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How To Accelerate Your B2B Sales Process And Pipeline

Nicolas Vandenberghe is the CEO of Chili Piper, an Inbound Revenue Acceleration platform and the CEO KosmoTime, a Time Management app.

In this episode of The Salesman Podcast, Nicolas shares the steps we need to take to accelerate our sales and we also get into all the experiments that he’s running over at Chili Piper.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Nicolas Vandenberghe
CEO of Chili Piper

Resources:

Transcript:

Will Barron:

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

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

You read that something is a really good idea, so say a thought in your email. I ask you, put the title thought in an email. So it starts working, but then people get used to it and they recognise it as spam. We pattern recognise. And then that thing that used to work is now recognisable as spam and you delete it. All these techniques have a short lifespan.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

You know, in the end of a sales call you say, put it in your own words. In your own words, what is it that you see in my product that can help you? But it’s phrasing in their own words. They convince themselves, or at least they make it clear why they should do it and they feel more committed.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, sales nation. My name is Will Barron, and I’m the host of the Salesman Podcast, the world’s most downloaded B2B sales show. In today’s episode, we have the legend that is Nicolas Vandenberghe. He’s the CEO over at ChiliPiper.com.

 

Will Barron:

On today’s episode, we’re getting into how you can reduce the time from when a buyer puts up their hand and says, “Hey, I need help. I have a problem,” to when you, I, the salesperson, gets on the phone or a meeting with them and then solves these issues and gets deals done. Everything we talk about in this episode is available in the show notes over at salesman.org. With that, let’s jump right into it.

 

Will Barron:

We’re going to dive into a topic today which I think is going to become increasingly important as buyers are working from home, sellers are working from home, and this is the speed from interaction to a salesperson engaging with a potential customer.

 

Is There Data That Proves Quicker Reaction Times Actually Lead to More Deals Being Closed? · [01:40] 

 

Will Barron:

But before we get into the hows and the whys of all of this, is there any data that shows that we should be focusing on the speed from a customer putting up their hand to a buyer engaging with them? Is there data that shows that quicker reaction times actually leads to more sales being closed?

 

“There were many surveys on the decline in conversion rates based on the time it takes to get back to the buyer, and it’s actually very dramatic. If you wait more than five minutes, you’re going to drop your rates by 50%. Then, some companies wait even more than a day and drop by 80%.” – Nicolas Vandenberghe · [01:54] 

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Very much so. There were many surveys on the decline in conversion rates based on the time it takes to get back to the buyer, and it’s actually very dramatic. If you wait more than five minutes, you’re going to drop your rates by 50%. Then, some companies wait even more than a day and drop by 80%.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

There were all these studies relating the time, and then we at Chilli Piper decided to address this problem, so we got into another level of data. Let me explain.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

It seemed that companies were aware of this problem, so they trained their salespeople to react as fast as possible. There was this kind of glass ceiling around 40%. I remember when I called on the chief revenue officer of ZoomInfo, he said, “Nicolas, my inbound is doing great. I’m converting at 40%.” To which I say, “You mean to tell me that out of 100 people who asked for a meeting, 60 of them did not get one.”

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

The reason why … It seemed crazy to me, but the reason why people accepted it is because they compare that to the outbound, when you reach call [inaudible [00:03:16] with somebody and you get 2%. So 40% seems a lot better than 2%.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

But still, it didn’t seem quite right to me. So at Chilli Piper, we decided to build a solution that we call Instant Inbound. What it is is very simple. It’s a JavaScript that in real time is going to qualify the buyer, and then connect it to a salesperson, either by dialling or by retrieving the calendar so that, you don’t actually talk to a salesperson, but you have a confirmation that you have a meeting booked.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

When we did that, a company says, “Okay, I’m going to do an A/B test to see if instant is better than waiting.” What kind of data … I said, “I’d love to have that happen.” Actually, the company’s called Segment. They just got bought by Twilio for, I think, $3 billion.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

It was meant to be a three-month test, and a month and a half into it, the guy called me and says, “Listen, we’re doubling our conversion rates. I want to stop the test and buy your product.”

 

Will Barron:

Okay, so that’s-

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

“I don’t want to continue losing all these leads on the B side of the test. I want to go all A test.” By now, we have a lot of data that, if you replace … There’s a decline with time, but if you replace no decline at all with instant, then you’re going to double your rates.

 

How to Improve Meeting Book Rates Using an Instant Booking System Like Chilli Piper · [04:45] 

 

Will Barron:

We’re kind of plucking random numbers out here, but if we say 40% would be accepted, what could we get a kind of meeting booking rate using an instant booking system like Chilli Piper?

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Yeah, no. Most of our customers are in the 80% conversion rate. And we’re still trying hard to get this extra 20%, because you’re still losing 20 of these leads. There’s no reason to. But that’s where we see now, around 80, 82% is the best we’ve seen. So now we’re doing our sort of a digital automation where, I mentioned the auto dial, so we actually immediately dial the prospect, and that works very well.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Then we’re trying to get back this 20% that get lost. What we’ve found is that … People submitted a form. The form said, “Talk to somebody,” or, “Request a demo”. The action was clear. You’d wonder why they just disappear when they’ve made the action.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

The truth is that the reason why they disappear is still mysterious to me, but there are some actions that seem to mitigate them. What we’ve found is that, if shortly after they submit the form and then went ghosting you send them an email with a link to a calendar, that’s going to perform poorly.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

But if you send them an email with suggested times, so you say, “It looks like you were not able to book, but there are these three slots that could work. Would you do that?” it converts 11 times better. So you’re going to get back more than half of these 20% in this second leg of an action. It’s been fascinating, this experiment.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

The truth, I still don’t understand why people who requested then would not actually book it, and why, when you send them an email with proposed times, then they do it, but it’s how it works.

 

Nicolas Talks About The Buyer Friction Present In The Instant Booking System · [06:40] 

 

Will Barron:

It seems like there’s a lot of friction to mentally, and there’s probably cognitive biases [inaudible [00:06:40] goes along with this. There’s a lot of friction for someone to put their hand up and say, “Okay, I’m committing to booking a demo. I’m going to do this.” For them to then have it all laid out in front of them and not continue, there’s got to be something going on there, right?

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Yeah, that’s right. Well, as always, in life … You guys in England, the weather, multiple shades of grey. So there are those who are committed, they submit the form, they book the demo, and those who just think, “Ah, maybe,” and they submit, they wonder. They were just unsure enough not to go all the way, but sure enough to submit. So that’s what you want to put, is actions in place that help them go over that step.

 

How to Fully Automate Your Meeting Booking Processes · [07:40] 

 

Will Barron:

Sure. Okay. So for someone who’s not using any automation, what’s [inaudible [00:07:36], Nicolas? Someone who is, they have some real dumb … And we have this on our site … A real dumb inbound lead form where it collects a bunch of data and then sends the salesperson an email twice a day to check their email, because they’re busy doing all kinds of other stuff, and then they ring up. If you could only put one element of everything you just outlined in place to speed up that reaction time, what would it be?

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Well, I honestly see no reason why people wouldn’t choose a solution like ours where you can just be at your desk and you … A solution we’ve got is Concierge. It can pop up your calendar, and a meeting is going to be booked. So you can just be sleeping at your desk and you have your-

 

Will Barron:

So automation’s the [inaudible [00:08:21] there, right? Is that fair to say?

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Yeah. Yes, prospect [inaudible [00:08:25]. It makes no sense not to do that. It would be like saying, “Should I have a computer, or should I write on paper and send by mail?”

 

How Salespeople Receive Notifications That a Meeting Has Been Booked on The Instant Booking System · [08:38] 

 

Will Barron:

What does this look from the salesperson’s perspective, then? As you described, are they sat at the computer and they get a notification? What does it look like? Because most of the audience listening to this right now are individual salespeople, right? What’s their experience? What would their world look like using a solution like this?

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

We’re salespeople lovers, because there are two typical deployments, real time and scheduling. In the real time, we dial the rep and then we dial the prospect. So the experience is that you make sure you mark yourself as available and we, as I mentioned, we qualify and we route. If the prospect is in your territory or an account you own, it’s going to be routed to you. The rep sits at his desk, makes sure he or she marks themself available, and then the phone rings, you press 1, and you’d in connection directly with the prospect.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

This is typically done in high velocity sales, so B2SMB. For example, [inaudible [00:09:41] the customer. When an SMB called to get a payment system, often it’s because theirs broke and they need it fixed immediately, and if you don’t answer immediately then they’ll go to the next one and get it by the next day.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

In the mid-market and enterprise, our customers more typically put a calendar because the purpose is most often a demo. A demo takes more time, you want to have time to prepare. So then for the rep the experience is very different. They get a notification, like you said. It says, “Hey, somebody booked a meeting with you tomorrow. It’s Joe from Cisco, and Joe is …”

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

And we do all sorts of data augmentations, so we say, “Joe is a director of security in the Webex business unit at Cisco, and your meeting is tomorrow at [11:00] your time.” That’s the experience they get.

 

“Sometimes we have thank you notes from reps who say, “This is amazing. My calendar gets booked. I don’t do anything.” It’s then up to them to focus and convert that meeting into a closed one.” – Nicolas Vandenberghe · [10:35] 

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

So sometimes we have thank you notes from reps who say, “This is amazing. My calendar gets booked. I don’t do anything.” It’s then up to them to focus and convert that meeting into a closed one.

 

Using Suggested Time To Find Out The Best Time to Reach Out to a Sales Prospect · [10:48]

 

Will Barron:

Is all of this just for inbound leads? I’ll give you a scenario here. My background is in medical device sales, so surgeons could just call me, text me, and if I was available they would get through and then I would try and call them back. I’d never get through to them because they’re instantly unavailable. They’d step out there to make a call, they’d step back in.

 

Will Barron:

So is this applicable, or would this be applicable if we re-jig the software for someone like me? I’m selling to a surgeon. I want the surgeon to be able to book a call in my diary, even though he’s probs not a new inbound lead, but he’s an ongoing person I’m trying to spend more time with.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Yeah, very much so. As I mentioned, there’s a little secret. It’s a thing I call suggested times. If that happens, if somebody calls and you call back and don’t get in touch … And, by the way, we have a lot of B2 medical companies as customers.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

We have [Weave [00:11:46], for example, is a very successful company. They do exactly what I’m going to say. They send an email with suggested times, and the surgeon is going to get that email in the evening, and it’s super easy. You see three times, you check that they’re available, and you book a time.

 

“By suggesting times, you not only make it easy for them, but you also show respect. You’re actually proposing a time, but you understand. You’re not saying, “Hey, book with me.” You’re just saying, “Hey, I’m proposing these times. I understand this may not work, so here’s a link for additional times,” – Nicolas Vandenberghe · [12:12] 

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

That’s the other piece of the solution for the outbound piece where you reach out to somebody and say, “Hey, do you want a meeting?” By suggesting times, you not only make it easy for them, but you also show respect. You’re actually proposing a time, but you understand.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

You’re not saying, “Hey, book with me.” You’re just saying, “Hey, I’m proposing these times. I understand this may not work, so here’s a link for additional times,” and so on. That works very, very well. It’s an approach that is both effective and respectful, and it converts very well.

 

The Instant Booking System Increases The Conversion Rate From Touchpoint to Meeting Booked. Is That Number Consistent with The Probability of The Prospect Showing up for The Meeting? · [12:50] 

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. That makes total sense. We’ll continue this analogy where we’re going back and forth with a surgeon. Does the conversion rate increasing from touchpoint to meeting booked, does that then continue into the person actually showing up for the meeting?

 

Will Barron:

Because it seems like you’re getting more and more, almost social proof or the multiple laws of influence forcing people to, once they’ve agreed to something and they said they’re going to show up, that they’re going to continue down that front. Or, because it’s so easy just to book a meeting, that leads to less people actually showing up as a percentage on the back end of things.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Yeah, that’s a great question. So actually, you remember when I mentioned that they had a revenue operation that ZoomInfo said, “I’m not touching my inbound process. I converted 40%.” He actually started using our application because he said, “I converted 40%, but I have a no-show rate of 35%.” So he had one in three person no showing.

 

“There’s a cadence that works best in different situations, but there’s a confirmation that you want to send to acknowledge and to reinforce the commitment. Then there’s a pre-meeting that you want to send to remind of the agenda, so why they booked that meeting in the first place and why it’s valuable.” – Nicolas Vandenberghe · [14:03] 

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

So we decided to address that problem too, and the simple way to do that is send thoughtful emails along the process, so reminders, confirmation and reminders. There’s a cadence that works best in different situations, but there’s a confirmation that you want to send to acknowledge and to reinforce the commitment. Then there’s a pre-meeting that you want to send to remind of the agenda, so why they booked that meeting in the first place and why it’s valuable.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

So confirmation is upon booking, reminder is either the night before for the enterprise or two hours before for the SMB, because of cycle, they have a different velocity. Then you want to do a … We send ours five minutes before. We say, “Hey, I’m looking forward to seeing you in five minutes.”

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

You sent me an email five minutes before, right? For a good reason. It’s the most convenient time. I’m thinking, “Okay, I have this meeting.” Or I forgot, “Oh, I have this meeting.” Here’s an easy way. And the reminder five or two minutes before includes the link to the meeting, so if it’s a Zoom call, a Skype call, the link in there. So it’s not only reminding; it’s making it super convenient.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

It’s typically three-touch … You can add more touches, but the three we’ve found work very, very well. Each touch is customised for each prospect with each company. The 35 went down to 10% when we did that experiment. Still, as I said, 10% is still not perfect, but it’s much better than the 35.

 

Will Barron:

Sure. Well, you’ll get down to some number at some point, and that is just people being ill or their internet being down, right? There’s always going to be a few people no-showing. That’s amazing. So-

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Well, especially if you’re selling to surgeons. They may have some other …

 

Will Barron:

Of course. Yeah, and that’s what I found. You’d ring up, and you’d get a nurse holding the phone across the room to the side of the surgeon’s head. Someone’s just come in, an RTA, road traffic accident, whatever it was.

 

Nicolas Talks About The Other Forms of Communication That Work Best when Using Suggested Time and Sending Meeting Reminders · [16:05] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay, so with that, then, it seems like you’ve got plenty of data on this, and I don’t want to put you on the spot too much with it because I know I’ve not given you these questions ahead of time. Have you done any experimentation with, rather than just sending emails, texting people, or using cadences involved, like LinkedIn or other formats, or are you happy that email is the best way to go about this?

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

No, we do also support text messages. Some companies even auto dial to call to remind. We have not found that auto dial adds anything, but for sure text messages are helpful in some verticals.

 

“For example, we found that text messages are most effective when you have a meeting at a trade show, because people are not on their computer. They have their phone with them, and they may not check their email, but they check their text messages.” – Nicolas Vandenberghe · [16:45] 

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

For example, we found that text messages are most effective when you have a meeting at a trade show, because people are not on their computer. They have their phone with them, and they may not check their email, but they check their text messages.

 

“It’s interesting because at a trade show it’s very acceptable to send a text message. In the regular world, especially in the enterprise world, people feel that text messages are more personal and they would not want that.” – Nicolas Vandenberghe · [17:10] 

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

So we have a trade show solution. These days, not very used, as you can imagine. But it was in use. Text messages were the main message. It’s interesting because at a trade show it’s very acceptable to send a text message. In the regular world, especially in the enterprise world, people feel that text messages are more personal and they would not want that. So it really depends on the context and the industry.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

The same thing at [Weave [00:17:34] and these other companies selling to medical. Text message is very frequent. It’s very well accepted, and I actually get text message confirmation from my dentist, for example. So you think it’s only fair that I send him back a text message to say, “Yeah, I’m a sales guy. I’m meeting you.”

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

In some verticals, they’re very well accepted and they work very well. In others, emails are the preferred mode, and in many cases it’s a combination.

 

Nicolas Explains Why Sales Process Optimisation is an Ongoing Process · [18:01] 

 

Will Barron:

So how much experimentation do we need to do, Nicolas, to get the numbers that you’re describing here? Are they the baseline numbers and then we experiment to improve them, or do we start from a lower number and then it takes a bit of work to make this happen with the cadences and everything else?

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

That’s a great question. There’s a quantic jump, going from nothing to something. You’re immediately going to improve a lot. Look, we have found that if you go with my three-touch cadence, you’re going to vastly, at least you’re going to divide your no-show by two. And then you can optimise. Then you can look into the content of the reminders and see what works better, and so on.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

But the optimization is an ongoing process. You can always do better. As I mentioned, when you go from 35% no-show to 10% no-show, you still have 10% no-show to work on. But there’s definitely a step function, where you can just improve by doing it.

 

Will Barron:

You’re almost taking the wind out of some of these questions because clearly you’ve thought about this. Obviously, the CEO of the company that is providing the service, so you’ve thought about this more than I have. But you seem to have an answer for everything I’m sharing.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

It’s not that I’ve thought about it, Will. It’s our business.

 

Will Barron:

Of course.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

We have billions of transactions every year, so we observe the data and we see what works and what doesn’t.

 

Why Sending Mass Suggested Time Notifications to Random Strangers Never Seems to Work · [19:40] 

 

Will Barron:

So let me turn this on its head slightly. What did you … Whether this was when you first started, or whether it’s new experiments that you’re doing now, what did you try that you thought was going to be dead cert in speeding up this time from a buyer showing interest to speaking to a salesperson? What have you tried that you thought was going to work, that just didn’t work at all?

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Yes, I have one. Okay. We’ve tried many things that haven’t worked, you were very specifically asking around the speed to lead and engagement. We have tried suggested time in mass, so the idea that you take 300 contacts and you remind them and say, “Here are three suggested times to book.”

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

The reason we thought it would work is because, as I mentioned, when you are trying to catch up on one-on-one, the suggested times convert 11 times better. So we thought, let’s make that scale and send … So we take all these people you’ve never talked to, we say, “Here are three suggested times.”

 

“Our read on it is that people have never heard of you, and if you send them suggested times, they perceive it as too aggressive. They perceive it as spam and say, “Who the hell are you, and why would I book these three times?” – Nicolas Vandenberghe · [20:45] 

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

It completely backfired. Our read on it is that people have never heard of you, and if you send them suggested times, they perceive it as too aggressive. They perceive it as spam and say, “Who the hell are you, and why would I book these three times?”

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Retrospectively, I should have thought of it because sometimes I get these messages, mostly from lead generation companies, like appointment setters, and say … And the title says, “Nicolas, how about 2 pm on Thursday?” And they say, “We are a lead appointment setter.” I hate it. I hate it, you know?

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

It’s like, how about you go to hell? I don’t know you. I have nothing. I hated how much [inaudible [00:21:30]. I think our suggested times in mass got the similar complaints and reactions. “I don’t know you. You don’t tell me that you’re going to meet tomorrow at 3 pm. You have to do some work first.”

 

Will and Nicolas Dissect The Assumptive Close Technique and Reveal Why Most People Don’t Feel The Social Pressure to Respond to Cold Messages · [22:20]

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. Well, this all comes down to sales training from the ’90s. This is why I started the podcast, Nicolas. I logged on to YouTube, I tried to read books. This is like six, seven years ago now when everything was … That would be called an assumptive close, so you reach out to someone and you only give them two options, and the psychology is that they have to choose “yes”. There’s no “no”.

 

Will Barron:

But I think in the world that we live in now, it’s too easy just to click Delete or just to hang up the phone. When this happens to me, I’ve never experienced any real influence or social pressure to respond to these things.

 

Will Barron:

I just do what you do, and just go, “I’ve not given you permission for this. I’m out of here.” The LinkedIn message gets deleted, and I get rid of the person. I get most of these messages, as you were saying, from lead generation companies seemingly on LinkedIn.

 

“What happens is that you read that something is a really good idea, so, say, a thought in your email. It starts working, but then people get used to it, and they recognise it as spam. We pattern recognise. And then, now, that thing that used to work is now recognisable as spam and you delete it. So all these techniques have a short lifespan. It works a little bit, and then our brain starts to detect that it’s a trick that people use, and we put it straight to the trash can.” – Nicolas Vandenberghe · [22:40] 

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Yeah. What happens is that you read that something is a really good idea, so, say, a thought in your email. I ask you, put the title thought in your email. It starts working, but then people get used to it, and they recognise it as spam. We pattern recognise. And then, now, that thing that used to work is now recognisable as spam and you delete it. So all these techniques have a short lifespan. It works a little bit, and then our brain starts to detect that it’s a trick that people use, and we put it straight to the trash can.

 

How to Discern Whether Your Prospect Has Real Interest In Meeting you · [23:22] 

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. How much does permission come into this, from the perspective of the inbound lead? What I mean by this, Nicolas, is have you done any experiments where you, on the form that they’re filling in, that you make them tick a box that they definitely want this meeting, or is there some kind of disclaimer of …

 

Will Barron:

I’m kind of pushing it here slightly to exaggerate the point, but there’s a disclaimer, perhaps, of, “We only allow you to book the meeting once. If you don’t show up, we can’t book it again.” How much of the success of the rest of this sales process comes down from the fact that the person who is doing the original outreach or the inbound lead is going, “Hey, I really do want this”?

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

I’ve never tried that experiment. It’s an interesting thought, but we in sales are always desperate to get this meeting, so we don’t want to discourage people, right? So we don’t say, “Are you sure you want this meeting? Check the box you’re going to attend.” We’ve never run that experiment.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

We do qualification, so it’s kind of a proxy with that. Typically, we … For example, some of our customers use lead scoring and they paste the score of the lead in the form so that this data is actually, when it’s submitted, our software takes it into account. And if the score is not high enough, then no meeting is booked.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

The idea is that you don’t want to take the risk of a no-show or of somebody who is not really interested take the time of an account executive. Companies that do that have a lot of leads and few actual conversions.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

For example, Twilio, in this case, everybody’s experimenting and everybody’s heard of Twilio. They go to Twilio’s site and say, “I wonder what he does,” and you’re a student. You say, “Hey, I want to talk to them.” You want to talk to them, but they don’t want to talk to you. They want to talk to companies that have a project and are going to deploy.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

So they actually use that scoring in that thing. But I’ve never seen anything explicit to say, “Commit, sign with your blood that you’re going to show up at the meeting and that you’re a real prospect. Send us a blood sample. Otherwise, we won’t take you.” It’s done in much more subtle methods.

 

The Pros of Pre-qualifying Leads Instead of Preparing for a No-show Meeting · [25:50] 

 

Will Barron:

Sure. The reason I ask is we do something when we get on group calls with a bunch of sales leaders who want to purchase our sales training programme on a team membership as opposed to individuals. We try and pre-frame the conversation of, “This is how the meeting will go.”

 

Will Barron:

And within the correspondence between the meeting being booked and the date of the meeting, we’ll essentially outline … It’s all automated, but outline an agenda. Again, try and pre-frame this, “This is how things go. If it’s a great fit for you and we choose that it’s a good fit for us, then we’ll work together.”

 

Will Barron:

And try and position ourselves as consultants and experts in the space rather than you’re the one in power hounding a salesperson for a price and shifting those scales of power in the conversation.

 

Will Barron:

And it’s all very open and honest. There’s no manipulation going on there. Just, “If you choose to work with us, this is how we do things.” It just seems like something like that at the beginning of the sales process, before the buyer’s even put up their hand, could get rid of a load of no-shows or could get rid of a load of people who are even just price shopping, or something like that.

 

Will Barron:

But obviously, other detriment, then, of someone who might be a potential customer going, “I’m not agreeing to this nonsense before we even get into the conversation.”

 

“It’s a bit like, at the end of a sales call you say, “Put it in your own words. In your own words, what is it that you see in my product that can help you?” By phrasing in their own words, they convince themselves, or at least they make it clear why they should do it and they feel more committed.” – Nicolas Vandenberghe · [27:17] 

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Yeah, no. That’s a great technique, or approach, to lead the prospect. It’s a bit like when, you know at the end of a sales call you say, “Put it in your own words. In your own words, what is it that you see in my product that can help you?” By phrasing in their own words, they convince themselves, or at least they make it clear why they should do it and they feel more committed.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

I can see how ahead of a meeting can say, “Hey, we’re very busy. Are you sure you really want it?” And then the person’s going to think it through and get to a higher level of conviction that they really want that meeting with you, your sales training. That’s definitely a good approach.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

It seems that it’s something best done when you have initial engagement, so that form has been submitted, the meeting has been booked, and there’s the time to say, “Okay …” So it’s probably best part of that three-touch pre-meeting sequence that I mentioned, where the person has booked and you want to increase the commitment.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

But it makes a lot of sense, that approach, to say, “Look, we’re busy,” and make sure, “We’re not for everybody, and we’re only for the best.” We all want what’s not for everybody, right?

 

Will Barron:

Sure. And look, clearly, you’ve got to be congruent with this. If I was advising Sales Force, clearly they’ve got a massive team. They can throw as many leads at them as possible and they’ll absolutely crush it, versus us where there’s me and two other people, and the diary’s booked too much, too full regardless of whatever we do. There’s just too much demand. So just to kind of add some context to that of, we are genuinely that busy. That’s why it’s congruent to us.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Yes, you’re right. If Sales Force said, “We’re too busy. We can’t [inaudible [00:28:59] our CRM,” customers will be thinking, “What’s wrong with these people here?” That’s-

 

Will Barron:

Okay, so let’s move on from just the automation at the beginning, because I feel like you could give salespeople as many leads as they need, right? And everyone could show up.

 

The Things Salespeople Should be Doing Within The First 10 Seconds of a Meeting · [29:15] 

 

Will Barron:

Is there anything that salespeople should be doing within the first 10 seconds of that meeting, based on everything that we’ve talked about so far, to make sure the meeting goes well, or is there anything that you feel like could really [inaudible [00:29:29] a sales meeting or demo on the back of all this automation?

 

Will Barron:

Because clearly, the buyer hasn’t really even spoken to someone before the demo at this point. Is there anything that salespeople need to do to make sure that that demo goes effectively, considering perhaps that lack of real-time engagement at the beginning of the process?

 

“The first seconds, from the tone of voice, the prospect will already make up their mind what they think of you.” – Nicolas Vandenberghe · [30:10]

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

I don’t know about 10 seconds. There is this [inaudible [00:29:54]. There is the idea that people make up their mind or get to … In relation of you in the first 10 seconds, there’s this book called The Way of the Wolf … I don’t know if you read that book where he says, “The first seconds, from the tone of voice, the prospect will already make up their mind what they think of you.”

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

So that tone of voice thing definitely applies to that meeting, but I think you’re alluding to something deeper, which is the prospect came with some interest, and what can you do to make sure that his interest is real? It’s not only how they perceive you, but also how you go about that.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

What we do at Chilli Piper, we have a rule which is … All our meetings are on Zoom … which is always ask the prospect to share their screen. The reason why we do that is because … It’s a bit like what you were saying. In your own words, what is the value? When you share your screen, you show your problem. You re-experience these problems. So you can show …

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Let’s say my problem was how we’re processing [inaudible [00:31:05] leads. They share their screen, they show you the steps, they show you the queue, they see the queue with some leads that have been untouched for 48 hours, and it’s in their face. The problem is in their face. So now we can talk, because you’ve triggered the emotion that got them to book in the first place.

 

“So that is a rule for all our demos. They always share their screen and have them show the current process and the problems so that you reactivate that pain and you’re in a good situation to lead the meeting.” – Nicolas Vandenberghe · [31:27] 

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

So that is a rule for all our demos. They always share their screen and have them show the current process and the problems so that you reactivate that pain and you’re in a good situation to lead the meeting. It’s a bit deeper than 10 seconds, but I think it alludes to what you were trying to talking about, which is they came there with a problem and how do you make sure that this problem is confirmed. That’s how we do it.

 

Nicolas Explains What he Would do When an Influential Customer Declines his Request to Share a Screen · [32:01] 

 

Will Barron:

That makes total sense. Let me throw this at you, then, Nicolas. You’re perhaps selling, and perhaps it’s a massive customer so it’s well worth you being … I don’t know if there is a customer big enough for you to be worth being involved in the sales process, but let’s imagine there is. What do you do when they turn around and say, “Sorry, I don’t want to turn my screen on”?

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

That happens. You have to be skillful. You ask, but they do say that. So in that case, the second best proxy is to have them experience the product one way or the other.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

For example, when we … I mentioned our two core solutions, the inbound. So we say, “Okay, in that case, why don’t you come to our website and you tell me when you’re on it and you tell me when you submit the form.” So they actually experience our solution themself. We don’t see it because they don’t share their screen, but they tell us over the Zoom and we know that they’re doing it.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

The same thing with our suggested times. We say, “Okay, in that case, let me send you some suggested times.” We send it to them, and then say, “You see them?” Yeah. “Can you book a meeting?” And they experience it. So we don’t manage to have them re-experience their pain, but we do manage to get them directly to experience the solution, which is …

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

There’s more and more data … It’s not data … research about how decisions are made. I mean, you’re in that business so I’m sure you follow that as passionately as I do. There was this big debate. Is it emotion? Is it reason, how people make up their mind?

 

“There was this book called The Enigma of Reason, and the idea that the decisions come from what he calls brain inference, so the brain infers something, and that comes from a trigger, so something triggers something. The best way to get a trigger in an experience is not saying something.” – Nicolas Vandenberghe · [33:40] 

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Recently, there was this book called The Enigma of Reason, and the idea that the decisions come from what he calls brain inference, so the brain infers something, and that comes from a trigger, so something triggers something. The best way to get a trigger is an experience. It’s not saying something.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

I say, “With suggested times, you’ll cover it better.” That triggers something abstract. If you send suggested times, they click the book. That triggers something much stronger, and they say, “Oh, wow.” It is not … Technically it’s an emotion, but it’s not an emotion. It’s an experience that is going to be processed by the brain as something much more significant than just a bunch of words.

 

Will Barron:

So, you mentioned a couple of books there. I’m assuming you’re an avid reader.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

I am.

 

Nicolas’ Book Recommendations on How Salespeople Can Help Prospects Better Internalise Processes and Concepts · [34:30]

 

Will Barron:

Is there any books that you’d recommend on … And it doesn’t have to be necessarily a sales book. Like the book you just described wasn’t a bespoke sales book. Are there any books that you’d recommend on this process of enabling people to see a concept or better understand things, or even books on how to teach or how to explain, or anything like that?

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

The book I mentioned is called The Enigma of Reason. It’s a book by an evolutionary cognitive psychologist, so it’s not exactly your sales training person. There’s another book that I very love, book by Paul Glimcher on Neuroeconomics, the neuroscience in them. But these are a bit too abstract and theoretical for this audience.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

The book that is a required reading for every newcomer at Chilli Piper is Never Split the Difference from Chris Voss. That’s because, even though he was originally talking about negotiation, he proposes a lot of techniques that are very applicable in sales, and you can relate back to science.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

For example, there’s a key concept in a book called Tactical Empathy. It’s suggesting that you empathise, but you’re not really empathising. You’re trying to understand the other prospect. In science, there’s this concept of theory of mind that sounds like empathy but is not empathy. It is the ability to understand what’s happening in the other’s mind. It’s actually the same concept of tactical empathy, but they call it differently. There’s also the research supporting what Chris Voss says. So that’s the book I would say people to start with.

 

The Books Every New Employee at Chili Piper Must Read · [36:32]

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. We’ve had Chris on the show a bunch of times now. I think he’s … We’ve got one video on YouTube with like half a million views now. A lot of people listening to this probably came from that Chris Voss interview. Love it. It’s a great book. Is there any other must-reads for even the executives, perhaps, at Chilli Piper?

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

The Way of the Wolf is another one that we have read, especially for newcomers. It’s not so much for the executives. Never Split the Difference is for account executives. As for our executives, there’s no required reading. We have our own rules and values, and I haven’t found a book yet that encapsulates them.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

You know, I’ve just posted a … Chilli Piper is a distributed company. So we are now 65 people in 58 cities and 22 countries. We have this big belief that we’re all brothers and sisters all over the world. So our number one value is help. I haven’t found a book … There must be one somewhere … that exemplifies this philosophy, but for sure when people come on board, they can experience it. That’s how we convey our values at Chilli Piper.

 

The Unique Values at Chili Piper That Might Seem Odd for People Outside the Organisation · [38:00]

 

Will Barron:

Sure. Is there any values … And we’ll wrap up with this. Is there any values at Chilli Piper that might seem a little odd, or that might be misunderstood from one outside looking in? Is there anything that stands out as, “Oh, that one is particularly interesting”?

 

Will Barron:

Because I think we can all take on board and comprehend this idea of we need to help each other. There’s probably some, I’m sure there’s some cliché ones in there as well, but is there any that people look at and go, “Oh, I never really thought about that. That’s really valuable”?

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

I don’t think … Our third value … We have four values. Help, innovate, take ownership, and the last one is have fun. I don’t think people don’t think about having fun, but they rarely think about having fun as a company value. But we very much …

 

“The way I think of it is that life is short, and your job takes a lot of your time, and if you’re not having fun in your job you should move on to something else.” – Nicolas Vandenberghe · [38:55] 

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

The way I think of it is that life is short, and your job takes a lot of your time, and if you’re not having fun in your job you should move on to something else. It’s not worth it. So we have the thing …

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

For example, we don’t have a goal on retention of our employees because we think, “Look, we do our best for people to grow and have fun, but if we fail at it, then we’re not going to try to get people to stick with [inaudible [00:39:25] of options or anything like that.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Everybody should be free to do their own things. That approach is a bit different from other companies. We just let people have fun, and if they don’t we completely understand that there are other places where they should.

 

Why Having Fun Is Really Underestimated In Today’s Work Environment · [39:50] 

 

Will Barron:

I think you’re under selling that slightly. I’ve never heard that in any, whether it be big business, small business, whatever it is. Have fun. It’s kind of integral, right? If you’re going to grow fast and not fight.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

And we take it seriously. We take it seriously. I’ll tell you, this year we couldn’t do it, but last year in September, we took the entire company to Ibiza to do the closing of the [inaudible [00:40:08], and I have the photos with us, with the [inaudible [00:40:12] as we were having fun there. So we mean it. We spend some money to make that value a reality.

 

Parting Thoughts · [40:25]

 

Will Barron:

I love it. Well, with that, tell us more about Chilli Piper and where we can find out more about you as well, Nicolas.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Yeah, so Chilli Piper, you can come to our website. It’s a play on words, so chilli is C-H-I-L-I, piper. You can engage with us. We’re using our own tools.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

And then about myself, something interesting you say, is that late in life I discovered that I have ADHD. People call me lazy and all sorts of things, and now I have an official excuse from the doctor. I’m not lazy; I have ADHD. The reason why I didn’t do the [inaudible [00:41:01] paper you asked me to do is because of ADHD.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

So as crazy as it sounds, I started another company. It’s called KosmoTime, and it’s to help people manage their time. It’s like a … I was struggling with to-do lists. I was writing all my tasks and never get them done because of ADHD. So I thought, “That’s not working for me.”

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

So I have a new way to manage my tasks and my time where I schedule and block time in my calendar, I block distractions. So if you want to find out about me and try that method, KosmoTime is K-O-S-M-O time.com. It’s my secret weapon to get things done.

 

Will Barron:

Secret weapon. Love it. Well, I’ll link to that in the show notes of this episode, I’ll link to Chilli Piper, and the books and everything else that we talked about as well, and that’ll be over at salesman.org. With that, Nicolas, I want to thank you for your time and your insights on this. And everyone, thank you again for joining us on The Salesman Podcast.

 

Nicolas Vandenberghe:

Thank you so much. It was great fun to talk to you.

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