You’re Doing Sales Qualification Wrong…

In this episode of the Salesman Podcast, Andy Whyte explains what salespeople commonly get wrong about sales qualification. Andy is the founder of MEDDICC.com and the author of “MEDDICC’ the book.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Andy Whyte
Author of MEDDICC

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Hi, my name is Will, and welcome to today’s episode of the Salesman Podcast. On today’s episode we’re looking at what salespeople get wrong about sales qualification. Our guest is Andy Whyte. Andy is the founder of medic.com and author of MEDDICC the book. Andy has been on the show before. He’s a legend. I’m excited to speak with you. Andy, welcome back to the show.

 

Andy Whyte:

I thank you so so much. Well, it’s great to be back on the show once again. I had so much great feedback from people who were your audience from last time. So it was a joy to be invited back on. Thank you very much.

 

What is Sales Qualification? · [00:36] 

 

Will Barron:

You are more than welcome. I’m glad to hear that feedback. So let’s not mess around. Give us, if you can, a definition, a one line of what sales qualification is. The audience should know this, but just in case they don’t and then we’re going to get into what people are getting wrong in this space.

 

“For me, qualification is about identifying with your prospect, with your prospective customer whether there is enough value that you can provide to them, whether they have enough pain or goals they’re striving to achieve that your solution can help them to achieve. If the value in that is large enough for it to be worth your while and their while, that is for me what qualification is all about.” – Andy Whyte · [00:57] 

 

Andy Whyte:

It’s a big question because I think as you kind of hinted there, people get this wrong a lot and I think there’s a few reasons for that, which we can definitely get into. But for me what qualification is, is about identifying with your prospect, with your prospective customer whether there is enough value that you can provide to them, whether they have enough pain or goals they’re striving to achieve that your solution can help them to achieve.

 

Andy Whyte:

If the value in that is large enough for it to be worth your while and there while because we’re asking them to invest their time, their energy, their expertise, just as much as we’re asking ourselves to invest with them, is there enough value in that to make it worth my while and the customer’s world? That is for me what qualification is all about.

 

“Sales, when done correctly, should be in exchange of value between a salesperson and a buyer.” – Will Barron · [01:44] 

 

Will Barron:

Do you blow people’s minds when you frame it up that, Andy, of sales went done correctly should be in exchange of value between a salesperson and a buyer, right? It should be an adult conversation. And if we’re in a position where we’ve got to suck up to potential customers as salespeople we ever sell in a crappy product, we’ve approached the conversation the wrong way from the outset or they’re just not qualified. Do you find the people go like a light bulb clicks on when you frame it up that we’re exchanging value and solving a pain as opposed to just talking to features and benefits?

 

Andy Whyte:

Yeah. I do. But I think it’s one of those things that seems very obvious when you say it, but when people are actually in the moment it’s less visible to them for them to see it. And if you think about what you just described there as a sort of the negative approach that we have in our industry, where we frequently have where we are almost apologetic for being salespeople, when we approach sales with that mindset of thank you very much for your time, it’s a great pleasure to meet you, I’ll be very, very brief or get into it, all that kind of mindset, but that reverberates with the customer and then they therefore perceive you that way.

 

“When you engage with a customer almost apologetically, they straight away subconsciously or consciously sort of lower their perception of the value that you are going to bring to the table. Because the opposite of that is if you go into a conversation and you stand firm, you stand tall because you know your solution has tremendous value to offer, then you are going to make the customer feel like, wow, this person is really here to talk value.” – Andy Whyte · [03:02] 

 

Andy Whyte:

So even if they were like, great, I’m really excited to meet Will today. I’ve heard great things about his company. My friend actually has worked with Will before. You may not know this. And so when you engage with the customer that way almost apologetic, they straight away sort of in subconsciously or consciously sort of lower their perception of the value that you are going to bring to the table because the opposite to that is if you go into a conversation and you stand firm, you stand tall because you know your solution has tremendous value to offer.

 

Andy Whyte:

You shouldn’t be working for the company you’re working for if you don’t genuinely believe that. And so you go into the conversation with a mindset of, I have tremendous value to offer this customer. I think, I mean, I’ve still got to qualify this, but based on my product market fit in the sector based on the references I have, based on the great feedback I have from my customers, now I have genuine values off this customer. So I’m going to engage based on that confidence.

 

Andy Whyte:

And here’s the really good bit is if that customer doesn’t see that, then I want to also give the impression of, well, if you are not prepared to end to into, as you said very eloquently, a value exchange with me then I’ve got 10 other customers queuing up to talk to me because my solution is that good. That is all in a mindset for me. And I think that’s very, very important, but it’s also very infectious.

 

Andy Whyte:

If you go into conversations that way then you are going to make the customer feel like, wow, this person is really here to talk value. They’re really here to talk business. I believe that they must have some value to offer me. And so it’s sort of almost like a fork in the road and you can go down to one way of being apologetic being very, very confident.

 

Will Barron:

I think the clichéd way to frame this up is perhaps you go into the conversation as a consultant and it’s a consultative sound. We’ve all heard this, but it doesn’t really mean anything. And I’ve found this that’s not necessarily the most practical way to look at it. Something that I teach over at some municipal academy and something that I do literally on calls every single day is I will start the conversation, do a bit of small talk, 10, 20 seconds then I’ll use this line.

 

Will Barron:

Hey, this is how this call usually goes, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then explain how these calls usually go. And you typically get most people go, great. And then they fall into the conversation and the questions that you want to ask. Sometimes people go, oh, I don’t care. I just want to ask about this or just tell me your pricing, or I’m ready to go in which case I’ll go, oh, great. Well, the way that these calls usually go is that we go blah, blah, blah and go through it again.

 

Will Barron:

And I find that’s a real practical way of implementing this, I guess, strategic consultative approach to sales calls specifically. It’s more difficult to do that over an email. It’s very easy to do that in person. But I like to frame it up that you want to be the doctor. And we’ll go through this with qualification in a second. You sit there, you’re not judgmental, you’re asking intelligent questions, you’re hopefully making the prospect think a layer deeper than what they have done in the past as you do question them, and they’re hopefully getting value from the conversation because you’re perhaps uncovering what their real needs are.

 

The Consultative Selling Approach · [05:58]

 

Will Barron:

You’re uncovering they think they want this solution, but you know with your insights that there’s a better solution in the market for them. It may be with your company. It may be with another company, but when you go into a conversation using that line, hey, this is the way these calls usually go and then you dive into outlining what the call goes like and then you frame it up in your own mind that you’re a doctor, you’re here to understand the patient and then prescribe them a solution, I find that that really gets that consultative approach really practically nailed on people’s heads.

 

Andy Whyte:

Yeah. I love the way you said that and I’ll probably be stealing your line there a little bit actually. Well, I like it a lot. Don’t you think it’s funny or don’t you find that I think everybody understands what you said there about the consultative approach? I think we buy into that. I think in our industry we understand the value, for want of a better word, of the consultative approach. But we also I think where we get it wrong in our industry is we disassociate being the consultative approach from selling.

 

Andy Whyte:

And what I mean by that and the best way I can articulate this is if you think of a typical LinkedIn salesperson’s title these days, if they’re not calling themselves an account executive or whatever their actual job role on their job description is, they tend to sort of come up with titles that try to give the illusion that they’re a consultant rather than a salesperson. And they’re not doing that from the basis of I’m here to be a consultative approach, or maybe they are a little bit, but they’re trying to disassociate themselves from sales.

 

Andy Whyte:

And I always think that’s funny because I always laugh because I think, well, what’s going to happen? You’re going to get into what is in my industry of technology sales an average sort of anything like a three to a six month average sales cycle. You’re going to get sort of five, six months in and sort just sneaky slide an order form across the desk and the customer picks up and goes, what? You’re a salesperson. I thought you were here to give me some free consulting. Well, you got me, so I better sign sort of thing.

 

Andy Whyte:

It’s staffed. Whereas the best salespeople, I’m sure if people reflect for a second the best salesperson they’ve ever worked with. And then if you stop thinking about yourself because salespeople we always think we are the best salespeople ever. So then maybe the second best salesperson you’ve ever worked with what you’ll find with that person it’s a lot of behaviours in my opinion and when I talk to people about this, which are things they’re the first person to say they’re a salesperson.

 

Andy Whyte:

They’re the first person to kind of qualify out if they don’t think the opportunity is there for them. And so there’s a real correlation in my experience about the very best salespeople who are the ones that orientate closest to being salespeople and approaching their job as a salesperson.

 

Will Barron:

I think it’s simple than that, Andy. I think this is just a big gap between used car salespeople that we don’t want to be associated with and obviously there’s some great used car salespeople what’s the stereotype but we’re going to lean into the stereotype because it makes us feel good in this scenario and then there’s actual salespeople. So me who sells medical devices could not go to a surgeon and use weird used car salesperson close ended closing questions and things like that because they’re just say get out the operating room, never come back and that’s it.

 

Will Barron:

You’ve just lost a multimillion pound account. Even with, I don’t typically sell the one on one training that we do salesman.org anymore, but I do most of the kind of 10 to 100 seat enterprise and large business deals and training that we do. Even with those individuals, a lot of them listen to the podcast. They tune into our concept. They’re a fan of me in the training. They’re already halfway there to get the deal done. It’s just some of the kind of steps of MEDDICC and MEDDPICC of the logistics and things that we need to get sorted to make the deal happen and to qualify them on the call.

 

Will Barron:

Even those people, I can’t use all this weird old school sales on them because they’re just going to hang up the phone and be like, that dude was two-faced. He said one thing on the podcast and then tried to do another thing with me.

 

Will Barron:

I think it’s as simple as Andy, you’ve got actual sales, which is what we’re talking about here, which is understanding your marketplace, getting in front of the right people, doing a qualifying discovery call, understanding where the buy is, where they want to be, maybe stretching that out a little bit and adding a layer of emotion and really emphasising the pain and helping them understand that the pain they’re in, getting them through the blockers, wherever that be the status quo, the risk of change, things like that, and getting them from one side to the other.

 

Stepping Into The Acceptable Sales Landscape · [10:33] 

 

Will Barron:

That’s what sales is. But that word sales is on the gulf of the kind of sales landscape is someone selling used cars or someone selling TVs in PC world. And I think the same word as you to describe two totally different industries and hopefully our audience right now are in the kind of the far side, the large deal size enterprise, medium size company, that side of things. So is that fair to say?

 

Andy Whyte:

Yeah. I think that’s very fair to say. As a former double glazing salesman I have to defend my peers in that industry and say that some of the best lessons I ever learned in sales that I still use today will learn double glazing selling, honestly. And people are probably wondering what those things are. If I expand on what those things, what they are, it’s very similar to how when I look at some of the most successful salespeople I’ve ever hired have been, they’ve been former recruiters.

 

Andy Whyte:

And I think there’s a lot to be said for the craft of sales, but there’s also a lot to be said for the graft of sales. And I think that those types of industries where they really make you learn very early on that there’s a lot of art to sales, but there’s also a lot of the numbers game involved as well. And so I have a certain fondness for people operating at the sort of the less respected end of sales.

 

Andy Whyte:

And as someone that really struggled to get into B2B sales from that world I would implore anyone that meets somebody who’s in that world and you’re thinking about hiring them and you’re looking at all their characteristics and you’re thinking this seems like a really high potential person, but I’m a bit put off because they don’t have that experience of B2B. I know we’re digressing here, but I’ll say take a chance on that person.

 

Will Barron:

Well, I think that’s easily solved of, Andy, if you got a call with me in a job interview, you’re obviously not an idiot. You’re obviously not, again, the stereotype that was leaning into there. And so if you’ve got the traits of someone who’s willing to put in the work, who understands the numbers, who isn’t fearful of rejection, you’ve done the hard bit. That’s all the mental game.

 

“Anyone can read a book, anyone can memorise some stuff, but if you’re not the person who can implement it, then it’s all for waste.” – Will Barron · [13:13] 

 

Will Barron:

That’s becoming the person who can implement all of the modern tactics and what we’re going to talk about in a second, Medic, all the modern tactics and frameworks and procedures of a successful B2B salesperson. The hardest bit is becoming the person who can do the job. Anyone can read a book, anyone can memorise some stuff, but if you’re not the person who can implement it, then it’s all for waste.

 

Andy Whyte:

Yes. I agree with that spot on

 

The Things Salespeople Get Wrong About Qualification · [13:22] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. Let’s bring things back to the premise of the show because we’ve digressed and that’s great. We can digress some more in a second, but what do salespeople get wrong about sales qualification? It’s the one or two things, Andy, that people you see just getting wrong over and over and time and time again.

 

Andy Whyte:

Yeah. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because I think it comes down to this. If I said the right way of qualifying is to identify if there’s value for the customer and for ourselves that is there that it’s worth exploring, another way of putting it. I think the way that people get qualification wrong is they approach the opportunity based on the perspective of, is there an opportunity here for me? Is there a deal here for me? And if you think about kind of traditional qualification framework, something like BANT, for example, which I’m not going to criticise BANT, it has a place.

 

Andy Whyte:

I wouldn’t say you could have it broadly as your qualification framework, but if you think about how that works, you approach a customer and you say, hey, do you have budget? Do you have authority? Do you need what I’m selling and do you know the timing in which you’re going to buy it? And if you think about that and if you think back a decade ago, two decades ago, there wasn’t that much on offer to customers, particularly in my space of technology sales.

 

Andy Whyte:

You kind of just had a few different pillars, if you like. You had ERP, which actually covered probably five or six different categories that have broken out of it. You have CRM, you didn’t even necessarily have marketing software. So generally what was happening when a customer approached you, they a good understanding of whether they needed what you’re selling or not. Nowadays I think there’s something 10,000 marketing technology companies. There’s something like 1,000 new SaaS companies a week.

 

Andy Whyte:

And so the chances of when you approach the customer them really understanding whether they need your solution and therefore whether they even have budget for it or the authority to buy it is quite unlikely. You are narrowing yourself in with that approach for people that are very, very well informed of which, of course, there are customers out there that do approach you well informed, but that’s the RFP track. That’s the inbound track. And we know in sales now so much revenue is driven out bound.

 

Andy Whyte:

So much revenue is driven by ingenuity at the top of the funnel, whether it be an SDR, BDR, doing something wonderful to capture somebody’s attention who’s had 10 other people try to get their attention that day. Whether it’s somebody boldly approaching someone an event, or whether it’s a marketing team with a brilliant campaign, whatever it is, those things, those little sparks of ingenuity that we need now to get the attention of our prospects in so many cases.

 

“Giving medicine without diagnosis in healthcare is malpractice. But we so often do that in sales when we approach the customer who doesn’t probably know much about what we do and saying, “Do you need what we do?” And their answer is either no or they’re going to not fully understand your full value and you’re not going to get into a really good conversation based on that.” – Andy Whyte · [16:51]

 

Andy Whyte:

If we then take that spark of ingenuity and then say, hey, we caught your interest with something we do, it might have even been a strap line, it might have been a screenshot of a dashboard, if we then go, do you need that and have you got the budget for that? Then we’re not going to get a very positive outcome, I don’t think. And if we do we haven’t even got to what the problem is. And I think you talked about the medical industry and that kind of classic line that we all know and love in sales, which is giving medicine without diagnosis in healthcare is malpractice.

 

Andy Whyte:

But we so often do that in sales when we approach solution first and that’s kind of what we are doing when we qualify on that basis. We’re approaching the customer who doesn’t probably know much about what we do and saying, do you need what we do? And their answers is either no or they’re going to not fully understand your full value and you’re not going to get into a really good conversation based on that.

 

The Primary Role the Salesman of the Future Will Play · [17:17] 

 

Will Barron:

Is this a lack of understanding our buyers’ journeys in that if we are replying to RFPs, well, we’ve probably already lost a deal because a salesperson has probably helped the buyer create the RFP and that buyer is going to be informed. They’ve done their own research. We all know these statistics that the salespeople are getting involved further and further back in the buying journey.

 

Will Barron:

Maybe bounce more appropriate in that kind of environment as you kind of outline, going back to Medic, is this more appropriate when we are proactively trying to spark and help the buyer understand the pain point that they may have so we’re not reliant on them having gone through tonnes of content, tonnes of conversations with other salespeople before they get to us? We’re not necessarily engineering the pain, but highlighting the pain, which is the role of a consultant, which ties us back to the beginning of the conversation. Is that where we should be going with this so that we can then educate the buyer through their buying journey?

 

Will Barron:

We have our own content, we have our own conversations, we have our own insights. So then obviously the far side of this, the far more likely to sanity of course than our competitor. Is that the future of all of this, of lead generation to a buyer? Hey, well, if you discover this problem yourself, you’re going to do all this research, you’re going to come out of it maybe with a solution one side, but give me five minutes now. I’ll see if you’ve got the problem, I’ll see if we can help and I’ll guide you through the process towards the end of the sale and in a consultative role instead. Is that what the future of this looks like?

 

Andy Whyte:

Yeah. I think it comes back to a number of things that we know are really, really important. And we all buy into things like the challenge yourself, for example, of kind of thought leadership and it is said a lot that customers are much, much more informed these days than they were because of analysts, because of reviews sites, because of peer reviews, because of better websites, better mediums like YouTube for finding things out. And I think that’s all fair, but I do think it does miss out on the big, big, big opportunity that is there, that elite salespeople I see regularly grab hold of.

 

Andy Whyte:

This is the kind of thing that those elite salespeople will hate me for saying. It’s one of those things that’s dead obvious though. So I think that people probably should use it more, but it’s the idea of influencing the customer towards your strengths of your solution. And in a MEDDPICC context, this full into the decision criteria and typically people when they think of the decision criteria, they think about it in a manner of approaching the customer and understanding what the criteria is in which they’re going to base their decision.

 

Andy Whyte:

And so that’s fine if it’s an RFP and they’ve put a lot of thought or hired an analyst or a consultant to build the RFP for them in a good situation. Like you said earlier, often it’s written by your competitor. It’s fine if they’ve already got this really sort of well set out decision criteria to try and adapt your solution to suit that. Of course, you’re still going to want to try and influence it towards your strengths as well.

 

“What elite salespeople do differently is they approach every single conversation with a very clear set of decision criteria that they want to influence the customer towards. So there’ll be things that they know that their solution does differently or better than the alternatives on the market and they’ll be trying to influence the customer to understand the value of needing those things.” – Andy Whyte · [20:32] 

 

Andy Whyte:

But what that really misses out on is the huge opportunity that exists to be seen as a thought leader, your customer and what elite salespeople do is they will approach every single conversation with a very clear set of decision criteria that they want to influence the customer towards. So there’ll be things that they know that their solution does differently or better than the alternatives on the market and they’ll be trying to influence the customer to understand the value of needing those things.

 

Andy Whyte:

So it therefore becomes part of the customer’s decision criteria and therefore they’ve differentiated their solution and they’re kind of almost put it onto the requirements without even almost the customer realising that it’s unique to them. That sets them up beautifully for defending and differentiating themselves further on in the sales cycle where other competitors come in and try and say they do the same thing. The customer can ask, well, do you do it like this? And hopefully if you set it up properly the customers should really understand the value and how you do it differently or better.

 

Andy Whyte:

I’ll give you an example of where this happened for me recently. I was looking to hire a particular company a vendor to do something for me. And in the very first conversation the first vendor we spoke to said, oh, from everything you’ve told us you really should have this thing, three letter acronym thing. And I was like, oh, I hadn’t thought about that. I knew about it, but I hadn’t considered it for this project. And so all of a sudden from that point on they did a great job of explaining why it was valuable to me.

 

Andy Whyte:

I was like, yes, I absolutely need that thing. Every single vendor I met thereafter, I didn’t even mention it to them that I was looking for that thing unless I really liked them and I wanted to give them the chance to show that they could do it because I felt if I go and say, hey, do you do this three letter acronym thing everyone go, oh, we do that. So I was almost holding it back and keeping it to myself. It’s almost like a test for the vendor I was going to pick. And it turned out that I didn’t pick the first vendor, but I would’ve picked them.

 

Andy Whyte:

It was just that their model was not right, but if everything else would’ve been right with them they would’ve won that deal, hands down, no question about it even if others could do what they said as well as them because they were the ones that planted the seed. They were ones that maybe think they’re really, really thinking ahead on this stuff. And I think that’s a really big thing. We’re trying to buy some community software right now and every company website we go on has the buyer’s guide, the RFP primer, the comparison site, the 10 things you need to consider buying community software, all that sort of stuff.

 

Andy Whyte:

And we’ve had to build a spreadsheet of decision criteria, things that we think we need and there’s a few things on there that the companies have done well where they’ve kind of differentiated themselves and they’ve kind of put themselves strongly early on, but to your point, this is all happening before I’ve actually spoke to a salesperson.

 

Andy Whyte:

Now, if I actually got onto the phone to one of these people and they really understood what we were trying to do early on and then were able to sort of influence me then I am so easy. I don’t know if it’s just me, whether it’s a salesperson thing, but I feel like I’m very easy to sell to if you kind of understand my needs and adapt your solution to fit it.

 

Will Barron:

I do this all of the time, Andy, and I’ll just be straight about it. We just want to deal over Sandler. And what we do different over at salesmans.org and our training programme is online training programme, it’s killing, it’s great and it’s been updated. I think it’s Version 4 or 5 now that we’re on and it’s effective. But what I found, this is just before Christmas we started experimenting with this, is that if I just jump on at least one call with everyone who signs up, just having done now hundreds and thousands of these calls and all these podcast apps, I’m pretty good.

 

Will Barron:

I’m not a genius or anything, just pattern recognition. I’m pretty good at spotting the 10%, 20% of things that typically make 89% of the difference. So I can say, hey, you’re just sending this one crappy email. Why is that email going out? Stop doing that. And immediately everything else improved later on down the sales cycle. Whatever it is, there’s multiple things. You’d be able to do this as well duping on these consulting calls. So I really emphasise when we’re selling against competitors, whoever that be.

 

Will Barron:

And we are the kind of baby in the room versus the beasts of Sandler and challenges sale by Gartner and all these large organisations, corporate organisations. They’re all great companies and I’ve had people from all of these organisations on the podcast in the past. So it’s a pleasure to compete against them, but I always double down on this idea that you’re going to get me on an hour call, depending on what type of training package you sign up for your team and I’ll sit there and listen to them and give them noble share outside perspective insights on what they’re doing.

 

Will Barron:

Now, maybe consultants do this, small businesses individuals who do sales training, but no large corporate that I’m aware of does this. They’ll do a group class or they’ll do a mixture of one thing or another, but you’re just getting some random sales trainer. You’re not getting the person that you’re speaking to, the person that you’re consuming the content of. I said, we just won this deal against Sandler, is 100 odd seats, pretty good deal for us, nice kind of large deal size for our organisation.

 

Will Barron:

It might be like a pile sales. It might be pile number of seats for their organisation. I have no idea, but nice little deal for us this month. On the back of they’re like, well, can you do some one-on-ones because that’s what salesman.org are going to do and they just refused to include it no matter what the price. So we charged way more than what they did, but I influenced the customer and rightly so in that these one-on-one sessions, quick 45 minute call has tremendous value and they bought into that idea. They’re going to see the benefits of it.

 

Selling Success Often Comes Down to Focusing on Your Strengths and Making That Your Differentiator · [26:32] 

 

Will Barron:

And that one was a deal against a larger more established company. So this is out the realm for anyone to do. You just got to source out what your strengths are, how you can implement it. And if there’s any value that you as a salesperson can add on top of this as well because there’s a lot of salespeople out there have a lot of insights and ability to consult and maybe a few phone calls, maybe an onboarding call or something might be valuable for your customers.

 

Andy Whyte:

Yeah. And I bet the beautiful thing about that was, I guess it’s why you were using it as an example is the one-to-one, the one-on-one, sorry, were not necessarily something you led with. It was you had identified, hang on a minute, there’s something that I have in my offering that seems to be particularly important to this customer therefore I’m going to double down on those things.

 

Andy Whyte:

And what t I’m sure you did and what really elite salespeople do in those situations when they identify they have differentiation, is they almost, well, the best case I ever see of it is they wrap the deal up where it’s almost takes entirely around that thing. It’s like, we’re going to do some training and, of course, you’re going to get that brilliant training we’ve talked about and all that good stuff, but for me I’m just so glad that came to work together because it sounds to me like this is the most important thing. This should be the priority one that we should really stick into.

 

“Unfortunately, salespeople often just skip past that bit of discovery straight into trying to talk about their solutions and miss out on all the opportunities to attach and uncover genuine value.” – Andy Whyte · [28:01] 

 

Andy Whyte:

And that, of course, it only works if it’s genuine. So we’re not saying for a second that we kind of try and do anything other than find what’s in our offering that is genuinely most impactful, most valuable to the customer. So often we just skip past that bit of discovery straight into trying to talk about our solutions and miss out on all the opportunity to attach and uncover genuine value.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. And in this particular case, and this is why I love remote selling, I love Zoom. Everyone now is just happy to use Zoom or Skype rather than pushing beyond the phone. When I was chatting with this VP of marketing who got the deal signed, got the paperwork done, I could see his eyes lit up as soon as I mentioned the one-on-one sessions. I just called him out, hey, you seem to have lit up when I mentioned that.

 

Will Barron:

And then he goes into the issues that he is had with training in the past and people not getting on top of it and training companies promising one thing and then never see them again further down the line and they’ll sign up to an online call or books or in-person training and it doesn’t have an effect. And I was like, great. So I’m kind of just calculating all of that and then that’s the follow up email that I send. Hey, you said all of this, we solve all those problems.

 

Will Barron:

We solve X with Y, this is why we’re a good fit to get work together. Does it make sense to get the contract signed? It’s dead simple, but I guess that’s almost the art of some of this. The science is you’ve got the MEDDICC process. You’re going to ask certain questions. You’re going to qualify appropriately hard and not feel uncomfortable asking some of these questions that can be not awkward. If you’re speaking to someone who’s actually a decision maker, most people are happy to answer MEDDICC kind of questions.

 

Will Barron:

If you’re speaking to the wrong person, an end user, they’re probably thinking, oh, crap, this is probably a conversation with my boss. And so they might put the guard up a little bit, but when you qualify hard, you speak to the right person, you get the right answers, you can then facilitate the whole of the rest of the sales process as well as feel comfortable putting in your own time into this because there’s a decent chance of it turning out all right.

 

Who is the Economic Buyer and Why is it so Hard to Engage with the Economic Buyer? · [29:52] 

 

Will Barron:

So with that said, Andy, we’ve covered the decision criteria side of things. Are there any steps in MEDDICC that people get nervous about diving into whether it’s the questions are a bit more personal, we’re talking about cash now rather than just want and needs? Is there any part of the process that you find people occasionally may skip over if they’re not feeling so confident that day?

 

Andy Whyte:

Yeah. There’s a couple that I think stand out here and they’re very different for the reasons I think. The one that people tend to I find skip a little bit is the economic buyer. And for those that don’t know, the economic buyer is the person of authority in the deal. They’re generally the overall authority, they control the budget. So you could be selling to somebody who owns the budget, but above them they’re the controller of the budget. So they dictate how much budget the person you’re selling to gets. They’re the person that could create budget, stop budget.

 

Andy Whyte:

they have veto power. They’re generally a senior person. And what I find happens a lot is that because it’s hard to engage the economic buyer via nature of the fact they’re a senior person, there’s all these other sort of social dynamics going on in the deal which means you can’t go around people or you go above people, that sort of stuff. People tend to go, it’s hard. And actually there’s a little bit of risk with it where I might upset the people I’m working with.

 

Andy Whyte:

And so I’m just not going to do it. And the analogy I use here is one from customer service, which is that lovely saying of we go the extra mile, which means we do a bit more. And then there’s that sort of that saying that gets built on the top of that, which is there’s no traffic on the extra mile. I think engaging with the economic buyer is a bit going the extra mile. You’re working a bit harder, which means that hopefully you are working harder than your competition is.

 

Andy Whyte:

And therefore when you are on that extra mile, there’s less traffic there. And so because it’s hard, because it can be, I don’t want to use the word dangerous because I think the only time it’s ever dangerous is your deal isn’t qualify properly, but because of that it means that you are likely to be the only person engaging with the economic buyer in the opportunity and the deal, which for me means you’re cut above everybody else. So that’s something I say there and just tips for people listening along because, again, even if you don’t use MEDDPICC, it’s still very important that you engage with senior people in your opportunities.

 

Andy Whyte:

The biggest tip I can give here is the sooner the better. We’ve all been those people where we thought we’ve had a good deal and everyone around us, our supporting team has been working with us felt good about it then suddenly it’s gone sideways. Something has happened. The competitors got the march on us. Some priorities have changed inside, something like that. And what tends to happen, in my experience when those deals go sideways is you have an urgent meeting goes into the calendar.

 

Andy Whyte:

Your boss invites you and other people in and it’s called a war room or something like that and everyone goes, what are we going to do? And always [inaudible 00:32:56] I will reach out to the senior person who’s probably the economic buyer. And then it’s too late. You are literally rolling the dice at that point where you’ve got nothing else left to lose. And if you’ve done everything else right before then, and you’ve engaged with them, you’ve kept them upstages in the project and the process and it has gone sideways then that’s fair enough.

 

Andy Whyte:

That should be a good thing to do, but it shouldn’t be your first engagement with them is when things have gone wrong. So that will be my advice is to engage early and use your executive team. People worry about, oh, I don’t want to upset my champion. I don’t want to upset my contact coach, whoever it may be by going around them. Well, you don’t have to use your… The economic buyer wants to hear from your boss more than it wants to hear from you just because of multi-level selling.

 

Andy Whyte:

So use them and then it’s not necessarily going around. It can be a very positive thing. It can be, hey, there, Mr. and Mrs. economic buyer, my name is Will. I lead the team here for salesman.org in Europe. I heard that Andy and a couple of people in our team are working with Stephanie and Steve and your team and all I keep hearing is great things about it. Sounds very, very exciting.

 

Andy Whyte:

We’re particularly excited because of how we’ve helped X reference company that’s going to inspire the person you’re talking to to know that you are legitimate and know that you are credible. And all I wanted to do was just to let you know that if this project does turn into something, then I’ll be the executive sponsor for it. And I wanted to just open up this line of communication with you should you have any questions for me.

 

Andy Whyte:

They’ve got a meeting next week. If it goes well, I’ll let you know how it went kind of thing. And there’s no ask. That’s the really important thing. You’re not kind of troubling them. You’re not trying to get them to come to the meeting or anything like that. Just engage them. And then you’ve got the line of communication open then which is better than not having it open.

 

Will Barron:

So if I’m trying to identify the economic buyer and I’m not convinced the person I’m speaking to is the decision maker, economic buyer, person with the purse strings, I will jovially be, and I almost verbatim clap as I do this on a Zoom call, I’ll be like, who bank rolls this? Who’s in charge? Who do we need to get on board? What are we doing? Who’s got the money? And I’ll just throw a bunch of stuff out like that and I’ll see the other person kind of go, and the pondering. And they typically give me a pretty straightforward answer.

 

Will Barron:

Now, I don’t recommend other people necessarily do this because it takes a little bit of not that I think I’m incredibly charismatic, but I can pull it off a little bit of charisma to pull this kind of thing off. And again, a lot of people that I deal with are already familiar with me, the podcast, the content. So I’ve already got that little bit of trust at distance and that bit of rapport before I even get on the phone. So I’ll be like, who’s financing this? How has this deal been done in the past?

Want to Identify the Economic Buyer? Here’s How You Do It · [35:50] 

 

Will Barron:

Deals that had been done on the past. Who do we need to get on side for this? I’ll just throw that out there. Is there another way to, if someone is a bit nervous and they don’t want to because it’s kind of full barrel. I just did that or it can be. But people who want a more subtle approach, Andy, how would you recommend people, the audience ask essentially ask if the person they’re speaking to is the economic buyer and if not, who is that person? What kind of questions would you be asking?

 

Andy Whyte:

Yeah. I love how you said that. I think this is one of the great things about MEDDPICC as well is that it’s a framework at its core. People call it methodology as well which I think is fair enough, but at its core, it’s a framework. And why that’s an important thing in this context is it doesn’t dictate your style, how you should talk to the customer, your personality, your tone of voice, all that quite good stuff that makes you you and makes people trust you and feel that you are genuine.

 

Andy Whyte:

So what we’re saying with MEDDPICC in this case, the economic buyers, we’re saying you need to engage with the person, you need to talk to this person. So what you’ve just done there is a wonderful, wonderful example of how you can uncover that using your style. And like you said, not everyone will have the same style as you, which is fine. And I think also you’ve got this wonderful thing which I didn’t know existed before doing what I’m doing now, which you’re selling to salespeople.

 

Andy Whyte:

So you can almost just be like, wow, I’m going to close you now just so you know. And people are like, oh, he’s doing the close. Cool. I’m going to judge you on this one kind of thing. So people are a little bit more give you an easier time of it than they would say if you’re selling to an HR, director, or something.

 

Will Barron:

You say given easier time. So these enterprise deals, these large deal size, it’s usually a CRO, CMO, VP of sales. And so they’re usually a bit of an asshole for the first 10 minutes until I keep going back to that question, hey, the way these calls usually go and then eventually they relent. And then at the end of the call they’d be like, oh, well, I’m just testing you. Well, see our sales team are a big fan of you, but I wanted to just see. So it goes both ways. Sometimes it’s really pleasant.

 

Will Barron:

Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself a little bit and you have to position yourself as an expert who humbly I’ve got expertise on these calls that some of these VP of sales no matter how long they’ve been selling for I’ve spoken to more salespeople than they have very likely. I’ve interviewed more people than experts in the space than what they have and so sometimes you need to lay down the low. So it can go both ways.

 

How to Accurately Identify the Economic Buyer · [38:01]

 

Andy Whyte:

Spot on. Totally agree with that. Going back to the question because I appreciate I kind of digressed again, but didn’t answer it. So I think if you are a person that’s finding it harder or finding you don’t quite know how to approach that situation of uncovering of economic buyer, you’ve got options. First things first is it’s very unlikely you are the first person ever to sell to this company from the discipline of product that you are selling from.

 

Andy Whyte:

So if you sell marketing technology, or if you sell different type technology, or if you’re in a completely different space, there’ll be peers in your industry that you know who have sold to that company and to maybe even the person you are selling to before. And for whatever reason we don’t tap into this enough in sales. We just don’t. And even though we will know that someone else who’s maybe even a former colleague, a friend of ours has walked the path that we are trying to walk, we don’t ask.

 

Andy Whyte:

So that’s one option is to say, hey, I’d call you up and say, Will, I saw on website that you guys have got a ABC as a reference on there. The customer wasn’t you and goes, yes. I’m struggling. I can’t quite figure out who’s the economic buyer or who’s the person of authority. And you would tell me or you might give me some clue. You might say, well, it was this person, but they left. Whatever happens it’s definitely not Steve. Steve was where I made a mistake. I thought it was Steve. And so you get free information. That’s one example that you can do.

 

Andy Whyte:

Another thing that works very well, but again, this is very much a style thing, is I would often, and it would depend on the personality of my champion or potential champion candidate to be champion, let’s say, or coach, I would often just level with them. And I would say, hey, look, a lot of people think that my job as a salesperson, what makes me a good or a bad salesperson is my ability to do great presentations or to make really cool demos and things like that.

 

Andy Whyte:

What really makes a good or a bad person when it comes to my job is to being able to understand who all the stakeholders are and make sure that I understand who is who, who cares about what, and to ensure that I consider everybody’s needs because you are my number one person. Of course, we can see that. And I’m very much focused on making sure that as we’ve uncovered our value supports your goals, your challenges, whatever they are. But what about this person? And I’ll start to sort of put in some suggested, my sort of suspected economic buyer.

 

Andy Whyte:

I’ll be like, what about this person, the CFO let’s say? Normally I find when I work with people in that position, I find that as much as they care about the things you are looking at, they’re actually more interested in the total cost of ownership or they’re thinking more about how quickly this is going to return on investment or what the opportunity cost will be. What do you think about that person? Is her name Stephanie or CFO? When you typically work with her what sort of things does she ask? And then you’re into a conversation then and then you can hopefully take the opportunity.

 

“I think everyone has bought into the idea of how important it’s to have champions, right? But what we tend to do is we build our champions up and we do a great job of that, but then we kind of just sort of sit back and look at them, bow before them and think what a great job we’ve done of building this person that really loves us and our product. We don’t actually put them to work for us. We don’t ask them to do the difficult things that we really, really need them to do for us like sit on a procurement call with us and stick up for us where procurements try to disvalue our solution.” – Andy Whyte · [41:07] 

 

Andy Whyte:

If they’re a true champion or potential to be a true champion to sell to them basically the value in them introducing you directly, which I think we just don’t do enough. We just never ask the question. And this is another thing and I’ll only say this very quickly, but I think in our industry, except for the odd daft, pretend sales guru on LinkedIn, I think everyone has bought into the idea of how important it’s to have champions, right?

 

Andy Whyte:

But what we tend to do is we build our champions up and we do a great job of that, but then we kind of just sort of it back and look at them and sort of bow before them and think what a great job we’ve done of building this person that really loves us and our product. We don’t actually put them to work for us.

 

Andy Whyte:

We don’t ask them to do the difficult things that we really, really need them to do for us like pull legal calls forward, sit on a procurement call with us and stick up for us where procurements try to disvalue our solution, or bring other people into the meeting, get security to take a call rather than you fill in their 30 page document, all those types of things.

 

Andy Whyte:

What champions can really help us accelerate our progress with we almost sort of shy away because we don’t want to like, oh, we want to waste them. I don’t want to upset my champion. I don’t want to actually put them to work because then they might not be my champion again. And then, hang on a minute, what if I don’t actually win the deal at all? And that’s the way they should be thinking.

 

Will Barron:

I think a lot of what you to describe comes down to the paperwork process as well. So physical paperwork or just the buying journey within the account of a lot of salespeople and I’ve been guilty for this in my medical device days of, hey, I got in, I spoke to the surgeon, I ejected, I went KFC on the way home and had a nice snack. And now I’m sat in front of the sofa job done, but it’s just got into this black hole. We no idea what’s happening within the account.

 

Will Barron:

That might be the actual champion, but I’ve not guided that person. What I do is do a demo with them. They love the equipment, but then maybe they don’t know what to do next, but we are selling these products and services day in, day out so we probably got a pretty good overview across the market of what needs to happen, the paperwork that needs to be done, who needs to be in front of who?

 

Will Barron:

And I feel like a lot of salespeople just allow it to go into the black hole, tick a box, and then move on to the next inbound lead that they get as opposed to doing account based selling or account based marketing of mapping out the account, working out who the actual champion is, the economic buyer, the other steps of medical or MEDDPICC or wherever acronym that whether qualification methodology that we incorporate, we want to use in corporate or telling us to use something else.

 

The Consequences of Missing Steps in the MEDDIC Framework · [43:30] 

 

Will Barron:

You’ve got to see this through because what’s the point in just doing that initial few steps if you’re not going to get a deal at the end of it? It’s a waste of your time, it’s a waste of company resources. Is there anything else that we need to add to that, Andy, to encourage salespeople to… I’ll ask you this in a different way. So we can use medical or MEDDPICC whichever you prefer. Does the framework work if we miss steps out or does it have to be done not necessarily in order, not necessarily one person, but does it need to be done within the account to maximise our chances of getting the deals done?

 

Will Barron:

What I’m saying is if we feel lazy and want to skip a bit or we feel our confidence for whatever reason is down on that day, we don’t ask a tough question, are we immediately dropping the effectiveness of medical MEDDPICC just rapidly or is it possible to still get deals done by just doing this kind of willy-nilly?

 

Andy Whyte:

Yeah. Great question. The way I’ll answer this question is how I think about MEDDPICC which is that I think about it as being three pillars. And I don’t think anyone would ever argue with the importance of these three pillars in selling, which is the first pillar is value. So understanding the value of our solution, how we do it, how we do it differently, all that sort of stuff. Second is stakeholders, which is not just who, who, but it’s also each stakeholder has a different value.

 

“It’s long known that the biggest lever you can pull in terms of enhancing your performance as a salesperson, as a sales team, as a company is not the amount of opportunities you have. It’s not the average selling price opportunities. It’s not your conversion rate. It’s the time you take to close those opportunities. If you can improve that one, that’s the one that’ll have the biggest impact on your overall performance.” – Andy Whyte · [44:51] 

 

Andy Whyte:

They’re interested in different paying challenge they’re trying to solve. So those two are very interlocked. And the third one is process and this one is the one that gets the least attention, but it’s also the one that can have the biggest impact on your performance as an individual. It’s long known that the biggest lever you can pull in terms of enhancing your performance as a salesperson, as a sales team, as a company is not the amount of opportunities you have.

 

Andy Whyte:

It’s not the average selling price opportunities. It’s not your conversion rate. It’s the time you take to close those opportunities. That is if you can improve that one, that’s the one that’ll have the biggest impact on your overall performance. They’re all important, of course, but if we were just to bring up share screen now and start scrolling LinkedIn we would see 100 posts about pipeline generation, cold calling this, cold calling out videos, blah, blah, blah, which is all good. Not knocking it for a second before we saw one about conversion rate or about selling price selling value.

 

Andy Whyte:

And then we’d probably see 1,000 before we’d see any, if at all, about the length of the sales cycle. So those sort of three pillars that I mentioned are all important. And if you were to think about MEDDPICC sits on top of those and it gives a framework so that you can make sure you are focused enough on each of those pillars. If you were to miss off one of those pillars and you were talking about missing off the process, then it’s going to have a really big impact.

 

Andy Whyte:

And I always say this, is people will often say, I have this, well, I don’t have a saying, it’s an industry saying of no champion, no deal. Big champion, big deal. And people go, oh, hang on a minute, Andy. There was this one time where I didn’t have a champion and I still closed the deal. So obviously that doesn’t work. And it’s like, well, yes but I bet if we looked at that deal you weren’t actually selling, you were order taking.

 

Andy Whyte:

I bet your product and the marketing that your company did surrounding your product and the pain and the need that the customer had you could have swapped you in and put anybody of any role who can just answer questions would’ve still sold that. So you are taking an order. So to your question, I think every time you put a little bit less attention onto, let’s say, the letters of MEDDPICC as you put it, you are qualifying worse. And people don’t lose deals because there’s no close lost reason of poorly qualified.

 

Andy Whyte:

What poorly qualified lost deal reasons look like is no champion, price was too expensive, couldn’t get access, competition got ahead of us. Those are the reason. That’s poor qualification because if you have MEDDPICC in lockdown you’re even going to have one or two things. You’re even going to have complete visibility of where you are in the deal. And you can see if you’re winning or losing. It’s like looking out a very clear day. Your deal is you can see everything, you see everyone, all the stakeholders, everything you need to see.

 

Andy Whyte:

And because of that you’re going to know where you stand. And if you are looking out of that window into your deal and you see that you are losing, then you should qualify out unless you can fix it. The only way you’re going to be able to fix it is if you have a champion. All of the things, all of the common objections about price, competition, not seeing the value priorities, urgency, all those things. We all have tried and tested tactics, if you like, of overcoming those objections and they’re always very good.

 

Andy Whyte:

We are good at them. That’s what makes us good salespeople, but we can only deploy those tactics if we have a champion to deploy them for us because otherwise we’re just sort of talking into an empty room because who’s going to take the good news we use and pass it onto other stakeholders for us?

 

Will Barron:

I think to double down on your analogy there, if you don’t think there’s a champion, you probably just haven’t uncovered the champion and they’ve gone in and done all of a sudden hard work on your behalf and you’re not even thanking them at the other end of it. Especially in a large corporate deal, nothing happens. There’s so much status quo. There’s so much emphasis on just not moving. There’s the risk, there’s the burden of taking on the…

 

Will Barron:

You might reduce your pain by 20% by using the product, but you’re going to have to increase pain just for that short instance to get it implemented, to get everyone else on board. So there’s probably always a champion there, you just weren’t aware with them. I feel like I want to wrap up the show with this, Andy, in this thought that, and I’m going to use it, I love your LinkedIn analogy of scrolling through and it’s all cold calls, cold emails, stupid polls about stupid nonsensical things.

 

Will Barron:

There’s very few people talking about process, methodology further down the sales funnel and the buying journey. And the water is somewhat muddied and murky in the fact that now a lot of companies will have SDRs, BDRs, account management, customer success. Everything is getting split up, but the goal here isn’t to generate leads. I don’t care about number of leads. I care about number of customers out the over end of the process. Of course, the more leads we can generate, the more effectively that turn into customers, the better.

 

Will Barron:

But we get paid on people signing up to the product and then retaining them a lot of time. We don’t get paid on the number of calls that we make, the number of emails that we send, and the number of people that we annoy with poorly qualified sales processes that just turn into junk in the CRM.

 

Parting Thoughts · [49:56]

 

Will Barron:

So with that, Andy, I appreciate you, mate. I appreciate everything that you’re about. I appreciate these frameworks. I appreciate your knowledge. There’s not been a question that I’ve thrown at you in this episode that you’ve not been able to answer. With that, tell us about the book, the training and where we can find out more about you, sir.

 

Andy Whyte:

Yeah. Well, thank you very much. That’s very kind of you to say. So people looking to find out more, our proposition is very much around helping organisations to enable MEDDPICC in their teams. So for me you can Google MEDDICC, MEDDPICC and find blog posts that will tell you what the letters mean and what they stand for. That’s LIKE scratching the surface of what actually it becomes to be a full organisation using MEDDPICC.

 

Andy Whyte:

And so what our proposition very much is about is giving everybody enough expertise about MEDDPICC, not just on the knowledge and the wisdom of how and what it is, but how to actually execute it. We talked a little bit about economic bio, how actionable tactics strategies you can use to bring MEDDPICC into your deals, into your teams so that it can become the common language.

 

Andy Whyte:

So like you just said there across SDRs, BDRs, AEs, CSMs, leadership, even go-to-market teams of product marketing, of marketing of all the teams surrounding the customer, they can use it as common language. So everyone is more cohesive, everyone knows exactly what they’re looking at with customers and they’re much more efficient as an organisation. In the best bit the customers prefer it as well because you orientate around the things that matter to them around value.

 

Andy Whyte:

So that’s our proposition. There’s a book which you can find on Amazon. We also have an online course called the MEDDPICC Master Class. But before, if you are just sort of thinking, well, this sounds interesting you just want to dip your toe to the water, we also have a YouTube channel as well which you can find lots more of me talking about this kind of stuff if that’s what you’re interested in.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing. So I’ll link to all of that in the show to this episode over at salesman.org. With that, Andy, thank you for your time, your insights on this doubling down on the fact that I just fired a load of random questions at you that were basically nothing to do with qualification of MEDDICC and you went through them all absolutely seamlessly. So that shows your expertise in the space and with that I want to thank you again for joining us on the Salesman Podcast.

 

Andy Whyte:

Thank you, Will, and thank you for all you do for our industry.

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