, I love it. All right, James why don't you go next and I'll round us out after that.

James springhetti: Absolutely. Thanks, Devin. Appreciate the opportunity to speak here today, looking forward to the content you've prepared and the discussion that we'll have. Hi, everybody, James Springhetti, Regional Vice President here at Seismic Software. I head up our mid market sales team here on the West Coast, so on to all of our companies that are located on the West Coast and helping them to find a sales enablement solution in the marketplace. That's a little bit about me. A fun fact is that back in college, one of the best jobs that I had was working for the USPS. I actually got to deliver mail as a summer job. Probably not too many people got to do that as a summer gig, but that was pretty fun. The learning moment that I had was beware of dogs. I'll let you imagine on that one. Yeah, watch out for the dogs if you're ever delivering mail as a summer job.

Devin Reed: That's great. It's something I think most people know, but you probably know from a cartoon, so it's kind of good to hear that as well. Hopefully you're okay, not a serious dog bite but it's actually true.

James springhetti: Yeah, absolutely.

Devin Reed: All right, everyone, my name is Devin Reed, I'm the Manager of Content Strategy here at Gong. I handle all of our leadership and our demand gen content. Before that I was the second sales hire at Gong a couple years back. Kind of an OG Gongster as we call it, a sales guy at heart. But today, I'm really excited because we have a lot of firepower from practitioner and some content strategy standpoint, senior leader in James and a leader in John, who's also focused on sales development. We've got sales dev, closers and content, all wrapped into one today. Now, a quick promise, I marketed it as such, we have a 47 minute webinar for today. If we get out of class early, I'll give you even more time back. But I know we have a ton of salespeople who are probably really busy and so I want to make sure you guys have time to check your email, prep for your next call, use the restroom if you have a 12 o'clock, and make sure you get out of here on time. That's our promise. Again, we have a giveaway at the 47 minute mark... Excuse me, 45 minute mark, so I'll make sure we're done right before that. If you have any questions, feel free to put it into the panel, I'll be sifting through them. I won't be able to answer all of them but I'll do my best. Any feedback, feel free to chime in as well. All right, into the content and a little context for it is there are five sales" best practices" that are actually preventing you from closing deals. Bruno is our mascot, that's who we're looking at here. On the left side, there's what you think you're doing, but in reality you're looking like a sad puppy dog on the right hand side. What we're going to cover is all different ways of seeing all those different mistakes and how we can correct them. Right? You'll leave today going, " Wow, there's a few things I'm definitely going to stop doing," but you also get some things you can start with as well. The reason that this happens is because if you've ever been into any sales meeting, a pipeline review, a leadership meeting, you know that a lot of people have opinions. It's what we think is best, we trust our gut. Maybe someone earlier in our career said, " Hey, this is the way to do things," so you just kind of blindly do it, right? I'm definitely guilty of that. Today is all about getting rid of these opinions and bringing facts into your sales approach. Here's how we're going to do that, here's how we got a lot of this information. Here at Gong, we've recorded and analyzed over 10 million sales conversations. These are our users conversations over phone, some in person and a lot of web conferencing. What we do is we record them and analyze them using AI. We separate, as you can see here, Devin the rep, versus Matthew our prospect or buyer, and we start to understand the different behaviors and trends. All the way to things like, " Hey, how often does Devin say price?" To, " When does Devin and Matt discuss price? How does it impact objections?" And all these different things you can find a lot of nuance in it. What we found are a lot of counter intuitive findings. In other words, things, again, you thought were correct but are not actually right. James, or John, before we dive into it, in your career, have you guys ever had something where you're like, " This is definitely the way I'm going for it," and then you find out later maybe that's not so true?

James springhetti: As a sales person, you go by your gut as much as you can and you're looking to your manager or you're looking to your executives for some coaching, some development. But then you hop into some of the analytics that you guys provide from Gong and you start to see how I say things that I probably shouldn't say as much. And maybe there's some words that I should switch around and some different things that I should be using. We definitely live in this camp every single day and we're always trying to get better as salespeople. I just love that you guys are bringing some data to the table and are already here to help us to make better decisions.

Devin Reed: That's fantastic, I love that.

John Dyer: I would just echo that. I mean, at XANT we try to pride ourselves on being a data company. Data is everything, you should always rely on data. But admittedly, obviously, being a sales guy you always want to go by your gut. I got proved wrong the other day with my data science team on... It was actually titles that we're going after and title levels that we should be targeting. I thought for sure it was one level and then they came back to me on all of our opportunities that have progressed further down the funnel and came up with little different results. So you just always got to make sure you're checking data to make sure that everybody's on the same page.

Devin Reed: Yeah, absolutely. In talking to a lot of sales leaders in my own career, I think it's like there is an intuition you want to trust but you also want to make sure that you're using data to either back that up or to kind of refine your approach. I'm getting a couple of notes here, there might be some light noise. John or James, it could be me, it could be you guys, so let's do our best maybe just to mute when we're not talking. That way we don't lose any folks with some background noise. Here's how we're going to do the framework for today, folks. There are three ways we're breaking down each of these mistakes. There's what sellers think they're doing, there's what sellers are actually doing, and what sellers should be doing. Or in another way, there's the impact that you think you're doing, the impact that's actually happening, which probably negative, and then there's a tip or some guidance we'll provide in terms of what you should be doing instead. All right. Before we do, we've got a few questions to make this interactive, let's see if I can knock it out on the first try here. All right, you should be seeing a poll question. How many questions do you ask on your discovery calls? If you're listening, if you're watching, go ahead and click which one. Is it one to five, six to 10, 11 to 14, or 15 or more? We're going to give about 30 to 45 seconds here for everyone to put in their vote and then we'll carry on here. In all of these questions, we have a question for each of the mistakes, so get a chance to kind of put in your vote, see what you're currently doing and then see how you stack up. We're going to do 10 more seconds. They are pouring in very quickly, well over 50% of the folks. By the way, we have almost 500 people on the line today. James, and John, I hope you don't get camera shy knowing we have a huge audience. All right, three, two, one. I'm going to close the poll. Don't worry, there's a few more coming. Now I'm going to share the results. Here's what we came up with. James, are you surprised that most folks are doing six to 10?

James springhetti: I am a bit surprised by that. I think that if you went back and actually listened, I would assume there's more. Because I think there's questions that you're asking that might be more research based, that you're just trying to confirm, but you have to count those in your questions that you are asking in your discovery process.

Devin Reed: Yeah, absolutely. I definitely ask at least one to three questions on kind of small talk. But maybe we'll let small talk be in its own category. It looks like most folks are doing six to 10. Then one to five, that's really short, that's really kind of surprising there. Maybe they're really good questions. All right, let's get into what we're sharing here, there we go. All right, mistake number five that we're starting out with is, of course, focusing on quantity when asking discovery sales questions. I'll jump into what I mean there. I think you've probably covered a little bit James, but what sellers think they're doing is getting more information by asking more questions. Another way of thinking this is, " Hey, the more information I get out of my prospects, the more I can tie to a business plan together. Understand how our solution can impact them," so all you have to do is ask more questions. Most teams have a discovery playbook that they have. It's like 20 questions, top to bottom, you could ask your prospect any of them. The problem is that they are asking them from top to bottom. If I started at Seismic tomorrow, James, I'm sure you'd give me a playbook for discovery calls. Maybe it has 20 or 30 questions. But you don't have to ask all 30 questions, right? You only need to ask the right ones or a few of them. What happens is when salespeople are asking too many discovery questions, you do something which is called, you give them, discovery fatigue. Have you ever had that? Where it's like you get on a call, and maybe it's either your rep doing it or maybe you're on the buyer end. Reps get on the call and it feels like a Q& A or an interview more than a discovery call?

James springhetti: Yeah, absolutely, Devin. I mean, it's those closed ended questions, those rapid fire questions, those can feel like an interrogation really quickly. One thing that I coach my reps on is thinking about the discovery as an ongoing process, it doesn't have to happen in just one call, it can happen over a series of calls. It's okay if you don't get to every single question. There might be some questions that you feel like you really need to get a deal done, and of course, you're going to have to ask those questions at some point. But let's focus on the high value, the high quality questions early so that we can build credibility and get our customers talking openly.

Devin Reed: Yeah, exactly. I think you nailed it too. Which is discovery is a stage of your sales process but it doesn't mean it the only time discovery should happen. How's this for an analogy? I know, James, you laughed at this before when we were putting this together. But I always say discovery is a lot like mustard. Pause for laughter and bear with me. But what happens is, if you add a little bit of mustard to your meal, it makes it better, right? I'm not a huge mustard guy, but I'll allow it. The problem is when you put too much mustard on your hot dog, it ruins the entire meal, leaves a bad taste in your mouth and it's impossible to get the mustard off. You can scrape it off, you know that feeling? It's just gross, it's ruined. The same thing happens with prospects when you ask too many questions and they hit discovery fatigue phase. They're tired of answering questions, they're probably not feeling like they're getting a ton of value out of it, and you can't just toss your prospect a Gatorade when they have discovery fatigue. They're not going to bounce back midway through the call. So the key, instead of asking too many questions, from looking at our folks who guessed how many questions they should be asking, here it is. What we did is we looked at the success rate in correlation to the amount of questions that folks are asking on calls. If you see on the first hand side, one to six on the low end, 46% success rate. That jumps 20% if you're within that seven to 10 range, which is still pretty good. Then when you jump over to 11 to 14, that's the ideal amount that you want to shoot for. 74% success rate when you ask 11 to 14 targeted questions per discovery call. Then you see a diminishing return once you hit 15, you see it starts to drop back down to that medium level, which is a lot of questions. Something that I think it's important to note here is targeted questions, those are not the, " Hey, how's the weather in Boston today?" We're talking about the specific questions around your business paying and impact.

James springhetti: Devin, one thing that I've added to our discovery playbook at Seismic is the specific research questions that I want my reps to start to research and look for, so that they aren't spending time in the discovery asking those questions that we can find. I know that we always tell our reps like" Hey, go do your research," and, " Go look here and go look there." But that should be part of your discovery playbook and if you're a rep and you don't know what to research for, ask your leaders and ask your executives what you should be looking for and where you can find the best information to help you to have some type of hypothesis going into your meeting. It's really important to have those basic things that are part of your deal that you know that you have to know, research before getting those calls.

Devin Reed: 100%. I've had those theories work and be wrong at the same time, but they both actually benefit me. Because if you put the theory together and you're right, the person that you just met is like, " Oh, wow, that's really good. You came prepared." They respect that. I've had a theory or hypothesis presented to them and be wrong but I'm not 100% wrong, I'm like 20% off. They view that 80% that I'm correct and like, " Oh, you know, you're on the right track. I can tell you're trying, here let me kind of correct you." And then you're kind of on this path together at an early stage versus that Q&A back and forth thing we're talking about. A couple of questions coming in before we jump to the next mistake is, how are you defining success here? This is just the call if the stage moved forward in the conversation. If you went from success to demo, and then it's looking at, overall, how did the deal continue to move forward. If you're interested in learning more about this, we do have it on our blog. You can hit me up on the side, or you can go to gong.io/ blog, we have all of these tips built out in a full length article that you can check out. All right. Next one, let's see. John, we're going to be up for you next, because the mistake number four, this is the data that XANT helped out with, is thinking your outbound cadence has enough touch points. Maybe the right touch points, we can kind of get into that. Before we do, we got another question for folks. Here's the quick poll for all the folks that are out there building their pipeline, how many touch points are in your outbound cadence today? Are you using one to three touch points and touch points or calls, emails, LinkedIn messages, et cetera? Are you somewhere between the three and six range? Are you seven to 10? Or are you 10 or more? What's interesting about this, and I'll give about 30 seconds for folks to put in their answers. I think this answer in terms of what I would have done, probably changed from five years, ago to three years ago, to now. I won't give it away too much, but I think back in the day, five years ago, how back in the days that really? It was more is better, kind of that volume approach. Now I know everyone's talking about being hyper personalized, really specific to your buyer, so I wouldn't be surprised if we see some answers be on the shorter end here. All right, three more seconds, folks. Three, two, one. I'm going to close the poll, share the results. And we have a neck tie here. John, are you surprised that most folks are either three to six or seven to 10?

John Dyer: Yeah, that is a little surprising to me. I thought for sure, and we'll as we continue down this presentation, we can see that we actually did a pretty large poll. Most people actually said they think they're doing a lot more than 10 cadence points. If you guys have been following XANT recently, or the past couple years, specifically this past year, our research team has mainly focused on really defining what's a good sales cadence. I mean, that's kind of been their whole research objective, is going around doing tons of surveys. We did one particular survey that we launched, we sent it to thousands of companies, we got 700 companies that responded, 3, 000 results back. It was basically just same type of questions. It was, what is the ideal sales cadence? How many touch points are in any given sales cadence? And then what are the different media channels? Is it just emails, phone calls? Do you incorporate text messages, LinkedIn messages? You go on to the next... kind of inaudible a little bit. Yeah, most of the people that responded back to us they all thought that they were doing, I think, they do was more than 10 touch points on any given cadence and it was kind of their ideal scenario as well. I forget the exact wording in the survey that we sent out. But basically it was, you got to do at least 10 touch points, it's got to be a whole different types of media to be able to get somebody respond to you. What's funny is when we actually went back and did research around auditing and really seeing how many touch points people are doing to... This is specifically towards sales development reps reaching out to their targeted ABM type campaigns. But it's funny because you go to the next slide, what they're actually doing is they're doing long cadences over a large period of time, but really they're only doing about 3. 5 touches.

Devin Reed: Interesting.

John Dyer: They'll just two emails, maybe do one phone call. I don't know about you, Devin and James, but this is pretty accurate actually, from my standpoint, of when somebody prospects to me. I had a sales development team, I get a decent amount of emails every day and I would say it's pretty rare that somebody is sending me more than three or four emails. It's usually a couple emails, maybe a phone call. It's rarely a mix of LinkedIn messages, with email, but really I would say this is, on my viewpoint, that's about accurate of what we're seeing. Any thoughts there?

Devin Reed: Yeah, I would agree. I would say, James, just like you and John probably get hit up more, you guys are more senior leaders than I am at the manager level. But I definitely get a couple, I get a few outreaches, but I would say I get like two, maybe three emails. No one calls my cell, if they do they've never gotten through. Blame the spam bots for that. I would say this feels right from a receiver end. The other side I think is funny is it kind of reminds me of my gym routine, where if someone asked me how often do I work out, I'd probably be like, " Oh, you know, like four or five times a week." And then I'd go check my logins at my gym and it's like, " Dude, you've been here twice a week for three months. You're not quite doing as much as you think."

James springhetti: Yeah, I agree with that, Devin. I get maybe two or three, I mean, cadence from the reps, my phone never rings. But what's funny is being part of the whole personalization movement, and I know that all three of our companies preach that, I very seldomly see personalization when people are reaching out to me earlier.

Devin Reed: Oh, really?

James springhetti: Oh yeah.

Devin Reed: I would say 60% start with like, " Hey, my company does this service." Which is fair, but what are the odds that your service it's the top two things I'm really focused on right now? There's so many options out there. Let's see what folks should be doing. John, you want to take us all in here?

John Dyer: Yeah. This is based off... And we have a detailed, it's a 30 page report, it's on our website if you guys want to go find the ins and outs of how we did the exact research, how we got all of our data points around this. But what we found is seven touch points over six to eight days is your ideal cadence. The most important thing, as you guys have touched on very heavily, is the personalization. I mean, that's kind of a whole different topic in itself.

Devin Reed: Sure.

John Dyer: But if you're doing seven touch points and there's no personalization then you might as well just do one touch point when it's all said and done. Every touch point has to be super personalized, inaudible. This last data point is kind of outside the study that we did around how many touch points you should do, which is responding within five minutes. That's just something we've been preaching, I think, since 2004 and it's still accurate up to date, every year that we do our response audit. If you respond to somebody within five minutes, you're just way above getting that person to answer the phone or getting them to respond to an email, it's fresh on their mind. Your conversion rates will always go up if you can contact them as soon as possible.

Devin Reed: I agree. You got to strike when the moment is hot, when someone's interest is highest. I forgot to share my fun fact at the beginning but it always touches on I don't seem to ever be able to get rid of a sneaker example. But mine is I have well over 50 pairs of sneakers. It's my thing, I'm addicted to it to a degree. But my point is, if I find something I like and I want it, why not sell it to me in that exact moment? Or in this case, respond to me while I'm interested? If you wait two or three days, maybe something else has caught my attention, maybe I realized, " Hey, I actually didn't really need that thing." So it's huge to make sure that you're responding really quickly at moments of highest interest.

John Dyer: Yeah, absolutely. Then the seven touch points, again, the study really emphasizes on how important it is to try with different medias. Don't just send emails, don't just try phone calls, it's super important to mix it up. If you're calling seven times and you didn't get one answer and you didn't try any other channel then you know you're doing something wrong. If you guys want, we've got a more detailed report, please go to xant. ai. It's under the resource tab, it's on the front page. That report, it's 30 pages long, but it's super interesting if you guys want to look into it more.

Devin Reed: Fantastic, fantastic. All right, let's jump into the poll question for our next one. All right, I'm going to jump into objections here. This is probably my favorite part of the presentation. When responding to objections, you folks in the audience, do you think top performers respond quickly, respond in normal speed, or pause before responding. This will make a lot more sense in a couple slides, when we dive into the data here. But I'm curious, if you think folks should respond quickly, the same speed or slower. All right, we'll go 15 more seconds here, so we keep pace. All right, five seconds, folks. Right, here we go. I'm going to close and share the results. Look at that landslide. Most folks are saying top performers, they pause before responding. James does something you do put you do, put you on the spot.

James springhetti: Oh, they pause before responding there. But I think you got to give the person that you're communicating with the empathy that you're listening. I think that the big thing that we should be thinking about is, where are they coming from? What's their perspective? Don't just respond quickly, just to give a response. Is thoughtful, is that articulate, is it in line with their objection too? I mean, there's a number of different objections out there, and not some of them aren't necessarily bad. Miscommunication or skepticism, and an objection is not necessarily going to hurt your sales process. Listening, taking seconds, collecting your thoughts, and then of course, asking that follow up question to maybe learn a little bit more about what that objection is really going to help you to handle it appropriately.

Devin Reed: Absolutely. We all know the person that clips the end of your sentence constantly, and you're like, there's no way you're listening to me if you're so eager to talk. Mistake number three is exactly that, handling objections immediately and thoroughly. There's a few slides here, I'm going to go to medium pace, just to keep us on pace here. I will start, my bad let's go back. All right, what reps think we're doing is completely overcoming objections by reacting quickly and providing great detail. Rep hears an objection, they're quick to respond, and they go into a long winded response. A lot of people might be scratching their head thinking, isn't that a good thing at least to provide in great detail. But we'll dive into why which is, you might not understand them correctly, and so what happens is when you have a knee jerk reaction or respond really quickly, you risk completely missing the mark by handling the wrong objection. I have definitely been guilty of that, where you hear someone say, " How come your platform can do this? How do you know..." Whatever this objection may be read, there's million of them. I jumped right on it quickly, and then they say, " Oh, that's great. But that's not what I was talking about." Then what happened is you just burned time, like two minute monologue that I responded with, thinking I was giving the right answer. You also lose a little bit of trust, like you said, James, because now I'm like, " You didn't listen, you didn't hear me correctly, and now you're wasting my time talking about some tangent." I think it was 87, shows me right here. 84% of you got it correctly. In terms of, you should be pausing first, and there's a little bit of nuance here. What you want to do is maintain the pace of conversation, and a little bit is also slow down. I'll dive into the data here, and so we analyze 67, 000 demos. I think, at least 1000 might be mine, I don't know how many I've done in my career, and focus on how objections were handled. We found three key things that we'll jump into, one star reps go into slow motion responding slower, two they keep the flow of the conversation. Those are different, I'll show you what I mean in a second. Three, they don't answer, they actually ask the question. That's responding thoroughly portion there. The first part is star reps go into slow motion, responding slower. What that means is, it's not the pace of how quickly I'm speaking right now, as someone who's had a coffee from the west coast, I speak rather quickly. But rather what it means is what James was talking about, which is that pause that he put in before responding.

Speaker 4: This is an audio test, please remain silent.

Devin Reed: My Room is getting an audio test, hope you guys can't hear that.

Speaker 4: This test is designed to ensure the best audio quality experience during your Zoom meeting. Once the test is completed-

Devin Reed: All right, you guys should hear that in the background? Sorry about that.

Speaker 4: Thank you.

Devin Reed: All right, I think we're good. Sorry about that, I got a Zoom Room just came to life by itself. Anyway, as I was saying... What was that?

James springhetti: I said, they're listening to you.

Devin Reed: I know, I joked. I said everything is being recorded, I wasn't kidding. But no, what this is, we call it the patience score here at Gong, and that's the amount of time that you wait to speak until your prospect ends their seconds. What average performers are doing, is waiting about 0.7, 0. 8 seconds to respond, and top performers are waiting five times longer, almost to two seconds. What that does, is it gives them time like you said James, to let the prospect feel heard. But it also lets the seller have time to think. Then once you have time to think, you can come up with a better response. Now, the other part of this is the actual cadence of how fast you are speaking. Now, this is going to be an average, because remember we've got folks from the south, from the east coast, from the West Coast, we all speak a little bit differently. But generally as an average, top performers speak 176 words per minute, whereas average performers speed up at 188 words per minute, and the average when you're not in objection handling, we're just talking casually, is 173. Our baseline is 173, and what this is showing, is that average performers speed up their cadence. That can sometimes make you feel like they're being defensive. Right, someone who is quick to respond and responding fast, versus our top performers. They maintain their cadence speech, in the face of adversity, which would be your objection. They're maintaining cool and calm, reminds me of Muhammad Ali for some reason. He was handling objections... He was moving quickly, but he's within his own pace, despite the flurry of objections coming. Now, the last point is the way that you respond. Top performers don't have a knee jerk reaction, like that monologue I was talking about, but instead, what they do is they ask a clarifying question. 54.3% of the time, top performers are asking a question, versus 31%. What you can do here, is by asking a question saying, " Hey John, can you help me understand where that thought is coming from?" Really simple, off the cuff response there. John is going to open up and tell me more about his question, and I'm just seeing that I have a typo with question, that's fantastic, I love that. What you're going to do, is you're going to get to the root cause of that objection, and then you can handle it more correctly. All right, trying to keep us moving here. The Zoom Room got me off my game for a second, but we're back. All right, here we go. The next poll question. On your demo or sales presentation, do you leave with the big finale, the Big Bang, or you save the best for last? I'm interested in what people come up here with. John, what do you think the folks will vote? I think you have the answer, but what do you think the vote will say?

John Dyer: I'm new myself here. I'm definitely going to say that the crowd here... Actually, I'm not sure what they're going to say on this one.

Devin Reed: I can see the polls coming in, I can tell you it's going like this. It's fairly even. All right guys, three seconds I'm going to cut the poll. Three, two, one, let's get the results. Yeah, you weren't far off John, pretty close. A lot of folks are saying, they start with the big finale. Others are saying save the best for last. Let's see what the data says here. All right, let's dive into it. The mistake is building anticipation on the product demo. 60% of you are doing it correct, leading with the big finale. Let's dive into it. All right... Oops. All right, here we go. Favorite Will Ferrell movie, he's got a lot of good ones. What reps think they're doing by saving the best for last, is they're building anticipation. They're thinking, " Hey, if I can just like my favorite movie, build up this story, build up the story and then end at this big aha moment, that's going to deliver the best presentation." Unfortunately, what's actually happening, is you're burning time and interest, especially if it's over an hour long period. A lot of times, our demos are 45 minutes to an hour long, and a big reason why I think this is a miss is because sometimes the decision maker shows up. But how often do they show up for the whole 45 minutes? They usually show up for the first 20, maybe 30 minutes, then they're coming in, they're taking a look and they're jumping into the next meeting. You can miss your window of opportunity to sell to the decision maker. The other part is something that we saw called accelerated interaction. John and James, maybe you've experienced this. You're hanging out with a buddy or a friend, you're having a good back and forth. What happens is the speed of exchange increases, because you guys are interested in what's happening, right?

James springhetti: Absolutely. Yeah, I think about some of those demos too, and the speed of interaction could also negatively impact your call too. You think about if you're ripping through your demo, because you're an expert, and there's people that been in your Room, or in your call, haven't necessarily seen your product, even going too fast. That can be a big problem for you.

Devin Reed: Yeah, and I think too you flip it on its head, you think, you know those stale demos. You hang up the phone, the Zoom and you're like, " That didn't go so well." A lot of times, you're like, "I just felt like I was talking to a wall, or I just couldn't... It just wasn't engaging, there wasn't a good back and forth." If minimal back and forth is a bad demo or has that bad vibe of a conversation, it makes sense that speeding up that back and forth would make it feel like a better conversation. What you should be doing instead, is near your discovery topics, starting with most important. Now here's what I mean by that. If we look at the top right in our pie chart, the things that we discussed in our discovery call, were coaching, pipeline management and onboarding. Now if this is the duration of what you talked about something, I'm selling to James, he's a sales leader, and we talked about coaching for half the time, chances are James cares most about coaching, and then pipeline management and onboarding. What a lot of folks will do, is they'll start with yellow, then go red, then go purple, building into that, aha, at 30 minutes in, I'll show you the coaching. But in fact what you want to do is, look at our funnel here, and you want to start with what's most important to them, coaching, pipeline management, onboarding. The way that I would always consider this when you're going into your demo, imagine you only had nine minutes to demo. What would you focus on? The things that hit home, the things that are most important. I always tell sales people here at Gong, it's better to solve your prospects number one problem completely, than to partially address numbers two, three and four on their list. James and John as sales leaders, you guys agree with that mindset, or am I totally out there?

John Dyer: You got top, so you're right. My question would be, how do you wrap it up at the end, so you come back to be there, what's most important for them? Do you mean is, I'm thinking about it, somebody doing a demo for me and they're going through the i- coaching is not on my mind. But then they end, you know what maybe onboarding which isn't something that I really ever... That I had too much interested in, or that's not really my pain. You've come back also with coaching at the very end of the conversation as well, or how do you leave the call at that point?

Devin Reed: Yeah, I think that's totally right, and Scott jumped in from the audience. I think this is going to tee up or summarize what you said, John. Which is, his quote is, " Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them what you told them." He's exactly right. All right folks, we're almost out of time. We're almost at the end. Here's the last question that we're going to ask. Make sure you get a chance to answer. Really curious for this one. Do you use social proof as part of your sales motion? That can be customer stories, case studies, customer reference calls, et cetera? Are you doing it yes all the time, yes but not that much, or no not really? James, does your team rely pretty heavily on social proof?

James springhetti: Yeah, we do definitely. Especially since the solution that we're selling isn't one that is generally being replaced that the company or the business that we're selling to. It is really important as part of the sales process to make sure that we are bringing in stories and case studies and setting up reference calls if necessary, and understanding what the buying process is as well. Find out from our prospective buyers, " Hey, do you need these things? Are these going to be important to you in your decision making?"

Devin Reed: Absolutely. I use that all the time. Literally, I think not on every call, but definitely every deal when selling at Gong. John, what about you, before I close the poll here? You guys big on customer stories, social proof?

John Dyer: Yeah, I mean, that's what we've always tried to focus on. If you go into our website, we usually put our customer right at the front of our website. Always trying to pull up different use cases, just... I think you have to at this point, if not you don't build that trust that you need.

Devin Reed: Absolutely. Well tell you what, the polls are in, I'll share the results. Just about everyone agrees, yes. Got to use social proof. Most people all the time, some people yes, but not much. That's okay, I think there's a time and a place for it, like you guys said, and 8% are, no not really. Let's get into it. Let's see, I'll hide this. Let's jump into it. All right, the biggest mistake, the number one mistake at least in my book when I put this together, is listing your enterprise clients for social proof. I'll explain what that means in a second. Here's what reps think they're doing. You think you're building credibility by telling prospects, you work with the largest enterprise customers? We have huge enterprise logos. James and John, I've been on your guys' website, you have awesome logos, and what you think you're doing for anything like Ron Burgundy, is you're like, " Hey, John we sell into it, sales force." All these other large companies, popping your collar a little bit like, " Hey, we're a big deal. You can trust us." Well, what you're actually doing is torching your pipeline, if we use the photo here on the right. What you're doing is you're alienating your buyer by comparing them to companies that they're nothing like, or they don't identify with. I've had that exact thing happened to me, where someone's like, " Hey, Devin I hear you're running content strategy. We work literally with Salesforce Into it, and... What's the other big one? Google." It was the three biggest companies. I was like, " Cool, but I'm nothing like them. I'm a 250 person company in San Francisco. I'm nothing like these large enterprises." I left that using cold email, thinking like, " Hey, this is might be a cool product, but it's not quite for me." Here's the last tips for you folks on what you can do instead, is leverage customer stories with identifiers. I'll dive into what that means. But I want to show you some of the data here. This was one of our most popular reports that we put out, which was called ROI is dead, great sales people are doing this instead. What we found in the data was close rates actually lessen, or they went down when folks were using social proof techniques. Putting a slight pause on that, for that to settle. There's a reason for it. The problem is that, people are usually doing it incorrectly. They're comparing us to the wrong people, then there's telling stories that are actually alienating their buyers, so it has a backfire effect. It's not bringing me closer to your solution, it's pushing me away. Here's a couple tips of what you can do instead. There's two techniques, the first one is to use half a dozen tribal identifiers. Tribal identifiers are things that if we share these commonalities, like me, James and John all have a sales background or are in sales, that can be a tribal identifier. What you want to do is grab about four or five or six of them, and tell your customer story you using social proof." Hey, Devin, here's another company in San Francisco with a small content team, that is selling to sales people." Wow, that's really specific. For our examples, here it's telling Shopify that Squarespace is the client, because they're both in e- commerce. It's selling Sprout Social, that G2 Crowd is a client, not G2, because both are in Chicago. If you can line up, ideally, six of these tribal identifiers, people are going to lean into your solution and go, " Wow, you've helped people just like me, I'm sure you can help me too." Now the other way you can go about this, is you might be working for a small company. Maybe you're in a new territory and you're like, " Hey Devin, I don't have this book of clients I can go and find these tribal identifiers." That's okay too. What you'll want to do, is instead of going with those identifiers, you want to tell your buyer, how you've solved the exact same business problem. Like, " Hey Devin, I found other people who are looking to expand their reach and grow their audience." Okay, cool. Well, that's very specific to me, so even though I might not look sound or feel like the other people might not identify with your clients, you solve the same problem, therefore I'm going to lean in, and I think you might have a solution for me. John and James, I get a lot of good feedback on this. We're right at the time, so quick. 15 seconds, I guess real quick. What do you think about this, and maybe how do you coach your team with social proof?

James springhetti: You nailed it, Devin. I mean these are perfect. The one thing that we look at for tribal identifiers, is to add on to this as another example, is just mutual investors. Do we have a company that's got a mutual investor portfolio, that we can use as a social proof in our sales process? The other last thing I'll just add in here quickly is, if you don't have social proof and you are working with somebody that you're about to sign and they're looking for some price concessions or some discounting, you can negotiate into your order form or your contract, looking to have them help you with some of these social proof things. Can they speak on your behalf? Will they do a case study? Will they do a before and after? Those are ways that you can help you to accelerate the process of getting some more social proofs, so that you have those for the rest of your year, for the part your sales process, moving forward.

Devin Reed: Good, that's such a money tip right there. Your sales team will love it, because now they'll have referenceable clients, your marketing team will love it, will have referenceable clients. That's awesome. John, what's your hot take?

John Dyer: I think this is probably my biggest takeaway from this webinar, is I think this is great advice. I think, I've been guilty of maybe not identifying as tight of alignment as I need to when prospecting with my team, and it's something that we all need to think about. It's hard, sometimes you have a target audience that you're trying to go after, so that's what you want to market to on your website, on your webinars, on everything. But then again, you do have a lot of customers that still will come to you that maybe are in a different segment or different industry, and it won't relate to them, so I think this is excellent.

Devin Reed: Awesome. I love that we had a question from Ken, I just saw. He says, " What if we don't have referenceable clients?" Next comment from Ken, " Solid." It looks like we hit it right there. You've got options, guys. All right, we're a couple minutes over, I broke my promise. But I have something to make up for it. We are going to do a free book giveaway here. What I did is I asked John and James, and obviously myself, what is your favorite book? Or in other words, what is a book that if you were going to recommend it to a salesperson, that you would have them read? I picked Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell. It's literally exactly what it sounds like. It's figuring out the ins and outs with a lot of really cool data points of how terrible we are, at understanding strangers. Since we literally talk to strangers on our discovery calls and our quote calls every week, I highly recommend it. If you're into audio books, it's also the best audio book I've ever listened to. I hope it's cool that I say I read it, even though I listened to it. John, you want to go and share 10 seconds on your plug, and then James, you can follow up.

John Dyer: Yeah, I recommended, Measure What Matters. Basically, it's all around objectives and key results. If you guys have ever heard of OKRs, it's the book that talks a lot about in detail, just how to set better goals, and how to measure appropriately and a lot on accountability. inaudible great book.

Devin Reed: Love it.

James springhetti: Yeah, and I picked Never Split the Difference. There's obviously a lot of buzz around this book in the sales world. But I recommend this because, I just think it changes the way you communicate in general. It's great for negotiations, it's great for thinking about business, but I think it also really helps you to harness that empathy, which is so important in anybody that you communicate with. If you haven't read it, which I'm sure 80% of the people on this webinar have read, pick it up, it's a good one.

Devin Reed: Also another really good audio book, I listened to that one. I listened to it in December of not this previous December, but the one before that. Right as I was going into the end of Q4, and I'm telling you I won two deals I know I probably wouldn't have or at least came out on top of negotiating, but I probably wouldn't have. Was a really tough buyer, so I can't can't recommend it enough. Here's how you get the book. If you want the book, this is all you have to do. We're going to do a give get because, hey, we're all in sales here. To get your free book, jump over to gong. io/ money, right now. I couldn't think of a better link. What you'll do is request a demo. Now there's only three little caveats here. If you are a sales manager with a team of three or more, you're in. Sign up for the demo, you'll click the book you want, we'll ship it to you directly. If you're on the call, and you're not a sales manager, you probably are on a team. Bring your sales manager on the demo. Same difference if you're in sales ops, sales enablement, listening to this, grab your sales manager come to this demo, we'll ship you the book as well. You can make it their gift as well too, for pricing that. Or if you're listening to this, you're already a Gong customer. Don't sweat it, you don't need to take another demo, you're all set. You'll see a little drop down option there, you can click that you're a customer, and we'll send you the book directly. Jump over to gong. io/ money, request a demo and you'll get one of those three books recommended by myself, James or John. All right, we went over by about six minutes, but I hope the free give get is worth it folks. If you enjoyed this, go ahead and put your feedback into the questions right now. We'd love to hear back from you guys. What you liked, what you didn't like. It's all welcome. John and James, man thanks so much for your guy's time and your expertise today. I think we really delivered.

James springhetti: Thanks, Devin. Really appreciate it, great conversation.

John Dyer: Thanks, guys.

Devin Reed: All right, folks, have a good rest of the day. If you're wondering you, will get a link after this with both a two page recap, and also of course the recording if you want to share it or watch it again later. All right guys, have a good rest of the day. See you next time.


Is your sales approach based in perception or reality? Gong analyzed over 10 million sales calls and uncovered a massive gap between what sales professionals believe they’re doing and what they’re actually doing when it comes to their sales approach. This week, James Springhetti of Seismic, and Jon Dyer of Xant, discuss the 5 sales “best practices” that are actually wreaking havoc on your success rates, and why these misconceptions are detrimental to your success, according to data. Hosted by Gong's own Devin Reed.

Today's Guests

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James Springhetti

|Regional Vice President, Sales at Seismic
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Devin Reed

|Head of Content Strategy at Gong.io
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Jon Dyer

|Director, Sales Development at Xant