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Leveraging Data To Stop Selling Naked

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Leveraging Data To Stop Selling Naked

Thank you so much for joining us for Sales and Marketing Game Changers. This is part two of our month-long event.

You can read a transcript here or you can listen to my podcast or watch it on YouTube

We’re going to show up here to bring you huge value to help you move the needle with your sales and marketing because let’s face it, nothing is what it was several months ago, and everybody could use a little help, little support. These five gentlemen have agreed to jump on this crazy bandwagon with me. It seems that they had a lapse in judgment because they’ve put me in charge. I want to do some quick intros. We’re going to go around and tell people who you are and what you do. We will start with Ben.

My name is Ben Baker. My company is Your Brand Marketing. What we do is something called Podcast Host For Hire. We help companies create, host, produce and help them shine by creating their own custom podcast. It’s a done for you system. What we do is we are the people that drive the bus and help you communicate your brand effectively and get some great content.

Everybody, I’m Ray Ziganto I’m the Manufacturing Unicorn from Linara International. What I do is bring my passion for manufacturing to your company, link it up to your dream and we get stuff done front door to back door, whatever, and wherever you need your company to go, I can help you get it there. We’re going to have some fun doing it. I’m glad to be with everybody.

My name is Mark Roberts. I’m the CEO and Founder of OTB Solutions. What we do is we help you grow your sales profitably. What makes us a little unique is we use data to do it. I look forward to participating.

My name is Chris Luecke. By day, I’m an Account Manager at Rockwell Automation, the largest company in the world dedicated to industrial automation. Essentially, what I do is I help manufacturers bring their digital transformation objectives to life, but by night I’m a podcaster in the manufacturing space. I’m the host of the show Manufacturing Happy Hour, where we take on the latest trends in technology in that industry, preferably over a cold one when we can.

Last but not least, our Whizard!

I’m Mark Mitchell from a Whizard Strategy. I’m a sales and marketing consultant to building material companies and my focus is on the channel. How do you motivate architects, contractors, builders, dealers, distributors, or big-box buyers to want and prefer your product? That’s the area that I specialize in. I like this group because there are people from outside the industry that I’m also learning a lot from. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts, but also from learning from all of you.

You bring up a good point. I have learned more from these five gentlemen in a very short period of time. That’s why I knew that bringing all of this expertise together in one area would bring tremendous value to anybody that wants to take the time to read. I’m Allison DeFord. I’m the Resident Trailblazer and Founder at FELT Marketing. We are the only marketing retrofit company for manufacturers and we help you get to the heart of your ideal customer and make sales easier with our proven process.

I’m also the cohost with Mr. Ziganto here, a little podcast called MFG Out Loud, where we have courageous conversations about sales and marketing for manufacturers. Tune in, if you are interested in that, we will help you move the needle with some big conversations. In the last episode, in case any of you missed it, we did part one where we had courageous conversations about modifying your marketing so that you’re not just seen and heard, you’re felt. You’re resonating on an emotional level with your customers. It makes it easier when the value is clear, the decision is easy. In case you missed that episode, you can find it on the YouTube channel and also on each of our company sites. Look us up on LinkedIn. We are there for you and you can catch part one. The feedback was amazing.

Everything I wrote was amazing. That self-promotion was incredible.

The thing that we want everyone to know is that we are like you. Our markets, buyers, own companies have experienced disruption and like nothing we’ve ever seen in our lifetime. We want to help you strategically pivot, I know everyone’s tired of that word, but you can’t get away from it, and to modify your strategy, improve your skills and not survive this, but thrive because there’s a huge distinction between the two. That’s what the conversation is all about. We want to help you stop selling naked and use data to do that, to leverage that.

Many people say that they have analytics, say that, “We checked the data,” but they’re not using it to their advantage. We’re going to help you do that. As Mark says, there are dollars in the data. Game Changer friends, we’re going to help you cash in and let’s get started. We’ve got a couple of questions. Some of them are from our audience. We’re excited to answer your burning questions, not just around the result of the last couple of months has left many companies selling naked, like the Warren Buffett quote, “Weaknesses exposed.” How do you know if you’re selling naked? I’m thinking we let Mark Roberts kick us off and the others can chime in because he’s the selling naked dude. How do you know?

The first thing you’re going to notice is sales is either stalled or declining and then you take a look at the sales that you are getting. All of a sudden, people are making compromises on price, which is hurting margin, which ultimately hurts your net income, but also listen. Listen to what buyers are saying online. If you’re not listening to social networks, I recommend that you start right away and it can be as simple as creating a Google alert about your company. What we’re finding is, people are trying to sell like they’ve always sold for 10, 15, and even 5 years, and it’s not working. They’re seeing their salespeople frustrated, accounts are getting frustrated and we need to adapt. That’s how you can tell if you’re selling naked. If all of a sudden you start seeing symptoms like your salespeople are getting burned out, they don’t have strong pipelines, you don’t have a nice strong sale to quota. You’re starting to see revenue drop, some things off. High probability is they’re using the wrong value proposition, poor messaging and they’re probably leading with things that are no longer resonating with their buyers.

One thing that you’ve mentioned before is another way to tell if you’re selling naked is your salespeople are, first of all, not trained in selling virtually and you’ve got some great statistics on that. Also, you’re busy playing features and benefits bingo.

What you can do is if you’re in sales or if you’re with a salesperson or listening on a call, what percent of the call did the customer speak compared to your salesperson? That is a pretty disturbing statistic. Over 50% of salespeople have not received any skills training. They’re definitely selling naked. They’re doing feature and benefit bingo. If you haven’t heard that phrase, what they’re doing is they’re showing up and throwing up until the buyer jumps up and goes, “I get it. Bingo. I know what you do for me.” That never happens. About 60% of salespeople based on the assessment tool that I use are struggling selling virtually. They’re struggling working remotely. If we don’t have a plan to help train them, then we’re not going to be very happy in the future months.

Does anybody want to chime in there?

Salespeople aren’t trained. When I started off selling years ago, you didn’t go out in the field without somebody that was mentoring you. You had six months of somebody that was trailing you around that was there to answer questions, was there to help you through the process that was getting an override on whatever you sold and would allow you to be better. That doesn’t happen anymore. We don’t spend the money on training salespeople. The assumption is, “The sales, how difficult could it be? Give them some business cards and a phone and let them go out there.” It doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman, but it’s better of looking at it like, “We need to realize that sales is a skill like everything else and you can always get better.”

Companies need to realize that their salespeople need to learn how to listen, how to be inquisitive, how to use the tools to find out what’s going on in business out there because our clients come to us 70% the way through the journey. They’ve already gone on our social media feeds. They’ve already looked at our commercials. They’ve already gone through our website and they crawl through it. They’ve talked to people that they know and don’t know. They’ve decided, “Maybe this is right for me.” By the time they get to you, they want somebody to help them facilitate the process. They could care less about features and benefits at that point because they already know. They probably know more than the salesperson they’re talking to. They need somebody who can sit there and say, “How is this going to work for me and make me better?” We need to train our salespeople how to do that because Mark, you’re right, the majority of salespeople out there don’t have a clue.


One of the things Mark brought up, as far as some of the metrics, if you’re tracking anything. You’re probably seeing this big disconnect between what we used to track in the past isn’t working more and the initial instinct is we’ll double down. “You need to be making more calls. Send out more emails.” Those types of things. Ben, based on what you said and how our customers go through that journey. The reality is stop tracking activity and start tracking outcomes is what we’re looking at. Mark Roberts, that’s what you had pointed out, percent to quota. Everything has got to translate into a sales dollar at some point. The world changed several months ago. We don’t want to say pivot. Euphemism might be, “How do we step over that pile of crap that’s landed on us?” It’s different and the old tools don’t work anymore. The world changed.

Mark Mitchell.

I’ve also written about this. I have a blog post on selling naked as well. What I find is, before Coronavirus, I would ride along with salespeople. Now, I tune into their virtual sales calls and I consistently see where they literally, I feel sorry for the salespeople. They were hired, trained in product, why our products better and maybe coached by an existing salesperson who certainly has their built-in biases and their mindset of how to do things. They’re locked into that, which may be ten years old of how you’ve done things. They’re not trained in the customer and they walk in and they start in while, “Our company is this big, we’ve been around these many years.” I literally watched the eyeballs of the customers and they’re tuned out now.

They’re waiting until maybe something gets said, and sometimes they’re trying to help the salesman. There’s something you must have that’s of interest to me. To Mark’s feature and benefit bingo, I’ve seen where it has worked. It’s twenty minutes of wasted time into the presentation where they say, “We have this new angle thing that fixes this problem with floors.” The guy said, “You do?” They don’t understand. If you go to buy a new car, that salesman has had a tremendous amount of training every single year. In the higher end, the car gets them, the better they’re trained.

We’ll say a Mercedes salesperson has driven all the competition with a driver. A test driver then showing them the performance difference between a BMW, a Lexus and a Mercedes. They can talk about that. They’re extensively trained in all the features where they shine best as opposed to the competition. They’re also trained on, “The car buyer today is blank. They’re interested in this, where last year, their interested in performance. This year, they’re interested in image.” When you look at that and it’s like, “Our salespeople should not only be trained in the beginning to understand the customer but annually, they should be brought in, updated and there’s reinvestment in sales.” I see building material companies will develop a marketing campaign and they won’t bring the salespeople in and brief them on what this campaign is going to do and how they can benefit from it.

They launch it and it’s a waste of money. I feel that there are many salespeople out there who are selling naked, they’re not supported. To the other point, with CRM systems, we’re measuring activities and not outcomes. I see people in the building materials industry, you might want to say, “Selling to architects, involve lunch and learns.” You didn’t have to do five lunch and learns, not did that result in anything. Those are my thoughts.

One thing I wanted to point out on the marketing side is you know you’re selling naked if you were not digitally experienced, digitally ready before COVID hit. What I mean by that is your website reads like a brochure. It’s all about you. It has the we-we syndrome all over it instead of you-you. Your website is also not functional in engaging people, earning their trust, earning their awareness. You have no email strategy, no way of communicating regularly. You don’t believe in social media and/or you dipped a toe and you post once a month. It’s fragmented. What that did was it exposed those weaknesses of your digital game is not strong.

Unfortunately, that’s such a detriment to your salespeople because that’s what all those things are there for, to support them. This is the perfect time. What many manufacturers that I’ve spoken with or have as clients decided to do during this pandemic was, “We’re going to pull back on our marketing. We’re going to slow it all down because we don’t know.” It’s an unfortunate choice. It’s like you’re taking away the tools. You’re lessening the experience for your customers and for your salespeople. What we’re going to talk about next is what you can do to make changes. Chris, do you want to jump in?

I mentioned it during my intro. I’m a sales guy during my day job. I think of everything from a sales standpoint and I’ll probably be the caboose for most jumping on the back end of some of these questions because the first thing I wanted to do was listen to what you all had to say. When it comes to selling naked, to me, that’s a term that as where digital transformation can be a buzz word. I wanted to digest a little bit about what that means. It sounds like there are multiple facets to this. There’s not having the proper training, not necessarily listening to customers, being focused like you were saying, “Me,” versus “You.”

From the perspective of a sales guy, when it comes to making sure that there’s the proper training and making sure we’re doing activities that yield outcomes, and we’re focusing on the outcomes. One thing that has drastically changed, salespeople need to be better marketers. People are already jumping into this 70% through the buying process. Salespeople need to be doing activities, whether it’s on email or through social media to get that information out there in advance. Realize there are tremendous listening capabilities as well on social media that they should be looking for because you guys see it and do it as well too.

Stop Selling Naked: When you’re starting to see revenue drop, then you’re probably leading with things that are no longer resonating with your buyers.

I throw videos and content out on a regular basis. I’m on LinkedIn every day, I’m posting something. What I’m paying attention for is which posts are getting the comments? Which posts are getting people talking? Are the people that are talking, commenting and posting, my ideal clients? I look at it from a conversion standpoint. That’s the way I took everything that I heard and I’m putting it together, at least from my perspective as a salesperson. Ben, I’d like to hear what you have to add too.

This is going back to what Mark Mitchell and Allison said. We’re focusing way too much on digital in some respects. In terms of, it’s a crutch. If we put a digital strategy in place, life will be fine. If we look at the analytics, we’re going indoor customer inside, outside backwards, forwards and sideways. What Mark Mitchell said is that, we train the Mercedes sales guy on, “This is the trends this year. People care about the color blue, or they care about torque. They care about comfort or they care about luxury.” You can’t paint people with a brush. Individuals are individuals. People buy from people. People trust people. If you’re not sitting there as a salesperson, listening to the person in front of you and taking the time to build that level of trust to understand what’s important to them at that moment. Let’s go back to the car analogy, 9 times out of 10, the woman is the one that is making the final decision on the car because she’s the one who’s going to be probably driving it the most time. Who do the salespeople focus on? The guy.

They focus on the guy 9 times out of 10 or 99 times out of 100. They start talking about torque, horsepower, performance, and this and that where the guy is sitting there and going, “Is my wife comfortable in this car? Is she going to feel safe? Are my children going to be safe in this car?” The salesperson is amped up to talk about the features and benefits. It’s not just the sales industry, it goes across every single industry. They’re amped up to talk about and let everybody know everything that they know that they don’t take the time to listen to the actual customer and find out what’s important to them and what are the challenges that they’re facing? What’s making them tear their hair out? I think that, as much as we rely on analytics, technology or social media and the other thing, we need to learn how to listen better.

The problem is sales managers, ops managers, marketing managers and all of these types of managers become managers because they were good at a certain task. Because they were good at a certain task, they got promoted to whatever the next level is. It doesn’t mean that they know how to teach, nor how to motivate, how to coach, know how to get the best out of a team. It means that they were there long enough that they got promoted. That’s doing both the salespeople or whoever the people are or the team below them a disservice because they don’t have somebody who’s guiding them properly. The person has been promoted is doing it from a position of the Peter principle where they’re sitting there going, “I am totally and absolutely incapable of doing the job I’ve been promoted to because nobody’s trained me how to be a manager or a district manager, a director, a vice president or a C-Suite.” There are different skills along the way that we all need to learn and we’re all selling naked because we don’t have the skills that we need to excel at doing what we’re doing.

The good news though is buyers will tell you what they want. What they want is a trusted advisor and something every salesperson has that they probably don’t value enough, which is your insights, how you’ve solved problems for other people like them. That’s what buyers are hungry for. As we have discussed, a one-hour meeting with a salesperson. How many minutes your buyers value? I’m curious of what people think. Six minutes. It’s like an arrow through a sales trainer’s heart. That’s what I do. What happened? You’re playing feature and benefit bingo. You didn’t take the time to build a relationship. You didn’t have good qualifying and discovery questions. It shouldn’t be any shock to anybody that you talk 80% of the time. The good news is, take the time to ask your customers what they want, how they want it and they’re going to tell you more than ever before. That’s called worthy intent. You had the author of that on this show, Ed Wallace.

That’s an excellent book. This all boils down to empathy. Where that word has been thrown around in 2019 and I think it’s become a little ubiquitous, but I think people don’t tune in to what it means and it’s everything that we’re talking about. Let’s jump into question two. My question that we’ve had for many people, prior to this episode was, what do we do about it? What do we do if we figure out, “We’re selling naked, we’re marketing naked, same thing?” They go hand in hand. If you could take change one thing about your sales team and approach, what would it be that would have a big impact on customers? Mark Mitchell. I want you to start.

The first thing is you have to look at your company and your culture. There certainly is this ideal way to do things. If you don’t have a CRM system, who you are? How many salespeople? Are they independent reps? Are they employed by you? What’s your structure? What is your culture? It needs to be something the owner and the leaders can accept and not view it as a judgment on their performance or get them defensive. They see, “This makes sense.” To me, there are probably twenty steps you need to take, but you can only take one at a time. The first thing in my experiences, I would spend time educating them about the customer and the customer’s needs.

The second thing I would do is develop. I’m going to say, “If this is a new customer that is not familiar with us at all, here is a PowerPoint deck,” or a brochure or something that you can walk through that talks about them and not you, the list goes on of all the things that they should be doing. One, they have to make sure it fits with who they are as a company and you can’t take in something that the owners aren’t 100% behind and excited about, it won’t work. To me, the missing element, at least in my industry is understanding the customer. What is an architect worried about?

It’s different than what I find most salespeople think it is. They go in and say, “My product is better than what you’re using. Why are you so stupid that you don’t shift to it?” That’s the body language that comes across and they don’t step back. I always say, they’re not looking for a better product. They’re looking to solve a problem. Do you know what their problem is? Whatever they’re using is probably working okay. Your product isn’t that much better that it’s worth the risk, hassle, and extra time to change to it because you’re not going in with something that’s 10, 100 or 1000 times better. When Google said, “The classified advertising is free now,” that’s 1,000 times better than paying a local newspaper for a classified ad.

Ray, what do you think? What’s one thing that you think would help our readers that they could change with their sales and/or their marketing?

Not that I don’t have original thoughts, but when you hear a good one, you hear a good one. To me, it has to start with either yourself, someone in your organization, or bring a third party to listen to your customers and get an understanding of their market. They’ve changed as well. If you don’t have a clear open-minded assessment of what their new needs are and new buying processes are, and those things, there’s no way you’re going to be able to align or train. Everything starts with the customer. If there was one thing, find a way to look under the hood and say, “What is it that makes you tick? What are you most interested in? How can we align with that?”

I’m going to ask Mark Roberts to jump in here because I feel like this is ties into something that we help clients with quite a bit and that’s once you understand that, going back to basics and taking a look at your value proposition, is it even resonating and current? Is that something you would suggest as a starting point?

If I had to pick one thing, I wrote an article for Selling Power Magazine. If you only had one thing to do to increase your sales, profit and market share, what would it be? It would be going out and spending time with your customers. What I want to caution you with though, is when I’ve seen people try to do this themselves first, “They tell me when my salespeople know my customers, I don’t need to do this.” One of our clients was a paint company. The reason why professional painters weren’t buying were the salespeople over 80% when we did the survey. Is the salesperson going to tell you that? The other thing is confirmation bias.

A lot of times you can’t help it. You hear one sentence and it’s like, “I knew that,” and you stop listening. For as long as I’ve been in sales, which is way too long, two problems have been in place and buyers are very vocal about it. Salespeople don’t listen. That includes their company and, “You don’t know the business of my business.” What I would recommend is go out, do a value proposition audit, some of my clients tell you, “Eighty percent of my business is about twenty accounts. I’ve got a product for that. I can get you an answer in seven days.” Once you understand what the buyers are saying, feeling, needing and they’ll even share what process they’re using, you need to map your sales process to match how they’re buying.

One of the customer companies I serve that I learned so much from was a company called Pragmatic Marketing, and they teach something called NIHITO. What it stands for is Nothing Important Happens In The Office. They used to sell coffee mugs and the coffee mug simply said your opinion. Although, interesting is irrelevant. Even back then, when we’re promoting, “Use market data. Use your transaction data. Call me crazy. You’ve got mountains and mountains of data in your server. What is selling in the last month? What’s not? Who is your top performer? Why?” These are things that you have to wonder about or assume, there is data out there, and there are processes to go out and find.

Stop Selling Naked: Sales is a skill like everything else. You can always get better at it. Companies need to realize that their salespeople need to learn how to listen.

I have a feeling Ben might have a thought and then Chris can be our caboose again. How about that?

It’s all about understanding the client and then translating that information and house in a meaningful way that people can understand it, value it and be able to live it. What we do with the Podcast Host for Hire is that we run a podcast for companies. We interview strategic partners, vendors, customers, employees, and we give a 360-degree view of the client. That way we get the entire ecosystem because they’ll answer questions that I ask that they will never tell a salesperson. First of all, a lot of the salespeople don’t even know how to ask these questions, let alone, listen for the answer. When you put it all in a podcast and you do it in a very relaxed manner where you’re talking to people for over an hour, it’s amazing the insight that you can get out of people.

It’s amazing the answers you can get out of people about what frustrates them, what are the things that they’re looking for? What are their aspirations? Where are they going as a company? What do they value? If people and companies take that information, no matter how you get it, whether it’s using internal people and asking the right questions or hiring somebody externally to go out and survey people and you can take that information, disseminate it.

You’ll take it to heart and saying, “We’re doing this, we should be doing that, make the changes and make sure that everybody inside the company understands what the changes are, why you’re changing it and how this is benefiting the company and them.” That’s where the magic happens because it’s not only making sure the customers and you’re understanding the customers. It’s making sure the people inside your company understand why you’re changing your processes to make things better for the customer. If they don’t understand the why, they’re never going to do it.


When we go back to the original question about changing one thing to impact your sales. The biggest thing that I’ve heard from everyone is it’s all about listening to the customer. I heard some great things. Mark Mitchell, I love the idea of having a presentation about your customer that you give to new salespeople. I can only imagine how tremendously valuable something like that would have been early in my career. Mark Roberts, I remember you bringing it up the value prop audit, a great way to get feedback from your top twenty customers, whatever sample size that is you’re looking at. I’m going to get meta because we’re all podcasters in some way, shape or form.

For anyone reading to any of this, a great way to figure out how do I learn more about my customers is to listen to how podcasters ask questions. Since you all have your shows. For all the different audiences out there that are reading to us, that’s a great way to look at it and figure out, “How can I better understand my customer when I’m in front of them or when I’m on Zoom?” I am going to change my answer up a little bit and go a slightly different direction in terms of what’s one big thing you can do.

Sales and marketing alignment are more important than ever, especially because marketers need to be salespeople and salespeople need to be marketers. I’ll reflect on this as someone that works for a large company where you have a lot of resources that are typically either one or another. It’s more culturally important. Having that good lead and being able to take that through the CRM process to a salesperson to get that converted into a good opportunity. That’s where I see. If I can think of a big thing that would make an impact and this is me talking to maybe audiences or people with large organizations, especially, it’s making sure you have that alignment in place to, as we discussed, take these activities and turn them into results, real opportunities in sales.

We could do an entire series on de-siloing alone. I’m glad you said that because that was going to be my contribution. When we work with a company and we’re working on showing up their infrastructure in terms of their brand, value proposition and customer personas. I’ve had numerous clients who, when I asked, “Is your sales team going to be joining us?” They say, “No, we don’t need them in here.” It’s almost like a competition. The companies that I have seen and that I’ve worked with that started to understand that de-siloing and made it a reality, marketing exists to support sales. Sales exist to support the customer. The customer is why we’re all here and have a job. That’s the way I’ve always looked at it.

We compensate our teams differently. Marketing and sales compensation are completely different. The budgets are different. The KPIs are different. The language that we use when we’re talking to these different departments is different. Because of that, no wonder there’s no alignment between sales and marketing because we don’t set them up for mutual success if they were both benefited. If they were both compensated based on sales, based on how accounts grow, those types of things, then I think there would be far better alignment. The problem is because they have different budgets, different compensation plans, different everything, that leads to the animosity between the two of them. That’s why they don’t talk well to each other and that’s why they don’t play well together. Leadership is all part of it.

We are coming to the end and we were going to talk about some of the constraints holding you back, but more importantly, we should end with how do you leverage data since that was the whole crux of our conversation? How do you leverage it so that you can stop selling naked? What data sets should you be looking at and then how do you turn that data into dollars? We should start with Mark Roberts on that.

I’m not claiming it’s the only way, but the way I’ve been doing it is I look at three data sets. Number one, your transaction data. There’s a lot of key information in there. Make sure that you don’t require your salespeople to become librarians to understand it. Take the data, turn it into dashboards that is prescriptive. It guides the salesperson into how to grow opportunities. Number two, definitely do the voice of your customer. I can’t emphasize that enough. It sounds like a broken record, but it’s been valuable for the companies that I’ve served. One of which, they made handicap vans. They help people in wheelchairs drive again.

It was one of my favorite markets I’ve ever served. When I asked the company, “Why do people buy your vans?” “It’s the most technically advanced van in the industry.” I spent three months back then, meeting with people in wheelchairs and asked them, “Why did you buy it?” “That’s the quietest van in the industry. Handicap vans have been around for a while, but everybody puts the ramp in the door. When I’m driving, it rattles, I can’t even listen to the radio. Yours is the quietest van in the industry.” I’ve never got that insight from any of their executives. I didn’t even get it from their dealers. When we started promoting that in the marketplace, we grew that company $50 million in six years with a 6% increase in profit.

The third data set is if most sales teams haven’t been trained, why don’t we figure out what their skillset is? I love to do top performer analysis. Let’s all get on the same page of what a top performer is. Find 3 or 4 of those people. Assess what skills they all have in common and then clone them. Let’s get the rest of the team up to those levels. That’s what I call a prescriptive training as well. With those three data sets very quickly, we’re going to be able to develop a plan no matter what kind of market you’re in.

Chris, do you want to jump in here?

Stop Selling Naked: More than ever before, care about your customers. That’s called worthy intent.

I’ll jump in on this one because my last answer is a segue to this around having that cultural alignment between sales and marketing. I’m lucky because I get to work with a number of different customers and I primarily talk about automation equipment. The reality is I get to learn a lot about their business challenges as well. It’s taking leads from the marketing group and bringing those into the sales group and having those convert into something successful. We’re hearing it even more because virtual trade shows are a new thing. We don’t necessarily know how to do them yet. People are looking closely at, “What type of measurable results and leads am I getting from a trade show?” If I do attack this one from the perspective of a salesperson, I’m going to be looking at it from what is marketing doing to bring in relevant leads?

What are the ones that are helping me most convert them into opportunities that I can pursue and then turn into a closed order at that point? It’s important to have a feedback loop in that process as well, whether it’s a good lead or a bad lead, you can go back and start learning and figuring out, “Are the things I’m doing at a trade show pulling in good leads? Are my digital assets bringing in good leads? What do I need to tweak to improve that quality?” It becomes a bit more of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you keep making those little adjustments, then you’re getting better leads. The salespeople, they’re getting more opportunities. They’re giving more feedback because they understand the process at that point. That’s my thought. Whenever I think of this topic, I’m only thinking in terms of what is convertible into something that I might be able to sell.

I want Mark Mitchell to jump in here.

What I find in my industry I serve is that people either cherry-pick data that looks favorable like, “Look how many likes we got on this. Look at how many shares. Look at our Google Analytics. We won an award.” They cherry-pick favorable things. I always say to them, and then they’re overwhelmed with data. There is much data that you can get that they are like, “That looks like a good data point. That looks like one.” I always say, “Somebody comes in with a plan. We’re going to grow sales 10% this year with this product line to this market. Here’s our plan. How will we measure your results? What are the data points for measuring your results? We don’t lose sight of that. We stay focused on it. Even if you don’t achieve your goal, you learn something from failure.”

We’re afraid of failure and with digital things, you can try things all day long. You can change the headline on your website and see, “Did it do any better?” In the old days, when I would do direct mail for companies, we always were AB testing. We always had, “This is the benchmark. Can you beat that?” I don’t see companies trying to do that with their either website or their calls to action or different things. I want always the data to be aligned to a goal like, “We’re going to do this and the measure of success is how we’re going to measure it. Every month I’m going to come in and report to you whether it’s bad news, good news or mediocre news.” That to me is the best way to use data.

Ben, what do you think?

The thought that’s going through my mind from over many years and this is garbage in, garbage out when it comes to data. The majority of salespeople know 5% of what the CRM can do, realistically at the best. If you take a look at Microsoft Word, the average user uses somewhere between 3% and 7% of what the software can do. It’s the same for CRM and everything. The reason is we don’t understand it. When the sales reps don’t understand why they need to fill out information a certain way and how it’s going to benefit them by filling out information correctly. If they only perceive that by filling out this information it gives somebody a reason to micromanage them, they’re going to fill it out in a way that they know is going to CYA.

It’s going to cover their ass. I see this time and time again with people that sit there and say, “I’ll fill it out in a way that it’s cherry-picking the data. They want me to do this? Fine. We’ll put that information in there. They want to know this? Fine. We’ll put that in there,” whether it’s true or not true, whether it makes sense or doesn’t because they don’t see how they can turn around and look at that data six months from now and have more intelligent ways for them to have long-term conversations with our clients in order to benefit their checkbooks and be able to grow their bank accounts.

When we train our salespeople as to what the benefit is, the CRM, not only to the organization, but to them as well, and how to use that data to be able to make them more effective within an account, we’re doing that. Somebody told me that everything is the annual strategic plan, which is based and built on data. Sixty percent to seventy percent of the people in the organization will never see that information. They may see a one-pager or a dashboard and get an annual meeting where they’ll talk about it for ten minutes, but nobody sees the strategic plan that’s based on that data. If people don’t understand how that data is being used, what decisions are being made, how that data affects them, they’re not going to care. If they don’t care, the data sets that are being created are going to be garbage in, garbage out.

Ray, do you want to finish it off?

Anybody ever changed mobile phone carriers or insurance companies? Do you know why you did it? Because they treat the new customers better than the existing customers. I haven’t run across a client or a company yet that didn’t have another 20% plus worth of profitable upside in a customer base they already had, because they were making assumptions that the new one was the magic silver bullet that was going to take them somewhere. I’ve had companies where, when you start doing some simple Google research on customers they already have. By whatever measure, you determined that, “This is a good customer. We have a long-standing relationship. They seem to give us a lot.”

If you do some research and find out, “I need to know more about this customer.” We talked about this, if you did a presentation that was about that customer and them, do that for yourself. If for no other reason, I’ve seen clients uncovered the fact that their major customer had divisions and subsidiaries they didn’t know about. You’ve already got a vendor number, who’s calling on them? They had a similar or almost like product about what the client produced or with some small adjustments and modifications could also support who was pursuing that.

Especially in times like that, where you want to move the needle now, there’s a lot of gold in what you have and it doesn’t require a rocket surgeon to go in and do some basic analysis of what you already have. There’s the knock-on effect. I’ve had this happen myself, where when you go back to that customer and say, “I’ve been doing some homework and here’s what I see. By the way, we’ve decided to make you one of our preferred customers. We valued you so much we want to listen.” By acknowledging you’re paying attention to them, you’ll be shocked at what happens. From, “What are you going to do about it now? Where are you going to leverage data?” Start with what you have. You’re not at zero data, you’ve got more than you think you do. Start with who you already love and who loves you back and see if you can do some more.

The way I would surmise all of this is do the most with what you have because trust me, there’s a lot being left on the table. This isn’t going to take spending $1 million on any kind of fancy marketing campaign. It’s going to take less than what you think it will. If you think outside the box and make some adjustments, this is normal. It’s never going to go back to the way it was. You’re only going to prepare yourself so that the next time the tide goes out and did will, you won’t be selling naked. Thank you for everybody that tuned in and we are going to talk again. Part three is going to be Reducing Risk to Make Sales Easier. We’re going to help you find ways to make it easier to find you, to buy from you and to share the experience while earning trust and attention. At the same time, making that easier. Until then, keep showing up, keep working together, you are a game-changer.

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About The Author

I am the leading sales growth consultant in the building materials industry, I identify the blind spots that enable building materials companies to grow their sales and retain more customers.  As I am not an ad agency, my recommendations are focused on your sales growth and not my future income.

My mission is to help building materials companies be the preferred supplier of their customers and to turn those customers into their best salespeople. Contact me to discuss your situation.