In this episode, Tom Williams the founder of Strategic Dynamics Inc shares a modern perspective on what is B2B sales and how to create a successful sales process.
Strategic Dynamics Inc a firm that helps sales organizations sell more effectively by markedly improving their new hire candidate assessment process, sales productivity, and business acumen. Tom is also the author of Buyer-Centered Selling: How Modern Sellers Engage & Collaborate with Buyers.
Some topics we discussed include:
- What is B2B sales
- How B2B sales have changed over the past decade
- The reality of changing buyer needs
- The framework for buyer-centered selling
- Why Tom incorporates the Jobs To Be Done framework
- How to take the pulse of your buyers at regular intervals
- Quick wins for a buyer centered selling approach
- The five commitments of collaboration
- and much more …
Vinay Koshy 0:00
B2B sales in the last decade has changed significantly, which has driven buyers, an array of vendors, and multiple paths to purchase are just a few of the changes that have occurred in the last decade. But it hasn't made it more difficult to reach b2b leads. In this episode, we will discover what what b2b sales means, today, the best ways to go about b2b sales from a from a buyer centric selling point of view. There is a lot that could be said of our guest today, but I'll try and cover a few highlights. He is the founder and chairman of strategic dynamics incorporated a firm that helps sales organizations sell more effectively by markedly improving the new hire candidates candidate assessment process, sales, productivity, and business acumen. He has previously held a variety of senior management positions with several industry leading organizations. His experience in campuses operations in the management of medical companies, as well as marketing and selling high technology products to hospitals and physicians in the domestic and international markets, and to home health care providers. It's also important to note that he's the co author of two books, the sellers challenge how top sellers Master 10 deal killing obstacles in b2b sales. And by sentence selling, how modern sellers engage and collaborate with buyers. You could think of the books as tactical or fuel manuals about what top performing sellers do, how they research plan and implement activities that maximizes their chances of winning. Tom Williams, welcome to the podcast.
Tom Williams 1:56
Well, thank you, Vinay. It's a pleasure to be with you. Pleasure to have you.
Vinay Koshy 2:00
There's so much I'd like to dive into but we all explore b2b sales, especially in today's context, and from a buzz selling point of view in a bit. But I am curious, what would you say, given you a wealth of experience is your personal area of strength?
Tom Williams 2:19
You know, I think I think strategy, you know, would probably be my biggest area of strength. BJ, you know, because I'll tell you the reason why very early in my career, all I worked for was Harvard MBAs, you know, that either came from McKinsey and Company, or Bain Capital, or the BCG group. And it just happened that the companies I work for, they just hired people that were Harvard MBAs and had had that kind of background. And so, you know, I was forced, really, you know, more than anything I was, I was forced to learn to think the way that they thought because I had gone to Claremont Graduate School, where Peter Drucker was actually one of my instructors. And so I was like, the I was like, you know, the outcast, if you will. I wasn't a Harvard MBA, but I was, but I did study under Drucker. And so, you know, that gave me some credibility, but not as much as, as having come from from Harvard. So he taught me It taught me how to think. And I think that was really that's been probably the strength and the backbone of everything I've done,
Vinay Koshy 3:20
you know, since then, assembly? And what would you say, in that era? strength is something that businesses don't know but should?
Tom Williams 3:30
Well, you know, I don't know, I think I, I think the way that, you know, I approach strategy, I really try to approach it from a variety of different ways. But really, at the end of the day, you're really trying to set a future course and right, and look with vision, you know, and decide, you know, based on all the inputs that you have, you know, what's the best course of action. And so I really transferred that, that knowledge of business over into sales, to try to help, you know, buyers, sellers, engage more effectively with buyers in a collaborative way, really, to help buyers buy. So I think that's really what I've taken away from all the learning and it really the training I've had, you know, was fortunate enough to have early on my career,
Vinay Koshy 4:13
isn't it? You've talked about how that bears to focus on the area of teaching people how buyers buy, how would you say, b2b sales has changed, if at all, in your opinion, over the past decade or so?
Tom Williams 4:32
Well, I think it's changed, you know, in a variety of ways. You know, if you look at, you know, the different ways that it's occurred is, you know, first and foremost, buyers have got more knowledge today than they've ever had before. You know, there's just more sources of information that they can gather and achieve on their own without talking to a sales rep. There's also you know, what another factor that we've seen is that, you know, there's there's more buyers that are involved. You know, you Used to be there was only a few buyers are involved. Now it's not, it's not uncommon to see nine to 17 or more buyers that are involved. Each of them are doing their own research. So they're looking and obtaining information in a variety of different sources, you know, and they're bringing a certain amount of business acumen and knowledge about the buying process, or about the product potential solution they're looking for, before they ever engage with the sales rep. There's, I think I've also, we've also seen my co author and I have also seen a greater reliance on what we call self diagnosis, they determine themselves what they think they need. And you see that magnified a lot of times with, you know, RFPs that are sent out, that may or may not be an accurate reflection of what the right solution ought to be, or with people that come and say, and contact us a sales rep and say, you know, you've you've made our shortlist. And we'd like to have you come in and talk to us about your product. So there's more of a reliance, I think, on buyers on on self diagnosis, we're also seeing, you know, buyers shifting away from buying products to buy and services. So we're seeing a huge subscription economy that is now you know, kind of evolved, if you will, across the world, you know, Netflix and Amazon are two that come to mind. You know, so there's this transition now of a virus and I don't necessarily need to own this product, or, you know, let's go and subscribe to it a service. We're also seeing the, the transfer to what we call larger buying groups, you some people call them buying committees, buying groups, buying centers, agreement networks, but it's a network of people that have got to come together and reach some type of consensus around a potential, you know, service or product that they're going to bring in, we're also looking, you know, you see is that trusted sources of information are changing, you know, people are now looking at and, you know, if you look at kind of a hierarchy, you know, people don't tend to believe us, the sales representatives, they tend to put us down at the bottom of the pyramid, you know, what they put at the top is word of mouth, they're looking for information from their peers, they're looking for recommendations and things like that, from people that they view to be like them, as opposed to the sales rep. And that's a problem if you think about it, because they're not, there's not a trust factor there with a lot of salespeople. And then lastly, you know, there's a huge generational shift, you know, by 2025, there's going to be 44% of the of the workforce is going to be millenniums. And so we have to think about how do we not only sell to those people? And how do we manage? How do we coach those people in a different way? And and they're certainly they certainly need different things. And the folks that are in their 60s and 70s are still working.
Vinay Koshy 7:55
So how would you get all this change? Define b2b sales in todays context?
Tom Williams 8:03
Yeah, good. Good point, I think I think b2b, the way I look at b2b sales is just, you know, business to business as opposed to selling business to consumer, right, and then we try to transfer that into, if you will, what we call buyer centered selling, you know, and that's really, you know, you can look at it as both a mindset and you can look at it as a strategy, you know, that is focused like a laser beam on helping, you know, the prospective buyers to improve their their situation, or was their current situation of where they're at, to give them the outcomes they produce? They want in a collaborative manner. Right. And so the idea is, is that how in a summary is we want to help people buy, that's really what buyer centered selling is all about it, but help people buy, as opposed to, let's teach people how to sell and pitch a product. And so there's a big difference in transformation that we think you know, that sales leaders are going to need to pivot to, to meet these demands of the new of the new buyers, that what we call them are the modern buyer.
Vinay Koshy 9:11
And with the shift in helping people buy, you propose a bit of a framework in your book, could you talk us through the various components of that framework?
Tom Williams 9:26
Yeah, there's, there's a, there's a variety of components that we put through and you know, in a book, the J. One is, you know, and this is not an encompassing live, you know, good work, we're learning and growing as we, as we deliver these these insights with clients. But I think I think first and foremost is, you know, is to deliver insights, you know, that educate. And, you know, and what I mean by that is we're really trying to get buyers are buying influences, stakeholders, whatever you want to call them, to think differently, right? You know, and so we want them to focus on you know, a project Problem an opportunity or a threat that they may be encompassing, you know, and then provide some type of insight that gets them to think differently about that situation. Right. And so what we're really trying to do is it could be, insights could be delivered in a variety of ways. It could be stories, it could be events, could be testimonials, could be some sort of a whiteboard, it could be a variety of ways that you deliver it. But the idea is we're trying to create an emotional connection with that, with that buying influence, to think differently. That's really what insights are all about. I think the second one is to go and map, you know, the buy sell process in most sales organizations, because they have a CRM, they've used some type of, they've mapped some type of upsell process. So they've got a series of steps that they walk through, well, that's fine, except that, you know, buyers don't buy the way you sell. buyers have their own distinct way of buying, and they go through a different set of steps. So one of the things that we do in our organization, is help people think through what are those steps? You know, they go through, and then you know, and then as sellers, what type of activities are they doing, and then what's the exit criteria that we need to define to know that a buyer went from one one step to another. And in the book, we call them jobs to be done. Because, you know, buyers, when I talk to buyers, nobody tells me they're going on a journey myself, you know, they tell me, I've got a job, I got a I got a job to do, I got a project I've got to fix, you know, and they've got to do and that's what they're looking for. So we're big disciples of the work that Clayton Christensen did out of out of Harvard years ago, where he talked about using the jobs to be done theory and process to with innovation, with product innovation, what we've done is adapted that to the buying process, you know, to give people a better idea of how to do that. The third component is, you know, that we see that's different that sellers have got to provide, and that's what we call prescriptive guidance, guidance. You know, it's, it's helping people go and really recognize going from the current state, to some future state that gives them the outcomes that they're going, they want to deliver. But bait, but they've got to understand what's the root cause of that problem, opportunity or threat? And then who owns the problem, right? Who owns it? Who's the owner of it? What's the organizational priority of that, that initiative, right on a one to 10 scale with 10 being the highest. And then, you know, for all the other people that are going to this product opportunity to probe a problem, opportunity or threat are going to impact so that we can get those people engaged in the process of buying and then becomes your buying process or your buying committee, if you will, certainly, No, go ahead.
Vinay Koshy 12:48
I was just going to say, I love the way that you're describing how we should really be looking at educating the prospective buyers and the way you would map the processes and education is through the jobs to be done methodology. And I think that's particularly key. Because if you want to know, what really resonates with them, jobs being done is a great way to methodology to use to interview them. I'm assuming that's how you how you discover the thought processes and issues in order to create a lot of that content and map out a lot of that information. Would that be correct?
Tom Williams 13:30
Yeah, we just think it's a better way of communicating, you know, with a buyer, you know, you know, we, when we talk to them about what their buying process is, I usually get blank stares and see for people who say, you know, Tom, I've never bought this before. I don't know what our process is. And so then we've got to try to help them think through, you know, what, what a process might look like. And that's why we use, you know, mutual action plans, we, you know, we have a format and a process, you know, to help them, you know, by my use of that type of process. But if I go back to kind of your, your initial question about, you know, what else is buyer centric, it's, it's really the discovery process, which continues throughout the entire, you know, the entire, you know, job to be done, you know, or what people call the buying process or the buying journey, it's really that meticulous way of helping the buyer uncover, you know, a different state and understand how they can get there. We also, you know, talk about dynamic value messaging, you know, as being different and that's really trying to build common ground around all the different stakeholders, you know, and, and create an emotional connection about not only why we need to change, you know, to get to some better outcome, but how we go about doing that, you know, and why it's going to be beneficial to the to the entity or, you know, not necessarily to the individual, because there could be situations where we're implementing a product or service or solution where you know, it might impact me in a negative way, right as an individual and running a department or a functional area, but go over the overall for the organization, it's the best thing to do. So I need to suck it up and take one for the team and say, Okay, you know what, I'll have to adapt my people gonna have to adapt, because this is better for the organization. I think the other one another one is consensus building, you know, either still an economic buyer, there's still somebody at the end of the food chain, that has to say, yes, you know, the, we're going to go and buy this particular product or service, and we call them the final Yes, the economic buyer and economic, you know, tech, technical person, you know, whatever you want to title or version term you want to use, there's someone who has to, you know, release the funds. But the way the funds get released is different, because the decision process that we're seeing more and more now is consensus, where all consensus is a collective, yes, it doesn't mean, I have to love the solution, it means I have to embrace it. And so we're seeing more people weigh in. And of course, when that happens, we need the more people that weigh in, the longer the sale cycle, the more complex it is, because now you're you're dealing with more people, it's more difficult to get all those people together on one page, you know, and, and they all got different risk, you know, and different trade offs. So it makes it a much more difficult situation for the sales professional. Another one that, you know, you don't see talked about in most methodologies is risk mitigation, you know, and identification. And that's huge. You know, making a change is tough for people, you know, I mean, I'm the classic, you know, when my wife and I frequently go out to eat, you know, at a restaurant called an Italian restaurant, and called Olive Garden. And every time I go, I order eggplant parmesan. And my wife says, you know, there's 1000 other things on the menu, why don't you try something else. And it's like, I like eggplant parmesan. And they make it the best that I've ever, I've ever found in local restaurants. So as all I buy, and so, you know, trying to get me to change for the eggplant parmesan, is like trying to move them out. And so I kind of laugh about it. But I think it's a good analogy to think about our buyers are the same way trying to get people to change. It's not easy. And unless there's you can drive a truck through to show the difference between where they are today, and where they can get to the future outcome. If that cost of inaction isn't big enough, there's no need, there's no, there's no desire, there's no sale. And I think lastly, we're seeing a social presence, you know, much more, you know, it's not happening in every single industry. But in a lot of different industries that we work in, we're seeing social presence is becoming much more important and prevalent. People are looking at your LinkedIn profile, people are looking at your website, people are looking at what people are saying about you and your organization, I'm looking to think, see what type of content you're presenting. And that becomes a factor, you know, in either identifying you as a protect potential opportunity for them to do business with, or to give them some type of insight you as a buyer, as a buyer, before you ever walk in the door.
Vinay Koshy 18:23
I'm just curious as to how you ensure that the discovery process is ongoing, and that you are almost taking the pulse of your buyers at regular intervals. How would you do that?
Tom Williams 18:39
Well, yeah, I think I think you do it through your questioning, questioning process. And you're listening. I mean, you think about every time you ask a question, you're learning something, right? You're asking for some reason, you're trying to verify information that you think you know, or confirm information, you think, you know, or you're trying to gather new information, right. And so every time you're gathering new information, you're doing discovery. And so we look at Discovery is one of those things that goes on across the entire spectrum or whether you want to call it a buying process, or we call it jobs to be done. It never stopped. It's not a distinct step at the beginning. Why just ask you a bunch of questions and then immediately come into. Okay, I've got that down. Vinay. Now. What we'll do now is I'll talk to you about our solutions or potential options for you. It doesn't stop. And good salespeople know how to ask those good, thought provoking questions, to keep the dialogue going, and also to provide insight, you know, at different parts of the journey with different people.
Vinay Koshy 19:38
You mentioned that because there's so many people involved these days, the sales cycle tends to be a lot longer. Would you say that, given that reality, that there is more of a focus or at least should be more of a focus on client winback and client retention.
Tom Williams 20:00
Yeah, there's no question about that. I think, you know, what's interesting is that we use, we do two things. One is try to improve client retention, as well as to try to shorten that set long sales cycle. We're big advocates, and we use and have been using for a couple years, what we call a mutual action plan. And, you know, all mutual action plan is, is very basic, you know, crocs is a document that's developed between the buyer and the seller, you know, that helps the buyer or the seller by, you know, so it goes through the advise a series of steps and a series of activities that both the buyer and the seller have to do. Now, the beauty of that is not and this will kind of get you back to your question, the beauty of doing that up front, once you've qualified, you know, the the individual that there's an opportunity there for both of you to work together. The beauty of that is that now you're starting that collaboration process to kind of cope before you co create a solution. You're creating a an atmosphere, so somebody's never bought before, they look after and say wow, this is really cool. I mean, I, you're helping me to be buy. And when I tell people, look, I'm going to help you with a framework, develop a framework of how to buy, whether you buy from me or not, it'll be useful to you. So the first thing that does establish gives me credibility and trust. And the second thing it does, it differentiates me from everybody else who's just trying to pitch a product. So immediately, you got a couple checkboxes and in on your side of the ledger, once you start to develop these different steps, what you what it also does for you is as you think about it, is you end up with a better close date, because you look at the date when they want to implement and actually start to get an outcome. So now you've got a more accurate closed date to put into your CRM system, which everybody's excited about right within your own organization. The second thing it does is because you're you're starting to identify different activities and people that you're going to need to talk to, it eliminates ghostie, right, or I'm sorry, not goes eliminates, it eliminates the fact that somebody stops us and gatekeeper and says, Wait a minute, you don't need to talk to that individual, you know, because it tells you upfront, these are the kinds of things we're going to need to cover these types of people we're going to need to talk to, and also eliminates ghosting, because you put due dates on it. So I come up with an activity with you. And I say, okay, what's a reasonable time that we ought to be for you to review this and need to review it, and as we get back together, and so now all of a sudden, we both committed to a due date, and eliminates that ghosting. When you do that the plan doesn't stop at the sale, the plan continues after through the implementation to make sure the customer is getting the outcome of the results that you that they wanted, whether whatever type of financial result it was whether return on investment, that present value, internal internal return rate of return, you know, any whatever it happens to be that they define. And when you do that, you now you're setting yourself up for the next sale.
Vinay Koshy 23:00
So would I be right in saying that you almost describing a collaborative framework with with the potential buyer?
Tom Williams 23:08
Absolutely, absolutely. And what the collaborative framework does? Is it really the first thing it does, it starts off with defining the buyer situation, where they add today where they want to get through? Then you start to understand the buyers ecosystem, right? Who's on that committee? You know, what are their desires? What are their personal needs? What are the what are the business outcomes they're looking for, you know, and then you start to facilitate a decision like this collaboration, and co creating a solution. Based on all the input, you've gotten aforementioned to help them understand this is where they need to go to.
Vinay Koshy 23:44
Yep. And what as you're mapping this mutual action plan together, would you say that they need to be metrics that the buyer has agreed upon? To ensure that we are progressing in each stage?
Tom Williams 23:58
Yeah, you can you can build out it, you certainly can build that in, you can use the leading indicators, leading indicators and lagging indicators is typically what we'll do so that you do you make it help them understand, here's how you're going to get the outcome that you're desired.
Vinay Koshy 24:15
I think in your book, you talk about the five commitments of collaboration. I just wanted to be sure. Did we cover each of the five commitments?
Tom Williams 24:23
Yeah, I think I think pretty much I think pretty much we have, is there anything specific that you wanted to go through?
Vinay Koshy 24:30
Not in particular, other than maybe the idea of I think you call a gauge obstacles to change?
Tom Williams 24:39
Yeah, what the gauge obstacles that change is really identifying what are those barriers that have prevented the buyer from doing something before? Right. In other words, what's what's prevented this you from making a change before and oftentimes that'll surface you know, a number of things. Yep. And then That kind of segue is typically will segue into, you know, a discussion on risk, you know, so we'll kind of separate What are your? What are your concerns, you know, because, you know, concern could be price, it could be delivery or something like that. And then you start to get into what are the risks that they say, you know, those two discussions become very robust.
Vinay Koshy 25:20
Would you say, and I'm just basing this off of what I think I'm hearing, that b2b sales is more of a team sport, where, on your end, you're engaging a number of different buyers at different positions within the company, and gaining the perspectives through something like the jobs to be done framework, and then marrying that to create more of a holistic picture of what the reality is within the buyers company, would that be correct?
Tom Williams 25:50
Wow, what a great, what a great and astute question. Yeah, absolutely, then I think that, you know, when you're being more buyer centric, it's much more much more team approach in terms of selling. It's interesting, when you look at, you know, many of the sales that occur, you may have a sales representative that's leading the charge, whether they're inside or outside sales revenue, really is are respected. And then there'll be some type of field engineer, sales engineer, operations person, product expert, that will be involved, you oftentimes get a regional manager that's involved, you know, or a district manager, and there's no collaboration, you know, each one has, it has a function, and each one pitches according to their function with no collaboration, and, you know, in the end result is the buyer gets confused. And, and, you know, and I see this time and time again, when I do deal reviews, and, you know, I did one last week, and I mean, all I could do was was cringe as I, as I asked questions, and this poor guy, you know, explain to me what they did. And then he was like, the light bulb went off, as I was asking questions. He says, oh, man, he's nine. Now I know why we lost, you know, and he started to explain how the lack of coordination occurred, you know, within his own team. This was a huge, huge deal. I mean, it was almost a million dollar deal. And you know, the days I think of Lone Ranger, guys like you and me just going in and doing this on our own. I mean, there's some people that can do it be very successful. But I think the more often more knowledgeable and more astute way of doing it is a team approach. Because you end up with better solutions, you end up with better engagement with the customer, when you do that.
Vinay Koshy 27:35
And I guess two questions arise from that, traditionally speaking, people have been allocated a revenue target or a sales number target to achieve. If you're looking at doing this as a team, what is a better metric to have? And, yeah, that might be a better question to start with. And then I'll go into the next one.
Tom Williams 27:58
Yeah, that's, you know, that's the $64,000 conundrum. And I know, there's an awful lot of debate going on between, you know, different sales gurus and authorities and authors between, and even the presidents of a couple of different organizations, about, you know, shouldn't sales, sales representatives get a commission at all, you know, or should it be, should they be salaried? You know, with a, with a bonus, based on, you know, some type of company performance, you know, I'm kind of, I've kind of gotten mixed feelings on it, I, you know, the, on the one hand, you know, we have a very short sighted mentality, we have hundreds, right, and they and their job is to go out and kill and get as much business as they can and close by the end a month and a quarter and the fiscal year. And even though that order may be pulling it in at a discount from the, from the next quarter, or the next fiscal year, because we've got to make her number, right, I'll have enough numbers, enough opportunities, my funnel, I got to make my number. So they pull it in, they pull it in, at the other end. As a result, they pull it in, and now you're short The following year, or the following month or the following quarter. second problem is they discount it. Third problem is they've now they've now gotten the buyer to be sensitized. They'll drop their price. And so it's like, okay, I'll sell value all quarter long. last few days, we're dropping our price, right. And so all of a sudden, don't believe what I say. And if that's part of the problem of why buyers don't have a lot of faith in salespeople, because they get this vacillation back and forth of what they needed to do at the end of a quarter. And what's interesting is when I talked to procurement people, you know, good procurement people, when I'll use that in a generic term to include purchasing and strategic sourcing, even though they're different. What they say is, Tom, we know when the end of the quarter is for our major suppliers. And we use that that religiously to drive down price because we know they need to make their numbers On a stock market. So, you know, we're sensitizing people to do that instead of sell them value. I don't know if I've answered have answered your question via a color kind of I kind of gone around to like a politician, but you know it, the end result is is there's if you're going to give a commission, you can create ways around getting everybody to be involved in some form or fashion, right? Certainly the regional manager, if his if his region makes a number, he gets, he gets compensated, the sales rep gets the order. Now you can build in other people that are support clinical people and other folks, you know, in that compensation method, whether you give it part of the part of that commission, or whether you give it in terms of a bonus
Vinay Koshy 30:44
Certainly, okay. So those sorts of metrics are yet to be decided. But I'm also curious as to how we would go about bringing about this changing in thinking and operating in an organization that may not as yet be familiar with such processes?
Tom Williams 31:07
Well, you know, there's just now starting to be, and I'm apologize, I can't think of the gentleman's name I've connected with him on LinkedIn about about a month ago, there is one gentleman that's out there, very, very strongly advocating, to do away with sales quotas, and do away with sales commissions. And ironically, he's got a couple of venture, he's got a company that he's using this with the software as a service company. They're backed by a couple of different venture capitalists, and he's got their support. So it's interesting, I'm watching that model pretty closely to see, you know, is this going to be an evolution of, you know, is this going to be a revolution? Are we going to see that this is just one guy out there doing something different?
Vinay Koshy 31:55
Right. Okay. Because there is a lot of talk around the account based marketing approach. Are you familiar with that? Now, which is kind of similar to me, I guess, additional point would be that they also talk about unifying marketing and sales into a one team, operational unit.
Tom Williams 32:16
Yeah, I think, you know, I think there's a variety of ways you can create compensation. I mean, I can tell you that, you know, when I was a VP of Sales and Marketing for medical device company, you know, we had, I was managing sales and marketing and product service. And, you know, we created, you know, metrics, that, you know, everything was everything was centered around the customer, and centered around helping the sales rep. In the field, right? Yeah. So I didn't, you know, so if you had to get rid of a stop a meeting and get rid of a meeting and not attend a meeting, you know, in order to help the sales rep, that's what you did, when we had full alignment, the compensation was on the way a bonus. So if we made our company number, and you know, or if you made your individual objectives, you got a certain level of bonus, if the company also made their number, and, you know, revenue number and gross margin number, you also got another bonus, right. And so there was a there was alignment for them to have to be if you will align with the sales representative and the sales rep and the regional manager and those people, they got their commission. So there's ways to do that from an account based marketing point of view, or management point of view. Or if you want to do it with large accounts, there's very easy ways to do that. It's just a matter of how the compensation has to drive the right behavior.
Vinay Koshy 33:34
You talked earlier about risk mitigation and this idea of collaborating with bias. Is there another aspect of risk mitigation that we need to be aware of that perhaps isn't necessarily covered in our interactions with potential boats?
Tom Williams 33:53
Well, we think is that you know, first and foremost, you know, risk is risk is something that's never taught and most sales methodologies. And we think that's a huge problem. Because risk is, is involved in every type of sale, if you think about it, especially if this is this disruption, or if it's an individual or a company is buying something for the first time, change is difficult. And risk is really all about psychological impact that the individual has. So it becomes emotional, right? So you know, if I perceive that there's a risk, you know, it's psychological To me, it's emotional to me, and it's real. And as sales reps, we need to understand from the buyers point of view, what are those risks, and so that's why in the book, we outline in buyer centered selling in our book buyer centered selling, we outline 12 different types of risks, that so the sellers could identify that and then and then ways in which they could mitigate it. And there's different levels of risk, right. You know, it could be very low, it could be medium, it could be very high. Right, you know, the low ones, you know, people kind of shred off and say, Okay, these are, there's a minor risk here. But it's acceptable, and I can deal with it. And I can, you know, I won't worry about it. Once you get to the medium risk, you got to do something with it. And the high risk, if you don't mitigate that, you're not going to get the sale. And so we give people with kind of a checklist and a way of using a checklist format, not only identify those, but determine did they mitigate it?
Vinay Koshy 35:27
So and with this idea of consensus building, and developing a mutual action plan, is apart from the jobs to be done framework, is there anything else that we need to be aware of, as we look to collaborate with? Well,
Tom Williams 35:43
I think the that this kind of gets into the second part, and this isn't in our book, but it's some additional work that we've done on consensus building. Because what's interesting is it's we're getting ready to release a module, a module that you know, a lean learning module on building consensus, everybody talks about, you need to build consensus. Well, how do you do that? Where do you build consensus? First of all, the jobs to be done process? And then secondly, how do you go about doing that? If and, again, that's where a lot of the sales methodologies, you know, they will tell you to do something, they don't tell you how to do it. Yeah, that's the big problem. And that's where we're focused like a laser beam with buyer centered selling, is how you doing? You know, I don't need somebody to tell me in a sales training methodology, here's what you ought to go do? Well, that's pretty obvious, right? You know, you don't need to put me through training that just give me a document and say, You need to do these things, right? where the, where the real magic is, is how to hack you do this stuff that now and so part of what you know, building consensus is for the sale or sale representative is, how do I help build consensus if my buyer needs help, and doesn't know how to do it? Or conversely, how do I transfer what I know to the buyer, and help him build consensus within his own organization? Because without consensus, if the deals not happening? And then what happens? It goes to status quo? Yep. Right, and they just decide we're not going to do anything, right. And it just became too complex. When in reality, we could have, we could have managed that process, you know, as sellers.
Vinay Koshy 37:30
So really, it's about building, I would say, a lot of influence. And almost implicit in that is a large degree of trust through this entire process.
Tom Williams 37:43
Absolutely. And again, it's it's it, you know, being buyer centered is it's a mindset and a strategy. But it's all focused on the buyer, as opposed to all the things that I need to do. Now along the way, we'll pick those things up, we'll cover those things that sellers need to do, I don't want any of your your followers to think, well, we're not going to cover that. But what we're going to really make sure is is we're not going to tell people, you have to provide insider perspective, we're going to show you how to do that. And I'm going to show you how to deal with different types of bind influences or stakeholders. And we're going to show you at different parts of the job to be done, you know, process of how that message needs to be done differently. We're going to show you how to build consensus, we're going to help you identify and mitigate risk, we're going to show you how to provide prescriptive guidance, how to build a business case, you know, that is important. All of those types of things are all parts of you know, being a buyer centered seller. And the end result is your sales cycle should shrink, and your win rate should go up. So think about a DNA, people are following a lot of different methodologies out there in the marketplace, and they're not getting the results that they want. When rates are when rates are abysmal. Number of percentage of veal reps making quota is abysmal. The no decision rates about 20 to 22%. And yet, we're spending a ton of money on sales training that just doesn't appear to work. We can blame it on a whole lot of reasons. We're not coaching. It was the wrong methodology, whatever it happens to be, but the bottom line is, a lot of the current stuff that's out there just isn't working. So the
Vinay Koshy 39:22
question about building influence, I can see how it would fit in well with this whole idea of maintaining social presence. But as you're talking through the other aspects of the bison sales process, would you say there is value in having people who sort of the buyers do follow and respect bringing them into the into the process either through interviews or quotes or something of that nature? Is that more of a mapping function?
Tom Williams 39:55
Explain that a little bit more about to me what you mean I'm not sure I follow you.
Vinay Koshy 39:58
So Quite often you'll find companies doing webinars with experts in a particular field or industry, things of that nature, which to me, seemed to be more of a top of funnel, you know, attraction type of content. Would you say that there is a value in having influences speak to specific problems that buyers contend with that you have discovered through your your discovery process?
Tom Williams 40:28
I think, yeah, I think you're, I think I find her stank broccoli is providing different types of content to different types of buying personas, who are at different parts of the job to be done process? So yes, I think, you know, that's, I think that's really one of the roles and sales enablement. professionals are trying to do, you know, along with onboarding and other functions that they're they're managing, is get product, get that type of information, you know, that's being pushed to the sales rep, so that they can use it. You know, at the end of the day, I think, you know, the more we can position the sales rep is to be the professional, you know, the concierge, if you will, the the collaborator, you know, the the expert, you know, that trusted advisor, whatever role you want to be, we want to elevate them in the eyes of the seller, and buyer. Yeah. And, you know, the more information we can give them, it just gives them more credibility helps them build more trust. But you know, we've got to give them the right information at the right time for the right individual. And that's where, you know, a lot of the alignment is just not a character right now.
Vinay Koshy 41:36
Yeah, I couldn't agree with you more. Tom, I know, we've covered this perspective by saying the selling of that at a fairly high level. But would you say that there is another aspect of the process that we haven't talked about, and that you feel we need to highlight?
Tom Williams 41:54
Now, I think we've we I think we've covered pretty much been a the highlights, you know, what I was hoping you might want to cover today.
Vinay Koshy 42:01
Certainly. Excellent. So tell me if you were listening to this episode, what would you say is your top takeaway?
Tom Williams 42:11
Ooh, Good question. I think I hope it's two things are three things, I hope one is that it's the need to build a cost of inaction. In other words, build a business case for for doing something different, you know, the cost of inaction. I hope that's the takeaway is to manage risk, help your buyers manage risk, you know, and the importance of building consensus. I think those are three key, hopefully, three key takeaways.
Vinay Koshy 42:36
Terrific. And Tom, for any listeners who would like to find out more, or to connect with you, where would you recommend they head to?
Tom Williams 42:45
Well, first of all, connect with me, either via email at t Williams at strategic dynamics, with an S, firm, calm, feel free to send me a LinkedIn invitation. I love to get LinkedIn invitations from followers, especially followers, where I'm trying to sell me something if you actually want to build a relationship with me, because of what they've listened to listen to something we've said on the podcast or that they've read the book one of the books, or Lastly, I give you my phone number, my cell number is 951-515-8159. I love talking to sales professionals. So you know, I there's no conversation I have and I don't learn something so I'm more than happy to take a cell phone call from anybody and you know and ladies and gentlemen, if you're listening to this, I actually do live answer the phone. So you know, you'll actually get a live body if you if you call me.
Vinay Koshy 43:35
Excellent. And your website, Tom
Tom Williams 43:38
website is www strategic dynamics firm comm keep looking at it, it we're in the we're in the last stages of doing a major uplift to it. And it should be available sometime in the next 30 to 45 days. So we'll take a look what we have today but come back.
Vinay Koshy 43:55
Terrific. Look forward to that. Tom, thank you so much.
Tom Williams 43:59
Thanks very much. I appreciate you inviting me I enjoyed the conversation with you.
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Related links and resources
- Check out Strategic Dynamics
- Get a copy of Buyer-Centered Selling: How Modern Sellers Engage & Collaborate with Buyers
- Get a copy of The Seller’s Challenge: How Top Sellers Master 10 Deal Killing Obstacles in B2B Sales
- Check out my interview with Michael Haynes – How to Drive Growth with a Buyer Driven B2B Sales Approach
- Listen to my interview with James Muir – How to Close a Sale: A Powerful Yet Proven 2 Step Process
- Accelerate your growth with this episode with Marcus Cauchi – How To Use Channel Sales Strategies To Drive Massive Growth
- Listen to my interview with Jeff Bajorek – 10 Critical Functions of Sales Management That Drive Business Growth
- Listen to Todd Caponi’s advice in this interview – How To Build Trust With Customers: 9 Rules To Abide By
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