Most salespeople are not good at partnering with clients. They tend to focus on the transaction and not on building trust with clients, which is needed for long-term success.
The way to build trust with clients is by focusing on outcomes instead of transactions. This means that you need to make sure your client’s needs are met in a way that doesn’t leave them feeling like they got ripped off or taken advantage of. You do this by working together as partners towards achieving their goals rather than just trying to sell something to them.
In this post, we’ll explore what building trust with clients takes and gain insights from world-class expert – Fred Copestake including his framework and use of PQ (Partnering Questionnaire). So you can learn how to partner effectively, develop your partnering skills and create an environment where both parties benefit from the partnership.
Fred is the author of ‘Selling Through Partnering Skills’ and the principal consultant at Brindis, the consultancy he founded in 2004. A major project for Brindis being the planning and implementation of the ‘Coronacademy’. Working with Grupo Modelo, the Mexican brewer of Corona Extra, he oversaw training and other development initiatives for its EMEA distributors.
Fred has worked in more than 35 countries delivering projects that range from developing sales skills for Middle Eastern healthcare companies to account development and sales leadership in Latin America and Europe for IT and engineering multinationals.
In this episode, Fred shares his experience and knowledge to help us become better at building trust with clients that drive predictable growth.
Some topics we discussed include:
- There is a lot of hype around sales and a big number-crunching focus, but what does sales really entail
- Building trust with clients by partnering with them
- How to introduce this idea of partnering and its development process within an organization
- What is PQ
- Fred’s framework to develop our partnering skills
- Indicators to know that you have built enough trust with clients
- Building trust with clients by having a good dialogue
- How to get comfortable with interdependence and outcome enabled plans
- A key element to building trust with clients that most salespeople get wrong
- How to bring the various elements to bring value to a client
- and much much more…
Listen to the episode
Related links and resources
- Check out Brindis
- Check out Fred’s personal site
- Learn from Ari Galper – 5 Powerful Trust Based Selling Principles That Drive Business Growth
- Learn from Todd Caponi – How To Build Trust With Customers: 9 Rules To Abide By
- Learn from Tom Williams – What is B2B Sales and How to Create a Successful Sales Process
- Listen to my interview with Simone Vincenzi – How to Build a Personal Selling Process That Boosts Sales: 7 Steps
- Listen to my interview with Mark Welch – How to Craft an Action Plan to Improve Sales Performance
- Get even more inspiration with Sean Whitford – Generating Demand to Boost Growth: How to Use Demand Generation Strategies
Connect with Fred
Fred, you are a sales trainer, consultant, and author of the book Selling Through Partnering Skills: A Modern Approach to Winning Business. Behind all that I think it is important to share the fact that you’ve worked in over 35 countries delivering on projects that range from developing the sales skills for companies as diverse as Middle Eastern healthcare companies to account development and sales leadership in Latin America and Europe for it and engineering multinationals. But then in spite of all of this, you in 2004 started Brindis consulting, of which you are the founder and CEO as well. And I’m curious why what, was there a particular incident or a trigger that got you to say, I’m going to strike out on my own and start my own consultancy?
Yeah, no. What happened was I was working for a training company, so I was a full-time training with them. And one of the clients we had was a group of Modelo. So the Mexican brewing company, Corona extra Corona was a good thing. And then we did some projects with them. Yeah. And we suggested they run an academy as that stuff because the way they were studying in Europe was through a bunch of distributors and really they could win hearts and minds to, to do a better job selling through.
And they came back and said yeah, we’d love to do that. However, not in the way that you guys described it, Fred, would you do it for us? Which kind of put me in a bit of an awkward situation. So I said to the trading company, look, that’s what the guys have said to me. I’m not gonna they’ve offered me this opportunity.
And then the MD of the company said you know what you want. And I said, Andrew, they offered me the opportunity to fly around the world, helping them sell beer. What do you think I want to do anyway? Yeah. It makes sense for you to do that. If there’s anybody else we’d get upset, but you get these guys, I speak Spanish anyway.
So I knew it when they would talk about stuff. They didn’t think I was understanding. Cause they’d forget it. And that was the opportunity. Basically cut long story short. They went to the academy. It gave me a chance to set up, to run that for them and to do other projects which included working for a company that I used to work for.
Talk about having your cake and eat to get, it was a great way to set up. And so that was back in the day and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since they were the first client, really big, an important one. And it’s grown since then doing lots of those. Those are the projects all over the place as well.
And given your journey to date, what would you say is your personal area of strength?
I think it’s being adaptable. And then that’s sort of me, not many levels. It’s being in front of a group of people and something that you’d maybe planned to do. Isn’t necessarily the best thing to do and say, no, I know what to do.
I know how to do it. And I will do that, making that decision, but it’s also in the bigger picture. So being adaptable to this is the industry I’m going to be working in. This is what we’re going to be doing. And these are the things they’re going to need to do to make a difference, or I’m going to make a difference for them.
And it’s being able to make those changes quickly.
And in that area of strength, what would you say is something that businesses don’t know, but should?
What selling is, I’ll giggling cause you got one, of course, you’re going to say that and some organizations have X. Grasp of this, they get, so they know why it’s important.
And they know how to do it well, some get it in that it’s important and they don’t really know how to do well. And they’re a little bit stuck in the past and there’s some that are trying to do it well, and they’ll just always get in their own way. And then of course there are some that just fail to recognize itself as an important thing, won’t even call it that attended.
It doesn’t happen, but so more than happy to send you a bill, you know exactly the professions I’m talking about that.
It’s all on a different game, different sort of scheme of things, really understanding sales and how to do it well and why it is so important. That’ll be something that I think everybody, every bit business could benefit. Okay.
You have obviously through your training and experiences decided to focus in on this aspect of partnering skills for sales. Did you just see a real issue amongst salespeople when it came to partnering skills or was there some other reason for putting this book together?
Yeah, no. So what happened was I was actually doing quite a lot of work in channel at the time. So working with of it vendors and resellers and that whole partnering model and looking well, how can we make this be even more effective and really bring that to life.
And so I was doing some research in that and I came across this concept of partnering skills of PQ, and also looking at it. With that kind of lens if you like is to using it in that place. But as I was looking at the elements of PQ, I thought this is relevant to any salesperson. You don’t have to be part of energy.
You don’t have to be distributed manager. If you’re selling direct the things that it will prompt you to do and how it will give you a better mindset and ethos to work in a more modern way. That’s really beneficial. So I took it out of that, out of applied it right across the board, because I already want salespeople to be buying out today and to be more collaborative in the way they are.
Could you elaborate on this idea of PQ for those of us who aren’t familiar with it?
Yeah. So you’re probably all familiar with IQ at EKU. Yep. So yeah, PQ is I was the lesser known cousin, if you like. And it’s not something that I’ve invented. It came originally from some work from a guy called Steve dent, who back in the late eighties, early nineties was doing a lot of research on businesses, business alliances.
And, so you mentioned when the airlines were starting to come together and forming those big alliances to operate more effectively and to get all that good stuff from working that way, they wanted to do it as best they possibly could got him to look at it. How can we make our lives between the organizations better pay lipstick?
And again, cut long story short. He came out with the organizations, don’t partner people. It’s the people element of the organization. And so here are the elements of partnering intelligence or the skills involved in partnering, which everyone has, and we can all develop and the people who’ve got more of it or develop it better will partner better.
So get your people doing this and your alliances will grow. And so when you say you look at those elements of PQ for me, they apply off any sale across any sale.
I’m just thinking through what you’re saying and my takeaway would be, that even though it’s hard to stand out in an increasingly competitive world it’s difficult to be the biggest, fastest cheapest in your space.
But there are ways to differentiate yourself from the competition and perhaps the first and most significant way to do that would be. By building trust over time, which is called partnering?
So that, that is one of the elements of partnering skills. So what would you say that is? Is that right in a lot of what are people selling all the same and people go to great lengths to say –
Oh no. Our product is different. Assets is different. Whatever Tony tends to purchase at the same. So the way you differentiate or can differentiate is the way you sell. So if you’ve got a good way of Sally, if the customer experience is brilliant, if you help them in how they buy, now, you’re starting to set yourself apart.
Even if literally what you’re selling is exactly the same, which were quite low. It products. It is, as you can imagine, quite low product sets. So as you say, building trust, and so there’s six elements of peak. And would let’s go through them and just thinking about all these relevant to any sale whatsoever.
And if you could say no to me, I’d be like okay. But, so the first one, and again, they all work together. So I have to speak about this sequentially, but there’s no, I don’t think there’s any one that’s more important than the other. Okay. The first one is trust. So yeah, trust, it’s the foundation of relationships.
It’s a foundation of great communication. It’s something that we all aspire to build, and we want to have that because if we’ve got a, the way we operate with somebody else is going to be, it’s going to be more effective. So trust is one of the elements. Another element that state dental identified is having a win-win focus, looking for mutual benefit.
Where can we both come out of this relationship with something that’s good for us again, if we look for those and we deliberately tried to find them, that’s going to tear up a far better way of operating. Now, again, the salespeople have been trained in this for a long time. It should have been or should be.
So again, that’s nothing new to somebody who understands that when we talk about, and it affects how you negotiate, how you discuss things, how you problem solve, if you are also comfortable with the fact that you’re going to be interdependent, they’re not independent. Lot of salespeople have been independence in the past, but we gotta be interdependent as a salesperson.
My success is going to be dependent on your success as a customer. And actually, my success at salesperson is probably dependent on my team’s success in supporting me and how we implement stuff. So if everybody is working together on this and we’re comfortable with that, we can’t defend ourselves. And again, you’re going to have the best sales approach for three elements.
It’s like for me tick, tick. Yeah. That any sales person think like this. Now the next one is transparency. So I call it transparency because it’s shorter. But originally Steve Dan talked about self-disclosure and feedback. So this is about giving information about yourself, but also giving information back about other people.
So the information about yourself, it’s like you can’t expect people to be a mind reader, the customer, isn’t going to know what a good deal looks like for you. They aren’t going to know how you’re feeling about something. They’re not going to know that what you’re trying to achieve. So you got to tell them basically.
Yeah. And of course the feedback bit is something that salespeople will often struggle with telling your customer, you know what? You’re actually not helping me here. I am trying to help you. We’ve said we’re going to work like this. This is what we’re aspiring to achieve and what you’re doing. Isn’t conducive to that.
Again, if we can get our head around that we can share information. We can communicate really well. It’s going to be about a sales can be about relationship. But for let’s add in another one, let’s say the fifth element which is having a future orientation. But again, what we’re doing is saying we’re trying to achieve something.
We’re trying to go a goal. We’ve got a vision, something that we’re moving towards, let’s make our decisions based on that. That’s not the case saying, oh, that didn’t used to work in the past, or we never used to do it like that or in the old days. And I’m not saying you throw those away but make decisions based on where we’re headed and the resources and the, the situation we’ve got now.
But if we can do that and again, as a salesperson, you can help people to do it. You can move them along. We can’t text into the sixth element, which is comfort with change. Now, again, I believe salespeople are change agents. We sell change. We try to get people to do things differently. So we’ve got to be coated with ourselves and they would like to stand up.
And also by understanding change in how people react to it. There’s some of the common responses how it works, because that’s what the customer is going to be failing. That’s what they’re going to experience. If we can help people with that again, we’re going to sell better. So all those things coming together is that’s a really, for me, powerful ethos, powerful way of thinking.
That’s what underpins collaborative selling. So I talk about collaborative, starting a law, but it’s those things which are going to give you that, that ethos, that, that mindset, that guide to do it.
On the face of it, someone listening to this is probably thinking, yeah, it makes a lot of sense. And some of this is talked about perhaps in certain instances, more than others.
Trust being an example is a word that is used quite a lot, but to actually trust someone for some people is almost like a theoretical thing. It’s hard to pin down. Would you say that there are certain indicators or elements to knowing that you built enough trust with a potential client?
Yeah. Yeah. There are indicators and there’s things that you can see and be aware of and how they respond to you. But as it’s pushed back on that, it’s a kind of a theory thing that we can aspire to and can’t do anything about it. We absolutely kept going way clever than me is identified the trust equation, David Meister.
Oh yes. This is presser Harvard university, knows what he’s all about, and the trust equation you may well have come across, which I love because of its simplicity, I’m not saying simple to do, but it’s simple to understand. And it’s written as an equation, which is C plus R plus I over S so the C is credibility.
Do you know your stuff? Yeah. Yeah. So you’ve got to know your stuff and then you’ve got to demonstrate, your stuff and that’s pretty simple, really reliability. Do you do what you say you do. Again, that is something we can do day in, day out, intimacy, all you going to be safe with people’s information.
That’s why I understand that one. If people are going to share stuff with you, is it going to a good place and you’re not going to abuse that. So all of those people, so yeah, I do all those things. Now the clever part of the equation is that these are divided by S is self-orientation.
Yeah. So if you’re doing all those things with only your own interests at heart, it pulls the pools, that number down, doesn’t it. If you’ve got big numbers, they’ve got numbers, your trust is going to be built because you’re self-serving. Yeah. And I said, why should I trust you only do that for your own benefit if you’re doing that because you really do have the other party’s interest at heart, that’s where trust built.
If you’re giving things, you generally want to give, you generally want to help people. And now we’re cooking with gas. Now that’s how we can really go about building up. Quite consciously. Yeah. Yeah. I was thinking such an elegant way of explaining that. That’s why I use it quite often.
In more practical terms would you be looking for a response to verify the fact that we are on the right track in terms of building trust. When you’re talking to a person or taking them down this journey of exploring a possible solution?
Yeah. It’s, I probably wouldn’t get too. Yeah. Pretty, don’t get too wound up about trying to measure it as such they’re like you were to Speedo on the other car dashboard or something like that, or some of the other KPIs that you might have it’s Alec, it’s it’s an interesting thing because.
It’s both an output and an input of itself is a bit of a weird one. The more you trust, the more trust you get back, so it’s, and I think this is something where I probably say that really the gut instinct and just that general sense you’ve got, do I trust this person? Do I feel that they trust me back?
That’s where that kind of intuition, that feeling is pretty important coming because trust is a big part of it is around emotion. Isn’t it? I’d probably be more bothered about that rather than trying to say, oh yeah, I’ve measured them on the trust scale. And they score 17.4 and they score 23.6 it’s I think that’s, I think that’s too hard to do.
And it’s again, why you do that? You do it to see how much they trust you. So what you can do to then you’ve just ruined yourself orientation part of the equation, because you’re trying to measure it for your own fear and your benefit.
I believe your second point was developing a bit of a win-win focus. So that requires you to look for mutually beneficial ways of collaborating or doing business. It’s one thing I think a lot of salespeople are trained to ask questions to try to unearth what a prospect or a potential client is aiming for or hoping to achieve. But when it comes to the client do they need to be proactively asking questions of you or do you need to encourage that relationship.
Yeah. It’s behind good dialogue. It’s about having a healthy conversation based on insight. And that’s what sales training for a long time has been about questions, which is great. And don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we shouldn’t ask them. However, I think the questions we can ask can be more often, not better formed, better thought out if you’re just asking somebody how many officers you’ve got, how many people work for you, what’s your annual turnover.
And these are just bits of information. You’re trying to find out for yourself to see if they qualify for your time and effort. Really there’s better ways you can get that information. It’s not a value to the customer and it’s probably going to annoy them quickly. Yeah. So if you imagine that, our conversation time is very valuable.
The stuff we want to be doing is asking questions to open up that thing. This is where we bring insights to the party. We bring real sort of nuggets information that they might not know, or they might not have considered, or even just ask them a question in such a way that they’ve never had to sit back.
I can think, oh, what are, what do you consider like that? That’s what a salesperson can really start at to add value. And actually, yeah. Interesting word value because that’s, when we talk about some for mutual benefit and the win-win, now we have to be thinking about value. I think a mistake, a lot of salespeople make is that they go right.
That sort of customer has this sort of value from us. Now that’s not a bad thing. It’s a good starting point. But to rock up saying I know you’ve and I know the sort of stuff you do. The value you’re going to get from me is X, Y, and Z. Now I might be fairly close, but it might be ABC. Yeah, it might be XXX again.
So the best advice, and again, a colleague of mine always talks about getting salespeople to think about value is a mystery. You don’t know what it is. That’s your job as a salesperson to work with the customer to understand what value actually is for them. So that’s what the questions are designed to do is to explore that is to put these little bits of insight and it’s to use this thinking to open up the ways in which we could potentially do stuff together that is going to be of interest to them.
And of course, it’s got to be interest to you, but we don’t really know have a good idea what a reasonable idea when we’ve done the homework. So we’re just not completely wow it’s gonna be about for you today. That’s not a very good question. Yeah. But it’s just taking that, that, that direction, having that discussion, that’s what a good salesperson will do.
And the very best thing a sales person can have is when somebody just sits back goes that’s a good question. It took me a long time. Think about it. I’ve done my research and I’ve thought this is what we’re trying to achieve. That’s why I’m asking it.
Which kind of leads into your third point, which I believe was this idea of being comfortable with interdependence, if I’m not mistaken, is that correct?
I was speaking to someone a while back. I think it was Tom Williams, who, I think you, you may have spoken to him as well. He is fairly big on these things for mutual action plans.
Don’t call it that.
Okay. What should I call it?
Outcome enabled plans. Did he not correct you on it?
I interviewed him quite a while. A while ago. So he had called mutual action plans at the time.
That’s okay. Then I’ll let you off.
Outcome enabled with plans. That’s a interesting name. Would that be a good way to ensure that there isn’t a level of interdependency and going back to that second point, ensuring that there is a win-win?
Yeah, absolutely. They’re a brilliant tool. To be honest, whatever you call it, it doesn’t matter to me.
It’s used them, and I don’t know, I spoke to him recently and that’s why is his thinking shifted? Yes, it’s mutual and it’s all about the action, but what are we actually trying to act upon? We’re trying to get you results. We’re trying to get the outcomes that are important to the customer.
So that’s why he goes very strong on that language, so we’ve identified what those outcomes are. And we know what they look like. We’re now working. What are the things that we are going to have to do? We being the organizations and we’re putting names against the actual activities that are going to enable or going to make sure those happen.
Yeah. I’m going to take responsibility for this. And now when I say, my organization, so it could actually be this technical guy and it could be this marketing guy and it could be this other person. And from your side, you’re going to do this, or you’re going to make sure that your company does these things and we’re working towards this second goal, the goal being the outcomes, they used to be some insight is called.
I think some people still do, but they used to be called out closing plans to sell, to sales centers. And also that stops off there’s okay. Close, right? Yeah. See, I’ve called like on my deal. No, that’s just commitment to the next step. And then the things that are going to happen to make sure you’re getting your value, make sure you’re getting those outcomes.
So yeah, that’d be brilliant. He’s a big fan of them. And if I need information, if I need, I’m thinking around that, he’s my go-to bloke.
So once we have these plans in place you’re saying that or perhaps even creating these plans, you’re saying that a key part of the process is transparency. Now I have always seen transparency is pretty much being related to trust because without transparency people have this feeling that you’re not being entirely forthcoming. And so how would you encourage people to be transparent because traditionally speaking most sales training has always encouraged people to try and hold the cards close to their chest and try and make the sale that would pretty much benefit to the organization that you work for as opposed to the other party?
Yeah. And again, not the, he’s probably a little bit old fashioned, sorry. I completely, I’m going to,
I’m asking you this because in certain competitive industries, Things like pricing can be quite important and a determining factor when the consumer today is has access to information can pretty much compare one offer against another. So how far should we go with this idea of transparency?
Yeah. Whether we’re actually given you saying these are our margins, but go, let’s relate this one, but these are all interrelated. This is the beauty of it. It’s fantastic model to get salespeople focused. W we’re back to win and get some of the training that I will do as salespeople.
It’s just making sure they focus on that. Some people are brilliant at making sure the customer gets a good deal, but actually in reality, it’s not a good deal because then not getting what they need from it. So it’s not sustainable. Yeah. So it’s like focusing on the wet and again, yeah. The customer might be pushing you.
They might be trying to go it hard and then I get procurement on your case. And really, if you’re not telling them, no, we can’t go. It just doesn’t make sense for us to do that. They don’t know that they just pick up on the signals. So make it easy and say, look, this is where we’re at.
This is what we’ve got to get from this for it to be interesting business for us otherwise, what is the point? And again, that’s another thing that the sales people often don’t do so well is qualify stuff out and say that he’s never going to be a real good deal for you.
They’ll buy from someone else. What they get from somebody else is level quality, lower price. They won’t even look at you because they’re just not bothered with what is your Sonic. It’s not really yours anyways. You know what? I’m giving another thing up. It’s not where you should be spending time, but it’s hard.
It’s, counter-intuitive quite often for a salesperson to do that, but if you’re picking the right kind of opportunity, and for me, that would include this element of the way these people deal. They are quite transparent. They will share information. There’ll be up for an open and honest discussion around what’s going to make this business good for us because we are interdependent, and we trust each other.
That is a way better piece of business so that okay.
I was just thinking that pricing is often something that a lot of sales folk try to leave till the very end of a patriarch sales type conversation. And if transparency were really the case, then at least in certain industries, it’s quite important to bring that up the first and perhaps say, look we’re probably more expensive than the competitors. And I just want to get that out of the way, and we can talk about the competitors Here’s the, here’s why we are priced differently and talk about the reasons why we offer a particular service or a product for a different price segment. And talk about the strengths as opposed to the weaknesses in our offering.
And then be willing to admit that, yeah, we’re not for everyone. And there are competitors out there that would probably address certain other aspects and have that as their core abilities, but in doing so, be transparent and say, look if this isn’t a, if these aspects, aren’t what you’re really interested in, then you’re probably better off going with the competition and that’s fine.
No, it is fine. Often on training, I’ll ask the question and I’ll say, okay, hands up or whatever, if we’re on, if we’re doing it virtually other ways, particularly decay, who likes going to a shop where they don’t have the that’s another thing. Yeah. Nobody ever says they do. Okay. Why don’t you do like that?
Oh because if you’ve got to ask you probably can’t afford it or, oh, I’m not certain I would be able to afford it or I don’t want to start liking something and finding that I can’t afford it. Oh, okay. So you’re putting a barrier up, you’ll put an emotional barrier. You put a psychological barrier.
Say, I don’t want to get to this thing. What do you think your customers are doing? Yeah, I go, no, this is sounding good and particular presentation. If you’re not took prices early on, he’s saying it’s wonderful stuff. I think you all know this is going to scale more, little more expensive.
What you’ve done. What you’re also doing though, is by saying this is what the price is. You’re then managing the expectation. It’s no, we can’t afford that. Never before that, not going to go to that. Okay. Let’s just save our time, but if it’s a, okay, that’s just going to be interesting.
Explain why. Actually, that is what I’m going to do. That’s my job. That’s what, as a salesperson, we’re employed to do so it does make sense, but th these other kinds of phenomena come into play. There’s this phenomenon of price conditioning that when you know the price, you then start to get more comfortable with it.
And again, there’s sort of silly examples. I sometimes use, I’ll ask if anyone’s bought, say a bath. I used to cook by differently now, but, has anyone bought like a stereo or Italian or, big electronic appliance know from a shop. Okay. Yeah. So did you have budget because yeah, I did.
Did you spend more people start going? Yeah. Let me tell you what happened. A pretty good idea. You’d have walked in. You’d have seen, let’s say television. And it’s the price that you’re gonna spend. They’ll pick it up, walk out when I pay, you don’t, you look at the one next to it and go why is that 50 quid more?
What’s a hundred dollars more. Oh, because it’s got this in it, it’s only a hundred dollars more, isn’t it. And then you look at the one next to that, and it’s a, not a hundred dollars. And you say, yeah, that’s when you’re the a hundred dollars more. No. It’s $200 more now, so you make these little extra pieces having already sold yourself.
That is what I was going to spend anyway. But if you’re managing that expectation of giving people the indicator, if that’s where it is, you can start to do that more effectively than if you’re saying, they’re value statements, this and this and this and this. And they go, this is brilliant.
And then you hit the pricing. Whoa, why is it so expensive? You’ve got to come back and say because it’s got this and this, they say, ah, I’m a fan. We’d go in early. And I think it’s market share. Then he wrote the book they ask you answer. Yeah. Which is more of a marketing book.
It’s yeah it’s the same similar sort of psychology peak people want to know. So can let’s tell them they probably find out anyway. So it says a lot of information out there, but also shows confidence. This is the price I’m comfortable with it. That is fair. That is a good exchange of value.
The other components you talked about is that of orientation a future orientation and being comfortable with change.
I have always viewed sales as being a profession where we need to be creative enough to find solutions and understand use cases for your clients.
I’m not sure that’s a commonly held perception of sales though.
It is commonly held for most sites. Creativity’s such an important part of selling. We are trying to find the solution. We’re trying to work out what is right for that customer. We get to tailor it to that. You’re just going to give them lots to say that we do for everybody and it is becoming more transactional.
How much do you need a salesperson now in the past we did in the future with all that information that we talked about being out there. Yeah. People can probably buy themselves, but if we’re talking a proper solution, then absolutely anything that’s going to help somebody understand that use case proof, case studies, all of those elements.
Absolutely. I’m with you on that one? Not a problem.
There used to be a time where to engage a fairly large account. You would need to do a fair bit of there would be the need for creativity and a bit of marketing as well on the part of a salesperson to create enough information and trust with various parties within that organization in order to capture a sale because you had multiple people to deal with in order to engage that sale.
And then more over the past few years. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but you may have heard the term ABM or account-based marketing, which has gone a long way towards solving that need from a marketing perspective, whilst bringing sales into the picture as well.
You’ve touched upon creating value. We’ve touched upon this idea of having enough use cases, understood case studies and things of that nature. Quite often I see salespeople using white papers case studies and testimonials to persuade your clients or their clients to try and build confidence with them or trust if you want to call it and help them take the next step.
Do those things still work to a large degree or is there a problem in that they become a little old hat and pretty formulate in their approach?
Yeah, no, I think they do work. I don’t know. W we’re social animals. We like social proof is that’s a basic influence principle, isn’t it?
And will continue to be, so anything that helps you with that, whether it’s white paper, case, study testimonial, how you deliver those. Yeah. You can make those a little bit sexy. That could be in a video. They could be in a different sort of more modern format, but ultimately it’s somebody else say, yes, what he says is right.
It works for us. These are the results we’ve got. So yeah, we definitely still need them. And we definitely need versions of them that are applicable to different people in the decision-making unit, because what you’ll say that with more people getting involved, that number is only increasing. And you look at the gardener numbers, even three, four or five years ago or so saying, oh, there’s 5.6.
People got in a say in decision-making. It was amused me. I wonder what 0.6 with personal wealth anyway. And then it’s got up to eight and then it was up to, I went there, 12 metal, again on average B2B industrial sale. So it’s a lot of people, it potentially could be more. And each of those has got something that they’re trying to achieve.
Some concerns, some win, some goal. That’s an emotional driver. There’s something that we’ve got to tick that box to be able to help the thing progress. So whatever we’ve got that we can say this is good for you, Ron. Great. There’s the white paper, work it out for yourself guys. It’s a hundred pages long because there’s a bit in it for everybody having the right bits of information that you can just give out to the right person at the right time because it’s specific to them.
So yeah, I think absolutely that’s still very relevant. Maybe the format and how we use it will be slightly different still in principle. Definitely. Yep.
It’s funny, I’ve been looking at a few case studies from a few companies and they tend to be written from the perspective of the company, not of their quite so they’ve got this problem, but they state for on behalf of the client, they then come up with the challenge that they were facing and then how they provided a solution and the results that they obtained on behalf of the client.
So certainly it doesn’t sound very much like a social proof, but a case study should provide and in the midst of it, you might get a testimonial, which. It doesn’t it doesn’t really instil confidence up above saying, Hey, they’re a great provider. And they’re a great team to work with.
So for someone who’s trying to understand how a particular solution fits in their industry or space in a particular matter. I often wonder how useful some of these case studies and testimonials really are as opposed to perhaps a bit more of a narrative from a client’s perspective of bed journey and how your product or solution aided them to get to that to that end result.
A story’s always going to work better, always again, because of how we are, how our brains are wired. We know stories, you remember 20 to 22 times more likely to remember a story. You don’t just talk about fact, you’d start to peak the emotion people buy emotionally anyway, and they justify rationally.
If they’re telling a story, you’re telling a story about somebody that’s very similar to the person that you’re trying to prove something to just make so much sense. And I think that probably what happens is we careful people from Marcus. He’ll probably hate me again, us to say things that make me sound, I hate marketing.
I don’t, but it’s like they get hold of something and they build it into this great monstrous thing. There’s everything to everybody and actually becomes nothing to anybody. Rather than having the littles, as I said, the little snippets, which just say, oh, like you he’d got a very similar problem. What happened is he was gaining this every day or what a pain, it was no pain.
The other kind of distress that the emotional thing, what we did is we put this and this in place, which took all that stuff away. He said to me at the end of the course, so cool that you did this telling something like that but I sometimes wonder that when people put a corporate head on the go or that’s not professional enough, why is professional quite, can we stop talking about stuff that works?
Yeah. I was having a battle with some kind of cyber different, other than a Butler, somebody that day about this sort of a case study. Those, it was an applied application video that kind of spent thousands of a little animated and graphics and beautiful and whatever. And nobody’s interested in that because it’s boring really.
The best one was actually when somebody filmed themselves on a phone over to this box up, look at this new product, getting really excited about it because it got this, they got that. They know he’s going to make such a difference. Everybody was looking at that. Why? Because they could see the guy’s face.
They could see him get excited about it. They could see that it’s gonna make such a difference for me. Whereas this whizzy video with these 3d graphics spinning around and that we were saying the same thing. I was like I’ve not seen 3d graphics before. So obviously the people’s emotion of that coming out.
That’s what it was. So again, if we can, that it’s micro-content and stuff, that’s emotional and engaging and entertaining. Certainly, that’s where marketing can really help them.
How do we bring all these elements together in terms of creating value, as you talked about to a potential client?
Sure. So the way I normally describe it is that, we’ve got this peak here that we just spent a lot of time talking about on one hand, it really going to give us a healthy mindset, a great ethos for modern settings and being collaborative.
Now, on the other hand, we’ve got all the sort of sales techniques, sales practices, and things that have gone before. So we need to look at those and go, right? What still works, what’s relevant. What do we still want? And let’s keep it. Because there’s some great stuff out there. There’s other stuff that we need to kick into touch or as far away as possible as we can, because it’s just not, it’s not relevant anymore.
It’s just not useful per se. There is some great stuff. So if we’ve got like the PQ and the mindset that it brings, and some of the ways of operating we’ve talked about, and we bring it together with some of those, I say, older techniques, good questioning skills, good account mapping skills that could proposal writing skills with case study structuring that we can then develop ourselves approach that really works.
And the way that I pull them together. And that’s just because I needed the framework to put into the book and to hang out around know, I actually gave it the acronym value. Anyway, the V stands for validate. So this is about using the thinking that, both those sides bring to be picking the best opportunities that we can go more.
Yeah, so qualifying in old fashioned terms, but just also thinking about, if I’m going to be going with this partnering mindset and want to work and collaborate with somebody, I’m not going to be getting that back. Cause it takes two to tango. So, we can use that there, we then need to start to align.
So again, some of the stuff we’re saying, working out, who’s likely to be who in there, who do I know already? What does that decision-making unit look like? What value have we created for organizations similar? And we think that this could be where we going to go with them, doing the homework, doing the research, understanding what they’re about, setting ourselves up to go and have really good interactions with them, which is the leverage part.
It’s having decent conversations, knowing how a sales conversation works. Yeah. It’s been a little bit different to a normal conversation. It’s got some common elements like asking questions and giving information, but a good salesperson knows how and where to do that. Also seeding it with this insight that we talked about.
And moving that through with the right people so that we get to the point where we can say, okay we’ve got some plans here, so we can make a proposal. We can give some ideas. We can present that we can underpin it, or we can support that as this is the way we should work forward. And then we get to the point where we’re saying, yeah, we’re going to work together.
So then we can evolve the whole relationship. We can do more of it. We can make sure that we’re delivering on it, but they are getting the outcomes that we promised and then more business should come from that. So that’s just the framework I use, which is to validate, align, leverage, underpin, and evolve.
So pulling those elements in and using best practice, a bit newer, some of it’s stuff that has been around for a long time. Isn’t, there’s no harm in that. You often hear me say, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. If it still works, don’t be worried about using it. Yeah. You really got to use it.
There is a notion at least one that I’ve encountered in sales where your job finishes once the sale is made it’s then the job gets passed on to an account executive or account director who then handles the rest of the journey for your client. But from what I’m hearing, you almost seem that you need to be involved for the throughout the entire relationship.
It’s you really can’t break it down into middle silos if you will and pass the buck, so to speak to different people, unless there is a common thread than a two-way flow of information throughout the organization to ensure that your clients are getting the value that they deserve and that.
The experience really evolves into a story that they can share with others.
Yeah. Ah, interesting. The whole optimization or pseudo-optimization, chatting to a guy called Mark Bounty recently, and we were having a bit of a giggle about these silos and he says some of them are the cuts. So small.
Now the site is like that size of a drinking straw that, you’ve got one person does something pass to the next class next, unless you’ve got brilliant systems where all the information that you’re gleaning along the way is being passed the potential for losing stuff there.
And really from a customer point of view, if you just pass me around like a hot potato, it’s does anybody really care? Yeah. So I, I’ve got a bit of a problem with it. I get why it’s done. I know it can be incredibly effective. I wonder if as the pace of change continues, some of the stuff that people doing the early part can be done a different way.
AI is going to pick up quite a lot of heavy lifting. So yeah, there might be some specialists in a certain sort of area, but you know that the account manager or someone who’s going to take it and see it as near full cycle as possible, just makes more sense to me, I’m sure as many people challenge me on it, I’m more comfortable.
That doesn’t mean I don’t see the value of customer success managers. I think that makes a lot of sense. I think that’s an interesting area that’s developing, which is, saying that, yeah, we’ve done the deal. I’m still around and still the account manager director, exac, where are you going to call yourself?
Whoever, wherever we have to call them somebody, but we’ve got this very specialist role is going to make sure that you do get the stuff that we’ve said you going to get, that’s our job to make sure that you do apply it for them. Not the integration, but the implementation. I think that’s a great thing, but that’s working alongside.
I still think that as a customer, I’d be happier if I see some will see me all the way through people disagree with me enough. Cool. I’d love to get your take on this.
Should we have customer success managers given what we’ve been talking about because that, but the thinking is almost geared towards ensuring that your prospect or client should have a successful outcome. So would it be better to have customer success team, as opposed to your marketing team and sales?
Yeah, no, the customer success manager as a role in it is a specialist job. It’s somebody who really understands right now, you’ve taken this stuff on board and the guys, the specialists with the account manager and, everyone who’s involved to get you the right thing for the job.
We’ve now got to get the job done. Actually, you, as the customer has got to get the job done, really, but we’re so bothered that you do get it done. We’re going to help you with that. Now we’re not going to do it for you. And that’s an interesting thing around cost and assessment. I do.
They don’t just do it. They help it. So I like it. I think it’s an interesting development. And for me it does make sense as being a different thing because the skills are a bit different than a salesperson. It’s still involved. They still shouldn’t be I think, having an interest in what’s going on.
But some of the things that, customer success needs. We started sales complex role. Anyway, there’s lots and lots of skills involved in that. And we start to broaden out so much. We might be spreading people a little bit to fit and know people just push that back at me and say it’s the same as trying to get appointments.
That’s what we use a specialist for it. But now I, customer success has made a lot of sense to me as a separate role, a separate discipline if you like.
It’s a case of if I’m hearing this correctly in our conversations, we really try to understand what’s unchanging for people. And that, that really boils down to this idea of trust because that’s what they are really buying. And if I look at. The way people make decisions.
That’s based more on emotion rather than logic. And we trust our friends and trusted the experts in the industry to provide insight or share their experiences with us to inform our choices. So I find organizations spending a lot of time and energy to acquire a new client, as opposed to trying to find a, as opposed to trying to reengage people who have already started conversations with us.
Would you say that follow up is vital for organizations as opposed to trying to ensure that you determine where a particular person is at any one stage almost score them based on where they’re at and then put them in a matrix which allows for infrequent communication in certain instances?
Yeah, when I first started in sales, there was always just the mantra is it’s far easier to sell more somebody you’re already working with, and it’s going to find something new and somewhere on the line with this massive fascination, with new logos and getting new customers new, which sometimes may mean current customers get left behind.
And it’s you can lose that when you put in more in you and, but losing the war. Would that before. But what you’re saying, D does it make sense and classifying people who are buying from us and how they work with us so that we can give them the relevant attention?
Yes, I think it does. Yeah. I really do think it does because not all customers are the same. I’m sorry. But, people think that they’ve been a little bit naive, some are going to be more attracted to you than others, because they will be worth more avenue, because there’ll be a closer fit because there’ll be just better to work with, easier to work with.
There are the right kind of industry. There’s just reasons they make it more attractive to you. And there’s equally people that have a high or low perception of you for whatever reason. Maybe they don’t know you yet. That could be something, but, or, you might drop the ball. They might just prefer the co the competitor, whatever.
Again, if we start to use that and classify and saying, okay, so I’m going to deal with these in a certain way based on it. That’s what I might do it, that, that makes that doesn’t mean. Otherwise, we’d just try it again, spreading ourselves too thinly. We’re not giving the right amount to the guys where we could be making that more money.
We could be doing better deals, adding more value to them because it’s good for them as well. We’re chasing around after people are just causing us a bit of a problem that small dog spotlight arrest and all that kind of thing. So yeah, I’m on very close with that.
So you usually in the software as a service space if you’re not ready to buy immediately, you would go into some sort of a follow-up system which kind of spits out occasional emails or other forms of content in the hope that it would be a value to a potential prospect and would help them reengage with your content or with a sales person at some point in time. Doesn’t make more sense. However, for salespeople to keep actual tabs on the company and really personalized the touchpoint, if you will, to that individual and the current segments that they find themselves in, as opposed to shooting out, generate piece of content and white papers and things of that nature.
It was interesting how you asked the question is what I wrote down here in the hope that it might be a value. Okay. So yeah, the answer is let’s not hope it’s going to be value. Let’s make sure it is value. So we’re going to do something that is of value. Otherwise, what’s the point. It’s not a value.
Just don’t bother. Save everybody say putting it together, but you might. So it doesn’t take any time because it’s already made, okay it’s still a waste of time, so make sure it is a value. So again, that’s where we go. How can we judge that? Is it that we need that kind of human element to look at it and put that contextual judgment into it and going, yeah, the time is right for them.
This is going on in their industry. This is something that’s going to be happening. So that is why I think we need to provide them with this specific sort of stuff. Settling. Yeah. Yeah. Or are there ways in which we’re saying it’s a lot of people were doing that with other, the ways that we can get an indication, because we can figure out that they are starting to look or that something has happened, which is going to affect a whole sphere of industry.
And then we do something a little bit more automatic. Yeah. So again, that could just be by having the human contextual judgment, looking at the broader industry say or sector trend, or, some of the stuff that our is doing now, which is showing buyer intent and telling you that people looking and picking up that they’re clicking on certain websites and doing stuff, not even your own website, I’m no expert in this area to realize, that there’s some very funky stuff going on that can tell you that you’re somebody looking.
And now actually it is worth assigning a person because if now the person is involved, people buy from people, organizations that part of the people do. Yeah, there’s that there’s plenty. That’s going on. It’s a it’s an interesting, exciting time being in sales.
Because I was going to ask you if that is the case. Then how do we scale this? Because certainly tools like AI and things can help. However, quite often we may have a process that works with a lot of human input, but to take an off the shelf product and then put into put it into our processes does not always work very well. So what would be the best way to approach this in order to make sure that we’re having the desired providing the design experience to a prospect or a client without sacrificing on the time and effort that goes into creating those experiences?
I got to come back to the word you’re using too about human input. So if what you’re doing needs human input, or we can do a couple of things, we can get more human. So he’s got a bigger team so we can send it all out. And he said, wow, that’s easier said than done. You can’t necessarily do that. Okay.
In that case, the humans that we’ve got to be very selective. We, what we use their most valuable resource, which is time and effort, your time and how they use that. So we’ve got to be very selective. Now we’ve got to go back to what I said before. We’ve got a big back into how we qualify, how we choose, who we going to go and try to work with to add value.
And that’s for me is when, okay. Now, if we’re talking about this being such a human thing, yes. We can do the whole whatever set of, qualitative and quantitative. I’m going to get thrown away round. Yeah. Factual stuff. Yeah. But then we can go in and look at yeah. But how do they respond as people will, they respond to our people?
Do they work, gather know, do they collaborate? So that actually when our humans meet their humans, we get this massive human response. And that’s where we really started to get decent collaboration results off the back of it. Yeah, we got to be quite selective in that case as what I’m saying.
Fred, I think we’ve looked at the, a fair few elements to this whole space of partnering and partnering skills. Would you say that there’s an aspect or two, or maybe even more that we haven’t quite covered, but should, because without them we’d be doing a disservice to those who are listening or even looking to scale equip themselves with these skills.
No, you’ve covered it very rigorously. We’ve talked about what is PQ and we’ve broke broker’s element down and really given them, I think a decent Erik as to how they could be used in sales. And we’ve used all sorts of sales. We’re not concentrating on, distributional partner management really had to filter out those thoughts about that, how we can bring that into play in real life, using some of the sort of sales techniques that have existed for a little bit.
And which just when you bring those together really worked well. I think we’ve talked conceptually, should I love doing, but hopefully listeners will be the judge of this. We’ve talked quite reasonably practically as well as in things that you can actually do to bring this to life. So there’s nothing I can think of all.
No, we’ve missed a big point here. Okay. Now often we’ve done a good job.
The feedback on that way, not to be the judge of that always listens to tell us
Terrific. Fred, if you were listening to this episode, what would be your top takeaway
Organizations don’t partner people do. Yeah. I love that expression. I wish had to come up with it myself, so yes, the human side of selling is important. It is not the same as people buy from people being used as a way of just make friends with folk and they’ll buy a load of stuff. Yeah, that is not the case.
That really annoys me when I hear people say that. And I know that’s what they mean. There’s going to go round and be little tea parties with folk and expect them to then do deals with them. It’s not the same, we’ve spent a long time talking about how a good salesperson uses that human side and that kind of relationship side to really understand the other party, what they’re trying to achieve, what they need to do or value means for them, how we can then work together to make that happen.
Very different thing than being the best friend. So I have to get invited to their wedding. You don’t have to go to the parties you might do, because you do such a good job that you’re brilliant, but that’s not. That is not a salesperson. Shouldn’t be that sole intent. You want to be a nice person to deal with, but it’s yeah, people coming together to do this.
Other people do better, which is working stuff out in ways which machines conduct and do the heavy lifting, but some of the clever contextual thinking they card. So piloting skills and this collaborative mindset that it brings that, that for me, I still need it in sales. My goodness.
Excellent. And if listeners are curious and wanting to find out more or connect with you, where would you recommend, they head to?
LinkedIn is the go-to on though. Isn’t it? Yeah. That’s why I hang out. So yeah, profile Fred Copestake. You know that I’ve got various links on there, then the contact details, the link tree, which will put you off towards a PQ test. So you can actually do a little self-audit around those six elements we talked about.
I’ll ask you some questions. You’ll get a spider diagram back and some answers, a scorecard on there about how you’re selling collaboratively or not. So that the components that we talked about, that, that value framework and some questions around that, I’ll give you an idea. Hopefully some of the posts and things that I’m putting out there though. I do put a cat picture on every now and again, just because it depends on what mood I’m in. It annoys people sometimes that’s what I’m feeling about getting enough light. So let’s put cup picture. They get far more likes anyway. So generally, I try to put stuff in value to salespeople professionals out there.
Excellent. Fred, thanks so much for doing this.
It’s been an absolute pleasure and thank you for inviting me. I’ve really enjoyed it.
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