SIMPLE 3-Step Sales Process (That Drives HUGE Results)

John Crowley is the Co-founder and creator of the Knuckle Dragging Sales System. He’s also an author, speaker, coach and just a Knuckle-Dragging Sales Guy.

In this episode of The Salesman Podcast, John explains why your sales process probably sucks and a simple 3-step process that will get you the intended result.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:
Free SalesCode assessment
Learn your strengths and weaknesses in an instant. Taken by over 10,000+ of your competitors. Don't get left behind.

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - John Crowley
Creator of the Knuckle Dragging Sales System

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Coming up on today’s episode of The Salesman Podcast.

 

John Crowley:

My philosophy is always, the first thing you want to do is just imitate an existing sales process until you feel comfortable with it. After you’ve imitated that, then you can start to integrate different sales processes or different things into the existing sales process, before you then end move to innovating. And that’s where you create your own sales process.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, Sales Nation, and welcome to today’s episode of The Salesman Podcast, the world’s most listened to B2B sales show. If you haven’t already make sure to click subscribe. And with that, let’s meet today’s guest.

 

John Crowley:

Well, Will. My name is John Crowley, and I help sales professionals develop a brand so that they can control their careers. And I also help sales organisations reorganise, so that they can create sales systems that are scalable.

 

Will Barron:

On this episode of the show with John, we’re diving into why sales processes suck, or why some of them suck anyway. We’re diving into John’s three step sales process, which makes total sense, adds a tonne of value to the buyer. And we’ll hopefully progress you through the sales cycle even quicker than your usual 15 step process that you got in your CRM, which is clunky, horrible, and outdated. We dive into a whole lot more towards the end of the show. We go off the rails and John brings it back in for us. And so let’s jump right in.

 

Do We Really Need a Sales Process to Succeed in Sales? · [01:30]

 

Will Barron:

We want to talk about why sales process potentially sucks, and we can debate this or go back and forth on it a little bit. But before we dive into the issues of having a sales process, implementing it, try to stick along with it for as long as possible, and it actually being successful or not. Why do we need a sales process if at all in the first place?

 

“It’s not that sales processes stink, it’s when you have two competing sales processes laid on top of each other that there becomes complexity and confusion within the whole system.” – John Crowley · [02:11] 

 

John Crowley:

Well, I think we definitely need a sales process. There’s no doubt about that, but we’re the complexity lies. And the reason I say this is because, I spend a lot of my free time mentoring, young sales professionals. And as we’re talking through, what I find out is that, many of them neglect to implement their existing sales process, the one that their company has given them, but they’re hungry. And they’re going out reading books, listening to podcasts like this. They get different tips and hacks and tricks, and they try to integrate those into their existing sales process. So it’s not that sales processes thing, it’s when you have two competing sales processes laid on top of each other, that there becomes complexity and confusion within the whole system.

 

Sales Processes Implementation and Improvement Plans · [02:50] 

 

Will Barron:

You’re talking my language here, because I’ve done exactly this. And in hindsight, what I was doing was taking the bits out of the process that I didn’t like doing, which was knocking on hospital operating room or theatre doors and sticking my head in, like, “Hi, can?” “Get out.” I was trying to avoid doing that by implementing social selling, or it wasn’t really social selling when I was doing medical device sales, but whatever that’s kind of turned into, I was trying to avoid the hard stuff and replace it with the seemingly easy stuff. And it kind of had somewhat of a mid success. So with that said, if someone has, they start a job, they’re given, this is our formal sales process. Should we just stick to that blindly? And if we should, is there a period of time where we should stick to it and then start experimenting?

 

“The first thing you want to do is just imitate an existing sales process until you feel comfortable with it. After you’ve imitated that then you can start to integrate different sales processes or different things into the existing sales process, before you then move to innovating. And that’s where you create your own sales process.” – John Crowley · [03:06] 

 

John Crowley:

Yes. My philosophy is always, the first thing you want to do is just imitate an existing sales process until you feel comfortable with it. After you’ve imitated that then you can start to integrate different sales or different things, into the existing sales process, before you then move to innovating. And that’s where you create your own sales process, but you’ve got to take a step back. As I’ve talked to sales professionals. What I constantly hear is their frustration is, I’ll ask them, “How do you segment your customers?”, and I get silence. I’ll ask them, “What is your quota or your goal?” And it’s crickets, Will, I don’t hear anything. And the point is that they completely miss over the foundation, the most important building blocks that you build your sales process upon, and that causes a lot of confusion. And that’s where I think the confusion lies.

 

The Foundational Elements of an Effective Sales Process? · [03:57] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. So you’ve touched on something here. We have to dive in a bit deeper into it. What are the foundational elements of a sales process? Because you mentioned, well, if you asked me that question, I’d be, well, kind of prospecting, qualifying and all the usual gabber gabber that we’ve been talking about for the past 50 years, a hundred years in sales, but you mentioned two things then, that perhaps aren’t implemented as often as what they should be of segmentation and perhaps goal setting. So what are the key foundation or fundamentals that we should be focusing on? Say, perhaps we haven’t been given any kind of process and we’ve just been kicked out of the door with a quota.

 

“Once you get past the planning phase, there’s really three main steps. It’s, why change? You have to give the buyer a reason to change. Why me? So, why do you have to use my product versus my competition? And then the last piece of that sales stage is, why now. Giving them some sort of time constraints that binds them to make a decision in the near future. That, to me, is the basic sales process upon which you can build everything else on.” – John Crowley · [04:31] 

 

John Crowley:

Yeah. So I think the first, it goes into planning and you’ve got to spend a lot of time planning, but once you get past the planning phase, there’s really three main steps. It’s, why change? You’ve got to find a reason to, you have to give the buyer a reason to change. Why me? So, why you’ve got to use my product versus my competition. And then the last piece of that sales stage is, why now. Giving them some sort of time constraints that binds them to make a decision in the near future. That to me is the basic sales process upon which you can build everything else on.

 

Why The Foundation of Every Sales Process Should Be Built Around What the Buyer Wants · [05:00] 

 

Will Barron:

Is this, because I was going to ask you about this. And I feel like we tying it together already. You’re taking the word down my mouth, and tell me if I’m totally wrong, or I’m on the wrong track of it. But I was going to ask you about the sales process, this formal thing that we seemingly stereotypical aggressive sales people, push people down versus the buying process, which is this seemingly nice fluffy thing, which is used to manipulate salespeople and get discounts. But why change? Why me? Why now? Seems to skew more towards what the buyer wants rather than what we put in a CRM. Is that the angle that we should be taking with all of this?

 

John Crowley:

I believe so. I fundamentally believe that we have to map our sales process to the buyer’s journey. And of course, there’s going to be times where you want to kind of bring them down a certain path, but if you’re radically trying to change the way that they go about understanding and coming to a conclusion, you’re going to end up budding your heads against the buyer, as opposed to walking right beside him and her, down this path together. I can’t stress enough the importance of really mapping out the buying process first and then aligning your sales process to the buyer’s journey.

 

Segmenting and Socially Studying a Prospect · [06:10] 

 

Will Barron:

So if we’re doing this and we’re mapping out, putting a bit of planning work in, how do we segment a series of customer and how do we find out what they want from us, how we can help them change? Perhaps before we get on the phone with them, how do we make some hypothesis about this, before we then kind of make assumptions and see if our assumptions are correct?

 

John Crowley:

Yeah, again, it goes back to that beginning, the basis of the sales process. It’s doing some social studying, which is going online and trying to see, is this particular buyer talking about making changes? Are they online asking other people questions? It’s trying to get into their shoes and think back to, I don’t know how long you’ve been out of the medical device world, but I remember when I first got into pharmaceutical sales, the only lens that you had into the buyer’s journey was walking into their office and trying to get in front of them in their office space.

 

John Crowley:

Nowadays, there’s so much information that is free, that’s sitting out there, whether it be on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, I mean, there’s so many different channels that you can tap into to see is this person on a buying journey or have they not even gone down that path. Are they completely content with their existing solution? Which nine times out of 10, that probably is it. They’re happy with what they have today and they’re not looking to make a change. So it’s your job to get in front of them and talk about why they need to make that change today.

 

Will Barron:

I know for me, it’s funny, you mentioned this and I wasn’t planning to bring this up, but I will because of top of mind at the moment. This week, we’re putting together a social engineering workshop here in the salesschool.org. And the premise of social engineering is typically from a bad place of, it’s difficult to hack into somewhere, but it’s very easy to drop a USB key in the car park that says “wages” or “top secret documentation”, or something. The receptionist, whoever, puts it in the computer and they kind of break into different systems that way. You can also do it by ringing people, pretending to be people that you’re not in, and gathering information on that front. So there’s this whole world of social engineering and people are being social engineered all the time, don’t realise it. So we did a workshop on the SalesSchool.

 

Will Barron:

I have to do this from a good place. And it brought up an example that I had, and I’ve done it so many times in a hindsight, but I didn’t call it social engineering. I didn’t really have a name for it. It was just me being inquisitive and chatting to people. But I’d go into a theatre, be meeting with a surgeon. We have a good chat. There was always open doors. It was, I’m not trying to make out some kind of hero here. I’ve always worked for companies that have incredible brands. And so I always got into the theatres. There was no cold calling or anything like that, but the one of the first things I’d do would be to walk over to one of the nursing staff and kind of whispering his or her ear, be like, “What really pisses the surgeon off equipment wise? What’s going on behind the scenes that he won’t show me or she won’t show me because they don’t want to look stupid?”

 

How to Ask Questions About ‘Why Change’ · [09:19] 

 

Will Barron:

They don’t want to look like they don’t know what they’re doing, because I’ve done a lot of the training on the equipment as well. And within 10 seconds you have some boisterous loud nurse bantering on about how this surgeon can’t use this, doesn’t know how use this, through this equipment across the room because it wasn’t sterilised properly, or it came back from sterilisation broken and all kind of things. And there’s just a tonne of value, and kind of ranting and going slightly off track here, but there’s a tonne of value of why change and potentially that leads into, how I can help them change, from just asking the simple question, right? And perhaps this isn’t you going into, hospital, theatres speaking to a nursing staff. And this is the social engineering example, perhaps this is just you calling up a manager next to the person that you’re trying to engage with and saying, “What pisses off John every day? Why is he so mad all the time?” Is it as simple as that?

 

John Crowley:

Well, I think you hit the nail on the head and probably my favourite chapter in the book, and it’s not my original idea. I stole this from one of my mentors was, learn the business and the dollars will follow. And I’ll share with you kind of an anecdote. Many years ago, I was a sales rep and I was working in the world of distribution, so I had thousands of products that I was selling. Well, one of the companies came to us with a SPIFF to sell this one particular product. And I remember I picked up the phone and I called my mentor and I said, “buddy, you got to explain to me, how do I go about doing this?” And he walked me through exactly what was that I need to do to sell the heck out of this one particular, it was a pharmaceutical, a drug.

 

John Crowley:

And so I went out there and pounded the pavement and I crushed, annihilated, this sales competition. But what was really interesting was right before I got off the phone with my mentor, he said to me, this one thing, he goes, “Hey buddy, just remember this product isn’t for everyone.” And I was like, ” Yeah, yeah, whatever.” Get off the phone. So I end up winning the sales competition and my buddies the first one to call me. He’s like, “Congratulations.” And what was interesting is, I’m looking at the stack ranking and he’s, like middle of the road. And I’m like, “You told me what to do, you’re one of the best sales reps I’ve ever known in my entire life. How did you finish middle of the road?” And he had this cool laid back west coast demeanour. And he goes, “Buddy, this product’s not for everyone.”

 

John Crowley:

So fast forward, about three months, what ended up happening was, that product that I sold, was a brand new product and it didn’t have reimbursement. In other words, the doctors that I sold it to, they could give it to the patient, but the insurance companies weren’t paying for. So I had three practises that had millions of dollars of inventory sitting on their shelves, that they couldn’t use because I tried to force this product down their throat.

 

“There are very few, especially in the B2B world, people that don’t have their customer’s business in the front of their mind. If you can understand where they make money, where they lose money, where they are delighted and where they’re ticked off, if you can find out those four things, you can navigate a sales process with that particular buyer. And most importantly, at the end of the day, you’re actually adding value to that buyer.” – John Crowley · [11:34] 

 

John Crowley:

So yes, I won the SPIFF, but I ended up losing three customers. So I tell you that, because that mentor of mine used to always tell me, learn the business and the dollars will follow. What he means, by learn the business, learn your customer’s business and the dollars, the commission will follow. And that is something that has stuck with me forever because there’s very few, especially in the B2B world, people that you deal with, that don’t have their business in the front of their mind. If you can understand where they make money, where they lose money, where they are delighted and where they’re ticked off, if you can find out those four things, you can navigate a sales process with that particular buyer. And most importantly, at the end of the day, you’re actually adding value to that buyer.

 

Will Barron:

I’m going to ask you how we do this in a second. I’m going to give you a quick example. So I sell the advertising space on the podcast have done for years. That’s my, if I don’t sell it, I don’t eat, it’s as simple as that. But recently we launched this product SalesSchool, won’t kind of bang on about it, this isn’t an advert for it. But we’re now, advertising the SalesSchool in the podcast. So if there’s any spare ad inventory or I’m experimented with two adverts per show as well, no one’s complained. No one said anything. And obviously that’s instantly doubles my revenue for the organisation, which is seemingly a ridiculous thing to say, and to kind of have highlighted to me, but no one’s complained. People are still clicking on the ad, I assume people are happy with it.

 

Will Barron:

So that’s a side note. But what I have discovered is, how to describe this, I know podcast advertising works. I just go on industry standard numbers. There’s no, I should be charging a lot more for it because it’s so niche and it’s so specific, and our audience, an affluence, kind of mostly millennial. How do I describe it without using loads of marketing jargon, but essentially affluence fast moving audience. But I’ve only ever used industry standard pricing, which goes across a science podcast, which has way more downloads, way bigger demographic, and so it’s far harder to advertise too. So long story short, when I started advertising the SalesSchool, I realised, oh shit, I’m doing more from my own product than I am from anyone else’s product. Even though the margins on their products are higher and all these other things going alongside it.

 

How to Understand What Your Customer Actually Needs Because a Lot of Time They Don’t Even Know What They Want · [14:08] 

 

Will Barron:

But when I start to eat my own dog food and started to understand my business even more, by selling my own product and seeing the results from it, it made then selling it to other people far easier. So this is one thing for me to say, and it’s the success of the sales school leads to over bigger project down the line, which helps the audience. So all kind of feeds back into this big fly wheel, this big loop, but for people who can’t sell their own product and experience the process of selling their own product, if that makes sense, how do we really understand what customer needs? Because a lot of the time they don’t even know, right? 

 

John Crowley:

Yeah. So Will, I’m going to say something that you, coming from the medical background, probably have heard of before, but I think most people haven’t. Preceptorships. So in the world of healthcare, what we would do is we would do these preceptorships, which essentially was a lot of times it was the med school students, would follow a physician around for a day, week, month, year, or whatever it may be. And just shadow them. In the world of pharmaceutical sales and drug distribution, I was doing a lot of preceptorships too, where I would go and follow the physician or even better yet, it would be the administrator, the lead business person within a practise. And it’s quietly following them around, observing their body language. What makes them happy? What makes them sad? Not trying to sell a lick, it is not your job when you’re doing this to sell anything.

 

John Crowley:

It is just to learn. And once you understand what it is that they value, what makes them happy, sad? What makes them money and what makes them losing money? That’s how you start to create the value. So what you essentially did in advertising the SalesSchool, was you did your own internal preceptorship. And if we can get to a point where you say to a potential buyer, “Hey, would you mind if I shadow you or a key decision maker in your business for a day or week, to really understand?” What I have found is whenever you do that, the people that you’re asking to do the preceptorship, they immediately, their guard comes down and they go, okay, they welcome that, because they want somebody who’s going to sell them a product that has empathy for their current situation.

 

Preceptorship in Sales. What is it and How Does it Work? · [15:55] 

 

Will Barron:

So what does that look like practically? Because it’s one thing for us to say to the audience, “If you sell to doctors, go and hang out with some doctors.” Is this approaching our best customers? And just saying, “Hey, can I just spend half a work day with you?” As opposed to kind of what we would typically do, maybe which be, “Can we go out for lunch? Or can I take you here? Or can we do some training on this?” Or is it going out to new customers? So it doesn’t really matter if they like you or they don’t like you, and does then the opportunity to perhaps close a deal on the end of it, even though you just said, don’t try and close a deal with them. And so that kind of angle on this, how do we practically about this?

 

Will Barron:

And then I want to follow up with, how do we get our sales manager to sign off on this, when we’re not spending time in the office, pounding the phones or running around like a headless chicken, driving a BMW chasing down doctors? Because clearly that’s where they get their bonus from. So yeah, what’s it look like to ask to get this in the book, in the diary, and then how do we sell it to our sales manager?

 

John Crowley:

Yeah. I almost think you flip it. I think the first thing you have to do is sell it to your sales manager and get their sign off on it. Once they agree to it, I think you can go about one of two ways. You can either go to existing customers that you have a relationship with, the problem there is that they may not be totally honest with you. They may only show you the good things or maybe they only show you the bad things.

 

John Crowley:

So I think they’re could do a mix of existing customers, as well as new potential customers. But again, just like you guide people on this podcast, Will, you ask great questions. That’s the purpose of this preceptorship. It is absolutely not to sell anything. It is strictly a learning observation or a learning opportunity, where you step back after the preceptorship and then you can start to say, okay, I can see how my product truly fits this customer. Or maybe you realise, hey, your product, isn’t the best fit at all. And you move on to something bigger and better, but then in the future, you’ve identified what are the key things that will keep you away from selling to one of these products? What are some of the objections that make a customer not a good fit for your product?

 

Will Barron:

So we’ve covered, or touched on at least, because I’m sure we can do about 15 hours on this, John. John’s selling process of why change, why me, and we’ll come on to, why now, in a second, because I think this is where people get stuck. And I know I’m in the middle of, I don’t know if I should say this cause they listen to the show, but I’m in the middle of a deal that’s kind of slowly coming in as we talk about this now. So I’ll take some tips away from there, but before we get to that stage.

 

The Importance of Having a Strong Personal Brand in Sales · [18:25]

 

Will Barron:

We’re going to go off track here for a second, but I know you’re into this and I’m into it as well, so it’ll make sense. But when we’re talking to people about why change, why me, how important is our personal brand? How important is it, our credibility internally within our owner organisation and perhaps credibility through having some kind of content, or maybe not following, quote on quote, kind of thought leadership, but some kind of online membership of some kind of community, within our industry. How important is brand to the first couple of steps of the selling process?

 

John Crowley:

Brand kind of falls into that same bucket as value to me, is that everybody talks about how important it is, but it’s so unique to each individual person that’s out there. I can’t say enough the importance of brand and I’ll give you an example, Will. I was in a sales role and I ended up getting wrapped up in this wonderful non-compete issue, which forced me essentially out on the sidelines for a couple years and I wasn’t able to sell. And I spent two years creating the brand of your SalesMentor. And what I was able to do during those two years was really create a thought leadership, where people came to me and with asking me how to develop sales people, how to develop sales organisations. Fast forward, I ended up getting a consulting gig with a company and within six months they promoted me into a Vice President of Sales and Sales Operations.

 

“I think a brand is the most important thing that a sales rep can have these days because that’s where the world is going. Everyone is going to have their brand and you have one today, whether you realise it or not. The question is, do you control that brand messaging or does somebody else control it for you?” – John Crowley · [20:32] 

 

John Crowley:

So over the course of three years, I went from just being a bag carrying sales guy, to the Vice President of Sales and Sales Operations, for a Fortune 15 company, that never would’ve happened if it wasn’t for the brand that I had developed. So the next question is, well, how do you go about developing that brand? And that’s something that you’ve got to really spend a lot of time in crafting. What is your unique selling proposition? And that’s a challenge. It takes a long time to come up with that. And it’s done through iterations of constantly reworking and seeing what resonates, and what doesn’t, and adapting, adjusting your sales pitch. But getting back to your question, I think a brand is the most important thing that a sales rep can have these days, because that’s where the way the world is going, everyone is going to have their brand and you have one today, whether you realise it or not, the question is, do you control that brand messaging or does somebody else control it for you?

 

How to Build Your Personal Brand When Working in Companies with a Strong Brand Presence · [20:51] 

 

Will Barron:

How does that look in the corporate environment? You shared an example with me earlier and I don’t know if you want to share that kind of again, or whether kind of that was off the record or what, but if not, we can kind of go back and forth on it. But how does that look like if we say we are, X, Y, Z on a LinkedIn profile, on a website, whatever it is. And internally within our corporation, medical devices, conservative organisations, they want to be here for the kind of long term. They don’t want anyone saying anything too exciting on a LinkedIn profile, for example. How does that translate into the corporate world, especially if you are working for Oracle, Salesforce, one of these huge organisations that perhaps have got their own brand ahead of your personal brand?

 

“I think your LinkedIn profile is your LinkedIn profile. Unless your company is paying you for a LinkedIn profile, it is a hundred percent yours.” – John Crowley · [21:37] 

 

John Crowley:

I mean, I think your LinkedIn profile is your LinkedIn profile. Unless your company is paying you for a LinkedIn profile, it is a hundred percent yours. Do you have to be radical and call yourself a knuckle dragging salesperson? Maybe not. You could certainly develop a brand around thought leadership.

 

“My philosophy on brands has always been that different is better than better. And what I mean by that is, if you try to keep up with the Joneses and do things a certain way, you’re easily shadowed by somebody who comes in and just does it a little bit better. I would rather somebody stands out because they’re different.” – John Crowley · [21:54]

 

John Crowley:

My philosophy on brand has always been that, different is better than better. And what I mean by that is, if you try to keep up with the Jones’s and do things a certain way, you’re easily shadowed by somebody who comes in and just does it a little bit better. I would rather somebody who stands out because they’re different. So getting back to your question, I think it’s important that you don’t alienate anyone within your organisation, but at the same time, try to do things that make you stand out and be different than the crowd.

 

Will Barron:

Love it. And I love that way, because a lot of people would not have said that. There’s certain sales experts and quote on quote, gurus and authors, who kind of tread the other direction. But I think, and this is my personal opinion. I don’t want to be sued for giving this and getting people sacked over time, but there’s a line and you want to be treading up that line and you want to be kind of on the line leaning over. That’s always my thought, the cliche saying, or the classic saying of, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. I feel a lot of what we’re talking about here kind of falls into, I’m not putting words in your mouth, this is my opinion, but I feel like a lot of what we’re talking about falls into that kind of realm here. So moving on to the kind of final stage of John’s incredible sales process here.

 

Why Now? How to Collaborate with a Prospect and Come Up with a Timeline of When to Buy and Why It Should Be Now · [23:15] 

 

Will Barron:

And I do enjoy this. I’m not being sarcastic, it is super simplified and it comes from a buyers perspective. I know from my British accent, people sometimes think I’m being sarcastic, John, and I’m truly not. Why now? How do we emphasise movements, and how do we get people kind of bubbling over with, whether it’s stress about the current situation, bubbled over enough that they get to the point they take action. Because obviously there’s a bump of energy needed to get anywhere on the other side of this, how do we implement, the why now part of the selling process? How do we kind of just get things moving once we’re all in agreement that now is the time or there is a reason for change and we are the individuals that can help catalyse that.

 

“If you try to force somebody into your timeline, it’s the same thing as trying to force them into your sales process. It’s eventually going to backfire and you’re certainly not going to create the collaboration that you would want.” – John Crowley · [24:02] 

 

John Crowley:

Yeah. So I, I think it goes back to the beginning of that sales process and your due diligence as you sit down the first time with that potential buyer, trying to understand what their timeline looks like. Look, if you try to force somebody into your timeline, it’s the same thing as trying to force them into your sales process. It’s eventually going to backfire and you’re certainly not going to create the collaboration that you would want, as if you would a set from the onset of the conversation, the destination in which you’re trying to go. 

 

“So I think it’s really important to understand what the buyer is trying to accomplish, when are they trying to accomplish it and why are they trying to accomplish it in that timeframe. If you identify that and map your sales process to that particular time frame, you’re going to be in a much better situation than if you try to force them into your timeframe.” – John Crowley · [24:22]

 

John Crowley 

So I think it’s really important to understand what’s the buyer trying to accomplish, when are they trying to accomplish it and why are they trying to accomplish it in that timeframe? If you identify that and map your sales process to that particular timeframe, you’re going to be in a much better situation than if you try to force them into, I’ve got my end of quarter numbers coming up and I’ve got to get you to sign on the dotted line, when it just doesn’t align at that point in time.

 

Will Barron:

I was in a Ford dealership over the weekend. So we’re recording this on a Monday, it was on Saturday morning. Dad’s got a Ford, it’s got an oil leak. So he is taking it back in for like the fifth time to hopefully have this resolved. And I was left made off. So I have a go at used car sales people all the time in the podcast and it’s nothing personal, it’s just stereotype, just as probably they have a stereotype about was us. Schmucks walking around in our suits and nice watches, flogging stuff, and seemingly working less hard than what they are. So it probably goes back and forth, but there was literally this dude on the end of the line and the sales manager was shouting across the room. “It’s the last day of the month, get on it, come on.” He was trying to close this deal with a couple that had been in earlier on and were kind of mm-ing and ahh-ing.

 

How to Talk About and Qualify Timelines During a Sales Process · [25:52] 

 

Will Barron:

And they were offering, I don’t know, some kind of wheel, like if you curb your wheels, if you scratch your wheels, they’ll replace them or repair them for free or something. And they were just throwing all this extra stuff at this seemingly kind of, it seemed like an older couple, just from the way that things were being, the conversation was going, just to get them to sign on the line, because clearly they were trying to push it over into that month, so they all got the bonuses. So with that all said, is it as simple as that is it? Because I don’t know the answer. This is it as simple as that, John? That the beginning of the conversation we say, when do you want to solve this problem? They say, six months from now. And then, we just keep teeing into them up every few weeks and just allow the cost to run at that pace? Or is the value in if the customer has a problem, that we know that we can solve it, in accelerating that process and removing the pain from them quicker?

 

John Crowley:

Look, if you have to change their timeframe, just like the car salesman that you’re talking about, that car salesman going to have to take a price hit, right? They’re going to have to offer something extra. I think if you want to walk away with a deal that is fair to both sides, where you’re not offering incentives that are just really just thrown in there to speed it up, then yeah. You have to mirror what that buyer wants to do. But if their buying process doesn’t align up with your sales journey, if you do want to get that closed within a certain timeframe, you’re probably going to have to offer concessions. You wouldn’t have to otherwise.

 

How to Balance the Long-term Approach and Still Take Care of Your Immediate Needs During the Sales Process · [27:10] 

 

Will Barron:

So with that all said, and we’ll wrap up with this. There’s going to be people listening now that go, that sounds fantastic, this all makes total sense, right? It seems like my life’s going to get a whole lot easier after this conversation and things are going to be a lot more fluid, but I’ve got to close some deals before the end of the quarter, otherwise I won’t be here next quarter.

 

Will Barron:

How do we align what we’re saying here? Which clearly is the correct pathway of going about things of doing it on, not necessarily the buyers timeline, but going through their journey and helping them through it. And clearly, you’re going to be the vendor that they’re going to choose, if there’s other vendors trying to throw discounts on them and hammer them on different things and try and leverage them into closing the deal quicker, you’re going to win that deal over the long run on that front. But how do we bounce that wave? John, I’ve got to buy that Nissan GTR. If I don’t hit the quota this quarter, we’re never going to be able to afford it. How do we balance the long term approach or the medium term approach, I guess, versus just closing deals now because our sales managers on our back?

 

“If you aren’t feeding that pipeline consistently every single day, whether the end of the quarter is three months down the road or it’s one week down the road, you’re going to be in deep trouble come the end of the quarter.” – John Crowley · [28:14] 

 

John Crowley:

Let’s be honest, the reason we’re getting a sales manager on our back is because we didn’t have our pipeline filled up enough three months ago. Right? And look Will, you were in medical device sales, you got out of it and now people look at you and go, no, he’s just a podcast host. No, you’re not. You’re a salesman. You’re doing the exact same thing today that you did however many years ago when you’re a medical device sales rep, if you aren’t feeding that pipeline consistently every single day, whether the end of the quarter is three months down the road or it’s one week down the road. You’re constantly filling that funnel, that pipeline, you’re going to be in deep trouble come the end of the quarter. So it starts three months prior. It doesn’t start one week before the end of the quarter.

 

Why Sales Leaders Don’t Need to Give Anyone a Break as Far as Hitting Targets is Concerned · [28:35] 

 

Will Barron:

And clearly as someone with sales leadership experience. If someone came to you and said, right, I want to hit reset on this. I’m probably, I’m not going to kind totally fail my target this quarter, but it’s going to be a tough quarter, but I’m going to line things up for the next 12, 18 months, 24 months, by the work I’m putting in now. Again, I don’t know the answer to this, but how would that go down with you, John? Would you go, okay, I’ll cover your ass this time, but if you F this up next time round, we’re going to have real words, or do you go, my bonus is based on your bonus. So get your finger out and get it done.

 

John Crowley:

No, no. It’s absolutely, as a sales leader, I don’t think that people work for me, I work for them. I would not give anyone a break though. If they’re coming in and they’re short on their number, that’s their fault and that’s something that they’ve got to work on. But what I would be more than happy to do is to work with them, to make sure that this time, next end of the sales cycle, that we’re not running into the same situation. In other words, I would help them with consistency. And that’s what I think what happens is, we start to fill the funnel, fill the funnel, and then we get kind of bogged down with moving the customer through the middle of our pipeline. And we stop filling that funnel. What we have always done is we will schedule and I do this now, as an entrepreneur, I schedule time in my calender, where two hours every single week, usually on a Monday morning, it’s my time to start working on that pipeline and filling the top of that top of that funnel.

 

John Crowley:

So I don’t give anybody a break, the numbers, the number, I don’t get a break, however, I’m in the boat rowing with you.

 

Is Total Responsibility Something We Lack in Sales? · [30:23]

 

Will Barron:

That makes total sense and I appreciate that. I had no idea what you were going to say then. That’s the, I guess the answer here, or let me ask you, is the answer here, total responsibility, total ownership, is that something that we not necessarily lack in sales. Although I do know a load of moany, bitchy, salespeople from the previous roles I’ve worked at, whereas my thought and attitude always just to my detriments and a lot of occasions, was always just get my head down, put a kind of shield up and just ignore whatever was coming at me and just get on with things. Can we solve a lot of our problems by just taking more responsibility for ourselves?

 

John Crowley:

Yeah, I think so. And as a sales leader, a lot of that responsibility starts as early as the interview process, where you’re setting realistic expectations. One of my favourite sales jobs I ever had, the Vice President of Sales looked at me and said, “Look, if you don’t hit your number three months in a row, you’re gone. We love you as a person. We think you’re fantastic. But if you don’t do that, that’s just the repercussions, that’s what has to happen.” And I think as a sales leader, having that conversation very, very early on in their employment is essential because it sets expectation that, hey, your job is to hit your numbers. And that’s why we have you here. So Will, I think the whole, this all boils down to setting realistic expectations up front and then keeping people accountable to them on the back end.

 

Creating a Culture of Accountability in Sales · [31:40] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. So final one on this, then we’ll wrap it up. Other than sticking a couple of hours in our diary on a Monday morning to see where we’re at and to kind of perhaps put a couple more hours in the diary later on in the week to do more prospecting. How can we force accountability in ourselves? If we’ve got this far in sales, somewhat of a success, but perhaps more accountability, more stringent time management would lead to even more success. How do we go about becoming more accountable to either ourselves or whoever we look up to?

 

John Crowley:

I think something like your SalesSchool is a perfect option, because I know that you’re not just teaching people in the SalesSchool, you’re also keeping people accountable. So it’s helping other people come in and hold you accountable. One of the things that I talk about in the book is goal setting. And one of the things that I recommend is finding a referee. So as you set a goal, tell people about it and then have that person referee you and you have to check in on a weekly, semi-weekly basis and say, “Hey, I told you I was going to make this number of cold calls. This is where I’m at.” And that person, their job is to not let you off the hook. So you’ve got to set expectations with them, that you want them to help keep you accountable. That’s just one way of doing it.

 

What Realistic Goals Should a Salesperson Be Setting Every Single Week? · [32:50] 

 

Will Barron:

I’m going to be super selfish here, because that seems like a feature that could be added to the SalesSchool. Just a tab that says, referee, Monday morning, you type in your goals, and then me or one of the team hound the shit out of you at the end of the week to see if you’ve done it or not. And this is kind of putting perhaps your sales leadership hat on as opposed to, for sales people. We’ll wrap up in a second, but I’m selfishly going to ask you this, what goals should a salesperson be setting every single week, that are reasonable goals to be achieved, that someone can follow up with them, as I kind of implement this into the SalesSchool behind the scenes over the next few months.

 

John Crowley:

So I think one of my favourite ones is tracking your prospects through the sales pipeline. I think what happens is a lot of times we focus the top of the funnel of the back of the pipeline, but we don’t really track the middle. It’s, how quickly are we moving that customer through the sales process, that I think is something that’s unique. Not many people do it. It’s looking at the pipeline velocity. That to me is one of my favourite tactics for managing goals in a sales organisation.

 

What is Pipeline Velocity? · [34:00] 

 

Will Barron:

And is pipeline velocity, could that be, for the people like me, I was going to say the visual people like me, as most people listen this on the audio podcast, but if we’ve got three steps as we’ve outlined here, I guess the time that people spend in each one and trying to reduce that amount of time, is that what we mean by pipeline velocity?

 

John Crowley:

That’s correct. So if you get a pipeline and it’s typically a three month sales process, how quickly are you moving? If it’s very simple, three steps in that sales process, that means on average one month per sales process, how quickly are you getting them through there? And then maybe you can speed up one of those three processes and it will drastically reduce the buying time as well as the sales process time. So that is the increased sales velocity and that predicates, that sits on the fact that you’re filling the top of your funnel, the top of that pipeline, in order to move the prospects through it as quickly as possible. Whether it’s qualifying them or disqualifying them as a potential at the end.

 

Will Barron:

Love it. I’ve never, there must be software that helps you with some of this, but I’ve never looked at that number, both in medical device sales or selling ad space here, because I know people get stuck. There’s a point in the ad sale space, where I’ll introduce sales to people. People immediately go, hopefully people go, I’ve listened to the show, we’re ripping off your show with our own podcast. Can you help us out? Obviously it’s me on the phone call and people go, we’ve had some success, no success, we’ve tried it, we haven’t tried it, podcast advertised and let’s jump on the phone. My biggest step is those low hanging fruit, when it’s not an individual like that. And they go, I don’t really understand what you’re talking about. And I go for this education phase, typically 5 to 10 emails and they’re all custom kind of emails and me helping people understand what it is.

 

Will Barron:

And it’s coming from a place of, most of the big sales podcasts out there, I’m involved with in it some way or somehow, whether I’m a guest or I’m helping people in the marketing behind the scenes with the bigger vendors, I have podcasts, I’m kind of helping with production costs of them, the production process of them. So I can see and I can guide people multiple ways on kind of the ad buying process, as opposed to just selling it. But that number, I’ve no idea what that number is. That number could literally be three months. I’m going to check this out when we wrap up later on today, John, because that’s seemingly a number that if I get rid of that, that’s the 20% of my sales process that makes 80% of the difference, if I can make that change. Right?

 

John Crowley:

Absolutely. And where that becomes really important too Will, and you see this a lot of times in big organisations, is that several of those sales process steps will be dependent on somebody that’s not in sales. And so where we’ve used this in corporate America, if there’s a bog down in step number two of the sales process, and that’s a third party that your relying on, it’s having that data to go to their bosses and say, “Hey look, your person’s not doing their job. They’re not getting this customer through this part of the pipeline quick enough, that’s bogging down the entire system and your person is the bottleneck.” It’s giving us data points to be able to convince other folks within the organisation that we need to make changes or do things more effectively. And it’s absolutely trackable in both Salesforce and HubSpot. You can set things up to track your pipeline velocity.

 

John’s Advise to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [37:25] 

 

Will Barron:

Love it. The gift that never stops giving, John, this interview. Because I’ve got over five questions, but we’ll wrap things up here and we’ll have you back on in the not to distant future to perhaps touch on some of these. And with that mate, I’ve got one final question that I ask everyone that comes on the show. And that is, if you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, what would be one piece of advice you’d give him to help him become better at selling?

 

John Crowley:

For me, it would be authenticity, Will. I think for the long time I thought that I had to fit a certain corporate mould, I needed to wear are certain suits, I needed to talk a certain way. And what I realised is that by not being my authentic self, I wasn’t being different. I was just copying everyone else. The day that I decided I’m going to be who I am, that was the day that I saw everything just take off for me.

 

Will Barron:

And what made you realise that?

 

John Crowley:

It was, it’s a long story. You want me to go to the story?

 

Will Barron:

Well, we we’ll touch on in the next episode, but what’s the summary? What was the moment? Was there a specific point in time when you went, oh shit, this needs to change?

 

John Crowley:

Yeah, so I’m six foot, two inches, about 240 pounds and I’m a ginger, I got red hair and it was the day that I realised that I wanted to call the attention to being a big redheaded sales rep that got everyone’s attention. And I used a big red gum as like a leave behind. And that really kind of changed the whole trajectory of my sales career.

 

Parting Thoughts · [38:40] 

 

Will Barron:

Love it. Well, that is a tease for the next episode that we’re going to record John. And with that, mate, tell us a little bit about the book, the speaking, everything else that you’re up to as well.

 

John Crowley:

Yeah. If you want to get in touch with me the best way is to go to the website, knuckledraggingsales.com. And I’ve got a bunch of free information out there. If you go to knuckledraggingsales.com/will, there’s a ebook that you can download at no cost and it’ll show you how to set up your LinkedIn profile so that you are grabbing recruiters, as well as customers attention.

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. Well, I’ll link to all that over in the show notes at this episode will be salesman.org/sixfootginger. That’s what we’ll do for the sharing to this episode. And with that, John, I appreciate your time, mate. I appreciate your insights. We kind of went all over the place with this one, and I appreciate that as well, because it can be quite difficult to have random questions thrown at you. You crushed it like pro and with that one, I want to thank you for joining us on The Salesman Podcast.

 

John Crowley:

Thanks, Will. It’s my pleasure.

Table of contents
100% Free sales assessment:
Do you have the 15 traits of high performing sellers?
Learn your strengths and weaknesses in an instant. Don't get left behind.
22_LINKEDIN SUCCESS FRAMEWORK (3) 1
Do you have the 15 traits of high performing sales people?
Learn your strengths and weaknesses in an instant. Taken by over 10,000+ of your competitors. Don't get left behind.
22_LINKEDIN SUCCESS FRAMEWORK (3) 1