Make Selling EASY (SECRETS To Uncovering BUYER NEEDS)

Victor Antonio is the host of the Sales influence podcast (SIP) and is a sales training expert.

On this episode of the Salesman Podcast, Victor shares the process to uncover buyer needs and so make working in B2B sales crazy simple.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Victor Antonio
Sales Training Legend

Resources:

Transcript

Victor Antonio:

Four different pitches, four different reasons, four different motivations. The education phase should begin, in my opinion, with some aha moments, insight, and painful insights. Those ahas are like, “Sally, because you're doing this, this, have you thought about the fact that you're missing out on this?” The discovery phase is not so much an interrogation as it is let's make sure we're on the same page.

 

The Three High-Level Business Needs · [00:45] 

 

Will Barron:

Hello, sales agent. I'm Will Barron, host of the Salesman Podcast, the biggest B2B sales show on the planet where we help you not just hit your target, but thrive in sales. On today's show, we have Victor Antonio González. More about Victor, over to victorantonio.com. He's one of the worlds leading B2B experts. He's crazy knowledgeable. And in this episode, we're diving into how you uncover the real buyer's needs. There's loads to go at. With all that said, let's jump right in. Are there any high level business needs that everyone from the CEO to the end user is all working towards and that we can narrow down all the hundreds and thousands of individual businesses that we get told into?

 

“When it comes to customer needs, there's three things that CEOs, CXOs, stakeholders, board directors care about, which is how do you increase the revenue that we're currently having, how do you reduce our costs, and then how do you expand market share? That to me is the Holy Trinity.” – Victor Antonio · [01:28] 

 

Victor Antonio:

Yeah. And when we talked about doing this topic, I gave it some thought. I said you put yourself in the CEO, or let's just call it the CXO position, but let's just go with the CEO or the business owner, and there's three high level things. And so I think we should start high level and then just zoom into something, and try to make it more specific and then maybe even tie back into sales. The high level ones, I always call it the value trinity, there's three things. And I'm speaking specifically B2B here, there's three things that CEOs, CXOs, stakeholders, board directors care about, which is how do you increase the revenue that we're currently having, how do you reduce our costs, and then how do you expand market share? See, that to me is the Holy Trinity.

 

Victor Antonio:

Increase revenue, reduce costs, expand market share, that's always on their mind because, of course, if I can do that, I drive the profitability wedge, which has increased my profits. And so I think those are the three big high level ones. And then now we can ask the question, well, where do we want to focus in on, do we want to focus in on increasing revenue, reduce cost, or expand market share? And what's interesting about those three, Will, is that they tie into each other a little bit. For example, if I go obviously into new markets, let's say I take a Blue Ocean Strategy, find a new market, then obviously my volume is going to increase, maybe my costs will go up a little bit, but my revenues will increase, so just by going into new markets, I can increase my revenue. And because I'm actually increasing into new markets, maybe my volume will increase and maybe that can drive down my cost, so all three interplay. How's that for a starting point?

 

What is a Blue Ocean Strategy? · [02:35]

 

Will Barron:

That's perfect. So two things here that I don't want to gloss over for anyone who's perhaps newer at sales, what is a Blue Ocean Strategy?

 

Victor Antonio:

A Blue Ocean Strategy was book written by… And I forget the two authors name, but basically as opposed to a red ocean strategy where I think blood in the water, because people are slashing their prices, sorry for the gory visual, a Blue Ocean Strategy is finding new markets, new niche that most people haven't discovered. It's blue water because nobody else is there. And that's what you're looking for sometimes.

 

Is Increasing Market Share is an Essential Business Need · [03:06] 

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. And then now are the three, the trinity as you described it then, so understanding more revenue typically is better, especially if there's the same amount of head counts, same amount of overheads, revenue, clearly it's important we can help drive that, we can visualise that. Reducing costs, again, we can visualise that, but why is focusing on increasing market share as important as those two in a corporate business context?

 

Victor Antonio:

When you look at large corporations, and I'll use the telecom business where I came from, you have your core business, and within your core business, we… Well, let me take a step back. We all understand Michael Porter's five forces that drive market pricing and competition, you got buyer, supplier demand. Buyers are wanting what? Lower prices. Suppliers keep jacking the price up. So that's pressure on margins. You have direct competition, you have people who jump into the market for the first time, and you have people who offer alternative products. So all these five forces that Michael Porter talks about are really squeezing in on our profit margins, which means that we can stay within our core business, what we're good at, but eventually you can only squeeze so much lemon out of that lemon.

 

Victor Antonio:

So what happens is we start looking for new markets, and a word that's often used is the word adjacencies. So if I have a core market, maybe there's something that's adjacent to me, something that isn't a big stretch, but something that I can begin to get into. To give this some meat, pretend that we're in the home security business, we're a company like ADT, we're in the home security business, one of the things you're starting to see is that they're starting to look at adjacencies and ways of monetizing what they're good at. For example, they got home security systems, well, now they're realising that IoT devices, internet of things devices, are now becoming a big thing. So now they want to go beyond just the actual security thing and now look at your thermostat and anything that's controlled by the internet, then they're going to look at well, how can we take all that data that we're collecting and sell that? And so maybe monetizing the data that we're collecting off of these devices becomes an adjacency, something to expand our market share and generate more revenue.

 

Will Barron:

Makes total sense. And that makes the business more resilient, I guess, allows it to grow if there's a market cap that it's under?

 

Victor Antonio:

Correct.

 

Will Barron:

Perfect.

 

Victor Antonio:

You're looking at the financial indicators, obviously you want to make sure that… Markets have cycles, right? Let's state the obvious, they have cycles, we have to insulate ourselves from changes, and if we focus too much on one market and don't begin to expand it into other markets, for example, if you just focus on the US and forget Latin America or the UK, you might have problems.

 

The Difference Between User Needs and Company Needs · [06:05] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. Makes total sense. We'll come back to these in a second and how we can work out if we can legitimately have an impact on them, and we can work from, I guess, a C-suite down to end users of B2B products. And we'll come back to that in a second. But how does this translate then to you meet with the CEO, you have these high level conversations, you're not really even talking about cash at this point, you're talking about expanding market share, new product lines, and the man of the woman, the CEO, they're going crazy, they're salivating, they're dripping the foam at the mouth to grab all of your product.

 

Will Barron:

How does that translate then to you go from down the food chain a few steps, and you're speaking to Sally, who's going to be using your product and her biggest pain point is that she wants to get home on time to see her kids and pick them up from school and she doesn't really care about the business other than it gives her a wage, but your product perhaps makes her job more efficient, how do we tie all of this together? And do we not perhaps tie it together? Do we need separate pitches and separate conversations on all of these levels?

 

Victor Antonio:

That gets back to the Miller Heiman strategy, that depending on who you're talking to there's the management user, the actual user, in this case Sally, there's the technical buyer, then there's the economic buyer, so there's four different types of buyers. And so as you pointed out exactly, Will, there's four different types of pitches if we can make it broad, management wants to hear one pitch, the user who has to use it on a day to day basis said, “What's in it for me? Why should I learn something new? Why should I change my habits?” And then technical buyers are saying, “Is this interoperable? Is it expandable? Is it integrable?” And then again, the executive buyer, which is typically the economic buyer rather is saying, “Hey, is this the best price on the market? Can you give it to me at a better price?”

 

Victor Antonio:

Four different pitches, four different reasons, four different motivations. And so when you're talking to each of these different levels, I think that's the trick in today's business. There was a study that was done by… God, I can't remember the company, but it was B2B research insight, something like that, that said the average number of buyers involved in a purchase today, it's 6.8, let's call it seven people involved in a buying decision. That's a lot of people.

 

Breaking Down the Miller Heiman Approach to Uncover Buyer Motivations · [08:09] 

 

Will Barron:

And then we'll come full circle to this in a second, Victor, you used the word then motivations, and I think that's the best way to describe it, how do we uncover the motivations of each of these perhaps seven people that we've got to build relationships with, build rapport with? Be it top of mind of and all these other things that we cover on the show all the time, and I guess the crux of the matter is here how do we know what motivates them?

 

Victor Antonio:

I guess I glossed over too quickly, when we talk about the Miller Heiman approach, let's dig into it a little further. When they broke out the four types of buyers, what they then asked is what is their motivation, what is going to drive them to make those changes? So what questions do we need to ask them? Because we need to get into Sally's shoes, so to speak, and understand what are some of her heartaches. And now let's look at Sally, let's look at the executive on top, and then let's look at Sally, let's look at both motivations. We now know that at the top, the executive buyer, let's say the CEO, is under a lot of pressure from stakeholders, the board directors to grow those revenues, bring down costs, increased profitability, I want to see my stock shoot up and if we can get into new markets to expand and actually insulate ourselves from market changes or fluctuations, this is great.

 

Victor Antonio:

If we can show them how our product of service can help them do that, go into new markets, reduce cost, expand market share, I think we've got a win, win right there. That's that guy. That's that buying persona. If we're talking to Sally, well, Sally says, “Hey, Victor, you want to sell me this new software that you have, this new, I don't know, a CRM, this new CRM system,” the first thing Sally's thinking is how much work is this going to be for me, because there's always this thing, and I like to talk about this almost the iceberg effect that's always quoted, is that the 10 percent's at the top, 90 percent's underneath the water, but typically as sales people, Will, we address the 10% at the top, feature, benefit, advantage, gain, bells, whistles, ding, look at how pretty it is, that whole bit.

 

Victor Antonio:

But underneath that water, that surface level is real motivations of why they don't want to do it, and the example, and this is a true story, and I'm almost embarrassed to admit this story, but I'm going to tell you the story, Will. It's embarrassing. So right next to my office, I have obviously… You guys call it a water closet, so I got a little hand sink, well, the thing starts leaking, try to make the story short, and so I look underneath the sink and I see it that it's leaking, now, I'm not mechanically inclined, but nonetheless, what do I do? Well, what do you think I do, Will? I see the leak, what do I do?

 

Will Barron:

Me personally, I'd Google it. I'd put load a duct tape on it and then Google it. Maybe that's the millennial answer.

 

Victor Antonio:

I was a little lazy, so I got a little plastic bowl out of the out of the cabinet and just slid it right underneath the leak, so it starts dripping. Well, anyway, about a week or two later, making this part up, it starts dripping more, so what do I do?

 

Will Barron:

Change the bowl.

 

Victor Antonio:

Yeah. Get a bigger bowl, right?

 

Will Barron:

Yeah.

 

Victor Antonio:

So I get the bigger bowl, it starts filling up faster, after a while I just realise I got to fix this thing. I got to deal with the beast. I don't want to call in the plumber, it's not worth it, let me just do it myself. Finally, I go over to the hardware store, get the necessary pieces, come back, psych myself up. You've ever been in that situation where you know you just got to psych yourself to get something done? So I get it done and it takes me 10 minutes, if not less to fix it. And I'm sitting there going, “For two or three weeks, I dealt with this thing, I should have just fixed it, because it only took 10 minutes.” The question is why didn't I do that initially? Why didn't I just fix it? Because in my mind there was a perceived effort of how much trouble it was going to be.

 

Victor Antonio:

There was this perceived effort of all these things that used to wrong in the past when I dealt with plumbing. Now, let's bring it back to Sally. Sally is thinking you want to switch me over to this system, let's call that the switch over, what is Sally thinking? I got to import the data, I got to re-enter something new, I got to retrain my sales people, that means I have to change maybe some of the documentation I use for training, and she's thinking all these things, this is the 90% below the surface, that's what she's thinking. And if your presentation, your pitch, doesn't speak to that, you're not moving her, you're not getting her to shift over at least mentally. Sorry. For the long story.

 

Pain Versus Pleasure: The Primary Motivators in Sales · [12:25] 

 

Will Barron:

Nope. It's perfect. It makes total sense. And I want to come back to perhaps any practical ways that we can reduce some of this, having you used the word, perceived effort? I want to come back to that in a second, because that might be content, that might be documentation from previous deals and managing the account that you've done after the fact, so we'll come back to that in a second, but which is more important here, and maybe it's one in the same, having a motivation to increase revenues, do the right thing, do the thing that's exciting or is it more motivating for most people to reduce a pain point that they currently have?

 

“The pain of the gain has to be greater than the pain of change. In other words, if there's enough pain here, I'm going to make the switch over. Pain motivates more.” – Victor Antonio · [13:27] 

 

Victor Antonio:

Well, first of all, we're always risk averse and pain averse. We don't want to deal with the pain. Again, two different motivations. If I'm talking to the CEO, I know what his pain is, he needs to grow his revenue. I'm talking to Sally, she wants to be more productive, more efficient, and so her motivation is to try to get things done quicker, but as they say, and I think I get this right, if the pain of the gain, and that's what it has to be, the pain of the gain has to be greater than the pain of change. In other words, if there's enough pain here, I'm going to make the switch over. It's that old story about if there's the hound dog sitting on attack, if the attack is big enough, the dog will get up and do something. If the attack's not big enough, it'll just sit there and whine about it.

 

Victor Antonio:

And so I don't know if I'm answering your question, Will, but I think our thing is to generate enough pain with Sally and say, “Here's where you're missing out, here's where you're losing time, here's what it's really costing you.” And then say, “Here are the benefits.” I think if we sell too much on the benefit side, we may move them off to dime a little bit, but I still say pain motivates more.

 

Sell More By Solving a Pain and Creating a Gain · [14:05] 

 

Will Barron:

Let's stick with Sally. She's being sold a CRM system, we're a B2B salesperson, we're going in there, there seems to be two elements of this. There is the increasing the perceived pain, making it perhaps less perceived, giving her data, numbers on how things are screwed up at the moment and making it real for her. Then there's another element of this, and this is what I see in higher level sales people, and this is what I try and do when I'm selling ad space, things on the show, there's an element of giving a tonne of value before you even get anyone near the transaction of, if nothing else, just explaining how you can reduce that pain personally as an individual. So not necessarily the company's product, the service, anything like that, how you can come in, sit down with Sally and work through things.

 

Will Barron:

In this example of Sally and CRM, what would be a couple of things that an individual salesperson listening to this who wants to really differentiate themselves as an individual versus the competition, what could they do to help Sally to move from this really shitty, archaic CRM system into this fancy, beautiful thing even though she knows there's going to be six months of transferring and migrating data from one to the other?

 

Victor Antonio:

So let's walk through it slowly. We know that somewhere in the conversation, we're going to have a lot of questions for Sally. The discovery phase, the five whys that Toyota likes to use. Why, why, why, why, why are you doing it this way, so forth? And so now that I understand Sally, okay, she goes, “Thank you for empathising with me, Victor. I really appreciate that.” I've connected with you. Now, we move into the educational phase, I think. So I empathise with you. I understand what you're going through. I understand some of the challenges you have. I understand what you need to do on a daily basis, Sally, to get your job done. Got it. I said, “Wow I move into the education phase.” The education phase should begin, in my opinion, with some aha moments, insight, and painful insights, those insights, those ahas are like, “Sally, because you're doing this, this, have you thought about the fact that you're missing out on this and that you can't do this, which is why you don't have time to do that?”

 

“Highlight what they're not seeing. Sometimes people can't see the pain and our job is to point out the pain. And once they see the pain, they can't unsee it.” – Victor Antonio · [16:31] 

 

Victor Antonio:

She goes, “Never thought about it that way, Victor.” Did you also know, that whole did you know. You do three did you knows and then they go, “Okay.” At this point, Sally starts realising that maybe this isn't the best way of doing it. When I talk about the hero story, this is what I use, I said, “Highlight what they're not seeing.” And the analogy I use in my workshops and keynotes is when back in the day when we had the cassette tape and they moved us over to a CD, one of the ways they got us to move over is to highlight the hiss that you heard in the background when you heard the actual audio tape. Now what's interesting is that most people never really paid attention to the hiss in the background until somebody pointed it out. This is selling.

 

Victor Antonio:

Sometimes people can't hear the hiss, our job is to point out the hiss. And once they hear the hiss, you can't unhear it. And so if I can point out enough pain points, we said, “Here's where you're losing time, here's where you're losing money, and here's what's causing you this much effort, now you show your plan.” Now here's what's interesting, Will, what you said earlier, is that we've increased our pain to one listen, maybe motivate, but now we got to reduce the pain of change. This is the subtlety. This is the dance. Increase your pain to motivate you to get off your ass, if I can be so blunt, but then motivate you, reduce the level of pain that you may perceive in making that change. Now, Sally, after I did the did you know, Sally's ready to listen to my solution, “Okay, Victor, well, what do you have?”

 

Victor Antonio:

Well, here's what we do. Now, let me show you how it's going to solve these problems we've talked about. And what they want you to give them is your one to five step plan, here's what we're going to do. Da, da, da, da, da, and after this da, da, da, and after this da, and it's really a simple five step plan. Now, if I sit there and go, “Well, we have to do this. We have to do this. We have to do this. Then we'll do that.” What she wants to hear is that part of the brain that wants to hear simplicity, make it easy. You don't want to trigger the amygdala, the reptilian brain gets overloaded because it thinks it's too complex, it pushes back, it says, “Let me think about it.” So our job is once we introduce our solution is how do we make it easy for them to implement?

 

Helping the Buyer Reach the ‘Aha’ Moment Faster · [18:30] 

 

Will Barron:

That makes total sense. I want to go back over one element of this because it was amazing, and I might be pushing you here to remember what you said, but you used a series of questions that allowed you to show someone a pain point and allowed them to come to the realisation themselves rather than you telling them, “Sally, you suck at this. What you doing you silly, crazy lady?” Which is what we want to scream because we see that problem every single day that we're dealing with these end users of a specific product like this, especially if it's a faster buying cycle of me, medical devices, I would see the same selling endoscopes, a metal tube with glass rod lenses in it, I would see the same problem of they get dropped, they get knocked, people don't know how much they cost so they don't look after them as well as what they should do.

 

Will Barron:

I saw that every time and it made me loads of commissions because every time someone dropped one, it would come back in for repair. Clearly to add value to the customer, I tried to educate them on don't drop them, don't bend them, don't do stupid things with them. You wouldn't do that with your £1,000 DLSR camera, so why would you do it with a £5,000 pound medical instrument? And just go back over that again, because you used a series of questions to essentially bring together these aha moments without telling, you're almost pulling out of them, if that makes sense.

 

“The discovery phase is not so much an interrogation as it is, let's make sure we're on the same page. There's a difference between just beating somebody with questions and really having a conversation to feel that emotional pain.” – Victor Antonio · [20:13] 

 

Victor Antonio:

Yeah. That part of the presentation, I think the beginning of, I'll call it, the pitch, after you've gone through the discovery phase, and I pause there because typically if you know your business well enough, you don't even have to ask a lot of questions because you know what Sally is going through. But if you need to go through the empathy phase, ask those questions. The discovery phase is not so much an interrogation as it is let's make sure we're on the same page. There's a difference between just beating somebody with questions and then just really having a conversation to feel that emotional pain, that emotional intelligence piece has to be there, but once you shift into that, once we're high fiving, we're hugging each other mentally type of thing, then you move into the education phase. And the education phase really begins with, “Sally I've looked at your business, and this really…”

 

Victor Antonio:

By the way, let me just stop here and say one of the guys I truly admire is Mack Hanan. Mack Hanan, who most people don't really know who he is, wrote the book Consultative Selling. And one of the things that I learned from Mack Hanan way back when was that people understand differences, gaps between where they're at and where they should be. And he always called them highlighting the norms. And the norms, it was something like this, and I'll just digress for a bit and I'll come back to your question, that, Sally, tell me how efficient you are right now. And let's say, she says, “I'm X percent efficient.” Sally, I don't know if you knew this, but the industry average is this, which means you're already a little below that. When we work with companies, we put them at this level, above the industry on average.

 

“Value centric selling is all about finding ways to quantify loss of time, loss of productivity or loss of money. That's tangible; that's something that people can say, “Okay, that's concrete.”” Victor Antonio · [22:10] 

 

Victor Antonio:

And when you look at that gap, this is where you're losing time, this is where you're losing money, and this is what's causing you that extra effort that you need. I always do time, money and effort, my three things. And they go, “Oh, I didn't realise that.” Well, if we are able to do this, do this, now also because you're doing this, and I guess this comes from my technical background when I was selling telecommunications equipment, I said, “Because you're putting this, let's say, on this routing routine using this algorithm, you're basically chewing up blah, blah cycles every minute. Because of the blah, blah cycles, if I were to multiply that out, da, da, da.” And I would quantify that for them. One of my programmes is called value centric selling. Value centric selling is all about finding ways to quantify loss of time, loss of productivity or loss of money.

 

Victor Antonio:

If you can do that, that's tangible, that's something that people can say, “Okay, that's concrete.” It's not up here. It's not ethereal. It's something tangible. And so if I was talking to Sally, I'm trying to say how does she need to save more time? And I know what's keeping her up at night, she doesn't have enough time, her head count is low, they won't give her more bodies, they won't let her buy the tools she needs, so I'm putting myself in her position. You know this already, Will. I'm talking out loud here, but unless you can quantify this stuff, it doesn't mean anything.

 

How to Help Your Buyer See the Value of Using Your Product · [22:53] 

 

Will Barron:

That makes total sense. How do you then get them to understand what has been quantified without you saying, “Sally, you suck, do this and you'll get why.”? If that makes sense. How do you make it less blunt? How do you turn it into a conversation rather than a statement? Because I'm overly blunt with some of these things, especially when I'm dealing with… Clearly I sell advertising for the podcast. A lot of the times people will be spending money on banner advertising and they're wasting a whole lot of money on a whole lot of banners that they've got ingrained into their mind is giving them exposure, it's giving them top of mind. People have ad blindness. It's well studied. No one clicks on anything that is obviously an advert, no one pays attention to it.

 

Will Barron:

It's not going into your subconscious and bubbling behind the scenes like perhaps billboards, TV ads used to because we're just too inundated of it. So I start to have this conversation, I find myself saying in my head, “You're an idiot. Stop doing this spend. You don't have to sponsor my podcast, but when someone is listening to something for 25, 45 minutes, they're engaged, they're getting value from it, and then you are wrapped up in that brand. You're in the middle of it. They're turned on. They're tuned in. There's no distractions. They're probably driving in the car or running in the gym. All they're doing is focusing on man and your voice. It makes total sense. And the numbers that we've got on the back end of it, there's loads of data that shows that.” I find it really hard, Victor, to not say you're wasting your cash. How do I put this into a conversation and go, “Yada, yada, yada, yada,” and they have the aha moment themselves?

 

Victor Antonio:

I think I front load all my stuff. Do you know what I mean? I front load everything. If I can't do the pitch in 15 minutes, there's something wrong with the pitch. Do you know what I mean? And I think that's a good challenge for everybody to accept. And so let's be specific here, so let's say that, because I do sales training, I sell a lot of sales training, and I always get the pushback, wow, Victor, we got our own in house sales training programme. That's one. Two, we don't have one, but we don't need one. We just wing it. We're doing well. So forth and so on. And so if I'm starting out at the beginning, I'll say something like this.

 

Victor Antonio:

Now I'm making this up, but just an illustrative example how I would do it sometimes is I'll ask the customer, I say, “Well, Mr. Customer, let me ask you a question, what is your close rate?” Just simply what is your close rate? I say, “Out of curiosity.” Now, I can do either ask the question first or make the statement first. Let me make the statement first. I said, “Mr. Customer, this is the aha moment, did you know in the industry on average, cross sectional study, and that can be more specific to their industry, the close rate within your industry is 40%? Now, 40%, and typically because you're winning 40%, you're losing 60% of your deals. Real quick question, what is your close rate?” And I just stop and now I'm going somewhere with this, and I'll say, “Well, it's [inaudible 00:25:46].” I rarely get that it's higher. I typically get that it's lower, or, well, we haven't calculated.”

 

Victor Antonio:

I say, “Is there a reason we're not calculating the close rates?” I say, “Because what I find is when we don't calculate close rates, it's because we don't have a sales process. Let me just pause right here. Do you guys have a process? I just want to make sure I get that.” And they got to go, “Yeah, we kind of do.” I always say, “Well, kind of its like did you kind of make money?” I joke and have fun. But I get back to the close rate, I say, “Well, the average is 40%, so let's assume that you guys are at 30%, so there's a gap already, what does that mean on a monthly basis? What's your average order size.” And so what am I doing? And I'm going to multiply this all out for them.

 

Victor Antonio:

And then I can ask frequency of orders, how many times do they order per month or quarter, depending on the business, then you got the close rate. And then, again, how many leads do they have to generate? I say, “Let me run some numbers for you right now. Based on your numbers, here's what you're telling me, that you have a close rate that's 20% below the industry average. If the number of deals you're losing average order size is this and the frequency of order is this, this is the number I'm calculating. So that means you're losing about 50,000 per week,” and just wait.

 

Victor Antonio:

Because I'm going to sell them something that's not that expensive, and I'm like, “Now you can't justify why you can't afford me.” So that's how I do it. Do you know what I mean? So that's how I ask the engaging questions to give them the aha moment. One, we didn't know our close rate. Two, we don't even know what the average order size is. Three, we don't even know what our sales cycle is, so forth and so on. And the more I can make them go, “I don't know. I don't know,” the more I realise I'm in a better position to close.

 

The Benefits of Documenting Your Sales Processes · [27:30] 

 

Will Barron:

That makes total sense. For everyone who's listening to this now, Victor, whose mind is being either melted or exploding realising that perhaps they do some of this, but they've never documented it, there's no structure to it. Sometimes they go into a sales meeting, it goes amazingly. Sometimes they have a bad cup of coffee, they feel a bit off in the morning and it goes terribly. Is this a process that we should be documenting that I'm going to go through these five or six steps with these specific individuals, these specific buyer personas, and it should be somewhat documented and we go in to have a conversation and truly try and uncover their needs, or is this something that comes with time that some people have and some people don't? Is it something that we need to learn, practise, rehearse, go back and forth and simulate with our sales manager or our partner, whoever will listen to us, or is it something that we can just wing?

 

Victor Antonio:

All the above? Good summary, all the above. The good thing is to figure out who do I typically sell to. Again, is it the management, the user, the technical buyer, the economic buyer. And then as you said, I think you put it well that you have those self conversations, that's what I do, and so I'm sitting there going, “Okay, if I'm talking to the user, what are they going to push back on?” Just list out the objections and you're not going to come up at five to seven at most, but typically three to five is the range, three to five is the typical range. Now, imagine that I do this, I got four different buying personas, I have at least five objections, I know the top five they're going to give me, then almost like reverse engineering, no pun intended here, I reverse engineer that conversation. Now, the programme I have is called blocking objections, and blocking objections is based on that, I'd raise the objection before they do.

 

Victor Antonio:

For example, if one of the things is switching over, I'm using this, I don't want to switch over Victor, that whole thing. And I can get that a lot. So I raise the objection. I said, “Mr. Customer, a lot of people tell me that they're currently using this product and they're happy with that product.” And I said, “Mr. Customer, let me ask you a question. In business, isn't it always good to have options?” Of course, it is, Victor. Well, view this as only an option, because what I want to do is talk about what we have to offer and in your mind I know you're thinking for us to switch over, Victor, it's going to be too much work. But if I can walk you through a process to show you how I worked with other companies to make this an easy switch over, would you at least be open to listening?

 

Victor Antonio:

And thru always say, “Yeah, go ahead, Victor. Talk to me.” And so that's the process here. Four types of buyer, each buyer has three to five objections, take those objections, and now how do I raise those objections, block them as I have these conversations with these people? That would be my simple formula

 

The Art of Knowing When to Shut Up · [30:15] 

 

Will Barron:

Makes total sense. Okay. So we've gone through these objections, we hopefully have had a couple of aha moments, and the person's excited, perhaps this is two or three meetings in as well, depending on the size of the deal, the number of people that we're bringing together to make this decision happen, and this is going to seem like a simple and perhaps silly question to ask, but I think it could be quite profound, how do we know when we're done? How do we know when we should shut up and put a purchase order in front of them? How do we know when the objections have gone from, “I've just not got time to speak to you,” to, “Okay, I don't want to move, okay. I understand the benefits, to, okay, I'm excited about this.”?

 

Will Barron:

How far do we need to go and how deep do we need to go with this? Because I know I find myself sometimes, and especially dealing with surgeons and medical devices, I get them so excited, so excited, so excited, and then it goes on too long and they've cooled down by the time that I'm actually trying to close the deal with them. How do we know when to shut the hell up and just, in this weird 80s film that I'm visualising and building in everyone's minds here, slide that invoice or purchase order across the table?

 

“Knowing when to stop talking is a discipline you develop over time, because sometimes we talk beyond the sale because we're afraid to ask for the order.” – Victor Antonio · [31:53] 

 

Victor Antonio:

Have you seen enough to make a decision, Mr. Customer? Here you go. And I think it's a funny because it is a simple question, but it's a tough one to answer. I got all kinds of can answers, but the reality is that it takes a certain awareness and I think it's something you develop over time, and that awareness is almost like the third eye, so to speak, that has to look down on the conversation and say, “Okay, stop.” And I think it's a discipline you develop over time, because sometimes I think we talk beyond the sale because we're afraid to ask for the order, or we talk beyond the sale because we're too enamoured with our own product or service. As you point out, you just want to keep talking about it.

 

Victor Antonio:

You can't train this, this is pure experience to see the signs and basically tell your brain stop, I think he's ready to buy or she's ready to buy, ask for the order. And I think one of the things I'd like to recommend to all sales people is that just come up with one or two ways, just one or two, because there's a 101 ways to close the deal, but I think you should come up with one or two ways that you feel comfortable, like a glide path, to glide into that close. And I think if you practise your presentation, if you know that it's a 15 minute presentation, you want to get an indication, in your head if you say, “At 15 minutes, I want to know if their heads are bobbing up and down or am I just getting the stoic look. If I'm getting the stoic look, I'm screwed. I need to do something else, but if I'm giving the that up and down, maybe that's the first time I move in for the close.”

 

Victor Antonio:

So I think to answer your question, maybe it should be a conscious effort that says after the first 15 minutes within my presentation, here's what I'm looking for, and if I got that, that's a buying signal. Let's go in. Let's glide into that close. That's what I would suggest.

 

Practical Phrases You Can Use to Ask For the Deal · [33:28] 

 

Will Barron:

Makes total sense. We'll wrap up with this, Victor, because people do like these closing, I don't even know techniques, sentences might be a better way to describe it. I think it's a habit more than anything else, I always say, “Does it make sense to move forward with this? Does it make sense to do this?” No more complex than that. And then it allows them an easy out of no, Bob isn't ready yet, no, Gilia needs to do XYZ before we can do it, and it's a soft close. Is there any practical sentences or any practical phrases that you would use at the end of a meeting, a call to wrap things up like that?

 

Victor Antonio:

That's one of my favourite ones. One is that does this make sense? But the thing is it's not one line, it's that you're getting the commitments throughout. We're always getting the commitment. Does that make sense? Is this what you were talking about? Is this what you were looking for, Mr. Customer? So forth and so on. And then is there anything else we need to talk about? And they're going to say no. I said, “Is there any reason we shouldn't get started?” And that's my line, is there any reason we shouldn't get started? Now they have to give me a reason.

 

Victor Antonio:

By the way, if they say no, we missed something in the presentation, and so I think that's my glide path usually, is there any reason we shouldn't get started? But maybe for those listening to the podcast that maybe that part of the training should be that every 15 minutes, assuming this is a B2B sale, complex sale, that maybe after 15 minutes we take a pulse to see if we can advance the sale? If we can't close it, let's at least advance it and see if we're moving in the right direction, so maybe just taking a pulse check every 15 minutes would be good.

 

Parting Thoughts · [35:01] 

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. We'll wrap up with that, Victor. And with that, mate, I want you to tell us two things. One, you mentioned a bunch of sales training that you've put together here, if anyone's listening to the show, wants to learn more, tell us about that. And then tell us about clearly you've got one of the biggest YouTube channels and you're crushing it on there, there's essentially unlimited content on there right now, so if anyone who wants to learn more about this, tell us about the sales training and then the YouTube channel as well.

 

Victor Antonio:

The sales training is I have something called the Sales Mastery Academy. If you to victorantonio.com, you'll find all the content there. I think we have 27 courses now. The content you can find free on YouTube, if you don't want the paid content, and there's plenty of free stuff is on just victorantonio.com. My channel is Sales Influence. And so I have plenty of information there for those who like to consume sales stuff. Like I said, like you, Will, I love the world of selling and there's so many permutations to selling that this conversation and many conversations can be had all the time. It's an exciting field to be in.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. I agree. We touched on your book last time, tell us a little bit about that as well, because as you say, it's an exciting field to be in, AI clearly is going to be changing the world. And I've talked about it in the show a million times now, that's why I'm in this sales space for the next five years, because I want to document how it changes and how we need to adapt to it as well, so tell us a little bit about the book.

 

Victor Antonio:

I released a book in February, Sales Ex Machina, how AI's changing the world of selling, and since we last talked just the more I dig into this thing and the more I see what companies are doing to improve the sales process to augment the salesperson, it's mind blowing, so I think our jobs are truly safe over the next five years. Easy.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. Well, I'll link to all of that in the show notes to this episode over at salesman.org. With that, Victor, thanks again for time, mate. We covered a lot of ground in this one. I really appreciate your insights. I want to thank you for joining us on the Salesman Podcast.

 

Victor Antonio:

Well, thank you very much. Take care, my friend.

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