The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 5 years ago

Leverage Your Sales Process for Differentiation with Brian Burns


Everyone is looking for ways to differentiate in sales, but often miss the one place that is closest to home, their own sales process.  Chad Sanderson and Brian Burns discuss five of the key areas of focus for sales executives and professionals to consider in order to make differentiation possible.

Subscribe to the podcast or listen to the episode above as they discuss the 5 key elements sales executives must consider as they build their next generation sales teams.

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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 or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's accelerate your growth in three, two, one. Welcome everyone to another special edition of the B Tob Revenue Executive Experience. I am your host, Chad Sanderson. Today we're going to be tackling sales process of differentiation. How you use your sales process to differentiate against your competitors, especially in today when by our expectations are changing, market dynamics, technology speed at which we do business are changing. Brian Burns, who is the host of the B Tob Revenue Leadership Show, as well as the brutal truth about sales and selling podcasts, also a widely respected sales thought leader, published author developer the Matick method. He and I have teamed up to tackle some topics and come up with kind of the five points that we believe executives need to pay attention to, think about and start to incorporate into their approaches to their sales organizations. In order to stay ahead of kind of this big wave of trends. Again today we're going to talk about sales process differentiation. After the show I will do a little wrap up provide some additional information, but for now I'm going to just let us rip right into the conversation with Brian Hey Chid. Let's talk about sales process as a competitive advantage. The number one thing I had was being able to network its scale and you know, we had talked on a previous episode about, you know, really applying technology, but I think this is something that we can really do today. Have you been, like, trying to really leverage social and the Internet to scale with your clients? Yeah, it's interesting. Right. So, if you, if you there's a thing called the Dunbar number. Right, Dune Bar was an anthropologist and it is an evolutionary psychologist and he actually did some research with I think it was John Gore, the guy who created cortex. Gore figured out that he had a hundred and fifty people. Once he hit a hundred fifty people in a factory. The minute you cross that threshold people stopped being as efficient. Right. So dunbar comes in, he does his research. Basically, would you figures out, as the brain can only handle a hundred and fifty relationships at a time. Can only hold onto that. Now what is beautiful about things like Linkedin is it does allow you to I think now some people would argue with me. I think it allows you to get past that limitation, but you have to be, you know, consistent in it. One of the things that we teach our classes. You know. Look, I've got, I've had over fifteen hundred contacts or something like that on Linkedin. I don't I wouldn't know. If I could pick up the phone, I think maybe ten percent would return my call right now. Somehow I got connected to them. But what you can do with Linkedin, and one of the things that I do on our religious basis is every week I hit ten people and I send them a note and Linkedin, say it's been six months since we talked. You Got Fifteen minutes for a digital coffee, no agenda, just want to see what's going on and if there's the way I can be a service and just do that on a regular basis so you can keep that network, you know, strong and reliable. Is something that I think if sales reps to do that they'd have a heck of a lot more powerful network and be able to leverage a social tools effectively. Yeah, I think the person who figures this out is going to be insanely effective. And you know, I was kind of one of the early adopters of Linkedin. I really saw the potential because I'm old enough to remember what it was like before, when you and me boat. Well, I remember when, you know, I did startups, you know one one job, you know, every two and a half, three years, and you'd go to a brand new company. You get the laptop and what did you have? You did really didn't have much of a sea on Ram. You had your contact database and what I go and I meet my friends for a launch and I'd swap spreadsheets and that that was your your Rolo decks, that was your your social network back then. And when I saw linkedin come up out where you had like the relationships, who they worked for, the company, the essentially their resume on there,...

...and then some interest that they have with like groups and blog post that they put out, then all of a sudden you had this Intel and never never mind the contact information. I mean it used to be near impossible to try and guess somebody's email age. Right, right, and now it's easy. I mean not only linked in, all the things that plug into it. And what's the is it hunter? I think that plugs in will find email addresses and stuff. You can find data on people today. That's no problem. The trick is, I think, especially with with you know, social tools, being able to leverage them so that you can keep that that network, that you have reliable reliability. I think moving into if you're just going to be huge for sales reps, because you'll see a lot of people like hey, I just got two tenzero connections on Linkedin. Awesome, that's great if you're marketing through that, but if you, if you really wanted to pick up the phone and you needed to talk to one of those tenzero people, what are the chances they would pick it up? Right? So, when you look at those types of tools, just stand on it a little bit and being, you know, proactive. It does. Unfortunately, guys, sales is work. Sorry, you've got a you know, if you if you stay on top of it, you reach out to them on a regular basis with, again, no agenda, it's just just want to keep him fresh, then you have a much more reliable way of going about it. I think you can network at scale using the tools that way, but it doesn't just happen automatically, right, and I also think you have to use it super wisely and not be spammy and just doing the ask. You know, the last thing you should do is when you connect with somebody's then ask for something, right. I don't even say thank you at first. I wait a day. Right. That way you can you don't come across as a sales rep, you don't come across as a taker what you want to do. Come across as a giver, right, and it makes suggestions, share information with people, ask questions, kind of build that rapport before. Of course you going to ask eventually, but you get that no like and trusting. Moving right is really powerful, without a doubt. Without a doubt. My number two was understanding your clients and the starting to think like your clients. I think too often we're stuck in our own power points. I'd like, I'm going to steal that, stuck in it's public domain. People get you, know you do, you see people and you see this a lot, right, and this isn't really new. Sales Reps that drink the Ko laid rite, the on boarding processes. When you start companies, especially large organizations, you go through a sales academy or you go through whatever it is about the product training. You really have to drink the Kolaid in order to understand it. The problem is that's a different flavor coolaid than the person you're selling to is interested in. Right. So being able to really understand their business, their situation and then, you know, uniquely tie what you can bring to the table to that, to them, is where I think the power is going to lie. That's it, and I think the people who really, you know, understand the market, understand their clients. You know that a lot of people say, all you got to know their business better than them. Well, I don't think you're going to get that. All, not gonna have love, but you can certainly put your yourself in their place, understand what their day is like and the challenges that they have. How would they evaluated? How do they get promotions? What do they care about, what motivates them, what keeps them up at night and what's going to get them excited? Right well, and it's always interesting when you know we're working clients. They're like so how do I find that stuff out? I'm like, all right, well, who are you selling to? While I'm on to let's say, seem okay. Well, last time I check, you have a CMO. What is their day look like? What is their calendar look like? What are they dealing with inside your company? Start there, I mean, if you're going to have these rules, are going to be there easily accessible ways and say your own organization to start and get that feel and then expand on that with the tool set in the research that you can do out there. That's it. Yeah, and and the people who do that, you know, because they're going to understand, you know, is this deal real? How long is it going to take? And you know, that's something I really spent a lot of time study and I'd say, if I was them, what would I do? And...

...or just ask the question, you know, what is in their personal best interest, not just the companies, not just their role, but their personal right as to interest, because what I've learned is people will always do within their own person, but a lot of the sales processes out there and methodologies don't ever touch on on covering that personal value. I mean that was one of the things I think that was key, as I was an individual contributor way back in the day. It was key to my success was understanding the motivation of the individual as an individual, not as a CMO or as part of the company, but really what was driving them, you know. And their motivations are yeah, maybe they may be similar, but they're always different. Somebody's more focused on family or their kids are at a different age. So and maybe it's now college and tuition payments or, you know, maybe it's something else that they're focused on. Wanting to be recognized in their career, but taking the time to do that and being the trick is being authentic about it. You've seen, and I'm sure you've seen this to you see sales reps where it comes off kind of slimy, for lack of that word, right, but being you got and I think in order to be successful in sales moving forward, you're going to have to genuinely have an interest in other people. And I can be able to fake it. Yeah, and it doesn't take long for it to bubble up either. And I think too many reps focus on all people care about is increasing revenue and decreasing cause. Right. Well, maybe the board cares about that or the shareholders care about it. But you know, the CEO would like a private jet because flying private is a lot of fun. Should be ours. We have a sales reps goal. I want to fly private like you. Get successful enough, I'M gonna fly private with the CEO. Yeah, and that then all of a sudden you'll start they there's a personal win right there. My number three, and we've talked about this before, but technology. I mean I think that as a competitive advantage, finding a personalized information like I've partnered with like Alice and nudge. These are companies that will give you personalized information about the account, the people, what they care about, all using artificial intelligence without you having to do much other than just follow these people. And and the person who's able to do this at scale, without spending, you know, any more than a half hour a day, I think is in the future is going to be a phenomenal salespeople and nudges, I mean nudge is a phenomenal tool. I mean it drops, I mean use I use it as well that it drops the information right there in your I'm we've got Gmail, using Gmail, so it drops it right now. Don't have to go look for it right. So anything that's going to help you save time. The technology is going to bring the important information to give you kind of that three hundred and sixty deg review your prospect that's the way you're going to be able to do it at scale. And the technology tools that understand that and don't have a lot don't bring a lot of overhead to the table. I mean there are crm's I will that I shall not name, that are the bag that are the vehemers that it just takes more overhead time and I've never seen a sales rep adopt something that increases their, you know, quote unquote, overhead or Admin or gets in the way of them selling. So if you've got tools that streamline that and allow them to do that at scale, I think you're your adoption and your ability to get that into the mark is going to be huge, and then leveraging that as a sales rep is going to be key to making sure you constantly have a full funnel. And I think that's it, because the new crm is the Internet. Think, yes, not not just probably doing that the best job of making the Internet consumable for a salesperson without you having to proactively do everything you know, and I think the person who's able to leverage that for personalization, for intelligence, for ideas and things to talk about and things that people care about, because it's not going to be features and functions, not not at first. That when and any I mean the last time I sold it and we're going to we're going back since for the last ten year selling services. But before that, anytime...

...we got into features and functions, you just saw people's eyes glaze over, and it's worse today. I mean, they'll need a demo, right, they'll have to have somebody, you know, vet it. But typically, at least in my experience, the person buying it is rarely the person who's actually going to use it. And so, especially when you're selling, that be to be enterprises. Right. So smaller company, sure, yeah, you're selling me, you know outreached, out Io. I'm going to be the one using it, but in larger enterprises or even medium size, the person that's actually gonna right to check isn't the one that's probably going to be using the tool. So it depends on who you're talking to. But the minute you go after the wrong person with features and functions, you can see the glaze, you can see the walking dead look hit their face. Right so just stop focus on them in their business. That's it. I was talking to a great rep yesterday and he says, you know, my key advantage is, instead of just doing the demo, I basically implement the product in that hour that I have with the perfect you know, yas you know, exactly what do you need? Okay, let's put this in. Okay, what's the process you'd like to take them through? Let's put this in, let's give it a shot, let's try it. Okay, here's what other people use those I this is how I'd recommend it. It turns into kind of a customization, a consultation, versus a demo, and I think it was a super engaging and at the end they have something. They have a straw man of how to leverage that product for them. That's a perfect example of providing value with every interaction. I mean that's a that's a beautiful approach. That reps figured it out right. You're doing something that's collaborative, it's interactive, it's leveraging your tools, but you're also providing them something at the end. So it wasn't just you know, sitting in a room for an hour listen to a pitch about you know, open, save, cut and paste or whatever the new feature said is today. Yeah, and I think you know the people who are going to use technology throughout the process to remove that friction, everything from, you know, contracts to presentations to business justifications, to be able to do that without having to spend much time to make baby basically make a cut and paste and may be able to keep track and have the intelligence, because I don't know if you use anything that gives you email notifications when someone opens it. Oh Yeah, Oh yeah, I love that stuff. I gotta Tell You, one of the best pieces of technology for me personally has been the calendar link. I mean, I know you all, I know you and I use it, but I mean just what? People don't even have it like it is. Saves so much time, it is so easily. Hey, here, I'll make it easy for you. Here's a link to my calendar. Find a time that works for you internally with customers prospects, that thing. That's beautiful. Yeah, that's it. Before I got on this, I somebody was interviewing me about, you know, pure outbound cold calls, and I said. Well, you know, I don't do any they go, you had a video. That was five years ago, that you don't only to do to a day. I go, you don't use the phone. No, I'm on the phone all day. But you know, if it's not on my calendar, that way, when people their calendar changes, they can change it without interfering or checking with me, right, you know, and they can get on my calendar when you they know I'm available. I block out the times and I use certain days for certain topics that I care about. So I don't do a lot of context shifting. And you talk about productivity. It is like insane. Oh well, and it's just, I mean it also just from a psychology standpoint. You're getting this other person to in. They're already engaging with you just by clicking on the link. You're giving them power in the process, right, and infusing them with a sense of ownership, and it saves me a hell of a lot of time in the back and forth. Well, no, Monday at two to four or forty five or when they like Buh Man, I'm so glad I don't get those emails anymore. Oh yeah, it's like, Oh, you pick, oh, oh, anytime next week, house, Wednesday, any day, but Wednesday okay. And then you get time zone. Who Calls? Who? Yeah, do we do it on skype? Do we do it on the phone? Ah, that used to drive me crazy. Yeah, the technology. The technology again,..., since that's scalable, that that allows you to be more efficient on both sides of the equation. Right. Like nudge gives me information so I can be more intent with the person I'm talking to, make it more valuable for them. The calendar link stuff gives me the ability to engage somebody, get them involved with me, give them some power. Right. Those types of tools are just they're invaluable, I think, in the sales process. Yeah, and especially anything that you can put on your smartphone. You know, because I got the IPHONE that not the first time it went out, but the second time, and I've been so hooked on it because, you know, I can get so much done while I'm standing in line at starbucks and stuff when I have all my key APPs on the home screen and be able to, you know, connect with people, get emails done all real quickly and immediately, you know, using text. I really encourage you, everybody I work with, the use text, you know, on which is pretty natural for it. You know anybody under forty? Yeah, the age things interesting, right. There's a stat that we used to use that sies like seventy four percent of millennials when they wake up in the morning, the first thing they do is roll over and grab their phone instead of touched their significant other. So, I mean you're that attached and we used to call it the one foot, three foot, ten foot experience. So there's your phone, your computer and then television or large scale screens, and so we have a tendency to be inundated by these screens and that phone. We're just I mean you watch the videos online of people walking into, you know, parking meters because they're texting or staring at the screen not paying attention. That's a it's a phenomenal device for efficiency and to get in touch with and engage with people. Yeah, yeah, and I think, you know, certainly the younger people have adopted it. I think a lot of people, you know some people over forty, should really spend more time with its matter be ages. But yeah, I agree. Well, I'm yeah, Hey, I'm over forty, but I haven't I have one always it's always within two feet of me. If my phone is not within two fee of me, I start to have you know, I've breaking the cold sweats. Well, that's it, because anybody like under forty that they don't call you, like all my friends call me in PROMPTU and stuff. They don't text first, but younger people will text first. Hey, is now a good time to talk, which is fine, you know, but it's kind of cool. Hey. My number four was turning clients into advocates. I think the people this is kind of old school, but I think it's really even more important now, since those latent customers are so hard to get. If you got a customer, you've got to make them successful. You've got to make them your advocate without I mean it used to be that way. You were always trying to do that right, but not today, especially with like the increasing content, the increase in, you know, thought leader marketing and refral marketing and stuff like that. You want your customers to go out and tell their story. First off, people relate better to stories. Second off, it's not coming from you and as a salesperson with a you know, an agenda, you're gonna they're going to look at a little bit biased. But you have a customer that you can put out there that's going to talk about how what it was like to work with you, what the experience was like, what the results were. Right they can give them more of that understanding, that threedimensional understanding of really what it means to partner with somebody. That's extremely powerful, but it takes a lot of work to make sure that your customer experience all the way through the sales process, your sales experience and your customer experience is flawless. That's it. That's something you know, I did, you know, when I was selling enterprise software. Soon as I got one on account, I would take that account out to launch meat into prospect and then I'd daisy chain them and then I'd I had part of my ecosystem is consultants that would do the implementation, you know, and I'd bring them in on the sales process. That understand how each stage is going to go and it helps out with that mystery middle piece of the deal where it's like, okay, the kind of bought and they want to move forward but still not ready yet, and it is and you don't have the money allocated. Is, you know, the CEO isn't bought in, there's no business justification written yet, and what it end up having is a system and ecosystem that...

...really works. And I've had the founder of influidive on and he's got, you know, building a product to even help people with this, to make your clients your advocate its and, you know, the reps kind of think of this is marketing's job, but and it might be if they if you don't close the deal, it doesn't matter whose job it is. Right well, and especially when you get into, you know, combination, to stop services and products right where you we're selling a product and there's implementation services or customization services. In order to have a customer who's willing to be an advocate, you've got to make sure from beginning to end that it's it's, you know, beneficial to them, they provides the results that's going to provide. As a sales rep, I always used, I never used to just turn an account over, I never used to throw it over the wall. I was always there riding along, annoyed the crap out of our consultants and stuff, but then the day I was like look, we can get to the other side and they'll stand up and they'll come give a talk where they'll talk to another prospect or they'll do a block or a white paper or whatever. If they're willing to do that, that's invaluable and it's not all right. Yes, marketing has some role in that, but it's my job, I've always thought, as a sales rap, to get them to that point because I'm going to then turn that around and use that to bring in another customer and make more money. Right. So the Oh, the sense of ownership, or at least involvement, I think needs to be more consistent as people move forward. Yeah, and I think it plays into the that chief revenue officer idea where that that person is responsible for him getting the accounts, turning them into advocates, turning advocates into part of the marketing team where you know they're working on case studies and testimonials and use cases and all of a sudden you start to build that ecosystem and reps who embrace that, who put extra effort into it instead of just looking at it going after the next kill, which we know we're program to do because there's maybe no revenue there. You know, for another twelve months and you know that's kind of short term thinking. But they're that reference. You know that reference is only going to be there if they owe you something. If that rapport is strong, if that relationship is strong, then you get the reference. Otherwise you get the Oh yeah, have them call me. They've not a doubt. You'll never get the call back and you'll never get the reference and that bad looks even worse. Yeah, and then, and then, of course, I mean especially with the prevalence of social media and if you irritate somebody so much like I had a CEO once. You remember, and maybe this shows my age, but LEX mark printers, right when inkjet printers were were a big deal and they first came out. He had a bad experience with a LEX Mark Salesperson. When I met the CEO it was like eighteen years later and he was looking at new printers for the it was looking at new prince to the office and the one thing he said was under no circumstances do you bring a Lex mark product into this organization. Eighteen years later. So if you go negative, your the ramifications of that are, you know, severe, and so really staying focused on that and using that opportunity to turn them into an advocate. You know, it's worth its weight in gold. It is. But my number five one is kind of controversial. But controversial say, is it compete to kill? Now this is a kind of a cultural thing that I had when I was a rep that wasn't, Oh, a world of abundance out there, that there was only so many deals for my products and I was going to kill my competition. I didn't just want to beat them and I wanted that rap to go look for another job. I Love I love it. So, yeah, all the headhunters, I knew I would always you know, hey, you know, there's Joe over there. You know, I don't think he's doing that well. You might want to pull him out of there and give him a better career opportunity. I love it. I mean, look at the name of the game in sales is to win, right, that's it's competitive. We want to make sure that we're, you know, providing a complete solution. It's so if you can get a...

...foot in the door, tip of this beer, whatever que little phrase we want to use to get the door, the job is to get rid of the competition. We're not in you know, you can do where they call it co opetition or something. I never understood that. I never I never understood that. I am definitely a type A I want the entire account, you can, you can go somewhere else kind of guy. So completely agree with that. But it also breeds focus, right focus, and more of a strategic thinking for sales arts, whether they're able to accomplish it or not, but to be able to think like that and think holistically of what are all of the problems I can sell or solve for this account right, and how can I increase my revenue if that means focusing on taking out the competition, you're at least focused on the account right and stay engaged with it. That's it. When I hear a rep go all, you win, some, you lose some. Bullsh no, you don't. That's it. You know what's the commission on a last deal right now? Zero. That that money is now in someone else's pocket. And I'm I mean in this in the most poositive way. I mean you don't do anything on ethical, immoral, but you do stay super focused and you are there to win the deal and you know you got understand your competition is to you get into these beauty contest deals with it. Look into three vendors, when an Arrow down to two, and then we will narrow it down to one and then all three will bid so they can use the pricing against each other and you've got to understand what the client is doing and drive them towards what you want them to do. Yeah, I mean in those situations, bakeoffs are always interesting to me. Right, if you get an RFP, first question should always be all right, look, let's just be honest with each other. If I'm cannon fodder and you've already got a chosen vendor and you just need some numbers, then let's save us both some time. I'll shoot you some numbers. I'll just I should just some so you can check that check box. But if you're willing to engage, okay, and if you're doing a bakeoff, the really you know, you see it time and time again. You know I've I've run teams where we've beat some of the big four because we're not focused on what we're going to do. We're going to focus on the results of the customers going to get out of it, and so we're not looking at just what the RFP is. You know, set telling us to look at. We're looking at the business as a whole. So URFP's a small window into a much bigger thing. My job when I go into those things, those Bakeoffs, my job is to wipe the floor with the competition so there's nobody less standing and I don't meet again. Like you said, not unethical. It's just a matter of drive, focus and value that you want to bring, right, and and commitment determination. Yeah, because I this always. What is the first question you always get? A one of the first questions you get when you have that on site meeting. They say, well, who do you compete again against? And Right, you know why they're asking because they want to you know another alternative. Sure, and yeah, and it's say, oh well, but we're kind of in this new space and you always give like maybe two week all turns or people who really aren't in the space. Usually I get asked that question. I'm like, well, we compete with A, B and C, and if you call them, I would ask them this question. And we compete with X, Y Z, and if you call them, I would ask them this question, knowing full well that the questions I've given them are things I know the competition hasn't figured out yet or have a, you know, a solution for that. We do right, and it's just that standard understanding, you know, not only understanding clients, industries and market. You do need to understand who your competitors are, not only what they're providing, but how they're selling to. Yeah, and I think this all comes back to that advocacy and ecosystem that you're building, that it's not a single transaction, that each what I used to call the bowling pin approach, where you knock down the head pin and all the other pins naturally fall right, and so you try and find who's the kingpin account or the kingpin partners that you have in your territory that if you worked with them, you get them successful and they all of a sudden everything else becomes easier. Right, you got to start somewhere and you got to be relentlessly focused on the wind. I mean, I don't know. I've had managers that are like, Oh, well, you know,...'s okay, you got you got beat. No, it's not okay. I want to know how I got beat. Why do I get you know, what can I do better next time? Because I'm going back to that account like I always used to tell refs. The two things I would tell reffs on my team that they hate is, number one, prices of phantom objection right just means you haven't demonstrated the value. And second, if you lost, that account isn't dead, it just means you have a hell of a lot more work to go get it back. Yes, Hey, did you have any that I missed or know? Those were great. I think that was that was perfect. That was perfect. Cool. Hey, it really appreciate your time today, Jed. It's been my pleasure. I look forward to doing it again. All right, everyone, that does it again for this episode. I hope you found some value in the topics that Brian and I were covering. It's been an absolute joyed to team up with him on this and here his perspectives, share insights, tactic strategies, things that have worked for us and our clients as we have worked with them. I appreciate you listening. Please share the podcast out with friends, family, Co workers, your your network. Let people know that it's out there and if you're enjoying what you'R hand, please write US review on itunes or stitcher or whatever podcast source you're using. Those reviews help us really, you know, craft the content for the show, the types of guests that we invite the topics that we tackle. So again, thanks everybody for the time check us out at be to be REVKZECCOM and until next time, myself and everyone of value prime solutions wish you and nothing but the best. 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.

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