When you’re trying to make a sale, do you try to cut to the chase? Are you so task-focused that you would rather rush the process? If you’re not using a customer-centric approach, if you don’t listen to your customers, or if you aren’t seeking to solve their problems, you could be missing out on making some great sales!
In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl is joined by the unmistakeable Alison Edgar, also known as The Entrepreneur’s Godmother. Darryl and Alison have a fantastic conversation about the distinct similarities between sales and customer service. They also give terrific advice on how to become a more trusted seller by taking a deep dive into listening more than speaking, asking open-ended questions, and simply treating your customers the way they want to be treated. Learn how to lead, and keep the pace in the dance of sales, right here on this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales!
Not in the mood to listen? No problem, you can read the transcriptions below.
Host: Darryl Praill, VanillaSoft
Guest: Alison Edgar, AlisonEdgar.com
Darryl Praill: How are you doing everybody? It’s another episode. I love doing these episodes. Now, you guys are probably tired of me saying that, because I think I do say it almost every episode, but I love it. I love it because I get killer feedback from you guys. I get lots of really cool ideas. I get a chance to talk to people who are really smart, talented, way more capable than I am, and what’s…
Darryl Praill: True story, literally yesterday, I was on a call. I had a colleague of mine, who I’ve known for a long time, she is a VP of sales, and she reached out and said to me, “Darryl, can you share with my team, we have a weekly staff meeting, some advice. Just tips and tricks from the sales community. You’re busy, and talking in it, and whatnot. You talk to all these smart people. Let’s talk about, how do I start a phone call, or how do I start an email? What are tips and tricks, and what about personal branding?” And all that kind of stuff.
Darryl Praill: So, it was really kind of loose. It wasn’t structured at all. We got into it, and we did it, and it was awesome. Here’s the honest to God truth, in that whole hour I shared nothing that was mine. I brought up a recent podcast with Jason Bay about the reply method to emails. I brought up another podcast we have with Benjamin Dennehy, on how to handle a cold call, and kind of that first 30 to 60 seconds, and how do you approach it. We talked about some of the stats that we had done in combination with the AEISP and Telfer School of Management.
Darryl Praill: All I did was share information. I get this information from these smart people, and I have a really smart one today. Not only is she smart, she’s fun, fun, fun, fun, fun. She’s going to make you smile, just when she opens her voice and starts talking.
Darryl Praill: So, hold that thought. I want to share a real life story. We’re in the process here at VanillaSoft, of acquiring some buyer intent solutions. We’ve been doing this for a while, but we’re looking at a new solution. So I’m actively in a sales cycle. The way the deal was structured, was kind of like, “Hey, you pay X dollars a month for the first three months, and think of that as a proof of concept period. After three months, if you’re happy, it just auto-renews for the remainder of the year.” But the beauty is, if you’re not happy at three months, you can get out of jail, and you’re done. Therefore, you don’t have to spend a full year upfront of costs.
Darryl Praill: I like that approach. This is a unique approach, but along the way, I’ve had a chance to talk to this company. I have my account exec, whom I’m dealing with, and then of course, we’re rolling the technology out. So, multiple times, my ops team have talked with their customer success team, to refine the solution.
Darryl Praill: We started the whole initiative with great excitement and fanfare, because who doesn’t want killer buyer intent data? I mean, come on. The reps were excited. We were excited. As you might imagine, at any deal, we have had some hiccups. These are not against the vendor. These are just normal hiccups you have in every deal, that every single one of your reps face every single day, as you try to close the deal.
Darryl Praill: What I’ve loved about this experience so far, is that even though I’m not a full-fledged customer yet, because we haven’t hit that three month period, I’ve had not only the customer success team and the account exec involvement, I’ve had the CEO involved in it too. He’s pinging me on LinkedIn. He’s reaching out to me occasionally. Just this morning, we had a video Zoom meeting, to talk about some of the challenges we had. The CEO was on it, and afterwards the CEO sends me a note to say, “Hey Darryl, I just want you to know that, yes we’re stumbling, we’re having some challenges, but I really appreciate your patience with us, and I appreciate the fact that you’re giving us this feedback on our product, so we can grow it. No matter what happens, thank you.”
Darryl Praill: That’s been my customer experience with this sales situation. That is not my typical customer experience. Usually, I’m a transaction. The SDR comes in, lines me up, gets me the appointment, I got all the aid. Are you in? Are you out? Bing, bang, boom, done. I have to accommodate their schedule. I have to accommodate their terms and conditions. There’s no middle ground. There’s no nothing. “Are you in, or are you out? Because, I got to move on if you’re not in.” I feel like a piece of meat. I feel like a transaction. I do not feel like a partnership. They are not treating me like a customer.
Darryl Praill: Now, I’m not one yet, because it’s a sales process, but I want to feel like a customer. I want to feel like a partnership. So then, I ask the question. “When you approach your sales cycle, do you approach it with a customer service attitude? Do you bring in all the various people? Do you bring in the influencers? Do you touch them across multiple channels? Do you convey this is a partnership? Do you work together to make this happen, or are you just a numbers person, working through the, I got to do so many pieces of activities. I’m going to have some deals fall to the wayside, but some will close, and I move on, and boom, I’m working it. That’s it and it’s not personal, it’s just business.”
Darryl Praill: Well, that’s where my guest comes in, Alison Edgar. Are you already smiling? Alison Edgar. She’s brilliant. She’s fun. She loves to wear pink if you haven’t noticed. Follow her on Linkedin if you haven’t done that yet because you will be delighted. She’s got a lot of different brands.
Darryl Praill: As it relates to today’s conversation, I’ll refer to her as the premier power voice, the the leader behind sales coaching solutions. But more than that, of course, she’s also a bestselling author, a major speaker. She has another brand called The Entrepreneur’s Godmother, where she just takes these entrepreneurs under her wings and helps them out. When you do that, it’s all about helping them out on the sales side and helping them grow their customers. So today, Alison, if you haven’t fallen asleep on me yet, I need you please to talk to me about how my audience can learn from you and sales coaching solutions on how to approach the sales process with a customer service centricity. Are you there, my friend?
Alison Edgar: I am here, ready and waiting and excited. Thank you so much Darryl, for having me on your show. It means a lot, especially having seen you face-to-face and working with you in London. So it’s such a pleasure and an honor.
Alison Edgar: So yeah, it’s interesting. My background is actually sales. So, I come from a corporate sales background and one of the things when I worked in corporate, they all had a mission statement and a vision statement. But as an employee, these things were just things you had to learn to kind of get the job. For me, I didn’t feel it from my heart and passion.
Alison Edgar: So, when I started the business and I had to start and create a mission statement, I had no idea where to begin. So, I had to sort of reflect inwards to think, what are my values and what are the things that I want people to learn from me. I genuinely believe when it’s delivered correctly, that sales and customer service is exactly the same thing. I think that’s one of the top tips I’d like the listeners to take away from our session today.
Darryl Praill: So, there’s got to be a lot of people who are goin to push back on this right away, right? They’re going to say, “Well, how can sales and customer service be the same thing?” They have different mandates. They have different skillsets. They have different objectives. Do they not? So let’s just get that out of the way. You say it’s the same thing, others may push back on that. Convince me that you’re right and they’re wrong.
Alison Edgar: Yes. So I had a bit of a blip there. Sorry. So yeah, so one of the things, if you look… One of the topics in the book is around sales process. So again, there’ll be a lot people listening who have gone through versions of sales process. One of the ways that I describe it is like manufacturing. So if you look at the Tesla car, for example. When they make the cars go through manufacturing and theory at the end of the production lane, you will have a finished product.
Alison Edgar: But not everything goes through quality control and that’s like sales. You’re not going to sell to everyone. It doesn’t hit the remit. But what I do think is, you need to believe in what you’re selling because if you don’t believe in your product or service, you are really going to struggle to convince people that that’s the right thing for them and if you know from your heart of hearts, if you know what you sell is the solution to that person’s problem, I’m sorry that’s not sales. That’s just delivering a really good customer service.You need to believe in what you're selling because if you don't believe in your product or service, you are really going to struggle to convince people that that's the right thing for them. ~ @thealisonedgar #SalesTips #Prospecting Click To Tweet
Alison Edgar: So you talked at the beginning of your introduction, about a company who can actually provide a solution to be able to help you to get to market or whatever it is you want to do, that’s not sales. They’ve created a need, so it’s the same thing. Again, the CEO was on the call. They really want the feedback, they’ve got growth mindset to really get the product right, so that it hits what you need. Bang on the head. That’s not sales.
Darryl Praill: So, let’s break that down a little bit because I love what you’re saying, but you’re saying a lot. So, let’s break this down. One, you have to really believe that what you’re representing can make a substantive difference in the lives of the customer. That’s number one. Assuming they become a customer. That is that impactful, that it makes a difference.
Darryl Praill: So I will ask those who are listening, do you believe that? And if you don’t believe that, why not? Is that because you’ve had a lot of bad deployments? Have you shared that with your teams? Are you aware of the good deployments and how they have dramatically changed the life and the outcomes with the customer? If not, they’ve got to be out there because you’re still in business. So go talk to the people in your company who can give you those stories, can introduce you to those people. Call those customers up directly and say, “I just want to pick your brain so I understand. So I want to share your good success with those others who are looking to achieve what you’ve achieved.”
Darryl Praill: In other words, you’ve got to educate yourself on why your solution is huge. Another thing you’re saying is, Alison, I’ve heard you say number two, is that the sales rep, whether it’s an SDR or an account executive, has helped paint a picture with the prospect that they have this killer thing and it will make their life better and the prospect is excited. The prospect understands they have pains because that’s part of the dialogue that’s taking place and they understand that you may have something to help reduce the pain they’re feeling.
Darryl Praill: So I’ve heard you say those two things. But what about, I guess item number three, which is, does a customer service approach, does it affect the way I engage with them to qualify them in working through the cycle? Do I do it differently? You heard me talk about how I feel often I’m a transaction, but I don’t feel this way with this customer. I feel like they’re a partner.
Alison Edgar: Yeah. I mean that’s a really interesting one because another part of the things that I teach is around behaviors. So, if you have a look, it’s sort of in the book, I think you’ve read the book. But I talk about the desk behavior model. So some people are task-focused, some people aren’t relationship forecast, some people are introvert and some people are extroverts. So it’s based on Carl Jung’s psychology, William Moulton Marston’s DISC and we look at the reds, they’re task-focused, they’re really quick, they make decisions quickly, but sometimes lack detail.
Alison Edgar: Then you’ve got your yellows, who are the relationship-focused extroverts and they love to talk. It’s like they’re leading the Disney parade and again, on the extrovert side. Then you move into the introverts. So again, you’ve got the green. So that’s the relationship-focused introverts. So you can hear my tone and my pace, it’s just a little bit slower because they are very reflective. They won’t make decisions quickly. They’ll have to consider everybody else in the organization before they make a purchase. The really need a lot of reassurance.
Alison Edgar: Then you come to the blues, who are the task-focused introverts and those are the ones who are usually in the procurement role. So they need to know the minute details, the millimeters, the seconds. So they need all that detail. If you have a look at that, so again, the lane that I use is, I ask people to think, who was brought up to treat other people the way they want to be treated? And most people will put up their hands or most people will say, “Yeah, my parent or guardian, treat people the way you want to be treated.” I think that is rubbish. It’s BS. Do not treat people how you want to be treated, treat them how they want to be treated. I think that’s a fundamental flaw when it comes to good sales and good service.
Alison Edgar: Again, the over apologetic greens, who go, “I’m really sorry. I’m really sorry.” And the reds are like, “Just cut to the chase.” So again, it’s really, really getting a deep dive into those behaviors that I find do help sales people. I mean, I know for a fact that’s probably the most popular bet of the book and it’s the bet of the book that people comment around most. It’s the bet, which really puts the way we were brought up on its head, to be fair.
Darryl Praill: I love everything you’re saying. I’m reminded of something that [inaudible 00:14:17] says often, which is not unrelated to here. He’ll say, “The reason we suck at sales sometimes is because it’s our parent’s fault. Because our parents taught us to be polite and respectful.” And of course, when you’re in a sales role, you’re not always that. You have to be disruptive, yet you are an interruption, you are a distraction. So you have to overcome some of those things. So it’s all about psychology.
Darryl Praill: But you’ve really intrigued me here on the introverts versus extroverts and you’ve definitely made a bold statement where you’ve said, “Don’t treat others the way you want to be treated, treat them how they want to be treated.” So I want to explore both of those and we’re going to do that when we come back from our break. Stay there.
Darryl Praill: All right, so let’s explore this whole concept of introverts and extroverts, which is… Because you changed your delivery, you changed your pace, you changed your intonations, you changed your volume, when were giving me that, based on the colors of the introverts and extroverts. Would you say that’s the same as mirroring, just to have that conversation?
Alison Edgar: Yeah, I mean, I think it is very similar because obviously, I’ve changed my tone and my pace. I think, again, this is an interesting thing, when I look at sales, when I’m training sales people. A lot of, especially the reds, the red customers, they’ll tell you what you want. But we all know it’s not what the customer wants is really what the customer needs. I call it leading the dance.
Alison Edgar: So it’s really important that every sales person leads the dance. The reds will want it to be like a tango, do, do, do and they want it fast. Whereas actually, the sales person has to really try and slow it down a little bit but still keep it engaged. Then the greens, they want the foxtrot. They want it all slow and nice and again, the sales person has really got to kind of just keep that pace going, but really, it’s not rocket science and it’s really interesting. Coming back to what you were saying about Benjamin. I still see time and time and time again, people asking those questions and I do…
Alison Edgar: When I do a live session, I’ll go, “Who in the room’s got children?” Some people will put up their hands. And I’ll go, “Who in the room’s ever been a child.” Whew and we get 100% hands and I say, “Right, okay. Who’s got a two-year-old or three-year-old?” And some people will put up their hands and I’ll say, “Right, what’s the first question that they learn to ask?” And someone in the room with put, “Why?” This data, I literally cannot explain how passionate I am about this because we were not taught to see why. We weren’t born as sponges. We’re asking open questions, who, what, why, where, when, how, who, what, why, where, when, how, and that’s just a salesperson’s dream.
Alison Edgar: But from the age of four years old, when we went to school, I don’t believe the parents, I believe in the teachers. Sorry, any ex-teachers that are right there, but 30 kids in a class over why, what, where, when, how, what, why, where. You’re told to sit down, be quiet, put up your hand, please may I? Can I? Will I? Would you like me to send an email to nevergoingtohappen.com? Would you like me to do this? Would you like me to do that? Literally, we have to disrupt, but it’s not disrupting. It’s thinking like [inaudible 00:18:11].
Alison Edgar: Again, I could talk all day. Literally, I love this. I just love sales and it’s my favorite topic. That’s again, bringing it back to sales and customer service being exactly the same thing, really powerful open questions. So, what challenges are you having in your business? What prompted you to contact us? Oh, so just of interest, If you were looking to do something over the next 12 months, what would the shape of that loot like? Oh and, why is that? So many people still just get stuck at closed questions. To me, by asking a closed question, boom, that’s really bad service and that is really bad sales.To me, by asking a closed question, boom, that's really bad service and that is really bad sales. ~ @thealisonedgar #SalesTips #Prospecting Click To Tweet
Darryl Praill: You should be doing a lot more listening than you are talking and the open-ended questions will definitely generate that. Kind of summarize and somewhat what I’m hearing you saying is, kind of part of being a customer centric mentality when you’re selling is meeting the customer where they’re at, as opposed to trying to shoehorn it into where you want them to be. Now just for shoots and giggles here, I’m going to throw a curve ball at you.
Darryl Praill: Keenan and his gap selling, will say mirroring is BS. There’s no such thing as mirroring. I’m you, you’re me. Let’s just be people. Now I’m paraphrasing. Yeah, I’ve heard you say, “Meet them where they’re at.” Whether they’re an introvert or an extrovert, et cetera. The foxtrot, the waltz, whatever. I guess, how do you respond to that? Because if I’m listening to this right now, I’m feeling like, “Oh, I love Keenan and this Alison woman seems so much fun and so smart. I’m conflicted. Which way do I go?” So I guess, how do you respond to that? Because I’m sure you’ve been asked this question before.
Alison Edgar: Yeah, I mean, for me, it’s interesting because I didn’t watch actually, your interview with Keenan and in my head I’m going, I completely disagree. It’s about mirroring but with your own messaging, does that make sense?
Darryl Praill: Yeah.
Alison Edgar: So if you look at Keenan and again, I’ve got to put their hands up. There is a bit of a caveat between selling the UK and North America.
Darryl Praill: Yes, there is. Absolutely.
Alison Edgar: So, I will put up my hand. But would Keenan, the way that he works, would that work particularly well in the UK? Damn tooting right it would work with the reds because he is a red. He’s a red, yellow. [crosstalk 00:20:38] But if that was a blue and head of procurement who needs the nitty gritty detail and he’s just winging in there with why they should buy it, he isn’t going to sell. It’s going to be the greens. When we look at the hierarchy of sales, again, we call it the MAN, Money, Authority, Needs, the influence of the gatekeeper. Do the greens usually sit at the top of the tree? No, there not, but usually they’ve got the ear. They’re really strong influencers for decisions and that will push pushy in your face, that wouldn’t work.
Alison Edgar: So again, his wanting that he says, would still be accurate. But the tone and the pace and the listening, because again… I knew that again, a lot of the Keenan stuff is a lot. He talks a lot, he’s very motivational. But, if we did a listening quiz, could he really interrogate the listening skills? I think, so two ears, one mouth. Again, I’ve never met Keenan. I don’t know what he’s like. [Inaudible 00:21:42] he’s one of your American sale… or a Canadian, North American sales heroes, but does that work particularly well in the UK? I’ve worked with some people but not with others.
Darryl Praill: I think the important thing is, we’re talking about UK or American or Canadian or North American. I think we can understand is that, right now, whether it is Europe, UK or North America, we all have become melting pots and the fact of that matter is you don’t know the ethnicity, the cultural influences or the background of the individual until you connect with them. So therefore, I would [crosstalk 00:22:16]. Yeah, I love everything you’re saying there. All right, so let’s kind of move it along a little bit here. From a customer centric point of view, are there tools I can use to better connect with my prospects in a customer centric way?
Alison Edgar: I mean, it’s interesting. So we do a thing called LinkedIn and Color. Some of you may use Crystal Knows on LinkedIn. So to me, I pretty much… and there’s the odd caveat [inaudible 00:22:52] but I can look at somebodies LinkedIn profile photo and their [inaudible 00:22:58] to see whether they’re extrovert, introvert, blue, green, yellow or red. The message that I send will trigger more reactions based on their color. So again, if it said yellow, which would be… and I’m sure we’ve all seen them on LinkedIn, piña colada and a selfie. It’s all about me.
Alison Edgar: So if I go in there with a really dull, dragee, too formal message, I’m not going to… they’re not going to buy into me, even at LinkedIn. Again, what we do, with the teams I work with, we kind of store that information on the CRM. Again, another sort of thing about colors in the eye of the beholder. So if you were a high red and someone’s a green, they see them as a red. It’s how you perceive the color of that person. So if you share it in a CRM, it’s not always accurate.
Alison Edgar: But again, I think the individual messaging and if it is a relationship-focused, so if it is a yellow or a green, you can really wow them with remembering the facts about their kids’ names and that’s where again, those facts do not really hit the button with the task-focused. They don’t care that you remember that they went to Osland for their holidays. They’re too busy trying to cut to the chase and get the deal or get you out the office. So, it’s when you use that, and I think a lot of sales people, it’s one size fits all. So, “Oh, I see you support the Maple Leafs and let’s talk about hockey or let’s do this.” But again, that just… The don’t adapt. They don’t pick up the nuances behind it and I think that’s where the psychology comes into play.
Darryl Praill: I’m just impressed that you just dropped a ice hockey reference and you actually know the name of a team. That’s impressive. Look at you. By the way, the Maple Leaf’s suck, just so we’re clear on that. All right, so now, you do all this-
Alison Edgar: It’s called doing [crosstalk 00:25:01] sales process, clearly.
Darryl Praill: You do all this, right? You approach with a customer centric mentality, you treat them how they want to be treated. You use tools like LinkedIn to make an assessment on how to engage with them and despite all that, they still say no. Now what?
Alison Edgar: Yeah. So again, timing is everything. I think, part of the book I talk about the stars, they stay focused, they’re tenacious, they’re always positive, they’re resilient and that equals success. It’s manufactured and some people are going to go through and you cannot close those sales, but it’s about how you keep that relationship open and it’s so interesting.
Alison Edgar: So I ran an open course in the beautiful city of Bath yesterday and it was quite an elite course, so only 10 people. Again, quite a few people are in… It’s in demand. A lot of people want to work with me in small numbers, but we sent out to our database, and again, we talk about the difference between sales and marketing is like goals. So marketing, sort of set it up and sales are the closers.
Alison Edgar: Then you’ve got things like, Amazon and Ebay, as you were talking about earlier, the enterprise sales, the transactional stuff. To me, that’s not sales. That’s just marketing because you’ve not had any human interaction in there. So the guy begged to come on the course style and literally, he could have blown us away with a fan though because I practice what I teach. 99% of the sales comes from me being proactively outbound and looking for new clients.
Alison Edgar: So the guy turned up on the course and I said, just out of interest, how did you hear about me? And he said, Ooh, I heard you speak at QuickBooks Connect, so part of Intuit.” And I said, “That was almost three years ago.” And he said, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve been reading your stuff, Alison.” And he said, “It’s just that the timing wasn’t right.”
Alison Edgar: So I think that’s an important thing. When you aren’t proactively selling, they may already have just signed up with a new supplier. They may be happy with the supplier and yet, you’ve flown by maybe six months time, the buyer’s changed or the falling out with the supplier. So again, this is where the customer service angle comes in. I’ve seen salespeople who literally have huge humdinger rose for the client, put the phone down and can never go back from there. It’s always about being tenacious. Go back around the objection handling. Oh yeah, why did you think that is? And, “Oh, what does that mean and how does that work?” Again, funnily enough, it’s that old open question dilemma again.
Alison Edgar: So, looking at that, that’s what my thoughts are, just always keeping the relationship and always have something new to go back with. So, if they’re posting on LinkedIn and they’ve said, oh, they’re doing this. Comment on it and say, “Oh, actually I found this complimentary article. What’s going on? It’s been awhile since we spoke. What’s new in your world?” I love that. I use it a lot on LinkedIn. What’s new in your world? And they’ll come back and tell me what they’re working on and again, I can try and use that back to a call or a face-to-face meeting or something that I can just keep that thread open.
Darryl Praill: We can talk for forever. I know when Alison and I were prepping for this call, we literally said, this is going to… We almost need more show. So I’m going to have Alison back in the future. But in the meantime you guys have homework. I want you to go to Amazon, whatever book seller you want to and source Secrets of Successful Sales. Bestselling books she’s written, she’s amazing. She’s a wealth of knowledge, as you can see. This is a good investment of your time. Alison, as I knew it was going to happen, we’ve run out of time, but I’ve loved everything we’ve talked about. Thank you for joining us. If they want to reach you, what’s the best way to connect?
Alison Edgar: Alisonedgar.com is the website and the entrepreneursgodmother.com or find me on LinkedIn. I’m all over it like a rash. Alison Edgar and the book is Secrets of Successful Sales and please, just reach out because I’m really accessible and I love to chat about sales.
Darryl Praill: With that, we’re at a time, folks. We’ve pushed it to the max. We’re almost at a half hour. My editors are going to hate me. I’ve had fun. I hope you’ve had fun too. We shall see you again next week. Don’t go anywhere. My name is Darryl Praill. I’m with VanillaSoft. Happy sell.