Transcript of 151st episode of podcast Predictable Revenue

Transcript of 151st episode of podcast Predictable Revenue

Sean O’Shaughnessey   

I’m gonna show you a different graph if you don’t mind that I think it might be helpful. 

So I talked about this already. I talk about decision timelines a lot. In a complicated sell, like what I do, you’ll have this decision-making timeline. I don’t call it a buying timeline, its a decision-making timeline. Because that’s all really sales is: convincing somebody to make a decision that we want in the timeframe that we want them to make it. 

Where are you going to engage with the customer in this decision-making timeline? There’s a cost of sales issue with this. The later a salesperson engages with the prospect means I’m spending less money. As a Chief Revenue Officer, I worry about trying to figure out how to keep my costs under control. I’d love for you to say, “Yeah, I stole that deal. It closed in three weeks”. That’s fantastic! That doesn’t mean you adjust the customer buying timeline to three weeks. The decision-making timeline started with somebody at the customer saying, “Hey, we’re missing a goal. We’re not achieving what we need to achieve.” 

There’s a variety of processes the prospect has to go through to get to the point where they’re actually issuing a purchase order. That is just a fact of life in a complicated sales process. 

Where do you want to enter into that process? A Trapper wants to enter as early as possible but still trying to control his or her sales cost. If you have to call on 15 accounts, 30 accounts, or 50 accounts, or whatever is in your territory, you can do that efficiently if you are a Trapper. 

A Trapper has to constantly communicate with customers to help them in that process. You want to actually drive them to make a decision. That first arrow is intentional. It’s actually prior to the prospect saying, “We are missing a goal.” 

Part of being in sales is to actually convince the customer that they have a problem and are living with a problem, you just don’t even realize it yet. That’s part of being a good salesperson. So a Trapper wants to be as early in this process as possible. Trappers have to put together tools and techniques that don’t take a lot of time because this could be a really, really long sales cycle. And the longer it is the longer your cost of sales. 

Time drains mean fewer customers you can call on because you’re spending all this time with a customer who takes a long time to buy. So there are lots of ways to do that: constant letters, constant newsletters. Creating a newsletter that you are sending from a salesperson, not the marketing department, from the salesperson sending it once a month. That’s just really easy to do. It’s easy to leverage stuff from your marketing department. And you’re just giving them information. And that doesn’t even have to be information about my company. It can be information about my industry, or about things that are happening in my environment or things happening in my community, or company events. Information about your city, the industry you’re calling on, or whatever. 

So all of those things add to that goal. I can now keep track of that customer and keep my name, my company, my brand in front of that customer for as long as possible without spending a lot of effort. And that’s just stuff that a Trapper has to do in order to be effective at doing the job. This is hard, and it takes proactive thought and proactive planning in order to pull that off.

Colin Stewart   

Gotcha. And so what you’re saying is one area to differentiate between the two is, at what stage do you jump in and start doing the work? 

Sean O’Shaughnessey   

Exactly. 

Colin Stewart   

If we look all the way at the end of the spectrum at the far right, it’s “Place Order.” So, if you exist there, you’re an order taker. If somebody calls you and says, I want six units of this, you’re an order taker. I’ve been in that role. And there’s nothing wrong with that role. It’s just your influence over the deal is very minimal, because they’ve already decided. “Okay, I want X, I want six of X. Give me that, please.”

Sean O’Shaughnessey  

Yeah. In those kinds of situations, you also start to question, as a management team, you start to question whether you really have to have a sales force? I mean, can you just automate all this and say, “If we’re just taking an order? And why in the world would we pay a salesperson to do any work?” The closer you are to giving the order, the less value the salesperson really has because they’re not influencing the deal. 

These arrows are obviously evenly spaced across the timeline, so it’s wherever it makes sense in your organization to join it. But with the understanding, that customer is going to go through a variety of efforts along the process. And every customer is going to be different depending on what you’re selling. Some of those steps that I have up here might take a day, and they might take six months. 

The reality is that they all start with realizing that they’re missing a goal. They’re not achieving what they want to achieve. Some people call that pain, but I actually say, you really want to get back to, “You’re missing a goal.” Not that you have pain. But then it’s, do we even care if we have pain. Is the pain a problem? Because just because you’re not achieving what you want to achieve. That doesn’t always mean anything in today’s environment. In general, there are competing issues that you care about and want to spend money on. Or I as a company, we are going to spend money to solve that problem. We’re just going to put up some problems, and we’re going to live with the problem because it’s not worth fixing it because we have other things we have to do.

Colin Stewart   

This is really interesting. It made me think of something that one of my colleagues, Kenny, talks a lot about, which is sort of relevant. And I’m going to go on a tangent here, so follow if you can. I apologize for thinking out loud because it just sort of triggered something in my mind. 

But if we’re thinking about account qualification, this is, “Are we missing a goal that’s coming upon us.” There’s some friction in their life. I think even before here, if I apply Kenny’s model, it starts with the responsibility of what are you responsible for? And does that align with what our company does? And the next step down is the goal or the KPI. Do you have a KPI or goal for this year or this quarter that aligns with something that one of our products or services could solve? And then it’s a job to be done. So if you were coming in here at like, are we on track to hit that KPI or not. If there is then great, then is there a job to be done that we can solve? Fantastic? Is there any friction for them? You know, is there enough friction for them to do something externally? Yes or no. 

And really what you’re saying is you’re getting your team to go in and look for these opportunities where it’s the right individual at the right company. They exist in a situation where they have a goal. Still, there’s this disparity between their goal and what their capabilities are. You’re looking to get in before they realize there’s a gap.

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