In this episode, Todd Caponi, CEO of Sales Melon LLC and author of the book “The transparency sale” shares his experience and thoughts on how to build trust with customers.
Some topics we discussed include:
- Why the future of sales is radically transparent
- What differences are there between transparency and authenticity
- The biggest point of differentiation that most businesses ignore
- How to build trust with customers
- What does it look like to discover customer’s empathy levels
- How to nurture conversations that seem to be focused on pricing
- Explore how transparency builds better buyer experiences
- Can you scale trust or do we build it gradually
- What process or framework can we follow in order to successfully build trust with customers and give them an experience they value
- How to build trust with customers at scale (or not)
- How to optimize the way we educate customers and future customers
- How to identify areas of friction in a customer experience
- and much more
Vinay Koshy 0:00
Knowing how to build trust with customers is critical in today's business climate. Why? Well, there are at least a couple of reasons. One, new sales are hard to come by, and customer retention is much more cost effective, and constant acquisition. In fact, it costs five times more to any new customer then does to keep an existing one. Beyond retention. 83% of customers say that Recommended Business they trust to others. This means that any customer trust not only gives you a better chance at earning new sales, but also keeping your existing customers. Our guest has quite a bit of experience with building trust with customers. He is the author of the best selling and three time award winning book, the transparency sale. He's the co founder of sales Mellon LLC and the managing director of Chicago's venture scale. A few prior accomplishments worth noting include spending almost four years building the revenue capacity, or Chicago's power reviews from the ground up as the chief revenue officer, turning it into Illinois, fastest growing tech company sales leadership roles with three other tech companies, including exacttarget, where he helped drive the organization to a successful IPO and a $2.7 billion exit through its acquisition by Salesforce. And of course, owning and operating a sales training company. Todd company, welcome to the podcast.
Todd Caponi 1:29
Vinay Koshy 1:30
Todd Caponi 1:31
Thank you for having me.
Vinay Koshy 1:32
No worries, pleasure. hanadama. Todd, I'm curious, when you started salesmen, what was the problem that you were trying to solve?
Todd Caponi 1:43
You know, it's amazing. I, you know, you mentioned my background as the CEO of power reviews, I'll tell you what happened, like what caused this because it's, it's not something that you think about all the time that happens to people like I had no intention of building a business. As the chief Revenue Officer of power reviews. We were in the business of helping retailers and brands collect and display ratings and reviews on their products, right. So you're online, and you're buying a pair of shoes, and you see the reviews under it. It may have been power reviews that was helping with the collect and display of those reviews. And what happened was, we had done a study with a University here in Chicago, Northwestern University, and looking at when a website's acting as a salesperson, and somebody you're going to buy something like what do you do. And here's what happened, they found that we all look at reviews today. So no big surprise there. But the two next data points, like literally changed my whole life, which is crazy. But they did. One of them was that somewhere between 82 and 85% of us go to the negative reviews first. So you're looking at the product, you skip the five star reviews and go right to the fours threes, twos and ones. And that when a product has an average review score between a four two and a four or five, those products sell at a higher conversion rate than any other review score, including a five, meaning a product that's got an average review score of a four two will sell better than a product that has nothing but perfect five star reviews. And so I looked at that, and I thought, alright, that's weird. Like, why do we do that? What is it about our being that drives us to the negative? And does that also apply to human to human or b2b selling. And I found really quickly that it does, like our brains are wired to try to predict what our experience is going to be. Our brains are wired to know that perfection isn't real like that everything's got a downside. And until we get that balance we can't buy. And so, you know, going back to your question, I recognize this as we started to apply it to the human to human world, the implications that had not only on trust and all things good about sales, but on win rates, on cycles, sales cycle links, on working the deals that you should win, meaning you qualify deals out faster that you're going to lose anyway. And so I decided I got to get these ideas out. And so I got three publishing offers. I took one of them, I wrote the book, I honestly thought I wrote the book, just to get the ideas out there. And I'll go back and get a job again. And like that'll be the end of it. But this has taken on a life of its own. And this whole idea that transparency sells better than perfection is a message that not only do people want to hear, but it they're finding that it's having real positive impacts on all things about their profession from their effectiveness, all the way up to the reputation that the salesperson Has. So that's, that's kind of my long winded answer to that one.
Vinay Koshy 5:03
Excellent. And it's a much needed message as well. So what would you say given your wealth of experiences is your personal area of strength?
Todd Caponi 5:16
Well, my personal area of strength, that's a, that's an interesting one, I, you know, one of the things that is always Alright, I'll go back about 20 years, I was a sales rep, like I carried a bag. And I always considered myself to be kind of like a B, B minus sales rep. At the time, like, I guess lying was probably a good trait to have. And I've always been a terrible liar. So that's, that's probably a good trait. But the other thing is, one of the things that I've always found important is my empathy with how people learn. And so I've always been really good at being able to take complex ideas like I'm a nerd for behavioral science, and decision science and the neuroscience of how our brain does stuff. I've always been really good at taking those concepts and making them really easy. So that if I walk out into my kitchen right now and explain it to my wife, she gets it right. And so that's something that I think helped me in the book helped me as a leader, and is hopefully helping and taking these ideas and making them digestible and easy to implement for the rest of the sales world. So I guess that would be my answer, take the complex and make it simple.
Vinay Koshy 6:25
And what would you say is something that area of strength that businesses don't know? But should?
Todd Caponi 6:34
Oh, about? You mean, in terms of the idea
Vinay Koshy 6:37
of sympathy as well?
Todd Caponi 6:38
Yeah, I think it's, you know, there's a medical term called clinical empathy. Clinical empathy is like something a doctor has to have, which is not just empathy, of Vinay, I hope you're having like, you're safe. And everything's like, that's kind of the fake empathy. The real empathy is being able to get into your head, and understand what it's like to be inside there and seeing the world as you do, and being able to connect with it. And to be able to communicate in a way so that it impacts you as an individual, right, like me, spraying a bunch of stuff doesn't matter. But unless I can really get into your head, see the world as you do, and then change my communication to be able to reflect that I can't really be as effective as I possibly can. And so, most organizations, when we think about taking the complex and making it easy to digest, it's not just about that, right? Take complex, make it easy, it's about take complex, and make it understandable to the individual. And so I'll take that one step further. So the word scale, like scaling an organization is great, right? Like you want to be able to take scale. But if you truly want to create one, on one relationships with individuals, with your prospects with your customers, we need to be committed to the one and the one, right, like one to one relationships. Yeah. And when we start to go to scale and go, right, how do I take that and make it happen a lot more is when we break things, we ruin things we get out of the business of empathy, and we start looking at quantity over quality, that that's ultimately the issue that organizations need to face is scale at all costs, just like more numbers means more results. Sure. But in the process, we are breaking things in the long term. And I wish we could just get back to that clinical empathy in a business sense. And one to one meaning one to one,
Vinay Koshy 8:39
Would you say that each person has a different nuance to the way they live, and therefore different empathy needs, if I can put it that way?
Todd Caponi 8:52
Well, there's two things there, the way we learn is pretty consistent among all human beings, right? That like we learn the concepts, we need to practice the concepts, we need immediate coaching on those concepts, we need to practice it again. Like that's ultimate, for example, it's a bit of a breezy day. And here here in Chicago, if I take a crumpled up piece of papers and a garbage can outside and I throw it at the can, how does that work? Right? Well, I I come up with a theory. I crumble it up, I throw it and the wind blows it and I missed the garbage can. My brain immediately goes you know what, because the wind's blowing in this direction, I need to throw it a little bit further out to the right and try it again. Do it that try it? immediate feedback. Try again, is how we learn and it doesn't matter of the context of any of that. Alright, so that's number one. However, to your point. We, as individuals have a number of biases and that's not you know, we oftentimes, especially in like the times we're in, we looked at bias as a real bad thing. Right. Well, our bias Had to create it in our brain only makes up a couple of percent of our body weight but takes up over 20% of our energy. Our brain had to form shortcuts. It had to be able to take information in and be able to come to quick conclusions, versus having to consciously decide at every single like, should I breathe in? Should I breathe out? Should I like that would be a nightmare, right? And so those biases are formed by our upbringing, our experiences, and by people that we look up to, or that we respect, right? Those are kind of the three categories. And oftentimes, the way that we teach has to reflect those things. Now, I'll go take that one more step. Sure. logic is polarizing. When we try to teach using logic, using data using facts, those biases are actually there to prevent that, right, where we'll take a piece of logic in and say, and we'll match it up against our biases. And then we'll either say, this is why I agree with it. Which means now I'm even stronger in that position, right? Or this is why I disagree with this, which is makes me even stronger in that other position. And that's why to teach to truly be an effective teacher, we need to impart stories that impart feeling an emotion, because as neuroscientist Antonio Damasio says, We are not thinking machines that feel we are feeling machines that think. And so in teaching, we have to create feeling, we have to create emotion, we do that through stories, and just be careful of the way we lay around logic. So we all learn the same way, right? And if we if we approach it the right way, and stop thinking and data and facts and figures, and more in stories and emotion, understanding that those biases create the polarization stories and motion bring us together. But that's the way that we all need to be thinking about those
Vinay Koshy 11:56
There's a lot of gold in there. let's see, if we can tie this back to our topic and perhaps a good place to start would be to ask you what do you mean by saying the future of sales is radically transparent?
Todd Caponi 12:11
Well,yeah, I mean, all the data around what I found from a behavioral science tells us that transparency sells better than perfection that, you know that there's a company out there, it's called amazon.com, you may have heard of it, they seem to be doing pretty well. Back in 1995, they basically started this idea of having reviews right next to their own products on their own website. And that negative reviews help their product sell more, which is so counterintuitive, write negative reviews on a website, help the products sell more. And it turns out that that applies to human to human selling, right? That when we actually lead with the negative, and we present our products as imperfect, and not like it's broken, but hey, here's what our product doesn't do. And if you're cool with that, here's what we're great at. When we do that all the behavioral science tells us it's more effective. My practical application and actually doing this is shown that it's more effective. But when I say the future of sales is radically transparent. It's this idea that there's a massive proliferation of reviews and feedback on everything we do. Everything we buy, everything we experience, it's not just b2c, it's not just travel sites, and that and products online, it's now moving aggressively into the b2b world. So transparency sells better than perfection. We've always known that. But because of the proliferation of reviews and feedback, moving into b2b aggressively, we've got to do it anyway, you can no longer hide the truths around your solutions and expect to get away with it. So now's the time that we need to embrace it, because in the next few years, all of us, you know, maybe not at the individual level. But regardless what b2b environment you're selling in, your buyers are going to have access to the pros and cons. So build trust, lead with it. And when we do we disarm that brains resistance to influence, and it just has to happen. There's going to be no hiding from transparency in the future. And we might as well embrace it now.
Vinay Koshy 14:16
Suddenly, some would say that customers or potential customers suddenly have access to a lot of information and often do the pros and cons themselves. before they even start a conversation with you. Shouldn't we recognize that and start the conversation from there as opposed to trying to reinvent the wheel so to speak?
Todd Caponi 14:40
Well, it's all about your buyers are going to find out what doesn't work about to anyway, right. And again, our brains were resistant to being influenced like you feel that I had to go buy my stepdaughter, a used car a few months ago, and like I could literally as I walked into the dealership, I could feel like this tenseness like oh, this is gonna be hard. Write that like, that's the way we're wired as human beings is like that resistance to influence. When we lead with a negative we disarm, that when I lead with hate, like my business, here's what I I don't do, like, if you're looking for this type of thing, isn't me, here's what I do. When we do that, first of all, when it matches up with the feeling, or the research that they've done before the conversation, trust just went through the roof, right? When it doesn't match up, there's a conversation to be had, because now you've created this openness about your willingness to share and be vulnerable, right. And like, the person might also say, Oh, you know what, I saw this about you, too, like, let's talk about that. The point being, we've got to get the elephants out of the room before any good conversation can happen. And whether that customer or prospect walks into it into the room with an elephant on their shoulder, or you've got to address it right out of the gate. Either way, it's a win, the quote, I always say is, with every single interaction, you're either building trust, or eroding trust, you're not doing both, right. And so just use this as an opportunity to build, build, build, build, build, make deposits before you try to make any withdrawal. And it doesn't matter if they've done the homework or not. When you leave that way, it does wonders for the buying brains, levels of trust in you and willingness to get to a decision faster.
Vinay Koshy 16:27
Would you say this difference between transparency and authenticity?
Todd Caponi 16:32
Absolutely. And first of all, they're they're both totally overused terms in the generic sense. But so authenticity. It's funny, I was talking to a guy a couple weeks ago about that. And he was just like, gosh, when I think about that authenticity, I think of being your true self, like bringing yourself and like not trying to be somebody you're not, which is great. Like, it's a great trait to have. But But then he asked like, what if you're a jerk? Right? Like, I thought that was kind of funny. But the point being that authenticity, is that right? It's being authentic, being genuine, not trying to be somebody you're not, which it's very admirable, and it's great trait to have. However, transparency is something different. Transparency is basically like, if you're having an internal meeting, and you're talking about your solutions, that you should feel comfortable that anything that you're sharing in that internal meeting, you should be able to share to your customers and prospects. If you're not, then you're not being transparent, right? transparent, is opening up and saying, here's the good and the bad. And I'm here to help you make a good decision for you, not for me. So those are kind of two different categories. Transparency is about opening up. Authenticity is about being genuine and being true to you both are great. But for the buying brain, the ideal path is transparency.
Vinay Koshy 17:54
Okay, so I'm just thinking of this in a b2b sales type of scenario. So really, if we were to be transparent, we could talk about things like pricing features, you know, and other pros and cons on tangible pros and cons. But really, your biggest point of differentiation, differentiation would be the buying experience. That'd be right?
Todd Caponi 18:23
Yeah, absolutely. There's a couple of things that that triggers, right. Number one is, there's this whole behavioral science area around what I've coined this term called remote buyer bias. What that means is that, you know, consensus selling was always hard, right? Like it when you're selling to a number of buyers. That's a challenge, because you've got to get everybody aligned. And there's been companies that have built sales methodologies on that alone. However, consensus buying is harder. Right? That as a buyer, let's say I'm buying something, I'm gonna buy something complex. I, the selling organization has their whole organization folk focused on selling, right, we've created processes, we've got tools, we've got resources, as a buyer, I'm doing this one time, and I have no idea how to do it in my own organization. You know, maybe I do it two or three times a year of something big. But there's no processes like this is really, really hard for me. And then you add to it, the world that we're living in, where everybody's now remote. So those buyers are all by themselves, so they can't even have informal conversations in the hallway are getting coffee in the break area. And so their attempts to build consensus have now become infinitely harder. Now, there's this concept when I say remote buyer bias, there is this bias that our brains have towards the easiest path to a reward is actually more important than the big reward. And what that means is that our brains will if the path to a reward is hard, our brains We'll actually talk ourselves into believing that the reward is not as great. All right, where that all goes to is that if we're making it hard on our buyers, to go through the journey to be able to get the information they need, so that they can make the right decision and then go build consensus within their organization, their brains will actually talk themselves into believing that the reward is not as good. And they'll prioritize something else. And that's why we lose to the status quo so often, right, it could be a great reward out there. But if the journey is hard to get there, their brain will go, that rewards better. And I'm going to go after that one. And all of a sudden, you've just lost all of your momentum in your deal. So we need to remove friction from the buying journey. And every step, it starts with transparency about like, as a buyer, we will not be able to make a decision until we know the pros and cons. And we're given that language and there's trust built, it starts there. But I would just encourage everybody listening to look at your whole sales process, and see like, Where are the friction points in here? If I was practicing clinical empathy for the buyer, what's going to be hard for them to pull together and share? What can I give them to make this journey easier? And when we do those types of things, you'll find that you quickly stay on top of the priority list and you get your deals done faster.
Vinay Koshy 21:21
Could you give us an example of what it would look like to try and decipher this, this idea of discovering customers empathy levels? And ...
Todd Caponi 21:34
yeah, well, here's one example. I was I was looking to buy some technology, because obviously my world went from everything face to face to everything in my office, right. And so I had to, I had to actually buy some software to be able to build a business here. So I go to a website, I look at a couple of companies, I go to a website, and my excitement about the company's technology is about here, when I fill out the lead form. Alright, so I'm here. And then a day goes by, and I haven't heard anything. So my level like, I'm kind of like, Alright, I, I've worked on other things, all of a sudden, they reach out. And they're like, Hey, we would like to schedule a call with you like, okay, we schedule it for like three days later. So, three days later, I'm down to about here, I get on the call, and it's a sales development Rep. That is just like, reading me the Inquisition have questions, qualification questions, right? And so just tons of questions, a bunch of them. As I'm thinking about it, I'm feeling are these gonna be used against me later? Are these helping them to customize the way that they're going to frame this? Well, it turned out to be the latter. So at the end of it, they go, alright, we've got all the information we need, I'd like to connect you with the account executive. Alright. So we connect with the account executive Few days later, I now have a call with the account executive who basically starts asking me the same questions again. And when presenting the solution use nothing that they learned from the sales development rep, the call before now my excitement level is down to about here in the toilet, right? That that's like the things that we need to look at. But the traditional path that we're taking potential buyers on, is not taking advantage of them when they're here. And going, Hey, here are what do you need, like yours? What's gonna work? Here's what's not gonna work, and the stuff that's not gonna work? Let me ask you a couple of questions to see if that's you or not, hey, here's the pricing. Is that in the ballpark? Because if not, we can recommend a couple of other solutions that might be better for you. And like, be the Sherpa and get me to I'm up here, keep me up here instead of a couple of days. SDR couple of days, a generic demo, and you've lost me. And so like that, just look at your own process and go if I was on the other side of this, how would I feel? And what would my excitement level be 10 days later, when I'm getting a generic demo?
Vinay Koshy 23:57
You mentioned differentiating, your pricing in the start as perhaps it's, part of the picture of being transparent. There are a lot of people who would suggest through traditional sales training, but pricing is probably one of the last things you you talk about or do and once you've qualified the person, have there been instances where a person go, where a person is wanting the price? Because they've done their research? And believe that they know all that there is to know. And upon hearing the price going to shut down mentally? And if so, how do you overcome that?
Todd Caponi 24:32
Well, yeah, so this for anybody who's watching the video of this, this is a new study that came out in this month, or actually last month, the Journal of marketing research, that they'll read the title to you, open negotiation, the back end benefits of sales, people's transparency in the front end. It's an article that shows that all of the data shows that when we share pricing early in the sales cycle, magic happens right? We end up building trust, we end up working on the deals we should work on, we end up with more valuable deals, and we end up with customers who stay longer and buy more later. It's like it was it's a fascinating study that goes back to everything I've been teaching. But you know, so often, we have been taught to hide our pricing until the end of the sales process that we must establish value. Before we should share the price. However, our brain is trying to assess is the juice going to be worth the squeeze, right? Like that's like we're in a constant stage of is the juice worth the squeeze is the effort of getting this juice off going to be worth what I get at the end? Yeah, but if you don't know what the effort is going to be all of the benefits of how great the juice is going to be. Go, they have no filing system in the brain. Right. And so when we start with, hey, listen, I don't like we don't know a lot about you yet. But companies like yours, which we work with all the time, they're kind of in this range. Now, if that's going to be trouble for you, let's address that now. And we can get you to a real firmer price right away. If we're in range, then let's keep going. And, you know, when we start conversations like that, then they're able to file all of your value against the potential cost or the the output of resources. And you'll find that your sales cycles again, speed up and you've built it on a layer of trust, if if it turns out that, hey, this is the price range, and they're thinking way down here, one of you is having the wrong conversation. You want to get that out early, instead of waiting till the end and go, Oh, by the way, the price is here. And they're like, what? We just wasted a ton of time. And so like set that up early, and again, if if you're here and they're down here, maybe you're part of it is you've got to educate them on why they should be thinking about this up here. And if their answer is no frickin way, then go work on another opportunity.
Vinay Koshy 27:01
I like this idea of being the sherpa, which I find a lot of people can't quite wrap their minds around.
Todd Caponi 27:08
Yeah, I know.
Vinay Koshy 27:09
And just being helpful in providing actual solutions to people instead of just going Yep, you are for us or not for us.
Todd Caponi 27:16
Well, right. It's like if you go I mean, the whole Sherpa concept is like if you think about climbing Mount Everest where lots of people die trying to claim that mountain every year, even with the Sherpa. But imagine if you showed up and you've got all your stuff in the Sherpas like, huge mountain, which way do you guys want to go? Like, just like, let's just go, I'm here to carry your stuff. You'd be like, Oh my gosh, we're all gonna die, right? Like, the Sherpa is there to say, Hey, listen, I'm an expert at this, I've done this 100 times, here's the path based on you that I think we should go. And here's what our goal should be. And like, and then you look at them and go, Wow, I'm all in, take me on the journey, because I only doing this one time. And you do this all the time that that language exactly equates to salespeople, right, like, I'm only doing this one time, you've done this all the time. And you just proved it in the language that you just used around. Based on what I know about you, here's the journey that we should take and what the goal should be like. That's what being a good sales professional is all about.
Vinay Koshy 28:20
It brings to mind the question of trust, because the in a lot of the scenarios you're describing, it's very much a personalized, customized, type journey. There is a lot of pressure, given the nature of things in the world today to scale, a lot of processes. Can we scale trust?
Todd Caponi 28:42
That that's the question, like I warned you before we talked, that I was like, there's one question I think you're going to answer asked that I'm going to go on a rant about and that is it. Alright, so a couple of things. So first of all, one of the things that I got wrong as a sales leader was looking at quantity over quality, right? That this whole idea that, you know, our rapid every, every moment should have three to four x their quota in pipeline, right? Like that was something that I always believed to be the case, because you're only going to close 25% of your pipeline. So if you've got four x in there, we should feel comfortable that you're going to hit your targets. Well, now I look back at it and go, That's stupid. And here's why. Why are we only closing 25% of our deals are we not like as a leader, I want to do a better job of qualifying so that I only need two x instead of four x. And if our goal if our entire goal is four x, we're going to get four x, which is a bunch of crap in the pipeline, right? And and then the same thing happens with prospecting outreach, where you see data that says it takes 18 touches to get to an executive the first time and I see leaders and organizations going, customer stopping at 10. Maybe we should add eight and I hear that I'm like no Like, that's dumb. Why is it that the first 17 are going on deaf ears? It's not the quantity, it's the quality. Why are they rejecting that message, the message is the problem. It's not the activity, right. And so we keep looking at those types of things and seeing things break. Now, my new revelation is that we have tried to scale gifts throughout the history of sales, and we've done it very poorly, meaning 100 years ago, if you're a salesperson, you had to do it face to face, right like to really, it's door to door, like, that's what you did. And then all of a sudden, we were given the gift of the telephone, where we can have a one to one conversation where I don't even have to leave the room, I could call you and talk to you. And I can do more in a day, like what a gift. And then as salespeople we ruin it, right, by trying to get to scale by, by, you know, calling people being aggressive. Auto dialer started up, robo calls started up, the government had to step in and create Do Not Call Registry to prevent salespeople, right. And then we're given email. And we did it again, right email, this incredible gift of being able to deliver a letter to you. And I can hit send, and it's in your inbox in one second. Like, how amazing is that like, talk about being a gift for sales, we're we're able to scale. And guess what? We ruined it. We we did spam messaging where we're sending millions at a time that technology companies had to develop technology to prevent it with junk, inboxes and blacklists based on IPS that the msps are all doing. And then government had to step in and do the can spam act of 2003 to prevent salespeople again. Now we've got LinkedIn, right can see your entire resume, I can hyper target, how awesome is that? And we're ruining it. Like my my network connections thing is insane. I'm getting what this is a line, somebody else came up with that I love. I'm getting pitch slapped all day long, which is I hit accept, and then the flash comes with them. And so we're ruining that video is coming now where we've got little data packets that we can send to people to have context to the messages we're going to deliver. So instead of it being words, video, how awesome is that sales, people are already ruining it, by trying to create videos and pretending they're personalized, and mass spamming them to people to where now, as an executive, it takes me longer to digest the message than it did an email because I got to watch your video and go, Oh, this is gross. We're actually starting to develop resistance to video two. It's all in this desire for scale. I'm a believer that there's no scaling trust, right, we've got to earn it on a one to one basis, every single day, hyper focus, find the customers that are going to be great for you get to know them. And the line that I've heard a long time ago, and I've kind of made up my own is that if we want a customer to genuinely believe that we are interested in helping them, the first step is for us to genuinely be interested in helping them like it has to start there, then you can't scale that.
Vinay Koshy 33:17
I remember when I was working for a SaaA company before SaaS companies were called SaaS. That if an inquiry came through, I would endeavor at least during working hours to return the call within the first five minutes of the inquiry coming through or their child standing up and just asked, and that alone led to fairly significant deals. Is there a process or framework that you would recommend that we could follow to incorporate transparency yet build that one to one trust levels, and get to a point where we can collaborate on the path forward?
Todd Caponi 34:01
Well, yeah, I mean, I think it's it starts from it. But first conversation, right, you get the inbound lead, the fact that you've prioritized the quick response is huge, right? Because again, they're here. And the longer it takes for you to respond, the worse it gets. And it's just like, you know, that's another human empathy thing, like I was excited enough to hit send on this note, because I wanted to talk to somebody at that moment. And you know, and then starting the conversation with a, hey, what made you hit send, like, let's start there. And then like, you know, tell me a little bit about what you're trying to achieve. And then I start to share, all right, well, based on what you told me, there's a couple of things that aren't perfect fits for us. But here's a couple of things that are and let's talk through those and like just get them to the answers that they're looking for help them predict, and like a big question about price, share the price, you know, it doesn't have to be exact, and be transparent about that too. Like, hey, here's the range based on what You just told me you need, we need to be able to arm SDRs to have those conversations if they're handling those inbounds. But for bigger companies, I mean that that becomes a real effort that, again, when our excitement levels here, we're trying to get answers and come to a decision, provide give the full picture of the pros and cons, the pricing, what the juice, what the juice is going to taste like, but what the squeeze is required to get there. And just again, think like a buyer, and stop thinking like a, hey, the customer has to earn the right to get those answers, like, stop that I'm still talking to companies that do that, and it drives me crazy. So go back to your processes, look for areas of friction and think like a buyer. And it just we don't need to reinvent the process. Just take your current processes and inject those elements. And and look at it from a buyer's perspective. And I think you're going to see some success pretty quickly.
Vinay Koshy 35:56
Just on that, is there a way that we could look to continually optimize the ways in which we educate, if you will, our customers? And, and, and potential future customers as well?
Todd Caponi 36:13
You mean, in terms of like, from a marketing perspective, a sales perspective or both?
Vinay Koshy 36:18
Todd Caponi 36:19
Well, yeah, I mean, here's the thing, one of the things that used to drive me nuts as a CRL, is I used to get 100 to 150 emails every day. Right? So and I had 30 to 35 meetings per week. Now, I had to check my email, it was a necessary evil part of my job, right? It was like, I always, you know, I don't know if you've ever played the scratch off lottery. But I always felt like my inbox was that that, you know, there might be a winner in there. So I've got to check. But odds are, it's going to be a loser. Well, that's the way that I looked at my inbox all day long is I got to look and see, is there something that impacts my team, my customers, or my prospects in here? Like, those are the first three priorities. The next set? were things like, Is there a message from my boss, or my investors or my board, or maybe a partner or, and then the final category was the vendors, like the known ones and the unknown potential vendors. And so I'm always looking at my inbox with that as my priority. Now, one of the things that I would implore everybody to think about is, your subject line in your in your emails doesn't really matter much anymore. Because in every inbox, I've got whether it's my phone, Outlook, Gmail, there's a preview of the first 10 words, yeah. Are we optimizing for that? And to go back to that prioritization perspective, and thinking about, like, how do we educate our customers, take the eyes in the weeds out of the first 10 words of your emails from now on, like, because the minute that you're an unknown potential vendor, and it starts with, I wanted to, or I was just, or one of those types of things, you're down at the bottom of the list, and you just stayed there, because you made it about you. And instead of the things that matter to me, which is my team, my customers, my prospects, the ones that would stand out in that see, that are from unknown potential vendors are the ones where they're educating me making me smarter about my business and making that evident in the first couple of words. Examples of that are one point I posted a sales development rep role for our Chicago office on our website. The next day, a company sent me an email that said, Hey, Todd, here's an SDR sales development Rep. Salary study of how much SDRs are making in the Chicago market. Now the CEO of I wanted to use and I was just checking in, and then that one's in the middle of it. I'm like, click, like, that's the only one that got clicked, then sure enough, it was a salary study that I could use for my hiring to make sure that I'm hitting the market correctly. Two weeks later, they send me another one, right after my quarter ended. It's like Todd, here is a CRL. So chief revenue officer board deck template, you can use to prep for your board meeting. And as like, open it up, it's like a you just finished your quarter Hope it went great. And hope this saves you some time on the journey. Again, my see if I wanted to this one's in the middle of it, click. I used it. And then I'm like, Who are these guys? This is amazing. Like I like and then the minute they call, then it showed up on my caller ID. I picked that one up. Right? So there's an opportunity for you to develop deliver personalized, valuable content to your potential prospects instead of making it about you. Again, it goes back to clinical empathy. What is this person? What can they use what's going to help them and stand out in that sea of I wanted to use and so that's the perspective that I want everybody to take, just educate, look for ways to make your buyers, your prospects smarter in their business, not about yours. And you'll find that you're building trust, you're building those relationships and when the call comes in those people are more likely to answer.
Vinay Koshy 40:03
From what you're saying, I'm hearing that you continually need to be doing research on your potential customers, apart from giving, potentially getting into a one on one conversation with with them, what other ways in which we could develop that research muscle, so to speak?
Todd Caponi 40:23
Well, yeah, I mean, when I talked about being given the gifts of the phone, and email, and LinkedIn, and video and all of those things, and we are literally given the gift of having every potential customer of hours resume sitting on LinkedIn, right? Like, how crazy is that, that this information is just out there? You can do so depending on how complex your sales processes, right? Is how much time you want to put into it. When I was on the sales leadership team at exact target. Those deals were huge. And before we prospect that a customer, we would literally go to their website and buy something. Right. I mean, like that was the level of research we were doing were right, you know, like fingerhut, Minnesota, I remember my rep bought a The Rocky Horror Picture Show, remember that movie, and he bought a wig like a curly wig. And he wanted to see what the process was of interacting, what messages they got, how long it took them to keep me informed on the journey. And then when he prospected in it was all about them and opportunities that they that we could see as experts in their journey to make it easier on the customer. And it included a picture, he reported the bald look, included a picture of him wearing the Rocky Horror Picture Show wig, and his seven year old daughter looking at him and laughing. And it just it jumped out and like they were like come on in, right. So the more complex the deal, the more of that kind of stuff you've got to do. Now, power reviews, we were selling to the smallest of the small all the way to the biggest of the big, we gave our our reps a list of five things to look at at their website, that of every company we know 99% are getting at least one of them wrong. And so a rep before they would make a call, just go to the website, look at a product, look at the reviews and go this one and this one, pick up the phone. Right? It took two minutes to do that preparation because the data is there. Right? If you're calling somebody I'm going to call you Vinay what I'm going to do, I'm going to look at your your LinkedIn profile and just see Is there anything that jumps out at me that I could start the conversation with, do those things together, and you're personalized and valuable instantly, like I just had a call with a potential customer an hour before this started, I looked at his LinkedIn profile. And it started instead of starting the conversation about how great I am or any crap like that. It was just like, Hey, I realized that we both worked here in 2002. Together, like remember that and like all of a sudden there was this connection. And I spent 10 seconds to see that write that spec, you don't have to go do a big research study before you reach out to a customer. key information is all out there. Create a process in your organization where it takes a couple of minutes, and you can have a personalized conversation instantly. And that little bit of effort, a little bit of effort will set you out huge over everybody else who to your question earlier is trying to scale trust.
Vinay Koshy 43:14
Brilliant. Todd, is there any other aspect of building customer experiences and trust that we should highlight?
Todd Caponi 43:25
Gosh, there's so many Actually, I mean, there's so many, you know, one thing that I find interesting is the and this is like an untapped area, like I'm waiting for some company to figure this out. It's your your contracts and your legal process that like we spent so much time as a sales community focused on the process, right? The prospecting, presenting the negotiating, like all of those things, and then we get a customer to say yes. And we negotiate out the pricing, which is something I spend a lot of time teaching. But then we go, Alright, here's our contract. And all of a sudden, you're out. And your lawyers are battling with one another. And it becomes this multi week process of back and forth. Now, when the last time I bought software online, I was presented with a ul a so an End User License Agreement. I don't know about you, but I've never read one I just clicked accept. Yep. Now what's the difference between those two? Well, I trust that in a consumer software environment, that if there was any gotchas in there, somebody would have found it. And that company would be out of business, right? Like I just I kind of trust that. At the enterprise level. We have wired into buyers that there's probably going to be a few gotchas in here that it's up to you to find, right like we put one way terms in their auto renewal language, which with price increases that are built in and Hey, Vinay, if you don't tell us you're canceling 60 days in advance of renewal, guess what, you're really Note like that kind of crap that's in these contracts. We put that on the contracts people to go find like it's a, you know, a Where's Waldo cartoon, right? I think there's a huge opportunity to remove friction from the buying journey from even the back end of the sales process, we erode trust through one way terms in our contracts, to look at our contracts and go Alright, if I was on the other end, what were the things that would consistently jump out at me as a problem, and either change the wording to make it mutual, or create a cover sheet with your contracts before you send it over that says, hey, here's a couple of lines that sometimes jump out at people as being an issue. Here's why we wrote them the way we did. And we welcome a conversation about it. be transparent in the cut, like, again, you could go through every single stage of this process and look for opportunities like that. I think the contracts in the legal, they might my my line is always lawyers, are people to their brains work exactly like ours, why are we not making that part of the journey easier to like, I keep talking to companies that are just like our sales process is six weeks. And then we add about three weeks for contracts. I'm like, what, why do your contracts take three weeks? Like but it's and it's all because they've got such a huge pile there that they've got to deal with? Because they're selling the big clients are? All right, well, they prioritize like we do, they're going to take the path of least resistance to at least get that endorphin rush that they just finished one, make yours the easy one be a human being.
Vinay Koshy 46:29
Just on that, I'm trying to think through ways in which we can identify friction. And would you be an advocate of customer journey mapping on a continual basis? Or is there some other approach that you would take to to identify those points?
Todd Caponi 46:48
Oh, yeah, I love that. Yeah. I mean, certainly experience what it's like to be a customer, I there was one company that I did a project with that their CRM afterwards created a whole kind of fake persona, and then put in a lead on his on his own website to see what would happen, right, and then went through that whole process, and then just mapped out like, I put the lead in, nobody called me. Yep. Which then three days later, I put another lead in Finally, somebody called, here's the company and it was not to get anybody in trouble. By any means. It was to help inform sales enablement, it was that help form marketing, it was to help inform all of these different elements to say, how do we make this easier from my perspective? Because I know what I know. But Gosh, when you experience it from the other side, it's completely different. So like, That's number one. Number two, that I always encourage people to do is think about who your buyer is, like, what what department have they and I am selling the HR you selling, the marketing, selling the sales, selling to finance? Whatever that answer is, go find that person in your own organization and sit down with them frequently, and ask them, let's look at your email inbox, what jumps out at you? What are the types of things that are going to help educate you and make you smarter? What are things that you wish you knew? And like, we'll put together a team and put together some content to help you first. Like you've got these people in your own organization. And I'm always shocked by how little companies leverage those titles in their organ or organization when they sell to those titles across other organizations. I think that's like a huge first step. Certainly.
Vinay Koshy 48:31
Excellent. Todd, this has been incredibly valuable. Thank you so much. It if you were listening to this podcast episode, what would you say is your top takeaway?
Todd Caponi 48:45
Well, I Gosh, I mean, transparency, is, you know, not only sells better than perfection, but it renews better than perfection, it up sells better than perfection. It builds relationships that matter and create customers that advocate on your behalf better than perception than perfection. Now is the time for everybody to embrace this idea that there's a reason why negative reviews on a website work. It's because the way that our brains are wired, take that into your b2b dealings. Think about that for two to four or five. I'm not telling anybody to go out into the world and go, Hey, this is why we suck like No, that's too far. Like embrace the 42245 the fact that 85% of us go to the negative reviews first. And I'm telling you, you will see a difference in your relationships with your customers, your sales cycles and your win rates overnight.
Vinay Koshy 49:39
Brilliant. Todd, if listeners wanted to find out more or to connect with you, where would you recommend they head to?
Todd Caponi 49:46
Well, I'm hard not to find right now, which is is the good news. But you know, transparency sale calm or Todd caponi.com is a great place to collect all the stuff that I do my speaking my workshops. I've got a blog I write a bunch of crazy stuff on all the time that you're welcome to subscribe to them. I'm on LinkedIn and I share things a couple of times a week there. So feel free to follow or connect with me. If you decide to connect with me. Please let me know where you found me.
Vinay Koshy 50:15
Excellent. Thanks so much, Tom.
Todd Caponi 50:17
Thank you. That was fun.
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