Justin Roff-Marsh is the author of, The Machine: A Radical Approach to the Design of the Sales Function, and Founder of Ballistix, a Los Angeles-based sales consultancy.
In this episode, Justin and I challenge sales orthodoxy on a wide range of topics. Tune in to see why I love having Justin on the show to confront the conservative, hidebound thinking that dominates in sales.
Andy Paul: Justin welcome back to the show. It’s great to see you again. So, um, where are you riding out the storm?
Justin Roff-Marsh: I’m at home in Los Angeles where it’s raining. Believe it or not. It never rains in LA except for like the LA, except for this year. It seems of Randall year, at least a decent chunk of inch
Andy Paul: well, maybe it’s washing the, the virus away a little bit.
Justin Roff-Marsh: into my pool.
Andy Paul: Supposedly pools are safe based on what I’ve been reading. Not that I would trust a pool necessarily, but, uh, yeah.
Justin Roff-Marsh: When I say in the big sky, small bullets, I think the same with apply, you know, small, you know, big motor, small seasonal something
Andy Paul: yeah. So,
Justin Roff-Marsh: would take a lot of sneezing and contaminate a pool.
Andy Paul: So your health and well, other than that,
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yes, yes. Yes. All good.
Andy Paul: Um, yeah, I’m here in New York at rain here today to actually it was thunder and lightening or the last time I was her last interview, I was recording here today. So got a little background noise, but sun has peaked through, but yeah, nobody on the streets.
So I’m interested, you know, cause New York, obviously Manhattan, it’s a pedestrian town in terms of getting around. But what does LA feel like now? right.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah, it has a kind of mad max quality to it.
Andy Paul: Appropriate for Hollywood.
Justin Roff-Marsh: yeah, so, uh, uh, yeah, but really we, we, we haven’t my watch and I’ve basically been at home. We’ve been getting stuff delivered. I’ve been renovating a boss, completely rebuilding a bathroom here, had it down to studs and we, because what else are you going to do?
So it’s been working in renovating is all I’ve been doing.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Well, it’s nice that you’re handy. You could do that. The joke in my household is if we need to change a light bulb, I need to call somebody to help. Um, I’m the opposite of that. So,
Justin Roff-Marsh: I think if anything breaks around, he was an excuse to buy another.
Andy Paul: Okay. Yeah. Like Tim Allen back in home improvement days. Yeah. Well, I appreciate you joining us again. Just, we’re gonna talk through a couple issues. Um, what’s I enjoy reading your blog. I recommend people that listen to the show, read your blog. Cause you don’t see your technical contrarian view. I think you’d take a.
A logical view to many things, but it’s, it’s at odds oftentimes with a lot of what you, so reading mainstream sales literature. So I, uh, I enjoy reading it cause I sort of think along the same lines often, it’s like, why is the conventional wisdom, the conventional wisdom and wife we’re why are we still stuck with it? So, uh, one of the articles I liked that she’d written recently, it was about, um, actually I think you wrote it a year, a little over a year ago. Actually. It was, um, About salespeople, confusing the signs and the signals they’re getting when the customer agrees to a face to face meeting.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah.
Andy Paul: after you remember that, you’re saying, uh, salespeople boast that if they can just get a face to face meeting with the prospect, their odds of winning a deal, go up to 50%.
And then you’re saying that’s a that’s misleading.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah. So there’s a, I remember years ago leading a book and it was talking about what, what I’ve called it called heretical different things. But in this particular book, the author was talking about the fallacy of composition. And his explanation was that the fallacy of composition is when you interview survivors of world war II and conclude that no one died and you see it, you see the, you see this at play with the conclusion that salespeople typically draw, that, you know, if, if they can just, uh, if they can just get in their car and drive to visit with a customer face to face, that will cause the odds of them winning the deal to increase. To some incredible number, 50% or 60%.
And it’s easy to see how they draw that conclusion because they look at the folks who they don’t miss that visit face to face and their win rate is lower, but if they look, but when they look at the folks who they do visit with face to face, they win rate is significantly higher. So they conclude that it’s the face to face visit that causes the rapid escalation in the wind rate.
Um, but of course, if you step back and think about it, it’s probably not the most logical. Conclusion to my mind, more logical conclusion would be that only folks who have an intention of purchasing a likely to say yes to a face to face visit from a sales person, which means that when, particularly in this day and age, someone invites a sales person to go and sit on their couch and drink their coffee.
It’s probably a foregone conclusion that they’re going to get the business unless they do something, you know, let’s say screw up.
Andy Paul: is it a foregone conclusion they’re going to get the business or do you think it’s more likely a signal that the customer is actually going to make a decision to purchase? Yeah,
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah. I mean,
Andy Paul: it’s more though that the more like the customer has made a decision to purchase
Justin Roff-Marsh: yeah, those people like to think that they can invite it to visit with their prospects or with their customers on the strength of their personality. Um, but you know, if you, if you put those salespeople who claim that in a room and ask them, well, how many salespeople do you have over to your home or to your office on a regular basis?
Just so you can enjoy their warm and engaging personalities. And, you know, they’ll quickly admit, well, none, none, none for me and none for him and none for him either. And, but they expect their, um, their, um, their customers to exhibit behavior. That’s so totally different from theirs.
Andy Paul: yeah. Which is doesn’t make sense at all. Right. Um, but this sort of gets into this whole idea of, of at least in my mind of, of people’s are handicapping their odds of winning, winning a deal. Because yeah, RA uses not everybody, but you, a good chunk of people use. These are weighted probability forecasts.
That seemed to be completely unmindful of fact, that there could be in a competitive situation that affects the odds, just because they’ve assigned a 97% percent probability to winning a deal. If they give a proposal, there could be three other vendors giving a proposal. You
Justin Roff-Marsh: I think that there’s a, I think that there’s a whole bunch of problems in sales that are consequence of insufficient, what we would call opportunity, queue size, what other people would call pipeline. Um, um, and when, when a sales person has a chronic shortage of people to sell to then their focus switches to trying to, uh, You know, maximize their conversion rate and, and, and that approach is based upon the idea that, that, that a sales person influences a lot of control over whether or not customers are gonna purchase.
And, and, and that’s not true. They don’t, you know, customers are not idiots. They purchase when it makes commercial sense and they choose not to purchase when it doesn’t. And if a customer has two options, they’ll choose the one that makes the most sense and people behave for the most part rationally. Uh, um, and it’s easy to point to, you know, border cases where folks do things that are irrational or at least appear to a sales person to be rational, but it doesn’t make sense to build sales functions or build businesses on based upon an assumption that people are rational because those businesses go broke.
You know, that the success of Amazon, for example, is based on a very simple. Bets that Bezos made. And that is that if you can deliver stuff faster, people will buy it from you rather than from your competitors. And it turns out that he’s shockingly correct. And we said that to our clients look speed wins that that’s, that’s the, that’s the playing field that we should be competing on
Andy Paul: Speed in what dimension?
Justin Roff-Marsh: in every dimension.
Andy Paul: Well, I’m thinking about, is it speed or is it actually the, a combination of speed and the actual amount of their time you consume? Yeah,
Justin Roff-Marsh: Consequences.
Andy Paul: well, not necessarily. I mean, you could have, you know, five visits over a shorter period of time, but each of those visits could take. In aggregate can take more than four visits over the same time.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah, but does it, it doesn’t doesn’t post one to have site visits. Why would they want to have five visits with one Oh three? Yeah. Then conversations. Why not three? Yeah. I mean,
Andy Paul: I agree. I agree. They want, they want three. That’s what I’m saying it to me. It’s it’s the productivity is all about
Justin Roff-Marsh: yeah. And actually, and actually for most transactions customers won’t know. Which is why, which is why in Texas and New York and other States, um, car dealerships are terrified of the Tesla model because
Andy Paul: you universally, they are. Yes.
Justin Roff-Marsh: it’s such a scared of Tesla. They know that customers don’t want to talk to sales people.
Andy Paul: and yeah, I did some, I started studying three years ago,
Justin Roff-Marsh: The only people, sorry to interrupt. The only people, the only car customers who want to talk to salespeople are people who don’t like cars. Anybody who likes cars does not want to talk to a car salesperson cause castells people know sweet. If I have not. Cause.
Andy Paul: Yeah, well, three years, three years ago, four years ago, I saw a study from national automotive national automotive dealers association. And at that time, four years ago, average number of dealer visits before purchasing a car was one to your point, right. It was already occurring. Then
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah, that’s probably the.
Andy Paul: Yeah, no, absolutely.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah. I mean, most I’m sure most people who buy Teslas have never driven one. Most of the things I buy, I buy without a, you know, I, I buy cars without driving. I’m a Porsche guy. I love Porsche’s. And most people who like cars, uh, w we’ll buy the, we’ll buy the latest vehicle without, without driving it.
They’ll read the reviews. They’ll look at the specifications. So, you know, um, that’s why they don’t want to tell us the Tesla because they know that if customers have a choice between a high involvement, self, a buying process, and a low involvement buying process, they’ll go with the low enrollment process.
If they go to the website and then into their credit card details, that’s what they’re going, gonna do.
Andy Paul: Yeah. So I agree. So getting back to point for, from B2B standpoint is, well, I’m all on board with that. I, I believe the same thing as that speed for, for me, speed combined with the least amount of time you consume of the, the, the buyer is the winning the winning recipe.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Now people listening to this will be thinking to themselves. Oh, well not a good example because they sold to a little favor, but it turns out they didn’t just sold papers. One of the biggest businesses, guess what? Amazon.
Andy Paul: Absolutely
Justin Roff-Marsh: So enterprise services for, you know, mid to large companies, turns out people, uh, people want to buy that just like they buy toilet paper.
Andy Paul: though they do have a large number of STRs making call proactive outbound calls.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Do they have biggest sales team? Do they actually have, do you think, I know they have channel partners.
Andy Paul: Um, well, I know a couple minutes that sells them the, the, the platform they use for their outbound dialing. So some number, I don’t know the exact number
Justin Roff-Marsh: Cause we spent thousands of dollars a month, probably five, six, $7,000 a month, plus
Andy Paul: for AWS.
Justin Roff-Marsh: AWS.
Andy Paul: Yeah, I think it depends on the size of the, the account, right? the bigger size. You’re more likely to get a sales
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah.
Andy Paul: you’re on your own exactly as the way it should be. But Rose is just wondering as to your point is because I think for a large part, I agree is that. We tend to insert. It gets into the second article I want to talk about, but we, we tend to force customers to buy. We want to sell the way we want to sell to them.
So we forced them to, uh, apply, uh, comply or if you will, or aligned with our sales process. Agreed.
Justin Roff-Marsh: What we should be doing is trying to figure out how to make it as easy as possible for customers to purchase.
Andy Paul: Yeah. I think one of the Bezos is I have a minimum. One of my books is that he was just brilliant, sir. Definition of sales, which was our job is to help customers make purchase decisions. It’s pretty straight forward, right? Yeah. He said we don’t make money. When we sell things, we make money. When we may help customers make purchase decisions
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah. And, and, uh, and the best way to help them is to minimize the human involvement and spill. You can get rid of it altogether. And I think that it doesn’t matter what you’re selling. If you’re selling something that requires a high involvement. You should be thinking about how do we incrementally reduce that involvement from year to year, to the point where ultimately, um, customers can buy with zero involvement.
Andy Paul: Yeah. I mean, you’re basically, I’m gonna look at it through the lens of, of a productivity measure. If we assume, you know, factory measures, productivity, a rate of output per unit of input invested, I thought for a long time that we should measure sales using the same measure, you know, how many dollars of revenue per hour of actual selling time are you generating?
And the more and more productive you get in that measure to your point, the less and less time you spend with the customer.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Now there will always be a needs full. They will always be a needful people who shakes the tree who compel to compel ’em. Prospective clients to take a turn. They wouldn’t have otherwise taken absolutely involvement from the sales person. And to my mind, that’s the essence itself. That’s what sales people should be engaged in doing, but a typical person, a typical sales person spends only a tiny percentage of their time engaged in anything like that.
The greater percentage of their time would be a better analog would be a checkout operator at a local grocery store. A, uh, a, um, what’s the word? Um, if you’re standing, if you’re standing in a queue with a checkout opera, there’s an inverse relationship between time spent and value added
Andy Paul: Yeah.
Justin Roff-Marsh: a negative relationship, not a positive
Andy Paul: right. Well, that’s why, that’s why I got back. But I’d talking about in terms of measuring productivity, that way is, is in sales. We seem to want to measure things as productivity that don’t lead to an order. And what counted as productive time. Yeah. If you’re in a factory and you’re making 10 widgets an hour, let’s say your goal is make 10 widgets an hour, but you make nine because 10% of the widgets you make are unusable.
Even though you went through the process of building 10, that doesn’t mean your productivity is 10 widgets per hour. It’s nine. Cause you can’t, you can’t only sell nine. Yeah. And sales, we’ll say somebody productivity summit now. 10 calls per hour, but yeah, only two of those lead to conversations that then turn into sales.
What’s the real productivity.
Justin Roff-Marsh: It’s actually a pretty good analog for sales in that respect. There’s a famous story of Edison trying out all those. Filament for the light bulb. And obviously most of the experiments he did looking for filament went nowhere, but, you know, at some point he ended up with, you know, um, with a decent sized business, grown off the back of tungsten, I think was the winning element.
Um, Um, and I think sales is like that. Uh, I think you have to understand that most activities resolved to nothing, uh, when viewed in retrospect, but activities aren’t performed in retro. Uh, um, so what that means is that if you’re doing an accounting for sales effort, you have to assign a notional value to the activities that resolved to nothing, because you don’t know, and you don’t know in advance, which ones those are going to be.
Andy Paul: no, but
Justin Roff-Marsh: So
Andy Paul: you can go back and look and say these were not productive. So what are we gonna change going forward to make these more productive?
Justin Roff-Marsh: you can, then that may not be the, that may not be the best course of action would be to say, well, how do we double the flow?
Andy Paul: but then you give you just double the flow. Let’s see you put more. Cause I have this conversation with SAS sales leaders. If you’re just doubling the flow down, double the amount of crap, but at the top of the funnel, then we’re not treating you. We’re not looking at the idea of effectiveness at all. And isn’t that.
In my mind. That’s hugely important.
Justin Roff-Marsh: It sounds easy to say, well, we’ll filter out the crap. So we’ll, and we’ll analyze, we’ll analyze the deals that we win and the deals that we’ll lose. And we’ll see, we’ll figure out an algorithm that allows us to filter out the crap in advance so that the sales people let me talk to the deals that we want to win.
Conceptually, it’s easy to do. Practically. It’s extremely difficult to do. It turns out it’s extremely easy to increase flow, extremely easy to
Andy Paul: why companies are doing it.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah. So I learned this years ago. So, uh, a business I was involved with before, um, ballistics, whether it was a financial services business and we sold a fairly expensive, fairly complex financial services product to moms and dads.
And, and we stumbled across the idea and this was before it became popular, um, um, of running events. Um, so we started off, we’d put, you know, 10 people in a room and then we’d put 30 people in. We used to go to the Milton tennis center in Brisbane, Australia, and then we ended up with a hundred people and we graduated to sort of show it on hotels and.
Um, w when I left the company, some of the events had 1200 plus people, um, at them. And, um, I remember as we were building Hudson and I used to have conversations with other people in financial planning and financial services, and they’d always turn their noses up at us, they’d say, well, you just put hundreds of people in events. And I would say, fuck, yeah, we put hundreds of peoples in events and they didn’t, they didn’t have to complete the sentence. I knew what they were thinking. They say you put hundreds of people in events, but, but so what you’re filling rooms up with refer back, but guess what, if you fill a room up with hundreds of people, we end up talking to significantly more high net worth individuals than you, you do when you fill your room up with precisely.
Andy Paul: right. Wasn’t the point? I wasn’t the point I was making the point was at some point you need to be able to filter down to say, who’s worth our time. That’s not necessarily happening at the top, but one of the things that we seem to have a problem with, I believe in BTB sales is indiscriminant desire to hold things into the pipeline that don’t belong there anymore.
Warren a fit. Yeah. And so through inadequate discovery, inadequate qualification, we get to the close stage or what people anticipate as a closed stage. And people say, well, we’re not ready, or this doesn’t fit what we need or whatever. And they’re taken by surprise because we’ve
Justin Roff-Marsh: So the caveat that I would add to my own point is that people should only be in the pipeline if they want to be in the pipeline, not as sales people, we want them to be in the pipeline. Um, so, you know, I often have conversations with organizations and they’ll say, but Justin, we sell enterprise software unless we aggressively qualify.
We end up, we’ll end up with our pipeline full of fish and chip shop operators. And I will say to them, well, why would the operators efficient chip shops want to be in your pipeline in the first place? How many owners of fish and chip shops actually have an interest in buying enterprise software? It turns out none of them.
None of them want to be in the pipeline. So the only way that I enterprise sales company ends up with fish and chip shop owners in their pipeline is if they jam them in there. Um, now, if you can find a way to fill your pipeline with people who actually want to be there, then you will end up discovering when you go and survey them that none of them own fish and chips shops, all of them are enterprises with very few exceptions and the exceptions are so few, it’s not worth the effort to filter them out anyway. So I would say the caveat is if it, if you design your funnel in such a way that people are in your pipeline of their own volition, then a bigger pipeline wins.
Andy Paul: how do you do that?
Justin Roff-Marsh: well, by not being stupid,
Andy Paul: People need better advice than that.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Well, I I’m interested in, how do we end up? How do we end up with a whole bunch of people in the pipeline who shouldn’t be there? Like, you know, the enterprise software companies, do they really have pipelines full efficient ship? Shelbourne is we’ll do the salespeople, people just say they do it turns out they don’t.
The pipe, the pipelines are full of sales opportunities to sales people glitches so busy performing non-sales tasks. They’re trying to shirk what should be their primary responsibility. And that’s having selling conversations with people. I mean, the whole idea behind this value destroying concept of qualification that sells people rabbit on a bet is that salespeople only want to engage with folks who have budget and who are in the process of making a purchasing decision.
I mean, my whole career in sales was spent selling to people who don’t have budget and who are not in the process of making a purchasing decision.
Andy Paul: exactly.
Justin Roff-Marsh: And my view is, is that that’s the role of a sales person, but, but that’s, that’s not very unusual. Lola, that’s a very unusual view in sales. Most sales people think that they should be standing there pulling the handle on the cash register.
Andy Paul: well, as part of that, a function, I think these days of sort of losing sight of what the real objective is, is, and you just outlined it in your words. I might say it a little bit differently, which is. I take, you know, take the, you know, as a way of illustration is that if you remember a Gartner came out with a buyer enablement chart two years ago, and this, this complex flow chart of the buyers process and the jobs they want to get done and for that enterprise level.
And so they call it their spaghetti diagram. Cause it’s, it looks like a, you know, two handfuls of cooks spaghetti thrown against the wall.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Confidence.
Andy Paul: And right. And what they said is, you know, buyers basically identified four jobs. They need to get done, identify requirements, uh, or define, yeah. Identify requirements, uh, or the problem, you know, research possible solutions, um, finalize the requirements, choose a vendor.
And it seems like increasingly we’re trained people just to focus on that last one, which is choose the vendor. But the point you made before is you’re talking to people, didn’t have budget, didn’t have need that all takes place in those first three jobs, right?
Justin Roff-Marsh: Well before, I mean, a cost, a customer, a prospect, it doesn’t, uh, doesn’t know what their requirements are until they have written their own prognosis. So I would say the buyer’s journey starts with symptoms.
Andy Paul: Well, that’s what they put under the ID requirements. Do you see the whole flow chart? But I
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah, no, I don’t agree that there’s a, there’s a gap between the symptoms and the requirements, because in order to go from symptoms to requirements, you need a prognosis in the middle. So requirements is a prescription. You take them to the pharmacy, but the symptoms of what you go to the doctor with the doctor connects the doctor, connects the symptoms with the disease and lights, your prescription.
Andy Paul: yeah, we’re saying the same thing. Their third job was identifying five, building the requirements, building their spec, right.
Justin Roff-Marsh: But I think
Andy Paul: done. Find the problem, find research, potential solutions. I mean, wait, people make decisions as they choose they’ve formulate their options and decide what are options for solving this problem.
And they’ll choose an option then say, okay, now who, who can we work with that can help us solve that?
Justin Roff-Marsh: the sales people should be actively looking for people who haven’t recognized. They have a problem yet. They have symptoms, but they haven’t
Andy Paul: but we’re saying the same thing
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah. Because if the sales person can connect, if the sales person can be the one who says, Hey, you have the system symptoms, this is what I think the problem is.
If the sales person writes the prescription, they’ve elevated their likelihood of if the sales person does the prog prognosis and writes the prescription, they’ve elevated their likelihood of making the winning the sale.
Andy Paul: You’re using different words. It was exactly what I’m saying is, but so often now sellers are just focused on once the customer has made up their mind. What, what the prescription is, we’re just competing to become the farm, the pharmacy in your case.
Justin Roff-Marsh: exactly their view is if the customer’s not walking around with prescription in hand, looking for someone to fill it, then another call cycle sticks.
Andy Paul: Right. And so then now you’re getting is we’re going to compete on price.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Presently.
Andy Paul: Right. Yeah. And so what happens is that I call the student’s decision period, that the difference between helping someone make their choice versus helping them make their decision, they got choose how they want to, what their viewpoint symptoms are, how they’re going to solve this problem to find how they want to solve it.
Not who they want to solve it with. And what I see as the bulk of selling is when people are being trained, as let’s just focus on once they’ve decided they want to buy something and what they want to buy, then we’re going to compete for that
Justin Roff-Marsh: and this is where the whole challenge.
To bridge the gap between the symptoms and the prognosis. They have to be a challenger. If I go to my doc, if I go to my doctor and I say to my doctor, I think I have malaria. He will say you are an idiot. Get off Google, sit down in the damn chair and tell me what the symptoms are. And I’ll tell you what, what you’ve got.
And it’s probably not malaria. Uh, um, And really that’s the essence of the challenge of approach, but it’s only relevant. I mean, everyone’s buying challenger training for their sales people. It’s completely irrelevant because their salespeople are qualifying anyone who’s not wandering around with the prescription.
The irony is the challenger approach is only relevant on the occasions where you approach someone that has a bunch of symptoms and hasn’t yet been given a prescription or figured out their own prescription.
Andy Paul: Yeah. I mean, in which case you may not even be challenging, you’re actually guiding them at that point. They may not have a preconception about how they want to solve that problem.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Oh, they might have come up with the long hidden organizations approaches and saying to sell sales training. And I say, why would you want to buy sales training? What’s the, what’s the set of symptoms you. Coping with that have caused you to draw the conclusion that you need sales training. They’ll say, well, listen, this and this I’ll say, well, if you have this, this and this, I would also predict you have this, this and this.
And they say, Oh, how do you know that? And say, well, because I recognize the underlying root cause and they say, Oh, do you have a solution for that? I said, well, it turns out I do have it, but you’re not interested in it because you want sales training. And I say, no, we don’t want sales training anymore. So that’s where the challenge piece comes in.
Andy Paul: Yeah, no, that does. Absolutely not. That model. Absolutely.
Justin Roff-Marsh: most people who have symptoms have a, have a theory as to what the cause of those symptoms are,
Andy Paul: True. Just under degree migraine,
Justin Roff-Marsh: but they have some teaming generally they’ve concluded the solution to most problems is most software.
Andy Paul: that’s yes. In the eyes of many people, that is the case. So
Justin Roff-Marsh: They must be a softly for that.
Andy Paul: there must be a salt must run out for that. Um, So the other more recent piece you had written that I really enjoyed was the part about Richard Dawkins or the blind watchmaker, I guess this is how you titled it.
Justin Roff-Marsh: I’m glad someone that absolutely zero response to
Andy Paul: Really? No, I enjoyed that a lot. I’ve
Justin Roff-Marsh: Fine doing writing it. So I didn’t care that no one else liked it though. So the two of us who enjoyed it.
Andy Paul: yeah. So, uh, tell us the story about I hadn’t that’s one Richard Dawkins book I have not read, but, um, tell sort of the background about that story in the blog.
Justin Roff-Marsh: So, I mean, Dawkins has a Dawkins has a wonderful love for science. Um, and, uh, he met him. He reminded, he reminds me of. It has a chap who is kind of the physicist. He’s the. No, it was so finally isn’t who I was thinking about, but I do love watching film videos, but, and I think a lot of, a lot of the, a lot of the scientists are like that.
They, they, they managed to find like an artistry and a passion. And the romance in science that most of us think that you could only find in the arts. And sometimes I suspect they’re finding it to a much greater degree than many folks do who are looking for in the arts. And I think that I liked the blind watch.
Yeah. Because of, for that reason. Um, I, I use it. I’m just going, I don’t remember the point that I was making all sales. Shouldn’t be automated. Yeah. Okay. So I’ll tell you the story behind that. We have a. A client in Australia and they’re a, um, as a software company and there’s a chap in, they who I love a lot.
Um, who’s a process engineer, one of the smartest human beings I’ve ever come across. And I was having this argument with him because he’s built this kind of task automation software. Yeah, that’s been extremely successful for their software development, their software development environment, and they have literally thousands of software developers in their organization and he was turning his attention to sales and his default assumption was, um, okay.
All we gotta do is automate the tasks that occur within sales. Um, And I was having an argument with him that span and a number of discussions over a number of months. And I was trying to get him to understand that sales is not deterministic like a production environment. You don’t have, you don’t have a fixed sequence of tasks.
And I was trying to come up with an analog. Uh, because he was saying, but in production we do X and, uh, and he’s, he was saying to me, Justin, you’ve always used production as analog for sales. And I said, yeah, well, I absolutely have a lot of what we’ve done in sales has been cribbing ideas from production, but we need to understand where the, where the metaphor breaks and the metaphor is broken.
And so I’m looking for a better metaphor. And, um, I came up with this idea that, um, um, W w w what sales is like, where tasks are concerned. It’s like, if you, you, you, you find someone who knew what a watch look like, you know, a watch maker and, and you, you took a bunch of watches and you just assembled them into there into a pile of components.
So you let’s say had 10 watches and you broke them apart. And, and, and you had on the desk this big pile of bits of watches, and you completely. Broke the watches down into there, you know, screws and nuts and cogs and glass lenses and so on. And, and, and you, you got to watch maker or a number of watchmakers, you blindfolded them.
And, uh, um, and you had them kind of reaching, put gloves on through holes in a box like they’re manipulating nuclear material and told them that they had to assemble these watches. And, um, And the point that I was making to James is that sales is very much like what you would be observing. If you are watching these blind watchmakers, attempting to assemble watches from a pile of parts.
And, and to begin with the process will be very much stochastic. They’d fumble around all over the place, and they’d randomly trying be trying pieces together. And every now and again, Yeah, every now and again, there’d be no science to it at all. No logic to it at all. It would be, it would start off completely random, but, but eventually what would happen is they’d managed to snap, snap, a couple of parts together.
Um, and then as soon as they snapped a couple of pots together, maybe they snap a couple more together and they would end up having a breakthrough where over a period of days or weeks, or maybe years, or perhaps decades, they would have assembled a sub assembly of a watch. And each time they assemble a sub assembly, the.
The rest of the process becomes, uh, easier. So we each, each sub assembly would kind of resemble a quantum leap to a new level of much lower complexity, because of course they have more information now. And the number, the size of the parts pile that they’re assembling watches from would have diminished significantly in size.
Um, um, And that’s very much what sells is like , you know, you fumble around, you perform a whole bunch of activities and then suddenly you end up with somebody progressing from one stage to the next. And it’s like a material change, like, like a phase shift from, you know, from steam to water and water to ice, um, a material change, uh, And that’s what we would call a stage and opportunities.
And, but you’re still fumbling after that phase shift. It’s just, that is, is just that there’s the, your activity is a little less random and that’s the point that I was making to him. You can’t automate sales activities to the same degree you can automate. Production activities because with production activities, there’s a fixed routing.
There’s a series of activities that must be performed in a, in a given sequence, or even if there are multiple possible sequences, the very few degrees of freedom. If you want to have a part that works. Um, but with sales, you, you don’t have that. Routing, um, you don’t know what it is and advance now, a lot of people try and reverse engineer cells and pretend that, uh, we should have known in advance because we can see what happens in arrears.
Yep. Perfect. Yep. What’d I say 2020 in hindsight. But anyone who’s been in sales for more than 10 minutes knows that no, it’s not deterministic or stochastic, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t some, it doesn’t mean there isn’t some predictability there is, but only at the level of stages.
Andy Paul: so you, you, in the article you say that managers should not attempt, should not attempt to impose a fixed sequence of tasks among salespeople doing so will decrease productivity and damage the integrity of information, ultimately extracted from the CRM. So how do you see that damaging productivity?
Justin Roff-Marsh: Because there isn’t it isn’t possible to know the fixed sequence of tasks in advance. So pretending to know when you can’t possibly know will never increase productivity.
Andy Paul: So why do people persist?
Justin Roff-Marsh: Oh, lack of understanding of sales.
Andy Paul: is becoming. More of the case than less the case. I think these days in sales is especially managers, perhaps that are a little more new see companies. Hey, here’s our sales process. We’ve got this linear based stage sales stage process, linear
Justin Roff-Marsh: You did step one, then you just set too. Well, one of the reasons, one of the reasons why people persist it is it’s easy to model that in technology. It’s like the blind man looking for his car keys, you know, that one. No police officer comes across. It’s not a blind man. So he’s a drunk, a drunk man, looking for his car keys.
A police officer comes across a drunk looking for his car keys underneath the streetlight. And the policeman says, what are you doing? He says, you came from my car keys. He said, well, how did your car keys come to be? Under here, where’s your car? He said, my car is over there. He said, so how did your keys come to be here?
He said, well, I can’t see over there. It’s too dark. Um, so one of the, one of the reasons why management, you know, builds these deterministic models is it’s much easier to do in software than it is the alternative. Um, we do it cause we can. But it doesn’t mean it’s smart. So, you know, we have a reputation and for building these very mechanistic sales environments, and it’s true, they’re extremely structured.
It sells environments. But if you look at, if you go and sit behind one of our clients, salespeople, they have enormous degrees of freedom. We queue up opportunities for them. We demand the same volume of activities every single day, but we don’t dictate which activities they perform. We don’t dictate the sequence in which they perform them.
We don’t dictate, dictate the priorities who they talk to. We leave all that up to the salesperson because we know that sales at the coalface is messy and we don’t want to try and pretend to know stuff. We, we, we, we, we, we know for sure that we don’t know.
Andy Paul: Hmm. So when you say that a certain number of activities, but the mix is up to them. So give us an example.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Well, w w w w we want to know when an opportunity progresses from one stage to an X, but we know we’re not looking for information that’s any more granular than that, other than other than. Other than having an awareness of the volume of tasks. So in other words, we want to go back to the watchmaker analysis.
We want the blind watchmaker to put his hands in the box and we want him to fumble fumble around. And we know that there’s an optimal rate of. A fumbling, but we’re not going to try and tell him we’re not going to try and equip him with an exact process for fumbling. Cause it turns out that putting your hands in the box and fumbling around is the best way of, of, of coming up with a sub assembly now.
So we don’t want visibility at the fumbling level, other than. And awareness of volume. That’s all we care about. Uh, but of course we do want to know when you, whenever you assemble sub assembly. So where opportunity management is concerned, we are interested in stages. We’re interested in those milestone events that indicate a material change in the nature of the deal that you’re pursuing.
But outside of that, it’s up to the sales person to fumble around.
Andy Paul: okay. Do you define what constitutes achieving a certain stage as a commitment based or how do you do that?
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah. Yeah. So, uh,
yeah, so there are certain commitments that a. Prospect will make to a sales person that are meaningful. They indicate a meaningful change change, and the dynamic of the opportunity, the nature of the relationship, uh, um, and we absolutely want to measure those things. And sometimes it’s stupidly simple stuff.
When you talk to a prospect for the first time and they say, yeah, I’d like to schedule an eight minute briefing, you know, to go from nothing to, for it to go from no commitment to, to any kind of commitment is a massive achievement. Um, Um, um, and, and, you know, obviously a request for quote is a meaningful.
Change in, in a world. And a lot of our client’s world, if they’re selling, you know, uh, enterprise services, you know, to sell what we call a solution design workshop. If someone writes you a check for 10 or $15,000 to go on site and run a two day workshop with them, that’s a, a very meaningful commitment.
So w w we’re of course, we’re very interested in those things. We’re w w w what we’re keen to do is to compress the amount of time. Between the achievement of each of those milestone events.
Andy Paul: agreed. Absolutely.
Justin Roff-Marsh: So put your hands, put your hands in the box and keep fumbling around with those pots and we’re going to engineer the environment. So there’s absolutely nothing to distract you from sitting there with your hands in the box, fumbling around with those pots.
Andy Paul: meaning non sales activities.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah, no known sales activities because unfortunately the nature of sales, it’s messy at the coalface. You go to put your hands in the box and you’re got to fumble around, fumbling around, fumbling around until suddenly someone said, yes,
Andy Paul: I agree.
Justin Roff-Marsh: That kind of, it’s kind of a loop back to the point about pipeline. You know, a lot of the questions I get asked about sales, I don’t want to answer because they’re questions that are describing the questions around a problem or, or questions looking for a solution to a problem that would not exist. If you had sufficient pipeline.
I have a different who was emailing and phoning me, you know, and he’s a wealthy guy, very successful, but he wanted to do, he wanted my help to do like an autopsy of an opportunity that he was so close to winning and lost. And it was a big deal. Uh, um, like. Multimillion dollar deal and he lost it and he was like, can you help me figure out what I did wrong?
And I said, why? And he said, well, I would like to know. So I don’t miss out on the next one. I said, Henry, how many other deals do you have in your pipeline of a similar size? He said, none. That’s why I need your help with this one. I said, no, this is why you don’t need my help with this phone because sales is probabilistic.
If you’d known that going in, you wouldn’t have only had one deal in the pipeline.
Andy Paul: yeah,
Justin Roff-Marsh: Now, if you’re trying to sell you a business and it’s a one off event. Fair enough. But if you actually sell stuff for a living, why would you design why when you design your sales function so that the sell was a one off event, you know, you, you have to meet payroll every single month. You have to maintain a pipeline of opportunities. No. And unfortunately, the types of measures you would take the type of the, the type of measures that you would make. If you were pursuing a single one off deal, like selling your business would be in many, in many cases, the complete opposite of the types of measures you would take. If you were trying to build a machine
Andy Paul: to do that, right?
Justin Roff-Marsh: that general.
Andy Paul: Yeah. So for him was your point that a, you should either be identifying more similar opportunities or. Hey, that was too big for you. And there’s a more ideal opportunity for you to fill your pipeline.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah. If you need to do these deals to stay in business, if that’s the, you know, one of the requirements of your business, then make sure we have a pipeline. Of a sufficient size to enable you survive with a realistic wind right now, realistic wind rage by sales is, is single digit percentages. Probably less than that.
Probably somewhere between 0.1 and three or 4% of deals that you pursue are going to, you know,
Andy Paul: of
Justin Roff-Marsh: um,
Andy Paul: opportunities.
Justin Roff-Marsh: No, no. Well, I don’t entertain the idea of qualification of opportunities. Full-stop so think of it like a, like a wild cat, you know, chasing rabbits, you know, a percentage of the rabbits that you chase will.
So if we define an opportunity as something you chase, forget about qualification, um, if you’re honest and you count all of the, all of the rabbits that you chase. If you count them all, um, and you do the math, you will end up concluding that. The number that the ratio of rabbits you chase, two rabbits, you catch is 0.1 0.2 0.3, somewhere between decimal one and maybe two or 3% somewhere in that range.
It’s a small percentage. Um, and that’s pretty constant for every organization. If you meet a sales person who says my win rate is 20%, it’s because they’re only measuring a tiny subset of the opportunities they pursue, or they pursue nothing at all. Um,
Andy Paul: or they’re just counting based on qualified opportunities. I know you, we can have a,
Justin Roff-Marsh: that’s what I mean.
Andy Paul: and we could talk about qualification. I didn’t realize you, you didn’t
Justin Roff-Marsh: Well, that’s what I mean by pursuing a subset. That’s what sales people do. You know, they go to a trade show, they come back with a hundred names and they, they conclude that only six of them are qualified. Well, how do they conclude that only six of them are qualified. They ring all hundred of them and interview them.
Well, hang on those those hundred calls, do they not constitute sales activity? Of course they constitute sales activity. Yeah. Any way you can determine whether someone’s qualified, qualified, it is ring them and have a sales conversation with them. So if you haven’t sell sales conversation with them, how does it make sense to conclude that wasn’t really a sales conversation?
Because it wasn’t a qualified opportunity. It’s it’s circular logic.
Andy Paul: well, it is right. At some point, somebody, somebody, you have to distinguish people who are either qualified to buy or not qualified to buy
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah. It’s like saying I don’t want to eat lemons that have Myxomatosis and it sends out the only way you discover they have Myxomatosis is to chase them and catch them. And then to say, well, I don’t want to calculate my success rate based upon total lab inside chase. I only want to calculate my success rate based upon the number of rabbits that I chased that turned out not to have Myxomatosis off.
I called them. No, that’s bullshit. You have to chase all those damn rabbits.
Andy Paul: all right. I’ll have to think about that. Yeah. I’m not sure I buy that necessarily, but, um, in terms of
Justin Roff-Marsh: Cause how else to you tell me how else do sales people qualify prospects other than by talking to them?
Andy Paul: Oh, that’s how they do it. Of course.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah. And if they’re talking to them, guess what? It’s a sales conversation. Imagine you’re the prospect on the other end of the phone being interviewed by a sales person who wants to know whether you have budget and whether you have, whether you’re planning on making a purchasing decision.
Does that sound like a selling conversation to you?
Andy Paul: no, but I mean, from a qualification standpoint is you can be more precise in how you qualify. At some point you have to
Justin Roff-Marsh: It doesn’t matter, but it doesn’t matter how you do it. The customer’s perception is this is a selling conversation.
Andy Paul: sure.
Justin Roff-Marsh: They just had a conversation with a sales person. It’s his own conversation. It’s a meaningless distinction. It only appears to be a meaningful distinction in retrospect, 2020 vision. In hindsight,
Andy Paul: so in your mind, how does, how does it, how does the sales person make a decision about how to allocate their limited time?
Justin Roff-Marsh: Well, they have to differentiate between the stuff they know in advance and the stuff they discover in arrears. If you’re a, if you’re a, if you’re a cat and you like rabbits, and the only way for you to differentiate between the rabbits with Myxomatosis and the ones that are healthy is for you to chase them, then it’s pointless for you to make a distinction post-hoc based upon knowledge, you couldn’t have had ad hoc.
Andy Paul: okay. But. Same thing is true. Salespeople do. You’ve only got a certain amount of time.
Justin Roff-Marsh: So if you can tell in advance.
Andy Paul: at some point you need
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah. So if you give, if you can show me an algorithm that I can run in CRM, that will tell me with confidence that these are the people who will not buy. I want to post them.
Andy Paul: but you need a conference. Once you have a conversation with them, you can start determining that.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Exactly. But once I have a conversation with them, I’m applying effort to them.
Andy Paul: Yeah.
Justin Roff-Marsh: So if we don’t call that effort selling, what do we call it?
Andy Paul: well, I agree that selling
Justin Roff-Marsh: We could, we could call it qualification. The problem with calling and qualification is if we say, well, there’s two types of effort. There’s selling effort and qualification efforts. The, the, the, the implication is that we have two pots of effort. The way allocating from, we have the, we have the, we have, but we only have one sales it’s also.
Hmm. Yeah. We don’t have two people, a qualification person enough. I mean, some people try and do that,
Andy Paul: Okay. Yeah. I mean, it’s sort of, it seems like a semantic difference. I mean, it’s, it’s, you’re still
Justin Roff-Marsh: but it makes us no, it’s not semantics. It impacts on the maths. You talk to a sales person who calculates the win right? Based upon qualified opportunities. They wouldn’t wait is going to be 20 or 30%. But if you calculate the wind rate, based upon all the rabbits, they chase, their win rate is going to be single digits.
That’s an order of magnitude difference. That’s that’s, that’s, that’s a very long answer.
Andy Paul: What’s wrong with it?
Justin Roff-Marsh: Well, th the number is out by, by a factor of 10 times.
Andy Paul: No, but I mean, as a measure of independent measure itself, what’s wrong with that, measuring that you were able to win X percent of your qualified
Justin Roff-Marsh: If I was a, if I was a dispassionate observer, if I was an actuary or an economist and I’ll have poached styles. And I, and I said, I wonder, I wonder what the sales person’s win rate is. That’s analogous to me asking of a wild cat. How many rabbits does he chase? I would expect the wind rate to be calculated on successful chases as a percentage of total number of cases.
Andy Paul: but when we’re in an environment today where. Oftentimes the sales person, the seller actually does not originating the opportunity. Somebody else is doing that and handing it to them. How are you measuring that?
Justin Roff-Marsh: Well, we would measure it from when it’s handed to them. But actually what happens is when you, in most environments, when sales people get handed opportunities, they don’t actually deem them to be opportunities until they fulfilled them. So the sales person will get on the phone. So the question is, is a sales person actually deploying sales efforts or do they have an extra bucket hidden under their desk with free effort in it called qualification efforts?
Andy Paul: Yeah, no, I understand what you’re saying. It’s all, it’s all sales
Justin Roff-Marsh: it’s all it’s effort. There’s only one bucket containing efforts. The sales person has eight hours of effort a day. Once it’s run at once a day is run out. They’ve run out of effort for the day. They don’t have two simple, different buckets. So, so if we want to calculate, yeah. If
Andy Paul: the effort though.
Justin Roff-Marsh: if we want to, it doesn’t matter.
If we want to calculate the productivity, we have to look at, uh, um, I put divided by essence.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Well, I said that earlier dollars or revenue per hour of selling time, that’s productivity.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Well, yeah. And, and from a wind rate ratio, what it was all down to is opportunity is, is prospects pursued versus prospects court relative to prospects court.
Andy Paul: I could agree with that. If, if yeah. If we’re going to standardize on that. Perfect.
Justin Roff-Marsh: So where we got started on this was is the win in enterprise sales. The win rates are really, really low, so there should be an inverse relationship between the win rate and the, and the, the pipeline size. So if you’re winning 1%.
Andy Paul: There absolutely is.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah. If you’re winning 1% and you want to do one deal a month, you better have 100 deals in pipeline at all times.
So my problem with Henry, when he came to me and said, can we do an autopsy to find out why we didn’t win this deal? My question was, how many of these deals do you need to win a month? Well, one a month. Did you have in your pipeline? None. Well, why w Oh, why are we talking about that deal? Why don’t we talk about the obvious problem, which is like a pipeline.
Now, the reason I don’t want to have the conversation about winning the deal is that. The conclusions that we draw as a consequence of a conversation about why we didn’t win the deal are going to cause us to make changes to the design of the sales environment that make it impossible for us to have pipeline of the size that we need in order to consistently win deals. So if you think about two scenarios, let’s say there were two, $5 million deals. One is when you build your business up and you sell it to a private equity firm for $5 million, let’s say. And the other is when you go to a big company and sell them your services for $5 million. The difference between those two deals is the first one you only ever want to do at once.
The second one, you want to do it once a quarter, let’s say, and the process that you build, the way that you go about both of those transactions will be completely differently different. The big difference. If it takes three years to sell your business to a private equity firm for $5 million, you don’t care how long it takes. You’re going to optimize the dollar’s not to lead time. Thugs is he feels, if you need to do one deal, a quarter, you’re going to optimize for lead time. Not for dollars.
Andy Paul: Yeah, no, no disagreement.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah.
Andy Paul: No, I think an area I’d like have another conversation about explore down is, is, yeah, this is more on this, this idea of what constitutes win rate and, and productivity. Cause I think these are both, you know, I think we started lost at sea a lot of times in sales at this whole thing.
And so we’re trying to say, what are the levers we can really pull or manipulate that are having an impact at the end of the day and on performance, because so much of sales these days just set up to your point earlier about automating sales processes. And we don’t really focus on performance, just do the process, right.
And if we we’ve set it up service a game of chance, As opposed to saying, look to your point, it’s stochastic, not terminal that deterministic. Excuse me. And how do we influence that? How do we influence the outcome? How do we help people perform better? And, and how do we increase their actual productivity?
It’s not the quantum pure quantity of activities, but the quantity of activities that ultimately
Justin Roff-Marsh: But I think we should also ask how do we know, how do we know when we’re done helping people? In other words, I don’t mean how do we know when we give up on them, but how do we know at which point they trained? So I don’t know if you’ve ever read any Deming.
Andy Paul: yeah. Yeah.
Justin Roff-Marsh: So Deming used to do this four day workshop and there was a. There was an exercise in it where I forget how it works. They’d fire something at a target or whatever. And, but, but the central learning out of it was a person is trained when they produce a consistent output, not when they hit the target. In other words, if you want to train someone to be an Archer, the measure of whether or not they’re trained is, is not how often they hit the bullseye.
It’s it’s it. Yeah, well, it’s the size of the cluster,
Andy Paul: Yeah.
Justin Roff-Marsh: you know? Uh . In other words, they, they, uh, there’s the standard deviation reduces to a point th th cause there’s a, there’s kind of well diminishing returns when it comes to, um, you know, the predictability. And once you get to the point where you’re consistent, then you’re trained, you know, that’s.
Andy Paul: And the point of that conversation is not to advocate for more training, but saying, how do we. Ultimately increase people’s ability to improve their productivity. If we can agree on what productivity is.
Justin Roff-Marsh: yes. But we need to bundle in is that the, we need to understand to what extent, to what extent do we actually improve sales by improving individual’s productivity?
Andy Paul: that’s. That’s great
Justin Roff-Marsh: How much do, how much do we actually influence it?
Andy Paul: And I think we don’t know the answer to that. Cause we haven’t had any focus on it, but
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah, and we have to be very careful with the question, because the question, if we believe that salespeople have, have a large amount of influence over whether or not individuals buy the flip side of that is that we’re saying individuals have. A individuals taking away free will. We’re assuming that we can take away freewill from the buyer?
Andy Paul: No, not at all. Why that one doesn’t lead to the other. If it’s purely, if it’s purely, if you’re dictating the outcome, but if you’re collaborating on something, why is that taking freewill away from the buyer?
Justin Roff-Marsh: Well, let’s say I let’s say I speak with 10 people and I communicate clearly. A proposition that my organization has substance. They can understand it and evaluate it and do their own kind of, uh, you know, calculate the economics of the deal and compare it with competitive products. And so on. You would assume that in most cases, customers will end up choosing the vendor whose proposition makes the most economic sense.
Andy Paul: possibly.
Justin Roff-Marsh: So the job of the sales person is to communicate. The proposition clearly. And then, and then, and then, and then once the salesperson has done that, it’s over to the customer to make a decision. And in most cases we would assume that the customer makes a decision that’s in their best interests. So a sales person, the sales person only has so much control of, uh, the customer’s purchasing decision. The sales, the sales person’s control over the customer’s purchasing decision is limited by their ability to communicate the proposition. Clearly, once they’ve done that, their job’s done.
Andy Paul: Yeah, I think there’s, I mean, I agree in principle on some of that amount of sale. I agree. Sales people have very limited control over the buyers, but I think that, especially in a more complex sales environment, which is the one that. I came from and, and talk more about is, is, yeah, you look at that gardener, that gardener diagram, there’s a lot of stuff that goes along there that enables you to work with a buyer to help define how they want to solve their problem.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah. Now I don’t want to completely, I don’t want to completely dump on sales people to make it look like that. What do they call them in Silicon Valley coin operated idiots? I don’t want to, I don’t want to paint a picture that the sales person is in it. Cause that’s, that’s not true because there’s a couple of mitigating factors here and that is that in, um, in a smaller dollar, in a smaller dollar sales environment.
If a sales person can, can effectively communicate the. The proposition, then they’re competing with a whole bunch of people who can’t even do that. So that’s a, that’s a fantastic accomplishment and that’s worth a lot of money. So that’s something to be part of, not something to be diminished. And you can say, well, what about in a major account environment?
Well, it turns out that in a major canned environment, if you work for SAP, uh, um, you’re probably, you’re probably competing in most cases, you’re competing against one other vendor, maybe two other vendors, maybe three, you know, um, That’s it. So, uh, um, line of work involved in effectively communicating the deal, but you know, the deal is going to resolve in the favor of one of three or four vendors. So my view is well done, exit anywhere near the level of control of a. The customers purchase as they think they do, but it doesn’t matter. They’re still adding a significant amount of value and they still deserve to be paid really, really well for what they’re doing. But management and executive have to understand that, um, there isn’t this on the back of salespeople that we can turn to double or triple or quadruple there. Um, effectiveness. Um, if, if we want to see a significant increase in the productivity of the sales person, um, we need to get them to have more selling conversations.
Andy Paul: yeah, certainly one way. Right?
Justin Roff-Marsh: Yeah. There’s only incremental improvements. There’s only incremental improvements to be had from.
Andy Paul: Totally agree. I think there’s those incremental upside, right? I mean, I’m sure. I mean, and I think that’s fine. I mean, you look at, you know, Dave Brailsford Brailsford that ran the sky bicycling team, right. He was all about the incremental. Gain marginal gains of 1% improvements and it’s significant overtime.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Well over time. Well, not over time, not over time. It’s not just time. It’s, it’s, it’s over large numbers of opportunities. It’s not, it’s not time. It’s the large number of opportunities that you process over time. So, so yeah, if you can, but, but, but to really get the benefit you need both, you need an incremental improvement in effectiveness multiplied by a large volume of opportunities. So, if you can, if you can increase the slow you get, you get, you get the benefit that comes from the initial flow of, and then you multiply in the effectiveness of any improvements you making capability.
Andy Paul: Yeah. I mean, so I’ll add something to that though. And then unfortunately we need to go with, do we have enough for, for two episodes here? This was fantastic. I look forward to doing again is, um, yeah, I think there’s. This issue of productivity is, is effectiveness in the moment you’re right. Comes through, I think through experience.
But I think that I’m not saying the training is necessarily the way to do it, but I think that there’s one things we fail and then sales is giving, um, I don’t know, enabling people to say, yeah, these marginal differences applied over volume will make a difference for me. And, and in that it’s not just, Hey, we hire Justin or Andy to come in for a day or two days and run a workshop, but it’s what are, what are we doing constantly and consistently to help them.
So as they’re working through this large volume over time, they’re getting new insights and perspective to say, well, maybe if I tried this this time, right, watchmaker, maybe I tried a different approach in assembling these parts and get a better outcome.
Justin Roff-Marsh: High volume of sales opportunities.
Andy Paul: It’s relative, right?
Justin Roff-Marsh: Well,
Andy Paul: selling somebody that’s selling enterprise software and it’s a hundred thousand dollars a year going to have fewer opportunities. Hey, when I was settling.
Justin Roff-Marsh: I don’t know. No, I would say the, I would say the opposite. I would say if they’re doing enterprise deals, uh, and the lead time is he, is they better? Have they been to have a hundred plus open opportunities?
Andy Paul: maybe I swore to myself, I said, they’re going to have more than I had when I was selling communication, satellite communication systems, this hold for five, $10 million piece. They’re going to have more deals. They should be working on more. Absolutely. But it’s contempt depend on the situation.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Well, I would argue it was so, so, uh, yeah, there’s an argument that if you’re selling, if you’re doing $5 million deals, you should have more because it’s probably gonna take you longer to close them.
Andy Paul: but the flip side was, in my case, when I saw there were 200 customers in the world that could buy it, nice having to do four to five deals a year. So anyway, it turns on the situation by. I’d love to spend more time and get into this in detail. Cause that’s, it’s, it’s important. I think people need to look at, look at sales, continually, look at sales differently and think about the logic differently behind how they’re measuring, how they’re prescribing, how people do it.
One of the reasons I enjoy reading your stuff. Cause it challenges. I think
Justin Roff-Marsh: If you have, if you, if you, uh, if you, uh, um, If you have a sales person, then you are able to kind of sit in a room behind them and pull levers that control what they do. Um, and th and there’s a lever. You’ve got all these leavers you can pull, um, you know, one causes them to be more skillful. The other one causes them to, you know, um, um, Whatever you know, which is the lever that you want to pull.
So in other words, if you can, if you can produce an incremental improvement, one vector at a time, which is which vector has the biggest impact on output dollars bank. In other words,
Andy Paul: Do you have an opinion?
Justin Roff-Marsh: yeah, I do that. And my, my opinion is it’s it’s, there’s, it’s a, it’s a no contest. It’s it’s volume, volume of activity.
Andy Paul: Okay. I thought you were okay. I thought you were going a different direction of the question, which is. Looking at it from a skill or behavior standpoint of the sales person
Justin Roff-Marsh: I would much rather the increase if they’re lacking in skill and they lacking in pipeline, I would much rather increase the volume of activity because he increased the volume of activity that they either must have the skill or they get out of the kitchen. Cause it’s too hot in there. So you end up resolving the problem.
The problem ends up resolving itself without your direct intervention.
Andy Paul: perspective.
Justin Roff-Marsh: I’ve never seen a sales person who has 10 to 15 selling conversations a day that isn’t good at talking to people.
Andy Paul: doesn’t mean they’re a good sales person though.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Well, they, they, they become a good sales person or they stop being a sales person, because if you will operating in that volume, It is not pleasant. It’s like if you, if you became a surgeon and you killed everyone, you operated on after a while, you would conclude even if no one would, even if management wasn’t putting pressure on you, you will conclude that it is just a, unless you’re a psychopath, you would conclude that it is dispiriting.
This career is dispiriting,
Andy Paul: Right. Well, but we could use say the same thing as if, if we truly have
Justin Roff-Marsh: but that’s not actually, what’s more likely to happen.
Andy Paul: have 0.1% win rates as then we’re killing 99.9% of our patients in this case may very well be Alright, well, justice and fantastic talking to you. So how can people learn more about what you’re doing?
Justin Roff-Marsh: Sales process engineering net. I wrote a book called the machine. So if people like this, they should go buy the book. It’s on Amazon.
Andy Paul: Yup. Good book. Worth reading. Alright.
Justin Roff-Marsh: machine. Yeah. And Twitter and all the normal places.
Andy Paul: old places, right. Justin, we’ll make sure
Justin Roff-Marsh: Good to chat.
Andy Paul: It’s been great to chat and look forward doing on zoom.
Justin Roff-Marsh: Thank you, Andy.