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How to Sell to Your Perfect Prospect w/ Jeff Koser [Episode 640]

Jeff Koser, CEO at Selling to Zebras, Inc., joins me on this episode.


  • Jeff says the biggest single challenge salespeople face today is that most reps are feature/function sellers when they should be selling value. Another issue is that they are trained just once, instead of over their career.
  • Value selling needs to be a path of continuous improvement. Most companies do not offer adequate opportunities for development. Individual reps need to be accountable for their own development.
  • Everyone on the go-to-market team who touches the customer needs to know the business problem they solve to create real value. Most companies do not really know the business problem they solve for the customer.
  • A Zebra is a perfect prospect. A three-year-old going to the zoo knows exactly what a zebra is. You know it when you see it. How do you locate zebras? Start by qualifying the prospect to buy exactly what you’re selling.
  • Jeff explains how a company learns to identify zebras. It starts with a deep discussion with management and then the sales department. The next step is scoring deals and studying them. Check findings with existing customers.
  • Jeff gives an example of what you can find out from ‘voice of the customer’ work and how it changes conversations. One company improved margins 211%, reduced sales cycle 26%, and increased pipeline close rate 350%.
  • Andy tells a cruise line casino story about the one factor that had to be 100% on. No one else had found it out so Andy’s team got a huge order by asking the right probing questions to find the one exact thing. Keep qualifying.
  • There are many stakeholders, and they have to come to a consensus. Try to have a brief value proposition conversation first with a person in power, to see if they will sponsor you to present to the team.
  • Your business case isn’t the features and functions. Customers want to know that the business problem is solved effectively, not which features are applied to solving it. Decision makers aren’t thinking about features.
  • Jeff addresses how people use ABM for ‘personalization at scale’ for your best customers. Automation hasn’t mastered the concept. Find the Zebra, first, on the human level. Messaging has to go to the right person.
  • The rep’s job is to know what message to apply to the customer at that time. Don’t try to disintermediate the rep from the sales process through automation.
  • Jeff had a 90% close rate using Zebra, for five years, at two companies. Andy sees the Zebra method as a performance improvement. Jeff suggests getting back with customers at the right time if they’re not ready yet.