Winning The BIGGEST DEALS In Your Industry

Tim Sanders is the Former Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo, the best-selling author of four books, and a killer speaker.

On today’s episode of The Salesman Podcast, Tim explains the steps we need to go through to win the biggest possible deals our industries have to offer.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Tim Sanders
Best-selling author

Resources:

 

Transcript

Will Barron:

Do you want to learn how you can close bigger, more complex deals so that you can separate yourself away from the competition and really solve the problems that your customers have? Then this episode is for you.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, sales nation, and welcome to The Salesman Podcast. On today’s show, we have Tim Sanders, author of Dealstorming. On today’s show, we’re diving into collaborative selling. How you can close bigger deals, more complex deals, faster, so you add more value to the end user, to the customer, to their organisation, so it makes it a no brainer for them to come to you and not the competition. Everything we talk about is available in the show and in this episode over at salesmanpodcast.com, and with all that said, let’s jump in to today’s episode.

 

Will Barron:

Tim, welcome to The Salesman Podcast.

 

Tim:

Will, I’m glad to be with you.

 

The Myth of the Lone Wolf Salesperson · [01:00] 

 

Will Barron:

Glad to have you on, mate. I’m glad to dive into dealstorming, collaborative selling, get a whole lot more. I feel like from the conversation we’ve had before we clicked record, there’s some rabbit holes that we can potentially go down in this episode. That’s always good. I’m going to pitch you with this, I think I know where you’ll go with it, I think I know the answer, but in 2017, where we are right now in BTB sales, is it possible to be the stereotypical lone Wolf salesman who is going out getting their own leads, following up, closing them, and then supporting the customer after the fact? Or is it not possible to do that anymore?

 

Tim:

I think for most B2B sales situations, there’s just too many decision makers. You can’t round up. There’s just too much complexity in how we deliver our services and frankly Will, there’s just too much hyper competition that wants to offer the initial service for free for that loan wolf to be fast enough and finessed enough to be successful.

 

“Speed is the key to sustainable sales success. If you’ve ever lost a deal for any reason at all, you know what I mean when I say being faster equals becoming more successful.” Tim Sanders · [02:21] 

 

Tim:

Now, as I travel around, I hear from various loan wolfs that say I’m still closing deals, I’m out there, but then we always kind of double back and go, oh yeah, well, what’s your renewal rate, because you can take one of those closing academy courses and strong arm some IT director designing something without checking off with all the influencers, but as they’ve learned at CEB, that doesn’t mean the customer’s going to be happy when it comes to renewal time. I think the idea here is that we live in such a complicated selling environment in B2B, sales innovation is how you move faster. Over the course of 10 years, what I’ve learned is speed is the key to sustainable sales success. If you’ve ever lost a deal because the prospects company got bought, the prospect champion quit the company, a competitor swooped in at the last minute with a half price deal, you know what I mean when it comes to being faster, equaling becoming more successful.

 

What It Means To Have Speed In Sales · [02:42] 

 

Will Barron:

When you say faster and you’ve kind of somewhat gone into it there, but tell us a little bit more on this, Tim, what does faster mean day to day for the individual? Is it as you described, looking for, understanding, and reacting to trigger events or does it go even deeper than that?

 

Tim:

I think it’s about solving every single sales challenge from the beginning of the sales process, at prospecting, to the end of the sales process at contracting. I’ll give you just a little analogy that kind of changed my point of view about sales in B2B.

 

Tim:

I met Ed Catmull, President of Pixar, about a decade ago. We were speaking at an event. Pixar’s a fantastic company, but more importantly, Toy Story is my favourite movie. I’m talking to him backstage and I’m like, dude, what a genius idea, Toy Story, first computer generated movie in history, more lifelike than any movie in history, blah, blah, blah, blah. He goes, “It was a troublemaker idea.” He goes, “It was impossible to produce, render time was an insane, 700 facial controllers, was crazy over budget. We didn’t know how to write a story.” He goes, “Tim, Disney, shut the movie down on black Friday, nine months into production. I didn’t think we’d ever get it made.” I go, “How did you get it made?” He says, “We formed what we now call the brain trust.” He goes, “I got out of that vertical silo of movie making and I brought in everybody from pricing experts, to economists, to psychologists, to wood workers, to puppeteers. We got back on track.” He goes, “Listen to me, Toy Story wasn’t a good idea. Toy Story was a thousand problems solved.”

 

“You don’t close a million dollar deal in B2B because you are a great pitcher or you’re a forceful closer, you close it because you solve those 50 or 100 problems from the beginning of the process to the end. Think about it like jumping over hurdles, the quicker you solve the one right in front of you, the fewer you have in terms of your sales cycle.” – Tim Sanders · [04:10] 

 

Tim:

I’ve been working on all these big deals at the time for all my clients. I realised, you know what, you don’t close a million dollar deal in B2B because you are a great pitcher or you’re a forceful closer, you close it because you solve those 50 or 100 problems from the beginning of the process to the end. If it’s about solving a lot of problems, think about it like jumping over hurdles, the quicker you solve the one right in front of you, the less you have in terms of your sales cycle.

 

Tim:

At Deeper Media, we started to study the predicted sales cycle and the actual sales cycle when the lone Wolf goes outside of sales and invites everybody who has a stake in the outcome to participate in solving the problem.

 

Tim:

What we’ve learned is that if your sales cycle is a year, just on the average, and you just involve marketing from the beginning, you can cut 60 days out on the average, the exact number was 57 days. That is a lot of time to cut out of your sales cycle. It’s just the latency that occurs when you’re slow at solving a challenge. What we learned in the research is the reason you’re faster is that when you’re in a meeting, it’s not a brainstorm meeting, but when you’re in a deal storm meeting, and you’ve brought in the stakeholders like customer service and finance and marketing, I’m just kind of making it up, you increase your chance of walking out of the room with the next play to solve the existing challenge by a hundred percent. We learned that sometimes you can get too many people on the team and then it’s like a goat rodeo, but I think that sales agility and speed.

 

Will Barron:

I’m just going to say this Tim, maybe that’s an American like kind of term, but I have no idea what a goat rodeo means.

 

“The guiding rule to every deal-storming meeting is you should always invite one less person than you think you need.” – Tim Sanders · [06:13] 

 

Tim:

Goats are very skittish, so if you put like 15 goats into a corral, they’d run around and butt heads with each other. That’s typical to a poorly run corporate collaboration event. Sometimes when we’re pursuing, and I’ve seen this, you could be pursuing like a huge deal inside your company. You’re able to get 50 people to come to a meeting, including your CEO. That is a completely dysfunctional meeting. I believe that you need to just bring the total amount of people that have a stake in the outcome with one expert about your current problem and the guiding rule is you should always invite one less person than you think you need. Then you’ve probably got the right size for the team.

 

How to Increase Your Percentage Win Rate in Sales Meetings · [06:20] 

 

Will Barron:

Does the percentage win rate of these deals increase as we bring on the likes of marketing, or is it simply the deal size is less so we can fit more of them in?

 

Tim:

No, actually we’ve documented that even just bringing in marketing can have from a 15 to 20% increase in sales, depending on the size of the deal and whether it’s a renewal or a first time sale, but here’s the thing when the average number of perspectives on a complex deal is for, think sales management, operations marketing, I’m making it up, four, then the closing rate for 186 projects over a decade was just about 70% on high quality qualified deals.

 

Tim:

Now to give everybody in the room that’s going, well that’s not the average close ratio. No, the average close ratio that we beaconed for a high quality qualified complex deal is somewhere in the 35 to 45% range. That’s because they’re always putting executive resources against it, but we were able to see a significant increase just because of the agility that comes from having all those outside perspectives, because I think the thing Will, is this, in sales, we have these constraints that we operate by. We have these best practises that we live by, but the game is changing out there very quickly. Procurements getting involved in our world, external influencers are getting involved, end users are now decision makers, so because it’s changing so very quickly, that’s why we’ve got to go a little bit wider to bring in people that don’t know what they don’t know, so we try very surprising things.

 

Will Barron:

I love it. I’ve got some context of this, but if there was two of me, it would make more sense in that I’ve gone from the B2B selling world, something like medical devices to the NHS here in the UK, to essentially marketing a business and building a media organisation, to put it real simply. I know that if I went back into sales now, my ability to create mini bits of content for end users, for decision makers, to explain things, even just my skill in copywriting, which has just been developed from sending tens of thousands of emails every week, all these, and this isn’t the best example, I’m not suggesting that the audience needs to go out and do all this to become a better salesperson, but all these extra little bits of nuggets of information and knowledge, I would be a totally different salesperson to what I ever would be.

 

Why Teamwork Should Be Your #1 Sales Tool · [08:46]

 

Will Barron:

If you bring in a team, I’m guessing you don’t need to know all this stuff, you can almost pass some of it on and you are almost parallel processing a lot of the problem solving as well, versus linearly processing it of learning a new task to solve a problem. At that moment, you’re still stuck, whereas if someone else is working on it, you can perhaps tackle three or four problems at once, right?

 

“The world-class selling organisations that beat their rivals by double-digits, what they all have in common is this culture of collaborating across departments in pursuit of deals.” – Tim Sanders · [09:42] 

 

Tim:

Exactly, and the thing too, is that a lot of times we fear bringing people from outside sales in. I mean marketing, it’s okay, now they’re a lead gen for us. We don’t mind bringing them in. They’re a little slow. They call them the land is slow, but that’s okay. That’s what some of my clients call them. What we’re really afraid to do is to bring in the real stakeholders, the people in pricing and revenue recognition, and operations and delivery teams, and engineering for customised services, we don’t bring them in until we have a signed deal that they’ve got to accept. Well, no wonder we can’t deliver. That’s why when Miller Hyman’s MHI research, when they did that study in 2014, and they looked at the world class selling organisation that beats their rival by double digit, they said, what they all have in common is this culture of collaborating across departments in pursuit of deals.

 

Are You Using All Available Resources at Your Disposal To Close More Deals? · [11:10] 

 

Tim:

When I really tried to dig into the MHI research to say, well, what’s behind this. Well, ultimately Will, the double digits weren’t because of simple things like closing rates. The double digits had to do with customer satisfaction, renewal rates, extension purchases. The reason why, is you can turn the police into the pep squad if you bring them in early enough and give them a voice at the table.

 

Tim:

You see, the finance folks, the delivery folks, if they’re involved early enough, you empower them if you will, to contribute to the structure of the deal, and so they’re much more of an owner after the deal gets signed and they try harder to deliver and make the customer happy. That was a real aha moment. One of the researchers told me that at a lot of these companies, and this is probably true where all of us work, outside of sales, the belief in all other departments is that if you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu. Okay? To think that they don’t want to help you is not true. They want to help you and when you bring them in early, it makes a huge difference. Assuming you understand the process of dealstorming as an account executive, assuming you actually know how to run that meeting effectively enough to move everybody in the room from me to we, that’s the key to success at that point.

 

Will Barron:

I want to dive into what the role of the sales professional is within this, whether the project manager, whether they are just doing the face to face with the customer.

 

Will Barron:

We’ll delve into that in a second, because I think that’s an interesting conversation in itself, but before that, Tim, how little are we leveraging all the resources that we’ve got inside the organisations that are there for us? I know me, getting medical devices, occasionally I’d bring my sales manager along. Occasionally I’d bring, there was one chap who had been working for the organisation for like 30 years. He knew all the surgeons who were consultants. Now, he knew them when they were all trainees, so I’d bring him on patches many times as I possibly could throughout the year, because he would just walk into a room, start telling stories about strip clubs and drugs and all kinds of stuff from when these surgeons who are now 40, 50, were kids. Well I say kids, kind of like 25/30, my age and the whole theatre would go over and listen to his stories and that would subtly kind of get their attention. You would sell indirectly through that.

 

Will Barron:

I was conscious of a few resources, but I never used any marketing, even material or literature, I always held back from handing stuff out because it was never bespoke. It was never custom, and clearly that’s easier now than it was three, four, five years ago.

 

Will Barron:

How little are we just not even complexing things in that we’re going to build a team of stakeholders, we’re going to build, we’re going to parallel process, the phrase I used before, putting all that to one side, how little are B2B salespeople just leveraging the financial director to speak to another functional director and have a conversation that you couldn’t possibly have, but they can kind of bond, build rapport, and have an intelligent conversation between themselves?

 

Tim:

I think it really depends on sales leadership inside various corporate cultures, but what we’ve learned on the aggregate is that if you qualified a deal or an account save for collaboration, where you say, okay, there’s at least three sticking points, and our existing sales process doesn’t address the three, or there’s a huge creativity challenge, meaning half of everybody we’ve got to convince we’ll never meet with. That’s a huge challenge. That means you’ve got to figure out some deliverable that’s custom. When it’s qualified, what we’re seeing is about 40% of the time there’s some collaboration outside of sales, only 40% of the time.

 

Tim:

There is a huge upside in organisations for higher quality deals or to save higher quality accounts that’s not being executed. I’ll tell you why, sales leadership don’t think they have a problem with teamwork.

 

Tim:

I mean, when we first started doing interviews for the book, we talked to 200 people a couple of years ago and that’s always the first question. Do you guys play well as a team? They say, “Great, yes, absolutely. We’re strong as a team.” I’d say, “Really? Then how many relationships do your sales people have in the ops department?” “Hmm, really don’t know them, invited two of them to sales conference last year.” Then you don’t play together as a team because here’s the analogy I always say, when you go to a restaurant and the host seats, you, the server takes your order. They turn it into the cook. He makes it, they serve you the food, the busboy is pushing around his stuff, clearing the tables for the next pal, and the host takes your money and you leave. That is not teamwork. That’s line work. It’s teamwork when the busboy notices your food has been sitting under the lights too long, the waitress is over committed in her section, so the busboy delivers food to you. That is teamwork.

 

Tim:

What I see is that there’s that misperception in sales leadership, that teamwork can exist only inside the sales silo. I think that’s what I’m really trying to undo, not only with the research, but by helping sales leaders, just try it once. One of the things I always suggest Will, is if you’re a lone wolf or if you’re in a lone wolf culture, do what I did back in the year 2000, when I first showed up at Yahoo after they bought our startup. First day in the cafeteria dude, I’m still just, I’m just like a director level back then. I walk into the cafeteria at URLs, it’s called URLs, kind of cute. Everything at Yahoo was cute. I walk in and I look at the sea of people and it was like a scene out of one of those high school movies where everybody’s sitting in a click.

 

Tim:

The engineers are over here with their dog and their propeller, and the marketing people are over here, and the content people are overhear. I’m about to go sit with my sales buddies that I just met. Somehow that there’s this thing in the back of my head, I used to remember kind of a Mark Cuban philosophy, and that was the best time to create powerful relationships is long before you need them. He was really an advocate of going into the community and making relationships with people that could never write you a check. It was a real paradigm shift for me. I decided that day I would never eat with sales and every single day for the next year, until I hit the road forever, I would meet with the new group at lunch.

 

Tim:

Oftentimes, as a salesperson at Yahoo, I’d take my beating because when I joined the company, the only banner we had on the entire website was a sweepstakes banner to win something on the homepage. We were allergic to add units. Then when guys like me showed up, we’d go to Koch and we’d do a homepage take down to show Rich Media. The engineers really didn’t like me. The content guys didn’t like me, the ops guys, but if you eat with them enough and you listen to what they’re working on and you find opportunities to do favours for them, help them with their PowerPoint, go to a meeting with them, coach them on a presentation, connect with somebody with the department.

 

Tim:

If you feed the favour economy long enough, then later, like it happened with me on the Ford account, I can build a tribe like this, eight experts across Yahoo, who’ve never played well together that got in a room and tried to help their friend Tim close a big deal with Ford. That was what I really learned was the secret to getting this process started because you know, it’s not like you flip a switch.

 

Tim:

I’ve seen clients try to flip a switch. We’re going to collaborate from now on, Will, you might want to build a collaborative web first. As one researcher at North Carolina says, collaborative webs are more important than creative people in companies. That’s my first piece of advice. Once you kind of start to build those relationships, then the deal streaming process is going to work a lot better for you because people are going to be more engaged. Quite frankly, they’re going to care more about the success of the deal because otherwise it’s just you and your commission and your money and it’s a little bit harder unless you work at a small startup to get them all involved.

 

The Building Blocks of an Effective Collaborative Selling Team · [17:29]

 

Will Barron:

You’ve just said something here, which is subtly completely different to any other conversation I’ve had on anything like this, Tim, most of the time, and I wrote it down to follow up with of, is this something that the salesperson can engineer or is this something that has to come from leadership down, knowing that all our content is for salespeople, but there’s plenty of leadership, there’s plenty of C-suite, there’s plenty of marketers and execs that listen to the show as well. They’re taking all this and they’re taking that advice, but I was going to dive into whether a salesperson themselves, whether they could engineer this. You give a brilliant example of just hanging out with people that might be able to help me in the future. I don’t want to dumb it down, but is it almost as simple as building relationships here and then leveraging, is the wrong word, and I don’t like that term when I’m talking about another human, but essentially leveraging that relationship later on, is that the process we should be aiming towards?

 

Tim:

Yes. That is the process we should be aiming towards. I mean, think about your buyers. Your buyers are now operating together as cross-functional teams, but on most popular corporate training programmes at Skillsoft is how to buy better for less. They teach you on the other side of the fence on technology, how to work with business people, and how to work with the information security people, and how to work with outside procurement groups. Those buyers are being organised and trained to work together. It is insane if we think in sales, we can beat that. I’m not saying we’re out trying to beat the buyers, but we have to match what they bring to the table to win and what they usually bring to the table to win is their own process to get past the smoke and mirrors, to make sure that they’re getting the lowest cost of ownership, and to find if possible, the lowest cost entry point to a new problem space. That is a big paradigm shift out in the market.

 

Tim:

I think that even if you don’t have sales leadership buying into the dealstorming process as codified like a first response, not a last resort, if you just had a few relationships and key stakeholder groups, like you ask yourself, who has a stake in how I sell big deals? Just ask yourself that, write a list down of those people. If you just go develop relationships with them and as I say, feed the favour economy, find ways to help them and show empathy to them. You can have informal conversations that are absolutely game changing. Then what they’ll help you do is they’ll escalate it on their side so that they can bring in the actual decision makers inside your own company, if you need to do specialty work, if there needs to be consideration around pricing, or I know you like to talk about hacks, if you’re facing, like what they have now in software service is what’s called the no contract contract, which is a huge hack, which takes out the whole fourth part of the sales process.

 

Tim:

Well guess what, you’ve got to have some friends in the legal department to even entertain that type of discussion, especially if you’re at a legacy technology company, say like Oracle or Microsoft. The cloud thing’s changing that game too. That’s why I think the relationship development is the key to success. For those that say, well, what’s the first favour I could possibly do for somebody outside of sales, I want you to take an inventory of your greatest skills. At the time I thought about it, I was pretty good at developing PowerPoint. I was a PowerPoint jockey and I didn’t use clip art. I was really good at coaching people on how to give a better speech, because I was a championship debater, and I am a networker. I don’t mean networker, like cocktail and business cards prospecting, I mean inside the companies I work for, I go make connections because it’s just my DNA.

 

Teamwork is the secret to success, especially in a tough selling environment like we’re in right now.” – Tim Sanders · [21:27] 

 

Tim:

I said, okay, those are my things I can do. I can share my knowledge. I can share my network. I can do some wet work, and once I was cognizant of that, Will, then my radar was always up at these lunches. When I’d go to off shop side events, my radar was up and I would just like, I would enthuse, what an opportunity to do a favour came up. Some of the other sales people next to me were like, I don’t get it. Why do you mess with those guys? Then eight promotions later, I think a lot of people in that organisation kind of got it. That is teamwork is the secret to success, especially in a tough selling environment like we were in back in 2001 and 2002, after the crash.

 

Will Barron:

I think another layer on this and tell me if I’m wrong here, but I know if I’m working in sales and operations invited me into one of their meetings, I’d be intrigued to see what’s going on. I’d be intrigued to help. I’d want to widen my reach there. The opposite I’m sure is the case. If you invite Barry from marketing over, he probably wants to learn a bit more about what you are doing so we can do his job better. There’s a kind of cross flow and balance of ideas here, but this leads me to-

 

Tim:

Yeah, I think marketing is the first place too. Marketing is where you start.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. I think moving forward marketing, I’m not going to use the word term ‘smarketing’. I feel like punching myself in the face every time I like say that word, but it’s the best way to describe it at the moment that I found, I think your word was silos. I think that the silos of sales and marketing will collapse into one. I think that’s a no brainer for most.

 

The Salesperson Should Always Be In Charge of The Collaborative Selling Team · [22:46]

 

Will Barron:

Anyone who’s got content creating marketers, as opposed to messaging or branding marketers, I think the content people should be in the same room, if possible as the sales people to kind of go back and forth and we can digress and we can talk about that for over four hours I’m sure, Tim, but the salesperson, being selfish for us again for a second, what is the role in all of this? We’ve outlined the ideal scenario in that we’ve got probably a nice round desk so no one feels left out, sat on a corner, and we’re all equals around here. We know we’ve got this one or two or three problems that will move the deals forward. We’re going to have a conversation about it, is the salesperson’s job then to own this and to be the project manager, to give directions, to pull it all forward and move it forward? Or is their role to just be the spokesperson between the group and the customer?

 

“The big reason why salespeople don’t collaborate is they don’t want to let go of running the deal.” – Tim Sanders · [23:41] 

 

Tim:

I’ve thought about this a lot, Will, and like it or not, here’s what I think. I think the salesperson runs the show. If the salesperson isn’t running the show, they’re never going to reach out and collaborate, see that’s the brick while I kind of ran into why are lone wolfs, lone wolfs? If I bring in the land of no and the land of slow and give them power, they will slow me down and kill my deal. That’s a belief system. The big reason that we don’t collaborate is we don’t want to let go, so you don’t have to let go.

 

Tim:

I tell sales executives and leaders and CEOs all the time, the worst thing you can have in one of these situations is the CEO running the meeting. You want to talk about the chilling effect of any junior person in the room that might be willing to reveal something, it’s a bad idea, and your meeting gets rescheduled 15 times.

 

Tim:

Here’s how it works, the salesperson identifies a high quality, high complex opportunity that’s outside of the current sales process. They kind of see we’re stuck. They go to their sales manager to qualify the opportunity, because different corporate environments, you want to make sure it’s cool to reach out to tech, because sometimes the sales manager might be no, no, no, no, we’re getting ready to ask a huge favour on Salesforce integration, wait a minute. You never know, right? You qualify the opportunity with your manager and then you and your manager recruit the team, the manager recruits the more senior people you need in the room, you recruit your peers, but once that team is built, then it’s all about the salesperson, the manager serves as sponsor. They usually come to the meetings, they sit in the back of the room when there needs to be special permissions or some historical analysis, they chirp in, and they usually coach the salesperson after the meeting on how well they ran that meeting towards the next play.

 

“You never go to a meeting with people outside of sales without giving them a deal brief. Two or three pages of what the meeting is about at least two or three days before the meeting.” – Tim Sanders · [25:25] 

 

Tim:

You see, I think these cross departmental meetings are where salespeople become business leaders. I know that. My ability to pull all these departments that used to fight together and get them to try to work together was what told senior management let’s make Tim CSO and really that was the trigger point. I very much think the AE does it, but here’s the hardest job for the AE, or the salesperson. It’s not just what you do during the meeting. It’s that deal brief. This is the thing. This is what occurred to me around 2002, and now my clients, you never call a meeting with people outside of sales without giving them a deal brief, two or three pages, at least two or three days before the meeting. If you’re going to have a deal story meeting on the Tuesday, you write a deal brief and you distribute it by Thursday and Will, the deal brief’s easy to write, but it takes some time.

 

Tim:

It says here’s the opportunity. Here’s why I think we’re stuck in the opportunity. Here’s the influence map on the other side of the table. Here’s some food for thought about this company and why they need our products or whatever, something for them to think about. Then most importantly, here’s what we’ve tried, here’s what they’ve said, and then at the bottom of that deal brief, you give a personal thinking assignment to that person you’re giving it to.

 

Tim:

I might say, Will, I know you’re in operations, I want you to think through how we could deliver this on a customised basis. Somebody else in marketing, you would say, I want you to think about how we can create some kind of designer element that our champion can show around the company. I might tell my manager, I want you to think of somebody that’s missing from the team I should have invited.

 

“The most important part of the creative process is incubation.” – Tim Sanders · [26:30] 

 

Tim:

When you do this and you hassle them on Friday to read the brief and think about it over the weekend, you are triggering the most important part of the creative process, incubation, because now high performance people, they can’t stop thinking about something like this. Especially if you’ve given them an intellectual assignment. In my experience, when they come to the meeting on Tuesday, they’re a little enthusiastic. They’ve already got some ideas. Most importantly, they have clarity about their assumptions behind the ideas.

 

Tim:

They’re not going to get defensive when you have a candid debate about whether that is the right or wrong next play. No deal brief, no innovation. That’s my experience. I didn’t develop this. I was given this as a great piece of advice by the co-founder of Ideal Labs, Tom Kelly. He wrote a book called the Art of Innovation. Ideal has pioneered so many of the greatest inventions of the last a hundred years. The Palm Pilot, pump soap, I could go on and on. He said their design brief was the secret to success. He also told me that’s why brainstorming meetings usually don’t work.

 

Tim:

You’re not giving people time to have any clarity and to let their mind do complex pattern association. You’re just throwing them in their room, getting a flip chart out, snapping your fingers and saying places, ideas. That’s why I think for the salesperson, if you get good at that brief, you’re going to get really good at collaboration.

 

How to Get Your Collaborators Involved with Selling During a Sales Presentation · [27:44] 

 

Will Barron:

I guess it’s doing a whole load of, I mean, you dive into the psychology, perhaps if you believe that there’s value in it of, you’re also allowing them to have a voice versus if they’re not confident in what they’re going to say, they’re just going to not add any value to the conversation, so there’s no point in them being there. It’s given them an opportunity to have a voice, then they get to see the project essentially move forward, their ideas be developed, and you’re almost roping them in. You’re almost like having your fishing rod reel out and then just tying them up in this.

 

Tim:

That’s right.

 

Will Barron:

They don’t want to look silly either when they’ve had… You’ve reduced the amount of excuses that they’ve got for not providing some kind of solution as well, right?

 

Tim:

That’s exactly right. I mean, as you say, the hardest part of that is to reel them in because here’s the reality, especially if you’re a salesperson and the director of IT is one of your collaborators. Well, he’s three clicks above you in the organisation and he’s going to bring his agenda into the room, try as you might. He might have a grudge about something that happened two years ago on inventory technology integration, you got to know that’s coming, okay, and maybe your manager sponsor’s going to smooth that before the meeting, maybe, but maybe not. Here’s the trick, the first ground rule is that ideas can come from anywhere, that empowers everybody. Don’t look at someone and say, you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re not in sales. That’s the first rule. The second rule though, stay on agenda, because a good deal storm meeting has a couple of parts.

 

Tim:

There’s the review of the deal brief. There is the problem discussion to make sure you’re not solving the wrong root cause. That usually is about 15 minutes, and that’s missing for most good meetings. Then there’s the solution discussion where people introduce ideas. We have a little debate to finalise the idea, and we figure out the next best play. Ultimately the salesperson will make that determination.

 

Tim:

Here’s what I’ve learned, if you say we are going to stay on agenda, then you need to have a flip chart or a whiteboard dedicated to something called issues. I learned this from a great book called The Secrets of Facilitation. It’s the issues board.

 

Tim:

When that director of IT says I still have an issue with how slow you guys were to respond to our technical specs, you held us up for three months, you say, Don, I understand that. I wasn’t involved with that. Let’s put that on the issues board. At the end of this meeting with the last 10 minutes, let’s squarely address with my manager in tow, how we can deal with that moving forward. You put it over there on that issues parking board, and you stay focused on the issue at hand. I’ve learned that is a very good way to keep people on the we part of the discussion, because they want to know that you care about their objection, but they also don’t really want to hijack the meeting. That’s a little hack I’ve learned to run smoother meetings, especially when you’re not the most senior person in the room.

 

Why You Need to Document Your Brainstorming Sessions · [30:29] 

 

Will Barron:

Love it, and so as we’re getting super practical here, Tim, how do we document all of this with the end goal, I guess of this has to go back to the customer at some point? Is there any way of documenting this so that it makes it easier to facilitate that conversation with the customer or the potential customer?

 

Tim:

Very good question. I think that every great deal storm has an information master and brainstormer, they used to call it a scribe. I love to have someone, one of your buddies in marketing, serve this role. What they’re doing during the deal storm is they’re kind of not just taking notes of what’s being said, but they’re creating the construct of that next play, because I believe that whether it’s a wire frame or an outline or a whiteboard diagram, a prototype is worth a thousand meetings.

 

Tim:

That’s the real key. What that information master does in partnership with the salesperson, is tries to create something that you can whisper to your most trusted member on the prospect team. We call it a whisper test. Let’s say that you’re going to try this way of approaching the deal where instead of doing one big deal, you’re going to do 13 regional deals, but you’re going to do a single installation and let it fan out. That’s also kind of a new thing in sales because you can never lose your deal to Oracle. You can only use like one or two of the 13, so it’s kind of a cool approach when you’re a smaller company in a bigger space.

 

Tim:

That’s hard to do, and it’s a little bit more complicated for your prospect customer to implement, but you’ve got a champion there and she really wants you to win, but she’s not the sole decision maker. You go to that person and you whisper to them. You say, I want to show you a prototype. It’s just a wire frame, but I want to show you how we’re going to implement the deal. I want to tell you why I think it’s better for you. I want to know if that dog will hunt, but please don’t share. I find that in a high percentage of the situations, they’re very loyal to you and they give you killer feedback and they don’t even know it, they’ve joined your deal storm team.

 

Tim:

I think that’s really important. I think that’s why it’s always important in a deal storm when you create that influence map in the deal brief to indicate who that champion is, but we can never confuse the champion with the mobilizer, the person that actually gets change done inside an organisation.

 

“In deal negotiations, never confuse the person that likes you with the person that can help you.” – Tim Sanders · [32:49] 

 

Tim:

Boy, I could talk about that for a while, because consistent with the CEB research, we find that the average mobilizer that has punching power on a scale of one to 10, there’re a nine, when it comes to driving consensus and change, they show up as a detractor, a debater, they look like a blocker. You can’t wait to get out of the room. Never confuse the person that likes you with the person that can help you. The person that likes you can give you tremendous feedback on out of the box ideas and maybe get you an audience with the mobilizer, but I think the whisper test done right can really help you get it, right, especially when you’re doing something really innovative.

 

Will Barron:

Tim, I think this has got to be part one of multiple episodes mate, because this idea of the champion versus the, did you call them the champion…

 

Tim:

Mobilizer.

 

Will Barron:

Mobilizer, I couldn’t read my own handwriting then. Yeah, I was looking at motivator. The champion versus the mobilizer, that is a conversation, which I fell short on in the past of getting them confused. I personally would like to learn more about that, but with that I’ve got-

 

Tim:

Yeah, you know what we’ll do is, we’ll involve my buddy, Brent Adamson over at CEB, now Gartner, because he’s got a unique point of view on that too. I’ll see if I can round him up if you want to try a three-way buddy.

 

Will Barron:

Let’s do it. A hundred percent, I’m down for that. That’d be awesome. We’ve been doing, regular listeners will know this, but it’s somewhat a focus on me to get more than one guest on the show moving forward, just to kind of, well, one to differentiate ourselves, and then two just, there’s so much more to go at when there’s a dynamic of people, either agreeing or disagreeing, and clearly you can have different setups or conversations to achieve and things.

 

Tim:

Then you should book me with Grant Cardone and we could have a big debate, no, wait a minute.

 

Will Barron:

Unfortunately, you’re in the queue with people who want to get on with Grant Cardone, myself included.

 

Tim:

Okay. Great. All right. I’ll let Gary go first.

 

Tims Advice to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [34:20] 

 

Will Barron:

Well, that’d be a good show in itself, okay, Tim, I’ve got one final question, mate. We’ll wrap up with this, but I, for sure, I mean, we will get you back on perhaps with Brent and we’ll dive into this in more detail and move things forward because I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface with this, but I’ve got one final question that I ask everyone that comes on the show. That is, if you sir 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?

 

“Be the most well-read person your prospect has ever met. Every other book you read should be a book that tackles your prospect’s greatest business challenges.” – Tim Sanders · [34:45] 

 

Tim:

I would say if I went back to my twenties and I could give myself a piece of advice, I would say, be the most well-read person your prospect has ever met. Every other book you read should be a book that tackles your prospect’s greatest business challenges. You need to spend 20 bucks a month, mate, reading a book on behalf of somebody else out in the market and giving them that instead of a stupid t-shirt or a coffee cup. I didn’t start doing that until I was 37. The only reason I started doing that is because I admired the owner of our company, Mark Cuban.

 

Tim:

Mark said this, Mark’s motto is this basketball coach, Bobby Knight, like everybody wants to win, but only a few people are willing to do the preparation work to actually win. Mark read 50 books from January to July of 1997, and not just books on what he cared about in broadcasting. Books on every thing, every partner and customer would ever care about, financial markets, brand building, the history of eCommerce, all this stuff, because he knew that during times of great change, this is how we break out of the pack and establish credibility.

 

“We don’t add enough value as salespeople. We think that adding value is closing the deal. Adding value is helping that customer be more successful a year from now, whether or not your team can deliver.” – Tim Sanders · [36:01] 

 

Tim:

I started to do it. I started to try to read a book every month. Then once I went to my first customer meeting and laid a book on the table about the future of the healthcare markets and had it all marked up for them, and then that guy got me a meeting with their billion dollar company CEO, and I’m just an AE, the light bulb went off. We don’t add enough value as sales people. We think that adding value is closing the deal. Adding value is helping that customer be more successful a year from now, whether or not your team can deliver.

 

Will Barron:

I love it. I’m smiling because that is going to be a one and a half minute clip that’ll do really well on Facebook in itself. I love the rant and just on books, Mark Cuban’s book, tiny as it is, and it’s pitched as a business book, that is a book on sales.

 

Tim:

It really is because he is a master salesperson. By the way, I don’t know if he put this in the book, but his motto was, make love, not war, because he said, every company acts like they care about the customer, but they go to war with them, with the P and L as the shield, he goes, we’re going to be different. We’re going to find out what they want, we’re going to give it to them.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff, with that Tim, tell us a little bit about dealstorming, where we can find it. I believe you’ve got a URL to share with the audience as well for a resource that is going to hopefully put smile on their faces.

 

Tim:

I’m all about adding value. I wouldn’t want to come, not do that, so I’ve built a special resource page for all the listeners. It is timsanders.com\salesman, timsanders.com\salesman. I’m going to have a 32 page excerpt from Dealstorming called genius is a team sport, I’m going to have the actual dealstorming process there as well as a video that walks you through how to run that meeting. It’ll all be at timsanders.com\salesman. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, but here’s another offer. I know this is going to hurt, but this is a DVD. It’s the keynote I gave in 2016, at the Experian National Sales Conference, just about dealstorming and collaboration. It is the DVD that I will happily mail the first 20 people that email me. My email address is easy. It’s email@timsanders.com. Happy to send it out, happy to add as much value as I can.

 

Will Barron:

Good stuff. A link to all that in the show notes to this episode over at salesmanpodcast.com as well, and with that Tim, I appreciate your insights on this. I appreciate that you’re fired up and passionate about it as well. There’s perhaps a conversation to have on the side of why you’re so interested in it and because that kind of like unravels and leads to other conversations and other stories, which I’m sure will be of interest to the audience, and with that, Tim, I thank you for again your time and joining us on The Salesman Podcast.

 

Tim:

My pleasure, man. Thank you, will. You’re doing a great job and appreciate the opportunity.

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