Why Your Customers Don’t Want To Meet With You…

Brian Burns host of – “The Brutal Truth about Sales & Selling” and the “The B2B Revenue Leadership” podcasts.

He’s a B2B sales expert and on this episode of the Salesman Podcast, he shares why your customers don’t want to meet with you.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Brian Burns
B2B Sales Expert

Transcript

Brian Burns:

What's happening today is the sales development reps are being told what used to work 15 or 20 years ago. All the SDR, sales development reps, are told, “Don't go dealing with those low level minions, go straight to the top.” So number one thing is, don't look for a silver bullet. Number two is that is all the stuff that's changed in sales. What hasn't changed in sales? We are human beings and we can help each other.

 

Will Barron:

Hi, I'm Will Barron, host of the world's biggest B2B sales show, The Salesman Podcast, where we help you not just hit your targets, but really thrive in sales. Make sure you click subscribe if you haven't already joined Sales Nation. Let's meet today's guest.

 

Brian Burns:

Hey, it's Brian Burns, the host of The Brutal Truth about Sales & Selling Podcast on iTunes and everywhere else you get a podcast.

 

The Reason Why Potential Customers Don’t Want to Meet Salespeople · [01:03] 

 

Will Barron:

In this episode, you're going to learn the tribal nature of B2B selling, why you should never pitch a potential customer straight off the bat, and why people just aren't meeting with you. Let's jump right in. Why do potential customers, super open-ended question here, obviously… Why do potential customers just not want to meet with sales people?

 

Brian Burns:

Well, I don't think it's much of a mystery because I don't know about you, but my email box is full of spam. My phone rings all day long with local numbers that I know aren't anybody I know. I put in a voicemail. There's anything from salespeople to scammers. And I got to ask you, what pitch would you really listen to? Is there any pitch that you really want to hear? And I think what's happening today is the sales development reps are being told what used to work 15 or 20 years ago, because that's wherein the last time their sales trainer actually sold. And all they're doing is, “Oh, personalise it more. Oh, no, do it on multiple channels simultaneously. Text them while you're cold calling them, and email them while you're on LinkedIn with them.”

 

“We are in this perfect storm where all these tools came out in the last three years to make it so easy to annoy the hell out of everybody that everybody is shut down. I mean, why do we have caller ID?” – Brain Burns · [02:21] 

 

Brian Burns:

And it's all about the sales rep. It has nothing to do about the person. And that's why nobody cares anymore. I think we are in this perfect storm where all these tools came out in the last three years to make it so easy to annoy the hell out of everybody that everybody is shut down. I mean, why do we have caller ID? So we know who's calling. When we see the subject line or we don't know who it's from, why would we open it? Is there anything that's so compelling that I want to reduce my expenses by 50% or triple my revenue? And do I believe it because I got 17 people telling me I can do that. It is just so noisy out there. I don't know you. I don't like you. And I don't trust you. So as they say in England, bugger off, right? It's like…

 

Does the Perfect Pitch Exist? · [03:23] 

 

Will Barron:

Yeah, that's probably the least heavy phrase that's been thrown around at salespeople at the moment. So we're going to dive into, hopefully, how we can break through some of this noise. Or how we can do things differently in a second, but something really stood out then, Brian, and I'm going to use your words. We're not giving people a pitch that they want to hear. Does that exist? Does a pitch that people want to hear exist? Or is that the paradox here that we shouldn't be pitching people at all?

 

Brian Burns:

Well, of course it depends on the sale and how complex it is. If you're selling refills to your copier cartridges, you might be out and a pitch might work, okay? Or if somebody happens to have their ice maker broken in the refrigerator, they may need a refrigerator repair man. So you may find that needle in the haystack. Other than that, what pitch do you want to hear? Is there anything that I could call you up today and in 30 seconds get enough of your attention that you would listen to me? There might be two or three things, but most of us have avoided that. We have all these protections in place and we're bombarded by salespeople, especially all the SDR, sales development reps are told, “Don't go dealing with those low level minions, go straight to the top.”

 

Brian Burns:

And you're like, “Well, the people straight to the top are getting it 10 times as much.” And that's all I hear from reps, and they send me their emails. And I look at them and I just roll my eyes. I'm like, “This has nothing to do with them. It's all about you.” And this is a surprise? I mean, I'm sure you're on LinkedIn. You get the request from somebody in a country you never heard of, and then you get three paragraphs of what they can do for you. And they haven't checked out your profile. They don't know who you are. They've added no value to you. We are really at a brick wall right now.

 

Brian Burns:

And some people are talking about it, but everybody's answering it in the same way they did 20 years ago, is come up with a better value proposition, a more enticing pitch, an insight they may not be aware of. And you're like, “Eh.” You still have to get a conversation going. They still have to answer the phone. How do I get around the gatekeeper? If I hear these objections one more time, I'm just ready to kill somebody.

 

How to Get Your Customers to Actually Want to Meet You · [06:29]

 

Will Barron:

Well, Brian, I got a pitch today that very likely you're going to get the same pitch in LinkedIn if you accept people on there, like I do, within the next few days. It was someone asking whether they can come on the podcast and they pitched me in Spanish. I don't speak Spanish. I've never talked about Spanish on the podcast whatsoever. There was no reason, in anyone's mind, why they would be pitching me in Spanish. I actually used Google Translate to suss out what the question was. And it's only because it said The Sales Podcast in English that I didn't just delete the message anyway. So very likely with your show and the size of it as well, you'll get the same pitch from this individual. So with all this said, Brian, and most of the people listening are probably somewhat depressed right now thinking that you are going to give them a golden nugget, a quick answer. What is the solution to breaking through the noise and then giving people a reason to speak with us?

 

Brian Burns:

Well, I mean, that's the problem is they're looking for the golden nugget. They're looking for the silver bullet. They're trying to treat the complex sale like the simple sale. Like how I can get you on the phone, hold your attention, build your interest, and then close for that 15 minute meeting with my AE, my account exec. This is what we're paying probably a million people in the US to do. And when I hear they get one cold outreach meeting a month, this is what I'm hearing. One. And I'm like, “That's a pretty expensive meeting.” You could literally fly them to a resort and take them out to dinner, cheaper than paying that person to do it.

 

“We are human beings and we can help each other. And when you help others, you go from unknown to known. You go from disliked to liked. And when the other person gets the sense that you have their interest in mind, you become trusted.” – Brian Burns · [08:01] 

 

Brian Burns:

So number one thing is don't look for a silver bullet. Number two is that is all the stuff that's changed in sales. What hasn't changed in sales? You're still a human being. I'm still a human being. Hopefully, you have friends and family. I've got friends and family, probably not as many. We have connections. We have interests. We are human beings and we can help each other. And when you help each other, you go from unknown to known. You become unliked to liked. And when you get the sense that the other person has your interest in mind, you become trusted. We're trying to do that in an email. That doesn't happen.

 

Will Barron:

When you say it like that, that makes total sense. It's ridiculous, right?

 

Brian Burns:

It's insane. How many emails do you get like this? “Hey, Will love your podcast. Real huge fan. I'd like to come on. What I do is real estate development in Oklahoma where I flip houses.” So it's completely, obviously they didn't listen to your podcast. They're not a big fan. They gave you a nice flattering thing so you read the next thing and you're going, “This is crazy. Why would I talk to you?” But they are sending out thousands of them. And then now you can do it with email merges. And what I hear from the reps is, “Well, my manager still wants me to make 60 calls a day.” And it's like, when I was in sales back when you were probably in elementary school, what everybody did was just call the movie theatre 25 times a day so it would look good on their charts. Everyone faked it. Like everyone's faking it with the CRM today.

 

Brian Burns:

People are basing AI information off of that stuff that's in the CRM. It's all made up. We're forgetting what hasn't changed. That we are people. We're tribal people. Meaning if you seen what's going on in the US with the election and the last year. It is so tribal. You get on Facebook and you say one thing on one side or the other, and you've just lost half your friends. And then crazy things like anything. People have these really strong beliefs and we're forgetting that. We think we're at work and we can have this enticing value proposition that marketing gave us. Or we hire a copywriter to come in and really polish it up and make it more personalised.

 

“What people are forgetting is that if you're selling something that's complicated, that's going to take time, that's going to be multiple meetings, you can't do that in an email. You can start with an email. You can start with a cold call. You can start with a social outreach. But you can’t do it all in an email” – Brian Burns · [10:20] 

 

Brian Burns:

“Oh, I see you went to school here. Now you're going to be interested.” I think what people are forgetting is that if you're selling something that's complicated, that's going to take time. It's going to be multiple meetings. Like what you did and what I did. You can't do that in an email. You can start with an email. You can start with a cold call. You can start with a social outreach. But you've got to understand that person's a person and you've got to quit acting like a salesperson because that is slightly above child molester in the order of desirability. The next is a politician… Or lawyer above that. It's someone paid to lie. That's this level of trust that we have. And we really erode it when we're not being sincere and genuine.

 

Why You Need to Raise Your Selling Game and Build Social Proof · [11:30] 

 

Will Barron:

So is this a mindset shift that we need to make rather than… And that's the 80/20, that's the 20 that's going to get us 80% of results versus technique over email or a new way to leave a voicemail. Is all this to raise our standards as sales people… Pitch our… I don't want to use that word “pitch” now after the first five minutes of the conversation, Brian. We need to elevate ourselves to an industry expert, trusted advisor, and then stay there because a industry expert wouldn't be spamming people. They wouldn't be cold calling spamming people.

 

Brian Burns:

Yeah. I mean, that's nice to say, and being an industry expert is good, but that takes too long. None of us have time for that. What you sold, could you be an industry expert? You'd have to be a doctor. You probably knew the equipment better than they did.

 

Will Barron:

So yeah. Let me give you that as an example then, and you can tell me where we were with this. Because I've never really had to cold call anyone. I've never really had to… I've walked into theatres selling medical devices to surgeons and I popped my head in said, “Hi can I pop back later on?” That's as much cold outreach as I've ever really done. And that's because I was always pitched as a industry expert. But the way I described that, perhaps I'm not talking about industry expert, perhaps we're talking about a regional expert, that might be a better way to describe it.

 

Will Barron:

I worked for one of the biggest medical device companies in endoscopy. I then moved to their biggest competitor. So I knew the product either side. I worked for both companies for two and a half, three years each. So I wasn't a expert in anything over than my specific niche of product, but surgeons would proactively call me when they needed help on either the competitor's product or my own product. So when I say industry expert, perhaps you can help me here, and there's a better way to define that, but I mean a regional expert. An expert for our specific customers.

 

Brian Burns:

Yeah. I mean, that is good. So you were leveraging social proof based off of the two brands you worked for. They didn't know Will Barron, but they knew the two companies.

 

Will Barron:

Yep.

 

Brian Burns:

And some people today have that if they're working for a big name company and that may be a positive or a negative thing. But a lot of people are working for tiny, no name companies, where people don't really know what they do, don't understand what it does, don't understand why they would be interested or why it would be valuable. And people have a hard time having or starting a conversation because that's how sales started. But those doctors wanted to talk with you because they wanted to be aware of the newest stuff. They wanted to protect themselves and their patients and have the best possible equipment they possibly could get access to.

 

“If you can't have a 30 minute conversation about your own product, that's scary.” – Brian Burns · [14:38] 

 

Brian Burns:

So they listened to you. And you knew about it because you were trained in it, but you weren't a urologist. But you could tell the difference between the two products. And should you be able to do that? You should. If you can't have a 30 minute conversation about your own product, that's scary. And if you can't understand what's important to your client because what was important to them was helping their patients, successful operations, pain free operations, quick recovery, minimising malpractice, covering their butts as well. All of those things were important to them. And if you can talk to them about it, that's important.

 

Is it Possible to Create Value Before Pitching Your Product or Service? · [15:13] 

 

Will Barron:

As you described this, Brian, there was one extra layer of this. And I never realised I was doing it at the time. But if I wanted to get into a competitor's account, all I would do with both companies would be take the surgeons out on a training day. Clearly, after 4:00 PM, it's just piss up and free drinks and a nice meal. And probably 80% of the reason they want to go to these training days is because of that. But it looks good on their paperwork. It looks good on their record. So if I wanted to get into one of these accounts, that's probably how I would engage them. That's how I would jump in. I would get a sign off on my manager to put on a day or invite a surgeon.

 

Will Barron:

One was a German company. One was a Japanese company. But they were both… Most optics and glasses made in Germany. So we'd take them over to the… Show them around the factory, all this good stuff. So is that the approach we need to make because that doesn't seem… I didn't realise I was doing it at the time, it was more fluke than anything, but it seems that I'm offering them something upfront without a pitch, without nailing them and drilling them down into my CRM funnel. Is that what we need to be doing to getting these conversations going?

 

Brian Burns:

Yes, we need to start talking about what they care about. And in doing it in a social situation is much better than doing it over WebEx or Zoom or Skype or anything. That's certainly valuable. And they want to learn about this stuff. They're interested in learning about it. Certainly I sold mostly to software developers, architects, VPs, or CIOs through my career and chief security officers. They want to know what's the hottest, newest thing out there because that enhanced their career, their value, their salaries, and their marketability.

 

“Your customers don't want to hear about your product. They want to hear about what's going to help them. They want to know what's the hottest, newest thing out there because that’s going to enhance their career, their value, their salaries, and their marketability.” – Brain Burns · [16:55] 

 

Brian Burns:

And if I talked about features and functions, they'd be bored to death. But if I talked about capabilities and where the industry's going and why it's going that direction and how that helps them, that's what they care about. They don't want to hear about my product. They want to hear about what's going to help them. And I think it's this primal thing that we can't really get over not talking about ourselves. And you see it all the time. Every email, it's all about you.

 

The Thing Your Customer Cares About Most is Not What You Think · [17:45] 

 

Will Barron:

So what does this look like, real practically Brian, then for someone who's listening to this who perhaps is going, “Oh, shit, I've just spent the past six months spamming out emails and I could be replaced by bringing potential customers on a holiday resort,” as you described before, “And that would be cheaper for the company to do.” Someone's listening to this, perhaps the SDR, whatever the title they want to call themselves, they're doing this outreach. One, how do we know what these people want to speak about before we engage in a conversation with them? And then two, how do we get that conversation going without this weird email that we've all had of, “Hey, here's a white paper on what's happening in the industry. I'd like to call you.”

 

Brian Burns:

Well, if you don't know what they care about, then you've got a little bit of an education because… And that is a problem because what I hear mostly is people go, “Well, we got two days of CRM training and then we got two days of product training. And then they gave us a phone and a LinkedIn Navigator and said, ‘Get three meetings a week.'” That's pretty much what I hear. But you're calling up somebody, and if you don't understand why they would care. Ask yourself, “What's their day like? What keeps them from getting fired? What keeps them from getting promoted? What keeps them from enjoying their day at work? How's my thing going to help them? And what do they want to talk about? What's going to illuminate their career, their quality of life, and what are they going to care about?” I mean, when you meet somebody at a party, you don't go up and tell them about your podcast, do you?

 

Will Barron:

No one gives a shit.

 

Brian Burns:

I don't know about you, my mother still doesn't know what a podcast is.

 

Will Barron:

My dad's never listened to the show ever.

 

Brian Burns:

Does he know what it is though?

 

Will Barron:

Well, it gets downloaded to his phone and I've left a review from his phone onto the show. He has no idea how to play it though.

 

Brian Burns:

Well, it must be a generation behind. But anyways, they just don't know. And they don't… She picks up the newspaper and starts reading. It's like, nobody cares about you. They care about themselves and they love talking about themselves. So you talking about your product, isn't moving you forward. You've got to find a way of engaging them in a conversation that is relevant to their work that is adjacent to what you do. Okay.

 

What to Do If You Don’t Want To Be Known as The Spammy Salesperson · [20:30] 

 

Will Barron:

Should we spend time, Brian… Sorry, I'm interrupting you here because I've got… Loads of questions are coming up as we're going through. Should we then spend time in developing our personal brand? Should we be creating content to send them to start a conversation? How should we also be framing ourselves of all of this if we don't want to be perceived just as a salesperson?

 

Brian Burns:

Well, I don't think you have to write anything. I think if you could find content that's about the problem that you solve, that's written by someone else is super helpful. And then asking them their thoughts, opinions, or ideas that they… Reactions that they have to it. I mean, is this a priority for you or is this a back burner issue? And if you can come across as just a guy or a girl in the industry who's just trying to make your own way. And we all are. Some 23 year old SDR, you got to understand, these people you're calling, if you approach them the right way, they want to help you.

 

Brian Burns:

They might not want to buy from you, but they probably are willing to help you. They're like “We're probably not a good match, but maybe try this place over here or try this person, that's this department” instead of you just pounding and pounding and pounding. And I see it all day on YouTube and in the blogs, you got to come up with a better, more personalised pitch. And I go, yes, that will help. It will. It honestly will. But going from 3% to 4%, isn't going to excite many people. I mean, we are recording this on a Monday and I can just imagine the SDR is going into work on a Monday looking at that phone [inaudible 00:22:31]

 

Brian Burns:

And I mean, literally, I worked at a startup. Early, early stage startup, the first round of sales people, they literally flew us to a place in New Jersey and had a manager watch us cold call because they didn't believe we would cold call anywhere on our own. And we were literally had to get up at 4:00 in the morning to get a flight up to New Jersey, drive a half an hour south, sit in an office and cold call all day while the manager was banging us on the head, and then fly home that night. I mean, it just was ridiculous. And you get like one or two meetings. But there's just smarter ways of doing it. And the great sales people don't have to do that. I haven't made a cold call in four years, honest to God. And my schedule's booked. And I talk to people who are interested. If I want to talk to somebody, I can very quickly get access to them in a very natural, sequential way that doesn't feel pressured or pushy or even have an ask.

 

Clear Steps To Help You From Unknown to Known · [23:53] 

 

Will Barron:

What would your process be? What you want to and can divulge here, Brian, just to paint a picture in the audience's mind of the steps that they should be thinking about?

 

Brian Burns:

So the major steps, and if I tell you exactly, people are going to do it, it's not going to work 100% of the time and they're going to blame Will and Brian. So it is like learning to play the guitar, the piano, or any musical instrument. It looks really simple until you try it. It's like, you see somebody do a cartwheel, it looks like you can do it. You ever try and do a cartwheel?

 

Will Barron:

Doing a cartwheel is one of my goals last year. So I have a list of business goals, those are just stupid goals. And one of them was… And don't get me wrong yet, I'm six foot three, and I'm lanky as hell. So by the time I try and do a cartwheel and my hands hit the floor, my feet are either bobbled all over the place. So I know damn well how hard it is, and it looks so simple, but yeah, I've never managed it, Brian. It's one of the biggest failures of last year for me.

 

Brian Burns:

And I'm old enough and smart enough not to try. So I'll count that. But basically the steps are you have to go from unknown to known. And how can you do that? How do you do that in real life? I don't know if you're single or not, but when you go to… I'm sure you've been to an event where you know nobody. Nobody there knows know you. You know nobody. Okay. You can either sit in the corner and have a cocktail and watch the TV or go home, or you can talk to people. And what do you do?

 

Will Barron:

You say hi, right?

 

Brian Burns:

Yeah. You put a big smile on your face. What's more welcoming? A smile says, “I am unthreatening and friendly?” We're primitive little animals. What do dogs do in the park You get the angry little dog that goes, “Grr,” that tries to scare people away because I'm scared of you, doggy. And then you get the friendly dog that jumps up and down and overdoes it. So we have to go from unknown to known and away without an ask. So there's millions of ways of doing that. Then you have to become light, which means you do something for them without asking for something in return. Boom. Then you start a conversation. You ask a question, you look for advice. You look for feedback. You look for their thoughts. You collaborate on something that benefits them.

 

Brian Burns:

And all of a sudden, now you can start talking about what they do and what you do. And that is how people have communicated for centuries. But now we think just because we're on the other end of screen, I've got the right to send all of this stuff and a three paragraph email or interrupt your day by calling you and telling you how great your life is going to be if you buy my stuff. And I'm not hanging up until you do. And that is not… I mean, that works in a simple sale. Like when you go to buy that car, that guy's not going to let you off the lot. He's not. And he shouldn't. That's a simple sale. He knows if you leave that day, you're not buying the car. So they chase you. They hold your driver's licence in the US.

 

Brian Burns:

They go, “Oh, you want to… Well, we need your licence.” And I go, “If I don't have my licence when I'm driving your car, do you think that's a good idea? How about if I get pulled over?” They want your licence because they want you to come back and they're not going to give it to you until you buy your car. All that trickery and stuff works in the simple sale. And people try and migrate it to the complex sale. And it's a disaster. Because executives and people in business don't have time for it.

 

How Collaborative Selling Builds Better Customer Relationships · [28:00] 

 

Will Barron:

I'll give you… You, the audience here is what I mean Brian, of the step by step process, I used to get a lot of the ad sponsors we have on the podcast. And it's seamless to what you just described of I'll reach out with, “Hey, you know podcast is doing XYZZZ in some kind of article.” And that starts off… Sounds a bit spammy. The next line though, is “Is there anyone in your organisation that knowing all this information of how useful podcasts are and being on that platform that we can bring on the show to talk about essentially helping the audience, helping Sales Nation, but then helping pitch your product at the end of the show.” And then I get them to put a specific tracking link at the end of that. So I bring them on. I love the word used then of “collaborate.”

 

Will Barron:

I collaborate with this organisation. They come on the show. We do an epic show. They get a tracking link at the end of it. Sales Nation goes and buys loads of their products because it's relevant, it's appropriate to the audience. And then they go, “Oh crap. If with just one episode, we can do X revenue, it makes total sense to sponsor 12 episodes and do XYZ revenue on the back of it.” And it's seamless. There's no weird close. There's no manipulation tactics of buying cars and things like that. And it's just seamless. And that's how I've… I guess that's how I've always done business. I just trying to establish that collaboration point as quick as possible. Are there any other… Because I know you've stopped travelling more recently, but with all the companies you've consulted with in the past, are there any standout ways that they've collaborated with potential customers to give a few more examples to the audience of a process like this?

 

Brian Burns:

Yeah. I mean when I did sell, I sold very expensive software. Enterprise software. So deals were… A tiny deal was 50K, a big deal was like two and a half to 5 million. And you're not going to do that in one meeting. And what I would do… Everybody would want to have the big meeting where everyone gets together and this is what everyone does today. Oh, we're selling demos. So the AE, the account exec gets on, gives the demo and they record it and everything, they analyse it. And of course the close is send us a proposal. And the dumbest thing you can do is send them a proposal. Because then you have no control, no involvement. That proposal sits on a disc somewhere in the cloud. And one out of 30 get processed and procured. You're not engaged with them anymore.

 

“No one teaches anybody how to buy. So the buyer's journey is the biggest bullshit going on in our industry right now. Everyone thinks there's a buyer's journey. Who taught them the journey? Nobody knows how to buy stuff because they don't want to spend money.” – Brain Burns [31:02] 

 

Brian Burns:

You don't understand how to sell. And you think they understand how to buy. I've worked at 12 companies in my life. No one ever taught me how to buy anything. Everyone was “You don't buy anything.” I had a company credit card with no limit but if you bought something with it was like… No one teaches anybody how to buy. So this buyer's journey is the biggest bullshit going on in our industry right now. Everyone thinks there's a buyer's journey. Who taught them the journey? They go, “Here's the journey. Hey, welcome to XYZ company. Here's our buyer's journey, Will. This is how we buy stuff.” Nobody knows how to buy stuff because they don't want to spend money. You're doing an unnatural act when you're selling something to a company. So you have to be the deal sherpa to get them through this system. And if you don't know how to do that, you got to learn how to do that.

 

Will Barron:

Okay.

 

Brian Burns:

Otherwise… Go ahead.

 

Will Barron:

I'm sorry. I was going to ask if, because it seemingly… A lot of this, if we strip away all the communication, all the digital communication, all the platforms that we're all using to spam people, the email, the phone, it seems like what we're describing here is essentially going to some kind of industry event saying hi to people, and then over the few months, weeks, sending them useful stuff, trying to collaborate with them, taking the surgeons away for training. And then naturally they get used to the product. They want to use it. There's no weird demo with my surgeons I used to sell to, it was, “Oh, of course we're doing the training with our equipment.” Oh, of course this equipment is way better than what they're used to. So naturally they want it.

 

The Power of Meeting People and Building Your Sales Network · [32:27] 

 

Will Barron:

And there's nothing weird about it and it just seamless and makes sense. So if we strip away all the digital communication that we're all trying to leverage to turbocharge our outreach and our ability to get in front of more people more often, do we need to think about this? And as a way to sum this up, when you think about it like going to an industry event and networking with people and building business relationships, is that the hack here that we need to strip back all the rest of it and that's the layers on top, but the basic principle that we need to put across is meet with people and build a network.

 

“The worst thing you can do is go to an industry event because the only people there are people selling to each other or people who have nothing better to do.” – Brian Burns · [33:00] 

 

Brian Burns:

The worst thing you can do is go to an industry event. Because the only people there are people selling to each other. And then people who have nothing better to do. I look at Dreamforce and I'm like, “What CEO in their right mind would let their VP of sales spend a week at the end of the quarter in San Francisco getting drunk?” No. So guess who goes? Sales ops… It's a gift to people who have no authority within a company. So that's what they do. And all of a sudden, you get everybody sitting around listening to Michelle Obama. Fantastic. Excellent. That's really going to increase sales. No, you have to go to the customer site and actually help them. If you can't go to the site, you get online with them and help them.

 

Brian Burns:

And my approach when I was selling, it was everybody wanted to sell consulting, like what you call training… No, make the doctors pay for that training. Most companies wanted those doctors to pay… Or my engineers to pay. I go, “No, they're not going to pay.” And you're starting a sales cycle when you do that. Because that's money. Somebody's got to transact that money. No, I'd do it all for free. I'd be like, “Let's get it in here. Let's get it working.” I mean, one company, I had actually transferred their whole product onto our product. It was 10 times faster and we hadn't negotiated a price yet. So guess what leverage I had when we negotiated a price? That they would've had to try and pull us out of the product and reduce its performance by 10. So you have enormous leverage.

 

Brian Burns:

The more you're engaged with the client, the more likely you are to win. And if you're in that beauty contest sale, like most of us are where you have five or 10 contestants, everybody's a good singer. Everybody looks good in a bathing suit. And one person picks or they flip or they buy three. And everyone's got a different one. And it's like, you have to be in control of that process and forget about this buyer's journey and go back to the idea that we're people and we're not companies. And we are outside the tribe. Their tribe is in that building. That's their cave. You're trying to knock on the cave. “Hey, stranger out here would like some of your food and some of your resources.” And they're like, “No, thanks.” If you show up with a gift, “Oh, here's some food and here's some pelts and some blankets and stuff.”

 

How to Handle an Over-controlling Sales Manager and Still Be Successful · [36:20] 

 

Will Barron:

I think you're on to something here, Brian, of a book, Tribal Selling. And you go into both building a tribe and building a cult, a very similar of having your own language and being able to communicate on their level and all that kind of stuff. There's definitely a book or a course or a series there somewhere. But I want to wrap up here, Brian, with one thing and the answer might be tell them to listen to this damn episode of the show, but what do we do if we are a salesperson listening to this, SDR, we're an account executive, whatever our title is, what have I been, I've been a territory manager, account manager, sales specialist… Whatever our title is. What do we do if we go, “Oh, this all makes sense, we need to give first. We need to get our product in front of them. That makes total sense. If our product is this good and we get it in front of them, then they're going to love it. We're going to knock price off the table. We're going to have all the leverage,” as you describe.

 

Will Barron:

What do we do if our company doesn't allow us to do this? Almost specifically, we have a sales manager who says, “Nope, 60 calls a day. That's your lot. Get over there.” What do we say to that sales manager to let us experiment perhaps? Or do we move to a new company? What's the answer for the sales people listening who are in that predicament?

 

“The reason why managers are so obsessed with cold call numbers is because it's always easier to count calls than it is to count quality.” – Brain Burns · [37:10]

 

Brian Burns:

Well, most people are in that predicament. I would say 95% are because it's always easy to count calls than it is count quality. It always will be and everyone's faking it today. And all these managers who think, “Oh, well, look at my little dashboard. Isn't it pretty?”

 

“They're not going to fire you if you get your quota. But they're not going to keep you because you had your KPIs in place or you made the 60 calls that they wanted, but you didn't get a meeting.” – Brian Burns · [37:57]  

 

Brian Burns:

I worked at a company where they said we want at 300% a pipeline for our quota. And everybody from the bottom rep to the VP of sales knew it was BS. So everybody just adhered to it. So what that's exactly what you do, you adhere to it. And you got to do whatever it takes to do your job, because they're not going to fire you if you get your quota and your meetings or whatever it is, but they're not going to keep you because you had your KPIs in place. You made the 60 calls, but you didn't get a meeting.

 

Brian Burns:

What are they going to say? They're going to say, you're not very good at those. You need to personalise them more. And we need that 60 year old sales trainer back in here telling us to… The guy who lived down by the river and the motivational speaker to come back in and get us ramped up and more coffee. Because that's for closers. And it's like we're forgetting that it's a human being. And we're applying the simple sale skills to the complex sale, which does the exact opposite of what it should do.

 

Focus on Getting the Result: Sales Managers Don’t Care How You Get Things Done · [38:50] 

 

Will Barron:

So do we need to just go out there and do what it takes to get the results, because then we're not getting sacked versus follow the plan. It's not working. The ship's going down, where we can get sacked. Is it just about getting the results? Is that what we need to focus on here?

 

Brian Burns:

Well, I mean, no rep… Very few reps who make their number will get canned. And today, what, 50 some percent of the reps, it's stacked against us now. When I started in sales, it was like 80% would make quota. Today it's… I had a commission expert and he goes, “We target for 65.” And I'm like… And all that is commission expense control. It's not sales leadership or management. So the people… But the company wants revenue. They want deals and no manager… Managers really don't care how you get it. But when you're not getting it, then they're all over you on the data entry BS. And they know everyone's making it up. Let's be honest. It's all horse shit. It's the biggest scam going out there. It's like, what does marketing do?

 

“You’ve got to build the need before you start showing them the medicine and the solution to it.” – Brain Burns · [41:02] 

 

Brian Burns:

“Oh, we're behind on leads.” So it's like “What's the five easiest ways to increase your income?” They'll put that blog out and it'll get tonnes of responses, but they're not leads. They're contacts. We've got to understand that we're selling to people, start conversations, and get meetings and the sale will come. We've got to move at the pace that our customers move. When do you go to a doctor? If you're a guy, I haven't been to a doctor in 20 years. It's going to take a lot to get me to go to a doctor. The doctor could knock on my front door. He goes, “Brian, I'm here. I want to see what's wrong with you.” It's like, “Thanks for coming by.” Slam the door. You got to build the need before you start showing them the medicine and the solution to it.

 

Will Barron:

Look, I'll wrap up with this and you can tell us about the podcast in a second. But I've got a real practical example of that. My girlfriend is a doctor. One of my best mates is a helicopter paramedic. Both top of the game, what they do. I hurt my finger at jujitsu the other week. It's called mallet finger. I'd never heard of it before. They both told me I had mallet finger. Essentially, for everyone watching, you turn the tendon in your finger, and if you don't put a splint on it in a specific way, you have a bent finger for the rest of your life. It's not painful. It's not the end of the world. Did I listen to them? No. They both told me exactly what I needed to hear, but there was no persuasion. There was no selling that went on with it.

 

Parting Thoughts  · [42:10] 

 

Will Barron:

So I ignored them both until what did I do? “Oh my finger's a bit bent. I best Google this and find a solution.” So yeah, you're spot on with your doctor example and I'm literally living it right now. The reason I say this is I've done… Last week I recorded 10 episodes of the show where I had the finger splint on. They're going to come out over the next three months or so. And so people are going to think I'm wearing this finger splint for months on end when you only need it on for a couple of weeks. But with that Brian, that random anecdote to wrap up the show, mate, tell us a little bit about your podcast. Everyone who's listening, who's been… You kind of depressed us at first and then you give us an enlightening insight at the end of the show there. So we all appreciate it. Tell us where we can find out more about your show, you and everything that you are up to.

 

Brian Burns:

Yeah, sure. The Brutal Truth About Sales & Selling Podcast, everywhere you get podcasts. And the idea is to cut through the BS, the old school how to handle objections, crap and tell you exactly what's working today. I'm still selling every day, all day and it's changed. It's changed tremendously, literally in the last probably 16 months. And I don't know if you've seen it, but it is very different out there. So that's what it's all about. It's all about what works today and talking to people who are actually doing it and not only the techniques, the tools, and the mindset, but it's just a fun conversation, much like this.

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. Well, I'll link to that in the show notes for everyone who's driving over at salesman.org. And with that Brian, I want to thank you for your time, your insights as always mate, and for joining us on The Salesman Podcast.

 

Brian Burns:

Thanks Will.

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