The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 1 year ago

The Science of Customer Connections w/ Jim Karrh

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Opportunity generation ultimately drives revenue. 

 

And it comes down to the interplay between 3 things:

 

Message, messenger and management habits. 

 

To learn more about how these play off each other, I spoke with Dr. Jim Karrh, Consultant and Professional Speaker at Karrh & Associates and Author of The Science of Customer Connections.

 

In this episode, we discuss:

 

- The elements of great messaging

 

- Why everyone can sell — even introverts

 

- Why a central source of conversational truth is important

 

This post includes highlights of our podcast interview with Dr. Jim Karrh, Consultant and Professional Speaker at Karrh & Associates.

 

For the entire interview, you can listen to The B2B Revenue Executive Experience. If you don’t use Apple Podcasts, we suggest this link.

All of this is a hundred percent under your control. You don't have to be perfect, but it's manageable. It's just managing what comes out of your mouth and what comes out of the mouths about it in your business. 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 how the interplay of message, messengers and management habits impact opportunity generation and, ultimately, revenue. Often we focus on this show on one of these elements of this equation. Today we're going to break down each one and see how they play off of each other, see how they amplify or nullify each other, depending on how well they're done. To help us, we have with this Dr Jim Carr, founder of car associates an author of the science of customer connections. Manage your message to grow Your Business Jim, thank you for taking time and welcome to the show. All Chat. It's a pleasure to be here and I feel like I will be talking among my people. Work like with you have. They're on the line for revenue and trying to get there without driving themselves and their their team insane, which, depending on what is you have an organization, can be a bit of a challenge. You Bet so. Before we jump in, we always like to ask a random question just so the audience gets to know you a little bit better. So we've all been in this new reality where there's a, you know, a lot more remote work. We're working from home. You and I both have traveled endlesslie in the past, so now we're home more for better or for worse. So curious to learn something that you've been able to reconnect with with this extra time at home and maybe a passionate hobby, something you were able to to find that helps you recharge and level set. Chat. I appreciate the...

...aspiration, the optimism in your question. Not to let you down, I did not learn another language or take up any new hobby. The here, the household reality in the car household is my wife and I have three teenage sons, the oldest of whom is a graduating senior getting ready to go to college, plus a three year old daughter. So it's not like we've had extra time. Everyone has been home from school and we've been doing that sort of thing. I will say on a on a positive note, I did resolve to that was in a decent shape and I try to stay in decent shape, but I was not going to make the nineteen of covid nineteen being the nineteen pounds right right. So I went back to the P ninety x three workout series, which I had done in the past, and it's something you can do about a half hour a day at home the most part, and sometimes could even work out with with my sons, and so I'm probably each add a little better shape than I was when all of this started. So maybe that that's awesome. Yeah, especially when you know, especially when we live on planes and travel as much as we have in the past, like it's hard. It's hard to be as physically fit or healthy as there's so much temptation, so much to yes, and just schedules are uneven and the quality of food is uneven and sleep is uneven. So all those sorts of things are difficult and when you're on the road as much as we may have been before, and we'll see how that's all going to play out. I think there's going to be a bit of a hybrid world going forward, but my crystal ball is no more clear than anyone else. It's right. Yeah, if we only knew who would help and help. There's a lot of all right, what's happening today? Where's the business going today? All right, so let's get started. leaving. I can say, Chad, what I try to follow is if anyone's see any supposed expert starts by saying...

...something along if present trends continue or at this rate, just turn them off at that point because it won't continue at this rate. Yeah, and what it's like every morning? Is it up as it down. You know, it's just it's one of those all right, we're just riding roller coaster. Let's see what exactly. So what happens? All right, so let's jump in and let's talk about this M and challenge and see if we can add a new perspective. So we all know. Ever, anybody who's listen to this would know that most sellers, people in the sales profession are really good at talking about the value of what they provide, whether it be a product or service, and it's true for any seller right, anybody in marketing. You get really good at talking about us, talking about what word delivering, and it's true basically anybody who touches customer right. But they struggle to message or talk about their solutions, their products effectively or in a way that you know is difficult for others to connect with, and I'm curious to know. It's one of those things I've seen throughout my career. But from your perspective and expertise, what causes this? What? What is it that we're struggling with? What's the real challenge here with that creation and articulation of the message? Well, Chad, you hit on the word confidence, and let's established that that is a chronic issue in a really big issue when you think about whether you call it sales messaging, selling conversations or just what it takes to generate opportunities and revenue. I've seen a number of surveys of Bab sales reps in particular and in general, their confidence in the message behind their solutions. Self reports of confidence is less than half of their confidence in the solutions themselves, and that has a tremendous number of consequences. So if you're you have a selling team and they're not sure of the questions to ask, what to say, the stories to share, they don't feel like they've got it straight, they're probably not going to engage in the way that they should and oftentimes...

...sales managers leaders, company leaders will be frustrated because why aren't they getting out there and doing there's so much opportunity. Why aren't we engaging the market place? And it can be that hesitation on. I can have that conversation but it's not going to go well because I don't I can't preview, I'm not not confident in it, and so the conversations don't happen. You ask about causes and I consider them road blocks and they're based in brain science and they're based in psychology and oftentimes past assumption. So the number one roadblock, Chad to just what you were talking about, is our brains, which is the most wonderful mystical machine ever. But our brains reward us for things that are comfortable. We get a nice electrical chemical charge from that, which means that we tend to talk about ourselves and our stuff too much. Our brains just draw us in that direction. So it requires some intention and it requires good leadership and reinforcement about how we don't let ourselves continue to drift that way. I'd say a second area that causes some of these problems is our assumptions. There have been assumptions for decades that there's a certain personality type, is a certain kind of person who's really good at leading selling conversations. Typically this the extrovert. It's someone who is skilled in communication, who's had specific kinds of training. It's that person and a lot of sales people and customer service people and others inside the company would say it's that person. And, by the way, I'm not that person. But what we come to learn over time with real sales people is that extraversion introversion doesn't really make a difference in terms of effectiveness. In fact, most of us, personality wise, are in...

...the middle of that continuum where are what may be called amberverts or I called the Nimble majority. It's more of a bill curve, and that means most of us are naturally wired for the give and take of good conversation, however that's going to be, and even the more extreme introverts or extreme extroverts have their own assets. They had their own strong points about it. But the real takeaway chat is if you look across not just a sales team or a marketing team but service, delivery, installations, selling partners, whatever the ecosystem is around your solutions or your stuff, is that most of us are naturally equipped to be able to do it well. So we need to look at that with a broad view. And I just as a final thing that I run across a lot chant that gets in the way is organizational baggage. Some of that's baked in. We have silos and layers and business units all over the place. There maybe lack of training or coaching. A lot of people haven't been trained in selling conversations and so they find themselves then to be frontline managers and they're supposed to provide coaching for their direct reports and they're ill equipped to be able to do so. So and oftentimes we're bag are way down by what we try to do something like this. Last year we remember around so and so about engaging higher in the customer organization or the so that it intended to fizzle out. So the number one thing is our brains, but also, I'd say, our assumptions and our organizational baggage can get in the way, and so we have to reverse engineer the process a little bit in terms of what will make for good selling conversations and then attack those accordingly. Well, and in a lot of situations, if you think, I think sometimes organizations have set themselves up to propagate this. Right, you hire, let's just say, a sales professional, or it could be services, doesn't matter. You hire a new person and the onboarding process is ninety five percent...

...us, US, US, US, US. This is what we do, this is how we do it, this is our process, this is these are our products, these are skiws that, you know, it's all about us. Then we unleave these people into the market and can't understand why they're not having these productive conversations, because nobody responds to Hey, let me talk about me, Hey, let me talk about me, Hey, let me talk about me. And so have you seen with clients or do when you work with clients, do you approach it in a way that maybe doesn't specifically go after you know how they effectively on board but helping them understand that at some point, at each stage in the revenue funnel, there needs to be a focus on how this message is put into the world and, more importantly, do you tailor the approach to say how I'm going to work with marketing versus how I'm going to work with you know, customer success with the sales team. Absolutely, Chad. What you've described as is pretty common, certainly from what I've seen with clients and in other organizations. In terms of approach. The first thing I do with the leadership is let's take a deep breath. The good news is that in order to get much more effective consistent selling conversations, you don't necessarily need to change your go to market strategy, you don't need to turn the business upside down, you don't need to necessarily change a pricing or distribution or your partner arrangements or anything like that. But let's look at the nuts and bolts of those effective sales conversations. This is eminently manageable. Doesn't have to be perfect, thank goodness, but if you can manage it and be consistently good, then you will rise above the noise. You will in terms of against your competitors do very, very well, but you just need to get intentional, simple and serious. And I'd say for a you mention. You know, how do you approach this across sales teams and marketing success and other parts of the organization? I do recommend a...

...cocreation type of approach there and there needs to be a central source of conversational truth. That's kind of a high like the title, plan to play. We book a guide that takes in not a repository but a guide of here are ideal, ideal clients, your persona's, your questions, to ask stories, to share evidence of what we do, things that are tailored toward a few specific conversations that are really the priority. And I think if a lot of times, Chad, what we'll see is is companies will turn this over to marketing or they'll turn it over or it's the CEO has decided what he or she really wants to say. I want everybody to be able to spout out our eleven point vision statement. This is, this is the thing that it needs to be. Or there's an agency or some outside party that comes with a new message. Sometimes maybe a slogan or some mantra that's there and it's not internalized with the very people that you want to deliver that message in their everyday business conversation. So there are a couple of things by being very intentional of having a cocreation mentality. First is that your message itself will be better because you will involve frontline sales people and Marketing in customer success and, I would say, other subject matter experts, other people inside of your enterprise, that they will be able to bring you more real works, better stories. They will know the kinds of questions that we need to be ready for in the kinds of questions that we need to be asking in those those conversations. The other advantage to approaching it that way, chat is that you're building some street cred you're building some momentum for this new message during the creating process,...

...because people are going to go back what you're doing, workshops or group meetings or you however you you do that and build out your playbook and validated over a period of a few weeks, they're going to be going back to their teammates, they're going to be going back to their regions and saying, Hey, I'm in this, this cool thing we're really developing something that feels like us and is very tailored and very authentic and real. So when it's time to roll this out, you'll have some momentum behind it. Yeah, there's I mean there's always that's kind of a change management approach, right. So if we think about out there's the how do we how do we evolve the message? How do we get everybody on board that? I love the idea of Co creation and I am going to I'm going to go back and listen this and grab that phrase because that sound sounded very official. It's not original to me. I ripped it off from other people. So it sounded great though I was like wow, I mean, it really Reson it. So, but there's the creation of the message, then there's the change management portion and getting people involved early. One hundred percent. One hundred percent agree with you. You know, it's critical. Then you've got, you know, the reinforcement. How do we make sure they don't fall back into their old habits? But when you're developing that message part, when you're working on that co creation, you mentioned pulling in people that will have better words or things like that. Do you incorporate any like conversations with current customers to see what it was that resonated with them, or is this really just farming and pulling together the information and the expertise that we have internally? Great question, chat and I think you need to pull from several sources. Ideally, and I will say to to you and your listeners, this doesn't have to take a year and a half. I mean you can do a lot of these things, a lot of this work fairly quickly, but I certainly at the first level because there's this historic disconnect between marketing and sales. So let's break that apart when we want to make sure that is not one area delivering something they expect another area of the company to Parrot, just to say so marketing...

...and sales, I would look at and and what's the business case and what are the conversations that we want? So it might be, just as one example, that the business goal is to expand accounts, to expand the number of the things that you're doing in to retain people, retain customers. If that's the case, then I want to get that customer point of view why they're doing business, where that's what we're helping them with. What other things they consider along the way and stay ahead of that. Now it might be you're seeing a problem with when rates or Commoditization, that your margins are shrinking. You get into these beauty contests and and where you don't want to be as a seller. So then you want to explore a little bit more maybe why you did not get certain deals, why, and I know number of companies will have you know, win law studies and that sort of thing. You want to be able to bring in those data points, those stories that are specific, again to the business goal that you have and then the conversations that will be necessary for you to hit that business goals. I say sample widely. Yeah, talk to as many people as you kind of mean that there's a lot of focus. Now we it's almost got a point where is kind of a buzzword with that buyer journey. What is what is the buyer experience from from first contact when they might be in like a low interest, low awareness state, they're not interested in what you're provided or not particularly where of your company, but then moving them to that high interest, high awareness state where they are engaged, and then all the way through the sales process there also has to be a connection points of the messaging so that from an early stage prospecting standpoint through customer success, the individuals or the companies that you're working with don't feel like they're dealing with multiple organizations. So there has to be some level of alignment and I'm assuming this is where the interplay and amplification of these messages come in. Curious if you've seen, not that I want...

...to throw anybody into the bus, but curious if you have seen where companies have their way out of alignment in that and how you've helped them kind of get to that more consistent amplification of message through the entire process. Well, and we won't mention any name and look this, these are chronic issues and again it has to do with our way we're organized. It has to do with our brains. It tends to look it's complicated how we sell and how we buy, especially for high value solutions on the B Tob side of things. So it's a messy issue. It's not inaccessible, we just need to break it into some some simple components. So yes, this happens and it happens to really good companies and really good teams and professionals that's why you need a good, simple, scientifically sound, practical approach to tackling the problem, again, knowing that you don't you don't have to be perfect, because you won't be perfect, but that's fine. So I think is a clarifying way of approaching all of this. I tend to think of really good messaging as a three legged stool, and so think of the the legs of message, Messengers and management habits. The message is you need a story, and it's not a story that's that's not even the right way to put it. Yet you need things to say and and share that are conversational and shareable. So I talked earlier about mission vision statements. They are allowsy basis for a real selling conversation, a good everyday business conversation, because they are self referent and they tend to sound the same across industries and across organizations. But you want something that's really interesting that a lot of the emphasis these days on storytelling is a component of that. Bite size chunks things that are relevant to the customers...

...world, things that you can remember in the moment and that, when they're heard on the other side, are understandable and interesting and that can be shared yet again. So there's components of taking what might be say marketing language, which is around positioning, and bringing it into sales language and customer language. That's part of bringing in different, different people from the organization and in being really brutal about getting it down into its slimming it down and getting into its right components. The messengers part is thinking about it can be your fan base of customers, but it's certainly the other people inside the organization who we're going to be carrying the message primarily properly, probably the sales team, but also maybe you may have lots of teams that have customer contact and oftentimes it's at the delivery or the maintenance or implementation. Those folks need to have at least some pieces of that message at the ready that they're comfortable and confident and sharing as well. Then the third leg of the stool, Chad, is management habits. Those are the ways that we bake this in to how we meet, talk, coach, reward, support, socialize. How do we get this to be into the fabric of our culture so that people will know what to say and they will have developed the skills and the repetition of doing it and then we'll get back to that very notion of confidence that you talked about earlier. People will be confident when they're they feel fluid in it. They think it's going to make them look good and it's going to help them hit their goals and they won't get whacked if they're trying it and it doesn't go great the first time. Right. So we're working on this, managers are working with their teams and we're all sharing successes and those wins, and so it becomes a very virtuous circle of a good message, a lot of people...

...who are equipped and confident and sharing it, and then management habits that make this a more or less permanent part of your selling culture. And so that's I mean, that's a great breakdown on how we manage it internally, right. But them, and we all know, the minute we turn around where we can management as effectively internally as we want, the minute we turn around and we let people lose, then it's out in the wild and it's and it can take on a life of its own right. So I'm curious how how it affects it. Like if we have this down, the message, the messages in the management habits, if we have it down, how does that impact, amplify affect things like word of mouth or the concept of trustworthiness that maybe a buyer prospect has or doesn't have with us? Curious, once you've got that down, is it easier to see positive word of mouth happening and the trust, credibility and rapport go up, or is that yet another layer of messaging management that has to be considered? Well, these things certainly are a connected and you just think into the everyday consumer world of word of mouth. If you have a great meal or see a movie, as your Netflix binging during this time the case might be, and people are inclined to share their experiences with others that they think might benefit and it helps them look good in the process. So if we are feeding a system chat of having the right sort of message and thinking who is that fan base of messengers going to be, including your current customers, are clients and channel partners and and other people, taking a nice broad view of it, then we will enable a lot of a lot more word of mouth. And interesting in that even in this digital world, a lot of recent studies about where word of mouth happens, it's still is far more on individual conversations in old fashioned analog stuff. Then it is through, say, social media or a lot of the digital marketing, not to say that the digital side of the house is an...

...important and increasingly important we want consistency across that, but it is in those conversations that's where the money is right. So we want to be able to connect those dots. You mention the word trustworthiness and I think that's worthy of just a moment because there are very few absolutes in this business world. But I would say absolutely chat a hundred percent of the executives and companies that I work with say they want something along those lines. They want their teams to be trusted, trusted advisors, consultative, something around that area of trust, which we can imagine. There's lots of great reasons why, and it's also the case that trust is an increasingly scarce commodity. Let me go back a little bit from what we know about consumer psychology and what I see in in everyday practice as well. So what is trustworthiness really and how can we avoid the pitfalls and how can we get that right? So I think of a very simple balance, that two things that comprise trustworthiness. So I think of tea equals e plus e and the tea is trustworthiness. The to ease are expertise and empathy. These are related, but they're they're separate. What I what I find is that many teams over index on this notion of expertise, so expertise being your credibility, your credentials, your years of experience, the logo slide that you have, all of that. It feels easier to express that because it it's objective and we can show it and we're confident in being able to do that. But there's the other side of it. The empathy is our understanding of the customers situation and what makes them unique and what they're struggling with. Not Sympathy, but empathy. And when I find is that...

...conversations are the only means to really build understanding and demonstrate your empathy by sharing a story, by asking a question, reflecting things back. So it's also easy, and maybe this is one of the reasons why Chad that, that it is those conversations that drive word of mouth and drive so much a business. A lot of the expertise stuff can be shared digitally. It is your videos in your white papers and your thought leadership and all of that. Again, it's important, as Super Important Foundation, but it's getting into the right kind of conversations the right time with right people and leading the conversation in a way that's friendly to the prospect of the customer, helps them solve a problem, helps them address an issue. That's where you will set yourself apart by building that trustworthiness and through demonstrating your empathy. I love it and it is I love to hear you say because yes, everybody listen very closely. People still have conversations with people. It's not it's not about the social media stuff just by itself. And you know, I think about my own experience. If I'm looking for a referral or something, I am having a conversation with people that I that I trust, and asking some very specific questions. It's not like one hundred, forty two character limit something is going to convince me that I've found the right solution. My pointment in a direction, but I'm still going to want to want to talk to the individuals themselves. So all right, so let's let's change direction here a little bit. We ask all of our guests to standard questions. The Inn of reaching first is simply as a revenue executive yourself. I means you're a prospect or target for other sales professionals. I'm always curious to understand when somebody doesn't have that trusted referral into you, when they don't have somebody that you trust saying, Hey, you really should talk to this individual. What works for you for someone to effectively capture your attention, build the credibility and earn the right to get time on your calendar? Well, Chad, I suspect that you and I can both...

...tell lots of stories and get it wrong, and a lot of it is just, do you know, diving right into a pitch. And I know I don't want any SEO. I'm just fine, but you know, because we're in this world, I do have a lot of empathy, have a lot of appreciation for what it does take to be a great sales professional and a revenue generator. It. It's hard, you know, this is a tough job and so I try to have a little grace. That said, there is a lot of bad practice out there. I'll tell you, I'll put it maybe the other way around. In what tends to work and what I appreciate the most. I do appreciate those folks who can combine a couple of things. So the first is an expert point of view. They'll tell me something I didn't know or help me look at a problem or opportunity in a different way, and that comes back to that expertise port. But so someone who can can say something. It doesn't have to be provocative. The fact that that it's insightful it's probably a self provocative. So I appreciate that part. But the second area that I appreciate is is something that's tailored to me. Someone's done their homework, so they may understand the pattern, they may and they have their domain of expertise, but they also appreciate in an empathetic way that I'm not quite like everybody else, or at least I don't think I'm quite like everybody else. Everyone wants to consider themselves to be autonomous, right. So that means that the people who approach me the well, they're not giving me a presentation, all right and just pitching and they're not trying to force an interrogation on me either, and they're not saying hey, it's you, how about we schedule a twohour call so I can ask you eighty seven questions about your business and we'll see if we might be a good shit. So instead it's I actually do appreciate a conversation that would make me feel smarter and can give me something that I think is of value. So...

...if it's not a presentation and it's not an interrogation, it's probably a good conversation. Love it all right. Last question. We call it our acceleration insight. If there was one piece of advice, if you were limited to one piece of advice, you could tell sales, marketing or customer success people one piece of advice that you believe would help them hit or exceed their targets. What would it be and why? They can offer some practical and just realistic encouragement you having a message that that does justice to the value you offer. It's that that confidence issue. That a huge gap that we talked about just at the top of our conversation. Knowing this is a chronic challenge. No one can do this well by themselves and we're in our own bubble. We've got our brains talking to us in the wrong way. But all of this is a hundred percent under your control. You don't have to be perfect, but it's manageable. It's just managing what comes out of your mouth and what comes out of the mouths of oot it in your business, and you'll just need a plan you whether you want to call it a playbook or a guide or something that helps you break through barriers, helps you break through the natural tendency to talk about ourselves too much, and it makes it something that's eminently shareable. So it can sound very simple. conceptually it is simple, but with a little intention, a little practice and and staying with it, then this is something you can actually use to set your business apart and grow your revenue faster than you could have otherwise. Excellent. All Right, Jim. If a listeners interested in talking more about topics we touched on or learning more about your services or your book, where where do you want us to send them? Well, for the free stuff, which is always the very appealing, I'd say go to my website, which is Jim cardcom. My last name is spelled ka a are H. it's a family branding issue and I'm just, you know, stuck with it. If you can get close by the way, chat ups. I've purchased the domains of most of the...

...common misspellings in my name. You can get close, you'll find it. I have my own podcast called the manage you or message podcast, and so that's a nice resource as well. On the inexpensive stuff, I have have the book that you mentioned, which you can find on Amazon and audiobook us on audible, is basically on all the ways that that you buy and consume business books and I break it down into message, messengers management and offer a lot of tips and encouragement there and I would encourage anyone who's interested and once the connect on a Linkedin is my primary social platform platform of choice. So at Jim car there would be great and as long as you're not pitching me Seo services within for Nano seconds of making the connection, I'd welcome that. So tell me that you heard hurt us here and and if any way that I can serve as a sounding board or a source of inside to be happy to do that. Excellent, jam. I can't thank you enough for taking time to be on the show. It's been in a pleasure, pleasures all mine. Thanks. All right, everybody that does off this episode, you know the drill be to be REV exactcom share the friends of family, Co workers. Anybody's just stuck in quarantine and, if you like what you here do is a favorite, leave us a review on itunes. Till next time. We had value selling associates, which we all 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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