In this episode, Katie and Chris discuss business development – a euphemism for sales – and how we’re thinking about growing the business as the pandemic begins to wind down. What are some of our favorite business development techniques? What doesn’t work? Listen in now!
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What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.
Christopher Penn 0:02
This is In-Ear Insights, the Trust Insights podcast.
In this week’s In-Ear Insights, we’re talking business development, or as some folks will call it, just plain old fashioned sales.
It’s been a topic on the minds of everybody, as the economy starts to come back to normal over the next few months, as life hopefully itself returns to normal, you know, as we wind into the second half of the year.
So Katie, what’s on your mind? What’s got you? Well, I would say you got your hair on fire.
But what what are the things that that you haven’t thinking about? And, and some possible ideas?
Katie Robbert 0:40
Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about our, the biz dev for Trust Insights, you know, really trying to disassemble it and put it back together.
You know, and one of the things that I’ve been focusing on is the qualifying questions.
And so for those who aren’t in sales, the qualifying questions are the questions that you ask upfront of a prospect to determine whether or not they might potentially be a good customer, customer for you.
So it’s those qualifying questions that move them further into the funnel of a good, qualified lead, or someone who’s maybe not quite right at this moment, maybe you still want to put them into some sort of a nurture campaign, or you just want to disqualify them altogether as a customer.
And so I’ve been really focused on sort of that initial if someone expressed interest, how do we get them in the door.
And so when we think about when I think about how, Trust Insights attracts customers, a lot of times, it’s someone who knows exactly what they want, and they reach out to us and say, I have a problem, I need you to fix it.
And you’re the only one who can fix it.
Which is great.
But that means that we are relying on people to be aware enough to know that they have a problem that they need fixed and to be aware of us that we are the ones who can fix the problem.
So that’s not a sustainable sales model from my, from where I sit.
So I’ve been really looking at what other things could we be doing to bring in new business? And one of those tactics is the qualifying questions.
And so it occurred to me that there’s a general set of qualifying questions in sales.
And so that’s great.
But that doesn’t necessarily work for us.
And so I really wanted to think about, you know, what specific questions do we at Trust Insights need to ask, in order to determine if someone’s a good candidate or a good customer or not? So I’ve been really thinking about, you know, that aspect of it.
And also, you know, how do we bring people in the door and drum up more interest? And so, you know, there’s a lot of different things that we could be doing, and I think we’ve tried a lot of them.
I don’t know that we’ve necessarily hit on the thing.
When you think bizdev Chris, what do you think about
Unknown Speaker 3:07
Unknown Speaker 3:07
Christopher Penn 3:09
years ago, I went through a tom Hopkins sales training system along with like five others, cuz I actually used to horrendously work in sales.
I was terrible at it, by the way.
So take that with a grain of salt.
I was in technical recruiting, which is a prop.
My hat’s off to people who can actually do that job.
Because it is one of the few jobs where the product can Ansel itself, you know, what’s the candidate opens their mouth? It’s out of your hands as to what happens.
But the big thing that I remember in the first days working my my sales coach and said, Look, there’s this framework for the 60s that still works today IBM’s framework called BANT, budget, authority need and timeframe, you know, does the person that you’re the company you’re working with, do they have the budget, right? Because if they if they can’t find the budget in some way, it’s it, it’s a no go? Is the person you’re talking to? They have the authority to even make a decision, right? If they’re not the decision maker, then who is? Is there a need, right? What’s, what’s the actual problem? Do they have the problem that you’re trying to solve? And then, you know, what’s the timeframe for them making a decision? If they say, Oh, you know, we don’t really have a timeframe, then then I probably goes along with me to say it’s not urgent, which means you’re not going to get the budget.
And there have been a number of folks in sales over the years who tried to sell their own frameworks have attempted to discredit this one.
But it still mostly works, right? It makes logical sense.
If a company doesn’t have a need for what you do.
Nothing else really matters, right? If they can’t, if it’s not urgent enough to make a decision, there’s no timeframe, then you’ve got a bad you’ve got a an unqualified lead.
If the person talk to you can’t those have the authority to sign on the line or, you know, or a strong influence on the process.
It’s not going to go very far.
So when I think I’ve been Development, I think about, can we get that information? And a big part of that, and it’s something I think every company struggles with is, is that need part? That’s the core, right? It is, if there is no need for what you’re selling, you will not sell anything.
And I think for us, and for a lot of companies, the question is, does the audience have legitimate need? And if they don’t, can you make one in in a way, there’s a really good book, I was reading a summary of over the weekend by Jonah Berger, on, on reducing barriers to sales, sexual persuasion, and one of the things that they were saying in the book was, a lot of the time when it comes to persuasion we try you push really hard, right? Here’s some more facts.
Here’s another webinar.
Here’s another fact sheet, here’s, you know, 15 new blog posts, we’re trying to push something onto somebody.
And people just naturally I mean, we find this in normal life, right? We, we resist, like, stop doing that.
Right? Like That jerk was like, Hey, I just wanted to bubble this up, shut off your inbox, like, I don’t want to, you’ve guaranteed yours in the last place in my email I read today.
And you’re saying what else? What can you do to instead of pushing more things on people? How do you reduce the barriers, and a big part for us, you know, and for all sales is comes down to need, if there’s a need, then the person will find their the way to a budget, that person will have a time frame, right, which is great.
Now, you know, this hurts, please fix it.
At the person is not the decision maker, but as close to it.
And and it’s urgent enough need, they will find a way to force the organization to get it.
So it comes down to that.
So when when you say, you know, how do we think about selling? And what does it mean? It means you find finding the listening that need and then letting been encouraging somebody to sell themselves.
Katie Robbert 6:56
So what’s interesting about what you’re saying is 10 times out of 10, we see that the prospect needs the thing that we’re selling.
But there’s a disconnect there, like we see the need, they don’t see the need.
And I think that’s the problem that we haven’t figured out how to solve yet for ourselves.
Because our services in general are fairly straightforward when you really break them down.
And when we’re talking with someone, we’re like, oh, well, you could use this and you need this.
And in order to do what you’re trying to do, you need this.
And they’re like, oh, okay, I’ll get back to you.
And then they kind of ghost us.
And so that’s where we get stuck in the process is, you know, and maybe we’re coming on, you know, too aggressively, maybe we’re like that guy who’s trying to bubble up the email to the top of your inbox.
Um, you know, maybe that’s how people are perceiving us, when they just want to have a conversation.
And we’re trying to provide solution after solution after solution.
And as I’m saying it out loud, I realize how frustrating that can be, because think about it outside of the context of being in a business and being in sales.
And, you know, I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, Chris.
But sometimes, when you’re reaching out to someone, you just want to talk, you’re not looking for them to try to solve all of your problems.
And so, you know, for example, if I say to you, you know what, Chris, I’m kind of having a bad day, the, you know, the, these three things have happened, like, you know, my dogs are making me crazy, my windows are falling apart on my house, and you know, I smashed up my car.
That’s a really bad day.
Now, you, Chris, where you said, you’re probably like, Oh, well, I know how to fix all of those things.
Well, guess what, I didn’t ask you what the solution is, I just need someone to talk to you.
I just need someone to vent to.
And as soon as you start providing me solutions, I get frustrated and don’t want to talk to you anymore.
So I wonder if that might be part of the problem with the sales process, maybe how, you know, we approach it, how other people approach it.
They’re just looking for that like, sounding board that event and we’re coming in hot saying, Well, you could use an SEO audit, you could use this you could use that and then they’re like, I I didn’t ask you for solutions.
Please stop trying to fix everything for me.
What do you think about that? philosophy? Chris?
Christopher Penn 9:25
I’m gonna get into so much trouble here.
But I’m sure there is a very strong stereotype which, to me indicates there is some truth to it.
That that is actually a cultural and gender based thing.
When you it’s something that for one reason or another the guys tend to do is like okay, let me just go and just go in and fix things instead of saying, Well, what exactly is the next action to take? One of the things that I learned in the in your solution based selling is as soon as Do you want help with that? Because the answer is no, then the conversation is over.
And you’re and you’re, you can escape with your next, you’ll be more productive and do something else.
But then also, like, just ask, if you will, what would you like help with? You know, one of the calls that we had recently that was a large sale for us.
I stopped saying, so how can I help you? Like, what do you do you need help? And the person’s like, yep, I need this, this, this, this and this, like, great.
I didn’t have to sell them anything.
Right? I just had to listen.
Take notes and say, Can you say yes or no, you know, can we do this? And, you know, we’ve gotten really good advice from our, our board member Gini Dietrich, about when you’re picking up the phone to call people don’t call them to sell them something, call them to listen, call them say, Hey, what’s going on? Just want to check in want to catch up with you.
And let them sell themselves? If there is because you’re calling them during the workday and using a calendaring system.
It’s not, you know, just a friendly call, it is always like, what do you need, but at the same time, it’s not, hey, I’ve got these new things that I want to show, you know, what’s going on? And if there is nothing to do, you don’t you don’t do anything, and you move on to the next call.
Katie Robbert 11:15
So I don’t disagree with the gender and culture comment.
And so I that said, I will just kind of leave that there so that we don’t get into a different, so we don’t get off track different episodes.
Yeah, that’s a different episode.
You know, so what? A couple of things occurred to me.
So one, I wrote down the as because I always have multiple documents open, I wrote down the Do you need help question to think about in terms of qualifying questions.
And then also, it just occurs to me that, you know, in order to get more of the right leads into sort of our sales funnel? Maybe we just ask everybody, like, Do you need help? And based on the responses, then we start pursuing and stop annoying people who don’t want help.
Let them self select in and say, yes, I do need help.
I don’t quite know what but I know I need something.
Christopher Penn 12:17
Yeah, no, I mean, well, things we’d like to do as a company is to, you know, send out like a sales email every now and again.
And I think it’ll be kind of funny to literally have it be the most awkward sales email, you’ll get this this month.
Just like so.
But I think that’s important, because I know, you’re certainly one of the things that we’ve been taught as content marketers is, you know, constantly creating new content, constantly creating, you know, stuff of value and things.
And one of the side effects of that, and we see this a ton, is getting feedback, people saying, No, I don’t need anything, I just enjoy your content, which is cool.
Because you know, if we have mindshare, then when, when the time comes, when they do need help, they at least remember who we are.
But I think it’s also a valid strategy to ask people say, Do you need help? If you don’t need help? Great.
Please continue to enjoy the content.
But if you do,
Unknown Speaker 13:07
what is it?
Katie Robbert 13:08
And are you willing to talk with us about it?
Christopher Penn 13:12
Well, I mean, if they reply, then obviously, the answer is implicitly, yes.
If they ignore us, then that would be a no.
Katie Robbert 13:20
I will I would disagree with you there.
I think because I do think we need to do a test.
I think for those of you listening, don’t be surprised when you see this email coming to your inbox.
But essentially, I think there’s there’s two questions.
One is Do you need help? Someone can say yes to that question.
But that doesn’t mean that they want it from us.
Right? And then the second question is, okay, you’ve identified that you need help.
Would, do you want to set up a call with us in order to sort of figure out what that is? Because, yeah, I can like, kick and scream, you know, in my office and say, I need help, I can’t lift this heavy box.
And then the second my husband comes in, he’s like, do you want help? I’m like, No, I got it.
Like, not that that scenario has ever happened? No, but it’s, we need to really be thinking about human behavior and human nature, and not making assumptions.
I think we need to give people as many opportunities to raise their hand as possible so that they feel comfortable going into the conversation.
Christopher Penn 14:22
Exactly, you know, and having brands that this is where the power of brand matters, because if the brand is known for being able to solve data problems, right.
That helps to set some context around the Do you need help question because I’ve gotten weird questions from folks in the past.
I had one question for one person who was like, Can you help me you’ll make some decisions about some relationships.
I’m like, No, I’m completely unqualified.
Unless you want your relationships to be you know, that of somebody who has a number of disorders having the brand gives the context For for the help request, I would hope and if it doesn’t, then you have a branding problem.
Katie Robbert 15:05
Right? So I think we’ve, I, you know, this has given me a lot of ideas just sort of talk me through.
And I think that that’s one of the important things to remember too, is especially, you know, if you’re a smaller business, like, don’t be afraid to talk through, you know, these processes, you know, ask for help within your own organization, even if it’s just a one other person, because they’re gonna see things that you aren’t.
Christopher Penn 15:32
And, you know, if you don’t have that support network there, then go, you’ll find this so many communities to choose from, right? There’s so many different places that you can go to ask for help.
If you if you’re so inclined, you need some chalk to go to a Trust insights.ai slash analytics for marketers.
It’s our free slack group, you know, for the most part, except in the actual, you know, sales announcements channel, I’ll try to sell anything good, just people asking for help, like, hey, I need help with this thing.
Does anyone know how to do this? You know, there’s Facebook groups, there’s discord groups, you name it, this there’s a place out there where you can you can ask somebody just to talk things through in one of my writing groups, that we have an entire channel of just sort of brainstorming, say, Hey, I’m stuck.
At this point in my story, you know, what would you do? How would you tackle it? And even if the suggestions don’t help, sometimes it’s talking through things gets your brain going separate? Like you were just saying, Katie?
Katie Robbert 16:28
Well, and to that point, those are not openings for a hard sell.
People are just they want some suggestions.
And so I think that, as we’re thinking through, you know, how we are selling, you know, putting in quotation selling to people, I think it’s more about listening and taking information in vs cristea.
Point pushing information out.
So I’m, I’m ready to go do something with all of this information.
Christopher Penn 16:58
And, as always, here’s the shameless plug.
If you would like, just to talk to somebody about the problems that you’ve got going on, let us know.
You can find us at TrustInsights.ai dot AI slash gi podcast for this episode, many others.
And if you just want to say, Hey, can we chat, go to TrustInsights.ai dot AI slash contact, you can reach us there.
As always, we’re in all the other places we mentioned and look forward to having some interesting conversations, seeing what’s going on in your work world because everybody’s got a unique and fun and interesting perspective on solving the problems that we all have.
Thanks for watching and listening.
We’ll talk to you soon.
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