How To Land A WHALE (Closing A 10x Sized Customer)

Mark Birch is startup investor based in NYC, leads enterprise sales for Stack Overflow and also is the founder of the Enterprise Sales Forum, a community for B2B sales professionals and leaders to share ideas, network with peers, and learn innovations in the field of sales.

In this episode of the show Mark explains how to land a whale. There are always those huge customers that we all dream of working with and Mark is giving us the step by step process to not just get a foot in the door but build the relationships that will win you business with them.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Mark Birch
B2B Sales Expert

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

In this episode, we go through the steps of closing those huge deals that make your sales manager want to hug you.

 

Will Barron:

Hello sales nation, and welcome to today's episode of The Salesman Podcast. On today's show, we have Mark Birch. He is the founder of the Enterprise Sales Forum, who put on events monthly across the world where you can meet sales professionals that are crushing it like you, you can find mentors, and you can network. Really awesome events. To find out more about this, head over to enterprisesalesforum.com.

 

Will Barron:

And on today's show, we're diving into how you can land those whales, how you can land those enterprise level customers. With all that said, throughout further ado, let's jump in to today's episode. Mark, welcome to The Salesman Podcast.

 

Mark Birch:

Thank you. Thank you for having me. Really excited to be here.

 

Will Barron:

You're more than welcome, sir. I'm glad to have you on. And today, we're going to talk about landing those enterprise … and I'm smiling as I say this, because this is what I love about sales … but those enterprise size deals. And I don't want to put words in your mouth here and you can perhaps define it for in a second, but I see it as those whales, those deals that I fight over for six months, 12 months, 18 months. And then they come in and my sales manager … how to describe this without using my French … But essentially, the sales manager shits their pants and gives you a pat on the back. And it's a well done. It's a big hurrah, you get a nice letter or email or shake of the hand from senior management.

 

Mark’s Definition of an Enterprise-level Deal · [01:35]

 

Will Barron:

That's what I get excited about and that's what I want to talk about on today's show. With that said, do you have a definition or a way to separate these deals versus other ones? How do you define a enterprise level deal, Mark?

 

Mark Birch:

I think first, you got to understand what: is an enterprise deal versus a transaction? I look at what I've done in my career as a complex sale. You have multiple decision makers, you're dealing with very complex solutions that generally require a team to help implement and stand up in the organisation, and it generally has pretty significant organisational impact. That's a big one. Oftentimes, people will talk about, I've just sold to the enterprise and they sold five licences to a small department. That's not a large organisational impact.

 

Mark Birch:

I think the other side of it is, I think there is a perspective on how you carve out your market, and that will change from company to company. Some companies will look at the size or number of employees. Some companies may take a look at revenue. In some other perspective, it may be, here are a list of target accounts that are very notable or have large market share. I think, from an individual organisation perspective, you just need to be able to find, as a sales organisation, how are we carving out that market between what is small transactional stuff, but maybe midsize, mid-market? Versus what are the real quote “whales?”

 

How Sales Teams Can Develop Their Own Definition of Large-Sized Deals · [03:07] 

 

Will Barron:

Is this something that we should be sitting down with our sales manager or whoever is leading a team here at the beginning of the year and pick out, whether it's one, two or three of these whales to potentially go after? Is this something that, as a organisation that we're selling for, you need to start roping in other people within the organisation at the very beginning versus going out, doing some prospecting, and seeing if there's potential there?

 

Mark Birch:

There's a lot packed in there. Because I think one, it depends on where you are as an organisation. I deal a lot with startups, for example. And oftentimes, it is kind of like, “Oh, let's look at a list of companies. They seem to need a solution like us and let's just go after them and figure out how to get in at the bottom level.” So there is that approach. It's a little bit ad hoc.

 

Mark Birch:

But I think a much wiser approach is, if you're a little bit more established, like you have a good sales team intact, you want to look it at from a top down perspective. Here we're carving out our market. Your VP or head of sales is going to have a definition of, okay, this is the overall market size, these are the types of companies we're looking for, here are the personas, ideal customer profiles. And then, we pull that down into how that actually translates from a management perspective, a rep perspective.

 

Mark Birch:

So you really do … I think if you want to have a very specific approach that's well laid out, I think at the beginning of the year, when you start to map out what we want to do from an organisation perspective, it does need to be a team effort. Otherwise, one of these deals could definitely percolate, but your organization's just not ready for it.

 

The Pros and Cons of Landing an Enterprise-Level Deal · [04:48] 

 

Will Barron:

Let's stop on this, Mark, because you've said something here, which is exactly what I wanted to come onto, and the startup world is probably the best example of this, if we're in startup sales. Just for context for the audience, tell us what happens when a 10 person startup with some funding lands Oracle or Salesforce or whoever these huge organisations are. Is it always … Well again, is it always positive if you were to land someone like that, or can you land a enterprise account too soon?

 

Mark Birch:

Outcomes are very hit or miss. I've seen it be successful, to be the type of “make the company” deal that actually propels you into a real business. I've also seen these types of deal really cripple companies, because you believe you're creating something and you realise what you've done is you've locked yourself into a solution which only solves that one company's problem, and then you find that it's not applicable anywhere else.

 

Mark Birch:

I've seen startups that I've been involved in as an advisor who have gone ahead and done that: they've landed the big name, like the big bank or manufacturer, and then all they were doing afterwards was just being a service provider, and they had no capacity to actually develop a product that would be market ready for and applicable to other companies that they want to sell to because it's just so all consuming.

 

Mark Birch:

But there's also certain situations when, as long as you can ensure that you cordon off: here's the product, here's the offering, and you have a very specific set of deliverables that don't get into consulting world or services world, that I think you can protect yourself somewhat. But you do need to think about, if I'm going to bring on a very large company as my very first customer, be cognizant going into that, that could be a situation that can go very wild.

 

“If you’re a startup, I always recommend early on: only sell to companies that you can service and can love your product.” – Mark Birch · [07:02] 

 

Mark Birch:

I always recommend early on: sell the companies that you can service and can love your product. And that's a very distinctive approach. That's why you see a lot of startups selling to other startups. I'm not saying that that's a great approach either, but when you sell to companies that are more approachable, you're not trying to reach like the global 2000, then you can … It's just easier to work with those companies.

 

Mark Birch:

And you're … So those are some things to think about. One other thing I also mentioned is that, that's the very early startup sales. Once you get out that early maturation phase and you have a sales team, you have a sales VP, you have territories, you're a little bit more established, then it becomes a different situation. It becomes, what is our overall cost of sale for supporting a very large …

 

“If I was trying to do a deal like Goldman Sachs or Citi, huge global banks, would we basically be putting the entire company's resources into delivering that solution? And if that's the case, you may need to actually pull back. So always beware of that and have a process in place to manage that risk element of the delivery.” – Mark Birch · [08:07] 

 

Mark Birch:

So for example, say I was trying to do a deal like Goldman Sachs or Citi, huge global banks? If we did this deal, would we basically be putting the entire company's resources into delivering that solution? And if that's the case, you may need to actually pull back. So always beware of that. It's a very different situation if you're a little bit more advanced and you're not this early stage startup, you're a mid stage startup, late stage, you're a public company, what have you, then you can have a process in place to manage that risk element of the delivery.

 

Mark Birch:

So it's always, we're kind of getting more into the delivery, account management side than sales, but it is an important thing for folks to think about if you're a sales leader or you're a founder. If you're a sales rep, it's a different story. It's very exciting to get that whale.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. The reason I asked, Mark, is that I've been in the scenario which you just described. And this is a multi-billion dollar medical device company, one of the most prestigious in the industry. Long story short, selling endoscopes endoscopy equipment, they had a buy three endoscopes get one free deal. And I had a big customer here in the UK, one of the biggest NHS trusts, and they jumped at this opportunity. And it turned out that the deal wasn't actually profitable. The point of it was, was to break into brand new accounts by getting a few endoscopes in there. And then you've got an excuse to be in the account, to sell the camera systems and the more profitable items off the back of it.

 

Will Barron:

So I went in, I think the deal came to about 400 grand, which was a nice little sum for me, perhaps a quarter of my yearly target at that point? And the company I was working for and the management, they were mad at me for doing it. When they'd given me this opportunity, they'd given me this great deal to point in front of customers, but they hadn't explained the nuances.

 

Will Barron:

I landed this big account, and there was obviously a break even point along the line of selling more equipments into there, but it was both my naive not having that wide a business acumen, not having that wide a business background and thought on the profitability of my job and my role. Because obviously, I got a big commission out of that as well which cuts down on the profitability of the company as well.

 

Will Barron:

So I was perhaps being selfish … And this is me trying to take responsibility for the deal itself … But I also wasn't informed well enough. I just wanted to … Perhaps we'll start the show slightly pessimistically here or playing devil's advocate, but I just wanted to give that context for the audience of, to do one of these big deals, there's multiple other threads that come along in it of supplying the equipment, supporting them after the fact.

 

Will Barron:

Even just cash flow if you're a smaller company or medium sized company dealing with some of these massive companies and they want 90 day terms or 45 day terms, all these things need to be perhaps considered … Perhaps not by you, but you need to voice them up the food chain. I think that would be interesting for the audience to kind of take note on as they go through these so they can have more intelligent conversations internally, and probably look smarter internally as well by having these conversations.

 

The Difference Between Selling to Traditional Versus Enterprise-Level Accounts · [11:21] 

 

Will Barron:

Getting back onto the positive side of this conversation, and closing these big deals, what happens differently in the selling process versus perhaps a more traditional sale of you go out and you prospect, you find the decision maker, then you find an influencer in the account, and then perhaps there's only two or three people that you deal with. You do some demos, then you close the deal and it gets fulfilled. How is that different to selling to the enterprise and these whale accounts that we're dead excited to talk about?

 

Mark Birch:

You hit a lot more dead ends when you're prospecting into a larger … It's different if you're dealing with a thousand person company. And that could be enterprise for some type of companies, but generally speaking, a company that size, you know who's in the c-suite. You know who all the VP or SVPs are. You can find them on LinkedIn. It's not that hard to navigate.

 

Mark Birch:

Contrast that with trying to prospect into a company like a GE or Phillips or Snyder electric, massive companies, over a hundred thousand employees, where do you start? That's the very first question you got to ask yourself is: where am I going to land? Who am I going to talk to? You do need to do a bit of research before you just go whole hog and find your way throughout these companies.

 

Mark Birch:

Because it's going to take a while to get someone interested enough, and you're going to go through a lot of no's, a lot of dead ends, a lot of just silence before you hit upon someone who can take what you are presenting as a value proposition, as a problem statement, and say, “Yeah, I think that's something that one, I feel, and two, I can see that this could be applicable here and have an impact.” That's just the very first thing. You need to understand that lay of the land and have a very structured approach in terms of your prospecting.

 

Mark Birch:

And the other thing I say is, because these organisations are so large, it's very hard to just try to sell bottom up. Everyone always tells you, “Sell high, sell high.” I think there's something that could be said for selling high in some of the largest of organisations, because they're so organizationally complex, you're not going to know where to start. But it's a little bit easier if you narrow it down. Say I sell something into IT. And in IT, in some of these big companies, there could be 50 people that have the title CIO, but at least you've narrowed down your scope of, who do I contact?

 

Mark Birch:

I could feasibly reach out to 50 people in the course of a week with some highly personalised relevant messaging. Which gets on the second point is: what do you actually say to people when you reach out to them? This is where having a very clear view of what value you provide, the problems you solve for in organisations, and what would be key messages or key trigger words that you can use in your messaging that would attract the interest of people at certain levels in that organisation?

 

Mark Birch:

And you really do want to map it out. When I look at doing this … And I just went through this exercise recently over at my day job, Stack Overflow … which is to go through in a very systematic way, what do I do if I want to reach out to the CEO? What do I say to a CIO, CTO? What do I say to a VP of sales? A VP of engineering or software development? And just going down the line so that we can have very succinct, crisp messaging, not waste a lot of time, but be very clear that in that outreach, we can develop some rapport. We could show that we've done our homework.

 

Mark Birch:

We can wrap in some key problem statements that we feel that we can best address based upon their situation, where they sit in organisation, and what purview they have from the organisational objectives, to then try and find an entry point. And again, they'll be a lot of dead ends, but eventually, you'll find your way in if you've done your homework.

 

How to Find the Right Decision Makers in Larger-Sized Deals and Generate Interest In Your Product · [16:11]

 

Will Barron:

Are we looking with these individuals to sell them, pitch them, get them excited? Or are we looking for these individuals to be the person that shows us the pathway to find the correct person to be in front of, if that makes sense?

 

Mark Birch:

Oftentimes, it's a pathway, but you are generating interest. You're generating awareness. Like, okay, there's something that's here in front of me that they're presenting that two, does seem interesting. Because I attach it to some sort of … In a way, I think about messaging. Let's maybe step back a bit. The messaging is out there. Open up any annual report. Look at all the investor stuff that's pushed out by these big companies. There's a tonne of stuff out there. Read it.

 

Mark Birch:

Because a CEO, just in their letter alone … You don't even have to … Don't bother with the balance sheet. Just leave that for a second. Just look at the letter to shareholders that a CEO chairman will share. And in there, you will see what the strategic initiatives are for the coming year. Then you can start to break that down. Well, what is … So, okay, we're going to be a much more digitally oriented company. Okay, so what does that mean? Again, going down the IT stream, what does that mean for a CIO?

 

Mark Birch:

But they're going to have to deliver a lot of stuff. They're going to have to deliver on these highly innovative things they're going to create for the business to be a digital organisation. What does that mean for the VP of software engineering? They're going to have to juggle a whole lot of stuff. So how are they going to prioritise and manage just the influx of new product that they're going to release out there, and all the risks that's associated with it?

 

Mark Birch:

What does that mean for a DevOps engineer who has to orchestrate all this to happen? You start to build, from the highest levelled organisation, impact statements that can help trigger that level of interest and say, “Hmm, you know what?That is something we're challenged with.” And they may not be the person that can run with it. Maybe they are and you luck out, and they say, “You know what? That's something that I'm actually thinking about. Yeah, let's chat some more.”

 

Mark Birch:

But even if it's not, if they're at least interested and they feel that this is something that the organisation could get value out of, they'll help point in the right direction. Actually, that happened to one of my colleagues who was reaching out to a bank out in Australia. Reached out to the managing director, head of tech, who said, “Oh yeah, the person you need to speak to is this VP of software engineering,” and they set up a conversation, and now that's going really well. This stuff does happen. Again, it comes down to: have you done enough homework and research to really deconstruct your messaging in a way that's going to be meaningful to the people you're reaching out to?

 

Who To Target and How to Craft the Perfect Message When Going After a 10X Customer · [19:02]

 

Will Barron:

Let's get super practical. I think there's an opportunity to either make me look really daft in the next few weeks or to paint a really good story here, Mark. LinkedIn is, probably of the big companies, the only company that we don't do any business with. And we probably should, because all our audience are on LinkedIn. All our audience are using either the free version or the sales navigator. And just time, essentially, and everything else has been fulfilled in the ad space that we've got. We're always oversubscribed of ad space.

 

Will Barron:

But I feel like I should be at least having conversations with LinkedIn, if not doing business with them regularly like we do with the Salesforces, the HubSpots, and everyone else in this kind of space. Let's use this as an example, because I've never reached out to them. I've never made an approach. I've not done, other than the obvious stuff, my homework on them. We'll use this as a kind of mini case study in the next five, 10 minutes.

 

Will Barron:

Who should I be reaching out to? And then, what should that outreach look like? Because I'm assuming it's not the classic Aaron Ross email of, “Hi, do you do X, Y, Z? If not, can you point me to the person who does X, Y, Z?” Which obviously gets deleted and blocked and in spam folders immediately, as soon as anyone with any kind of knowledge of the sales space sees it. What homework should I be doing for LinkedIn, and how should I be strategizing my approach to getting in contact with them and having a conversation?

 

Mark Birch:

First, you need to map it out as an organisation. So who's in charge? Jeff Weiner, Reid Hoffman, they're tightly ingrained. I think that reaching out to them actually makes a tonne of sense in this instance. But you also need to figure out, well, who are the people are going to get the most value out of our solution? In this case, you're presenting The Salesman Podcast as an opportunity to reach out to the global network of sales professionals.

 

Mark Birch:

From there, you can find the people that are going to be most applicable to. And then I start to actually build a matrix of, okay, well, what are these folks going to really care about most? And I start with, is there any public statements that came from Jeff or Reid or any executives that I can start to use as something that feels like it's going to be a future initiative, like a direction that they want to lead?

 

Mark Birch:

That's generally a Google search that you can take. Sometimes I really want to go deep, it may take 30 minutes. But it doesn't have to take that long. There's a tonne of stuff that's already out there and both Reid and Jack, but been very prolific in terms of their posts and their sharing. Once you get an overall sense of what do they want to do for next 12 months, then I would reach out to one or either of them.

 

Do Salespeople Have the Right to Go Straight and Target the CEO? · [22:05] 

 

Will Barron:

And you would go to that level? Obviously, a little bit about the podcast, you've consumed some of our content. For me to reach out to them, you would go to that level? Or would you … Because as I'm saying this, I'm almost … I don't want to dive into the psychology of it all, but it's almost, I wouldn't feel worthy of going … Because I look up to both of them as entrepreneurs, I perhaps wouldn't go straight to them in the fact that I'd be like, I don't want to waste their time. But is that the level that, in this scenario, we should be reaching out to?

 

“As sales professionals, we feel that we're somehow unworthy, like, “Oh, I can't talk to the CEO of a company.” Here's the thing: if you have something important to say that you believe is intimately relevant to who they are as a person and what they're trying to execute, then you have every right and maybe a moral obligation to reach out and introduce yourself, and present the thing that could help that person solve a problem or reach an objective or accelerate growth, whatever it may be.” – Mark Birch · [22:36]

 

Mark Birch:

You've hit on something which is, I think, super important. It's actually something I brought up in a talk, in fact, yesterday. As sales professionals, we feel that we're somehow unworthy, like, “Oh, I can't talk to the CEO of a company.” Here's the thing: if you have something important to say that you believe is intimately relevant to who they are as a person and what they're trying to execute upon, then you have every right to … in fact, maybe a moral obligation … to reach out and introduce yourself, and what you can present, as something that could help that person solve a problem or reach an objective or accelerate growth, whatever it may be.

 

Mark Birch:

I never hesitate to reach out to very senior people in any instance, as long as I feel very confident that I could present something of value. Now, it doesn't mean that someone at a Reid or a Jeff level is necessarily going to engage. Or if they do engage, it's mainly going to be, “Well, you should talk to X, Y, Z.” But then you've made the connection and you've been introduced warmly to the exact people that you need to talk to.

 

“I think a lot of people are worried or scared to reach out to the CEO because that's a big, bad conversation. Well, you know what? They are no different than you and I. They may be in a better financial position, but they have things they need to do. They have problems that they need solved. They have desires, and emotions. They're human beings. So treat people as human beings, not as sales targets, and I think you'll have a better approach.” – Mark Birch · [24:20] 

 

Mark Birch:

You've saved yourself a tonne of effort trying to go with this bottom up approach or trying to get in touch with people who probably are bombarded by a lot of other stuff. In fact, I'll tell you what, I don't think that someone like Jeff gets as bombarded by sales messaging as you might think. I think a lot of people are worried or scared to reach out to the CEO because that's a big, bad conversation. Well, you know what? Jeff is no different than you, I. He may be in a better financial position.

 

Will Barron:

Just a little bit. Yeah.

 

Mark Birch:

Maybe a little bit. But they have things they need to do. They have things that they … They have desires, emotions. They're human beings. So treat people as human beings, not as sales targets, and I think you'll have a better approach. So you take that messaging, you personalise it. Say, “Look Jeff, really love what you said in your last post,” about whatever it may be. And then you tie it into … “Just like what you're doing, I've been doing something similar through The Salesman Podcast. Not sure you've listened to it or know of it, but we're trying to help salespeople solve this problem of X, Y, Z.”

 

Mark Birch:

And then literally, you're ask is: “Jeff, I'm trying to get more exposure and maybe build a partnership between LinkedIn and The Salesman Podcast. Who do you believe would be the best person to speak to?” By giving that person the psychological out to say, “Okay, I don't necessarily need to engage or respond with a very long whatever. If I want to, I can.” But at least you give them the option to say, “Okay, this is the ask. It's very definitive. And I know the person, because I know my organisation. And I've read this message, I know who to direct it to.”

 

What to Do When You Email a CEO and There’s No Response · [26:10]

 

Will Barron:

Okay, let's play devil's advocate here slightly in that there's no response. Should we be sending 15 follow up emails? And perhaps we're tracking them somehow. Maybe we'd know that they've been read or someone's read them. I imagine people at this level will have an assistant who will help out in their email accounts as well. Do people on this level appreciate masses of follow up, and the hustle, and really driving to get their attention? Or is it one, two emails and then you're barking up the wrong tree and you're just going to them off?

 

Mark Birch:

Here's the thing: if you're doing the typical, 15 to 18 to 25, God knows how many email cadences people are plugging into these automated systems, no. If you're going to do that, then you might as well just stop. It's got to be a personalised approach, and it takes time. But this is the balance that you play when you deal with enterprise sales. Time commitment versus, what's the payoff?

 

“The reason organisations love enterprise sales is that, even with the enormous costs and time involved, the upside is so huge that it all makes sense.” – Mark Birch · [27:10] 

 

Mark Birch:

The reason organisations love enterprise sales is that, even with the enormous costs and time involved, the upside is so huge that it all makes sense. It's baked into a margin, particularly in software subscription services. I could sell a deal for a million dollars, and that may have taken nine to 12 months to close, but my cost of sale may not necessarily be that high compared to the massive margin I made on that sale.

 

Mark Birch:

Versus if I'm selling something at a five to 10K average contract value, the more time I spend on it, the less time I'm spending on more of those type size deals, and that time effort isn't warranted. That's the crux you're always playing. But if LinkedIn is something that you'd say, “Look, I have an ideal customer list. If I want these logos to be represented through The Salesman Podcast, then it makes sense to put in that effort.”

 

Mark Birch:

Your follow up email isn't touching base or just following up, or an alligator gif coming to eat people, like where did you go? If you're going to take that approach and you've already lost. Executive level engagement means you are trying to be insightful, informative, valuable. And if you're not thinking about how to be valuable in each statement, and if you don't feel instantly comfortable with what you're sending out as representative of you as a professional and a brand that you represent, then do not send it out.

 

Understanding Executive-LeveL Engagement · [29:00] 

 

Will Barron:

I think a good litmus test on this … Sorry to interrupt you there, but this comes to mind. Another guest said this on the show, that if you wouldn't show your email that you are sending to your CEO, then you probably shouldn't be sending it. Is that a reasonable way to judge the emails that are going out from our accounts?

 

Mark Birch:

I think it's very much the case. I think there's a lot more CEOs that should be reading the emails that get sent out. As an aside, sometimes I'll get these really stupid emails pitching X, Y, Z. And I'm like, “I'm not the right person. This is a terrible message. I know it's a template, and I've gotten five of these already.” If I feel bothered at the time, I'll generally send an email to the CEO of that company saying, “This is the type of stuff that's being sent out. Just want to let you know that this is representing your brand, and I'm not sure this is representative of how you want to portray yourself.”

 

Will Barron:

So I get them, and I don't typically go as far as you there. But we've got a Facebook group, The Salesman Podcast Facebook group, so I'll block out email addresses. Clearly, I don't want to … I know. Whether you should drop someone or shouldn't drop someone, fair enough, that's a different discussion for another time. But I'll block out people's addresses. But we'll have a good old laugh with the five, 600 people that's in the Facebook group.

 

Will Barron:

And the last one that came through, I won't narrow down too much because it's obvious who it is, but they sent me this email. We do business with them. We've done nearly 200 grand worth of business with them this year alone. And they wrote an email calling me Janet. There's only one employee at this company and it's me. There's a bunch of freelancers, there's editors, graphic designers that work with me as well, but only a few of them have a Salesman Podcast email address, and none of them are called Janet. So I don't know where that came from.

 

How a Lack of Personalization Negatively Affects Your brand · [31:05] 

 

Will Barron:

There must be an amalgamation of just automation that's just gone head on and crashed here. And obviously, I'm a nobody, clearly, in the space. I've got no budget to spend with anyone, so it was a redundant email to send in the first place. But if that went to a CEO, if that went to someone with decision making power at LinkedIn, that could leave a real bad taste in their mouth, can't it? That could affect business that, not is happening on this deal, but can happen five, six years down the line, right?

 

Mark Birch:

Make sure … And if you're tracking this in the CRM system, for God's sakes, just don't. And you can set this up in certain suites, but there should be contacts that are just no go or no contact. Make sure you set that for very senior executives so they don't get stuck in some horrible marketing queue or sales, because that stuff does leave a hugely negative impact in the minds of the people you're trying to reach.

 

Mark Birch:

You got to be very smart about the outreach. You're not sending emails every couple of days, you're not sending nonsense, you're really researching it. That's, I think, the research that's worth doing, particularly if it's a sale that's going to make your number. You put it in the effort. Spend the 30 minutes to write something thoughtful. It was a little bit shocking when I mentioned this yesterday to a crowd full of sales professionals that they should spend 30 minutes on an email. They're like, “I got to do 100 calls a day,” or whatever it was. I'm like, “Okay, well maybe that's a different type of sale, but you just told me you want to do enterprise deals.”

 

Why Mark Believes The Days For Sending Out Unpersonalized Emails Are Over · [32:40] 

 

Will Barron:

Do you think Mark … And we'll wrap up with this, and we'll have you back in the future because we've only scratched the surface of this, we've not really got past the initial outreach of the enterprise deal. Which is good, because there's been a tonne of practical advice for the audience in this, just to get to this point. We'll have you back on to go further down the process.

 

Will Barron:

But I just want to get, perhaps, your personal thoughts and opinion on this. Do you think that the days of clearly cold calling 500 people a day, the days of sending 200 emails a day that are non-focused, that are essentially spam and just hoping that someone replies, do you think that's changing? And do you think that moving forward, we're going to have to be doing these 30 minute research settings? Or five minutes, whatever it is, just the fact that it isn't a spammed email. Do you think that is coming, and do you think that's going to be the only way to communicate over email for salespeople and the not too distant future?

 

Mark Birch:

I think it's going to get worse. Much worse. There's more of these technologies. I don't know if you've taken a look at things like the Lumascapes of the world. There are all these tools, and the one in the sales category is, I think it's gone to 5X of what it was five years ago. There's VC. There's so much investment right now. So we're going to see a lot more of this, what I call lazy prospecting. And it will get worse. I think it has gotten worse.

 

Mark Birch:

And I think a lot of it's driven by very short term thinking by sales leaders that, honestly, I don't think should be leading any sort of sales organisation. And this is some very blunt stuff I'm saying, but I don't think that there's anything wrong with the hundred dollars a day, or trying to leverage some level of automation. And you also got to think about where your sale is. If we're talking about the big, enterprise sale, I don't think that type of process works very well.

 

Mark Birch:

But if you're doing something, which is again, a smaller average contract value size? Then yeah, that's still going to be the approach that is going to be warranted. But I will say is I think it'll be less and less people doing that.

 

Mark’s Advice to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [35:10] 

 

Will Barron:

Interesting. I appreciate your insights. You're very blunt there and I appreciate that. And just per a wrap up, I guess I'll prerequisite this, and the next time you come on, I'll perhaps give a quick update and we'll do this as a two-parter. I'll take on board what we've discussed so far about LinkedIn, and we'll see where we get with them. The response at the beginning of the next show might be absolutely nothing. Hopefully, it'll be that there's been some kind of conversation there and I'll keep the audience updated. But with that, Mark, I've got one final question, something I ask everyone that comes on the show 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 Birch:

Find a mentor. I was actually a programmer when I started in the technology space. I was basically tossed into sales when the entire sales team in my office was let go. And I was told to carry a bag. And I made so many dumb rookie mistakes. And it was painful, I felt it was unnecessary. My manager was not very helpful. And I tried to find resources and I just felt lost. When you have very basic questions, you want them to get answered. That's why I started the Enterprise Sales Forum, because that was my personal story, and when I started talking to people, that was their story as well. Very similar: they're in sales organisations. They're not getting mentorship, they're not getting training, there's no guidance. They're taught a process, but they're not taught fundamentals of how to sell.

 

Mark Birch:

I think it's really important to find someone or a community. That's why the Enterprise Sales Forum is a very open community. If you have the questions, come. But get someone who can help guide you, tell you, “Here are some books to read. Here's some podcasts to check out. Here's some things to talk about.” Be available for questions when they come up. Find someone or some people, because there's no reason to be alone in sales.

 

Mark Birch:

It seems scary and all that. It can actually be a very easy profession, but you got to learn to fundamentals, and you can be super, super successful. That's what I think gets me riled up, is because there's a lot of people that are out there who are flailing at sales, but they're fully capable of being successful. Their efforts are just not being pointed in a direction that is positive and builds them up in their confidence and their skills. Find someone that could invest a little bit in you to help you navigate and to become that successful sales professional.

 

Parting Thoughts · [37:40]

 

Will Barron:

Well, you've teed it up perfectly there. Tell us where we can find out more about the Enterprise Sales Forum, where we can find out if there's a meetup near us, and dive into that a little bit. Because I think this is a really useful tool for the audience. And I feel personally, if I can give my thoughts on it, if I had a meetup up here in the north, when I was in sales, I think that would've given me the edge to carry on in my medical device sales role.

 

Will Barron:

My last few months, six months, I was hitting target, but I was miserable. I was getting pestered. I was getting pulled one way or another. There was friction between me and my manager, and I didn't have an outlet. You can only moan to your girlfriend for so much about these kind of things, especially when she's a doctor and she's got people dying in front of her all day.

 

Will Barron:

So when I say, “My boss was a bit rude to me,” it just brushes over, and friends as well. I don't have any friends in sales. My close friends, my oldest friends, none of them are really in the business space, so it's difficult to talk to and relate to them as well. Having a group of men, women who are both potential mentors, and then both potential people that you can just speak to and relate to as well, I think that's really valuable. Tell us where we can learn more about this.

 

Mark Birch:

Yeah, absolutely. The easiest way is to go to enterprisesalesforum.com. There's a box there. Type in your email address, click join us, and you'll be part of a newsletter that goes out every Thursday afternoon. And in there, there'll be generally an essay, some resources that you can use, a listing of our events worldwide. And just to let folks know, we have 24 different chapters around the globe. We had a group in London that we're now putting some more effort into. In September … We haven't set the date, but in September, we'll have the launch of the London Enterprise Sales Forum, and that will be a monthly gathering of sales talks. But definitely sign up for newsletter. That'll be the easiest way to find out when and how and all that good stuff about the Enterprise Sales Forum.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. Well, I'll link to that in the show notes to this episode over at salesmanpodcast.com as well. And with that, Mark, want to thank you for your time, the good work that you're doing clearly behind the scenes to grow this community and to put a positive spin in all of this. I appreciate that, mate, and the audience sales nation does as well. And with that, I want to thank you for joining us on T`he Salesman Podcast.

 

Mark Birch:

Love it. Thank you so much. It's been pleasure.

 

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