Episode 5 - WeDisrupt Sales Podcast - We sit down with silicon valley veteran and industry legend Skip Miller, President & Founder of M3 Learning.
Skip has worked with hundreds of Chief Revenue Officers and addresses some of the biggest challenges they face. He covers everything from:
- Why Stage 2 qualification in the sales process is make or break
- Three qualifying questions to ask in every forecast meeting
- Why C-Suite selling has to be the core of your sales strategy
Hello and welcome to a short sales podcast. My name is Will Chivers. I'm driving my cars for sale calm. And we're here to interview some of the world's most influential sales leaders, revenue officers and executives on the planet. Really? Episode Five we disrupt sounds podcast dude, we haven't sure today What are we going to talk about? Today we're sitting down with Silicon Valley veteran and industry legend skip Miller scape is the founder and CEO of a company called mp3 learning who's worked with the likes of zoom, Google, Apple and tableau. Today, we're going to be talking through your way feels like the sales management function is going wrong. from working with hundreds of different revenue officers and sales leaders. We're going to be discussing everything from why he feels stage two of your sales processes make or break the kind of questions you need to ask in your forecasting calls to qualify dead and why C suite selling has to be the core of every single angle of your business. Brilliant Can't wait. Let's get into the show scape. It's great to have in the show. It'd be great if you could kick off with a little bit about yourself and what got you in sales. Great. Great to be here. Thanks for the opportunity. Um, I've been in sales forever. I mean, I used to yourself when I was going to school, sporting goods. So we were a small little sporting goods store and all the big sporting goods stores would call on the colleges at high schools and we would never compete. So I just went to the junior High's and the smaller schools and they had budget for sports and stuff so I just went you know, did some route sales there through school and stuff and then got out of college and got got a sales job right out of college. I did real my first year with to do really well. I thought it was really good. So the next year I think I finished 30% of my quota. Thank you very much. Because I thought I just knew everything and things would come to me and you know, didn't sit back and say, Hey guys, it's all about the buyer. Let's let's really work at this. Don't take things for Granted, you know, get dirty, do the basic blocking and tackling all the time, and then went back up and did really well. So, you know, sales is kind of in my blood and stuff. And about 20 years ago, our company that I was at got bought, and they wanted me to make make a move back to the east coast of the United States. And I live in California and kind of like it here. So I'm like, Man, I'm gonna see if I could start my own thing. So 20 years ago, I started my own company and through learning, and being in Silicon Valley, we've got a lot of good contacts, and it's just been growing from there. But what's exciting is, every customer we do business with I just learned so much about sales process and what works and doesn't work for what buyers So yeah, I really consider myself almost a student of the game, because I've always exposed to new different ways of doing things and new approaches and new ideas rather than we've always done it this way. So it's been fun. Fantastic, and I think you've got a unique experience where you seen inside the lens of all loads of different companies. I guess the str SC is you've met, we'd love to see our rows and help loads of senior sales leaders. From all those conversations and projects you've done. What do you reckon the biggest areas are? And in terms of problems that are looking to solve when it comes to their sales organization? Well, people always call us and say we want to shorten our sales cycle and increase our average sales prices. So in that just indigitous of a situation, I think, well, that one of the big things we see is the sales management function via first line, second line, whatever else is so focused on getting deals across the finish line. So let's just take a five stage sale, you know, initial interest discovery presentation demo, proposed decide clothes, whatever you want to call it. The answer should be a lot earlier. So we're telling people guys, if you're a sales manager, you typically coach To a sales rep this way, how's it going? Good? Do you think no, call me You need me, okay? And that's not coaching. Good coaching is try to get things done earlier like in stage two rather than stage five. So in stage two, just don't say How's it going? You'll have some sort of script. Our discovery process includes this. Have we done this? Have we got these numbers? Have we got this? Rather than? Did you give them a presentation? Yeah. How'd you like it? Great. I mean, so the good companies we see are much more in spective. In the early stages of the process, they've got defined what we call giving. That's so that the customers got to put some sweat equity into it, not just us doing everything. And when companies have got that they've got cleaner funnels. They kicked the babies out of their funnel, and they have access to the C suite earlier because they got good C suite questions just not regurgitated, you know, use your buyer questions, and we call them above the line below the line, the above the line more C suite, the below the line, the more user buyer. And in, they've just done a really good job of understanding the buy sales process early than most companies. Yeah, I really want to go into the discovery side. Before we even do that. I think there's something that you said that so inserting them in terms of the value proposition and how you get the right message out to your buyers from your experience. So what's been your biggest takeaway for companies in terms of how they look at finding the right message to the C suite and find the right message to their buyers? Well think about it, right. I mean, they call it discovery, they call it disco, whatever they call it, and you take a salesperson, you give them you know, three hours of training, and a book that thick. It's all about us all about our stuff, how we compete against the competition, all this stuff and then You're expected to do a good job at the C suite. At stage two, we believe buyers split into two different value flags, the below the line, what are the features and functions and feeds and speeds? And how do you compete and stuff, all important stuff. And the above the line, I've got a $50 million problem. And if you guys can make a dent in this mean, I'm expecting 100% growth in our in our revenue stream for next year. And I've got 60 in the bank, I don't know where the 40 is going to be. But if you guys can just make a debt. So we call those solution boxes, solution box a is your stuff, the price you charge, you know, here's what we're gonna charge you we're gonna charge you 50 grand, and for 50 grand, you get all this stuff because that's what you're below the line buyer has wanted. And then the above the line buyer is sitting there going, you know, I've got these initiatives, and I've got problems with them. So if you guys can make a dent that's great. What we see a lot of is sales people go to the below line buyer They talk about us, we talk about us, we get really good feedback. So then we get a success pattern. We've developed a success pattern that these slides, this demo, this thing works great because I've got great feedback from the customer. It works. So then we take it to the C suite above the line, and they're like, What the hell's? What? I'm sure that's great. And the analogy will we use is we call it the printer story. My office manager wants to buy a printer. She's concerned about how many pages a minute. I mean, how can you put a whole ream of paper in there? You know, she's concerned with the features and functions of the printer. I don't even know what a ream is. So it's great about the printer. What I know about the printer is I've got you know, my cost of the workbooks for our classes, is running about 14 to $15 per workbook. And if we can get that cost down 20 30% I'm happy so a new printer would be one way of making a dent in that cut cost. There are other ways to have cheaper employees work on it or or do something different with our with distribution. So it doesn't cost me so much in shipping. Yeah, I love that I think some really actual tips in terms of look at the 10 K, find out how to read the right financial reports and just listen to customers at the suite level just see how they're talking. And so what do you typically advise managers look to train their sales reps in what's great discovery call looks like. Typically, you've got two goals to educate the validate. Educate is getting customers to fully understand what you do validate is they haven't take ownership of it. And typically, what I see people do a discovery or even in a presentation is do a classic show up, throw up and then go What do you think ha, you know, so as a next step, we'll really get into using our stuff. I'd much rather have the customer talk about what's going on. than us. I'm a firm believer that the magic number is 12 that your kids listen to you up until 12. After 12 that elicit anymore, it's gotta be their idea. Customers have the same way. You know, guys, this is what we do. Let me ask you a question, how would you use it? You know, in six months from now, if you had this, what would be different for you is much more powerful than here's what our research show our research shows that in six months, you'll be doing this, this and this. I feel great. The customer has taken ownership in that. This is a cultural thing. Teach your sales reps to validate. So what would you do with that man? I don't know, rather than and here's how you're going to make money with it. Our ROI indicator that you will pay back within 1.6 years the Oh stop it. You know the numbers have got to come from them with my kids. When I told them what to do in sports up until 12. They listen to me after after 12 years old dad we do it differently. And they were probably right. So the answer is Got to come this way. Yeah, I guess putting that into life then as a manager, looking to find out whether a discovery good discovery call is being done. If you can ask three questions to every sales rep after discovery call, what would you look for to understand whether or not they've got the right information and the jobs being done? Really? three big questions. Number one, what's causing them to make a change, not what's causing them to look at our stuff. What's caused them to do something they hate to do, and people hate to change. People hate to change. That's why we still use our same toothpaste and same soap that we did when we were a kid. We hate to change. Something's caused that above the line buyer to go, Okay, we got to make a change. What is it? That's question number one, Question two, what's the size of the problem? I want numbers, and there's not a problem. And if I don't have a problem, I have to fix it. If I have to fix anything, why am I talking to you? So if they've got a problem at all, Know the size of the problem. The blue line buyers like this is a key issue. This is really a big issue. I mean, I can't deal with big Give me the size of the problem. We're expecting 100 million, we got 60 in the bank, we got 40 million or 40 million euro $40 million problem, whatever it may be. ATMs always talk in numbers. So my second question to any rep in Stage Two is, what is the size of the problem? And what are the size of the problems? Because I want two or three trends, not just one? So big question number one, what's caused you to make a change? They question number two, right? What's the size of the problem? And big question number three, what's the implementation date? What's what we call the eye date? What date are they going to go live up and running in production? contract sign that's like a sales term. I date is an ownership transmitter. Okay, I see us putting this together. We're going to launch on September 4, or The fourth? Well, because this has to happen, this has to happen if they don't take ownership to a date. So when I look at a forecast, I see all these closed dates, which are the 31st of February, which of course, there's no 31st of February. So it's like all these contracts signed dates me nothing to the buyer, the buyer has got to have an implementation date. Do you care when you buy the birthday gift? Or when the birthday is? The sales clerk cares when you buy the gift? I don't care when the birthday is, do you care when you buy the vacation? Or when you go on it? buyers always care about the ID. So if you're in a cube er with me, number one, what's caused them to change? Number two, what's the size of the problem? Number three, what's the ID? I guess from a qualification perspective? You know, if you if you break each three those questions down, right? It's helping you qualify. So if you look at what's the size of the problem, if the guy can't quantify the size of the problem, you kind of know that he might not be the economic decision maker or you might not be the technical decision maker. So you're kind of understanding right? Okay, we need to go in, find that information out. If you look The third one in terms of implementation date is much softer way to say it right? When when we exchange contracts, because what you're doing is you're kind of building a triptych plan in your customers mind to say, okay, we want to we want to go live by December. Okay, what's driving December? How much time have you left for testing? We've only left two weeks. But why do you need to have two weeks, typically, customers need six weeks. So you can start driving the agenda in terms of when a contract needs to be signed, but also start positioning yourself as a I guess, as a thought leader in the in the mindset of the customer. Or your point buyers by backwards. So if I know I've got to this birthday is is the first of October, I better find out what I'm going to buy because it could take two weeks to ship so I better ask somebody what they want and fires always buy backwards. And when you start buying backwards, the customer goes, I thought it was gonna take a week. I didn't know it was gonna take six weeks. I mean, Holy smokes. And all of a sudden, you know, I thought I had a month to make a decision. I got like three days if we wanted me to schedule so Working on that buyers buy back theory, but always buy back from the implementation date, not contract signed date because contract signed is typically a sales term, not a buyer term. What do you think the responsibility is from a CRM and sales leader perspective, from a toolset, whether that be value prop or whether that be sales tools to make people able to do those three areas that you talked about? constant coaching, constant content coaching, because our net reaction, how I'm being judged as a sales leader, is besides revenue, would you talk to me about I mean, that's what they're being paid on. So we take everything from a what's going to cross the finish line, rather than that's important, but if I do the good stuff early, the other one kind of takes care of itself. I mean, geez, right. So if if we really want to have managers do a good job, of having great funnels, having clean qualification deals. All the good stuff. It's got to be. We got to qualify early. I qualified deals on energy, not product fit. Too much energy to me is the customer's acknowledge that they have to make a change. they've understood the problem have quantified it. And they've obviously identified an implementation date and have a line resources around it. I got that. They're making a decision for somebody. And hopefully if I do a good job, I'll win more than I lose. The recent study I saw was fascinating. Have 100 deals in the in the quarter, you have 100 deals in the quarter 25 to 35% will say yes, 25 to 35% will say no. And about half will be maybes, yeses are great. noes are great maybes will kill you. Because all maybes do a sit in the funnel suck resource. They keep slipping, you give hope. And as you're hoping knows you're not doing things to backfill your funnel. So get rid of the maybes is only a stage two stage three thing, not across the finish line thing. Yeah, that's really interesting. So I guess actually, when I say when you look at a lot of people that are probably sitting there now thinking, there are quite a few deals in our pipeline that we cannot see those questions for, how aggressive and how rigorous you need to be around those three areas in the early stage when perhaps you've got a business that doesn't have a big lead flow, and you've got to do a lot of education. How do you? How do you balance that that mix of rigorous qualification that? Yeah, you've got to have customers who are willing to work with you, right? Because they're going to be a no anyway. So we got you got to put together some ideas of what you want the customers to do. We call it homework assignments. Okay, we're going to do to discovery. Here's the five things we're going to cover. Could you circle star, highlight the top two or three things so I can make sure we maximize your time next Tuesday. If they don't want to even do that. I find it hysterical that above the line buyers, CMOS CR o CIO, consistently put together 510 15 slide decks for their executive management meeting their meeting with every quarter. Have you ever asked a C level person for their slide deck? I've got a ton of them to them. And they do it all the time. And they'd be happy to show you because it shows their initiatives and their gaps. So why not ask a customer? Hey, guys, to really make sure we're on target. I'm sure you put together a slideshow and we'll sign an NDA. But could you kind of share those slides? The below line buyers got to go Oh, no, we can't they ain't no, the above the line buyers going? Sure. Yeah. I'm happy to hear him there. So things like that can really help you qualify? And I just call them homework assignments. If they're willing to do a simple homework assignment. Yes. Here's the three things I want to see next week. And I'm fine. If they don't respond to the email. Go now. Just show us what you have. I mean, that's probably talking something different. Skip a lot, a lot of the CRS we speak to outside of forecasting, the number one challenge we hear is our top of funnel isn't big enough, right? So you've grown up in Silicon Valley, you've seen Silicon Valley from day doc to where it is now. So what have you seen as the most effective ways of prospecting in generating top of funnel light works. So I've got a new book coming out called outbound new. I hate writing books, and my publisher wanted another book. And the problem I see is a lot of Asian SDRs are getting a ton of inbound leads. And those are starting to dry up and now they got an outbound and I have a conversation with an ad that says, hey, how's your outbound going? Oh, good. I sent a guy email last week. I'm waiting to hear back. Well, that's not how popping okay? That's, that's just not really good. The best organizations we see are insisting 10 to 20% time on our bounty, and they inspect against it. So it's not number of dials, right? It's it's quite strategic here in your territory or the 30 accounts we want to penetrate. Your job is to find out the top five executive personas we want to go after, what's been your cadence and sequencing. You know, a good 14 day sequence with 10 touches is great, you know, what, how are we doing those things. But we've got a great customer who spends an hour a day, an hour a day, going after a set of 25 people in a two week window, they tend touch it in a two week window, they take that 25 out to put a new 25 and to do a good sequence. It takes an hour a day of time. I mean, that's not a lot of time. But great cultures are just insistent on it rather than all the I haven't gotten the time to prospect. I have never been taught to do it. Well, trust me, I have enough in my funnel to make the number which we all know you don't. So great organizations allocate specific timeframes and inspections to and set goals for outbound rather than, you know, you got far more Yes, I do. Well, you better get to it. Okay. I will. And then nobody ever does it, because everybody hates the prospect. So the best organizations, they have sequence and timing discussions, they have content discussions, what works and what doesn't work, you know, I'm getting a 30% open rate, I'm getting a 5% open rate, what are you doing right? And it really doesn't take more than an hour, hour and a half a day, or, you know, an afternoon, one afternoon on a zoom meeting with a bunch of with some of your reps. So the best ones have got really good cadence sequencing and messaging to their outbound methods. And that keeps the top of funnel really healthy. Rather than just get a whole bunch of below the line. tire kickers and say oh, I'm full now. Just Just very quickly, just I just want to ask a bit a bit about the cadence B. So for you skip, what, what, what is a great cadence? You know, is it a phone call, email, phone call LinkedIn message? What is it now? So that now with the whole pandemic thing, right? You can't send direct mail because nobody's in the office, you really can't call people because you can't get to the switchboard people have got their their cell phones, although cell phones now are fair game. The only thing you really have is email, LinkedIn, and a phone call because you're only kind of things you got at your disposal. And it's hard to get people cell phone numbers. So LinkedIn, sending videos, your LinkedIn videos to LinkedIn were great as long as they're nice and short, because people will open them because they are assuming that they've already been through a spam filter, and it's coming from LinkedIn. It's not like it's junk mail. So email, LinkedIn, and phone calls are the best. The best and voicemails, of course, but voicemails that are directional. Hi, john scale Call me back. You're not gonna get a call back. Hi, john, skip, I sent you an email yesterday, I'll send it again, please look at that one attachment, especially on page two, that was really important. I mean, that's going to work better 10 to 12 touches a two week window are the best cadences and sequences, best emails under 120 words, nobody's going to read more than 120 words. And testing the best way, the best way to write an email. Since 70% of emails are opened up on mobile devices, write the email on your mobile device, you'll end up writing it as the buyer wants to be read. If you're on your laptop, you got to read a novel and then you got to look at your mobile device going. That's a lot and you're just going to blow it off. So Another good tip is have your people write emails on your mobile device. It's been such a rise recently of like tools that your your beck and call from sales loft out reach and loads of different mobile directories and things like that. What do you what do you see that the position is in terms of decon is a big metric on companies that successful use those tools and companies that aren't. It's a bell curve. Some people have bought the tools and haven't even opened in a year. Some people are trying to metal between, you know, I've got Gong, I've got chorus, I've got sales loft of a outreach, I got this, I got that, and nobody's putting it together. So the sales, people are throwing their hands up going, I quit. So I'll get we'll just stick with stick with CRM. That's all we're gonna do. So it's kind of fun to Sam, the best we've seen, spend a good amount of time really redoing their sales process before they implement that technology. So you can't have a sales process that does not include like an outreach, and then just add outreach and expect the same thing. A dynamic sales process has always been one that should be looked at and that takes time to plan. So I highly suggest that the CEO Arrow and his or her top lieutenants once a quarter identify, okay, this is our sales process based upon COVID based upon us adding outreach, you know, adding chorus, whatever it may be, what's going to be different? And nothing is not a good answer. So if they're not looking at the process because this is what people supposed to be coaching to, if they're not costing the dynamic, most companies we go into, I look at their sales process. You know, it's the poster on the wall that hasn't been updated in three years. You're like, Really? So the best companies we've seen when they introduce technologies like the ones you mentioned, say before we start buying this, what's our sales process? Now, once we make this investment, what's our sales process going to be? Okay, now we've got a game plan, let's make the investment. Awesome. Skip to my takeaways from our talk. So far, three major things that all CMOS all three major things all zeros need to start doing have a clear value proposition that targets both above the line and below the line. From a discovery perspective, make sure you qualify early qualify, qualify, qualify and qualify early in terms of why change the size of the problem? What's the implementation date? And then lastly, everybody needs to be prospecting outbound outbound outbound, have a clear mechanism of quantifiable cadences 10 to 12 touch points per person over a two week window and move forward. Is that fair? That's a great summary. I'm sending I'm impressed. That's, that's a great summary. That's exactly Very well said. Now, it's a good summary to say, guys, there's a lot out there in this whole you know, sell from home is going to start trying out people a lot. You'll see, you know, sales people leave companies easy to switch companies, you know, have to go to the office and blah, blah, blah, you know, adapter die, right? And if you're not attacking, you know, there's there's without a doubt sales cycles are shorter now than they were. Because access to ATMs is easier. Because Because I've got different ways to get ATMs. If you're sitting there saying my sales cycles length is the same length that was 12 months ago. You need some work, changing. Love it. That's been brilliant scape. Thank you so much for your time and it's been a pleasure to have you on the show. Transcribed by https://otter.ai