The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 1 year ago

Don’t Be the Seller Who Scares Away Buyers w/ Kerry Cunningham


You try shopping out in the real world again for the first time since before the pandemic made the whole world play a game of The Outside Is Lava. You’re about to head into a store to finally treat yourself to that fancy air fryer that your friends’ and family’s screams assure you you can’t live without. Then, you see the salesman at the door salivating and rubbing his hands together like some cartoon villain, so you leave. You’ve just experienced buyer resistance. How can you make sure that your reps aren’t the salesmen in the doorway, chasing off your buyers?

Today I’m speaking with Kerry Cunningham, Senior Principal, Product Marketing at 6sense, who says the key to overcoming buyer resistance is understanding buyer behavior — and he shares a ton of behavioral insights in this episode.

Kerry covers:

  • Why the buyer is more in control than ever (and can smell BS a mile away)
  • How to find the right buyer at the right time
  • The trouble with traditional website metrics for analyzing buyer behavior 

Check out the full list of episodes: The B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

You're listening to the BDB revenue executive experience, a podcast dedicated to helping executives train their sales and marketing teams to optimize growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's accelerate your growth in three, two, one. Welcome everyone to the BB revenue executive experience. I'm your host, Chad Sanderson. Today we're talking about shifts and be tob buying behavior, how to effectively leverage data and how to align revenue teams, all things that everyone is concerned about and focused on, especially with some of the changes we've seen lately. To help us today, we have with US carry Cunningham, senior principle at six cents, and former forester VP, Carrie. Thank you so much for taking time and welcome to the show. That's my pleasure. Great to be here. So, before we jump in, we always like to start with just a random question so that the audience gets to know you a little bit better, and I'm always interested to learn you know, people have business personas and personal lives. Curious to know something you're passionate about. That those that may only know you through work might be surprised to learn all interesting well yeah, or here's something that probably most que people that I work with don't know about, which is that I'm absolutely fascinated with all things to do with our human ancestors, like a paleoanthropology. What were people like Twentyzero years ago, Thirtyzero, two hundredzero years ago? And I almost took a position right before I started with serious decisions about eight years ago. Almost took a spot in a PhD program to study evolutionary psychology. I've spent a whole vacation driving around central Spain a couple of years ago visiting all these old dig sites where they're finding bones of neandersalls and those kinds of things. Just fascinated by that and I think mostly because the people who are walking around on the Earth Two hundredzero years ago physically, mentally, emotionally exactly the same as we are. I get up in the morning, I've got a nice Italian Espresso machine, but if I don't make myself a perfect loot to I get really pissy about it. I just think you know, I think you know me. A hundred and Fiftyzero years ago would have been sleeping on a rock, hiding from bears and Saber to cats and that kind of thing, and I just take you know, maybe I should not get so pussy about the Latte. Okay, I do. That's a really Dang you. But it's fascinating thing about and is that has, I've been a lifelong kind of interest or something that came later in life through school, when it is started? Yeah, mostly came. You know, I've always been really interested in the idea, but it was a little you know, it wasn't very well formed until maybe fifteen or so years ago. I was scared of death of science when I was a kid and that I thought a science fanatic. As I've gotten older and I started reading a lot of that kind of popular science stuff, particularly around evolutionary psychology, which is really just how does the biology of our our brains and our nervous systems and the way it evolved over time, how does that impact our behavior today? Our brains weren't designed for that environment in which maybe you knew a hundred people your entire life, they were the same hundred people and you know, you're constantly living in fear and hunting and gathering and all that and then here we are today where, you know, it's a little different. So it's pretty fascinating to me how that impacts our social lives and how we get on. Excellent. That's the first time I've had somebody say that that was a passion so I'm nice. Is Done. Problem all right, so let's let's jump in the kind of the topic of the day, you know, be to be buying behavior, and there's a lot of different schools of thought on what changes...

...we're seeing out there, but would love to understand, you know, from your perspective, and let's just kind of set it in the context of the pandemic, just for fun, yew, kind of what were you seeing right before the pandemic and how have those buying behaviors changed as result of this global shared experience we've all had? Yeah, well, I think the pandemics been and accelerant to a lot of different things, but certainly to this. So, you know, the big shift in Bier behaviors is that it's become more and more digital over time, and it's a commonplace to talk about the fact that the idea that the buyer has changed. But I'd like to challenge that because I think there's a more productive way to think about it. And you know, there's a couple of analogies that I would bring to bear there. So you know, for twenty five or so years of my adult life I lived in San Francisco. I wore shorts twice a week on the weekend to play tennis, but really never otherwise because it's just not warm it up. Now I live in Palm Springs, California, where, you know, it's like going to be a hundred eleven degrees today, I wear shorts every day pretty much all year because it's over eighty degrees pretty much all year now. If it were ever over eighty degrees of San Francisco, I would have worn shorts, but it never was. So my behavior is changed a lot, but I haven't changed at all. Right, I'm a person who would have worn shorts in San Francisco if it had been warmer. So that's a silly example, but I think that's what we've seen in be to be. You know, another one is like how we shot. Ten years ago. I didn't buy normal everyday things online because they didn't show up right away, but now they do and so now I do right. I buy if I buy something I'm going to need on Monday. I can buy something online today and still have it on Monday. Ten years ago I couldn't do that. My behavior is different now and I think that that's really what it's like for buyers and beadd be today, and it's been accelerated, of course, dramatically by the pandemic. So, you know, buyer has dramatically more access to information about what be to be providers have to offer today, and they have it from a lot of other sources. I was listening to a session you did with a former colleague of mind, Seth Mars, and he talked about the fact that we can know a lot more about buyers because things have been things have become so digital, and that's really the pandemic made everything digital. One of the things that Seth said on your podcast, I thought was a really important point, was that what that does is it creates this really interesting transparency between the buyer and seller. That's the thing that I think is really fascinating is, you know, one the the buyer can just know almost everything there is to know about you as a seller, your solutions and all of that without ever talking to you. And some of what they know might be wrong also, so it might be biased in some ways right. So it doesn't mean that what they're know, what they know, is going to be accurate necessarily, but they have access to a ton of information. There's a famous stat that was actually from serious decisions that that talks about sixty seven percent of the buyers journey being digital, and you know so that and that was from for five years ago. I think that sixty seven percent went to a hundred and now you know, maybe it'll come back down to ninety five at some point, but it's probably going to remain pretty high up there. And because of that, you know, your buyers are creating a lasting impression of you before you get a chance to really impact that. Or they may, which means you know. So there's one of the things I'm really fascinated by here is that if your buyers can know an awful lot about you and your solutions, they can know how happy your customers are, they can know a lot...

...of your customers and, you know, get references to them without ever talking to you. And what that means is that, I think the beauty of it is it's much more transparent. Your buyers are not going to buy your BS, like if you're saying something about your solutions that isn't true, they are going to know right and if you sell things that you can't deliver, then it isn't going to last. Like you could get away with that fifteen, twenty years ago for a while. Like you could sell something that doesn't work. You're selling something that took forever to install and your customer sites. And that's another thing, that subscription economy. But you know, when you you had a longer runway to fix things before and you could sell vaporware that you could turn into something over the course of a couple of years and keep your customer. But if you do that today, your toast. Well and you've got so much information out there and you made the comment that you know sometimes they could be wrong. It's almost overwhelming for some of the buyers in some cases that I've seen where there's so much information, even that the company itself may have put out, they're not a hundred percent sure how to sift through it all. Then you get, you know, references or reviews on some board or something from somebody else, and it really changes, I think, more importantly, changes the way the sales reps have to interact with those individuals to help them sort through tays what they found and what's actual reality. And I'm curious it's a more of a behavioral shift. From my perspective on the Sales Rep kind of your point of you would have always worn shorts. The the context in which we're selling is changed because of the information overload it's out there. Have you seen that information overload impact buyer behavior at all? Or buyer, I don't want to say behavior, what the buyers looking for from the sales reps? So I guess what I'm said. Look, yeah, I think I think so. So you know, you see, you see this term a lot my old company for us to use as a lot that the buyer is in control because they have so much access to information. They are. They do have much more control over how they get information and what information they get, and that means that, and because there is this more radical transparency a sellers have to enable buyers right instead of in the past. I think you would hear a lot of language from it about salespeople, about it would be kind of how I was going to what I was going to do to a buyer to get them to buy. All right, but now it's really about enabling buyers. How do I make sure that buyers have the information they need to make a good decision? And presumably if you've picked your prospects right and you've approached them at the right time, then you can have a strong belief that you have the right solution for them. And that's, I think, one of those things that you know, it's a bunch of these forces are working together to say you got to focus on the right buyer and if you get the right buyer at the right time for your solutions, then you know you can present everything about your solutions and be effective. If you're approaching the wrong buyer the wrong time wherever, it isn't going to work and you're not going to be able to you're not nearly as likely to be able to get them to do something they don't want to do or shouldn't do. I say you could, and the you know, even fifteen years ago, twenty years ago, right, and so okay, so there was a term in some of the prep materials that I think this kind of segues nicely into it. So that concept of buyer resistance, and so I'm curious for the audience if we can just give them some context around what does that mean and how does that then impact, you know, what they're looking for? The way that the sales reps are were kind of exects whatever should engage with their buyers. Yeah, so, I mean I think about do you remember shopping malls when people would be shotting out of it the stores and things them? Yeah, I do. Be a long time, but I do. Yeah, one of the worst things is, like you you need to...

...go into a store, there's something that you want, and yet that you know the salesperson is standing right in the doorway and you know the minute you walked in they're going to ask you if they get help. And even though you want to go there because there is something you want or you think there may be something you want, you hate the idea that there's somebody there who's going to ask you right away for something because you're you're afraid that they're going to sell something to you that you don't want or turn you in a direction you don't want to go. You don't trust them right they have your interests in mind and sometimes even when you're in the store and you desperately do need to be something one. You can't find them anymore. There there's somewhere else but to they may not have your interest in mind, so you don't trust them, and I think that that's the thing that that buyers resist is, and that speaks to what we just talked about, in the sales process, is that when a buyer believes that you have their interests in mind, or at the very least that your interest are aligned, that as a sales rep the thing that you offer and which you want ultimately to get paid for is going to produce a commensurate value for the buyers business, then they're fine and they're they're not going to resist. But if what you're offering isn't clearly going to provide value, that's when the resistance comes up. And if they think that you're push something that they're not going to want or use and all kinds of things associated. Right, if you're not listening, well, if you are trying to be es them in some way, that's detectable and that's what causes it. That's what causes the resistance. The other thing you know, and this goes just two sales techniques. I trained SDRs for fifteen years of my career and a huge part of what would made the job very difficult and made it terrible to be on the other side of was it. SDRs were trained to have rebuttals, like you know there's going to be objection and here's your rebuttal. And I think that's just one of the worst things that has happened. I mean in all of sales, but in bed to be in particular. If somebody's got an objection, you have to address that in a straightforwarway. It doesn't mean you're going to lie over and say, okay, never mind, we won't try to sell you anything, right, but it. But what it means is you got to understand what the what's the what's the issue like? What are they? What is the real objection about? What is a question about, and then address it honestly and straightforward, because you know, if you can't win the day with what you have now, you're not going to win right right. Yeah, absolutely. And so when we think about, you know, all of the things that the data that's out there for the buyers, there's also a bunch of date out there for us, for sellers, and there's this behavioral intent data that everybody's getting all excited about our house as the PAS. Yeah, and it's interesting to me because, much like with data in general, you see come, but he's collecting it, they just don't know how to actually make it actionable in many cases. And so how should companies effectively be collecting that behavioral data and, more importantly, using it effectively? What do you do it it? Yeah, it's great question. So you know, and this is what my current company, six sense, really does well, and that is it was. So think about what the world of a buyer is like. So first of all, for the most part, what organizations have seen in terms of by your behavior up until very recently, it's just people who fill out forms and their website and and that's that's it. Right now, those people who fill out forms in their websites in most be organizations. That person has to go through some amount of content consumption and they're get scored and the ones who score really nicely get sent off and you do something about them. Here's a dirty little secret. There's like zero evidence that the amount of content that a person consumes on your website is correlated statistically with whether their company is going to buy something like there's no evidence for that. There's a whole there's a whole industry... be tob marketing based on lead scoring and it's all made up. Doesn't, really, doesn't, really do much, and there's a couple of reasons for that. One is that, first of all, if you've got one person from an organization on your website, let's truck. You're trying to sell something to a works five hundred company and one person from that company comes to your website this month, if they're the only person on your website, I don't care. If they download your entire website and reverse engineer the coding on it, they're not buying anything from you. But if that person who's on your website shows up with another friend or two friends or three friends, I don't care if they just look at one page, they're much more likely to be a real buyer to buying and be tob is a team committee activity, and the research from forester, from gardener from others will say very clearly that. One buyers are big teams of people that work together to solve problems for the companies and they all do some of their own research and it's that all do something of their own research. That is the behavioral data that we need to go look for. If you think about the difference between that one person from pick a cup wells fargo came to your website, that person, if they're the only one, they're not part of a buying team, but if that same person shows up, and then you can see that, you know, in addition to that one MQL, I've got six or seven other leads that are an mpls yet and then I've got a whole ton of anonymous traffic on my website that's coming from the same place. Now you've got something right now that that's that's really good evidence that there's something happening. And even just saying that it's like so obvious. It's a blindingly obvious but you know, until recently we haven't been able to see it. You know, so it hasn't always been there for us to see, but now we can see it. Now we can see one that there were. We could always see that there are other leads and we should have been paying attention of that. That's probably a whole nother podcast. But then, you know, seeing that there's anonymous traffic on the website, I think the the number is somewhere around ninety five percent of all be tob web traffic is anonymous. So if you're a VP of demand that all of the money that you spend to get traffic to your website, ninety five percent of it or more is anonymous. So if you're not doing everything possible to understand what companies are in that anonymous traffic, to me it's malpractice. You just have to do that. This is the you spent the money already. It's already there and you were kind of successful, right you know, you're you're trying to get them to your website. You'd love them to fill out forms, but you got them to your website and since hardly anybody fills out forms, it shouldn't be shocking that most of the people come to your website don't. So you got to do something about that. You got to know who's there so you can tell. Is that one person who became an MQL, or they loan ranger on a conference call a time in their hands, or are they part of a buying team and they're the one who was you know, who's forced to fill out a form and download all the content that they're going to share internally. So that's all the internal stuff and that doesn't even speak of you know, if, unless you're one of the biggest players and be tob chances are your buyers spend almost all of their research time somewhere else, like no on your side, but competitor sites and influencer sites and all that. So you know, most of their research activity is happening out there somewhere, and you can now see it. You can good buy that data, you can add it to the data that you have and you can see what does a buying process really look like from end to end? You know, what does it look like when it's starting up? How much activity is there where they go? And you can see what it looks like in the middle of the end. And that's what here's what it looks like when a company like this is buying a solution like that. And now we can look at the data that is coming out...

...of any given company and say, okay, well, looks like they're in market for this kind of solution, or looks like no, that's just some random activity. They're probably not a market, and that's that's a you know, the great thing about that is, you know, we want to go prospect to the ones that are in market, but leave the other ones alone. You know that that resistance we talked about is real and most organizations are not in market for stuff most of the time and we don't want to be the salesperson who's standing at the door chasing them away. You know, we let them come to your website, let them look around forever. If they're not in a buying process now, maybe they will be later on, but don't cause that resistance by trying to sell them when they're not ready. And all that behavioral data can help us understand that well, and that's so I want to die a little bit deeper because you kind of sad you that's what we do. So kind of put a bow on it for the audience. In terms of what is it that sixth sense does in the VAL that it provides to to the organizations it services? Yep, so sixth sense does a few really important things. I'll just listed things out in order of the where I think kind of the order of events for a Bob Organization. So if you're baby organization, the first most important thing you can ever do is make sure that you're targeting the right set of accounts that there are. Every account that you invest money in attracting and engaging should be one that you could sell something to. And again, that sounds blindingly obvious, but it's not that easy to do in many cases, and marketing and sales need to be a hundred percent aligned on what that set of accounts is. So first you know we offer predictive analytics and big data to identify that set of accounts, looking at your past history, looking at companies like you and saying, okay, which are that set of accounts, so that you can have that agreement. Then the next thing is how do we identify which of that set are actually in market today? And that's the realm of the behavioral data usually refer to as intent data, and so that's the other thing that we do. So once you know which set of accounts the next thing is, all right, which are those folks appear to be in market? For the most organizations, that's only going to be a small fraction of your total addressable market, and so what you're able to do then is focus your marketing spend in your sales activities on that set of accounts. That's already in market. And then, you know, the next part of what our platform does is allows you to orchestrate your marketing and sales activities to that set of accounts that is both a great fit and likely to be in market. And that's the package, you know, that we look at. We also just announced in acquisition of a company that adds forecasting and planning on the front and back end of what I just describe, which were really excited about as well. Excellent. And so when you when you think about all of this dat I mean you have, you have eyes on, probably at an understanding of more data than most of the beautify companies that that are out there, are you seeing changes or trends or projections based on what we've just all gone through as a result of the access to data that you have? kind of what's on the horizon? What are some of the trends that you see coming down the pipe? Let's see. Well, you know, in terms of how buyers buy, I don't think we're going back, but I think as right. So we're you know, I think the the amount of buying activity that happens digitally is going to remain very high and you know, by the way. One of the things that's really commonly misunderstood so for instant when when serious decisions, said a few years ago sixty seven percent of the buyers journey is digital. That's true, but that doesn't mean that sixty seven percent of it happens before somebody talks to a sales rep. if your sales were APP listening to this, one of the things you should be very encouraged by is buy or say that they were really like talking to they get value out of it. And that's true in the beginning of a sales process, in the middle and at the end. And so people, you know, different people want interaction in different ways.

What I think the big trend is that those things have to be connected and they have to be connected in a way that helps the buyer move through. Whether the buyer is on your website trolling for information there, or they hit the chat and say young, you know, and they ask a question the chat, or they hit something and says, you know, call me or email me they want. A buyer now expects that those things are going to be connected. You know, if your sales rep calling them and you don't have any idea what they've been looking at that's going to be a miss, right. So I think that's one of the big trends and it's still things that it's still a thing that most organizations are not good at or terrible at, and we all experience that, right, we're both were there. Yeah, so bringing I think that's one of the big next frontiers for organizations. I think is enabling their live human beings to be on the same page with the digital stuff that's happening so that as they engage with the buyers, they're able to engage in a much more intelligent, direct way. I love it. Yeah, I love it all right. So let's change directions here little bit. We ask all of our guests to standard questions towards the end of each ever, you has a senior principle. As a former executive, you obviously are the target of many people prospect I'm always curious in what, especially since you trained St ours for so long. I'm always curious to learn if somebody doesn't have a referral, a trust of referral into you, what works for you or in your opinion, works the best to capture your attention and earn the rights of time on your calendar going back to the conversation that we've been having. It's having. You know, use do your homework and very simply do your homework. Know in advance if I'm the right person to be talking to about something, and then you should know. I think a fair bit about and I you know, people do resist giving up their personal information, but we at the same time expect that you're going to have it, use it right and so on. One of those right. So you know. So I don't if. And the other thing is that if you're calling me to sell me something, I don't need or want you to be my friend, and you pert you actually don't need or want to be my friend. Yet that may happen here. I give things happen, but you know, just be straightforward about what it is, why it is that you're contacting me or anybody else and what it is that you have to offer. Let's get to the point of what you have to offer, and it should be related to what I do. I've always had titles that were pretty that seemed or outside of what I actually did for a living. So I would constantly get calls from reps who were saying, Hey, I'd like to sell you something that has nothing to do with what my job is. When I get one of those, I am not going to pass that person along to the right individual in my company any because they haven't done their homework right. And so that to me is like super, super important, especially now when you have so much information available, make sure that you're you're talking to the right person and you can approach that conversation in a way that makes it more likely that you'll get cooperation if they aren't. So that's what I would do. Absolutely all right. Last question. We call it our acceleration in sight. If there was one thing, one piece of advice you could give sales, marketing or professional services people that you believe, if they listened to, would help them achieve work see their targets, what would it be and why? Yeah, this is a tough one because you want to, you know, have something technical, but what I would say is, if you don't really believe in the thing that you're marketing or selling, get out something that you do. It comes across. It definitely comes across. It does, you know, and it doesn't mean that you have to be selling world piece in order to believe it. Like, you know, believing in it. For me means. Look, I have a thing that, when I'm talking to the right people in the right organization, is going to provide value for them... their companies do well and grow and prosper in those kinds of that's I mean, that's all you need. So we're not asking that. You know, I don't think you have to think that your whatever it is that you offer, is going to create lasting world piece. That's not what I mean. It's just you really have to under stand it. You're talking you've got a solution to a problem that's a real problem, that that this person in the organization your prospecting have and if you can't do that, you should go elsewhere. Yeah, I could not agree more. The the passion and the belief and the curiosity mind set are huge in connecting with people and getting the point across carry I can't thank you know for taking the time. It's been amazing having you on the show today. My pleasure. Yeah, great talking with you. If somebody's interested in learning more about you or six senses are specific place you'd like us to send them? Six Hanscom come to our website. Lots of cool stuff. We've got lots of really talent folks with thoughts, a great content and fun videos and those kinds of things. So if you want to know more about what six hants does, that's great. You can find me on linked and I'm happy to hear from anybody on Linkedin and I post stuff linked in pretty frequently, so that's a great place to find me. Excellent. Thank you again for your time. Look forward to talk to you again soon. That does it for this episode. Everybody, you know, the drill be to be read exactcom sure with friends, family, Co workers. If you like what you here, leave us a review on itunes and until next time, we have value selling associates. We shall nothing but the greatest success. You've been listening to the BB revenue executive experience. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show and Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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