The Science VS Art Of Sales (Which Is More Important?)

Mark Ripley is the VP of sales at Insightly. He’s a true sales practitioner and joins me on today’s episode of the Salesman Podcast to share the differences between the science and the art of selling in the internet age.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:
Free SalesCode assessment
Learn your strengths and weaknesses in an instant. Taken by over 10,000+ of your competitors. Don't get left behind.

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Mark Ripley
VP of Sales at Insightly

Resources:

Transcript

Mark Ripley:

We’re in this movement over the last couple years, and certainly the future ahead of us is really bright with the technologies and tools that are coming out.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, Sales Nation. Welcome to today’s episode of the Salesman Podcast. On today’s show, we have Mark Ripley, who is the VP of sales over at Insightly. He’s interesting guy because he’s a practitioner. None of this wrote book 10 years ago, and now just does speaking gigs. Mark is in the trenches and I really appreciate his insights. There’s a good back and forth in this episode, and there’s a couple of real exciting points that you’re going to take away from it. You find out more about mark over Insightly.com. With all I said, let’s jump into today’s show. Hi Mark, and welcome to the Salesman Podcast.

 

Mark Ripley:

All right. Hi, Will. Thanks for having me.

 

Will Barron:

You’re more than welcome, sir. I’m going to dive into a conversation today with yourself that could go down, and I’m very aware of this, many rabbit holes. There’s two conversations built into where I want to start with this just from the outset of it all. We’re going to talk about how sales is rightly, wrongly, best or worst. Moving from this world of the individual and the gut feelings and perhaps even real conversations. There’s so much data, there’s so much optimization. There’s so much technology. There’s AI knocking at the doorstep of the sales conversation as well, from both a conversational standpoint, from intelligence and research gathering standpoint as well.

 

What is the Art of Sales? What is the Science of Sales? · [01:30] 

 

Will Barron:

So there’s loads to go out here, but we’re on a start because we’re going to talk about the perhaps shift from sales being an art to a science. And this resonates with me. I liked having a process in front of me as opposed to use my gut with a lot of this. But let’s just start with a definition if possible. What is the art of sales, and then what is the science of sales? And then we’ll double down on the science side of things.

 

Mark Ripley:

So maybe to use an analogy. There are certainly a lot of technologies, and we’re in this movement over the last couple years, and certainly the future ahead of us is really bright with the technologies and tools that are coming out to help sales folks be a lot more data driven and a lot more systematic. This is a really key component of the science of it and repeatable. Really building a repeatable, highly efficient process. There’s no doubt about that. But I think about the art of it as the nuance.

 

“You can be amazing at the art of selling but if you’re not up to speed on the science, well, you’re not going to be all that great and productive. If you’re lights out on the science, but you’ve never taken the time to really develop and work the art of selling, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Ripley · [02:46] 

 

Mark Ripley:

This is the interesting thing about the nuance, the art of it. 10 years ago, that’s what books were written about. It was all about the art, solution selling, and then now we’ve shifted to the science. Here’s my take on it. They’re both equally important. You can be amazing at the art. If you’re not up to speed on the science, well, you’re not going to be all that great and productive. If you’re lights out on the science, but you’ve never taken the time to really develop and work the art, it doesn’t matter. You’re going to have all these at bats and just strike it out all day long.

 

Mark Ripley:

So it really is important to emphasise the fact, you need both to be highly successful. Maybe a silly analogy. I don’t know if this is going to resonate or not. So the art and science, might be like if the art is you in front of a canvas with a bunch of vibrant paints and paint brushes, and your ability to paint this amazing, wonderful painting. This is the art and the creative part of it.

 

Mark Ripley:

The science is really going to establish how many canvases do you have lined up? How much daylight do you have in your day? How many of these paintings can you create and how much opportunity do you have out there? So ideally you have both. You’re able to paint amazingly. You can do it in efficient way. So you’re creating paintings and you’ve got the science lined up so you’re really productive and you’re really cranking out these amazing, beautiful, gorgeous paintings. So art and science meet each other and then the world’s your oyster.

 

Can You Have Sales Success Without Mastering the Art of Selling? · [04:10] 

 

Will Barron:

Amazing. Let me just ask a question on this then, because this is something that VPs of sales and people on that level that we have on the show go back and forth over. Can someone have success in sales right now in this instant without the art if they’re super, as you use how you describe it, the data driven, the systematic? They’ve built as much as what they can a repeatable process, or do you need that flow of charisma, that ability to have conversations? It’s almost like chunking data in your brain as well of seeing patterns and be able to relay that back to the customer and give them insights. Is that something that could be? Or right now, we’ll talk about the future as well, but right now this second, is that something that’s still needed in sales to really, really thrive in it?

 

Mark Ripley:

Your question is do you need the art to be successful, right?

 

Will Barron:

Or can you just get … What I’m again at is can we build a bunch of salespeople that follow these footsteps, that follow the best process, that aren’t passionate about it, that aren’t have this natural flow. Doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert, an extrovert. That’s irrelevant to this. This inquisitive nature and this ability to ask great questions. Can we engineer that out of sales right now where we are in 2017?

 

“Regardless of how amazing your process is and your technology and the systematic systems that you have set up, if you don’t have passion for sales, forget about it. That’s just not a recipe for success.” – Mark Ripley · [05:26] 

 

Mark Ripley:

The key that I picked up on there was passion. Regardless of how amazing your process is and your technology and the systematic systems that you have set up, if you don’t have passion, forget about it. That’s just not a recipe for success. I would argue that the science of it will do two things. It’ll give you more at bats. And there’s some really cool technology out there that will put you in a position to have more meaningful conversations by giving you a better understanding of who these people are, their industry, their challenges, etc.

 

Mark Ripley:

So as a sales professional, you’re in a position to have more at bats and have better, abusing a baseball analogy, better intel on the pitcher, what their strengths are and their pitches that are coming at you. But at the end of the day, you still need to be able to swing that bat and connect with the ball. If you can’t do that, you’re going to be in trouble no matter what, no matter how much intel and how many at bats that you have.

 

Mark Ripley:

So I’m a big believer that we want to make sure, and I’ve seen this for sure in the reps that I’ve had in my career, that they don’t swing too far either way. Some people are just gut people and they’re going to miss their potential. And some people are just science people, and don’t have the passion and never really, truly focused on the skills, the nuance, the art of selling. And they’re also not living up to their potential.

 

Unlocking the Power of Data in Sales · [06:50]

 

Will Barron:

Good. Let’s double down on the science side of things here for a second, Mark. What data, what software, what tools, and you can name companies or not name companies, depending on how you want to go about it. But what does that allow us to do as sales professionals? What can we draw from within the industries that we’re all based in to improve the sales conversation right here in 2017? From two or three years ago, because there’s been so much progress in this space, what can we use now and what insights can we pull out and deliver that was different to perhaps just a few years ago?

 

Mark Ripley:

So when I think about using the data element of sales, one is it should give you a lot more at bats. There’s some really cool automation technology that’s out there right now. Folks like Outreach, Salesloft, are both great technologies, amongst many others that are automating a lot of the communication that sales reps can do with their prospects and with their customers. Now here’s the trick, with the added level of personalization. So that’s the trick.

 

“I think most salespeople, sales professionals and sales leaders think about advancing the science and art of selling from the inside out. I think it’s a big mistake. The focus, in my opinion, should really be on the customer. How much value can you add to that customer and that interaction? The more value you add, the higher your status elevates in terms of being a salesperson slinging something, versus a trusted advisor that’s going to add value to their world and their business.” – Mark Ripley · [08:24] 

 

Mark Ripley:

If velocity meets personalization as much as possible, that will get you more and more at bats. Your question is what technology can we use to have more meaningful conversations. So now you’re on the phone with someone and how can you add more of the value to that customer? That’s really what it’s about. Maybe I’ll take a moment to digress for a second. That is, I think most salespeople and sales professionals and sales leaders think about advancing the science and art of selling from the inside out.

 

Mark Ripley:

I think it’s a big mistake. The focus, in my opinion, should really be on the customer. How much value can you add to that customer and that interaction? The more value you add, the higher your status elevates in terms of being a salesperson, slinging something, versus a trusted advisor that’s going to add value to their world and their business. So I would really encourage everyone to think about the tools and when they advance their own skills. And really that should be the nucleus that you focus on.

 

Mark Ripley:

You get to that state where you can add more value, man, the world opens up and you’re not selling anymore. You’re really helping your customers be a lot more successful. Oh, by the way, they’re going to buy your tools.

 

Mark Ripley:

So coming back to your question specifically, so there’s a tool that I like. It has been around for a couple years, but I really like it. It’s called InsideView. It does a wonderful job at giving industry snapshots. The cool thing about InsideView is they do it down to a fairly small company size. So if you look at Dun & Bradstreet and Hoovers and whatnot, they do a good job of it, but it’s really the larger businesses. InsideView has some great data all the way down to some of the smaller businesses, primarily here in the state.

 

Mark Ripley:

So I know your podcast is global. So it’ll give you a snapshot, meaning common challenges. If I’m talking to someone in manufacturing in the automotive industry, it’ll give you a snapshot of the common challenges that are happening right now. What are the problems? What are the opportunities that automotive manufacturers are facing right now? Or part suppliers in that supply chain.

 

Practical Examples of Selling with Insights · [10:20] 

 

Will Barron:

And just stop on this for a second. Mark. Maybe even use an example for yourself if you can. You can talk about it and get down in the trenches of this. I don’t want to just talk about this high level of just, you can get insights from tools like this. What would be an example of an insight that would allow you to have a better conversation? What’s a real example of this?

 

Mark Ripley:

Let’s think. Okay, here’s one. So, so I was on the phone with a media company, [Adam Malan 00:10:55], a couple weeks ago. I asked them … So Insightly is a CRM company. So it helps organisations organise their business and drive growth and control the business. Really, really cool stuff. But anyways, this company has been a customer of ours for six months. I was on the phone with them. They’re telling me how wonderful it is and how it’s been great. But then I asked him, “Okay, so why does this matter? At the end of the day, what was the business impact that you’ve seen from our tools?” He answered me just like that, as fast as, I don’t know, snap my fingers.

 

Mark Ripley:

He basically said two things. “One is we’re able to scale and grow our customer base without adding more account managers.” In other words, each account manager can now manage more customers because they’re way more organised and in control. Awesome. “Number two,” he said, “Much bigger impact is we’re able to generate a lot more upsell revenue from our customers. Why?

 

Mark Ripley:

“Well, when we do a project, when we assign a new customer, we usually do one project. And the success or failure of that project dictates how much more revenue we’re going to get. So if our first project is to do a website redesign and we’re late and we fail to wow the customer and things fall through the cracks, guess what? We don’t get any more business. But on the contrary, if we’re on time, we wow the customer, we’re super communicative, guess what? We get a lot more business over time.”

 

Mark Ripley:

So I bring this up because I wish I would’ve had that common use case for media prior to getting on the phone. I’m fairly new at Insightly. I’ve joined last April. So this is the type of thing when I think about as a salesperson, I’m a sales leader. But I want to put this type of information in my sales reps’ hands so that every time they’re on the phone with a prospective media company, they have this information at their fingertips before the customer is boss so they can lead the customer in these ways. So a lot of media companies probably aren’t thinking about tools like that. But how can we add more value? How can we guide these media companies to understand the benefit to the business that they can gain by looking at certain tools?

 

Insights-Based Selling: Leading with Insights in Sales · [13:05] 

 

Will Barron:

I love this. So this wasn’t planned whatsoever. But I did a keynote recently over in the UK, and basically outlined what you just described, but from the salesperson perspective. I’m a believer that salespeople, and you may or may not agree with this. It is about 50/50, the guests that come on the show, but I believe that salespeople should document and create some kind of content so they’ve got some kind of asset. I feel that what they should be documenting, what they be creating as content, it doesn’t have to be these big, beautiful marketing pieces of literature. But I feel like they should be asking their customers the questions that you just described to pull in insights, both about their product and the industry as a whole, and then leading conversations with new potential customers with these insights. It just seems like a total no brainer for me. As I said, I did a keynote on this recently, went down really well. So it’s really intriguing to hear you essentially outline exactly the same process.

 

Mark Ripley:

Absolutely. And that’s brilliant. That is absolutely brilliant. Because again, keeping the focus on the customer and how you can add value. They don’t know this stuff. Their business in this case was media. They know media, but they don’t really understand how they can use tools to advance their business and have a revenue impact. So to your point, when you unlock those nuggets and how you can add more value by industry or by line size, whatever it is, document it. Then the question becomes, how can you put it at your fingertips so that next time you’re on the phone with a light customer, to your point, you can have it at the ready?

 

Is Insight-Based Selling an Art or a Science in Sales? · [14:35]

 

Will Barron:

And this doubles up even further. Is that science or is that the art of sales? I’m not even sure. Because you have to ask an amazing question to get the data. Then if you go across as a VP the whole of the sales team and every media company says the same thing, then clearly you’ve got to get marketing on board and deliver content based on that principle. So there’s data behind it as well. But it’s almost led by the art of sales in the first place.

 

Mark Ripley:

Yeah. I’m absolutely feeling where you’re coming from here. Maybe this comes back to what we were talking about a few minutes ago and the art and the science and how important it is to have both. To your point, the art was asking the question. Then now you have this information, I would argue, it’s the science in how you put that together so you can continue to replicate that. For the sales leaders out there, right now, you’re thinking about scale. How can I put this in every rep’s fingertips, even if they’ve never had that conversation themselves? Using tools to do that.

 

Will Barron:

For sure. It’s almost counterintuitive of you have to do the unscalable to get the data in the first place. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t happen as often as what it should do. But I know with myself, and I’ve used this example before. So I was in medical devices. There’s two local hospitals to where I live. I covered one, I didn’t cover the other. But I spent time in one of the hospitals that there was another guy covering it. It was his territory. But I would spend time in there on occasion because they are a real centre of excellence here in the UK for some gastro work.

 

Will Barron:

So I would then take those insights and go to the competitor, essentially. Even though they’re all NHS, they’re all publicly funded, but it’s still a competitor. I would go into local Bradford hospital where it was, again, a centre of excellence for gastro. There was one or two surgeons who were well renowned what they’re doing. I would help them with their courses and do all the cliche sales stuff behind the scenes to support them. But the thing that they took away from my contact more than anything was just spending that little bit time over in Leeds and go and reporting over to them in Bradford, essentially.

 

How Sales Leaders Can Differentiate Their Teams Through Insight Selling · [16:55] 

 

Will Barron:

They got more value out of that. And I built deep relationships from that, than anything else from any driving round from … I used to loan them equipment and all this kind of stuff for free. Never charged them for it and all this kind stuff. That was all nice. But these insights, it’s very difficult to … Let me ask you from a leadership perspective. How do you encourage and systematise this kind of thing when it’s very difficult to put a finite value on that, when you’re looking top down? It seems like a difficult way … I’ve got no experience in the top down approach of sales and that side of the things.

 

Will Barron:

But it seems like your reps have a time on their head of you’re paying them, they’ve got to hit this target as well. So these intangible insights and all these kind of things that clearly separate the top reps from the average reps, these insights, passion, customer insights and industry insights. How do you systematise the process of gaining all these with a sales team? Is there a way that the salespeople listening to this now can put a process in place that they can start implementing some of this themselves without it being so ad hoc and just … I don’t like giving the advice of just ask better questions and write it down. Is there a process we can put in place, Mark, to make this happen routinely for the audience?

 

Mark Ripley:

So a couple thoughts. One, love your example of the hospitals. That’s a very powerful, simple example where you have two big hospitals sitting side by side. But if I’m a sales rep, an account executive, the question becomes, once I find success in that one hospital right now, let’s use tools to find more hospitals. Your example, there was two hospitals, but in a territory, there’s lots of these folks. So if you’re talking to media or whatever it is, when you find that value, now the question becomes, how do you find more of their competitors or like companies in your area?

 

Mark Ripley:

Then you take that insight, just like you did with that hospital, and boom, you go. I’ll do a quick plug for another … it’s a smoking hot company. We’re probably going to start using them called [Node.IO 00:18:49]. One of my colleagues is using him over at Periscope with a lot of success in doing just that. So they’re fantastic at finding like companies. So from a rep standpoint, now you can go and scale that value add to similar companies.

 

Mark Ripley:

So that’s that. Your question, now went off on that tangent is, oh, how do I operationalize it as a individual account executive? So I’ll answer it, your two part question in two parts. One is if I’m just an account executive, how do I do it? And then as a leader, how do I do it? As an AE or a sales rep, it’s great because you can get scrappy, you can get your roll of duct tape out and you can do it very simple. A big fan of simple. So the way I used to do it when I was a rep is I’d have a spreadsheet. Call it that simple. Google sheet, spreadsheet, whatever your poison. Literally you just put some thought in terms of how you want to see it.

 

Mark Ripley:

So maybe in one column is industry. Then the next column over is common challenges. The next column over is common use cases for your tool. The next column is common business impact of your tool. A couple key things. The second column over that I just described, common challenges, some of those common challenges will have nothing to do with your tool. Very important. And a couple of the challenges should have something to do with your tool.

 

Mark Ripley:

Point is, is you want to get out of being a salesperson slinging software tools, and you want to elevate your game. You want to be a consultant. So that’s how I did it. That’s how I would advocate doing it. Keep it really simple. It’s your notes, it’s your language, it’s your format in terms of how you want to see the stuff, so that when you get on the phone with someone it’s right there at your fingertips and you can use it. You have to be able to use it. So it’s actually really straightforward and simple to operationalize as an individual.

 

Why You Need to Start Documenting Insights to Improve Your Sales Outcomes · [20:49] 

 

Will Barron:

I’m going to stop you here because I don’t want to gloss over that. That is a spreadsheet that is going to be super useful for every single person listening to this. It’s something that I’ve not come across before. That is totally unique. You could do a book on that, I’m certain. There’s podcasts and podcasts on what you’ve described. Maybe I’ll mock something up in the show note to this episode over SalesmanPodcast.com. Maybe I’ll mock something up and I’ll send it to you first and you can make sure that it’s what it should look like.

 

Will Barron:

But I want to stop you here, Mark, because I want to dive into this a bit deeper. Because what you’ve just described, it’s taking sales and making it more three dimensional. It’s not just features, benefits and then whatever you want to tack on the end of it of end case scenario. It was the problems of the industry, both product and non-product related, to frame yourself as that expert, the use cases for your product. Which 99% of the time, if you’ve got 10 features, you’re only solving one problem with one of those features. So it’s super useful to be able to narrow down the industry or the buyer persona, for example.

 

Will Barron:

Like with me and medical device sales, if I was speaking to procurement, they don’t care that the endoscope I was selling had better optics. They cared that it was going to be cheaper in the long run, or at least cost neutral, for example. I knew all this in my head, but I never once took a split second just to document it down. Maybe this is use cases for both brand new sales reps or new to a company or new to a product. They can accelerate the growth by getting this document from someone else who is having success there.

 

Will Barron:

But I feel like there’s probably things that we have uncovered and then forgotten about and then uncover, and then forget about, that if they were documented in a spreadsheet like this, we could go straight in for the kill with these insights as opposed to faffing around with them. Then the impact of it as well, I think is genius. So again, I think we have these one on one conversations and we can guess the use case perhaps, or we can uncover that quickly.

 

Will Barron:

But then I don’t know how many of the audience who are listening, and my audience is special because my audience is the B2B sales professionals. It’s skewed in the ones that are successful and striving for success. Because if you’re not that bothered about sales, you won’t tune into a podcast like this. So my audience is skewed one direction. I don’t know how many of them go back to the customer six months in and say, “What was the real benefit of using the product? Was it what you thought it was going to be even?” Because clearly if they’re still using it, they’re finding something useful from it.

 

Will Barron:

But documenting that versus what you went into the conversation with. Again, it’s that extra dimension of all this to have even deeper conversations than what we were able to on the front end of it. This is genius. I’m really excited about this.

 

Mark Ripley:

I’m glad you love it. I love how you’re building on this. I think it’s awesome. Maybe what we can do is if you want to take a stab at it, we can do it via Google Docs. Then we get it and we can publish it and make it available to folks. I was just thinking maybe an extra column that we could have on the far side is you got the key customers that you have in each one of these. So you could easily reference them.

 

Mark Ripley:

So if you’re on the phone with a certain vertical, you’re having a good conversation and then you could easily pull up from memory. You may forget or whatever, but here’s, to your example, the hospital around the corner. But here are the top three companies that we’ve worked with that’s really transformed their business or whatever. So that’s just top of mind.

 

Will Barron:

I think we can even go even one step further than that. So clearly sales people spending five hours a day writing blog post is not a good use of their time. Clearly. Anyone who’s doing that is procrastinating on selling, but I do think salespeople should create content and own some kind of IP within their industry. That’s the only way you’re going to take that step into industry expert versus dude or dudette flinging stuff, I think was the word you used before, which is new to, flinging the product.

 

Will Barron:

You could use a document like this to very quickly, what you just said, then go to your key customers and get either a very quick testimonial from them or even better quick video just saying, “This is the problem we thought we had, this is the problem we actually had. This is six months down the line once we’ve evaluated it, once we’re using it daily, this is the solution that we’ve had.” You can almost create a very quick and visual when you’re on the phone with someone. Almost like a tick box of they’ve got this problem, they think that this is going to be the results. Here is a quick testimonial video or some kind of evidence that it works that you can immediately send over.

 

Why You Need to Start Sharing Insights from Your Customers with Potential Prospects · [25:00] 

 

Will Barron:

Even when you’re on the phone with them, you can email it over. So that they’re engaging on the computer and on the phone with you, things of this nature. Really double down on the attention that you’ve got with them. I think we’ve just invented a new company here. That seems like a product or service that we could build and introduce.

 

Mark Ripley:

Yeah, I love it. I don’t know if they’re doing this over in the UK, but Sports Centre out here, Deion Sanders, I’m big NFL fan. So Deion Sanders did this thing this season that was really cool. That is he would do post game interviews with the players using their phone. So Deion is sitting in the studio in New York or wherever. So literally they’re interviewing Antonio Brown, the receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers after a good game. Antonio Brown is using his phone. So the quality’s not great. But it gets us very intimate quality that here’s the player in the locker room and talking to Deion and it’s on ESPN.

 

Mark Ripley:

So the point that I’m driving out here is to take your idea and do these little videos of customers. Traditionally you get a video crew out there. It’s a big exercise. Forget about all that. What if you just literally tease them with a couple questions in advance and you could just tee up these customers to do a little video interaction with you and you post that so you can operationalize it faster? And it probably would have a lot more connected impact as a salesperson. You could do that.

 

Will Barron:

I love this. I think whether the company that you work for actually owns it, how you’re contracted and all these, getting all these small niggles. With all of this I feel, and you might have other thoughts on this with your position higher up in management. But I always feel it’s better to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission with a lot of this stuff. But I know if I could have a surgeon from Leeds on the phone saying, “This is how I do.” A lot of surgeons will take equipment and use it in a way it wasn’t designed to be used because that’s a new way of doing it. Medical device company will work with those specific people, then, to curate an instrument very specific for that. It’s how a lot of surgical devices come about. It’s how a lot of surgical procedures are changed and evolved over time.

 

Will Barron:

So I know I’m doubling down on the medical device sales side of thing here, but this is cool for enterprise. It’s cool for software side of things as well. There’s any techniques or hacks or insights that could be recorded on that one side and passed onto the other. There’s so much value there. An iPhone is more than enough quality wise to get that done. I think on your thoughts on that, Mark, the lower the quality, it probably ties the video to you as the individual salesperson as your content versus this weird corporate thing that had been done, as you described, with all the big budget cameras and lighting and everything else on the end.

 

Will Barron:

It pre-frames that you have the access to all of these people and that you’re the gatekeeper, that you’re the expert. So it’s almost worth doubling down on the fact that you’re not over emphasising any of this. I’m going with that intimate way of recording the video or the audio or whatever it is.

 

Mark Ripley:

Yeah. I’m really enjoying this conversation. I’m going to do this with my own team. This is great.

 

Will Barron:

Look, as I explained to you before the call, Mark, I’m a salesperson. When we have these conversations, I literally will now, I’ll go from this. I’ll use a lot of what we just talked about when I’m selling the podcast sponsorships, when I’m going through all the live event stuff that we do. I will put all this into place. The next time you come on the show, we’ll chat about it. I enjoy these conversations because it is just a conversation. The audience love this as well. So I’m glad you’re enjoying it, mate.

 

Social Media Data and How to Use It to Boost Sales Outcomes · [29:29] 

 

Will Barron:

But there’s one final twist on all this that I want to tap your brain on before we wrap up. That is the fact that clearly everyone is getting on the social bandwagon. Everyone is on Facebook, whether that’s the best data to use in B2B, I’m not sure. Not particularly sold on that, but more and more people are getting on LinkedIn. There’s more and more industry specific networks that people are getting involved with. And people are becoming rightly or wrongly, whether you believe it’s going to be super weird in 10 years’ time, that every single thing that you do is being captured by some drone that’s flying behind you and just videoing you. Everything that you eat is automatically being documented and thrown on Twitter.

 

Will Barron:

Whether you agree with that being weird or not is another conversation. Not you personally, just society in general. But how does all this extra information from the social graph, how does all this extra data from a very personal level, how does that filter into the science of selling? Or does it at all? Should we be leveraging these personal insights? And is the world going to get less suited and corporate and uptight? Are people going to become, in the corporate world, are they going to become more like human beings, so we can leverage this data? Or do you think there’s always going to be a split between the business data we leverage to close deals in B2B versus the social graph that’s going on alongside this that might be a bit weird for us to talk about the kids and the dog or whatever else we’re sitting on Instagram?

 

Mark Ripley:

Yeah.

 

Will Barron:

I threw a lot at you there as well. Sorry about that.

 

Mark Ripley:

No, it’s cool. So it’s a really interesting question. So here’s my thought, is it varies. So A, it’s dynamic. It’s changing all the time and it’s evolving. So it’s really rapidly changing, but here’s my take on it. A couple thoughts. One is how you use this data depends heavily on what industry you’re in and what you’re selling. If you’re in my line of business where we’re selling software, typically the industry norm is not to use Facebook. It’s seen as a line that you cross in terms of too personal. But heavily use LinkedIn. We use LinkedIn all the time, and that’s a fantastic tool. Now, if you’re selling other maybe more consumer things, or there’s certainly other industries where it is appropriate to leverage the data in Facebook. That’s just part of the natural part of that sale and that business. So I think it relies heavily on those two things.

 

Will Barron:

Will there be a switch happen, though? Will that get turned on its head? Will everything be fair game, do you think in the not too distant future from a data perspective? Or do you think we’re always going to, as humans, we’re always going to have that divide between work and home?

 

Mark Ripley:

I don’t know if I have an answer on that. I will say that I saw a chart last night, just last night, that was really interesting. It broke down the different age groups, like baby boomers, gen-Xers, and millennials and what they care about. It was this really neat matrix. It said that one of the values of Gen X, I’m a Gen Xer, is I value work life balance. It’s true. I do. Then the millennials, they value the ability to weave in their personal life into their work life.

 

Mark Ripley:

I’m like, “Wow, okay.” Blew my mind. Maybe it’s obvious to millennials, but to me, I’m like, “That alone is super insightful.” It might be a telling sign of the answer to your question. So for me, I prefer a divide. But as time goes on and millennials get older and we have a new generation that comes in, perhaps their belief system and their desire is they want them intertwined. So I don’t know if I have a clean answer for you, but maybe that’s just stream of consciousness on some thoughts there.

 

Will Barron:

How old are you, Mark, if you don’t mind me asking?

 

Mark Ripley:

Oh, yeah. 41.

 

Will Barron:

So I’m 30. So you also look way younger than that. So take that as a compliment.

 

Mark Ripley:

Oh, thank you.

 

Will Barron:

You’ve got beautiful skin, whatever it is, or you’ve still got hair, whatever it is. Because as you’re saying that, you don’t look 41. So that’s why I asked. I know for me personally, as in the middle to top end of the millennial age group, that I believe, and I don’t know whether it’s something that’s been pushed into my brain and I’ve been trained this way through media, through books, through the social commentary of the people that I consume content from. But I believe that we have one life, essentially. So I don’t see that divide between work and home.

 

Will Barron:

For example, it is … what time is it now in the UK? It’s quarter to 8:00 on a Thursday evening. Obviously this is my work. I’m doing these interviews and I’m happy to do them because I enjoy them. So I think that is a potential shift. I really like this insight, because obviously technology and all this age is up. So this might catch up to you, as time goes on. My dad’s 60-odd and he’s now got an iPhone and now checks the Liverpool football score on his iPhone and does all these things that he said he would never do. So he’s the example I always go to of all of this. He’s not quite on Facebook yet, but that’ll probably happen at some point.

 

The Benefits of Gathering Data and Insights to Use Now and in the Future · [34:50]

 

Will Barron:

So [inaudible 00:34:50] ages up, then clearly millennials, my audience are ageing up into management positions. So this then goes back in how they interact with the employees or how they manage people ties all this together. But from what you’re saying, I honestly didn’t have an opinion on this. But it seems like from your stream of consciousness and from mine as well, it seems like that intertwine is just going to happen more and more. The more that we put on Facebook publicly where you don’t have to be a friend, which is a trend now. Instagram is pushing this as well. There’s very few people in the grand scheme of things that have private profiles versus public ones.

 

Will Barron:

Thinking about it, I think this is all fair game. I think in five, six years’ time, we’ll probably laugh at the conversation we’re having now. I think you’ll be the same, Mark. I think you’ll be looking back and going, “Oh, it’s awesome that X, Y, Z is talking about stuff in my personal life and it all ties in together.” Perhaps people don’t work 9:00 till 5:00. They’ve got a job to do, and they do it in the day. As people move away from working in an office and there’s more home-based work, I don’t know.

 

Will Barron:

As I said, I’m just streaming a thought in straight back at you. But this seems like if you can understand all this data now and put it into practise when appropriate, you’re setting yourself up for a win to be able to leverage this data in the future when you’re used to gathering it and using the tools as well.

 

Mark Ripley:

Great point. Even how you look at the world and you’re working late, you love it, it’s your passion and it is woven in and you see it that way. Yeah, I would agree. Fast forward, 6, 10 years from now, and that’s only going to increase, most likely. Unless there’s some shift backwards or something.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. That’s totally on the cards as well if some crazy thing happens and we all go, “Right. I’m not sharing anything anymore.” The internet of things backlashes and AI starts taking … rather than your fridge ordering you healthy food, starts ordering you crazy bad food. I don’t know. There’s loads of angles to go at there. So maybe it’s naive to think that there’s not going to be a backlash of all this when something bad could happen with all the data. But I guess you can only look where things are going right now and that’s where things are going.

 

Mark’s Advise to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [37:04] 

 

Will Barron:

With that, Mark, I’ve got one final question, mate. So I’m going to ask everyone that comes on the show, and I’m really intrigued to get your insights on this with the conversation that we’ve had so far. And that is, 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 him become better at selling?

 

Mark Ripley:

I would say the last part that you mentioned in your question is to help you become more successful in selling. That’s an interesting added element to the question. So I think if I were to look back from a professional standpoint and give myself advice earlier on, it would be to really relish and appreciate the relationships that I was building with my brothers and sisters in the cubes, in the trenches. Because I look back and I don’t remember what quarters I hit and what I didn’t. But I absolutely remember the dynamic and the relationships.

 

Mark Ripley:

So in the heat of it, we’re driving really hard, all these quarters and everything. We feel like that’s everything and it is important. But I would just say really appreciate the people around you and spend time and make time to go to that lunch and make time to make sure you go get that beer, even though you’re slammed. That would be my advice there.

 

Mark Ripley:

Then in terms of, what you specifically asked is advice in terms of advice I’d give myself to be more successful. It would be the thing that I mentioned earlier, and that is focusing on how to add value in the customer world by better understanding their challenges in their world. When I first started in sales, I had the benefit of having a lot of early training on the power of discovery and asking really thought provoking questions.

 

Mark Ripley:

So I had that down, which is really lucky. I didn’t plan that. But it really provided a amazing foundation for me. But I think I asked a lot of questions and a lot of times I didn’t know where I was going. So this notion of really trying to understand, what are the customer challenges even before I get on the phone with them? That way I can add more of a value, opposed to maybe interrogating them, which maybe I did when I was earlier in my career.

 

Will Barron:

I love it. I love it. So this is something that I think is misconceived, and I don’t know who’s done it. Whether it’s a book, whether it’s a theory, whether it’s methodology. But I get grilled when I work with individual salespeople, and people email me and ask for help on advice and different things. I’m no expert in any of this, but I’ll give them my opinions because I’m happy to go that level deeper with the audience. But a lot of the time we’ll role play a sales call. It’s question, question, question, question, question. It is interrogation and it is weird and it makes me feel uncomfortable.

 

Will Barron:

If someone was trying to prospect me in that nature, my response would be, “Go back and do some research. Don’t waste my time on your research phase, on your discovery, when you can do a lot of this before the call. You can get on and throw an insight or two at me.” They might be totally wrong. They might be insights that have worked for other people in the industry, but at least you’re jogging my brain. At least you’re being creative with it. At least you’re trying to add value, even if it’s complete nonsense versus question, question, question, question.

 

Parting Thoughts · [40:25]

 

Will Barron:

I think when people talk about insight selling, there’s obviously all the different brand names for it. I think that’s something that they miss. So I’m really glad you said that. With that Mark, want you to tell us a little bit about Insightly. I want you to tell us a little bit, even maybe what you do there, just add a bit of context, and where we can find out more about you and Insightly as well. Yeah,

 

Mark Ripley:

Absolutely. I really appreciate being on the show. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation, Will. This is cool. So my background, I’ve been selling primarily in software for the last 16 or so years. I carried a bag as an AE for the bulk of my time, actually. So done a lot of that. Had the luck and fortune of working for some really high growth companies and built really solid foundational stuff around selling. Then I started leading teams about seven years ago or so. Really, that’s been my passion, is building and scaling successful sales teams with a human element there. Very supportive in helping them grow and develop their own careers, much like what you’re doing here.

 

Mark Ripley:

So I’ve had a real good run. I’ve had a lot of success doing that. So half of that’s luck and half of that’s me being decent at what I do. So love that. So now I’m in at Insightly. I joined about nine months ago. It’s an awesome CRM. Fundamentally we have 25,000 paying customers around the world. Very successful. We’re number one on Google. So literally we lead the entire world for CRM for folks on the G suite. So super easy to use.

 

Mark Ripley:

So fundamentally we really believe that everyone, regardless of size business, should have the power of a powerful CRM, but easy to use, very simple for everyone to use. That’s really been the crux of our success. We continue to have over 1000 new paying customers sign up every month. It’s ridiculous. That really is the crux of it is lots of power, big business impact. But the key is it’s simple and easy to use. So people use it and they’re able to achieve that business impact

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. We’ll link to Insightly in the show notes of this episode over SalesmanPodcast.com. Mark, sir, I’ve enjoyed our conversation. We’ll have you back on. These ones are good. When I do a little bit more talking, as opposed to me just drilling and question, question, question, hopefully my voice isn’t too annoying for the audience. Clearly you are the expert in this and it’s your insights that I’m pulling out on and spiting back out you. But I get a lot out of these episodes. I know the audience do as well when it’s this back and forth. And when there’s almost discovery in what we were doing.

 

Will Barron:

As I said, we’ll go back and forth in this document on this spreadsheet. We’ll put it in the show notes, Sales Nation, you better check that out, the show notes of this episode over SalesmanPodcast.com. With that Mark, I want to thank you for your time, your insights, going back and forth and for joining us on the Salesman Podcast.

 

Mark Ripley:

My pleasure. It’s been fantastic, Will. Appreciate you having me.

 

Table of contents
100% Free sales skill quiz:
Do you have the 15 traits of high performing sellers?
Learn your strengths and weaknesses in an instant. Don't get left behind.
illustration-web-4 1
Do you have the 15 traits of high performing sales people?
Learn your strengths and weaknesses in an instant. Taken by over 10,000+ of your competitors. Don't get left behind.
22_LINKEDIN SUCCESS FRAMEWORK (3) 1