Do you find yourself getting attached to outcomes and having difficulty handling the “not now” response? We’ve all been there. When timing fails your outbound process, it can be a challenge to keep focused on forthcoming pipeline opportunities. However, you don’t have to simply submit to the pain of the status quo! On this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, we had the invaluable opportunity to gain sage wisdom and insight from Shawn Sease of The Sales Developers. Shawn provides terrific strategies to pivot and turn when the walls of the funnel start to shake. He also provides advice on keeping the long view and pursuing the conversation to get that sale. It’s all here on this on this fantastic episode of INSIDE Inside Sales!
Not in the mood to listen? No problem, you can read the transcriptions below.
Host: Darryl Praill, VanillaSoft
Guest: Shawn Sease, The Sales Developers
Darryl Praill: It’s another episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, the only pod on the show cast that has content specifically and exclusively focused on just learning stuff in the sales development profession. We never talk vision. We don’t talk strategy. We just talk about what can you do to be better at your craft. How are you doing folks? My name is Darryl Praill. I’m so thrilled to be with you again. Today, you know what, when you hear this you won’t know this, but at the time of the recording it’s Friday, and I’m about to hit the road for a couple of weeks.
We’ve actually been stockpiling podcasts feverishly, so that I can be on the road, because it’s going to be almost a month I’m going to be on the road doing tons of shows and speaking gigs. We needed one more, and I have been trying to nail this guest for a while. He is prolific on LinkedIn and his takes, I just love his takes. They’re so fresh and they’re so encouraging and they’re so constructive and I’ve learned so much from him. We had a chance to connect and I said, “Dude, there’s so much you’re talking about. What resonates with you?”
Between he and I, we came up with this talk that I think you’re going to love today. Let me introduce you to Shawn Sease. Shawn, how are you sir?
Shawn Sease: I’m doing very well Darryl. Thank you very much for having me on your show.
Darryl Praill: Man, I’m just thrilled to have you here. Shawn is with The Sales Developers. Now, Shawn, your organization you have an interesting perspective, because your organization and especially in your role you’re actually working with a variety of other clients to help them do their sales development. I know you manage the SDR team, is that a fair statement?
Shawn Sease: That’s fair. We do SDR as a service, so B2B businesses hire us to manage the top of funnel and build that new funnel for them just like any SDR would inside of their building. We do it for multiple companies simultaneously throughout the day.
Darryl Praill: What’s interesting about that kind of a function, guys, if you’ve never worked in an organization like that or engaged an organization like that, let me share something with you. Number one, they’re faced with clients who all have varying degrees of expectations. Some who come and even though their own sales development team may have totally sucked, but because I’m paying you as a service provider to do this for me, I have massively inflated unreasonable expectations. There’s that end.
There’s the other end where they’re working with people who have been doing this forever and understand the realities of what’s going on. They have people who understand process and they understand there’s got to be a flow, and there’s got to be metrics and there’s got to be visibility, and the other ones who don’t have a clue. When you would say to them, “I can train my guys. What’s your unique selling proposition? What’s your value differentiation?” They look at you with a blank face.
The power of Shawn is he has to manage all these diverse expectations and, shall we say, information or lack thereof sharing so that he can bring it all together to give to his team, but then it gets even more interesting. He’s got to educate his team on the value prop and the script and the messaging and the objection handling and everything else for every single one of their clients, which are all different products and different services.
If ever there’s going to be an individual who understands the role of managing expectations, whether it’s with the clients, with his team, if ever, it’s going to be someone like Shawn. Shawn, how well did I encapsulate that?
Shawn Sease: I think you nailed it pretty well. It’s a pretty big spectrum of expectations that have to be managed there all the way from a B2B business owner believing that his product or her product is for everybody and why doesn’t everybody buy it. Not exactly nailing a niche, to converting that into something that is deliverable in a eight to nine or ten second opening with somebody who has no idea who you are. It’s quite a project.
Darryl Praill: It is a project. What’s interesting, Shawn and I were talking just before we started recording, and we were sharing our passion for the community. One of the things that Shawn said I love was he said he has a big passion for just mentoring that next wave of sales development professionals. We’re going to put his mentorship to the test today and his wisdom and lessons learned.
I was talking about managing expectations, and that leads us to today’s conversation. It’s as simple as this, Shawn described it as don’t get attached to outcomes. My mind just goes poof, because there’s so many places I go with that, because right away I’m like, “Oh, my gosh. I know exactly what you’re talking about.” Sometimes those outcomes are from the customer’s point of view, or your boss’ point of view, or your employee’s point of view. There are so many outcomes everywhere.
Of course, we’re talking about the sales development professional today. Shawn, just top of mind, when you say don’t get attached to outcomes just tell me what that means to you and what was the catalyst, what was the inspiration to share that with the audience today?
Shawn Sease: Well, the easiest way to look at it for me when I say don’t get attached to outcomes, it’s about mindset. Because there’s just no doubt about it that there’s a lot of no, no thank you, take me off your list. The approach to opening up doors or actually staying in the door means that you’re a glutton for punishment, that you have to be the kind of person that is willing to be knocked down on the ground and kicked around some more and then get up and say, “But I think we should have this meeting.”The approach to opening up doors 🚪 or actually staying in the door means that you're a glutton for punishment, that you have to be the kind of person that is willing to be knocked down on the ground. ~ Shawn Sease #SDRs #Prospecting Click To Tweet
That’s what I mean about don’t get attached to outcomes, because there are so many things that you can be doing to manage turning a poor outcome or a yes or no into something positive. That’s really where the whole idea of don’t get attached to outcomes, because there are just so many fundamental no’s, and what we need to do is turn those no’s into yeses by using a process of step-by-step moving people through our funnel.
Darryl Praill: Aren’t we measured by outcomes? If I don’t have the right outcomes, then I’m not going to be retained for my services. How can you not get attached to outcomes? Is that almost seeing backwards in the logic?
Shawn Sease: Yeah. I think it has a lot to do with what you and I were talking about earlier. In the big picture of anything, when you’re talking about sales or a project, or a process is to define what the objective is all the way down every step of the way. By saying don’t get attached to outcomes, in other words a lot of people will think, “Hey, I’m calling. I need to get the meeting. I didn’t get the meeting. They hung up on me. They said no. They’re not interested.”
All that means is if you do that enough, you realize that that is naturally what’s happening, so you would have to redefine what is an outcome. Just looking at it fundamentally, we stick to four simple outcomes and those would be, just real quick if you have your pen and paper, yes, no, not me, not now. Those four outcomes are what our team is after regardless of whatever is happening on the other side of the phone or the email. Those four outcomes become wins to us.Just looking at it fundamentally, we stick to 4️⃣ simple outcomes: yes, no, not me, not now. Those 4 outcomes become wins to us. ~ Shawn Sease #Prospecting #SDRs #SalesSuccess Click To Tweet
If you’re only attached to yes and the meeting, then you’re going to have a lot of problems with your mindset. It’s probably not going to be the right gig for you. What happens in a yes, no, not me, not now, that way you can drive your introduction of a call, the reason for your call, and your call to action, and then your objection handling around that so that you can have an outcome that’s more predictable. As soon as you’re able to report that back to leadership or that becomes part of your metrics, now you’re doing something that no matter what happens during the call it’s positive.
Because when somebody hangs up on me, becomes no, a no, but an automatic follow up in three days where the process is in this list these people hung up on me three days ago, so my script is, the phone rings, “Hi, I called you the other day, and it seemed like no matter what the timing wasn’t right. I was wondering if right now is a better time.”
Now, instead of being attached to the original outcome of no, I lost that one, it actually just went into a process where I’m going to call them again in three and admit that the other day for whatever reason wasn’t the right time. Just wondering if you have a minute today so I can tell you why I called, as a way to turn around that outcome from no and a negative or being kicked in the ground again to something positive that can drive people closer to the next meeting, or the next step in your process.
Darryl Praill: That’s so powerful on so many levels. Because we can, and we’re all guilty of sometimes getting personally impacted with an outcome that is a no, as opposed to recognizing that that is just an opportunity to try again for a yes, or a not me, or a not now. If you want proof of that, one of the big stats I spout all the time when I talk about VanillaSoft, we do sales engagement, well, why do you need sales engagement? And the reality is that most stats say, most reps will make two attempts to engage with somebody, so two phone calls, a phone call, an email, whatever, two attempts.
We know statistically it takes at least six to eight and depending on the industry, we have researched this, it’s upwards of 18 times. For example, insurance takes a lot more than other industries. Of those, if you got hung up on that outcome, that one outcome on its own, yes, you’re going to be disappointed. You’re going to be not motivated, and pretty soon you’re probably going to be out of a job, because you just don’t have the right mindset.
If you understand that you got to play the long game, this outcome doesn’t necessarily define the entire outcome, the grand outcome, then it changes your whole mindset. I know I saw Keenan the other day online. He was talking about, “Hey, guys, don’t get upset when someone gives you a no, because what you know is that you’ve got a great product or service that will impact them. If they say no, it’s not personal. It’s simply they don’t want your medicine. Hey, sucks to be them because your medicine is pretty damn good medicine, so let’s move on to the next person who will appreciate what I’m offering, because they want my medicine.”
I love the mindset analogy you make. With that said, sometimes no matter what we do, no matter what levers we pull we still don’t get the outcome we want. How do you respond to that?
Shawn Sease: That’s when I always go back to the outcomes. I dictate the outcomes that I want which are yes, no, not me, not now. Yes is easy because I always call those freebies. When you send out an email and somebody replies for whatever reason, it’s magical. They say, “How about next Tuesday? That sounds pretty good.” You go, “Perfect. Great.” You book that meeting and you move on. No is just 100% follow up. The no part of the outcome is 100% follow up, short of somebody in the audience saying, “Well, what if somebody says take me off of your list?”
Well, you’re being a human being. There’s nothing different about sales. ou’d take them off of your list and honestly why would you really care if somebody doesn’t want to talk with you or they’re not interested? The whole idea is, “Next.” Call more people because there are people out there that are interested in what you’re doing. You’ve had success with it before. You have customers. You can share stories about your current customers and your current success.
Know that there are plenty of people out there that want to talk to you. What’s usually working against you is what you said, not making enough attempts. If you take out the no’s, the people who say, “Not interested,” and say, “Perfect. That’s so helpful. I know this person doesn’t really care what we’re doing.” Who knows what it is? It’s not even worth thinking about, but we know there’s workplace apathy. Look around, people don’t like their jobs. They’re not happy with their life, depression, whatever.
There’s a handful of people that are going to just say, “No. You didn’t warm me up. You didn’t follow my process. Not going to happen.” Good. Move on. Plenty of people that are willing to talk to you. Another mindset thing is spend your time talking to the people that want to talk to you. I know Noah Goldman, he’s got a great quote that he says all the time, he reminds everybody, “Convert the believers. Don’t try to convince the skeptics.” That translates to me as talk to people who are willing to talk to you. Keep calling more people until you run into people that are willing to talk to you and you can learn more and share and so on.🗣 Talk to people who are willing to talk to you. Keep calling more people until you run into people that are willing to talk to you. ~ Shawn Sease #Prospecting #SalesTips Click To Tweet
Then, moving on to “not me”. What does not me mean? Not me means “I don’t handle that.” Naturally in a call as part of your process or your scripting or resistance handling is, “Who do I talk to?” What’s funny about that is that it’s that simple. “That’s not me. I don’t do that.” Without saying anything fancy or, “I understand. That’s interesting. I have this list. You’re on it, and so I’m calling you blah blah blah.”
When somebody says, “That’s not me. I don’t handle that.” If the next words out of your mouth are, “Who should I talk to?” Of course, silence is golden. He or she who speaks first loses.
Darryl Praill: I was just going to say, let the silence hang. That’s the best part. People want to fill silence.
Shawn Sease: Yeah, because it gets awkward. We all know that. It’s that question. Who should I talk to? If you have to, “Who do you know?” Of course, we could do a class on that, as soon as somebody says, “Well, you need to talk to Jan over in marketing.” Great, what’s Jan’s direct number? Great. What’s Jan’s email? Of course, during those calls you realize if somebody says, “Go to the website and do your own research,” that they’ve had it with you. There’s only so far you can take that, so I don’t want to get carried away and say, “Hey, Shawn calls and magically these things happen for me,” because it’s not true.
What I do is just stick to I practice enough to know that when somebody says, “It’s not me. You called the wrong person.” Then the words out of my mouth are, “Who should I talk to? What is their direct number? What is their email address?” Then finally getting down to, “What kind of person are they? Do you have any tips? What’s going to help me get a meeting with them?”
Darryl Praill: I love that question. I was going to ask the question, “What specifically is Jan’s role?” I love that, which, of course, you want to know anyway. That question, that question is brilliant because that allows you to approach it relationally, both asking them and then we hook up with Jan. I love that. I’m going to pause you there. I’m going to tease the audience that when we come back I’m going to ask Shawn how he handles not now, which is a really interesting discussion. Stay tuned. We shall be right back.
Darryl Praill: If someone says, “Not now,” in other words the timing just isn’t right, what do you do then?
Shawn Sease: This is probably one of the most powerful components of actually setting up your outbound effort and building a process around what you’re trying to do. It goes back to don’t get attached to outcomes and there’s some levers you can’t pull. One of those levers you can’t pull are forcing people through the sidewall of your funnel. In other words, your funnel starts at the top, at the very top. People come in your funnel at the top, not through the side of it because you called them right now and it would be great if your timing worked out for them.
Let’s back up just real quick and get a little foundation around this because it’ll be super helpful for probably even today as you’re making calls and you’re thinking about this. If you think about B2B and the contracts that people sign up for these days, so depending on the size of the contract, my experience is that it’s not uncommon for a company to be involved with a three year contract, two year contracts, and certainly even month to month SaaS companies asking for people for one-year contracts.
Now, I believe the reason why contracts are getting longer is because of what we know about the number of buyers. We know that in a B2B situation there’s multiple buyers from one, two, three, 6.75, or some weird decimal number. I don’t know how that happens, but it’s kind of funny, up to 12 or 20 buyers depending on how big it goes. Now, that would make perfect sense as to why sales cycles or contracts are becoming two years and three years because nobody wants to get 20 people together to try to buy something every six months. It’s just too long.
Then if you look at government or education for that matter where it’s going to be a process no matter what. They just don’t have the bandwidth to revisit contracts every single year. They don’t do it. What does that mean? That means if contracts are three years long, and it takes three to six months for somebody to actually get into a buying cycle and get it completed, your window is one quarter out of 12 that your buyers are going to be in the buying window.
If you call up somebody and they say, “No. I’m not interested. I don’t care,” for whatever reason, I have what I call the big three. This is part of how we drive results for our customers, because our customers want net new pipeline. The reality is you cannot force outcomes and there’s some levers you can’t pull. You can’t pull someone through the side wall of your funnel and say, “Look, sales accepted lead. Yay.” No, because we just bought something eight months ago. It’s a three-year contract.
The big three, real quick the big three are who are you currently using, when does that contract end, and how many licenses or how much money do you spend on it. Those three things if it’s B2B and even government, education where it’s even public, you can go to the procurement office and get that information. You don’t even have to be wrangling with people from a conversation perspective.
You’ve got some levers you can pull like procurement, or, like we said, when the answer’s no, if you have your questions, “That’s great. I totally understand timing is everything when it comes to these things. That’s really the reason why I called was just to get some insight into what’s going on with you guys. Do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions before we get off the phone?” With that kind of sincerity and that kind of reasonable expectation, people will say, “Sure.” Because now they’ve got what they want. They’re going to get you off the phone.
“When does your current contract end?” Or better yet, “When did your current contract start? How long is it? Who you guys using? Who’d you guys pick? Yeah, those guys are great. We run into them all the time. We’re always in the top three with them. Totally understand. How many licenses or how many users are you guys using there?” Now, what have you done? You’ve qualified for when does the buying window open.
In our formula of SDR work which is contacting the right target with the right message on the right channel or in the right channel, email, voice, LinkedIn, whatever, at the right time, what I call the holy grail, you qualify for timing. What happens? Now as you do your daily prospecting and you come in first thing in the morning and confirm all of your meetings that you have for the next two days for your AEs as part of your process. Then you move on to your follow ups, all the people who said, “No. Not me. Don’t want to or dah-dah dah-dah dah.” You’re going to follow up with them because of your priorities.
Now, you look at your list of people where the buying window is opening in three months because over one month, two month, three months, four months, six months, twelve months of prospecting this way you have built in that whole other layer of timing. That’s basically one of probably the biggest tricks, the big three. When does your contract end? Who’s my competitor? Who are you currently using? How much do you spend on that or how many licenses are you using? You’ve qualified them too, right? You’ve qualified them and you’ve qualified them for buying window.
Darryl Praill: That’s exactly what I was listening to was to me that’s a discovery call, which is right away you’re actually getting all the information. What’s interesting about that is that whilst you may not have identified a lead as you’re saying, right now. Because you’re not going to drag them through the side of the funnel, I love that analogy, is you are still generating a lead, because you know what contract is coming up and it will be open for consideration at that point in time, we assume, for let’s review. Are we happy with this vendor? Do we need to look elsewhere for another vendor, because our own circumstances have changed?
That in its own is a lead. It’s a little less qualified, but it’s a lead. Now, I got to ask you a question now. I love that advice, because the whole topic, right, folks, it’s don’t get hung up on the outcomes. What Shawn has taught us here is that I got a “not right now,” which could have been the same as a no. Many people take that as a no. What Shawn did was gracefully spin that around to a, “It’s not right now, so there’s still a chance. When is that?” You didn’t say no, there’s still a chance.
I have a question for you, Shawn. When you go back to your clients, because the clients are looking and they clearly need you if they want pipeline contribution now. You say, “This is not a pipeline opportunity now. It will be a pipeline opportunity in nine months. I have learned this, that you could reach out to them.” How do your clients react with those kind of activity, that kind of sharing you give them?
Shawn Sease: They really like it. That’s actually part of their learning when they work with us. Because some of these things are mysterious to them, because naturally they’re coming to us for a couple of reasons. Either they just don’t have the resources to put the team together, or they’re at the point where they have tried it and failed. Lots of times I think, I’m just going to say this, it’s probably a layer of protection for a VP of sales for a little bit of time.
One of the oldest stories is a new VP coming in and saying, “I can make that number, Mister CEO and CFO, if I have this many heads.” “Great. We’ll give you the budget for that and get your heads and get you going.” They come in and they do the same old thing, and they fail, and then the VP of sales job turns over in 12 months or 18 months like we see all the time. Then you have this team there that was hired. New VP of sales comes in and tries to do the same thing.
When we take the time to help people understand that if your buying cycle or the buying process is three years or contracts are three years, what is your expectation for getting people into a buying window right now? It shouldn’t be that high. However, we expect that some percent, 8% to 12% of people will be, so we’re going to be asking the questions from the beginning.
What really happens in the opening of the call to make this happen is the process. Maybe jump real quick just to one of the ways that I open a call to help get these learnings to the customers because we can’t pull the lever, we can’t make people take meetings. One of the most effective ways I have, because I think that that was your original question, Darryl, what happens when…
Darryl Praill: It was.
Shawn Sease: … the only learning is there’s no deals in the pipeline in the next three months? That’s a problem when people say, “Where’s the pipeline?” Going back to the very beginning of the call, this is what I count on my prospects for, and I’m going to warm this up just a little bit. I am not a fan and I don’t do it myself, I don’t go out to LinkedIn and find out where somebody went to school or what they did or who they know, or whatever. That doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t work at the velocity that we need to work.I don't go out to LinkedIn and find out where somebody went to school or what they did or who they know, or whatever. That doesn't work for me. It doesn't work at the velocity that we need to work. ~ Shawn Sease #SocialSelling… Click To Tweet
I just can’t do that kind of research, and I’m not sure if it would really benefit me, because we are successful in the way that we do it. I count on my prospects, I count on the people that I’m calling for three things. One is that they love to learn. Because they love to learn, they can be compelled to take action. When they’re learning something, that’s when you have the opportunity to find out if the pain of status quo is really greater than taking some action. People may make a switch or do something if the pain of what’s happening now is greater than taking action or changing.
I basically changed my whole entire approach with somebody to learning and assessing against their current situation. If someone says, “No. We’re all set. We have a contract.” Perfect. That’s exactly the reason why I called. I was calling to share with you how we did this for this other company. They learned specifically how to do this, and that helped them get here. When we get together for this meeting, what you’re going to gain, what you’re going to get from it is a brand new fresh framework to assess against your current solution.
That’s it. Even if you don’t take it any further than this first meeting, you’ll be able to assess your current situation, keep your current vendor honest, and at the very minimum, if you see something you like you’ll have a great resource to address that or look at that in the future. Switching it to the opportunity to learn something and have a framework to assess against your current situation versus, “Hey, we’re just better than everybody else so you should take this meeting.” Take it to the learning thing.
That way we’ve been able to bridge the gap between did we nail it by calling somebody, “Hey, we’re looking at this right now. Your timing’s perfect. Let’s take this meeting. You guys nailed it.” Which to me is just lucky. That’s just flat out doing good work day in, day out and getting lucky because a couple will sprinkle out just by the numbers. To really get somebody between them being happy and in a contract now and actually bridging that gap has to be something around learning, or something different, or fresh insights, a compelling reason to take action.
Then in there you can dig into is there some pain here that’s greater than making a change that would be worth taking some action on and actually doing some kind of rip and replace? That becomes really an art and science thing. You’re doing your activities correctly. You’re following your script. You have an objective and you’re working on levers that you can pull to actually make something happen. I count on my prospects to always want to be learning something.
I always say the number one trait of a great leader is they’re always learning. Should be always want to learn. People can be compelled to take action. That would be, “Hey, you’re going to learn something here.”
Darryl Praill: I love it. I love it. There you have it. If you think Shawn is awesome on this as we talked about not getting attached to outcomes. He’s given you strategies to pivot and turn and to take the long view. He looks at yes, no, not me, not now, how you should respond to keep that conversation, to keep that pursuit going on. That’s the game. That’s how it works and that’s how you can win. If you like Shawn’s comments today, check him out on LinkedIn. Check out thesalesdevelopers.com. We’re out of time, folks. I hope you had fun. I had a good time today. I love this topic.
Shawn, thank you so much. Everybody else, check us out online. Love us, follow us, review us, share us. We’d be most grateful. Insideinsidesales.com is where you’ll find us. My name is Darryl Praill. I shall talk to you soon. Take care. Bye-bye.