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.
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