How To Steal Your Competitors Business And Eat Their Lunch

Anthony Iannarino is an international speaker, author, and experienced sales leader.

In this episode of The Salesman Podcast, Anthony shares how we can take business from our competitors and essentially “eat their lunch”.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Anthony Iannarino
International Speaker and Experienced Sales Leader

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Coming up on today’s episode of the salesman podcast.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

This is the thing about human relationships. Fast is slow and slow is fast. So the faster you try to go, the slower you go and the easier you try to make things for yourself, the more difficult it is for you. And when you do the hard things, the easier it is for you to generate the results you want. It just works that way. I didn’t design the universe. I had no say… I mean, God didn’t consult with me to make this law. It was the law when I showed up here. That that tends to be the way things work.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, sales nation. I’m Will Barron host of the salesman podcast. The world’s most istened to B2B sales show. If you haven’t already make sure to click subscribe and let’s meet today’s guest.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

I’m Anthony Iannarino. I’m a speaker, I’m a writer, I’m a teacher. And you can find me thesalesblog.com.

 

Should Salespeople Be Aiming To Be the Best Professionals They Possibly Can Be, or Do They Just Need To Be 1% Better Than the Next Best Competition? · [01:18] 

 

Will Barron:

On this episode, Anthony, will dive in into how you can go into a competitor account, how you can take their lunch, how you can steal the business away from them, the step by step process to do this. And it’s incredible that we haven’t really covered this on the podcast before. This is probably the, not necessarily quickest, but the most efficient and best way to really crush your target, not just now, but over the years and decades to come. And so with all that said, I’m hyped up, you should be. This is a real important show for us. Let’s dive right in. To set the story, to set the scene for the audience should be to be sales professionals, should they be aiming at all times to be the best professional they could possibly be, learn everything they could possibly learn and give as much value as they possibly can. Or do they in reality only really need to give and be that 1% better than the next best competition.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

I love that question because I see this thing go by on Facebook and it’s like a regular post that just always comes by in my feet for some reason. It says, I don’t want to be better than anyone else. I just want to be better than I was yesterday. And I love that platitude. But what I would want for you is to be better than you were yesterday and better than your toughest competitor today. Because if you live in the red ocean and your a competitor, then you have to be better. And the way that you frame that up is sort of a mutually exclusive sort of choice.

 

“A lot of people are so focused on their competition that they forget that it’s a contest to create value, and that there’s absolutely nothing you can do about your competitors. So if you can’t do anything about them, then what should you be working on? That leaves you. So you better start working on that because that’s all you’ve got.” – Anthony Iannarino · [02:20] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

Like, do I need to be the best version of me or do I need to be better than them? Both. It’s an and. You need to constantly work on this, but you do hint to something where a lot of people are so focused on their competition, that they forget that it’s a contest to create value. And that there’s absolutely nothing you can do about your competitors. So if you can’t do anything about them, then what should you be working on? That leaves you. So you better start working on that because that’s all you’ve got.

 

How Much of the Marketplace is Already Taken Up By the Competition Versus New Buyers Who’ve Never Used Our Type of Product or Service Before? · [02:47] 

 

Will Barron:

Good. I expected hope for that answer and that makes total sense for me. So hopefully it makes sense for the audience. And with that context and the kind of back in mind as we go through this conversation Anthony, how much… I don’t know if there’s a percentage, I don’t know if there’s statistics on it. So I don’t want to kind of put you on the spot, but how much of a marketplace, if we are a B2B sales professional is taken up with the competition already having an account versus what we spend typically most of our time on which are trying to convince people that they want our product.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

It’s an interesting question. And I think from vertical to vertical and industry to industry there’s variances. And a new industry where things are interesting when you look at, especially all the tech stuff that goes on our world of sales, there’s a lot of people trying to capture leads. And for some reason they think leads are better than targets because somebody raised their hand. And I had a conversation with a group of people I was speaking to and they said, the biggest challenge we have is turning marketing qualified leads into sales qualified leads. And I said, well, what does that mean? And they said, a sales qualified lead is somebody who shows up ready to buy. And I said, then why do they need you? I mean, you’re redundant now. They’re already ready to buy.

 

“The thing that I’ve always struggled with as somebody who’s run businesses of my own is people that come in and say, “we should call on people who don’t buy our services and teach them the value of the services because they’re not already buying.” And I would say, “well, why do you think they’re not already buying? Because they don’t care about what we sell. They don’t believe they’ll benefit from it.” So why not spend all of your time or at least a disproportionate amount of the time on the people that already see what you sell as essential, as strategic, as necessary as something that’s going to help them move their business forward.” – Anthony Iannarino · [04:04] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

So I know that’s what you want, but that’s not how it tends to work. People have issues that they’re trying to resolve and questions that they need answered and concerns that they need help with and all these other things. For most of us, I don’t know what the percentage is, but the thing that I’ve always struggled with as somebody who’s run businesses of my own is people that come in and say, we should call on people who don’t buy our services and teach them the value of the services because they’re not already buying. And I would say, well, why do you think they’re not already buying? Because they don’t care about what we sell. They don’t believe they’ll benefit from it. So why not spend all of your time or at least a disproportionate amount of the time on the people that already see what you buy as essential, as strategic, as necessary as something that’s going to help them move their business forward.

 

“For most of us, if you were to make a list of your dream clients and say, who are the companies and the people that my value proposition is going to resonate with so strongly that they’re going to see me as a strategic resource, they already have somebody sitting in your seat. I mean, they weren’t waiting for you to come along like, “we’d really like to do this but nobody’s reached out to us.” Everybody’s reaching out to them. So I think most of our dream clients, probably a hundred percent of them already belong to a competitor. So what should you do about that? I mean, you can look for an easier way and say, well, if I had really good leads, that would be great, or you can decide to target them and then come up with a strategy that allows you to penetrate that account and develop the contacts and the relationship so that you can displace your competitor.” – Anthony Iannarino · [04:38] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

And for most of us, if you were to make a list of your dream clients and say, who are the companies and the people that my value proposition is going to resonate with so strongly that they’re going to see me as a strategic resource, they already have somebody sitting in your seat. I mean, they weren’t waiting for you to come along like, we’d really like to do this but nobody’s reached out to us. Everybody’s reaching out to them. So I think most of us that are dream clients, probably a hundred percent of them already belong to a competitor. So what should you do about that? I mean, you can look for an easier way and say, well, if I had really good leads, that would be great, or you can decide to target them and then come up with a strategy that allows you to penetrate that account and develop the contacts and the relationship so that can displace your competitor.

 

Is Displacing a Competitor all About Having the Right Mindset? · [05:30] 

 

Will Barron:

So I want to dive into specifically displacing competitors and the strategy behind that in a second. But just to wrap up, I guess the intro here Anthony, is this a mindset issue? Is this that humans will… Most humans will typically go for the easiest route if there’s two routes to an end goal. Do we have it wrong in our heads that we think that educating someone who doesn’t know anything about our product service, perhaps even industry or value, we think that is an easier proposal versus educating someone who or reeducating someone who is already somewhat educated, who’s already spending money, we see that as harder. And if that is the case that we’ve got those perceptions, is that necessarily true?

 

“Convincing somebody that doesn’t believe they’d get value from what you sell to value it, that’s really difficult. Finding somebody who already values what you do and has a belief that they could have even better results, it takes more time for certain but it’s easier for you to generate the outcome that you want. And there’s a difference.” – Anthony Iannarino · [06:13] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

The way that you stated it is exactly right. We want to do what’s easy. And what’s easy is actually the most difficult thing to do. So convincing somebody that doesn’t believe they value from what you sell to value it, that’s really difficult. Finding somebody who already values what you do and has a belief that they could have even better results, it takes more time for certain but it’s easier for you to generate the outcome that you want. 

 

“This is the thing about human relationships, fast is slow and slow is fast. So the faster you try to go, the slower you go. And the easier you try to make things for yourself, the more difficult it is for you. And when you do the hard things, the easier it is for you to generate the results you wanted. It just works that way. I didn’t design the universe. I had no say… I mean, God didn’t consult with me to make this law. It was the law when I showed up here. That tends to be the way things work.” – Anthony Iannarino · [06:32] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

And there’s a difference. This is the thing about human relationships, fast is slow and slow is fast. So the fast you try to go, the slower you go and the easier you try to make things for yourself, the more difficult it is for you. And when you do the hard things, the easier it is for you to generate the results you wanted. It just works that way. I didn’t design the universe. I had no say… I mean, God didn’t consult with me to make this law. It was the law when I showed up here. That tends to be the way things work.

 

Will Barron:

Sure. I guess if the law was different, it would still reach an equilibrium, right? Of, if spamming called emails with no customization and no care or thought and it worked, which maybe it did at one point, it’s not going to work at some point in the future. So this is always constantly ebbing and flowing, right?

 

Will and Anthony Talk About the Increasing Amounts of Spamming That’s Present on LinkedIn · [07:14] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

You are apparently having the same LinkedIn experience that I’m having.

 

Will Barron:

Probably not to the extent as you are, because everyone knows I have zero budget to spend on absolutely anything, but I still get… Yes spammy emails and LinkedIn messages all the time.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

That’s funny. I mean, I get the worst messages. I have sales trainers offer me sales training continually. And I’m like, did you even look at the profile at all? You had… No. The answer is no they didn’t.

 

Will Barron:

I had someone reach out to me the other day. And maybe you’ve had this with your experience in kind of your podcast as well, Anthony. But I had someone who’s obviously scraped my podcast for all the guests and then were reaching out to them to offer them a podcast booking service, to get them booked on another podcast. It was a called email. There was no customization other than a name and then my podcast. And someone had literally written in this… Or spam this email to me that said, Hey Will, I’ve seen that you… Or I loved your episode on the salesman podcast.

 

Will Barron:

Would you like to get a more podcast like the salesman? I was like, I had to email the guy. I was like, look, I don’t need the service. I don’t mind you spamming my audience because I will look for other podcasts such as yours to find great guests and I’ll do my own research on the back of that and reach out to them. But this is not leading… This isn’t going to leave a good taste in anyone’s mouth. Because clearly it’s… Clearly to me it’s spam, but to other people they’re going to see right through it as well.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

I didn’t realise that I was supposed to be interviewing you on this podcast. So at some point we’ll have to do it takeover and ask you a bunch of questions.

 

The First Step of Trying to Take Over a Competitor’s Account · [08:58]

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. Well off the record, we should probably do that as well. I think that’d be a good way to kind of… The audience would probably enjoy that. We’ve done it once before in the past. And I think you’d be a good interview to do that on. But as a sidetrack we’ll come back to that when we kind of stop recording perhaps, but how do we then implement this? How do we… Clearly there is a strategic process here, but is there a strategic process and what’s the first step of it? How do we even just get our foot in the door with an account to maybe they’re somewhat happy with the brand, the organisation that they’re using at the moment.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

I always know how far people read into the book when they reach out to me and send me emails because the first about three chapters are so consuming for people and the results that they get change immediately as it comes to prospecting that I start getting notes that say I have 17 meetings next week and after reading the first three chapters. The first chapter is a very… It’s an important chapter. And it’s probably the thing that I’ve been teaching the longest, but it only made it into the third book because I felt like I had to put the other two books before this one. First I had to give people a competency model. So you could be somebody worth buying from in the first place. That made selling way easier than anything else. Just actually being somebody people want to buy from. The second thing that I wrote was a book called the Lost Art of Closing. That’s how do you gain the commitments and have the difficult conversations that move clients forward and their process of trying to create better results.

 

“Most of us say something like, “well, I’d love to come out, introduce myself and my company, tell you about the products and services and the companies like yours that we’re helping and then learn a little bit about you and what you do.” That is just not a great value proposition, but that’s what we offer people when we’re prospecting.” – Anthony Iannarino · [10:26] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

And then we got to this book and this is the first place where I felt like I could now start talking about the four levels of value creation. And the reason that they took so long to get here is because the concept it’s sort of difficult in execution, but it’s a very simple idea. Most of us say something like, well, love to come out, introduce myself and my company, tell you about the products and services and the companies like yours that were helping and then learn a little bit you and what you do. Okay. So that is just not a great value proposition, but that’s what we offer people when we’re prospecting. And it’s what we offer them when we show up in their office to have a conversation. So let me start by telling you my company’s great story and our great history.

 

“The first level of value is what’s the value of the product that you sell, and it’s critical and it’s important that you have a great product. But it’s not what people are really buying. If you show up and you start from that part of the conversation, you look and sound like a commodity. The second level of value is what kind of experience do you offer? Are you easy to do business with, do you have the service and support? Because you’re going to give me your product or your service and it’s going to create problems for me. So I need to know that I can get those problems taken care of. The third level of value is really what I would just call tangible results. So let’s imagine you’re a company that’s shipping something. Can you get it from point A to point B? Does it show up? That’s an outcome. But it’s not a strategic outcome. And level four is the strategic outcome. So why are you doing this in the first place?” – Anthony Iannarino · [11:03] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

So we go back decades and decades to begin a story with somebody who’s actually concerned about right now and they’re really not worried about 1972 or some time period before that. So the first level of value is what’s the value of the product that you sell and it’s critical and it’s important that you have a great product, but it’s not what people are really buying. If you show up and you start from that part of the conversation, you look and sound like a commodity. So the second level of value is what kind of experience do you offer? Are you easy to do business with, do you have the service and support because you’re going to give me your product or your service and it’s going to create problems for me. So I need to know that I can get those problems taken care of.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

The third level of value is really what I would just call tangible results. So let’s imagine you’re a company that’s shipping something. Can you get it from point A to point B? Does it show up? That’s an outcome. But it’s not a strategic outcome. And level four is the strategic outcome. So why are you doing this in the first place? And the first book I used a quote from a Harvard marketing professor named Theodore Levit, who once said, people don’t buy drills, they buy quarter inch holes. And that was to say, if they could have the hole without the drill, they just take the hole. But we’re at a point right now in the evolution of markets and economies and sales to where instead of showing up and saying, I can get you a hole, which everyone can do. I have to start by saying, first of all, you don’t know that you need a hole.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

You don’t need to know what the hole looks like yet. You don’t have that covered. You don’t know what wall you need to drill the hole on in the first place. So we have to get to the first principle, which is what is the strategic outcome that somebody’s trying to accomplish. And what we call this in the book is entering from the right. So if you imagine a PowerPoint deck with level one on the left and level four on the right, everybody has been taught to enter from one to say, let me demonstrate my credibility to you by talking about my company, when you really need to show up and say, listen, these are the systemic challenges that are facing your business. These are the strategic outcomes that we should be talking about and you enter the conversation at a much higher level.

 

“What we’re trying to do is make the case for there’s a reason to change. And if you say, “well, I have a really good product and my competitors all have really good products.” Well, then I don’t really need to change. And if you say, “well, I could probably save you a little bit of money.” Enough money to make it worth my while to go through the trouble of changing all the things that I’ve set up and I already know these people. They’re the devil I know. So I’ve figured out how to do all the workarounds I need to get this result and I’m going to start over with you, why? So you have to move up to a higher level of value if you’re going to have that displacement conversation.” – Anthony Iannarino · [13:46]

 

Anthony Iannarino:

Now you’re still going to wrap up your product, your services and the tangible results you produce at some point in time. But it’s just not a great starting point for the conversation. That’s the first chapter, but it’s followed very closely by a chapter about capturing mind share. And the view here is that every client that you are calling on has a lens in front of their face that they’re looking at the world through and they’re looking it through their experience, their challenges, the other people’s content that they read and consume that shapes that lens. And what you have to be able to do is walk in and either replace that lens or sharpen that lens so people see something different to say, wait a second. We haven’t quite looked at it like that before. And that changes my view because what we’re trying to do is make the case for there’s a reason to change.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

And if you say, well, I have a really good product and my competitors all have really good products, well, then I don’t really need to change. And if you say, well, I could probably save you a little bit of money, enough money to make it worth my while to go through the trouble of changing all the things that I’ve set up and I already know these people. They’re the devil I know. So I’ve figured out how to do all the workarounds I need to get this result and I’m going to start over with you, why? So you have to move up to a higher level of value if you’re going to have that displacement conversation. And basically the start of that book is what gives people a different view of how to prospect and how to open these conversations. That just results in greater opportunity to have a discussion that ends up with you displacing your competitor.

 

The Differences and Similarities Between the Process of Displacing Your Competitor and Consultative Selling? · [14:47]

 

Will Barron:

Is this… I’m removing because of people call other people have books about consultative selling and things like that. So removing all that from the conversation for a second of other people’s brand and IP, and that side of things. Is this essentially what consult… When we’re told to consultative sell what we should be doing in that we should be leading with insights that perhaps our competitors don’t have so that differentiates us when we reach out. But then insights that all of this sharpens the lens of how people are looking at the landscape, the customers that we’re going to work with. Is this what consultative selling should have been all along as opposed to some kind of buzzword, if that makes sense. 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

I love that question too. I got a chance to speak to [Mack Hanan 00:15:18] before he died. He wrote the book consultative selling in 1970. And in the book, he recommended that you focus on pips, not a personal improvement plan, but a profit improvement plan for your client. And his whole view was you should figure out how to make them more profitable, which is a really good starting place. But he literally wrote the book on consultative selling. And this must have been last. Before he passed away, I think in 2014 or something like that, I’d had a chance to spend a little time with him on the phone. And I have these calls recorded with Mack who was at 85 years old as sharp as any human being you’ve ever met. And I asked him, we’ve known this for 40 plus years and we haven’t done it.

“Consultative doesn’t mean that you’re not high pressure and that you don’t use a hard sell. And consultative doesn’t mean you ask really good questions. That could be a part of it too, but that’s not what it means. Consultative means you provide your best advice as to how they run their business better. So, that’s the starting point. When people say, “I really want to be consultative.” And then they say, “well, I don’t want to tell them because they know their business better than I do.” Then why are you sitting in front of them? I mean, if they know their business better and you don’t have a point of view about this, if you don’t have some way that you think you can create greater value, then how are you going to consult with them at all?” – Anthony Iannarino · [16:03] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

Why not? And he said, I have no idea why we haven’t done this. Consultative doesn’t mean that you’re not high pressure and that you don’t use a hard sell. I mean, you don’t do those things anyway. And that might be something that is an attribute of somebody who’s consultative and consultative doesn’t mean you ask really good questions. That could be a part of it too, but that’s not what it means. Consultative means you tell people, you provide your best advice as to how they run their business better. So, that’s the starting point. When people say I really want to be consultative. And then they say, well, I don’t want to tell them because they know their business better than I do. Well then why are you sitting in front of them? I mean, if they know their business better and you don’t have a point of view about this, if you don’t have some way that you think you can create greater value, then how are you going to consult with them at all?

 

Anthony Iannarino:

And I think that it is how we’re supposed to be doing this work. I don’t think that the insights necessarily have to be unique because as I lay out in the book there’s systemic challenges that affect every business. And you sort of can look and say, these are the factors but you do have to have a point of view about it. And you do have to have a set of values that say, this is a better idea than that idea. And this trade off is the right trade off for you to make, but it’s not the right trade off for somebody else to make and here’s why, because you’re pursuing different strategic outcomes. Somebody might say, I’m trying to increase my profitability. And some other company you work with might look at the same solution and say, I don’t care about being more profitable.

 

“This is probably the primary question I get, “How do I compel people?” Well, find out what’s already compelling them and figure out how to help them with what they want already. If you’re trying to compel them to buy a product, they don’t want a product. They want some strategic outcome. And if you can latch onto that and help them with that initiative, you’re going to do a lot better.” – Anthony Iannarino · [17:46] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

I don’t want to make any money on this. I want to capture market share faster than anyone else. And I’m going to invest in this for a different reason. You have to be able to understand those things and have that conversation, which is why I’ve been writing about business acumen for 10 years. Because you have to understand that what they want and people ask me… This is probably the primary question I get. How do I compel people? Well, find out what’s already compelling them and figure out how to help them with what they want already. You’re trying to compel them to buy a product. They don’t want a product. They want some strategic outcome. And if you can latch onto that and help them with that initiative, you’re going to do a lot better.

 

Anthony’s Thoughts on Why Salespeople Should Learn About Sales Consultancy Themselves Without Waiting on Marketing or Leadership Input · [18:07] 

 

Will Barron:

So is this our own points of view, our own own values, our own ability to understand a marketplace, or is this what has been dripped fed to us by the organisation that we are representing?

 

“You only need two things to be a trusted advisor: trust and advice. That’s it.” – Anthony Iannarino · [18:18] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

I continue to say this, Will, to every sales audience I have. You only need two things to be a trusted advisor, trust and advice. That’s it. Okay. So if nothing and you’re like, well, I don’t really know anything, but my marketing department gave me this killer slide deck, you should see it. Well, why don’t I talk to somebody who knows more than you? I mean, you have to get the business acumen yourself. And that’s the hard part. The business acumen comes when you’re out doing the work and you’re paying attention and you’re reading and you’re learning. But yeah, you have to have something that makes you the advisor. You cannot be a know nothing. And I call this concept in the book, a 52% me. If you can’t go on a meeting because you can’t have a discovery conversation without having a subject matter expert with you, then you are not the subject matter expert.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

And you have to have enough of this, that when you’re sitting across from your client, there’s information disparity. We know something, we have ideas and how could it be otherwise? So you think about a salesperson that sells enterprise resource planning software. How many times does the average buyer buy that in their life? Hopefully in their opinion once. Like, hopefully I never have to do this again, because it’s a root canal, a colonoscopy, a brain surgery and quadruple bypass for your business all in the same day. That that’s too much. It’s hard.

 

“There should never be information parity. And if there is, you’re serving hundreds or thousands of customers, how do you not have greater insight about what decisions to make and in what order to do things than your client who’s going to buy it once?” – Anthony Iannarino · [19:53] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

How many times does an enterprise resource planning salesperson sell that. Hundreds of times. So who has a better idea of how you should think about it? What kind of trade offs you should make? The person that has all the experience doing that. So there should never be information parity. And if there is, I think if you were to challenge a salesperson, look inside your four walls, you’re serving hundreds or thousands of customers. How do you not have greater insight about what decisions to make and in what order to do things than your client who’s going to buy it once.

 

How to Gather and Administer Sales Insights That Give You the Competitive Advantage in the Marketplace · [20:10] 

 

Will Barron:

How do we… Because it’s one thing to say this, Anthony, but it’s another I guess to live it and to document it. So what insights can we gather that give us a competitive advantage when we’re doing these, hopefully doing these deals in sales every day, months, and and years to come. What should we be looking out for? Or what is… What would be a counter intuitive insights? How would we uncover something that makes someone go aha, as opposed to kind of facts and figures that are obvious. How do we go that level deeper with this? 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

Yeah. And some of the facts and figures are obvious, but what are you going to do about them? So in the book, I used my experience because I came out of temporary staffing and I would walk in and say, well, right now there’s 11,000 baby boomers retiring in the United States every single day. So that’s 368,000 people a month and we’re creating 220,000 new jobs a month. So we now have a gap opening up. That’s for 4.3 million people retiring. How are you going to find what’s your strategy right now to acquire the talent you need and how do you skill them up to give them the experience of somebody who’s been in an industry for 30 years. And first off, no one knows that 11,000 baby boomers are retiring. Second off, no one’s ever asked themselves, what’s the implications for our talent strategy when there’s going to be a massive gap because the baby boomers in the United States is our largest generation followed by two smaller generations.

 

“If you’re not doing the work as a salesperson to have the advantage in the conversation, to know facts and to know what the implications of the facts are, more importantly, then you can’t be the trusted advisor. And what happens is executives are busy running their business. And I know what the internet says. I know LinkedIn and I know the social selling stuff very well like, ‘your customer is researching and they’re reading and they’re studying.’ They’re not. They’re trying to run their business. They’re not doing those things. And when you walk in and you start sharing these concepts with them, they’re like, great, now I don’t have to think about it at all because I have a really smart person who’s doing this work for me.” – Anthony Iannarino · [21:47] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

Where are you going to find the people? ? And you think, well, that’s a well documented fact because it is. But people don’t know that fact. They don’t know it. They’re not reading and studying. And if you’re not doing that work as a salesperson to have the advantage in the conversation, to know facts and to know what the implications of the facts are more importantly, then you can’t be the trusted advisor. And what happens is executives are busy running their business. So they’re not out. I know what the internet says. I know LinkedIn and I know the social selling stuff very well like your customers researching and they’re reading and they’re studying. They’re not. They’re trying to run their business. They’re not doing those things. And when you walk in and you start sharing these concepts with them, they’re like, great.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

I can find somebody. They think about this nonstop. They’re concerned with this. They understand the implications. They have strategies. Now I don’t have to think it at all because I have a really smart person who’s doing this work for me. That’s back to the beginning of our conversation today. That’s just a decision. Like, do you want to be that person that can come in and help people? Or do you want to lean on the product and hope that it’s something external that allows you to beat your competitor and take a deal away from them. But it’s not, it’s going to be you. The product’s not going to be enough. Your company’s not going to be enough. They need somebody to help them say there’s a better way for us to move forward. So you just have to make a decision to do that. And you will find novelty.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

I mean, when you start looking for what’s really going on in the world and you will find implications, but it’s just enough. It tends to be enough when you walk in and you show up as a subject matter expert. It’s not like I’m going to walk into a chief marketing officer and say, listen, I’m not sure if you know this or not, but people are using their mobile phones for everything now. And those chief marketing officers going to go, what! There’s a thing called a mobile phone. Of course they know, but you have to say, well, the implication to this from our view right now is that if you’re not putting the ads in front of them where they live right now, you’re probably missing a large part of the market if you care about 18 to 24 year olds. And I’m going to have facts that can demonstrate that. And I mean, they hope that you know this. You’re demonstrating that you belong in the room with them.

 

Will Barron:

I’ve lived this. And just a super quick example for the audience of selling from one hospital to another. So I’d have here in beautiful Yorkshire in the UK, I didn’t manage Leed’s hospital, but I managed Bradford. Bradford’s colorectal centre is one of the… Some of the surgeons there, some of the best colorectal surgeons in the world and it was all the whole theatre anthem was kitted out with the last organisation I worked for. I would very often just go on the Leed’s hospital website, see what they were up to, which anyone could do, and then report that back to the team at Bradford.

 

Will Barron:

And they’d be loving it. There was almost a news ticker for them. And then that would get me meetings. And that just continue that relationship and kind of not what we were talking about today in this episode of securing account. But I went in there then every Friday and secured that account by just doing that very simple task. And it’s very difficult for anyone to get a foot in the door because there wasn’t many insights if someone was to do this against me to compete against. Because I was the one who kind of always at first through the door with all of this and-

 

Anthony Iannarino:

That’s chapter 12. The continuation of creating new value. So you come in and you create new value. Look, there’s something else for you to pay attention to. Well, I don’t need to look at anybody else yet because you keep coming back with new value. It’s a great retention strategy.

 

Will Barron:

I wish I knew it was a retention strategy. For me, it was just, it’s the local hospital… Most local hospitals where I live. So I’d go in every Friday afternoon and just sky there for a few hours, do some emails. But inadvertently I’d be winning over the account. And that probably did 20, 30% of my revenue every year by just doing that and popping in on a Friday. And I was almost a rep, a consultant, a service person trying to go in and solve any problems whilst I was there by just doing that. So for people with medical devices, that probably makes somewhat sense to them if you go in hospital to hospital but other people may not. But with that said, Anthony, I want to wrap up the show here with something real practical for the audience. Because we’re only really on like stage one of the outreach.

 

The Strategic Framework for Reaching Out to Prospects When Trying to Convert an Account · [25:50] 

 

Will Barron:

So we’ll have to of you back on to get deeper into the topic of converting accounts. But is this a reasonable structure or is there a better structure for whether it’s a call, an email, meet someone at a conference. But it seems like if we’ve got some kind of fact, then we have the implication of the fact and then we ask them an intelligent question about their strategy with regards to this. Is that a framework reaching out to someone and if so, is that the best way to go about it? Or is there perhaps enough way?

 

Anthony Iannarino:

Yeah. When people change their language, it’s interesting. So you and I were talking and I’ve mentioned people sending me notes that they have 17 meetings the following week after changing their approach. But their approach went from, love to stop by telling you about my company, tell you about the customers that we work with, to look like you and how we’re helping them and learn a little bit about you, which means what’s keeping you up at night and I hope you have enough pain or dissatisfaction I create an opportunity. But if you show up and you say, well listen, I’d love to ask you for a 20 minute meeting where I can give you an executive briefing on what’s going on in digital transformation inside sales organisations. And a lot of this you’re going to be aware of, but some of it is probably going to have some novel implications for your business based on what I can see right now.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

And listen, even if there’s not a next step, I’m going to leave you with a deck. I’m going to leave you with some of the questions that you’re probably going to want to talk to your management team about as you think about your next 18 to 24 months. What do you look like Thursday for an executive briefing? And I promise this is going to be worth your time. Okay. Now I’m trying to trade enough value to earn a meeting. So the first value prop is you get to listen to me talk about my company, which should be a very interesting experience for you, right?

 

Anthony Iannarino:

And then I’m going to tell you about me, which should just be a delightful way for you to spend your Thursday afternoon. And then I’m going to tell you about our products and services. Okay. Well, I already know all those things because I have people who do what you do. And then you’re going to ask me, what’s keeping me up at night. I’m a hard pass on that. I have to wash my hair that day. So I can’t meet with you.

 

Will Barron:

That’s a hard pass for you if you need to wash your hair Anthony.

 

“The higher people get up into an executive leadership role, the more concerned they are about the things that they don’t know. And the more they start looking outside to find somebody who understands something in a way that gives them a competitive advantage without them having to do all the work. And that’s just a decision. You either want to be that in your space or you want to try to find an easier way to that conversation.” – Anthony Iannarino · [28:06] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

Exactly. My eyebrows maybe. The other value prop is, I want to have a conversation about strategic outcomes and what’s going on in your world and the trends and things that we’re concerned with and we’re helping our clients answer because that’s what this person’s looking for. They’re looking for ideas. And the interesting thing about the higher people get up into an executive leadership role the more concerned they are about the things that they don’t know. And the more they start looking outside to find somebody who understands something in a way that gives them a competitive advantage without them having to do all the work. And that’s, again, it’s just a decision.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

You either want to be that in your space or you want to try to find an easier way to the conversation that we had at the beginning. You want to try to make it easier. Well, wouldn’t it be easier to have a lead come in? It would be easier to have a lead come in, but would it be easier for you to reach your goals with leads? No. You’re going to have to go find the largest accounts in your territory and displace people if you really want to perform at the highest level in sales.

 

Why Salespeople Need Sales Targets and Not Sales Leads · [28:48]

 

Will Barron:

It seems though on another level of all of this as well. If we do have a lead come in, they’ve raised their hand, they’re interested, they’ve done a lot of the research, right? And I know we kind of poopooed this at the beginning of the show a little bit. But if a lead comes in, it’s likely they’ve put the hand up because they’ve researched five companies because they want a quote from you to do the comparison because of the done a lot of work on this themselves. Versus if you are given an executive briefing, you are almost start… You’re not quite starting at zero because you’ve done a lot of the qualification has been pre-done for you of there’s a need and all this kind of stuff. But it seems like a better position to start from regardless to anything else, just that meeting versus perhaps even getting a meeting with someone who is somewhat raised their hand.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

I mean, if you have a target and they’re spending millions of dollars in the category, they’re already qualified. I mean, you don’t have to worry about that conversation. That book either lunch starts like, you need targets, not leads. And I don’t know how much research people do and my experience, and I have a lot of experiences that tell me they don’t do much. And if they do, it’s a surface level, like who are they? What do they do? It’s not a deep dive into what are their views and values and how would they structure a deal different than somebody else? Or how would they structure a solution different than their competitors? They can’t see that on your website. I mean, I know everybody wants to have the website doing all this work for us, but the fact of the matter is, in a displacement that’s not going to be the way that it tends to happen for most people.

 

“I spoke to a group of people this last week and they were very excited that two of their dream clients downloaded something and they saw their email addresses. And I had to say to them, if those are your dream clients, and you’re excited about this, why didn’t you just call them and ask them if you could share something with them that would create value for them. I mean, why did you wait? You’re waiting two years for somebody to find you, why? You know what you want, go start doing something about it.” – Anthony Iannarino · [30:38] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

And the truth of the matter is, if you want mind share, if you want to capture mind share, why would you wait until anybody researches your company and offers you an RFP? That would be the exact opposite of what you would want to have happen in real life. So why let that happen to you? Why don’t you just get on your front foot instead of your back foot and go start having these conversations. I spoke to a group of people this last week and they were very excited that two of their dream clients downloaded something and they saw their email addresses. And I had to say to them, if those are your dream clients, and you’re excited about this, why didn’t you just call them and ask them, if you could share something with them that would create value for them. I mean, why did you wait? You’re waiting two years for somebody to find you, why? You know what you want. Go start doing something about it.

 

Salespeople Need Verified Opportunities and Not an Email Address in the Name of a Marketing Qualified Lead · [31:08] 

 

Will Barron:

How much of this then? Because I fell foul to this a little bit. I’ve not really had other than the podcast advertising, I don’t really have a B2B product to sell. And the product is the podcast essentially in this point, and there’s the sales school, which is we’re building a specific product there that can be sold to B2B so I can continue selling and build a sales team and document it all later on. So that’s kind of another conversation, but how much of this comes down to… I don’t want to give up responsibility for any of this. How much of it comes down to marketing, focusing on perhaps content marketing rather than actually driving MQLs, which obviously then marketing qualified leads, which then we work on the backend of things.

 

Will Barron:

Because it seems like a lot of organisations are getting excited that someone’s downloaded this white paper, that they’ve never open or someone’s watched this video and… I’ve had people email me, go on the LinkedIn statistics and now four people from this organisation have viewed my profile, but none of them have reached out, connected or done anything. How much of this craziness comes from marketing as opposed to just sales alone?

 

“I think marketing needs to shift to, what are our insights, what are our views and values? What are the kinds of trade-offs that we think people should be making? What do we believe about these things? What do we believe the future means and so much of it is not geared towards that. It’s geared towards getting a name and an email address and a phone number. Okay. I did my job. I gave you a lead. That’s not a lead. And it’s certainly not an opportunity.” – Anthony Iannarino · [32:43] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

I don’t think it’s marketing. I think it’s technology. I just think that we’re so enamoured with technology and have been for the last, let’s call it 10 to 12 years. We’re just so enamoured with the fact that we can capture this data and that we can see these things and we want it to have meaning. They downloaded the white paper. They downloaded our white paper, this is the greatest thing. Not because they’re trying to buy what you sell because you had a white paper that had an interesting topic there. And I’ll tell you what I think marketing needs to shift to. Marketing needs to shift to, what are our insights, what are our views and values? What are the kind of trade offs that we think people should be making? What do we believe about these things?

 

“I think marketing, the shift that they have to make is from lead generation to opportunity creation because that’s what we’re really trying to do, is create an opportunity to displace a competitor, not just get a name and a phone number. That’s easy now.” – Anthony Iannarino · [33:12] 

 

Anthony Iannarino:

What do we believe the future means and so much of it is not geared towards that. It’s geared towards get a name and an email address and a phone number. Okay. I did my job. I gave you a lead. That’s not a lead. And it’s certainly not an opportunity. So I think marketing, the shift that they have to make is from lead generation to opportunity creation because that’s what we’re really trying to do is create an opportunity to displace a competitor, not just get a name and a phone number. That’s easy now. There’s a whole bunch of people, Zoom info. We can get you the name and the phone number and the email address. That’s not hard. The interest and the decision to change, that’s a different conversation.

 

When to Talk About the Competition During an Executive Briefing · [33:40] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. So final thing to wrap up on all of this. Say we get our… You described it as an executive briefing. I love that. Just using that language alone separates you for most of the competition, right? So we get the meeting. It goes, well, we’ve got 20 minutes. We’re giving them all these insights. They are kind of perking up. We can see the body language. They’re excited. They’re almost drooling into work orders in some capacity, just so to keep access to all this data, information, insights, whatever it is. When do we bring up the fact that they’ve got an incumbent supplier. Do we go straight in for the jugular of all this and just try and just differentiate ourselves, and then say, look just converge, come over. Or is there an element of nurture to all of this?

 

Anthony Iannarino:

There’s a long… I mean, the exploration of change happens first. You’re going to have a couple conversations. What happens within a briefing like that is people start asking questions. They start saying, well, what do you guys think about this? And what do you think about that? And at some point you have to go back to the second book, the Lost Art of Closing and be willing to say something that sounds like, Will it sounds like there’s a couple areas here that are still worth exploring. What I’d like to recommend is that we get back together and let me share a little bit about some of the choices other people have made and see if any of it might make sense for what might come next for you and your organisation. I mean, I have to start getting into a discovery conversation to say, now we’re going to collaborate and figure out what the right answer might look like.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

And now I’m going to build consensus and start bringing in the other stakeholders because you’re not walking in having a meeting with an executive and them firing their long time partner of 15 years. Like, this guy came in with a great deck. We’re going to fire you today. No, it doesn’t work that way. It takes time and you have to go through a process. And again, the reason I put the books in the order that I did is first be somebody worth buying from. Second, know how to control that process and have this conversation. And then you can start worrying about the displacement. So this is the book. The books are really kind of a trilogy in that they kind of belong together. Not like Lord of the Rings kind of a trilogy, but sort of you have to go through the process of becoming somebody that’s worth buying from. Truly becoming consultative and having difficult conversations and then the rest of this gets easier.

 

Anthony’s Advise to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [35:55]

 

Will Barron:

Makes total sense. Well, clearly we’ll recommend all the books at the top of the show and in the show notes. But with that, Anthony, I’ve got one final question to ask everyone that comes on the show. I’ve asked you a couple of times now. I’ll ask you again. 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?

 

Anthony Iannarino:

I’m going to tell you what I now believe to be my final answer on this question. Okay. So this is my final answer. I wouldn’t tell the younger me anything. He was perfectly dumb and made tremendous mistakes and those mistakes are why he’s slightly less dumb now. And I would just let him make the mistakes. Like just make them and be thoughtful enough not to repeat them over and over again. So I’m not going to say anything. I’m just going to sit by and watch and let him learn.

 

Will Barron:

Fair enough. Astute advice. We talked about this on a previous episode recently of, I was a complete idiot until I was 25. Then when I was 30, it went up to, I thought I was an idiot until I was 28. And now being 32, I was an idiot of everything I was doing with the podcast when we first launched it kind of three and a half years ago. And it’ll probably go on further. So, I’m kind of coming around to your way of thinking here of [crosstalk 00:37:00]

 

Anthony Iannarino:

I promise you, it goes on forever.

 

Parting Thoughts · [37:15] 

 

Will Barron:

Good. Well, that’s that’s food for thought for perhaps some of the younger audience who are trying to instil all this and osmosis it. In other words, use osmosis to get it into their brains. With that, Anthony tell us where we can find the book and kind of give us the trilogy and where we can find out more about you as well.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

The books you’re going to find at amazon.com or bookstores. I don’t know about the UK. Tougher there. All in the United States, all Barnes and Nobles have the books. Amazon.com is the best place probably to get those, unless you buy them in bulk. And then you go to 800 CEO read, because you’re going to get the best deal. And they’re real book people. I mean, they actually care about books. Best place to find me, thesalesblog.com and the best thing to do when you get there, sign up for the Sunday newsletter. Goes out to about 80,000 people now. And that’s my best work every week. At least is my favourite work every single week.

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. Well with that, again, appreciate the time. We’ve only gone through a third of the book here. So hopefully we’ll have you on to dive through the other two thirds in the future. And with that, I want to thank you for joining us again on the salesman podcast.

 

Anthony Iannarino:

Thanks for having me.

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