Do you know what your buyers expect from you? Do you struggle with getting them to trust you or your company? Are you aware of your customer’s needs, knowing full well that they only care whether or not you or your product can solve their problems?
In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl speaks with the unmistakable Mark Welch, Founder of Street Savvy Sales Leadership. Darryl and Mark go over such topics as ways to use conversational analytics for your benefit, as well as how to be in tune with your buyer’s emotions. They also discuss strategies such as embracing silence in a conversation, approaching the sales cycle with humility, and ways to build trust and credibility with your buyers. That’s just scratching the surface of the many topics discussed 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
Darryl Praill: It’s another week and I am so pleased and delighted to be back with you. How are you doing folks? How was your week? Did you do anything exciting? Did you do anything, I guess, remarkable? I love that word remarkable, don’t you? Because it can be like that was remarkable, but in its most literal, literal sense it means that you are going to remark on it because it was so notable. I just love that word. I don’t know. It’s a crazy time of the year. Everybody’s back to school and everybody’s getting back in with the grind of things.
Darryl Praill: And I always love this time of year because myself, it’s like the season has begun again, it’s sales season, it’s marketing season…away we go. And everything ramps up, and the speed increases, and the velocity increases, and expectations increase. Everything increases and the energy gets going and the adrenaline gets going and I just get jazzed. I really, really love that. Now, eventually I’ll be fully honest and I’ll disclose to you that that all accumulates and eventually I crash because I just get exhausted. But such is the rhythm of the life we have all chosen, is it not?
Darryl Praill: Which is kind of interesting because when I get into this for this routine, I get talking to my colleagues, get talking to you. I get talking to prospects and potential customers. I’m never quite sure if I’m really delivering what you want. Am I giving the buyer the information they want? Am I engaging with them? I think I am. My coworkers, am I connecting with them in a way that makes them more productive, that they know what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, what works, what doesn’t work, and then they’re willing to share and I can help them out or am I just wasting their time as I’m rambling about my stats? I don’t know.
Darryl Praill: It’s one of those tough things and it’s always important to kind of sit back I find and ask, it sounds stupid, right? Just ask, “Is this what you want? Is this what you need?” And I look at a couple different touchpoints on that. You know, one of the touchpoints is my wife. My wife and I this month, and actually we are celebrating 30 years of marriage, and that blows me away because I don’t know where the hell the time went. And it’s funny because my son-in-law, my very recent son-in-law, just a few months ago became my son-in-law, just celebrated his 22nd birthday yesterday. And I was saying to him, I said, “Son-in-law, you know, in three days time I will have been married.” Because that’s what it was for me, three days after my 22nd birthday. I know you’re all sitting there going, Twenty-two you got married at 22?” Yeah, I got married at 22. I get it. So here I am 30 years later, I can’t get over where the time has gone.
Darryl Praill: But my wife, going back to the topic, is always one to say to me, “This is what I expect of you.” She taught me growing up with our kids to always ask them, “What do we expect of you? What goes with your behavior? How are you going to present yourself? When you go to school, this is what we expect of you. When you get that first part-time job, this is what we expect of you. When you go away to college, university, this is what we expect from you.” She’s very good at being proactive. I love that about her.
Darryl Praill: But buyers, they’re a different breed. We actually did a study recently here at VanillaSoft in partnership with the Telfer School of Management and in partnership as well with the AA-ISP and we contacted over 2000 buyers. We actually asked them that point-blank, “What do you expect from a sales rep?” So let’s be candid, let’s not pretend to ignore the game. We know the game. The game is you fill out a form, you come to my site, you download a piece of content. Do you expect to be contacted? Absolutely you expect to be contacted. Great. When do you expect to be contacted? How fast? How often? What channels? What is it you’re seeking from them? What is it that you like? What is it you don’t like? What is it that annoys the living crap out of you? What is it that causes you to hang up, disconnect and never go back to them? What kind of interaction makes you bond and trust and connect with that sales professional?
Darryl Praill: It was amazing the conversations we got. Some of it definitely affirmed what we already suspected as sales reps ourselves. For example, you’ve heard me talk about this before, the five-minute rule, you get a lead call in five minutes, that’s bogus. That’s the bogus hype. That’s just myth. It actually works against you. Our studies, when we did a 130 million records said of sales interaction city, about an hour or two, but an hour is ideal. And sure enough they said the same thing, give me an hour to four so I can read the content, then call me and that’s okay. That’s just an example. But anyway, the list goes on.
Darryl Praill: What do your buyers expect from you? Do you know? Are you too busy talking to not actually listen for a moment? Because if you actually knew what they wanted from you, I guarantee you you would be more successful. And that is the entree to today’s guest. Have you met Mark Welsh? If not, let me introduce you to him. He is an author, a speaker, a consultant. He’s a coach to CEOs and founders and sales leaders. He’s a best-selling author of The Street Savvy Sales Leader Guide to Building Teams That Consistently Win New Business. And how do you win new business? By knowing what buyers expect from you.
Darryl Praill: Mark, welcome to the show, my friend.
Mark Welch: Honored to be here. Thanks for having me. What an intro. That was fantastic.
Darryl Praill: Thank you so much. It is true. Everything I’ve said there is true. So let me ask this question Mark, this topic, I know you and I went back and forth about what would be good for the audience and we want the audience, as always, to learn something they can apply immediately. What about this topic, because you’ve got many, really resonates for you that made you say, “This is what we need to talk about?”
Mark Welch: Great question. I think the reason why it resonates with me is because the vast majority of salespeople are not there. So what I mean by that is it’s a topic that is so mission-critical and 90% of salespeople are not doing it. They’re not talking this way. They’re not having these kinds of conversations that buyers want. So I think it’s just a really, really important conversation to have. We need to keep on pushing the awareness around it’s not what we want, it’s what the buyers want. So it’s that famous saying, I’m sure you’ve heard it before yourself, Darryl, it’s not about what you sell anymore, it’s about how you sell it. And we need to really pay attention to that, get away from product selling and get into having really good conversations. I think the bottom line is having a great conversation, a thoughtful conversation.It’s not about what you sell anymore, it’s about how you sell it. And we need to really pay attention to that, get away from product selling and get into having really good conversations. ~ @streetsavvysl #SalesTips #InsideInsideSales Click To Tweet
Darryl Praill: A thoughtful conversation, a great conversation is spot on. I know even a lot of these stats these days of conversational analytics, or conversational intelligence coach, where they record and they use artificial intelligence to monitor your conversations. So you gotta be doing a lot more listening than talking. That’s the first part. The other part is if you listen carefully, you’re going to pick up on those cues where they’re actually looking to you for some help and a lot of salespeople don’t because they’re so focused on their own spiel.
Darryl Praill: Now, let me ask you this, Mark. When you go into teams and you kind of maybe do the audit and listen to some of the reps and what’s going on, and you share with them that they’re missing the mark about giving buyers what they want, do they seem surprised by that or typically, what kind of reactions you get?
Mark Welch: No, I don’t think they’re surprised necessarily. But there is this self-awareness thing that I think kicks in. I think, you just mentioned that about listening. There’s lots of studies done around that, and many would say that you have to… A good top-performing sales call, you’re listening 75 to 80% of the time, talking 20 to 25% of the time. And sales reps kind of think they’re listening when they really aren’t. So it’s the little things like we come… You and I are going back and forth here like a regular conversation and then every once in awhile there’s a silence. And sales reps are so uncomfortable with that, for example, that they just jump in and another question, another question or another comment, another question.
Mark Welch: And I think the power oftentimes of a really great conversation is really being patient and being okay with silence, waiting for potentially the customer to say something else, to add something to what they’ve already said. And that leads to greater and deeper conversations, and you tend to get more out of them. So it’s that that sense of curiosity and wanting to know and really working hard, really, really working intently around what’s important to that buyer. And we just, we’re so taught to just jump, to react to things when you got… It’s okay to be patient and sit back and listen and be silent.I think the power of a really great sales conversation is being patient and being OK with silence. ~ @streetsavvysl #SalesTips #Prospecting Click To Tweet
Darryl Praill: It’s so funny to hear you say that because I’ve had people many times come to me and say, “Any advice?” And when we’re talking about the sales conversation, especially on a phone, I’ll say, “Silence is a beautiful thing. Don’t be afraid of silence. When you have silence, they’re thinking. I mean, you’ve done a good thing. Your job is not to fill that noise, that lack of noise. Your job is to let them finish thinking. And then chances are you will hear something profound that will dramatically change the course of the sale because they will have shared something with you that you elicited from them that they had to think long and hard about. And silence is a golden thing.”
Darryl Praill: All right, so let’s-
Mark Welch: Exactly. I call it the magical moments.
Darryl Praill: The magical moments, that’s right. This magic moment. All right, let’s talk about buyers. So you have a pretty strong opinion about buyers and how they may or may not think about me and my product. What’s that?
Mark Welch: Well, I think it’s actually the opposite of that. I don’t have a strong opinion about that because I think one of the important things to think about is that every single buyer you’re talking to or potentially talking to potentially thinks in a different way. We all buy on emotion. I think that that’s… there’s a lot of research that would tell you that. All of our emotions are a little different from each other. So we really have to be in tune with the back kind of scenario when you’re in front of a buyer. That could be you could have a performance-driven individual that’s just a go-getter, wants to get to the, to the end game and it makes the decisions very, very impatient, wants the information yesterday. And then you have more of a thoughtful, introverted type of decision-maker who analyzes data. You kind of represent yourself in two different ways to those different types of people.
Mark Welch: But in terms of the commonality I think that we need to pay attention to in today’s world is just because buyers are so more informed than they have been historically, is you just can’t get away with what you used to get away with in terms of your knowledge and expertise. You have to be well-prepared. Customers want you to know them. They want you to understand what their business needs are. They want great communication skills. They want you to be concise and useful to them. And it’s not about what I’m selling, it’s about what is my life going to look like after you have sold me this thing. Is it going to make me more successful? Is it going to solve a problem? Is it is going to make me look good? Am I going to… is it going to save my job even? There’s all sorts of things that are going through the mind of the buyer so it’s really, really… And this is really not easy to do.
Mark Welch: That’s the thing is a lot of thought leaders will say, “I sell on value.” what exactly does that mean? You have to have a deep conversation with a customer, with that individual, a person to know what that value is to them first. You have to be relevant to that one individual. That’s why it’s so challenging to say, “Well, this is what we think of the buyer.” I think in every situation you have to be… That’s why sales is such a fantastic, wonderful profession, you get to adapt and be flexible and creative in every single situation that you’re in.
Darryl Praill: So I’ll be more blunt and direct and harsh. When I heard you say right now that buyers are asking a lot of questions about what… fundamentally can you solve a problem, I have pain. I would spin it around. I would say… I mean, to build off of what you said Mark, but I would say it in a different way such as buyers actually don’t care about you or your products or your service.
Mark Welch: Exactly. Yeah, they don’t.
Darryl Praill: But a lot of reps go into that thinking they do. You filled out a form, you must want my product. Let’s go. I have… no, no. What they care about is, can you help me? I don’t care about you. I don’t care. And maybe better ways is, I don’t care about you yet. We haven’t got a relationship. I just care about me.
Darryl Praill: And by the way, I similarly don’t care how kick-ass you are. I don’t care if you’re the best. I don’t care if you are the top dog in sales. I don’t care if you’re a social selling influencer. I don’t care. I have a problem, can you help me? But that is a real… I mean, would you agree that’s a real mind shift for a lot of people to go in there because you almost need to approach the sales cycle with an element of humility and humbleness so that you can connect with them. Yet many sales leaders are out there saying, “No, you’re the top dog. You go kick their ass. You’re the man.” I mean, it really seems to be we’re getting mixed messages.
Mark Welch: Yeah, no doubt. I mean it is a total paradigm shift. I mean, it used to be you’d go out and do a pitch, you’d have your PowerPoint slides and you go, “This is what we’re all about.” You’d have a picture of your building and your service levels and all that stuff. Customers do not care about any of that anymore. In fact, I would say, why are you doing a PowerPoint pitch at all until you’ve really gotten much further down in the sales cycle and you really know what’s going to be important to them to even do a PowerPoint pitch? So the whole thing is kind of gone-
Darryl Praill: So true.
Darryl Praill: Now, it’s funny because I remember in past lives I would get hammered all the time as the marketing guy, “We need a sales deck. We need a sales deck. No, we need a better sales deck.” And now these days once a month I’ll get somebody like, “Hey, do we have a sales deck?” Where it so dramatically shifted because now we’re actually having real conversations as opposed to slide, slide, slide.
Mark Welch: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, again, lots of proof points and research done around telling great stories and asking really good, thoughtful, curious questions versus just blabbing out what your product is and what it does and how it solves problems even that it’s really about that level of understanding. And at the end of the day, what we’re trying to do as salespeople is, and it may sound altruistic and it likely is, is you’re really trying to help somebody at the end of the day. And so how can you authentically, sincerely help somebody that’s sitting across the desk?
Mark Welch: And the second point to what we’re trying to do is at the end of the day, they need… You’re trying to convince them to make a change. Whenever you’re trying to sell them something, you’re helping them make a change and you’re convincing them to make a change. And that’s not easy when most of us as human beings are very comfortable with status quo. And we’ve all heard the argument about what’s your biggest competitor? It’s not a competitor anymore. The competitor is that your buyer or your customer not doing anything. The status quo is the challenge. So how do you have those conversations and those thought-provoking questions and creating stories and contrast for them to want them or to have that desire, that need to make a change? And then that’s when you have the opportunity, the opportunities jump out at you.
Darryl Praill: I want to stop there. I want to drill down on that point right there. My big question is going to be how. But before I ask you that question, we’re going to cut off for a commercial and we’ll be right back.
Darryl Praill: All right, so here’s the big how. So you’ve told me the customers are looking for you to help them, but they don’t care about you. But you need to establish a bond with them so that you can earn their trust and they will open up more to you. I’ve heard you talk a little bit about storytelling, I heard you talk a little bit about listening. What are some of the top, I guess, tactics or tips and tricks that we can use to pull out the… I guess to help explain the how so that they will open up and they will eventually want to know more about you and your company? Because ultimately they do want to know about you and your company because if they like your solution or your product, then they want to know if they can trust you the company. So we will get there.
Mark Welch: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Well said. And I think the whole why change thing is agreeing around that how can you create a situation where the customer understands where they’re at today and they’re in status quo and maybe they feel comfortable where they’re at. We need to somehow contrast that with, okay, you may feel comfortable, but these kinds of things are on the horizon. This is going to change. This is what’s happening, this is what’s going on here. And we found other customers that look like you have struggled because of this fact or this analysis or this kind of story. And so you have to kind of paint a picture around where they are today and why that might be a problem if they stay where they are today. And one way to do that of course is if you’re a salesperson and you’ve been working for an organization, hopefully that organization has some, they have some history, they have some internal stories that they have conducted, they’ve gone through scenarios with other clients that you can share with customers to say, look, this is what’s happened in this particular situation, and this is what the outcome was. And this might be something that might be important for you to take a look at.
Mark Welch: So a lot of it is around that tribal knowledge in organizations and being able to share those things that could have been powerful and things that you’ve done. It could have happened in the operations organization and interacting with a customer or marketing might’ve done something or what have you. But it’s interesting, I talked to CEO’s and I present to CEO’s quite a bit and I talked about this tribal knowledge thing and I mentioned it. And after the conversation they were all taking notes because one of the comments I made is just because you as the CEO know some intimate things around the power of your organization and some of the things that you can do, don’t just assume that your sales force knows what you know. So I think it’s really important that organizations filter and really work on it and people in marketing as well work through to help the sales people understand what those stories and those value points, what the potential and the possibilities of those are in conversations with buyers.
Darryl Praill: That tribal knowledge is so huge. I know I’ve had many, many reps come to me and say, “Darryl, we listen to you, you’re on stage, you’re talking [inaudible 00:19:44], whatever nature of my job, you tell stories. And half time I’ve never heard of these stories and we work for the same company.” And so that’s on me to make sure I get it out as well as the leadership.
Darryl Praill: But let me tell you the power of stories, the power to Mark’s point. The power of story says a couple things. So if you’ve asked a probing question, which is your job, right? And they come back and they share their circumstances or their challenge, and you say, “That reminds me of our other customer, ABC,” and then you tell the story of their challenge and what they went through, that tells the customer that you understand them because you were able to give a corollary story that matches their situation. So that I build up trust with you the sales rep. That also tells him that your solution should be able to fix their problem, so that builds up trust on your solution with the prospect. And then you turn around and you say, “If you want to, I can hook you up with Joe over at ABC company, and he can talk to you about what he went through and all the pains and challenges and maybe some lessons to learn. I’ll get you a one on one.”
Darryl Praill: So now I’ve got a third proof point, which is social proof. And, if I’m going to go and risk my neck and my budget and everything else on your solution, I don’t want to make the same mistakes that other customers have already made. So by my talking to them and you making that available to me, then I can avoid the mistakes they made and get there faster. So storytelling, huge.
Darryl Praill: Now, let me spin this around on you, Mark. How do I get to the storytelling stage? How do I connect with that customer? How do I make it about them when they’re already getting all this information on me and my product through, whether it be through our website, review sites, Capterra, G2, to a social media, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the list goes on, analyst reports, et cetera. And then you got even sales groups like Modern Sales Pros or Sales Hackers, et cetera. How do I, I guess, insert myself into that conversation amongst all that noise?
Mark Welch: Yeah. I think there’s a challenge and an opportunity in that, right? I mean, the challenge is… That’s one of the number one challenges salespeople have is getting mind share of their customers. We’re are all faced with that. Even when you know somebody, even and it’s not a first call, sometimes it can be tough to get a hold of people. That’s just the nature of the world we live in where everybody’s getting 200 emails a day. But part of the power, part of the opportunity, I think, if you’re as a salesperson and you’ve been in the particular industry for a while working for a particular company for awhile, you have gained a certain amount of knowledge that is specifically to that industry, that company that others out there, despite all the reading they might’ve done and all the reports they see, they may not have the perspective that you have.
Mark Welch: So if you can make sense of all that incredible amount of information, and all that information isn’t knowledge, hopefully what you have as a sales rep that you can impart knowledge versus just a whole plethora of information, is helping the buyer think in a different way about all of that information that’s out there on a specific topic. So It’s trying to kind of parse it together, relate it to what you’ve learned about the questions that you’ve asked and the answers that you received and then specifically route it to them in a way that’s going to be relevant and of value to them. You talked about trust. To me, trust and credibility are almost the same word. That’s where you get the credibility.
Darryl Praill: One of the things I’ll float up there for those listening to consider is that as Mark alluded to, you can leverage the digital aspect, the digital research that we’re doing. I’ll give you an example. If you are active on social media, your profile, LinkedIn is solid. You’ve invested the time and money to do that and you’re active sharing opinions and feedback and advice and some of your tribal knowledge on LinkedIn as part of the community, it could be articles, it could be just posts where you have a call to action about, Hey, what do you guys think? Can you relate? What’s your opinion? What’s going to happen when you reach out to them early on in that cycle is that that prospect is going to ping you on LinkedIn. They’re going to see who you are. And that’s where they’re going to actually use that digital trail of breadcrumbs that you’re leaving behind and go, “Holy smokes, this individual gets me, gets my industry, gets my challenges.”
Darryl Praill: So there’s more than one channel you can use to actually, I guess, leverage that digital research they’re sourcing to actually build your own street credit and drive traffic your way. The other thing to consider, and Mark talked a bit about this was getting in the head of the actual individual you’re talking to, the persona, the title within their industry. So in other words, if you know… I’ll use me as an example. If you know what my life is like as a marketer in high tech SAS world, if you know the challenges I face, that alone allows me to connect with you. Then I might have an interest in your product because I think you get me, you get me as a person so maybe you can help, and then now I want to help work with you.
Darryl Praill: So there’s lots of ways to connect with the audience and your target audience, but it all starts off, as we all began, with understanding they don’t care about you, it’s about them. You want to know the world they live in, you want to connect with them digitally so that you can then connect with them one on one. That tribal knowledge, that social proof, those probing questions, listening. These are all intentional acts. Mark, I’ll bring it back to you. When you might say that that’s intentional acts, do you think a lot of reps are good at being intentional? Is that a one way they can make a dramatic difference in their results?
Mark Welch: Yeah, for sure. And I think part of it… One of the failings that most reps have is they don’t do proper call prep before they go and make a call, either over the phone or in person. And I think that relates to your intent is to really work hard at thinking about what’s going to be important in that conversation and making sure that you’re prepared for it. I mean, if you’re a 20 year veteran, been around a long time, lots of success, maybe you have all these questions and stories in your back pocket, great. But most people are not in that situation, they really need to think things through. And to your point intentionally figure out what is going to be a successful outcome for that specific call. Really plan it out and being… Also knowing that it may not go exactly as you want and yet [inaudible 00:26:42].
Darryl Praill: The reason my wife prepped my kids, the reason my wife preps me about are you ready for today, do you know what to expect, are there no surprises, is so that we were on our game and could anticipate and could proactively engage. That’s why she did that. Are you on your game? Are you anticipating what buyers expect from you? And are you being intentional about your prep, about your style of engagement both one-on-one and on the digital realm so that you intentionally seek the answers you get so you can give the buyer the solution they need? That’s what I ask you today. Think about that. That’s your homework. Go. This is what I expect you to go do it. Mark, thank you so much for your time today. If I want to get ahold of you, what’s the best way to reach you?
Darryl Praill: Everything’s there under the Contact Us. Check his book out, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide To Building Teams That Consistently Win New Business. You can find that on Amazon. Mark, thank you so much for joining me today. And in the meantime, I expect each and every single one of you listening right now to go and intentionally repair to kick some ass today. Happy selling, folks. We’ll talk to you next week. Take care. Bye bye.