The Rule Of 37% (If You’re Not Using It, You’re Missing Deals)

37% of the way through the sales cycle is where prospects are drawing conclusions and painting themselves into a box.

Jake Reni is a true sales practitioner and he joins me on today's episode of the Salesman Podcast to further explain the rule of 37% and share the best practices for dealing with sales situations with more than one decision maker.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Jake Reni
Sales Training Expert

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Coming up on today's episode of the Salesman podcast.

 

Jake Rennie:

37% of the way through their buying or their procurement phase, they go through what is called the due diligence phase. And they're learning, they're educating, they're doing all these things that we're talking about, but they're also defining what their own problem is. And this is when they start painting their box.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, Sales Nation. I'm Will Barron, host of the Salesman podcast. I say that every episode and I probably will continue to say that every episode, even though there's not going to be another host coming anytime soon. So I can probably cut it out. On today's show we have Jake Rennie, senior director of sales at Consensus, and we're getting practical. We're getting practitioner led on this episode, which is something I want to do more of in future episodes as well.

 

Will Barron:

And we're diving into the concept and the process and how to deal with having more than one decision maker in the buying cycle, in the buying process. It's happening all over B2B sales, it's getting more and more complex. And Jake gives us some really good insights in this show of how we can deal with it. You can find out more about Jake and everything that the company he works for does over at goconsensus.com. Now with that all said, let's jump into today's episode. Hey, Jake, and welcome to the salesman podcast.

 

Jake Rennie:

Hey, thank you, Will. It's great to be here.

 

The B2B Sales Environment is Becoming More Complex · [01:25] 

 

Will Barron:

You're more than welcome, sir. Today we're going to dive into a topic, which is… Well, you can tell me in a second, whether it's becoming more and more common, but I feel it is. And that is whether… The concept and the ideas behind B2B sales have become more complex. There's more decision makers. There's more people involved. And so I want to get your thoughts, insights on this and how we can take advantage of this when our competition perhaps has been slow to respond to this change. But get us started off. Is this a trend that is happening… Is B2B sales becoming more complex and is my… because this is a gut feeling on mine as opposed to any data that I've seen. Is this a trend that is really happening out there?

 

Jake Rennie:

Yeah, absolutely. And I would maybe phrase it a little differently. I wouldn't say necessarily that B2B sales is getting more complex. B2B sales has always been complex, especially in the enterprise space. It's always been a long process. What is changing is the B2B sales is getting… In some way, it's requiring a different approach and understanding the way that your businesses have changed and are starting to procure differently and evaluate differently and do due diligence differently and learn differently. That, to me, is the change. I wouldn't necessarily say it's more complex, it's different. And that requires us to adjust to meet the complexity that's always been there.

 

The B2B Procurement Process is Changing. Here’s How You Can Keep Up · [02:52] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. Then to get a level deeper in this, because I think this is really useful for the Salesman podcast audience. I feel any opportunity I've got to widen people's business acronym so we can talk about sales on a wider context is useful. Why has procurement changed? Why has this procurement process, and then the process of due diligence, I think were the words you used then, why has that changed over the past few years?

 

Jake Rennie:

Yeah. Yeah. So the other thing I'd also add too is the one part I feel that has actually changed in complexity is the mid-market SMB cell. And that is only because you have rapid growth of a lot of mid-market companies that have a lot of infusion of funds that we haven't necessarily seen always in definitely the tech space. And so you're seeing a more mature procurement process in the mid-market space than maybe you've seen in the past. So that is definitely an area where I would say there's a complexity change, but to go back to the question you just asked, the reason why I think that it's changed is because the sheer amount of information that's available to your buyer today is completely different than it was even five, 10 years ago. The way that the sales process may have worked in the past is that the buyer needed to learn from somewhere.

 

Jake Rennie:

And if they couldn't access all the information online, they would reach out to the seller or the vendors pretty early on in the process. During a stage where they're doing their due diligence, they would go directly to the source, the vendors, and ask them to do the educating and allow for them to really build that business case earlier on in the process. And then perhaps go back, evaluate, narrow down the vendors to three or four, bring you back, then again go through the validation process, narrow it down again to maybe two, and then you finally win a deal. I'm not even talking about an RFP at this point. That's just the way he deals often were in the past. And then, of course, you're all familiar with the RFI RFP process, the way that-

 

Understanding Request For Purchase and Request For Information · [05:03] 

 

Will Barron:

Just stop there a second, Jake. Go over those acronyms for a second, just for anyone who isn't familiar with that.

 

Jake Rennie:

So an RFP is a request for purchase or an RFI is a request for information. It's a buyer stating that we have interest in solutions that could solve X problem. How do you believe that you fit into this box that we have painted that we want you to define yourself within this box? There's a challenge there. I'll get back to that in a minute. But if any of you have experienced that, you know that it's not the most exciting thing when you get a request, because now all of a sudden you've got to scramble, do a lot of work for a deal that the likelihood of winning is low. So where that's changing now is that the buyer is able to self-educate way earlier on in the process. Now there's a statistic that we're all kind of familiar with, maybe even questioning the data on, but regardless, the point is that buyers are more educated along the buying process now.

 

Jake Rennie:

Some data points say that they're 60% of the way through the buying process before they even contact a vendor, or they might say that they're close to 60% of the way through their self-educating before they pick up the phone and contact a vendor. Either way, the concept is they are doing their homework and due diligence in ways they never did before, before they ever pick up the phone. And how are they doing it? They're doing it on social media. They're using Twitter or LinkedIn groups, and they're asking their peers, they're asking others in the industry. They're perhaps venting and complaining about their current vendor online. They're educating just by going online and selecting and searching. There's all kinds of software cloud marketplaces today that never existed before. And so they can just go simply shop for your software, and you will never even know until a partner sells it for you.

 

Jake Rennie:

And so what's happening now is that before they ever even pick up the phone, they're doing their due diligence. The interesting stat here that we need to be paying more attention to is one that's CEB or corporate executive board showed us in a recent study where the key point where we need to be impacting our buyer is 37% of the way through that journey. Not the 60%. 37% of the way through that journey is where the peak of group buying dysfunction occurs. And maybe we need to stop and break what that means down. But the point is 37% of the way through their buying or their procurement phase. They go through what is called a due diligence phase. And they're learning, they're educating, they're doing all these things that we're talking about, but they're also defining what their own problem is. And this is when they start painting their box that we talked about.

 

Will Barron:

Let me jump in here before we go any further, because you're on a roll there. So I didn't want to interrupt, but come back to this 37%. It's it feels like a good title for a book that the 37% something, something sales is something that would sell. So we'll come back for a second.

 

Jake Rennie:

Oh, I've been working on a blog post. Don't worry. It'll be coming out soon.

 

Buyers Are Doing a Lot of Due Diligence Before Reaching Out to a Salesperson: Is That Good or Bad? · [08:21] 

 

Will Barron:

Good stuff. We're willing to show that in the show notes, over salesman.red. And Jake, I want to just frame this because you've got half the audience going, “Oh, no, everything's changed. I don't know how I'm going to keep up.” You've got half the other half of the audience going, “Change is the potential for opportunity. And if my competitors aren't doing this, I've got a real good in an insight with this show and other things that we both talk about to get a leg up here.” How do you see this personally? Do you see this change? And perhaps the increase in due diligence and the lack of control over the content that people are consuming to do that due diligence. Do you see that as an opportunity or do you see it as a problem for a sales professional?

 

Jake Rennie:

I see it to both. And I'll explain that. Huge opportunity. Anytime someone moves the cheese. Not to be cheesy. You like the pun there, but anytime someone changes a process or that cheese moves, there's a huge opportunity to be the first person to say, “I'm going to go find it. I'm going to go get it. I'm going to figure it out.” Because you're going to beat your competition there. That's a massive opportunity for you and your market. The other part of why it's a challenge is for everyone who stays behind and continues to sell in the same old way, begins to complicate the market, begins to oversaturate it, begins to start spreading poor practises of sales that hurt and damage the rest of us in the industry who are trying to keep up with best practises.

 

“We owe it to each other as sales professionals to always be working towards the best practice. Otherwise, we're screwing it up for everyone else.” – Jake Rennie · [09:58] 

 

Jake Rennie:

And so the challenge is an opportunity, but also requires all of us to level up our game. And we owe it to each other as sales professionals to always be working towards the best practise. Otherwise, we're screwing it up for everyone else. And I don't want to be known for staying behind and doing old sales tactic. It sticks out like a sore thumb, and doesn't make a lot of people very happy.

 

Why Complex B2B Deals Are Going to Have More and More Decision Makers in the Future · [10:33] 

 

Will Barron:

Sure. And you probably agree with the shake of, “I will do an old sales tactic if it works.” I think that's the crux to all of this, but clearly if there's opportunities there and things are going to work better, you'd be crazy not to explore. And on this, just before we dive into this 37, I'm going to call it a 37% rule, because I feel like this is going to be the crux of the conversation here. Can you explain, and this might tie into this point as well, but why are there more… Why is the trend to continue, perhaps, from some of the data that I've read, that there's going to be more decision makers within the process referring back to all the changes that you just mentioned then?

 

Jake Rennie:

So you're asking me why are there more decision makers getting involved in the process now? I think it's because… I guess I can explain it best with an article I recently read by Jacko, if you know who Jacko is. He recently described how the buying procurement process in BDP enterprise is more flat than it used to be. So you used to maybe have one or two decision makers that would report up to some sort of a VP or global VP or whatever, president, and they would bring their business case. And that decision would be made at maybe at that higher level. There were definitely still multiple people involved, but it was more hierarchical than it is now. Now I see it being more flat. They don't have time anymore to be involved in those decision making process.

 

Jake Rennie:

And in fact, what you'll see is your signer most likely will be engaged early on in the sale. And then they'll back out as they hand off the responsibility to the person in charge of driving the implementation, then they'll get back involved towards the end of the deal as it needs to get signed. And so in the meantime, there are more people involved in this committee of evaluating and implementing, because there are multiple decision makers that your technology is probably impacting more now than it ever was. We're just more integrated than we used to be. Our technologies overlap. There's more convergence between sales and marketing and other departments. And so I think that decision making is more flat and then more people have a stake in what the impact is going to be on their business.

 

How to Uncover the Decision Makers in Complex B2B Deals · [12:50] 

 

Will Barron:

And how do we know who the decision makers are? And I don't know the answer to this question, and my experience has always been, you put it out there, you know who the end decision maker is, and then you're rallying the troops as you go along. That doesn't seem to be the smart way to go about it though. Is there a way to sus out who the decision makers are ahead of time? So that when you're talking about a committee rather than just one or two people, so then you can perhaps get in front of them, add value and all this, the cool stuff that's happening in the sales world at the moment.

 

“Understanding how to ask the right questions, at the right time, to the right person, is a skill. It's a talent, it's an art, but you have to do it right.” – Jake Rennie · [13:44] 

 

Jake Rennie:

Yeah, that's a key question. Sometimes the most complicated problems have the most simple answers. And I think that this is a fundamental issue that sales just fails to do. It's as simple as tying your shoes right. It's asking the question properly. I think two areas where most sales reps are challenged with right now is that understanding how to ask the right questions in the right time, the right person, is a skill. It's a talent, it's an art, but you have to do it right. And then I think understanding how to follow up with that and understanding the way procurement is done.

 

Jake Rennie:

And so one thing I always do is I ask very clear questions around who are others that are impacted by this goal, or this initiative that we're talking about. How does this impact their business? How do they need to be involved in this process, at what stage do we need get them involved in? And then the other question I ask that's very key and you can learn a lot is asking them, “What is the procurement process or culture like within your company? Help me understand how procurement is done.” Because that will open up your eyes to quirks or steps that either you may not be comfortable with or familiar with, or may not have to even worry about. So asking questions, one, is key.

 

How to Ask Insightful Questions When on Call with a Decision Maker · [14:43] 

 

Will Barron:

Before you can move on from this, I want to get real practical with this, Jake. What words would you literally use on a phone conversation with the initial decision maker, perhaps, to put those questions across? What would you literally say word for word?

 

Jake Rennie:

Yeah, actually just like I said, I would say something to the effect of, “Okay. We just talked about these goals.” So first you have to understand what goals and what issues are tied to revenue and how this person is being measured against those. Because what makes them tick? What are they going to be evaluated on? What are they going to be fired on? Then once you know those things say, “Alright, who else within the organisation, within your sales organisation, or within your revenue organisation are tied to these goals and initiatives, that have a stake in making this decision?” Get those names and then say, “How do we need to include them in this procurement process moving forward?” And then they might inform you at this point, “Well, I'm just at the early stage, I'm evaluating. Then I'll pull them in.” Or they might tell you that they haven't gone that far.

 

Jake Rennie:

The thing is here you'll also learn if the buyer is just kicking tyres with you, or if they're hoarding the solution to themselves, because that's an interesting concept. Sometimes they don't want to get others involved because they want to be the one to present the solution. And it looks good on them. That doesn't always work because then you're talking only about a “me” problem, not a “we” problem that you're solving. So I very clearly ask. And then I very clearly ask the question, “Help me understand the procurement process or culture within your organisation from beginning to end. What steps need to be taken? In my experience, we need to go through some sort of a proof of concept. We need to go through the business case. We need to go through financing approval. We need to go through Infosec review. We need to go through legal red lines. What else am I missing?” And let them fill in those gaps, because, otherwise, you're just going to assume you are going through their process. And you're wasting time.

 

Save Time By Familiarizing Yourself with the Buyer’s Procurement Process · [16:50] 

 

Will Barron:

You also mentioned asking about quirks in the process. I'll give an example of this in a second, but what pops up or what has popped up with your experience of asking that question?

 

Jake Rennie:

Yeah. So for example, one quirk that comes up sometimes is sometimes Infosec or info Infosecurity will always ask, when it comes to their phase, they'll ask, “Have you completed a proof of concept or a trial?” It's just a natural question that they're going to ask. And if you've ever been in a conversation where you have built the business case, you've done everything you need to do, and you get to that point and you just need the Infosecurity team to sign off on it. And they ask that question on a call and you haven't, and your buyer didn't care about it and all of a sudden now they're like, “No, we haven't, maybe we should. Hey, Jake, can we do that really quick?” That throws you back. It throws everybody back. And if you would've known that was a quirk for their organisation, something that they require, you could have saved a lot of time.

 

Will Barron:

Definitely. An example for me, I would… It's a brilliant question to ask, and I would probably get the response through being empathetic and understanding the person talking to me and have a good relationship with them and have them just tell me, rather than me pro proactively ask them. But having been in situations before in the medical device world, where you'll have your list of decision makers from, similar to how you just described, if you've got hospital data going back and forth, IT need to be involved. They don't talk very well to anyone else, and it's going back and forth and you've got theatre management, you've got procurement, you've got the surgeons themselves, who you would think on the surface of things, the surgeons will essentially get what they want, but they don't seeing as they're performing their life saving surgery, and you need the best equipment that they've been trained on and all that stuff.

 

Influence Decision Makers Through Social Selling · [19:16]

 

Will Barron:

And a bunch of times there'll be a theatre nurse, there'll be someone low down the food chain of the decision making process or say, “Hey, this person, you need to get them on board. You need to get them on board.” You don't need to bother with them. They've got big mouths. They don't really have any decision-making power. We don't really like them. We don't really listen to anything they say. So then you can get them on board. They don't come on board. You know that it's not the end of the world and you don't have to focus a whole bunch of time on them. And yeah, I thought that was a really interesting twist. I've not had anyone mention that specific question to ask before. And as I said, it's something that I would uncover, but not proactively. So I think that's really useful for the audience. And Jake, going back to the 37% point, I think we've built up a bit hype around this point. Now what happens-

 

“The way the selling landscape is evolving, part of evolving with the buyer is being where they are and being inside their ecosystem. If you’re not utilising social media, LinkedIn, Twitter, or wherever your buyer would be, you’re missing out.” – Jake Rennie · [19:50] 

 

Will Barron:

Do you mind if I actually share the other area where I feel like we can impact the discovering the committee? Because I think there's another part of this is really key that there's a lot of scepticism around right now is the simple concept of social selling. For some people it's a buzzword for others, it's just a part of their process. And I think we need to know that with the way the landscape is evolving, part of evolving with their buyer is being where they are when they're there and being inside of their ecosystem.

 

Will Barron:

And if we are not utilising social media, LinkedIn, Twitter, or whatever, wherever your buyer would be, if it's Pinterest, I don't care. If you are there, then you're listening and you're understanding what they're talking about. And so there's a great way to leverage social media, to also discover who our other stakeholders in your buying committee or buying process. And so don't discount that if you're a sceptic

 

The Benefits of Using Social Selling to Uncover and Influence Decision Makers · [20:20]

 

Will Barron:

And conceptualise that for us, Jake. Because I know where you're going with this, which is good. And I agree with it, but there'll be a lot of people listening going, “Why does retweeting the CFO when he posts the blog post that is written that isn't very good anyway, that's social selling. Why does that really make a difference?” Tell us what you mean by social selling in this context and how it can lead to more information about the decision makers.

 

“Stop inviting people to connect on LinkedIn and then 10 seconds later sending them an automated sales pitch. That's not how it works.” – Jake Rennie · [21:16]

 

Jake Rennie:

Well, first it's just identifying who they are. So you can find who these different people are faster just by doing your own due diligence. So one, it's identifying them. Two, it's engaging them in a very light way to start nurturing that person. Let them know that you're there. I'm not here to sell you. I'm not going to connect with you on Twitter or LinkedIn, and then immediately jam a sales pitch down your throat. Don't do that. If you're listening to me right now, please stop inviting me to connect on LinkedIn. And then sending me 10 seconds later, an automated sales pitch. That's not how it works.

 

“Pay a lot of attention to how you can add pipeline to your potential customers' pipeline. So focus on adding value, and not necessarily trying to beg for the conversation. And that’s how you open a lot of doors.” – Jake Rennie · [21:57] 

 

Jake Rennie:

But it's including yourself and my kind of my professional ecosystem network and adding value. If you're adding value back to me, if you're engaging me with relevant content, if you are getting involved in the conversations that I'm getting involved in, and what you have to say is meaningful, if you are supporting me and what I'm passionate about, that might not be just necessarily sales, but maybe something I blog about that's a personal interest of mine. If you're adding value, there's so many other ways. Maybe it's just even connecting your buyer with leads. Jack Kosakowski is someone I learned that from is pay a lot of attention to how you can add pipeline to your potential customers' pipeline. That's a cool concept. So it's adding value, not necessarily trying to beg for the conversation. And that is, I think, where you open a lot of doors. That is where I have opened a lot of doors.

 

Will Barron:

Definitely. And I hate the… I know you've used it and everyone uses it and it's an industry term, but I hate the term “adding value”. Could we swap adding value in this context of perhaps framing yourself as an industry expert and just being on the radar?

 

Jake Rennie:

Totally. Yeah. I mean, yeah. You nailed it. The simple term is “add value”, but again, that's another word that's kind of become a buzz term. It's definitely becoming a resource. Framing yourself as someone who has something insightful to offer. And if that's being a thought leader, then absolutely.

 

The Rule of 37% and How it Impacts the Buying Process · [22:50] 

 

Will Barron:

Definitely. Okay. Let's wrap up the show with what happens in the buying process at seemingly this very precise number of 37%.

 

Jake Rennie:

Yeah. So it's interesting CEB again, they did great research here. And it's an article that I recommend you go take a look at. They find that at this stage during the buying process, right around the 37% is where your potential buyer is educating themselves. They're doing their own due diligence. They're researching the industry. They're trying to discover really what their problem is. They haven't necessarily defined it yet. And so they're trying to essentially self-diagnose where we all know that if we go to our doctor and we've already self-diagnosed on webMD, that's not necessarily always the best thing. So they're self-diagnosing. And the way they self-diagnose is they start building a box and that box is based on the terms or the definition in which they think their problem is defined. And they think that the potential solution is defined.

 

“It's very important to be involved very early when the buyer is educating themselves so that we get to educate them during that stage of them defining what the problem and the solution would be. So then we can help them understand as they go through their process that we are the real source of insight, or we are the thought leaders, or we are the only ones that can provide the solution that we've helped them define.” – Jake Rennie · [24:20] 

 

Jake Rennie:

That's when, by the time you talk to them at 60% of the way through the journey or whatever, is when you end up in a conversation trying to battle against a competitor, or you're talking about pricing, or you're in an RFP RFI. But if you can be a part of helping them build that box, helping them define that definition of a problem and a solution, then guess what? You fit right inside. Otherwise, you have to fit in someone else's box. And so it's very important to be involved earlier stages in the funnel so that we're educating them during that stage of them defining what the problem and the solution would be. So then we can help them understand as they go through their process, that we are the real source of insight, or we are the thought leaders here that the only ones that can provide the solution that we've helped them define. Otherwise, you're just educating your buyer to purchase a competing product, and that's not the right way to do it.

 

Will Barron:

And to add a bit of context through this, we used to do this all the time, at the medical device company I worked at. Well, both of them used to do it. So I moved from one, to the biggest competitor. And of course, every product has a unique selling point. Whether it be the endoscopes I sold, whether it be the diameter of them, whether it be the clarity, whether it be the camera system, does certain things. A big one for a long time, this sounds ridiculous, was one camera system was 1080p, progressive for all the nerds out there, they'll understand exactly what I'm talking about. For anyone else, they may not. Progressive means that the image is portrayed on the screen frame by frame by frame, the competitor was interlaced, which means that they would have one line of the image before, and then the next line of the image next, and it'd go back and forth.

 

Will Barron:

And so the image quality wasn't as high on the 1080i as it was for the 1080p. I probably just lost half the audience here, but this was a unique selling point. And so we would get in with the surgeons, take our camera system in there and convince them that they need 1080p, when reality, they could perform the surgery on either one. But then when the NHS in the UK, the natural health service, when they would go to tender on the tender documents, it would always be 1080p, no one else could compete and we'd win the business by default. Of course, you didn't win it by default. You won it by a bunch of pre-sales and educating legwork dragging a camera system around multiple hospitals around the UK to do it. But you are loading up the effort and the energy up front. So the close happens naturally at the other end.

 

Jake Rennie:

That's perfect. That's exactly it.

 

How to Educate the Buyer and Potentially Influence Their Buying Decisions · [26:33] 

 

Will Barron:

And that was just trial and error. There's no great skill in uncovering this. It was just something that we noticed and we could leverage as a tool. But for the salesperson listening to this, how do… Because I don't know if they can personally, but how do they educate the buyer so that they can come up with their own example, similar to what I've just described? Is this something that an individual salesperson can do or is this something that the company needs to do through marketing material so that when Google's endoscopic camera system, on the company's website, if that makes sense, through content marketing?

 

Jake Rennie:

Yeah. Yes. Both need to happen. One, the sales rep can always influence this process. If they're doing their part to always be involved and not just waiting around for some sort of like junior rep to feed them opportunities, then absolutely, because they can be out there using social media, social selling, being proactive, reaching out to potential buyers and personalising content and delivering that content at the right time. So that they're getting in earlier in the face. They need to have a way to provide personalised content so that buyers can make decisions and take control of what they want to learn about.

 

Jake Rennie:

Therefore, they can make informed decisions faster. So that also requires convergence in proper SLA communication between the sales and marketing division. If you can communicate well and beautifully and provide assets that rep can personalise, I think we can need to get away from, and we can then get away from a lot of the fluff content that we're starting to see in the market where reps, companies, everyone's feeling like we just need to be loud. And so there's a lot of fluff content that they're producing. When in reality, we need to be precise and we need to be more targeted and provide insight in very specific areas of challenges that our buyers might be dealing with so that we hit them with relevant content when they need to hear it.

 

How to Get the Most Out of the 37% Rule When You Serve a Very Large Market · [28:33] 

 

Will Barron:

Very practically here, because this is something that I'm sure you'll have great insights on, but no one else has nailed who's come on the show. If you've got a huge market, SAS software, generally there's hundreds of companies you could be dealing with versus 10 that you could keep on top of the individuals within the potential decision makers. If you've got a big market to go at, how do you track, trace, get in conversations with people, and how do you prioritise that market when it seems to me that it's difficult to know until you spent quite a bit of time, you've invested time into the decision makers within the company?

 

Will Barron:

It's very difficult to know where they are in the buying cycle. And if they're even in a buying cycle and looking for the solution to their problems at all. Because of course, I don't know, there's a cliche statistic. I can't remember off the top of my head of essentially, so much of your pipeline will buy in the next five years, so much will buy now. And very few percent of them are actively looking to be closed. How do you go about when you've got seemingly hundreds of people to go at, how do you know where you should be spending? How do you know where the people are at 37%? How do you know when they're there?

 

Jake Rennie:

If you're a company that has been around for, let's just say at least two to three years of data, then the answer is as simple as, it's data. If you have done your job to track your sales with some sort of a CRM and track your process, then it's time to go in and take a look at your historical data and understand who your ideal customer profile is. How often are they closing? What industries? So it comes down to data and there's a whole conversation around that. But if you have history and you've been tracking it, then you can find it, because it's left clues for you. If you're going to market in a brand new business and I've done this twice now, a lot of it is based on assumptions. A lot of it's based on product validation touring conversations. Getting it in front of people, getting feedback, getting it to a point where people are telling you they're ready to buy.

 

“The biggest challenge that we have in sales and in marketing is that we have a hard time killing our darlings because we've put a lot of time into our assumptions. We've put our neck on the line with our projections and we don't want to be wrong.” – Jake Rennie · [31:11] 

 

Jake Rennie:

And so, you know where you need to be focusing your attention. Then you can also take… There's a lot of research out there now. I mean, you can go to Gartner. You can go to CEB. You can go to any one of these great resources and know, most likely, where you have a higher propensity of having success. Then you come up with your plan. You come up with a very precise plan and be willing to quickly abandon your false assumptions. Because the biggest challenge that we have in sales and in marketing is that we have a hard time killing our darlings because we've put a lot of time into our assumptions.

 

Jake Rennie:

We've put our neck on the line with our projections and we don't want to be wrong. It's okay to be wrong, but you have to be able to pivot quickly and refocus. So to me, if it's early on, it would be coming up with a solid plan and then quickly be willing to evolve that and let go of things that you're seeing you're just not having traction.

 

Why Jake Believes The Person Interacting with the Buyer the Most Should Develop the Sales Process, Not Sales Leadership · [31:40] 

 

Will Barron:

I want to wrap up this part of the show, Jake, with a question that I don't know, honestly, what you're going to say to this. And it's 50/50 with the guests that come on the show of the thoughts on it all, depending on the size of company and there's all kinds of fundamental elements that could adjust and change this. But do you feel, from what you just said, salespeople should be experimenting making hypothesis and going out and proving or disproving them and refining the sales process or is that what sales leadership should be doing? And sales people should be following a very rigid time and tested process that gets revised every five years, rather than every few months.

 

Jake Rennie:

Boy, I might be passionate about this in a wrong way, or I don't know, but who is in front? Who's your front line? Who's talking to your customer more than anybody else. Who's getting the most amount of feedback? In my opinion, if you're not enabling and allowing your sellers and coaching them to take feedback and to provide that feedback in a process in which they can go back to management and marketing and to others that can filter it and then help come up with a plan, then you're missing out on a huge opportunity. These are your guys and girls that are out there having the most relevant conversations on a daily basis, need to empower them to bring that insight back. I think an organisation that is even aligning product to sales and customer success is going to be the way of the future of sales.

 

Jake’s Go-to Resources For Self-Improvement · [33:56]

 

Will Barron:

Love it. I'm I'm so happy you said that, because that's how I feel about it as well. Of course, I'm slightly biassed being a B2B sales professional, myself, and loving and breathing this rather than the leadership side of things. But I think you're spot on, I think you've got the relationships there, which are way deeper than what customer service or anyone like that has. And you've probably got the opportunity for a salesperson to ask questions where you'll get a candid answer from the customer versus they might just push off and be polite to other people if you know, questionnaire comes over or anything like that. So, good stuff. I appreciate that. I've got a few questions, Jake, that I ask everyone that comes on the show. As someone who's listen to the show, you probably have some thoughts on these already, but first one, what is one book or resource that you'd recommend to the salesman podcast audience?

 

Jake Rennie:

Hmm. A book that I've been going back to a lot recently is I've really have liked the Sales Acceleration Formula by Mark Roberge. I think that it gives some very, very clear “what to do” instead of all the “how to do”. Sorry, vice versa. It's the “how to do” versus the “what to do” books that we've been reading, spelling it out is very insightful. And then I also think the Sales Playbook by Trish Bertuzzi is killer. Again, spelling out the “how to do” as opposed to just the “what to do”.

 

Will Barron:

Nice. And we'll include them in the show notes over at salesman.red, Jake, dollar size, if possible, what's the biggest deal you've ever closed?

 

Jake Rennie:

Oh, geez. Well, I used to be in the med device space just like you and worked multiple hospital systems. And the biggest deal I ever worked on took me a year and probably about 15 months total across the multiple hospital systems. And it was about $2.5 million contract.

 

Why Jake Believes His Son is the World’s Greatest Salesperson · [35:18]

 

Will Barron:

Nice, nice. Yeah. Who is the world's greatest salesperson?

 

Jake Rennie:

My eight year old son.

 

Will Barron:

Why? Give us an example of how he sold you?

 

Jake Rennie:

Oh, the kid knows how to manipulate, get his way with dad more than anybody else. So to me, I'm learning sales tactics from him every day. Joking aside. That is a hard, hard question. I think that we could look into every aspect of life. So I don't know if I have a direct answer for you on that, but there are a lot of people who inspire me. And that's what I love about sales is that there's not one single source of knowledge that I think that if we just take time to listen to the people who are actually doing, that will learn a lot as opposed to people who profess. And I think that to me is the greatest source of knowledge right now.

 

Jake’s Advice to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [36:48]

 

Will Barron:

Definitely. And I'm glad you said that, Jake, because the audience will probably have noticed this by the time your show comes out, Jake, that I'm making a shift of, or perhaps not a shift, just including more practitioners like yourself, rather than just authors, who, I joke about this quite frequently, but there's a lot of people and we've had some of them on the show that wrote a book 15 years ago, and now just speak about sales, make a crap tonne of money from speaking. But it's perhaps less relevant than someone like yourself who comes on the show, who is wearing your company's logo on your t-shirt that is clearly a practitioner in the space who is able to implement things and give real time feedback in this time of change in the sales industry. So I appreciate that, Jake. And final one, mate, if you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, what would be the one piece of advice you'd give him to help become better at selling?

 

Jake Rennie:

To learn how to manage your time wisely. Don't get distracted and don't allow yourself to mismanage and all these different things that aren't my priority, learn how to manage your time. And you'll be more successful earlier on in your career.

 

Will Barron:

How do we know what's high priority? For a salesperson, is it as simple as number of leads coming in your pipeline?

 

Jake Rennie:

No, I've learned that's not always the highest priority. It's a number of things that sometimes it's setting the table. Sometimes it's taking the time to set the table properly to get all the processes in place, to map out your systems, to get your stack put together well, and then go hunt and eat. And sometimes we don't have a luxury to take that time. And so you have to do it in parallel, but I think that if you manage your time wisely and understand what are high priority and high urgency tasks versus low priority or spending the first half of your day just responding to emails, you'll get more done.

 

Parting Thoughts · [38:06] 

 

Will Barron:

Definitely, definitely. And with that, Jake, tell us a little bit more about Consensus and tell us a little bit where we can find out perhaps a bit more about you as well.

 

Jake Rennie:

Sure. So Consensus is a video solution. Quite simply, we allow for personalization in video so that sellers can send a customised link to a buyer and a buyer, whether it's through email or through your website, can actually provide the feedback in the video and interact with it, to then select the messaging or the insight that they're going to receive. It's almost like “the choose your own adventure” books we used to love growing up. So by the time they select their persona and say what they care about, our platform will curate the content in the video that they need to see that's most relevant to them. And so it's a big thing that we focus on is personalization and buying acceleration, because then also our platform allows your buyer, who you are now mobilising or educating to go socialise.

 

Jake Rennie:

It enables them with the content they need to personalise that message to each individual stakeholder in a way that they individually care about it. And they can watch in their own time, in their own way and in their own leisure because it's on demand. And then the beauty is that we capture the insights from those of the feedback so that the seller now has relevant insight to start a meaningful conversation with a buyer and not just have your traditional discovery call. But I can jump on a call and say, “Hey, here's where I know you all are aligned. And here's where I see that there's misalignment. Let's talk about this.” That is a much more valuable conversation to a buyer's time than the way we've traditionally gone about it. So that's what we offer. We accelerate the deal cycle. We reduce the cycle time, we increase sales sizes. And the biggest thing is we help you discover who all the decision makers are too, so that you can work individually with all of them to make that decision

 

Will Barron:

Nice. And that's over at goconsensus.com?

 

Jake Rennie:

Goconsensus.com and check us out. Experience it for yourself on our website, because you'll go through the journey yourself by just watching our video.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. With that, Jake, I want to thank you for your time, mate. You are more than welcome to come back on in the near future to dive into some of this further because I there's plenty of rabbit holes that we could have gone down in this episode. And I just want to thank you for your time, your energy mate. And I want to thank you for joining us on the Salesman podcast.

 

Jake Rennie:

Awesome. Thank you.

 

Will Barron:

And there we have it, Jake, thank you for coming on the show. Thank you for sharing your time. We'll have you back on in the near future to dive into this further. I really enjoy having practitioners on the show who are actively experimenting with all of this. Thank you. Sales nation. I say it every episode. I mean it guys, thank you for tuning in and thank you for sharing this with your colleagues. And with that all said, I'll speak of you on tomorrow's episode.

 

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