How To SPEED UP Your Sales Cycle And Drive More Revenue

Andy Paul is a well known sales trainer and the founder of The Sales House.

In this episode of The Salesman Podcast, Andy shares the practical steps we need to take to shorten our sales cycle WHILST adding more value to our potential customers.

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 - Andy Paul
Global Sales Leader and Advisor

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

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

 

Andy Paul:

Right. As every time we interact with a buyer, are we being deliberate in saying, “The outcome of this interaction with the buyer is that they are some degree closer to making a decision than they were before.” And if we can answer that question affirmatively, then we say, “Yeah, we delivered something of value during this interaction that helps the buyer move closer to making a decision.”

 

Will Barron:

Hello, Sales nation. I’m Will Barron, host of the Salesman podcast, the world’s most listened B2B Sales Show where we help you, don’t just take your sales target, but really thrive in sales. If you haven’t already make sure to click subscribe and let’s meet today’s guest.

 

Andy Paul:

Hi, I’m Andy Paul and the founder of the Sales House. And Sales House is a personal development and learning platform for B2B sellers to help them master their craft. You can find the Sales House @thesaleshouse.com.

 

Andy Explains Why Most Salespeople Always Want to Speed Up the Sales Process · [01:07] 

 

Will Barron:

On this episode, the show of Andy, we’re diving into how you can speed up your sales cycle, how you can speed up your sales process, how the buying process fits into all of this, why we need to take control, and we need to own ourselves, our own actions a whole lot more. And with that let’s jump right in. Is speeding of the sales process, is this a selfish thing that sales people do? Because we want to close more deals, we want to get more in our pipeline, we want to just accelerate or is there a positive spin on this for the buyer of speeding up the sales process from their perspective?

 

“No one sets out to say, “Look, I want to spend six months to make this decision to buy this product or this service, if I could make that decision in 30 days.” I mean, people don’t set out to spend longer making a decision than they need to. And if you look at it from the perspective of the buyer, again depending on what they’re purchasing, they’re buying it for a reason. They want to achieve a certain outcome with that. That outcome, it could be increased market share, better top line growth, better profitability. Why do they want to delay implementing that change? So it’s really the buyer’s advantage to make decisions more quickly, if they have the information they need in order to make that decision.” Andy Paul · [01:24] 

 

Andy Paul:

Well really looking at it from the buyer’s perspective, no one sets out to say, “Look, I want to spend six months to make this decision to buy this product or this service, if I could make that decision in 30 days.” I mean, people don’t set out to spend longer making a decision than they need to. And if you look at from the perspective of the buyer, again depending on what they’re purchasing, they’re buying it for a reason. They want to achieve a certain outcome with that. That outcome, it could be increased market share, better top line growth, better profitability. Why do they want to delay implementing that change? So it’s really from the buyer’s advantage, Will, to make decisions more quickly, if they have the information they need in order to make that decision.

 

Why Do Deals Take Longer than Necessary Before They are Finally Closed? · [02:10]

 

Will Barron:

That makes total sense. I’m glad you went down that route. Because all of a sudden it would’ve been a very short podcast otherwise, Andy. But with that said, seemingly it makes sense for everyone if they… We’ll assume here that the qualification process has been successful, that there’s a match here between the value that we can offer and the value that’s needed on the other side of the table. We don’t need to talk about budgets or anything yet, because it’s just going to be an incredible deal. It’s going to be an incredible experience, everyone involved. Why does it seemingly take longer than it needs to, with almost every single deal that I’ve done personally, to get the deal done? Is this down to the fact that sellers struggle to push people, push may be even the wrong word there, but to engage people through the selling process or is this down to an issue on the buyer side and perhaps they just don’t know how to buy whatsoever? 

 

Andy Paul:

Well, there’s certainly more research that’s come out from Gartner recently saying that, I mean its sort of substantiates what I’ve always known throughout my career, which is that buyers really don’t know how to buy. And when you’re talking about something that’s not a transactional product, “Hey, we’re not buying staplers as the paper but if we’re buying anything with any sort of complexity,” is this may be something they do every three years, every five years. Well to have they documented a process or something they do so infrequently. What the research is showing is no, they haven’t. In fact, they really don’t look at it as a process, excuse me. If you look at what Gartner’s done, they look at it as a series of jobs they need to get accomplished that have multiple stakeholders involved in that.

 

Andy Paul:

And I share in my emails and other things with people, this chart that Gartner showed at their most recent conference about their diagram of the buying process. And it’s like an intricate circuit degree, [nill diagram 00:03:51]. There’s no linear stage based progression that they go through. It’s really sort of helter-skelter, it’s a chaotic ambiguous environment. And when you have that, things are going to happen that you don’t anticipate. Gartner refers to those process they call looping where you may want the jobs to get done, is you have to specify what your requirements are.

 

Andy Paul:

Well, if suddenly two more stakeholders decide to get involved, you may have thought that was settled and suddenly it’s not settled at all. So as a seller, you really have to relinquish this idea that you have any control over that whatsoever because you don’t. I mean, I hate to use this cliche, people talk about hurting cats, there’s a little bit about it, a little of that in this whole thing. But by the same token, you also have to have some awareness of where you are and what’s been accomplished. It doesn’t necessarily align, let’s say, with this linear stage based process, but are you helping the buyer continue to make progress and aggregate toward making a decision, and that’s something you can know.

 

Will Barron:

So, if we’re not in total control of what’s going on within an account, I’m going through this at the moment to kind of-

 

Andy Paul:

You’re not in control in any degree-

 

Will Barron:

Okay. So if we’re not in control-

 

Andy Paul:

… anyways.

 

Why the Key to Sales Success is Focusing on What You Can Control · [05:08]

 

Will Barron:

So if we’re not in control, and I use your words in any degree, what are we in control of our side? Because if we’re not in control of anything in our side, our hands dripping up in the air and perhaps we just need 15 times more pipeline and just let things fizzle out by itself, which clearly is probably not a good strategy.

 

“Every time we interact with a buyer, are we being deliberate in saying, “The outcome of this interaction with the buyer is that they are some degree closer to making a decision than they were before.” And if we can answer that question affirmatively, then we say, “Yeah, we delivered something of value during this interaction that helped the buyer move closer to making a decision.” That’s what you’re trying to achieve. And that requires a level of being deliberate and intentional about every action you take, which really escapes too many sellers.” – Andy Paul · [05:30] 

 

Andy Paul:

It’s not a good strategy. Unfortunately, it’s the one that many industry segments are using these days. What we’re control is ourselves, is every time we interact with a buyer, are we being deliberate in saying, “The outcome of this interaction with the buyer is that they are some degree closer to making a decision than they were before.” And if we can answer that question affirmatively, then we said, “Yeah, we delivered something of value during this interaction that helped the buyer move closer to making a decision.” That’s what you’re trying to achieve. And that requires, let’s say, there’s a level of being deliberate and intentional about every action you take, which really escapes too many sellers. They sort of think, okay, well I haven’t heard from the buyer in two weeks, I just need to reach out.

 

“If you’re not thinking this very clearly saying, “Look, every time they give me time, I need to give them something of value.” You’re wasting their time and you’re not making progress toward a decision.” – Andy Paul · [06:14] 

 

Andy Paul:

But why are you reaching out? What are you hoping to accomplish? What’s in it for them at that point? So if you’re not thinking this very clearly saying, “Look, every time they give me time, I need to give them something of value.” You’re wasting their time and you’re not making progress toward a decision. And there’s really a better way for people to really think about this. 

 

“There’s really two decisions that take place. The first decision is the buyers are going to make this binary decision. “Are we going to make this change or not? Do we have a business case in place? Are we going to make this investment or not?” And then having made that decision, they say, “Okay, who are we going to make this change with?” So clearly you want to be the solution upon which they’re basing their decision, whether or not to make the change or not.” – Andy Paul · [06:28]

 

Andy Paul:

There’s really two decisions that take place. The first decision is the buyers are going to make this binary decision. “Are we going to make this change or not? Do we have a business case in place? Are we going to make this investment or not?” And then having made that decision, they say, “Okay, who are we going to make this change with?” So clearly you want to be the solution upon which they’re basing their decision, whether or not to make the change or not.

 

“People think that they can qualify prospects without talking about price. And it’s just absolutely impossible. And so your customer, your prospect can’t make that go/no-go decision, unless they’ve done an internal business case on the offerings that are out there. So they have to know the pricing, at least at a budgetary level, before they can do that.” – Andy Paul · [07:25] 

 

Andy Paul:

So there is somebody that’s always in a favoured position at that point and you’ll make sure that’s you. I call that winning the sale before you win the order. You want to win the sale. And it may, once you’re in that poll position, and you really are in the poll position, if once they make that decision, that business decision to go/no-go and it’s based on your solution, even though you haven’t given them proposal bait. If you got to that point… Let me step back, this part drives me nuts, reminds me of soapbox here. Is that people think that they can qualify prospects without talking about price.

 

Andy Paul:

And it’s just absolutely impossible. And so your customer, your prospect can’t make that go/no-go decision, unless they’ve done an internal business case on the offerings that are out there. So they have to know the pricing, at least at a budgetary level, before they can do that. And they have to be able to correlate that price, that investment they’re going to make with a quantifiable sum if you will, of what the outcome is. They’re getting the value they receive from the outcome they’re going to achieve. That’s top line growth, that’s profitability growth, whatever that is. That all has to take place before they can make that go/no-go decision.

 

How to Steadily Move a Buyer Towards Making a Decision · [08:10] 

 

Will Barron:

So I was going to ask you a question here Andy, and I think you’ve already answered it, but I don’t want to go so over it because you might just have killed the, I’m just checking an email for forever and for good here. I was going to ask you if our goal is to move them closer to the prospect, closer to the sale hopefully or a no and then we can move on to someone else perhaps, if we put that option in if we’re being realistic. But the buying process is this how to scale, to mess, and I’m imagining as you’re describing it just a spider’s web on a page of all kinds of things that could possibly go on. And clearly as we get to even bigger accounts, someone could step in, people are moving jobs and all kinds of things going on especially over longer deal sizes.

 

Will Barron:

So how do we, step by step, move someone towards an end point, if we don’t know where we are of this… If the snakes and ladders the board game mask, kind of ups and down of all this. Is it as simple as, as you outline then, we need to ask ourselves, have we helped them make a decision to purchase and are they going to make a purchase of us? Should that be essentially the basis of every communication that we have with them. Because that makes it incredibly simple on the surface, I guess.

 

Andy Paul:

Well, that is a little simplistic, especially in more complex deals. But what Gartner does is they outline, there’s four core jobs that the buyers need to achieve. And I forget them all at the top of my head today, but you can sort of say, “Okay, have we accomplished these jobs? Have we accomplished specification? Have we accomplished awareness of solutions? Have we accomplished, whatever?” And you can measure progress based on that, there are unknowns. So I said more stakeholders could become involved, they may have to go through the processes again, something may have changed internally. There’s only so many variables that you can control, mostly just yourself. Internally, you don’t have a lot of that.

 

Andy Paul:

But for me in my experience, working with really large accounts over the years, is you have to have sort of a grasp mentally of everything, all the pieces. And the thing that’s hard for us sellers these days I think, is that everybody wants to write everything down and just sort of put it away. I talked to this person, I put it in CRM system, I don’t have to think about it anymore. As opposed to, you’re working something that really important, and I wrote about this, this morning and the email sent to our list. You have to be constantly thinking about these things. It’s a tough intellectual job, it’s not a process driven job. It’s really an intellectual creative job to sell large complex accounts, because there’s so many factors, so many variables at play and you have to constantly be thinking about it because you need to say, “Okay, well maybe there’s a different perspective I should be looking at in terms of how we solve the customer’s problem, how we explain to the customer the value they can receive from our solution.” Any number of things.

 

Andy Paul:

And it’s this approach that we see sort of accentuated by the increasing use of sort of tools and technologies, trying to make things very cut and dried. When the last thing they are is cut and dried. This is still a personal business, a human to human business, there’s emotions, there’s risk involved, people’s sense of their jobs at risk type thing. You deal with that on human level and it’s really hard to sort of put that all out. I said, “Here’s five steps, we’re going to follow those five steps and be done.” It just takes a tolerance of ambiguity that is really essential I think, to succeed any sort of sale, any sort of complexity.

 

Will Barron:

There’s some quote along, and I’m totally going to butchers I can’t remember who said it but essentially, the more uncertainty that you can handle, the more success you’re going to have in kind of business and life. It makes things easier when you’re able to let go of things on that front. But I want to take a side detour here for a second and we’ll come back onto the speeding up the sales process in a second. I don’t know if you know him, I can make an introduction if you like, but I had Kevin from BoxStep on not too long ago. It’s from the UK, it’s an application, it’s a web app that essentially allows you to map out accounts by an individual’s relationships and all these weird crisscross. And this dude hates me and this couple, is the person who sits next to him absolutely loves me. And you can map all this stuff out now.

 

How to Document Relationships Among Decision Makers Within an Account · [12:48]

 

Will Barron:

I find it’s really useful when I’m working with the larger companies within the sponsorships and the things that we do on the podcast. I visually really like to see it on a page and it helps just refresh my memory when I make a call, not to mention Jane, because she really hates Barry and Barry doesn’t like… And it kind of goes down that kind of pathway on these big accounts. Other than kind of box step, and I linked that on the show notes for anyone who’s interested, how do we document some of this? Because it’s one thing to say, “We need to go with it, we need to go with the flow. We need to understand the relationships. We need to have the relationships perhaps, to be able to ask these more interesting questions of who’s going to veto this? Who’s likely to jump in at the last minute and have a conversation and want to be kind of involved in this perhaps further down the line?” But how do we map all that out? Or is it just a lost cause and perhaps waste of energy to do so?

 

Andy Paul:

No, I think it’s good to have [inaudible 00:13:17] to use an application like BoxStep or document it as a note within Salesforce so others can reference it and so on. I mean, I always wanted to write it down. I always wonder why did I draw it out, similar to a flow chart, just to see if map out on account and I don’t see it done quite as often. But before you make the little country drawings and try to understand the relationship between individuals, I think it’s really good to see it visually like that. Because again, that’s one of those things is if you’re going to keep ruminating about it, what’s the context that you’re ruminating it about in?

 

Andy Paul:

I sort of understand these vague relationships between people and I’ve mapped them as best I could, have I missed something? Is there’s somebody that has an influence here that I didn’t know they had an influence? Because if you think back to research that discover or did last year, a year before with Steve Martin, talking about consensus decision making. We see that in more and more stakeholders, everybody’s sort of acknowledge that’s the case. But human dynamics still work within those environments. And there’s still somebody who’s more preeminent than others perhaps, within those group settings, you need to know who those people are. So I think yeah, using an app like BoxStep where we can visually, can see this, I think that’s very important.

 

How to Really Speed Up the Sales Process · [14:30]

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. Okay. So back on track, then Andy speeding up the sales process, what leverage points do we have to speed it up? If we’re accepting of the situation we find ourselves in, we’re giving up control here, we’re kind of doing some kind of Buddhist meditation on the account and allowing it to kind of form itself. And we’re just doing our binary steps forward when we possibly can. What leverage points do we have to physically speed it up if we know that we’re slow with these accounts at the moment? 

 

“Not all stakeholders are equal, I think a lot of people sort of mistake this when they think about this whole idea of these multiple stakeholders.” – Andy Paul · [15:13] 

 

Andy Paul:

Well, I mean, it really requires identifying what information they still need in order to make a decision. And they may or may not be aware of that. And however, your job is to help them understand, talking to the people who are involved in the decision, who are stakeholders. Not all stakeholders are equal, this is I think well, a lot of people sort of mistake when they think about this whole idea of these multiple stakeholders. Referring to what I was talking about with discover before, there are some that are more equal than others. You need to have the conversations to say, “Okay, what’s still missing for you. What’s preventing you from making this go/no-go decision. To say, Yeah, this is something we want to do. Now let’s choose the vendor, we want to do it with.” And a seller should really be thinking about this in this way.

 

“You’re continually qualifying prospects up to the point they make a decision. And the way you’re doing that is you can now qualify them based on these questions you ask: do they have the information they need to make them feel comfortable about making this binary decision and then subsequent the decision to buy it from us?” – Andy Paul · [16:07] 

 

Andy Paul:

This two step construction is, are they in a position where they can make the go/no-go decision? Have they assessed the risk? Have they decided to the risk them individually as the stakeholders, a risk to the organisation from implementation standpoint or the risk we present as a seller. Is that the area of risk that they’re uncomfortable about? How do we deal with that and identify these areas that are outstanding. And it just requires, you keep asking the question, people think… It’s really a form of qualification. You’re continually qualifying prospect up to the point they make a decision. And the way you’re doing that is you can now only qualify them based on these questions you ask is, do they have the information they need to make them feel comfortable about making this binary decision and then subsequent the decision to buy it from us?

 

Is Helping a Prospect Make a Decision Something We Can Do During the Initial Outreach? · [16:21]

 

Will Barron:

Is this something that we can set up perhaps before we even do the qualification with our initial outreach, somehow this, I love the term go/no-go? In an example, I get a tonne of emails from people who have got no money or budget to buy anything. So I don’t know why people email me trying to kind sell me stuff, especially like SAS-

 

Andy Paul:

Join the club, Barron.

 

Will Barron:

…software and other things. Yeah. So I don’t know why people… I’m clearly not qualified in the first place, but people email me saying, “Hey, I would love to work with you on this.” And well, I don’t even know what that means. Is there a way to, clearly that’s not very useful, get rid of that and set things up from the very beginning that, I’m a consultant, I can potentially help you with this and this, it’s a binary yes, no decision. How do we frame that up in the minds of our prospects rather than, I guess, trying to sneak it in after the fact?

 

“When you’re a seller, you have to think about the fact that you’re basically making an argument or you’re advocating for a point of view with the prospect. And so instead of beating around the bush, make your case.” – Andy Paul · [17:34] 

 

Andy Paul:

Well, I think that’s a separate decision though. I talk about the go/no-go decision, which just people have said, “Yeah, we’re committed to make this change or let’s say we’re committed to investigate making the change.” Whereas you’re talking about even a more preliminary decision which is, “Yeah, we’re just not ready right now.” And the way you get to that is just be more direct. Is when you’re a seller, you have to think about the fact that you’re basically making an argument or you’re advocating for a point of view with the prospect. And so instead of beating around the Bush, is make their case, and-

 

Assertiveness in Sales: Why You Need to Stop Beating Around the Bush · [17:47] 

 

Will Barron:

And why do people do that, Andy? Because I enjoy arguing and debating and maybe assertive is perhaps the best way to describe how I would… If I know I can really help an organisation, we’ve got Salesforce smug on the table here, we’ve done a tonne of work with them. I know I can help them on their content creation side of things, definitely we do on their side. Well and I know them over, I’ve been over San Francisco, I’ve met them all. I can be relatively assertive of, this quarter we can do this and this for you. Let’s get it done, yes, no, don’t waste my time. Because I can go to someone else with the same project, and I can do that.

 

Will Barron:

But for me, five years ago with medical device sales, when you’re standing in front of a scary surgeon who’s, you’re not sure if is going to scream at you and kick you out the theatre, if you say the wrong thing and you’ve got your mortgage on the line and all these other things going on. Is this a mindset thing that we need to get in our head that we should be perhaps more assertive and have an argument or have one side of an argument that we’re putting across or do we need to learn the skill of assertiveness, the skills of kind of arguing, not necessarily arguing, but debating if that makes sense? 

 

Andy Paul:

Well, Yeah. I mean it’s people’s having sometimes confusing talking about you’re making an argument. Well, it’s you’re advocating on your point of view. And why think in your case, if you just look at your journey, what you’ve done over the past four years, that’s what you’re saying is, I wasn’t as confident in my knowledge and my understanding of the medical devices and the benefit, the value they had as you are about your own product that you’re selling and servicing now. So it’s that bonus, it’s sort of a mindset around confidence. Are you confident that the solution is something you can really advocate forcefully for? And if you don’t have that then, okay, do we need to train you more about what the value is and then clear to you what the value is that we’re offering and what this really has and holds for our prospects.

 

“People don’t want to hear no. But it takes experience to want to get that no because you don’t want to waste time. I don’t want to spend time selling to someone who’s not going to buy.” Andy Paul · [20:04] 

 

Andy Paul:

If that’s the case, let’s say, that’s sort of an internal training onboarding type thing. It could just be a product you’re not comfortable with compared to… Because in your case, you’ve evolved to something that’s you. Well, Hey, you are the easiest thing in the world to sell. We all know that people work for ourselves it should be the easiest thing to sell. Yeah, it’s confidence and people don’t hear no. We got all the pro typical sales things, that salesperson doesn’t want to hear a no. Yeah, it takes a little training or experience actually not training. Takes experience to want to get that no because you don’t want to waste time. I don’t want to spend time selling to someone who’s not going to buy.

 

Andy Paul:

So I’ve spent a good chunk of my career, but also in the time that I’ve been writing and talking and speaking publicly, talk about this idea of you want to get to no quickly. You want to ruthlessly qualified prospects and stop kidding yourself about whether someone is or is not a company that’s got to buy from you. And unfortunately, we’ve got whole segments of sort of the business these days where managers are fixated by this idea of multiples of pipeline coverage, and that just encourages bad behaviour. Because what it says is if I need five X pipeline coverage, I’m sort dooming myself to low close rates and dooming myself to spending a good portion of my time, dealing with prospects who are just not qualified to buy from us.

 

Andy’s Definition of a Ruthless Qualification Process · [21:09]

 

Will Barron:

I’m sure it’s a podcast on its own a workshop, 15 keynotes. But what does it mean or what does it look like to, in your words, ruthlessly qualify someone?

 

“You can’t say you have a qualified prospect until they can quantify the value they’re going to receive from the solution you’re selling to them.” – Andy Paul · [21:21] 

 

Andy Paul:

So I alluded to it earlier is, you can’t say you have a qualified prospect until they can quantify the value they’re going to receive from the solution you’re selling to them. If that’s increased market share, if that’s, like I said, increased profitability, decreased costs, whatever that dimension is. If they haven’t quantified the value of what that is in dollars or euros, whatever. They haven’t quantified-

 

Will Barron:

Pounds, euros?

 

Andy Paul:

Pounds, I try and forget-

 

Will Barron:

We are not there yet, Andy.

 

Andy Paul:

… It’s the new UK. Pounds, we’re back to pounds again, back to the future. If they haven’t quantified that, then they haven’t made the internal business case to make the go/no-go decision. They don’t have the information. So for me, you never have a qualified prospect until they’ve made that binary decision. They can’t make that decision until they can quantify what they’re going to receive from the outcomes they’re going to receive from your value that you’re providing. When does that happen? Well, that’s not… You see a lot of companies these days, working for SGRs, qualify the prospects. Well, no. You may qualify them whether they’re qualified to have the next conversation, but they’re not qualified as a prospect until you get this level of depth. And if you’re an account manager working too many accounts, you can’t possibly spend the time that you’re required to come to this level of qualification. 

 

Andy Paul:

So just by necessity, you’re going to start do it very superficially and you’re going to suffer a low close rate. And I challenge sales leaders, I say, “Look, you have a choice. I mean, you could close one of every five deals or you could do a much better job of qualification and close three out of every five deals. Which one do you want? Or maybe instead of five times pipeline coverage, you just do two times pipeline coverage. You little risk perhaps that you’re running a little thin on your coverage, but if you can consistently close one out of every two deals, you’d much rather do that. You’re going to much more solid customer relationship than you would have otherwise.”

 

The Customer Needs to Quantify and Justify Your Offering. What Does That Mean and How Can We Practically Help Them Achieve That? · [23:20] 

 

Will Barron:

So I think you subtly said something here, but I just want to go over it again because this is potentially important, this probably drives home this point. But you said that the customer needs to quantify your offering. So are we giving them the data and saying, “Right, you guys need to do a bit work on your side here,” or are we putting together a crazy slide deck with the help from marketing in our own finance team that says, “You should buy it because you’re going to get X ROI. Now it gives you cash.” Is it getting them to do a bit of work and kind of leveraging them to prove it to themselves or is this something that we can just tell them?

 

Andy Paul:

You have to work with them. They have to go through a process, they have to see it. And so some people they’re coming with ROI calculators, but those have to be real numbers. People will just sort of putting in fake numbers, then they’re still not going to be comfortable they’re making the right choice, or even to proceed. And this is really a critical point. Again, we’ll keep hammering here, let’s say, is that everybody makes this go/no-go decision first.

 

Andy Paul:

And that requires that they have a really good sense, not a final sense, but a really good sense that they can, let’s say, if their goal is increase market share of 5% and that’s worth $100,000 a month to them, they need to have that number. Because if their hurdle is, “Look to be in order to invest that money at a minimum, we have to be able to increase market share by $80,000 a month,” they have to quantify it. They have to be able to justify that, “Yeah they’re exceeding what their internal financial goal are.” In order to make that investment, in order to spend this time and money on this product solution, even to spend the time and money to investigate the solution.

 

Can We Quantify Everything in B2B Sales? · [24:50]

 

Will Barron:

So I’m going to ask you a question, Andy, and you might take off your headphones, throw them across the room and walk off this conversation here. But there’s going to be at least 400 people listening to this show right now, whether the new to sales or the new product or whatever they’re doing and they’re going to go, “Andy, Will, I don’t know how to quantify the numbers of what I’m doing. It just seems like a good thing to do. And that’s how I’ve been selling it.” Is it possible to quantify everything in the marketplace B2B specifically?

 

Andy Paul:

Yeah. Otherwise, why somebody can make the decision to buy it? I mean, some people will make decisions on their gut feel. I mean it like everything, is everything a 100%? No, but if you’re a business owner, I mean, take yourself an example. You’re a business owner, you’re looking to make a purchase of some sort. Are you just going to say, “Oh, that sounds good.” No, all right, Jerry wants to see the facts. Sort of the salesmen say, “Oh, take my word for it. It’s going to be great.” No, you’re not going to take their word for it. You want to see the details? You want to see what’s… And then you’re going to run your own projections. Right? What does this mean for my business? What am I going to achieve as a result of making this investment? And again, is that going to drive new revenue for me or whatever dimension is, you’re looking at. It’s natural people want to go to that level of detail.

 

Andy Paul:

So again, there are exceptions of few people that won’t. Now there are situations where I thought you were going with this and I’ve worked in those situations with, let’s say, new companies, new products that haven’t been out there where there isn’t a demonstrable track record necessarily. Then you start getting a little trickier issue and this becomes a much more difficult sale. It’s not that you can’t get it, that it starts becoming more about the personal relationships, the credibility, the trust that you develop. And I’ve had those, I’ve sold deals, worth millions that were basically brochureware based on a promise. We executed, we delivered, but they had to assess that the risk based on level of trust and credibility they had with me, or I had with them, excuse me, the risk was measurable, and was justifiable for them. And-

 

Will Barron:

So would the quantifying in that scenario, they’d be quantifying the up and the downside, right? That would be your discussion points, as opposed to we almost guaranteed to do X, Y, Z for you.

 

Andy Paul:

Yeah. I mean, in that case, they had a price, they could do the same calculation, but then they had to factor it by the risk. So what’s the risk that the company I work for couldn’t perform or what’s the risk on their side that they couldn’t perform and implement in order to achieve the outcome they wanted to achieve. I mean, companies, I always have to look at it, both scenarios and I’ve seen it in both ways from, as a seller as… I’ve gone into places where a new company, relatively new product, and they’re definitely calculating, “Okay, what’s the risk quotient here, dealing with these guys?” But I’ve been other scenarios where selling something may worth $50 million and the company themselves, the buyer is saying, “Yeah, what’s our risk in terms of being able to actually implement this in a way that we achieved the outcome that we said we could.”

 

Will Barron:

So I think, and tell me if I’m wrong, well, I know I’m analytically minded. I feel like you are the same, would that be fair to say Andy?

 

Andy Paul:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes.

 

The Emotional Elements of Speeding Up the Sales Process · [28:20] 

 

Will Barron:

So we’ve talked a lot so far on the numbers, the analytics, the upside, the downside, calculating risk, all this kind of stuff. Is there a way to leverage, not leverage… I’m struggling to put this into context and you’ll get what I’m going at here, but there’s trust, there’s relationships. We can perhaps talk all this into a bracket of the emotion. If there’s analytical way of selling, there’s an emotional element of selling as well that we need to get people on board. How does the emotional elements of all this fit in? Because, we’ve seemingly somewhat ignored that so far. Are there any leverage points on the emotional side of things to speed up the sales process?

 

Andy Paul:

It’s trust and credibility. And so you have to think about those contexts. There’s trust is, let’s take trust as sort of the interpersonal level of trust first. It gets overlooked and people sort of assume that it’s happening because, let’s say you get a seller, they get into a deal. And the buyer hasn’t told them to go away yet. And they get further and further into the sales process and they’re like, “Oh, well they must be trusting us because…” Nah, you can’t make that correlation. I mean, there’s lots of reasons why people continue to talk to you. They may have an imperative to talk to three vendors before they make a decision. You don’t understand that you’re in third place and you have no choice, no hope of winning. I mean that happens more times than not, I think for sellers.

 

The Four Cornerstones of Trust · [28:45] 

 

Andy Paul:

So assumption that personal level of trust… I have a little acronym I use for trust. I call the four cornerstones of trust as motives, integrity, competence, execution. So in order to build trust, is your motivations have to be transparent to the buyer. They have to think that you are there to help them. And they can see right through it if you’re not sincere about that. And one way that sales companies do this all the time is we’re here to help you. We’re here to help you. We’re here to help you or at the end of the month we’ll give you a 20% discount if you buy today. Well suddenly I’m not really here to help you I just want to get your business. So companies submarine themselves all the of time with this idea of trust. 

 

Andy Paul:

Integrity is not about honesty and ethics. It’s about, do your words align with your actions. Are you consistent? Do you have integrity between those two? Very important again, we almost repeat the first example we gave, but do you have the competence to deliver and do you have the ability to execute on commitments you make? You can be in a position you can prove those things. I mean, again, there’s always an element of risk that companies are making, but that’s what trust is about. Trust is an act of faith actually in people. So you can’t always be proven out. So what if you can start work on those four cornerstones, then you can build trust. Now, what were we heading with this?

 

Will Barron:

Just, what we can- [crosstalk 00:31:11].

 

Andy Paul:

I got so wrapped up in that.

 

Will Barron:

I love it. I’ll put all those kind of notes in the show note to this episode as well, over @salesman.org. That everyone who’s trying to kind of scribble this down is on the treadmill or doing whatever they’re doing as they listen to podcasts.

 

Andy Paul:

Yeah. Don’t try to scribble this down on the treadmill please.

 

When and How to Start Building Trust in the Sales Process · [31:55] 

 

Will Barron:

I’ve had people… No, I’ll tell you off air for that story of someone on a treadmill. And the audience can imagine what’s going on there. So what I was asking you Andy, is that seems like a process with reasonable steps of, again, binary. You can ask someone what they feel about the brand that you work for and perhaps if you’ve got a personal issue, but these are things that you can tick off. Maybe it’s on a scale of one to 10 and we know that we’re on five or six, and so we can tick that off. What I was asking you was, is there any way to accelerate that process of building the trust? Is there anything we can do to build trust before we, and clearly the [inaudible 00:32:04], I’m kind of baiting you into perhaps giving us your opinion on the idea of social selling and stuff like that here, but should we be-

 

Andy Paul:

Just say that, Barron.

 

Will Barron:

Should we be focusing on building trust before we pick up the phone and building relationships before we’re ready sell to people. And we touched on this in the episode that we recorded previously, is that a waste of time? Does that happen throughout the sales process or is that perhaps a good use of our time to be going out for drinks or trying to build relationships before we start actually selling to someone?

 

Andy Paul:

Yeah. I don’t think its pre requirement at all. Some people use it successfully to get sort of to open the door, build enough trust to open the door. So someone will invest a little bit of time in talking with them. But again, there’s also companies who are being equally successful, just making cold calls without that. So I don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule. I think it’s what works for you as an individual. What are you most comfortable with doing? I know that some people really like the idea of using social selling as a way to sort of warm up a connection in advance of making a call, nothing wrong with that at all. I think that’s fine. Do what works for you. I know other people are just perfectly happy with picking up the phone making a call out of the blue.

 

Andy Paul:

I’ve certainly done my share of that over the years. I sort of personally, I prefer to warm people up a little bit, whether it’s what I’m doing now, obviously I’ve got a huge following on social media and so on is, that sort of does that. But if it’s somebody that’s, I’m purposely reaching out for to connect for a business purpose, I like to send an email first, that’s just me. And then I’ll pick the phone and call them. Find what works for you, because that will help you get in the mode where you can help the customer more quickly. I have to admit, I mean, we’re talking about accelerating the sale, but I think that, really the key to it is just controlling what you do. That’s really all you have control over you.

 

“If you summarise what a buyer’s trying to achieve, they’re trying to quickly gather information to make a good decision with the least investment of time and effort possible. And most companies aren’t trying to make the best decision, they’re trying to make a good enough decision. So, help them make that good enough decision. ” – Andy Paul · [34:22] 

 

Andy Paul:

If you can help the customer, gather the information they need more quickly to make a good decision with the least investment of their time and money, then they want that too. So think about what you’re doing and the steps that you take in that light. Because I think that’s what a buyer… If you summarise what a buyer’s trying to achieve, is they’re trying to quickly gather information, to make a good decision with the least investment of time and effort possible. And they’re not trying to make… Most companies aren’t trying to make the best decision, they’re trying to make a good enough decision. And there’s been a tremendous amount of research done on this, people won Nobel prizes based on this. They’re trying to make a good enough decision. Well, help them make that good enough decision. What do you need to do to help them make that?

 

Andy Paul:

And you can always just continually be asking and qualifying to that question. And I sometimes make the reference to David Allen, his great book, Getting Things Done. He is a personal productivity maybe even, one of the rates in the field. And he always talks about this context when you’re trying to get things done as, what’s the very next physical action. Well, you always want to know that and say, “What’s the very next physical action that needs to be taken, to help the customer move closer to making a decision? And what can you do to make that happen?”

 

Why You Only Need to Help the Buyer Make a Good Enough Decision to Push the Deal Forward · [35:22]  

 

Will Barron:

Is that something that we should be drilling into our heads? And I feel like it is, I don’t want to gloss over it there, and then we’ll wrap up with this, that we need to make the customers make a good decision. Because I feel like we put a lot of pressure or potentially we put, I know I do. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure that it’s the most incredible thing that anyone else has done possibly. Whenever I deal with anyone, I want them to proactively be giving me a testimonial, which I’m kind of building on my side. I want them to a video testimonial, I want be able to interview them perhaps if on the show or whatever it is. Do we put us sellers on a kind of grand scale, are we putting too much pressure on ourselves here? And could we get the same results with that, a little bit less stress and pressure. If we put the heart on that we just need to do good enough to win the business, make sure everyone’s happy as opposed to blowing people away. And that seems counterintuitive.

 

Andy Paul:

Well, I think that-

 

Will Barron:

It might be technically correct, and maybe this is different from a business owner as opposed to working from someone selling for an organisation as well, perhaps.

 

Andy Paul:

Right. So look at it from this context is there’s research out there that says that anywhere from 50 to 80% of opportunities in a pipeline end up in no decision. To me, worst of all possible outcomes. Because you didn’t qualify the prospect because they didn’t make that go/no-go decision. They decided not to do anything. That’s the problem. You haven’t done a good enough job then. You may think you did a good enough, but you didn’t do good enough. And so I don’t think you’d say, “As a seller, I’m only going to do what’s enough, just enough in order to get the decision.” I think you have to approach it, you’re always bringing your A game, every single interaction. That’s really from the buyer’s perspective. They’re saying, “Look, we have certain outcomes we want to achieve.”

 

Andy Paul:

And when I finally talked to someone who says, “Yeah, we can do that.” And we feel comfortable that they can achieve that, and the risk is low or manageable, well, why do we want to spend the time talking to three or four other vendors when they basically are going to offer us the same thing? No, that’s going to take time and money I don’t have, boom, I’m done. Well, to help the customer get to that point where they’re making the good enough decision. You have to be on your A game because you got to bring it. You got to help them get to that point quickly. So there’s no slacking as a Salesforce, you always have to be on top of it. That’s really from the buyer’s perspective. So it’s just not worth any more of our time, incremental investment of our time to go investigate these other solutions.

 

Andy Paul:

And that’s what you want to do. Because you really want to think about this as, what can I do as a seller to take this prospect off the streets. Think about that. That’s a term that well, one client worked with used and I really liked this, is we’re going to take these prospects off the street. We want eliminate their incentive to go talk to any other vendors, but you can’t do that if you’re just saying “Yeah, just going to do the good enough job.” No, got to bring your A game every single time. It doesn’t matter how small or how large the interaction is, it could be an email or voice mail, in person call, whatever you got to be at the top of your game every time.

 

Andy’s Advise to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [38:33] 

 

Will Barron:

Love it. That is amazing. That wraps up the show goes back to what we touched on at the beginning, which is the only thing you can control is yourself. So I appreciate that, Andy. I’ve got one final question mate. I’ve asked everyone that comes on the show, I think I’ve asked you in the past as well. That is, if you go back in time and speak to your younger self, what would be the one piece of advice you’d give him to help him become better at selling, which is nothing to do with anything that we’ve just talked about. Because there’s some easy cop outs there that we could go down.

 

Andy Paul:

Yeah. Well I’ve got a quote that I sort of lived a good portion of my life by, my professional life by. And it’s from a 19th century, British writer, Thomas Huxley. And Thomas Huxley said, “In life, you should try to learn something about everything and everything about something.” And to me, this is what you should try to do in life, is be widely read. Because you never know what’s going to be the point of what you know, that engages the interest of your buyer. But then you also got to specialise in something, you got to… So in my case, I just talk about people’s… And people listen to my podcasts. They know, I know a lot about a lot of different things, perhaps annoyingly so. But I read widely, but I know virtually everything I could know about sales.

 

Andy Paul:

And I’ve spent my entire life studying and doing it and so on. So I just think that’s a watch word for anybody that’s in sales. I wish I had sort of picked up on a little bit earlier in life, but it’s really advice I give to somebody else is, read widely, read about everything. Be curious about everything that’s out in the world, not just one area, but then you do have your professional life. What are you specialising in? It could be your product. It could be the industry you serve, go deep on that, so that you can provide value to your prospects.

 

Parting Thoughts · [40:10] 

 

Will Barron:

Love it. Well with that, Andy, tell everyone who’s curious have to listen to the show where we can find your show, Accelerate, where we can find the Sales House and then where we can find out more about you just in general, sir.

 

Andy Paul:

Sure. Well, you can find my show Accelerate With Andy Paul on iTunes or come to andypaul.com and you’ll see the whole archive of shows there. If you’re interested in the Sales House, I urge you to join our mailing list. You go to the saleshouse.com/subscribe and get on our daily email list, which is great content for you there. Or if you just want to join, come to the sales house.com/join, look forward to seeing you there. Follow me, [email protected] If you want, drop me an email or follow me on LinkedIn. And that is the usual stuff slash the Sales House.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. I’ll link to all that in the show note to this episode over at salesman.org. With that Andy, I appreciate, this side I feel like we’re on the same wavelength for a lot of things, both pre and post content post recording. So hopefully that resonates with the audience as well. All the analytical minds that are in there and we touched on the emotional side of it as well, which I think was useful. So that one, thank you for joining us again on the Salesman Podcast.

 

Andy Paul:

Well, thank you very much.

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