Increasing digitalization, a growing millennial workforce, and shorter product lifecycles have severely constrained the output and effectiveness of salespeople across the globe. Outdated and outmoded sales playbooks further limit the repertoire of tools and techniques deployed by salespeople attempting to sell to increasingly better informed and sophisticated buyers. That was before the global pandemic! The pandemic has irrevocably changed buyer behavior, and the need for a 21st-century sales playbook has never been greater. Graham Hawkins, Founder & CEO of SalesTribe, LinkedIn Top Voice, and Best Selling Author will talk with Pandemic Punditry on how we need to change the way we sell by digitally transforming how we convince customers to buy!
Speaker 1 (00:26):
Hi everybody. Good evening. Good morning. Good afternoon. Depends on where you’re joining us from around the world today. Thank you for joining us again on another marketing in a pandemic series. So today we’re going to talk about changing how you sell digital sales transformation. And we are at Pandemic punditry honored to have in our company today, Graham Hawkins a legendary sales guru as I would like to call him. He’s a LinkedIn top voice. He’s an author of two books. He’s done a lot of things. I’ve, I’ve find him to be somebody who talks a lot of sense. He uses a 21st century playbook as I call it in terms of what he has as prescriptions or guidance or advice for salespeople. And I’m really happy that he’s here because I think you know, we will have a lot of talk about today in a, in a time when everybody on the sales side is feeding a lot of challenges because of the pandemic.
Speaker 1 (01:25):
And so Graham, welcome to pandemic punditry. And if you could sort of give everybody who may not be as familiar with you as some of us are a little bit about your background and what you do. Yeah. Look, thank you. Love Indra. That’s a wonderful introduction. Yeah, sales guru, not sure, but certainly longterm sales person. That’s sure. And I love what you said about the 21st century sales playbook. Although I tend to look at it now as a 21st century buying journey rather than a sales playbook, but we’ll, we’ll get to that. Right. I agree. Yeah, it looks so really briefly for your listeners. Love Indra and Karthik her as well. The, my story is a simple one. Really. I started in sales as a 19 year old here in Australia and yeah, back in 1989. So I’m showing my age now 30 years ago, and really I was introduced to sales as it was back then as a numbers game, you know it was, it was back in that era where sales was all about, you know, how many calls you made, how many cold calls you made.
Speaker 1 (02:27):
So make a hundred calls, get 30 interested parties from the 30 inches party. You can get 10 minutes from the 10 meetings. You’ll close three. So I spent the better part of 20 years executing this old brute force sales model where, you know, you would interrupt a buyer or first of all, identify a buyer, interrupt the buyer and then push that bar through my sales process, whether they liked it or not really. So that’s where I’ve come from. But in 2012, well actually in 2010, I started to notice the things were changing a lot, but the success that I was having in that old way of selling was getting, it was getting harder and harder to engage educated buyers, right? So I made the decision in 2012 to go back and do an MBA. So I went to our MIT here in Melbourne and I spent 12 months studying and where things really changed for me completely was that I went out and interviewed buyers during the research project.
Speaker 1 (03:24):
I spent 12 months going and speaking with senior enterprise procurement people in vendor management people. And I specifically asked them the question, what’s it like for you, mr. Or mrs. Buyer to engage with vendor salespeople. And I, I, I did long form interviews and I collected all of his feedback and frankly, most of it was quite confronting for me cause I was I was an old school sales guy. Right. and so I got all of this feedback and it was quite consistent across the board and it was, it was quite confronting as I said. So all of that research led to my first book, which is called sales transformation. I got so fascinated in how much change was happening back then. I’m talking eight years ago that I started to think, well, where’s this going? And what are the implications for the sales profession?
Speaker 1 (04:13):
You know, for people like me, who’ve been used to selling this certain way, what does this mean for all of us moving forward? And so you know, I said about writing a second book, which is the future of the sales profession. And I’m pleased to say that that’s now an Amazon bestseller, which is way better than I expected. Yeah. I was very pleased with that. And it was during that research phase love Indra of writing. The second book that I realized there was an opportunity to go and start a business. And that’s where sales tribe was born. But the majority of my career, as I said, it was, was working with us software companies in the Asia PAC region. I did spend a little bit of time living and working in London as well for years. But for 30 years I’ve been in sales and sales leadership roles with mostly U S software companies until now.
Speaker 2 (05:01):
Wow. Yeah. I mean, that’s amazing. And I think it’s interesting how you went and actually started talking to buyers. I mean a recent Gartner 2019, a Gartner survey says that, you know, 77% of buyers feel that there’s a sailing you know, buying experience is complex and hard. And actually, you know, it’s a challenge 77%. So obviously the way we sort of sell today our company is trying to sell is not working on from a buyer’s perspective. Right. And that’s, I think a key key part of what you’re saying, your message. So, I mean, how, how does one change one’s orientation may be or approach to doing sales or I hate the word. I actually, I personally used the word buyer facilitation in my nomenclature now because I think we facilitate the buying process. It’s not that we’re trying to sell somebody something.
Speaker 2 (05:49):
And I think Gothica has a great one. She saw us caused them, send some sense-making advisors, right? So you try to make sense of all the, all the content information that not only you produce, but other people produce on a particular problem in a solution. So I like both those terms and I hate the word sales person now. I think it’s it’s trite, but, but tell me, I mean, what, what, what is the process someone needs to adopt to sort of make a radical change or adopt adapt to the new sort of you know, reality out there actually.
Speaker 1 (06:18):
Yeah, look, it’s a, it’s a complex subject, right? And it’s, I don’t think you can overstate how much things have changing. We’ll come to covert in a second. And the big changes that that’s creating, but even before COVID things were changing so dramatically, I could explain to my clients when buyers change, how they buy sellers have to change how they sell, whether we like it or not. That’s just the reality. The buyer is in control. We are now in the age of the customer. And so giving the buyer the delightful experience that they now expect is it’s incumbent upon us as salespeople to do that. Otherwise. if you’re still, you’re still chasing buyers, interrupting, manipulating persuading buyers in 2020, you won’t be in business for long because the expectations are right up here now. Right. So I think to your question, live Indra, what we have to do is make the mindset shift from selling to to educating, to solving problems.
Speaker 1 (07:14):
You know, I often say a sale is just something that happens when you immersed in helping your buyer solve a problem. It’s just the byproduct, right? So I think that’s the first thing is to make the mindset shift that we’re not here to sell anything anymore. There’s that great saying? I think it was David Meerman. Scott said you sell more when you stop selling. And that other one that goes with it, I think is great too. I’m a collector of right quotes. As you can tell with writing books, you do a lot of research, but the other one is when you sell you break rapport, but when you educate you build rapport, right? Exactly. I think everyone that’s in business now just has to make that mindset shift first and foremost, put yourself in the shoes of the buyer and then just give the buyer the experience they now expect.
Speaker 2 (08:00):
And do you, do you see as a profession and I, I mean, I ha I take this kind of exception to a lot of, you know, sales coaching out there and, and, and selling techniques and methodologies. They’re always a push approach. And I, you know, our profession, unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have gone through a transformation that the Catholic is a marketing expert. You know, marketing completely changed its orientation, it’s technology. I mean, it it’s, it’s written rewritten, its own book and thrown out whatever it’s sort of, you know, and most of it has been thrown out and be done and sales. I mean, we still, I mean, we’re still talking, you know, funnel, we’re talking, you know, all kinds of stuff, right. I mean, it’s like you listen to people and you go, where are you in? Where have you been? Is this a really a problem with sort of the fact that unlike marketing, maybe sales, I mean, we don’t have any professional. I mean, you know, our MIT, you know, you, you do some work there in the executive MBA, but a lot
Speaker 1 (08:56):
Of MBA programs. I mean, there’s no real professional body, right. That provides us, you know, professionals in the sales business, any kind of formal education or, or new information. I mean, it’s just, I mean, it’s like you fend for yourself, right. If you fail in some other venture or profession, you somehow get into end up in sales. Right. I mean, that’s really not what it needs to be. Right. I mean, do you see that? I mean, do you agree with that? Look, I agree. 100% you’re spot on. And yeah, there’s that, there’s that old thing about, we’re all accidental salespeople, no one sets out to have a career in sales. Right. So, but love Indra. My mother’s a history teacher and she often used to say to me, growing up that you can’t know who you are today until you understand where you’ve come from.
Speaker 1 (09:41):
So in the book, the first whole section of the book, I go right back over the history of sales to your point. And right back to 1884, when a guy named John H. Patterson first bought what was back then, national cash register, little company in Dayton, Ohio, and way back in 1884, John H. Patterson realized that what he needed was these autonomous agents out in the field. And he needed to give them a geographic territory and give them a quota each month to sell these cash register machines. And he would reward them with a commission. The long story short is all the way through to the two thousands hundred and 30 years. We’ve still got quotas. We’ve still got territories. We’ve still got commissions. And to your point, and in Catholica, you know, marketing has changed a lot. Sales is still stacking or it lots, lots of parts of it’s still stuck in the 20th century. And in fact, some of the 19th century type stuff. So it hasn’t changed much at all. Really? Yeah. Yeah. I think I know you have some questions for Graham as well from a, from a marketing perspective. Yeah.
Speaker 3 (10:44):
Sorry. I was starting out the text, but Graham, I was listening to you we’re live on YouTube now, Graham, just so you know. So so I mean, I have to actually dispute a lobby said in the sense that marketing people have changed, how they think and things like that, there are tons of people I talk to and I’m like, like, this is not how you can’t do things like this. And when you change and when that change happened for you, did you feel like you were talking Greek when other people were listening to you? D did you feel the same way? Like when you put out your book sales transformation where people like what’s this guy all about?
Speaker 1 (11:24):
Absolutely. Absolutely. In fact, I’m at the same time that I launched the second book, sort of talking about this forward looking view of where sales was going. I was also posting a lot on LinkedIn and the amount of people who, some of them got quite grumpy with me, actually, they were, they were quite argumentative about my approach because Hey, sales has always been done this way. That’s how it is. It’s not going to change. You’ve got to have, you know, you’ve got to make calls and you’ve got to push the buyer and close the deal, you know, hunters and closes and all that stuff. So I started to preach this new message of no, no, no, no. Forget all of that. Like I’ve done every sales training course, I’ve read every one of those old fashioned books for precision selling solution, selling target account, selling value based, selling strategic, selling, being challenger. I’ve done them. All right. And it wasn’t until I really went out and interviewed buyers and said, what do you think then I got that real slap in the face almost to say, this is not what we want. We don’t want that old stuff. We want a new way. So yeah. So I, I got roundly condemned by a lot of people early on Catholic and had said, this guy’s dreaming. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Speaker 3 (12:32):
So for you in your mind, like you were obviously able to make that shift, right. What do you think is holding back some of the other salespeople from doing the same thing?
Speaker 1 (12:45):
That’s a complex answer and I could spend a day answering that. I think. But in short, I think our, one of the biggest problems we have in our business is convincing outdated leaders that we need to change because it all comes down from the top. Right, right. Excuse me. The the sales guys who are just chasing their KPIs and trying to hit their monthly, quarterly numbers, they’re being measured, managed and rewarded by a leader who still thinks that they understand what the buyer wants. And quite often, they’ve, they’ve made some assumptions about what modern buyers want. They still think modern buyers the same as they were back in the 1990s. And they’re not. So that’s one of my biggest challenges is to get senior leaders to stop putting the same old pressure on the sales director to just churn out the numbers.
Speaker 1 (13:32):
You know, the second I think, I think a lot of them are unaware. I think Graham, I mean, you know, some serious fundamentals. I mean today, you know, Gartner and even forest, they have done this as well. They say, you know, it, 17% of the time, 17% is the time actually buyers spend with the supplier. And if you have multiple suppliers in that loop, it’s five to 6% with each rep. So, you know, you had a, you had a point where in the entire life cycle of a sale, seven only 17% of the buying decision at the time is spent with actually people who are selling something. I mean, that’s an eight. I would like to get your thoughts on this, you know, with the pandemic I would, and this is, this is 2019 number, right? I mean, are you seeing a lot more, a lot less of this happening?
Speaker 1 (14:21):
I mean, that, that even that 17% is shrinking the time, the face time that a salesperson has or the car, or in this case, virtual time or whatever, with an actual buyer, I mean, they’ve done most of their homework way before they call you a hundred percent, a hundred percent. That was the point I was going to make a little bit is, you know, when you talk to buyers about the process they go through, when they’re buying even low value, lower cycle time sort of stuff, there were at least 80% of the way through decision-making before they to talk to a buyer, sorry, a vendor. Right. You know, if that’s the case, if they’re all the way through that decision making, by the time you turn up mr. Sales guy, you turn up to have that first meeting. They’ve probably already selected their preferred vendor. Right. And so, yeah, the time spent now in trying to quickly qualify whether or not there’s the right fit here to, to win a deal or to move forward with a relationship. I argue with my clients. Now you’re almost at that point where you, if you’re coming in late all the time, you need to be better at qualifying out and qualifying in.
Speaker 3 (15:26):
Yeah, actually I had an interesting question because Graham, to your previous point where you said they get managed, measured and rewarded based on this oil way of thinking and sales and lobby, you always were a strong proponent that says people should not be paid a commission. That if I remember when I was part of a sales team, the first thing he said, when we, when he assembled the sales team is he said, Hey, you guys watch Glenn Glenn, Larry Ross. And we were like, no. And he’s like, that’s the case before your time. But let me play a clip for you where basically we have Alec Baldwin screaming down the throat of his salespeople saying, sell, sell, sell, you know, losers closes, lose losers, some famous quote, like that lobby you can chime in. So, I mean, with all of that happening, and then you see this new way of selling where the buying process is really not linear people go back and forth between stages and things like that. I mean, what role have you seen marketing play in all of this? Because I’m constantly amazed how little marketers also seem to compute. They’re always like, okay, MQL SQL, I’ve qualified it. I’m handing it over to you now, but it doesn’t work like that anymore.
Speaker 1 (16:44):
No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t. And you’re quite right. There’s a, there’s quite a bit to unpack there, but let, let me start with the Glen Gary, Glen Ross, you know, that’s a, that’s just a classic. When you look at that now and lobby to your point about no commission thing. One of my most viral articles that I’ve written was where I said, you know, no commission, no quota, the model for the future, with the headline. And yeah, I’m very much agree with you wholeheartedly. And I’ve my, my simple point in that article. And I’ve written about this in the book too, was just that to give a sales person, an incentive for maximizing revenue attainment is completely out of step. We will miss a line, which by our outcomes in a world now where everybody’s, you know, everything has a service. So everything’s a monthly payment. There are very few barriers to moving to a competitor if you want to. Now. So everybody focused on lifetime customer value, the longterm journey. You can’t have a sales person incentive to try and maximize the commission and maximize the revenue when you’re trying to like the buyer on a longterm journey. It’s just, it’s, it’s out of whack.
Speaker 2 (17:57):
Totally. I mean, it’s completely misaligned. And it’s funny how, how much time one has to spend convincing CEOs who feel that if they don’t, you know, think of salespeople as coin operated machines, you know, everything will crumble. I mean the whole facade will break down and it’s the opposite actually. I mean, you know, you know, as you know, and we’ve also sold B2B enterprise, you know, it’s a team effort, right? I mean, selling no longer is this is an individual sport. Never was actually right.
Speaker 1 (18:26):
This comes back to what Catholica was saying. And this is where the marketing thing comes in as well. You’re absolutely right. The, the idea of having one sales person rewarded for the whole thing as a coin operated robot, as you say, is just, it’s just an old fashioned way of thinking because, you know, we don’t pay our guys any commission and they’re delighted with it. And they work just as hard. I often said, in fact, I said it in the book, you know, marketing people don’t get paid a commission. Do they work any less customers? Don’t get, don’t get paid a commission. Do they work any less? So this idea that we’re all motivated by monies is nonsense. So I think yeah, monday.com is a client of ours down in Asia, PAC, and an amazing company, zero commissions. And they’re attracting some of the best sales talent right now.
Speaker 1 (19:17):
So the world is shifting towards this model that you say live Indra, where, you know, aligning sales and marketing and customer success together as a team is absolutely where it’s going. Can I think it’s your, to your question, I will come back to that now. Yeah. The role of marketing is so it’s so different, but it’s so critically important. So one of the programs that we teach at sales private use what we call sales success with social media. So we teach businesses and sales teams how to leverage LinkedIn in particular the right way. And I’m not talking about spray and pray.
Speaker 1 (19:54):
I think most people are doing social media the wrong way. They think it’s a big global network. So I’ll just spray my message out far and wide it’s, it’s the opposite. It’s look, let’s narrow down our ideal customer profile. Let’s understand who the buyer personas are and then let’s get a message to those people that’s buying stage appropriate. Let’s make sure that message arrives at the right time on the right platform, on the right device, all of that Omni channel stuff that everybody’s talking about. And you know, can I think of the, the marketing role in all of that is absolutely crucial now because content is, I laughingly say it’s not just King, it’s the whole Royal family content produced by the marketing team is now central to everything that has to happen in the sales department. So there’s that real connection happening now, finally,
Speaker 2 (20:45):
I mean, you could also make sense, right? Brian, when you think about the, sort of the looping that one does, because it’s no longer linear, right? It’s not stage one, stage two, you know, blah, blah, blah. I mean, Pete buyers keep going up and down, back and forth across, you know, before they buy. So it doesn’t make sense that, you know, marketing stops and then sales starts. I mean, there’s no, I mean, that’s only in our head. It really doesn’t apply in reality. I mean, all the research out there sales tells people that, you know, that’s not how buyers buying. And I think, I think a part of the challenge here is trying to understand how buyers operate. I think a lot of salespeople still operate from the premise that I am telling you, and I’m selling you as opposed to I’m listening and I’m understanding what you want.
Speaker 2 (21:26):
I think that’s that there’s a mental barrier there, I think. And that’s really, what’s a, so what do you, what do you think, I mean, we’re talking here about sort of changing how you sell. So if you were, for example, a salesperson who’s recently got laid off or the company’s sort of you know, gone away because of the pandemic or you’re actually a salesperson in job, but your concern sort of about, you know, what’s to come in your future career you know, what is the advice you would give such a person to say, Hey, how do you now get on with this new program? How can you make a difference in your company’s future? You know, what are the, you know, two or three things? I mean, whatever number that you think they should do right off the bat to sort of get off of this sort of playbook that they’ve been on. I mean, this transition, what you and I did at some point early in our career, right? Yeah.
Speaker 1 (22:13):
Well, listen, the first thing I’ll say, and this is a shameless plug, but the first thing you gotta do is join sales driver, right? Yeah. Okay.
Speaker 2 (22:19):
Okay. That’s all right. It’s fine. I highly recommend that because I’ve, I’ve seen a lot of the content they’re coming out of there and it’s, it’s, it’s spot on, in my opinion.
Speaker 1 (22:31):
That’s another good thing. Well said, Karthik. Thank you. Now on a serious note though we saw this opportunity to build a business. It’s all about community, right? And right now on LinkedIn, there’s nowhere where salespeople can go into a closed community and, and get the sort of education and upskilling that they now need. Alright, everybody, you said it before, love Indra. Everybody’s now grappling with all of this change and what to do next. And so they’re all kind of out there in various stages of, you know, job hopping from one job to the next school they’re redundant and they’re all trying to work out. How do I reinvent myself? How to repurpose myself, how do I get that next role with a company? That’s doing things in a different way, like a monday.com or a HubSpot or an Atlassian or one of those sorts of companies.
Speaker 1 (23:18):
So we built the business sales tribe specifically to help salespeople upgrade and protect their careers. That’s what we do. And we’re building a platform right now that will be released in a couple of weeks time, three or four weeks time that will allow, enable salespeople to come onto the platform, read all of the latest best practices around sales, go through courses that can teach them how to do these things. So there’ll be, you know, this, this ability to leverage each other within the community as well. The network effects, if you like, that’s the first thing, the second thing we have to try. And as a sales individual, we have to try and understand our buyers properly. Like we, we, we pay scant regard to what the buyers really want. In reality, we’re all focused on our, the KPIs that they give us to your point, you know, measured, managed, and rewarded a certain way.
Speaker 1 (24:07):
That’s what I have to do to keep my job. Okay. Just churn through the numbers. We have to stop if we can. And I know it’s not, not easy for salespeople to do that because you’ve got a boss. You gotta report to who’s saying do this, but if you can stop and understand your buyer properly and do what I call some buyer journey, mapping term, you’re familiar with onshore and your, most of your listeners will be to we, one of the workshops that we run at sales tribe is exactly that we say to people like, right, let’s stop and map your buyer journey. Let’s work out what questions your buyer is asking at each and every stage, not about you, but about problems that they have. How do they go about solving problems? Let’s map all of that out and then let’s work out, okay.
Speaker 1 (24:48):
What’s the important message that we need to get across at each stage of the buyer journey, because the message at the beginning of the buyer journey is different. Obviously the one at the end. So let’s lay that all out to let’s put it all in a spreadsheet. If you like, or on a slide, then let’s look at, alright, well, what content formats, this is where marketing comes in, what content formats create the right message at the right stage. And how do we serve that up to the buyer at the right point? Then you can start to think about, or what use cases and testimonials and stories. If we also got the, can bolster the argument at each stage of the buyer journey. So now what I’m subtly doing is I’m flipping the whole thing on its head. I’m saying, let’s create the sales playbook to match the buyer journey.
Speaker 1 (25:33):
Now I’ve got a sales process, theoretically, that enables me to create a well at each and every touch point of the buyer journey so that when our buyers are dealing with sales tribe, they go, Oh, wow, that was, that was easy to do. Or that was great. What they sent me, that was the right message at the right time. So that’s the most important thing I think right now live Indra is, is the flipping of the sales playbook map, the buyer journey first, and then build your sales playbook according to the buyer journey. And that’s a big shift for most sales departments or sales leaders. And I like what you said, we were talking off air about your, your background and Indra. Having come from the engineering side, the presale side buyers said to me, nonstop throughout the research phase of my book, that they need to know when the sales person they’re dealing with dealing with a specialist, someone that can educate them right now, your background, and a lot of the presales guys and the technical guys have got that speciality that, that deep domain knowledge that’s what buyers want. So it’s, it’s it’s first of all, go back through this rate it’s joint sales drop it’s it’s it’s do the buyer journey mapping and create a sales playbook, and then it’s become a specialist in your field. You have to be seen as a specialist. Totally agree.
Speaker 3 (26:55):
I have a question, Graham, just with regards to the whole joint sales strike thing. It was interesting for me, because, especially from a marketing perspective, because it sounded like you were talking about community building, right. And that’s sort of what you’re doing for sales driver as well, to make it successful. You’re bringing this angle of community building, right. And that’s what other companies need to be doing for themselves in order to make this customer successful. But it’s really difficult. I find for marketers and for salespeople, because predominantly, most people don’t know the difference between content marketing and marketing content.
Speaker 1 (27:33):
Yeah. Good point.
Speaker 3 (27:36):
Right. Have you found that to be true? And are you seeing a trend, at least with the more forward thinking companies that they’re moving towards the whole community building mindset and really educating the customer? Like we know that people like Netflix do that, but that’s like, is it being commoditized is what I’m trying to ask.
Speaker 1 (27:56):
Great question. And you’re, you’re a hundred percent, right. I think there’s a massive shift that it’s accompanying all of this, you know, shift to virtual, selling the shift from vendor push business models, to customer pool, business models, the shift from outbound to inbound, all of that stuff’s being talked about at ad nauseum now. Right. I think you’re right. There’s, there’s definitely a need for sales departments to understand that just chasing buyers, the, you know, the vendor push business model is on a law of diminishing returns, you know, whereas being able to attract buyers to your business through brand and through educational material, like you said, LA Bindra that’s really important. So to your point about content. Yeah. The mistake, I think a lot of people make is they think, okay, we’ve got some content now marketing has given us these white papers and these use eBooks and videos and things. And we just start spraying that out and sit back and Mike fin bound, it doesn’t happen. Does it?
Speaker 3 (28:54):
That’s it, the number of times that back that head against the wall and said, that’s not going to work.
Speaker 1 (29:00):
It’s not, it’s, it doesn’t work. You know, the way that we built our business in the three and a half years that we’ve been operating is through to make the distinction, content marketing, but a very focused content marketing to a very focused audience on platforms like LinkedIn, where we’re pushing out our content regularly, bringing those ideal customer profiles into our first degree connections so that they see our content. And over time you can nurture and grow those relationships until those potential buyers move into a buying window, then hopefully you’re top of mind and they come back to you. So you’re right. The the difference between just marketing versus content marketing is a really good point. And what do you think that we’ve become quite adept at narrowing? The focus of our content being very specific about who we trying to get, what message we’re trying to get out and who to
Speaker 2 (29:55):
Yeah. Spot on. I mean you know, preaching to the choir in some sense where the three of us here, but, but certainly I think some of this stuff must be you know, hopefully getting people thinking about, you know, their own sort of sales practice and, and orientation and strategy. How do you get sort of I mean, given that we are sort of in the forefront of revenue, right? I mean the, the tip of the sphere in some spear, in some sense, but and also the, you know, responsibility you bringing in, you know, all of the revenue to the company how do you make anxious CEOs and, and boards sort of say, how are we going to experiment with this whole no commission stuff? I mean, that seems, you know, it’s a huge you know, a leap of faith for some people.
Speaker 2 (30:41):
I mean, I, you know, WSO too, I, you know, that entire sales process has no commission salespeople. You know, we’ve done that in and highly successful company, in my opinion. So it works. I know it works. I’ve done it many other places where I don’t believe commission salespeople and this independent agent mentality is, is aligned with the rest of the corporate ethos. But how do you make those CEOs take that leap and say, yeah, you know what, I’m going to actually, you know, scrap the Cortez, scrap the commission model, and I’m going to focus on my customer. I know a lot of people pay lip service. They’re about, you know, this whole new buzzword of customer experiences. And, you know, we were, you know, all of the, the outward conversations or the mantra is, is, you know, the Harvard business school types is all about, you know, customer first, but at the end of the day, they’re sales people still get commissioned. So, you know, that’s where that breakdown happens, right? Because commission salespeople are not definitely putting the customer first. They’re putting themselves first. I mean, we’re all know that,
Speaker 1 (31:38):
Correct. So it’s a, it’s a really interesting topic. And as I said before, it’s one of the biggest challenges I have in my business when we’re dealing with, you know, business leaders, it’s, it’s getting them to shift their mindset. Listen, I’m talking to CEOs or CFOs. Those senior even board members got to talk in those financial commercial metrics to get their attention. So let’s, let’s focus on the two key ones. Well, actually the three key ones that I think are critically important now, first of all, is lifetime customer value. Second of all is cost of acquisition. And the third one, which is arguably the most important one in this new world that we all operate in subscription model consumption models is retention.
Speaker 1 (32:18):
So if I’m talking to a CFO or a CEO, I’m going to say, listen, tell me about the ratio between cost of acquisition and lifetime customer value. And once upon a time live, Andrea, you will know this from your days once upon a time, that was all about a three to one ratio. So if the lifetime value of the customer was $900,000, then the cost of acquisition should be about $300,000, thereabouts, you know, right from margin and contribution margin, et cetera, et cetera, nowadays, in this new subscription world where people can switch and change, the ratio is something like nine to one. And in fact, when you think about it, 90% of the revenue is actually the CEO of two to tango said not long ago, a year ago at 70% of revenues are now being generated post the initial sale. But once upon a time, you know, you and I would sell something in the old days, love Indra was a big pit purchase order up front, you won the deal and you, you know, you bank the money.
Speaker 1 (33:15):
Yes, yes. Now the money’s coming in micro transactions after the sale. Right? Right. So if you start talking about those two key metrics of, of lifetime customer value and cost of acquisition, your question about commission just adds enormously to the cost of acquisition. And when you look at businesses like Atlassian, whose cost of sales and marketing as a percentage of revenue is somewhere around 19%. Yep. It makes them so much more competitive because they can keep reinvesting in product development. Right. So you’ve got to focus on some of those financial metrics, I think, to get the senior people, to understand why they have to change. That’s great. God, that was spot on. I’m glad you sort of mentioned all three metrics so clearly, and I’m hoping the CFO’s and CEO’s on, on this call or, or we’ll watch us in the future. Understand that. I think that’s a, that’s a great email made financial argument for why you shouldn’t be doing that. Great. Thank you.
Speaker 3 (34:19):
And also to lobby’s point, and also to your point, Graham is we spoke about content being the Royal family, et cetera. And then lobby mentioned about, you know, the Harvard business type saying, customer’s always right. But if you’re like a bio facilitator or an advisor and you’re educating the customer, is the customer always right? Or are you trying to help them just be successful? Should we get out of that mentality that the customer is always right? And they say, yep, here’s your product. Take it and go,
Speaker 1 (34:48):
Yeah, customers don’t want to be pandered too. Right. They want to be advised and educated. So if they’re wrong, educate them in a, in a respectful, polite way and explain to them, listen, I understand why you’re doing it that way, mr. Or mrs. Customer. But have you thought about maybe looking at this, you know, you can, if you do it the right way, you can certainly change their opinions. I mean, that was kind of what challenger sale was all about. So yeah, I think buyers don’t necessarily respect the salesperson for just saying yes, sir. No, sir. Three bags full sir. Right? yeah, I think there’s a, there’s a mindset shift there that has to happen, but lovely, just to go back to that point, there are also the key metrics, the three key metrics. The other one that’s really important when you think about it is churn net, net retention.
Speaker 1 (35:35):
Right. I heard a great saying recently that I absolutely agree with, and that is the churn happens at the point of sale. And the guy that made the point, Dan Steinman from Gainsight said this in his great book, he said most sales departments create an incentive for their sales teams to push poor fit customers into the funnel. It’s just get the fund, you know, three to five times greater in your pipeline, how many calls you’ve made, how many fill the top of the funnel with as much stuff as you can. Right. And what we’re invariably doing, or inevitably we’re doing is we’re getting poor fit customers into the platform. And then all of a sudden six months later they churn. Yeah. Yep. We have to remove the incentives that drive the wrong behaviors. Right. Exactly. Exactly. Exactly.
Speaker 3 (36:22):
Interesting. Sorry, we’ve got an interesting question coming in from Norbert from France. He says, great webinar. Thanks for joining us today. No, but due to the pandemic and digital transformation, it implies there’s a great opportunity to quit these 20th century, bad selling habits to judge your day.
Speaker 1 (36:41):
My old friend, Norbert, who just on the, on the line. Thanks for the question though, but well done. Digital transformation implies, there’s a great opportunity to quit these when it’s entry, bad selling habits. What do you think? Yeah, absolutely. A hundred percent. If we can listen, you know, all of this change sounds daunting and it all sounds you know, in some cases cataclysmic, right? It’s all a big catastrophe, but actually it represents opportunity. Change always represents opportunity. And I think the Norbert’s question, I think for those of us that can adapt quickly to some of these new ways of doing things. The opportunity is immense. I think we have one more question as well.
Speaker 3 (37:21):
Yeah, we do actually. It’s from somebody anonymous, but could you provide an example on how to map buyer’s journey to the sales playbook?
Speaker 1 (37:30):
Yeah. Good question. There’s two, well it’s two or three day workshops that we run with our clients to do exactly that it’s it’s, it’s not rocket science necessarily, you know, it’s fairly simple stuff. When you’ve got a framework, we’ve built a template on how to do that in a really sequential, simple way. And at the end of that workshop, you come out with this document that says, okay, well, this is what buyers expect at each stage of the buyer journey right now. What have we got to do? Okay. Well, we have to build ourselves playbook to match that. Yes, there’s a number of different ways of doing that. And if you, if you just jump on Google and look at, you know, typing buyer journey mapping, you’ll see all sorts of different templates and things that you might be able to use, but short of that contact sales tribe and we’ll help you. Good. So for Graham shifting gears a little bit, how have you structured fails drive? I mean, so is it, it’s a, it’s obviously a draining sort of community for, for salespeople. And is that a sort of a whole curriculum of that one goes through
Speaker 2 (38:36):
To sort of get upgraded? How does, how does it work? I mean, just an idea of what to expect. I mean, are these month long courses are the weekly classes, whatever, I’m just, just so that people understand save the trouble of going to the website maybe.
Speaker 1 (38:51):
Yes. Thank you. And you have a free infomercial if you like. Great question. So we’re in the process of building a lot of that out right now. We’re, we’re a somewhat complex business and it’s not easy to explain lovely to people, but we help businesses on one side, right? So monday.com, Lloyd’s bank of Vodafone Nespresso, lots of different types of businesses that we work with and we help them with sales enablement, or more, more accurately digital sales enablement. Alright, get ready for the new world that’s coming, put in place, the right tools and platforms that you need to use to, to, to sell effectively in the modern era. So we help businesses on that side, but the individuals, the salespeople can come and join the tribe. And I can, I can soon be part of a platform that enables them to get access to all of the latest thinking around content and the courses and where we’re going to take all of the individuals on this journey of screened, approved, trained, and certified. And over time, everyone will have the opportunity to go through these programs as we release them and we’re going to release, you know, latest, best practices as it becomes available. And so ideally what we’re doing here is getting to know these individuals and then be able to recommend career pathways, career transition for them to help them get into the right roles in the right job, in the right companies, if you’re like. Yeah. Okay. Yeah.
Speaker 2 (40:13):
You just, you did mention a thing that I haven’t addressed with you yet is this technology component of sales, right? So a lot of people in the sales side simply think, Oh, I have Salesforce, I have a CRM. That’s just not adequate enough today. Right. I mean, there are a lot of technology tools that salespeople should be using. There’s a lot of AI that you know, they’ll use for forecasting. I mean, there’s a plethora of sales, enablement tools. I know that, you know, you’ve recommended a few as well. These are, these are technologies that one should grasp and, and, and put in place. I mean at minimum, isn’t it?
Speaker 1 (40:50):
Absolutely. Absolutely. And listen the shift to virtual selling has just been accelerated by coronavirus, right? Everyone’s sitting at home, everyone’s trying to work out which tools do I use, which platforms do I use? Speaking of tools, I know we’re using zoom here, but can I, can I share a screen with you and share a quick image? Sure.
Speaker 2 (41:08):
Make a grammar poster.
Speaker 1 (41:14):
I’ll show you I’ll show you our tools, selection lobby, since you’ve asked the question, I just have one ready. So yeah, just a, a very simple depiction of some of the tools that we use at sales tribe. And I’ll share that with you so you can see it in a full screen. There’s a about 5,000 thereabouts independent software vendors now in the sales stack space, as there is in the MarTech space Cathy Kerr so many, so many tools, so many platforms we spend now quite a lot of time trying to distill down all of those numbers of tools into a selection of tools that the average sales team, the average sales person should be thinking about using, we break them up into these categories and, you know, depending on what type of business you are, what industry you’re in, whether you’re a mature business, whether you’re a geographically dispersed Salesforce, et cetera, et cetera, we recommend to our clients certain tools.
Speaker 1 (42:16):
And this is just a rough selection of some of the ones that we think are, you know on the, on the high list, if you like of, of ones that you should be thinking about, we, we love monday.com. We, we unashamedly say that we’ve, you know, and we’ve we partner with those guys. We think that’s a great tool across lots of different applications. We’re big fans of Microsoft, obviously in the whole power BI dynamics and where that’s going now can combine with LinkedIn itself since they own LinkedIn. We recommend HubSpot as a wonderful platform for all sorts of things, not just CRM and marketing automation, but a whole range of things that they’re looking at bringing bought seismic software is a great one as well in terms of size. So there’s lots of tools. The trouble is how do you make sense of which one’s right for you,
Speaker 2 (43:06):
Right? And, and obviously the days of just using a CRM is over, right? I mean, you ha you have to adopt at the light level. I mean, for a small organization, there’s limits to what you can put in place from a cost perspective or a budget perspective. But you should be constantly looking for more tooling to, to improve your outcomes rather than saying, Oh, I have this and I’m going to rely on a lot of, sort of talk and speak stuff. Right. I, it’s funny. I you know, there’s a lot of people that you know, I speak to a lot of startups and, and founders of startups and their first sort of go to position in the sales area is cold call like Legion. Let’s, let’s just pick up the phone and let’s hire some people. And it may cause, and I, I tell him this, I said, there is
Speaker 1 (43:55):
There, isn’t an elevator pitch. Good enough. And there isn’t
Speaker 2 (43:59):
Suave debonair pitch person that can pitch enough that someone who has known know you from Adam will actually buy. So, I mean, there isn’t a pitch. There isn’t somebody who can, you know, even if you were, you’re going to sing it to them, right. You’re not going to get attention because they don’t know you from Adam and wood. And I asked him, when was the last time you brought, bought something from someone like that completely
Speaker 1 (44:22):
Speaker 2 (44:25):
They still persist. No, no, no. But you have to set one up for us. I’m like, what, why would I do that? You would fail. Right? So
Speaker 1 (44:32):
I don’t know why that still persists that, you know, somehow you could pick up a call phone, somebody called not even warm, but cold and say, Hey, let’s do business together. And they expect that to work. Yeah. A hundred percent listen as buyers, all of us are now highly adept at blocking, right? I don’t answer the unknown cooler when the phone rings. If I don’t know who it is, I don’t answer. And the same is now happening with my email inbox. If I don’t know who this person is, who is in my inbox, then I load to block it or just put it straight to junk. So those old fashion outreach methodologies, they don’t, they’re not underpinned by any kind of knowledge of the buyer. It’s just spray and pray and it’s got to stop it’s. So the return on that investment now is so low that it’s, it’s not worth doing worse.
Speaker 1 (45:19):
Still. It damages your brand. It makes you look desperate, like who would just do it would be doing that these days when we’ve got access to all of these tools, all this data. So, you know, one of the tools that’s not on here, Lovee is a company called Bombora that you’ve probably heard of. Okay. And Bombora is one of those buyer intent data companies where we have vendors can get access to certain information about buyers who might be now moving into a buying window, you know, real time they can leverage that data say, okay, well, it looks like, you know, Westpac bank in Australia just might be looking for a CRM. Okay. Now’s a good time to contact them. The data is available. We don’t need to just pick up the phone and start calling cold. We can, we can leverage LinkedIn and create a, nurture a relationship on LinkedIn over time without just sort of, you know, bombarding people with a blanket message. Yeah. Yeah.
Speaker 3 (46:17):
We’ve just got a very interesting question coming through from Gannon Dias. Thanks for joining us today. Hi Derek. Great talk so far. Can we hear a little bit more about marketing in the new world? I, how to effectively reach target buyers and generate leads in the new world and you will sort of going in that direction grabbing. So I thought I’d interject with the question.
Speaker 1 (46:40):
It’s a great question again. Yeah. And look, it’s it’s top of mind on every business’s sort of agenda right now is how do we get more leads particularly now with COVID and what’s happening? So, yeah, I always go back to that thing about visibility creates opportunity, right? So first and foremost, let’s make sure we’re visible. And to your point before Karthik are about content marketing versus marketing content. You’ve got to have the right strategy in mind. You’ve got to be very clear about who your buyer is and what message you’re trying to get out there. But then you’ve got to do the work to get out there in the marketplace and create the visibility. Once you’ve created some visibility and you’ve got a tension, which is the hardest thing in all the noise that’s going on, then you might be a chance to actually get a seat at the table, or as I put it open, open a narrative that you can carry forward.
Speaker 1 (47:30):
Right. That’s the big challenge. So it’s a great question by Gihan around. How do we, how do we do that? So we focused a lot of time and energy and sales tribe on this program that I mentioned before sales success with social media, teaches salespeople, how to create the right profile, that it’s credible, it’s trustworthy how to then build a network of ideal customer profiles that you can nurture over time. How do you use content to get their attention and educate them and be seen as a resource that might be able to help them and then open with a narrative that you can carry forward and, and nurture that relationship over time. The key thing here is patients surprise, surprise the patient. So they don’t grab a grab a lead quickly and quick. It’s a leader, it’s an SQL, go hand it off to the BDM and he tries to rapidly close it. Cause that’s what his boss told him.
Speaker 2 (48:25):
Yeah. I mean, so there’s sort of two themes I’m seeing in, in, in, in sort of the thread weaving through our conversation today. I just want to get your feedback on that. One is this whole concept of you know, the amount, I mean, obviously the, customer’s doing a, a huge amount of research both online and offline and with peers and others on sort of what they need to buy or what, what the solution should be. So the huge quantum of research that they do I don’t see, and I, you know, I’ve already professed this within, within sort of the organizations that I’ve run for sales, that research, you know, that that component is something that salespeople need to do, that you need to do your own research way before you pick up a phone call or even respond to a query research and find out, you know, everything that’s going on.
Speaker 2 (49:13):
Not only just about that customer or their company, but around that company, I mean, who are their competitors? What are they doing? That’s different from, from the company about to speak to, right? And what’s the, what, what are the industries trends? I mean, this is, this is a lot of work. There’s a lot of homework. I mean, this, this is almost a, you know, amount of due diligence that, you know, financial people sort of do on companies they want to put money into. Right? So you gotta, you gotta be that sort of credible when you do that. That’s one sort of theme. I think a lot of salespeople just don’t want to do the spend the time they expect marketing to do that. That’s one, the other theme that I’m sort of hearing, is this a concept that is more inbound now, right. A gram, or am I wrong then rather than we pushing stuff out?
Speaker 2 (49:54):
I mean, so lead gen is not about, you know, us sort of, you know, broadcasting or spraying and praying, but more of sort of creating enough valuable content and have buyers come to you. I mean, that’s, that’s essentially how buyers are operating anyways. They are, they are doing the research and then they’re calling you after they’ve done some vetting, right? So you really need to sort of wait for the phone to ring as opposed to sort of going out there and doing field sales and things like that, that seemed to be sort of dying out or those trends, my current with those. I mean, do you agree or disagree or do you want to maybe modifying others agree 100%? I think
Speaker 1 (50:28):
You’re, you’re absolutely right. And listen, what we’re talking about here is giving the buyer a delightful experience. What’s the first objective of the sales department. Most people will say, Oh, it’s generate revenue, right. Generate profit. But if you think about it in today’s terms, the objective of the sales department in my humble opinion is to create raving fans, raving fans, repeat purchase. They tell other people they’ll act as a reference. They’ll give you a testimonial, they’ll create a little video, showcasing what you’ve done for them. That’s the objective. So if you start from that position of, okay, what we’re trying to do is create the most delightful experience possible. So we’d have raving fans. So I stepped back from that or work backwards from there. What do we have to do to create that kind of experience? Well, it’s not interrupt them. It’s not push a message down.
Speaker 1 (51:16):
It’s not pitch at them. It’s not trying to manipulate, manipulate them. It’s, it’s give them educational material, you know, create value before you try to extract value. It’s give them content at the right stage. That might be interesting to them. And then hopefully bring them to you when they’re ready. That’s a delightful experience. It’s not a delightful experience. If I get a call every Friday afternoon, cause the guy’s got a deal to close, Hey, can we get that deal brought in? You know, what are we going to do to close the deal? And marketing categories is critically important in all of this. Now it’s like sales, presales, customer success, marketing product management, all together to give the buyer what the buyer wants.
Speaker 3 (51:57):
And I have an interesting question for you Graham, because a part of being able to achieve this process is companies championing their own people and allowing their people to have an identity of their own outside of the organization that is then going to help the brand of the company. Or most companies don’t like that because they’re scared that they talk people we poached or we’ll go somewhere else or we’ll get too big for their boots to be able to manage. So what do you say when that sort of thing happens? Like what is the message you give to CEOs or, you know, the C suite who are holding their people back essentially?
Speaker 1 (52:35):
Yeah. We often come across companies that that are worried sometimes about their own people, pushing out content on LinkedIn and places like that. If they go off message and we often we’re often given, you know, great big thick documents called the social media policy. Sales salespeople are told you, can’t say this and you can’t say that. And don’t say this. And in my five years of doing this training people around, you know, leveraging LinkedIn, et cetera, I’ve not seen a single sales person. Who’s been that silly that they want to jeopardize their career and say something about Donald Trump or something about religion. You know, they generally, they’re not that silly. Right. So I think you know, give them a bit of credit, give them a little bit of credibility and let them, let them help. The other thing is, you know, amongst that question Catholic, or is the, the high level effect that they call it when Graham Hawkins develops his brand, he’s a sales guy inside a company and he develops his brand and he looks credible online.
Speaker 1 (53:39):
Then, you know, that reflects well on the company and vice versa. Yeah. And I, I don’t know why some people don’t actually promote that. Right. The individual brand enhances the other brand. I mean, it’s the halo effect as you so rightly put, I mean, but, but you know, people seem very leery to, to sort of promote that as sort of a and today. I think if you don’t do that, you run the risk of not having enough sort of credibility out there. Right. I mean, it’s your people that people buy from at the end of the day. I mean, it’s the relationship, you know, Hey, I talked to Graham from company XYZ and you know, it was such a pleasure to work with. And therefore I bought something, right. It’s not like I talk with some unknown person at that company. And therefore I bought the product.
Speaker 1 (54:18):
Never nobody ever says that, you know they always remember the sales person positively or negatively based on the experience they had. Right. So you know, I always, as I said, at the outset Larry Indra, I was the old school sales guy who was out there hunting in the territory, the lone Wolf, the quota crusher, all of that old fashioned language. And it wasn’t until I went and started to talk to buyers about what they actually want, that I realized that all of those old behaviors are just no longer consistent or in step with what modern buyers expect. So we all have to change whether we like it or not. And yeah, I think you can, you can nurture relationships now on these platforms that we’ve got, as you said before, do the, do the research or what I call the pre search. I say to my clients, and this is not, this is not to boast or brag or there’s plenty of people doing this now. So, but that all thing about increased personalization equals decreased rejection. The more time we spend at sales tribe, personalizing stuff, doing the research, as you said, and being really clear about the message we’re taking to our buyers, highly personalized the better our business gets. We haven’t made a single outbound call or done a single outbound email in three and a half years.
Speaker 1 (55:37):
It’s their own dog food.
Speaker 3 (55:41):
I actually have a question with regards to automation from your grandma, because I believe in your book, you’d mentioned that a lot of sales people will be out of their jobs because the automation will just take over. Right. But then again, on the other hand, we have the whole relationship and nurturing and people will always remember how the sales person made them feel and hence the reason for the argument. So how do we sort of, you know, marry the two almost to say, how do we use AI effectively, but still teach the human angle?
Speaker 1 (56:11):
That’s a great question. That’s a, a whole podcast for another time. I reckon the answer to that, but I think, I think it’s a great point. I think salespeople just have to, or people in general, we all have to learn how work alongside these new tools. Right? I hope that certainly in, in sort of the, the remainder of my career that were not replaced completely, but the reality is that buyers will continue to look for ways to get a better deal commercially. And that means sometimes going around the sales person, if it’s low value, transactional sort of packaged solution type products, you know, selling, selling these things or a paper cup, then that’s all obviously going to be automated. Anything that’s routine, anything that’s repetitive, the AI will replace that. It’s the salespeople who are the deep domain specialists who are adding value in high complex, high value transaction style, be fine, but they have to learn to work alongside the AI.
Speaker 1 (57:07):
Okay. So on that note, we sort of come to the end of the hour here and I don’t want to indulge a Graham tool too long. He’s a very busy guy, and I think he’s been more than generous with an incredible amount of great advice and, and, and a lot of strategy and techniques and tactics as well. So I’m, I’m, I’m thrilled that you were able to make the time Graham to join us. I know you’re not a very easy person to schedule given the hectic demands on your time. So we appreciate you sort of joining us at pandemic funded you today. It’s been a sort of a wonderful discussion I’ve had had, I’ve had fun of it, certainly. It’s always great to meet people with like minded and similarly aligned views on, on subjects. And I hope the viewers are found this is as compelling as I did.
Speaker 1 (57:53):
Any passing thoughts for for our audience Graham, before we say goodbye, now look, I think just you know, stay vigilant on what’s happening, obviously in the tech space and the technology and the sales stack put the buyer first with everything properly. And you said it before lovey play, everyone talks to talk yeah. We’re customer centric, but are you really are you claiming to be customer centric, but still measuring, managing and rewarding salespeople on revenue attainment, quota attainment. So, you know, there’s some real change that needs to be driven in a lot of businesses, but yeah, it was an absolute pleasure chatting with two very likeminded people about a subject. And I, you know, Kathy, the marketing sales coming together now is just so critically important and sales people have to become marketers and marketers have to become something. We say that all the time too. So thanks again, Graham
Speaker 3 (58:50):
He thought the lobby and just encourage everyone to read Graham’s books and we’ll post the links after the event. And obviously anyone wants to connect with Graham on LinkedIn. They’re welcome to follow him. Right. Graham,
Speaker 1 (59:02):
A hundred percent. Please do, please connect with me again. And yeah, let me know if I can help and grab it. I’m sure you’re open to sort of doing some of work. I mean, all of this training can be done virtually. So if there are companies in India or Sri Lanka that will be keen to sort of get some you know, sales, Stripe GaN or wisdom, as we say in, in you’ll be open to that. I’m sure. So the best way to contact you would be through LinkedIn for that. Please do that. And yes, we do all of our training now. Virtually we, we set up a little studio, we get multiple cameras and we do a real broadcast quality type of training environment. That’s really engaging. So yes, please do. Great. So we’ll, we’ll post that as well. So thanks again, Graham, have a great weekend. Stay warm. Bye bye. Bye.