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Deal Inspection: How And Why Sales Managers Should Complete Them

Julian Reading is a sales enablement expert with a career spanning over 29 years. In today’s episode of the Sales Leadership Show, Julian talks about the deal inspection process and reveals why salespeople who use the MEDDPIC framework boast higher productivity.

You'll learn:

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Julian Reading
Sales Enablement Expert

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

This episode of the show is brought to you from the Salesman.org HubSpot Studio. Coming up on today’s episode of the Sales Leadership Show.

 

Julian Reading:

The Americans talk about two things you know in life Will, death and taxes. No, the two things we know in life are target and number of days to hit it, that is it, everything else is noise outside of that. I encourage everything to be done via Salesforce because we want to capture it in a CRM but light touch, it’s not war and peace we’re writing here. So in the opportunity screen I built MEDDPIC as a form in a single page and we put the key actions in of metrics and right next to it I have tasks, so we set date-based tasks. And I have a structure called SPEED that I use that stands for situations, position, pain, problem, explore, execute and date.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, sales nation, my name is Will Barron I’m the host of the Sales Leadership Show. And on today’s episode we have the pleasure of speaking with Julian Reading, a complete legend. I really enjoyed this conversation and you will as well. Julian is the author of the book, The Sales Journey, which you can find on Amazon and in the show notes of this episode over at salesleadership.org. Now on today’s episode we’re getting into deal inspections. How to do a deal inspection, why you would want to do deal inspection, the value that comes from all of this and a whole lot more. And with that said let’s jump right into it. Julian, welcome to the Sales Leadership Show. How’s it going, sir?

 

Julian Reading:

It’s going great. It’s a massive honour to be here. I’ve been a fan for years. I thank you so much for inviting me on, Will. Really, I really appreciate it. I’m excited to do it.

 

What is a Deal Inspection? · [01:35] 

 

Will Barron:

You’re welcome. I’m excited to have a chat with you. We’re going to talk about deal inspections today. We’re going to look at assessing rank, influence, there’s probably all the elements to this as well that we can dive into. But for anyone who is perhaps a brand new sales leader or someone like myself, who is a salesperson who never really had any sit-downs with managers to do deal inspections, what the heck is a deal inspection?

 

Julian Reading:

So deal inspection, for me, is about creating a global language for any business. No matter whether you’re sitting in New York or London, Will, you’re following exactly the same process to actually inspect a deal. And I use, MEDDPIC, which is a derivative of MEDDIC. And built within that, I build inspection structures. So what it does is if you’re sitting with me as your medical sales rep, I’m going to go through a structured review with you on a weekly basis and set advancement activities directly as an outcome from each review we do, but we follow the same structure.

 

“Here’s the key challenge of any sales leader, you can’t control what your sales guy is doing in front of the person they’re selling to. But what you can do is focus objectives in context, in time and drive performance.”  – Julian Reading · [02:26] 

 

Julian Reading:

Because here’s the key challenge of any sales leader, you can’t control what your sales guy is doing in front of the person they’re selling to. But what you can do is focus objectives in context, in time and drive performance. Now what this does is ultimately, drive down deal cycle time and make people sell wider to increase the average transaction value, which I believe is going to be critical over the next 18 months. I think this is an opportune time to be in sales, I really do.

 

Why Sales Leaders Must Sit Down With Their Sales Teams and Inspect Deals · [02:29] 

 

Will Barron:

It seems like this is somewhat paradoxical of you’ll have some sales leaders, some managers listening right now who goes, “I don’t have time to sit down with my sales team and to run through deals and inspect them.” But it’s paradoxical in the fact that if you do implement this, we’re going to reduce cycle time and you are going to better results regardless. Your sales team is going to do better, you’re going to have probably less pressure on top of you to run the numbers, do metrics, because we’re going to be doing a more efficient job. Is that fair to say?

 

Julian Reading:

100%. And this is the typical pushback I get when I start talking. Where I am at the moment, the CRO can review $4 billion worth of business from his coffee table in one single screen. And he knows the next best action on all his top accounts to win. For me, that is gold. The more insights I can get, the more visibility to my pipeline. Because every one of those sales leaders that would say that to you, they’ve got a problem with slippage, they all have. So this is a way of reducing that and selling more. So I would say, “Why haven’t you got time to do that?”

 

Can Sales Leaders Automate The Sales Inspection Process? · [03:50] 

 

Will Barron:

And I’ll just play devil’s advocate slightly just to frame this up slightly further. Can this be automated? Can we get our sales team to fill out more checkboxes and tick boxes and text boxes in a CRM to automate this? Or do we need to sit down and heaven forbid, actually coach and work with our sales reps to make this happen?

 

“The Americans talk about two things you know in life, death and taxes. No, the two things we know in life are target and number of days to hit it, that is it. Everything else is noise outside of that.” – Julian Reading · [04:18] 

 

Julian Reading:

Well, no, I automate it in Salesforce. So it’s a simplistic piece because I don’t want my team filling out admin forms. I want them selling. It’s the key thing. The Americans talk about two things you know in life Will, death and taxes. No, the two things we know in life are target and number of days to hit it, that is it, everything else is noise outside of that. So I automate as much as I can, but the key point is the output you get from it, the consistency of the review. Being able to inspect via structure this industry standard that we know drives more sales, but also influences the advancement behaviours of all the salespeople. And if you are a CRO sat there in London and you’ve got sales leaders all around the world, surely you want some consistency because then you get confidence in your pipeline and you massively reduced slippage. This is the key piece that I’ve delivered at my last company.

 

The MEDDPIC Sales Framework · [05:01]

 

Will Barron:

For sure. So you’ve mentioned consistency, industry standard, inspection, structure. Is there a framework to implement what we’re talking about here, Julian?

 

Julian Reading:

So I use MEDDPIC. So MEDDPIC stands for metrics, which I can go into, metrics are cash. So I push people on that into discovery. Economic buyer, decision process, decision process is key for selling rank versus influence, decision criteria, reframing your solution, path to funds. How many times have you had sales guys have deals slip because someone’s on holiday that should be signing, now those paths to funds. Identifying pain, I have a three step process for influencing pain, champion and competition. So that’s what MEDDPIC stands for. And if you think about that, that’s pretty much the immutable law of selling.

 

“For me, understanding the language of your customer, understanding how to reframe your value proposition based on your customer’s perception of value is the key to unlocking sales during times of change.” – Julian Reading · [06:26] 

 

Julian Reading:

It’s everything you want to be inspecting and ensuring that your sales team are executing against because these are all advancement activities. You need a tick in each one of these. And I do a heat map for my sales leaders so they can assess the quality of the MEDDPIC as well. But you know what it does, Will, is that so… I work currently for a hardware manufacturer selling storage and they sell to the data centre. And the typical sales model was I put in a proposal and you take it to your boss and he’ll sign it off and we’ll order more storage. Well, those days have gone because the budget’s moved out the business. So all of a sudden they have to sell wide by line of business, this is decision process. And for me understanding the language of your customer, understanding how to reframe your value proposition based on your customer’s perception of value is the key to unlocking sales during times of change.

 

The Role of MEDDPIC in Understanding The Customer Success Journey · [07:03]

 

Will Barron:

Well, I might be pestering you for discounts on storage hardware at some point in the not distant future because this is a massive problem that I’m facing at the moment. Certainly not at the enterprise level, but that’s a conversation for another time. And a conversation for the audience, if anyone does have insights or connections on that front, we’ve got a real problem storing all of the content that we’re producing. But with that said then and I appreciate you breaking down the MEDDPIC acronym here. And I wrote it down in front of me, which I took from your book, The Sales Journey, because I can never remember it. I can never remember it because there’s so many steps to it, but it’s seamless the steps. I think you’re spot on in the way that it’s described thereof, it’s a framework that if you tick each one of these boxes we’re almost halfway there, is that fair to say?

 

Julian Reading:

Absolutely. And the key with this, I’m passionate about date-based selling because I will test you now, the two things that we know in life Will, but I’m sure you’d answer me target and number of days to hit it. But what I do is within that. So, if you say to me, “Right, Julian, I’ve got this great deal. I’m going to sign it at the end of March”, and I go “Fantastic Will, who’s the economic buyer?” And you go, “I don’t know.” Guess what I’ve got news for you. Have you detailed the path to funds? “Oh no, the guy at the place is doing that for me.” You’re not going to win it. So what you do is then right from the start of that inspection, you set dates by next best action. Now what this does in Salesforce is I feed Einstein and I’m getting a whole intelligent sales engine back on what’s the next best action per context of stage.

 

“I believe passionately every sales guy should be agile and be able to sell conceptually in any situation depending on industry, et cetera. But I also believe there’s a repeatable processes, what is best practise.” – Julian Reading · [08:44] 

 

Julian Reading:

Because sales does fall follow a path. I believe passionately every sales guy should be agile and be able to sell conceptually in any situation depending on industry, et cetera, et cetera. But I also believe this repeatable process is what is best practise. For me, I need metrics and pain in every single business. Because if there’s no reason to change and I can’t tie it back to a metric, i.e. if you don’t do this by this date then it’s going to cost you this, I haven’t got a sale. So these are the key things to really start driving down deal cycle time because how many salespeople do you know who they’ll spend ages in discovery, numbers of workshops, where they’re just trying to prove they’re the smartest person in the room without understanding what the customer wants to achieve. So just at this point, I’ll try and give a number of little tips on here on what I see is… world according to Julian now Will.

 

“For me, every sale, I go into discovery with this question in my head, what does the QBR look like for my customer six months post signing? Because if I can identify and nail that, then I’m selling to what my customer wants to achieve.” – Julian Reading · [08:50] 

 

Julian Reading:

For me, every sale, I go into discovery with this question in my head, what does the QBR look like for my customer six months post signing? Because if I can identify and nail that, then I’m selling to what my customer wants to achieve because… Hey mate, when I started selling right, my perception of selling was a 100 cold calls before 12 o’clock, made 12 appointments a week and hitting them with as much PowerPoint and discount by Friday and I close as many deals as I can. Well, we both know that that doesn’t work. With MEDDPIC what that does is it drives out that level of behaviour. It drives out that unstructured, just hitting the door down and doing that. Everything you do is an advancement.

 

“If you can understand what your customer’s “good” looks like in six months time, guess what, you’re selling to his perception or her perception of value. And that’s what a customer buys. Customers don’t buy technology, they buy outcomes, I believe.” – Julian Reading · [09:49] 

 

Julian Reading:

So right in discovery you’re thinking about when I signed those deals in that first job, I’d ring a bell. No customer rings a bell when they sign a deal with you, Will, never, never happens. Shows how old I am there. But if you can understand what good looks like in six months time, guess what you’re selling to his perception or her perception of value. And that’s what a customer buys. Customers don’t buy technology, they buy outcomes, I believe.

 

Julian Defines a Practical Deal Inspection Process From a Sales Leadership Perspective and Sales Team Perspective · [10:05] 

 

Will Barron:

So what does practically a deal inspection look like, when we are working with our sales team whether it’s sales manager, sales leader… I guess there’ll be differences between them. Sales managers might look at the vast quantity of deals. Sales leadership might be only involved with higher deal sizes, complex sales, if we’re dealing enterprise to enterprise. So with that said, are we getting on the phone with our team to sit and run through these deals? Are we doing this via Salesforce and then we review the data they’ve already inputted? How do we get this data from our sales reps? And how do we coach them towards the success metrics that you’re working towards there, Julian?

 

Julian Reading:

So I encourage everything to be done by Salesforce because we want to capture it in a CRM but light touch, it’s not war and peace we’re writing here. So in the opportunity screen I’ve built MEDDPIC as a form in a single page and we put the key actions in of metrics and right next to it I have tasks, so we set date based tasks. And I have a structure called SPEED that I use that stands for situation, position, pain, problem, explore, execute and date. It’s a play on a number of methodologies but it fits really well into just looking at the structure of every opportunity. So what that does, “So I’m working with this customer Will, here is their current situation. This is the pain we’re in. This is the problem we’re fixing. This is our position of where we are in the account.”

 

“Sales is all about advancement, not continuation. And so many salespeople get stuck in that continuation loop. And a lot of the times as sales leaders, we’re to blame because we’re not focusing enough time on using our experience to coach our team into driving what is advancement-based activities.” – Julian Reading · [11:55] 

 

Julian Reading:

And you’re going to go right, “Great, Julian, now we’re going to explore.” And explore we go through MEDDPIC so metrics, economic buyer, et cetera. And we agree the key next activities to execute and we put them in date order, so when we come back to the next review, we’ve got a set of advancement activities that we’re reviewing. And guess what the sales guy does? He goes and executes against those key activities. So it turns to the review from being a, “Will is that deal still coming in? ‘Yes, Julian.’ Great Will.” It goes to a structured format where we’re looking at next best action. It hit me years ago, about your sales is all about advancement, not continuation. And so many sales people get stuck in that continuation loop. And a lot of the times as sales leaders, we’re to blame because we’re not focusing enough time on using our experience to coach our team into driving what is advancement based activities?

 

Julian’s Experience Dealing with Sales Reps Who Don’t Know How to Fix Dates For Moving Deals Forward · [12:12]

 

Will Barron:

If we were to do this first time round in an organisation that this has never been done before, there’s a lag time before collecting all this data, doing the coaching, setting dates before we see the results. And then once we receive the results, we have a self-fulfilling feedback loop of success right of, “Oh, this works, so we’ll go do more of it.” What’s your experience dealing with sales reps who are new to this when you say to them, “Hey, we need a date on these three or four things that we need to move the deal forward against.” What’s your experience when they turn around and say, “Well, how do I even set a date? I’ve no idea. I’ve not got the context for that.”

 

“When I’m sat with someone in an early meeting, I ask them, what was the last successful project they worked on and what did it look like? Because as human beings we are more comfortable talking about what we know and it starts to fire mirror neurons.” – Julian Reading · [13:17] 

 

Julian Reading:

Absolutely. Well, this is how the whole you coach through the sales process because I’m not going to send you into a discovery meeting first off, we’ll go, “Right. I want a date to meet the economic buyer, a date-” We don’t do that. I set key activity tasks so, “Right. When you are in discovery here are the key things I want you to do.” Just touching on that for a second, a key thing. The most powerful thing that I’ve done in sales Will and hopefully your audience will love this as well. When I’m sat with someone in an early meeting, I ask them, what was the last successful project they worked on and what did it look like? Because as human beings we are more comfortable with talking about what we know and it starts to find mirror neurons.

 

Julian Reading:

And what you can do is you actually buy licence as a sales person to talk to that successful project, you’ve used spontaneous trait transfer. You’re already saying it’s successful. You’ve been successful in associating them with that. And you can get into the detail of finding out those key pieces. And from that key pieces from discovery, you can then start setting out what are those next best actions and the date to achieve by. There’s clear things like path to funds, if we’re going to sign by the 31st of March, we want everything documented and agreed and signed by the 15th. So there’s clear things that do that, but what I do before implementing it I run a coaching course on it and I get salespeople’s buy-in. Because I can tell you as a salesperson and thousands will back this up on this call, if you’ve used MEDDPIC once you just use it even if your company doesn’t because here’s what it does, it tells you what you don’t know.

 

“Selling is all about retrieving missing information, who is saying the no, for example, a key thing in selling.” – Julian Reading · [14:20] 

 

Julian Reading:

Selling is all about retrieving missing information, who is saying they know, for example, key thing in selling. So you just use it Will and then you start seeing the results. I’ve just coached a fantastic little consultancy company. And we were halfway through the day and they went on a sales call and use MEDDPIC and they got so much out of the one call the guy come back on, he went, “It was just incredible. They told us this, they told us that they agreed to this date.” He went, “We’ve reduced the sales cycle down to this quarter.” What better sales message can you have on a course than that? But it really works.

 

“We’re sales leaders because we have that strategic view of how to close sales business.” – Julian Reading · [15:10] 

 

Julian Reading:

And the structure that it gives you, it gives the sales person more confidence because they’ve got a clear map to success. And when you’ve got that, you build momentum and I’m massive with momentum in selling. But also it forces a bit more accountability on our sales leaders to say this is the right thing for you to be doing now because we’re sales leaders, because we have that strategic view of how to close sales business.

 

Will Barron:

So my experience with a MEDDPIC, MEDDIC whatever, the framework that we’re using, we’ll stick with MEDDPIC in this instance, is this understanding the decision criteria of the buyer. And I found this both for medical device sales and as we now start to sell our training to the enterprise. As we scale up that side of our business, that is the most crucial thing that I find that once we get that down, we can work everything against that. We can suss out dates, we setup timelines, even budget finance, all that is wrapped up in this. We have this three steps process, we go to tender after a certain value, whatever it is. And I also find that when we’re doing coaching they tell me over at Salesman.org, this is the one thing in the medical MEDDPIC acronym that gets under looked.

 

Will Barron:

And it may be for someone who’s less experienced it’s a weird or difficult question to ask the buyer, “Hey, how do you make the decisions?” And for someone more tenured like yourself certainly and less tenured and less experienced but a little bit above tenured and average perhaps myself, I don’t feel bothered about asking it. I guess, it’s unconsciously competent for both of us to be able to ask these questions. So that’s my experience within that framework of the most biggest bang for buck and perhaps more difficult for new salespeople to pick up.

 

Julian Reveals The Most Important Piece of the MEDDPIC Framework That Has The Biggest Impact on The Sales Cycle · [16:31]

 

Will Barron:

Is there any elements of MEDDPIC that you find either counter-intuitively or obviously have the biggest bang for buck from your perspective of we should really… We’re gong to get numbers and dates and everything, but focusing on this one part of it has the biggest impact on the sales cycle.

 

Julian Reading:

For me it’s metrics, it’s understanding what you’re going to be able to do for your customer, what they’re going to be able to achieve, whether it’s above the line, below the line. Is it savings? Is it increasing share value? Is it doing things more effectively? Really understanding what the customer needs to achieve? Because I would propose to you well that every single budget that’s been assigned has an outcome agreed against it now. Gone are the days of giving a bit of money to get the latest, shiny thing.

 

Julian Reading:

If I can just step to the side for a second, what I’ve done with med pick is evolved it based on my own experience, I love the framework and the guys who did it were brilliant. But decision criteria, I use how you described. But also I bring the behavioural element into it because in decision process we should understand the influences across the business. Because we know there’s a minimum of four to six people in the decision-making cycle that we’re selling to minimum and they’ve got influence underneath so we’ve got a lot of coverage to do.

 

Julian Reading:

So with decision criteria, I challenged my team on technical business and personal. So with decision criteria, if you are a CRO, you are completely interested in something else than a CCO or a COO or a CTO. So what we in decision criteria is reframe our solution based on metrics, based on pain, tie in our unique selling value to what our customer’s perception is value by line of business, if that makes sense. So if I’m selling to the CMO I’m going to talk about how we can structure his unstructured data for more targeted mailing and understanding more about the customer journey.

 

“So I challenge each salesperson, what is the decision criteria of everyone in the decision process? Because if you’re not speaking the language of your customer, you are talking at them.” – Julian Reading · [18:26] 

 

Julian Reading:

If I’m selling to the CTO, I’m going to sell him on the industry leading technology we have. If I’m sending to the chief architect I’m going to talk to them about seamless integration and everything we do that fits within those buckets. So I challenge each salesperson, what is the decision criteria of everyone in the decision process? Because if you’re not speaking the language of your customer, you are talking at them.

 

Should Salespeople Target High Ranking Individuals or People With Influence During Sales Negotiations? · [18:37] 

 

Will Barron:

Going back to the premise of this episode, deal inspections, assessing rank and influence, we’re alluding to it now. How do we or which is more important? Influence within an account, rank within an account, when we’re talking about the decision process element of this. Do we need to rank the individuals within in the account that we want to spend most time with, least time with. And how do we frame this up so that we can coach our sales individual contributors to implement what we probably know via experience of that person is an influencer, that person is a deal breaker, they’re going to say yes or no. We know this by experience. How do we document this and coach our team to implement what we knew we should be doing?

 

“The American army have got a great saying that it’s first contact, no plan only survives first contact. And how many salespeople go into an account without a plan.” – Julian Reading · [19:24] 

 

Julian Reading:

Absolutely. Well, you can coach across decision process. So, first of all, well, I’m huge on planning. The American army have got a great saying that it’s first contact, no plan only survives first contact. And how many salespeople go into an account without a plan. Plan out what you want to do. So, first of all, I research the people across decision process. I had a book when I first started selling, now we’ve got this tonne of information. If you’re not signed up for Google alerts, if you haven’t got your social selling game, if you’re not a brand, these are all key things to do. One other thing I do is go back through three years of company reports because I want to find out who’s been responsible for projects, because you’re looking for that consistency of someone that is influencing.

 

“I believe discovery is all about having our customer qualify that we’re the right people to work with.” – Julian Reading · [20:22] 

 

Julian Reading:

Now for me during times of change, influence is higher than rank. And going back to it I had my most successful selling year in 2008 because I didn’t sell a thing. I just consulted. And I understood and I persuaded the influences that I was the right person to work with. And just another quick world according to Julian, I believe discovery is all about having our customer qualify that we’re the right people to work with. And they do that because people buy off people who are like them, like, as in like in terms of business, as in like in terms of values. So as a salesperson map out the key people you need to target and talk to. Understand what their perception of value is, are they left brain or are they right brain? Are they accountants are they visionaries?

 

Julian Reading:

Look for evidence, so look on the web, look at what they’re talking about. Look for interviews. There’s tonnes of stuff on LinkedIn. You have a plethora of information to find out who they are. And design your target engagement strategy based on their perception of value and how you’re going to reframe what you’re selling based on what their objectives are of what they want to achieve. Now, in my scenario I just gave you around the marketing director, et cetera. I’m going to focus my time because it’s more of a technical sell on the COO, CTO and the architect because it’s more… But I’m going to buy the marketing guy and because he’s actually paying for this as well, this is what a lot of salespeople miss, they don’t understand how things are accounted for within a company. So if I’m running marketing, a big portion of my budget is going to IT.

 

Julian Reading:

So I want value out of it and how many marketeers do you get on here that go, “Do you know what, Will, I get massive value out of my it department.” And they don’t because they don’t talk. Our job is to make everyone look good as well. So that’s a key thing with the decision process side of things. So just wrapping that all back, identify the key people you want to talk to, understand, look at their history, go on LinkedIn, look at three years of reports. Who’s been achieving what? Who’s the key influencers? Who’s been known for delivery? And they’re the ones we want to target spending the most time with. And also remember back to my original question, tell me about the last successful project.

 

Julian Reading:

You’ll be able to understand the influences for there because your looking… the key piece you’re looking for is what coverage any person has across multiple lines of business. You must’ve have sold to them, I know your space relatively well, sold to… Relatively, well, hardly. Boehringer Ingelheim, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and there were certain people that just have reach across all business units. Best procurement guy I ever worked with who completely annihilated me, Will, completely annihilated me. He worked at GlaxoSmithKline, he had reach across the whole business across every single business they had. So he had huge influence. He’s rank was just… he’s a procurement officer.

 

Will Barron:

I’ve had that exact experience you describing selling to the NHS here in the UK, where there’ll be kind of saying this lightly here, the conversation will makes sense in a second. But they’ll be a lonely theatre manager who will have control of essentially indirectly millions of pounds in budgets for operating room, upgrades, servicer contracts, whatever it is, all because and I’m thinking of one local hospital to me here. Essentially, he had indirect access to all of this budget because he worked in the hospital from when he was 16 to when he was in his 50s now.

 

Will Barron:

He’d been in nursing so he’s got that clinical experience, he’s now in the theatre management slash procurement side of things. And so the surgeons will just go, “Hey, speak to that dude. He will solve all my problems and I will get new shiny toys.” Procurement go, “Hey, we trust this individual not to screw us over, not to waste our time.” And they’re the ones with the actual purse string in the budgets. And then even the CFO is meeting with this guy on a personal level, because they both play golf together. So you get this one individual on board, forget the surgeon, forget procurement, forget the CFO, who obviously come in and just botch the whole project if they choose to.

 

Tapping Into Sales Leadership Experience to Understand How to Spot The Most Influential People in a Deal · [23:50] 

 

Will Barron:

This one individual was in control of all of that. So we would send him basically to Germany to do different trainings and go on piss ups with some of the surgical team as well. And he just totally bought in, would only buy our brand would not touch anyone else. And that was from before I joined the company to when I was in the company to I’m sure right now continuing on from that all from the influence of one individual who is ranked lower.

 

Will Barron:

So if we were doing this and we didn’t have that insight and we were doing this just on a spreadsheet or something like that without coaching from leadership who knew this fact, because they had dealt with that individual over the years as well, we could have got all of this wrong. And so it’s only from having a framework and having the value add from leadership, adding their own insights from working these accounts when they were in sales. Many decades ago all this comes together, which is the whole point.

 

Julian Reading:

Absolutely. And if I could just tell you a really quick story, it’s relatively amusing. I signed a $9 million deal with a UK bank and I found out early on using my question, what the last successful project looked like, but the CEO was in charge of all decisions, everything was decided by him. And I’ll bet there’s a number of people in your podcasts going it’s that bank, because when I tell the story they all know. I found out that his PA had worked with him for the past 27 years. And I always embrace everybody I meet in an account, positively do my best programme, remember their name, be a good person. And her name was Julia Kennedy and she had all these pictures of bulldogs on her desk. She had bulldogs, I have dogs and stuff, I love dogs. And I bought her a Churchill nodding dog.

 

Julian Reading:

And as I was having a meeting with the CEO, I dropped it on her desk, I said, “I bought you a little something. I’m a huge dog fan. I hope you don’t mind.” And she was blown away by it. There were nine decision makers in the whole decision thing. Eight of them said, no, one of them said, yes, the CEO of the back off the back of Julia saying, “I like Julian. I wanted to work with him.’ Because he trusted her and the character of the person and he used to get her to speak to all the salespeople. The ones that would ignore her, they never had a chance. The ones who had talked down to her, they never had the chance. The ones that engage her and talked to her would buy her trust and buy the deal without even knowing it.

 

Julian Reading:

So you talk about rank versus influence, that was massive. And it’d be great if it was like that in every account, just buy a Churchill nodding dog and win a multi-million dollar deal, it’s not. But it just talks to this value of reading discovery, finding out who the influencers are in any account because it’s not always at rank. Rank’s important, but it’s not always and especially during times of change because this is when people go to their A-players, the ones that are known for delivery, the ones that are given all the… they’re the ones that come to the fore because everything has to have an outcome for sure.

 

Will Barron:

There’s a separate side conversation here about the ability to build rapport before we me and you could record it we were talking about cars. You just mentioned dogs there and we’ve just got a new golden retriever puppy, he’s 15 weeks. So we could probably spin off and talk about dogs and puppies. And that allows us to have a… see, it’s a very human thing. And it’s difficult to capture some of this in reporting in conversations, but when you’re sat down with your sales team you can coach them with this, I think that’s valuable.

 

Comparing the Value in Having a Selling Plan to Hitting Goals · [27:28]

 

Will Barron:

Now that’s one angle we can go out. I want to go at a slightly different angle here. And I think you’ll enjoy this part of the conversation. We’ll wrap up with this Julian and that is, and I’m going to leave this open-ended I know you listened to the show or you have listened to the show, so you might know my thoughts on this. But the process of just putting a plan in place I feel has more value than what it seems.

 

Will Barron:

Now, some people might say, “It’s the law of attraction. You put something out to the universe or you put a firm date on it and you’re more likely to achieve it. The universe is going to give you what you give back.” I think all that is bullocks. But what I do believe is that if you put something into place, your brain whether it’s your subconscious, your reticular activating system, whatever it is, goes, “Okay, we’re moving towards this.” And you notice things, you are more optimistic, you will spot opportunities versus if you don’t have a plan. So with that said and you can give me your feedback on what I just alluded to and proved there in a second Julian. But with that in place, how much value is there just to putting a plan on the table? Is there more value in that for hitting goals and crushing targets, putting a plan in place even if it’s a terrible plan just because it gives us some alignment, is there value in that alone?

 

Julian Reading:

Absolutely. 100%. It’s a statement for me of how you’re going to play the game. No coach of a football team’s going to go, “Just watch us play. Just go and play.” Everything has to be planned. It’s something I wish I’d found out earlier in my career. Now, if I can just very quickly here and we talked about cars. When I got my first big job at Siebel Systems back in 1999, they are a CRM company bought by Oracle. I went out with their top sales guy in my first week and I had a red 316 BMW, I had BBS alloys on it, I’m the man here. I come off seven 30 grand deals in my last place. And I’m actually going in and I’m thinking, “I can help this guy, I might be able to give him some tips on what I did and see where I can help him.”

 

Julian Reading:

Anyway, so I’m sat in this car it’s worth about 2000 pounds, about $2 5000. This 100,000 black S600 AMG Mercedes turns in. It’s Andy, parks next to me, beckons me over. Will, I opened the door to be hit by leather and sit in a seat that was just made for me and no one else. And I was sitting there all comfortable and looking at this beautiful car. And anyway this is 1999. And Andy pulls out this big map, unfolds this huge map Will, and in it every single person across the organisation, ranking all their influence. What his conversation strategy is, what words he used, what language, what elements he’s going to position, what his target activities were, everything had… It was this massive map and he’s going right, “Julian listen over here we’re doing this, this, this, this. This person, don’t mention this, this person influence-“

 

Julian Reading:

And he’s talking to me all through it. And Will I looked at him and I thought, “Wow, what a waste of time. What a waste of time.” And then I looked at my BMW. I looked at his Mercedes. I looked at his BMW… I looked at his Mercedes and I said, “Julian, you’re an idiot.” And a light went off in my head like that. Everything has to be planned. And this guy owns a castle in Scotland, multi-millionaire, genius sales guy. But he says himself, he wasn’t ever the best salesperson but he planned everything. Everything was an advancement, going back to two things we know in life.

 

Will Barron:

I had a similar experience and probably slightly [inaudible [00:30:42], you know why this Nissan GTR is on my table. I rocked up, I just picked up my brand new BMW three series estate, custom alloys and stuff on it. Similarly, in my last sales job I thought I was the bee’s knees, it’s probably like 35 grands worth of car. Well, the organisation just bought another company, a smaller company that fitted out operating rooms. And this was the chief managing director or the managing director of that organisation that’s just been purchased.

 

Will Barron:

He rocks up in a brand new, they’d just come out, R35 Nissan GTR. And I had a similar kind of, “Maybe there’s different levels to this game.” I thought I was doing okay. This dude just sold a company rocks up in his Nissan GTR and just waltz’ across the place and all the sales reps going, “Freaking hell look at that badass.” And then the actual managing director of the large organisation rocks up in a very similar to what we had BMW.

 

Will Barron:

So there’s clearly multiple levels and there’s concepts here of not showing up and showing off in front of your own team kind of thing, which this fellow was clearly trying to do to get some attention. But with that said, I had a similar kind of moment of, “Maybe I need to just model what this person’s doing. Maybe I need to follow in success’ footsteps as opposed to reinvent the wheel.” And that’s what I did. Start a business and that side of things, while still selling and adding value to this marketplace I know and enjoy. And I’ve spoken to that guy since and he basically said, “Carry on doing what you doing and eventually we’ll be meeting in the middle with what we’re aiming for.”

 

Do Sales Leaders Overcomplicate the Road to Sales Success? · [32:13] 

 

Will Barron:

But with that said, is that the solution for a lot of this, get your sales team to just do what successful salespeople do. And successful salespeople have a process, they use a model, either the same as yours or similar to what you’re providing here Julian. I don’t want to say it’s as simple as that but do we over-complicate some of this?

 

Julian Reading:

We do because we go in without a plan, it’s what I said about the army. No plan only survives first contact. Now everyone listening to this call, I always say, “I can’t teach you sell. You’re salespeople, you can sell, this is what we do.” Now imagine if you have a plan to do it, if we’re taking all those skills and we’re organising them in the right order and everything you’re going to do to execute, think how much more you’re going to sell. Because you’re going to reduce your deal cycle time because you’re going to know what you’re doing on a daily basis.

 

Julian Reading:

Now, when I was quota-carrying every Sunday night I’d review my week’s activity and here’s a challenge for every single sales person who’s listening. What you’re going to do with your 50 hours next week. You’ve got 50 hours of selling what you’re doing with it? How are you going to account for it? Think of it like being an accountant. And that’s why my time is my money. The greatest thing that Andy did for me, the sales guy, he gave me the gift of curiosity, because that made me curious. I was like, “I don’t know. I’m no good at this. These guys are in a different league. I’ve got to find out more.”

 

“If you can bring a planning to everything you’ve got to do every single day, just watch your sales number rocket.” – Julian Reading · [33:53] 

 

Julian Reading:

And that set me off on a near 16 year pursuit of understanding what good looks like, what great salespeople look like, what do great salespeople… in fact, in my book, I’ve got a 10 habits of successful salespeople that I’ve mapped over the years. But the key one is that just giving yourself the gift of curiosity. And if you can bring a planning to everything you’ve got to do every single day, just watch your sales number rocket. One of the proudest things I always say is that I always get salespeople on performance improvement plans. One guy I’ve just coached in the UK now, this time last year was being fired. He’s top sales guy in the world this year out of the UK. And it’s one of my proudest ever achievements and I’ve got a number like this and all it was, was putting together a plan. Understanding what we do and especially why I love MEDPPIC is off the basis of what I told you about with behaviours. Because with that research, with that planning, understanding how you execute, everything psychological is biological, everything that we talk about releases chemical reactions in people.

 

“Great salespeople are persuaders. They close from discovery with date-driven selling and there are persuaders and they get everyone to buy into their message.” – Julian Reading · [34:55] 

 

Julian Reading:

And the more that we can be like them, the more we’re going to sell. So imagine this, if you’re not planning it, think how powerful it’s going to be if you plan out how you’re going to connect your whole room, what language you’re going to use, if you’ve researched them all, if you could refer to things in their past. I believe massively in the art of persuasion Will. Obviously, it’s a podcast for another day but great salespeople are persuaders. They close from discovery with date driven selling and there are persuaders and they get everyone to buy into their message.

 

Parting Thoughts: Julians Book and How to Reach Out to Him · [35:05] 

 

Will Barron:

Love it. Well, we’ll have you back on to talk about persuasion in the not too distant future. I have enjoyed this conversation, Julian. And with that, mate, tell us where we can find your book and where we can find more about you and the services that you’re offering as well.

 

Julian Reading:

Yes. So my book is available on Amazon. All the profits are going to a local children’s hospice here, which I’m super proud of. My book I’m passionate about and I’ve written it for salespeople Will because it’s only a 100 and a bit pages long. Every single chapter, you can dip in dip out of, there’s an exercise at the end of it because all I’m doing is adding to your skills, I can’t teach you how to sell. You can reach me via my website, which is salesjourney.co.uk or connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m hugely social so please do connect with me on LinkedIn. Always available for help and advice. You’ve probably guessed I’m a pretty passionate guy and I love talking about sales. I love helping people so please do reach out and connect with me.

 

Will Barron:

The passion, the expertise, genuinely I would not BS you comes across, especially on an interview. Especially, where I speak to so many people, it really does come across Julian. We’ll link to everything mentioned in the show notes of this episode over at salesleadership.org. And with that Julian, I want to thank you again for your time and for joining us on the Sales leadership Show.

 

Julian Reading:

It was such an honour. Thank you so much for inviting me. I enjoyed it tremendously. Thank you Will.

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