The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 4 years ago

Kristin Zhivago on Why you Can’t Automate Your B2B Relationships


The world is changing.

If you’re a B2B marketer, you know that one of biggest challenges facing marketing professionals today is meeting the buyer where they are.

So how do you market the way that they want to be sold to? How do you align your marketing strategy to meet them where they are?

You're listening to the BDB revenue executive experience, a podcast dedicated to helping the executives train their sales and marketing teams to optimize growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies, were tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's accelerate your growth in three, two, one. Welcome everyone to the BDB revenue executive experience. I'm your host, Chad Sanderson. Today we're talking about how to sell to customers the way they want to buy, not the way we sell, but the way they prefer to be sold to. It's a subtle yet critical shift in the sales arena, one that many are, you know, not is in tune with his perhaps they should be. Help US tackle this topic, we've got Christen HIVAGO, founder Chivago partners, recognized revenue coach and author of Road Map to revenue. How to sell the way your customers want to buy. Christen, thank you for taking time to be on the show today. My pleasure. So, before we jump in, we like to start with a question, just to give a little bit of background into you, and so I was wondering, if you look back over your career, was there a point, some kind of defining moment or event that provided you insights that you continue to leverage today and go back to over and over. I was wonder if you could just share that with the audience and help us understand what you learn. Actually, there's two. The first one happened when I was seventeen. I was the first woman is sell machine shop tools in the US and and I failed miserably because I didn't know what I was talking about and I was so humiliated. And you know, you're a senior in high school and you really feel like you're hot stuff and then you go in and you just fail and you say to yourself, okay, I'm making a vow, and the vow I made to myself was that I would learn everything I could about technology and selling, and I've been doing that ever since. I've never stopped doing that. I'm still every day I'm learning new things about tech. I've been in tech for decades. The other turning point for me was when I started being a revenue coach for CEOS and entrepreneurs and every single time I would go into the company and I would ask them what they thought was important to customers and then I would interview their customers and the two lists, the company list and the customer list, were completely different every time, and after about ten of those I thought, HMM, there's a trend here. We got a real problem, and I call it the gap, and it's the gap between the buyers and the sellers, and it's not getting any better, it's only getting worse. Well, and it's becoming and, I think, even more critical these days. You know, we talked about how bb buyers live. BBC lives right, and so they suppose they're exposed, you know, to all of the investments and customer experience and frictionalist experience that apple and Disney, all those guys invest on their BDC side and then when they come into the BB world, they expect, whether they're really aware of it or not, expect the same thing from their pre dollars. Yeah, we train our beaty be sellers first and foremost on everything you ever wanted to know about the product. So setting up to go in and talk. Yeah, bits and bites, yeah, yeah, and that's partly because most tech companies are started and run by engineers, and I love engineers. I need to put that out there on the table. I'm married one. I Love Them. I've been in business because of them. I looked around and said they're making these great products, but they can't market their way out of a wet paper bag and they need help. And that's really what started me in the whole services business where we were a high tech AD agency and then I was a revenue coach for decades, and then now I'm doing a digital marketing management firm and I love working with tech guys, but they always want to feed you the whole Enchilada and you just came to see if you were going to see if it was going to smell nice and look nice and maybe he's Gould solve your problem. You don't want to eat the...

...whole enchilada until you figured that out. And so I'm curious. What is it that you think is making this such a critical topic today? Well, it's actually getting worse because we've started trying to automate relationships. This is really rude. You know. It's like voicemail and I look back with my husband recently we're thinking about all of the technologies that we helped launch for voicemail. Email. I mean I you aim it. We were there at the beginning and I really regret helping people do voice mail. It's quite convenient and everything, but how many times do we have to hear? Please listen carefully, because our menu has changed. You know, the first time we call a company, it's just the automation of relationships doesn't work. It ignores your individuality and your specific needs and you as a human being. So we're just pushing people further and further away with automated nurturing and automated, you know, voicemails and email, and people are tired of it. They don't want any part of it. Well, I mean, it's not a right, it's not about them. It's funny because we move into a ever increasingly personalized existence. You can personalize your Amazon, you know, Prime Account, so it tells you when the next you know whatever your favorite you know types of toys or whatever come on sale. I mean you can customize, you know, every aspect almost of your life into a Bab situation and that automation feels thin, it feels fake, it feels the word, I keep going back to his friction right creates this. It makes my when I was younger and we would ride in the car with my mom, if we were listening to radio stations that we listen to it. It made her forehead crinkle. We had to turn it off. That was war and I think we're experiencing a lot of that beat. We buyers are experiencing a lot of that from BB sales people today, because it just makes you kind of cringe. Well, there's another thing that's kind of interesting, and I think if you look at BC now that you're bringing up and be to be when you do a BDC thing, you kind of already know what you want. And I agree with you about customization. By the way, it's it is now possible to design your own pair of shoes and I'm thrilled about that because I have extra wide feet and I'm always having trouble finding shoe. So it's just getting very interesting. But on the BETB side, you know you have a problem. You let's say you're looking for a certain type of software, you know there are probably fifty different types of software that solve that problem in their own way. And, like me trying project management software, I have literally tried at least I don't know, Thir forty, maybe fifty, of them, testing them, seeing if they're any good, and I finally landed on one that I like, which is teamwork, by the way. So you don't really know until you start investigating which one might be the one. And the problem with the people who sell them to you is stay don't know what kinds of things you're really looking for because they haven't talked to you. They have an interviewed perspective buyers. They don't understand that subtleties and the subtleties are often the gating factor, the go or no go. If it doesn't have this, I'm not interested, and you usually can't figure that out till you're like five minutes into trying to figure out what the program does right. It actually requires dialog and questions. What is it? What is the outcome? You know, offtwhile'll coome you're looking for, not just hey, check out my cool new gadget. Exactly. Yeah, and you mentioned engineers earlier. I've been in tech for a very long time as well and I found it always interesting, you know, when you run into that one engineer, that one tech person who's now a management role, who whips out the I'll build it and they will come and it's like, no, I don't know if it was ever true, but it's definitely not true day, because if everything's so crowding, there's just so many apps are they're out there. You mentioned fifty project management types of solutions. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think baby sellers have to be more like guides for buyers these days absolutely love and I think that's a big shit if yeah, you're absolutely right and they can't do that. If...

...they're guessing, that's the mistake everyone's making. You know, marketers are like cats and dogs. So salespeople are dogs, marketers are cats. Cats are basically people adverse. For the most part. They don't want they just want to do their thing and stay in the corner. And you know the dogs will run out there and get jump all over you until you everything jump them down, so happy to see you, but they won't actually stop and listen. Right. So it's a big problem all the way around, and management is getting even more confused because at the all this is happening while digital marketing has become completely specialized, completely complex, and you need specialists, which how we've built our company, because you absolutely have to have people working on different parts of it who are doing it all day, every day. And are keeping up with the latest Google Algorithm or whatever has shifted. Well, and how did I just had a curiosity, and I know we're a little low scripture, but he said a curiosity. When client comes to you and you want to start working with them, how do you help set their expectations without just blatantly saying you're doing it wrong? How do you help them come to the realization that there is a better, more effective way to do it? Well, the Nice thing about people who own companies, which mostly what I work for, their logical people, or they wouldn't be where they are. And a lot of the people that I'm working for these days have had the company for a while and it had been successful and now they're floundering because the competition has gotten so stiff and the technology has gotten so pervasive in terms of marketing. So nothing I do is I educate a lot and you know, between my book and my blog articles and even my services descriptions, do a lot of educating about the realities of the specific areas. For example, SEO takes a long time and you can't expect immediate results. If you want to get an immediate results, then you have to shift over to add words, assuming it's appropriate for your audience and it can work for you, and then you can start experimenting seeing what works and what doesn't. There's a lot of things that you can do with in a fairly short amount of time and add words that you just can't do in a short amount of time with SEO. So part of it is just understanding which things are working for people now and what to expect from each one of them. So then answers one part of your question. The other part of your question was how do you tell them that their stuff is terrible? What's interesting is they often know, oh, okay, they know that it's not working or it's too hard to order or you know, whatever it is, and everybody has a different thing that they're struggling with. I just picked up a client who had a previous consultant tell her that she needed to brand her company with some name which is a weird name. I'm not going to talk about any of this, of course, specifically when in fact this person, this consultant, is known for her name, her real name, and she owns that Url. So why get in the way of all that wonderful reputation and branding? So the first thing we're going to and she knows that. She knew it, but she didn't know what to do and how to you know if it was right thing, because the other consultant had convinced her that this other way was the right way to go. So they usually know something is broken but they don't know how to fix it, and that's where there's a lot of education and proper expectation setting. We don't promise you know that you're going to be in the top twenty five search engines overnight, which is ridiculous because Google owns like ninety five percent of that market anyway. So even that's a silly promise. Well, and so when we when we look at how people have to get away from digitizing automating relationships today, how they have to get back to understanding how a customer wants to buy, there's the marketing research that goes into it. Use a personas empty maps, ethnographic research, customer interviews, all those types of things.

I'm curious if you have insights into how sellers either can leverage those assets that maybe being created by the marketing team with a marketing organization or, if they're not, how they might take advantage of that to really understand, or effectively understand, how their customers are buying. Well, the real thing that has to happen for all of this to shift is that marketers have to get on the phone and interview their customers, and I was so excited about this and passionate about it. That's why I wrote the book that I wrote. wrote them to revenue, how to sell the way your customers want to buy, and in chapter three I basically just spell it out, and by the way, the books on audible now, so I spell, I'd say, exactly how to get them on the phone, why you even want to interview them on the phone, because in person they're going to be less talkative than they are on the phone. There's all these little tricks that I've learned over literally thousands of customer interviews for hundreds of companies. So I reveal all of that. So any marketer, and I have had many markers come up to me after they've seen me in the speech and then they go back. Can they read the book? And they do this and they come back and they say, I can't believe what this is done for my career, because now I know I'm not guessing. When I'm standing in front of everybody around the you know, conference table and it's a meeting and so andso saying we should do this, and so andso saying we should do that. In the CEOS listening to him and he's completely wrong, I can stand up and say no, that's not what our customers want. I interview twelve of them and this is every single person said this. That's what changes the company from the inside out. And you come back with the conversation transcription report. So the CEO and all the top managers get to read what people said about a particular subject and it's all categorize. So this is what everybody said about this question, this answer, and it's all anonymous. So you really get the raw qualitative data and now you finally understand who the person is and what they care about. Then you can build your personas. And, by the way, I don't like personas because usually people build them without doing this. And secondly, it's about the person. It's not about the person, it's about that person specific need and how they're going to find a solution, how they're going to look for it, what's going to make them buy. That's what we need to know. The rest of it is it doesn't matter if their hair is brown or black or blond. It doesn't matter our redhead, it doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter. Right. Well, and I think I mean ie before, where I got into working with sales teams doing sales. They and I spent ten years on that, on that CX side, where we would do personas and ethnographic research of that kind of thing. And you're right, you one hundred percent doesn't matter what color here it is or things like that. If you're doing a persona right it would have in it their motivations. M What is it it's going to motivate that? What kind of problems are they up against? We, you know, we we've all seen those sales emails and say hey, we've worked with CMOS like you and companies are similar size and they often experience these problems, I think. But it's focused on one of the problems and where the outcomes they need, but also some of the personal influencing factors on the marketing side can totally make sense to do that. I have seen sales professionals struggle with understanding how the customers by and, more importantly, finding effective ways to uncover that. Now, in my head it doesn't seem that hard because you start asking but but I'm sure to ask problem. Just like you, I've consulted on both sides. I've run a turnaround sales departments and marketing departments in side company and had salespeople under me and train them. And salespeople love to talk. Oh yeah, they hate to listen and they wait. They listen to you only so they can find their opening to talk. Is it possible to turn a salesperson into a listening, interviewing type of person? Let me just say it's very, very difficult.

Okay, if not impossible. I don't think it's impossible, but it's very difficult. You really have to work at it with them. And once they get there and they calm down and they're they're actually listening and letting the other person talk, things change then and they really start getting down to it and they start asking the right questions and they start answering the questions the customer wants answered rather than just delivering all the stuff they've been proud to learn. You're so you are so right. It is amazing when we work with and train sales organizations I'll ask a simple question and then I'll sit there in time it like, how long is this salesperson going to going to rattle on? And they're rattling on in directions of I didn't stop the question I asked and ask you how to build a watch. I ask you what time was. HMM. I think we do often. I think the way sales reps are on boarded with deep and pushing them really, really deep into the product knowledge stuff and then expecting them to not want to go tell people about how cool all this stuff is. It's in the way. Well, and I think there's a deeper thing that people don't realize. The reason somebody gets into sales is they want a job where there the know it all, where they're the guy that knows more about that subject than anyone else, and then they want to exercise that thing that satisfies them for the rest of their life. That's it. That's why they get into it. You're just on the wrong track from the beginning in that situation. And by the way, I may recovered. I used to say recovering, but I truly have recovered, recovering salesperson and I still and I married an engineer remember. So that that was part of my training, was getting over myself. Yeah, and it took a long time because I'm very stubborn and independent, and I finally just relaxed about the whole thing and understood that I can't know everything. I don't know everything, and the more I ask, the more I'm going to be able to help somebody. Completely agree, completely agree, I but part of the challenge, I think, for I think people in general these days, and maybe this is so boxed material, but I think everybody gets so absorbed in themselves they find it very hard or difficult to stay focused on somebody else's perspective and really internalize it, and I think that's I mean it goes back to your comment about automating relationships right. If we forget that we are interacting with, connecting with and then uncovering the perspective of another human being, with all the complexities and emotional impacts that come with that, then I think we do not only our profession to disservice, but also the individuals that were that were interacting within ourselves. Hmmm, I've been thinking about this a lot lately because it's a big problem that all markers and sellers and companies have and one of the things I realized is that we are treating our customers, our perspective, customers like they're a mark. Identify them, we decide how what we can extract from them. And then I took that a step further and I thought, well, what's the difference between stealing and someone giving you something? So we actually want to end up in a situation when we sell, where they're giving us something gladly because they have seen that we have what they want and they wanted enough to give us money. That's the essence of capitalism, whatever you want to call it, ECOMMERCE, I don't care what you call it, but that is the thing that happens in societies where people aren't if they're not at war, they're doing business, and the business that they're doing is, okay, you've got something I want and I wanted enough to give you money. It's worth it to me. But you have to convince them first, and that's difference between stealing. I suppose I could talk about raping and other things. I don't want to go there right now, but it is the difference between raping somebody making love is that you do just take what you want from them without considering their issues or their concerns or their desires as a human...

...being, and we've really gotten away from that as we do all of this analysis and automation, kind of forgetting that there's a real human being there who wants to tell us how to help them. No, they want to be heard to. Yeah, they want to be heard. If somebody, you know, I know I have seen deals go to, you know, in a competitive situation that see deals go to a winner of a provider, product, service, whatever, that was not going to provide as great an Roi or return has. There was that connection, because that's person listen, yes, and pointed out like, okay, we may not have everything in the kitchen sink, but we have these things that will solve your problem and we'll go on a journey with you, you know, product plan or whatever it may be. Yeah, see, those happen because people, you know, at the end of the day, we are still selling two people, thank God. Yep, robots aren't buying anything yet, right, it's just right. Yes, now, yet, right, just yet. Let's talk about the book real quick. What was the genesis for the idea? Where did where did it come from wake up one morning and no, no, it came from I knew I'd have to write a book after, as I mentioned, you know, the ten conversation with customers, and it just kept continuing and continuing, and after hundreds of those situations with thousands of customers, there was no question in my mind that this is the biggest problem in marketing and I was determined, and I still am, to help solve it. So what I did with the book is I said, okay, there's how you shift your whole company from being self centered to customer centric, and here's what you do, here's the steps. Then you go through this meeting after you present all the data and then you work it out with all the executives and you get on the right path. But then I devote the rest of the book to the four types of products and services in the world based on the amount of scrutiny that the customer applies to the purchase. And every time I do this I tell people there's light, medium, heavy, in a tense scrutiny. I won't go into the details now, but it's everything from buying chewing gum at the light end all the way up to buying a house or something on the consumer side, or a big long contract for BDB. That's intense. So each one of those types of buying processes have their own rhythm and questions and people involved in all of that, and I spell that out in great detail in the book and you'll find yourself people. When I say that to people, they automatically know which category they fall into. What was interesting to me before I came up with a scrutiny concept, and I have to give my husband credit for helping me turn that around and think of it from the buyers perspective, was that people were trying to sell light scrutiny things as if they were heavy, like a newsletter on how to Chew Gum, basically. Or on the other end they were trying to just say hi, my name is Sally, will you marry me? Kind of thing for the intense, and that doesn't work either. So they were making that basic mistake, which meant that everything they were doing in their marketing was off target, not just a little but completely, and so I thought if I could just at least get people to understand the buying process for those four types, then they'd at least be in the ballpark. And be much better off. Thanks allent. All right, so let's change a direction here a little bit. I ask all of our guests kind of too standard questions towards the end of each interview. The first is simply, as executive, Revenue Executive Yourself, you are often, I'll use your word, of Mark for sales professionals. Ye, and so I've always find it interesting, when I talk to other professionals, to understand how somebody who doesn't have a relationship with you, doesn't come in through a referral, you know this talking, how do they effectively capture your attention, build credibility and secure fifteen minutes of your time to have a conversation? Yeah, you know, it's interesting. I keep an eye on that because, you know, I'm looking at it not just for being a mark but because I'm a consultant in that area and I want to see what's working. And I did have a Gal a couple of years ago who... in touch with me through linkedin. Linkedin is very good for me to be if you use it properly. She messaged me and she had just the perfect pitch. It was like, I know that you're you started to company and you're doing this and that. So she had done her research. So right away she wasn't treating me like a mark. She was actually saying, okay, I know you are which do looks like you care about Blah, blah blah, which was correct. I thought, okay, so far, so good. We're sitting here and reading my little bio. I I'm okay, I'm still reading. And then she told me about her product, and it was probably a message that was to intro paragraphs, couple of bullets and then a link over to a demo or something. That was made it very easy for me to immediately go in and see how this product work. Now, ironically, I can't at the moment remember which one it was. It my had have been team work, but but it was an application that I ended up buying and I bought it very quickly because she came at me the right way. She was very courteous, she knew who I was before she talked to me, and I have to say now, any salesperson that goes after anybody without at least going to their website first, it is just they shouldn't even be in that job. Right. It's so easy now. Yeah, it's funny we talked. I was working with the client last week and I was working with their sales team and we were talking about like you have to do the research, you have to homework. It's respect for the person you're calling on. Its respect for yourself, it's respect for the discipline of sales and marketing. Like you just got to do the research. And one of the guys goes, well, I can spend an hour. I'm like, well, actually, you could probably spend two or three if it's a public company. I said you don't need to, not for the initial contact, and so we go through some of the strategies for how do you, in you know, ten to twenty minutes, find the things and get the perspective that we'll at least make that first interruption credible so you can then set another meaning? But they just the mere thought of AH, research, I could. That's the problem, though. They're not researchers. So one of the things we talked about a lot with our clients is that they have a different person who loves doing research, somebody who would have been a library and you know fifty years ago in the back room kind of thing, and they prepare all that for the salespeople. salespeople should not be spending their time researching, they should be interacting with people because that's what they're supposedly good at. So I think that's one of the things that's going to happen as we go forward is people going to realize that's a cat and dog situation where you can't the dog to research excellence. All right, last question. We call it our acceleration insight. There's one thing you could tell sales, marketing professional service people, one piece of advice you could give that, if they listened, which is always the communation Peo, will help them hit their targets. What would it be? A why? Well, I think it really comes down to the basic idea that we are all buyers also, and we avoid salespeople. Even salespeople avoid salespeople because we don't like being sold to. True, we like being helped, and I'm starting this whole other train of thought and my writing and such, where I'm talking about that idea of helpfulness and which you need to keep asking yourself is, how can I help this person? What kind of help do they need and how can I help them? And if they sense that about you and they know you've done your homework, they're going to be ten times more willing to talk to you just because your head and shoulders above everybody else who's just coming up to them and saying, give me your money, I've got a gun. Right. Perfect, Christen. If a listeners interested in talking more about these topics or ask place to get the book, where would you recommend? I mean you mentioned audible, but let's focus on the book first. We're best place Amazon, or Amazon is really where I sell the book. Just type in road matter revenue. You get to the book and again it's print inaudible and it was kindle, but they took that down when I put it my audible books, so I have... figure out why that's happening. We'll get that back up there. Just last day or two. And then also my website is Chivago Partnerscom. Excellent. All right, people want to thank Christen for being on the show. Has Been An absolute pleasure to speak with you. Yeah, same here. All right, everybody that does it for this episode, please check us out at be Tob Rev exactcom. Share the episode with friends, Family Co workers, for like what you here do. His favorite. Please write a review on itunes and until next time. We have value prime solutions with you all nothing but the greatest success. There is no one size fits all solution for optimizing your sales and marketing organizations. Yet how you sell and market is a tremendous differentiator. Value Prime Solutions uses proven formulas and frameworks with a customized approach to increase your sales and Marketing Roi to learn more about how we can help you, visit value Prime Solutionscom. 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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