The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast
The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast

Episode 53 · 11 months ago

Prepare and Practice to Confidently Execute Sales Calls w/ John Kaplan


After elite athletes win champions and gold medals they don’t stop practicing. They continue the work that’s necessary to repeat success and beat their competition.

Elite salespeople follow the same playbook. Whether you're at the top of your game or just starting, we break down our best tips to prepare and practice for your sales calls. John Kaplan shares the prepping and practicing tactics he uses and teaches to accomplish critical meeting goals and achieve success in his deals.

Check out this and other episodes of The Audible-Ready Podcast at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

Here are some additional resources on preparing and practicing:

- Lessons From a Sales Veteran [Podcast]

- Overcoming the Seller Deficit Disorder

- Align with the Buying Process: The Power of the Mantra

What I love about that really simplephraseology, or just that that real simple mantra, is it gets everybody groundedon exactly where we are. I'm mapping our value to a customers problem.That's the ultimate skill for a sellar. You're listening to the audible ready podcast, the show that helps you and your team's sell more faster. will featuresales leader sharing their best insights on how to create a sales engine that helpsyou fuel repeatable revenue growth, presented by the team at force management, aleader in BTB sales effectiveness. Let's get started. Hello and welcome to theaudible ready podcast. I'm Rachel Club Miller. Thank you to all of you havehave gone on your favorite podcast player and rated the audible ready podcast fivestars. We appreciate it. If you haven't done it, take two secondsinto it for us. We'd really appreciate it. I'm joined today by JohnKaplan. Hi John, okay, Rachel, how are you? I am good, and today we are going to talk about one of your favorite topics, John. I know prepping and practicing. When I was pulling this topic together, I thought about one of our repeat clients, Joe Marson. Hecalls his salespeople, sales athletes, and whenever I've published a quote with himor interviewed him, you always uses that turn sales athletes, and you knowwe use a lot of sports analogy, Geez, and our concepts and ourconversations and that idea of an athlete meaning that you need to practice, there'sa playbook, you're always looking to get better. So the concept of salesathletes really applies to sales. It's no different. Yeah, I love thatterm sales athletes. For me it's about honing your craft and it's about workingtowards mastery, and that's what all of us should be looking to do,no matter where we are, who we are, what our situation is,whether we think we're at the top of our game or whether we think we'reat the beginning of our gain. You know, the most elite sellers onthe planet, they're looking to get better every single day. So that reallyfits with my thinking and I love the term sales athletes. Right, thepractice is is never done. You mean championship teams don't just take the nextyear off right right? There's prepping and then there's practicing, and there's severalways to go about it. When you're talking about your sales conversations. Solet's first talk about prepping then we'll move into practicing. Of course, thoseof you out there listening, you probably have several tools in your organization toprep for calls, but you still have to have a discipline around doing it. When we did our recent podcast with frank as Aleno on our team,it's a great episode, Gook, make sure you listen to it. Hetalked about effective prep or doing your homework before calls, and he quitted itto mean respect for the people who are taking our time to speak to you. That I love. that. I love that point by frank and I'mreminded of the survey that's been conducted over...

...several decades and the answers always comeback the same. So it's men and women who buy goods and services andthey're speaking about men and women who sell them goods and services, and thequestion is asked, what are some of your biggest frustrations with those who sellto you? And I've never forgotten the answer to the survey. It's comeback the same for fifty years. That's why you'll hear me say it's Egyptold. I think it's been around for thousands of years. The answers are, number one, that buyers do not believe we understand their business and,number two, they don't believe that we listen very well. And so whenyou think about that, it really speaks to preparation. There's people out thereright now listening to this who are, I'm sure today or tonight or tomorrow, they're in the middle of doing research. They're they're utilizing Google and linkedin andthey're they're looking at companies and the people that they're meeting with. Andyou know, it seems obvious, but if you don't do it, youcan easily get embarrassed. I remember years ago I had somebody tell me,give me some feedback, and said, Hey, John, don't ask mequestions that you could have got the answer to from somebody else in my organization, and I've never forgotten that feedback, if some of the best feedback I'veever received. Don't ask me a question that you could have got the answerto from somebody else in my organization or something that you could have read.And so when I think about defining, you know, meeting objectives, youknow, I don't overcomplicate it. I think about what I want to accomplishin the meeting and then I think about the three piece purpose, process payoff. I practice it. What's the purpose of my phone call? The process? What process am I going to take the customer, of the prospect through? What do I want from them? What am I going to do tothem? What am I asking of them? And then the payoff is simply what'sin it for them, and that is the preparation, the three P's, is simple preparation that I can go through, no matter who I'm talkingto, when I'm talking to them or what I'm talking to them about.And then, obviously it helps them put together a great, great agenda tohelp me and the clients stay focused. I mean even at force management willbe in an internal meeting and may have called it with somebody in there.I say, okay, what's the purpose of this meeting? What's the purposeprocess payoff here that we're doing when we use that concept? Yeah, allthe time. So it's a good one. And you mentioned the agenda, becausethat purpose, process payoff fuels your agenda and that's the discipline of preppingfor your calls. And we've talked about it before. John, the importanceof sending that agenda in advance. Well, for me, it's amazing to mehow many people don't do it, how many people do not send anagenda in advance, and when I typically ask them, why don't you sendan agenda in advance, I'm horrified at the overwhelming response they're they're actually afraidthat the customers going to cancel. And... what that tells me is thatthey're afraid that the customers not going to see value in what they do andand how they're going to present it. And I think that fundamentally comes downto you either believe what you do matters or you don't. That's number one. If you believe what you do matters, then there's no way you'll have anyfear about approaching anybody, about speaking to anybody, about calling the sealevels, about asking for commitments. There's just those people that believe what theydo matters. Just have that confidence and conviction. And then the second thingis is that all honor. I'll honor my craft, I'll honor what Ido for a living and that belief and what I do matters, and Iwill couple it with great preparation skills to show respect to those people that Iam going to speak to you. Put those two together and it's a very, very powerful combination. Be Elite, wake up, think what you domatters and prepare yourself to present it in that way. I think it's agreat formula for success. Right. Yeah, and there's also a step to preparing. If you're leading the call, you've got to prepare the other peoplewho are joining your call internally, from from your own team. We talkabout using that kind of what we've heard concept, what you've learned so farin discovery. Most of the time you've done some discovery. If you're pullingin other people to the call and if you know those elements of what you'veheard so far, you want to make sure that the internal team is alignedon what you need to do, what the agenda is, you can movethat deal further along. But, John, what if I don't know information atwhat if I haven't done discovery? What if I've got a couple peoplejoining my initial call? Maybe it's somebody has a connection or something? Howam I preparing the team for the call internally? What are your best practicesfor aligning internally? Does it come back to that threeps the agenda. Similar. But what when I think about the ultimate summation that any seller wants tobe in a position to say, and I want you to think about this, can you really say this on the opportunity that you're working on, onthe account that you're working on, on a forecast that opportunity, on apipeline opportunity, on a brand new opportunity where you haven't made a phone call? I want you to think about what the future looks like. What thefuture looks like is what I call the ultimate summation and we call it themantra where I the ability to look at the customer and say, so whatI've heard you say, Mr Mrs Customer? Why is that important? Because itproves that we listen to them. So what I've heard you say,Mr Mrs Customer, that these are the positive business outcomes that you're trying toachieve. Why our business outcomes important? Because it proves that we understand theirbusiness. So I know that I want to be able to summarize, ultimately, somewhere in the future, positive business outcomes and in order to achieve thosepositive business outcomes, these are the minimum...

...required capabilities that you told us youwere going to need, and knowing that that I'm building information, I'm gatheringinformation around highly differentiated required capabilities to set us apart from our competitors and toalign with exactly what the customer believes is needed. And then you said thatyou were going to measure success this way and internally, in my mind,I know that those measurements are going to be highly favorable for us. Sothis is the common language that we're going to use internally and externally, andI like to think about these as three buckets of information that we're constantly gathering. If you have none of that information, you begin to have a hypothesis aboutthe business issues and you start to ask discovery questions to qualify and toclarify that, and I want you to think about positives, outcomes, requirecapabilities and metrics. These are three buckets that, visually, you know mentally, are just kind of in front of you and you're filling all these threebuckets up, and when you fill those three buckets up, you have theability to pivot and now earn the right to talk about yourself. So letme tell you how we do that, Mr Mrs Customer, how we dothe require capabilities. Let me tell you how we do it differently or betterand where we've done it before. So I like to call this the ultimatesummation. We also call it the mantra. I call it sometimes the measuring stick, I call it the great navigator. I don't care what you call it, but just call it this. Must have information for us to besuccessful with our solutions with our customers, aligning those to our customers problems.And so no matter where I am, whether I'm with a new customer orwhether I'm with a an existing customer and I'm looking to renew, or I'mdoing a Qbr or I'm doing a land and expand, I always look tosee where I am with that navigator, with the Mantra, and I'm alwayslooking to build that ultimate summation. And so sorry about the long winded answer, but I feel really strongly about this. It's I think people over complicate it. I know I got to fill up three things as a seller.Positive Business Outcomes require capabilities and metrics. Then I have to align how wedo it, how we do it differently or better and where we've done itbefore to those three buckets. And I keep everybody involved in the sales campaign, including the customer on the same page with where we are in our effortto do that. So I think it's just a critical, critical skill.Yeah, that must have information those buckets, like you said, however you wantto visualize it, isn't that in great is a great what am Itrying to say? And internal rallying mechanism. So everyone to joining the call.Here's what we know, here is what we do, and sometimes whatyou don't know is the most important, right, because that's your aim forthe conversation. Yeah, a lot of times what happens, right is people'splanning when we're preparing to make a call,... we're preparing to talk to himabout what we do. Well, what do they know about what wedo? What do they know about our products? Who's going to speak aboutthis? Who's going to speak about that? And I'm like, we ain't goingto speak about anything until we understand the positiveness. Outcomes, require capabilitiesand metrics, because anything outside of the customers mind, that is what's required. In their mind, we're going to wind up being more than what's required. So we didn't listen. And number two, we're going to inadvertently becomeexpensive to that customer. So what I love about that really simple phraseology,or just that that real simple mantra, is it gets everybody grounded on exactlywhere we are on lapping our value to a customers prob of them. That'sthe ultimate skill for a seller, ultimate young and there you go. Sothat's popping. I want to make a shift now to to practicing. Youyou're going to probably practice, especially for those bigger calls where there's perhaps moreat stake. You're likely role playing. So let's dive into some best practicesfor making sure you, as the seller, get what you need from that.That type of practice, the role play. Yeah, you talked aboutrole plays. I really, really like that concept and and I think peoplelistening, no matter who you are, how old you are, you're probablyfamiliar with Star Trek and when I was younger I used to like the LittleNemesis Group of people. They were called the Klingons and these were the thesewere kind of deemed the difficult people. They were always the they were alwaysthe people messing with the people on the enterprise or whatever. But what Ilove most about them is they fought each other just to stay sharp. Sothey were constantly battling each other just to stay sharp, and that's kind ofhow I look at role plays. You know, when I was playing footballin college, I always noticed this the time. I'm thinking about a coupleof people. I don't want to alienate them, but they're two people.When I played for Boise State, one guy was a defensive end and theother guy was a left hackle and these were the top players on our team. They both went to the NFL and what I noticed is is that afterpractice this one of them would initiate it and they grab the other and they'dstay after practice and they would go one on one against it each other.They were the two best players in the conference that their positions, and sowhat better opportunity to face off against one another? Nobody had to tell himto do it. They just wound up kind of going one on one afterpractice and I loved it because I always respected that and I never saw thatformula equal failure. There was nobody any better than they were that they weregoing to play against and they squared off and got each other better. AndI've just again I've never, I've never forgotten that, and so that's whyI love this kind of principle of the role play and the more you canmake role playing, you know, a real experience, the greater its value. So you got to make sure that the person that you're you know,that's playing the buyer, has fluency about...

...the deal and got to make sureeach other are prepared to make sure that it goes effectively, you know,on people just pulling, you know, answers out of the sky. Youwant them to try to be as relevant as as possible. So it's they'vegot to be a knowledgeable participant, to be more naturally present. And soyou want to think about doing it in different scenarios like, you know,different situations like a phone call, a zoom presentation or an inperson meeting.And what are the different environments that have uniqueness about them, with the differentmedia him that you're going to use. You know, you want to beto try to figure out, you know, in a similar way, how toalign for objectives in the call, so you know, aligning those objectivesfor the role play. So make sure that you simulate the reason why Iloved watching those two great warriors go against each other every day because it wasas close to reality as they were going to get. They were simulating whatwas going to happen on that field. And how better to do it thanthe two best competitors on the team at opposite positions that would go against eachother in their role. So my specific advice is to make it as realisticas possible. Don't wait for the company to do it, don't wait forsales development to tell you, hey, we're going to do these role plays. Go grab the best person on the team, square off with them.Ask them to simulate being a buyer. Ask them to simulate being a champion, ask them to simulate, you know, a competitive situation. And again,the people that I see doing that are the elite sellers. They don'thave to be told, they just do it naturally. So go be natural, go do it. Yeah, that practice can be really important, especiallyif you're practicing with some of the elite people on your on your own team, and it's important to that they know what you are trying to practice.Why are you why do you want to roleplay? What are you nervous about? What do you want to practice handling? If both sides are aligned on that, it can make the role play real effective and for managers, JohnYou want to make sure that you are being a great buyer and being knowledgeableand allowing the rep to have great practice, but you also want to make surethat you give great feedback. And if you're a rep, you wantto make sure that you're getting great feedback. You want to know what you cancan do better and what what is what you did well that that youwant to repeat. Yeah, like that scenario is talking to you about BoiseState. The coach didn't initiated that. The two players initiated that. Thecoach kind of wandered over watch the exchange and then gave very, very actionablefeedback. And that's what I remember about those scenarios, is that being aleader and being very, very specific and making sure that the feedback was actionable. So that's what I'd like to translate to our world today. So howdo you make it? You know, actionable. So the REP should knowexactly what to do to perform better in...

...a real conversation. So you canuse phrases like you know something you may want to try and that instances xor here's something that's worked for me when that's happen in my sales conversations before. So, but the rep should have a very clear understanding of what heor she needs to do in order to make that a real conversation and agreat role play. Is as close to Real, real sales meeting or callas you're going to get. And again, the key to a development experience,though, is making the feedback productive. So encourage the sellers to get comfortablewith being uncomfortable. You know these two guys at the end of theat the end of practice, everybody hung around and watched and so somebody wasgoing to win and somebody was going to lose, and somebody's going to winthe next one and somebody was going to lose. So these guys were themost comfortable. What I'll never forget about it is they were the most comfortablein their own skin, very positive. They were staying positive. By translatethat to the day's environment. If your seller be comfortable being uncomfortable, keeppositive, you know, make the goals clear and devout, you know,deliver actionable recommendations. If you're the one given feedback, keep it simple,but also also motivate each other to be better. Yeah, I'd love that. By keeping it positive, because you just encourage more practice from other people. On your team. Yes, are there other things, John and you'reselling career or even now, that have helped you? Do help you inprepping and practicing for a great call that you want to share? Yeah,one I really haven't talked about yet. It is like I like to tryto empathize with the person I'm going to speak with, and so what Imean by that is like I like to sit with it for a moment.I like to pretend that I'm them and kind of stand in their moment ofpain, and this will always help me ask really, really up in questionsand and give me the confidence that what I do matters. And so Ihave to remember that survey and I have to I have to make sure ifthey think that I don't understand their business and I don't listen, I haveto make sure that I'm going to have to demonstrate that. So by sittingand understanding their pain, sitting in that pain a little bit, just reallytrying to empathize with it, it helps me prepare for it and then ithelps me understand it and then I just ask questions about it. So preparationis really nothing more for me than getting really, really grounded and empathizing andbeing authentic and what that person sitting across from me or across from me inthe media waves are on the zoom camera or what have you, what theyare dealing with. I already know that exists, whether they're talking to meor not talking to me. I just ask them questions about it. Soit takes the pressure off. I know that pain exists. I just satwith it. When I'm preparing for I understand how painful and how stressful thatcould be, and then what the implications...

...of that pain are. I'm insuch a better position to ask great discovery questions when I do that. Yeah, how that empathy, empathy mindset. It's a great walk away tip.John. Is there a bottom line you want to leave the folks with today? I think it's just you know, we talked about preparation. We talkedabout doing things that are elite. talked a lot about things that people alreadyknow about on this call, excuse me, on this podcast that you're listening to. You know, this year some people make a decision to do itand others don't. You know, those two people I were talking about,they were all Americans. They didn't have to do that. To compete inthe NCAA, they were thinking about competing in the NFL. So I don'tcare where you are or what level you're at, you have to put yourselfin a mindset that you're going to get better today, and when you approachyour day like that, I just think great outcomes are going to happen.Yeah, great way to approach your day, privating and practicing. Thank you,John, my pleasure. All right, and thank you to all of youfor listening to the audible ready podcast. At force management, we're focused ontransforming sales organizations into elite teams. Are Proven methodologies deliver programs that buildcompany alignment and fuel repeatable revenue growth. Give your teams the ability to executethe growth strategy at the point of sale. Our strength is our experience. Theproof is in our results. Let's get started. Visit US at forceMANAGEMENTCOM. You've been listening to the audible ready podcast. To not miss anepisode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Until next time,.

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