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The Digital Utopia Podcast Episode #15

Part 2: Effective Selling to B2B Leadership

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About the podcast

The Digital Utopia Podcast is for SMB Marketers and Business Leaders looking to align their Marketing, Sales, and Service departments so they’re part of one powerhouse growth team.

Each episode will dive into the strategies, philosophies, and tools that will change your approach to organizational growth, give you renewed focus and clarity, and allow you to build a brand that not only helps you stand out—but win.

The Digital Utopia Podcast is produced by Digitopia and hosted by Frank Cowell and Joseph Freeman.

Episode transcription

Frank 
The solution isn't you're offering scope or you're offering a, b and c recommendations, the solution is the approach. And that's where you should get a lot of mental transformations taking place. You want them to have a paradigm shift, collectively as a room.

DJ 
You're listening to the digital utopia podcast, a resource dedicated to helping b2b leadership and executives gain clarity and focus in a chaotic marketplace.

Frank 
Hey, gang, welcome to the digital utopia podcast episode 15. I'm your host, Frank Co. Well, and I'm joined by my co host,

Joe 
Joseph Freeman.

Frank
Joe, we've had a very good time this morning, just talking about randomness

Joe
every time.

Frank
We need to bring us back into alignment here. Focus us I am lacking serious focus this morning.

Joe 
Let's bring it back. Let's bring it back.

Frank
Jason Derulo.

Joe 
had that reference at all?

Frank
In his song? I told you I was not focused this morning. No. So for our listeners, like I am really my ATD is kicking in hard this morning

Joe
focus 3,2, 1. All right, let's go talking about sales sales. We started talking about sales on the last episode sales sales. And we were talking about our sales process here at digitopia.

Frank 1:22
Yes, we were.

Joe 
Last week, we covered our Connect call, which is really one of the most important pieces of our process here

Frank
is the place in the process where you ensure that your pipeline does not contain as I said, fake news.

Joe
Yes. Can you stop referencing that? It's no big me weird chills.

Frank 
You're weird, yourself. But the reason I say that is because most pipelines aren't filled with truth. And that's, that's a fact.

Joe
So we talked about how the guy said call is, is really a filter. It's where you try to disqualify the prospect,

Frank
right? Absolutely. You can't put on your happy ears, you got to make sure that your assumption is that this person, this company is not a good fit. Let's find out why. And work to prove that. Right. So it's like a scientist, as we've talked about a scientist. Yeah.

Joe
If you want to learn more about that, be sure to check out the last episode, which was 14 the into Episode 14. Today, we are going to continue through steps 2,3,4, and 5 of our sales process. And Frank, can you kick us off by just naming what those are? And then we'll dive into each one and unpack a little bit?

Frank
Yeah, so it's, this is our process. And what I want to reiterate, as I mentioned on the last episode, by no means is this is this the process that these aren't necessarily the stages you have to go through, but I'll explain to you what, what ours are in generally speaking, you should have similar stages. Okay. So if the Connect was about a filtering mechanism to ensure that your pipeline that you assigned dollars to is real, and not fake. There's Joe blushing again, then then, the next stage we have is discovery. Okay, so discovery is where we're going to actually do our, our deep dive with the prospect.

Joe 
Step two is discovery.

Frank
After discovery, and this is we do we do this, and it's a little different. Most people go into a planning phase, or like consulting or proposal phase, whatever you call it, most people go into this phase, but we do what we call collaborative planning. And I'll talk about that in a moment. So after planning, and then we come back and present some great presentation. And then finally, after that, we're at agreement. Okay, so connect, discovery, planning, presentation, agreement.

Joe
Perfect. So again, we talked about connect on the last episode, you can check that out. Now we're going to move on to step two, which is discovery. So what are we doing now that we have decided that this prospect is worth our time?

Frank 
One other note, we're talking about a b2b sales process here, you're selling something that has to go through a process you're selling to maybe a cohort, or you're selling something that requires a significant buying decision, you know, as this is why you go through these stages, that's the natural progression that needs to happen. I'm not saying this is the sales process. If you're selling you know, $99 subscriptions, you know, to something

Joe 
Well, those are almost grab and go You don't even have a real considered sales cycle there. Right people I mean, that decision on the spot if they want to,

Frank 
often that decisions made on the website, someone's going to buy that 90 right.

Joe 
Oh, no human will have to go.

Frank 
Yeah, you don't have to. If you do have a sales process, maybe for like enterprise deals, maybe someone wants 50 licensed Then Yes, you might have some version of this, and it's probably a bit more condensed. But generally speaking, if you're selling b2b, if you're selling something that has consideration, it's a significant decision to make for your buyer. This is the process we go through. So when I talk about discovery, this is where you're now going to get together with the prospects stakeholders. Now, if you remember, in my, in our last episode, we talked about on the Connect, call that one of the requirements that you indicate to your prospect is that in discovery, you require a certain amount of time, you're gonna have some homework for them. And you're also going to require stakeholders be present. And you need to get that information that they're good with that right.

Joe 
this is a non negotiable, right? If they are nodding their head saying yes, to be present. And then the day before you find out that stakeholders not going to be present,

Frank 
he rescheduled the meeting,

Joe
he rescheduled it,

Frank 
you reschedule the meeting, and you do so very diplomatically. You don't want to sound like an asshole,

Joe
but wait maybe we should talk about that. Why would you not want to sound like an asshole?

Frank 
Well, that's a good question, Joe.

Joe
Alright, move on, move on.

Frank
Yeah, so no, you do that diplomatically. And what I mean by that is, you want to make sure you position the reasoning such that it's good for them. So you want to say something like, Oh, you know, Hey, Joe, that's a real bummer, we're probably not going to be able to achieve what we need to achieve in that meeting, because their participation is critical to the process. So why don't we do this? Why don't we go ahead and reschedule at a time that's, that works for them. And you? And don't worry about us, you know, my team's used to this, you know, occasionally we have to reschedule that's not a problem. And I would make sure to position it that way that, hey, this, this is going to ensure that we are successful at this next step, because what we're trying to accomplish is a BNC.

Joe
Do we ever see anybody stall out here? Because I can imagine some people say, yeah, yeah, we can get them on the phone, then it comes time the day before you check in with them. They're like, either not gonna make it. And the truth is, they were never going to make it.

Frank
correct. Right. They lied to you. They lied to you.

Joe
So at this point, it seems like we still have a decision to make here. Do we want to move forward? Do we not? How do we vet that

Frank 
fear? So that then you put it on them to figure out the dates and you maybe suggest some dates. And if they won't come up with dates, then

Joe 
then they get them out?

Frank
down, then don't move forward? Don't try to shoehorn them in, if they say, Hey, you know what, my so and so said, that they're just can't do it. They just they want me to handle this and whatever, then I would say, you know, what, I completely understand, you know, he or she is probably really I get the importance of what they're working on. Unfortunately, I just know, based on data, I know based on a track record, that if we don't have their participation, the chance of failure is extremely high. I don't want to do that to you. And if I'm being honest, I don't want to do that to me either. So let's just maybe reconvene when everybody does have time. And look, if you decide you need to go another direction. totally understand. Okay. Do you realize the power in that?

Joe 
I could imagine the power.

Frank 
Yeah, because most salespeople again, I mentioned this. In the I believe in the last episode, a lot of salespeople come from a place of groveling, right. And it's not very becoming and it does nothing to set you up as a peer. Right. I remember one of my favorite fact this guy right here, wrote this book right here. Magnetic marketing by Dan Kennedy. It's sitting on our desk right here. So Dan Kennedy, I believe he was the one that said I'm gonna give him attribution on something maybe he didn't say, but he says I'd rather be a peer in the boardroom than a vendor in the hallway. Yeah, okay. And so many times, salespeople, I'm talking to you, you're a vendor in the hallway. And what helps create that position for you, is you do things like, not act like a professional, you do things that come across as groveling as in Oh, you know, that's fine, we'll move forward, it's okay. And you compromise. And that continues to position you as a vendor in the hallway. Keep in mind, if you absolutely don't need those people involved and you can actually get good a good quality sales process going you can get good quality clients closed and you can, you can get everything you need to do and actually efficiently close deals without the you know, the CX o present, then don't make that a requirement. I'm not saying you know, the CX o the C level has to be there. It all depends on your offering, what you're selling how decisions are made, but if you determine certain people need to be there, then don't compromise on that. Because that's not going to set your team up for success. Second, set you up for success. You

Joe 
know, reminds me of my Cutco days and I know a lot of marketing Companies good knives, good knives. Really good forever guarantee forever. Just replace them and have them 20 years later. Yeah, good. You know,

Frank
I bought other knives other than Cutco, by the way.

Joe
Okay, we're gonna edit that part out.

Frank 
No, you're not, you're not,

Joe
you know, they required that you if, if at all possible that you had was it they had hm threes, right? It was a homeowner, they were married. And they were 30 years old or above, because this was the demographic that they knew would and could and probably should buy these knives, right. So once you got that confirmation, and you set the meeting, it was always really important to make sure that both of the couple were there. because inevitably, you would meet with one of them. In many cases, it was the wife and you get to the whole presentation, and this person would love it. And then they would say, I need

Frank 
to talk to my husband, or my wife and significant call me back.

Joe
And there is no calling back. You're making the sale right there. And if you don't make the sale right there, you're probably never gonna make the sale. Right. So that was really important that we would actually also cancel meetings if we found out that they were not both going to be there.

Frank 
Yeah, I mean, you have to because they've, they've done the math to figure out, oh, if we don't, you know, stick to this process, that our chance of winning business goes down. Right. And it's all about efficiency, right? Not just a waste of everybody's that's a waste of everybody's time. You know, it reminds me of back when I worked in retail back in the way early days when I had to sell consumer electronics food on my table and when the world was still black and white heat my wife. Okay, very funny. No, but we were selling VCRs. So that's a bit of a dating there, isn't it? So, it reminded me one of I remember my first manager told me, you know, if you would say, Oh, you know that that customers coming back, they said they're going to go, you know, talk to their wife, they're gonna come back. He's like, Frank, the be back bus never comes back. Yeah. And that's the first lesson you learn in retail. Is the be back bus doesn't come back.

Joe
That's because you didn't show them the Betamax and how cool that thing really was? Yeah, they would have bought that on the spot.

Frank
Yeah, this is true.

Joe 
Okay, so discovery.

Frank 
Betamax was a superior product, by the way, for those of you who want to dive into that story, and hear something fascinating about how Sony really screwed up on that one. Because the technology actually was superior. Compared to VHS,

Joe 
I see no hands being raised right now.

Frank 
Nobody cares. Nobody cares.

Joe 
Alright, so discovery meeting, we are going to actually meet with the stakeholders, they're all going to be in the room. And what is the point of this, we're gonna walk away with what?

Frank 
Okay, this is where. So if in the first meeting, I paraphrase it as this is how you ensure your pipeline is real. In this second meeting, that discovery, this is where you actually win the business.

Joe 
Oh, yeah. So here at step two of five,

Frank
you actually win the business here. Because what happens when people buy, and this is universally true, no matter what you're buying, or selling, what happens is, people make the decision to buy very early on. And they make that decision emotionally. And they make that decision based on how they feel, then through the rest of the process, they start building their case. So when they actually buy, they use that logic, they use the case they've built as the reason to buy, but they make no mistake they bought a long time ago,

Joe 
but they're just justifying their emotional decision. Yeah, their emotional decision, this happens subconsciously, people

Frank 
don't realize they're doing they think they're doing due diligence, they think they're going through their process. Subconsciously, they, they're really close to being you're making their buying decision really early on. And it's emotional, right. So what you have to do here in this meeting, is win them over. And the way you do that is you want to conduct a really great discovery. Now, depending on your offering, and what you do, maybe you don't need a bunch of research and discovery and whatnot. Whatever that is that fact finding is, maybe it's a little bit of education that you're giving your clients, whatever it is, this is where you get the stakeholders in the room, and you take them through the process of helping them understand their real problem. You take them through the process of helping them achieve aha moments. in that meeting, you you help them see things through a different lens. So it's less about your product your offering in this meeting, and it's more so about those things I just mentioned, because if you can do that, and you have an executive team walk out of that meeting, feeling like they actually learned something feeling like they have something new about their business they didn't know before, feeling like they have enthusiasm that they didn't have before coming in that meeting. They're mentally buying you already. You follow me?

Joe 
I do. We need an example here though.

Frank 
Okay. So oftentimes, if I'm selling, you know, like over the years if we've sold you know, digital and marketing related services, The bulk of my discovery meeting is actually less about marketing is very little about marketing. It's about understanding, positioning, understanding, differentiation, understanding the biggest challenges in the business, helping them under uncover what truly is their bottleneck, helping them understand what business they're really in.

Joe 
Yeah, I think it's important to mention to in the room for us are the sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet CSCs. Yeah. They, you know, we aren't having a business conversation above and beyond just a marketing conversation. Because of the audience. It's very, that discovery meeting is very tailored to the audience who at the end of the day, we probably won't even be working with day to day, keep in mind

Frank 
that this is for anybody who sells to an executive crowd. If you can bring about clarity, you will win. Because the thing that executives want more than anything else, they want clarity. Why? Because they deal with bullshit all day long. And if you can be the person that comes in and helps create clarity, you have an amazing chance of winning. Yep.

Joe 
Okay, so our discovery meeting, we're creating clarity with the C suite. Yours may be different. But either way, it's got to bring some value. And, again, what so

Frank 
you're going to create clarity. Yeah, okay. And the way you're going to do that is you're going to help them truly understand what their problem really is, that I can't emphasize that enough. Like when you're in discovery, you're not doing discovery to find out like how you're going to quote your widget. Like, you can do all that bs through, you know, some email back and forth and have your main contact, you know, fill out some stuff, you can quote your widget. That's not what you're trying to get discovery for. Okay, the part of that may be a little bit, but the big part of it is, you're trying to help them understand what is their real problem, and help lead them to a place where they go, Oh, wow. I'm now very clear on what my problem is. You want to then help them understand opportunity. Okay. So now you've got that, that gap, this is where you're deficient, this is your real problem. Now, here's the opportunity. And so now you create an eighth and a place and a B place. So what do you do next? Your job is to show them how your approach your way, your experience is the bridge to where they need to be,

Joe 
you know what this is as much discovery for them as it is. for us.

Frank 
It's, it's a bingo, it's not really discovery for you, the salesperson discovery for them, you said it just perfectly, because if you can help expose that, here's your real problem. And actually, here's ultimately, where you need to be. And get clear on that. Then the bridge is your approach. Now, here's where you here's where you have a chance to differentiate. Right? Your bridge is essentially your offering, it's you your brand your business. But you need to make sure that you're educating them on the importance of your how educating them on on your how your How is different. Okay, and not from a place of bragging, and here's what we do, but from a place of teaching them. So now, if you can expose to them, here's where you are, here's where you want to be with absolute clarity. And now you teach them conceptually, what that bridge needs to be. You're going to get them fired up. Yeah. Oh, by the way, we can build that bridge for you.

Joe
Okay, so is there anything else to do with the discovery stage here?

Frank
Once you do this, and you go through this line of questioning, there is an element of getting data, you need to be able to quote your widget and do your planning and whatnot. So I would suggest one of a couple of things before this meeting, have your main point of contact, fill out some sort of survey or assessment, get all that data? Have them give you access to the analytics, have them give you access to the software, have them give you access to the whatever it is. Answer the questions give you access after this meeting. Ask for the additional information you still don't have okay to complete the picture. But don't waste your executive don't waste the cohorts time, on information you can get from your main point of contact through a survey, or or through access to something or through some follow ups with other subject matter experts or other points of access on their team. Don't waste the cohorts time but that Bs, okay. That is not how you're gonna impress them. Okay, you're gonna impress them by going through that process and creating that clarity in those realizations and then hoping that enthusiasm. So that's one part of it. And then also you have to be likable, so I can't do a whole lot for you there. Hopefully you're likable, right? There's a lot of there's a lot of background information on why This is important because it's about liking trust, okay? So the way you're going to build trust, is you're going to help them learn something through this process, you're gonna help them discover something about themselves. And then when you show them that you've done this a lot, and you have case examples to show you build trust, but you also have to be likable. Okay, so I would imagine, most people in sales, most salespeople I come across in that I've known over the years, they're just generally likable as a group, because you wouldn't be in sales. If you weren't like, if you're a crab, you probably wouldn't gravitate towards sales anyway. Because it's a people business. Right? Right. It's very much a people business. And so you have to be likeable. So they have to, like you and trust you, okay? And, and you're gonna build that trust by that process that I just talked about, but don't waste their time. With information you can gather from your main point of contact, or through some research, or through access to something, some software or some system, okay. But if, after this meeting, you still have some, some of that to do, then get that Now you're gonna move into planning. So whatever your planning is, that's where you're gonna be building your, your plan, your suggestion, your proposal,

Joe 
let's be clear as to step three planning, we had step one Connect, call track discovery, now we're on to Step three

Frank
planning. So now you're going to go off into your planning, whatever that looks like for you. So if you're a CPA firm, that's where you're going to go back, and you're going to do your modeling. And you're going to come up with your recommendations. And you're going to sit down around the boardroom and you're talking about, Hey, you know, what, what approaches could we take with this client based on what we know now what they want to accomplish, and everything we've learned and all the data, this is where you're going to plan and do the work to roll up your sleeves and come up with their proposal. They're, they're sick, they're your recommendations for them. Now, in some businesses, you don't have to do a whole lot here, because maybe your offerings are very prepackaged, maybe they're very modular. I'm a huge fan. In b2b world, even if it's a really complex consulting, labor driven kind of business. I'm a huge fan of modularizing. That's not to say you present your client with a menu. But that's to say, you modularize your expertise. So that way, when you when you know, the expertise, a needs to be part of the solution, you can just like plug in that scope, right. And rather rewrite it, rewrite, rewrite it, rethink it every single time. And so what that means is you need to as a, if we're talking about labor driven, really here, you need to have documented ways in which you go about accomplishing the various, many objectives. And you're going to then tell your client, no, this is the way we accomplish. This part of the process is part of the objective, instead of every time, like starting with custom bullets, like, Oh, well, they need three variations, but this particular prospect, they need six variations. And, and over here, you know, they kind of want to do it on a different timeline. Now, don't do that. Right? You know, if you do that, you're just, it's, you're gonna have a very difficult time scaling. So I'm a huge fan of modularizing, your your various objectives or your skill sets. So that way, when you go into planning, you can make planning that much easier. Okay. But we do something different at Digital via so what we do, but this is the stage where most people, they go off on their own, and then they do this with their teams. And then then they surprise the client at the next stage with the presentation, right? I don't like surprises.

Joe 
Well, you do like surprises?

Frank
Well, that's a different podcast, okay. I don't like surprises. And I don't like surprising my prospects. So what we do is we do collaborative planning. So we bring our main point of contact into this process. And we actually show them, the building blocks we're working with, we show them the pricing of those building blocks that we're working with. And we look at their budget. And what we do is side by side, we want to help them figure out how is what's the best way to use this budget, here's going to be our recommendation. But you're going to need advertising, you're gonna need to hire someone on your team, you're going to need to invest in this software platform, many things that don't have to do with us.

Joe 
So you actually present them the total solution, and we plug into it somewhere. We are not the total solution.

Frank 
Correct? Correct. And if you're doing this, right, as a as a b2b, you need to consider where you're not the total solution, and you're a piece of a total solution. And so many times businesses have blinders on. They think they're the total solution. No, you're not. Because even like, I'll give you an example, in our situation, you know, we're going to recommend that we help a client operationalize their approach to revenue. So that's going to include consulting from us some execution from us, but it also includes members of their team that have to join in on the on the program on the total solution. The members of their team have to show up for interviews, members of their team have to generate raw content, members of their team might have to do minor updates to the website. Oh, by the way, they also need to buy software, then GPL licenses, they need to invest in training. So the total solution is more than often often more than just your firm. We bring the client into planning with us because we want them to help put this together. And they're also going to be the ones to give us insights on like, Yeah, I don't think that's gonna fly. You know, if we present this to the team, I don't think they're going to be on board with this. Okay, great. Wouldn't you rather know that then then show up in the boardroom and have them go, we're not going to be able to do X, Y, &z like Why? Why do people want to show up to these boardrooms, to present and then hear these dollar objections? It's dumb, you should know before going in. Yeah, this particular approach just isn't going to work. Because you know, this particular person who we want to leverage as a subject matter expert doesn't have time. They're grumpy, they're crabby, they don't believe whatever. Right? So you work together with them to do collaborative planning. This is also where you're going to confirm again, budget, right? Because you did that in Connect call in discovery, you want to be asking questions about ROI and value. And you know, what is? What are their growth goals and objectives? And what is that worth to them? So you're confirming along the way, like, what is this worth? What is this worth? Are you prepared to do this? Are you committed to doing this? So in this collaborative planning, that's when you can say, okay, you know, we've got ranges that are 10k 15k 25k per month, have kinds of investments of different ways to tackle this problem. Are those ranges, again, what you're expecting, and you're ready to sign off on something in this range? And you have them help put that solution together? Okay, so that just provides another level of insurance that you don't go into the boardroom and present and go, Oh, wait a second, we're not really prepared to spend 10,000 a month. Like if you get to a boardroom, and you hear an objection, like we're really not prepared to spend 10k a month Shame on you. That is like the dumbest objection you could ever hear at the presentation stage. And that that's Shame on you for not doing the work to find that out early, early on. Okay. So collaborative planning helps you put that solution together. So you don't get dumb objections like, well, we can't really get on board with that solution. And here's why. You want to essentially have that person be your champion in the room. Why? Because it's their solution to because they helped you build it,

that person be your main main point of contact,

because your main point of contact isn't always necessarily the check writer. Right? It isn't, isn't always the final say, nobody knows, some people would would say like, I only want to sell to somebody who has the final say, but let's be real, not every one of your offerings, makes it up to the, you know, the top of the totem pole. Based on what you do, right? Like, if you're a cleaning service business, and you're going to, you know, try to win a big contract for multiple buildings, that's significant. That's a significant decision. But you're not gonna have the CEO in on that decision. Sorry, you're not. Now, your main point of contact might be someone who's doing all the research, they have to work with you day to day, but they're just not the exact final state because they're the ones who initially, you know, reached out to you, which is why we recommend at the discovery that the decision maker is there, though. And we also recommend at presentation, which is the next that that the decision maker is there. So I'm not saying you don't require that they're present. But your main point of contact often isn't the decision maker, your main point of contact, you want them to be your champion. Right, right. Let them be your champion. So that's what you're doing planning. And by I recommend collaborative planning, bring your main point of contact into that. It shouldn't be like, Whoa, they're not going to know our price until presentation de when that slide comes up. No, you want your main point of contact, but yeah, like no, this, we signed contracts. Normally in this range all the time, this is good, this will work, right? You want them to be able to give you that feedback, and you want them to own the solution with you because then it's their solution to Okay, now we go into presentation.

Joe 
So as the step four presentation,

Frank 
step four. Now in step four in presentation, you're going to do a couple things. First and foremost, don't you dare put slides in the first part of the deck about your firm? Well, why not? Don't you dare do the hiring. But this presentation is about them. It's not about you. So don't you dare and I see this so many times. What is tell you a little bit about us since we've got some people in the room who haven't heard about who Acme Corp is, we'll tell you a little bit about why we exist and how long we've been in business and the things the awards we've won. Be s man don't do that shit.

Joe 
Well, that stuff's important.

Frank
It's important that you put it at the back of the deck so they can check it later so they can check it later. Nobody cares. newsflash, nobody cares. The only time you present information like that is if it's used is when you want to use it. to cement your approach your recommendation to cement your experience to show them you have proof of the approach that you want to take them on. So generally speaking, what you want to do is you want to tell a story with this presentation. And the story you're telling, is to take them back from the beginning, back to the beginning. And you want to talk about the impetus for why we're here. And you want to talk about the big vision, right? What is the big vision? What is ultimately Acme Corp trying to accomplish? And if you can show them that clear vision upfront, say this is what, as a company you're trying to march towards, we want to help you make that come to life. And then you start going into, you want to, you want to expose the obstacles, what are the things that are keeping you from that vision? And so you summarize the obstacles, you summarize what they're dealing with, we call this challenges and constraints. Okay, what are the things standing in your way, and this is where whatever the thing that is the biggest, that are the biggest thorns in their side, that's where you want to recap that, right? It's hard to find talent, that's the biggest thorn in their side, you want to put that up there, all these damn competitors jumping into the space, you want to put up that up there. Oh, it's the government and all these regulations, and they make it hard because of the tariffs and the this and that, they put that in there. Whatever the thing is, that's the those are the biggest thorns in their side, you want to make sure you expose that in black and white, right challenges, constraints, you also want identify the constraints and expose that and make sure that they know that, you know, these are their limitations, these are the things that could hobble them, and keep them from success. Okay. And so you put constraints and so you put things like limited staff, limited budget, limited resources have failed in the past. Right?

Joe
So at this point, you're really just regurgitating everything you've heard her I really just retelling the story that they all went through, do you ever get any glazed over eyes? Do you ever get anybody? No. Because to hear that? No,

Frank 
because I'm not suggesting you, you go into this for 30 minutes on each point, right? Your you should tell a total 30, 45 minute story.

Joe 
So this is the recap at the beginning of the episode to make sure that you didn't miss anything

Frank 
correct. And it's also a way to drive clarity, because remember, what are all your competitors doing? They're going to talk about themselves, and then they're gonna start throwing up scope, they're gonna throw a bullet points, they're gonna throw up scope, which is the most boring stuff. And it doesn't tell the story as to why this problem needs to be fixed. And now and why your approach is the approach. That's the best one to solve this problem. Okay, so you tell you paint the vision, you talk about challenges, constraints, and part of that challenges constraint story. This is where you actually want to spend a good amount of time though, because this is where you're going to take those wounds, and you're going to stick your thumb in those ones. And you're going to press OK,

Joe 
you do it professionally and diplomatically, you're not going to be an asshole, if there's a kid, you actually put up an ESOP, or some sort of blog article on how you might do that, because

Frank 
I might record a video about this. But anyways, this is where you can spend some time and really press into those pain points. For example, you might talk about, you know, key competitors they face, right, and how everybody's jumping into their space. fact, we even put a slide into here, I'm gonna like spill the beans, we even put a slide in our presentation, where after we'd like drive home, the point that their marketplace not only they have their own challenges and constraints internally, but externally, they have a crowded, noisy marketplace. And we put up logos of their top competitors, the ones that the biggest thorn in their side. And then the fact that there's a gajillion of competitors, we put a slide after that of Oprah, that meme where she's like handing out like cars, right? We put like, hey, it's it feels like someone's just handing out and then whatever their business is, because we want to like then relieve the pressure bit and like laugh about it. But make no mistake, we're driving home the point that you have your own challenges or constraints, And oh, by the way, you're up against a sea of competition in this marketplace is crowded and noisy. So you have to do something serious about this. Okay, so now we alleviate the pressure and say, how, how are we going to do that? Now you what you want to do is you want to talk about approach, you want to talk about your unique approach. Again, this is not about features and benefits. This is not about scope. This is about your approach your way, and all of your years of experience, that make your way the best way to conquer that problem. And so that's where you edge now you're educating because remember, these stakeholders, they haven't really been educated on your way, not like your main point of contact, your main point of contact, read your blog post saw your videos, you know, they they followed up with email, you had a chance to do the Connect call you were doing planning with them. They know your way and they're like becoming a big fan of your way. And I can't tell you how much how important it is to have a way that is a differentiated approach that differentiates your scope that differentiates you know what you're going to, you know, charge them for it.

Joe 
Let's stop there for just a second because so many people or companies that we work with, don't think they have a way, right. They do think they're different. They do think they're special. But when you ask them well what is the differentiator they might have a few bullet points, but how do you do it differently? And a lot of the times in b2b world we hear You know what everyone kind of does it the same, we just are friendlier to work with, or we are just more reliable, right, which are things that you do have to prove on later. But that's hard to sell at the beginning, I

Frank 
would, I would write you don't ever sell on we're friendly, or we're family owned, or we have integrity or any of that BS. Nobody cares about that. rail, buddy. Right, right. Right. How many years you've been in business? Nobody cares.

Joe 
No, they want to know that you've got a solution. That's good. So

Frank 
I would challenge most of those people that say we kind of do it what everyone else does, I would challenge them to think about the ways in which they do it that are unique. So then I would ask them, well, then why should I choose you over any other option out there, they can do virtually the same thing. Why? And if they say, well, we're integrity, and we really care about the client, like you better go back to the drawing board, cuz your days are numbered brother, if that's your reason why I should choose you is because you really care and you care more than your competitors. People aren't going to buy on that they might stay because of that, but they're not going to buy on that.

Joe 
You know, we also recommend that people take something that is not necessarily unique, but not well known to the audience, and own it. Right. It's kind of like the Millers light example,

Frank 
right? With the triple hops.

Joe 
So they Yeah, right, where they were triple hops brewing. And that sounded so craft, and so wonderful. But the reality is most beers or at least triple hops brew, right? But they said it, they were the first to say it, and they ran with it. And everybody thought it was amazing. Maybe not everybody, but people wanted it. And at the end of the day, it was just what everybody was doing. They were just owning it and making it sound sexy. Is there something in your business that you can do the same thing with?

Frank 
Yeah, you can do that. But I would again, I would also press people on the idea that there are ways in which they do things for their clients to ensure success. And so I would suggest you start documenting that. So in a book called traction, written by Gino wickman, one of the strategic points that he recommends you to find for your business, it's basically a strategic management process. One of the points of strategic definition he absolutely recommends is this thing called your proven process, in air quotes, your proven process is what we're talking about, what is your proven process? What is your proven way? Again, not process in terms of like your work process? I mean, you can, I guess, you know, brand around that and show that as your differentiation. But everyone's got a work process. I'm not talking about a work process, I'm talking about a journey process for the client, right, a philosophical process and approach for the client. So that way they can buy into it and say, yeah, these are the things we need to do. Regardless if I work for you or not, or or hire you or not. These are the approaches we need to take. These are the stages we need to go through these are the things and milestones we need to accomplish along the way. So I would recommend you figure out what is your proven process, through the lens of the customer, for your business, because that's what you're going to show is the solution to the challenges and constraints and the problems, then, once you've properly demonstrated that a different approach needs to be taken, and this is the solution, this is the answer to your prayers, then you can make recommendations for your offering. You don't make recommendations for your offering after you. You show the challenges and the constraints and setup the setup the field, right? No, you have to then show them why the answer to that requires a different way of thinking. Because if you just go to their challenges constraints, and then you immediately after that, make your recommendations. Well, now you're just like, going to be compared against other scopes. But if you say, look, anyone can throw a bunch of like recommendations at this. But what you need to do is take a different approach than what most people are going to tell you about. And here's why. And you describe to them and get them bought in that the approach needs to change. And oh, by the way, most your competitors aren't doing this. So now you create an unfair selling situation, your client, you're asking your client to make a decision on changing the way they you're looking at this through a different lens, and everyone else is asking them to judge scope.

Joe 
Now they, at this point, want to buy an approach. And fortunately, you've created a situation where you're one if not the only one, one of the only ones who can deliver on that approach.

Frank 39:21
That's why when we get people into our sales pipeline, we have over a 60% close rate.

Joe 
Right? So your competitor pool just shrunk immediately

Frank 
correct. And this is where you're no longer a vendor in the hallway, you're appear in the boardroom. Right and so the solution isn't your isn't your offering scope or your offering a B and C recommendations. The solution is the approach. Right? That's where you should get a lot of mental transformations taking place. You want them to have a paradigm shift collectively As a room where they go, Oh shit, that makes so much sense. Why hasn't anyone? oldest this Why hasn't anyone ever positioned it this way and in given us this lens? You're right. That's what you have to do. Once you do that scope is whatever man. It's also why when I then when we do present the actual recommendations for what they need to buy, we actually don't put hardly any scope in there. Right? It's just highlights, paint up option A, here's some highlights, here's what's going to cost, here's what's going to be required of you. Option B highlights, here's what's cost, here's what's going to be required of you. A couple of different approaches we can take, there's pros and cons of each. But you don't get into scope level detail at that point.

Joe 
We're at step four presentation, you're saying during the presentation, you do not get deep into the weeds on scope? No, it comes at some point,

Frank 
you have to give the you have to give highlights, right? You know, there's there's some big things that they have to know from the scope just highlights, though. Really big bullet point, highlights? Because what do they want to know at that point? Generally? What are you going to do not detailed? Where you're gonna do? Generally? What are you going to do? How long is it going to take? What's it going to cost? And what's required of me? When should I expect to see results? or What should I expect in terms of the experience? What what's going to happen in what you know, when's it going to happen? Those are the five things you have to answer. Okay,

Joe 
in the presentation,

Frank
when you're making your recommendations of now you're going to do business with me? Those are the five big questions you have to answer. Generally, what are you going to do? How long is it going to take? What's it going to cost? What do I need to do? How am I need? How do I need to be involved? And how does this unfold over time?

Joe
What can I expect? kreizel? To What about? Okay, so then that's resulted for presentation?

Frank
Yeah, results? Like what should I expect to happen? Right? Yeah. So now you again, that you set the vision, you push on the pain, you you expose what they're dealing with challenges, constraints, competitors, right? What are the biggest things standing in their way between where they are now and where they want to be? Then you, you recommend a differentiated way to go about solving those problems, then you present your recommendations, then you then put the icing on the cake. And you make this really sorry, when you when you sell the approach, before you give the recommendations, there's another thing you have to do between the approach and then before you do the recommendations, proof. So now you're going to present a few high level stories or case studies on what happens as a company when you take that approach. And oh, by the way, when you take an approach like this, and you stop listening to x, y and z, this is where you're anti positioning your positioning against your competitors now, right? So when you take this approach, and you stop doing a, b, and c, by the way, A, B and C is what your competitors do, okay? And when you stop doing things like that, you stop looking at through the lens of this, this is this is what can happen for you. Case Study case study case, study, testimonial case, study case study, right? You show them and you show them, you show them proof that is like, Wow. Okay, we want that. Now, your your solution recommend that your recommendations for what they're going to buy, could buy for you slam dunk, that you'll actually spend the least amount of time on that part of the presentation. And the sad thing I see time and time again, is b2b sales, people spend the bulk of their time on about us, and let's talk about scope and the recommendations. Then you're selling against every other Joker out there, right? And I just can't do it that way. Right? Finally, all that stuff. At the end, I would put in your deck, fa Q's about us. You know, sample terms, like all the things that you think that they're going to want to like, poke into later, put that at the back, don't go through it in the meeting. You have it there. If they bring up that question in the meeting, well, what are the terms? Go to that slide? Here's some sample terms. You can bring it up and answer it. If it gets asked, then here's how I close. Right? So when you're done, you present that. So what did you guys think? there? Does this sound like an approach you guys want to take? Right? I have them by on the approach? And if they say yeah, this, this really sounds like something we need to be doing it this way. Right? Because remember, I sold on the way, then I would say, okay, so when would you guys like to get started and which option sounded best for you. Right? You make you hear typical closing statements. Now, oftentimes in a b2b selling situation, they don't sign on the spot, and that's normal. But what you do is you say, hey, okay, that's fine. The next step would be, you let us know which option you'd like to go with and request an agreement. And then we'll send you an agreement with all the contract details, which is our stuff, which is agreement, right? I only give contract level details. If they say yes, and I've won the business, there's no point in giving them a full contract scope with terms and conditions. If you don't, if they're not ready to say yes to the story, you just told them the solution you presented. It's pointless. So pointless.

Joe
Step Five. agreement is really just tactical, there's no philosophy here is just that's the point where you're drawn up papers, and no one decided

Frank 
no, I'm getting dirty looks By the way, we're going over time. So I hope you love this episode, and that you're going to continue to stick through with us this is a longer one. So look, now at the agreement stage, there's a couple of things you need to do. So one, it's kind of a mere formality, because at this stage, you've won the business, right? There's another reason I don't put all the contract scope in the presentation stage. Because why? I don't want to put things in front of people that materially don't know. matter to the decision. But if I put information in front of people that materially doesn't matter, I'm then asking them to consider it in their brains. And now I'm giving them the opportunity to ask questions and be confused over something that I know, because I've been doing this longer than they have. And every salesperson, you've been doing it more than they have, because you're in the business of doing your thing your client isn't. And you just know, there are certain things that are not material to the decision. But if you put in material things in that presentation, then you give yourself the opportunity for them to ask questions about things that don't matter. And what are you doing? You're putting more distance between you? And yes, that's why I said you only need to cover five things, you answer them at a high level. And if you can do that at a high level, and not get into the weeds, you've won the business. Now you send them the agreement when they request it right. At this point, you should have like a 9598 99% 99.9%, close rate at this stage, because it's a, you know, it's a foregone conclusion. They've said, Yes, give me the agreement. So you give them the agreement. So a couple of things. Now, if they see a term, or a scope item in your contract, that they're like, ah, I wanted three variations not for, you know, or I wanted for not three, they can be like, okay, let's talk about that. If we do four instead of three, that increases the time that we do have to charge another 15 $100. Okay. Or you can decide, we'll throw in that variation. But why would you put that kind of conversation in front of Yes, I like you. I like your approach. I like your proof. You know, this, this all makes sense. I want to do business with you. So why would you put those those dumb conversations in front of Yes. Right now you're just negotiating, get to yes, then negotiate. Now, I'm not suggesting by any means you bait and switch people. And you have things in the contract that you know, might ruffle feathers. If you know, there are things in the contract that are like, Oh, they may not like this, you got to put that up front. Okay, plain and simple, total integrity here. But the things that are not material, and you know this, again, because you do this more than your prospect does, don't get the confusion, you don't get the situation all twisted up. Because you're having to make decisions on things that don't ultimately matter. Get your Yes. On the big things that matter. negotiate on the details. This is the absolute number one sales mistake people make when selling big things. They try to get an they try to get a yes, on everything. You don't need to yes on everything you need to Yes, on the big things, then you negotiate. Got it. So that's why you do that, then the other thing you need to do is you need to know upfront in your terms and conditions, what you're willing to negotiate down to, and what things are just non negotiable at all. So for example, one of the clauses in our terms and conditions is that we're a non exclusive firm, meaning if you're in the pen business you make pens, then by doing business with us does not mean I can't do business with other pen manufacturers. That's a non exclusivity clause. That's non negotiable. I already know that up front. So when you have to know what your non negotiables are, and the points in which you're willing to negotiate and how far you're willing to negotiate, you have to know those upfront, because the last thing you want to do is be in a negotiation situation, and then have to like every time go, Oh, well, they want us to like remove exclusive you should we do that. Because then you're going to be emotional, like you really want this business, it's 50,000 a month, you really want this business and you remove it, you should just you should need to have upfront before you talk to any client. Any given sales situation, you know, upfront what you're willing to negotiate on, period, end of story, and you don't, you don't deviate from that. Now, if you're willing to negotiate your terms from net 30, to net 45, or even net 60, and you're willing to do that, that's fine. Start with what you really want. And if they're good with it, then great. But if they push back and go like I we really need that 45 you just need to know up front, if you're willing to do that you don't need to every time go like huh, should we do that? No, you just know you're willing to do know all your points of negotiation upfront, this is critical. This is very critical, especially things that that you they weren't completely removed or whatever, you need to know that. We're not doing that. Okay. All right. So that's agreement by that point. And again, you're like 99.9%, you know, close at this point, that's guaranteed to be one business, right? So five steps in our process. This doesn't have to be everybody's process, but we do connect which you can listen to on a previous episode, we covered step two discovery Step three, planning step four presentation. We just wrapped up the explanation of step five agreement. So what's next? Where do we go from here? Well, you you've won the business and now there's a whole other set of episodes that we're going to talk about when it comes to on board. experience, right? Because in the digital utopia methodology, we're talking about an entire journey here, we're talking about the client's entire experience. By the way, everything we've talked about in last episode, this episode was very much focused on us, the internal you the brand, the business, but make no mistake, the way we're going to do it is going to create a better experience for your buyer. This is all about creating a better experience for your buyer. Because if you do this sales process, right, you won't bring on bad fit clients, which means you're going to increase the odds that they're gonna have a great experience, right? This is all about being buyer centric, in your process, and in your approach across the entire journey, right from strangers, all the way to fans. So in future episodes, we're going to talk about what happens next. How do you onboard people? Right? How do you create a delightful experience? How do you set expectations? How do you do that when you're in maintenance mode, and the clients been with you while we're going to talk about all those things?

Joe 
Love it

Frank
Yeah, good stuff. So yes, I know we ran over time. This was a very fun episode. Clearly, I'm very passionate about this subject. Tune in for our next episode, we're going to be talking about more of the experiences in the buyers journey and what you can do to improve that and how you can differentiate and how you can create your digital utopia. By the way, go to building your digital utopia comm where you can learn more about the methodology that we talk so much about, you get access to some free templates, other episodes of this podcast, we have some other features that we'll be launching soon. So join us there. Look forward to seeing you on the next episode. Have an amazing day.

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