What You Think Works In B2B Sales IS WRONG!

Mike Schultz is the president of RAIN Group, a world-renowned as a consultant and sales expert. He is co-author of several books including the Wall Street Journal bestseller Rainmaking Conversations: How to Influence, Persuade, and Sell in Any Situation.

On this episode of The Salesman Podcast, Mike explains why what you think you know about B2B sales is wrong and the best practices to win bigger, complex deals.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Mike Schultz
World-renowed Sales Consultant

Resources:

Transcript

Mike Schultz:

They like content that is 100% customised to them. Well, I can tell you how many outreaches it takes to gain a positive response, whether that is, “Yes, I accept your meeting, or I start interacting with you in the way that you want me to.” I believe that B2B Sales boils down to this: if you think about your buyer and they're just about to buy something and they're going to tell their colleagues, if they can literally answer just a few questions, then you'll have nailed B2B Sales.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, Sales Nation. I'm Will Barron, host of The Salesman Podcast. The world's biggest B2B sales show, where we help you not just hit your target, but really thrive in sales. On today's show, we have Mike Schultz. He is the co-president over at RAIN group. He is a genuine world leading sales expert. With that said, let's jump right in.

 

The Right Time During the Buying Process to Contact Buyers · [00:50] 

 

Will Barron:

One of your colleagues sent over some genuinely fascinating research. Regular listeners to the show will know that I'm a huge data nerd. My background is in chemistry, computational chemistry. I looked at some of these numbers and knew instantly there was a load of actional advice to go on the back of them. The Centre for Sales Research, the RAIN group, they put this research together and the first bit that caught my eye was the buying process. We can dive deeper into this, but we all know it's around 60%. The number changes, depending on the research, that the buyers, to about 60% through the buying journey before us sales people speak to them. So I'm clearly teeing you up for a specific answer here, but do buyers want to be contacted at the 60% mark or do they want interaction before they get to that point?

 

Mike Schultz:

Yeah. Well, it's actually kind of funny. I'll answer the question in a second, but those pieces of data, whether it's from Serious Decisions or whether it's from Gartner, people tend to quote them all the time. I think that they're the most misleading, most useless pieces of data that I have seen. And I didn't have that opinion before I did this research. I had an inkling whether it was helpful or not, but it turns out that it is patently not helpful. So we asked 489 sellers who prospect what works for them and what doesn't. We created a top performance model for those that get better results. We also asked 488 buyers questions about what's it like being sold to all day? What's it like being prospected to all day? And they told us what they liked, what they didn't like, when they gave meetings to whom and why, and as well to your question about the buying process when they like to talk to them.

 

“71% of buyers want to talk to sellers at the very earliest part of their buying process.” – Mike Schultz” · [02:50] 

 

Mike Schultz:

So we asked them if they wanted to talk to them early in the buying process, when they're defining their vision, middle part, where they're executing the purchase, or really not at all. And it turns out that 71% of buyers want to talk to sellers at the very earliest part of their buying process. And that's when they're just looking for new ideas of things that can do to improve their lot. As they move forward, it slowly goes down. So it's not just that 71% wanted to talk to you early. This was the place they wanted to talk to you most. The problem is that only 42% of the buyers found their meetings with sellers to be valuable. So they want to talk to you. They just get on the phone holding their nose a little bit, wondering if you're just going to be another salesperson like most of them that talk to them, they don't get anything from, or are you going to be like the less than half of sellers that actually give them something worthwhile to chew on.

 

The Type of Content Buyers Want to Consume During the Sales Process · [03:40]

 

Will Barron:

So we'll come back to it. And this is brilliant. We'll come back to the data in a second. What is a valuable meeting? What do they want? And then we can, I guess, reverse engineer that and see how we can get in front of the right people at the beginning of the sales process and give them that value.

 

Mike Schultz:

So we ask them what types of content that they like for actually setting a meeting. And then we talk to them about what makes the meeting worthwhile to them. So they like content that is 100% customised to them. When the seller reaches out, if they say dear name, or even if they just say dear, they say, dear name, the competitive environment today is really challenging. In, insert industry here, you must be facing the following five challenges. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. It obviously reads like it was a mail merge. But if I said, “Will, I was on your LinkedIn page. And I see that you're looking for anything focused on open innovation, and you've been writing articles about it. I hopped onto your company's website and see that you're trying to do this. We've helped companies to do that. And we've helped them to do that with open innovation. Click here for open innovation research.”

 

“The second most desired piece of content is information about your capabilities.” – Mike Schultz · [05:31] 

 

Mike Schultz:

You said you'd be willing to talk to anyone about anything with open innovation. Well, we're the guys, so let's talk like. Oh, wow. Geez. Okay. That was written to me for me. And obviously you looked me up. So they're looking for that. They're looking for best practises and research. So they want to know in terms of taking the meeting, what is it that you can share with me that I'm going to find to be new, interesting, and novel. Interestingly, and this is a place where I think that it's a bit of a contrarian kind of thing, everyone, all the prospecting pundits say “Don't send capabilities information. They can read about your capabilities online. That was for salespeople from 20 years ago”. Well, you know what? The second most desired piece of content is information about your capabilities. And when we talked to buyers, they said, “Oh yeah, I know I can hop onto your website”.

 

“If buyers can walk away from the meeting and say that was worth my time, it’s usually about learning something that can help them make a better decision. And if the seller can do that, then the seller will have added value.” – Mike Schultz · [06:19] 

 

Mike Schultz:

You think I'm sitting there? I think I'll pour through six competitor's website and find out exactly. Maybe the midsize, the mid level buyers are, but the higher up you go, the more they expect the salesperson to boil it down for them in ways that are worthwhile to them. So that's why they, what they find valuable to accept meetings. What they find valuable during meetings is whether or not the seller educated them with a new idea or perspective. If they can walk away from the meeting and say that was worth my time, it was usually about learning something that can help them make a better decision. Now that can be information on how to solve a problem in a new and novel way, information on a type of piece of technology or methodology that they didn't know before existed. It can be about anything that doesn't just… if they said, well, this is a good meeting. It confirmed what I already knew. Then they really didn't get value. They only get value when they get off the phone and say, the information that I got on that call may affect how I make decisions. And if the seller can do that, then the seller will have added value.

 

Will Barron:

All right. I don't want to gloss over any of this. I want to go through it perhaps step by step, because there's a lot of practical applications to this. The initial elements of this of, for some reason the word stalking came into my mind. There might be a better way to describe. Researching is probably a better way to describe it. We researching out potential customers, we follow them on LinkedIn, we're seeing what they're posting, we're seeing if they are sharing openly any problems that we can potentially solve. That seems no brainer. We can all do that. Perhaps it takes more time than sending out spamming emails, but hopefully the results are effortless coming in a lot easier after that initial kind of research has been done. I don't think we need to dive into that too deep. But something that did peak my curiosity was providing them research, showing them, essentially it's getting your foot in the door. Showing them that we've got at least the potential to have an interesting conversation.

 

The Type of Research That Sparks Your Buyer’s Curiosity · [07:40] 

 

Will Barron:

What does this research look like? Is this research that the organisation is doing that you copy and paste the relevant bits into an email and say, “I'd love to jump on the phone with you and discuss this”, is this research that the salesperson is collecting at an account based level. So for me medical devices, it could perhaps be me going into one hospital, seeing that they're doing something right, and then saying to not necessarily the competitor, but someone nearby, “Hey, they're doing this, I've observed it. Perhaps you could do it as well”. What kind of, when you say research, what does that mean for a B2B sales per person listening to this?

 

Mike Schultz:

It means those things.

 

Will Barron:

Good. I'm glad I'm not totally crazy then. Is there anything else you'd add to that list?

 

Mike Schultz:

Yeah, sure. So on the midsize and larger organisations and even some of the smaller ones, the marketing group, the strategy groups, the product groups, they are doing research and they have put together a variety of things for sellers to put in their hands, to bring out to their buyers that are going to be valuable and going to showcase all of the great ways and reasons why our company isn't just another vendor in the area, but we're really blazing a path in helping you think and getting better results. My, and this isn't a piece of research, this is my experience. My experience is 85% of sales people forget, forget that they have this, didn't pay attention to their email. Don't reach out proactively to marketing strategy product or whoever and say, “Hey, I'm going to go great guns a blazing out to the market to talk to hundreds of buyers about these things that we can do. Do you have any resources for me?” Usually they're going to get flooded with mostly really good stuff. No, they don't do it. Don't think about it. It's not necessarily that they're lazy. A lot of these guys are working all day, but they don't think about it.

 

Mike Schultz:

If you are at a company that doesn't have this or you find that something else is going to be helpful, yes, exactly what you said. Reaching out because I talked to five people at your company about their challenges. And it seems to me that the folks in this group and the folks in that group are really saying different things. I know that all rolls up to you. So I think that what we've done with your company, because you're an account of ours, for example, maybe it's not just bespoke research and I'm calling company, you're an account of ours. And we talked to a couple of different divisions and they're really not sure about this, that, or the other thing. We've also done this kind of work at five other companies. If you'd like, I can bring together what we've learned from your company and from the other companies to have a discussion about how to actually tackle, insert problem here.

 

Mike Schultz:

So you can do it as bespoke salesperson research. You can also say that, let's say it's a supply chain. Oh, there are five trends in supply chains that are happening right now. But it turns out that two of them are having outsized results. If you'd like, I can walk you through it. How do you find that? Google it, go to the Harvard Business Review, go to the research subscriptions that your company has, find the information, seek out some data. And they say, “well, what research did you do”? We say, “Well, I've done analysis of eight different sources to find out a consistent way that the supply chains are actually gaining 10 days or whatever it is in the details that the supply chains are actually doing better. And I can share with you what found. Sales person can do that, you could do in a few hours and put together a PowerPoint presentation. You don't have to rely on your company.

 

The Difference Between You and a Spammy Salesperson When You Present the Buyer With Valuable Research · [11:03] 

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. So we're going to come to capabilities next, dive into that a little bit deeper. What that means, whether it's features, benefits in an email, how you perfectly would structure it, Mike. But just before that, I just want to, again, double down on this, the perception that we're building by, if our competitors are spamming high X, I've seen that you liked Y, here's our product. When our competitors are spamming products like that, or emails like that, rather, what is the perception of us who sends this email with some bespoke research, with some salesperson led research? We have just amazing market material that's come from your product specialist in your organisation. How does the buyer look at you differently? Just to paint a bit more of a picture for the mind of the audience of this is what we're aiming for, right? This is the specialist that we're aiming to be.

 

Mike Schultz:

Well, if I get a spam email from a salesperson, I expect it from marketing. I signed up for it. And if I didn't sign up for it, I can hit unsubscribe. But if I'm on that list, I expect generally focused on their particular product or service or my industry, whatever it is they solve, I expect emails on that. If I get one from a sales person that looks like was a mail merge, I think lazy. If this is what they're like when they're reaching out to me, is this what they're going to be like if I'm actually working with them to try to get something done? So they really don't like it. It's not just brand damaging, it's personal brand damaging. I have a negative impression of you out of the block and the type and amount of emotions that came out in terms of just how much, even if someone gets an email that says, this is an area I was thinking about doing something, but I literally already don't want to reach back to you because I don't like how you reached out to me.

 

Mike Schultz:

Second thing is that if they get a positive email, even if they don't reach back to you, we talk to buyers, “Oh yeah, this person's been reaching out to me”. If I had something in the area, I would definitely want to talk to them. It might not be the right time, but it's registering. Except for the, even the most senior buyers, they flip through their own email on their their phone. Sometimes they're intercepted by a gatekeeper, but they're seeing you. They're only seeing you if you're reaching out, but if you're reaching out well, you have a chance. If you're not reaching out well, you're actually hurting yourself in the process.

 

How Many Times Should You ‘Touch’ a Prospect Before They Finally Notice You · [13:28] 

 

Will Barron:

So I think this is enough data point, how many reach outs, how many contact points? And then we can discuss perhaps whether it's email, whether it's social selling, whatever that means in the modern world, how many contact points do we need to have before we are recognised and registered, and whether we win the business or not, we're in perhaps good terms with a potential customer?

 

Mike Schultz:

Well, I can tell you how many outreaches it takes to gain a positive response. Whether that is, yes, I accept your meeting or I start interacting with you in the way that you want me to. For the top performers, and this is studying the prospecting side, from the top performers it took an average of five outreaches to create that conversion into a discussion, a demo, whatever it is that you asked them to do. The rest was eight touches. Now that is as a percent, that is a huge amount more touches it takes for the rest to get through than it does the top performers. And the top performers are doing different things. Now, I would like to say that, and it's worthwhile to note that the top performers, they get more meetings per 100 contacts they try to get meetings with, something like 2.7 times more meetings.

 

“If you get more meetings, more pipeline activity, and you're feeling good about prospecting, you are a top performers.” – Mike Schultz · [14:58] 

 

Mike Schultz:

They get better pipeline activity. So they get more positive results from those meetings. And they're more likely to rate themselves as just good at prospecting. So they say like, oh yeah, prospecting's working for me versus other companies that say, oh, this is a huge challenge and we just can't do it. So if you get more meetings, more pipeline activity, and you're feeling good about prospecting, you were the top performers. They also did get more conversions from their proposals. They were more likely to beat their revenue targets. And the individual sales people were more likely to hit quota if they were in the top performer group. So it's worthwhile from a business perspective to be in the top performer group. But the difference is five touches to eight touches on average. But I think of something like 35 or 40% of the buyers said that they expect more than 10 touches from a seller before they actually accept a meeting with them.

 

The Reason Buyers Don’t Respond to Salespeople Anymore · [15:38] 

 

Will Barron:

And is that because they want to make, from the salesperson's perspective here, of hearing that number or these numbers, is that because the buyer wants to make the salesperson sweat, that they want to have them earn the right to speak to them? Or is it just because they're busy and they've not got the five minutes to send you a polite email reply.

 

Mike Schultz:

Yeah. I think that there's a secret society of buyers where they get together and then they point and laugh at sellers and they want to make them sweat. No, I think it's not just that they're damn busy, but it's my Q2 priority is to do this. And I will not divert from that, even scheduling meetings to explore things from my Q4 activity, but I know who I want to talk to in my Q4 activity. And those are the people that have been reaching back to me. And they might. We didn't count it as a positive response if they wrote back to say, I'd look forward to meeting sometime in the future, but now it's not the time.

 

Mike Schultz:

But it often has to do with the elusive time of need. But I do think that it's a certain amount of noise where I don't know about you, but I have had voicemails on my voicemail that I plan to get back to. And two weeks later, after having dealt with whatever I've dealt with and I have 14 voicemails to delete, I just triage it and say goodbye. But if they called me again or if they emailed me, also, I'm not a fan of voicemail, but the more senior the buyer, the more they expected the seller to call them, and the more that they were interacting with the phone. So the phone was still hugely important. Email was the number one buyer preference for how a seller should reach out to them. But the phone was still second and there were 11 total tactics there and the phone was still number two. So if you're ignoring the phone, you shouldn't. But it's the collection of touches I think that makes that brand impression on the buyer. And also just has them say, all right, finally, I'm going to reach back to them.

 

How to Identify and Optimize Customer Touch Points · [17:46] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. I just want to clarify this because the way you kind of, you almost deflatedly said, I'm going to reach out to buy them. Is this a, because I don't want anyone to take this in the audience the wrong way, is this a process of over a month, six months you drill their inbox, voicemail, LinkedIn account so hard that they've got no response other than to either accept a meeting with you or tell you to F off or horrible email either way, or is there a cadence that we should be following here, which is I guess, appropriate and then useful as well impactful?

 

Mike Schultz:

Yeah, it doesn't work out well when you're looking for a date to call someone six times in the same day. Everybody knows that you shouldn't just deluge someone. It is good sometimes to cluster your outreach in that you might leave a voicemail and then follow up with an email to say, per the voicemail I just left. I know some people prefer to respond to email. I'm reaching out because of this. That's fine. But then you have to let it sit for a little bit. And this is the kind of thing that you have to test. A once a week kind of thing if you're really working to get through to someone is fine. You might give that a rest too where you let a week go by. And we usually have what we call an attraction campaign that might span, let's call it eight touches.

 

Mike Schultz:

And the touches have different types and kinds of messages to mix it up. And also you go through different modalities. One touch might be email. Another one might be phone. Another one might be a LinkedIn message. One of them might actually be a letter. When you actually get a real sales letter and it says, “Will, I've been trying to connect with you for the last month or so. And I thought I'd drop an old style snail mail just to let you know, I really want to talk to you because I think one, two and three that are on your organization's agenda, we've been able to help other companies do things like that. And here's an ROI case. I would love to talk to you”. It's novel enough where people are impressed by that. So it's not a deluge. It usually has a timeframe and a cadence, a little bit of clustering is fine.

 

Mike Schultz:

And then the last message should be a goodbye. And it can be, I've seen all sorts of different kinds of goodbyes. We call it reverse direction. I mentioned before that some buyers feel like I expect them just to call me and call me and call me and call me. But that has this dynamic of my time is important, but you just sit there and call me. You need to establish a peer dynamic and you shouldn't have that kind of dynamic where I'm going to chase after you until you tell me to buzz off. You can tell them to buzz off first in a nice way to say, “Will, I've been trying to reach out. I've worked my way to connect over the last six weeks or so. I'm guessing this is something that is not on your radar. And if that's the case, I'm not going to be reaching out anymore at all. If however, that is not the case and you've just been busy or have been thinking of getting back to me and haven't yet, please give me the high sign now because this is my last outreach”.

 

Mike Schultz:

It changes the dynamic such that the buyer might have sat there with a voicemail saying, he'll call me again. I'm going to delete it. But if you literally say, I'm not going to call you again. Okay, and you get a response that says, no, no, no. I've been meaning to get back to you. So you can do it like that. Other people do it in a cutesy way to say, I'm guessing one of three things is happening. You're not interested. You had a heart attack or you've been abducted by aliens. You can use that if you like that as a part of your personality, but as long as you close the loop at the end, you'll catch a few extra buyers to say, no, no, wait. I wanted to talk.

 

Will Barron:

I send an email very similar to this, essentially being very open and honest when I'm selling ad space for the podcast. Silicon valley, it's typically very busy individuals that I'm dealing with, where Salesforce HubSpot, all these huge companies. And then the smaller tech startups that want to put the sales enablement, sales training, whatever products on the show in front of the audience as well. I'll send an email very similar of, “Hey, I know you're busy. I know this obviously you haven't replied. This clearly isn't a priority for you right now. Is it cool if I drop you an email in six months, 12 months time”. And then at the end of my email, there's always, thinking about it, this isn't particularly strategic, but works. I've got our growth in podcast download numbers, and they typically see this. Then they see six months later getting bigger. And then the next email comes six months later, they see it bigger, and I'll send these emails. And typically it's new research on podcast advertising, how effective it is, the growth of the kind of the podcast in medium, how less effective banner ads are getting, how you can collect data from a podcast or retarget it on Facebook, LinkedIn, all these cool things. And it's what we are doing on the show as well.

 

Will Barron:

So most of the conversations I end up having with marketers who sponsor and get involved with partner with the podcast, they just want to talk about how we are doing things, because we're in the same kind of space, we're targeting the same people, sales nation, and then they take it on board. They do it all. It's just a value conversation. And then they go, oh it's only that much to partner with you? It's not much in our budget. We'll just do that just to be friends with you just so we can continue to do things in the future. That's how most of my conversations go. By sending this email just says, Hey, I know you're very busy. I know you probably don't have budget right now. And then nine times out of 10, I get really polite email back saying, Hey Q4, get in touch. We've spent up all our budget on events or whatever it is. Q4 will have budget. Q2 next year will have a budget, whatever it is. And then you've got super kind of interesting in to go back with them. As they've said, they're interested, they've got budget this time. And most deals come after that kind of wrap up of the initial first calls and meetings. So just a heads up and to make it kind of paint a picture in the audience's mind that I'm very literally doing all this.

 

Building Next-Generation B2B Sales Capabilities · [23:38] 

 

Will Barron:

So glad that we're on the same wave with some of this, Mike. So going back about 20 minutes ago, we mentioned capabilities. So we've done this initial outreach prospecting, email, campaigns, calls, LinkedIn messages, following them around in the car park as they're trying to leave the office and giving them some kind of flyer. We've done all this. We've got their attention. They want to speak to us. What does this capabilities, email, kind of phone conversation look like? And is this after the initial, yes, we're interested, is this the next step that we should be taking to kind of win business with these individuals?

 

“Of the 11 different types of content that influence buyers to take a meeting, number one was primary research relevant to the buyer. And number two was information on capabilities. So what they appreciate is not just here's what we do, but it's insight on how your products and services have solved problems.” – Mike Schultz · [24:20] 

 

Mike Schultz:

Well, we actually did our research on that. You can use the capabilities message to get the meeting. So of the 11 different types of content that influence buyers to take a meeting, number one was primary research relevant to the buyer. And number two was information on capabilities because once again, they're not, go home at night, put the kids to bed and I think I'm going to go surfing on vendor websites so I can see what they offer. They don't know. So what they appreciate is not just here's what we do, but it's insight on how products and services have solved problems. If you can weave that into a story, then it's influential for generating meaning. In terms of the meeting itself, they do want to know what your capabilities are, but you don't necessarily want to sit there and do a 20 minutes capabilities discussion.

 

Mike Schultz:

If you are in a type of business where people literally don't know what you do, it's helpful to paint that picture in a story, you should be able to do the two minute version, the 10 minute version, and the longer version. And if you do the two minute version and say, that's the two minute version, are you curious to know more of the detail? I can give you another five minutes on how it actually works and what we end up doing. If you say, yeah, I'm fascinated, then great. If not, then you can move on to asking questions and or finding the place where you can help. You also have to understand the dynamics of what you do.

 

Mike Schultz:

If you are an accounting firm, it is worthwhile for you to say, Here at ABC partners, we offer tax audit and consulting and our consulting areas are one, two and three. We also have an information technology support service that helps with this, that, and the other thing. That's it. That was 30 seconds. If you start talking to a CFO about how audit works and what you do with audit and your five step audit process, they don't care. However, if it's literally a product with a story, there was product that a major consulting firm had, it was called a Profit Hunt. And you can't just say, well, we offer profit hunts. Well, what does that mean? Well, you should be able to actually tell the story of what a profit hunt does. Like, oh wow. That's fascinating. Because it's not audit or tax. Audit, tax, I get it. But profit hunt, be ready to give me a few minutes on what that is.

 

Tips For Narrating an Interesting Brand Story · [26:55]  

 

Will Barron:

And when we say story, are we talking about wrapping up, perhaps someone else who's been through this process, the hero's journey of they thought they were fine. The there was some kind of conundrum. They got knocked off kilter. We came in and helped them. Then there's a resolution. Is that the format and the arc that we should be going at when we're describing kind of the features and benefits and the outcomes of our solutions?

 

Mike Schultz:

Yeah. You should be able to describe it succinctly in bullets, to be able to say, well, Profit Hunt, if you're an industry with over $150,000 in overhead, we can take our 56 point analysis process and we can decrease that overhead by a minimum of 10%. And we'll actually share that savings with you. And we'll be able to knock off 10%, which is 15 million while maintaining the same quality of vendor services that you get. We literally renegotiate your contracts, et cetera, et cetera. Again, I just explained it and it's less than 45 seconds. And then you just roll in to say, how we used it, for example, is the University of blank, which has $220 million of overhead, engaged us to do this, that, and the other thing. They believe that they could save in areas one, two, and three. It turns out they could save in areas one, two. Three if they actually changed, it would hurt their quality. But they missed areas 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. Collectively those areas, blah, blah, blah. So what we did was when we got into it, they thought this and it turned out it wasn't this, it was that. And they thought this and it turns out it wasn't this. It was that. Just like you said, we thought we were fine. And then we realised that we weren't as fine. Then we faced a conundrum.

 

Mike Schultz:

So you can set up the story arc. But as long as you have two things, where we are now and where we could possibly be is different. And that if we close that gap, being to the place where we could be is better, then you have your story. It's literally simpler than the hero's journey or freight tax pyramid or anything like that. It's literally just if where you are and where you could be is different and it's worth it to get from where you are to where you could be, that's the end of your story arc.

 

Do Salespeople Overcomplicate B2B Sales? · [29:13] 

 

Will Barron:

Do we overcomplicate B2B sales, Mike? Because what you're describing is essentially what a marketer would do. And our job, I guess, is to add layer, to add discovery to that, make it specific for the buyer. But it's still seemingly simple. It seems that we can either, if we've picked the right people, done the right qualifying and done our research, it's either going to work for them or it isn't. In which case, the disqualified, we keep in touch with them in case anything change in the future, we move on to more people. Are we over complicating all of this? Because what you just described is a five, 10 minute conversation that is more succinct than any sales conversation that I've ever had in the whole of my life. Do we need to put our marketing hats on or have a conversation with marketing, perhaps nail our message down, because that's what they are pros at, and then reassess the meetings and how we go about things rather than trying to over complicate it all?

 

“If you think about your buyer and they're just about to buy something and they're going to tell their colleagues, if they can literally answer just a few questions, then you'll have nailed B2B sales. First question is why act? Here's why we're doing this guys. And why now? Here's why I can't wait. Why us? Here's why we're picking these guys. This is why they are the best option. And then why trust? I know we've gone down this path before, here's why it's going to work this time. Why act? Why now? Why us? Why trust?” – Mike Schultz · [30:49] 

 

Mike Schultz:

I'm not sure if we over complicate it. I think people don't actually see where they're supposed to go. So they spend time on details that aren't helpful to them. I believe that B2B sales boils down to this. If you think about your buyer and they're just about to buy something and they're going to tell their colleagues, if they can literally answer just a few questions, then you'll have nailed B2B sales. First question is why act? Here's why we're doing this guys. And why now? Here's why I can't wait. Or here's why it's up first. Why act? Why now? Why us? Here's why we're picking these guys. This is why they are the best option. And then why trust? And guys, I know we've gone down this path before. Here's why it's going to work this time. Why act? Why now? Why us? Why trust? If you can have the buyer tell that story, because we all know, well, they should do it because of this. They should do it because of the ROI. They should pick us because we're better because of this. Here's why it's going to work. Yeah. You know it, but they don't know it. If they can tell that story, you win.

 

Mike Schultz:

So it reminds me of this great story between the Rabbi Hillel and another leading Rabbi in his day. And Hillel was the liberal open-minded thoughtful guy. And the other guy, his name was Shamii. He was more of the rigid old school kind of guy. And there was a 13 year old boy and he travelled all the way to Jerusalem to learn at the feet of the great masters. And he went to Shamii and he said, “I want to learn everything that there is to learn about the Torah. And I want you to teach it to me while you stand there on one foot”. And Shamii kicked him to the curb. So he went to see Rabbi Hillel because 13 year old boys are often undeterred. And he said, “I want to learn everything there is to know about the Torah. And I want you to teach it to me while you stand here on one foot”. So Hillel thinks about it for a minute. He picks up his foot and he says, “Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. That is the whole story and message of the Torah”. And he put his foot down. He said, “Now spend all of the time that you should spend to learn how to do that, apply that and make that your life's mission”.

 

Mike Schultz:

So there's a lot of studying to do, but the key message is the same. You have to know how to do a good needs discovery. You have to know how to lead a meeting. You have to know how to find out what the buying process is. You have to know how to read people's body language because this guy over there is kind of checked out at the meeting to say, I just want to hold on for a minute. I'm not getting the sense that this is worthwhile to you or that we're headed down the right path. You have to have that kind of emotional intelligence. You need to know how to write an email. You need to know how to prospect it. You need to know how to manage your time and day so you don't get distracted. You need to get off of Facebook and you need to be able to do things that are proactive. You need to write a decent proposal. You need to be able to give a good finalist presentation. Oh, they're starting in negotiate. He says I'm ready to buy, and he'll buy it right now if I just drop the price 3%. What am I supposed to do about that?

 

Mike Schultz:

There are a tonne of things you need to be good at, but if you can literally just get across the message, why act, why now, why us, why trust, you're good. Don't get confused about spending time on things that you shouldn't however.

 

How to Shorten the Sales Cycle and Make Your Product or Service a Priority · [33:30] 

 

Will Barron:

Love it. I love it. Well, you've just teed up the next 15 episodes that we'll record in the future, Mike. And I've got one kind of final thing to wrap this up and we'll come back to the data just to wrap up this show, mate. When we're talking about the purchase decision, when we're talking about perhaps now they can share our message, they know the story, they know what's in it for them, they trust ours as an individual to look after them after that purchase decision has been made, is there any data on what we can do to either shorten the sales cycle or improve that rate of, or I guess improve the priority of our problem above all the other problems that they're trying to deal with? Is there anything that we can do to affect that end last kind of week, two weeks worth of purchase and decisions?

 

Mike Schultz:

Yeah, for sure. So the first thing is that in this particular research, the more senior the buyer, the more they wanted the ROI story. They're playing king of the hill with ROI stories. They have tonnes of problems they can solve. They can only tackle a few things at a time. The question is which one's going to get them the best ROI? What should be on the top of the priority list? If you can't tell the ROI story, even when you're prospecting, but then across the whole sales and buying process, then you're going to be in trouble. If you can show a strong ROI, then you have the why act. If you can show a closing window on that ROI to say, if you wait three to six months, your competitors are going to be here, there, and everywhere, that's why now. That's the urgency. And that's what shortens the sales cycle. Why act, gets you on the top of the list. Why now, has them pull the trigger and want to move forward.

 

Mike Schultz:

Why us, has them pick you versus the other option and why trust, gives them that confidence to move forward versus to say, eh, I actually see the why act and why now, but we failed at this before and I'm not ready to do it again. So I'm just going to not do this. The other thing in terms of how you end up winning more, and this is a different piece of research. We studied 731 B2B buyers, and we asked them about a recent major purchase they made and to compare the winner of that purchase, meaning the seller who got their business, not to the loser, but to the guy that came in the closest second, because in that sliver of difference, the guys that make it all the way down the finalist process, but they pick one versus the other, why are they pick them? And we found three things.

 

Mike Schultz:

The sellers that win connect. They connect with people. So this whole selling is not about relationships. Oh, that's bull. People buy from people they like. People trust people they like. And they also connect the dots between ease and solutions. So fundamental consultant is selling is still important. Number one was connect. Number two is convince. And they convinced them of that ROI case. The whole why act, why now, why us, why trust. And they use the word convince. People say, oh geez, that's kind of a strong word. And the more senior buyer we talked to, the more they said, you're here. Convince me. If you want me to do something, make your case. If not, go away. Convince me. You can almost hear a senior buyer saying it. So we need to tell the sellers it's okay. Get your point across.

 

Mike Schultz:

So the sellers hear that and they say, great, I'm going to have my points ready. I'm going to have my PowerPoint ready. I'm going to go pitch a case. That is not what buyers wanted. Buyers wanted to absorb that convince case with the seller that collaborates with them, that asks them questions to get some thinking, that can still tell a story, but that does a good job balancing advocacy and inquiry so that it's a natural conversation. It's not just some commercial teaching where I stand up there, give a pitch and say, all right, now, if you don't buy it, you're dumb, which I think is, it's a message that I see out there. You need to be able to tell that story and then dig in with them like you're a colleague trying to help them get to the best outcome for them. So connect, convince, and collaborate, and you should win more sales.

 

Mike’s Advise to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [37:21] 

 

Will Barron:

Makes total sense. I've got number 15. Everyone watching this on YouTube will be able to see, the first double pager of questions I've had in a while, Mike, and we're not even halfway through the stuff that I wanted to cover. But we'll have to wrap it up here. And we'll have you back on in the future to kind of touch on some more of this. And I've got one final question for you, mate. Not to do any research down to you personally here. If you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, what would be one piece of advice you'd give him to help him become better at selling?

 

Mike Schultz:

Hmm. That's a good question. If I would give myself advice, I think that I would have spent more time prospecting. I prospected for probably two years straight. And after that I became a division leader and I was doing more of the big sale winning and the major accounts and not doing prospecting, but I would tell myself it doesn't matter what you're doing. And I don't prospect that much now. It doesn't matter what you're doing. If you're prospecting, then you feel like you're on the front lines. Then everything, oh geez, here's the piece of advice I can give to all my sales people and my sales managers. If you're actually out there doing it, you're connected with the world. You're connected with your team's lives. You're connected with your buyers' lives and you're in the trenches. So this is that whole, if you were a CEO, what would you do now? You know what? I'd go down to customer service and I'd answer the phones for an hour. And I think that's a good piece of advice for all of us to say, is the more and more senior we get, spend a little bit of time doing the really hard things that we're asking other people to do. And you're going to be not just a better seller, but a better leader.

 

Parting Thoughts · [39:12] 

 

Will Barron:

Fantastic. Well with that, Mike, tell us where we can find some of this research on your blog, the website as well. Tell us a little bit about RAIN group and where we can find out more about you as well, sir.

 

Mike Schultz:

Sure. So where can you find the research? You can go to raingroup.com and on the left hand column, there's a research and you just click on research. It'll be easy to find. You can click on the blog and you can find all the various articles. The research itself is only available to our clients. Or if you hop on that research page, you can apply to become a panellist. Meaning if you're willing to take some surveys, we'll also give you private client access, but you have to meet certain criteria to be able to do that. So RAIN group is a global sales training and performance improvement company. We're headquartered, I'm in the Boston area. We also have offices in Geneva, London, Mumbai, Sydney, Johannesburg, Toronto, and Bogota, and we help sellers sell more. That's what we do. We teach people how to sell from the sales process itself, prospecting, consultative selling, advanced consultative selling, opportunity management, as well as strategic account management, sales management, and leadership. So that's what we do. And about myself, what would you like to know, Will?

 

Will Barron:

Where can we find you? Where can we look you up? I know you're on LinkedIn, a couple of places as well. And if anyone wants to reach out, is Twitter, is LinkedIn the best place?

 

Mike Schultz:

Yeah, you can reach me on LinkedIn or you can send me an email directly to Mschultz@Raingroup, Rain like the weather, raingroup.com. MSchultz@raingroup.com and look forward to connecting with it.

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. Well, to all that in the show to this episode, over at salesman.org. And with that, Mike, I really appreciate your time, mate. Appreciate the insights, all the research, everything coming on the back of that, the whole sales nation approve it, mate. They love it. And with that one, thank you for joining us on The Salesman Podcast.

 

Mike Schultz:

Well, thanks for having me, Will.

Table of contents
Get your free book today:
Untitled-4
Selling Made Simple
Find and close more sales, like clockwork, using 15 proven, step-by-step frameworks.
100% Free sales skill quiz:
Do you have the 15 traits of high performing sellers?
Learn your strengths and weaknesses in an instant. Don't get left behind.
illustration-web-4 1
Do you have the 15 traits of high performing sales people?
Learn your strengths and weaknesses in an instant. Taken by over 10,000+ of your competitors. Don't get left behind.
22_LINKEDIN SUCCESS FRAMEWORK (3) 1