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

Episode 51 · 1 year ago

Shifting to Bigger Sales & More Decision Makers w/ John Kaplan


Making the shift from selling smaller deals to enterprise solutions that require multiple decision-makers is a common career progression path. This change may require you to change your selling approach. John Kaplan talks through specific things you want to pay attention to if you’re making this shift in your career. He covers:

- How to identify economic buyers in a complex account and leverage them to progress your deals faster and at a higher value

- A successful process for working with an economic buyer early on in the deal and during the deal to capture information that leads to better outcomes

- How to keep economic buyers engaged after the deal closes to open up new opportunities for cross-sells, up-sells, and proof points

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

Here are some additional resources on shifting to bigger sales

- Lessons from a Sales Veteran Podcast

- Champions vs Coaches Podcast

- Why Your Sales Reps Struggle with Metrics (The “M” and “W” blog)

Economic buyers are concerned with the top and bottom line impact of the organization. They care about three questions how much, how soon, how sure? So when you're communicating to them, you have to make sure that that is in your language. You're listening to the audible ready podcast, the show that helps you and your team's sell more faster. will feature sales leader sharing their best insights on how to create a sales engine that helps you fuel repeatable revenue growth, presented by the team at force management, a leader in BTB sales effectiveness. Let's get started. Hello, welcome to the audible already podcast. I'm Rachel Clap Miller with force management. John Kaplan joins me today. Hi John, Hey, Rachel, so John. Today we are going to talk through a listener generated topic. I know you get messages on Linkedin. I get I get them as well. This person reached out to me because he had transitioned into a more strategic role and instead of selling to one decision maker or maybe two, he is now selling solutions that might have ten decision makers or influencers as part of his deal, and this situation can be a bit of an overwhelming shift when you first get started. Yeah, I think this is a great topic because it's it's very common today to have what, you know, we call multiple buyers and account especially if you're selling, you know, an enterprise solution. Yeah, and there's a lot to be done as it relates to account planning, determining the strategic approach to these bigger accounts, and we're not going to get into all of all of that here. We have to do it audio documentary, not just a short podcast. But at some point you need to, as a salesperson, show up and have the right conversations. So let's start by talking a little bit about looking at that sales conversation. What remains the same here and how you may need to adjust your...

...approach. And John, I think one of the biggest adjustments maybe just simply your patients in moving a deal forward. That new rhythm you got to get used to. Yeah, the first thing that comes to my mind on stays the same, as you know selling, is selling with a point solution or an enterprise solution. But you need to spend time doing discovery with key influencers, with multiple buyers or, you know, an enterprise solution. That it's going to be several meetings or several conversations and and I like your talking about patients because it makes me think about that braveheart movie and Mel Gibson. When you have multiple buyers or multiple influencers, you have to just like he says in that one scene when the you know, the British army is coming on those horses and he's yelling hold, hold, you got to be patient because you're you're building a great story story. So you want to make sure you're building a case for a solution finding the pain. That makes it a real opportunity for the enterprise, not just a part of the enterprise. Now and when you talk about finding that pain, it's important to remember that these influencers are just decision makers. May Provide you with different viewpoints about that pain. All that might be important, right and and those critical components of the deal that we always talk about required capabilities, positive business outcomes and met and metrics. They have different viewpoints on those as well. So, John, what are your best practices for working through those conversations so you're really building out that story among many people in the account yeah, so first of all you have to know and understand the value story for your solution. What problems do you solve with your solution? Who owns those problems in an account and what are the negative consequences of those problems? How do you solve them? How do... solve them differently or better than anybody else? And where have you done it before? If you're a C sweet executive listening to this podcast, you owe this story to your sellers, and if you're a seller listening this podcast, you owe it to your company, your customers and yourself to execute the story. So once we get that story down, we automatically understand who is involved in the story and what they care about. Now we're ready to go seek them out. Yeah, and I would think, as you're having these conversations, there's an art to getting the person to want introduce you to those other players in the account and then to share information with you. Or maybe I should reverse that, to getting people to share information with you and then introducing you to other people. And my guess is part of that art is to really approach every conversation as its own, to treat every influencer as if they have their own opinion on those questions you you just spoke about and the problem that you're trying to solve until you find some sort of a what we heard consensus. Yeah, so you know, in the enterprise you're piecing the story together. So the good news is you already have a hypothesis of what that story might be for your prospect now you have to go invalidate it and customize it for that prospects actual story. So your job is to get each decisionmaker, influencer to articulate to you three things. Positive business outcomes that they're trying to achieve, the technical require capabilities they believe that will take to achieve these positive business outcomes. And remember, you're not just taking notes for these require capabilities. You're influencing them with discovery questions that ultimately highlight your differentiators and then, lastly, your understanding and influencing how they will measure success. So you're going to do this with every key decisionmaker. Are Involved in the process.

You know, the process for acquiring your solution, and every new meeting becomes like a recap and for command of the message customers. You heard US talk about the mantra. So you're going to recap in a way that, hey, my understanding is these are the positive business outcomes you're trying to achieve. From my last conversation I had, they talked about these required capabilities and they said that you were going to measure success this way and then you're going to talk about how is that different for your organization? Can you tell me? Do you agree with these? Are there any changes? Are there any things that you'd like me to update on this? Because what you're doing is you're building that for your solution for the enterprise. So it's going to be a conglomerate of all these conversations into positive business outcomes require capabilities and metrics and it just becomes a great common language to pick up from wherever you left off to wherever you're going inside of the account. Yeah, and one thing too, as you're talking, it reminds me of that recent podcast we did with our colleague Frank as a you know, who is really good at working through many decision makers and inside in an account, and one of the things the tipsy offered was, as you do your meetings, only have some one objective, maybe too a simple objective, so for those conversations you're not really getting overwhelmed at the ten people you need to talk to and build out this story if you just take it one step at a time. This is my conversation. My objective of this conversation is this and this is the next step. I'm going to push too, and as long as you're clear about that, you begin to develop those little nuggets or or that mantra, that conversation becomes to be really, really fruitful because you're not trying to do so much with every individual conversation. Yeah, I like that. I it. It just reminds me of the three piece, you know, the purpose, process and payoffs. So and you can even do the three piece for yourself. So the purpose of my call is, and you're doing self talk here for the purpose of my meeting and the purpose of my call. You know, the...

...process that I'm going to use is, you know, discovery and and gaining information around positives, outcomes, a car. Capabilities are metrics and the benefit to me is staying focused, aligning myself to the biggest business issues facing this customer, making sure they understand that I care more about making obvious and I'm trying to find out more about them than earning the right to make it all about me. And it just helps you stay really, really focus. I think that's great advice by Frank. Yeah, and I'll be sure to link that podcast in the show notes for those n't listen to that yet. So, even with a slew of people giving you information about the count as you build up that mantra that's required capabilities, pbos, metrics, you want to do the work necessary to identify those key people among that group, right and thinking about those medic terms, economic buyers, champions, coaches, those people are going to be critical when you're selling to a complex account yeah, mean medic will be the gift that keeps on giving to you. So, whether it's a point solution or an enterprise, it's really, really a sound framework for this conversation we're having. So let's take a look at the economic buyer. So even in a team of people you're maneuvering through, there will likely be someone who's an economic buyer. You need to identify in a line with that person. So let's remember a definition for the economic fire let's just get square on that first. So they have influence as it relates to this business issue, power and authority in the organization. They have veto power, which means they can say yes when others say no. And they can say no when others say yes. They've got direct access to money and discretionary use of fund so this is the person that is most likely going to have the most significant impact on the deal for you, and because they own the problem that...'re trying to solve or your solution is set up to solve. So whenever I have trouble identifying the economic buyer, it's typically because I'm dealing with a technical buyer or budget holder who is masquerading as the economic buyer. So economic buyers are concerned with a top and bottom line impact of the organization. They care about three questions how much, how soon, how sure. So when you're communicating to them, you have to make sure that that is in your language. How much, how soon, how sure? Economic buyers appreciate the time value of money. So once they are convinced that your solution is the best option for resolving their pain points and achieving their business objectives, your deal is going to accelerate, it's going to get on a fast track. And so again, the economic buyer has the single greatest impact to you and your deal, or it's certainly a significant impact. So that's why I gaining in maintaining access to the economic buyers one of the greatest accelerators of your sale cycle and, you know, one of the greatest predictors of your forecast accuracy. It's a critical, critical concept. Yeah, and the point here, John, when you're when you have a team of people to maneuver through, like the gentleman, they give us this idea. The points is a faster you get to the economic buyer, the better. Yeah, I mean for me, when I think about access to the economic buyer, it's really in three stages. So many people think of access to the economic buyer as an event. I like to think of it as a process and I just tell myself there's really three points of engagement with an economic buyer early, during and after. So I go to them early and I ask for advice. I try to attach myself to a big business issue facing the customer to, you know know, make it, make myself relevant. I give them the impression that...

...we may have a solution because I have proof points, I have a reason to be speaking to them. What I'm trying to do when I get to them early is to get a hall pass, is to get, you know, specific direction for them and then go down in their organization. You've heard me talk about Rachel M and W and maybe we can link that into the show notes as well, because I think that's a critical concept. But so I like to get a hall pass and then go back into the organization and ask for the ability to come back. I you'll hear me say often, I'm not sure if I have a solution for you, but if I do, will allow me to come back. And I've never, I'm fifty seven years old today, in my thirty plus years of selling or what have you, I've never had an economic buyer say no, no, you're not welcome back. So then I like to go to the economic buyer during the sales campaign to get clarity on things. Like I'm hearing these positive business outcomes. There could be some discrepancies in the required capabilities from the different organizations. That happens all the time. There are differences and one department's opinion versus another. I like to go to the economic buyer and ask for advice to break a tie or how things are going to be measured, because the economic buyer needs to know if there's discrepancies in that, if people are in articulating in a consistent way how they're going to measure success, and I also like to do that during the camp and pain to keep them engage and keep them involved, and then I love to go to them after the deal to keep them a prize to the performance and enjoy telling the story or reminding them about the story. Of It's just the mantra. So you told me that these were the positive business outcomes that you were trying to achieve. Your organization articulated these technical requirements. They said that they were going to measure success this way. Let me tell you about what we've done together with your team. So here's what we did, here's how it's different or better than anything else they've tried to do or what was out there before, and here's what happened to those metrics.

There now proof points for us. I love that meeting because now we're going back and we get to finish the story. So again, it's not an event, it's a process. Focus on early, during and after, and I think you'll have great outcomes. Yeah, that's a great way to think about it. And you mentioned that M and W scenario. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the MW is going starting low and going up, going back low, going up, or w starting high and going down and then going back up, which John Talks through. I'm going to link that resource in the show notes as well. It's going to be a robust show note, so you better click on it. Yes, I was. You know that. We talked about early identification of the economic buyer also important with those champions and coaches, as they might not be that kind. I'm MC buyers and effect off and aren't. So identifying them early will help you as well. Yeah, this is a fundamental skill that people really, really struggle with, and I can't tell you how many people tell me that they're champion and their economic buyer or the same person. Please listen to my statement here. In my experience this is rarely true and virtually impossible in an enterprise sale. First of all, when I dig in, most champions are not really champions their coaches because they lack power and influence. But that's a whole nother podcast. We don't have time to get into there right now, Rachel. So so what I love to do with my champions, obviously after I validated that they are actually champions, is to walk through the decision process. I start with the end in mind and work backwards. You know, I call this a reverse timeline. In my favorite question is and then what happens, and then what happens, and then what happens? Someone, often the economic buyer, will pop up in the exercise as someone the champion has not mentioned before and then they play it off as when I ask questions...

...about it, they play it off as if it's Oh, that's just a rubber stamp approval. So whenever you hear that that's just a rubber stamp approval, as Jeff foxworthy would say, there's your sign. Yes, yes, there's your sign. And of course we have tons of content on champions versus coaches. That content is continues to be some of our most popular. I know people revisit it a lot because there's good reminders. Those will be in the show show notes. John, as you said, this is a big topic and we can't really do it justice in just a short podcast, but you've given us some great things to think about. If you're in that situation where you're making a shift to a one decision maker quick sale to deals with a lot of influencers that are more complex, what's the one thing. Are Few things you want people to remember as they come to the end of this podcast and when they're selling these more complicated deals? Yeah, so, you know, more and more customers are expecting enterprise value. So solutions and decision processes are getting more complex and therefore you really have to be on your game. So companies have to be great. So, if you're seller, really encourage your company to be great at this. If you're a seller, you got to be great at executing what I'm about to say. So you've got to be great at defining what problems your solution solve and for whom, how specifically you solve those problems, how you do it differently or better and where you've done it before. And in a complex sale, you have to understand what those answers are for each decision maker influencer in the process. And if you're a seller, you need to own the execution of this story. So I can emphasize this enough. Sellers, you can't do without your company giving you the answers these four central questions. Companies, you can't do it unless you provide the answers to the those four censer questions to your sellers, and...

...sellers you got to own it. So the next thing you got to do is you got to attach yourself to the biggest business issue facing your prospect and then follow the money. When you follow the money, you find the people with power and influence, and when you find the people with power and influence, you will be well on your way to finding the economic fire and when you get there, piece the story together from each of the influencers. Focus on positive business outcomes. Require capabilities and metrics and they will lead you to success. Lead you to success. Thank you so much. Done. That's a great, great way to wrap it up. My pleasure. All right, thank you. Be sure to check out those show notes. I don't lie. It's great content down there, and thank you for listening to the audible ready podcast. At force management we're focused on transforming sales organizations into elite teams. Are Proven methodologies deliver programs that build company alignment and fuel repeatable revenue growth. Give your teams the ability to execute the growth strategy at the point of sale. Our strength is our experience. The proof is in our results. Let's get started. Visit US AT FORCE MANAGEMENTCOM you've been listening to the audible ready podcast to not miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Until next time,.

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