Sales Archives - Ascent Conference

Tax’s Role in Frictionless Commerce

Nov 15th, 2022 @9:30 pm

Vertex’s Peter Olanday discusses how Tax compliance can add friction to omni-channel commerce, both internally and externally. And how an automated tax solution such as Vertex can minimize that friction.

He discusses sources of friction in regards to sales tax, what causes most of that friction, and gives real-world examples of how to solve those challenges.


Peter Olanday
Director of Consulting, Vertical Solutions

Sponsored by


Customer Acquisition vs. Customer Expansion: Break Free from a One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Nov 14th, 2022 @10:00 am

Nearly 60 percent of companies believe they can use a one-size-fits-all approach for every marketing and sales conversation. Instead of tailoring their approach to their buyer’s situation, they try to apply the same messages to win new customers as they do to keep and grow existing customers.

But behavioral research shows a 180-degree difference between what motivates new prospects, versus existing customers, to buy.

In fact, using a one-size-fits-all approach can put most of your revenue and growth opportunity at risk!

In this session, you’ll learn new, science-backed messaging strategies to skillfully differentiate your acquisition and expansion approaches.

  • Disrupt your prospects’ status quo to win new business.
  • Defend and grow your relationships with existing customers.
  • Use science-backed message frameworks to influence and guide your prospects’ and customers’ buying decisions.


Tim Riesterer
Chief Visionary
B2B Decision Labs

Sponsored by

ABM in an Increasingly Virtual World: How Has it Changed, and How it Will Look in the Future

Ascent: Spotlight on Marketing

Recorded 5/19/2021
Nick Panayi, CMO @ Amelia
Randi Barshack, CMO @ RollWorks
Aristomenis Capogeannis, Director of Revenue Marketing @ NVIDIA
Autum Molay, Director of Demand Generation @ SurveyMonkey
Eric Duerr, VP of Marketing @ Domo


Predictable Pipeline – Getting Beyond the Lumpiness of Demand Gen

Matt Heinz, President & Founder @ Heinz Marketing

Sales & Marketing Stage
Ascent Conference 2020

[00:00:00] All right, well, hello, everyone, my name is Matt Heinz, I’m the founder and president of Heinz Marketing and I’m very excited to be here. This is this has been such an amazing event. Yesterday was a fantastic first day of this conference. It’s an honor to be part of this honor, to be asked to present and to be associated with some of this great content you’re seeing. So I want to spend the next twenty five minutes or so talking about what I think of as the predictable pipeline. And this is something that we’ve been working on for the last 12 plus years across, you know, just numerous, just countless B2B organizations helping them get out of the lumpiness of pipeline development that often happens. I think a lot of companies are in the process of doing random acts of marketing, and especially in a year like this, when things are a little different, things are a little more complicated and a lot more headwind in 2020 than we’ve seen in the past. So I think the idea of creating a foundation that can develop predictable, sustainable pipeline for you is more important than ever. And, you know, even before the pandemic started, I would say that, you know, we’re we’re in a world that I think requires us to think as marketers about marketing as a profit center for us, marketing as a function in the business that’s driving business results. And this may sound sort of fundamental to some of you, but for many others in the business, I mean, there was a really interesting piece of research on a couple of months ago, Google did it and said what is what’s the board perception of the CMO? And if you assume the CMO is a proxy for marketing my my friends, it was not pretty. The board, first of all. I mean, and part of this is based on where board members come from. Only three to four percent of board members have of the typical B2B board members have marketing experience. But the board has been trained to think of marketing not as the profit center, but as the arts and crafts department. And we we we we reinforce this when we look at some of our metrics and we go to the board and we tell them about open rates and click rates or, you know, we go to the board meeting, our leadership team meeting, and instead of talking about results, we talk about activities. We got three emails going out next week and we got four trade shows coming up and we got pens with our logos come in next week. I mean, that is not marketing. That’s not the way to develop revenue impact from your marketing efforts. Maybe an important part of how you’re doing marketing, but unless you can prove the impact of your marketing on the business, unless you can have sales and marketing teams with the same objectives, which is something you can buy a beer with, I can’t buy a beer with a retreat. I can’t buy a beer with impressions. And even though those may be building blocks towards building brand and ultimately driving demand, it’s important for us as marketers to focus in the right place. And so to begin to build a predictable pipeline, I think it’s really important for marketers to begin by knowing that the end game is not a marketing activity. The end game is a revenue event. Sales may be sitting there when the deal gets closed, but marketing needs to be clear on how they are sourcing revenue opportunities and how they are impacting and influencing revenue opportunities. So to get to that, I want to spend some time today talking about how we are, I think failing in how we communicate with prospects across sales and marketing. And then I want to share with you a framework that we’ve developed that really can help you build a more predictable, revenue focused pipeline in your organization that is coming from marketing, that shows that marketing can be a leader in this organization. I’ll give you not only that framework, I’ll give you a a maturity model that you can take back to your organization to help you think about where you are in the pipeline. Continue and help you focus on what specifically you need to be improving and working on in Q4 to have a better twenty, twenty one. But let’s talk about the messaging approach first. I think a lot of times, even if you have good revenue focused programs in place, too often our message is incongruent with what customers expect and what your prospects need. If there was one slide I could focus on from the messaging standpoint, it would be this one that your customers let’s assume your Home Depot, let’s assume you’re the home store. People aren’t coming to buy a drill. Nobody wants a drill. People want with the drill does. And I think we, especially in B2B, we fall into the trap of talking about ourselves too much and too often and too early. If I were to rebuild the sales process into just two stages, I would make the first one believe in the second one believe in us. The first one is believe that there’s a problem. The second one is believe that we can solve it. The first one is to believe that the status quo needs to change. And the second one, the second stage is see who can help me do it. The longer you wait in your sales process to bring up your own solutions and the solutions and products, the better off you are. The longer you take talking about the prospects problems, the more you are an expert not in your product, but in your prospects. Issues on. Their situation, the better off you’re going to be, the more you’re going to stand out from everyone else just talking about themselves, the more you’re going to demonstrate that you as an organization, not just a sales rep, not just your white paper, but across your sales and marketing efforts, the more you will show your audience, show your prospects that you can be a trusted adviser, that you’re someone that they want to spend more time with. And unfortunately gets worse before it gets better, so selling has gotten a lot harder today and this slide in this section was relevant, you know, before the pandemic is maybe even more relevant now, because I would argue that now that we are no longer going to events, now that field marketing is gone, now that some of the tools in the toolbox for sales and marketing folks have been temporarily shuttered. We’re all moving to digital and we’re moving to a smaller number of channels. And so it’s getting even harder to break through the noise. Part of this is in the way that we sell, in the way that we talk about ourselves, the language we use with prospects no one wants to be. And we talk about closing deals. No prospect wants to be close. We talk about crushing our quota. No customer wants to be crushed. We talk about Maxwells and Pascual’s like no customer or prospect wants to be thought of as an acronym, right? And so I think, yes, those are all internal terms, but I think we run the risk of thinking of our prospects as a numbers game. And even though we’re selling to a building, even though we’re selling, you know, accounts, the buildings don’t write checks, people do. So I think there’s five things that have changed. And in this in honestly, this is not about the pandemic. This is not about 2020. I would argue every one of these things existed a year ago. And if anything, it has been it’s just been has been accelerated in terms of its impact so far this year. The first one is that your prospects are busier than ever. And this especially rings true right now where your prospects have they had a plan they’re still trying to sort of salvage for 2020. They’ve got a handful of pivots. They’ve tried to sort of focus on trying to sort of make changes and change their go to market strategy, sometimes change their services. There’s so much they’re trying to do. At the same time, they’ve got kids trying to do remote school. Everyone’s just sort of waiting for the next bomb to go off. I feel like 2020 has been a little like watching and late night TV show and all of a sudden Billy Mays shows up on an infomercial and just keeps keep saying, but wait, there’s more. So your prospects are getting inundated with things from all sides, not just at work right now and their willingness to read your 400 word email that you just sent them a cold email to a cold person. Their willingness to take 15 minutes with your SDR just because you downloaded or attended a webinar is next to nil. Right. And I think if you approach people with that, with if you if you if you approach people with that approach initially, it’s going to fail. Your prospects also want to be and are more often self educated. They’re spending the majority of the buying process, doing research and doing independent research and figuring some things out on their own. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to wait as a seller, tell 57 percent of the process is done. What it means is you need to be providing formats of that education. You need to be OK with a prospect not talking to your sales rep earlier than they want to.

[00:08:17] You need to be OK with your sales team or in your marketing efforts being purely educational as a way of helping the prospect understand the problem that needs to be solved of quantifying a problem. They may or may not not have known that they had. So our ability to be a source of education in this part of the process is significant. But ask yourself and ask your sales team and look at your sales efforts and say, do we have the discipline and patience to help the prospect get there? No matter how good your product message is, you cannot force a prospect to want it here. It here it earlier than they’re ready if you get them to a point.

[00:08:55] We’ll talk about this a little later. If you get to the point of a commitment to change, if you get them to the point where they understand the problem that needs to be solved and they want to pursue solutions now they’re interested in. But if they’re crazy busy world, if they’re focused on other fires and not focus on the fire that is represented by your what the what your solution solves, it’s going to be very difficult to get their attention.

[00:09:15] It can be very difficult to get them to pay attention. OK, I promise things are going to get better, but really quickly, it’s going to get a little bit worse because everybody most of the people that are selling to your prospect are making all the mistakes we’ve just talked about. They’re calling too early.

[00:09:33] They’re calling too often. They’ve got a 22 year old Godlove. I’m calling just asking for fifteen minutes of their time. So your prospect doesn’t trust you’re not starting from square zero. You’re starting from a negative position. So your your sales and marketing efforts have to dig out of that hole before your prospect will start paying attention to you. Are you? Make no mistake, sales and marketing today is kind of like driving by someone’s house at thirty five miles an hour and then trying to throw something into the mailbox.

[00:10:02] You’re going to miss most of the time you’re going to you’re not going to check their mailbox every single time, but you better make sure that once they do, they see something of value.

[00:10:12] And once they see that a value that may be like a little tickle in their brain, that the next time they see something of value and they start to associate this body of work. You know, over time, these things that whenever I see something from this company, it’s usually valuable whenever I see their name in my inbox, I should keep that email because there’s usually something of interest in there that takes time. That’s not one email. That’s not one phone call. That’s not one webinar. But if you can have consistently that value in your marketing and in your sales efforts, then you start to rise above the crowd. Then you start to do things that truly break through. And I think that that message, that approach is something that you can absolutely systematize. The buying journey like the blue and the green on this buying journey are probably stages that look familiar to you. These are stages that are common to the sales process. But I would argue for those listening and watching today that these orange stages are the most important and the most difficult components of the sales process, your ability to loosen the status quo of your prospect, to help them think differently about a problem that they did or didn’t know, that they had your ability to help reframe a problem so that they understand the impact it can have.

[00:11:29] Imagine for a second your first call with the sales, with a prospect. And if I told you you had two rules on that sales call, the first rule is that you’re no longer you cannot talk about your product or service in that first call. If they ask you about it, fine.

[00:11:44] But in that first call you have, I want you to talk about their problems. I want you to talk about their situation. I want you to be an expert in their problems. I want you to be so good at asking questions that you hope that prospect discover things I didn’t know about themselves so that when they hang up the phone, they literally say to themselves, wow, that was really good. I would have paid for that. What kind of insights? What kind of reframes, what kind of information can you give your prospect that is so valuable they would pay for it and it’s so valuable because it helps them think differently about the business and changes what they’re willing to do to be successful, to achieve the success that they previously thought they were on track for. And maybe today, after that conversation, they’re not totally sure that’s where you get to that commitment to change. So these orange stages are incredibly important parts of the sales process. They’re not necessarily new. I don’t talk about that in a minute. I think some of them are based on things you’ve probably heard from the Challenger sale. I’ve heard about. You know, provocative selling is a concept that Jeffrey Moore talks about. You know, what I like about the Challenger sale is that has taken this idea from Jeffrey, more from Dale Carnegie, even from Hopkins. This book, Scientific Advertising, one of my favorite marketing books of all time was written in 1921. But what CSB did with the Challenger sales, they put people into these five categories. And they said, OK, of salespeople, sales people tend to look like one of these five people, and they’re not saying that one is white and one is wrong, you can be successful as a seller in any of these five areas. What they found is that those Challenger sales reps were consistently more successful, more often than those that were focused in the other areas. And so what are those challenges sellers do? Right. And the challengers say, oh, by the way, like it sounds like it’s a selling book. This is a marketing textbook. If you’re in marketing, this is a book you need to read. It reinforces the fact that how you sell is more important than what you sell, all that stuff I just talked about earlier about the body of work, about prospecting your prospects base, about providing value and giving them things that they would be willing to pay for. That precedes what you sell. Your ability to get your product in front of someone is going to be earned by how you sell and how you approach that customer, how you respect their time, respect their place and provide value along the way. And Challenger talks about this concept of teach tailor take control, that you create a teachable moment for your prospects. You created insight that is relative is something that is valuable and relatable to all of your prospects, you tailor it to an individual organization so it means something to that company, to that individual. When you get someone to buy into that insight, when you get them to commit to change, you earn the opportunity to take control the deal. You’re no longer just advocating for your sale. You’re no longer just advocating for your pipeline. You’re advocating for their outcome.

[00:14:37] So counterintuitively, the value of your insights can trump the quality of your product, your ability, and this is there’s so much research behind this that shows that your ability to challenge the customer’s thinking, to give them evidence, to give them tools, to give them trend data that shows them where the market is going so they can take better advantage of it.

[00:14:58] Your ability to do that with your prospects is going to lead to more pipeline, they will go with you even if someone else has more features or maybe even has a superior product because they believe in their mind. And this is sometimes intuitive. This sometimes our subconscious in our subconscious, the companies that have the insights, the companies that know me best, are the companies that can give me that have built products and services that are going to make me most successful. Your job in this process is not to be agreeable. It is to be memorable. If you are going to introduce something that changes someone’s status quo, that gets them to commit to change. Look, none of us love change. Some people are OK with it more than others, but most people don’t like change. We want our day to go the way we expected our day to go. And if you as a seller, just introduced an insight that changes how someone looks at the world and is creating the need for change, you’re creating problems. You’re at least going to make them give up some of their money. You’re probably going to make them change some of their internal processes. You just made work harder for a lot of people.

[00:15:59] But if the outcome is worth it, people will go through that process, people will go through that pain, people will give up their money. And so you have to introduce a little bit of productive friction.

[00:16:11] To get to that change and that process, those insights that makes you memorable, that makes you someone that stands out so, you know, the yes man sales reps that just agree with everything a prospect says aren’t doing much to challenge the status quo. Now, how do you apply all this into a predictable system that actually can drive revenue for you moving forward? So, again, we’ve been doing this for 12 plus years. We found that there’s seven core areas that organizations need to focus on to get to that particular pipeline. And we’ve loosely organized these into these three areas. The majority of this process is plan and understand. There are some planning tools that will walk through here in a second that I think are fundamental to helping you execute. Counter-intuitive, I think a lot of companies want to get right to execution. Well, let’s just start sending e-mails. Let’s just start making phone calls. Well, that leads to random acts of sales and marketing that lead to the lumpiness that most companies experience. If you don’t fundamentally document and understand a consistent view of your market who were selling to and why, what we’re saying to those people and why who on the sales and marketing team has what roles and responsibilities to deliver those messages. If you don’t get clarity on that, especially as you grow, especially as you scale, things start to fall apart pretty quickly.

[00:17:31] So, for example.

[00:17:33] What is your ideal customer profile if you’re selling into health care, it’s not everybody in health care. What are the attributes and characteristics of companies in health care that make some of those companies more likely to be receptive to your message, more likely to have the problems that you solve? And because buildings don’t write checks, who are the people inside that organization you need to be talking to? You know, some other CB research indicates now there are more than eight members of the buying committee in many organizations. So how are you taking what you know about your ideal customer profile, applying that to understanding who are the key members of the buying committee inside an organization, and then coordinating your message to different members of the buying committee at different stages of the buying journey across your sales and marketing team to see how this gets complicated.

[00:18:20] But if you write this down, pretty simple spreadsheet can help you figure this out, can help create clarity around what you say that buying journey needs to be what your sales cycle is based on.

[00:18:32] How long does it take, how many meetings, how many steps, how many small decisions need to happen among portions of that buying committee to get them to say yes? Within your organization, especially if you’re selling to larger companies, you probably have sales involved in a sort of a kind of executive that’s involved earlier in the process. What are the roles and responsibilities of marketing versus sales at each stage of the buying journey, each season of the sales process?

[00:18:57] And now how do you take that understanding of who’s in the buying committee, how they think about the process differently, how they think about the problem differently, and creating a message that takes the prospects point of view that prioritizes their problems and issues? Exclusively at the beginning of the process. You know, we looked at that that that buying journey progression earlier where you got, you know, loosening the status quo and then commit to change, you can get to a commitment to change without explaining anything about what you sell, because the changes about your prospect and the impact that has on them, not what you’re selling. So you get those pieces together. Now you’re ready to execute the best programs, not sales programs, not marketing programs. The best integrated revenue programs have an integrated, consistent approach to message. It’s not sales says one thing, marketing says another. It’s not. Social media says one thing and the email says another. There’s a consistent approach to how you go to market and how you coordinate those and orchestrate elements of that campaign.

[00:19:56] And this is where technology can start to help you. Technology is not your strategy. It is a enabler of your strategy. If you look across your execution, the things that are done by people that could be done by machines, that’s a good application of technology, things that are done manually that could be done in an automated way. That’s an application of technology. But the tools aren’t going to help you unless you have those processes dialed in. So oftentimes we will recommend to our clients, start small, figure out what the right process is, do it in a manual, and maybe even inefficient, unscalable way to make sure it works. Because if you scale something for the sake of creating automation, but it doesn’t work, you’ve got a much bigger problem and a much more scalable problem. And finally, the measures of success, you know, like what are we measuring as part of this? I mean, look, even if you’re doing an account based program, even if you’re selling to enterprise deals, even if you’re saying our goal is to generate X number of new accounts this year, you’re still talking to people.

[00:20:55] You still have to make sure you have the right contact information. There is a differentiation between your operational metrics and your impact metrics. Operational metrics can help you do better. Marketing impact metrics is how you demonstrate to the organization that the marketing is working, that it’s generating revenue results. That is generating impact that you can buy beer with.

[00:21:16] So that we have we have limited amount of time today, that is the predictable pipeline framework. Now, what I would recommend is taking a version of Skutnik version of this maturity model, print out this slide, take this to your next team meeting and have everyone kind of read good, better, best from initial optimized in each of these sections and circle where you think you are. I have yet to meet a company unless they are brand brand new that has everything in the initial stage. And I have yet to meet a company that has and and sustains their place in optimizing every one of these stages. There’s some room for improvement for all of us. And I think by doing the doing the work on finding out where you are in the maturity model, where you are in the continuum for each of these seven areas, it will teach you which of these areas you were the furthest behind and where you might actually apply work now to catch up. I don’t know that you can reasonably tackle all seven of these at once. So figure out where the problems are talking and there may be some disagreements. We’ll talk about those internally and then figure out your game plan. And as you’re doing this review internally here, some of the questions you can start to ask yourself and be honest. I mean, this is not an opportunity to be defensive. This is not an opportunity to talk about, like, how hard this year is.

[00:22:31] I get it. Like, we’re all facing that. So declare an amnesty day for sales and marketing, declare an amnesty day for the random acts of sales and marketing, put defensiveness aside and just sit down and say, listen, do we have this stuff figured out? Scale of one to 10, how good are we at these at these seven things? Where are we deficient? And then which of these things do we think we can start to apply to make ourselves more successful?

[00:22:55] This is a journey, not a destination. This will be something that you are creating cadences around to improve on a regular basis moving forward. But I promise you, by taking a step back and thinking about your predictable pipeline, thinking through this framework. To improve these seven areas in your business, you will have a more predictable pipeline, you will have more visibility into what’s coming down the line, you will feel more consistent impact from marketing on the organization.

[00:23:22] You will feel better symbiosis between sales and marketing, and you’ll generate the results that you want, not only in Q4 of this year, but into twenty twenty one. My name is Matt Heinz. This is my contact information. If any of you have any questions on what we’ve covered today, I am happy to answer any of those any time.

[00:23:42] If there are some things in here that I referenced and we want pretty quickly, but there are some things in here that are spreadsheet based. I’ve got a lead to opportunity to close model spreadsheet that I’m happy to share. I’ve got a buying journey, buying committee content, map matrix spreadsheets, a tool that I’m happy to share as well. If any of that would be useful to you, please email me and I’m happy to get that to you. Thank you so much for your time. Please enjoy the rest of the conference. It’s been a pleasure.


Data-Driven Practices for Increasing Pipeline

Jeremey Donovan, Head of Sales Strategy & Sales Operations @ SalesLoft
Sales & Marketing Stage
Ascent Conference 2020

[00:00:01] All right, we’re going to go ahead and get started. I want to just say thank you to the conference organizers the sense for giving me the opportunity to chat with you guys. Today, we have an action packed 25 minutes. And I’m going to go through a lot of actionable, data driven tips that you can use to double your reply rates. So let’s get right into it. And just by way of reference, I am Jeremy Donovan, the SVP of Sales Strategy over at Sales Loft. We are a sales engagement platform. The slides, I can I can get you the slides if you messaged me on LinkedIn. So go ahead and connect with me on LinkedIn and then I will send the slides back to you. I think that’s the best way for you to get those and just be aware of my first name. I have three kids and my first name. So when you look for me on LinkedIn, don’t forget those. All right, let’s get right into it. So we’re to go through a bunch of things. Again, I want to get to these tips as fast as possible so we can get all 16 of them in in 25 minutes time frame. But I do need to introduce a little bit of the the cadence. Why and what. So most of you, I think, are already familiar with prospecting, using cadences, engaging your customers, using cadences. If you’re not if you’ve been under a rock for a while, that it’s simply all about using multiple touches across multiple channels. You’re all familiar with the channels. I think the key thing here from our data science is that people will often know this and yet only use one channel at a time. And we see reply rates and engagement rates drop by about 80 percent, eight zero percent if you are only single channel. So I assume very few people are still living in the dark ages of prospecting. But if you are prospecting, make sure you use phone, email and social. At the very least, direct mail is definitely growing once again. And I’ve seen clever things during coronavirus where people, you know, can like a can can offer to send something to a prospect and they use an intermediary like some Dosso or Alice in the middle. And there’s probably a few other direct mail providers where the direct mail provider actually keeps that that home address private from the the rep, which I think is good security and privacy, best practice. And yet they can still deliver the benefit. So this is the actual cadence. We use it sales law for outbound prospecting. There’s a bit of data science in here as well. We have over a billion messages that have flowed through our systems from our clients to their prospects. And go through a couple of the highlights here so you can see it’s fifteen touches over 16 days.

[00:02:32] And over the course of that, what we try to do, one sort of data science thing is to double touch on any given on any given day so you can see that across the board. And then the other thing we have is this best referred to as a plus one rule. So we do a set of touches on day one. Plus one is day two plus two. Day four plus three. Day seven plus four. Day eleven plus five, day sixteen. So what we’re doing is we’re adding breathing room between any touch or set of touches and that breathing room creates a degree of pseudo randomness so that it’s not like you’re just sort of hitting somebody with messaging every day or every other day. And that degree of randomness shows some some patience. But it also serves as a pattern interrupt because human beings tend to ignore things that happen at regular intervals. So you want to inject that irregular interval in there. So those are the couple of highlights on there. They’re certainly more packed into why we do things the way we do. You’ll also notice that oftentimes we’ll call before email, and that’s another although there is one exception in here, that’s another thing that is critical. I guess if I highlighted one more thing, it has to do with how we how we handle social. So at the beginning of the Caden’s, we do that data integrity check just to make sure that the person is still where they’re supposed to be, to see that our email and our phone number is in is is healthy and deliverable. And rather than try to connect with the person on the first day, we try to add some value that could be a follow, like a share of their own content, maybe at mentioning them on something relevant to them that perhaps has nothing to do with your company. So try to give them some value in the early social touches before, you know, mid kadence you actually connect with them. All right, if if we were actually able to to talk live here, although you’re watching live, we had, I guess, cheesily chat, but I haven’t asked this question of how many total activities does it take to generate a new sales opportunity? So just imagine that you took one of your your reps, counted their total activities over the course of whatever it is, a month, quarter, a year or whatever, and then divide that by the number of opportunities and they generated. So this is not about like the fifteen touches that you might execute in a cadence. Not all of those 15 touches, not all those cadences will actually get a response. You’ve got a lot of people who don’t respond. So. So what’s the real answer here? It’s it’s a lot it’s like 200 to 300 touches, not by not into one person, but across a variety of people to get a new op. Right. So as I mentioned in the footnote here, it’s think about this is engaging 15 people 15 times and one of them turns into a qualified opportunity that sounds and feels about right. So there is you you’re going to have to do a lot of touches. And in order to get through the main thing, advice that we have on on doubling response rate is obviously to personalize it. Unless you have a hyper account based prospecting approach and maybe you’re prospecting a very, very, very small subset of accounts. Maybe you’re in the enterprise space and you’ve got, I don’t know, 10 to 20 accounts that you’re you’re going after, then it’s going to be impossible to personalize every single touch. So in the vast majority of cases, my advice is to personalize the first email. And so the question is how to personalize the first e-mail. And this is just a reinforcement of the fact that if you personalize, then you will double your response rates. The way to read this is the X axis is the proportion of personalization. So what we did was we looked at all the emails that flow through our servers and we figured out there are times where people could just send a template and those templates can have dynamic fields like first name and industry or roll or whatever. So ignoring those dynamic fields and only instances where reps overwrite portions of the template, that’s what the X axis is. So if they overwrite, say, 20 percent of the template doesn’t have to be the beginning, but it often is the beginning. That would be your 20 percent mark. If they blow away the whole template and personalize the whole thing, that’s the hundred percent mark. And then the reply rate is what’s on the Y axis. So what you can see is you get a nice return on personalization from zero to 20 percent personalization. So a little bit of personalization and then a flat line. So personalizing beyond the first 20 percent all the way through about 80 percent does not do you any extra good. And then interestingly, the response rate actually rolls back off again when you hit 80 percent. We don’t exactly know why that is, but we have a good hypothesis of why that is. And we think it’s because the you put a lot of effort into into your AB testing to get your templates right to your messaging, to get your templates right and so on. And sure, you can blow away a template, you know, and and have an anecdotal example of success. But when you’re looking at, as we did here, 300 million emails, you’re more likely to to mess things up that to fix them when you’re operating at a larger scale. All right, so to personalizes what to do, but the big question is how to do that. So I’ll start with a not so great prospecting email here. It’s it’s OK, actually. It’s got all the elements, subject line greeting. It’s a good sort of three part structure with the hook, the value prop, the call to action and then the signature. Otherwise it’s fairly generic. Right. I’m reaching out because I see you are doing X and I help people at companies A, B and C, and then they transition into their value prop and then they ask for a meeting. So that’s a pretty typical email. There’s no personalization in this one yet. So how can we make this better? And there’s a few good thinkers out there who have already thought this through Jeff Hoffman, who did it about 20 years ago and continues to do so today, and back Holland, who has some great flip the script content that has been talking about this as well more recently and with a little bit more momentum right now. So the advice that they give is to go through this flow and you start with PROSPEKT created content. If they have that, you stop, you use that for personalization. If they don’t, you move on. And I won’t go through this. You should look up their stuff. I will focus on the first one, which is oftentimes you may be prospecting people who are active on social media, for example. So they’re posting on LinkedIn or maybe they are interviewed on podcasts or have written articles, blog posts, whatever, just anything that they’ve created. So that’s that’s that’s your starting point. So when you have that, here’s an example of where I prospekt it back to one of those experts who’s talking about personalization. And I personalize the subject line and I personalized it by doing the following. I watched some of her content. And you can see this this first line here. I’ve been devouring your videos and love the anecdote. Now, I quote her back to her and that I reference something in minute. Twenty three, obsession three. So what I’m doing there is I’m personalizing in a way that a machine really could I mean it could a machine do it. Could IBM Watson do it. Sure is. But it probably wouldn’t be put to use to that application. So it’s in a way that that today’s A.I. does not conventionally personalize because you want to show that you as a human being have put effort into communicating with this other person as a human being. That’s a personalization is and the at scale piece is to use a framework like this, know like these sort of six ways to personalize, use the framework to do that at scale. But it still must be effortful to trigger reciprocity on the part of the buyer. The other important part is, is that from whatever your initial personalization is, you must segway into your value prop. Don’t just sort of have personalization. I see this mistake a lot where they personalize and then they just drop their value prop and there’s no Segway. So in this case I said, I’ve been doing your videos, loved your anecdote about preferring Pandora or Spotify. And then here’s the Segway. Just like with streaming music services, you have a choice of sales engagement platforms that do X, Y, Z. So that’s that’s a much better example of personalization. All right. Fifteen minutes, sixteen tips so we can do it. I have confidence. So first, as I often find asked, when is the best time of day or day of week, whatever it is, to engage prospects? And the short answer is the best time of day to have. Week is now. Sounds simple, but there really, although there are statistically significant variations, these are large sample sizes in, say, reply rate or connect rate via the phone. That’s the left and the right. You’re really not going to see a huge difference. So the way to read these graphs and pay attention to the one on the left is this reply rate multiplier. We’re going to talk about this a lot. So if you’re average, we just forget we’re normalizing to average reply rate. So the normalized average reply rate, we’re just calling a one or one hundred percent basically, and then say take Monday, sending an email on a Monday. At one point one means 10 percent higher than average. So if your average reply rate was five percent, 10 percent higher than that is five point five percent, 10 percent of five is point five. So five point five percent. So that’s way to read it. 100 percent is the average. The only real dip you see is you see a bit of a dip on Friday, and that’s because Friday afternoon, slow down Saturday, obviously slow. And then Sunday comes back and it’s kind of an average of the other ones. And the reason is, is that Friday, you know, most of the sorry Sunday, most of the day is low. And then people kind of get ready to catch up for the for the week. They catch up on their emails Sunday night. So your reply rates come back up again. So really any time from Sunday evening through basically Friday, call it to 3:00 p.m., those are all perfectly fine times to to send emails. I wouldn’t try to hit the right day. It’s not like you can afford to do that on the connect rate Somali. This is phone calls lasting more than two minutes. That’s how we define connect in the data. There are statistically significant differences and connect rates. But look, it’s like six or seven percent no matter what. And interestingly, a lot of pundits will say call early in the morning or late at night. This is back more, I guess, when people were working in offices. But even then. That actually was not better to do is actually worse, just, you know, call between business hours and and you should be fine. All right. Next has to do with inbound leads. We’re going to just deviate from that format of the reply rate multiplier. Just for one more second kind of obvious here is you want to respond to inbound leads as fast as possible. There’s some research from topos that says, you know, basically under an hour is fine. I tend to be more in the five minute camp. So we advocate trying to to respond in under five minutes. We tested the response time actually of cloud 100 companies and about 40 percent actually do meet that five minute service level agreement. In total, about 60 percent are within an hour or so. They would meet the topos guidance, but that you still got 40 percent of companies who take longer to respond and even 10 percent who don’t respond. So even some of the best companies in the world don’t have the the ultimate best practice here of of instantaneous response. All right. All the rest of the tips that we’re going to go into are going to go back to that format of the reply rate multiplier. So, again, what it is like 100 percent and then the though of your of your average reply rate. So keep your subject line short. We know this, but here’s the data smack dab in your face. It’s about five or 10 million emails that we use to look at this, even 87 percent higher reply rate. If you so nearly double if you have a one word subject line. I’m often asked, what’s the what is that magic word that it’s not gold. The magic word is actually your company name.

[00:14:04] So use your company name as as the subject line, certainly of your first email, even if you’re a company name, is not that well known that that’s perfectly fine. I’m also often asked that the other thing people ask me about this material is what is the zero? That actually means an empty subject line. So it’s kind of a sneaky thing to do that people think increases reply rates. And in fact, it does a little bit, but it’s not. It’s an open race and reply rates. It’s not significant. So I would avoid that subject line. That’s it’s I find it to be kind of an unethical practice and it’s actually worse than a one word subject line.

[00:14:39] All right, you often see these emails where it might say the company, like the senders company, name the recipient company, name the recipients first name. It turns out that the sender company name, as I mentioned, that’s your own company name, is the best thing you can do. Putting the recipient company name is fine doesn’t hurt these days. Putting the recipients first name and it actually does not work. It lowers response rates. That point eight means you have a 12 percent lower reply rate if you put the recipients first name in there. Why do I think that’s happening? It’s because anything that starts to look like marketing, like that’s why I say I warn with personalization that personalization really is true. Human effort, anything that starts to look like marketing starts to lower response rates. So avoid using the recipient’s first name in your emails, single biggest thing that drives reply rates. The reason I don’t put this first I put it in tip five is because it’s easier said than done, is to use the word referred or referred by in your subject line. And of course, that’s not because you’re using the word. It’s because you actually got a legitimate referral. So those are still the best things you can do in sales, period. And it proves true, obviously, in an email engagement as well. Next is, you know, we already saw we’re in a transition from the subject line now into the body. So the keeping your email short is the same sort of thing as keeping your subject line short. You can keep your emails under about 100 words. I think that’s safe. Keep it under 50 if you want to really do well.

[00:16:11] So the wait. I also think about this is if it fits on, if if it fits nicely and is easily readable on a mobile screen, you’re probably in good shape. But again, don’t don’t exceed that hundred word threshold. All right, Fast and Furious covid, We’re probably I mean, the world, unfortunately, is not over yet and hopefully we survive as as a as a planet successfully through the next year or so until there’s vaccines widely available.

[00:16:41] But prospecting wise people are really over this. If you put that cupboard in your subject line, your response rate drops by about 50 percent, five zero percent. It’s actually 47 percent. And if you start your first sentence with covid or coronavirus, your your reply rates drop as well.

[00:16:56] So just. Yeah, important critical social topic for us as a as a race and planet, the human race and the planet, but not as suitable for prospecting. All right. It is in contrast, though, hoping your well is actually a perfectly OK thing to do if you start your first sentence with hope or hoping or use it anywhere in the first sentence. I hope you’re doing well. That’s all fine. Just don’t put it in a subject line. Right? So you probably notice or you may not have noticed that in that email I sample email I showed before it was hey and then Beck or whomever. And when you use hey that their response rate, interestingly, is is significantly higher than other ways of greeting people. I think this is the sort of thing which which, you know, has been working. And it works because it’s a bit unusual as more and more reps begin to do this or as the marketing world begins to pick up on this, I think that effect will, you know, neutralize and come back down again.

[00:18:03] All right, a lot of people talk about whether you should use I or you or we in emails and they often say, start with you and always use you, never use it. I it turns out that’s bad advice to just use you. It’s perfectly fine to use I in fact, if you start with you, you have a 40 percent lower response rate and it kind of makes sense, right.

[00:18:24] If your first sentence starts with you, it’s a very aggressive approach and a very presumptive approach. So don’t sweat this whole I youwe thing. It’s perfectly fine to use I and then more than that, I’ll get this in a second is like the percentage of eyes and using emails.

[00:18:41] But we’ll hang tight and I’ll get to that ending your first sentence. So we looked at whether you use a period, a question mark or an exclamation mark. I got an email today actually with a question mark in the first sentence. That’s an OK thing to do. It’s about an average reply rate. Turns out that the most effective thing you can do again until everyone starts doing it is to put something again, be legitimate, be authentic, put an exclamation mark, a statement worthy of an exclamation mark in that first sentence.

[00:19:07] And you can see emails that we’ve looked at. Again, this is about. This one was, I think, three to five million emails in this case has about a 50 percent higher response rate.

[00:19:19] All right, we got a few minutes left, a few more tips. We’re doing well. So I talked earlier about, you know, it’s OK to start your first sentence with I. You can also think about the percentage of eyes in the entire email. So how often do you use eye relative to you? So this this x axis here is is eyes. So count up all the eyes you use. Let’s say you had ten eyes as a percentage of the the eyes and the use or yours. And so let’s say you had 20 sorry, you had 10 years. So you’ve got ten eyes over ten plus ten, ten eyes plus ten use 10 over 20. So you might have 50 percent in that case eyes as a as a total of the number of eyes and use. That’s all kind of convoluted. But what you can see from the graph here is that as long as you’re not extreme on either spectrum, like it’s long as you don’t only use you, which would be a weird email where you don’t always use eye, which is a bit of a selfish email. You’re fine.

[00:20:19] So I interpret this as basically having a conversational as having a conversational tone. So just use eye and you naturally in your emails and don’t sweat. You know that that pronoun usage too much.

[00:20:33] We looked at bullets and dashes. So if you use both your emails, your response rates dropped by thirty seven percent. So pretty significant drop. If you have to do something, use dashes instead. I think two things are going on here. One is, is, as I said, I think it looks like marketing.

[00:20:49] So any kind of HTML treatment which bullets are as opposed to plain text tends to command lower response rates. There’s also something else going on, which I think is a statisticians would call it multicar linearity. It’s that that where you have bullets, you probably also have long email. So part of the effect here may be that you’re over one hundred words that’s causing some of this dip in the response rate. But if you have to use one of the two use dashes plaintext, so carrying on that theme of don’t do HTML bold underline italics like any of that stuff, changing fonts, just just don’t do it. I guess the opposite of the Nike slogan, just don’t do it.

[00:21:34] You see all of those have have 13 percent lower, 17 percent lower and twenty four percent lower response rates. If you if you do anything that looks like fancy html don’t use hyperlinks or to I shouldn’t say don’t use hyperlinks. Hyperlinks are fine 014 fine. That’s, that’s OK. But beware of like many, many, many hyperlinks. It’s the same deals like don’t overwhelm people with choice but also don’t make it look like a marketing email.

[00:22:00] I was asked and it’s not in here explicitly but I was asked whether it mattered, whether you like have the raw you URL or whether you replace that with with text. It turns out it does not matter whether you use a raw URL or if you use it with text. I guess the exception is if you have it, you are out with really, really long tracking codes. So there you would want to replace with text and you would have there would be no negative impact. The only thing you do not want to do is use a Eurail shortener. People tend not to engage with the emails that have you URL Short-Termism. I think it’s probably because of kind of security and and privacy concerns is if you can’t read what the URL is, you get a little nervous and are unlikely to engage. And then finally, last but not least, I’ll throw in one bonus tip since we have three minutes after this. I got a kind of interesting one just fresh off the presses. Last but not least is that we looked at different ways to sign off just as we had the greetings. And so, like now all my emails begin with, hey, for years and years I had ended all my emails with regards because that’s what I was taught, I should say. That’s what I was emulating when I was at the early part of my career many moons ago, multiple decades ago. And when we ran this data, I saw that best was best. So I now signed off all my emails with best. So I start with, hey, I end with best. There are lots of other data science findings that we have emails. The bonus one I’ll throw at you is we looked recently at the use of emojis and subject lines and it turns out the use of an emoji in a subject line decreases response rates by fifty one percent, by five one percent. So do not use emojis in your subject lines. That is it. We got two minutes to go, so I’ll just use that two minutes to repeat that. You can get the slides for me. Don’t believe they’re available from the conference organizers so you can connect with me on LinkedIn. Ask me for those slides, happy to oblige and you can get the full email personalization guide of all those six ways to personalize with examples on this blog selling Sherpa Dotcom. It’s where I post besides on the sales loft blog. I’ll also post there. And the last thing is, if you do like podcasts, we do have a Sales People podcast. Quite proud that we have. Over one hundred thousand downloads of that podcast, so check us out on Hey salespeople or check us out on sales loft dotcom. All right. Hope you guys enjoyed Bewell. Well, thank you.


Back to the Basics – Unlocking a Repeatable Sales Process

Whitney Sales, Investor @ Acceleprise Ventures
Sales & Marketing Stage
Ascent Conference 2020

Man on the background [00:00:00] From from the stream, so I assume that your life.

Whitney Sales [00:00:04] OK, great. Hi everyone. My name is Whitney Sales. I am just a little bit about me. I am a general partner at Zella Price Ventures. I’m also the founder of a methodology called The Sales Method to my background. I was a VP of sales four times, had four companies on five thousand fastest growing companies list as well.

[00:00:28] Where I was either building teams or an early hire at the company helped build it out. I also just about the methodology we’re going to go through today is basically the structure of a qualifying call or kind of going back to basics.

[00:00:42] But if you’re a first time founder or product technical founder, the qualifying call is really the base foundation of everything you’re going to be doing and collects all the information you actually need to build out your scalable process.

[00:00:56] And so if you’re able to collect this information from either your team or if you’re a founder led team, we all kind of go through how you’ll go about doing that. All in all in a qualifying call.

[00:01:07] So on this methodologies and used with hundreds of companies, Excel Price. We’ve invested in over one hundred and fifty. So this is the ribbon run through the ringer. So I know it’s tried and true and works. And if you guys if anyone is interested in a copy of this deck afterwards, you are welcome to it. Just email me which my contact information will be at the end of the presentation. So when you’re developed, when you’re running a qualifying call, the whole purpose of the call is actually to establish trust. So your customer tells you everything you need to know in order to sell to them. It’s that simple, but it’s not that simple at the same time, especially when you don’t have an established brand or someone may not know who you are getting building that trust is very hard. And so this is basically an overview of how you can go about doing that. This is generally how I structure a qualifying call. I usually am structure. I run them for about half an hour to an hour. Again, this is the foundation call where you are uncovering the needs of the buyer and really setting yourself up to have a stakeholder meeting in the next conversation and kind of identifying and developing your champion within that organization. So I like to start the call with context. Then I’m going to jump into why why they’re talking to me in the first place and what it is we can actually do for them, as with my company products, services and then how they’re actually going to go about buying the product. You may move how they go about buying a little earlier in the conversation, but this is generally how I like to run it when I’m training people.

[00:02:43] So we’ll jump in and we’ll move on. So I like to start every conversation with a lap laugh to build rapport. This might be that I’ve had too much coffee today, which I almost always have, because they talk really quickly. It may be something that happens, something you find out about their company. But generally I like to try and get the the prospect to laugh. The reason being that naturally gets the person to drop their guard and builds in a positive affinity with you. It also makes the prospects brighter. So you’re more likely to get more information and they’re actually more likely to dig in on the conversation. So it’s just a really good way. If you set that is your goal at the beginning of conversations.

[00:03:26] What’s in a name? So a lot of people forget this, but I like to go through how we’re connected each person’s name, title and responsibilities, responsibilities are especially important because titles don’t mean a lot these days. You can have ahead of title and it’s really just ahead of one. Or you kind of had North America revenue like ET slack, which really is the core of the organization.

[00:03:46] So understanding those responsibilities is really important as you start to map your ICP, your ideal customer profile and your personas. So versus just using titles to do that and then confirming how much time you have.

[00:04:00] So if you scheduled a half an hour and it runs over to an hour, that’s a really good buying signal. Also, if there’s multiple people in a conversation, I do like to take notes on each person’s name, title and responsibility. This is especially important in Zoome context because you can call out that person’s name when you’re you and you’re talking about something you think they’ll be interested in. Next up on the agenda, so this is how I like to structure a call, so I use a little bit of similar method, a content based agreement to start the conversation. Some goals are the call are to get a good understanding of how you guys currently do X. From there, we can discuss my products or what it is that we do. And if there’s a fit outline, next step, sound like a plan. The other thing I like to cover in this is how to ask questions. So if I’m just going to be going through a pitch, I actually I will tell people how I want them to engage because different cultures have different ways of engaging. So if I want them to be ask me questions as I’m going through it, I will tell them that if I want them to wait till the end or that I’ll be pausing for questions.

[00:05:03] I’ll tell them that it just gives a context so you don’t deal with cultural barriers. And there’s a quick little script down there at the bottom as well. So you guys can pull that out and use it.

[00:05:13] So next up, I go into the founding story, the reason I like to use my founding story is it really is the first use case you can give a customer. The general structure of it is my personal experience with the problem. So how do I uncover this problem in the first place? What did I discover when I actually dug in deeper to the problem? So market trends.

[00:05:33] So maybe there there was the technology that most people use is ninety, is nine, is nine years old and very archaic and doesn’t have space for the data that’s needed. Or most people are doing this in Excel spreadsheets that requires and pulling data from 11 different solutions or new technology just developed that you can actually do this, that you couldn’t in the past, whatever it is.

[00:05:55] But there are things you uncovered and then and then why current solutions didn’t work and then how you went about solving the problem. It’s a general overview of how I like to run a founding story and I like to make it quick and concise. You’re going to get questions after this almost always, especially if you keep it simple and make it a relevant story. So you can always change it up as well to that to the buyer that you’re talking to.

[00:06:22] And next up, I like to go through my qualifying questions, so I call them Value-Based questions, what I’m trying to do here is one identify.

[00:06:30] Are they a good customer for me? So what do I need to know about the problem? They’re trying the pain point that our product solves for that they’re actively spending money and that there’s something going on within the organization that’s going to force them to make a decision on this. So if they might be a lot of enterprise products, for example, we run multiple sales cycles. So you need to know if they’re in a sales cycle versus an education cycle, that qualifying events are a really good way to identify if they’re in a buying cycle. The other thing I’m looking to identify is what the relevant case study will be. So ideally, you have a couple of customers or beta customers or you’ve talked to a lot of people that you can reference how you can solve the problem. That case study, you want to have a reference case study that is a similar problem or similar buyer in some ways similar to show that you can do you can say you can do what you say you can do, which is a really important thing in establishing trust. And when they’re giving me this information, what I’m trying to do here is educate them about the problem. So I’m trying to quantify the problem within their organization based on general stats when I respond to this. So it might be like, yeah, that’s something we hear a lot. Did you know 30 percent of all organizations are actually solving it this way or did you know on average 80 percent of Excel spreadsheets and pulling these numbers up? But they’re making these numbers up. But like 80 percent of Excel spreadsheets have an acronym, a fatal error in them, something like that. So you’re educating them, you and you might also drop competitors names that you’ve talked to you to show that you’re in the industry and can are kind of hot. Everyone’s looking you. Next up is the case study. So in this case, what I’m trying to do is I’m establishing credibility through other people’s experience. So instead of talking about the benefits of my product, I’m going to talk about how my product helped another company, because it’s fact. It’s not opinion benefits are our opinion. But if you talk about the benefits that that will be relevant for this particular user or this particular company in reference to another company who used your product, that’s fact. You can’t argue with the fact that another company got that benefit. They might argue with whether that’s a relevant case study. But that’s another that’s that’s another question. But if you’ve qualified it right, it should be a pretty relevant case study. And in that case, you can talk about the Arawa of the product tangentially through someone else’s experience. And so you’re really proving it through fact versus your opinion of the benefits. And again, if you don’t have a case study yet, you can use customer discovery and then you probably won’t have an ROV in there. The other thing that’s really important to do as you go through this in your case studies, is you can actually handle objections. So as your mapping, your personal, your buyer personas, you’re going to understand that certain objections always come up. You probably been pitching investors as well. You understand certain questions come up with technical investors. For example, in this case, you can actually build those in to your case study or your pitch or when you’re talking about your product. So you can build all these things into your pitch and handle those objections before they come up. If you’re really mapping your personas and the types of questions they ask. And it’s a really helpful tip to write down questions on every sales conversation and how you answered them to particular personas, because maybe you can build it in for scalability. Maybe it’s a product question and you need to build an IQ. Maybe it’s a content piece you need to have down the line. The next step is I’m going to jump into my sales question. So notice I have sales questions and I’ve qualified questions, qualifying questions again. Is it a good customer for me? Relevant case study, sales questions is I’m trying to understand how the pain point or ROIC that our product offers relates to this particular customer, this individual, and how it impacts their day to day as well as the company, because they need the ROIC to sell into the broader organization. But they also need to be motivated enough to navigate the organization in the buying process. So I really am trying to to uncover that and really understand it and then also get their specific ROIC. So their clear use case, which if you’re undercover, uncovering pain, naturally comes out in this portion. I’m actually focused on getting them to talk about. I’m empathizing to get them to talk about their pain. So when I was qualifying, I was educating about the problem in this portion. I’m empathizing. So we’ve all had a friend vent before. We know if we empathize, they can continue to share more. It also surfaces the pain for them a little bit more and helps them quantify it in their own head. So they’re almost calculating in their own equation around how much time it takes them, how many people are involved, how often there’s errors, how frustrating it is. All this kind of stuff is what you’re trying you’re trying to build. Color around this.

[00:11:23] And then one thing I want to mention here is the responses are not a pitch. Again, you’re not pitching the product here when you pitch the product that was in your use case and then also on your founding story. In this case, you’re actually just empathizing.

[00:11:37] You’re not trying to to sell the product like this. This part of the problem, our product will solve that problem. It’s the same thing that happens when you try and solve someone’s problem. Most of the time they shut up about the pain. And in this case, you actually want more of the pain.

[00:11:55] So finally, you’re going to get into their specific ROIC, so when I’m looking at when I’m looking at the ROIC, it’s it’s there’s particular use case and you need in our life for them specifically and for them, the individual specifically and in our way for the broader organization, because that’s how they’re going to get their other stakeholders involved. So you’re looking at how will it impact their business? So it might be from the standpoint of so from what I’m hearing from you, if you were to implement our solution, these specific areas of the product would be highly beneficial for you individually because it’s going to cut down on the time you’re trying to do for data collection due to the weather through the integrations. And then from there, from a broader organization perspective, these these larger reporting functionality will actually cut down on the time that spent from putting together these reports for your executive team. So that’s an example. And then in that case, you’re getting time. There might be potentially money savings. And if there’s always errors and then what they’re doing, for example, that might be an area that’s addressed as well. It could be a financial Arawa like we can cut down on staff that’s needed because maybe see us chat about something like that. It really is. It really depends on what Arawa for your specific product at this case, you want to pause for questions again, because this is going to be an area that you’re almost always going to get questions. You’re either going to get skepticism.

[00:13:12] And in that case, you need to go back and requalify or you’re going to get buying questions which are going to be really good buying signals or excuse me, implementation questions, because these are going to be really good buying signals for you when you’re going through the ROIC for them. Specifically, be clear, concise, be it something that can be easily repeated. And then finally, I’m going to go through bat, so that is budget authority needs time line. Your organization might use medic, you may use champ. There’s lots of different methodologies around this. I personally like that. It’s easiest to remember. I also teach with Mark Roberts at Harvard Business School. He also teaches at Harvard.

[00:13:54] So I think it’s probably a good strategy to use. So Bastar again stands for budget authority needs time line. One thing I want to mention here is a couple of the questions I like to ask. So they think they’re really helpful for founders. So when I’m looking at budget, I’m looking at how do you typically evaluate tools like this before? And is this something that you’re actively trying to solve for which is going to give me a timeline and you have resources allocated for it? One thing that’s really important to note is if you need technical implementation in what you’re doing, ask about sprits, because how do products get into your sprint cycles for implementation is really important and that might be more expensive than budget and trying to get into someone’s sprits.

[00:14:36] So that’s just one thing to really bring up when it comes to budget authority, is there anyone else who would need to see the product or be involved in the decision making process? What’s their role? What do they care about? What I’m trying to do is really map notice. I’m not asking if they’re a decision maker. Everyone’s a decision maker. If they’re decision maker, if they’re talking to you, they’re deciding whether they’re going to bring in other people. So they’re a decision maker.

[00:14:58] But instead, it’s is there anyone else who would need to see the product and or be involved in the decision making process? You might have security review. You might have like an input, like an infosec review. You might have a technical implementation person involved, but you’re going to want to your you really want to map that out eventually over time, you can just ask for those people for the next meeting.

[00:15:21] When you go through a demo, your goal is to get from this meeting is to develop your champion again and get to the stakeholder meetings. So in which you’re going to demo the product notice I’m not doing a demo on my qualifying call. I only do demos in my qualifying call.

[00:15:34] If you’re price points below a 20 K above that, you’re going to want to probably keep your demo to get the additional buyers that are going to be involved because there’s usually more than one buyer unless you’re talking to is exact. But even then, you’re probably going to have some knowledge workers who are going to get brought in needs you already established early in the conversation and then time line. Have they ever purchased a product like this before? And what was that process like? This is going to be what a really good question, actually. Map out how their buying process looked like. It also is really helpful information and understanding how they’re associating your product, which might be helpful for Price Point. If you’re still trying to figure that out as a company, you can map buying process. You’re going to get the buying process. You’re also going to get the Association Psychological Association the buyer has with your product. And then if it’s tied to an internal deadline, what I’m going to try and do now is if I found out the qualifying event is I’m going to try and map their buying process backwards. So, OK, so it sounds like you need to have a solution implemented in the next three months.

[00:16:36] If that’s the case, our tool actually takes about a month to get fully implemented and everyone trained on it. So what I would suggest doing is we probably need to have a final decision within this period of time. It sounds like the next meeting will probably be a stakeholder meeting. You have a three week political process, so we probably have about two weeks to make a decision on that. Does that sound right to you?

[00:16:55] From what I’m hearing from your your your process and I’ll let you know. And that way you can back into a timeline and actually see if you can cut some steps out of there to. After you feel you fully understand it again, I just repeated it, but like you’re going to repeat it back to the wire and what you actually understood, and that’s getting another consent based agreement on what they’re buying process. Looks like this is also helpful for voices when you’re trying to close your fundraising round. So it sounds like you’re buying your investment processes, as do I understand that correctly. Right. So people don’t keep throwing in extra steps for you and extending the process.

[00:17:32] OK, what’s next? So after you’ve repeated back to the buyer what you understand, what their buying process to be, I’m going to confirm what’s going to happen when we get off the call, which again, goal is a stakeholder meeting.

[00:17:44] Who’s going to be involved in that stakeholder meeting? Ideally, I want to confirm a date and time for that stakeholder meeting. If you’re talking to a decision maker, they should be able to confirm it because they have access to everyone’s calendars. You might need to do it with an admin, but I’m going to confirm that. I also want to confirm if there was information that was missing. So things that they couldn’t answer for me that they need to go get for me, maybe for my EROI story or something like that or something they’re going to share with me so I can put together a more effective demo, the information I’m going to share with them. So my homework and then ideally try and get that calendar invite out. If someone says circle back with me in two weeks, I’ll say great. Is this typically a good time of day for you? If it is, what I can do is just send you over a calendar invite for two weeks from now and I’ll check in a week ahead of time. That gives me two additional touch points. I also get a time on the calendar, so about trying to chase him down with email.

[00:18:33] Cool. So I went through that very quickly because we had limited time, so I’d love to open it up for questions from the audience if you guys have any. Oh, sorry, there’s no Q&A today because there because of a technical issue, so apologies, everyone. Well, I guess we’ll end a few minutes early. Again, my name is Whitney Sales. This is I want to quickly over a structure of a qualifying call. That is my Twitter and my email address. You guys are welcome to email me. We are accepting applications as well for our upcoming cohort. We are B2B, SACE, Accelerator and Seed Fund. We do small cohort’s in San Francisco, New York and Toronto with one hundred one hundred thousand dollar investments. And again, B2B says, Thanks so much, everyone.


A Big Deal How Startups Land Enterprise Clients

Perry Light @ North America Oracle for Startups, Adam Brown @ BT, and Kevin Frechette @ Fairmarkit, Inc
Main Stage
Ascent Conference 2020

Perry Light [00:00:01] All right, let’s let’s get started. Welcome, everyone, to the Ascent Conference. Our session is the big deal, how startups land enterprise clients. My name is Perry Light. I work in the Oracle for Startups team. And my role is to get startups in our program engaged with our sales teams that are connected to our enterprise clients, hopefully, obviously, to help them land opportunities within those clients. As you might expect, that is probably one of our most requested benefits and most popular benefits in our startup program. So we want to talk about enterprise customers and we’ll be approaching it really from two angles or perspectives. One is from the startup. And we’ve got one startup with us today that’s had success in landing enterprise clients. And the other perspective is that of an enterprise customer that is working with startups and in fact, this particular startup. So with me today is Kevin Frechette, who is the CEO and co-founder of Fair Market, and also Adam Brown, a senior transformation manager from British Telecom or BT Group. So welcome, guys.

Kevin Frechette [00:01:06] Thanks Perry.

Adam Brown [00:01:09] Perry and Kevin, thanks

Perry Light [00:01:10] Yeah, glad to have you. So let’s get started first with Fair Market. Kevin, can you tell us a bit about your background and a bit about fair market work?

Kevin Frechette [00:01:19] Yeah, absolutely. So my background is, I wouldn’t say overly similar to tech founders. I came up in sales programs both at a big company that a mid-sized startup took the leap of faith with one of my co-founders back in twenty seventeen and did the classic just one out. Not really a strong idea, I don’t think right off the bat, not on Bakht out, but the whole philosophy that we had going into the startup was we’re not going to create in a vacuum. We said we want to get out in front of potential customers. We want to understand what challenge they’re going through, if it aligned with the problem we were trying to solve. Turns out there wasn’t a great use case right off the bat for what we were trying to do. So in twenty, seventeen, about five months in, we decided to pivot because we actually uncovered a whole new space, which is the procurement space, and we understood how archaic it was, how manual was and how ripe it was for innovation and data and intelligence to come into it, to really start to transform this this space that was predominantly just pen and paper, just people touching knobs and levers. When the data was there, the intelligence is there. We saw a great opportunity to automate, to drive to a very strong business outcomes for our customers. So we did the the scary pivot about five or six months in and end up being the right call. Since then, we’ve done an 11 million dollar series last year with INCI partners. We got the 20 20 Gartner Cool Vendor Award after a couple of years of trying to fight for that one last year. And then we’re at about 50 enterprise customers. So it’s been a fun journey and still learning a ton. And I was really excited to do this talk because selling to enterprises, especially as a startup, is is not easy. It’s hard. There’s definitely a lot of things along the way that we learned and happy to share them here and answer any questions as well.

Perry Light [00:03:02] That’s great. Thanks. And I think maybe, although you say you’re different from maybe some of the founders, I think your experience is probably not that different from a lot of startups in the idea that you said you guys just sort of took a leap and a little bit in kind of said we need to step back and rethink and pivot a little bit. I think I hear that quite a bit.

Kevin Frechette [00:03:23] Yeah, it’s it’s the idea of even early on, I think some people said when they met with me was like Shark Tank because there’s a pitch. And I had like, we had to completely change our mindset and go in more curious and just understanding, listening and learning. And then we created the solution around what we are hearing as opposed to like getting up in front of Cuban and Kevin O’Leary. So it’s been a fun journey.

Perry Light [00:03:46] Great. So, Adam, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background, especially startups?

Adam Brown [00:03:53] Yeah, well, my my time with startups, I didn’t say I’m going to feel really old now. My I have done a few startups in my time. My first one was back in ninety nine, so I did a tech startup in 99, if anybody remembers it, that was the absolute pinnacle of the dotcom bubble which then burst pretty much in 2001, 2002. But we did 10 million in series A funding out of Softbank just at the tail end of ninety nine. And then I went and did a few with a few other things before, you know, ultimately ended up the British Telecom where I work in transformation. So very specifically I work in procurement, in British Telecom, in transformation. And I also run the digital garage in procurement, which is now exactly as it sounds. We have the mission of digitizing procurement as rapidly as we possibly can and importantly trying to leapfrog that traditional transformation that you do, that traditional iterative approach to to a transformation where you just modify and tweak and adjust, but really try to take a step ahead with that. That’s what it is about. And also mentoring some small early states much earlier than fair market. And Kevin, because we’re a big organization, we’ve got a huge, huge reach. And I’m particularly interested in anything in the procurement sphere, that procurement ecosystem and how I can help those start ups we have for the moment to shape their products and work closely with them, give them my experiences and do the correct thing. It is a big, big organization.

Perry Light [00:05:41] That’s great. So, Kevin, tell us a bit about your experience selling into large enterprises. Sounds like you’ve landed a bunch and congratulations on that. But I imagine starting out in twenty seventeen, that was a bit scary when you’re first getting started and first approaching those first few enterprise clients,.

Kevin Frechette [00:06:01] Yet you don’t meet everyone you meet isn’t like Adam. That’s right. And let’s bring him in. Let’s get him in the garage. It’s a really cool role that has it’s it’s a cool initiative and a mindset that you just don’t get a lot of organizations in terms of when we first started selling and frameline listening out there. Sometimes I hear I talk to other founders. The dilemma of like, does the founder sell or do you bring someone for sales to sell to those initial couple of customers? In my opinion, it’s so important for founders to sell early on for two reasons. One is you’re learning a ton just based off how people are reacting to what you’re saying, the questions you’re asking. But also you have that trust factor, because whether it’s Adam, whether it’s someone else and the customer, they’re taking the leap of faith in you as a founder that you’re going to deliver for what you’re talking about. They’re putting their political and their careers at stake, saying that we’re going to work with this team and going and champion the project internally. So I couldn’t support more the founder sales, especially early on in terms of how we went down the enterprise path. I think there’s two different types of companies, some that decide they want to start with enterprise and go down. Others decide we want to start with SMB and go up. Either way, I think the founders should be talking to the enterprise clients early on for us. We decided to go Enterprise down and we just did what we knew, which we made one hundred calls a day. We just got in front of as many people as possible. And the main thing that we are trying to drive to is what are the outcomes that customers were looking for? It was less about what’s the technology has the machine learning work. It’s more about what’s important to the business. What makes a business successful in our champion successful? Can we create that path to get them there? And can we show that we can actually execute against it and then we can talk about the technology to do it? But as I said earlier, I kind of joke like don’t pitch like we started with the speeds and feeds with the deck presentation. We went through it and then we took a step back and we said, no, let’s talk about what’s important. Let’s ask questions. Let’s do a diagnostic to say where should we be going? And then does it align with what this customer is looking for? I’d say the we realized we were ready to actually sell to the Enterprise when we were able to create a business case with our first couple of customers and say, this is what you’re looking to do. This is what we’re looking to do as a company. Here’s the roadmap of how to get there. I know that we are under promising and we could over deliver on it. That’s when we wanted to sign up a customer. I think there are some companies they’re just charging for that first seven figure deal because it’s exciting. But the challenge there is if you don’t execute on that, the churn is going to get you. It’s going to crush you from a metrics perspective. Also, if a seven figure deal or any type of deal is a majority of your revenue, they’re going to have a lot of sway in the direction of your company. And it might not be taking it where you want to go if you sold the deal incorrectly or you create their own business plan. So I’d say for us, the biggest thing we learned was aligning on expectations and doing our rollouts in a very controlled way. So we said, let’s, OK, here’s the big picture we want to accomplish. Let’s start with this. Let’s prove it out here. And as we prove it out, then we can start expanding the partnership. And that also builds the trust along the way as opposed to trying to do everything at once.

Perry Light [00:09:04] Interesting, so, Adam, it sounds like in your role, you’ve got a dual role, so it almost could be easy to have those conflict a little bit because obviously you’re dealing with early start ups on the digital garage. But on the procurement side, I would think your management, you know, maybe not exactly in the terms Kevin said of risking your career, but I would think your management is encouraging you to go with established solutions, known entities that may not necessarily be startups.

Adam Brown [00:09:37] Well, yeah, exactly. This kind of brings on, I guess, my first kind of you learn, if you like, from the really big corporate organizations. It’s it’s not a big corporate doesn’t want to work with startups or innovators or estimates. You know, we absolutely would desperately. But it’s this bit of recognition that in any organization which gets to a certain size based government and there’s policy and there’s process and what we see as a big company need to be very conscious of is ensuring that any governance or policy or process that we implement doesn’t have the adverse effect of channeling us towards just the really big established ones. And a lot of that comes down to really understanding the risk and understanding how to mitigate that risk. Because now, like Kevin, with fair market, they have you have that company, fantastic product. But it’s a small company, and so it’s you want to make sure that if there’s any risk, which some kind of policy would make you assume that they may be, whether rightly or wrongly, we need to make sure that we understand and accept that and know how to mitigate it. So they need to be so that that kind of appreciation as well. The big companies, it’s like that. And if there’s anything that the small startups can do to be flexible with commercial terms or the way they work, or that proposals to really help enable us to mitigate any foreseen risk, that is really, really super helpful.

Perry Light [00:11:16] How do startups help put an enterprise customers concerns at ease and feel like they’ve gotten the answers they need to mitigate those risks?

Adam Brown [00:11:27] Oh yeah. I love fantastic, fantastic question. And it’s really it depends on the product and it depends where it’s fitting it. So speaking from my experience on that procurement side and digitalizing that it would be an enormous ask for a big company like Bayti to say swap out your ERP system or swap out something absolutely mission critical for a startup. That kind of criticality on just running the business is probably too much of a difficult question to answer. But to Kevin’s point, they the thing that really does work is having an expansion plan, getting in there, being utterly laser focused on just delivering something that really proves out and is really meaningful and then having an expansion plan on how you can bring more and more. So with with the guys that market a product like that is super clear. You so focused on one territory, one country, one regional, one category, something simple like that, which proves and give confidence that it’s working seamlessly, so happy and then expand. So it it depends. But you need to be realistic as well as the criticality.

Kevin Frechette [00:12:43] And I think Perry to jump in there from a startup perspective. The like atom’s mindset right now is, is exactly what we’d be looking for, where it’s understanding what the current forces at play internally at our company, and then how do we start to integrate and start to bring in and not just show that initial value, but how do we and champion it to other teams, other geos, other departments. And that’s the hand in hand kind of working together. And when everyone talks about like ideal customer profile, so what’s the ICP? And it could be at a company level, but a lot of times it’s the role level that’s most important. And I have talked about this. It’s who owns the process because that’s for our business. That’s what we really need to interject ourselves in. And we have to become part of that process. And if we’re talking to the wrong person, they can we can have 50 calls. But if they can influence that process, we’re just spend our tires until we get to that right person. The other part that Adam brought up that thought was a great one is and we did it incorrectly. We still do incorrectly sometimes is just making sure that we ask and understand the internal process before having our expectations set about when the product is actually going to kick off. And I think probably all founders do this, especially ones that are a tight timeframe. Right off the bat. You have a couple of good calls. You get excited. It’s called Happy Years and you’re like, oh, this me a customer tomorrow when in reality, even if everyone wanted it, there’s still a month and a half of data security review, the MSA process, all these different things to sign up. So just to make sure both sides have a positive experience, having those conversations early is, I think, super healthy, because then you can start to work backwards from what do we need to accomplish to get to each of these steps. And that’s something we’re able to do with Adam’s team and most of our customers. But it’s still hard to have that conversation early, almost like the disarming honesty.

Adam Brown [00:14:29] And that’s the bit, Kevin, is that is that honest conversation for the. Yeah, based on the corporate side, but also from of us, the brutal question of who’s the operational budget holder who owns that process. Fundamentally, you’re asking who makes the decision. And this comes to, well, the one bit of advice to anybody who’s who’s listening do not be blinded by job titles just because somebody got a CFO or a CPA or a CEO in a big organization. That might not be enough, you might think, great success, you know, the CFA thinks this is fantastic, but you have that level of diligence and process and governance in that data level to step through. And and ultimately, you know, you’re looking for who owns the budget, who’s making the decision. And I think I saw something which really crystallized this for me years ago. And it was, I think, from Bain, they had a model for who makes the decisions. So you need to find a person who makes the decision but also understand who are the people who need to input into that. They were the people who need to agree to it, who understands how everybody fits in. And then you’re really going to be successful. And if you think you’re talking to the wrong person, but you’ve got to champion, just ask them to introduce it to the right people.

Kevin Frechette [00:15:58] Adam, are you ever offended when someone asks you counterattacking before someone says the decision maker, who’s your boss? But like, how how? Because I think some people are worried to say that sometimes it’s hard to get the answer. What’s the best way using a position to yourself to make it a healthy conversation?

Adam Brown [00:16:16] Yeah. So I’m really, really happy if I’m happy or if people are just blunt and ask the question if I’ve forgotten to say at the beginning, just to make sure it’s clear and sometimes it’s healthy because it reflects nothing in my procurement world that might be a little overlap with something else. And it may be that I sort of think that I might own the process, but in reality I don’t. And if I’m pushed by somebody like Kevin, I’ll realize that straight away, saying that it is doing that in a in a nice, polite way. So having a conversation and off the bat somebody say, I want to talk to them probably isn’t really going to be the most helpful thing. But having a good conversation to understand those moving parts and what’s the process as a great way to start and who owns the process, who owns the budget cut of that phrasing will really help nail down to where you need to be.

Perry Light [00:17:13] Yeah, I think a lot of times. You ultimately have to say, you know, who who ultimately is going to sign this contract, you know, if we get to that point and the other is, as you said, Kevin, I think it’s really important to identify a champion, someone like Adam, and maybe even use those words a little bit, not necessarily asking them, but saying I appreciate you championing this issue for us and then asking the next question, you know, kind of positioning them as champion and then see how they respond. Would you agree?

Kevin Frechette [00:17:46] Yeah. I mean, I think there’s the philosophy I always had is just like super direct and just like that, disarming, disarming honesty of like, hey, Adam. Done a lot of these projects. I know typically we’re going to get to a point a month and a half where someone else is going to get brought in and then someone else is going to get brought in. We’d like to get ahead of that or prepare you for that or have us be prepared for that. Can you just unpack and walk us through what happens for you to get a project approved and just like as plain as possible? And I think if people respect if you’re honest and if you’re like looking at them eye to eye and it’s not. Adam, I think we talked about this in the prep session. It’s not that this is Adam, BTW, coming over and we’re like, you’re a startup and it’s like that’s the relationship. Because if so, there’s going to be less trust and less confidence and less value being delivered. But if you’re looking at us saying this is a project we want to accomplish, we’re both investing time, both of our teams. Let’s make sure we have the expectations set and talk about it. I feel like that’s something that people are a little nervous to do sometimes.

Perry Light [00:18:52] Yet you’ve mentioned when you talk about this negotiation and and making sure you don’t have happy years and expectations a little bit unrealistic. How do you negotiate that, Adam, from your side? I think you’ve mentioned before that sometimes you might want to just add a zero or, you know, times 10 whenever you get an estimate from somebody. How do you negotiate that between a startup who wants to do it as quickly as possible, they need the cash, that kind of thing, whereas the enterprise, they’re going to move at enterprise speed so that.

Adam Brown [00:19:27] Enterprise speed is a great phrase, and I’m sure when do we start speaking, Kevin, January?

Kevin Frechette [00:19:33] January demo in February announces in March more meetings.

Adam Brown [00:19:37] Yeah.

Kevin Frechette [00:19:40] Before we agreed on the rollout.

Adam Brown [00:19:43] So as a startup, do not be dependent. Don’t have that first phone call and say, great, I’ve spoken to Betsie, I can see the scope of what we could do there. It’s millions and millions and then just sit back and wait for something to happen because it would get on the phone relentlessly, contacts people, get the best salesmen, just be the salesperson for your company. Don’t just be the inventor. Don’t be the founder. You’ve got to you got to sell and you’ve got to relentlessly be out there pushing and pushing to. Yeah. More irons in the fire, as many as you possibly can, because it’s going to go slow in the world of the enterprise. It really is because. You’ve got so many large organizations on a site with so many people that you find involved, be that from just from procurement to do the commercials, to get contracts sorted out all the way through to the technology to make sure that the technology integrates correctly or if it’s on the roadmap to the future, the folk in a different department, it might be security. You want to come in and check that you go you’re testing down, that you adhere to whatever standards to so many parts of the organization to hit that it’s going to take a long amount of time. So as a start up, if you want to sell to an expert, you need to be prepared for that. So you need to be talking to a lot of people at once and ensure that you’re realistic about the time frame. It’s it’s not something that’s going to be super, super fast. Because and I guess this is the crucial thing to point out here. I am not buying stuff. Just to test it out, I’m not buying it to play with I have a real critical business need for all of this stuff that we’re looking at and we’re doing. And so really, it doesn’t matter. The fair market is a startup, although they’ve got a product and it works. Then I’ll put it because I’ve got a name. I’m not here doing favors to capital fair market. It’s because they know the companies that we’re using, like them, have a good product that we honestly want to use. The only difference being a startup is coming back to that risk. And how do we how do we korecki mitigate it? Make yourselves comfortable that, you know, should something go astray. But the power that they have a pile of things to do in their office, how do they carry on the delivery is the simple stuff like that.

Kevin Frechette [00:22:06] Luckily, we got out of our office, so we have a P.O. box now. So that’s some cash back in the business now. And I think Adam’s absolutely right. And one thing for anyone listening is usually that risk factor is in the first three to 12 months, it’s getting over that hurdle. They’ve evaluated it. They’ve aligned to the business goals. We know the rollout. They need to make sure in that first year it’s successful or that first month or the first three months. But then after that, it’s off to the races. And we’ve seen it with every one of our customers. And I don’t blame our champions of making sure that this is the right call. This is successful. And I did say earlier, if you put the carriers in line, it might’ve been a little bit of an overstatement. But people are putting their political capital down. People like Adam, people, all of our companies, they’re they’re going to they’re like to the CFO, to the CPA, whoever it is, and they’re champions of why this is going to be successful. If it if it does fail, it’s a big project that is a big black mark. So we understand that at this point, this isn’t like, oh, because it’s cool or because it’s fun. It’s not. This needs to solve a business problem. And then we’re equally accountable as we hold our customers to making sure we hit those goals.

Perry Light [00:23:16] That’s one thing you talked early, Kevin, about speeds and feeds into the tendency to want to go there and of course, Adam’s talking about I need a solution. I wasn’t in search of a cool product or something that does something neat with a tire smell. I think that’s that’s common not only in startup world, but just even in maybe younger salespeople as well, that they want to go in until everything they know about a product or all the the cool features without really talking to the customer or listening first to what are the problems you’re trying to solve and then talking responding to those issues instead of going in and just saying, here’s a library of all the cool things that our product does. And it’s it’s an understandable tendency. I mean, a startup is very proud of what they’ve done and they’ve done something new and innovative. They want to be able to show it off. Right.

Adam Brown [00:24:09] But what you’ve got to remember here as well is being it’s that laser focus on your message. I mean, want your product to solve a whole load of problems. It might solve three, four, like 10 different things. But you need that laser focus on the one key one, the one thing that really matters, because you’re going to get dilution, dilution of the sales message. So, yeah, if Kevin sells something says Adam is the ten amazing things about fair market, he’s going to present a usable equal waiting to me. I’m going to probably remember three of those out of those three, I’ll probably be able to articulate one of them to some half level of decency. And I think I would explain that to my boss. Then he might explain it to somebody else. It’s like Chinese whispers eight toilets. So be laser focused on the beginning of that one thing that really, really matters and sell.

Kevin Frechette [00:25:04] And to take it a step further, it’s not something that happens by accidentally by accident. It’s you need to have a process around how you’re going to run those initial discovery calls. We decide at Fair Market to bring in a sales trainer. Shout out to Steve Cranor and we’re looking for a sales trainer. Let me know after I can give you an intro. But essentially, we flip the mindset of giving a deck and saying, here is everything you like, Adam said, or even two or three things. And instead we have a very, very specific line of questioning around, OK, what is the customer priority? What do they care about? Why do they care about it? Have they tried to solve it in the past? And that helps us uncover a is there a fit? Because it’s really hard sometimes for startups to have a chance to talk to Adam and then say, you know what, this actually isn’t a fit right now. And that’s a lot of times the best thing to do is disqualification. You just saved Adam a ton of time. You just saved a startup with a lot of time and resources are really valuable. So if you can really figure out what’s important to them and if it doesn’t line to what you do, you save everyone time to small. You leave on a great note. Maybe you pick the conversation back up in two year, but if there is one or two things that are exact it, then, you know, these are the two areas that we’re going to line this whole project around. And it’s tough once again, because you want to talk about tech. You’re in the recent meetings and you’re just going you have to change your mindset altogether. And that’s why I go back to back to customer meeting. It’s really hard sometimes.

Perry Light [00:26:27] Hmm. So one last thing, and this is this is probably the eternal question. What about proof of concept versus paid proof of concept? You’ve both talked about how you need to start with something provable, manageable, and then grow it over time to prove yourself and be able to meet the customer’s needs. From a startup perspective, how did you approach that? Did you ever ask for a paid proof of concept?

Kevin Frechette [00:26:52] And so from our perspective, we always did, because we’re an enterprise sales company, we tie in with big legacy solutions and different solutions that are newer, but they have thirty, forty thousand people on it. So they’re already structured very in place. Oracle is half our customers for us. How we position our proposals is saying this is the three to five year roadmap with your team. Let’s start with a shorter period of time, prove it out and then then we can expand it out once we justify it so that that’s how we’ve done our pilots. It’s just a shorter period of time. But acknowledging that both sides are putting in putting skin in the game, knowing that we’re both eager to make this accessible, as Adam said, he’s not testing in our stuff. We don’t test it out. It’s not we want to prove out that this is successful and then we’ll expand it.

Perry Light [00:27:41] So rather than pay, just try to make that proof of concept as short as possible to move on to the next phase, which will start producing revenue.

Kevin Frechette [00:27:48] So we do pay. That’s still paid in a show. It is OK. And then we expand it out after. But it’s a much smaller financial commitment. But the bigger the whole reason that we have a financial commitment is to show that both sides are leaning in, that both sides once again are invested in making it successful.

Adam Brown [00:28:08] And I guess only to build upon that because Kevin and the guys are a lot further down that journey than the some of the other startups that I’m working with. I’m one of them that I met in January straight out of Cambridge University, which is just up the road from me. There was one guy made fun to go stuff. He was one guy literally created the company with that, you know, the small startups that we mentored and never going to be in a position to do. Is Kevin this done and say let’s have a let’s have the initial phase of our contractual to approval that expand. And so I kind of spin on the head and say, OK, so you’ve got a product, you’ve got an idea of what you want to do. What how can we structure that? So there is a real tangible deliverable to us that I can keep that’s meaningful and has value to me that I’m comfortable to pay for because I’m paying you to give me something that really has true meaningful value. And so when it’s the really super tiny startups, just think about how you can shape it to be a meaningful product that you can do and deliver. And it’s there, but it’s done rather than looking for a full ongoing service, which may be a much, much more difficult thing to do.

Kevin Frechette [00:29:27] I think that’s a super important point, Adam. It’s less about the period of time. It’s more about what’s the value driven during that period of time, because if you if in a month or every two weeks, you can prove the value to justify the expansion, that you have to validate it. Great. For some companies that might take six months to do so really depends on your business. And when you have measurable data for your champion to bring back to the team and say, we’re good to go, we validated this.

Perry Light [00:29:57] That’s great. So I want to talk about some key takeaways, but before I do that, any final thoughts and the other tips and tricks that you would hand out?

Adam Brown [00:30:10] I wouldn’t go yes,.

Kevin Frechette [00:30:13] I’d say it’s something it’s the reason we’re on this talk right now, it’s time to partner and to align with other credible third parties. Oracle is a great example. So we start partner with Oracle. And this wasn’t prompted by Perry. I think that was really a question that wasn’t in the notes. But we started partnering with Oracle about two years ago. And since they’ve introduced us to ten plus customers, we’ve been to Oracle Open World. We’ve had Bruce there. We’ve done case studies with Oracle. It just brings a ton of credibility, especially when we were a year and a half in, when we first started working with them to get large enterprises to kind of sit up and say, wait, how come Oracle is spending so much time with this startup? And it can be the same thing with partnering with a beating and not just having BTE as a customer, but saying how do we do case studies together? How do we do reference calls together? How do we do events like this together? Because a hopefully from a Rams perspective, it shows what they’re doing and showing that they’re pushing the limits. And from fair market perspective, it’s a great association to be with B team with Oracle and that we talk about risk and risking it. If you’re another customer looking in, hopefully it gets just a little bit. Derice, every time you see that additional validation point where that’s Gartner or the next thing in line. So every Mikie thing I throw out there Adam I cut you off.

Adam Brown [00:31:30] Yeah, it’s like, well, it’s it’s to me it is just the blindingly obvious stuff to not forget. So don’t sell it. Please don’t oversell. I think this is Kevin said he would rather on the selling the list because is a much, much better position to be in. And you know, we again, the obvious thing. Yep, I have problems that I’m trying to fix. Every other big organization will. And we’re simply looking at how can we do something better, faster and cheaper. That’s it. You know, when I was young and growing up, somebody invented these things called facies. When I was young, my parents thought they were an expensive toys. Right. Clearly, they weren’t. So so I just remember. So everything is going to move forward. Everything has to accelerate. Yeah. At the moment we’re now reaching an machine learning lockshin is how do we automate, how do we accelerate, how do we make it better, faster, cheaper. Thus don’t miss the the obvious. And then yeah I think a lot of companies like Betsie at the moment, I think I’ve got to give kudos to the CPA for having a bit of a vision to say, let’s have a digital camera, let’s let’s create something new, let’s build this this new thing and these new ways of working. And yeah, it is an exciting time, big procurement of the moment, tremendously exciting time with being able to evolve and really get onto the cutting edge of procurement. Technology is absolutely awesome.

Perry Light [00:33:07] OK, great, thanks, guys. So the other things that we talked about that we heard today, one is definitely develop a champion, you know, work with somebody, try to identify someone to be your champion and use them to be your guide to find who those decision makers are. Be realistic in your expectations, I think was another, especially when it comes to time that the enterprise timeline is always different than the startup timeline. And and just remember, I think we talked quite a bit about it’s not just about bells and whistles and cool innovations. Make sure you understand, as Adam was just saying, get to the meat of what is the customer trying to solve and stay there. You know, you’re doing it in a very cool way, but just make sure that they’re getting what they need. And that’s about all I’ve got. One other thing I do want to give a reminder to our audience that there is a session right after this at 130 with JD Weinstein from Oracle talking about something that you mentioned, Kevin, corporate partnerships and how they can help your startup scale. So that would be a way to kind of expand on what you just introduced. And we appreciate that. And no, I didn’t ask him to do that. Thanks a lot, Kevin.

Kevin Frechette [00:34:17] And really appreciate you having us on Perry and Adam. Thank you. Thank you for joining as well.

Perry Light [00:34:22] Thanks, guys.

Adam Brown [00:34:24] Yeah, Kevin, Perry, thanks very much.

Perry Light [00:34:25] All right. Enjoyed it. Thank you.

Kevin Frechette [00:34:27] Have a good one.


Sales management best practices in an enlightened era of diversity, equity and inclusion

Matt Cameron, CEO & Founder @ SaaSy Sales Leadership
Sales & Marketing Stage
Ascent Conference 2020

[00:00:01] Hi everybody, it’s great to see so many people have come to turn up to listen to one of my the topics on most passionate about that is diversity, equity and inclusion.

[00:00:11] And we’re talking about it in the context of sales, leadership, sales management. Quick introduction for those of you don’t know me. I am the the leader of Sassy Sales Leadership, which is a company that specializes in working with the go to market teams, took me in venture capital backed or publicly listed companies. As you’ll see from the slide. I’ve moved around a lot. The accent you’re hearing is a little combination of New Zealand and Australia and a result of having moved around so much. I didn’t have a perspective on the value of an inclusion.

[00:00:42] So I expect that the majority, of course, they are listening in because you understand the benefits and the moral imperative of having a diverse workplace workforce that reflects the communities in which we live.

[00:00:58] It might be, however, that you had leaders in your organization to say, look, in our community, the vast majority share the same beliefs, looks the same lives in a predictably similar manner. So our team should be the same.

[00:01:12] And so I understand that commercially focused imperative. So what I’ve done is given a lot of thought in terms of the implications for the business and observing what’s happening in the broader business universe. So for those of you of leaders who might not be as on board with this or colleagues a bit more skeptical than what the hard dollar reasons to care about are going to give you several pieces of armor as we go through the conversation to that. But to begin with, I’d like to lay some into introductory groundwork and they learn how to apply it in the sales context.

[00:01:46] So let’s start with diversity. By definition, I want to point out you can’t be considered a diverse person on one human. Or one human being, each of us. So what is true is that we seek to create diverse teams through bringing people together with different perspectives. And this is where it gets pretty interesting.

[00:02:11] I’ll start by saying it isn’t as simple as male and female, gay or straight, religious or agnostic, white or a person of color. We’re all a blend of several things.

[00:02:20] And in fact, it was in 2014 that a woman by the name of Kimberle Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality, which gives me a really great visual of the rich tapestry that makes up each one of us. We’re not just one of these elements, but rather a combination of several bit identity experiencer traits. And this is why I think the term intersectionality is helpful from my own perspective. Some connection to those being born in New Zealand in the early 70s, before I was living and lived in four different countries, attended six different schools. And to be fair, at almost every one of them, I had the wrong answer. Or maybe it was the wrong cultural expectations that didn’t meet the context I found myself in. And having now spent over 20 years outside of New Zealand working at Stoddart’s multinationals and running global teams, or developed a great appreciation for the important contributions that different perspectives bring and how leaders, we need to be sensitive to the fact that we view the world through our perspective lens, and that’s different from the person that we’re interacting with. And we’re going to have a little bit more on what this means for you and a Day-To-Day level in a few minutes.

[00:03:33] However, we have to start with diversity, one of the biggest barriers to diversity in our candidate pool is one of our favorite hiring practices, the good old employee referral bonus program. And I’m guessing a lot of you, you can you can give me a lot something if this is a lot of you have an employee referral program, which is great for getting people in the door. But the problem is it should seem obvious that you get homogeneity.

[00:03:58] I remember when I was at Yammer, some of you remember you got acquired by Microsoft. The initial hires came from UCLA because that’s where they were at the time. So how do we get beyond our networks? The great news is there are some fantastic new communities that are providing access to underrepresented candidates who bring different perspectives that can dramatically accelerate our success by joining more dots in the universe for us. Give you some examples.

[00:04:29] Well, entry level first is the academy has a stellar reputation for sourcing, developing and mentoring early career sales people who actually stay in the role longer and perform better than all the averages based San Francisco. But they drawerful underrepresented areas and uncover the hidden treasure of highly motivated, loyal and inspired candidates that are looking to make it into the universe. I come from all over the place, so if you want to get started, then how better than growing your own diverse team or talent pool from entry level and then bringing them up another great new community?

[00:05:06] It’s very exciting for me is violence. Violence started in L.A. and he can find well qualified black professionals in all roles. And they’ve got the backing of our premier venture firm up front benches. And I’ll come in then to.

[00:05:22] Another one is, why is women in cells everywhere? So for those of you who recognize the gender imbalance in your team, why is the division of Rikyu, which is a recruitment firm focused on connecting female talent with opportunity? Lastly, Out in Tech has a great community and related job board for the LGBT, LGBTQ plus community because looking for progressive organizations, so you’ve got the right context to provide a welcoming environment where talent of all affinities can shine and really contribute. That’s a very short list. I’ll give you one example of different affinity groups, but I hope it’ll help you realize there are options and perhaps plan. Starting with these, you’ll be inspired to look more broadly through your immediate networks that you have access to. I promise you some hot dog stuff. What is the hard dollar reason to ensure diversity in your team? In my peer group of people who frequently conduct win loss reviews with their prospects. What are you more interested in? An increasingly prevalent theme is that sales pursuit teams are losing all parties on the grounds of cultural fit.

[00:06:35] And if you dig deeper, it turns out that’s often as simple as the Zune meeting, looking like a 1950s monochrome TV set that has the brightness turned up to Max contrast to zero. Human nature is that people like people like them. So if we don’t mirror the customer communities we’re seeking to serve, then we’re making the job twice as hard. If you think about the last few group presentations that you did. Was it a group of men that showed up like an IBM team straight out of onboarding in the 60s? For those of you who responded to our piece? I’m sure you’ll be starting to see this. There are questions now coming out relating to diversity metrics in your company and is key criteria to winning a bid, especially if you sell to the Fortune 500 or the government. So this is an example of where our ecosystem is exerting pressure for positive change and one that no one can ignore. So let’s move on to the second later, and the equity is one thing for us to find or to a source of diverse candidates. What we need now to figure out, though, is how to both attract them and ensure they can do the best work when they get there. So let’s start with equity, which should actually be easy for all of us to understand. I mean, simply stated, opportunities must be given and recognition must be afforded fairly. And in my personal values, this fairness and equity ranks number one, probably due to the examples being picked last for the soccer team, because I had a weird accent and maybe a bowl haircut at school I used to have here could just be that I will never finish this critical step. Another obvious area is pay equity, and I’m sure some of you are thinking, well, who the heck doesn’t pay equity is the obvious or how about this? Five years ago at Salesforce, I say Salesforce. Salesforce is renowned for the DNI programs. How could it be true that they didn’t have pay equity? Well, it turns out they did a survey in twenty fifteen. What they found was there’s a gender pay gap that amounted to three million bucks a year. And to his credit, the CEO immediately thinks that’s a fact that the pay as required. So Salesforce can let that happen. And I’m sure a lot of us are vulnerable.

[00:08:57] And one of the ways this is happening is you’re employer. So here’s a specific tactical tip. I would hope that none of you are asking people what they’ve built in the past, the legal in North America, but a practice I would definitely like rubbed out, as well as asking what people’s earnings expectations are, because certain groups of people, both the heads down, are going to ask for what they really believe or match the contribution. They’re going to make some of this help the candidate, what the pay range is, and ask them if that’s in the range that they would consider. Well, he didn’t nickel and dime and negotiate with him to get the best people right. So it sounds leaders attract them and don’t try and sort of negotiate at the time of entry is not helpful for anyone. What we want is great talent.

[00:09:44] It’s going to hit. Now, the less obvious area around equity is who gets developed and who is a sales leader and can be insidious as to who gets time on your calendar and who does. So there are certain cultures where it’s seen as self promoting or unprofessional to be getting in a manager’s face with development or input, whereas for other cultures it’s seen as showing initiative and drive. And if you don’t pay attention to how you’re spending time with who has formal coaching plans, who doesn’t? Very quickly, you find that you’re missing an untapped potential in your take. So I want you to reflect the modern. If you think about the people who report to you, who gets the most one on one outside of reform, one of us gets to go to the development events, the conferences, or perhaps sit in a project team to develop new ideas if you’re going to get maximum value from your team and retain all of your talent. And we need to ensure everyone has the same opportunities. Remember this. Just because someone doesn’t ask for an opportunity doesn’t mean they won’t be the best person for the job.

[00:10:49] Study after study shows that men in particular are happy to apply for promotions or roles, whether or not they check all the qualification criteria where a statistically relevant number of women actually won’t apply for one hundred, ten percent of the requirements.

[00:11:05] So don’t lose out on that talent. And that brings us to inclusion.

[00:11:12] Inclusion means that people can truly turn up to work as the best self, bringing as much of themselves as they think contributes to a good outcome. Many say bring your whole self, but actually that isn’t always helpful. As much as we may aspire to, that probably has some aspects of our life. We just aren’t ready to share some practical terms. In real life.

[00:11:33] An inclusive workplace invites the whole self, but it isn’t mandatory to retain and nurture top talent. It’s critical to have an honest look at the end to end employee experience with an eye toward creating conditions that promote inclusion on a daily basis in designing ways to measure the impact. Now, right now, as we’re engaging, of course, this work from home in most places, and that has different implications, depending on your life situation with your caring for elders, children, what not this we’re thinking about. Inclusion is so important.

[00:12:09] This is what matters if you look at this graph, we invest a lot in getting our people up to speed and it really takes some time before we get real our way out of them, particularly for mid-market and enterprise risk. And the highest Y is where we can farm from the talent we have within our ranks and keep them for long periods of time. As sales leaders, we know that in order to be successful over the long term, we need to become proficient at developing and retaining our next generation of leadership so that high performing IP or newly minted sales manager doesn’t get given the opportunities that are ready for relative to their peers because of their affinity group or the way in which they need to operate.

[00:12:48] We’re going to lose engagement and a lot of off to a company where they do feel, heard and respected. So this affects onboarding, team building, culture, performance reviews, succession planning, mentoring, everything. So our sales organizations need to scale up diverse and inclusive behaviors. For example, in very practical meetings, who’s invited?

[00:13:13] Maybe the role of who gets to speak and how often are you leaving anybody whose input would be valuable? Does everyone have an opportunity to have their input here?

[00:13:21] And as a result, I feel that they’re both respected and have the ability to have impact. Are you running meetings with certain people don’t contribute either in leading a topic or having the perspective solicited? Remember what I said before? Some people have put their hands up because culturally that’s not what I do. So we need to solicit that input. I was actually speaking with an organization recently where there’s a forecast and pipeline review with 40 people, 40 on the call. But only senior leadership says anything in front line managers. Just listen. That’s not a recipe for engagement. So you should be asking yourself, have I created conditions where every person can contribute in the unique and meaningful way and feel safe and secure about doing that if you haven’t? Do you have the courage to fix it now again and promise that don’t share some hard dollar specifics? I want to do that for you. How about winning more deals? If you’re selling up a midmarket or enterprise, then I hope you’re having a test and improve review session right where you get the reps together and one of them presents the deal. We help test and improve their strategy to that opportunity. A good example of how inclusion gives better outcomes is when thinking about deals. And I remember working with one company that was selling to John Deere microphone not based in Illinois. The team were running a standard playbook out of New York when one of the stars they happened to be able to do a review was from the Midwest, interjected and said is really, really important to have face to face relationship and trust building meetings with folks from the Midwest is how we do business. Now, if this company didn’t have diverse representation in the team, then it wouldn’t have had this and perhaps would have been perceived as the pushy salespeople from the Big Apple and just care and not about people, we definitely doesn’t work in the Midwest.

[00:15:19] So with this kind of inclusion comes engagement and engagement delivers discretionary effort, and that comes from being welcomed, valued, respected and heard. A key thing here is that people are welcome because of the difference, not in spite of them.

[00:15:35] We’re not here to tolerate people. We have to recognize the value and the contribution that the different makes for ourselves. And for example, for those of you who are seeking to sell into the C suite of enterprise large enterprises, you find you’re trying to engage with an older demographic, having older, typically having older demographics. And your team is going to support these efforts. So rather than being accepting of the over forty five like me, you might recognize them as a secret weapon. No, not currently looking for a job, but just in case, connect to me only now inflation is back. The conclusion is very much a continuum from the far left, where little Matt is not allowed to have a voice and therefore none of his values being tapped all the way through to full inclusion with a feeling of respect and value means that I can make a meaningful contribution to the team.

[00:16:33] The leadership quality of inclusiveness feels more important now than ever in an exercise we do in the leadership program that I lead is to introduce people to the idea of examining their own values so they can be conscious of their perspective when leaving the team.

[00:16:48] Values are made up of belief systems and experiences, and the challenge with not examining your own values is without realizing it. We’re constantly defending our perspective, which might be subconscious. So, for example, some of you might be familiar with the exercise of asking why five times to get to the root of the problem? And with this exercise, I could realize that my need for everyone to be at the office back home, we’re doing it and I am for stand up rather than dialing in actually stems from a belief system I have used to have that people take advantage of a situation where they can therefore cannot be trusted. Therefore, I need to manage my people closely with some people if given the opportunity. And it sounds pretty funny to work from home environment, but not so long ago, I’m sure a lot of managers felt this way. As a side note, actually, a lot of managers on hold right now are encouraging employees to work less because the days are getting longer during work from home. Productivity is through the roof and that’s a real risk. So it’s important to know what your values are and share them with your team, which on assessment and task forces, we take the time to do internal reflection values, discuss the implications of those values. Here’s some questions for you. If you take your value, what can your people expect from you? How are you going to behave? Secondly, what do you expect from your people? Because that might be different. And then ask yourself which affinity group within your team might feel excluded by that value. So, for example, if you value long hours, equals hard work equals good employee, then what about people who have children they need to care for straight after work or elderly folks? They have hobbies, community. And the quote I have on the screen here about treatment is a reaction to the commonly held belief that we should treat others as we would like to be treated. But give it a second thought, and it’s easy to realize that this is not universally ideal for people with different experiences, belief systems and perspectives. For them, a better approach is understand how they want to be treated and do that right. Sir, farmers say that grit means that as a person with no young kids in the house or work longer hours and do whatever is needed to fill the gaps for past. But what about my team members who have to under five year olds running around, jumping in and out of, do you expect them to work the night shift when the kids go to bed, or are you going to make exceptions and acknowledge them in a temporary context? You’ll accept your high performance may experience a small dip in productivity until things shift. We need to switch some language on here because the next question is one of fairness and equity. If we accept a dip from some people in the team based on the one on others, a less obvious and yet very common practice is that single members, people without partners in our team, are expected to pick up the slack for those who have family commitments. And this isn’t fair. So why are we single out C.N. or single Sam for working through the weekend to help out with Cuba or to help solve some new material? So we have to be conscious of it. What’s.

[00:19:52] Look, this is a journey and they’re already full phases, phase one is not knowing where you find yourself at this stage if you think diversity is compliance related or someone else’s job and not yours. Right. But once you become convinced of the importance of inclusion in your sales leadership role, you in the awareness phase two and in the step you educate yourself. Listen to things like this, reading books on how best to move forward. And I hope this is a catalyst for further inspection. And then beyond that, you get active. At this point, you take meaningful action in support of others, like ensuring that everyone, when your team is able to contribute equally and eventually you might reach advocacy. And in this stage, you’re proactively and consistently confronting discrimination and working to prevent it on a systemic level. As you move along the spectrum, your actions become more public, more high risk and perhaps operate at an organizational level. So this is very much a journey. And at a personal level, I’m actively seeking to be an advocate through being outspoken in my views, taking overt acts like using my pronouns when I introduce myself, and also helping people learn by empathetically letting them know when the actions or words might be excluding this one right.

[00:21:04] For you to get started, might be able to lobby to pick up a book online. Jennifer Brown, who was well-known in the community how to be an inclusive leader as your role in creating cultures of belonging where everybody can fry.

[00:21:18] This is where I’m going to chat. I really appreciate everybody turning up today and I last asked all of you relates to leadership. We’re committed to supporting underrepresented groups and SAS. And as you can see here, we have a scholarship initiative. So if you go to our website, if you know or you identify as somebody who is underrepresented in technology, we give free trainings or trainings range from twelve hundred to a few thousand dollars and we give these free. And that’s a North Star. We measure us based on the number of scholarship students we get through our program and invite you to share that widely so we can help more groups join our community and we can get the value that can be delivered by having a diverse set of people in our teens graduating.

[00:22:07] I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference.


Using Humor as a Strategic Sales Tool

Drew Tarvin, CEO @ Humor That Works
Sales & Marketing Stage
Ascent Conference 2020

[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to your next session at the ascent conference. I’m Andrew Tarvin and we’re going to be talking about going from funny to money, how to use humor as a strategic sales tool, especially during these unprecedented times. And, you know, they are unprecedented at times because of the unprecedented number of times people have called them unprecedented times. But to be fair, how many of you had to survive a pandemic on your New Year’s resolutions? Anyone like, you know what? I want to eat healthier, exercise more and stay away from people as much as physically possible? Probably not. Right. And I think throughout it all, we’ve faced different challenges. At the beginning, I think some people realized that they weren’t as good at working from home as they were coming from work. Right. They were way better at checking Facebook or scrolling their Instagram and the office. And they were at actually being productive and getting the types of results that they needed while also feeding the kids and walking the dog or feeding the dog and walking the kids. You know, I think people are recognizing that it’s called remote work because honestly, it’s sometimes hard to find. For me, one of the challenges I’m dealing with is I live here in New York City in a four hundred square foot apartment in the East Village. And I’m starting to go a little stir crazy. It’s gotten to the point that the other night my wife and I built a pillow fort just so we’d have a new room to explore. We’re also rearranging our furniture every couple of weeks. It’s not really feng shui. So much is being way too much time on our hands. But I’m excited to be joining you wherever you’re watching from, whether that is your living room, your office, maybe somewhere else, hopefully not your bathroom. But I’m excited because while the world has changed around us, our work hasn’t changed all that much. We still have to send emails, still have meetings and still have customers, users, clients and potential buyers out there who can benefit from what we offer. Now, you just can do all of that wall in your socks and there is still a need for humor. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today, humor, because I spent the first part of my career working at Procter and Gamble where I learned that it doesn’t matter how good your product or service is, if it doesn’t actually resonate and serve your consumer.

[00:02:18] And it turns out that what I learned from 15 years of doing improv in stand up comedy is particularly helpful and resonating with people. So I started humor that works where we teach people like you how to get better business results while having more human fun. Now, before we start, I do have to make a little bit of a disclaimer. So if you all can read that and hit, I accept that would be great. But basically the summary or too long didn’t read version of that is to say that I have never actually worked at your company. I don’t know what it’s like in your role every single day. But what I have done is work with over 250 organizations all around the world on how to use humor to get better results and whether they were organizations like Microsoft or the IBM or the United Nations or the FBI or even the International Association of Canine Professionals. The one thing that they all had in common was that they dealt with humans. And so this is about being effective with people. Second, we believe we can help anyone learn to be funny or not necessarily across the board. Funny, you’re not going to watch this one program and immediately have a Netflix comedy special. But that’s also not the goal. Our goal isn’t to teach you to become a standup comedian. Instead is to help you understand how you can strategically used humor to get better results. To think about some of the biggest challenges you’re facing right now and see if humor might be part of the solution. Because while a lot has changed in twenty twenty. A lot has stayed the same, namely the nature of work. Because if you think about it, no matter who you are, what you do, your work comes down to five core skills. First, you have to be able to execute. You have to be able to send an email, fill out a TPS report. Shavon Alpaca, whatever your job is, you still have to do it. It’s just the environment in which you do. It might have changed. Instead of being surrounded by coworkers, you’re surrounded by loved ones or co pets or copious amounts of home distractions. Right. But you still have to execute next. You have to be able to think yet to be how to solve problems, prioritize a thousand different email requests and figure out the perfect angle so that your video background doesn’t show the mere next to you that someone might walk in front of at any moment. Then you have to be able to communicate. You have to be able to decipher what an employee said and what they actually want. Have to be able to explain your product or service in a way that doesn’t lead to confused faces. And you have to be able to pick the right gift to send in the group chat. Personally, I think you can never go wrong with a little bit of Citizen Kane clapping or if something is not going well, maybe try and everything is on fire. You have to be able to communicate now. You have to be able to connect, you have to have emotional intelligence, show empathy and build relationships with prospective client without the benefit of in-person interactions like casual chats or awkward small talk in the elevator. Instead, coworkers and customers are increasingly feeling like Alexa and Siri. You speak something out loud and hope that you hear something back. Note that the goal is not to treat people more and more like Alexa, but to maybe treat Alexa more and more like a person. In fact, if you have an Alexa, I strongly encourage you to say thank you and please. That way it’s not only more polite, but if there is a robot uprising, Alexa would be like, you know what? They were one of the good ones. Finally, you have to be able to lead. You have to be a to influence people to the best solution to motivate your coworkers when things are tough and you have to be a mentor. New people joining the organization. Now, it’s important to recognize that leadership is not a position. It is possible to be a manager of people and be a terrible leader. Leadership is an attitude and specifically it’s an attitude and action and one that happens at every level of the organization, no matter what your role is. And that’s it. Your work comes down to some subset of these five skills. So the work itself hasn’t changed so much. But what’s changed is how we do it. And it turns out that we as humans aren’t so good at the how even prepend in pandemic, because eighty three percent of employees feel stressed out at work. Eight out of ten. What’s crazy about this debt isn’t that eight out of ten seems like a lot. It’s that people are like, wait a second, what are the two out of ten people do that aren’t stressed out at work? Fifty five percent of employees are unsatisfied with their jobs. In fact, here in the United States, more people believe in ghosts than like what they do for a living. But that’s crazy. If you think about it, that means the average person like I want to kill my boss, but I can’t because then they come back and haunt me. Finally. Forty percent of employees struggle to stay happy. Of course, it’s even worse in Disney World, where statistically only fourteen point three percent of Dwarf’s are happy. That’s one out of seven, but it all leads to 70 percent of the workforce being disengaged. So not only is it impacting you and your coworkers, but also your customers, but you don’t need stats to know that the current way of working isn’t actually working because think about the average day for the average person, right? You wake up in, the first thing you touch isn’t a loved one. It isn’t your pet. It isn’t even like a glass of water, a toothbrush. It’s your phone to turn off the alarm. And then, you know, as you’re looking at your phone, you’re like, I’m just going to take a quick peek at email and boom, you’ve already started your workday before you’ve even fully woken up. And now because most people no longer have a commute, sure, they save time sitting in traffic, but now they jump straight into work. And because they never physically go to work, they don’t have the time to mentally prepare and because they never physically leave work, sometimes they never mentally leave it either. We no longer have this idea of work life balance so much as work life, survival and all this is happening while you’re still trying to make an impact. And the reality is we’re spending so much of our time in email slack and zoom. And if you’re like me, you’re probably lying a lot more because of that. In fact, the number one lie that I’m saying is, I’m sorry, I have to run to another meeting. Right. Because every single time I say that, I’m actually lying three times. I’m sorry, I have to run to another meeting. First of all, I’m not sorry. Not sorry, because there’s no reason that this should have been a two hour long meeting when it should have been an email. Second of all, I have to run. Right. I’m working from home. I’m not physically going anywhere. And third to another meeting, the only other meeting that I’m going to is just not being in this one anymore. But luckily, we have a strategy to combat all of this. People use humor at work, are more productive, less stressed and happier. This is me on the end, the youngest and three boys. I’m so happy. Even though I have a booboo on my head, I’m still so happy. And this picture. And that’s not it. Right. Humor also helps you to do all of these things. There are 30 benefits to using humor in the workplace, all backed by research. Case studies in real world examples helps you to communicate messages, build trust. It even burns calories. In fact, ten to fifteen minutes of laughter burns as many calories as five minutes of aerobic exercise, ten minutes of dancing or fifteen minutes of milking a cow. So I don’t know where you’re watching from, but if during the pandemic you decided to start milking cows for exercise, you can stop or I guess you could milk cows and laugh at the same time, bring double the calories. Right. And then probably get locked up. That’s a little weird. If you want to learn more about these particular benefits, you can go to humor me such benefits and also see all of the sources. So how do you actually do it? How do we gain these wonderful benefits while also avoiding a trip to H.R.? How can we leverage Chuma to increase our sales without increasing our complaints? In order to do that, we have to talk first about the definition of humor. So I want you. Start thinking about what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word humor, maybe it’s laughter, maybe it’s jokes, maybe it’s comedy, maybe think of a smile or levity or even connection. Humor is all of these things. Humor is defined as a comic, absurd or incongruous quality causing amusement. So comedy is certainly included, but it’s also more broad than that. It’s beyond just what is funny. It includes things like this sign outside of a coffee shop. Life is like a game of chess. I don’t know how to play chess or might be like this sign in a park. This is a silly sign to me because this is the first sign that I’ve ever seen where the stick figure has a but that’s absurd. And finally, at this stop sign now, this isn’t necessarily laugh out loud funny, but it is something different. If you pull up to this stop sign, you’d probably pause for just a little bit longer. And that’s what we’re talking about today, right? We’re not talking about making the workplace funny so much as making the workplace a little bit more fun. So how does that directly relate to sales? Well, we’ve discovered that there are 10 humor strategies that anyone can implement in their roles. Today. We’re going to talk about the three most important ones in the sales process, starting first with getting people to pay attention because it doesn’t matter how good your product or service is, if no one is paying attention to it. And let’s face it, the world is increasingly distracted. The average person sends and receives one hundred and twelve emails per day and spends up to 80 percent of their time in some form of active communication. Email Zoome meetings, chats, text messages, phone calls, Instagram and whatever it is that happens on Ticktock, they’re all distracting us. So it’s no wonder that many of our virtual audiences look like this. They’re disinterested, disengaged or checked out completely. But even pre pandemic, a lot of our audiences were like this. What’s wrong with this audience? Well, first of all, most of the people aren’t paying attention. They’re on their phone or their computer. The people who are paying attention aren’t particularly enthused about it. And this person is either sleeping or has literally suffered from death by PowerPoint. One of the keys to getting and keeping people’s attention is being relevant. You can do this by telling people what they want to hear or more what they need to know and by using humor, because humor is instant relevance. When you get people laughing, they are listening. And once they’re listening, you can tell them what they need to know so we can use humor strategy number five to engineer surprise, to capture attention. Things like incongruity or simply doing things a little differently are a great way to create that surprise. You can do that in a couple of different ways. First of all, the incongruity could be visual like this sign. If you hit this sign, you will hit that bridge. Now, that’s effective. Or it could be like this ad in a magazine. Are you in the wrong job? Like if you’re flipping through a magazine, you probably stop at this photo it get your attention. And it actually makes a great point. In fact, not too long ago, I got a cold email from someone that I flat out ignored. Three days later, he sent me an empty email with just the gif of confused Travolta looking around. And I’ll admit it made me laugh out loud and I responded right away a little bit of visual incongruity to capture attention. That incongruity could also be a twist of speech, such as a turn of phrase like melts in your mouth, not in your hand, or maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline. Simple phrases like that stick with people and stand out. And finally, the incongruity could be logical, innocent. In Altman, the author of Same Side Selling, told me a story of one of his clients who would start all of his cold calls with This is a cold call. Now is your chance to hang up. Now, that may sound a logical in a way to start off right out of the gate, giving people an opportunity hang up. But a lot of people would laugh and they would then give him a little bit more time to actually make his pitch. So that’s the first strategy to engineer surprise, to grab attention. Up next, we can build rapport because when we laugh, we release endorphins and we associate those positive feelings with the person who made us laugh. Plus, when we see someone smile or laugh, we are primed to mirror that behavior with mirror neurons in our brain. This builds trust, diffuses tension and creates a positive shared experience that brings people closer together, which is vital in the sales process. In a study by CareerBuilder, they found that seventy one percent of employees said IQ is more important than IQ, both of which weren’t nearly as important as dequeue. Now, I’ll admit that it’s kind of tough to hear about how important emotional intelligence is. Since I’m an engineer, I think of emotions as just data and emotions are just data, if you think about it, which I did learn is the wrong thing to say when someone is crying. But it is true. And I do think that things would be so much easier if humans came with error messages. Right. Just like computers, we wouldn’t even have to. Change the error messages that exist, for example, if you forget someone’s name, it would just pop up warning system out of memory or if you get caught speeding would say caution, a legal operation has been committed. Or finally, if you’re out flirting with the waitress and she’s not really feeling it, it would just say error. Unable to establish connection to a server, an absence of human error messages. How do we actually build rapport? Well, we can use humor, stranded number seven to generate empathy. The one client that I’ve worked with that has generated more puzzled looks or questions from people is the FBI. People are confused, like where you teach FBI agents how to use humor to track terror threats better. Well, yeah, if you think of searching records as a game of where’s Waldo and investigations like those old magic guidebooks, you know, my work was specifically with the FBI office of Private Sector, the part focused on building relationships with senior executives to help prevent white collar crime. They’re also one of the most intimidating groups that I’ve ever presented to, not because they’re not nice people, but because 90 percent of the room was armed. But it’s exactly because of this intimidation that they were interested in learning how to use humor because it can be hard to build relationships if people are intimidated by your presence. I mean, how many grizzly bears are you friends with? None. And you don’t think that makes them sad. But as you can imagine, having the FBI come up on your caller ID or appear in your calendar can be a little startling. And some of the more typical methods of the FBI, like intimidation, don’t exactly work for collaboration. So the FBI wanted to learn how to build relationships without threats or subpoenas. And you might want to learn how to build relationships without begging for business or giving away everything for free. Either way, humor can help those brief moments of sharing a smile, laugh or giggle bond us emotionally and physiologically. And we can create conversational humor by following a three step process for generating empathy. Step one, ask compelling questions. Dale Carnegie claimed you can make more friends in a week by being interested in other people than in a year of trying to be interesting. Or, as Aaron Burr said and Hamilton, talk less, smile more, because how can you possibly make the right recommendation to a client if all you do is talk? As sales guru Phil Jones says, prescription before diagnosis is malpractise. The problem is, if you ask the same boring question, you’re going to get the same boring answer a question like the popular pandemic. Small talk of how you holding up either leads to someone saying fine or someone unloading way more baggage on you than you are prepared for. So instead incorporate a little bit of humor into your question. Replace how you end up with something like what’s your favorite thing that you did this weekend? The goal is to get the person to talk about something that they’re passionate and hopefully positive about. Next, we can actually tell interesting stories. Sometimes when people here ask questions, all they do is ask questions. And that’s not really a conversation, but an interview or an interrogation if you’re the FBI. So if someone asks you a question instead of answering with a one word response and flipping it back on them, answer with the short story. The key word here is short. If your response is longer than a George R.R. Martin novel, then your conversation will flame out like season eight of Game of Thrones. With the right stories, you can create a deeper bond with the other person by connecting with them through your past and your future. We’ll talk more about that in just a moment. And finally, you can continue the conversation. How do you know what question to ask or stories to tell? Well, this is where we can have an improv mindset. The fundamental mindset of improvization is, yes, in. And it turns out that that phrase is incredibly helpful for continuing the conversation. If you’re ever at a loss of what to say, simply yes. And the last thing that the other person said, even a question like, how about this, whether you’re going to bond. Yes. And if you weren’t working inside right now, what would you be out doing, enjoying the weather or guess? And did you know that there are over eighteen hundred tornadoes in the United States every single year? I read that and I was blown away. Maybe you don’t always need puns. Now, a conversation about the state of the atmosphere is one about hobbies. As you manage the conversation you can. Yes. And your way into talking about your product or service finally go. Number three is we can influence people. Study suggests that more than 70 percent of people experience imposter syndrome at some point in the career. For me, I have reason to believe that I am at least a somewhat humorous person because I’ve done over a thousand shows, is a stand up comedian. I’ve spoken or performed in all 50 states, in 30 countries and on one planet. This one, my TED talk is more than seven million views and over one hundred thousand likes, but it also has three thousand dislikes in the comments on YouTube range from compliments about the talk to utter disbelief that so many people could possibly enjoy this on. Funny waste of time now the positive comments tend to talk about how much they enjoyed the talk, like, wow, what a phenomenal speech or I straight up love this, watch it five times on repeat, which is maybe too many. Or this guy, I imagine, was just yelling the entire time, like, I think this video is genius. And it’s true what he said. Some of the comments are comedic in and of themselves. You have things like you can hear the nerd in his voice. This dude’s forehead is so big it has its own sense of humor form. I would pay to hear how this guy sounds on helium. Then there are also the people who just didn’t like the talk at all. This guy is trying too hard to be funny. Yeah, he’s copied a lot from other comedians and we’ll say luckily I did have some support in the comments, like Jack LaLanne saying I thought he was pretty OK. Thanks, Jack. But for every positive comment, there was a negative one. This guy is funny. This guy isn’t funny. Best TED talk ever. Go back to engineering, please. Your customers wrestle with these same challenges in their work every single day. But something that I’ve realized that every ounce of energy you devote to the people who don’t like what you’re doing is an ounce of energy that you’re not using to serve the people who do resonate with your story. And the reality is that you are the author of your own story. You interpret what happens to you and choose how to react. So what story are you telling yourself and what story are you selling to your customers? Deliberately crafting these stories is how you become more influential. And it’s our final strategy by being a storyteller. Stories when done well build connection with the customer, communicate your service clearly, get people thinking about how they can be involved and inspire them to take action. It’s the one strategy that crosses all five work skills. If you want someone to do something, tell them a story of someone who did that something and got the results that people want to achieve. This is why case studies are such a valuable sales technique. If you want someone to stop doing something, tell them a story of someone who didn’t stop and what the consequences and the loss was as a result. This is a cautionary tale. I mean, how many of us no longer take apples from crazy old ladies because of Snow White? Now, we could spend an entire workshop on storytelling, but to get started, it’s helpful to really understand the basic structure of business stories. For fairy tales. It’s beginning, middle and end. But for business, it’s context. Action results. To craft a story, think first about the context of the situation a previous customer was in. Your client should be able to identify with that scenario, then share what the action was that was taken. Oftentimes it might just show up and be what you actually work on. And finally, what were the results of those actions? While you can craft stories about just about anything, some of the most important stories to be able to tell our one the story of who you are and what you do, the story of your service or organization, and the story of where your customer could be with your help. And that’s how we use humor as a strategic sales tool. First, by getting people’s attention, by engineering surprise, then by building rapport, by generating empathy and then influencing behavior, by being a storyteller. Ultimately, the next step is up to you. What are you going to do differently now that you know the value of humor in sales? If you want to learn more, feel free to visit us at humor that works dotcom for free resources, information about our book and details about some of our virtual programs and virtual coaching options. If you have questions or ideas, feel free to reach out to me directly on social media. Assuming that works or website again, human networks, dotcom or my email android, human networks, dotcom to close out. Remember that when you get people laughing, they are listening. And when they’re listening, you can tell them almost anything. You choose how to do your work every single day. So why not choose to be more productive, less stressed and happier? Why not choose to get better results and have more fun? Why not choose humor that works? You all have been great. I’ve been Andrew Tarvin and oh, look at the time. I’m sorry. I have to run to another meeting.