How To Sell To The C-Suite (Real Life Example!)

Josh Braun is a former Head of Business Development at Basecamp and the Co-Founder & CEO of Sales DNA. He is an expert in helping sales leaders, CEO’s, and founders create systems to generate a steady flow of meetings each month with qualified buyers.

In this episode of The Salesman Podcast, Josh explains how to book meetings with and win business from the C-suite.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Josh Braun
Co-Founder & CEO of Sales DNA

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

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

 

Josh Braun:

The number one problem salespeople make is they don’t talk about the customer’s problems. They end up talking about their benefits or their features. So we always have to start with finding an expensive problem.

 

Will Barron:

Hello sales nation, I am Will Barron, host 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.

 

Josh Braun:

My name is Josh Braun. I help people sell things and you can learn more about how I do that at salesdna.co

 

Will Barron:

On this episode with Josh, we are diving into how to sell to the C-suite. Josh gives a very literal example of how he got a meeting and sold to Geico, clearly a huge organisation by cold contacting the CEO of the company. This is part one of a two-part conversation. And so with that, let’s jump right in.

 

The Difference Between Selling to the C-Suite Versus Meeting with Middle Management or the End User · [01:00] 

 

Will Barron:

So let me start asking you this just to… We don’t need to go into the process just yet, but just as an overview, how different is it getting a meeting with someone in the C-suite versus getting a meeting with a kind of middle manager or a buyer in that kind of sector?

 

Josh Braun:

It’s a great question. And I think the question we need to ask is how can you help someone kick more ass? Right, so we have to start with how are you going to help the company do something better? By way of example, let’s say, there’s an elderly gentleman in a car and he’s having trouble getting out of the car by himself. His knees hurt, his wrist hurt. He’s having a hard time getting out of the car by himself. He’s not independent. He needs someone’s help. He doesn’t feel good about that. If you can help him kick more ass, that would mean that you could help him get out of the car in an independent way.

 

Josh Braun:

That’s an infomercial for something called the Car Cane. So everything starts with a idea that you have, a problem that you can solve that’s going to help someone do something better. Now, the next thing we have to decide is, who’s that person that we can help do something better. That could be the C level suite person, which we’re going to talk about today, but it could be something else. It’s a long-winded way Will of saying the goal isn’t to talk to a C level executive. The goal is to first find out how you can help a company kick more ass. And we’ll talk about this specifically for how I did this with Geico. And then we find the person who’s struggling the most with that problem, the old person trying to get out of the car.

 

Why Do Most Salespeople Go After the C-Suite Instead of Trying to Help the End User? · [02:17] 

 

Will Barron:

Because it seems like the conventional wisdom is, we go as high up the food chain as we possibly can, and then get knocked down, if appropriate, and my experience perhaps isn’t always the best way to go about it. Why is that the conventional wisdom versus going in and helping the person that needs the help?

 

“Everyone is struggling sometimes to be able to make progress on a job. And unless you can find the person that’s having the struggle, and that struggle is high, people aren’t going to care.” – Josh Braun · [02:43] 

 

Josh Braun:

Yeah, so I think the reason is, people don’t understand the jobs that people are trying to get done, which I learned when I was over at Basecamp. So everyone has a job that they’re trying to get done and everyone is struggling sometimes to be able to make progress on that job. And unless you can find the person that’s having the struggle, and that struggle is high, people aren’t going to care. Right? So for instance, Will, if I were to contact you, one of the things I could guess that you’re struggling with is to get more advertisers on your show. And if I had a way for you to get an advertiser on your show that you hadn’t thought of before, that’s a struggle that you probably have that’s a, what I call a big problem, not just any problem, that would probably capture interest. The idea isn’t to get to the C level executive.

 

Josh Braun:

I think why people do that is they try to get a referral so that the C level executive says, “Hey, John said to speak to Mary.” But if you’re solving an expensive problem for someone that has the struggle, and nowadays we have the tools to zero in on the person having the struggle. We don’t need to do that because that person will want to talk to us because they want to get out of the car by themselves. They want to be more awesome independently, right?

 

Josh Braun:

Infomercials are great at this, right? Hey, have you ever gone to a mechanic to get an oil change, but realised that the mechanic told you you needed a new transmission and didn’t know whether to believe him? If I’m struggling with that, if I’ve ever had that happen to me, I’m going to say, yeah, like you’re calling me, I’m a triathlete. If you learned about me and you said, “Hey Josh, I noticed you’re 49 years old and you’re trying to do an Ironman. Would you be interested in an idea to help you train for that in 10 hours a week, rather than 50?” That’s something I’m struggling with as a 50 year old Jewish guy trying to cross the finish line. So we can identify the struggle, it’s about getting to the person and that may or may not be the C level executive.

 

Finding the Most Expensive Problems and Selling to the C-Suite · [04:25]

 

Will Barron:

Okay. So if we accept that, but we want to steer the conversation towards the C level executive for this conversation. So we make some kind of assumption for the audience that they are getting in front of the right people by getting in front of the C level. Otherwise, the conversation could go anywhere, right? So we made that assumption. What problems does someone in the C-suite have, and maybe we can break it up into, kind of the main sections of it, of finance or management and, kind of human resources or whatever it is. What problems do each of these have that we can potentially tie our product to, if appropriate?

 

Josh Braun:

Well, I can tell you how smart you are.

 

Will Barron:

I don’t know about that.

 

“The number one mistake salespeople make is they don’t talk about the customer’s problems. They end up talking about their benefits or their features.” – Josh Braun · [05:01] 

 

Josh Braun:

So, this is… the number one problem sales people make is they don’t talk about the customer’s problems. They end up talking about their benefits or their features, right? So just a quick sidebar. If I sell a product called Unshrinkit and Unshrinkit is actually a product that unshrinks wool sweaters if you accidentally put it in the dryer. And I were to cold call you and say, “Hey, have you ever had a wool sweater in the dryer that you shrunk accidentally?” If I didn’t have a wool sweater, if that wasn’t a problem for me, the solution has no inherent value. So we always have to start with finding an expensive problem. And so, let’s be real practical with specifically the CEO that I found which was Tony Nicely over at Geico. This was back in 2006. So this was before sales navigator. We didn’t have a lot of intelligence. So my hypothesis for the problem was how does Geico make money? And what’s the most expensive problem they have? And so when I went on geico.com, the one thing they want you to do when you go on geico.com even today is do what?

 

Will Barron:

Not sure. Sign up something.

 

Josh Braun:

Yeah. Get a quote.

 

Will Barron:

Quote.

 

Josh Braun:

Buy life… Buy auto insurance. And so my hypothesis was, what if I can get more people to buy auto insurance in a meaningful way. That was the problem. And so I went through their quote process myself, because I was in the market for car insurance. And I noticed that during the process of getting the quote process, there were some problems I was running into. The coverage was confusing, the insurance jargon, and I hypothesised that if I could make that clearer in a better way, more interesting for people and less confusing, that more people would go through it. So that was the hypothesis that I had. And I said, hey, Tony Nicely is at the top of the food chain. He’s the CEO. He reports right into Warren buffet, I believe. And he’s going to be the person that I think is going to have the most struggle and is going to be the most interested in this problem.

 

Josh Braun:

So that’s how I started. That’s the first step of the process which is, find the expensive problem, in this case, the insurance quote process. Could I get more people through it and then find the person, in this case, Tony Nicely, who I think is struggling with that and could be benefit if I was able to crack it for him.

 

How to Identify the Person Within an Organisation That’s Struggling the Most with a Specific Problem · [07:14] 

 

Will Barron:

The answer to this might be the fact that you’ve used the word expensive about 15 times there very purposefully. But how do we know whether in that scenario, Josh, whether we need to go after the CEO of the company or whether we need to go after the UX or user experience designer. How do we differentiate, I guess, the value of the problem that we’re solving?

 

Josh Braun:

Yeah so we take a look at the profile of the person that we’re reaching out to. And we take a look at, for instance, with Tony Nicely, I knew that he was interested in growth and he was interested specifically in-

 

Will Barron:

And how did you know he is interested in growth? I mean, that’s an obvious thing but…

 

Josh Braun:

Yeah, I read the, our annual report and I saw some things in the annual report that alluded to them wanting to spend money and invest in online growth, specifically geico.com, and they sell auto insurance. And so I inferred for that since that was in his annual report, that is something that was top of mind for him. Now, whether or not I was going to end up working with him, probably he was going to introduce me to someone as we get into this story, we’ll kind of show you how that unfolded, but I thought he would be the person that would be most interested. The other thing look for is, we’re not prospecting a company, we’re prospecting a person. And that guy’s personality, when I saw him speak, vibed to me like he would be interested in new and innovative ideas, which as we get to further in the story, we’re going to talk a little bit about the importance of that.

 

Josh Braun:

And his personality also vibed like it with gel with our approach. He was a little friendly, he was not so buttoned up. It looked like he had a little bit of a sense of humour, even some of the things that he was saying. So I look for that as well, especially now, when I do outreach is, does the personality vibe with our company and me. When I do my outreach, will they click? And so not just about what they’re responsible for, but also can I glean anything from who they are as a person.

 

The Percentage Chance of an Ordinary Salesperson Getting in Touch with a CEO · [09:09] 

 

Will Barron:

Let me ask you this, Josh, and then we’ll ask you about specifically the outreach that you did and what we’ll continue down the funnel of the story. But, and I think I know the answer to this question, but I’m going to ask you anyway to kind of prove or potentially make a point. How… what percentage chance do you think there is of getting in touch with a CEO when you read the annual report, you know that they’re focused on kind of online growth, you know their personality type somewhat, you can cater your customised email to that, and you spend two days doing that for one person. What’s the chances of success there versus the chances of success of spending the same amount of time, the same amount of energy, spamming 50 CEOs with the same bullshit templated email, trying to get, especially in the C-suite here, not just anyone who’s kind of bored, sat at their computer who might pick up a phone tier, but someone who’s incredibly busy and important. What… Where does the biggest chance of success lie on, can we have a side of that?

 

Josh Braun:

Yeah you’re bringing up a good point. And so the other thing we’re going to talk about is it’s not enough to do all the things we just said. You actually now have to communicate the idea in a way that I call is, has clarity and charm. So you have to communicate this idea in a very different way that actually makes people feel something. So it’s not enough to send an email template.

 

Why Will Invited Josh Over to the Salesman Podcast · [10:21]

 

Josh Braun:

My take on this is, you’re going to send fewer emails, but the response rates are going to be really high because we’re going to make a really good first impression. Now Will, you told me before the show, you get three or 400 people emailing you every month to be able to be on this show. So somehow, this little old Jewish guy in Boca Raton managed to break through, and we could talk about how, but I would imagine it’s because, well, you actually, you tell me how do you even remember? I don’t even know if you remember how I even got on your radar. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. But it’d be interesting to just hear your perspective there.

 

Will Barron:

So you got on our radar through our producer. So our producer the… I literally, I’ve got in front of me. I literally have notes and she… Everyone who emails or that we reach out to, she goes and does a little bit of research on them. And then she kind of formulates a potential two or three topics. Then ask yourself, prefer potential topics as well. Then we combine it all. And that’s how the show comes about. And one of the things that I remember her saying in this kind of back and forth document that we have, is she really enjoyed your energy.

 

Will Barron:

She really enjoyed, she must have seen whether you put a video content or a podcast content, whatever it is, she was like a line was essentially really good energy will make a great guest kind of, regardless of subject, because some guests will only cover a very narrow niche sliver of a subject because you go out of the bounds of those individuals. And it just turns into a complete shitshow. With you, essentially what she saying was, you could probably jump on the phone with him and have a good chat about anything, which is how things are going so far, right?

 

Josh Braun:

And that’s exactly it. So in addition to the stuff that we talked about, you have to be able to communicate in a way that makes people feel that, right? And we’ll talk about that as we get into the tactics. But whenever I communicate and do outreach, I always do something to make people feel a certain way. So for instance, with you and your producer, I was sending you a customised URL with your name in it in your LinkedIn messenger. And when you clicked it, it came to a page of me saying all the reasons why you should have me on your show and how it’s going to benefit people. And I used humour and I used jokes and I was sending you… I was doing things to make you feel something, as your producer said, the energy. I call it having a little charm, having a little delight, but making people feel something. And we’ll talk a lot about this.

 

Josh Braun:

There’s a gentleman I know, I’ll give him a quick shout out. His name is Dale Dupree. This guy sells copy machines. It’s one of the most commoditized things that you could ever imagine. But this guy has branded himself The Copier Warrior. And he goes in slaying copy machines. If they’re spewing ink or jamming up, or you have long customer support calls. And he rescues you from the tyranny. He sends a sponge that looks like a red brick in the mail, and it says if you’ve ever wanted to throw a brick at your copy machine, because it was jamming up, don’t do that, throw this instead and give me a call.

 

Josh Braun:

That’s an example of a first touch, that’s going to make people feel something so that when you cold call and say, “I’m the one that thought it was a good idea to send you the brick in the mail.” You’re just going to get a visceral reaction. And you can hear this over and over again on my webpage. I have audio files of people and email responses where there’s what I call, not an open rate, not a response rate, what I call, an oomph rate.

 

Josh Braun:

This reaction and this energy and this like, that was awesome man. Even when they say no, it’s like, this was the best email I’ve gotten all week because it made me feel something. And when you make people feel good, they want to be around you. Another quick sidebar and we’ll get back to the process. I always wore colourful socks at every discovery meeting I went to and I always sat purposefully so people could see them and they would always comment on them. And it was a thing that I was known for. And it would always make people feel good and smile and ask me about.

 

“This is super important when we’re doing outreach: It’s not enough that we have value propositions, that we can help people, we’ve got to get that feeling across and we’ve got to pay more attention to the first impression.” – Josh Braun · [14:11] 

 

Josh Braun:

Literally a year ago, one of my clients that I sold six years ago, had a work anniversary and I just shot him off happy anniversary. He sent me back an email or I think on LinkedIn saying, “Hey, nice to hear from you Josh. Are you still wearing those colourful socks?” I don’t remember what I sold him. He probably doesn’t remember what I sold him, but he remembers how I made him feel. And this is super important when we’re doing outreach. It’s not enough that we have value propositions, that we can help people. We got to get that feeling across and we got to pay more attention to the first impression, which we’ll talk a little bit about when we get through this thing.

 

The Almost Perfect First Impression · [14:25] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. Well, with that, Josh, what was the first impression? How did you make it? Was it kind of a, an email chain, like you sent to us? To me? Was it LinkedIn? Was it email? Was it a call? How did you kind of get your foot in the door?

 

Josh Braun:

Yeah, so all those things are mediums and they could all be great, but really it’s the execution of what you’re doing. So let’s actually talk about this in regards to Geico. And then you can see how this works. So step number one is we’re going to find the expensive problem. Step number two, we’re finding the person with the struggle that has that problem. And step number three, is we’re going to form a hypothesis as to how we can potentially solve that problem.

 

Josh Braun:

So for instance, with Geico, we noticed that on the fourth screen, somebody had to select their coverage options. And there was like seven things to choose from, and there was all sorts of complicated car insurance lingo. And our hyper hypothesis was if we could simplify that, less people will be confused because when you’re confused, you leave and shut off. So that was our step three.

 

Josh Braun:

Step number four is a biggie. Step number four is called teaching somebody a new idea that they have never thought of before that can help them make progress. The biggest problem people make when they cold email is they tell people things they already know. So if I told Geico, you guys are losing people during your auto quote process, they’d be like, we know that. But we didn’t do that. Instead, what we did, is we took a look at that specific screen and we said, we are hypothesising that you’re losing people on this screen because they are confused by all the choices.

 

Josh Braun:

What we’ve done, is we’ve got started and we’ve mocked up a new design for you, a new experience for this flow. Here’s a link to the video that’ll walk you through it. If you like it, let us know. We can continue talking. So instead of telling them what we are going to do about our idea, instead of saying, we can help you increase your conversion rates, which is what pretty much every other email probably would’ve done. We got busy and we actually did the work. We actually gave them a taste. And this was a different redesign UI UX experience using a voice and conversational language and clarity to clean it up and make it more fun and clear and understandable for people. And we sent that little three or four minute clip, and this is how the… the idea was teaching something new. So for your business, Will, if I was trying to get a sponsor. Let’s say I wanted to get Geico-

 

A Practical Example of Adding Value to a Conversation Before Pitching C-Suite Executives · [16:45]

 

Will Barron:

Let me give you a better example. So, sponsorship is kind of wrapped up now. We get more people ask our podcast to advertise based on what we can provide. And I pride myself on being a salesperson and testing what we talk about on the show in real life. So this is a problem. So one way I’m thinking about trying to solve this problem and to have a product to sell B2B is, I’m thinking about twisting the content in the sales school and making either a new version of it or rebranding it slightly to be more corporate friendly and selling it to sales management. So we can perhaps use that as an example of how I would get… How I’d add value to a sales manager, a sales leader before kind of pitching the sales school, perhaps. 

 

“When I ran an agency, one of the things that the founder was really big on was, ‘we’ll just get started doing the work. We’ll just do the front page. We’ll do some of the work. We’ll give the person a free cookie sample.’ Because it’s so much more powerful to do and to give away something for “free” than it is to talk about it.” – Josh Braun · [17:40] 

 

Josh Braun:

Yeah, you do the work. Right? When I ran an agency, one of the things that the founder was really big on, is we’ll just get started doing the work. We’ll just do the front page. We’ll do some of the work. We’ll give the person the free cookie sample, because it’s so much more powerful to do and to give away something for free quote unquote than it is to talk about it. Oftentimes, when we would go to finalist presentations, we would do this, right? So everyone’s coming and doing the final pitch and we would walk in and say, “Hey, we could do that. Or we can get started right now and you could see what it’s like to work with us. And we’ll just get started on the project.” And we would just kind of kick things off and they’d get a little taste of what it was like to work with us and we would be able to unseat a lot of big agencies.

 

“People like it when you make them smarter, when you are the one to teach them. It’s why chefs are so great. The chef will be on the show, he’ll teach you all his recipes and you’ll be like, “That guy’s awesome. And then when I’m in the store, I’m going to buy the cookware because he made me smarter.” So, how can you make your prospect smarter in a new way, not an old way, and how can you show that rather than talk about it?” – Josh Braun · [18:10] 

 

Josh Braun:

And we were just a small little eight person agency out of Chicago. I’m using that approach because people like it when you make them smarter, when you are the one to teach them, it’s why chefs are so great, right? The chef will be on the show, Mario Batali. He’ll teach you all his recipes and you’ll be like that guy’s awesome. And then when I’m in the store, I’m going to buy the cookware because he made me smarter. You know, you’re the same way. Like I listen to Will and if Will has something to sell, I’m going to buy it because Will made me smarter. How can you make your prospect smarter in a new way, not an old way? And how can you show that rather than tell about it?

 

How to Show the Buyer the New Way of Doing Things and Make Them Feel Smarter · [18:40] 

 

Will Barron:

So would an example of this then be to demonstrate new versus old way of doing things? Perhaps an old way would be to give the sales leader a free trial or whatever of the product, perhaps a new way would be to give one of the team full access to it for however amount of time, record how much they’re using it or whatever, and then report that back to the sales leader. Would that be kind of a better approach to it?

 

Josh Braun:

Yeah, I love it. And I like… I was thinking about your business as well. I didn’t know you were so inundated with people that want to advertise in your show, but it lets say that you weren’t, and you wanted, let’s say Geico or this big sponsor on. One way to do this is, hey, you’re going to create their ad, their 45 second spot. You’re going to produce it and you’re going to send it to them and you’re going to say, you want to air this. Like it’s already done. They’re seeing what it’s like, they’re hearing the Will thing, the promotion. And that’s like, wow, that’s crack. When the company that I worked for was cording me, Jellyvision in Chicago, they were trying to bid on our project and we had other agencies bidding and sending us proposals. What Harry did, the founder of the company is, he sent us some of the project.

 

Josh Braun:

It was a two minute clip of this is what it’s going to look like to work with us. And he sent it to us and that thing went viral inside the company. Those guys were 25 or 30% more, but we felt something because it was work. And when you see the work, it’s just better than talking about it. Because again, to our earlier point, it makes you feel something. So with this Geico example, we did a video tear down. Here’s where we think the problem is and why, here’s our unique perspective, and here’s the after. Just like the car cane commercial, right? How having trouble getting out the car, need to use your hand, need someone to help you stand up. That’s what we did with Geico. And here’s the car cane. Here’s our perspective, here’s a taste of it. We’ve got more. If you’re interested, let us know.

 

How to Get In Front of the Decision Maker and Ensure They Understand the Effectiveness of Our Projected Solution · [20:23] 

 

Will Barron:

So how do we get that taste into someone’s mouth? As a terrible metaphor or simile or whatever it’s called, analogy. How do we get it into someone’s hands when they’re incredible busy, perhaps there’s gatekeepers, perhaps they don’t check their own email, perhaps they’re kind of fortified, if you wanted to get… If you wanted to, I’m sure we’ll go down the story of Geico here, but if you wanted to get in front of that CEO face to face or however, to imprint this messaging, to share this with them, how would… How do we go about doing it?

 

“We have to have empathy at the beginning of the email. And so what do I mean by that? We have to understand that the person we’re emailing has got a lot of stuff going on and we have to be empathetic and honest about that.” – Josh Braun · [21:24] 

 

Josh Braun:

Well, let’s talk about it, right? So let’s talk about different approaches with regards to gatekeepers, which are not something you want to get around. So we’ll talk about that in a second. But let’s actually talk through the specific example for Geico, which maybe worked and maybe didn’t work today because there wasn’t as much email being sent back in the day. There weren’t these auto sequencing tools. I had to do things manually and follow up manually. So not as many people were doing it. But let me just tell you how I did it. I actually have this specific email right in front of me. And there’s got some things in there that I think are good takeaways. So the first thing is, we have to have empathy at the beginning of the email. And so what do I mean by that? We have to understand that the person that we’re emailing has got a lot of stuff going on. Tony Nicely has a lot of stuff going on. We have to be empathetic about that and honest. So this is how the email would start.

 

Josh Braun:

Tony, you probably get tonnes of email from people that you don’t know and you’re seconds away from deleting this. But five minutes could get you 5% more customers. Now that little saying is a playoff of the Geico tagline which is, 15 minutes could save you more than 15%. So what I’m doing there with that empathy is I’m saying to him in a very honest way, “Hey dude, I know you’re busy. You have no idea who I am. You probably want to delete this, but just give me two seconds, give five minutes to tell you why I think it’s worth your time.” And so what that does is it’s like, “Hey, you get me” rather than just starting your pitch. I was on your site, noticed this thing.

 

Josh Braun:

Something other things that I’ve done is, “Hey, well you don’t know me. I was browsing LinkedIn and found your profile after searching for this term. Congratulations on being the chosen one.” You know, you win, you know?

 

Will Barron:

Yeah.

 

Josh Braun:

I got your email address from a LinkedIn Chrome extension. You know, things that are just like honest and brutal and empathetic and real, like really real. So that’s how I would start all of those. With regards to gatekeepers, it’s really interesting. And I learned this valuable lesson at my local seafood market. Actually, I went in there to buy a piece of swordfish and this guy came out and spent 20 minutes with me, teaching me how to prepare it. Gave me spices and the experience was so great, I said, “Can I speak to your boss?” And he was like, “Oh my God, am I in trouble?” It’s like, “No, I just want to tell him what a great job he did.”

 

“Acknowledgement means a lot to people. So with gatekeepers, I would compliment the gatekeeper on what she did and what she’s doing, because they like to be acknowledged. So I never try to get around a gatekeeper. I always try to acknowledge a gatekeeper, even in the outreach.” – Josh Braun · [23:20] 

 

Josh Braun:

And I complimented him in front of his boss and this guy, every time I walked into the store, I would always get cool stuff from him, spices, the best fish, something from the back. And I realised that acknowledgement means a lot to people. So with gatekeepers, I always have every opportunity to say to the gatekeeper when I write an email to the CEO, “Your gatekeeper, who I interacted with was extremely helpful. You should definitely give her a raise. She should probably have a bigger office than you.” And I would compliment the gatekeeper on what she did and what she’s doing, because they like to be acknowledged, especially because that’s always the case. So I never try to get around a gatekeeper. I always try to acknowledge a gatekeeper, even in the outreach.

 

What is The Low Friction Ask? · [23:52] 

 

Will Barron:

What is the ask in the email? Is it always a phone call? Should we just go straight for that, no faffing around of anything else?

 

“A high friction ask is, “Give me 50 minutes of your time. When can we book?” It’s premature, it’s like asking to meet a girl’s parents on the first date. Slow down.” – Josh Braun · [24:03] 

 

Josh Braun:

So, the next step, so now we’re in step five, low friction ask. So a high friction ask is, give me 50 minutes of your time. When can we book? It’s premature, it’s like asking to meet a girl’s parents on the first date. Let’s slow down. So what are, what is a low friction ask look like? So let me keep reading the email. So, but five minutes could get you 5% more customers. Now, the next paragraph.

 

Josh Braun:

We’ve invested some time reviewing your quote process. Yes I study quote processes for a living and we have an idea that can potentially increase the number of people that complete the quotes. We created this for you on the house. If you like it, let’s talk.

 

Josh Braun:

And then there’s a link to the video. Another low friction ask, does this look interesting? Another low friction ask, if you like it, I could send you more. Another low friction ask, would an exchange via email make sense before you can decide if a broader conversation makes sense. Another low friction ask, I’m assuming this doesn’t sound interesting, right? Feel free to say no if you don’t think this is a fit, but might we be able to help? Yes or no. These are all low friction asks. I am not a fan of a high friction ask in the beginning, which is, get me a meeting schedule 45 minutes.

 

The Strategic Follow up After a No Response · [25:40] 

 

Will Barron:

What… How do I ask this? If you send that to the right person, at the right time, of course its just going to go. Maybe it’s even just a one liner of, yes, tell me more whatever it is. If we get the right person at the wrong time with the right messaging, it goes in an inbox. And especially someone like CEO, they may have people managing their inbox, they may not, however they want to go about it. And so they go, I will get back to that and it kind of fades and fades and fades and fades. How do we follow up on a message like this? And then we can assume that the follow up worked further down the tunnel of success here, but what do we do when we don’t get a reply after kind of 24 hours, 48 hours? What do we do then Josh?

 

Josh Braun:

You’re making a great point. So if you were to stand in front of a room full of 300 people, and you said, raise your hand if you’re buying a house right now, you’d probably have four or five people raise their hand. That’s outbound. Most of the time when you’re doing outbound and you reach out the, what I call the motivation metre, on a scale of one to five, five being, oh my God now, one being zero, we’re at a one or two. The problem is a problem, but it’s not a big enough problem. So for instance, I have a barbecue, only half of my barbecue works. It’s a problem, but I’m only cooking for my wife and I, so it doesn’t matter. It’s a problem, but it’s a two on the scale of one to five. It’s in the blue zone, not in the red zone.

 

Josh Braun:

But if my wife, four days later or a week later said, “We’re cooking for 12 and I want you to grill.” All of a sudden now, I’m in the red zone. It’s now a hot problem. And so it’s not enough to have the problem. The problem has to be experiencing enough struggle. And sometimes to your point, Will, the timing is off. So we need an approach to be able to go away. So let’s actually talk about that. What I never do is send seven emails with bumping things. Because I’m going to assume that somebody’s timing just isn’t right. Because my outreach, I’m going to assume, was targeted and was a relevant problem. And if not, then shame on me too. So I’m going to assume if they don’t get back to me, shame on me. Yeah. So I will rarely say contrary to contrary, like 15 touches, 20 touches. I think that annoys most people. And I, and I am friends with a couple CEOs that actually get those emails and they forward them to me and say curse words.

 

Why Spamming CEOs is the Worst Thing You Could Ever Do as a Salesperson · [27:35] 

 

Will Barron:

And just to pause on this for a second. This is incredibly important at this level, right? Because middle management, you might be able to spam a whole industry. There’s 10 times more of them. It’s going to 10 times longer to do it. Maybe you, when you’re spamming these individuals, you’re only actually contacting them once a year with a kind of a new campaign. Once you email a CEO, who’s been in the role for 20 years is going to be in it for another 15, you’ve burnt it, right? That bridge to you, your organisation, the brand, if they’re annoyed, you’re just done. Well, not necessarily completely done, but you digging a hole that you’ve got to climb out of, haven’t you?

 

“I’m a big fan that each touch that you give has to provide something very important which makes someone smarter. Every time I communicate with someone, I want to make them smarter about something and I want to communicate it in a way that makes them feel good.” – Josh Braun · [28:47] 

 

Josh Braun:

It’s a great point. We always talk about, 4-5% response rates, but what about the 95 that are not responding, that you don’t hear from? And, I believe these 7, 8, 10 touch things that are re-bumping, just getting this to your top of your inbox. And I’ve actually interviewed my customers that are C-level executives that bought, because I wanted to hear their perspective. And all of them are pissed off about that. And so are a lot of, I would imagine, people that are not CEOs, just like if you, Will, if I was hammering at you the same email and bumping it to the top of your inbox [phonetic 00:28:41], you would probably be annoyed. Anybody would be annoyed. And yet we do that to other people. So I’m a big fan that each touch that you give, has to provide something very important which makes someone smarter.

 

“You could probably help companies in three or four or five different ways. Your product probably can help people in three or four or five different ways. Maybe you could solve four or five different problems. And the idea here is to spread those out. And if you don’t get a response on those four or five problems after four or five months, that’s okay. Maybe your hypothesis was wrong. Because we’re not here to pitch. We’re here to see if there’s someone that needs help right now.” – Josh Braun · [29:16] 

 

Josh Braun:

Every time I communicate with someone, I want to make them smarter about something. A new idea that I have, and I want to communicate it in a way that makes them feel good. So with you, I did four, five, six times but each time it was a different angle, it was a different attempted humour, it was a different way to make you feel good. But it wasn’t, did you get my email? It wasn’t the same thing. You could probably help your companies in three or four or five different ways. Your product probably can help people in three or four or five different ways. Maybe you solve four or five different problems. And the idea here is to spread those out. And if you don’t get a response on those four or five problems after four or five months, that’s okay.

 

Josh Braun:

Maybe your hypothesis was wrong. Because we’re no… We’re not here to pitch. We’re here to see if there’s someone that needs help getting out of a car right now. And if they don’t need help getting out of the car, that’s okay. We could just go to someone else.

 

Josh Braun:

The world’s a big place man, it’s a big place. Where we get into trouble is we assume that everybody we’re calling needs a new barbecue. And even though the problem is broken, so I’ll just… One more example is, my grandma had a toaster. It was a shitty toaster, excuse the language. Only one side worked. It made light toast and it took forever. I would come over to her house all the time with a new toaster. She would never buy it. Why? Because she was making progress. She only liked light toast. She wasn’t in a rush. And she knew her toaster user interface. So as salespeople, we come in there like, clearly this toaster’s better, but it’s not better for grandma. She’s doing fine. And we can’t sell to someone that’s making progress, even though our thing is a better toaster. That’s where we get into trouble.

 

The Timing Issue in Sales · [30:33] 

 

Will Barron:

Well, just to… We’ll wrap up with this point with this Josh of, you reached out to us, I’m pretty sure we didn’t reply for a while. We just weren’t recording. And when we don’t record, all… There’s a tiny team that we have here. The focus just goes onto Miguel. So the next project. So the next kind of six weeks, we’re doing probably do 50 60 shows and that’ll get us through the next quarter or so. And we kind of banked them up and spread them about over time. It wasn’t that I was, rejecting you. It wasn’t that… It wasn’t even that you probably needed as many touch points as what you would because you would’ve got to get on the show anyway with your first couple of emails. It was literally just the timing issue. And it’s simple as that, right?

 

“Sometimes when you reach out to people, the timing is wrong. And sometimes we have to get better at not asking for problems. We have to get better at finding problems. ” – Josh Braun · [31:14] 

 

Josh Braun:

That is, that’s a brilliant statement. And I think you’re exactly right. Sometimes when you reach out to people, it’s the house example. It’s the barbecue example. So the timing is wrong. And sometimes we have get better at not asking for problems. We have to get better at finding problems. Another quick story on this Will, because I think you’ll like this. I was trying to kill some time in a mall because my wife was shopping. I went into a store that sold sneakers. If the store associate said, what brings you in today? I would’ve said nothing. If she said, can I help you? I would’ve said no, but she didn’t say any of that. What she said is, “Have you ever had your running gait checked?” And I said, “What are you talking about?” Moments later, I’m on a treadmill. Moments later, she’s recording it and she says, “You know, you have pronated feet. And if you’re running those sneakers, when you do your marathon, you’re going to get injured.” And as an old Jewish man, that’s the last thing I want.

 

“If we’re not hearing back from someone, it could be timing, but it could also be you’re telling people things they already know. So stop asking about problems and start finding problems.” – Josh Braun · [32:01] 

 

Josh Braun:

She found a problem. She didn’t ask about a problem. And then she ended up selling me sneakers. So oftentimes if we’re not hearing back from someone it could also be timing, but it could also be you’re telling people things they already know. So stop asking about problems and start finding problems.

 

Will Barron:

Love it. Well with that, I’m conscious of time here. So I want to split this episode if you’re up for it, Josh into a kind of part one and a part two. So just to wrap, I assume you’re cool with that.

 

Josh Braun:

Yeah man. It’s your show buddy. I’m here to support.

 

What To Do When a Prospect Says, “Yes, I’m Interested” · [32:38] 

 

Will Barron:

I just didn’t want to go. Yeah, we’ll have a part two and Josh is like, “Oh, he’s a bit of a dickhead everyone. [inaudible 00:32:28] coming back on this show.” Right, so with that in mind, sales nation will split into two parts. Well just to wrap up this part then, what do we do in the… What do we do? We’ve got to reply. They’ve said, “Yes, I’m interested here.” Because clearly we can’t just do a little bit more of the project and send it over. Because if we do that, eventually, we’ve done all the work and all the values been handed over to the clients and that there’s nothing in it for us. There’s been no transaction. So, with that said, that’s kind of to wrap up this part of the show, Josh, what do we do when we get that one liner saying, “Yes, interested.”?

 

Josh Braun:

Yeah. That’s exactly what happens. So Tony Nicely forwarded the email to a gentleman by the name of Jess Reed who works underneath him. And Jess Reed said, “Tony suggested that I get in touch with you. I’m copying my admin.” And to make a very long story short, about two weeks later, myself, the founder and the president were in a room with 15 Geico executives. I’ll never forget it. We’re a small digital agency. They open the door and we are in a room with literally 15 executives staring us down saying, “What do you guys talk… What is this thing? This looks really interesting.” And that’s how the relationship started. We ended up closing that business, but that’s how it started. That’s how we got the meeting eventually. And that turned into revenue.

 

Josh’s Advise to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [34:02]

 

Will Barron:

Well, we’ll start the next episode with you sat there with beads coming down your face, with 15 men and women in suits and power suits, kind of staring opposite you. Josh, we’ll start next episode with that. But just to wrap things up as you know, you’re a listener of the show, we wrap it up with the same question every time and that is, if you could 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?

 

“Stop assuming that what you have is what people need. Because even though you have a thing that you think is the greatest thing, stop assuming someone has the struggle enough or the desire to want it right now at that time.” – Josh Braun · [34:10] 

 

Josh Braun:

Stop assuming that what you have is what people need. Because they could be your grandma, my grandma, right? Even though you have a thing that you think is the greatest thing, slice bread [phonetic 00:34:23], stop assuming someone has the struggle enough or the desire to want it right now at that time. Because when you bring that intent into the sales conversation, that energy can be felt and you end up sounding like the mall kiosk person that wants to rub lotion on you.

 

Will Barron:

You’re very… You do this purposely. You’re very visual in your descriptions, Josh. Is that something that you work on?

 

Josh Braun:

Thank you. I try my best for you. I have just three more, Will, for this show then I’m tapped out.

 

Parting Thoughts · [34:55]

 

Will Barron:

Well with that, I want to tell us where we can find out more about you, Josh. I know you got an awesome resource. I actually really like the format of this, the badass B2B growth guide. Tell us a little bit about that as well.

 

Josh Braun:

Yeah. So if you are as salesperson and you’re trying to get conversations started with strangers, and you want to know how to close those conversations into revenue. What I’ve done over the last 15 years is I’ve collected a series of plays that can be read in two minutes. Each play is on a separate page of a Google doc. Unlike a Kindle book, I keep adding plays. And you can get access to this Google doc by going to salesdna.co/badass and every month or so when I do something new that works, I add it in there. Unlike a Kindle book, you can copy and paste it and modify it and also included is the psychology behind the tactic so that you can apply it to your business. There’s absolutely no fluff. There’s no forward. There’s no setup. It’s just starts with play one. And I think now we are up to about 68 plays. There’s cold call scripts. There’s somethings to… Ways to diffuse objections. First touches that I’ve sent out, specific examples of first touches and replies, direct mail, all sorts of stuff like that. It’s Chuck full of goodness.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. We’ll add a link to that in the shownote to this episode over at salesman.org as well Josh, and with that, mate, I appreciate your time, your insights on this, your very visual kind of anecdotes and yeah, I look forward to doing part two with you mate.

 

Josh Braun:

Part two. I’m ready for it, buddy.

 

Will Barron:

Josh.

 

Josh Braun:

I mean Rocky has like six. We could do six if you want them good.

 

Will Barron:

We’ll do it, man. We’ll do it. And without thanks for joining us on the show.

 

Josh Braun:

Thanks Will.

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